publication date: Jun 8, 2012
author/source: Lisa MacDonald
there a secret to securing a major gift?
I would say no, but there is a whole field of study on the psychology of
persuasion. In a presentation for the international conference of the Association of Fundraising Professionals
Canadian Shaun Lynch
a roomful of fundraisers through Cialdini's Elements
with the promise that the key to negotiation success is to
manage a prospect's attention.
influence and fundraising
- People tend
to do what other people are doing; to determine the correct course of action,
we first determine what others think
is correct. Applying this to fundraising
means going after the biggest gifts first and using that as "proof" of support
for the campaign/cause.
- Facebook got
it right with this one. Simply put, people are more likely to respond
positively to people they like. When soliciting a donor, take the time to
establish rapport. Encourage prospects to express what they like about the
organization, and about you.
- We try to
repay others for what we have been given. Alumni fundraising provides one
example of describing future support as payback for what the organization has
already given. In this context, Lynch advises to solicit for rejection, then
retreat to a lower-level ask.
- A higher value
tends to be placed on those things that are less available. It is important to
uncover and describe your organization's uncommon or unique features that
cannot be found elsewhere. It may be to your advantage to offer exclusive
naming opportunities on a competitive or time-limited basis.
- People tend
to defer to experts as a decision-making shortcut. Establishing your organization's area of
expertise and then communicating that to donors will only strengthen your
position in any major gift negotiation.
- Once people
make a choice or take a stand, they encounter personal and interpersonal
pressures to behave consistently with that commitment. For example, it has been
shown that people who volunteer as children are more likely to keep
volunteering. Know also that once you get the first donation, people will
continue to give.
encourages the major gift fundraiser to use as many of the six elements as
possible in every solicitation meeting, but the persuasive fundraiser won't
stop there. Employing Shadow Negotiation
strategies will also be effective in:
prospect who doesn't want to negotiate (power moves);
issues so that the dynamics of the negotiation don't drown out the substance of
the discussion (process moves);
setting the pace
of the dialogue so that trust is built and the donor feels free to express
concerns, opinions and alternative perspectives (appreciative moves).
a process point of view, it is the fundraiser's responsibility to make sure the
prospect perceives the short-term need to make a decision, to provide a clear
deadline for making that decision and to emphasize the donor's responsibility
with respect to that decision.
in the end, philanthropy is about people.
Understanding how and why people respond when asked for money will make
you more effective in helping your
donors achieve their charitable objectives.
the principles of influence and persuasion to fully engage your prospect in the
discussion, and then employ good stewardship practices to build a sustainable,
Shaun G. Lynch, CFRE is Director of Philanthropic Development for
Special Olympics Québec. Email him for more information.
Article author Lisa
MacDonald is assistant
editor of Hilborn's flagship
newsletters, Canadian Fundraising &
Philanthropy and Hilborn eNEWS.
A degree in journalism and communications from Carleton University and more than 12 years of experience as a
nonprofit communications professional inform her passion for and understanding
of issues in this sector. Email Lisa with your ideas and comments about this