Category Archives: Integrated Campaigns Case Studies

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Second Harvest Heartland – Multi-touch for middle & major donors

Year-over-year growth achieved in identifying strategies for improvement

The challenge

Second Harvest Heartland asked us to help them cultivate their middle and major donors. We advised them that a limited‐time campaign, using a specially crafted series of communications, focused on an extraordinary goal inspires action. SHH identified their Share Fresh produce capture program as an innovative and high potential program that could inspire donors to invest in SHH in time for the harvest season. Their goal was to raise $250,000 to capture an additional 1.2 million pounds of produce and provide more than 900,000 meals to hungry neighbors for summer 2014. Such a big goal demanded a big idea.

Russ Reid solution

We created a multi‐touch, integrated middle and major donor campaign focused on conveying the urgency and reality of the problem in the region:

  1. Main Mail Package: The eye‐catching 9” x 12” package featured a highly branded, brightly‐colored green outer envelope that enclosed a personalized prospectus on the program, a lift note that shared the story of a program recipient and produce box tags for the donor to sign and return to SHH to further their involvement.
  2. Follow‐up Mail Package: The complementary package served to remind the donor of the campaign deadline. We incorporated similar campaign imagery and elements, such as a second lift note, to effectively integrate this mailing with the main package.

SHH - multitouch

  1. Phone Outreach: Two weeks after donors received the main mail package and during the week they received the follow‐up mailing, they also received a phone call from Second Harvest Heartland’s phone outreach partner, Aria Communications, inviting them to give to the campaign. This additional touch point bridged both mailings with a personal reminder that encouraged donors again to contribute to the campaign goal.
  2. Email: We designed a three part email series, each fully integrated with the print creative, to be strategically delivered to donors during the campaign timeframe:
    • Email #1 introduced the campaign concept to donors within the digital space two weeks after the main mail package was delivered, as phone calls were underway and when the follow‐up package arrived in homes.
    • Email #2 was delivered to donors on May 15 as the final reminder of the campaign deadline.
    • Email #3 thanked those donors who gave to the campaign for their generosity and reported that, with their help, the goal had been met.

SHH email

Within each touch point, the messaging localized the issue through use of market‐specific need‐ based statistics and highlighted the stories of families who have been helped by the Share Fresh program. Additionally, the offer strategy leveraged the generosity of a group of donors who agreed to match the first $50,000 received by May 15. With this in mind, we centered the offer around the May 15 deadline, reiterating the urgent need for assistance, while simultaneously emphasizing the donor’s multiplied impact. The offer:

Your gift by May 15 will double in impact to help Second Harvest Heartland capture an additional 1.2 million pounds of farm fresh produce for hungry seniors, children and families right here in our community.

Together, the messaging and offer inspired donors to act quickly and effectively communicated that neighbors are hungry and going without because there is un‐harvested food going to waste in the fields.

The campaign also invited donors to contact their Personal Relationship Manager for more information about the program. This engagement strategy gave SHH’s PRMs something to talk about that a good number of donors found new and exciting.

Finally, to cost‐effectively ensure that the campaign spoke to the right audience, we applied a custom segmentation strategy based on each donor’s recency, frequency and monetary gift history to maximize both response rate and average gift. In partnership with Target Analytics, we then incorporated this segmentation methodology with major gift likelihood scores that allowed us to further refine the audience. Lastly, we complemented the campaign audience selection with a tailored ask strategy based on each donor’s unique giving behavior, wealth indicators and target annual gift ranges.


Within the first 15 days, the campaign generated over 20% of Second Harvest Heartland’s net revenue goal, an incredibly strong start to the campaign considering that these initial results are solely attributable to the first touch point – the main mail package.

With all campaign elements working together in the market, Second Harvest Heartland surpassed their net revenue goal of $250,000 after only 75 days with gifts still coming through the door!

Undoubtedly, the multi‐touch, integrated campaign worked. It strengthened Second Harvest Heartland’s relationship with their most valuable donors, raised $250,000 to expand the Share Fresh program, and most importantly helped provide 900,000 meals for hungry families this year.

To learn how Russ Reid can help your Food Bank grow beyond, please contact Andrew Olsen (CFRE, Vice President).

View a downloadable PDF of this case study.

