Ep 264 | How Behavioral Science Can Help you Raise More Money with Howard Levy

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We're thrilled to have Howard Levy, a renowned expert in behavioral science, with us. Howard brings a wealth of knowledge on how nonprofits can tap into the principles of human psychology to boost their fundraising efforts. During our conversation, Howard explains the importance of building strong relationships with donors and how it's much more than just saying “thank you” for their contributions. He'll walk us through the psychological triggers that motivate people to give and keep giving. We'll explore strategies for effective communication that resonates with donors and encourages them to stay engaged with your cause.
Howard also discusses the common mistakes organizations make when reaching out to potential supporters and how to avoid them. Plus, he provides practical tips for crafting compelling messages that capture attention and inspire action. Whether you're a seasoned fundraiser or new to the nonprofit sector, this episode is packed with valuable insights that can help you connect with donors on a deeper level. So, grab a notebook and get ready to learn how to strengthen your donor relationships and take your fundraising to new heights!

What you'll learn:

→ The basics of behavioral science and how it relates to decision making
→ Strategies for connecting with donors through shared values and experiences
→ Examples of how language priming increased donations
→ Techniques like set completion and scarcity to boost average gifts
→ The power of personal stories over statistics

Want to skip ahead? Here are key takeaways:

[05:30] Intuitive vs. Cognitive Decisions People make decisions in two main ways: intuitively and cognitively. Intuitive decisions are quick and based on gut feelings or automatic thoughts. They don't require much thinking. On the other hand, cognitive decisions involve careful thought and analysis. Understanding this can help us predict how someone might decide in different situations.
[13:00] Building Donor Relationships. It is import of find common ground when building relationships with donors. This means looking for shared interests, values, or experiences that can connect you with the donor on a personal level. When donors feel a personal connection, they're more likely to support your cause.
[20:30] Priming Language in Campaigns The right language can prime people to act. Priming involves using specific words or phrases to influence someone's behavior without them realizing it. In the campaign mentioned, using certain words made people more likely to donate because those words triggered associated positive feelings or ideas.
[31:00] Behavioral Triggers: Set Completion Using behavioral triggers like set completion can encourage action. Set completion is when people have a natural desire to finish a task once they've started it. So, if you show donors that they're part of a group effort and their contribution helps complete a goal, they may be more motivated to participate.
[38:50] Emotional Responses to Personal Stories Personal stories often lead to stronger emotional responses than data. While statistics can provide important information, a story about a real person's experience can create a deeper emotional connection. This connection can inspire people to act because they feel more personally involved in the outcome.

Resources

Red Rooster's Fundraising deck of cards PDF available on their website under the “Fundraising” tab.

      Howard Levy

      Howard Levy

      President, Red Rooster Group

      When it comes to nonprofit branding and marketing, Howard Levy has seen it all. As President of Red Rooster Group, he’s been helping nonprofit organizations overcome hurdles and inertia to wake up their brands and achieve their missions.

      Right out of college, he founded one of the first marketing agencies focused specifically on the needs of the nonprofit sector. In the three decades since, he’s helped hundreds of organizations across a range of causes to revitalize their brands, shore up their marketing, and raise millions for their organizations. Today, he’ll share his insights on how nonprofits can improve their fundraising effectiveness using behavioral principles.

      Learn more at https://www.redroostergroup.com/

      9 Creative Ways to Engage and Steward Your Donors pdf

      Download our Guide: 9 Creative Ways to Engage and Steward Your Donors

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      When you leave a review it helps this podcast get in front of other nonprofits that could use the support. If you liked what you heard here, please leave us a review.

      Full Transcript

      Sami Bedell-Mulhern
      Welcome to July in our month on Donor Stewardship and Outreach. I love this topic because I think it's something that we all can use some new ideas and support with, and stewardship of our donors is critical to the long term success of our organizations. And so today, we're talking about how behavioral science can help us in these communications and conversations with our audience. And we talk a lot about storytelling, we talk a lot about engagement, we talk a lot about connection. Today, we're gonna take it a step further and say, yes, all of those things are important. But we can use science to help us in that process to help us really understand how to craft the messages in a way that's going to engage with people on another level. And who doesn't love that? Right. So my guest today is Howard Levy. When it comes to nonprofit branding and marketing, Howard has seen it all as president of Red Rooster group, he's been helping nonprofit organizations overcome hurdles and inertia to wake up their brands and achieve their missions. Right out of college, he founded one of the first marketing agencies focused specifically on the needs of the nonprofit sector. And the three decades since he has helped hundreds of organizations across a range of causes to revitalize their brands, shore up their marketing, and raise millions for their organizations. Today, he'll share his insights on how nonprofits can improve their fundraising effectiveness using behavioral principles. Now, we don't get to nitty gritty into like scientific terms and things like that. So I was really excited about this conversation, because it's definitely something different for me as far as how we talk about donor outreach, connecting with donors, connecting with people, but it makes so much sense. And I know you're really going to enjoy this episode, and all the things that Howard has to share. But before we get into it, it's a new month. So that means a new freebie. And I'm super excited about July's freebie. So if you want some creative ways to engage with your donors, and steward them, we have a guide that's got 10 Creative Ways for You to Connect and Build on Those Relationships. So you can grab this guide at thefirstclick.net/resources, as well as all the other great freebies that we have launched this year. Each month, there's a new one that goes alongside the topics that we talked about in the month. So I hope that you enjoy again, thefirstclick.net/resources. Let's get into the episode.

