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Donations as a Powerful Recruiting Tool

Anna Esslinger

Design Research Associate

Paid incentives drive design research. We put the amount we pay for our studies in every email subject line and in all caps in our Facebook ads. Most communication with participants is about payment – how much? how fast can you send it? how can I get more? According to Tremendous, the payment platform we use, Vidlet has paid over $300,000 in incentives to our participants over the past two years.

But what happens when the demographic you’re trying to recruit for are not motivated by incentives?

For example, for studies on financial planning, investments or luxury cars, our clients will ask us to recruit high net worth individuals. The kind of people who would not be swayed by a $100 gift card. For each of these studies, we were faced with a dilemma about how to incentivize these people to participate. We’ve come to realize that while these high net worth individuals may not care to receive $100 for themselves, they’re excited about the prospect of Vidlet donating the incentive to an organization of their choosing.

We give our participants two options: they can receive the incentive directly, sent to them through Tremendous, or we will double the incentive and donate it to an organization of their choosing. While the original intention of this program was to recruit high net worth individuals, this program has been popular across income levels. These past few months have made people more “philanthropically minded.” We’d often hear from our participants that they would use the incentives they received to treat themselves to concert tickets or nice meals. But now, they want to help others and donate to causes they believe in.

And on our end, we get to see what our participants are passionate about and want to donate to. It helps us get to know them a little better and humanizes our participants even more. For example, the investor who has divested from the fossil fuel industry wants to donate to the Environmental Defense Fund. And if we ever do a project on solar panels, he’ll be the first one we think of.

So far, we’ve donated to the following organizations:

· Hunger at Home

· Girl Scouts of America

· Feeding America

· Environmental Defense Fund

· San Jose Children’s Musical Theater

· Wounded Warrior Project

At Vidlet, we like to think we have a mutually beneficial relationship with our respondents. Our respondents provide us with valuable insights that will improve products and in turn, we pay them for their time. But can this beneficial relationship be extended to help “the greater good”? With our donation matching program, we think it can.

Vector Credit:

<a href="">Activity Vectors by Vecteezy</a>

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