Branding, trust and donor contact permission

Jesper Juul Jensen
Min to read

71% - That is how much more likely a donor is to give you a contact permission on a Branded version of BetterNow, than on the BetterNow giving platform. We were surprised by how substantial the impact of branding was on donors willingness to give contact permissions.  

I will in this present the result and discuss its financial impact on P2P fundraising. We will also go into detail with the methodology, results and data. For some thoughts on what this means for you as a digital fundraiser, go to our guest blog post on the Institute of Fundraising blog.  

The results on contact permissions

We found that charity branded sites results in 71% more contact permissions. As you can see from the table below, all three charities experienced an increase in contact permissions on their own branded site.  Notice that Charity A has a larger overall percentage of donor who give contact permission. This is because the contact permission field is pre-checked in their case.  

BetterNow has taken this result to our heart. Whereas BetterNow was previously solely a peer-to-peer giving platform, we are today focusing completely on providing low cost white label platforms. We believe this fosters long-term donor relations instead of one-off donations through giving platforms.

Financial impact on your fundraising

You can calculate the financial impact of the additional contact permissions if you know your donor lifetime value. First you need to apply the 71% increase to the numbers of donors through P2P fundraising. Then multiply by your conversion rate and the lifetime value of an average donor through peer-to-peer fundraising.  So if you have 1200 donors yearly, normally received contact permission form 10% of those, convert a modest 2% to monthly donors and have a lifetime value of £1000, then the yearly difference between a giving platform and a branded solution will be:  

Giving platform: 1000 donors *10%*2%*€1000 = € 2000  

Branded solution: 1000 donors *17,1%*2%*€1000= € 3420  

The result being a difference of € 1420 on a relatively small group of donors.

Notes on data

The result is the weighted average difference for three different charities. These charities all had their projects and fundraising pages available for donors and fundraisers both on the BetterNow Platform and their own Branded solution. Two of the charities relate to health related causes while the last relates to foreign aid. Two charities are based in Denmark and one is based in Sweden.  

The data was collected over first 6 months in 2016. Common for all three charities is that they were transitioning from the platform to a branded solution in this period. The results was robust even if the time period was extended on each end. We choose the time period so all three charities received a substantial number donations over the whole period.  

It is worth noticing that the fundraisers are everything from participants in challenge events to birthday fundraisers. The data consist of super fundraisers that collect 1.000+ € and fundraisers who barely collect 100€.  

The charities are all Scandinavian and culture definitely has a say in the results of this experiment. How trustworthy respectively charities and giving platforms are seen will vary across culture and countries. That makes for cautious interpretation of these results in especially non-western cultures. Changes to the time period, removing outliers (very large donations) and other robustness tests didn’t change the results.  

A natural experiment

For all three charities, everything on the platform and their branded site was identical except for the branding. Every single word, field and payment form was identical. Only charities that had identical donation forms on both sites was included. If we had included other charities the results would not be comparable. In social science this would be close to what is called a natural experiment. A natural experiment is natural occurring situation that resembles a randomised assignment experiments.  

This was a once-in-a-lifetime chance to test the effect of branding on donors’ willingness to give contact permission. We believe we have provided a valuable and clear result to the fundraising sector: Branding makes a very real and large difference on how willing donors are to give contact permission to charities.

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