GlobalGiving Learning Posts

Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivations of GlobalGiving Partners

Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivations of GlobalGiving Partners

In November 2016, as part of a series of experiments examining the role of incentives, GlobalGiving experimented with messaging that referenced intrinsic and extrinsic motivations to spur the engagement of our nonprofit partners.

Eligible organizations randomly assigned to one of four email messages were asked to watch a GlobalGiving webinar, “Developing a SMART year-end fundraising strategy,” and to complete the accompanying Effectiveness cycle, which involves reflecting on and documenting what actions they have taken or plan to take after watching the webinar and what they have learned from the experience.  Organizations that watched the webinar and completed the Effectiveness cycle would automatically earn GG Reward points, which improve the organization’s status on the GlobalGiving and give them more access to GlobalGiving benefits.  

For this experiment, we created four different emails that combined and tested various types of messages.  One segment of the organizations was reminded that they would receive six GG Reward points upon completion of the Effectiveness cycle (extrinsic motivation); another was encouraged to complete the cycle because it would help them deliver more impact (intrinsic motivation).  We also included an additional extrinsic incentive of a GlobalGiving homepage feature to a portion of the organizations.

Congrats to our Fail Forward Winners!

Congrats to our Fail Forward Winners!

October was a month of celebrating failure with our third annual Fail Forward Contest! Throughout the month we witnessed the power of reframing failure as an opportunity to make positive change, and we reflected on the benefits of sharing setbacks with donors, internal teams, and local communities. Most importantly, we had the honor of hearing how all of the 2016 Fail Forward Contest participants proudly failed forward. You blew us away!

We were so inspired by all your fail forward stories and by the resilience, perseverance, and teamwork in your organizations.  This year we had a record number of submissions, and we are excited to introduce you to the 2016 winners and finalists! And the winners of $1000, $600, and $400 are…

Why Didn’t The Narrative Project Work For Fundraising?

Why Didn’t The Narrative Project Work For Fundraising?

Alison Carlman, GlobalGiving

This is the third article in a three-part series about GlobalGiving’s experiments testing the findings of The Narrative Project. Read the first article here and the second article here.

When the results of our first test of The Narrative Project email appeal started to appear, I hoped they were just a fluke. But soon the numbers grew to statistical significance: the Narrative Project language was performing significantly worse than our control language in terms of dollars raised per email opened.  I suspected it could just be a matter of the particular cause featured in the email appeal, so then we ran tests with entirely different topics.  When that test copy also underperformed the control, I blamed it on my own writing. So in our final test we pitted language from another major nonprofit against phrases pulled directly from the Narrative Project User Guide. The Narrative Project language still failed compared to the control.

At the same time that we were running A/B tests, my GlobalGiving colleague was running experiments with stories in our database. We have more than 50,000 reports written over the past 8 years by nonprofit leaders detailing their progress for their donors. While these emailed reports don’t usually generate a high volume of repeat funding, it was still possible to detect that reports that were highly correlated with Narrative Project Themes generally underperformed other reports in a statistically significant way.

After all of our testing, we could not prove that stories and reports that contain the themes of independence, shared values, partnership, and progress drove any more funding via email and online donations than stories or reports that don’t. In fact, they performed worse.

Better Storytelling: What ‘Works’ in Global Development?

Better Storytelling: What ‘Works’ in Global Development?

Alison Carlman, GlobalGiving

This is the second article in a three-part series about GlobalGiving’s experiments testing the findings of The Narrative Project. Read the first article here.

When I first learned about The Narrative Project I was very excited (which reveals a lot about the depth of my nerdiness) because it was the first large-scale study that I’d encountered that demonstrated how positive narratives in global development could actually move people to become supporters. I’d seen plenty of evidence that pity-based narratives in fundraising appeals will motivate people to open their wallets. But it’s 2016, and there are many communicators in development who work to promote more respectful, nuanced storytelling that goes beyond the flies-in-the-eyes appeals we’ve all seen. So when I encountered the Narrative Project, you can see why I was so glad there was finally data to show that these alternative narratives might also work, and what’s more, specific tactics might help us improve the empathy-based approach we already use.

The promise of the Narrative Project was that messages and stories carrying certain narrative themes (independence, shared values, partnership and progress) would motivate certain segments of the population (in the US, UK, France, and Germany) to become (theoretical) supporters of global development. The goal was to change attitudes about aid at a very high level, and the data suggests that it can. But very few global development communicators who are employed by NGOs have the luxury of communicating for the sake of attitude change alone. Most of us are hired to tell stories that either move people to give or to take action for a cause. We need to share stories that work in other ways. And many of my peers were eager to start using the recommendations in their communications and fundraising.

I was one of ten nonprofit communicators who received a grant to test the Narrative Project in the wild. We wanted to find out how easy it was for nonprofits to adopt the recommended narratives, and then to find out how the Narrative Project impacted fundraising.

What did we find out? Did the Narrative Project work? Well, no. But also yes. It all depends on what we mean when we ask, “what works?”

Why We Tested the Latest Research on Storytelling for You

Why We Tested the Latest Research on Storytelling for You

This 3-part series reflects on GlobalGiving’s experiments testing the findings of The Narrative Project. The Narrative Project was a wide-scale research effort to improve the public perceptions of global development in donor countries. Part one of our series explains GlobalGiving’s research methods and findings. Image from NarrativeProject.org. 

In the summer of 2015, I was one of ten nonprofit communicators who received a grant to test the findings of The Narrative Project. The Narrative Project was a wide-scale research project driven by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, InterAction, and other major NGOs, that aimed to increase public perceptions of global development in the US, UK, France, and Germany. The Narrative Project researchers found that messages and stories carrying certain narrative themes—independence, shared values, partnership, and progress—motivated certain segments of the population to change their perceptions of global development. It also found an increase in the target group’s self-reported likelihood to take action to support global development causes. I was interested in whether or not Narrative Project themes would motivate people not only to change perceptions but also to act: to donate to global development projects.

In my work at GlobalGiving, I facilitate storytelling and fundraising training for thousands of nonprofits of all sizes, all around the world. So I wanted to find out how easy it was for nonprofits to adopt the Narrative Project recommendations, and, more importantly, to find out if nonprofits who used it would raise more money in their online fundraising appeals.