Asking People to Contribute to Charity—Even When They Don’t Have Money

“Ideas spread from person to person, not so much from you to them.”—Seth Godin, author and marketing thought leader.

Seth Godin is talking about a principle of marketing and communication: People rely on trusted friends and family for information. 

In the past, we received a stimulus (a commercial that prompts us to buy or donate) and then we arrive at the grocery store, website or a nonprofit’s booth at a community outing and then possibly follow through.

Yet,  social media changed this formula. People talk to people—especially when deciding to make a donation to a local shelter or what smartphone to purchase.

Google has studied this principle extensively. Our impulses are now to research and turn to others for their opinions, before committing to a donation or purchase. People’s initial impressions of an organization factor hugely in their decision to make a gift.

What This Means

We rely on social audiences for feedback and advice. It’s imperative that you ask your most devoted supporters to help advance your mission online as well.

Your Next Steps

Ask supporters for more than a financial contribution. Ask them for social contributions, for their voice. In fact, Stelter research shows that family is the top influencer in a person’s reason for making a planned gift to a charity. An example of a social post:

“We need your help: Please tell your friends on Facebook or Twitter about what a bequest or life insurance policy can do to support future generations of students.”

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