happy members

LemonTree Fundraising-Greenpeace
LemonTree Fundraising - The Shepherd Centre
LemonTree Fundraising - The Shepherd Centre


Steve Kendon, Telefundraising from Greenpeace said: “In the past, we have re-engaged and called our lapsed donors with limited success. It was a costly and time-consuming task and results didn’t reflect the effort that had gone into the program.”

The Snapshot

For the last 10 years, Greenpeace has had a strong focus on regular giving (RG) programs to help build a stable – and sustainable – funding channel for its environmental advocacy programs.

While these programs are successful at acquiring new donors, Greenpeace found that retaining these donors was causing a large financial drain, with over 25% active RG donors leaking out of their bucket every year.

Key Results from the Top 8%
  • Successful contact rates benchmarking between 30.2% and 34.2% across the 5 segmented groups
  • Top segment conversion rate out-performed control by 314% (6.9% vs 2.2%)
  • Other segments with lower conversion rates will be refined in future to improve from a 3.8% performance
  • 1 year ROI ranged from 0.89 to 0.68 on the successful segments subset

In addition, we optimised Greenpeace’s warm cash tax mailing appeals with LemonTree Fundraising propensity scored overlays to grow lifetime value of a targeted subset of donors.

As a result, Greenpeace will now leverage the power of LemonTree Fundraising’s collaborative insights to target a broader range of donors and channels through a framework of continuous testing and learning programs.

The Starlight Foundation

Starlight Children’s Foundation is on a mission to brighten the lives of seriously ill children and their families. Since 1988, they have partnered with Australian health professionals to develop programs based on positive psychology principles that support the ‘total care’ and unique needs of Australian children and teens.

Through these programs, Starlight seeks to disrupt the relentless cycle of pain and trauma and offer a welcome break so that sick kids can simply be kids.

The success of these programs relies heavily on Starlight’s income. Prior to the global financial crisis (GFC), they had been very corporate-focused in their fundraising. But after the GFC hit, it became clear  that they needed to set up a Regular Giving program to safeguard a consistent income and insure the stability of Starlight’s programs.

As Individual Giving Manager for Starlight, Justine’s primary objective is to increase income through a series of regular appeal and gifting programs designed to attract new supporters, and engage, grow and retain existing supporters.

“Individual giving is critical to Starlight,” says Justine. “It accounts for more than a third of our overall fundraising income, so it is critical to sustain our program delivery.”

What were you struggling with prior to becoming a LemonTree member?

The acquisition of appeal donors is SO, SO important. You obviously want to retain as many as supporters as possible, but you always need to stay focused on that leaking bucket. We were doing one big acquisition mailing per year to around 120,000 people. We’d always had a good response, but then in April 2017 we went to 50,000 and the response rate dropped quite considerably.

The data was exhausted. We needed to identify a smarter way to target the right new donors. I spoke to Joel about LemonTree and what they could do to help.

How did you work with LemonTree to overcome this?
Our Data Analyst assessed how many new supporters we needed to acquire in order to stop the leaking bucket and sustain our level of income. The recommendation from LemonTree was to test, learn and optimise. So, in August 2017, we started with smaller rolling acquisition programs, targeting 10,000 -12,000 people at a time. LemonTree was able to utilise big data to find the best people for us to contact to ensure we hit those numbers.

It was really interesting! By doing smaller numbers each month we were able to tweak and optimise based on the response rate and average gift. We kept testing different models of data based on recommendations from LemonTree and then internally we tweaked and tested the pack we sent – the content, the message, the stories, and so on.

If we were still mailing 100,000+ we just couldn’t have done that. We would have used up all our budget in one hit! But the small, well-targeted tests allowed us to tweak and learn and optimise our campaigns. For every campaign we sent, we had a target response rate and an average gift rate that we wanted to achieve. We kept refining and testing until we got to a point where we were consistently hitting or exceeding those goals. So then it became a case of using the data to find, target and acquire more of these sorts of people.

Have you achieved what you set out to?
We have acquired more supporters, which equals more income. And that, after all, is our primary objective with this campaign: to acquire good people who will consistently give to Starlight.

Something of an added bonus has been analysing the key metric of the second gift rate, the percentage of people that give again. Of the new appeal donors we acquired in the back half of last year, 25% of them have already given again within just seven to eight months! To put this into perspective, the current Pareto Fundraising Benchmark says 26% give again in the first year so this is a really good indication of long term success. Signing up these type of good quality donors, that become long term supporters is what will continue to drive Starlight’s programs for sick kids.

What advice do you have for anyone considering joining LemonTree?
A major benefit of LemonTree is they have a large universe of supporters which means as a member you can get valuable insights on what donors have done with other member organisations and use this to make more informed decisions. That’s why it’s great for more charities to join LemonTree. The more members, the more data available, the better the analysis, the greater the opportunities for all us.

