As the so-called Snowquester flakes fall outside my window here in Washington, DC, I thought I’d share a timely piece of research about storms.
The wonderful team at Influence at Work this week covers a study with surprising findings about inspiring disaster relief donations.
Apparently, people are more likely to donate to storm relief efforts if their name sounds similar to the name of the storm. I am not making this up: “People were more likely to donate if the initial of their first name matched the name given to the hurricane. For example, those whose names began with the letter R, such as Robert or Rosemary, were 260% more likely to donate to the Hurricane Rita relief appeal than those whose name didn’t begin with the letter R. A similar effect was noted after Hurricane Katrina with folks whose name starts with a K significantly more motivated to donate.”*
In addition, says Influence, Adam Alter, a Professor of Marketing at NYU’s Stern Business School, suggests, “If people are more likely to donate to hurricane relief programs that share their initials, then the World Meteorological Organization which is responsible for naming hurricanes has the power to increase charitable giving simply by giving hurricanes more commonly occurring names.”
Anyone have contacts at the WMO?
This research reminds me of studies I read that people choose professions close to their names. There are apparently many dentists named Dennis.
So maybe it’s impractical to start naming hurricanes John Smith, but in all seriousness there is a lesson here. As Influence points out, we always pay more attention to anything involving our name. You’ve experienced this in a noisy room where you’re tuning out conversation – until you hear your name mentioned.
I think it’s therefore useful to test using people’s real names in fundraising appeals (better than Dear Valued Supporter) or naming initiatives or campaigns after common names or initials. It’s easier to try out than naming storms!
(By the way, I donated to Katrina but not Rita relief so there you go.*)