Why Do Nonprofits Need A|B Testing?

Steven ShattuckSeptember 27, 2017

Why Do Nonprofits Need A|B Testing? header image

While the concept of A|B testing hasn’t been around for ages, the process has proven itself time and time again. A|B testing can dramatically improve your messaging, as it places the behaviors of your audience right in your lap.

Sound too good to be true? It takes a bit of work to get to these answers, but we’ll pave the way to smooth testing. Answers like never before will be at your fingertips.

Let’s get testin’!



What is A|B testing?

A|B testing is the process of comparing two versions of something to see which one performs better.

This process takes a very calculated approach toward improving your results. Why does all that technical, business-y stuff matter? Because increasing results means increasing donations!

You can use A|B testing on anything – your website, direct mail appeals, emails, landing pages – you name it, you can test it.

You should be doing some sort of test in everything you send out. It can be as simple as a subject line in an email, or as complicated as a new direct mail package. Make sure you include a line in your fundraising budget for testing new ideas. More on cost toward the bottom of this post.

15 Things Fundraisers Can A/B Test to Increase Donations

Benefits of testing

Testing allows you to try new things in a low-risk environment. Many organizations wonder if redesigning their emails would increase donations, but are too afraid of risking revenue. This should be a huge indicator to try testing!

An A|B test doesn’t necessarily mean you need to split your audience 50|50. If you have enough people, you can split your test 70|30 or 60|40 if you want to be conservative with your testing. Numbers are the key – you need to have enough people in your test group to get a statistically significant result.

Testing also shows you what doesn’t work with your donors. Every test you run is a learning opportunity for your fundraising team, so there are no downsides to testing!

I’m convinced, now what?

Not sure where to start?

First, make a list of all the different fundraising appeals you send out in a year. Then, you and your team can brainstorm test ideas. Think of things you’ve always wanted to try, but never got around to.

Finally, determine how aggressive you’ll be with your testing, and how much your budget allows you to test. Will it be 50|50 or 80|20? Once you’ve decided your proportions, you can create lists in your database so you can easily track the results.

There are some great tools out there to get started down the path of testing. We use Optimizely to test new ideas on our website, and there’s also Google Optimize. Eager to test images, subjects, or messaging in emails? If you’re using MailChimp, Emma, or Constant Contact, you can begin testing your subject lines with each of those services.

We know that sometimes it can be challenging to come up with test ideas on your own. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. We created this Nonprofit A|B Testing Checklist to help jumpstart your brainstorming session. Now you have everything you need to get started!

Here’s a snippet of the checklist so you can see what you’ll be downloading. If it looks good, download here.

Schedule a live demo with our partner Bloomerang, and we’ll show you how easy it is to create and automate reports, utilize online and offline fundraising tools, quickly integrate and access all your data, and ultimately create more time to engage your donors.

Filed Under:   Insights