Anthea Iva, Director of Redstone Marketing, asks three nonprofit executives for their perspectives on fundraising.

Anthea Iva

The Director of Redstone Marketing asks three
nonprofit executives for their perspectives.


KARL UHRICH Single Giving Program Manager, Australian Red Cross 

In brief 

The 2022 Red Cross Appeal runs in May and June with the goal of attracting $5.3M in untied income. 

The challenge

2022 has kept the whole fundraising sector on its toes. At Red Cross, as we went into our annual tax campaign, we’d already been juggling multiple tied appeals — from the crisis in Ukraine, the volcanic eruption in Tonga, to devastating floods in Australia. Our biggest challenge: how to compel donors to make an untied EOFY donation when many of them have recently donated to one of our emergency appeals. 

Our approach:

Start with a donor insight. We know that people are feeling overwhelmed by the state of the world. When you want to make a difference, where do you even start? Through the campaign we talked about big picture problems like climate-driven disasters and displacement of people — and showed how no problem was too big for you to make a difference. 

Stay relevant. For the campaign, we personalised as much as we could. If you also gave to the Ukraine Appeal, you’d hear from us about our work reuniting families and working with refugees. If you recently supported flood-affected communities, you can expect to hear more about work in disaster zones. From ask strategies to channel plans, if it was practical to personalise (and we thought it would lead to growing income), we tried it.

Relentless proof. It’s critical that donors know that their last gift helped people. Through ongoing impact reporting and even a live dashboard showing flood grants being distributed, we continuously shared clear proof of the value of donating, before, during and after the campaign. 

We’re all on a journey. The campaign is just one set of touchpoints in a broader donor experience. This year we designed and introduced a six-step second gift journey for new donors to promote sustained giving into FY23. 

Have open conversations with the leadership team. As we all know, predicting where the campaign will land with donors isn’t easy. We modelled out the three most likely scenarios as well as risk mitigations for our exec teams, who in turn offered to support us however they could. We also developed a real-time income dashboard that anyone can access anytime to see how things are tracking. 


MAIA MURRAY Digital Acquisition and Direct Marketing Manager, Sydney Children’s Hospitals Foundation

Individual Giving at SCHF is performing well, however, like all fundraising, we are always trying to find ways to improve. One of the greatest areas of growth this financial year is our new regular giving program, ‘Kids’ Army’, which launched last November in alignment with the organisation’s rebrand and will be a key component of our upcoming tax appeal, Sydney Sick Kids Appeal (SSKA).

Since launching Kids’ Army we have recorded higher conversion rates, lower attrition, and growth across all key metrics. We will be using this appeal’s creative and market presence to convert single cash donors to regular givers. A key focus area for us is retention, increasing donor lifetime value and ensuring donors receive optimised and personalised donor journeys that accommodate their philanthropic goals.  

This the second year in market with an amalgamated tax appeal fundraising for all five entities (Sydney Children’s Hospital, Randwick, The Children’s Hospital at Westmead, Bear Cottage, NETS and Kids Research) and we have developed an impactful and compelling creative and fundraising concept with a clear growth strategy over a five-year period. The messaging and creative will allow us to test and learn different fundraising mechanisms, leading to informed decisions regarding future expansion of the appeal. We are feeling optimistic and positive for the launch.  

All our individual giving appeals are integrated, multichannel campaigns. We take the overarching campaign messaging and apply it to different channels – EDM, SMS, mail, paid social, search and display. We strategically change the messaging for each platform to ensure that it is optimised for specific audiences. As an example, we would create a video of a patient and their family and cut it into three different audience types — short and sharp for social, longer form for EDM, and a QR code in the mail pack with the full story. 

We are driving both a mail and digital acquisition strategy during the SSKA campaign. A reduced mail pack is being targeted to audiences who are localised to the entities we support, and we have enlisted the support of an agency to identify the areas most likely to donate in the community.  

Our digital acquisition elements will be through above-the-line activities, television, and media partnerships. Once we acquire new donors they will be taken on a personalised welcome and onboarding journey. In mail we are developing four different types of packs: a high value pack, a standard value pack, lapsed and acquisition. In digital we do a very similar segmentation model.  

It is extremely important to treat our High Value Donor (HVD) segment with a more personalised, one-to-one approach. The HVD segment receives a different journey than the other segments. In mail, they receive a stripped back pack and in digital we only send them selected and relevant content. We use specific language to create personalised content and try to ensure that the HVD feels as though their donations are an investment rather than a one-off gift.   

Our CEO, Nicola Stokes, is passionate about supporting and developing awareness around the incredible work being delivered within the Aboriginal Health Units (AHU) at both children’s hospitals and across the network. During the appeal we will feature and centre communications around the work of the AHU and promote that all funds raised by SCHF during Reconciliation Week will be donated to these units. This approach is an extension from last year, where we focused on developing culturally significant communications – made available in other languages – reaching new audiences from the Chinese, Indian, and Arabic communities. 

