The Cornell Lab’s is dedicated to advancing the understanding and protection of the natural world. They join with people from all walks of life to make new scientific discoveries, share insights, and galvanize conservation action.

As a world leader in the study, appreciation, and conservation of birds, we sought to advance the Lab’s mission with a multi-touchpoint online fundraising strategy. We focused on engaging and activating individuals who love birds through aggressive content marketing that inspires passion.

The Outcome

we were able to raise $2,191,610 online in collaboration with the Cornell Lab of Ornithology during FY15 and increased emails acquired by 60% from the previous year.


Email Addresses Acquired


Of New Donors Resulted from Digital


Online Donations

“Media Cause's thoughtful, data-driven strategies have helped the Cornell Lab grow its email list and soar beyond its online fundraising goals year over year.”

Melissa Tinklepaugh Manager of Online Fundraising, Cornell Lab of Ornithology

The Strategy

Our strategy hinged on community growth and consisted of three parts:

Our clients need help to change the world. Getting the right supporters on their side through building + engaging communities, and keeping them involved with the mission is critical to creating impact.

Powerful work deserves powerful communications. We strategized how to implement captivating words + images to garner results. Copywriting, infographics, email headers, landing pages, the list goes on—all help you move communities toward organizational goals.

Finally, we strategized to use targeting. Fundraising works best if conversations happen 1:1. Digitally, we get as close as we can by targeting donors based on key attributes and actions.

The Implementation

Build & Engage Communities

Utilizing a combination of search advertising and paid social advertising, we sought to attract users looking for birding content. As a result, we were able to convert an already interested audience to the Lab’s community in huge numbers. Combined with a long-term communication flow via multiple platforms, we saw an increase in the likelihood of turning supporters into donors.

Captivating Words + Images

The Cornell Lab does a fantastic job producing content that bird lovers want to see. Our job was to help translate that content into words and images that would inspire a deeper engagement. Leveraging digital collateral on Facebook advertising resulted in 480 donations at an average of $58.34.

We did this by implementing the following:

      • Identifying the highest converting collateral on their website.
      • Creating branded images with a concise call to action.
      • Distributed content to highly targeted audiences, based on specific bird interests.

Targeted Fundraising Appeals

Year after year, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology has been able to increase online fundraising numbers through email list growth.

To capitalize on their existing supporter base, we leveraged a cross-channel approach that brought the Lab’s targeted appeals to users based on their interest – in their email inbox, in their Facebook newsfeed, and on the Cornell website as they engaged with key birding content.

The Results

We achieved such strong success by leveraging the Lab’s tremendous wealth of content to attract users through search engine marketing and social advertising, while engaging and activating existing supporters on multiple platforms.

In total, we were able to raise $2,191,610 online in collaboration with the Cornell Lab of Ornithology during FY15 and increased emails acquired by 60% from the previous year.

Ready to drive growth and impact through digital strategies?

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