2021 Winner

Penny Appeal Canada

Penny Appeal Ramadan 2021

Creative Business Company

BronzeROI Strategy

Penny Appeal Canada is a faith-based, non-denominational charity that provides aid and development both at home and abroad. Like many Muslim charities, the bulk of their fundraising occurs during Ramadan. For 2021, the charity set ambitious targets for growth – $3 million in donations in one month.

They ran the math and getting existing donors to give more wouldn’t deliver the donations they desired. They needed to grow beyond their base. Also, with Ramadan under lockdown, digital channels would play a more significant role, so they set themselves the goal of driving penetration with a younger demographic. Both within a limited budget and time frame.

Typically, most charities began their fundraising campaigns at the start of Ramadan. The agency had a hunch that being on air well before the start of Ramadan could pay off. Looking at five-year Google search data, they could see that Ramadan related search queries continually peaked in the weeks before the holy month.

They divided their marketing activities into two separate campaigns:

(RO) Pre-Ramadan Campaign: They would start with a broad brand-building effort, one month before Ramadan, they called it RO. They would target a broad spectrum of Muslims in English and French speaking Canada and grow the pool of previously unseen re-targetable users. RO would help them build awareness while it was cheap, delivering brand revenue growth in the last ten days of Ramadan when volume is expensive.

(R1) In-Ramadan Campaign: The in-Ramadan campaign (called R1) would then re-target those ‘warm’ leads with hard hitting direct-response style messages. These messages promoted Penny Appeal’s programs and they would A/B test multiple versions of creative to optimize spend.

The idea was to re-imagine narratives about Ramadan and what a Muslim charity should be.
As the newcomer in the category, Penny Appeal Canada was up against a dominant market leader, with a sizable brand and donor advantage. To get a sense of the disparity, Islamic Relief raised nearly $65 million in 2019 while Penny Appeal Canada raised $1.46m.

Facing these disadvantages, they knew contrast was their path to critical mass. That meant challenging narratives around Ramadan and many of the conventions of the category. The focus was three main conventions:

Casting: Muslims are often portrayed as a Monolithic bloc. The approach to this is to celebrate the diversitt of the Canadian Muslim community.
Content: Conversations around Ramadan often focus on the practicalities of fasting. The approach to this is to explore what motivates young Canadian Muslims to embrace their Spirituality.
And finally, imagery: Most charities pluck at heartstrings with stories and imagery of suffering. The approach to this is to focus on positive portrayals of the recipients of Penny Appeal’s aid and development work.

To thematically tie the RO and R1 campaigns, they unpacked and gave added meaning to Penny Appeal’s existing (somewhat transactional) slogan ‘Small Change. Big Difference.’

The RO campaign asked young Canadian Muslims ‘What’s your change?’ and explored what makes Ramadan different to other months, for better or for worse.
The R1 campaign put a human face to the people Penny Appeal Canada helps and asked Canadian donors to ‘be the difference they need.’

The total donations, online and offline for 2021 were $3,605,851, up 250% from 2020 and the e-commerce revenue for 2021 was $2,349,906, up 389% from 2020. The average donation value in 2021 was $218.19, up 50% from 2020, with the number of donations in 2021 at 10,334. Up by 211% from 2020. The e-commerce conversion was 7.46%, up 257% from 2020 and blending campaign ROAS in 2021 was 580%. In 2021, Penny Appeal saw 4,000 new donors.

Early investment in brand (RO) = a 403% increase in brand performance in search, which paid off in more donations earlier. By day 8 of Ramadan, a massive increase in donations was being seen, which continued into the month, plateauing by day 30, seeing a 400% increase in cumulative donations than in 2020.

They also achieved the demographic shifts they desired. 2021 saw an almost 10% increase in donors aged 18-24, and over 5% increase in donors aged 25-30.

Post campaign, the agency has been asked to overhaul Penny Appeal Canada’s go-to-market approach. New work streams include donor segmentations, a more structured approach to annual marketing planning, investment in always on brand-building, a shift from static assets to video, and revamping the metrics they used to track campaign performance.

Talha Ahmed, Client, Penny Appeal Canada
Faisal Siddiqui, Head of Strategy, Creative Business Company
Ian Barnard, Strategy Director, Creative Business Company
David Jalbert-Gagnier, Creative Director, Creative Business Company
Turlough Fortune, Designer, Creative Business Company
Matt Barnett, Director, Big Pig Productions
Peter John Schnobb, Editor, Big Pig Productions
Mark Delottinville, Production, Color, Big Pig Productions
John Sweet, Media, Solja Digital Limited

Have questions? Need help?
Contact Rowan Traynor at 1-416-408-2300 x213 or rtraynor@brunico.com.