Making Giving A Habit, Like Toothbrushing
I was ‘captured’ by this article title from Classy — How to Make the Donation Process a Habit.
In Classy’s view, like that of many fundraisers and their consultants, it all boils down to how the donor experiences giving to your organization.
The Classy article talks about three generic building blocks of habitual behavior — a recurring familiar cue that triggers the action, the routine that follows (ie., the behavior itself), and the reward that reinforces your likelihood of pleasurably remembering the behavior.
If any of these three elements are missing or mishandled, you are not likely to be nurturing a giving habit. I don’t mean this as negatively as it might sound, but the idea is to make giving thoughtless … like riding a bike or brushing your teeth.
[Actually, the most interesting bit in the article was the example of how Pepsodent toothpaste, in the early 1900s, after a decade-long advertising campaign — made brushing of teeth an everyday routine for over 50% of Americans. Before this campaign, almost no Americans brushed their teeth.]
I translate this into:
1. Communicating with consistency of branding and on topics/interests of known relevance to the given donor — nothing about your approach to an existing donor should be discordant with their past experience with you. Your cue needs to connect and activate effortlessly.
2. Making the transaction process as clear and simple as possible. From order cards to online donation forms. Don’t change these for the sake of change. No extraneous distractions. Again, eliminate thinking!
3. Reinforcing with your words and images the emotional feeling that inspired the donation in the first place. When the envelope is sealed or final donate button clicked, your donor must be feeling fulfilled — whether they acted out of anger, compassion, desire to connect, or need to make a personal statement about themselves. Get the serotonin flowing. The more they feel pleased and gratified about today’s giving, the readier — already pre-disposed — they will be to respond to your next ‘cue’.
Not all that terribly deep.
But are you in the habit of doing it?
P.S. For an interesting side trip into habit formation, Classy offers this link to Charles Duhigg’s bestseller of a few years back, The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business.