The Nature Conservancy Australia (TNC) is embracing best practice automated donor journeys, as part of a new digital focus in their individual giving acquisition program.

New prospects who sign up to TNC’s mailing list now automatically join an onboarding journey. They have also created retention journeys for new regular givers, and reactivated regular givers and one-off donors.

At the F&P Fundraising Forum, TNC’s Director of Marketing and Membership, Rachel Bailey, shared the impressive results they’ve seen as a result. For example, their first-year retention rate for new regular givers is 87.5%, with an average email open rate reaching an epic 65%.

Here’s a look at the big digital shift that enabled this best practice program.

Digital pivot in individual giving

In 2019, TNC pivoted the focus of their individual giving acquisition from face-to-face to digital, with conversion through telemarketing campaigns. But this shift posed a number of technical challenges. 

“We had different systems managing our donation forms, our landing pages, and our emails. Syncing the data across all of them was a constant challenge,” says Rachel. “We needed to rethink our operations so we could optimise for the digital space.”

To create a better donor experience, TNC needed a single unified platform that could manage payment processing, automated retries, donation forms, landing pages, email and SMS communications, plus tracking and reporting. That’s where Clarety Community came into play.

“Clarety Community allows us to automate our payment processing, our retries and our declined payments communications journey,” says Rachel. “But the big thing for me, and one of the reasons we moved to Clarety Community, was that it enabled us to integrate and manage our channels in one place, and report across all of them seamlessly.”

Automating the donor journey

Moving to a single unified platform allowed TNC to create automated donor journeys that effortlessly span a number of channels.

“Our strategy for the donor journeys is to engage at key moments and encourage our supporters to take an action. So we send relevant content via email and SMS, with each communication driving to a specific landing page or donation form. These communications can be triggered by time (eg 7 days after sign up) or by donor action (eg a successful first gift),” says Rachel.

“This is fantastic for us, because while we had donor journeys previously, they needed to be manually triggered. They took more staff time to manage, and they weren’t flexible – which made it difficult for us to actively respond to our supporters’ needs. Now we have real-time reporting, which allows us to see who’s in the journey, what stage they’re at, and what they’ll receive from us next.”

Onboarding journey

The first of these new journeys introduces new prospects to TNC and gives them engaging content over their first six months.

“The onboarding journey was designed to introduce people to the cause and us and give them lots of great engaging content over the first six months of their journey with us,” says Rachel. “There are lots of different data sources for this journey, including people who opt-in to e-newsletters from our website, or people who engage with TNC through another campaign or activity, and sign up to receive more information. This journey is also used for paid leads, so the journey is a key element of our acquisition activity.”

The onboarding journey features a range of content, designed with the help of Parachute Digital, that encourages potential donors to take an action. Each email and SMS links to a unique landing page with an engagement object. This could include a video to watch, a photo gallery to vote on, a quiz, a survey, or an interactive word cloud.

“The point is really to encourage our donors to take an action, so they can engage with us in multiple ways over the first few weeks and months. And of course, we do include donation asks in the journey too.”

In the first 12 months:

• 14,199 donors have started the onboarding journey, 9,222 have completed it (some are still in it)

• The email open rates range from 23% to 37%, with an average open rate of 32%

• The click through rates range from 10% to 38%, with an average of 20%

• And the highest click through rate is from the one-off donation ask email,
at 38%

“We are receiving donations via the onboarding journey, plus we are running telemarketing conversion calling too – and achieving 6% to 7% conversion rates to regular giving as well,” says Rachel.

“But the most exciting part is that these supporters are not only converting via digital and telemarketing to regular giving – they are also giving to our appeals. In fact, the donors who had been through the onboarding journey gave over $31,000 to our appeals last financial year in one-off donations, which is an excellent result.”

Retention journeys

TNC has also created automated journeys to retain new regular givers and reactivated regular givers and developed a conversion journey for people who make one-off donations. 

“Regular giving journey communications are designed to thank our supporters and give them updates on our work and on the impact of their donation. They are initially triggered by time and after they make a specific gift. In this way, we can ensure our thank you messages are timely and are reaching supporters as soon as a gift is made.

“The focus of the one-off gift journey is slightly different. It’s designed to further engage the supporter with the organisation and encourage them to consider a second donation. We include a couple of asks in the journey, as well as really great content about our work and other topics that are popular with our supporters.”

A strong foundation for success

With the first four journeys now achieving impressive results, Rachel is keen to set up additional journeys that further leverage Clarety Community’s advanced automation capabilities. 

These journeys will include triggering communications from a range of other actions, further segmenting donors to give even more donors a personalised experience and using Clarety’s scoring functionality to trigger telemarketing conversion campaigns based on actions and gifts.

“We are really eager to build out multiple journeys, which will allow us to further personalise our content and segment our supporters based on other data,” says Rachel. “With the fundamentals in place, we’re excited to keep testing and learning so we can deliver the best experience we can to our supporters.”