Creative Hack #3: The Power of Recognition

OctBlogPostPic182_smallCharity, in any form, is one of the nobler aspects of the human condition. In this age of contention, violence and hatred among our species, the spirit of giving — be it financial support, volunteerism or advocacy — should assure us that all is not lost.

However, the act of charity is as organic as almost any human behavior, savory or unsavory. It is often the result of some combination of intrinsic motivation, which is triggered by concern for others’ well-being, and extrinsic motivation, which is triggered by the perception of personal reward or benefit resulting from the giving act.

So where do we put recognition?

For decades, professional fundraisers have assumed the positive value of one of those extrinsic motivators, recognition — and its first cousin prestige — as a tactic in charitable appeals. Continue reading

Monthly Sustainers vs. One-Time Donors? Finding Middle Ground

16-8-10_squareAHHHH, the sweet sounds of monthly sustainers. Committed and highly engaged monthly donors, whose gifts hit a nonprofit’s ledger with increasing regularity as more and more of them embrace autopay options.

No wonder nonprofits spend a lot of money and effort to acquire them; either directly from a prospect universe (often DRTV or face-to-face canvassing) or cultivated from qualified donor segments, which usually require a telemarketing component to close the deal.

In either case, it’s a labor-intensive, expensive exercise with a low conversion rate, but one that yields a high payoff.

Yet despite their potential, many monthly sustainer programs are intrinsically flawed: Continue reading

Creative Hack #2: Now vs Later


It’s no secret we live in a society prone to instant gratification.

From a weekend binge-watch of Game of Thrones, to polishing off a whole pint of Rocky Road in one sitting, to impulsively tossing in that issue of People Magazine at the grocery store check-out, most folks naturally exhibit a preference toward short-term gain, even if they understand the pleasure experienced by delay might be greater. (Spreading one’s enjoyment of Game of Thrones over an entire season, for instance.)

Related to this phenomenon, losses are also experienced more strongly in the present. As a result, people tend to defer those losses into the future whenever possible, even if doing so might actually cost them more. One look at the credit card debt so many Americans carry confirm this fact. Pay for those noise-canceling headphones with plastic and start enjoying your music today, even though you’ll pay an exorbitant 22% annual interest rate for that pleasure.

How can this basic human behavior drive the act of giving in different ways?

One well-known international child relief organization tested this condition directly to their monthly donors in Sweden. As part of a routine fundraising campaign, the donors were contacted by telephone and asked to increase their donation.

A total of 1134 donors were contacted and were randomly split into two groups. The first group was asked whether they would like to increase their monthly donation today while the second group was asked whether they would agree now to increase their donation in two months. In both groups, credit card or EFT authorization was taken today.

The results were dramatic.

NowLaterGraphAnna Breman, 2009. Give more tomorrow: Two field experiments on altruism and intertemporal choice.

Continue reading

Creative Hack #1: Set Completion

Blogpic_4-6-16 Imagine sitting down at your desk one Monday morning and finding an untouched Sunday New York Times crossword puzzle waiting for you. A deadline looms. Although you have no time or intention to muddle through it, you do notice one clue for a 3-letter word: “NFL star Manning.”

But it’s a busy day and you feel no compulsion to attack the puzzle, so you simply smile, set the puzzle aside and move on with your day, without bothering to fill in the easy answer with “Eli.”

Now imagine the same scenario, but this time the entire puzzle has been completed—every answer to every clue —EXCEPT the 3-letter answer for “NFL Star Manning.”

If you feel compelled to pick up a pencil and complete the puzzle in this situation, despite the looming deadline, you have taken a very human action that human behavior scientists refer to as set completion.

“Finishing tasks that are incomplete gives us all a huge sense of satisfaction,” says Dr. Kiki Koutmeridou, Behavioral Science Strategist for DonorVoice. “Framing items as parts of a whole unit elicits a desire for completion and encourages effort and motivation, even in the absence of external rewards.”

Continue reading

IPSO: 4 Essential Steps for Successful Creative Directors

blogpic_3-10-16_squareCreative directors ply their skills in a wide array of fields and channels, with a myriad of tools and techniques at their disposal. But there are certain practices common to all.

For instance, one of the most important tools a CD can employ is a set of high-altitude reins.

There is a natural enthusiasm in most creative endeavors to jump into the weeds and begin “ideating.” It’s fun, after all. And of course, a good creative director knows that cultivating that process can be a fruitful experience.

There is certainly a time and place for brainstorms and in-the-weeds “noodling.”

However, without controls and guidance—and, yes, properly and appropriately applied restraint—much of that creative energy can be wasted on useless outcomes. That means money wasted, never a good thing.

Regardless of industry, sector or focus area, successful CDs usually share four big picture process points:

Identify, Plan, Solve, Observe (IPSO)

I’ll use examples from my own industry, direct response fundraising, but the four points apply across the broad range of marketing. Continue reading