5 Ways to Leverage Psychology in Your Online Fundraising

Psychologist's couch vector
11.16.2011By

As social media platforms seem to keep changing at an exponential rate, there is one thing that you can count on to remain the same: they way people process information and make decisions.

People make decisions based on emotion and justify those decisions with reason.

As an example, let’s take the cool looking guy with the iPad at Starbucks (you know this guy). He’ll tell you that he bought his iPad because it helps him do his work faster, or that it’s easier to carry around to various clients. But the truth is that he bought it to look cool and/or fit in. Everyone from Apple to Don Draper knows that understanding psychology is essential for selling anything–offline and online.

You Are a Sales Person

It sounds very dirty, I know. But in your case, it’s less dirty because you’re changing the world! Here are a few ways you can leverage psychology to increase your online fundraising:

1. Tell them what the Jones’ Gave. One interesting study by the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University found that potential donors take action when they hear why their peers gave, and they gave more when they were told what dollar amount their peers gave. A donation page that talks about why other people like the organization, and how much they gave will maximize this effect.

2. Leverage the halo effect. A few years ago, researchers in Canada found that people make judgements about websites in just 1/20th of a second, basically a blink of an eye. This means that your site should load fast, and you should have a contemporary design, among other things.

3. Show them how far they have to go. One factor that determines whether people will take action on a goal or not is how attainable the goal is. Epic Change is a nonprofit that provides support and attention for women who are radically changing their local communities. During their Epic Thanks campaign last November, they showed what the achievement of each campaign milestone would provide for a middle school in Tanzania.

4. Use pictures. No one will ever read a thousand words on your donation page. But they will look at a picture. Pictures convey a tremendous amount of subconscious information that can influence a person to act.

5. Turn your stats into a story. You need to make your cause personal so that people take action. Start by understanding how to translate statistics into a compelling story. The average person doesn’t care about the concentration of E. coli in an aquifer, but they will do everything in their power to keep poop out of their tap water.

What do you think?