eye brain by Anita Kelsall via unsplash resized photo-1455542856035-b2b80c50f1b0                                                                                                                    Anita Kelsall via unsplash

For-profit companies and university studies have been swarming to research surrounding cognitive science for the last decade. Much of this research has been focused on human decision-making in regard to advertising and sales … highly valuable information to those of us looking to catch our donors’ attention and improve our fundraising results.

Recent findings suggest that everything about our campaigns, from direct mail to digital advertising to email solicitation, can be improved by applying this science to our art and messaging. Here are three concepts taken from modern day scientific research that can help your fundraising efforts today.

1. Face the Facts

A study out of the UK showed that people are drawn toward images of human faces. This means that by using a picture of a person’s face, your mail might get that extra look necessary to drive a donation. That same research suggested that the viewer’s eyes are drawn in the direction of the eyes in the picture, so use that to focus attention on your ask.

2. Location, Location, Location

This saying is true for more than just real estate. Web ads capture more attention when vertical, positioned to the right of text, and toward the top of a page. This can be applied to other mediums as well. Direct mail can place the ask in a separate vertical banner at the top-right of a newsletter; emails can do the same. If you’re not asking for donations until the very bottom of a document or email, there’s a chance that the reader will never see it.

3. You Get What You Give

There is no doubting the strength of reciprocity. That is, when you give people something, there is a feeling of obligation to give back something that they consider of at least equivalent value. The lowest response rates are with new donors, but could we nudge that in the right direction by including a gift with their mailing? The science says yes. It’s also applicable to our best donors; giving them gifts of higher perceived value should drive higher average gifts and improved response rates.

Let your takeaway from this be: every little bit matters. None of these are immediate, all-encompassing solutions to fundraising woes. They are, however, potential opportunities to nudge your efforts in the right direction and incrementally improve your ability to fund your mission.

Grant Novins is a Marketing Data Analyst at Innovairre Communications, which supports more than 500 nonprofit organizations around the world. Contact us at Answers@Innovairre.com; subscribe to our newsletter here; and follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter.