6 Elements of Persuasion

Charm can go a long way, even in fundraising. That said, however, nonprofits that rely on charm alone will find themselves scrambling to raise the money they need to fulfill mission.


Fundraising is tough work, but Anne T. Melvin, director of training and education at Harvard University appeared at the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) International Fundraising Conference to say that persuading prospective donors to give can be both an art and a science.


That art/science combination can be demonstrated by the following:


* Liking. We say “Yes” to people we like. The more we like them, the more we want to say “Yes.” Matching (e.g. wait staff repeating back an order exactly as given) and mirroring (duplicating another person’s posture or gestures) strengthen the bonds between people.


* Social proof. We look to what others do to guide our behavior. Humans are surprisingly poor at understanding the factors that affect their own behavior.


* Reciprocity. We feel obligated to return favors performed for us. Three important factors are: significant, unexpected, personalized.


* Commitment and Consistency. We want to act consistently with our stated commitments and values. “Can you please respond with an email that it’s your intention to make the gift we discussed?”


* Authority. We look for experts to show us the way. Studies show people placing trust thus: 55 percent on appearance, 38 percent on what someone sounds like, 7 percent on what is said.


* Scarcity. The less available the resource, the more we want it.