Social proof is the powerful idea that if we think everyone else is acting in a certain way, we're likely to act that way, too. People are conformists by nature, and we take cues about how to think and what to do from those around us. Social norms fuel entire industries. Would the fashion world be able to motivate us to buy a narrower tie or a longer skirt this year if we didn't care what people think?
At Network for Good, we've used the principle of social norms to increase donations through our web site. We state that more than 100,000 nonprofits have raised more than $800 million through our service to show how easy and safe it is to give through our system. Many charities have "cybergiving week" - that end-of-year spike in online giving. The psychological subtext is simple; everyone's doing it, so you should too!
Here are some ways you can generate social proof for your cause:
- Once you get some critical mass going, use fundraising tickers. Show how many people are giving, in real time.
- Count your community: Show how many people have taken action to create a sense of a growing community of like-minded people.
- Use testimonials: Quotes from people talking about why they support you are powerful. Other people are often your best messengers.
- In your call to action, choose wording that demonstrates that others are already participating, e.g. "join millions of other generous Americans" or "hundreds of other concerned members in your community".