Cerebral Palsy Alliance - Steptember
Cerebral Palsy Alliance (CPA) and flat earth direct have worked in partnership over the last three years to manage the digital acquisition and participant communications for ‘Steptember’: a four-week health and wellness event that raises money for people living with cerebral palsy and their families.
Our challenge was simple: acquire new participants and increase their engagement with Steptember to maximise their fundraising potential—and, ultimately, increase income for the event overall. This was no mean feat for an event that runs across 12 locations worldwide!
how we tackled it
To encourage past participants to return for another year, we developed highly personalised email and SMS communications, which focused heavily on videos of children whose lives had directly benefited from therapy and equipment provided by CPA.
We’ve trialed several other hooks to get Steppers back on board, including periods of free registration and incentives. But mostly the focus has been on providing a firsthand insight into the lives on kids living with CP.
Our acquisition approach for new participants involved diversifying our efforts across multiple channels: social advertising, email marketing, prospecting from current supporters, remarketing, paid search, to name but a few. The creative addressed specific interests or motivations for participation—health-motivated people who are looking to improve their own health and wellness, or cause-motivated people who want to help kids and adults with cerebral palsy (and of course, people with a mix of both).
The communications to participants mixes automation and behavioral touch points, meaning it varies based on when you signed up and what your stepping and fundraising activity looks like.
The results for Steptember have been astounding and we have seen a huge growth over the three years since a significant investment in Steptember began.
Since 2012, income has grown from $600k to over $4m in Australia; 600% growth in just three years. That’s 14k teams and almost 45,000 Australians stepping up.
Globally the event now generated over $5.4m for kids and adults living with cerebral palsy. Not bad, eh?
RSPCA Queensland Digital Acquisition
In late 2013, we worked with RSPCA Queensland on their very first digital acquisition campaign – as RSPCA needed to increase the amount of regular giving income to help save the lives of innocent animals in Queensland. We had a tough challenge on our hands, to recruit tepid and cold prospects with phone numbers online to provide a pool of engaged prospects from which to convert (via phone and mail) to regular giving.
how we tackled it
Together, we developed a two-stage campaign and asked prospects to do something small thing first, which was to stand up and say NO to animal cruelty in Queensland by signing a pledge (and provide a phone number), before asking for something big – e.g. become a regular giver.
To incentivise prospects to provide a phone number we encouraged engagement with a free limited edition RSPCA magnet.
We then phoned responders to become regular supporters by joining ‘RSPCA Companions’ to help be there for suffering animals every step of the way – from rescue and recovery to rehabilitation and rehoming.
For those who we were not able to contact via the phone – we initiated mop up activity, which included a regular giving conversion direct mail pack along with a series of eDM’s.
We used various online sources to recruit these new prospects such as Facebook, Care2, Google AdWords, website remarketing, a pop up on RSPCA’s homepage and targeted emails to a pool of RSPCA’s tepid prospects (e.g. previous petition signers) which sent them to a clear, focused campaign landing page to sign the pledge.
The creative in all media regarding the pledge shared the story of Gracie – a Golden Retriever who was struck over the head with a heavy block of wood, tied to a weight and drowned in a backyard pool – a clear reason why Queenslanders should take action and sign the pledge to say no to animal cruelty.
An amazing result for the animals of Queensland as we almost doubled our initial target of 233 new recruits and brought in 411 new regular supporters bringing the total year 1 regular giving income to $77,062
Royal Flying Doctor Service Queensland: Autumn Regular Giving and Cash Appeal
In 2014, we partnered with Royal Flying Doctor Service Queensland on their Autumn appeal. Initially the appeal was planned as a cash only ask. However, RFDS had a unique challege to begin recruiting more regular givers without cannibalising immediate cash income, that would allow them to continue to fund the 19 aircraft they operate throughout Queensland. As a result we developed an appeal that combined a regualr giving and a cash ask to existing supporters. Those with the greatest liklihood to give monthly were asked for a regualr gift, all other supporters were asked for a cash donation.
how we tackled it
We developed two packs and segmented the data to determine which supporters would receive a regular giving ask (multi, active cash supporters within particular value bands) and which supporters would receive a cash ask.
The cash version asked supporters to give a gift to help keep an aircraft stocked with emergency medical supplies. The regular giving communications asked potential regular givers to join ‘Wings’, a special group of donors who give monthly and help keep the RFDS in the air and save lives every day.
The packs were highly personalised, and supported online by e-appeals, as well as a focused landing page for supporters to make their gift. We also enclosed a piece on ‘Wings’ to help explain the benefits of becoming a monthly supporter and how this would more than ever help keep the Doctor flying.