      Intro
      You're listening to the digital marketing therapy podcast. I'm your host, Sami Bedell-Mulhern. Each month we dive deep into a digital marketing or fundraising strategy that you can implement in your organization. Each week, you'll hear from guest experts, nonprofits, and myself on best practices, tips and resources to help you raise more money online and reach your organizational goals.

      Sami Bedell-Mulhern
      Hey, friends, please join me in welcoming Howard Levy to the podcast. Howard, thanks for being here.

      Howard Levy
      Glad to be here. Thanks, Sami.

      Sami Bedell-Mulhern
      Yeah, so we talk a lot about digital marketing on this podcast, we don't talk a lot about science and how that relates to marketing. So I'm super excited for this conversation. I know I'm gonna learn a lot. But Howard, you specialize in behavioral science. So before we kind of jump into some of the strategies and things that you're here to share with us, could you just give us a rundown of what that means?

      Howard Levy
      Sure. Sure. I think I could I give you a little background. Absolutely. My background. So I started my company Red Rooster group about 25 years ago. So I've been working with nonprofits for a long time, and even you know, longer but 30 plus years. So I've kind of seen it all heard it all, mostly with your audience, small and mid sized nonprofits trying to raise money, but do the good work and get awareness and tell donors what you're doing and raise money. And so we've seen a lot over the course of time, as an intro to behavioral scientists say it's a relatively new idea that's come into the world, really, since 2011, is when it hit the public consciousness. When Daniel Kahneman, he wrote a book called Thinking Fast and Slow. And this introduced us to the way the mind really works. And he was a psychologist, but he won the Nobel Prize in Economics. He was actually the only non economist I guess he's an economist with the only psychologist to win a prize. Because all before that people were studying economists were studying numbers and how numbers work, right? When we think about the economy, we think about employment rates, we think about interest rates, like all these data points. And they're all very important. When I went to school, and studied economy, just like in high school, in laws of supply and demand. When supply is up, there's lots of stuff out there, prices go down, you know, demand is up, then prices go up. And this great phrase when all things being equal, right people act in their self interest. They'll buy the cheapest thing, right? They'll will take minimal trips to this sort of travel this distance, all those kinds of things that a rational mind would think. Well, that makes sense. So to an economist, that makes perfect sense. Well, Daniel Kahneman studied the mind, as opposed to the numbers, how people actually make decisions. And he found out that is very different. Yeah, in fact, how people make decisions, and it seems quite obvious. Now, retail therapy, I'm just gonna go shopping to make myself feel good is an emotional state, we have an emotional response and reaction to these things. So his books, Thinking Fast and Slow, and said that we think in two different ways we think in a in an intuitive way, and we think in a more cognitive way. So if I asked you, what's one plus one, pretty easy, it's a snap decision, you could make a new, you know that. If I asked you though, what's 234 plus 368? You could figure it out. But your mind is now figuring out how to figure it out? What's the process by which I do that? So you're engaging in a different part of your mind? So how does this relate to nonprofits and fundraising? Well, we want to activate that system to the system one thinking the fast, quick, easy, frictionless thinking, not the system to where we're getting cognitive load, we're asking people to pause to think, to decipher and then come to a decision. So the rubber hits the road, kind of in this whole arena of behavioral economics, have people make decisions about spending money, or in this case, contributing money, right? So there's all these different, you know, principles that have been put forth about how these, how people actually react to things in the real world, and how nonprofits could kind of use some of these techniques to prompt people to make better decisions in their case, not for buying stuff, like companies would use them for prompting people to buy things. But for for donating.

      Sami Bedell-Mulhern
      I love that overview. It's and it makes a ton of sense to me. Oh, and maybe this is something you're going to jump into a little bit later. But the question that this sparks for me immediately is, when we look at marketing trends over time, they tend to ebb and flow and it feels like it's moving at a rapid pace. So when we take, you know, look at some of these strategies that you're going to be sharing with us like how consistent does this day with marketing trends kind of moving? Or like, is this something we have to stay on top of all the time, or? I mean, this book you're referencing has been around for quite some time. So I'm sure there's some middle ground. But how does that work?