Fortunately, we have been in a strong position to challenge our thinking from the past three years due to our recent rebrand. Applying a genuine curiosity to everything you output helps give a fresh perspective and uncovers potential areas of growth or development that you couldn’t see before. 

Ask yourself: Does the format of the campaign work? Is the donation form the best it can be? Is the creative optimised for each audience group? Can I collaborate with or leverage other departments? What are the outcomes I am looking for? Anything — big or small — challenge and question it. Test and learn! 


ARIANA PALMISANO Head of Individual Giving, Barnardos Australia

Barnardos Australia’s 2022 Winter Appeal is our largest direct marketing campaign for the 21/22 financial year, raising approximately $245,000. It is a highly segmented and personalised, multi-channel, integrated appeal consisting of direct mail, email, online, SMS and digital. 

With various external threats including mass national flooding and the war in Ukraine, Barnardos needs to ensure our Winter Appeal is highly strategic and sophisticated and relies heavily on tried and tested best practice strategies to maximise income and donor acquisition.

Our strategies for success include:

Topical theme: Child sexual abuse has recently been in the media spotlight with victims such as Grace Tame sharing their story. And since the start of the pandemic, reports of child sex abuse in Australia have increased by as much as 70%*. There is also a strong correlation between child sexual abuse, serious mental health disorders, substance abuse and suicide. We chose to focus our 2022 Winter Appeal on the topic of child sexual abuse and the vital protection, support and advocacy work Barnardos provide to victims of these heinous crimes. 

Direct mail: The DM component of our Winter Appeal consists of two waves for standard pack, High Value Donor (HVD) and Major Donor (MD) packs. All packs are highly personalised by way of variable copy, state-based statistics (to make the issue ‘local’), and dollar handles and ask strings. The propositions for HVDs and MD packs are rationale-based (including the lift pieces), whereas the standard pack is more emotive and includes a bounce back on the donation form so donors can send a message of support to our carers — along with their donation of course! Relevant and useful paper-based premiums have been incorporated in the standard pack to help increase response rates while keeping costs low. Based on past learnings, we will be using a plain outer envelope (OE) for lapsed donors and handwritten plain C5 OEs with stamps affixed for our MDs. We will develop a MD and Standard receipt letter with variable copy to acknowledge and thank donors who sent a message of support with their donation. Our MD pack will have a different URL to our standard DM pack URL. 

Matched Giving: A new corporate supporter has kindly agreed to match dollar for dollar up to the value of $30,000. To create a strong sense of urgency, messaging will focus heavily on our income target within 24hrs. Matched Giving marketing channels consist of email, SMS and social media. We also hope to be able to piggy back off our new corporate partners’ marketing channels. Messaging and look and feel will be upbeat and focus on prospective and existing donors being able to ‘double their impact’. The designated landing page will have a personalised, interactive dollar bar to help motivate and leverage competitive and/or community mindedness. 

Emails: Six emails including a thank you email (with an engaging, heart-felt thank you video) will be sent to multiple donor segments. We will use a mix of short form, long/er form, story-based and need-based emails as well as a matched giving focus. We will also test emailing active regular givers who have made 12 plus debits (to not risk increasing Yr1 attrition) and terminated, lapsed RGs whose last gift is three months plus (to not impact our always-on delinquency program). Major donors will receive more personalised and project-oriented emails. 

SMS: SMS has delivered incredibly high ROI at tax time, so we will again add SMS to the channel mix with bold calls to action (CTAs) and urgency to maximise income. This year we will test this channel to lapsed and active RGs. 

Digital: Our digital campaign will run through May and June, focused on engaging with new audiences and re-engaging with existing supporters via a variety of paid media channels including Google (YouTube and Display network), paid social and paid search. With original video content, we will drive people through the awareness and consideration phase to retarget and convert these leads with hard-hitting static executions on Facebook and carefully selected key words via Google adwords. We have identified a specific female demographic to target for this campaign in addition to look-a-like donors and website site visitors.

Tone and style: Across the appeal, we will ensure a strong sense of urgency, bold repetitive CTAs, high levels of personalisation, donor-centricity, transparency and tangibility. Authenticity will continue to be a key focus in all branding and messaging, as will a conversational yet serious and passionate tone. 

It’s certainly a challenging time in the fundraising landscape, but we remain hopeful we will be able to achieve our appeal targets and raise much needed funds for children in need.  

*The Shadow Pandemic: Increase of sexual abuse during lockdown https://mwa.org.au/latest-articles/the-shadow-pandemic-increase-of-sexual-abuse-during-lockdown/

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