Recent research from the University of Kent has suggested that some of the techniques we might associate with the more cheesy end of consumer advertising might actually help to support fundraising campaigns.
Academics conducted a study into “Darwinian psychology and its relevance to charitable giving, philanthropy and volunteering”. The results suggested that we are all more likely to give if in the company of someone we are trying to impress.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, men were the most likely to give in this scenario. I suspect that this is a fact many charities have known for years given the number of badged, charity ‘rose sellers’ stalking restaurants for couples on a Friday and Saturday night.
The study concludes that using images of women associating themselves with a campaign or cause seems to affect both men and women positively. Also, women tend to be impressed by altruistic men and swayed by images of children (if only I’d known that 15 years ago).
So aside from recycling Gillette or L’oreal adverts, how can charities use this information to their marketing advantage? Here are a few suggestions as a starter for ten; please feel free to add or share your views:
Use images of empowered women in your marketing. The most effective are often real-world images of attractive (but not contrived and obviously glamorous) women actively doing things that you are trying to promote.
That said, research suggests that for some inexplicable reason, women tend to prefer their media authority figures as male. I’m not making this up. When I worked at a healthcare company we proved the hypotheses several times over through creative testing. Time after time, images of doctors and surgeons were perceived as more credible by women if we used male models or shots.
Choose the age of the models (or staff members you are going to photograph) to fit with the expectations of the target audience. In order to appeal to men in particular we need to remember that once guys hit 35, they don’t perceive themselves as much older than mid twenties. This pattern is continued as we age. This means that using images of ladies in their 40s won’t be as appealing to men of the same age as using images of women who are perceived to be somewhere in between 25 and 35.
This doesn’t mean you can start to drape scantily clad women over sports cars in order to encourage donations from men if it is out of context for your charity. For example you might be able to generate support for testicular cancer charities (as everyman did incredibly well with their Rachel Stevens video) using this approach but not every audience will find it relevant to your message (or your brand).
Get a good gender balance to any comments or testimonials you are using BUT relevance must be the primary driver for inclusion. Recipients care less about gender than whether you are wasting their time.
Seek role models to build longer term associations with your charity and your activities. Consumer brands are perhaps best known for this with The Bisto Family being synonymous with family meals for those of us over a certain age. BT’s new home-hub family is fast acquiring similar status as people can relate to the circumstances and the surroundings, as well as the messages. This one is quite clever as it portrays the guy as being attractive because he is prepared to engage with his girl’s exiting family (see above)
You could invite women to fundraising events to have dinner with known philanthropic men.
How about sponsoring a string of speed-dating sessions held by any one of the larger matchmakers? You could make charitable giving, volunteering and philanthropy an integral theme so people would be looking for these very qualities and hopefully the guys will donate due to the pressure!
Finally, don’t actually make sweeping generalisations about your donors or indeed take my word for the ideas above. Test it out for yourselves with your own audiences and see what happens.