How the style of ask impacts donor acquisition from rented email lists Experiment ID: #6309

Alliance Defending Freedom

Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building legal organization that advocates for the right of people to freely live out their faith.

Experiment Summary

Timeframe: 3/2/2017 - 3/15/2017

Alliance Defending Freedom has an active legal case defending a florist named Barronelle Stutzman.  Barronelle is being sued for running her business according to her religious beliefs.

In an effort to raise funds to help in her defense, Alliance Defending Freedom turned to third-party e-mail list rental as a way of finding new donors.  They wanted to maximize their return on investment, and wondered whether a direct “hard” ask would out-perform a more advocacy based approach that asked recipients to send a note of encouragement to Barronelle and then invited them to support her cause.

Research Question

Which treatment performs better for donor acquisition?

MECLABS Conversion Factors Targeted

C = 4m + 3v + 2( i - f) - 2a ©

Copyright 2015, MECLABS


C: Note of Encouragement with Soft Ask
T1: Direct ask


Treatment Name Conv. Rate Relative Difference Confidence Average Gift
C: Note of Encouragement with Soft Ask 0.05% $15.55
T1: Direct ask 0.11% 100.6% 99.6% $37.12

This experiment has a required sample size of 21,358 in order to be valid. Since the experiment had a total sample size of 90,443, 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
× 100.6% increase in conversion rate
× 138.7% increase in average gift
378.8% increase in revenue

Key Learnings

With most list rentals, it is often better to acquire email addresses before making a donation ask given the low instant donor conversion. However, this offer was compelling enough that the direct ask increased donor acquisition by 100.6%. The softer ask was able to drive 615% more traffic to the website and it acquired an additional 864 e-mail addresses but the direct ask drove a more highly-motivated audience which subsequently resulted in more donors and revenue.

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Related Experiments

This experiment is part of a series of experiments aimed at improving overall results. Take a look at some of the other iterations:

Experiment Documented by...

Justin Beasley

Justin is a Data Analyst at NextAfter. If you have any questions about this experiment or would like additional details not discussed above, please feel free to contact them directly.