Trialling a movement-building approach to recruit supporters who share Stonewall’s mission and values

The 30 second read:

Trying out new ways of working and bridging the gap between campaigning, communications and fundraising paid off in this handraiser pilot. We achieved great recruitment rates and strong regular giving conversion, which built internal buy-in and unlocked future investment.

The longer read:

The challenge

Stonewall stands for the rights of everyone in the LGBTQ+ community. Our challenge was to test the potential of a movement-building approach to reach people who share Stonewall’s mission and values, and use meaningful actions to grow their community of online supporters.

The pilot also needed to bring together Stonewall’s campaigning, communications and fundraising work, and generate clear benchmarks for performance that could feed into a longer-term digital strategy. Our hope was that success would build Stonewall’s confidence in digital mobilisation principles, so that they were ready to invest more in this approach in future.

What we did and why

  1. Testing

After a creative session with the Stonewall team, we chose concepts for three handraisers to test using a minimum viable product (MVP) approach. This meant developing simple, low-cost versions of each one and promoting them on social media with a small ads budget.

By trialling a range of messaging, we aimed to see which handraiser would resonate most strongly with audiences. We ran 27 ads across Facebook and Instagram (nine variants per handraiser), reaching 733,276 people.

The winning handraiser was focused on trans rights and invited people to go on the record to support the trans community.

2. Optimisation

Taking the winning concept forward, we developed this into a fully branded handraiser. This included email and phone opt-in on the signature page, followed by a daisy chain of additional calls to action: a donate prompt, a share ask, and an email your MP action.

To optimise performance, we refreshed the ads creative, and tested different messaging for the donate prompt.

The impact

The pilot was a huge success. It recruited 25,342 new supporters at a cost per acquisition of £0.48 (well below our benchmark of £0.80-£1.50), and with a projected four-year return on ad spend of 429%. We also achieved high share, action and donation rates (see below).

The project proved that a digital mobilisation model has huge potential to help Stonewall reach new supporters who share their values, and grow their campaigning power and fundraising income. It also enabled them to establish new ways of working and strong foundations for the future. As a result, the team have secured further investment to build their digital recruitment and engagement programme.

Results in full: 

  • Opt-in rate: 66%
  • People who shared: 9,824
  • People who emailed their MP: 5,422 (one in five signers)
  • New regular givers: 101 (target: 61)
  • New cash donors: 558 (target: 202)
  • Telefundraising leads: 3,735

The lowest cost per acquisition was during Pride month, where it fell to £0.21 within the first week. This shows just how powerful it can be to offer people a way to take action or show solidarity when a particular subject is in the news, or when there’s heightened awareness of it.