How to get a foot in the door, and how this can help you raise money for charity.
The persuasive power of commitment
Regular readers will know I've spoken before about the power of commitment. Basically us human beings don't like being seen as inconsistent, so once we've committed to something, we're significantly more likely to do it. This week, a specific technique called 'foot-in-the-door'.
But before I tell you how, there's a problem here isn't there. 'Foot-in-the-door' sounds bad. For some reason I think of a slimy travelling salesman turning up at my house trying to sell me insurance. It sounds dodgy and annoying. So to make us feel better about using foot-in-the-door theory - it's used here in the context of raising money for charity. Once you see that a foot-in-the-door can be put to work positively, hopefully you'll feel better about it.
The theory is that somebody is more likely to agree to a significant request when they’ve already agreed to a smaller, related request. (As long as you’ve got your foot wedged in the door, you can get the rest of you in!)
In 1983 a group of researchers found they could increase donations to charity using the foot-in-the-door. Schwarzwald, Bizman and Raz asked a group of people to make a donation, but some participants had been previously asked to sign a petition simply agreeing with the aims of the charity. The ones who’d signed the petition were more likely to donate.
It works in all sorts of areas though. In 1993 two different researchers called Taylor and Booth-Butterfield found that foot-in-the-door could help prevent drink-driving. They discovered drunks were found to be more likely to call for a taxi rather than drive home if they’d previously signed a petition against drunk driving. And the foot-on-the-door seems to work whether the commitment is written or verbal. For example, home-owners who’d made a verbal commitment to recycling were then more likely to put a sticker in their windows saying “We recycle and we do it right” (Arbuthnot 1976-77).
Ask a small, general question to get an initial verbal commitment from people about giving something to your charity fundraising effort. This can be a simple as ‘I’m running the marathon for charity soon, can I put you on my list of potential donors?' (1 minute per donor)
This technique has helped save lives, raise environmental awareness and make money for charity. Doesn't make a foot-in-the-door sound so bad after all, does it?
Photo Credit: Chron