2014 Gold Awards for Fundraising Excellence Multichannel ($10 Million and Over) Winners
Multichannel, $10 million and over
(Also Campaign of the Year)
Heal Children, Heal Detroit 2013 Year-End Multichannel Appeal
The Children’s Center
(Submitted by The Children’s Center)
Response rate: 4.2 percent
Total cost: $9,932
Income generated: $90,287
Average gift: $520
Cost to raise a dollar: $0.11
I can usually predict the ultimate Campaign of the Year winners by the number of gasps and “wows” I hear as the judges mull over particular entries — as well as the amount of furious note-scribbling going on. When I heard one of our judges say, “This gives me chills,” followed by a round of hearty agreement, I suspected we had a winner. And the final judging bore out my suspicions.
The campaign at hand was The Children’s Center’s Heal Children, Heal Detroit multichannel appeal. Powerful imagery of children that balances their beauty and potential with the seriousness of their situation is just the start of the long line of winning elements in this campaign.
Beyond the numbers is the wonderfully consistent messaging that seamlessly carries through the many touchpoints involved.
In this case, multichannel also meant multigenerational, as one of the stated goals of the campaign was specifically to reach the next generation of donors, while at the same time targeting existing and lapsed donors, and acquiring new donors from the organization’s traditional donor profile (45 years and up).
It was a tall order that took some big thinking.
“Reaching the millennial group is easier said than done,” writes R. Trent Thompson, senior director of brand and strategic communications at The Children’s Center, who submitted the campaign. “The majority are not yet established in their careers and have not accumulated enough wealth to be captured by the many lists and databases available to funders. Reaching this particular segment was indeed the greatest challenge of the campaign.”
While current donors and future philanthropists may be moved in different ways, TCC settled on a message that everyone could get behind: “Children are the future of Detroit. If you want to heal Detroit, then we must first heal the children. For a brighter, future Detroit — help Detroit’s children heal, grow and thrive.”
With messaging no one could argue with, TCC launched a comprehensive campaign that included these elements:
- Direct mail: a two-stage direct-mail approach targeting volunteers and lapsed donors that featured a personalized pledge sheet as well as a Web address and QR code directing donors to a custom, responsive landing/donation page.
- Email: a series of five emails sent three weeks apart to reinforce the campaign messaging and call to action, with a link back to the custom landing/donation pages.
- Social media: TCC leveraged its 27-member, internal social-media team and a number of external key influencers, providing prewritten tweets and Facebook posts with selected campaign images, as well as Facebook cover images to make it easy for them to spread the word about the campaign. There was also a presence on Pinterest and Instagram.
- Telephone/face-to-face: continuing its traditional use of these channels.
- Donor acknowledgment letters: Campaign-specific thank-you messages helped close the loop.
Thinking outside the box to reach millennials, Gen X and Gen Y, the campaign also included:
- Pop-up restaurants: TCC created five impromptu dining experiences in places frequented by millennials. Promotions for the dining experience leveraged the influence of key millennials. Each event featured an informational video about TCC, conversation and food created by local, up-and-coming chefs.
- Yellow Coaster Hunt online contest: Several local bars and restaurants agreed to use special yellow coasters during a specific time period, and participants were asked to locate coasters, take photos and post them to their social networks.
- Social media: TCC live-tweeted during tours of its campus, then repurposed those tweets throughout its social-media calendar.
No doubt, this campaign is a multichannel masterpiece. But another thing that got the judges’ attention was the organization’s reason for submitting it:
“We entered this competition to share with other nonprofits what has worked for us,” Thompson writes. “To inspire use of their imagination to connect with generational donor audiences in new and relevant ways, beyond the traditional approach. And to say, ‘Think outside the proverbial box. Get creative.’”
Additional Multichannel ($10 million and over) Winners
SILVER: Human Rights Campaign — The Supreme Court and A Red Equal Sign (Submitted by HRC)
Response rate: 1.82 percent
Total cost: $67,031
Income generated: $130,391
Average gift: $72.04
Cost to raise a dollar: $0.51
It all started with a simple red equal sign. Well, sort of. HRC’s historic overtaking of Facebook and Twitter with a red-tinted version of its iconic blue-and-yellow logo actually started with an email when, in March 2013, two landmark marriage-equality cases reached the United States Supreme Court. The email educated the organization’s more than 1.5 million members and supporters about the cases. Then on the first day of oral arguments, HRC posted the specially hued logo and asked others to adopt it on their social-media pages. By June 2013, HRC had provided innovative apps for mobile, Facebook, Twitter and HRC.org, and the red logo was everywhere. Following up, the organization mailed an Equality-Gram fundraising appeal, asking for a special donation to continue its mission.
In three short months, the Red Equal Sign and campaign around the marriage-equality cases added more than 300,000 new followers to HRC’s Facebook page and 26,000 new followers to its Twitter page; smashed previous one-day Web traffic records for HRC.org four times over; added 100,000 new email addresses to HRC’s online activist files; added 150,000 signatures to its Majority Opinion e-letter, resulting in $42,000 in post-action donations; fulfilled 63,000 requests for free HRC logo stickers, with more than 50 percent of those requests coming from people who had never engaged with HRC in the past (after requesting a sticker, those people were presented with an opportunity to donate to HRC — that page saw a 1.74 percent response rate, with more than 80 percent of those donations coming from first-time HRC donors); saw 40,000 smartphones download HRC’s Red Logo iPhone and Droid apps, with more than 25 percent of the users providing new email addresses. In addition, the Equality-Gram mail piece exceeded it goal fourfold.
BRONZE: Wounded Warrior Project — 2013 Year-End Digital Campaign (Submitted by CDR Fundraising Group)
Number of recipients/response rate: Varies according to channel
Total cost: $220,046
Income generated: $8,981,596
Average gift: $147.72
Cost to raise a dollar: $0.02
You just can’t underestimate the power to testing, and this effort by CDR for the Wounded Warrior Project bears out that truth. Like many organizations, WWP saw a significant change in performance of its Google grant in 2013. The grant, which had previously been used to drive year-end giving, could only serve as a supplement to paid advertising. With this in mind, WWP sought to capitalize on year-end fundraising by testing into new control messaging before year-end giving was in full swing. This testing was able to put WWP in the best possible position in the final weeks of December when its investment would be the highest and had the greatest potential for return.
The organization tackled this issue with a multichannel effort, the hallmark of which was powerful imagery that remained consistent across channels. Extensive testing via email was done early in the season to inform strategy during the final weeks of December and then again in December to chart a course for 2014. WWP also tested eight different sets of ad creative over the course of the year-end period, ensuring that controls were identified by the height of the giving season; the testing was structured like a domino effect, with results of each test informing the next stage of testing.
WWP had to invest more funds than had previously been used in this campaign due to declining performance of the Google grant and a general decline in email response across the sector. But the testing created a data-driven strategy that ensured the best possible performance. More than 14,648,921 impressions were served from the Google Grants, paid search engine marketing and remarketing campaigns, and a new evergreen control SEM ad was identified; 57 different emails were sent with an average 15.87 percent open rate, 5.92 percent clickthrough rate and .07 percent conversion rate; and $9 million in gross revenue was raised through 60,952 gifts at an average of $147.72. That represents a 224 percent increase in giving over the same period in 2012.