      Howard Levy
      Yeah, that's a good question. Because things do change, we can continually learn more about how people's minds work, the landscape is shifting people's attention spans is changing how people react to things, you know, is changing. So there are some general ideas, they should always be tested at the caveat, you know, on this, just like with anything with fundraising, there's no laws, if there was a lot of what worked exactly, everyone would be rich by just putting it into practice. You got it, you had the 10 might work in one circumstance, but not necessarily in another. So you do have to be aware of that. Something else is gonna say relation, but go ahead.

      Sami Bedell-Mulhern
      And I would assume that some of these strategies are kind of building that core foundation for how we approach our fundraisers. And then there's still always that human element that is constantly evolving, that we have to be aware of, but this is kind of helping us build kind of a longer foundational roadmap from which to kind of pull from right.

      Howard Levy
      There is and I'll talk about some of the the kind of fundamentals but I remember what I was gonna say was one way that we're actually learning how the mind works. And I should say, actually, the brain is because there's new technology to allow us to actually do that ECCS and ECGs that have electrodes on the head to monitor people's brain activity as they're thinking about things. So we can pose a question like that was one plus one or, you know, or, you know, a higher order problem. And we can see different regions of the brain activated. This is why we actually know that, you know, what's happening there. And they've asked people things about philanthropy, you know, for example, how does this make you feel to get $100? Or how does it make you feel to give $100 And actually, people feel better, giving the having be able to give and so between different technologies like that, like eye tracking, with heat maps, you can see what people are looking at on the screen, or sensors on their hands, you can see their pulse rate, you know, increases they're getting emotionally engaged in things and you may have seen some of these things where they give speeches and you can kind of see people you know, squeezer push a little button as a speakers talking and you could see what words are being very emotive or tribal or eliciting a strong reaction. So we're actually getting as a society we're learning more about the actual behavioral reactions of people with these kinds of physiological tools. We don't do that at register group but we can learn from what others are doing and the published research you know, on that that's called neuroscience actually testing people's behavioral responses and seeing that so a lot of that stuff is out there. And it's really interesting.

      Sami Bedell-Mulhern
      Well, why don't you jump into some of the strategies, kind of where we want to start when we're thinking about bringing behavioral science into our fundraising strategies?

      Howard Levy
      Yeah, sure. So one is just on this principle of self connection seems kind of obvious. But we all, you know, seem to have a quick affinity for someone who share something in common. Right? Oh, you went to that college? Right? immediate connection? Do you have anything that's like in common, you know, with you. And so there's an easy way for nonprofits that connect with their audience by activating some of those connections that they may have with people. And I'll kind of give you an example, just this kind of tribal affiliations and why it just took 20 people and you knew that maybe somewhere Yankees fans, and some were Red Sox fans that are tribals, and you had them wear their caps of their respective teams, you put them in a room, and you see what happens? What do you think is going to happen? Probably, you know, that the Yankee fans are going to talk to each other, the Red Sox fans there, and they're going to have some affinity as an in group together, and they're going to, you know, feel a certain way about the opposing side, right. But if you took off their hats, the same exact 20 people and you said, separated into cat lovers and dog lovers, and you put them in a room, you get a totally different response, right? If people are gonna make that Red Sox fans are gonna talk to the Yankees fan, because you're a dog lover to what kind of dog do you have? Right? And so when it comes to nonprofits, how can you help people kind of identify with your tribe with your in group? You know, is it as a member of a certain community as a cancer survivor? Is it a second amendment proponents as a, you know, a pro life pro choice person? Or is it a role, you know, are you You know, as a mother, you know, or a father or somebody, then you'd understand what it's like putting your kid in at night and the importance of this after school, or program. So, the first thing is really this whole idea of self connection? How can you immediately connect with your audience, by finding the common areas, and it could be that role, it could be someone's values, it could be some shared experiences. And those could be reflected, for example, in like a case study. So if you're sharing, like a success story, you know, maybe you could find ones that are more relatable by any of those kinds of interest areas, it's a person who is grew up in the same town or had some kind of shared experience or anything along those lines. And so just like that first idea of like, how are we identifying our audience and connecting with them, it goes into this idea of, of labeling is like actually putting a noun a label on on someone that's related. So there was an interesting little test of kindergarteners. And they asked them, you know, who could be, you know, who could help to clean up the classroom. And then they had the change the language slightly from who could help, which is a verb, to who's a helper. And they found that using that noun, increase their propensity to help 29%. And so, when we, when you think about, you know, how you're talking to your supporters in your fundraising letters, or your emails, or whatever it is, think about, like, what noun can be attached to them, that is, creates that really strong identity. So they feel part of that's, that's that's who they are not just something that they do. That's that, you know, that can change. And if you can create that, you know, that really strong connection that connects with their identity, that you have a stronger chance of connecting them, you know, with your cause?

      Sami Bedell-Mulhern
      Well, and can I jump in here? Because from a practical standpoint, basically, what you're saying is, as we're building relationships with people, you're creating those segments within maybe your CRM or your database or your email marketing platform, so that you can provide better communication that that is geared towards them, as opposed to just like blanket blasts of here's all the information. Maybe you care, maybe you don't.

