Sweets exercise that tripled response rates

The most effective method to induce donations is to give people sweets and send them personalised emails, according to new research

Giving donors sweets can triple response rates
Giving donors sweets can triple response rates

Giving someone sweets and sending them a personalised email makes them three times more likely to give to charity, according to research presented to convention delegates yesterday.

In a session on changing giving behaviour, Michael Sanders of the Behavioural Insights Team at the Cabinet Office said it had recently run randomised control trials with 7,000 people at the investment bank Deutsche Bank to see what would persuade them to give a day's salary to charity.

In the trial employees were randomly selected to receive an email about the proposed donation that addressed them either as "Dear colleague" or by their name. Others were also randomly selected to be visited by celebrities or given sweets when being asked for the donation.

Sanders said that in the control group, which received no special treatment, 5 per cent of people decided to make the donation.

Among those who were visited by celebrities, the figure increased to 7 per cent. When people were given sweets, 11 per cent of them made donations, and when they were sent a personalised email, 12 per cent of them gave.

But Sanders said that the most effective method was both giving people sweets and sending them personalised emails, which resulted in 17 per cent of them making the donation.

Sanders said that, in a separate trial, the team had worked with Home Retail Group, which already had an option in its payroll-giving scheme for staff to increase the amount they gave by 3 per cent each year. He said that if people had to opt in to make the increase, 6 per cent of them did so, but when they had to opt out the figure rose to 48 per cent.

"It all shows the power of these simple interventions," he said.

Sanders said that his team, which recently published Applying Behavioural Insights to Charitable Giving, a paper about these and other trials it has conducted, would be happy to hear from charities with ideas for new trials.

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