Drilling for Truth
Drilling for Truth: The Power of Testing in Fundraising
December 7, 2004
By Carter Wade
Are you constantly testing in your fundraising program? Are you learning one or two new things every month? You should be. Here is a quick summary of recent findings from direct mail tests conducted by the Domain Group for a client involved in international-humanitarian work.
COMPELLING TEST RESULTS AND CONCLUSIONS
1. Donors read their mail. Sometimes there is a temptation to reduce the cost of a direct mail appeal package by eliminating the letter and relying on a double buck-slip form: one part a short personalized message, the other a reply coupon. We conducted two separate tests to determine whether including the letter would increase response. In both cases the packages that included the letter secured a higher response rate, higher average gift and higher net revenue than the packages without the letter.
2. Integration of efforts using different communication channels -- telephone and direct mail -- works. Two randomly selected audience groups of 10,000 donors each were mailed identical appeal packages. The test group also received a pre-mailing alert phone call. The response rate of the test group was 15.6 percent higher, and net revenue from this group was 45 percent higher than from the group that did not receive the call.
3. Donors appreciate a good deal. Two test panels of 10,000 donors each were involved in a matching-gift offer test. The direct mail packages sent to both panels were identical except that the test group's did not contain the matching-gift offer. The results were no surprise. The panel that received the matching-gift offer responded at a rate 56 percent higher than the group without the matching-gift offer. Net revenue was 53 percent higher from the matching-gift panel.
4. Package inserts or alternative response options might sometimes depress response rates. We tested giving donors the opportunity to sign up for ongoing electronic funds transfer by including a "send me more information" check box on the reply coupon. We also tested whether inserting an information flier would boost EFT sign-ups.