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Fundraising 2011/Updates

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We're currently doing short tests of many different banners and letters, to find out what works best. This page is where we post the latest results from those tests. If you have any feedback on these results, let us know on the Noticeboard!

Fundraising 2011
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July 8, 2011 Steven Walling Appeal Test


In our latest test, we put a new appeal from Steven Walling up against Jimmy's founder appeal. Steven is currently on staff at the Wikimedia Foundation but he is also a long time contributor. We wanted to isolate the effect of his title, so we ran his same appeal text from two different banners, one calling him a “staffer” and the other calling him an “author.”

Steven "staffer" Banner


  • Steven’s “staffer” appeal performed at nearly the same level as Jimmy’s appeal.
  • Steven’s “author” appeal brought in about 20% as many donations as Jimmy’s appeal.
  • Steven's "author" appeal had lower click rate and donation rate than the "staffer" appeal.
  • The appeal text was the same, the only difference being Steven’s title.

This test is encouraging because we've found another Wikipedian's story to tell that performs similar to Jimmy's appeal. We still need to do some work to test new variations of his title.

Next steps

  • We’re coming up with new titles to test for editor appeals. During the 2010 campaign, we tested Wikipedia “editor,” “author,” “contributor,” and “volunteer,” with “author” coming out ahead.
  • We're in the process of interviewing editors to gather a variety of personal Wikipedia stories that can be tested as fundraising appeals.


July 1, 2011 Judy Appeal Test


We’ve tested our first fundraising appeal from a Wikimedia donor. During the 2010 campaign, Judy Mollica left a story on our thank you page about how Wikipedia was her resource for critical information when her daughter was diagnosed with cancer. We tested two versions of her appeal (one US appeal and one appeal outside the US) against our control Jimmy appeal. We tested four variations of Judy's banner, with the titles of Wikipedia “reader,” “supporter,” “user,” and “donor.”

Judy Banner


  • There was not a big difference in click through rate between the banners, but “reader” and “user” seemed to perform slightly better than “supporter” or “donor”.
  • Judy’s banner and Jimmy’s banner had similar click through rates, but Jimmy’s written appeal brought in significantly more donations.

We think there are some key elements from our successful Jimmy and previous Brandon Harris appeal that we could include in Judy’s appeal to increase the effectiveness of her message. People definitely responded to Judy's letter. While Judy's appeal was running, a lot of readers wrote in really warm comments about how powerful her story was. But we think that because it didn't spend a lot of time pitching for donations, it didn't do as well as others from our previous tests. Keep in mind, Judy's appeal was just one example of the many many different kinds of donor stories we receive everyday. Even within Judy's appeal, there are numerous variations we could test.

Key Elements to Test

  • Relate Judy’s story more closely to Wikipedia to really emphasize the importance of Wikipedia.
  • Include more practical information about why Wikipedia needs money.
  • Include the importance of Wikipedia staying ad-free in the appeal.

Test Reports

US Test

  • File:C_JMvJD_Junetest_US.pdf
  • B_JMvJD_Junetest_JM_USL11_JMvJD_Junetest_JM = Jimmy Banner
  • B_JMvJD_Junetest_JD2_USL11_JMvJD_Junetest_JD2 = Judy "Reader" Banner
  • B_JMvJD_Junetest_JD1_USL11_JMvJD_Junetest_JD1 = Judy "Supporter" Banner

EN Test

  • File:C_JMvJD_Junetest_EN.pdf
  • B_JMvJD_Junetest_JM_ENL11_JMvJD_Junetest_JM = Jimmy Banner
  • B_JMvJD_Junetest_JD3_ENL11_JMvJD_Junetest_JD3= Judy "Donor" Banner
  • B_JMvJD_Junetest_JD4_ENL11_JMvJD_Junetest_JD4 = Judy "User" Banner

June 23, 2011 Brandon & Ryan Appeal Tests


Last week, we tested a new appeal from WMF developer Ryan Lane against the Brandon Harris appeal we introduced in our previous test. We wanted to isolate the effect of the letter from the effect of the banner. We did that by using one banner with Brandon’s name and photo leading to two different appeals – Brandon’s original letter and Ryan's letter (both signed by Brandon).

Separately, we tested a Ryan banner-letter combo against a Brandon banner-letter combo. The pictures in the two banners were very different: For Ryan a plain head shot; For Brandon, a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame glam shot!

From these two tests we learned that:

  • Ryan's appeal letter is another breakthrough performer. It did about 85% as well as Brandon's, which is still far, far better than any non-Jimmy letter we've ever had. This further endorses the method we're now using of interviewing subjects on tape and then extracting an appeal made of their own thoughts and words.
  • Brandon's "rock and roll" photo used in the banner had a significantly higher click rate than Ryan's plain head shot. This suggests that we should spend more energy getting visually interesting, striking photos of subjects.
  • It's possible that the effects of Brandon's picture and his letter, when put together, were greater than the sum of their parts. In other words, the two variables of appeal and banner may not be independent variables. But our hour long test didn't quite give us large enough sample to say that with confidence.
Ryan Lane Banner
Brandon Harris Banner

For our upcoming tests, we’re working on personal appeals from editors and donors. We’re still refining the interviewing process, and will be sharing some basic interviewing principles that facilitate effective appeal writing for our fundraising purposes. For a more in depth explanation of our testing methodology, please see the 2010 Fundraiser Report.

  • Test Report Key
US Test
  • Brandon Original Appeal - L11_BR2_Junetest_1
  • Ryan Appeal text - L11_BR2_Junetest_2
EN Test
  • Brandon Banner - B_BRvRL_Junetest_BR_EN-L11_BRvRL_Junetest_BR
  • Ryan Banner - B_BRvRL_Junetest_BR_EN-L11_BRvRL_Junetest_RL
  • Brandon Appeal -L11_BRvRL_Junetest_BR
  • Ryan Appeal - L11_BRvRL_Junetest_RL

Meganhernandez 18:22, 29 June 2011 (UTC)[reply]