How additional tactics improved giving on top of an already powerful match appeal Experiment ID: #8822


CaringBridge offers free personal, protected websites for people to easily share updates and receive support and encouragement from their community during a health journey. Every 7 minutes, a CaringBridge website is created for someone experiencing a health event.

Experiment Summary

Timeframe: 3/13/2018 - 4/2/2018

In past experiments, we have discovered a powerful motivating factor: the family story. And it makes sense: to the donor, it makes the benefit more concrete and it is presented in a way that human beings in general are best likely to absorb and process (story).

The lingering question, however, is to what end?  Is it possible to combine motivating factors like this family story with a match and to see an additive-like effect on total donations?

Especially for email?

Research Question

Which email will result in the greatest amount of donations?


C: Match Only
T1: Match with Added Elements


Treatment Name Conv. Rate Relative Difference Confidence
C: Match Only 0.04%
T1: Match with Added Elements 0.07% 53.9% 100.0%

This experiment has a required sample size of 79,294 in order to be valid. Since the experiment had a total sample size of 509,870, 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
× 53.9% increase in conversion rate
× 0% increase in average gift

Key Learnings

At first glance, presenting the benefits of donating in the form of a story, and in a concrete example (clarity of value, construal theory), can have an additive motivating effect, even among match appeals where the motivation would presumably be high enough to begin with.

But that’s not all…

If you look at the sender, you have a CEO (less likely to be a genuine email) versus an actual CaringBridge User (more likely to be perceived genuine.

You also have more emphasis on a communal relationship rather than an exchange based relationship (i.e “your investment”).  Academic fundraising research has shown that major donors have been found to have more communal relationships with non-profits, and that communal strength and prosocial behavior is strongly correlated.

So it is possible that it was not just the story approach that helped propel the win, it was the combination of these other items as well:

  • Concrete vs. abstract
  • Sender line authenticity
  • Communal relationship language

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Experiment Documented by...

Jon Powell

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