      Howard Levy
      Exactly, that's exactly. You know, I always encourage organizations to think about the probably the biggest thing they can do to improve the communications for many organizations is to kind of flip their story and the way they write from the organizational perspective, to the audience perspective. So everyone's focused on here's what we do, here's all the great things we do. And here's the programs and here's all the people we impact. The donor is thinking, from my perspective, like what's in it for me, so they want to know how they can help those people or the environment or the arts or whatever it is, and And you're the means to do that you're the means for activating their philanthropic side for their good. So the language instead of like we do this, it's, you know, here's how you can help, here's, you're the one who are helping these kids or saving the trees or whatever, whatever it is. And that shift in language from like, the US, too, you can really have some transformative effects for your organization, especially if you're doing it kind of across the board, you can see the whole tonality change from the organization centered to donor centric. Charity, water, does this really well. And has really propelled their growth exponentially, you know, with this kind of effect is building the organization around like the donor experiences. It's not our wells, it's your wells. And here's how your wells are helping, you know, people.

      Sami Bedell-Mulhern
      Yeah. Charity, water does a lot of things. Well, they're, they're a good organization to look at. Okay, what's what's kind of? What's the next

      Howard Levy
      shoe? Yeah. So the idea is on what technique is on priming? How do you get your people to think about something in advance that kind of subtly influenced them? So if I said, you know, what do you want to do today? You got like this tons of things you could do, we could go outside the museum, go to a movie? And I said, you know, it's a really warm, beautiful day, would you like to go for a walk in the park? You know, what would you like to do today, you're predisposed to that idea. So nonprofits can predispose people, you know, to their ideas to their causes, by prompting them, you know, in different ways. There was an experiment in which a, there was a free service for providing wills and estates, and so will help prepare a free will for you. But they used some language in there that suggested that other people are leaving money in their will, you know, would you like to, you know, as well, and that increase the response rate. So, just by even, like suggesting something can help, there was another organization that put in a line in on their donation form, asking, you know, you know, who's someone that you, you know, that you love, and just by kind of activating that, and then it got them into the thinking about love, and then that emotional state, and that increased donations?

      Sami Bedell-Mulhern
      Well, and that goes back to kind of what you said at the beginning with like, the, with the math problem, right? Like, we're removing the decision fatigue, and we're saying like, this is, you know, once you get to the point where it's, it's appropriate to make that ask, if you don't make the ask, we can't just assume that they're going to do it, because they've got all these other things that are going on in their head that they're making decisions about, like we need to kind of help help drive that conversation. And so that leads me to a question with regards to like, language and words, like you mentioned earlier, like, Are you a helper? Would you like to help? Have you seen different words work better or worse in some of those conversations of like, you know, give join us donate, like, kind of that type of piece, when we're ready to make that ask?

      Howard Levy
      I think every organization is going to have a different sensibility about that. Some have really strong affiliations. I mean, if your, you know, political affiliations are really strong, I mean, people just identify and those are second amendment, you know, it's more than, you know, an idea, it's part of an identity. So, you know, feminism, other things are, like, you know, feminist, you know, some things are, like, really strong, and some are just like, Oh, that's good. I, you know, I'm helping, you know, this cause. So, you know, environmentalists, you know, people, some people really identify with something. So if you could, you know, activate those, that's good. And others, you know, there's less tenuous connection, but if you could find the ways to do it, you know, so even at like, like giving levels, you know, if you're starting a group and you say, You're a founding member, or charter member, you know, of a group, right, so you could just create some type of classification that people can then identify with and feel pride, you know, and then you start to see that reinforced with like, on a membership card, you know, you're you know, a member sense or supporter or, you know, you're a giver at a certain level, things like that, that can help them reinforce the ego gratification of feeling good, you know, as a positive reinforcement of their of their film, you know, their identity as a good philanthropist. Yeah, yeah. We use we use that priming principle for an organization to increase their average donations, and I'll tell you about that is an organization that was providing services for those experiencing homelessness, and this is in California, and that is a huge issue but Northern California and do will have very strong feelings about that. And so they are providing these services through the various facilities providing overnight more than overnight stays they provide for like 90 days, they get people on their feet, and then they could find them a new home. And with all the wraparound support services, the they had just come off a successful launch of modular village that got 128 people off the streets. And so instead of just celebrating that we helped to propel that into a larger vision.

