Common Sense #GivingTuesday Strategy
By: Paul Holman-Kursky, Director of Digital Acquisition, Common Sense Media
Common Sense is an independent nonprofit organization dedicated to helping kids thrive in a world of media and technology. We empower parents, teachers, and policymakers by providing trustworthy information, research-backed advice, and innovative tools to help them harness the power of media and technology as a positive force in all kids’ lives. In a world in in which media and technology reach deep into homes, schools, and public life, our work is more vital than ever. As a parent of a three-year-old, I’m thankful to be part of an organization whose research and resources I use in my own home.
I joined Common Sense in March 2016, as Director of Digital Acquisition, responsible for maximizing our web-to-email conversion across multiple digital properties. I also focus on deepening member engagement. As a nonprofit organization, our goal with membership is to build a direct relationship with people in order to share our resources and ask them to support the organization’s work. Last fall, in partnership with our Development team, I spent much of my time charting our year-end giving campaign strategy. We set a launch date in mid-November, which meant that #GivingTuesday was going to play an early and important role.
Our 2015 year-end giving campaign was our first to include significant, coordinated online outreach to our user base, so in 2016 we wanted to see how we could improve upon that performance. Our 2016 year-end giving campaign was also the first to take advantage of a big infrastructure upgrade we had launched in mid-2016: rebuilding our Salesforce CRM instance and extending it to every corner of our organization. (It had previously been limited to our Development team.) With the resulting insight about our user base — including answers to questions such as, “What percentage of the teachers who use Common Sense Education classroom resources are also parents who rely on Common Sense Media ratings, reviews, and advice?” — we were excited to learn how our campaign would perform against different audience segments.
Our most important consideration for #GivingTuesday was having a simple, clear message. As it has grown in number and total size of donations generated, the number of participating organizations has risen as well. At the end of the day, our mission is to help kids thrive whether it’s in school, at home, or in the wider world.
Three other factors helped us get a jump on #GivingTuesday:
1. As I mentioned, we started our year-end giving campaign before #GivingTuesday, so we’d begun acclimating our audience to the idea of making a gift before that day.
2. We seeded our social channels with a few reminder messages about #GivingTuesday from the beginning of our year end giving campaign, and emailed our member database the day beforehand letting them know that #GivingTuesday was a great day to make a donation.
3. On #GivingTuesday, we announced a matching gift to double contributors’ impact.
#GivingTuesday 2016 ended up being the second-biggest day (by volume) of our entire campaign. We saw a 29% increase in #GivingTuesday donations over the prior year. And through our organization-wide CRM, we were easily able to evaluate how our message was performing among the educators in our audience as well as our audience of families.
As our 2017 #GivingTuesday planning effort gets rolling, I’m excited to use our newest infrastructure upgrade — a wholly rebuilt integration between Sales Cloud and Marketing Cloud — to experiment with even greater segmentation and message personalization based on member profile data.
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