Should we name and shame millionaires who don't give?
Final Fundraising Reading Round-Up of 2011

Does a personalised approach make a difference? Results from two tests

I wanted to share the results of two small experiments I've conducted in the last couple of months regarding personalised thank yous and appeals. 

I hope you'll find them of interest, though I need to say upfront that the sample sizes were (very) small and so the results aren't statistically significant.

Does a handwritten thank you card increase response to the next appeal?

For the first experiment we randomly split the responders to a previous appeal in two.  One half received our normal personalised thank you letter, the other half also received a hand written thank you card, which referenced their previous giving.

As well as being a nice thing to do for donors, I was also interested to see if those who received the extra thank you would also be more likely to give to the next appeal.

The results were as follows:

Normal Thank You: 28.1% gave to the next appeal.

Extra Thank You: 29.2% gave to the next appeal.

Interestingly, the normal thank yous gave more collectively than the previous appeal, whereas the extra thank yous gave slightly less!

So it appears not to have made any difference in the short term.  If I had the resources then I would love to monitor the long term effect on doing this to the lifetime value of a donor.

Does a personalised Christmas appeal increase response?

In the next test, we decided to send a personalised version of our Christmas appeal to our top 400 donors (they'd all given over £50 gifts in the past). 

We included a handwritten Christmas card featuring a poem from a beneficiary - you can read this lovely poem online.

Last year the response rate across all segments of the appeal was about the same.

So far the response rate is over 25% higher for the high value donors than all other donors.

With responses still coming in (I'd expect we have around 66-75% of responses now) then the top segment has responded at 13.2% compared with 11.7% last year, so by the end of the appeal I'd expect to see a 30-40% increase in response to sending the handwritten Christmas card to the top donors.

A pleasing result and one that we can look to utilise for future appeals as well...