Fundraising 2011/Test Updates/June/16

June 16, 2011 Brandon Appeal TestEdit

During the 2010 campaign, we put a lot of effort into finding a compelling message to perform at the same levels as the appeal from our founder, Jimmy Wales. Throughout the fundraiser, we tested messages from editors around the world. While editor banners had similar click through rates as Jimmy banners, their letters performed about half as well as Jimmy’s letter for both number of donations and total amount.

Last week, we tested an appeal from Brandon Harris in the tech department at the Wikimedia Foundation against the Jimmy appeal. We’re extremely excited to report that Brandon’s appeal performed at nearly the same level as Jimmy’s appeal. This is the first time any message other than Jimmy’s has compelled readers to donate at this level.

Jimmy Banner
Brandon Banner

We actually conducted two tests simultaneously, one in the United States and the other on English Wikipedia, excluding the US and chapter countries. In both tests, Brandon’s banner had a slightly higher click through rate than Jimmy’s banner. This finding wasn’t too surprising, last year the editor banners also had similar click through rates as Jimmy banners. The big finding here is that Brandon’s message performed almost as well as Jimmy’s message. Combined with Brandon’s higher click through rate, Brandon actually brought in more donations than Jimmy with a higher rate of donations per banner impression.

So, why did Brandon perform so well? Brandon is incredibly passionate about Wikipedia and we tried something new with the process of writing the letter. With the editor appeals last year, editors wrote drafts and the fundraising team edited them to include some principles that performed well in previous letters. This time, we interviewed Brandon in person and recorded the words he actually spoke. We took out the most powerful parts from the interview and used the exact words he spoke in the letter about why Wikipedia is incredibly important. The message was authentic and Brandon’s passion for Wikipedia really came through.

For the 2011 fundraiser, we’ve brought in extra help to create new appeals so we can move away from running Jimmy's appeal for the majority of the fundraiser. The three Storytellers, Aaron, Victor, and Matthew, are interviewing a wide range of individuals with unique Wikipedia experiences to capture passionate messages that can be used in fundraising appeals.

The positive results from the Brandon test give us encouragement to find more appeals that can help break the fundraising dependence on the appeal from our founder. This breakthrough helps guide our direction as we work toward gathering and testing messages from readers, editors, donors, staff members, and more. Updates to come as we continue our weekly testing.

Key Findings

  • Brandon banner had a slightly higher click through rate than the Jimmy banner
  • Jimmy’s appeal performed slightly better than Brandon’s appeal in terms of donations per landing page view
  • Combining Brandon’s higher click through rate with his high donation rate, Brandon actually beat Jimmy in overall donations
  • Messages must authentically convey personal passion for Wikipedia

Test Reports

Please see the test reports below for detailed results.

Banner name JM_Junetest = Jimmy Banner
Banner name BR_Junetest = Brandon Banner

Meganhernandez 20:43, 22 June 2011 (UTC)