American Cornerstone Institute

How adding a “give monthly” button to the main navigation menu affects recurring donation rates.

Experiment ID: #105141

American Cornerstone Institute

Experiment Summary

Ended On: 08/23/2022

To increase recurring donation rates for a public policy client, we wanted to know how adding a “give monthly” button to the main navigation menu would impact recurring monthly donation rates. Our hypothesis was that by increasing the visibility of this donation option, more site visitors would decide to give recurring gifts. On desktop this treatment appeared top-of-page, in line with the navigation menu items. On mobile, the give Monthly button was placed at the bottom of a burger menu, directly under the pre-existing donation button.

We ran this experiment for one month, splitting traffic 50/50 between the control and treatment.

Research Question

We believe that adding a give monthly button to a site’s main navigation will achieve higher recurring donation rates .


C: Control
T1: Treatment #1


 Treatment NameConv. RateRelative DifferenceConfidence
C: Control 0.41%
T1: Treatment #1 1.0%143.8% 98.1%

This experiment has a required sample size of 1,530 in order to be valid. Since the experiment had a total sample size of 4,346, and the level of confidence is above 95% the experiment results are valid.

Flux Metrics Affected

The Flux Metrics analyze the three primary metrics that affect revenue (traffic, conversion rate, and average gift). This experiment produced the following results:

    0% increase in traffic
× 143.8% increase in conversion rate
× 0% increase in average gift

Key Learnings

This experiment produced a few interesting and unexpected results. First, both the control and treatment (w/ “give monthly” button) failed to produce any recurring gifts, indicating that simply increasing the visibility of the option to make a recurring gift was not enough to motivate prospective donors to do so without a compelling reason why.

Second, while there was not a significant increase in one-time donations for desktop traffic, we did see a valid 144% lift in one-time donations for mobile visitors. Reviewing these results, we wondered what it could be about adding a give monthly button that produced this significant lift in one-time giving. At first, we hypothesized that it was simply the increased visual impact of having a second button that caught more people’s attention … but upon further consideration, we noticed that the single donation button was already highly visible on its own, and also doubted that adding a second button would somehow increase more people to not only click but then follow through with their donation. But whether or not this is the case, it logically follows that adding a second button must functionally increase the visibility of both buttons, not just one. And so we wondered what was causing donors to exclusively choose to give once rather than monthly.

This led us to hypothesize that this increase in one-time giving may have been prompted by the persuasion principle of “reject and retreat”. This principle of social psychology states that by “rejecting” a larger ask (a recurring gift), a prospective donor may be more likely to convert when we “retreat” to a smaller commitment (one-time donation). In this case, by showing two donation options (one representing a larger commitment than the other), donors may have been prompted to reject the larger commitment but then agree to the smaller ask. This may help explain the motivation of choosing one button over the other while so significantly increasing overall giving among people who saw the two-button treatment.

Unfortunately, it is not possible to draw a definitive conclusion one way or the other in this instance, however, this experiment has given us some interesting data points and things to consider about the motivations behind these results.

  1. Since we have discovered that simply adding a monthly donation button provides insufficient motivation for more people to give monthly, we would like to look for future opportunities to increase the visibility of monthly giving, while also conveying why monthly giving is so important and the impact it will have. A sticky bar may be an option, a dear reader, or an exit-intent pop-up. We may also consider drawing attention to the give monthly option + impact on the main donation page.
  2. In order to determine the impact of “reject and retreat” on donor motivation, we would need to formulate a more intentional experiment that first asked donors to make a monthly gift, and then followed up with a one-time ask to 50% of traffic. This may be best tested in the form of an appeal that asks specifically for monthly gifts but then follows up with a “retreat” that asks for a one-time gift instead. This might also be tested using a pop-up or some other form of notification. While this may have played a part in the results seen in this experiment, there is simply not enough context to know for sure. But this is an interesting concept that will be worth testing in a different environment.

Experiment Documented by NextAfter

Question about experiment #105141

If you have any questions about this experiment or would like additional details not discussed above, please feel free to contact them directly.