The challenge

Many nonprofits saw a drop in donations during the onset of COVID-19 but The Salvation Army was determined to continue supporting the people who needed it most. The organization also wanted to remain sensitive to the financial stress of its donors due to the pandemic while standing out during the holiday season when inboxes are the most inundated. Through its Giving Tuesday campaign, Salvation Army sought to emphasize how much more vulnerable people were during that time.


of all donations met the suggested amount


of donors gave an amount higher than their previous average donation


of all donations from the Giving Tuesday emails met/exceeded average

The approach

The Salvation Army Central Territory collaborated with Dentsu and Merkle to increase Giving Tuesday campaign donations when most nonprofit organizations were struggling to raise funds during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Building off the previous year’s campaign, the team personalized the calls to action buttons within each email using the subscriber’s lifetime average donation amount rounded to the nearest multiple of five. The other CTA buttons asked for incremental percentage increases over that amount.

The agency also enabled end-to-end attribution for all subscriber actions, resulting in the ability to evaluate engagement and conversions from these emails at a subscriber level and aggregate performance by divisions within The Salvation Army Central Territory for more granular analysis.

The outcome

Now, The Salvation Army national organization can measure performance metrics and formulate email marketing strategy at the division level. To further evaluate email marketing effectiveness, a dynamic segment tracking (DST) solution was implemented to have performance data readily available in all future campaigns.

The personalized-ask strategy for both The Salvation Army Eastern and Western Territories successfully increased donations and donation insights in 2020.

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