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Mercy Housing serves families, veterans, seniors and individuals with special needs.

Long-time client Mercy Housing approached us early in 2013 with a fundraising challenge for the holiday season: raise more dollars than the previous year on the same budget. Careful planning, creative thinking and precise execution paid off.

Our team started by figuring out who Mercy Housing should target, how to reach them, and what to say to interest them in donating to this particular organization over all the other worthy causes during the holidays. We also needed to get more donations than last year without spending more.

Here’s a brief summary of how we did it.

  • Who: We created very specific target personas – in this case, primarily Christians and Catholics in regions where homelessness was high and the weather was terrible.
  • What: We scheduled ads during historically profitable times of day, prioritized high-quality keywords and moved less competitive terms to the Google Grants program so we could use our dollars on more competitive terms in the AdWords program.
  • Where: We analyzed census data to find where our personas typically live and placed our ads where these personas would see them, ramping up the program when the weather was especially harsh.
  • How: We tailored our messaging to speak to raise awareness about homelessness and speak to the desire to help alleviate suffering, encouraging donors to help fund housing during a time of greatest need.

The strategy paid off. The number of donations received through paid search increased 367% year over year, indicating a strong increase in Mercy’s online donor base. The CPC dropped by 17.5%, or $0.44, year over year, which allowed us to drive more traffic to the site for the same cost. The conversion rate increased by 532% while cost-per-conversion declined by 87%.

Over all, the pay-per-click campaign resulted in a 483% year-over-year increase in the nonprofit’s charitable donations from PPC on a flat budget.

Want to know more? Read a case study with more in-depth strategy.