How we increased the effectiveness of a fundraising SMS campaign by 55%

Blog
2017 May 15
By Matej Sucha
Every year the NGO Liga proti rakovine (LPR) organizes the so called Daffodil day. Thousands of volunteers come out to the streets and help raise money for those suffering from various oncological illnesses..

Not only volunteers but recently firms started joining the initiative as well. Among them were O2 the telco provider and us - MINDWORX. O2 offered to send 40 000 solicitation SMS and we offered to help design a really effective message.

The original message which LPR intended to send was the following:
 
„Help people with oncological illness and participate in the Daffodil day. Send an empty SMS worth 2 EUR until 15.4.2017 to 848. Thank you! Liga proti rakovine and O2.“

When we saw the message, we thought it could be made better. After an extensive brainstorming, we selected three ideas we like best.

Text #1

The first alternative we designed employed the behavioral concept of social norms and identity. The social norms principle simply says that people are strongly influenced by the behavior of others (Thousands of people will participate in the Daffodil day this year). The principle of Identity is inspired by fascinating research of prof. Todd Rogers from Harvard and it says that it might be more effective to assign people an identity than to ask them to perform a specific behavior (Become a donor).
 
„Thousands of people will participate in the Daffodil day this year. Become a donor and send an empty SMS worth 2 EUR to 848. Thank you! Liga proti rakovine and O2.“

Text #2

The second text worked again with the principle of social norms but in a slightly different manner. Prof. Robert Cialdini, the world’s greatest persuasion guru says, that this principle is most powerful when the people whose behavior is observed are similar to us. We therefore tried to make the reference group as close to the message recipients as possible (Join thousands of O2 customers).
 
„Join thousands of O2 customers who will support this year’s Daffodil day. Send an empty SMS worth 2 EUR to 848. Thank you! Liga proti rakovine and O2.“

Text #3

The third message made use of the principle of reciprocity which says that people are more likely to say yes to our requests if we do something for them in the first place. But how can you translate it into a plain text message? This is how we did it:
 
„If you were in need, we would be there to help you. You can help already today by sending an empty SMS worth 2 EUR to 848. Thank you! Liga proti rakovine and O2 .“

O2 was so kind as to pre-test the original as well as all the three alternatives. Very impatiently we waited for the results to find out that one of the newly deigned messages performed 55% better than the original one. So which one was the winner? It was reciprocity.
 
This simple campaign showed once again the power of applied behavioral sciences. At no additional costs, we managed to raise hundreds of euros for a good cause. Using nothing more than the knowledge of human mind.
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