Dalit Freedom Network Canada (DFN) is a remarkable non-profit helping Dalit people in India overcome oppression, realize their human worth and gain self-reliance—all through the gift of education. They are helping millions of Dalit people through the support of donors, but in a country with a population like India’s, it’s a massive challenge. Hundreds of millions are still in need.
In 2014, DFN was looking to increase revenue by establishing a strong foundation for fundraising. They had heard of Google AdWords Grants but weren’t using it, and needed an expert to help with their application. Their goals were to gain increased awareness, increased education funding and increased child sponsorships.
When Frontier heard about their need, we knew our data-driven, digital and integrated approach would be a great fit. We knew DFN’s team to be passionate about their life-changing, even world-changing work, so we were thrilled when they chose us to be their guide on the road to higher revenues.
As of this coming fall, Frontier has spent four years with Dalit Freedom Network Canada and we’re thrilled to share some of the valuable improvements we’ve made to their fundraising program!
The first step we took toward building a strategy for long-term growth was an audit to discover and articulate DFN’s situation, strengths and weaknesses. We created an integrated marketing action plan that detailed all of our recommended fundraising and marketing activities for the year ahead—showing the way forward to sustainable growth.
In our action plan, we included a month-by-month direct response (mail and email) fundraising strategy, and committed to donor acquisition and donor retention targets.
Throughout strategizing and production, we kept in close contact with DFN leadership to ensure that every piece was consistent with their core identity. We also pitched in with ideas for stories and media relations, shared from a marketing perspective.
In collaboration with DFN leaders, we developed a visual identity guide and a writing style guide. In this way, we could confidently build out from marketing products that were already in place—maintaining the values of their mission while we moved toward bigger and better.
One of the first projects we took on was the rebrand of their newsletter, The Dalit Report. We set up a consistent schedule of quarterly, seasonal issues. Each issue recaps the highlights of the season and shows donors the true value of their impact. Each shares a feature story, a donor profile and a personal message from Sherry Bailey, DFN Canada’s Executive Director. We even created a special, annual Wish List edition to appear in homes each Christmas season (see image of cover below). Newsletters are created largely as cultivation pieces, to develop long-term relationships with donors by showing accountability, piquing their interest, giving them feedback, and in general fostering interaction, trust and ownership. After all, statistics show—and other fundraising authorities agree—that donors who are personally thanked, who have seen results, and who are connected to the organization through multiple media pathways are more likely to give again.
Once DFN had a chance to see our products in action and garnering results, they entrusted us with the creation of three brand new campaigns:
Family Day Campaign
Year End, with a tax calculator
We also took two of DFN’s existing campaigns and brought them to a whole new level:
Freedom Campaign — essentially rejigged the whole campaign, with all new digital integration (see example of email header image below).
Back to School
In addition to these annual fundraising items, we also signed on to give their website a refresher. We updated its messaging and style to match DFN’s other media platforms, creating a more user-friendly experience and restructuring the flow of the website to funnel all visitors to the donate page. In all campaigns, newsletters and the website, we seamlessly integrated the messaging and brand to develop trust and consistency across all mediums.
For each campaign, we also studied our data and our donors and implemented targeted fundraising through segmentation, so that we could inspire many different types of donors to give. (If you want to know more about donor segmentation, check out our post on it here.) When sending out appeals, newsletters and emails, it’s important to remember that we’re communicating with real live people on the other end, and we have to be relevant to them. So we made every effort to connect with them on a human level and demonstrate shared values.
Beyond developing a wonderful and healthy relationship with DFN’s team, we were able to impress them with consistent growth and help move them towards the vision of freedom for all Dalits!
DFN’s revenue for 2014 was $3,638,862 and over the following year grew to a total revenue of $5,526,920 for 2015. That’s a 51.9% annual increase! Several factors played into this great increase, including the work of Frontier to help grow their integrated fundraising. Compared to the annual increase from 2013 to 2014 of 28.8%, this was an exciting—but not surprising—number to present to DFN. We also saw exponential growth as we closed out the 2016 year.
To put their growth in perspective, in 2015, we effectively raised $73,613 through the website and $15,643 through emails. In 2016, web revenue increased to $156,629 and emails brought in $37,012. If the email revenue looks small, remember that the ROI is always huge, and in this case, 744%!
Finally, in 2017, we saw an 25% increase in print revenue compared to 2016, and a 35% increase in the average gift amount given in response to print pieces! DFN also experienced a 19% increase in web revenue year over year!
When we first took on DFN as a client in October 2014, they had a donor list for print of approximately 6,000. By sending a warm acquisition to people who were connected with DFN but hadn’t yet given, we grew this list well past 7,500. This growth in print communication plays a big role in the number of donor visits to the website as well, and even the amount of emails that get opened and clicked.
The numbers don’t lie; our strategies work. The number of donors who have given 10 or more gifts per year has grown by 32%. That means overall, as we focus on the long-term, more Dalit families can get an education and find freedom.
Our primary focus for the past year has been mobile and tablet driven marketing efforts and continuing to bridge the gap between donors and the tangible results of their support. For example, last year’s Back to School campaign showed a school being built in increments based off of donations. We will continue creating innovative campaign elements in order to really engage donors with their impact. We also aim to streamline the transition between print appeals and online donations, as well as moving into a more ‘personal’ format for campaign appeals - including handwritten notes from Dalit children, because there’s nothing like a true story to inspire action.
Furthermore, we are gaining insight into the migration of donors from print to digital mediums. For each large print campaign execute, we also create and share a specific URL tied to that campaign to track which print campaigns are generating online donations. This allows us to more accurately report on print donations, as well as print donations made through digital channels.
We’re always thrilled to see what new, world-changing projects DFN is working on. It means that we get to work with real-life stories of people who are being impacted in wonderful ways and we’re so honoured to play a part! We anticipate many more years of continued growth together and look forward to sharing more awesome results.