Accelerating Grassroots Fundraising Program


Waterkeeper Alliance is the umbrella organization above more than 350+ local chapters across more than 45 nations. Their common goal is to protect waterways and ensure every community’s waters are drinkable, fishable, and swimmable. They achieve these ends by organizing, setting sail to track down polluters, and bringing suit against powerful companies who break clean water laws. 

Waterkeeper Alliance engaged Media Cause to focus on their online program, after investments in Direct Mail paid high dividends. 


increase in number of donors


increase in average gift


increase in new donors

“Working with Media Cause has been a huge success and an absolute joy. With their help, we've optimized our approach to digital marketing, which has grown our online revenue and the impact of our campaigns. They feel like an extension of our in-house team and approach all of our projects with enthusiasm and professionalism.”

Maia Raposo

The Challenge

The first challenge was technical: Without tracking implemented, it was not possible to understand where funds came from — whether email, ads, social media, or website, all gifts were unsourced. One of our very first steps was to institute tracking so we could gauge what worked well, and what worked less well. 

Second, there were major unknowns about this list, and how they react to asks — and thus, there were few best practices established. In previous year-ends, the digital asks mirrored the direct mail schedule and did not seize Giving Tuesday. How would the list react to volume, especially around Giving Tuesday? It was difficult to assess how well this list would respond to a more sustained, hard-hitting campaign not having been used in this way before. 

Once we began asking with a digital-first strategy, harnessing key fundraising moments, we realized that the Waterkeeper Alliance list was well primed to give — they just had to be asked at the right time, in the right way, at the right frequency. The Waterkeeper team was open to trying, and we were all delighted with the response.


The Strategy

Media Cause and Waterkeeper Alliance aligned on the following digital fundraising goals: 

  • Implement end of year digital best practices
  • Establish Waterkeeper Alliance benchmarks
  • Establish goals for Google Ad Grant and Paid Media 
  • Raise $40,000 in online fundraising from gifts under $1,000 between 11/1 – 12/31 (18% increase, YoY)

Through a digital-first fundraising strategy, smart cultivation, a robust paid media strategy, and a strong, collaborative partnership we surpassed our goals by a wide margin, setting a new bar for future year-end campaigns. 

The Implementation

Digital Fundraising Strategy 

Tracking Framework: We implemented data measurement across all owned and paid media assets so we could properly attribute funds to their channel. In so doing, we learned invaluable insights into donor behavior and tactic efficacy.

Email Engagement: We broke away from the Direct Mail calendar to craft a digital-first strategy, balancing cultivation with fundraising and concentrating our efforts around two key deadline moments: Giving Tuesday and 12/31. Knowing the list is newer to hard, direct fundraising asks, we limited the cadence to these moments, pausing to say “thanks” and “happy holidays” between these moments. In total, we collaborated on five cultivations and eight fundraisers (including one merchandise send).

Paid Advertising: Throughout December, we used Facebook ads and the Google ad grant to fundraise around year end giving, reaching both existing and new supporters.

The Results

Between FY20 and FY21, we saw an excellent increase in revenue and number of gifts during the year-end period (11/1 — 12/31), with revenue enjoying a cumulative 271.76% uptick and number of gifts increasing by 159.49%.

Due to our tremendous success from our year-end fundraising, we’ve generated a 60% year-over-year increase, raising.

Ready to drive growth and impact through digital strategies?

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