There’s No Need to Thank Me. Really.

Via Tyler Cowen, here’s a study that apparently surprised the experts but doesn’t surprise me at all. The researchers ran a 6-year experiment involving hundreds of thousands of people to see how they responded when nonprofits called to thank them for donating. Here are the results:

Zip. Zero. Nada. This is not the usual “failed to reject the null hypothesis” folderol, it’s bulletproof evidence that the effect is literally null. It just doesn’t matter if you call to thank somebody for donating.

Why am I not surprised? Two reasons. First, I’m a cranky misanthrope and I actively dislike getting pointless phone calls that interrupt me. I’m less likely to donate to you if I think it will result in my being bothered about it later.

But put that aside. It’s just me. The second reason I’m not surprised is that I think people understand perfectly well when something is sincere and when it’s not. Getting a thank you call from your local PBS affiliate is obviously not sincere, it’s just an assignment handed out to volunteers because the suits think it will increase donations. What’s more, if you don’t get a thank you call you don’t even notice it since you probably weren’t expecting one.

Bottom line: save your money and your volunteers’ time and use it for something better. Unless your target audience is rich people, of course, who apparently have to be handled like a Ming vase.¹ But for them, a mere thank you call would be insulting, so I guess you can skip it for everyone after all.

¹Or so I’ve heard, anyway.

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is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

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