With such a large pool of data, it can be quite intensive so we very much viewed working with LemonTree as a partnership. That was really important to us. LemonTree has this huge amount of data that they analyse and recommend ways for members to test and tweak. In parallel, internally, we are testing and tweaking the creative content. You don’t want to change too many variables at once as you won’t know which one has made the difference in the results – especially with small sample testing. That’s why working in partnership with LemonTree has been really important to our success.

LemonTree is different to other co-ops. You’re not just buying a list of cold data. LemonTree uses different models and scoring systems to analyse their data to try and find the best donors for their members to approach with campaigns.

It’s really important to Starlight to make sure our donors are having a good experience. We don’t want to make people cross or frustrated. We need to be mindful of over-targeting and I know LemonTree is also very passionate about this.

All charities are facing the same challenge: acquire good people who will give often. But we are all essentially fishing in the same pool. So we all have to be mindful of the supporter experience. If we’re all going crazy and bombarding people with 30+ mailing packs it will look like we – as an industry – are wasting the generosity and donations of our supporters. We have to be collectively mindful of that.

Bush Heritage Australia (BHA)

Bush Heritage Australia exists to return the bush to good health. They buy and manage land and partner with Aboriginal people as well as other groups to look after ~11.3m hectares of the Australian bush, protecting over 6,000 native species against fire, feral animals and weeds and conserving our magnificent landcapes.

The Snapshot

124,106: # leads washed and propensity scoring applied

24,000: # prospects taken on engagement journey using SMS and email

10,000: # potential supporters called

309: # new regular givers acquired

113: # single gift donations in addition to RG

CPA: 15% lower cost than other active TM RG conversion programs

Retention: Early days, > 95% after 3 months

Feedback: incredible, both from the fundraisers and the supporters themselves

The Challenge

Before I came to Bush Heritage in September 2019, I’d predominantly been working in face-to-face fundraising for almost 14 years. When I arrived, we had lots of great lead generation and two-step telefundraising for our RG program, but we didn’t have a face-to-face program.

The great thing about face-to-face is there are almost unlimited possibilities to connect with people. Without face-to-face, it’s really hard to get more capacity. So whilst we had a really strong, successful and long-running lead generation program, it was hard to identify where we could grow our RG base.

Even though we actually had the budget for it – and I love the medium – there were a few problems with the face-to-face channel at that time, so we had to think outside the box and look at how we could fill the gap and achieve that growth in a cost-effective way.

That’s where Primed came in.

Bush Heritage has been partnering with Cornucopia for more than five years and had a strong relationship and background of innovation. I attended industry conference and Cornucopia introduced me to the other Primed partners – More Impact, LemonTree & Conversr. At that time, I’d been with Bush for a few months and was really looking to see where our growth and extra capacity could come from. We talked a lot about new technology such as propensity scoring through machine learning and donor engagement journeys through AI and that really appealed to what we were trying to achieve.

For me, regular giving is not just about the acquisition, it’s about building relationships with your supporters so they stay with you and want to keep giving. Also, I try to be a good environmentalist and not see any waste. I felt we were putting in a whole lot of effort to generate an online lead but then we were only ever reaching maybe half of them; andthen  only a small percentage of those people actually responded to the message at the time.

Primed presented a great opportunity to experiment and see how people responded to different types of messages and different delivery types as well. It was an awesome opportunity to try something new.

The Solution

We wanted to actually engage with people in a way that went deeper than just getting their details, then making a phone call and expecting people to commit to your cause. This was particularly important for me, coming from a face-to-face background where you have two-way conversations with people and can really start to build a journey with them. With Primed, the whole benefit was that we could begin to engage with these people and then build on that.

The LemonTree team, started by auditing and consolidating a wide range of dormant donors and leads that most charities have typically given up on. Then through best practice hygiene techniques and leveraging LemonTree’s large collaborative insights universe, they were able to identify the most contactable donors. Finally, with machine learning, LemonTree’s unique collaborative propensity models identified the most likely donors to be a regular giver to Bush Heritage Australia.

From there, having identified our most likely prospective donors we created a multi-channel engagement journey informed by behavioural economics design by More Impact and Conversr. We put those 24,000 people through a three-step engagement journey using Conversr’s SMS and email platforms. The idea was to engage people with information on what we do, give them a gift (which was a downloadable calendar full of beautiful images of wildlife and bush landscapes) and finally, ask them for their opinion on what we do and why through a short survey.

That journey allowed us to identify the 10,000 people who were most likely to support us and these were the people Cornucopia then called. What the callers found was that these people were really engaged: they were much more familiar with what Bush Heritage were doing and felt like they already had a relationship with us, which was quite incredible. 

The Outcome

We acquired 309 new regular givers, as well as 113 single gift donations! The cost per acquisition was better than most of our other lead generation programs and it’s early days but we’re hopeful the retention will be strong as well because they have been so well primed.. The feedback from both the fundraisers and the donors themselves has been incredible.

