DMS Success Story: Scaling Recurring Donors For The American Cancer Society

To scale monthly recurring donors and control the cost of its marketing efforts, the American Cancer Society (ACS) partnered with Digital Media Solutions (DMS) to diversify its fundraising portfolio with a digital sustainer donor acquisition campaign. 

Who Is The American Cancer Society?

The American Cancer Society is the leading cancer-fighting organization with a vision of ending cancer as we know it, for everyone. They work to improve the lives of people with cancer and their families through advocacy, research and patient support, ensuring everyone has an opportunity to prevent, detect, treat and survive cancer. 

The Goal: Grow And Build Upon ACS’s Sustainer Program

Before launching the campaign, DMS worked collaboratively with the fundraising leaders at ACS to develop a financial model that showed what an initial investment might return and how a longer-term program would work. This step proved helpful to ACS when presenting to their management team, allowing them to secure the necessary funds to pilot a program.

Strategically, DMS then turned to the campaign setup and partner selection. DMS has a long-standing history with top-tier rewards and loyalty platforms, with expertise and direct one-to-one relationships providing scalable opportunities for nonprofit brands to succeed. Top partners for the initial launch were selected by a team of recurring revenue experts at DMS, employing a “crawl, walk, run” approach to gradually ramp up donor volume over time.

Capturing Caring Donors On A Recurring Basis With Creative Digital Strategies

Donors to ACS include “anyone who is interested in improving the lives of people with cancer and their families, while supporting groundbreaking research, patient support services and advocacy.” In order to reach this audience, targeting was a less relevant factor when creating a digital donor campaign, while creative played a significant role. To this end, DMS worked with ACS on donor form creative, leveraging assets that were known to work well for ACS in the past, minimizing testing variables. These creative elements were carried across all aspects of the campaign including donor journey, offer landing pages, welcome emails and retention emails. The DMS team worked closely with the ACS team to optimize all campaign elements over time based on performance, helping to refine and drive continued success.

The ACS campaign included several different offers at incrementally raised price points. The expertise of the DMS team, coupled with differentiating factors including proprietary screening, controlled donor duplication and added value best practices can help drive ROI and LTV for DMS partners.

Each increase in donation amount was accompanied by a creative push that was part of a larger optimization strategy regularly discussed during reviews of the performance metrics by DMS and ACS. The client saw no decline in performance with each increase in donation amount, and instead found their donors to be generous at every level.

The cost-efficient and effective CPA model offers a time-tested, proven method, leveraging effective messaging that reaches high-intent donors on channels that resonate with the donor audience, providing optimized performance that offers lifetime value for nonprofit clients like the American Cancer Society. “Working with the DMS team has been a true partnership. Their consultative approach has helped us significantly scale our sustainer donor database, refine the offer and work to continue increasing our LTV,” noted Amy George, Director of Direct Marketing Strategy at American Cancer Society.

Scalable, Unparalleled Results And A Growing Partnership

Due to the consistent efforts of DMS and the collaborative approach of the DMS/ACS partnership, DMS acquired and added over 5X the amount of existing sustaining donors for the American Cancer Society in two and a half years.

The ACS campaign included several different offers at incrementally raised price points. This strategic approach led to the value per donor increasing 5% with the timing for breakeven improving by 13%.

Looking To Scale Your Sustainer Donor Acquisition Campaigns?

Digital Media Solutions (DMS) helps nonprofit brands across the country build consistent and sustainable fundraising revenue with innovative digital performance advertising solutions. We develop and maintain initiatives that exceed performance expectations.

  • Registered Fundraising Counsel: Nonprofit organizations are required to comply with a number of charitable registration requirements. Solicitation requirements are regulated at the state level, so requirements vary by location and both parties must comply with charitable registration laws. DMS recognizes this and is properly registered.

  • Results Focused: Post-transaction messaging and donor re-engagement and retention are planned from campaign inception.

  • Unique Publisher Relationships: DMS takes pride in the person-to-person relationships we have established with our publisher partners, which allow for better negotiations on pricing, timely problem solving, creativity and valuable feedback.

  • Proprietary Screening: DMS offers proprietary, layered, real-time screening solutions via TruHost. Online CPA performance advertising channels require a credit card in good standing, not just for the initial donation, but for all subsequent monthly donations. TruHost is the result of years of experience, data and analysis to pre-qualify the best donors and screen out those that are less likely to be a long-term supporter. 

  • Customized & Collaborative Partnerships: DMS partners with each nonprofit from acquisition through retention to help implement best practices, perform thorough analyses and enjoy the mutual benefits of constant teamwork.

Contact DMS to learn more about our performance-based donor acquisition campaigns.

About the author

Digital Media Solutions

Digital Media Solutions, Inc. (DMS) drives better business results by connecting high-intent consumers with advertisers across our core verticals; Insurance (auto, home, health), Education and Consumer/Ecommerce. Our innovative solutions help consumers shop and save, while helping our advertisers achieve above average return on ad spend. Learn more at