Is Your Quest for Relevance Spewing CO2?
March 8, 2023
Kevin Schulman, Founder, DonorVoice and DVCanvass
People who say messages must be relevant or authentic are often guilty of putting extra CO2 into the air. These are extra words. Nobody’s advocating or aiming for the opposite. More critically, these extra words are rarely followed with specifics – as in how, exactly.
The path to relevance is, like Hell, paved with good intentions, I grant that. So, let’s give those intentions some direction.
To make it relevant to me you need to match my psychological needs and goals. I am always behaving in a way that seeks to meet my needs and goals. This is called motivation.
One of the big determinants of those needs and goals is my Personality. Consider the opposite of parting with my money, saving it.
If a bank wants me to save more then what message do they use? One size fits all? A laundry list of possible reasons? One or both of these is the “control” condition in fundraising.
If I’m a Conscientious person then I’m diligent, responsible, hard-working and goal directed. I’m more likely to save regardless of the message. But, telling me my savings can help build my rainy-day fund for those unexpected expenses is 100% match for who I am, I’ll save more.
That same message for the person who is Agreeable falls flat. That person is kind and polite and very pro-social. Telling them to save for a family life change like marriage or birth of a child is a home run, they’ll save more.
Relevance = knowing their psychological makeup
and speaking to it.
This study measured Personality and experimented with getting people to save more across five conditions: (reading left to right on the bar chart)
- Matching Personality to Message. Huge winner. This is a 40% lift over not making your message relevant. What would 40% lift do for your cause?
- Mismatching Personality to Message. This was done intentionally. I’m surprised it didn’t suppress response more, we’ve seen it be the case in our work.
- Random. Consider this a proxy for our testing. It’s often not theory driven, and we randomly run test A, B and C vs. the control. It doesn’t work.
- Gold-standard. This is fundraising best-practice and suffers from a permanent defect of not being relevant to most people.
- Send them nothing. This group was enrolled in the savings program but got no emails. It does marginally better than the group that got emails but didn’t open them. Those un-opens aren’t free, they may be making things worse for a large portion of your email subscribers.
You can know the Personality of your donors with our Personality Tags. Yes, this is a sales-pitch, but your supporters deserve more relevance. Why? You’ll raise more and your supporters will be more satisfied with their giving. Good intentions with a path to prosperity.
This is a data product, it’s delivered at a price-per-thousand so it’s automatically right sized and affordable for every charity.
You can have your Personality Tags in days along with detailed how-to guides showing what words, messages and images work best for each trait.