Every year, the Dutch Cancer Society (KWF) raises funds for cancer treatment and research through their campaign: ‘Lanterns for Loved Ones’. KWF encourages donors to personify their donations through real life lanterns, which are lit collectively at the end of the campaign. The result is breathtaking, year after year.
Throughout our collaboration on KWF’s yearly campaign, we have implemented many psychological insights to increase donation behaviour in an ethical and innovative way. All of these individual nudges connect to an overarching behavioural strategy.
We help KWF optimise their yearly campaign by increasing donations with behavioural insights. When it comes to donation behaviour, the reasons behind each donation varies from person to person. On the other hand, the reasons we decide not to donate are not only similar, but also predictable.
Needlessly complex form fields, uncertainty about donation amounts, or not being able to fully empathise with a charity’s cause, are some of the biggest blockers in donation behaviour. Luckily, a smart combination of small nudges can result in big changes.
Paradoxically, the bigger the amount of people in need of help, the harder it becomes for donors to empathise and take action. This effect known as the compassion bias causes us to feel more compassion towards a single person in need than an entire village of hundreds.
By making the lanterns displaying the names of donors’ loved ones central to the campaign’s landing page and donation form, we enabled visitors to empathise deeply with individual loved ones.
Making individual loved ones the center of attention increases empathy and promotes action.
Deciding your donation amount, clicking through form fields, and entering personal information amount to dozens of tiny decisions the brain has to make before a donation is finally made. Since our brains often deal with this by taking the path of least resistance to avoid friction, the perceived effort of the donation process should be as low as possible.
One of the most notorious sources of friction are placeholder texts inside form fields. These instructive texts disappear when donors start entering their information, often causing them to forget whether it was their (user)name or email address that was required. Donors then have to delete their texts, click outside out the form field, and wait for the placeholder text to reappear. Do you feel the friction?
By simply locating the placeholder text above form fields, donors experience much less friction completing form fields.
Locating placeholder text above form fields instead of inside reduces friction.
Donors can never be 100% sure whether (part of) their donation will be used to cover overhead costs instead of going directly to those they wish to support. This phenomenon called overhead aversion is detrimental to donation behaviour, as it impacts donors’ sense of control.
We compensated for these uncertainties by increasing the sense of agency throughout the donation process. By using a first person frame in the opt-in section for updates through email, text and phone calls (“I want to be updated by KWF” instead of ” KWF may update me”), donors are more likely to opt-in as they experience more control.
This intervention, combined with less text-heavy options sorted from low effort (e-mail) to high effort (phone call), increased conversion by opt-in up to 98%.
Using first-person framing and keeping it short gives donators a sense of control.
By combining, testing, and implementing a selection of nudges and behavioural strategies, we helped KWF increase donation behaviour by 25%, resulting in a total conversion rate of 61% on their donation forms.
Lanterns for Loved Ones allows us to continuously optimise how the narrative, structure, and experience of donation are perceived by KWF’s donors. Their seasoned marketers, analysts, and designers make sure that each experiment is implemented optimally and that learnings are maximised. To more nudges for good!
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