In 2003, Arizona State University psychology professor Robert B. Cialdini published an article in the Stanford Social Innovation Review entitled “The Power of Persuasion: Putting the Science of Influence to Work in Fundraising.”
I keep a copy of it on my desktop and review it regularly.
The article summarized Cialdini’s findings concerning the science behind human influence (examined at length in his book Influence: Science and Practice), and concluded that nonprofits could reasonably rely on 6 rules of persuasion when fundraising. I like to think of them as the Creative Strategist’s 6 Rules of Engagement.
Although Cialdini was speaking to nonprofit executives, and was suggesting ways that organizations could position themselves to best leverage donor drivers, the rules can also be used by direct response fundraising creatives to powerful effect:
Reciprocity. Donors “repay” organizations for services or items that they have already provided them or their community.
Scarcity. Donors react to opportunities they perceive as more valuable because they are less available, specifically; donors are inclined to support organizations that provide unique solutions to the donor’s area of concern.