Make It Easier To Fulfill Commitments to Host by Smoothing the Path

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We all know the situation…20 people commit to host a group and 10 follow through.  Or 100 commit to host a group and 65 follow through.  I call it the “sign-up to show-up ratio.”

What if there was a way to improve the ratio?  What if there was something you could do that would exponentially improve the odds?  There might be.  At least for me, this is too good an idea not to act on.

Exhibit A

In a study designed to examine why some college students donate (saints) to a canned food drive and some don’t (jerks), a team of researchers asked the question, “Can we alter the situation so that the jerks give, too?”   Chip and Dan Heath refer to this as smoothing the path in their most recent book, Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard.

The first step for the researchers was to determine which students were predisposed to a charitable response and which were not.  Once they knew which students were charitable and which were uncharitable, they were ready for the second step.

The second step was to send a letter to the students announcing the food drive.  Important: They sent two different letters.  Some students received a basic announcement that told the dates of the drive and a specific well known location to bring the canned items to.  The rest of the students received a more detailed letter, that “included a map to the precise spot, a request for a can of beans, and a suggestion that they think about a time when they’d ordinarily be near (the drop-off area) so they wouldn’t have to go out of their way (p. 182).”

Can you guess what happened?  When the saints received the basic letter, only 8% responded with a donation.  None of the jerks responded.  On the other hand, 42% of the saints responded to the more detailed letter…and so did 25% of the jerks!

The Takeaway

When you’re designing the process of recruiting hosts for your next church-wide campaign, including a detailed letter that specifically lays out the steps will deliver a higher sign-up to show-up percentage.

(I also referred to Switch in Cultivate Identity Before the HOST Ask).

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