Then add these three books to your summer reading list…
Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
Take a good look at the two lines below. Obviously line A is longer right?
Wrong. Lines A and B are of identical length. If you measure them, your conscious, the being you call ‘I’, has a new belief. Now you know the lines are equally long and if asked you’d say what you know. But you still see the top line as longer. You cannot decide to see the lines as equal, even though you know they are.
Why? Because our brains aren’t as rational as we flatter ourselves. Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahneman describes the mental life using the metaphor of two agents, called System 1 and System 2. System 2 is slow, and deliberate. It requires effort and concentration, but it’s lazy. That’s where System 1 takes over. It’s intuitive, impulsive, and the secret author of most the choices we make.
The more we understand the way we think the better we can influence our donors, which brings me to my next book recommendation.
Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert B. Cialdini PH.D
This book breaks down the psychology of why people say ‘yes’.
Our brains, for the most part, operate on auto-pilot. We don’t have the time, energy or capacity to deal with the huge amount of stimulus we’re exposed to everyday. To deal with it we need shortcuts. When making a decision we resort to pre-conceived stereotypes; rules of thumb that classify things according to a few key features. Most of the time we respond automatically when one or another of these trigger features is present.
Through over thirty-five years of rigorous, evidence based, research Cialdini has uncovered many of these triggers. His book presents six universal principles to help you become a skilled persuader. (Want to know which single word added to an ask saw response rates jump to 94%?!)
Made to Stick by Chip and Dan Heath
Everyone in the sector talks about storytelling. Every conference, every blogger, every fundraising journalist goes on (and on, and on) about why we should be telling stories. But very few fundraisers know how to tell one. In a crowded marketplace (there’s over 180, 000 registered charities in the UK, plus countless more too small to register) it’s vital your story stands out.
In this book the brilliant Heath brothers break down the six factors that make a story, a message, or a movement ‘sticky’, by changing your audience’s opinions and behaviours. Using them will make sure what you say is understood and remembered in a way that has a lasting impact.
These books aren’t about fundraising, so why should fundraisers read them? Because we have a duty to those we serve to ask others to help them. Great fundraisers must be great influencers; otherwise we’re just well-intentioned people drawing a salary from suffering.
These books aren’t theory; they’re empirical evidence based research. Reading and applying them will make sure you’re influencing your donors thinking in a way that sticks.