      Howard Levy
      The director, the CEO, proposed building 10 More of those in the area. And so we created this theme of go big and go home, let's go big, let's think big. So more people, you know, can go home and have a have a place to stay, and then all the supporting language in the brochure that describes, you know, the impact that this would have on the community. Now that that framing, helped to elevate the average donations, a whopping 43%, from $870, to $1,252. For most of the donors, for major gifts, they went up even more went up from 5300, to 80 865%. So there may be other factors that contribute to that. But I think that elevating people's expectations of we're kind of just doing a little bit more your help could help a little bit more to there's a real bold vision that we could get inspired about, you know, tapping into that emotional motivation, you know, of inspiration, being bold, but then elevating people's expectations, you know, for the amount they should give, you know, with that a suggestive idea that it takes real money to make a difference here. And so I would encourage nonprofits to think big it and set high expectations, but that are realistic. If people feel like a problem is too intractable, then they will not help me like, my donation is not going to make any difference. But if you could show them that there's something tangible that they're funding that will actually make a difference, then they'll donate to support that. Well,

      Sami Bedell-Mulhern
      I think the thing that's beautiful about that example, is that you had proof of concept, because you'd already done almost like a pilot version of the program. So you could show proof of concept and impact, and then your go big and go home. I love that is so simple and easy for people to understand that, you know, even without reading supporting detail, you can kind of start to understand what the campaign is all about. So I yeah, I mean, I think that is such a great example. But that trust had to happen first, or the increase in gift wouldn't have have happened.

      Howard Levy
      Yeah, that's true. I look, I had a relationship, you know, with these donors, and they had they had proved it. So it is not first out of the gate. Although, you know, there have been things that, you know, if I just asked, you know, what's $100 worth to you? That's a hard question to ask, like, What are you talking about? You know, is that something that I saved for, like three months? And I'm like, I'm gonna hold on to that, or is that like, you know, it's, I gotta have a new laptop costs $1,000. Now, only $100? Great, you know, here, you know, here you go. So the idea there is that, like, people make decisions about money in context. And, you know, I think nonprofits often don't quite get that. But you know, there are people that aren't rational, they're not sitting back and saying, Here's a gonna donate, how much am I going to donate this year? And let me list all the causes and how much I give $50 to this group, and 100 to that one. And so they're all They're responding in the immediate moment of when they get your piece, or when someone asks them, their friends ask them, Hey, could you so for me on a cancer walk, right, or they're at a church, and there's a fundraising thing going on? Right? So they're reacting in the immediate moment? So how they're going to react is somewhat based on all those things, like the context and who's asking, but also the amount. So if the friend says, you know, you know, can you give me $50, you know, versus his friend says, you can give me $100, that's probably going to impact how you respond based on what she says, regardless of how much money have you made, you will temper if you don't have $100, you're not going to give it but if she only asked for $25, and you have the ability to give 100, then she's leaving some money on the table. So think when nonprofits are asking they have to think about, you know, what, their, what their donors could give in the context. And so that whole idea of priming and elevating, you know, as important, you mostly are many organizations using like customized gift arrays and on their donation forms, right. And so you're setting the expectation for how much someone should give based on their last donation or an average donation or some precedent that has been set. So if someone gave you $100, who might start those gift arrays on the response form at 100? And maybe One and a half times 150. And then 200 versus starting at $35. Because now you're kind of devaluing their expectation. And you can experiment with, you know, doing things that are, you know, much more, or even a singular amount. I've seen tests, you know, run all kinds of propositions. So it's gonna depend on there's no, there's no hard and fast rule. It's just a principle of setting an expectation, and then just testing different things out.

      Sami Bedell-Mulhern
      Yeah. So how do we take some of these principles like if you're hearing this, and it makes sense, because it makes sense to me. Some of them you're probably already doing, but you're just not calling it the same thing is what the terms are being used today. But, you know, fundraising is so much about mindset, and so much about the individual person and how they approach the other donor that they're talking to, right. So you could have three people at an organization, and they're all going to do it a little bit differently. So how can we kind of bring some of these strategies together as a team, to kind of uplevel all of our conversations and the way that we work with our marketing teams, and the way that we kind of make this a cohesive effort for the whole group?

      Howard Levy
      Well, I have a free tool for your listeners, they can access through our site, RedRoosterGroup.com. And look under the fundraising tab, we developed a deck of cards, it's actually a printable deck of cards with there's a PDF of them online. And what they do is they take 16 of these principles, and they organize them into four different categories. And then they give you prompts, prompts for using them. So the categories are this. The first one is understanding your audience. So collectively, how does your team understand who your audience is? And how can you use some of these principles? So whatever your database can say, you could confer as a team and say, This is our understanding of the audience. And then here's some of the principles that I've mentioned. They could use the self connection principle. So right, what are we going to do to identify those people that have identified with us? The labeling principle was the language that we're going to use the priming principle, what are the things that would activate those, you know, things? And the social norms principle? What are other people in that in group, you know, doing? And what? Evidence, you know, can we say, you know, most of the people in your town or in this group or dog lovers, you know, are taking the steps. And so creating that kind of bandwagon effect.

