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Neuromarketing For Crowdfunding & Online Fundraising

Oxyclean. Thighmaster. Ginsu Steak Knives.

What do these products have in common?

They all come from infomercials. You know they’re trying to sell you something, and you know that it’s always too good to be true. But you just can’t say no.

What’s their secret weapon? Neuromarketing hot triggers.

Hot triggers are statements, examples, and techniques that compel you to take action. They push you over an emotional edge. Neuromarketing hot triggers come from studies in neuroscience. In the case of infomercials, hot triggers get you to buy products time after time.

Neuromarketing hot triggers aren’t always used by salesmen to peddle products; they’re also used by the most successful fundraisers to do good.

You can use the same techniques to drive your supporters and donors to action. Let’s walk through a few basic ones to help you get started.

Neuromarketing’s urgency trigger

This hot trigger answers the question, why does this need to happen now? Give a reason for your supporter to take action immediately. If they can’t answer the question then you won’t get donations.

There are two ways common ways to build in urgency into your crowdfunding and online fundraising campaign.

  • Method 1: Days limit. Having a limited number of days that your campaign is live automatically creates a scarcity effect. People hate missing out. When you tell your supporter that she only has a few days to participate before they miss out, that will drive them to action.
  • Method 2: Reward. Give a reward to the first donors or those that reach a specific fundraising goal. This relies on external motivation so it should be used scarcely. Otherwise, your supporters may come to expect rewards for taking action.

Use neuroscience urgency techniques to break down any barriers or hesitations that people have on donating and use it to drive donors to action.

Neuromarketing’s three sentence structure

Imagine your supporters creating peer-to-peer fundraising pages. Picture hundreds and thousands of donors taking part in your crowdfunding or online fundraising campaign.

You can make it happen, but you need to have a compelling story as well as the right content structure.

Online readers are skimmers. You just have a few seconds to grab their attention and convince them to join your work. There are just three sentences you need in order to get them to your side.

  1. State the problem – What’s the social problem that we are trying to solve? Why is it an issue? Why should I care?
  2. State the solution – What can we do to solve the problem? How much money do we need to make an impact?
  3. State the call to action – What do you want the reader to do? Donate, share, create a fundraising page? Make it crystal clear.

Have a specific ask with a specific way to get it done. In a study that compared the giving of two groups — one rated unlikely to donate and one likely to donate. The unlikely group was given a clear call to action. The likely group was not. Those that were rated unlikely to donate ended up donating at three times the rate of the likely group.

Neuromarketing’s matching gift trigger

The matching gift is a neuromarketing hot trigger that can double or even triple your donor’s dollar. Basically, you get a major donor, foundation, or corporate sponsor to match dollar for dollar of what you raise on your online fundraising campaign.

The secret to matching gifts is tying the matching gift to a specific result. Present it to your support base with this proven formula.

Matching gift formula: If X then Y

  • X is the action that is required or that must happen. Typical actions include total amount raised, number of donors, or number of fundraising pages created.
  • Y is the outcome of X. When X occurs or is reached, then Y is the outcome that occurs. Typically in this case, Y is the additional matching gift. You can also communicate the specific social impact outcome of that matching gift for more tangible results.

When you stack the neuromarketing matching gift hot trigger with the urgency hot trigger, then you can get even more results. For example, RestoreNYC raised $145,000 in 40 days by using a matching gift that would only be given if they reached a certain funding level within 40 days.

Neuromarketing’s three magic words

Imagine that you raise more money in less time than ever before because you used three magic words.

What are these words? Well, we just used them all — imagine, you, and because.

We’re inspired by a few studies and tips written up by Kissmetrics and Copyblogger. Here’s our take on how you should use it for crowdfunding and online fundraising.

Why “imagine” works

Anytime that you ask for money, whether it be a donation or a sale, defense mechanisms pop up in your prospect. But when you ask someone to imagine, you get to avoid those red flags that people put up and activate their visual and emotional centers.

The more they imagine and visualize, the more they begin to take ownership of the problem, the solution, and what they can do to make a difference. People don’t like to lose things. So what they’ll do is respond to your call to action.

Why “you” works

When you use the word “you”, you focus on the reader. They’ll be able to see how the problem and solution is relevant to them as well as how they can each make a difference.

You need to maximize the word “you” and minimize “I” and “me”. Your crowdfunding site should be an invitation to your donors and supporters on how they can make a difference — not on how you need them to help you make a difference.

Why “because” works

Because is a powerful word as studied by social psychologist Ellen Langer. She conducted a simple experiment in which she cut in line to use a copy machine.

First she said ”Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine?”

60% let her cut.

On the second attempt she said, “Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine because I’m in a rush?”

94% let her cut! People will do what you ask them to do when there’s a reason. But does it have to be a good reason?

On the third attempt she said, “Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine because I have to make some copies?”

93% still let her cut. It looks like it doesn’t take a good reason for people to respond to your call to action.

It just takes a magical word — because.

Neuromarketing’s the right ask

Telling people how much they should donate is an art — a very important art that you have to master. Here are two ways to have the right ask.

It sounds odd, but fundraising is like giving gifts to your friends or family. You don’t want to seem cheap by giving too little or showy by giving too much.

Because of that, you need to tell your donors exactly how much money you need to fund the entire campaign, and how much you hope they give. For example, if you have to build a school for $100K – you would say, “The entire construction will cost $100K, so we are looking for 1,000 people to give $100.”

If you’re working with a smaller base and 1,000 people seems too far of a stretch, then reframe it: find 100 people to each fundraise for $1,000.

If you can’t figure out how much to ask for, then give a couple of giving levels. People can then select which level that works best for them. Instead of asking people to donate, you’re reframing it by asking them to choose a level instead.

Neuromarketing’s impact stories

Adam Grant, a psychologist, performed a study on a fundraising call center at a major university. He divided the callers into a couple of groups. One of the groups called the “purpose group” read impact stories from university alumni that have received scholarship funds.

What was the result? This purpose group doubled their weekly pledges received when compared to the others in the call center. Impact stories about an individual are powerful. Use these stories to prime your donors, volunteers, board members, and fundraisers to take action.

Paul Slovic, a researcher at Decision Research, found that donors donated more when presented a photo of one starving child instead of two. Furthermore, Roger Dooley, the author of Brainfluence, says “Most nonprofits can benefit from a more personal approach to describing the recipients of their largesse. Don’t contribute to the symphony’s general fund; sponsor a cellist named Marie. Don’t just write a check to the university you graduated from, provide an incoming freshman from Iowa with the aid she needs to enable her to attend. Many nonprofits have discovered the power of personalizing their appeal already, but others still inundate potential owners with mind-numbing statistics.”

Focus your impact story on one person that you are helping to make it personal and effective.

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