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Food Bank of Contra Costa & Solano – Challenge grant

Food Bank exceeds match goal raising more than $300,000

The challenge

The Food Bank of Contra Costa & Solano (FBCCS) received a $100,000 challenge grant in 2014 to increase their capacity to distribute more fresh produce. This presented the Food Bank with an opportunity to generate $200,000 to improve the nutritional value of the food they distribute to hungry children, families, and seniors across their service area.

The Food Bank wanted to maximize the impact of this challenge grant, and asked Russ Reid to partner with them to create a custom direct response campaign focused on this fresh produce challenge.

Russ Reid solution

Supplementing the Food Bank’s internal major gift effort in support of the challenge grant, Russ Reid’s Strategy & Creative teams quickly developed a fully customized, integrated direct response campaign to engage FBCCS’ donor base in this matching opportunity.

This campaign included strong calls to action, a focus on the matching challenge, and key information highlighting the importance of providing fresh fruits and vegetables to people in need throughout Contra Costa & Solano Counties.


FBCCS’ direct response campaign generated over $90,000 (at a 24% higher ROI than expected) in support of the fresh produce matching grant opportunity, and helped the Food Bank exceed their match goal: raising a total of more than $300,000 to provide highly nutritious food to people in need across their community.

To learn how Russ Reid can help your Food Bank grow beyond, please contact Andrew Olsen (CFRE, Vice President).

View a downloadable PDF of this case study.

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Operation Smile Multi-Channel Campaign

Operation Smile achieves growth in new ways through multi-channel strategies

The challenge

Operation Smile, established in 1982, is a worldwide children’s medical charity specializing in engaging and training medical volunteers to provide the highest quality of care to children in need. With a network of over 6,000 volunteer medical professionals from over 60 countries, Operation Smile performs free cleft lip and cleft palate surgeries for thousands of impoverished children annually.

The organization approached Russ Reid in 2003 with a big vision to help more children around the world. With a single-channel direct mail program not delivering the growth they needed and an aggressive copycat competitor stepping up its acquisition efforts, Operation Smile challenged Russ Reid to increase the organization’s visibility, donor base and net revenue through a multi-channel marketing strategy. They needed growth. And lots of it.

Russ Reid solution

Growth through DRTV

Operation Smile volunteer surgeons can repair and transform children’s lives in as little as 45 minutes. The amazing before-and-after stories of Operation Smile’s work provided Russ Reid with the heartwarming insights and images needed to craft a compelling offer. And what an offer it was.

Russ Reid helped Operation Smile define and market one of the most tangible offers in the nonprofit world. For $240, a child’s life can be completely transformed by a surgery. And there were images to prove it. To make the giving opportunity accessible to as many people as possible, we also developed a step-down offer that allowed donors to give just $20 a month and still have a real and significant impact.

Russ Reid TV crews went to Vietnam and Venezuela to capture the stories of transformation and create a direct response television program designed to dramatically increase mass exposure and acquire valuable donors.

With two 30-minute TV shows, Operation Smile and Russ Reid seized the opportunity to test and fine-tune the offer, make strategic media buys, develop powerful creative, enter untapped markets, set up solid positioning of the show and even refine call center scripting.

Spot TV successfully expanded into the Hispanic market, while long-form programs ran in the English market. A monthly billing program was created on the back-end to capture first gift fulfillment, credit card donors, and to keep TV-acquired donors engaged.

We engaged and managed telemarketing centers to handle phone donors and created landing pages for the 40% of donors more comfortable responding online.

 By adding TV, phone and digital to Operation Smile’s media mix, the donor file quickly expanded with two new types of high-value donors. Large single gift and monthly pledge supporters formed a broader, deeper and more committed pool of donors – the key to successful growth.

Growth through direct mail

While TV, phone and digital continued to be a success in acquiring valuable supporters, Russ Reid and Operation Smile partnered in crafting a direct mail program to integrate with the new TV focus. Implementing a thorough Direct Mail acquisition strategy, the donor file was extended outside of TV and the complete surgery offer. Russ Reid led vigorous tests on creative, list sources, co-ops, modeling and segmentation.

The result? Direct Mail acquisition results increased 59% over the previous 4 years.