      Howard Levy
      The second part is the telling of the story. We didn't get into any of this yet. But framing, how do we, you know, frame our issue in a way that people can identify with this idea of loss aversion, people are more prone to loss than they are, you know, to gain and many nonprofits are talking about, you know, how do we, you know, let's just talk about all the things that the great things that we're doing, but there is an opportunity to kind of flip the framing on that, and say, here are all the things that will be lost, if you don't act, your kids will not have that after school program, if you don't support it, the trees will be cut down, and we'll lose that, you know, all the things that will be lost. And that can be a very powerful motivator. Single victim, which is kind of focusing on a particular person, or in case of an animal or that is identifiable and people can have a connection with, I'd like to talk about more of that later. So I think this is some real opportunity there, using metaphors and using rhymes. So some techniques, so just in terms of like, let's think about together collectively, you know, as a team, the digital team, the Online team, the direct mail, like what how are we going to tell our story? How are we going to frame our story? You know, who's who the subjects, you know, that we're going to use? What are the metaphors, you know, and can we use, like a rhyme to connect with people you give, you know, lots of famous runs and apple a day keeps the doctor away, click it or ticket or, you know, these things kind of stick in their mind. And they also seem like they're more credible, you know, when we hear that, you know, wear your seatbelt or you'll get a ticket or you know, somehow it feels like it has more authority. So, if you can create like catchphrases for your campaigns that have some rhyme that that can help. And then the third category is this crafting your offer. So we talked a little bit about those, you know, those gift arrays, but what other techniques can you do to kind of tee up you know, this idea of scarcity, you know, there's only a few tickets left or you know, how do you create that idea that there's something to be lost or the rarity, this idea of choice, and set completion. People want to feel a sense of completion and doing something you don't usually leave like the last bag, last chip, you know, in the bag or last couple of cookies. like just getting to finish the whole thing.

      Howard Levy
      So for nonprofits, they did some tests, it's kind of interesting, like, one of them was on writing cards for to, I think it was for seniors. And you know, you write a bunch of cards, you could just kind of write a card and click, you know, and write another card, you'd like to write another card, you like to write another, you know, after a while, people really, like, that's enough, I didn't have the data right in front of me, but it wasn't, maybe it was like three cards, you know, they, they give up, thank you, you did a good deed. But if you bunch it in a group like five, a set of five, then you know, we finished the set, you know, the set of five, so we can mail it out, you know, as a package, then people are more likely to not feel like they're abandoning, you know, not finishing the group. And so you're increasing that there is another test with a set of books, you know, is, you know, instead of just donating 10 bucks for a book, you know, for kids, but like, you know, donate $50 for the set, you know, a bucks or whatever the money, you know, laid out is like, you're getting a little more money, but they're feeling like they're getting the kids not getting a whole package. So I think this is an undervalued technique for nonprofits, this idea of set completion.

      Sami Bedell-Mulhern 
      I love that because it could also, you know, you know, as you're talking about ticket sales for your Gala, it's like, okay, well, you could buy 10 individual tickets. But if you buy the group, sorry, because I hit my mic. If you buy a sponsorship package, then you get two tickets basically, for free plus all the like how you kind of create that. And using scarcity. Alongside that I've Well, we only have three of these packages. You know, I think messaging around that could definitely improve. But I think that's like a great practical example, maybe of what that would look like on for an event versus like, if you're not selling a physical product, or bundling, I mean, just, I think when I hear you sharing all these techniques, it's like even just thinking about being more aware, when you're out making your own buying decision and the things that you're now you're going to start to see all of these different, that are around you, and take those into your nonprofit, like use those as like inspiration to cause you running a business. So yeah, I love that that bundle in

      Howard Levy
      the corporate world is like so far ahead. I mean, they have teams of behavioral psychologists trying to manipulate us into buying stuff. If you buy an airline ticket, there's a little timer, you got five minutes left, you know, 300 people chose this destination, you'll get points, I mean, all these little triggers or create new little anxiety, I have to do this. Now a lot of people are doing it, I'm going to miss out, don't lose your seat, pick your seat, you know, you know, all these kinds of things. And so the nonprofits are so far behind this, but we have to use the powers of good, we have to use this for you know, for the powers of good, and there's no reason that we can't do that. Yeah. And then the last, the last grouping in that was called determining your delivery, which I think here is also like a little bit of an underlooked overlooked area. One of them is called credible messenger, basically, who's telling your story. So the letter is typically coming from executive director or the development director, it doesn't have to, there's no law about that. Why don't you have you know, a recipient of your program, you know, tell the story, have the child write it, have the mother, you know, have a tree, right, it says thanks for the tree, I was standing here for 100 years watching all of my, you know, trees grow nurturing little saplings. And now you come in to, you know, to cut me off or whatever. You can do that with inanimate objects and have them write things. But who's the trusted messenger for your audience, you know, it doesn't have to be exotic, but it could be a local spokesperson or celebrity, it could be a business person that's respected the community, it could be that cancer survivor, you know, who's telling her her story. So find interesting ways to do that. We once had 100% response rate on a direct mail piece. Now granted, it's very small, it's like 30 pieces. But we use letters for it was a musical program for kids. And we got letters from all the way all the kids to write a little thank you note about, you know, what this means to you, that's all and they had, they wrote it in their marker or crayon or whatever it was. And we made some copies and we put those in each of the letters along along with a letter. And so there was a personal connection and an emotional affinity now for your contribution was going to this is hear it now directly from the person who's benefiting. And so there's some opportunity to be creative, you know, with who the letters coming from, or the email or whatever, how the message or even the video or you know, how those things delivered?

