Do Thank-You Calls Increase Charitable Giving? Expert Forecasts and Field Experimental Evidence

Last registered on September 20, 2021

Pre-Trial

Trial Information

General Information

Title
Do Thank-You Calls Increase Charitable Giving? Expert Forecasts and Field Experimental Evidence
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0008263
Initial registration date
September 20, 2021
Last updated
September 20, 2021, 9:35 PM EDT

Locations

Region

Primary Investigator

Affiliation
UCSD

Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
Blackbaud, Inc.

Additional Trial Information

Status
Completed
Start date
2011-07-01
End date
2016-10-01
Secondary IDs
Prior work
This trial does not extend or rely on any prior RCTs.
Abstract
Calling to thank donors is considered a key fundraising strategy in the charitable giving industry. Yet the effectiveness of thank-you calls remains untested. We conduct field experiments with public television stations and a national non-profit in which 500,000 new donors were randomized to receive a thank-you call or not. Fundraising professionals predicted that the calls - which followed standard practices in the industry - would increase donor retention by 80\%. In stark contrast, we found a precisely estimated null effect of calls on donor retention.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Citation
Longfield, Chuck and Anya Samek. 2021. "Do Thank-You Calls Increase Charitable Giving? Expert Forecasts and Field Experimental Evidence." AEA RCT Registry. September 20. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.8263-1.0
Experimental Details

Interventions

Intervention(s)
Intervention Start Date
2011-07-01
Intervention End Date
2016-10-01

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
Percent of new donors who donate again in the next year, the unconditional amount donated, the unconditional number of gifts made and the amount donated conditional on making any gift.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
We partnered with 67 public television stations and one national non-profit in the United States. Between 2011 and 2016, new members of the public television stations and new donors of the non-profit who had a phone number on file and had not asked to be placed on a do-not-call list were randomized to one of two groups. Those randomized to the treatment group received a personal thank-you call after their first gift. The remaining donors were randomized to the control group and did not receive a call.

Callers followed a simple script that involved three key features. First, the call was personalized: callers identified themselves, the donor, and the charity by name. Second, callers thanked the donor for his or her gift and explained the impact of the gift. Third, the thank-you call did not involve a request for another gift. In the case that the donor was not reachable, a call was attempted two times and a voice message was left on the second attempt when possible.
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
Randomization done in office by a computer
Randomization Unit
Individuals
Was the treatment clustered?
No

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
0
Sample size: planned number of observations
We partnered with 67 public television stations and one national non-profit in the United States. Experiment 1: Observations: 500,000 Experiment 2: Observations: 50,000 Experiment 3: Observations: 25,000
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
Experiment 1: Treatment- 439,510 Control-54,606
Experiment 2: Treatment- 28,784 Control-28,848
Experiment 3: New Script Treatment-10,780 Old Script Treatment-10,893 Control-2,640
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
IRB

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number

Post-Trial

Post Trial Information

Study Withdrawal

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Intervention

Is the intervention completed?
No
Data Collection Complete
Data Publication

Data Publication

Is public data available?
No

Program Files

Program Files
Reports, Papers & Other Materials

Relevant Paper(s)

Reports & Other Materials