Q: How do you get two million people to donate to your campaign? A: Start with 1,999,999…. (Related joke: what’s the easiest way to get a small fortune? Start with a big one.). Seriously, last week the Obama campaign employed a classic fundraising strategy by picking a close and achievable goal and then pushing supporters to reach it. In this case, the campaign knew they would hit the two million donor mark very soon, and they used that big round number as a prod to get even more people both to donate and to match others’ contributions.
Using milestones to pry donations out of people is a tactic as old as dirt, but that takes nothing away from its effectiveness. Supporters will receive near-instant reinforcement in the form of a message announcing that the goal has been met and we’re all winners, etc. etc. Sure, it’s transparently manipulative in a salesman sort-of-way, but it works! Yet another reminder that very few online tactics are truly new.