Frequently Asked Questions
How will the administrative costs of this be funded?
Participating organisations are not expected to contribute directly to fund this pilot. The main source of funding will be an ESRC Impact Acceleration fund.
What charity are you fundraising for?
This can involve any charity that your organisation is supporting and enthusiastic about.
Will you need access to private employee data?
To analyse this properly, we would need only minimally-descriptive data: the group assigned (A1, A2, or B - see example design for an implementation), and the amount donated, from each individual. Any data we would analyse would be stripped of identifying information, and made otherwise unidentifiable.
I am interested in trying this, but I don’t want to run a trial.
Can you help me?
Yes, David Reinstein and the University of Exeter are eager to speak with your organisation about how you can benefit from this research and this idea, whether or not you are willing to pursue an experiment or a controlled trial.
Has anything like this been done before?
A range of prominent economists and social scientists have worked with firms, fundraisers, and charitable organisations to investigate and measure ‘what works.’ These have yielded highly interesting and practical results. For example:
- Dean Karlan and John List worked with a prominent US nonprofit to run an experiment involving a major mail solicitation to over 50,000 prior donors. They found that the presence of a ‘matching grant’ from a third party boosted response rates by about 2% and revenue per solicitation by about $1, but increasing the match rate did not have any additional effect.
- Steffen Huck and Imran Rasul worked with on a postal fundraising campaign sent to 24,000 regular attendees at Bavarian State Opera House. Their result: “if charitable organizations can use lead gifts as they wish, our results show that they maximize donations given by simply announcing the presence of a lead gift.”
- Anna Breman worked with two development charities (Diakonia and Save the Children) running a telephone solicitation in Sweden, involving 7710 existing regular donors. Result: Asking donors to increase their donation amounts starting in two months–rather than immediately–led to a 4% higher success rate and £0.50 more raised per month per donor.
What is your experience with this?
Before joining the University of Exeter as a Senior Lecturer in Economics David Reinstein lectured at the University of Essex, where he helped found the ESSExLab and served as Lab Director. He has run laboratory and field experiments in the USA, UK, and Germany, including working with the Behavioural Insights Team, the Brixton Pound, Mid Essex Hospital Services NHS Trust and the HMRC. He has presented this and other research at a variety of venues and conferences, for academic, industry professionals, and policymakers, including the University of Oxford, the EC-JRC Vaccination Workshop, the ESRC ‘Generosity and Well-Being’ workshop 2013, the Royal Economics Society, and at the British Academy ‘Nudge and Beyond’ workshop.
I am interested in trying new fundraising techniques, but not involving bonuses or winnings. What other tools can I use or test?
Recent work supports several innovative approaches and offers avenues to test, including:
- Variations in the social environment, anonymity, and potential for recognition for donors; particularly making individual donations public, by default or by ‘opt-in.
- Offering donors tangible impact, influence, and choice over how their funds are used.
- Optimising the timing of charitable asks (does one appeal crowd out another?).
- Consider attending the Spring 2018 Innovations in Fundraising Conference to hear about industry-wide initiatives.