Bladder Cancer Advocacy Network (BCAN) is the only national advocacy organization devoted to advancing bladder cancer research and supporting those impacted by the disease. BCAN is on the front-lines advocating for greater public awareness and increased funding for research to identify effective treatments and, eventually, a cure for bladder cancer.
Like many nonprofits within the health sector, BCAN holds an annual walk in multiple cities to raise funds and awareness for their mission. Media Cause partnered with BCAN in 2022 for the promotion of their in-person walks and a virtual walk fundraiser for those unable or reluctant to gather in person.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, many nonprofits pivoted their in-person fundraisers to digital or virtual ones. As the world emerged from lockdown at the end of 2021 and into 2022, a return to in-person fundraisers would have to be different than they were in 2019.
BCAN was promoting multiple in-person events and a completely different experiential fundraiser all together. At the same time, the Omicron variant was surging in the early part of 2022 and BCAN needed to be ready to pivot to a virtual-only model or provide a safe in-person experience, particularly for BCAN supporters living with bladder cancer.
In 2022 BCAN asked Media Cause to partner on the promotion of this year’s Walk to End Bladder Cancer. This year was BCAN’s first-ever “hybrid event model” featuring a national virtual walk alongside 16 in-person events. Also new this year was BCAN’s fundraising incentives. Our strategy was broken into two parts; a quiet phase that started in January, followed by a more robust multi-channel public phase. Over the entire campaign we developed a comprehensive email plan, with coaching emails for walk participants; registration asks to the larger file; and customized language for priority cities. We also leveraged a $39k spend on paid media efforts across Google and Meta platforms with a tailored website experience in the runup to the walks.
Registrations and donations for events like these peak in the run-up to the day of the event itself. In fact, “late-bird” registrants are much more likely to attend than “early-bird” registrants. With this in mind, we did a soft launch in the early part of our promotion, leveraging owned channels such as the website, email, and social media. We sent weekly emails to existing donors and supporters that oscillated between exciting and welcoming, to serious and sentimental, to fun and lighthearted. We emphasized our messaging themes and crescendoed the volume and urgency toward the “public phase,” with a time-bound sweepstakes promotion.
We started our Paid Media effort in Mid-March 2022, timed to be a potential ‘pivot point’ based on the Omicron COVID-19 variant. At this point, we could better determine whether an in-person walk would be advisable—the possibility we’d need to switch to a virtual-only model had been ever-present. The in-person events took place in 15 different cities with a national, virtual walk as well.
In three Paid Channels—Facebook/Instagram, Google Search, and Google Display Network—we leveraged a $35k media budget over eight weeks and spent 65% in the final four weeks of the flighting.
On the website; we launched a new lightbox for each week of the final six weeks of the promotion. Over email, we sent twice as many emails than were sent in the Quiet Phase, striking a more urgent, exciting, and celebratory tone. All the while, Organic Social Media provided the “surround sound” on the same message, to reach BCAN supporters wherever they happened to be.
BCAN encouraged individual fundraising and general registration efforts by offering prizes for reaching various levels of fundraising.
These were paired with triggered emails that were sent throughout the course of the promotion and helped drive a 13% increase in revenue per registrant compared to 2019.
The 2022 walk excelled in two key categories: Registration Count and Revenue Per Registrant.
When it came to registrations, we expected to exceed the previous year’s virtual-only walk and hoped to meet or exceed 2019’s count.
The Omicron surge in early 2022 likely hampered our potential to exceed 2019 participation, however, revenue per registrant in 2022 bested 2019 by 13% and trailed 2021 only due to a small number of BCAN’s most loyal fundraisers who were particularly active this year. We also saw a 10% increase in YoY Average New Donor Gift, and a 17% YoY increase in average existing donor gift.