Fundraising and The Power Of 3: an easy way to increase giving


May 4, 2024

Fundraising and The Power Of 3: an easy way to increase giving

Increase everything from fundraising event participation to individual giving in response to your next digital fundraising campaign

When it comes to charity fundraising campaigns, you want to maximise your reach and get as many people signing-up or donating as you can whilst spending as little as possible on promotional marketing. You can do all that by mobilising all the people who get involved.


You can boost your charity fundraising efforts by using paid social to reach people and get some of them joining in, then turning these into evangelists that go out and find more people for you by leveraging their existing networks and social connections using a technique we call The Power of 3.

Successful charity fundraising is a numbers game

If you want people to take part in fundraising fun runs, fire walking events, sky diving challenges, or just give money as part of a digital fundraising campaign, you need to reach a big audience - recognising that perhaps as few as 2 in 100 will respond.

These days, reaching those big audiences is often achieved with ads on social media, but even that has limitations. And it costs money.

Imagine you're running ads on Facebook and Instagram to promote your latest fundraising campaign, inviting locals to take part in a 10k fun run. There's an entry fee of £18 per person for which they receive a branded teeshirt and a medal on completion.

People are signing-up thick-and-fast, but you're reliant on your paid ads and they're costing you £2 per registration on average, eating into your expected surplus.

Let's say 13 people sign-up in a day (you'll understand why we've picked this number shortly). That's £234 of income, but £26 spent on ads.

What if there was a way to get more sign-ups without spending more on ads?

Well, there is.

A simple but effective way to boost your fundraising results with clever marketing

Picture this: Person A sees one of your scroll-stopping Instagram ads, is moved by your messages, clicks through to your landing page and signs-up to run your 10K course. You've just banked £18 of income, hurrah! It's cost you £2 in ads at this point. For the purpose of this illustration, you're one row in.

Instead of leaving it at that, you email them a request "Thanks for signing-up to run our May 10K, we can't wait to see you at the start line! While we've got you, can we ask a favour? Please could you invite three of your Instagram followers to join you?"

If the three followers of Person A agree and also register, that's now four people in total, generating £72 of income but still just £2 in ad spend. You're now two rows deep.

You repeat the exercise and ask Persons B, C, and D to each invite three of their Instagram followers to join them. If they do, you're now at 13 sign-ups and income of £234, but all for just £2 in Facebook Ads. You're three rows in at this point.

Now, you don't have to go any further. With just three iterations of asking everyone who signs-up to invite three friends or family members on social media to join them, you've gone from 1 to 13 participants with an ad spend of £2 securing the first but the rest for free (if relying on ads to recruit all 13 participants, your ad spend would equate to 11% of your income; by getting people to each ask three others to join-in, your ad spend is now just 0.85%)

That's The Power of 3.

How this fundraising hack works in practice

In reality, it doesn't always quite work this way; not everyone that gets invited by a friend will join-in, so the numbers might be a little off.

Lots do though, and there are clever things you can do to significantly improve the chances using marketing psychology.

But the reality also looks different because you don't actually stop when you're three rows in; this is a process that should be automated, so that every confirmation email that's sent to your sign-ups is encouraged to invite three others to do the same and join them.

In that sense, it has a chance of becoming almost 'viral'.

Remember during Covid we heard a lot about the 'R' value? It was shorthand for telling us about how the infection could spread. The reproduction number (R) is the average number of secondary infections produced by a single infected person.

An R value of 1 would mean that, on average, every person infected would infect 1 other person. With an R value of 2, on average, each infected person could be expected to infect 2 more people and so on. The lockdowns, social distancing and vaccines were all aimed at keeping the R value as low as possible.

The Power of 3 fundraising strategy is designed to spread awareness of your campaign, and get more people joining in, in the same way that a virus replicates and spreads.

Three reasons why this works and can make your fundraising efforts even more effective

So, you know what it is and how it works, but you may be wondering just why it works.

It's all about psychology.

Firstly, there's a
social proof dimension to it. We're more likely to follow the actions of others.

When someone sees their friends and family supporting a cause, they're far more likely to think, 'If they're doing it, maybe I should too.'

The Power of 3 approach makes participation seem commonplace, reducing hesitation and increasing the likelihood of others joining your campaign.

Secondly, it introduces an element of
peer pressure. We're more likely to agree to requests like this from people we know.

While peer pressure can sometimes have negative consequences, in this case, it's about friends and family encouraging each other towards a positive goal.

There's also a FOMO dimension to it: people don't want to feel left behind when those around them are involved in something meaningful.

Thirdly, it
taps into our need to belong. We all have a deep-rooted desire to connect and belong to groups.

The Power of 3 helps by making people feel like they're part of a movement, a collective effort working towards a shared goal.

This sense of belonging fosters loyalty and can even encourage further engagement with your charity in the future.

Three, is the magic number

But why ask people to invite three others they know, not more? Surely if you make it five, you can grow your numbers faster?

Well, yes, that's true, but here are some reasons why three works:

1) It's not off-putting. The people you ask are likely to feel pretty comfortable asking three others to join them. It's a request that seems manageable. Asking them to reach out to fewer than three friends might feel too minimal, while too many more could be overwhelming. Three falls in that sweet spot of being a small enough ask to feel doable, yet significant enough to have an impact

2) Cognitive processing. Some research suggests that our brains process and remember information in groups of three more effectively. It's why we have three primary colors, three little pigs, the saying "good things come in threes", etc. This might make it a more memorable and actionable number for your supporters

3) Historical context. The number three has significant symbolism throughout history, mythology, and across cultures. Think about: triangles as the strongest and most stable shape; religious concepts like the Holy Trinity and stories that rely on three wishes, three trials, or three repetitions. We're subconsciously drawn to the number three, it feels "satisfying" as a pattern.

Key takeaways

You can boost your fundraising results using the Power of 3 concept by simply asking those who agree to take part in fundraising activities to all ask three people they know to do likewise.

It creates a viral effect that can see you achieve exponential results.

If you're promoting your fundraisers with paid ads on platforms like Facebook and Instagram, the Power of 3 approach helps you reach and attract a broader audience with lower expenditure - improving your Return On Advertising Spend or ROAS.

If you'd like help implementing this concept, we have all kinds of ready-made templates and messaging sequences we can use to make it a success, just ask!

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