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Five things can make people want to give to you, according to Robert Cialdini’s book, Influence.

Reciprocation
This is also known as the give and take and take. If you give a donor a flower, they might feel more inclined to give money to your organization. This is also the way the free sample works, if you try a product, and then have the option to return it after 24, 48, or 72 hours, you’re much more likely to buy. Monthly giving, assuming you’ve done it well, goes on the assumption that you’ll go on giving after a trial period of 1 or 2 months with your donation automatically deducted from your account. And they are usually right.

Commitment and Consistency
Do you like this?
Do you like that?
Then you NEED THIS!
Getting your donor in the frame of mind to say yes is something that Amnesty international and Mother Jones are doing very well right now. if you care about freedom, if you care about journalistic integrity, etc then you NEED to give to these causes! Of course, you don’t need to give to any cause, but these are certainly good examples of commitment and consistency principles at work.

Social Proof
When you put in testimonials from community members, leaders in law enforcement or outstanding donors in your appeal letters, why do you think this works?

These testimonials and pictures function as a kind of social proof to potential donors that your nonprofit is doing good work. Kind of like a laugh track, it makes you think it’s even more legitimate than it actually may be.

You could even have an anonymous “man in the street” person as a testimonial and it works.

Authority
When you have a celebrity attached to your cause, like Tori Amos and RAINN, you will be able to command a greater degree of respect as a nonprofit. When you have a political figure attached to your cause, people look at their title, their clothes, and the trappings that they have, and decide that your cause is legitimate.

Scarcity
This is your last chance to give! You’d better give today or our anonymous donor won’t match your gift 3 for 1!
Yeah, you know it’s NEVER your last chance to give. But this is yet another way to get people to hurry up and give to you if they’re on the fence.

More lessons from Influence, by Cialdini

Tips for you! Have you tried TwitGrid yet? You could use it to have public conversations with your donors on Twitter!