How to ask for a donation increase?

2016 Feb 08
By Matej Sucha

How to ask for donation increase?

The task was to find the most effective way of approaching existing donors and asking them to increase their regular donation. We consulted a lot of research in the field of charitable giving and decided to build our solution around several of them. In order to find the best solution, it is however necessary to test several hypothesis. 

Before we present the hypotheses, here are a couple of other findings we suggested to apply in the communication. 

  • Emphasize that the request is an exceptional initiative, the first in the history of the NGO (Sussman, Alter, & Sharma, 2015).
  • Mention that you are only asking for a small increase.
  • The increased regular donations would only start in 2-3 months (employ the concept of hyperbolic discounting) (Breman, 2012).
  • Frame the increase as a way of protecting the power of their donations (due to increased prices) rather than a way to help more families (employ loss aversion) (Kahneman, 2013).

The research of the British Behavioural Insights Team reveals that there is no difference in acceptance whether you are asking donors for a one-off increase or regular and automatic yearly increases. We therefore suggested testing this hypothesis, which if proved, would bring much more funds in the long term.

It is well known that donors decide mostly based on emotions which are well communicated by means of stories. On the other hand, as a rule of thumb, it is advised to keep your request as short and clear as possible. The second hypothesis to test would therefore be that the addition of a short story helps the fundraising initiative.

The testing is performed by means of randomized controlled trials and the letter/email which proves to be the most effective will subsequently be rolled out to the entire donor base.

As soon as we have the results of the randomized controlled trials, we will immediately share the results with you.

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