3 lessons from The Salvos’ digital door knock

by Richenda Vermeulen
August 7, 2020

In the clutter of COVID-19 doom and gloom, here’s some good news.

People are still giving. You can still make an impact. And there are opportunities to grow your good.

Over the last two months we’ve worked to help The Salvos bring awareness to their online pivot of the Red Shield Appeal, and early results have given us some key learnings for not-for-profits.

Here are 3 key lessons from the campaign.

1. There’s a golden opportunity for NFPs right now

Though giving is tied directly to economic growth, research suggests that Australians will still give where it’s relevant—even during bleak times.

The digital environment shows a decrease in ad spend and an increase in mobile phone usage.

With people still giving, more people online, and less advertisers bidding for their attention—you have a golden opportunity to reach your supporters.

The golden opportunity for organisations

As always, the market favours those who are continuing to invest where it matters. COVID-19 is not a trigger to pull back on marketing. It is an opportunity to speak louder.

2. The market is driving need for NFPs

The services that NFPs provide are more visible than ever.

Over the past few months, our prime minister, chief health officer and the media have provided soundbites for many NFPs. From domestic violence to mental health issues—our leaders are building a case for support.

Charities whose work is becoming obvious, like The Salvos’, are finding success in pushing that messaging across digital.

The Salvos spoke to what people are hearing right now. Spikes in domestic violence and homelessness. These are areas that The Salvos works in, and built the case that now, more than ever, the Salvation Army needs your help.

Where the impact is just as great, but not as apparent, such as foster care, debt reduction or poverty alleviation, the tactic becomes communicating your relevance through marketing. There are still things people are hearing—like school returners, the upcoming economic crisis, improvements in global emissions—that can build your case for support.

Here are some examples of charities that might fall in the three buckets:

Charities shine in emergencies, but the public needs you to stand up and make yourself heard.

3. Your brand is bigger than your channels

The Salvos has existed long before the internet. But they knew their brand was not tied to one channel, like face-to-face or direct mail. Their brand is how they make people feel, what people perceive them to be.

The key to their campaign was their willingness to separate their brand from one specific delivery method, and to bring it to life across digital channels.

Volunteers turned into volunteer micro-influencers, community elements were brought alive with specific geo-targeted ads, and iconic brand elements—such as the red bucket—were featured across social media and display.

Instead of taking a fixed mindset of “what works now will always work”, The Salvos looked to the future and thought “where can we innovate?”.

And that thinking made sure they could support the most vulnerable Aussies right now.