I’m running London marathon yet again next April and my training programme is beginning again today after some time out due to injuries of various kinds… Feeling a tad out of shape, I expect to be rosey-cheeked following my runs for the next couple of weeks!

One of the other things about running for great causes as I do, is doing all you can to gather up sponsorship and get people interested enough, or inspired enough to give some money to your cause.

The year when my grandparents passed away, after over 60 years of marriage, dying within two days of each other, really captured the imagination of people and many people donated. This year I organised a firewalk and people gave healthily. I have done other things to help raise funds for causes that have been close to my heart.

This year, I am concerned that people have heard enough from me… They hear from me year in, year out, rattling the collection tin in their direction and asking for them to give their hard-earned cash to my marathon running exploits… With the economic climate as it is… This coming year may be more challenging than ever.

You may think – “Heck, you are a hypnotist, why not use that stuff to have people emptying their piggy banks and handing it over?”

It is not as simple as that. This is personal, private, intimate and I always thought that charity donations would not need as much persuasion and influence than my students or personal clients, no?

So I was intrigued to be reading some research this week about five words that can double charitable contributions people give you.  That’s five, hypnotic and magic words… Oh yes… In addition to all those years of hypnosis semantics, I have learned five words that are going to double my charity donations this year when I use them… I am going to share them with you today…

And no, believe it or not, these hypnotic words that can prise away charitable donations have nothing to do with sex, drugs, money, fame or fortune… I am not hiring semi-naked models to pose for my charity requests, and not enlisting any celebrities to help me out… Just five simple words, that’s all I need.

A man I am a big fan of, Robert Cialdini, put these ingenious hypnotic words together over 30 years ago…  While going door-to-door to solicit charitable contributions for the American Cancer Society at 84 households, experimentors either made a simple request, “Would you please contribute to ASC?,” or made the request with the addition of our hypnotic words.  So, half of the houses visited (42) got the usual Request while the other half got the same request plus the hypnotic words.

A five word addition to a simple request for a chartiable contribution…. “Please donate” or “please donate” plus five hypnotic words…

Upon receiving the usual request, 28% of the people gave some money.  When hearing that request plus the five hypnotic words, 50% of the people gave some money.

There was also a similar sized increase in the amount people gave on average when the hypnotic words were use… That’s nearly a 100% increase in both the number of people who contribute and the amount of money.  With just five hypnotic words.

Cialdini replicated the effect in another study that tested other words, but nothing worked better than the original five words from his orinigal study.

The test occurred face-to-face with people actually talking to each other in real time.  A few years ago, another American team tested the same words, but used printed signs next to collection bottles in stores for a worthy cause.  Instead of speaking the words, they just wrote them.  Guess what?  The seemingly magical hypnotic effect vanished.

So, we know that there are five Magic Words for increasing charitable contributions, that these words work, and that they work when you speak them, but not when you write them.

I am sure that by now you are itching to know these words, aren’t you? Here they are:

“We’re asking for your help.  Would you please contribute?  Even a penny will help.”

That is it – Even a penny will help.

What is the reason for these words having such an impact?

All those lovely decent people, listening to the charity appeal (“please sponsor me, I am running London marathon yet again and you should see the state of my feet by the end of it…” etc.)  are not thinking carefully or paying really close attention to what you are saying.

They are distracted, perhaps even mildly annoyed.  Then they get cued up in a most simple way – Even a penny will help.  So simple and easy.  Just give the nice person a penny, then go back to watching the telly, and you have done a good deed for the day!

As long as you deliver the cue so that the receivers can easily and immediately act upon it, you get the change you desire.  These hypnotic words have a couple of rules:

Firstly, they are only are effective when making a charitable request.

Secondly, the words need to be used in person as you are talking.

Thirdly, you make sure they can act on your request immediately.

As with many aspects of hypnotic influence or persuasion, these words do not work if you make a selfish, profit-oriented request, if you write them on a sign, or if you make the request, but the target cannot quickly or easily act on it.

Sometimes, hypnotic influence really is that simple. Though there is not really any ‘magic’ to it…

You can change those five words to pretty much anything else that means, “give something even if it’s small” and it has a specific, concrete comparision like a “penny.”  The “magic” hypnotic effect here is not found in the exact words, but rather in the plea for small help and a particular example of “small.”

So I shall be taking this tack in my chrity appeals this year and hope to raise twice the funds for the same effort… 🙂