How Australia’s top fundraisers are using Autopilot to help charities raise more money and reach more people

Libby Margo in Growth hacking on 19th of Sep 2019

How Australia’s top fundraisers are using Autopilot to help charities raise more money and reach more people

Charities and non-profit organizations face many challenges. Managing tight budgets and recurring operational costs limit their ability to deliver as much money into providing core services, while limited manpower is a contributing factor to most charities running very lean.

For marketers working in the non-profit sector, this makes cost- and time-saving tools critical to their survival and growth. And for global agency HomeMade, delivering that cost and time saving to charities through technology has been instrumental in the acquisition and retention of donors, hosting and growing events, and creating more impact in the world.

About HomeMade

Founded in London in 2008, HomeMade is a global agency that helps charities worldwide drive participation acquisition, enhance supporter delight, and empower themselves through the use of technology and digital marketing.

The agency’s Australian arm, was established in 2015 and is led by Director Meredith Dwyer FFIA CFRE. At the recent Fundraising Institute of Australia conference, Meredith was awarded the Arthur Venn Fundraiser of the Year 2019 prize in recognition of her amazing work for her clients. Working with Australian non-profit organizations, Meredith and her team have been responsible for everything marketing-related from providing effective cloud computing solutions right down to shaping fantastic fundraising events.

B2C, B2B, and non-profit marketing

B2C and B2B marketers understand that in order to compete in a saturated marketplace, they need to develop highly personalized content to reach their target audience. The same principles also apply to non-profit marketing. “It’s important for charities to deliver messages to people in a highly personalized way,” argues Meredith. “If charities communicate in a way that’s not personalized, it shows they don’t really know who their supporters are and it creates a really bad impression — that they don't value what is a deeply personal relationship with their cause.”

The good news, according to Meredith, is that most charities generally know what kind of conversations they want to have with their supporters — and what content is required to drive engagement. “Unfortunately, many charities struggle with poor — and often outdated — technology so they’re not able to deliver the results they want. We found Autopilot to be a solution that was really easy to use, yet incredibly powerful and affordable.”

Thanks to the power of marketing automation, Meredith and her team at HomeMade have been able to deliver highly personalized content quickly and effectively, creating better customer experiences for their clients’ supporters and leads. “With Autopilot, we’ve been able to communicate with them in a way that they want,” she adds.

Using Autopilot to acquire and retain leads

For charities to grow their impact, they must:

  • Acquire new supporters; and
  • Retain existing supporters; and
  • Grow individual supporter value

According to Meredith, acquisition can be difficult and expensive — and some charities don’t do it right. “They make the mistake of asking people to fill out a lead form, sending them an email, and expecting them to suddenly sign up to do what you want. This limits your impact and results. Building and nurturing a relationship, based on what your potential supporters are interested in, increases overall conversion.”

Having a retention strategy is also critical. “It’s great when you have a pool of wonderful people who’ve chosen to support you. But if you ignore them or send non-personalized communication, you’ll actually start to lose them. Again, you need to continually nurture this relationship.”

Meredith uses Autopilot to solve both problems by creating customer journeys based on each client’s goal, whether it be acquisition or retention. Meredith believes that these customer journeys have been successful in helping her charity clients nurture relationships with both new and existing supporters. “We create an onboarding or lead nurturing journey that allows charities to communicate with their supporter base. These journeys are also designed to motivate people to take action about causes they care about, whether it be to get involved in advocacy around issues, become a donor, or sign up for an event.”

Challenges involved in organizing charity fundraising events

HomeMade works with many Australian charities on event fundraising - from creating new propositions and implementing them from start to finish, or helping grow existing events in their portfolio - from recruitment, to retention and fundraising activation. These events often involve people taking on a challenge (such as cycling, running, or growing a mustache) and asking peers to support them with donations.

No event succeeds without participants, so recruitment is a critical part of the process. In recent years, charities have often focused on using price squeezes to overcome procrastination and drive registration peaks.

