The Salvation Army asked Blackbaud Interactive for an innovative campaign that would inspire Online Red Kettle volunteers to leverage peer-to-peer fundraising to meet fundraising goals.

The Salvation Army Red Kettles have been an American tradition since 1891, helping raise critical financial support for human needs and services year-round. In 2005, the Online Red Kettle website was launched to allow individuals, groups, and teams to be ‘virtual bell-ringers’ and host fundraising campaigns online. As Online Red Kettle raised the bar for peer-to-peer donations, they needed to revamp their online fundraising campaign to amplify volunteer excitement and heighten engagement.

Rotating banners containing tips and ideas were posted on the fundraisers’ Personal Headquarters page.

Rotating banners containing tips and ideas were posted on the fundraisers’ Personal Headquarters page.

Generating Fundraiser Excitement

A multi-channel campaign was developed to generate excitement around the Online Red Kettle personal fundraising pages and to inspire volunteers to work extra hard to meet fundraising goals.

The Blackbaud Interactive team created an editorial calendar to coordinate communication across all marketing channels including homepage banners, social media and email.  Message feeds delivered via all channels were therefore cohesive, integrated and timely.

The campaign kicked off Thanksgiving week and ended in early January after the new year.  Red Kettles are a holiday season ritual, so Thanksgiving and Christmas themes were incorporated into the campaign to maintain tradition and inspire goodwill and generosity of spirit.

Banners Sparked Action

Each virtual bell ringer has a Fundraising Headquarters page where they track their progress and take action.  Banners featuring fundraising tips and ideas were rotated every 7-10 days on the Fundraiser Headquarters page. Individual fundraisers were presented with simple, achievable tasks such as sending a themed email, uploading their address book, sharing a video or posting on social media.

3 ORK import-address-book

A different ‘Fundraising Tip’ banner was posted for participants every week. Horizontal top banners described a specific fundraising task and were often linked to emails, videos and social media. On the homepage, Featured Fundraiser banners were rotated every 10 days.

2 ORK matching-gifts
4 ORK Featured Fundraiser

Shout Outs With Banners and Social Media

Volunteers who take the time to personalize their fundraising pages are more likely to take the next critical step—sending out an appeal for donations.  Personalized pages, emails, and social media are also the most successful at generating donations.  Fundraisers were therefore urged to personalize their pages by sharing stories, photos and videos that explain why they are raising funds on behalf of the Salvation Army.

Top fundraisers already received their deserved recognition, but we also wanted to honor those who helped the campaign succeed in other ways.

Selected fundraisers who took the time to post personal photos or tell a story were showcased in ‘Featured Fundraiser’ banners on the public-facing Online Red Kettle home page. These banners linked to the featured individuals’ pages so that other fundraisers could see their personal vignettes and be inspired to personalize their own page.

Facebook posts and Tweets were created to recognize those fundraisers who surpassed the average number of Online Red Kettle donations, even if the individual donation amounts were relatively small.

Emails Provided Momentum

A series of emails were developed throughout the campaign that targeted individual fundraisers and their donor prospects.  Volunteers were encouraged to personalize the email templates in order to boost donation results.

Virtual Bell-Ringer Results Rang True

Blackbaud Interactive’s integrated multi-channel campaign met the Online Red Kettle goals of generating heightened excitement and increasing volunteer fundraising efforts.  Virtual bell-ringers responded enthusiastically, despite certain unavoidable distractions such as the sluggish economy, the Presidential election, and the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy.

The Online Red Kettle campaign raised $2.1M and beat the previous year’s total of $1.7M by 19%.

Average CTR for Featured Fundraiser Banners 7.8%

Organization Type

Faith Based Group


Interactive Marketing Strategy
Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Strategy
Visual Design/Redesign