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Changing Messaging Strategies Results in Better Engagement and More Revenue

Published by Riley Young


Increase in revenue


Increase in donors

Our Role: Campaign Strategy, Messaging Editor, Data Analysis


This organization has run a Spring recurring donor campaign for the last three years, and each year, the campaign has experienced record growth.

This year, however, for the issue the organization works to solve, much attention was focused on the upcoming presidential election, and several other large organizations were running campaigns at the same time, competing for donor response in the inbox.

We knew we needed a way to cut through this increased noise and ensure that the campaign’s message was timely and relevant to subscribers.


Past campaigns have relied on the CEO, director of development, or other leadership team members as the primary senders of the campaign appeals.

We decided to pivot our messaging strategy and rely heavily on current donors sharing their stories for why they donate to this organization, how it makes them feel knowing they are making the world better, and have these donors invite the reader to join them by becoming a donor as well.

Research shows that people primarily give to people, not causes or organizations. We hypothesized that subscribers would be much more likely to respond to an invitation to donate from someone like them than they would be from an organizational representative.


The first two emails in the campaign received very few donations. This immediately caused us to wonder, “Is this approach failing? Do we need to return to the old messaging strategy?”

So we dug into the data on email engagement and found that unengaged subscribers were negatively impacting inboxing. Fewer subscribers were getting our appeals, which led to fewer donations.

So, we cut back on our appeal emails lists and staggered our emails so that most engaged contacts would get them first, and then lesser engaged contacts would get the appeals thirty minutes later.

This helped ensure that inboxes saw more engagement with each appeal and subsequent appeals experienced better inboxing.

We remained committed to our messaging strategy and watched the results come in. As more subscribers engaged with the donor testimonials, response soared. By the time the campaign ended, we shattered their prior records for the campaign by bringing in 38% more revenue, 781 more donors, and meeting our goal for new recurring donors.

When we looked at donations by email, we found that testimonial emails performed incredibly well and motivated significant giving.

Revenue Generated From the Campaign

Donors Activated During the Campaign

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Published by Riley Young

Riley Landenberger is Audience Engagement Manager at NextAfter.