How a storytelling messaging approach impacted donor conversion Experiment ID: #8743

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: 3/13/2018 - 3/26/2018

In an effort to optimize their monthly appeal process, Alliance Defending Freedom decided to test the standard format of their email appeals. Historically, these appeals had often been sent from the organization instead of an individual person and the appeals would have multiple parts that were broken up with donation asks in between.

We wanted to see if telling a cohesive story could help improve the overall results. This meant moving the donation asks to the end, once the full story had been told and also sending the email from an individual since the “organization” sender could not convincingly add the personal context necessary convey the story. To test this hypothesis, we split the email file in two and sent the two email versions as an experiment.

Research Question

Will a storytelling approach to fundraising have a significant impact on donor conversion?


C: Standard Appeal
T1: Story-Telling Approach


Treatment Name Conv. Rate Relative Difference Confidence
C: Standard Appeal 0.07%
T1: Story-Telling Approach 0.10% 47.7% 95.4%

This experiment has a required sample size of 62,110 in order to be valid. Since the experiment had a total sample size of 128,204, 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
× 47.7% increase in conversion rate
× 0% increase in average gift

Key Learnings

The storytelling approach to communicating the appeal resulted a 47.7% increase to donor conversion. Not only that, when we analyzed the full funnel, we found that this approached improved every significant metric in the donation funnel.

A key concept to take away from this experiment is that people give to people. The recipients responded better when the email was sent by an individual and focused on communicating a cohesive story instead of asking for something at every step along the way.

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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...

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.