Positive Persuasion at Work for a Charitable Organisation

Strategy, Architecture & Problem-Solving

Positive Persuasion at Work for a Charitable Organisation

RNLI Flag by L2F1 (CC BY 2.0)


RNLI Flag by L2F1 (CC BY 2.0)

RNLI Flag by L2F1 (CC BY 2.0)

Cialdini’s book on Persuasion is a great introduction to the forces applied on us by others to convince us to change our ways, e.g. buy their product. I see the ideas implemented the more and more I look. Often I think people have stumbled on the ideas, other times I feel that the interaction has been designed that way. When they’re designed in a transparent and above-board manner, then the interaction is a thing of beauty to behold. The following interaction displays the 3 principles of commitment and consistency (that’s one principle), reciprocity and social proof.

RNLI Blackpool

I visited the RNLI station in Blackpool a week ago and found an activity station of great interest. It featured 3 boxes each with a title. The twist on these normal community-involvement voting boxes was that instead of a passive vote where the company (e.g. Waitrose) donates money to the charity based on the number of tokens in the boxes, these boxes were all about what the voter would do, e.g. donate money or volunteer time. Although the vote upstairs only required picking up a token and then placing it in a box, it starts the commitment process.

Downstairs is where the consistency part of commitment and consistency principle comes into play. To keep your actions and your statements (i.e. having said you’ll donate when you were upstairs) coherent, then you’ll feel more compelled to donate when you’re downstairs. There’s no coercion here, it’s helping people follow through on what they’ve said they will do.

The reciprocity principle came into play upstairs. You were provided with a token and free entertainment. Naturally, you feel you want to return the favour by contributing something of value.

The social proof principle comes into play when there is a group of visitors. The more that place tokens in the boxes, the more will follow and do the same. Imagine a coach-load of tourists passing through the RNLI station and effect that they’ll have on each other.


Overall, it was a great example of how to use the principles properly.

So we’ve covered 3 principles and I hope you’ve learned something about how these principles can be employed in an ethical manner.

If you want to show your thanks, then donate to the RNLI. The RNLI station at Blackpool is well worth visiting for the experience if you want to donate in person.

Want to learn more?

You can learn more, including more detail and examples on the principles mentioned above and the other 3 principles of Scarcity, Authority and Liking in Robert Cialdini: Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion

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