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Quick Hit: Can relaxing your donors lead to bigger or more frequent donations?

Go to a political fundraiser and you’ll see a wide range of approaches.  Some attempt to gin up the excitement of their donors by creating a festive, exciting picture of the candidate and his or her future.

When it comes to fundraising though – it appears this excitement approach is misguided.

A 2011 study by Michel Pham, Iris Hung, and Gerald Gorn in the Journal of Marketing Research showed that people valuated products very differently when relaxed than when not.

How differently?  The “relaxed state” valuation was on average 13% higher – and in some cases (for example when valuating a spa treatment) 27% higher.

Across six experiments, they showed that simple relaxation techniques (showing a relaxing video, playing relaxing music) could consistently induce these higher valuations.

The authors theorized that this could be related to the subject of spending pain (detailed in the article above).  Relaxation has been shown to reduce physical pain – and therefore, it could theoretically be working similarly to reduce spending pain.

PsyPology’s analysis

While it’s not uncommon to find large donor events in relaxing settings, this research should be seriously considered by fundraising teams at all levels.  Certainly, as it pertains to high donors, it would make a lot of sense to structure VERY relaxing fundraising events.

We asked one of the authors, Professor Michel Pham, directly what he thought about this.

We wrote:

“Do you think your study about relaxation and monetary values could (theoretically) be applicable to large or small dollar fundraising?  Is there science to support a hypothesis that, say… taking large dollar donors on a cruise or setting a particularly relaxing setting at a fundraiser raise the valuations of a candidate (or donations to them)?”

His response:

“Yes, I would predict that a relaxed potential donor would donate more (e.g., if taken on a relaxing round of golf, as opposed to an exciting boxing match).”

We wonder what a combination of warmer room temperatures (see PsyPology April/May issue), social support (see article above), and relaxing environments would do to political fundraising events.

In the meantime, we recommend dialing down the excitement, and working on creating serenity in your fundraising events.  Have your candidate talk in a relaxing way – and perhaps ask the audience to visualize something relaxing.

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About the Author

Brian Franklin
Brian Franklin
PsyPology™ Founder and Editor

Brian Franklin is President of Impact Politics and founder/editor of PsyPology™ - political consulting's first blog providing psychology intel specifically for campaign operatives. Brian has provided marketing strategy, creative direction, language development, and writing services to over a hundred political campaigns, organizations, agencies, and corporations. He has led Impact Politics' work for numerous federal, state, county candidate, ballot initiative, public advocacy, and non-profit campaigns, as well as ad development and online media strategy for  international advocacy campaigns.

Brian is a Board Member of the American the American Association of Political Consultants and co-Chair of their Technology Committee. He is the author of a recent feature article in Campaigns and Elections magazine, “The Slow Boom of Campaign Technology.” In addition to his leadership role in the American Association of Political Consultants, Brian is also a member of the International Association of Political Consultants, Society for Consumer Psychology, Behavioral Science and Policy Association, and the International Society of Political Psychology.

Brian's work has earned prestigious national awards, such as the Pollie Awards for Best Overall Internet Campaign, Best Overall Campaign Use of Negative Contrast, Best Use of Facebook Advertising, Best Use of Search Engine Advertising, Best Use of Humor in an Online Ad, Best Online Ads, and more. Brian has also won a Campaigns and Elections Reed Award for Best Online Targeting.M/div>