      Sami Bedell-Mulhern
      Well, it's I have a question about that. Because as we think about how culture is changing, and just the general makeup of our population is changing, and I love a good video Thank you. I think that I always encourage all my clients to do that, because nobody's doing it. And I love this conversation about it doesn't have to come from the executive director, I think that's fantastic. How important do you think, for our behavior is it also for us to see that the organization is made up of people like us, like having diversity in the people that are doing these thank yous, from the standpoint of somebody is going to identify, like, going back to your initial conversation about we, you know, the herd mentality, like we want to connect with people that are similar or have commonality. So whether that's, you know, from a dei standpoint, or whether it's from an interest standpoint, or the program that they're excited about, like, we want to do we want to consider those, like, once we've tagged them as this thing in our CRM should the thank you also kind of follow through with that.

      Howard Levy
      Everything should be connected. That's totally right. And I think organizations are getting much more cognitive that and there's more, you know, funding and support for non white, you know, leaders to, you know, founders and leaders, you know, in the empowerment. So, yes, people, it's any particular kind of issue sectors, more than others in which those communities, you know, disadvantaged communities are more effective. Do you want to see that there's a, you know, the problem, the solutions are coming from them and not from outside, you know, telling us, You know what to do? Yeah, so yes, that's a very good point, Sami, well,

      Sami Bedell-Mulhern
      I just love your sending it from an inanimate object as well, because I think it really ultimately goes back to what are you trying to do? And how can you continue to reinforce that in everything, and it just makes you stand out, like makes you more genuine. And I think, to your point earlier about corporate America is, is using this on us all the time, let's be more ethical about it. Like, that's a great example of, I shouldn't say ethical, but like, I think you know what I mean, we're not gonna be trying to pull the wool over anyone's eyes. But that's a great way to do that, in a way that makes sense for your organization.

      Howard Levy
      It is. Yeah, I mean, there are ethical considerations, if you're trying to, you know, I think some companies do kind of try to manipulate us in a way that is unfair. I think that the standard is kind of, if you have a choice in opting out of something versus you know, doing a default, like you're signed into our newsletter already, without, you know, once you give us either you make a donation that we're, you know, we're emailing you, you know, there's the ethical line of, you know, you didn't ask for that person didn't ask, you know, for that, but if you're being clear, and there's all options, so it doesn't matter, if you're on the gift to raise, you're starting $100, it's 50, they could throw the whole thing out, or they could just write in another amount, whatever, it is always the choice, they always have the choice. It's when you don't allow the choice, then I think that crosses the ethical limits.

      Sami Bedell-Mulhern
      We could talk about this all day long, but I want to give you the opportunity. You had mentioned earlier, one of the elements of your PDF that you wanted to get back to I can't remember what you called it.

      Howard Levy 
      Story, the storytelling, the single victim we were talking about

      Sami Bedell-Mulhern
      touch on, before we wrap before we wrap this up, because this has been fantastic.

      Howard Levy
      Yeah, so you know, I think that here, I'll give you a little a little quiz here. Not really a quiz, but a sample test that was run. And so it was a nonprofit organization that was looking to raise money for years, okay, it's for you'll see, Save the Children. So I'm gonna read your two passages, okay. And then you can decide, you know, which one you know which ones you would want to support. And these are very truncated as a long letter, but these are just getting one pair. I'm gonna read one paragraph, I'm gonna read you another paragraph. So one paragraph is called African tragedy. Food shortages in Malawi are affecting more than 3 million children. In Zambia, severe rainfall deficits have resulted in a 42% drop in maize production from 2000. As a result, an estimated 3 million Zambians face hunger, 4 million Angolans, a third of the population have been forced to flee their homes more than 11 million people in Ethiopia need immediate food assistance. Okay, so that's the first one clearly there is a great need and your donation could help a lot of people. The next one is called Rokia. Any money that you do that you donate will go to Rokia, a seven year old girl from Malawi from Mali, Africa, Rokia is desperately poor and faces a threat, severe hunger and even starvation. Her life will be changed for the better as a result of your financial gift. With your support and the support of other caring sponsors. Say the children will work with rookies family and other members of the community to help theatre provider with education results as well as basic medical care and hygiene education. All right, so those are the two. So I'll ask you what the results are. But you probably have already kind of surmised, you know how these have worked out. The first one that mentioned statistics raised on average dollar 14, the second one with Rokia raised an average of $2.38. It's a double, little more than double. So there's the power of telling a personal story. Now, there's a combination approach that uses her story, and how do you think that?

