By Ben Raue
A variety of different organisations employ ‘highest previous donation’ technology in determining donation amounts to be suggested to potential donors. GetUp has been discussing employing such a technology, and earlier this year we implemented a tool in the backend of our website where campaigners could specify different amounts for visitors who could be identified as being previous donors.
These amounts could either be in the form of a percentage, or a dollar amount. In the former case, donation amounts would be suggested as a percentage of the person’s highest previous donation. Where a dollar amount was included, that would be shown to all donors regardless of their previous donation – in that case, the tool effectively offered a different, but static, set of suggested amounts to donors as opposed to non-donors.
At the same time as this tool was implemented, an experiment was also created where visitors to the donation page would be offered one of a number of different versions of amounts.
- “control” – no personalisation at all – donors were offered the same amounts as non-donors.
- “relative” – full personalization – the donor is offered a series of amounts all relative to their highest previous donation.
- “static” – previous donors were offered a higher amount than non-donors, but it was the same for all previous donors
- “static_less_amounts” – same as static, but with a smaller number of options.
The experiment started in February 2015, and has been running for the last six months.
|Version||# of donations||Total donated||Average donation size|
|Static less amts||8,909||$319,550||$35.87|
All three variations produced less donations than the control – all dropping by about 9%.
However the amounts of money donated tell a different story. All three variations resulted in substantially more money being donated, ranging from an 11% increase for the static version to a 20% increase for the relative version.
These changes translate into a 32% increase in average donation sizes for the relative version compared to the control.
We are most interested in the comparison between the “relative” option (fully-implemented HPD) and the control. It is clear that the HPD option results in a drop in the number of people donating, but this is significantly outweighed by an increase in the size of donations, resulting in a substantial increase in the amount of money raised.
In addition, the same figures were generated for shorter time periods within the overall experimental period, and analysis was also performed on particular donation pages which raised large amounts of money, and in every case the same pattern (HPD producing more money, control producing more individual donations) remained steady, although in some cases the figures were not as strong.
For example, the increase in amount of money donated between different donation pages ranged from 13% to 53%. Donations in the last two months were only up 6% on the HPD version, whereas donations in the month before that were up 32%.
While there may be ways in which the personalised donation amounts system can be improved, it is easy to see that it produces a boost in donations when used.
There may be circumstances where a campaign specifically wants to bring in small donations on a new issue and may want to avoid using HPD, and has the ability to turn off the feature, but it should be used for most fundraising.
GetUp should also continue to monitor feedback from donors on whether the HPD system is causing irritation with members by asking them for unreasonable amounts of money, and consider possible modifications to taper off the upper end of donation asks to handle this problem without affecting fundraising.
Finally, we should continue to run this experiment for another two months, and monitor the results over this period to check that there isn’t a continued decline in the effectiveness of the HPD system, considering that the performance has been less impressive over the last two months.
We will also be doing some more investigation to check how the conduct of this experiment interacted with campaigners over-riding default donation amounts, to ensure that the same results are found when excluding non-default donation amounts on pages.
In the near future, if these results hold, GetUp should consider implementing relative amounts as a default, and also run further experiments about the ideal level to set these relative amounts at.
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