The Planned Giving Blogger

The art and science of planned giving.

Which test won?

with 6 comments

As promised, I want to share with you the results of the postcard test recently conducted and described in my post of May 12th.  Here are the two panels again for those of you who may not have seen them the first time.  es_tpcd_thumb3

First, the poll results.  Two-thirds of you (62%)  voted for the rate table and one-third for the Wall Street Journal (“expert” copy).  Only two of you voted for neither and Jess Arndorfer of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, one of the brightest young women in planned giving marketing, e-mailed me to say that she actually would have voted for both, if I’d been smart enough to offer that as an option.

Surprisingly to most of you, then, is the fact that the “expert” copy beat the rate table by a wide margin:  double the number of leads and closed gifts.  These were tests of 25,000 names each and will need to be re-tested in larger quantities but it’s interesting to note that confirmation of having made the right decision seems to be more persuasive than attractive rates at moving donors toward an annuity commitment.  Perhaps donors are seeing rate tables in mailings from other organizations and are familiar enough with them (maybe the donor already has at least one annuity with another organization) so the reinforcement of the wisdom of this kind of gift is more compelling than the rate, alone.

I often hear people say that you simply must include a rate table in your annuity marketing.  Apparently not always.  I guess questioning the conventional wisdom can be a good idea sometimes.

Please post a comment if you have a theory as to why the expert copy was such a strong winner.


P.S.  I think Jess is on to something and perhaps we’ll test “both” when we re-test in larger quantities in the Fall.


Written by Phyllis Freedman

May 20, 2009 at 1:57 am

6 Responses

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  1. That is a suprise. I wonder if that is because the rate card did not go out with a ‘story’ or reason to give to this specific non-profit. I wonder if a letter with a donor’s story would have outperfomed…

    Thank you for sharing this test. It is great to see some real results and have an understanding of how you conducted the study.

    I look forward to more posts!


    May 20, 2009 at 12:21 pm

    • There was mission information in the piece, it just wasn’t showing in the panel I included in my post.

      Phyllis Freedman

      May 20, 2009 at 1:30 pm

  2. Perhaps its one more confirmation that people are motivated by mission more than money — so the rates aren’t really the driver. Very interesting test indeed!

    Kathy Swayze

    May 20, 2009 at 12:55 pm

  3. Could you give out the actual response numbers for each panel? My understanding, limited as it may be, is that a minimum of 30 would be needed for each panel in order to have a valid test. Thanks for considering.

    Greg Lassonde

    June 1, 2009 at 7:36 pm

    • Hi Greg,
      Thanks for your comment. This was not a statistically valid test because we didn’t get enough responses. That’s why we plan to test in a larger quantity. However, this was part of a larger test of postcard vs newsletter and both postcards outperformed the newsletter, which we believe does give us directional information. And then there was the difference between the two postcards, as I’ve previously described. But, you’re quite correct that this is one of the challenges of testing in planned giving, which we hope to address with a larger quantity in the Fall.


      Phyllis Freedman

      June 1, 2009 at 9:16 pm

  4. […] that can be of use to fundraisers.  In fact, it might explain the results of the annuity postcard test I reported about […]

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