A renowned charity using an ecommerce platform - Case Study: The Salvation Army

A renowned charity using an ecommerce platform
Case Study: The Salvation Army

Laura Qureshi

This is how we planned, designed and developed a platform change for the Salvation Army’s 100,000 Meals micro fundraising campaign.

It was a pretty bold move for such a renowned charity to use an ecommerce platform for a donation campaign. But it worked.

DO have been involved in the 100K Meals campaign since its inception in 2014, originally built as a custom microsite, with some basic integration with The Salvation Army's internal systems including Blackbaud.

The digital team at Salvos came to us in 2017 and challenged us to find a simpler, more robust online donation system that met their integration requirements.

We then came up with the bold plan to use Shopify.

Initially there was some hesitation, given it is known as an ecommerce platform, not a fundraising platform.

However, the Shopify Platform delivered growth, new functionality, flexibility and reporting prowess that the Salvation Army needed to move towards the campaign becoming a million dollar fundraiser. You can check out the site here.

Here are a few reasons why Shopify worked a treat:

  • The low cost setup, maintenance and hosting of the platform
  • Unparalleled flexibility in managing the site and adding new features as they become available
  • Ability to deliver automated onboarding campaigns
  • Exceptional reporting capability
  • Design flexibility

How we brought the campaign to life:

One product, one function

Creating a site that sells one product (that isn't actually a product) requires mega simplification.  Creating the most simple, functional donation form possible was number one priority.

To donate a meal costs $10, however many donors are willing to donate much more than $10 so we focused on making the functionality easy for them to donate as many meals as they want.

Social proof

Creating customer confidence is essential to any ecommerce experience, especially when a site is asking for donation.  To give donors confidence in the program so we rolled out a number of social proof elements, including:

  • Animated meal counter
  • Scrolling list of recent donors
  • Interactive map showing donors from across Australia 

Custom email notifications and campaigns

We also set up a series of a series of inbuilt notifications, which we customised with appropriate messaging to complement the campaign such as:

  • Order confirmation
  • Automated abandoned cart messages
  • Refer a friend functionality

To help with subscriptions and onboarding, we implemented the email marketing platform Autopilot to allow customers to subscribe to the email newsletter. To start off we imported existing opted in donors to the database and then created an automated onboarding email series that encouraged donation, friend referral and updates on the campaign.

Custom reports

A unique part of this project was creating custom reports. We had to ensure these reflected that the site was receiving donations rather than selling products. Shopify comes with a number of built in reports including sales reports, customers reports, acquisition and behaviour reports, which weren't relevant to this campaign.

Here’s how we did this:

The reports weren’t overly complex but they allowed the Salvos to run a report daily that gave donation amount, donor name and other key details being collected not traditional to a purely product based transaction. The interface was customised, clean and easy to navigate—as all reports should be.

How did the Salvos feel after?

“DO provided practical and creative solutions to expanding one of our fundraising campaigns and valuable insight into how we could use the Shopify platform to improve our donors' digital experience. From web design to working with us to build custom functionality and providing solutions so we could easily integrate Shopify with our other platforms, the team have provided ongoing support and are quick to respond.”

But wait. This isn’t the first charity using the Shopify platform. Shopify is also successfully utilised by other worldwide not for profit organisations such as Amnesty International, Movember, World Vision and WWF.  Shopify even has a custom plan for NFPs and charities.

If you need a brilliant website that can be easily customised and meets your campaign objectives, but you're not a conventional online retailer - don’t shy away from Shopify.

Get in touch with us, we’d love to bring your vision to life.