How the kind and tone of cultivation emails sent can impact donor conversion Experiment ID: #17508

Care Net

Experiment Summary

Ended On: 8/2/2019

Care Net sends a weekly cultivation email to donors and nondonors on their file. They call this email their “weekly update” and it usually includes a couple of interesting articles or podcast episodes they encourage people to read or listen to. It’s sent every Saturday morning from Ardee Coolidge – a familiar sender to their file as he is also normally the sender of appeal emails. We know that cultivation is critical to the success of an online fundraising program, but we questioned if we made it more personal in nature and changed elements of what was being sent, if we could increase engagement and ultimately donor conversion of their email file. 

To test this, we split their file in half – having an equal number of donors and nondonors in each segment, and ran a longitudinal test over a three month period that ended during their fiscal year-end. The control segment continued to receive the standard cultivation/communication and the treatment segment received similar content, but the approach was slightly different. We created a more intentional, high-touch email that used personal tone copy and presented people with one piece of content to read or listen to. We also changed the sender of the treatment emails over the three month duration of the experiment.

Research Question

Will a personal tone improve donor conversion?


C: Standard Communication
T1: Highly Personal Communication


Treatment Name Conv. Rate Relative Difference Confidence
C: Standard Communication 0.27%
T1: Highly Personal Communication 0.34% 26.8% 97.3%

This experiment has a required sample size of 44,989 in order to be valid. Since the experiment had a total sample size of 115,385, 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
× 26.8% increase in conversion rate
× 0% increase in average gift

Key Learnings

The new approach to the cultivation emails resulted in a 27% increase in donor conversion from nondonors over the three month longitudinal test. This increase in donor conversion can be attributed to a couple of factors: the more personal approach in tone and copy, the change in sender, and presenting people with one call-to-action. 

These three factors helped to strengthen our messaging, created a higher touch feel to the communications they were receiving, and connected people to the organization more intimately. This increased people’s motivation to give when provided the opportunity. 

Simple language, conversational-style copy, and one-to-one communication can have a significant impact on an email file and reinforces the fact that people give to people.

Experiment Documented by...

Ardee Coolidge

Ardee is Director of Marketing and Communication at Care Net. If you have any questions about this experiment or would like additional details not discussed above, please feel free to contact them directly.