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Here’s how we helped a charity to survive the pandemic and double its donor community in 3 weeks

Lately, one of our campaigns has become a huge success with almost 100,000 donors involved online

How are charities surviving the lockdown and why are they hit the hardest these days?

During the COVID times, most organizations are forced to undergo a digital transformation —and non-profits are no different. The only distinctive point is that before the pandemic, only a minority of charities had been operating online or at least realized the need of doing so — unlike the for-profit world that already had substantial expertise in the field.

In this new reality, many charities are struggling to collect donations through the offline channels (gala events, face to face desks, fundraising marathons etc). That’s why in our latest campaign we decided to slightly deviate from our core crypto-related business and help charities cope with the current circumstances — here’s how.

An example of a typical fundraising desk

Meet Saint Anthony of Padua — the charity with which we launched our biggest growth-hacking fundraising campaign to date

Before the pandemic, we were in talks about crypto fundraising with one of the biggest religious non-profits of the world — Saint Anthony of Padua — and when the current situation COVID crisis began, our relationships took an interesting twist.

Saint Anthony is suffering from the same issues that we listed above but there’s something special about how they raise funds. Yes, they are also used to communicating with their community offline yet what’s important is that a big chunk of their annual fundraising budget comes from a single event that they hold every year.

Every year, 13th of June, Padua is visited by dozens of thousands of pilgrims from all over the world who come to pay a visit to the Saint. Following the event, a lot of pilgrims choose to support the charity and make a donation. But this year, due to the pandemic and the restriction of large public gatherings in Italy, the charity had to limit the visits and potentially cancel the pilgrimage. This would have left them without one of their major sources of donations and put their resilience at risk.

Saint Antonio church’s pilgrimage in Padua before covid

Fortunately, we decided to partner up to solve this problem together and in the end, we not only helped Saint Anthony to fix this particular fundraising issue but even upgraded their overall online activities and broadened their donor base.

Here’s how we turned a massive offline pilgrimage into a digital event with almost 100,000 attendees

When the priests of Saint Anthony communicated to us the real issue they were facing, we only had three weeks before the event. Yet we decided to work on this unusual fundraising campaign together by launching a marketing campaign and arranging a digital event instead of the physical one. The goal was to attract enough donors to keep the charity afloat and grant the pilgrims their yearly experience which is especially needed in this turbulent period of time.

After a brief study, we realized the best opportunity was to leverage the large Christian community on social media — something the charity had never done before. We pitched our strategy to the priests and got the green lights to launch the marketing campaign on behalf of Saint Anthony of Padua.

1) Ramping up the activity at the existing social media page:
The first activity planned was to improve the digital positioning of the charity on Facebook and increase the number of people following the official page. Through targetted ads and continuous communications (DEM, retargeting banners etc) their existing 32,000 fans — a number that had been unchanged for more than a year — turned into 70,000, more than doubling as a result of our 3-week activity.

23.315 new likes in one week
Fanpage followers base surge as a result of our 3-week activity

Here is one of the most successful examples of the ads we run to acquire new likes and followers on Saint Anthony’s Facebook page:

Fb ads promoting likes

2) Launching and promoting a new website for the digital fundraising devoted to the pilgrimage:
Considering the main goal was to launch a successful fundraising campaign for the pilgrimage day, we didn’t only focus on their existing social media page. We set up a new landing page specifically for the day of the pilgrimage called, where we managed to attract 91,000 visitors with a peak of over 36,000 concurrent views on the single day of June 13th.

Google analytics data showcasing the peak of attendance at the day of the pilgrimage, June 13th
Social media page was the main driver of traffic for the new pilgrimage website

3) Growth hacking via special digital marketing techniques:
First of all, what is growth hacking? It started within the startup scene of Silicon Valley, but nowadays it has grown into a growth technique that also applies to large, established companies. For those startups, growth hacking was their way to beat the established order — the big corporates. They had fewer resources and budget to work the same way as their big competitors and therefore they had to find alternative ways to market their products. Hence the word ‘hacking’ is used as a metaphor to grow in a different, cheaper, and/or faster way.

The same logic applies to our case: our small budget helped us raise more than 600% of its size in donations. An important part of this success was an intensive and exhausting A/B strategy on every single ad we delivered. This strategy helps to find the best combination of texts and pictures used in the ad in order to the ad’s efficiency in attracting people (or traffic, as it’s usually called).

Here’s an example: changing the picture of this ad has reduced the cost of traffic acquisition by 0.12€ which had a great impact on our budget optimization.

4) Thinking out of the box: recreating the pilgrimage experience online to enhance people’s motivation to donate:

In the beginning, our attempts to collect a large number of donations were not so successful. We only raised a few thousand euro and there was no sign of that sum skyrocketing any time soon. So we understood we had to be more creative and decided to try to recreate the pilgrimage experience online.

Within this initiative, we gave the devotees an opportunity to light up a candle online — just like it happens when they are in the real church during the real pilgrimage — or to buy a personalized iPhone wallpaper with the iconic image of the Saint.

Example of FB ads

As a result, donations spiked and in a single day of the campaign almost 500 people made donations— see the numbers below:

Summing up, our efforts helped Saint Anthony to not only become much more efficient in digital fundraising but also to organize a great digital pilgrimage that got visited by thousands of people online and covered by top Italian media. No need to mention that seeing such an amazing outcome has urged Saint Anthony charity to offer us to continue working together.

What does this campaign teach us and why do we consider shifting in this growth-hacking direction in the future?

The charity sector is not digitalized at all and this situation clearly shows how difficult it is for non-profits to switch to online — not to mention adopting crypto and blockchain.

But on the other hand, it also shows what results can charities achieve if they only try to adopt the contemporary digital practices — for example, by adhering to the help of consultants who are skilled in the digital fundraising, just like we are at AidCoin.

Therefore, after this successful use case, we decided to fill the gaps in charities’ expertise and help them become more tech savy to maximize their fundraising activities — be it in crypto or in fiat. After all, with this approach, we’ll not only have lots of new partners but will also speed up the adoption of the core AidCoin products.

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