My Business Origin Story Part 2
The phone rang.
“Firelight Foundation. This is Dawn.”
“Heh-LOH Sis-TAH, I am calling from U-GAN-da.”
Warm fuzzies instantly filled my heart.
I did not know this man. I had never been to Uganda. I certainly was not his sister. But I wanted to help him. More than I had ever wanted to help anyone else who had called.
Why so much warmth generated by the word sister?
My fundraising work at Firelight began in 2010. “It’s hard, though,” said the woman training me, “no one cares about Africa.”
But now it was my job to make people care.
“Tell stories,” was the answer the Internet gave me. Tell stories of Firelight’s impact, and thus, the donor’s impact.
Luckily for me, Firelight had tons of them. I learned the stories, I categorized the stories. I looked for photos to go with the stories.
A picture, after all, is worth 1,000 words.
Looking at the photos one day, I noticed a deepening relationship between the subjects, our work, and myself.
“Huh,” I thought. “If this is happening to me, then it must also happen to prospects and donors.”
I put the photo series in an email blast, letting the photos tell the story.
Nine people wrote back to my fundraising email.
They shared with me their experiences with Africa, organic farming, or both. And, no, that was NOT normal. If we were lucky, they would click to donate. But, they never wrote back.
Clearly, the email helped people connect to the work happening in Africa.
What I Know Now: the Principle of Unity Was at Work
According to Robert Cialdini, when people sense that they share an identity, they feel happier helping each other. When people feel a sense of shared identity with you, they are more amenable to your requests. Neurobiologically, the self-reward center of the brain gets highly stimulated after we help family members. Humans are wired to want to help those with whom we share identity.
Creating a Sense of Unity Increases Sales and Engagement
The shared experience of organic farming and/or being in Africa again through photos lit up our donor’s brains. That’s why they wrote back to the fundraising appeal.
One Ugandan called me “sister”, and I was excited to help him. The strongest unity triggers are familial.
It was by creating a sense of unity that I was able to help create these results for Firelight:
- 75% income growth in individual donations FY 11/12 over FY10/11
- 353% average yearly increase of new grassroots donors
- 200+ emails added to donor database in three months
Unity, It’s Not Just for Peace-Loving Hippies.
To make unity to work for you, you must find ways to help people feel a shared sense of identity with your organization or your offering.
Need help figuring out ways to help people identify with your product or cause?Schedule a Free Consultation