Leadership Institute

How breaking your fundraising goal down into a smaller ask impacts revenue

Experiment ID: #47190

Leadership Institute

Experiment Summary

Ended On: 02/03/2021

During the Leadership Institute’s “2021 Kickoff” campaign, we wanted to experiment with asking donors to be one of a few donors to give a specific gift amount to see if it would increase the donor’s likelihood to give, or their generosity altogether.

Research Question

We believe that setting a specific goal of donors and targeted gift amount for campaign prospects will achieve increase revenue.


C: Control
T1: Treatment #1


 Treatment NameRevenue per VisitorRelative DifferenceConfidenceAverage Gift
C: Control $0.73$119.90
T1: Treatment #1 $1.1152.1% 89.0%$147.02

This experiment was validated using 3rd party testing tools. Based upon those calculations, a significant level of confidence was not met so these experiment results are not valid.

Key Learnings

With an 88.9% level of confidence, we observed a revenue increase of +52.1%.

This was driven by an increase in the donor conversion rate of +24% (LoC: 73%) and an average gift that was 22.6% higher than gifts made from the control segment.

Although this didn’t fully validate, the results were directionally sound, which means that through the course of a longer campaign and more gifts, we could expect to see this hold true in 17.7 of 20 times that we ran this experiment.

When looking at what donors gave against what they were asked for, we noticed some interesting facts, which are:

  1. 40% of treatment gifts received gave more than what we asked for, representing 43% of the dollars raised in treatment experience.
  2. 38% of the treatment gifts received gave exactly what we asked for, representing 37.5% of the dollars raised in the treatment experience.
  3. 22% of the treatment gifts received gave less than what we asked for, representing 19.5% of the dollars raised in the treatment experience.

Additionally, when looking at what we would have asked for from donors who gave in the control experience, we saw that donors gave only 48.6% of what we would have asked them to give.

Meanwhile, donors who were in the treatment experience ended up giving 71.6% of what we would have asked them to give.

What does this mean? It means that we’re 42% more likely to receive what we ask for when telling donors what we want them to give. Otherwise, when left to their own devices, donors are less likely to give at all, and when they do, we’re less likely to raise the dollars that we would have otherwise asked them to give.

Finally, we decided to compare the gifts made to this campaign to the donor’s most recent contribution (MRC) and highest previous contribution (HPC) values. The findings were incredible!

When comparing donors in the “control” experience against those in the “treatment” experience, we observed the following:

  1. 74% more donors decided to give “more than” their MRC when in the treatment experience.
  2. These donors produced 86.5% more revenue when in the treatment experience than donors in the control experience.
  3. 3x as many donors decided to make their largest gift ever through the treatment experience. And,
  4. This represented a 257% increase in revenue from the treatment segment who decided to give a gift to this campaign that was higher than their HPC value when compared to those in the control segment.

All of this is to say: When a donor is left to their own decision on how much to give, they often choose to give less than they could — so we should tell them exactly what we want them to give in this sort of way.

It is through this clarity that donors know exactly what they can do to help you (the organization).

With this in mind, further experimentation may be required through a longer or larger campaign, but it stands to reason that we’re likely to see consistent results on future campaigns with rolling out this treatment experience moving forward.

Where possible, increase the clarity in how donors can contribute to the overall goal and make change in the world happen. Don’t make them come up with what they should give, but rather ask them to do something that is attainable and within reach for them to contribute to success, and overall more donors will say yes.

Experiment Documented by Greg Colunga
Greg Colunga is Executive Vice President at NextAfter.

Question about experiment #47190

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