In the most underrated chapter of the underrated “Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard,” Chip and Dan Heath offer some pure gold for all of us in the persuasion business.

The chapter entitled “Grow Your People” addresses the near limitless power of appealing to identity. Tell a group of at-risk elementary school children that they are “scholars” and they act like scholars. Tell the citizens of St. Lucia that the critically endangered St. Lucia parrot is part of their patrimony and they join hands to bring the bird back from the brink.

The Heath Brothers offer some tantalizing clues for using identity as a persuasion/fundraising tool in their free e-book “Switch Your Organization.

Here’s just a sampling:

  • Consider this statement: “I aspire to be the kind of person who would make the change.”

What donor would disagree with this? Don’t you think she or he would want to live up to that expectation? Wouldn’t you?

  • Ask: “Is there a common history?”

The founding story is always a powerful appeal to identity. Your donor is part of a great movement that spans generations, that believes change is possible, and that has united against a common enemy. St. Crispin’s Day speech anyone?

If you believe there’s a limit to the power of expecting greatness in people, this recent The American Life podcast will completely blow your mind!

You’re the kind of person who would want to know, right?