We recently released a study that surveyed the online fundraising practices and donation page optimizations of more than 150 non-profit organizations (including 100 of the top 400 organizations in the world). When a link to this study was published elsewhere, we received an interesting response in the comments section:
“While these are very helpful pointers for improving the experience for our donors–something we should all aim for–I think unless it’s a horrible experience, it’s unlikely to impact donations profoundly….but how many additional donations will *really* be secured in taking a B or B+ level website to an A?”
This comment raised a really good point. In fact, I used to completely agree with the commenter until we started doing online experiments to test this stuff and found that there is a disproportionate increase in results compared to the relatively small amount of effort that is required for donation page optimization.
Here are a few examples of email and donation page optimization:
1. My first test, we changed literally one sentence in an email. And it was the very last sentence. Now best practices and my marketing intuition told me that only 18% of people read to the bottom of an email — so how could making one change really make a material difference? We set up an A/B split test and found that the optimized version generated a 42% increase in revenue. That woke me up a little bit to the tremendous opportunity to increase the capacity for nonprofits by simply doing a better job of communicating. You can read the whole story here.
2. With another organization, we tested a different layout and copy on a donation page. We went from a very visually pleasing page to a page that used longer-form copy that better communicated the impact that would be achieved through the donor’s gift. We again did an A/B split test and found that the optimized version generated a 274% increase in revenue. Compared to the effort it took to make the changes, the return on investment was HUGE — tens of thousands of dollars in new revenue!
One of the reasons that we did this study is to start this conversation about optimization in the nonprofit space. We love the work that caused-based organizations do and want challenge our nonprofit friends to never settle for adequacy. We look at 10% response rate as a 90% non-response rate and we get excited about trying to make our messaging and designs better so that we can inspire the other 90% to support the cause.
If there are things we could do to make our fundraising better, to raise more money, to provide greater capacity– to do more good– why would we not strive for that? Donation page optimization only requires simple changes and minimal work — but the payoff can be huge.