Typhoon Haiyan spurs humanitarian and fundraising response

Philippines Typhoon HaiyanThe super typhoon that struck the Philippines on November 8th is believed to be the most powerful storm on record to make landfall, damaging more than 16 million homes and causing over 6,000 deaths. The humanitarian and fundraising response around the world was immediate.

Two Donordigital clients sprung into action to raise money online from their supporters to fund urgent humanitarian campaigns in the Philippines and the region.

AmeriCares and International Medical Corps closely followed the news of the approaching storm. Within hours of landfall, both organizations sent out email appeals to their supporters, providing news of their humanitarian response and asking for financial support. Speed of communications requesting donations is critical as a means to engage potential supporters, particularly during a time of very high media coverage of unfolding events on the ground. Additional email updates were sent over the following weeks, keeping supporters informed and encouraging additional donations in support of emergency relief efforts.

To increase the fundraising response of email appeals, two other tactics were used. One tactic was resending one of the appeals to email subscribers that did not open a message (“non-openers”). Another tactic was to introduce a match, which encouraged supporters to make a gift and also encouraged larger gifts. Due to the scale of the humanitarian disaster in the Philippines, both organizations used their messaging opportunities to distinguish their emergency response from other organizations by focusing on their unique response role. AmeriCares focused on its efforts to provide medical supplies to an established network of local clinics, while International Medical Corps focused on its efforts to provide relief on remote Philippine islands.

On their websites, both organizations dedicated homepage carousel slides to the situation in the Philippines. Half of available slides were used to promote Philippines fundraising, featuring media coverage of their work on the ground and providing specific details of the organization’s humanitarian response. Special donation pages were built to accept donations, featuring pointed messaging about work being done on the ground.

On social media, both organizations presented timely and frequent updates from the field along with numerous photos, interspersed with fundraising appeals. The photos were heartbreaking and provided an invaluable channel to keep supporters informed and engaged with new developments.

As the year-end fundraising season is now in high gear through December 31, both organizations have implemented strategies to encourage donors that gave during the Typhoon Haiyan relief emergency to also make an additional gift at year-end. New and returning donors that give during emergencies are always deeply appreciated by charitable organizations, and the challenge is keeping them engaged year-round with the important work of the organization.

mstein-photo-thumbnailMichael Stein is a Senior Account Executive at Donordigital, the online fundraising, marketing, and advertising company. Contact: michael@donordigital.com.

Laura Domingo and Nick Garcia contributed to this article.

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