How different aspects of the Hillsdale value proposition appeal to donors Experiment ID: #8141

Hillsdale College

Founded in 1844, Hillsdale College is an independent liberal arts college with a student body of about 1,400. Hillsdale’s educational mission rests upon two principles: academic excellence and institutional independence. The College does not accept federal or state taxpayer subsidies for any of its operations.

Experiment Summary

Timeframe: 12/13/2017 - 12/19/2017

In their Higher Education online course, Hillsdale College wanted to discover which aspects of their value proposition were most appealing to this audience of potential donors. With Hillsdale being a higher education organization themselves, it added a new perspective to their standard value proposition.

The standard value proposition for an online course donation page would emphasize why the content of the course is so important and why Hillsdale is dedicating the resources to create the experience. Hillsdale also has another unique aspect of their organization in that they do not take any money from the federal government. This has proven to be an effective conversion message in past experiments; we wanted to see how it would perform here.

Research Question

Which value proposition will be most appealing to Hillsdale donors?


C: State of Education
T1: Not One Penny


Treatment Name Conv. Rate Relative Difference Confidence
C: State of Education 9.4%
T1: Not One Penny 6.7% -28.7% 97.8%

This experiment has a required sample size of 775 in order to be valid. Since the experiment had a total sample size of 2,127, 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
× 28.7% decrease in conversion rate
× 0% increase in average gift

Key Learnings

In this case, the current state of education proved to be a more motivating factor for donor conversion. Our hypothesis is that this “higher education” audience is going to be more in-tune with the current state of education and would, therefore, be more motivated to make the changes this course is attempting to make. This is a good example of how the various aspects of an organization’s value proposition can appeal to the unique segments that exist within the donor pool.

Share this research with a colleague

Our mission is to help elevate the field of fundraising by openly sharing our research and inspiring a wider community of testing and optimization. If you have found our research to be helpful, insightful, or even just interesting—please share it with a fellow fundraiser.

Experiment Documented by...

Kevin Peters

Kevin is the Chief Technology Officer 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.