Entrapment: not a very nice sounding word. It is loaded with negative connotations but in reality this is what you would be doing. I personally don’t abide with being sneaky or tricky and to avoid that I’m upfront about what it is I am doing: I actually tell then. When I do that it’s called Friendly Persuasion. There are different steps that I use to employ this technique when I am talking with would-be volunteers.
First I tell them that I am going to introduce them, a bit at a time, to what it is my organization is all about. I tell them that I will, incrementally give them information on the benefits they will receive and the “what’s in it for them”. Usually lists of three are a good number. From a brain perspective, what I am doing is helping them to create a mind map in their heads.
The more I talk about what it is all about and what’s in it for them the more I am anchoring the idea and map in their neural network a.k.a. “hard-wiring” the map. Repetition gets them thinking, on a regular basis, about what I want them to consider committing to. Repetition like this results in something called the Validity Effect, which is just a fancy word created from the realm of psychology. Sorry no magic involved but it LOOKS like magic and ACTS like magic, so you decide. One thing to keep in mind with this step is to pair the continual message with a good feeling. It bumps up the effectiveness. For example if I want someone to lead a project I will appeal to peoples sense of being in a position of power and excitement.
There is a reason for doing this, besides what psychological research indicates. We live in an world of information overload. With every passing second it becomes apparent that people will commit and make decisions based on emotion not information. Attaching an emotion to your message helps prospective volunteers make decisions more quickly in this fast paced world of ours. Branding experts out there will tell you that emotion and authenticity are powerful motivators.
My next step is to gradually build up the level of commitment with a future volunteer. I tell people that I am doing this but it’s like the story of the Magic Trick with the balls in the glass box. Even though they KNOW and SEE what I am asking them to do, they will often deepen their commitment to an organization after an initial commitment. I think of it as a respectful way for people to gauge just how much time they are willing and able to give to my organization. I ask a little bit more from each person, firmly believing they are volunteering for the benefit of others and themselves. When they say they’ve reached their level of commitment I ask no more. That being said, I always broadcast new initiatives to my organizations (yes I belong to more than one, okay more than two….) and someone is always interested in stepping up, for whatever their own personal reasons are.
If I can get the help from someone well-known to endorse what I am doing I will use this. It doesn’t always happen. Sometimes I will get someone or an business that is larger than life and/or a household name who says, “Gee I really like what you are doing. Can I spread the word?”. Based on what I know from psychological research I don’t turn down the offer. Have a powerful spokesperson endorse what you are doing attracts more people and allows you to reach a larger group who just might……well you know – Volunteer.
How do you feel about using some of these methods?
How does being upfront help you to maintain integrity while using how the mind works to create a healthy volunteer base?
How would you use a celebrity to endorse what you are doing?