DM piece

Growth – one city at a time

Multi-channel acquisition efforts did not stop there. To continue to grow Operation Smile’s donor file, Russ Reid developed a six-week citywide campaign to challenge communities to take action by joining local leaders who were already involved with Operation Smile. Launching the first campaign in Salt Lake City, Russ Reid crafted a layered media approach featuring long- and short-form television, radio spots and traffic sponsorships, online banners, bus and light rail signs, billboards and direct mail, all totaling an estimated 15.5 million impressions.

The campaign goal was to raise enough funds to provide 1,000 smiles and the Salt Lake City community delivered. Supporting major gift efforts as well, the campaign even moved one man to pledge 1,000 smiles himself and commit to raise funds for an additional 10,000 smiles.

Expanding supporter engagement



With diverse acquisition efforts bringing in high-value donors, Operation Smile asked Russ Reid to apply similar messaging and targeting strategies to cultivate their growing file.

Through Russ Reid’s comprehensive reporting and analytics, the cultivation file was segmented and targeted to optimize donor communication and increase response. Using best practices that Russ Reid has developed, we improved the creative and positioning of the offer in existing appeals while also creating new appeals.

Our analytical team identified an untapped segment of mid-level donors giving between $1,000 and $10,000 at a pop. Russ Reid and Operation Smile crafted a middle donor appeal with a unique offer to support the building of a care center in Ethiopia. Response to this offer was strong, and prompted us to launch an ongoing middle donor cultivation stream that has successfully increased net revenue and donor engagement.

As the cultivation file matured, Russ Reid’s Donor File Analysis identified lapsing and pre-lapsing segments of valuable donors. In collaboration with Russ Reid, Operation Smile implemented a multi-touch-point strategy to offset attrition and reactivate supporters. The results of this strategy were encouraging as donors were reactivated with higher average gifts, becoming more beneficial to the organization.

As opportunities arose, Operation Smile and Russ Reid were quick to identify, craft and test additional offers.

As Operation Smile moved to help in the aftermath of the Haiti 2010 earthquake, Operation Smile’s Emergency Response offer was created – expanding the organization’s capabilities and increasing support of their mission.


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Seamless experience online

Armed with a track record of success, Operation Smile and Russ Reid launched a new brand initiative to better communicate Operation Smile to our audiences.

In keeping with the newly refreshed and focused brand, Operation Smile joined forces with Russ Reid to redesign the Operation Smile website with a concentration on fundraising. The new website was a great success, and significantly increased the organization’s income.



Growth through new products

Looking to take advantage of holiday shopping behavior, Russ Reid and Operation Smile launched an Operation Smile Holiday Gift Catalog. The catalog diversified the cultivation lineup and allowed donors to give a Christmas gift of hope and transformation in the name of friends and family. The new Holiday Giving Catalog was promoted through the media by Operation Smile’s A-list celebrities, and was a success with their current donor base. With the increase in online shopping, Russ Reid refreshed the catalog’s e-commerce site to streamline the catalog giving experience and increase online gifts.


Gift catalog


Together, Operation Smile and Russ Reid have partnered to create the kind of significant revenue growth that will fuel Operation Smile’s life-changing work.

Since 2003, Operation Smile has evolved into a sophisticated, multi-channel and holistic marketing organization that has achieved year over year, double-digit donor and revenue growth with a healthy ROI. Through alignment of multiple channels and consistent messaging across layered media efforts, Operation Smile has:

•     Increased average gift by 51%

•     Increased annual giving per donor by 93%

•     Increased number of active donors by 324%

•     Increased direct response revenue by 719%

•     Achieved ranking on the Cone Nonprofit Power Brand 100

•     Won the 2008 DMA Nonprofit Federation “Nonprofit Organization of the Year” Award

Most importantly: forever changed the lives of more than 200,000 girls and boys with surgery.

American Cancer Society

American Cancer Society – Making Strides local market campaign

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Integrated local market campaign motivates greater event participation, awareness and revenue

The challenge

American Cancer Society’s Making Strides Against Breast Cancer (MSABC) walk was in a great position for growth. Only 40 percent of the target market was even aware of the event prior to 2012. Each Making Strides event traditionally had done much of their promotions on a local level. So, there was little real integration of campaign elements or lockup with national TV spots. This too was an opportunity to make a big difference.

