Using Social Proof

You might not have heard of the term “social proof” before, but you’re probably very familiar with it in your everyday life. Every time you go to a restaurant or café because a friend recommended to you, that’s social proof. Every time you read a review of a product on a website, that’s social proof. So, what is it? Simply the provision of information that people will be more likely to believe or act on because it comes from a source which is deemed trustworthy.

Why is social proof important in crowdfunding?

As more and more content is published and shared online, audiences are increasingly skeptical of new information. Today, seeing is not believing. Yet when a person we know or someone we respect endorses a product, our trust in that product rises. Consider the evidence: 92% of people trust recommendations from friends and family above all other forms of marketing (source), and you only have to look at websites like Amazon or Trip Advisor to see the power of product reviews.
Integrating social proof into your campaign communications is a powerful strategy for influencing potential donors. If you consider the five sources of social proof —expert, celebrity, user, wisdom of the crowd, and wisdom of your friends—it’s clear you have a varied toolkit to choose from. Moreover, the way you deploy your social proof can generate different emotional reactions and be used for different objectives: to increase the overall number of donors, encourage higher giving levels, or reach a new audience.

Ideas for incorporating social proof into your next campaign

1. Make donor testimonials a key part of your communications.

We’re used to the idea of sharing beneficiary testimonies, but why not donor experiences? Sharing someone else’s positive story of interaction with the organization is one of the easiest ways to inspire confidence in first-time donors. To get started, gather some feedback from your current donors asking questions such as:
  • How have they been involved with your organization?
  • What value do they see in your organization’s work?
  • How has it made them feel?
Then incorporate the most inspiring and unexpected comments into your emails, social media posts, and website. Remember that a picture is worth a thousand words, so include photos, names, and some background info (where possible) to make the testimonials even more authentic.

2. Encourage donors to leave a comment on your HIPGive project page.

One of the unique features of HIPGive is that donors can choose to leave a public message for you as they make their donation. These are published on the “Givers” section of your project page.

Have a look at the comments in Luna Maya’s project “Help indigenous women access safe and respectful care.” Then, imagine how this type of messages could be included in project updates and mid-campaign—the genuine positive emotive and enthusiasm could easily be used to encourage more donors to come on board and help push a project to the finish line. 

3. Recruit an expert or an influencer.

Do you know someone who is a thought leader or has a large following on social media? Ask them to donate, share, and add personal comments to your official communications—it will add both visibility and credibility to your campaign.

4. Set a staff challenge.

Challenge each of your colleagues from across the organization (not just in the fundraising department) to ask at least 10 people to make a contribution. They can ask anyone from their professional or personal networks. What's more, if you offer a prize for the staff member who raises the most, you'll be surprised how hard they will work!

5. Share your professional credentials.

While some people are moved by emotion, many others make rational decisions or are at least swayed by objective information. If your organization has won prizes, is certified, or holds any other professional distinction, you can mention this in your project narrative, or include it in the footer of your emails, such as in this example from Save the Children: 

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