As the old adage goes, “contagious generosity begets more generosity.” We’ve all seen it in action: someone donates to a cause, and their friends and family follow suit. It happens time and again, proving that the power of social proof is strong. But what exactly is social proof, and how can nonprofit organizations harness its power to drive more donations? Let’s take a closer look.

What is Social Proof?

Social proof is the psychological phenomenon that occurs when people conform to the actions of others in order to feel like they belong. In other words, if we see that everyone around us is doing something, we’re more likely to do it ourselves. This phenomenon has been well-documented in the field of social psychology, and it explains why things like fads and trends catch on so easily.

When it comes to fundraising, social proof can be a powerful tool for driving donations. When donors see that their friends and family are giving to a particular cause, they’re more likely to do the same. And when nonprofit organizations publicize their donor list or share stories of individual donors on their website or social media channels, they’re tapping into the power of social proof to encourage more giving.

No matter what form it takes, social proof is a potent means of persuasion. In fact, studies have shown that social proof is one of the most persuasive cues we can receive. This is because when we see other people doing something, we feel pressure to conform in order to maintain our social status. We don’t want to be seen as lagging behind our peers, so we’re more likely to take action when we see others doing so first.

What’s more, social proof is especially effective when it comes to charitable giving. Donations are what keep nonprofits running, so it’s critical that fundraising leaders find ways to tap into this powerful psychological principle. Here are a few ways to do just that.

How to Use Social Proof in Fundraising

There are a number of ways that nonprofit organizations can use social proof to drive donations. Here are a few ideas:

1. Share Stories of Individual Donors

Whether you feature donor stories on your website, in your e-newsletter, or on social media, sharing stories of why people give to your organization is an effective way to tap into the power of social proof. When potential donors see that their friends and family are supporting your organization, they’ll be more likely to do the same.

2. Utilize Testimonials

One of the best ways to utilize social proof is by sharing testimonials from past donors or beneficiaries of your organization. These can be in the form of written testimonials, video testimonials, or even quotes that can be featured on your website or social media channels.

3. Invite donors to join a giving society

Giving societies are another great way to harness the power of social proof. When potential donors see that their peers have joined a giving society or made a major gift to your organization, they’ll be more likely to do the same.

4. Ask for referrals

One of the most direct ways you can harness the power of social proof is by asking existing donors for referrals. When people trust your organization enough to give you their hard-earned money, chances are they’ll be happy to put in a good word for you with their friends and family members.

5. Highlight match gifts and challenges

Another great way to harness the power of social proof is by highlighting match gifts and challenges during your fundraising campaigns. Publicizing these types of giving opportunities helps show prospective donors that their contributions will go further than they might think—an important incentive for many people when deciding whether or not to donate.

6. Spotlight major donors and ambassadors

Have big names within your network who are willing serve as public ambassadors for your nonprofit. These major donors and influential individuals can help promote your work and attract new supporters through their own personal networks. Highlighting their involvement shows prospective donors that your nonprofit is supported by people they admire and respect—a powerful form of social proof indeed!

7. Leverage Social Media

In today’s digital age, social media is a powerful tool that can be used to reach a wide audience quickly and easily. When using social media for fundraising, be sure to highlight posts from individuals or groups who have supported your organization in the past. You can also share photos or videos from events or campaigns that have been successful in raising awareness and funds for your cause.

The power of social proof is strong—so strong, in fact, that it can have a major impact on fundraising efforts. By sharing stories of individual donors, inviting donors to join a giving society, or asking for referrals, you can tap into this powerful psychological phenomenon and drive more donations for your organization.