Case Study

Human Rights Watch Optimizes Its Way to 30% Growth


Human Rights Watch (HRW)
 is a nonprofit, nongovernmental human rights organization working for changes in policy and practice that promote human rights and justice around the world. Shortly after a website redesign, HRW noticed a significant decline in online donations. Beaconfire RED, their digital consulting agency, helped them figure out what went wrong.

The Problem

HRW launched a website redesign that prioritized news stories over donation asks.

Human Rights Watch Homepage (predesign)
Note the lone, tiny, orange donate button.

Online donations began to slow, but it wasn’t until a lackluster website revenue performance at year-end season that HRW dug into the website visitor tracking data and found that a large portion of online donors were simply not making it to their donation forms. HRW’s first challenge was to get the organizational buy-in necessary to embrace a culture of experimentation and attention to fundraising online. Backed by compelling analytics, HRW’s marketing and communications teams came together to focus on bold optimization and growth strategies, implementing homepage measures that dramatically enhanced overall web revenue performance.

The Solution

HRW’s first test was its donor journey – starting with the homepage.

It tested homepage real estate.

HRW Homepage TestsNote how the top test featues an orage banner, and the
bottom test features a banner AND a compelling photo.
Note how the top test featues an orage banner, and the
bottom test features a banner AND a compelling photo.

It tested various splash pages as well as the donation forms itself.

HRW Forms

HRW then revamped its email program, including mobile-optimization and testing different messages.

Note the clear donate buttons on the right, mobile-optimized version.

It also launched an online advertising campaign, testing various imagery and copy.


The Results

“We were blown away by how much impact these small changes had on our overall success. The data provided by these tracking parameters will continue to be a driving force for our decisions moving forward.”

– Matthew Rullo, Associate Director of Marketing at Human Rights Watch

HRW was thrilled with the results of its optimization strategies. When all was said and done:

  • Website optimization resulted in a 26% increase in the number of online gifts.
  • Email optimization resulted in 237% increased revenue!
  • Online advertising resulted in 15% of its total online revenue.

Combined, HRW increased its online fundraising revenue by more than 30% over the previous year!

For more details on HRW’s optimization techniques, including screenshots, check out this presentation from the Engaging Networks 2016 Community Conference.


Eric Squair, Data Habits: Measuring and Optimizing Your Engaging Networks Website With Google Analytics


How New Templates, Analytics and Google Optimise Are Helping Online Giving and Advocacy


Highest Previous Contribution and Next Suggested Gift.