I thought a holiday motif would be appropriate to remind us that in life there are plenty of myths we take for gospel. Some are true, some are not.

As in: “Feed a cold, starve a fever.” [True] … “Don’t sit too close to the television you’ll hurt your eyes.” [Not true] … “Don’t swallow your gum; it stays in your stomach for seven years! [Not true] … “Don’t crack your knuckles or you’ll get  arthritis.” [Not true], and “Chicken soup is what you need for that cold.” [True]

And the seasonal admonition: “Don’t eat the poinsettia, it’s poison.” Although poinsettias are absolutely harmless, the fact is that poison control centers across the nation receive thousands of calls this time of year from panicked folks whose kid or dog ate the poinsettia.

And so the same goes with fundraising. Lots of myths, aphorisms and the equivalent of ‘old wives tales’. Some true, some not, and many for which there’s little proof one way or the other.

So when we opened our email from Sue Woodward at the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews expecting a holiday greeting, we instead got the following message – and, of course, the idea for this Agitator post:

“Okay Tom and Roger, I have another challenge.

The debate has started again (don’t think it ever stopped): is shorter vs. longer copy better online? 

I would really like to see some hard numbers and results – not what we think, how we feel etc.  Let’s leave all our preconceived notions at the door and have a good discussion.

Thanks – looking forward to hearing what the Agitator world is saying.  Sue”

Regular Agitator readers will recall that back in June Sue issued a challenge to pick an exemplary or model Donate page to help guide her team in re-doing their website. So now the challenge involves the proof of long vs. short copy for online messages.

No question there’s plenty of opinion, myths out there: “Short copy works best online because of the younger demographics.” … ”Long messages work better online, just like offline.” … ”Short is best. On the internet you’re only a mouse click away from oblivion.”

Tom and I have thoughts on this. But first, let’s see what you and other Agitator readers have to say.  And, remember Sue’s challenge: “I would really like to see some hard numbers and results – not what we think, how we feel etc.”

Meanwhile, please don’t eat the poinsettia.


P.S.  High Marks for Agitator Readers as Crowdsourcing Consultants

We asked Sue how she put information received from her Donate Page Challenge to use, and here’s her response. Good work Agitators.

Our donation page was working fairly well – but I always believe we should make tweaks and test. We are launching a new website – but we wanted to go ahead and start testing the new donation page against our current page – better to see if the new design would either increase, remain the same or decrease response. I would recommend everyone looking at changing their site do the same.

Here is what we did:

  • We changed the color of the donate button to orange with a larger font (our donors are over 50 online and we need to ensure they can read the text easily.)
  • Put a “what is this?” next to the CVV (similar to what you see on retail sites)
  • Removed white spaces throughout – tightened up the design
  • Added a pie chart (where the money goes – as a small stewardship effort)
  • Put the words “yes, repeat this gift every month” next to the button for monthly donations

Other changes we made earlier in the year have proven to be very effective – these include:

  • Creating a special donation landing page for each e-appeal that reinforces the e-appeal message – we saw an increase of 22% in donations verses going to a standard generic donation page. (We even place our videos for viewing on such a page.)
  • Placed descriptors next to suggested dollar amounts so donors can see what their donation will help support.

Looking forward to response on the long vs. short online copy challenge.


This article was posted in: Online fundraising and marketing.
You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.
You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.