Multiyear strategic planning results in complete program turnaround


Los Angeles Mission exists to provide help, hope and opportunity to men, women and children in need. Their vision is to see individuals and families set free from addictions and homelessness, transformed by God to become physically and spiritually healthy.

When we began our journey with Los Angeles Mission, the organization was struggling with a stagnant fundraising program. They came to us with a challenge: They needed a partner who could rebuild their marketing approach without increasing their current investment.

RKD immediately got to work. We began by digging into their data to get to the bottom of their stalled growth. Through this process, we found one main problem—a decline in gross revenue paired with an increase in total expenses. Simply put, Los Angeles Mission was experiencing what we like to call a “leaky bucket.”

Our Role

Creative direction

Omnichannel Fundraising and Marketing 


Increase in gross revenue


Improvement of ROI


Lift in retention

With an acquisition program focused on volume over value, the mission was spending a lot of money acquiring low-value donors who weren’t retaining. And although they continued to fill their bucket with more donors year after year, the bucket continued to leak because low-value donors had led to retention rates dropping below industry standards, ultimately impacting gross revenue.

Based on this insight, RKD developed a multiyear strategic plan to optimize their program and rebuild their marketing approach for sustainable growth.

Year 1: Repairing the leaks

Rigorous Testing

Sometimes the smallest things make the biggest impact. As soon as we began our partnership, we adopted an aggressive testing mentality. We tested packages from a variety of verticals to uncover what creative, messaging, offers, gift arrays and more Los Angeles Mission’s donors responded to best. We continually adapted and optimized our approach as learnings and insights came in.

Digital Optimization

We knew digital was going to be critical to Los Angeles Mission’s success. Our digital team executed a complete website redesign so that, as online traffic increased, their website was more user friendly, told the mission’s powerful story and was optimized to drive donations. On the paid media side, we utilized their donor data to target deeply lapsed donors with a custom campaign.

Reframing their messaging

We repositioned their messaging across channels to be more missional. We focused on telling the story of who LA Mission is, what they’re all about and the impact donors can make through supporting their cause.

Improving cultivation strategies

In order to keep donors on the file, we worked with the mission to adjust their cultivation strategies to focus on building deeper donor relationships. We optimized their newsletters to be more donor-centric and shortened the time between a donor’s first gift and acknowledgement.

Year 2: Filling the bucket

Now that the holes had been repaired, we were ready to begin filling their bucket with high-value donors and applying our learnings from the past year of partnership to continue their growth.

A focus on high-value donors

Prior to our partnership, Los Angeles Mission’s core donor base (those who give consecutively for two or more years) had been in a 10-year decline. This told us that their donor acquisition program was focused on volume over value. We worked with the mission to shift the focus in acquisition to reaching high-value donors through an optimized list strategy. These new donors came in at higher first-gift rates and were more likely to retain, building their core donor base for the future.

Expanding acquisition

Typically, Los Angeles Mission had focused on acquisition in the fall only. By expanding their acquisition efforts to year round in direct mail and digital, we were able to acquire donors in the back half of the year and cultivate them within the first six months. This was a huge win for the creative team as we identified acquisition packages that worked no matter the season.

Leveraging donor data to uncover hidden opportunities

As we continued to monitor their data, our analytics team found an opportunity within the mission’s lapsed universe to improve their retention rates. Through upgraded creative and sophisticated modeling, we were able to bring deeply lapsed donors (5-20 years) back onto the file.

Year 3 and beyond: sustainable growth

As we move into the future of our partnership, our focus is on two main things:

Scaling up

Thanks to our multiyear planned approach, Los Angeles Mission has been able to raise more net revenue, which is helping them scale their program and increase their investments across all channels. Los Angeles Mission is now able to expand their efforts in donor engagement, telemarketing, planned giving, sustainers and digital media. As a team, we’re working together to grow their program in a smart, integrated and sustainable way.

Continuous testing

Over the years, our consistent testing of packages, messaging and creative has helped lift performance year over year, resulting in a $1 million increase in gross revenue. Our rigorous testing mindset will only continue as the mission grows. Successful programs require constant optimization, and our tests across all channels will help us evolve along with Los Angeles Mission’s donors.

It takes time and patience to properly enact a change of this magnitude. But the rewards of long-term sustainable growth are worth the effort. Now, as Los Angeles Mission looks into the future, they’re able to lean on a strong foundation built on industry-wide best practices, integrated strategies and a constant curiosity that drives innovation.

“Our partnership with RKD has resulted in wonderful achievements for Los Angeles Mission, especially when we were challenged with COVID-19. Knowing it wasn’t “business as usual,” RKD made sure our fundraising strategies were solid.

Now that we’ve built a strong foundation, we’re excited to see the investment paying off as our program continues to grow.”

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