Bernard draws on insights from his Change for Good, written with Omar Mahmoud, Head of Insight at Unicef International.
Many agencies use nice infographics to reinforce their message. Here, for example, is a typical example from the Arts Council of England.
Aside from the slightly dodgy Y axis here, my questions are:
I’m often, as in the ACE example above, not sure who it’s meant to influence: voters, donors, government officials, politicians? There might even be a negative impact. “If the arts are growing so fast, maybe they don’t need support…”
But I am sure this is not an effective way to influence any individual donor. And Social Proof will. Social Proof demonstrates that “other people, like you or that you respect, support this cause or take this action.” Often this simple connection to what others do is a massive encouragement to do the same.
Let’s demonstrate this with an experiment originally run by Robert Cialdini, respected Professor of Psychology at Arizona State University.
He persuaded a major US hotel chain to trial different messages in hotel rooms to see which would have the most powerful effect in getting hotel users to reuse their towels. This would help save the planet and, coincidently reduce the hotel’s laundry and room cleaning costs.
 The experiment covered thousands of users in different combinations over an extended period. You can read the detail here.
Focused, as do many of these appeals, on the environmental benefits of reuse. 35% of guests opted to re-use their towels. This was used as a the ‘control’ – or baseline – for the experiment.
Focused on social proof. This missed out the environmental message and stated, ‘most people in this hotel re-use their towels.’ In this case 44% of guests reused their towels. That’s almost 10% more people.
The implication? Sadly, in my opinion, it’s not about the cause, it’s the social proof context that drives the social proof action.
There’s a host of similar data around, from experiments and real life, that reinforces this principle. And you kind lots of examples in my book Change for Good. See above.
=mc consulting has a programme that uses social proof and a number of other tools to help improve income entitled Making the Ask. Did I mention that all the top 10 UK charities have used this programme, or its predecessor The Influential Fundraiser, to train their staff? And that participants rate it 90% effective and enjoyable. The book the programme is based on was recommended by the New York Times as a top five ‘must read’ for fundraisers.
In Making the Ask training, we introduce you to a powerful five stages of influence model and teach you the 15 tools you need to learn to apply systematically and sensitively for success. These techniques have been used to secure at least six £1M+ gifts in the last five years, as well as countless smaller ones. You can find out more about the model and what you’ll learn on the day here.
The latest version of the programme involves a number of insights from neuroscience and behavioural economics including the importance of social proof. To find out more about the programme or income development generally, get in touch.