Primed sits at an interesting crossroads between the supporter journey and the technology available. If you mix those two things – as Primed does – you can really improve the experience for the donor and really engage people who you thought were in the ‘too-hard’ bucket. It’s an opportunity to do things a little bit differently, more efficiently and smarter.

It’s been really beneficial for our organisation so far in terms of the number of regular givers that we’ve generated and the outcomes, but also the fact that we’ve engaged so many people in such a positive way and that helps to make sure they keep on giving.

The budget we’d set aside for face-to-face was taken up with Primed last year. When you look at the return on investment, the Primed journey is better, so we’re planning to run two separate Primed journeys this year.

I’ve learnt so much from all of the partners in the Primed team and that’s really helped me in my role. I’m now working with each of the partners on different projects: we’re looking at how we do our reactivation campaign and how we can prime people through Conversr and using SMS and take them on a journey, and we’re using LemonTree to do propensity modelling for a lot of our RG campaigns, as well as our single gift campaigns. 

Overall, it’s been a great experience and I’m really excited about our next Primed journey which kicks-off any day now!

The Shepherd Centre

When Dr Bruce Shepherd AM and his wife Annette could not find a suitable Early Intervention program in Australia to teach their hearing impaired children how to listen and speak, the couple decided to do something about it. In 1970, they founded The Shepherd Centre to provide early intervention programs and services to children who are deaf and hearing impaired, and to their families.

Driven by the belief that, with the right support, children who are born deaf should be able to fully integrate with the community and live their life to its fullest potential, Bruce and Annette set on their path to give deaf children a voice.

Starting with just five families, today The Shepherd Centre helps over 500 children and families each year through five centres in NSW and ACT, as well as families in Tasmania and rural and remote areas of Australia via tele-intervention (assistance via videoconferencing).

Joanne Rogers, Direct Marketing and Donor Services Manager, joined The Shepherd Centre in 2013. Joanne and her team work to recruit new donors to support the vital work of The Shepherd Centre and regularly update their existing donors on how their donations make a difference to children with hearing loss.

What challenges were you facing prior to becoming a LemonTree member?

Back in 2011 we invested heavily in premium mailing acquisitions. Gift cards, keyrings, tote bags, tea towels – the works. We mailed between 50,000 – 70,000 donors per campaign and got response rates of between 5% and 7%. It was a period of massive growth for us.

Then in 2015, the results dropped. Combined with rising costs, we were hitting an ROI of just 0.3. It was difficult to pinpoint the exact reason. Maybe it’s because The Shepherd Centre brand name doesn’t indicate what we do, who we help and why. Perhaps it was because we only have a presence in NSW, ACT and Tasmania and had been mailing premium packs for four years.

How did LemonTree help you overcome these frustrations?

After meeting Joel [Nicholson, LemonTree Founder] at an ADMA event in 2015, he invited me to attend their first Donor Centric Community Luncheon event. There were only 12 charities in the collaborative but I thought it could be worth trying. We took data for 10,000 people for telemarketing and the campaign performed really, really well.

So in 2016 we moved to a rolling campaign of 3,000 – 5,000 records per month. We consistently get a 10-12% conversion rate with a ROI of 0.65 which we’re really pleased with.

We’re acquiring around 150 new donors per month through telemarketing. We’re not talking huge growth because we know we’re not going to grow at the same rate as premium acquisition. This frees us up to focus on increasing average gifts, second gifts and donor retention. The Shepherd Centre is helping over 500 children now, but so many more need our help. Sustainable, quality donors (high second gifts and RG conversion) is key to this growth so retention is our biggest focus right now and this is where donor care becomes even more critical.

What does being a LemonTree member mean to you and The Shepherd Centre?
Donor care and protection is at the very heart of LemonTree and that’s why – for us at least – being a member works. Every quarter, they do an analysis of our database and suggest new approaches to help us fine tune the rolling program or grow the donor relationship. This report gives us a far deeper insight into the behaviour of our donors. We’re able pinpoint donors that have lapsed with us but still give elsewhere in the universe. With that in mind, we know we need to retarget them. We need to show our supporters we care about them by adding value above and beyond what they expect so create a long-lasting and sustainable relationship for the future. We’re in it for the long-haul with our donors, and so is LemonTree.

Joel and his team have a genuine interest in ensuring the longevity of our donor-relationships and the longevity of the fundraising industry itself. That’s why LemonTree goes the extra mile with things like their Donor Centric Community events, to bring people from the industry together. If we as an industry can work with LemonTree to become more donor-centric…if the industry as a whole can truly learn to embrace donor centricity, then think how good it will be for the donor and for us!

Since working with LemonTree, I’m so much more aware of our database behaviour and what we can do to retain our donors. Joel introduced me to AreaTen, a business that creates social and live chat technology for websites. We trialled their product on our website and have had a great response! That’s what LemonTree is all about – creating a community of like-minded people. Being a member of LemonTree is so unlike other co-ops. LemonTree is always striving to connect with its members and provide us with a very personalised, caring experience that goes far beyond anything else I’ve experienced.

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