We typically say: “it starts with brand strategy.” And we still believe that’s true. But we also recognize an organization might not have the luxury of spending the up-front time needed on strategy before they have to demonstrate results. So we pulled an audible and jumped straight into donor development to take full advantage of some unique opportunities and the impending holiday giving season.
Lwala has historically been sustained by a passionate community of donors, most of whom were introduced to the organization while Fred and Milton were medical students in Nashville. Their financial support was consistent, allowing for steady growth across an entire decade. But as with any investment strategy, the pool of nonprofit donors needed to be diversified. And investing now in engaging these donors would pay off for years to come.
Together with Lwala, Mighty Ally developed a handful of separate strategies – with a range of tactics spanning traditional, email, social, digital, and influencer outreach – to find new donors and tell the evolving story of Lwala.
Our first project was to help Lwala capitalize on a timely opportunity to engage a younger donor audience and thus grow their social platform. It was serendipitous: a popular former contestant – and NICU nurse – on ABC’s The Bachelor learned of Lwala and was instantly enamored of the model. With a desire to use her vast social platform for good, the reality star offered to host a watch party along with a dozen other cast members. We harnessed this opportunity to plan and execute the event along with a social media campaign designed to capture the hearts and minds of a younger audience.
Through branded images distributed by the cast, a dedicated hashtag, a custom Snapchat filter, and the launch of a text-to-donate platform, we successfully increased access to and garnered contributions from a new pool of young supporters. The Lwala message was amplified to hundreds of thousands of people via social networks, tripling followers within a two-week period.
We then turned our attention to Giving Tuesday and the ever-paramount holiday giving season. Lwala’s year-to-date individual donations were lagging, so there was a lot of ground to make up over November and December to close the year strong and achieve the projected targets.
We identified a need to engage individual donors through a carefully crafted appeal: one that highlighted Lwala’s evidence-based work and measurable outcomes, and that tied this rigorous approach to the stories of individuals impacted by the community’s work. Leveraging the creative campaign concept Help us Grow Where We’re Planted, we paired whimsical drawings made by Lwala schoolchildren with the stunning data that proved a dramatic decrease in the mortality rates of children under five. We also incorporated a simple wooden tree ornament imprinted with another illustration drawn by a child – a memorable leave behind to keep Lwala top of mind for days (years!) to come.
Armed with a mailer, email templates, social media images, and messaging – we led an all-out push across digital and traditional channels. We ran cycles of email A/B testing, looking closely at metrics to drive iterative updates to the emails sent. We also segmented out recipients who hadn’t opened or clicked on previous emails, sending highly targeted and personalized requests to them. And overall, we kept a close eye on engagement and unsub rates to optimize send strategy and frequency.
We aimed to increase overall donations, but also up the average individual donation amount. We applied best practices of online donation form design to create a frictionless experience. We triaged a poorly performing PayPal process with a short-term solution in QGiv, then recommended a larger donation system overhaul. After a custom analysis of major donation platforms, we recommended Kindful as being optimal for their needs, then designed a donation interface to encourage increased giving by connecting financial support to real-life outcomes.