Russ Reid solution

Defeating breast cancer is essential to the American Cancer Society’s Mission. So they sought to generate greater awareness, participation and revenue through their Making Strides event. By testing market awareness and direct response fundraising at the local level, we determined the most effective way to fight back.

A 3-fold local-market strategy in 6 key markets, which leveraged the following testing strategy:

Test 1 – Local awareness only. Leverage the brand to help raise event awareness and participation.

Test 2 – Local direct response engagement. Leverage brand, but hit with strong calls-to-action to fundraise and register for the event.

Test 3 – Multiple treatments. Awareness and direct response engagement and experience enhancements. Leverage brand, use a combination of awareness and direct repsponse methods in addition to event experience improvements.


In the markets receiving experience enhancements, greater awareness and an integrated direct response treatment, the local market campaign helped achieve:

  • 26% increase in event participation
  • 29% increase in year-over-year revenue
  • 14-pt growth in awareness

The next step is to build a sustainable local market campaign effort that achieves ongoing revenue growth.

To view a downloadable PDF of this case study, click here.



American Red Cross – Integrated Marketing Campaign

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American Red Cross: Integrated marketing campaign saves the day

The challenge

The American Red Cross (ARC) entered the fourth quarter of 2009 with a funding deficit. Our efforts to close the income gap had been hindered by lower-than-anticipated disaster giving (due to a lack of major “top news story” disasters and the country’s economic crisis).

We knew we had to capture a greater share of holiday and year-end giving.

The key challenge: Most donors think of the Red Cross as THE organization to support when a major disaster hits. Few would associate the holidays with giving to the Red Cross. And we’d be competing for share of mind and wallet against other well-established charity campaigns that have become holiday traditions.

Moreover, the Red Cross had not yet found a truly effective fundraising platform outside of disasters. Even loyal donors may not realize that the Red Cross helps people in URGENT need every single day, in communities all across the coun­try.

The Red Cross provides more than half of the nation’s blood supply, comes to the aid of tens of thousands of victims of home fires, and responds to thousands of local and regional emergencies every year. Yet ARC income is highly depen­dent on major disaster giving.

We needed to test an entirely new approach to fundraising in order to gain share of holiday and year-end giving. That approach needed to communicate why a gift to the Red Cross is urgently needed at ANY time, not just during high-profile disasters.

And we had to work fast. We began planning the strategy, creative and media in mid-September for a November 23rd launch.


  1. Generate incremental income to help close the deficit gap
  2. Increase ARC share of holiday/year-end donations
  3. Make a compelling case for the urgency of giving to the Red Cross in a non-disaster context
  4. Increase brand awareness and intention to give
  5. Drive the majority of donors online to donate

Russ Reid solution


Our overarching strategy was to create a “surround sound” effect in the marketplace. We crafted a multi-channel cam­paign that was a hybrid of direct response and branding designed to lift TOTAL response.

The campaign was structured to employ direct response TV, print ads, web banners and transit ads to build awareness and drive donors to our website.

The media blitz was integrated creatively to support local Red Cross chapter fundraising.

To actually CAPTURE the majority of donations, we layered in core direct response vehicles: search engine mar­keting, email and direct mail.

We conducted quantitative online research to test new themes and calls to action against the Red Cross traditional brand positioning of “Change a Life. Starting with Your Own.”

Americans see the Red Cross as the organization they count on in a disaster. They’re motivated by urgent needs and human suffering. But the then-current positioning line (“Change a Life. Starting with Your Own.”) did not speak to ARC’s distinctive strength. We needed a new theme for the campaign that would convey the urgency of the needs—the everyday crises—ARC responds to all year long.

That’s why we chose “Give the gift that saves the day” as the new positioning and call to action for the campaign. Our online research validated the choice.

We were also mindful that donors are bombarded with heart-tugging fundraising appeals during the holidays. We wanted to inspire them not only with WHAT ARC does, but with WHO they really are: a nationwide movement of volun­teers motivated by compassion—by the desire to give comfort and hope to people in crisis, not just to meet their physical needs.

We know donors identify with this compassion. It’s what motivates them as well.

That’s why the campaign images show Red Cross volunteers delivering food and a hug to a hurricane victim, pro­viding a shoulder to cry on for someone whose house just burned down, or comforting a frightened child in a shel­ter. In each case, we captured the moment when a victim’s face began to change from despair to hope—evoking a feeling of gratitude or relief that the Red Cross was there.

