Ask Array Testing Yields Surprising Results

Date Published
Kathy Giles

Dynamic, less aggressive ask beats longtime control and generates more revenue

“How much should I ask for?” is the age-old question of all fundraisers. The ask amount can have a significant impact on the effectiveness of any campaign. As we began FY19, we launched a yearlong test in order to answer this question for Nine Network, a PBS station in St. Louis. 

The focus was solely on active donor segments. We ran the test throughout the fiscal year, across all four campaigns, to help determine what is the most effective ask string strategy. During this time, we implemented no other testing for this segment in order to ensure clear results. 

The testing done during the August and December campaigns allowed for good learning although the results were not statistically reliable. In testing the current long-term control against a new dynamic ask, we found that the test provided good results with a slight increase in response rate and average gift resulting in a 5% increase in revenue. In March, we tested a more aggressive ask string that had no impact on the response rate, but it had a negative outcome on the average gift, suppressing the gross revenue. For the May campaign, we moved in the opposite direction and implemented a less aggressive approach. 

May Campaign: 
The last test performed in May was a less aggressive dynamic ask array. The calculations provided a slightly lower ask string than the control. Here is a look at the differences between the control and test ask arrays.

A donor with a gift amount of $30 – the ask strings would be: 

  • Control ask (control dynamic ask): $60, $45, $30
  • Test ask (softer dynamic ask): $53, $38, $30

A donor with a gift amount of $60 – the ask strings would be: 

  • Control ask (control dynamic ask): $120, $90, $60
  • Test ask (softer dynamic ask): $105, $75, $60

The Findings: Test Wins

The test was the resounding winner with a 99% confidence level! The less aggressive dynamic ask approach resulted in increases across the board – including a $3 higher average gift. Response rate was up 17% and gross revenue increased 23%! 

This testing process took time (and patience), but we were able to thoroughly step through and test several strategies to find the one that performed the best. We now have a new Add Gift strategy to put forward in FY20 and beyond. 

About the Author:
Kathy Giles
Director of Client Management, Agency Services

Role at the Company

As an Account Director with Agency Services I work with clients to develop their direct response, annual giving, and membership programs. I am responsible for the strategy, budget, creative oversight, planning, and results reporting for each campaign as well as ensuring we are meeting all client expectations. I also work to build the client relationship to not only retain the client, but to also look for opportunities to increase activities with clients, through any of our three business areas. And new business is always on the radar!

What excites you about your work at AFG?

With the three divisions, we have more opportunities to support our clients. We can extend the services offered to provide more full-service-oriented solutions to current and prospective clients, allowing AFG to become more involved with a client’s program. This also allows for more growth and learning, on a personal note.

What’s something most people don’t know about you?

To feed my love of stories and storytelling, I went to school for film production, with a concentration in documentary film. I have had the opportunity to work on a few documentaries including one for the United Nations on the history of interpretation where I was able to visit several embassies and spoke with the amazing people in the UN Interpretation Service.

Today, I get to tell the stories of the non-profit clients I work with.

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