Turkeys, Triggers & Fundraising

Updated: Jun 6

In his book, Influence, Robert Cialdini tells of mother turkeys who respond, almost machine-like, to one specific trigger.

These turkey mothers are loving, watchful, and protective. They spend much of their time tending, warming, cleaning, and huddling the young beneath them.

Using the science of ethology–the study of animals in their natural settings–he points out that virtually all of this mothering is triggered by one thing: the 'cheep cheep' sound of young turkey chicks.

He describes an interesting experiment involving the natural enemy of the turkey: a polecat.

The experimenters found that even a stuffed model of a polecat, when drawn by a string toward a mother turkey, received an immediate and furious attack.
When, however, the same stuffed replica carried inside it a small recorder that played the 'cheep-cheep' sound of baby turkeys, the mother not only accepted the oncoming polecat but gathered it underneath her.
When the machine was turned off, the polecat model again drew a vicious attack.

Mother turkeys will ignore or even kill those chicks that don't cheep-cheep.

She will even embrace a natural enemy just because it does.

Cialdini tells many stories of animals and people and their triggers. Sometimes the trigger is a shade of color. Sometimes it is an intricate sequence of behaviors. It can even be a word like because.

In short, my mind is blown by all the things that are triggers in our lives. We are unaware of most of them.

What does this have to do with fundraising? A LOT! Many things that fundraisers do unknowingly trigger good and bad responses in potential donors. It pays to learn as many of these unknown triggers as we can. What we don't know can hurt us!

What are some of these triggers?

Trigger #1: The Colors In Your Collateral

All colors don't go together. There are some colors you should NEVER use together. When you don't use the right colors and color combinations, you trigger a response in your potential donors.

Do you know that some colors communicate strength and mystery? Other colors' bold appearances are energizing and uplifting. Some colors convey fun or anger. Are you aware of what the colors of your fundraising collateral are communicating? Do they match your messaging? IT MATTERS.

Determining colors that go together is called color theory. It started back in 1666 when Sir Isaac Newton invented the color wheel that mapped the color spectrum onto a circle (Read more here).

Trust me when I tell you that the colors you are using trigger a response in your donors. Make sure the response you are triggering is the one you want.

Want to learn more? Study color theory and color meanings and work to trigger the right responses in your donors.

Trigger #2 Fonts

Different fonts have been proven to have astonishing effects on human psychology, with some powerful fonts even able to alter the taste of food or make people angry to the point of social revolution (Read more here).

Like colors, there are some fonts that you NEVER use together.

I sometimes shudder when I see fundraiser's collateral with whole collections of colors and fonts that should NEVER be used together.

What can you do? Make a style guide for your brand. A style guide helps your organization define its "voice." It promotes consistency; in fonts, colors, and more.

Your style guide will consist of a couple of fonts and a color scheme. Use this guide every time you create a piece of collateral. Keep it handy and give it to designers who create collateral for you.

Need some help navigating the color and font jungle? For those of you who don't have a style guide for your organization, I have created a class; Style Guide Made Simple. In the class, I walk you through how to choose matching fonts and colors and make your style guide.

Stop confusing your potential donors, get a style guide for your organization, say thank you, and tell stories all the way to the bank!


P.S. Check out my class Style Guide Made Simple. For the next seven days, I have discounted the class by $50. After that, it goes back to its original $99 price.

20 views0 comments