Salsa Scoop> Tuesday Tips: When to Ask For Donations, Part 2 -- Hour of the Day

Tuesday Tips: When to Ask For Donations, Part 2 -- Hour of the Day

This week, we get into the details of exactly when people donate. In last week's first installment of the donations series, we looked at the relative performance of different days of the week for donations across the DIA network. This week, we zoom in closer, to the hour of the day. The simplest point of departure is a general chart of donations by hour of day. As with last week, we've excluded the period around the holidays (the last 40 and first 31 days of the year, leaving an even 42 weeks),* although the chart below is virtually identical even if we don't. Click to enlarge. The blue line tracks the percentage of donations made at each hour of the day (i.e., 12 midnight through 12:59, then 1:00 through 1:59, and so forth) for all gifts given Monday through Friday. The red line measures the same phenomenon for all seven days of the week. No surprises here, including that weekdays show a slightly more pronounced concentration of gifts during the work day. In the chart below, we unpack it a little bit and -- assuming most organizations will be thinking weekday soliciations -- chart the hourly course of donations for each day Monday through Friday as well as their average overall performance. Click to enlarge. Couple of things to notice here: Tuesday and Wednesday "bump" later in the day than the other days ... and Friday peaks high early and then drops like a rock. Among weekdays, Friday has by far the highest proportion of its gifts during the first half of the day ... and by far the lowest proportion from 4 p.m. onward. Of course, we know from last week's installment that we're dealing with slices of unequal pies here. A bad time on Thursday isn't actually much worse than a good time on Monday, which is evident when we break the week into 168 hourly slices and chart the ebb and flow of contributions. Click to enlarge. But there's another factor besides the day of the week when we reach this level of detail. All the times charted so far are simple Eastern times, which means we're mixing propensity to donate with at least one other variable: the relative distribution of people by time zones. National organizations may be able to deal profitably in nothing but the aggregate, but for local groups and indeed for anyone really thinking about donor-centric fundraising, the local time to the donor is obviously pretty important. You don't send your ask at 9 a.m. Eastern Time if you're targeting Californians. Here is the Eastern Time donation curve for Washington, Oregon, California and Nevada, as opposed to that for the Eastern seaboard**. Click to enlarge. ... and, shifted by three hours to reflect the local-time behavior of donors on the respective coasts: Click to enlarge. Again, no major shocks here, but you may notice that Pacific donors show a higher, earlier peak and a faster decline, while Eastern donors plateau during the day with a noticeable afternoon bump. Delving too much into that phenomenon is beyond the scope of this particular blog post, but one has to immediately suspect the timing of donation appeals here, sent by campaign managers disproportionately based on the east coast. It makes sense for national organizations in New York or D.C. to wait on full-list appeals until after lunch, to catch everyone stateside at their offices ... hence, perhaps, the high peak for early in the day on the west, and the solider afternoon performance in the east. By the time west coast afternoon rolls around, the east coast campaign staff is stuck in rush hour, so not many asks are hitting the inbox. If that hypothesis has merit, it'd be worthwhile for organizations to think about at least elementary segmentation around advance scheduling of messages to slate a west coast appeal later in the day, or make a first-thing-in-the-morning ask to supporters in eastern states. It may or may not show any result, but it's definitely worth testing. This week-long chart of local-time performance -- with several noticeable instances where the eastern curve develops a peak simultaneously with the -3 hour western curve -- might further buttress the idea. Click to ... you know. You really have to click to see the lines on this one. So kudos to the observation made in last week's comments about indexing gift performance against the timing of specific appeals and/or non-appeal contacts. We'll try to tackle that one down the road. *Also of note: as with last week, these numbers are of counts (not donation amounts) of original instances of online donations -- paid event registrations, storefront purchases, instances of recurring gifts beyond the original payment, and offline donations loaded into the system are all excluded. **Florida, Georgia, North and South Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, the District of Columbia, Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine. Note that a small part of the Florida panhandle is in the Central time zone, and a small part of rural Eastern Oregon is in the Mountain Time Zone (there are also some states split between Eastern and Central not considered here). This is a very representative survey, but not exact.





The decision to exclude the holiday period from the analysis ensures a more accurate representation of regular donation behavior, free from the potential influence of seasonal factors. fairplay login

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