Persuasion, Fundraising and Rabbits


Have you ever tried the popular trick of pulling the rabbit out of the hat?

It’s easy.

First you need to get a very small rabbit.

Sometimes these little fellows graze in your backyard. Just catch one.

(Use carrots, lettuce, apples, Brussel sprouts or even apple cider.)

Once you’ve caught one, place this little furry ball in a specially designed black handkerchief.

If you’re wondering why magicians work with rabbits and not cats or dogs, the answer is simple. Rabbits, unlike people, naturally sit still in the dark.

The next step is very important.

When the magician picks up the hat, he also pulls the handkerchief with the rabbit inside and sticks it into the hat.

If you were to see the magician in slow motion, you’d have seen that when the hat is picked up, and in goes the rabbit.

Is that all? Pretty much.

But done very fast, it makes you experience a little wonder.

Rabbits are easy, you say.

Well, how about making a much larger object vanish?

Perhaps, the Statue of Liberty?


How would you conceal it in front of millions of viewers worldwide?

David Copperfield, just did this and awed his audience in 1983.

Do you know how?

If you haven’t yet heard of this famous trick, or think it’s a giant handkerchief that David smartly used, you will find the answer at the end of this article.

Power of Persuasion

Bruce Springsteen states it best in his “Magic”:

“I got a coin in my palm; I can make it disappear,
Got a card up my sleeve, name it and I’ll pull it out your ear,
Got a rabbit in my hat, if you want to come and see,
This is what will be, this is what will be….

I got shackles on my wrist, soon I’ll slip ‘em and be gone,
Put me in a box in your river, I’ll rise up a singing this song,
Trust none of what you hear, even less of what you see—
This is what will be, this is what will be…”

So why are we still attracted to magicians?

People have always wanted to find the secrets of persuasion.

How do you gain the full attention of a fellow human being? What makes another person tick? Doesn’t persuasion give you a sense of power?

How can you develop these skills? And should you even try?

Well, some authors think that the secret lies in developing “an awesome charisma,” and give you 12 ways to project it just right.

Other experts believe that you should use nothing but the six principles of Robert Cialdini’s Influence: reciprocity, consistency, social proof, liking, authority, and scarcity.

Still, there’s something missing in here.

It almost feels like a canned formula for universal success, doesn’t it?

Perhaps, we need to dig a little deeper?

Non-Profit Fundraising: Field-Testing Persuasion

There are millions of worthy non-profits, which are trying to raise just enough to accomplish a multitude of very important social, educational and humanitarian projects.

Each of them is tasked with the challenge of asking other fellow human beings for money. Every single year.

So how do you persuade people to give?

There are a ton of advisors on fundraising.

Some offer Neuromarketing as a new dogma. Apparently there are immutable laws of how your brain works. And you are supposed to use it on your donors, tricking their impulses with proven formulas and set dialogues.

May it work?

I’m sure it may for some.

“I got a coin in my palm…” Grab their attention, they say.

Others believe that you should be making glossy brochures and spilling all your organization’s knowledge into the poor paper, which can stand anything and everything. Then you go and shop around, they say.

“Got a card in my sleeve…”

This is a waste of money, I say. Yet some claim it worked for them.

So what should you do?

There is one sure way to land your first million: approach your individual and major donors.

Talk to them.

Listen to what they’ve got to say. Listen again. And then listen some more.

After that, go ahead and simply ask your donor for help.

You’ll be surprised that you will not need to pull a rabbit from your hat, nor make the Statue of Liberty vanish.

All you have to do is open a channel of human communication. Trust another person. Entrust yourself to this person.

Humans like human touch. They can feel your authenticity. It’s so easy to forget this simple approach in the digital world.

Meet your donors. Listen to them. And ask for help.

That’s when you’ll suddenly realize that you don’t need to persuade anyone.

All you have to do is open up and be human.

And yes, you may let your rabbit out in the wild.

P.S. David Copperfield’s trick was quite simple. And no, people were not mass hypnotized. The trick was in changing the frame of reference. To view his grandiose undertaking, Copperfield placed his audience on a rotating platform. So instead of moving the rabbit, Copperfield decided to literally move all his viewers. It was dark, and the lighting and the magician’s outstanding communication helped to conceal the slow rotation of the platform.


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