American Cornerstone Institute

How presenting a daily goal in an email appeal affects donations during a year-end fundraising campaign

Experiment ID: #122539

American Cornerstone Institute

Experiment Summary

Timeframe: 11/29/2022 - 12/27/2022

For this experiment, we wanted to test how presenting a daily goal (“today I’m looking for X donors”) in the body copy of an email appeal would affect donation rates for a public policy organization during a year-end fundraising campaign.

For this experiment, both previous donors and non-donors were included in the sample universe with ~50% of appeal recipients receiving the control (containing an ask that did not include a daily goal) and ~50% of appeal recipients receiving the treatment (containing an ask centered around a daily goal. Nothing else about the appeal was changed.

Major donors were excluded from this test and our experiment spanned seven appeal emails.

Research Question

We believe that including a daily goal in the body of an email appeal will increase donation rates by increasing the specificity of the ask and giving recipients a clear ‘micro’ goal that they can help achieve.


C: Control
T1: Treatment #1


 Treatment NameConv. RateRelative DifferenceConfidence
C: Control 9.4%
T1: Treatment #1 8.3%-12.2% 84.0%

This experiment has a required sample size of 4,686 in order to be valid. Since the experiment had a total sample size of 4,824, and the level of confidence is not above 95% the experiment results are not valid.

Key Learnings

After running this experiment over the course of seven emails during the organization’s year-end fundraising campaign, we observed that the treatment produced a 12.2% decrease in donations (84% level of confidence).

The sample size of this experiment did not allow us to validate these results and therefore prevents us from drawing statistically valid conclusions about how presenting a daily goal in the body of an appeal email affects donation rates.

However, the results of this experiment do suggest that including a daily goal was not a motivating factor for recipients of this appeal and may even have demotivated them from giving. We also observed that the daily goal did not serve as a significant motivating factor in terms of clicking through to the donation page from the email, producing only a 2.1% lift with a 53.6% level of statistical confidence.

This may be because a daily goal does not add tangible value or a reason to give to the appeal. It is also in essence an organizational-focused goal that lacks a specific outcome that the daily goal will help achieve.

Based on these results, this public policy client may want to pursue a different method for increasing engagement and donations on the next high-urgency campaign or consider including a specific outcome that the daily goal will achieve. In either case, the organization should not assume that including a daily goal, as structured in this experiment, will increase donation rates during a high-urgency campaign.

Experiment Documented by NextAfter

Question about experiment #122539

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