We believed donors would identify with the victims, too. One can’t help but think, “What if that were me?”

To call attention to these emotional moments, we placed a translucent square frame around the “heart” of each photo. In TV and web banners, the frame fades up over the photo. The frame captures the “Red Cross moment” when heartbreak turns to hope.

Every image communicates authenticity. We used existing photos—shot in crisis situations, of actual volunteers and the people they helped. The photos aren’t perfect, but they’re real.

This creative solution also enabled us to save money on TV and print production costs.


The ARC campaign ran from the week before Thanksgiving to New Year’s Eve.

To generate as many impressions and donations as efficiently as possible, we concentrated our 30-second TV spots in daytime and late evening (non-prime) slots on national cable networks.

Full-page ads ran in 5 December airline magazines, whose audience ranks extremely high in charitable giving (and had plenty of time to read the ads). We also used web display ads and video banners to extend our reach and increase online response.

Social networking strategies were employed through a Facebook fan page, giving widget, tweeting, Flickr page and the Red Cross Hot Topics.

Search engine marketing, including Google paid search/grants and Yahoo paid search, was key to the success of our “surround sound” strategy. The role of search was to convert donors driven to the web by all media. We tested branded Red Cross terms, as well as terms related to holiday charitable giving, constantly monitoring and optimizing—and ramping up frequency in the last week.

Several emails to current donors drove response directly to either the Holiday Campaign landing page or the catalog website.

Direct mail to Red Cross local chapter donors dropped in mid-November and mid-December, with a prospect mailing in late November. We also utilized a zip walk direct mail effort and free-standing inserts in selected chapter mar­kets.

Outdoor is not generally an important part of a DR arsenal. But since this was indeed a hybrid DR and brand cam­paign, we created and employed billboards, transit posters and bus tails.

A small (100,000) mailing of the catalog arrived in homes at the campaign launch. Both the printed and online cata­logs offered free Red Cross T-shirts and first aid kits to incentivize higher dollar donations.

Earned media outreach also played an important role in our success. As the campaign launched, a satellite media tour for the ARC CEO promoted the holiday campaign. The ARC celebrity cabinet was engaged to enhance cam­paign recognition. Earned media delivered nearly 23 million impressions during the campaign window.


2009 results

The economy had tanked. We launched a new campaign amid the advertising clutter of the holiday season—in direct competition with great charities like Salvation Army and St. Jude who have made their holiday appeals an American tradition. Despite this…

The campaign was a breakthrough success on 5 levels:

  1. We increased income by more than 5.3% over our historical results for the same time period. (National ARC fund­raising increased by 7.3%, while chapters raised income by 4.8%).
  2. Fueled by the campaign, total income for 4th quarter ’09 surpassed that of every year since 2000, with the excep­tion of 2005 (following Hurricane Katrina).
  3. We achieved an ROI of 2.35%, or $2.35 in donations for every dollar spent, exceeding our campaign goal of 1:1. A significant portion of the income came from new donors.
  4. The Holiday Giving Catalog (mailed to only 100,000 donors, and promoted online) exceeded all projections and laid the groundwork for a new revenue source.
  5. Brand awareness increased by 6 percentage points. That’s difficult to do, when you’re the Red Cross.

The “surround sound” strategy proved that the whole is indeed larger than the sum of its parts. People who saw the advertising were TWICE as likely to donate than those who hadn’t seen it, according to post-campaign research.

TV, radio, print and online ads influenced 41% of donors. The majority of online gifts came through paid and organic search. And online gift size increased significantly over the prior year.

And as a result, ARC commissioned Russ Reid to conduct a more robust holiday campaign in 2010.

2010 results

The hits just keep on coming. Done right, integrated multi-channel marketing does better than the sum of its parts. By fine-tuning our multi-channel strategy based on our 2009 learnings, we:

  • Increased income by 26% over 2009
  • Achieved an 11:1 ROI on search (goal was 4:1)
  • Increased Gift Catalog income by 31%
  • Increased average gift by 43%

And more Americans brought significance into their lives by giving the gift that saves the day.

To view a downloadable PDF of this case study, click here.