“To encourage people to sign up, we send discounts or early bird specials via email,” explains Meredith. “The problem with this is that it’s hard to motivate participants to register in the middle of the cycle because they’ll typically sit on the fence waiting for the next offer. The sooner people register, the earlier you can activate their fundraising and lift their eventual value, so those quiet weeks in between become a drag on your overall success.”

To solve this problem, HomeMade leveraged insights from Autopilot’s best practice examples, developing a multi-level lead and retention nurture journey. They broke down each stage of the marketing funnel and tailored each piece of content accordingly:

  • Top-of-funnel: this stage involves warming up and building rapport with your audience so your content should focus on educating the contact through pain points and key motivations (for example, cause or beneficiary messaging or event news).
  • Middle-of-funnel: your contacts should now be somewhat familiar with your event. For your contacts to move further down the funnel, your content strategy should shift from educating your contacts to creating value. Great examples of MOFU content include fundraising guides, training materials, and other value exchanges.
  • Bottom-of-funnel: leads who have reached this stage of the funnel should be very familiar with your event as they’ve shown a high level of engagement with your content. Now it’s time to escalate the ask by providing more detailed information about the event as well as a final discount offer for leads who have not yet registered.

The next step involves creating a lead nurturing journey on Autopilot to drive leads down this funnel — and turn them into event registrants — using this content strategy.

The customer journey

In the example below, Meredith has created a personalized event recruitment journey, based on Autopilot’s lifecycle lead nurturing journey template. This journey is designed to turn leads into charity event registrants by nurturing them through a content funnel. Leads are added to this lead journey when they click on a Facebook Ad, pinpointing them to an optimized landing page. Leads then move through the journey in different pathways based on the following factors:

  • How far they are into the content funnel; and
  • How engaged they are with each piece of content

Meredith also acknowledges that each lead will engage with content differently and has addressed this in the journey by offering pop-up discounts using Autopilot’s Headsup integration based on each lead’s level of interaction.

Those who have not opened emails or accessed the website are sent discounts via personalized SMS messages courtesy of Autopilot’s Twilio integration. Notifications are also sent to HomeMade’s internal Supporter Delight Team, triggering them to make phone calls to engaged prospects as part of this conversion journey.

As you can see, contacts flow down different pathways based on how engaged they are with a particular piece of content, creating a highly personalized and effective journey for each contact.

If running a charity event is on your to-do list, Meredith encourages you to give this journey a go. This template can be used as it is or easily modified to suit your goals.

HomeMade has also introduced Heads Up messaging as part of its onboarding journeys for regsitered participants.

“Headsup has allowed us to deliver the right message to someone at a particular moment of their journey, making it an incredibly powerful tool. Many typical peer to peer fundraising events see only 50 - 55% of participants taking a fundraising action. We started using Headsup for one campaign and on the week we introduced Headsup, we saw this number drop by 5%. By the end of the campaign, only 30% of people decided not to take action.”

“We had a client who launched their very first event of this type. Their ambition was to raise over $180,000 for that campaign. By using this Autopilot journey, we helped them raise over $400,000. The total money raised for that campaign will help almost 10,000 sick kids. I honestly believe that what we’re able to do through Autopilot is what helped us achieve that.”

Reaping rocking results for great causes

Given the challenges involved in managing tight budgets and resources in the non-profit sector, marketing automation should be a central tool to communicate with contacts at scale. And after using Autopilot, Meredith believes that combining a solid (and highly personalized) content strategy with the power of marketing automation is key to generating outstanding results for her clients.

“We’ve seen some astonishing results for our clients,” says Meredith. “People talk about getting email open rates of 25 to 30%. The campaign we’ve just finished through Autopilot for another charity received open rates of over 60%! This is because we’ve been so personalized and so highly targeted by delivering the right content at the right time in the right way and being able to segment it so powerfully. “

According to Meredith, the best thing about using Autopilot has been how simple it is to use, even for beginners. “Autopilot is easy-to-use, incredibly powerful and incredibly affordable. And for charities who have never done any kind of marketing automation, this is the perfect tool to start to get into that space.”

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