#ILGive Case Study: Search, Inc.

Monday, April 2, 2018

For our next #ILGive Case Study, we interviewed a nonprofit who always knocks social media strategy out of the park...without breaking the bank. On #ILGive for #GivingTuesday in 2017, Search, Inc. leveraged a modest Facebook ad buy and simple videos made in-house to amplify awareness and excitement amongst their target audience. The result? Over $20,000 in donations and a place on the #ILGive Leaderboards for Most Donors. 

Forefront: How did you get the word out about your campaign? (Emailing your existing mailing list? Social media? Social media ads? Something else we haven’t thought about?)

Search, Inc: We emailed our existing list, posted on social media channels (our primary channel is Facebook and secondary channels are Twitter and Instagram), and ran paid advertising on Facebook. We also engaged our staff. We know from anecdotal evidence that many of our donors hear about our campaign through word of mouth, including from our staff, family members of individuals served, our board, and so on.

Forefront: You do paid advertising campaigns on Facebook. Can you tell us about that? Who you target to see these posts? Do you think the ROI was worth it? 

Search, Inc: Our Facebook ad buy was modest, totaling less than $100 for the duration of the campaign.Of 59 Giving Tuesday related Facebook posts, only 11 were supplemented with ad dollars. Paid posts, on average, reached a greater number of users, and generated a greater number of impressions, engagement, etc. We targeted by geographic location and interests such as “charity”, “non-profits”, etc.We also targeted people who already liked our page and their friends. In terms of the return on investment profile - Search had 151 total donors on Giving Tuesday. Based on available analytics, of that number, about 16% reached our donation page from Facebook. Given our modest investment, we feel that the ROI is acceptable, especially in terms of generating awareness and excitement amongst our target audience.

Forefront: What was your 'call to action' with your ads? Did you use the Facebook Donate button or did you link to your #ILGive profile?

Search, Inc: Regarding the Facebook ads, our call was for people to donate immediately and we linked to our ILGive profile. We wanted to make donating as easy as possible, but we felt that Facebook donation tools wouldn’t work for us. The biggest issue was that due to their delay in transmitting donation data, we wouldn’t know how much money was raised in real time. The whole point of our campaign is to reach our fundraising goal by the end of the day and we felt it was very important our supporters know exactly how much was raised at what time. We also didn’t include any calls-to-action asking people to sign up for our newsletter because we didn’t want anything to dilute or distract from the “Donate!” ask.

Forefront: How did you run your email marketing around this? When did first announce your campaign? Did you send out any reminders along the way?

Search, Inc: We sent our first marketing email three weeks before Giving Tuesday and that was also the day we announced the campaign to our audiences. We sent weekly email reminders for the next two weeks, and then one last reminder the day before Giving Tuesday.

Forefront: Did you have p2p fundraisers? How did you keep them engaged?

Search, Inc: We didn't have p2p fundraisers this year. It's definitely something we're hoping to incorporate in 2018. 

Forefront: Did you arrange social media ambassadors?

Search, Inc: We did not formally arrange social media ambassadors. It was something we tried in the past, but didn’t find very effective, so we wanted to focus our energy where it counted most. We do have some supporters who act as “unofficial” social media ambassadors.

Forefront: Your videos are really great, simple and to the point. They seem fairly simple to make. Can you share with our nonprofits how you did it? 

Search, Inc: For our 2017 campaign we decided to use the Facebook video slideshow function to create about half of our videos. We published 7 videos in support of Giving Tuesday, of which three were slideshow videos created using Facebook. For the remaining video we used Microsoft Movie Maker. Our approach with videos is, keep it simple, short and to the point – and quick to produce. The video content (photos/stories) are typically collected and modified from Facebook or website article pieces we've done throughout the year leading up to Giving Tuesday.

Forefront: Did you hold an event?

Search, Inc: We didn’t hold a donor focused event (we considered it, but it’s logistically difficult given our small team), however, some of the individuals we serve did volunteer on Giving Tuesday. For the past few years, we have focused as a day of “giving back” in all ways and forms. That includes the contributions that the people we serve, who have intellectual and developmental disabilities, make to their communities. In the past we have held clothing drives and food drives that were dropped off to recipient nonprofits on Giving Tuesday. This year, a small group of our individuals volunteered at Friedman Place in Chicago, a community for people who are blind or vision impaired. We posted “live” volunteering updates to Facebook and Instagram.