Delivering a 300% return on investment using handraisers and email

Having always relied on organic list growth, in 2019 Reprieve needed to reach new audiences to achieve their ambitious fundraising and campaigns goals.

They asked us to devise and test a list growth and fundraising strategy to help them get there, using tools like Facebook ads strategically for the first time.

What we did

Our digital strategy incorporated a handraiser (using Facebook ads to strategically target new leads) followed by an email welcome series with a specific focus on fundraising.

By the end of the project, Reprieve had acquired 10,000 new opted-in supporters and an exceptionally high rate of conversions to Direct Debit.

What’s more – donations made in the “daisy chain” after signing the handraiser immediately recouped 50% of the Facebook ad spend; the first email in our welcome series generated 20 times the average expected income; and by the end of the welcome series Reprieve were making back £4 – £6 in donation income for every £1 spent on advertising. 

Testing, optimisation and data-led decisions

As always, an iterative process was crucial to maximising impact. Here’s just some of what we tested and optimised throughout the project:

  • Handraisers. We generated multiple ideas for handraisers, then tested the two most promising ideas (The Official Record of Opposition and No More Death Sentences For Children) using a small budget for Facebook ads. This meant that we could scale up the most effective variant based on performance data, rather than gut instinct alone.
  • Opt-in language. Of the four variants we tested, one increased opt-ins by 71%, significantly reducing the cost per subscriber.
  • The optimal order for share and donate asks after signing. We found that the share first variant resulted in 40% more shares, but 80% fewer donations. Putting the donate ask first generated more income to reinvest in the campaign – meaning we could acquire  15 new sign ups with additional advertising for the cost of one sign up through shares.
  • Facebook ads creative. We tested a variety of copy and images, rotating in new creative as needed to keep cost per subscriber low and return on ad spend high. We used Facebook Ads Manager to strategically target audiences that could be most likely to support Reprieve’s work, including a lookalike audience of Reprieve’s existing supporters.


Through this strategic, data-led approach to list growth and fundraising, Reprieve acquired 10,000 new opted-in subscribers with an exceptionally high rate of conversion to monthly giving.