Slowly, but surely, research in the field of behavioral science is making its way into Fundraising Land.

Over the past several years commercial marketers have begun to discover practices which those pundits and commentators who favor high-blown ‘strategic’ insights often consider ‘trivial’.

What once seemed relatively trivial has proven to hold monumental importance compared to the size of the intervention or ‘tweak’.

In fact the venerable UK Ogilvy agency now uses as a near-motto, “Dare to be trivial”.

And for several years the application of behavioral science in marketing has been recognized through the annual Nudge Awards, representing the “greatest examples of behavioural science in action”.

No doubt the name was drawn from the book Nudge by authors Richard H. Thaler and Cass R. Sunstein. This bestseller draws on decades of research in the fields of behavioral science and economics. It offers a new perspective on preventing the countless mistakes we make and shows us how sensible “choice architecture” can successfully nudge people toward the best decisions.

Dr. Kiki Koutmeridou, Behavioral Science Strategist at DonorVoice, posted a piece yesterday titled, What your donation buys: How to get a 42% lift in revenue. It illustrates the importance of focusing on something as seemingly ‘trivial’ as constructing effective, suggested donation levels.

The illustration Kiki uses — the example for which DonorVoice won the ‘2017 Best Insight’ in the Nudge Awards — involves a test conducted for UNHCR, the UN refugee agency.

“Charities are very good at making the abstract act of giving more tangible by explaining what different levels of donations will buy. In the example below, UNHCR USA informs people that $45 can buy high thermal blankets while $85 can buy a heating stove. These symbolic gifts make the abstract donation amount feel more real and increase engagement. So far so good,” says Kiki.

Below is the ‘control’ donation page using what Kiki terms the ‘asymmetrical structure’.

Click here to enlarge

But there’s a catch, she warns:

“Donation decisions, especially the decision about the amount, can be highly influenced by the way we ask. This asymmetrical structure, where a higher donation amount is linked to a completely different symbolic gift, is the standard practice for many charities. But is it the most effective one?”

Perhaps not. Kiki goes on to illustrate with the ‘test’ donation page that was used against the ‘control’ by UNHCR USA. It shows a more effective way to present symbolic gifts on a donation page or gift form.

Click to enlarge.

The result? The test page produced a 42% increase in income over the control.

You can find the details of the test and the rationale behind it on Kiki’s post here.

And remember, the 42% increase in total revenue was achieved merely by changing the way gift symbols or descriptions are presented. A small, ‘trivial’ tweak with big consequences.

What are some of your ‘trivial’ fundraising pursuits?


P.S. Especially for UK readers:

Because you’re moving toward an opt-in model for donor communications, Kiki will be holding a session on opt-in and covering the behavioral science “how to’s” for this sometimes vexing issue.

The Session will be held on June 21st  and is titled: GDPR: Behavioral Science Behind Consent.

Again, that’s June 28 at 9AM Eastern/8AM Central, 2PM London time and 3PM Central European Time.

Join DonorVoice and Blackbaud in a discussion on how your charity can maximise its communications, design and calls to action to improve your opt-in rates into the lead up of GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation).

You don’t have to be British or European to benefit from this session. Motivating donors to opt in to communications is valuable everywhere in the world. So please sign up to explore how to maximise your communications, and design calls to action to improve your opt-in rates.





This article was posted in: Breaking Out of the Status Quo, Communications, DonorTrends / DonorVoice, Fundraising analytics / data, Innovation, Nonprofit management, Research, Starting Over.
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