University of Washington – Crowdfunding Email Campaign

Posted on 03/15/2021

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Title Crowdfunding Email Campaign
Institution University of Washington
Submitted By Nelmy Jerez
Digital Analytics Manager
Category Email Appeals
Institution Type College / University
What fiscal year did this effort occur? 2020
Description In April 2020, we launched a crowdfunding campaign for emergency student aid. Our first solicitation had low engagement so we redesigned the next email to bring the giving experience into the email body. This design reduced required clicks-to-give, limited drop-off and increased email conversions.
What makes this unique This campaign was unique in that we were raising funds for the same cause, but differentiating the need at our three regional campuses. We relied on our data to tell us how constituents were engaging with the campaign at each step. Following the principles of user centered design, the information we gained throughout the campaign guided how we refined our creative elements. By bringing the web giving experience forward into the second email solicitation, we created a more efficient donor experience resulting in increased gift conversion.
Outcome This campaign was focused on raising funds for students at our three regional campuses. Every campus had different needs and therefore required its own sub-page within a campaign homepage. This presented a challenge as our crowdfunding platform was not designed to display a donate button on campaign homepages that hosted sub-pages.
Following our initial email solicitation, our data informed us that constituents were interested in the cause, but after landing on the homepage and clicking into a campus sub-page they were not clicking any further to make a gift. We needed to create an experience that still articulated our case, but made it simpler for donors to contribute.
We removed the donate button from our second email solicitation and replaced it with three image tiles, one for each of our campuses as reflected on the campaign homepage. The email redesign allowed donors to select their campus to support directly in the email and make a gift after 2 clicks rather than 3.
This change on the email and the experience resulted on a 161.7% increase on the number of people that clicked on the donation links within a week of the Email send, 767 potential donors clicked on the campuses donation links of the second email vs. 293 that clicked on the donate button of the first email. Overall the change resulted in a 147.3% increased engagement on the second email.
The second email with a streamlined experience generated 167 gifts in a week, compared to 91 gifts of the first email, and it fundraised $21,273 vs $13,170 fundraised the week before by the first email. Ultimately both emails generated over $25,000 each, however the first email included a $10,000 donation. Without this donation, the total fundraised by the first Email would have been considerably lower.
Overall these results show the impact of the layout of email solicitations on providing a simplified giving experience that reduces the number of steps a donor has to take to make a gift, which in turn generates increased email engagement with solicitation links and increased traffic to the online giving site or landing page. Since then, we have implemented this concept on emails of similar fundraising campaigns with great results.
This work is submitted on behalf of Michael Toomey and Nelmy Jerez.


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