      Sami Bedell-Mulhern
      I would think that that one did the best because for me, I think when you throw a bunch of stats and numbers at people, it becomes overwhelming. And we kind of start to phase out. And also you might think, well, if I give to this, if there's no way, like you said this earlier, my dollars, not going to really make as much of an impact is too big of a situation. But on the flip side, even though it's a personal story, some people might feel like, well, that's only one child that all of these funds are supporting, I'd maybe don't need to give because enough people will be able to cover that. So I would think, and I could be wrong. But I would think a combination of the two would also allow you to say, you know, your funds will go to support roku. Did I say her name wrong? Rokia and other families like hers, which now it's like, okay, I can see the impact I can give on one family. And there's tons of families that need the support. Am I right?

      Howard Levy
      I would think exactly the same thing. And I've done exactly the same thing. And fundraising letters in this test did not do as well $1.42 Only slightly above the statistics only approach. So I, you have to test these things out. The I'll point it out. Some other things, though, in that story, too, that I think kind of unfairly. You know, change the results. I'll read some part of it again. And notice some things that we were talking about earlier, any money that you donate to Rokia, so we're activating. So, so third person reporting of an issue of food shortages, you know, in these different places and the number, we're actually we're talking directly to the person and remember how we said kind of flipping the script to say, how you could have an impact, it's saying your money is going there, not our money is still you know, as we're supporting her, but your money, you know, as you know, is going back. And then they say her life will be changed for the better as a result of your financial gift. I wonder if they had to use that language in the other part two, you know, as you know, you're you could change the lives of the 11 million. But, you know, we kind of see this with other other you know, cases back in the day 2011. After many years of the war in Syria, and people are not paying attention, that photo, that poor kid Aylan Kurdi has pushed up on the beach, to galvanize people, in so many cases where like a single image, you know, just calls attention. We're brains are wired for that we can connect with people not with the masses, and the statistics. So see that statistics don't have any role. But in activating the emotional, you know, trigger for donating, you want to kind of keep that, you know, first and foremost,

      Sami Bedell-Mulhern
      Well, I think that that's a great place to wrap things up. Because it kind of brings together this whole thing of like, the science is here to tell us how we think in like how our brains operate. Generally, it gives us kind of that framework. But at the end of the day, it still is people talking to people. And that's what matters. So like really taking the science to help you refine and maybe tweak the way you're talking. I love some of the examples that you just gave in that last piece. And taking a look at the stories. And the challenge that I would give people is, you know, Howard, you mentioned a lot about testing and, you know, testing in your email campaigns throughout the year testing in your social media testing on your donation page throughout the year. So you don't have to test during a big critical campaign, right, that testing could have happened throughout all your other smaller efforts. So that when you come to your big campaign, you know, the language that's resonating with your audience, you've worked on refining who that audience is, and you've built those stories to talk directly to them.

      Howard Levy
      Right, right. I mean, it's a good practice to always be testing if you have a big enough database. Not everyone does. So sometimes you just have to send out one piece and you know, yeah, yeah.

      Sami Bedell-Mulhern
      I love that. Well, Howard, I know that you have so much more to say on this topic. I know that you have so much more that you can share and encourage people to kind of continue to do better with their fundraising. If people want to connect with you and Red Rooster marketing. How do they do that?

      Howard Levy
      Our website is RedRoosterGroup.com You can connect with us there and you could find me LinkedIn, Howard Adam Levy. That's probably the best two places you could info@redroostergroup.com as an email, and we'll connect there.

      Sami Bedell-Mulhern
      I love it. And we'll have all the show this on the show notes at thefirstclick.net/ 264. So you can always grab all of that there, including the link to the freebie that Howard mentioned earlier, which sounds amazing. So, thank you so much for being here today and sharing all of your insights.

      Howard Levy
      Yeah, thanks so much for having me.

      Sami Bedell-Mulhern
      Okay, so I'm curious about your biggest aha moment, because I know there were quite a few. But I'm so grateful to Howard for sharing his expertise with us on this episode and kind of geeking out on the science talk, right? I was a psychology major for one semester in college, but I love this stuff. And I love the way that it can kind of really just help us take our conversations, or marketing to the next level, being totally authentic, being totally transparent, and just crafting it in a way that makes sense for our audience. So I'm really excited about this episode, and glad you guys escaped to listen and find all the resources and additional information about Howard in the show notes at thefirstclick.net/264. Thank you so much for listening, I would really appreciate it if you would hit that subscribe button so you don't miss out on a single episode. And while you're there, grab the link and share it with a friend that you know can use some support in their fundraising and donor outreach. I know you know a few. So for now, thank you so much for listening, and I will see you in the next one.

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