Lifeline Engages Supporters with Communications that Hit the Mark

Lifeline Engages Supporters with Communications that Hit the Mark

While suicide is the leading cause of death for Australians aged 15 to 44, it hasn’t always received the attention it needs – either in policy or in public discourse. Times however are changing, with media and governments focusing more on the need for mental health and suicide prevention programs.

Lifeline & Pareto Fundraising’s two-step suicide prevention campaign, launched in March 2016, played a role in pushing for change – and delivered some pretty good fundraising results too.

We wanted to share some insights and results with you.


How it worked

Step 1An online petition calling on the Australian government to increase funding for suicide prevention. The petition was promoted to new audiences via a mix of paid and organic social media communications with a focus on Facebook, the winning channel for lead acquisition, and Instagram.

Step 2: Petition signers who opted in were taken on an integrated fundraising conversion journey involving telephone conversion, an automated email stream and remarketed advertising.



948 regular givers (RGs) acquired at a cost of $344 per RG; 724 cash gifts totalling $50,000; average telephone conversion rate of over 7.5%, and lower attrition rates so far than from other channels.

Crucially, Lifeline acquired tens of thousands of new leads who are engaged with its mission.

We know from previous experience that so long as these people are kept engaged and given compelling opportunities to donate, many more will become donors in subsequent months and years – so there’s future income here.

But the results aren’t just financial.

Public support led to the announcement of the development of Australia’s first suicide prevention plan and several new government-funded suicide prevention trial sites across New South Wales.

It also helped Lifeline to secure $2.5 million for a new crisis SMS support service.

“The campaign helped to deliver a spike in Lifeline volunteer interest, and broad, active exposure for the Lifeline brand,” says Stephanie Chan, Lifeline Australia

“It also uncovered new leads for case studies that will support our fundraising and communications efforts far into the future. And we gained a lot of valuable information about supporters through their online engagement.”

This campaign also ensured that suicide prevention remain at the forefront of public policy agenda. These were great results from a viable new acquisition channel for Lifeline.


What made Lifeline’s 2-step digital campaign work?

Strong proposition and motivators The calls on the Australian government to increase suicide prevention funding in line with other funding areas presents a strong theory of change; a convincing argument that the government can solve the problem and is accountable to constituents (the campaign audience). Funding allocation is also easy for the audience to understand. Supporters knew exactly how taking this action will help solve the problem.

Underlying this, important motivators are at play: relevanceself-interest and agitation for change. 

Relevance: Frequent media coverage and public conversation about mental health reflect the issues’ relevance to Australians today. With a highly relevant and present issue, the public is prepared to respond when presented with a tangible action they can take to help.

Self interest: The issue of suicide is shockingly relevant to Australian communities directly impacted by it. These communities have a strong interest in solving the problem, and a driving need for their experience to be heard and acted upon by policymakers.

Agitation for change: Dissonance between what the Government could do and what it is doing creates a space where we can build agitation for change and mobilise it through our petition.

Awesome creative We didn’t have a rich range of visual assets to work with, however a simple focus on real individuals, strong infographics and hard-working copy delivered the results.

While avoiding disrespect to the government (which substantially funds Lifeline programs), the messaging pulled no punches and drove home the issue’s importance, with tactics like:

  • Framing a ‘national suicide emergency’
  • Key facts high up in the copy with text emphasised. (eg suicide is the leading cause of death for 15-44 year olds)
  • Highlighting unfulfilled government commitments – pushing for their fulfilment gave donors the chance to solve the problem.

The first few words of every creative asset need to strike hard in digital campaigns. Toning down impactful language is the enemy of direct response – especially on busy social news feeds and web pages already saturated with marketing messages.


Committed campaigning So much of this campaign’s success rode on total organisational commitment. Genuine adoption from the CEO to the supporter relations, media and communications teams meant this was a real whole-of-organisation effort.

It earned more free press, had a solid presence on the organisational website and other channels, and integrated tightly to support direct government advocacy.

Committed, whole-of-organisation campaigning delivers better results and supports a more collaborative culture amongst teams.


Tight channel integration There are many moving parts to a campaign involving social media, display network advertising, web pages, email campaigns and journeys, phone calling, search and more.

To succeed, your channels must support each other… your messaging and creative must align through every supporter touch point.

And the supporter journey must be mapped out in detail and executed well. Good integration delivered solid results for this campaign. 


Responsiveness and opportunism Digital campaigns are living things that thrive when kept agile and responsive to real world events and opportunities.

One such opportunity occurred in March 2017, when Lifeline secured a meeting between its CEO and Federal Minister for Health, Greg Hunt.

We found out on a Thursday that the meeting was happening the following Monday. We were at 135,000 signatures, and wanted to reach the 150,000 target for presentation to Minister Hunt, so we jumped into production, crunching out social content and an email to petition signers before the weekend, asking them to share again.

The content focused heavily on the moment – the 150,000 target and the opportunity to present it in discussion with the Federal Health Minister.

Those communications helped us exceed the 150,000 target by the day of the meeting.

Lifeline achieved 10% of the whole 12 months’ worth of signatures in just three days. This is the power of mobilising online communities around a real moment.

You can do it too! All non-profits can use digital channels to build community, generate leads and develop donor relationships. From surveys and quizzes to petitions, pledges, polls, send-a-message actions, value exchanges etc., the possibilities for action and proposition are endless.

All you need is the organisational buy-in, investment and a bit of support. The rewards – in terms of community growth, donor acquisition and funding to advance your goals – can be great.

Contact to find out more about how a two-step campaign could work for your cause.