How adding a photo to a landing page impacts donations Experiment ID: #12255

Hillsdale College

Founded in 1844, Hillsdale College is an independent liberal arts college with a student body of about 1,400. Hillsdaleā€™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: 2/27/2019 - 3/3/2019

Hillsdale College recently mailed out thousands of letters to school administrators and teachers across America. In these letters, they offered to send a free pocket-sized copy of the U.S. Constitution for every single child in every classroom. Hillsdale received an astonishing number of replies requesting copies of the Constitution. To fund the shipment to all of these schools, Hillsdale launched a four-day email campaign asking donors to send a donation to help send pocket-sized Constitutions to schoolchildren across the U.S. 
After sending the first two emails out to a split landing page test, where they tested the presence of gift handles that explained what each suggested gift amount would be used for, they concluded that adding just one line of copy around the gift handles did not increase likelihood of giving. 

The Hillsdale team wondered about including a photo of some of the students who received Constitutions onto the landing page. Rather than telling the donor about what they were doing, they could show them with a photo. Would adding a photo of schoolchildren receiving the Constitution increase donations? They hypothesized that adding the photo would show proof, causing an increase in trust, and would increase emotional appeal. They hypothesized that each of these would increase donations.

Research Question

Will adding a photo to a landing page increase the number of donations?


C: Control
T1: With Photo


Treatment Name Conv. Rate Relative Difference Confidence Average Gift
C: Control 31.5% $0.00
T1: With Photo 36.2% 15.0% 93.1% $0.00

This experiment has a required sample size of 773 in order to be valid. Since the experiment had a total sample size of 1,333, and the level of confidence is not above 95% the experiment results are not valid.

Key Learnings

There was a 15% lift from the treatment with the photo. Because this experiment only ran for one day, the experiment results shouldn’t be rolled out to the rest of the donation pages. However, this result was enough for the Hillsdale team to roll out to this landing page for the duration of the campaign.

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...

Courtney Brown

Courtney is an Optimization Associate 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.