Case Study

How the Salvation Army Canada Embraced Integration to Boost GivingTuesday Donations


At our Engaging Networks Community Conference in Toronto, Elizabeth Banman, Director of Donor Engagement, and Elio Rea, Digital Fundraising Manager for Salvation Army Canada shared how they turned a direct mail-only strategy into a multi-channel strategy through digital fundraising.

In the span of just a few years they increased GivingTuesday revenue from $80,000 to $553,000 with a move to Engaging Networks and a paid media strategy.

Establishing consistency, building on success

In 2018, the Salvation Army Canada, one of Canada’s largest nonprofit organizations that provides social services for people across the country and around the world, lacked a comprehensive digital fundraising strategy. Their digital fundraising consisted of an e-newsletter with a “DONATE” button, a GivingTuesday campaign plan to run one Facebook ad, and a donation page on their website.

givingtuesday salvation army 2022 giving tuesday

As GivingTuesday approached, the development and marketing teams collaborated on a new idea for the organization. They wanted to test sending their first fundraising email to their established e-newsletter list which would deploy on GivingTuesday. The idea paid off, literally. The email raised $80,000 and the organization received a total of $202,000 through digital fundraising across their owned donation pages.

This success ignited further collaboration and the willingness to try new strategies as the organization sought to better leverage their digital channels. Throughout 2019 they built out a cadence of monthly stewardship e-newsletters and launched an email fundraising program that included six campaigns. That year’s GivingTuesday saw a huge increase in results with $200,000 raised through one day of email and $400,000 across all their online donation pages.

With the massive growth in year-over-year revenue, it was time to start thinking bigger.

givingtuesday salvation army 2022 giving tuesday

Investing in Engaging Networks, leveraging tools

In 2020, Salvation Army Canada invested in Engaging Networks fundraising solutions to support their more complex fundraising strategy. They also hired a digital fundraising manager and added a paid media component to their digital fundraising strategy.

By leveraging the marketing automation tools in Engaging Networks, they expanded their GivingTuesday campaign to one week instead of one day. As a result, they more than doubled their revenue, raising $502,000 during the campaign and $999,693 on the actual day.

salvation army canada engaging networks givingtuesday

Salvation Army Canada saw similar fundraising results in 2021 for GivingTuesday, so they continued to expand their strategy and resources. They added a second digital fundraising position and increased their reach in paid media from Google and Facebook to include Bing, Search, and Instagram.

As their email and paid campaigns thrived, the team began creating a digital first culture in the organization that was carrying over to more traditional fundraising channels like direct mail.

Integrating with a digital first approach

When COVID forced the Salvation Army Canada team to abandon their direct mail campaign centered around “Send a Kid to Camp” in the spring of 2020, the team pivoted to an existing call-to-action of donating to support a Family Food Drive. They also saw it as an opportunity to integrate a digital component with an email follow-up to the direct mail effort. The single email generated $93,000.

Now that the organization was beginning to think digital first, they quickly adapted to address an urgent need – the irrelevance of a planned campaign – and leverage digital solutions.

As they grew more comfortable in this thinking they used the first half of 2021 to launch their first ever fully integrated campaign. With Engaging Networks digital fundraising solutions, the team was able to integrate multiple channels like direct mail, telemarketing, three emails and paid digital media across Facebook, Google, display, and Bing search to help execute the campaign. As a result, their digital fundraising exceeded budget by 96%.

“We know that for the most part, if it works in digital, it will work in direct mail. So our copy, images, quotes, stories all start off in the digital world first, and then we carry them over into a direct mail campaign. Instead of one image, one story and one quote like the early days, now we’re stockpiling multiple images, stories, and quotes to create all these ads we run. And we've been doing a lot more testing for emails and ads with regard to subject lines, emojis, different images, copy and personalization.”
elio reaelio reaelio rea
Elio Rea
Digital Fundraising Manager
Salvation Army Canada

Just a few years removed from having no discernable digital fundraising strategy, the Salvation Army Canada team is now thriving with a digital first mindset that is constantly testing and iterating. As their success grows, so do their needs in securing assets and collateral to build out the robust amount of content they use to communicate with their audiences.

Identifying your game changers and lean in

As the Salvation Army Canada team continues to build on these successes and execute more integrated campaigns, Elizabeth Banman credits two primary game-changers that helped grow their success exponentially.

The first was introducing paid media digital fundraising in the form of display, search and social media ads. “There were a few bumps in the road when we introduced this into our program,” she says. “But overall it was very positive and it does make a huge difference in our fundraising today.”

Elizabeth also says their migration to Engaging Networks was a game-changer that elevated their online fundraising.

"Engaging Networks is a really stable system able to handle the volume of donations that we receive, and we're really grateful for that. We also like that it's not a static system. There are new products coming out all of the time, new features, so many things that we're not using yet, but we will be using in the near future.”
Elizabeth Banman
Director, Donor Engagement
Salvation Army Canada

Elizabeth also says their migration to Engaging Networks was a game-changer that elevated their online fundraising.

“The integrated email and fundraising platform in Engaging Networks allowed us to see who we were emailing and if they were responding to those emails very easily. Within one system, it was easy to set up the emails and the donation pages. And we talked a lot about marketing automation today, but that made a really big difference for us in our stewardship,” she says. “It’s something we had wanted to do for a while, but we weren’t able to automate that piece until we migrated to Engaging Networks.

Key takeaways

  • Embrace creative and strategic thinking – challenge yourself to try new things, be adaptable and pivot to address urgent needs.
  • Build on your success – advocate for more resources to continue to expand your capability to grow.
  • Embrace individuals’ strengths and expertise – empower them to learn new areas of digital marketing and fundraising.
  • Have the right tools in place – Engaging Networks, Google Analytics, and your reporting platforms. Whatever the right tools are for you, make sure you learn them inside and out and constantly try new features.
  • Keep leadership involved – provide regular reports early in the campaign, mid-campaign, at the end of a campaign to help them feel like they were part of the process.

Sound Exciting?

Request a demo today and one of our team will be in touch with additional information about how Engaging Networks can help you raise more money and win more campaigns.

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