23 Jul More Feedback is Always Better, Right?
A cornerstone of the DonorsChoose.org experience has always been allowing donors to see their impact firsthand. Every citizen philanthropist who contributes to a successfully funded project receives photos of the project in action, a letter from the teacher, and full disclosure from us about how their money was spent. Those who donate over $50 also receive handwritten thank-you notes from the students.
A little over two years ago, we introduced a feature that enabled teachers to respond directly to donors when they leave a comment on a project they’ve given to. Since every donor is asked to leave a message as part of the payment process, we hoped that encouraging teachers to reply would both boost teachers’ morale and improve the donor experience, so more people would come back and give. Recently, we decided to evaluate the efficacy of this mechanism—specifically, do teacher responses to comments actually lead to increased return rates in donors?
Analyzing all the data from each donor’s first donations, our results look promising. Over 73% of all donor comments receive responses from the teacher, and it takes teachers an average of about 2 days and 9 hours to put up these responses. These responses seem to make a difference: first-time donors who received teacher responses were 3% more likely to donate to the site again (21.8% for donors who received responses vs. 21.3% for donors who did not receive responses).
While this difference is statistically significant, 3% is not a huge difference, as you can see from above. For now, it seems that we have a healthy teacher response rate, thereby facilitating more interaction between our donors and teachers and encouraging our donors to keep giving.