For each pack, we shared the incredible story of Rhiannon Finger who went into labour three months early with her baby boy Oscar. Using direct quotes within the letter, Rhiannon, explained how thanks to RFDS, Oscar was delivered safely, showing supporters how their gift could have a direct impact on a family like Oscar’s.
The results were astounding. For the regular giving component achieved a response rate of 5.78%, around twice the response level we would expect to generate from existing cash supporters.
It also raised $247,965 in net cash income, more than double (225%) the total net contribution from the 2013 appeal.
Surf Lifesaving Foundation Regular Giving Retention
Face to Face is the biggest source of new regular givers for charities in Australia. The challenge is arresting early attrition, in the first three months and over the first year, which averages around 48% in Australia. The driver here is age. Whilst it’s a source of lots of new supporters, they are much younger which leads to higher cancellation rates than other channels.
Surf Lifesaving Foundation recruiting around 7k regular givers per year with an annual attrition rate of around 42%. Despite being lower than the industry average they were determined to bring this down to under 40%.
how we tackled it
Given we know that our supporters are younger, and mobile enabled, we developed content that is drip-fed through to supporters via email and SMS. Video heavy, sharing the direct impact regular givers support is having on Australian beaches and waterways, but also occasionally highlighting ‘moments of need’ when things don’t go to plan.
During the first three months, when attrition tends to be at its highest, communication with these donors occurs weekly and becomes a little more infrequent after that point.
The programs are automated; making it easy to manage and ensuring the updates are regular and reliable. The stories and content vary greatly: from live footage of rescues, to free beach safety apps, images showing the cost to equip a surf club and interviews with whole families involved as volunteer lifesavers.
At the end of year one, Year 1 attrition had been reduced from 42% to 38%. That resulted in around 250 supporters being retained that would not otherwise; generating around $300k over four years from those people. Ultimately resulting in millions of dollars in additional retained income for Surf Lifesaving Foundation.
RSPCA Queensland mobile prospecting campaign
RSPCA Queensland has a strong strategic focus on continuing to grow their reliance on recurring fundraising income to allow them to more reliably provide the very best care for all the animals that need it. The goal was to try and find new sources of regular givers recruits that deliver not only the scale required but also the long-term value some other channels fail to provide.
how we tackled it
Research had determined that very few pet owners would know what to do in an emergency situation for their pet. Together we decided to base our campaign on delivering this kind of information to potential new donors by creating a hard-hitting campaign.
Using a variety of media resources including out of home, DRTV, email and social media, we targeted companion animal lovers with adverts showing a dog in need of first aid. The copy asked the audience the question ‘what would you do?’ to try and get them to think about how they would deal with the situation for their own pet if it was to arise and encourage them to send an SMS/complete an online landing page.
This then triggered a telephone call to fulfil the responders’ free RSPCA pocket first aid guide. The call was also an opportunity to chat to animal loving people about the incredibly job the RSPCA is doing around Queensland helping all animals in need, and asked them to consider helping with a small, monthly pledge.
Over a twelve-month period campaign has been highly successful bringing in almost 3,000 new monthly supporters for the RSPCA at a cost per regular giver lower than face-to-face. In addition tens of thousands of Queenslanders are now better placed to handle a potential emergency situation with their first aid guide.
TeamKids Women’s and Children’s Hospital Foundation, Premium Acquisition Appeals
In May 2014, TeamKids partnered with fed on their first premium acquisition campaign. The main goal was to recruit new cash supporters who would then improve the effectiveness of the warm appeal program. We needed these new supporters to make subsequent cash donations and convert to regular gifts to help provide the best care and equipment for the kids in South Australia who need it most.
how we tackled it
Since then, we have worked together on three more premium acquisition campaigns, testing additional premiums and rental lists, and performing in-depth results analysis to develop a strong control pack and data strategy.
Our new control pack includes some paper-based premiums – personalised address labels, as well as three embellished greeting cards with matching envelopes for the supporter to use. We also enclose a mission-related premium of a keyring in the shape of our case study’s tiny baby foot as a tangible reminder of the cause.
Each campaign has used the same story of Harrison, a baby boy who was born at just 24 weeks. For 114 days, the doctors and nurses at The Women’s and Children’s Hospital used specialist equipment and fought for Harrison – thankfully they saved him, showing potential donors how their gifts can make such an amazing difference to the lives of other babies that need help.
So far, we have managed to recruit over 13,650 new donors to TeamKids! The response rates of over 5% we have been seeing regularly is significantly ahead of industry standards for mail recruitment. At the time of writing, we have also raised $406,108 gross income.