New Research Offers Fresh Insights in Fundraising Ad Design

Use of Scripture and Watchdog Charity Ratings Impact Response

by Christian Leader Update

EXPORT, PENNSYLVANIA – According to the latest research from Infinity Concepts and Grey Matter Research, the use of certain ad design elements could pave the way to increased evangelical donor interest in faith-based ads.

The latest study, Strategic Creative Design: Fundraising Advertising Among Evangelicals, focuses on the impact of using Scripture and watchdog charity ratings on faith-based advertising. The findings are based on a survey of 1,010 evangelical Protestant Americans.

“Our test showed the inclusion of Scripture provided lift to the simple banner ad we tested.”

– Ron Sellers, Grey Matter Research

 For faith-based organizations, advertising is key to connecting with potential new donors and the lifeblood for growth and success. This study explored the impact of incorporating Scripture or a charity watchdog rating into the ad design.

Response is typically generated through carefully conceived and executed creative. Strategic creative design is critical to success. However, our test showed the inclusion of Scripture provided lift to the simple banner ad we tested.

“Sixty-two percent of evangelicals found the ad without any Scripture to be compelling, compared to 72% for the exact same ad when both Scripture text and reference were used,” commented Ron Sellers, President of Grey Matter Research. “Let’s suppose 10,000 see it, and half of those finding it compelling click on it – if the proportion finding it compelling goes from 62% to 72%, this would be 560 more clicks.”

However, including a Scripture reference may not fix poorly conceived advertising. While a Bible verse may add value, it should integrate with other elements, contributing to the overall purpose of the advertisement.

“Anything in communications—whether it is Scripture, a tagline, a picture, an endorsement, or anything else—must contribute positively toward the overall goal,” said Mark Dreistadt, founder and CEO of Infinity Concepts. “Whether that goal is getting someone to click on a banner ad, make a charitable contribution, or become more aware of a brand’s existence, simply pasting on a Scripture verse will not accomplish that. It must be fully integrated into the messaging.”

“Donor communication is both a science and an art a blend of strategy and creativity.” 

– Mark Dreistadt, Infinity Concepts

The study also asked participants to rate how compleling were ads that included a charity watchdog logo from Charity Navigator, the Evangelical Council of Financial Integrity (ECFA), GuideStar, or no logo at all.

Previous research indicated that 32% of donors intentionally consult watchdogs when making a giving decision. However, the addition of a watchdog logo had the opposite effect to Scripture—it decreased interest in the ads for evangelicals.

“With a charity watchdog rating, we recommend either to ‘feature it or forget it,’” Dreistadt added. “Inform donors about what the rating means so they will feel even greater trust in your brand. But if you are not willing or able to do this, it is best not to clutter up your communications with logos that may be meaningless to most people. Our study shows an ad that introduces your ministry to people is not the right place for this level of detail.”

“Donor communication is both a science and an art … a blend of strategy and creativity,” Dreistadt added. “By appealing to both the mind and the heart, donor communication becomes a transformative force, empowering churches and nonprofits to further their mission and effect positive change in the world.”

To download a copy of the report, click here: Strategic Creative Design: A Study In Fundraising Advertising Among Evangelicals.


To schedule an interview with Mark Dreistadt or Ron Sellers, email Clem Boyd, Director of Public Relations, at or text or call him at 724.930.4003. You can also contact Gwen Adams, Public Relations Manager, at or text or call her at 724.936.1120.


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