Quality Comes From Quantity But…
February 1, 2023
Kevin Schulman, Founder, DonorVoice and DVCanvass
Author Ray Bradbury said, “Quantity produces quality. If you only write a few things, you’re doomed”.
There’s at least three, fundraising nuanced takes on this.
- You’re running a quantity model business and have a set ratio of quantity to quality donors you bring in. This model fails for almost every charity save for the uber large ones who can diversify acquisition enough to keep absolute quantity growing and likely maintain the quality ratio.
- The more you do your job (writing, designing, buying ads, production) the better you get. You likely improve quantity through productivity gains and also, your quality ratio goes up. More hits, fewer misses. This has a certain scale to it, though non-linear.
- The quantity to quality ratio isn’t fixed, if you have a good way to produce better ideas in your quantity bucket. You get an even bigger boost if you have a way to non-randomly, non-subjectively pick ideas to test from the quantity bucket that increases your chance of success.
Saturday Night Live comes up with 40-50 sketches, only 8ish air and if 2 are a hit then it’s a huge success.
Our fundraising “sketches” are exponentially higher than 40-50. In fact, our idea pool is effectively infinite. Consider a really simple direct mail package with,
- Outer Envelope format
- OE callout
- Letter copy
- Image on letter
- Reply Form
Just 3 ideas for each of those is 729 possible packages. Effectively infinite. I need a way to improve the quality ratio in my 729. And a need a way to pick my 2 to [some other small number] of live tests that increases my chances of winning.
The reason we rely so heavily on behavioral science is to improve my quality ratio in the 729. It’s stacking the deck with some evidence or reason to believe. It’s guideposts, useful constraints. It is a million miles away from guaranteeing success but operating without a way to improve the quality ratio in your quantity pile is three galaxies away.
Picking within the quantity pool, even if you’ve increased your quality ratio, still requires something other than subjectivity, or the staffer with the biggest title deciding or guessing.
Pre-test Hundreds of Quantity Ideas All at Once
We use a methodology to pre-test ideas to help refine among possible choices. This is a research based methodology to test all 729 (or 6235…) quantity ideas at once, with your target audience and in a way that produces reliable, valid direction. You can watch an archived webinar for more details here.
This is the only reason we use this tool, to help select among our quantity pile to increase our quality ratio and chance of success.
Quantity matters. So does Quality. The relationship between the two needn’t be fixed.