How breaking your year-end fundraising goal down into a smaller ask impacts revenue - NextAfter
Leadership Institute

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

Experiment ID: #81770

Leadership Institute

Experiment Summary

Timeframe: 12/01/2021 - 12/27/2021

During the Leadership Institute’s “2021 Year-End” 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 breaking your large year-end fundraising campaign goal down into a smaller, relevant ask for the reader based upon their giving history will increase revenue.


C: Control
T1: Treatment #1


  Treatment Name Revenue per Visitor Relative Difference Confidence Average Gift
C: Control $0.54 $105.78
T1: Treatment #1 $1.91 252.7% 100.0% $299.53

This experiment was validated using 3rd party testing tools. Based upon those calculations, a significant level of confidence was met so these 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
× 24.5% increase in conversion rate
× 183.2% increase in average gift
252.7% increase in revenue

Key Learnings

With a 99.9% level of confidence, we observed a +252.7% increase in revenue for the treatment. Additionally, we observed a 24.5% increase in donor conversion rate, but that did not validate—only achieving a 64.8% level of confidence.

The results included 4 typical “outlier” gifts that would usually be removed from other study types, but we decided to leave them in because this treatment is specifically designed to drive an increase in revenue per donor (or average gift amount).

Of these 4 outlier gifts, here’s what we observed:

  • One donor gave a large gift, but it was less than their highest previous contribution (HPC).
  • One donor tied his highest previous contribution (HPC).
  • Two of the donors gave their new highest gift to the organization through this campaign (one of these donors increased from $500 to $5,000).

It would appear that asking a donor to be one of the X donors to make a target gift amount (that is at or slightly higher than their highest previous gift amount) drives donors to be more generous.

The real question is: Why?

Our hypothesis is that setting this “micro goal” for the reader (e.g. “10 donors to give $25 or more“) is far more motivating for donors than communicating the overall fundraising goal (“our goal is to raise $500,000 this month“).

When someone sees a request to be “one of the X donors” that gives a gift of “$Y or more” — and that $Y amount is around what I’ve given to the organization before — then I’m more likely to say “YES” to this request.

Alternatively, when the organization communicates their large campaign goal (in this example: $500,000) and a request to make a “special gift of any amount”—it makes me feel like my much smaller gift is not significant enough to make a difference, and therefore it’s up to the major (or mega) donors to make the donations necessary to accomplish the campaign goal.

Our recommendation is to use this approach during large fundraising campaigns moving forward.

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

Question about experiment #81770

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