Obtaining a Commitment

What is this Tool?

Why Would You Use It?

  • Because people who have committed to an activity are more likely to do it. They are also more likely to agree to a subsequent, more demanding, activity.

When Would You Use It?

  • Ask for a commitment once you have established that the person is interested in doing the activity.

How Would You Use It?

 
1. Establish that the person is interested in doing the activity.

Examples

ReCAP's Home Advisors asked residents to accompany them as they conducted their home audits. They observed any reactions at each stage of the process, and involved residents in drawing up a list of repair/retrofit priorities at the end of the visit.

The ABC / Count Me In! programs led participants through a number of preparatory stagers before asking them to sign a pledge.

The Clean Air Commute was promoted through a month-long Clean Air Campaign, which raised awareness about the need for cleaner commuting practices.

Aarhus selected 175 people from among 1,700 drivers who volunteered to participate in its Bike Busters program.

Tip: Research shows that this tool will not work if the person is not already motivated to do the action or feels pressured to commit.

Your Program

How will you assess whether people are motivated to do the activity?

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2. Ask for an oral or written pledge to do the action.

Examples

Loreto Bay’s radio ads and posters featured local fishers, which served as public commitments from these fishers and strengthened norm appeal at the same time.

Each participant in Boston’s Challenge for Sustainability worked with a Challenge Sustainability Coordinator to develop a concrete Action Plan for the current year.

Environment Canadas team captains/volunteers in the Commuter Challenge visited staff to personally remind them about the event and/or to register them in the participant database.

In Iowa City, participants who were told that their names would be published reduced their natural gas and electricity usage by 10 percent to 20 percent. No significant reduction occurred when participants were assured of anonymity.

Tip: Research suggests that written pledges are likely to have a more lasting effect than oral ones.

Tip: Anonymous, private pledges (private commitments) have been shown to be less effective than those shared with others (public commitments).

Your Program

What sort of an agreement will you ask people to make?

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When - and how - will you ask them to make the agreement?

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3. If appropriate, ask for a number of increasingly demanding agreements over time.

Examples

The Toxic Challenge and We're Toxic Free first asked people to fill out a reportcard/questionnaire. Once this had been done, they asked the residents to agree to reduce their use of toxics.

Waterloo's Pesticide Action Group first asked for and were granted a series of meetings with city staffers and council. Next, they convinced the City of Waterloo to establish a task force to look into alternatives to pesticide spraying and to determine what those alternatives would cost. Finally, some of the task forces recommendations were incorporated into the city's Plant Health Care Program.

The Clean Air Commute piloted a program targeted at people who had previously participated.

Tip: It has been shown that agreeing to a small request can lead people to agree later to much larger ones.

Your Program

How might you lead people through a number of increasingly demanding agreements?

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Tip: It has been shown that agreeing to a small request can lead people to agree later to much larger ones.