Ramadhan Digital Fundraising Using Salesforce Marketing Cloud

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As Ramadhan draws near, fundraising teams within the Muslim Charity sector will be finalizing their plans for the blessed month. Over £130 million has been raised in the UK alone during Ramadhan in previous years – that’s equivalent to over £50 per second being donated in a single month! Ramadhan is also proving to be a key season for the wider charity sector, as Muslims are encouraged to give to causes both at home and abroad.

With so much potential, how do you optimize your fundraising strategy? This post will outline some key benefits of utilizing Salesforce Marketing Cloud in your digital fundraising efforts, with a specific focus on the month of Ramadhan.

Optimizing Your Digital Fundraising

Muslims across the globe will observe fasting for the month and will donate their Zakah/Sadaqah to charitable causes. Zakah is one of the five pillars of Islam, which requires financially able individuals to give 2.5% of their annual savings/investments to those in need.

During the pandemic, almost all face-to-face fundraising activities were cancelled, including traditional methods of collections within Masajids (mosques) and Iftar dinners. As a result, many non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have seen growth in ‘digital giving’ over the last two Ramadhans.

However, having completed a quick analysis of various fundraising emails from UK Muslim charities over the past 12 months, I found that only half had some form of personalization (e.g., first name). Others had no form of personalization at all, even if I have been an active supporter for many years! Crucially, the donation amounts I was being asked to give did not feel tailored enough for me to consider donating my Zakah.

As a marketing automation specialist, I know that with just a little additional effort, asking donors for the right amount at the right time would generate a higher return on investment (ROI) for charities’ email campaigns during Ramadhan. This would efficiently generate the funds required to support their important work, while encouraging continued support throughout the year.

So, what if charities could leave ‘batch and blast’ in the past? What if they could:

  1. Harness all the rich data they hold about the donor from within their donor database for their marketing?
  2. Generate tailored email content in real time?
  3. Automate the whole process and layer in some clever Artificial Intelligence to deliver the supporter experience myself and many other supporters of Muslim charities crave?

Now that really would be something…

Enter Salesforce Marketing Cloud!

Personalized and Automated Appeals with ‘Appeal’

1. Getting personal

I have been using Marketing Cloud for several years and, for me, the key strength of the platform is its ability to integrate with Salesforce CRM (and potentially any other data point). This provides a rich picture of donor interactions which we can then harness for multi-channel journeys.

First, I work on categorizing CRM data into donor giving history, location, approximate age, and donor status. This data is updated in real-time via automations between Salesforce Sales Cloud and Marketing Cloud, and can be used within an email dynamically to decide which path a user takes in a custom user journey for Ramadhan.

This then enables the marketeer to develop a unique personal email based on the supporter’s stage of giving at the time of sending. As the supporter progresses through the month, email campaigns can be automated to send at fixed times, such as before opening the daily fast at sunset.

In the example below, I’ve created personalized ‘asks’ for supporters with a dynamic email template during the buildup to Ramadhan, Layla-tul-Qadr (The Night of Power), and the celebration of Eid-ul-Fitr (festival to mark the ending of Ramadhan).

In this case, the Call to Action (CTA) is a donation request – this is personalized based on previous giving history, with suggested price handles closer to the individual average giving history or defaulted to a fixed value for new donors. We can set different CTAs based on individual donor data.

Key features of a successful email campaign:

  • A clear call to action.
  • Personalized donation ask handles.
  • Automated email sends on special nights of Ramadhan.
  • Localized fundraising event information.
  • Automated email re-sends.

2. Dynamic engagement

Tailoring our requests based on giving preferences is great, but we can go one step further – we can tailor the creative content around these requests to increase engagement.

We do this by splitting content into several blocks – each block is only shown based on various statuses stored in a data extension at the time of sending. Content can be localized, so your appetizing Iftar event in Glasgow will not show to supporters in London and vice versa. Event blocks can be shown only on specific dates or even as ‘sold out’ when quotas are reached.

This way, each donor receives a unique email, which only presents relevant content and personalized calls to action. This method also reduces the need for multiple sends to various segmented lists, saving time for your digital marketing team (or that key individual who does not switch off in Ramadhan… you know who you are!).

Example of a dynamic template with custom blocks and AMPscript to decide which content block to use

When a donor has already given a large amount of their Zakah, alternative email content can be shown for additional charitable campaigns (e.g., Sadaqah, sponsorships, emergencies, etc.), or even a recurring daily gift for the last 10 special nights when donations are the largest.

3. Automation and AI with Journey Builder and Einstein

Finally, we can automate the whole thing ahead of time so that our marketers can focus on tweaking, optimizing, and adapting messaging to events during Ramadhan itself.

Journey Builder within Marketing Cloud allows the setup of a personalized email journey from Day 1 right through to the end of Ramadhan. Using Einstein AI technology built into Marketing Cloud, donors can be segmented into different journey paths based on pre-built Einstein Personas. Using AI engagement scores, which are updated on a daily basis, the most engaged donors can be identified for campaign add-ons or upgrades. Einstein Send Time Optimization (STO) can also be used to determine the best time to send emails for optimal engagement.

Journey Builder used for automated progressive and tailored asks, optimized with Einstein

Email campaigns can be ramped up during the last 10 days, with CTAs reflecting the current giving status of the donor. Useful reminders can be sent to avoid missing special nights (and opportunities) for giving.

Resending emails to non-opens can be automated in Journey Builder with the template updating content if needed. There are plenty of options to further build on the template based on the specific charity’s structure and campaign needs at the time.

Summary

This has been just a taster of the many tools available within Marketing Cloud and how they can help to increase fundraising income during the important period of Ramadhan (and beyond).

If you would like to learn more about automating your Ramadhan email campaign, or discuss additional methods to improve fundraising in Ramadhan, I’d love to hear from you. Drop me a message on LinkedIn.

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