Digital Hope and Love for Christmas Angels

In a year of a pandemic, new challenges rose to the challenge for a young Salvation Army in Romania and its Angel Tree Campaign. Limiting contact with each other, meeting an increasing need for assistance and decreases in giving due to the overwhelming uncertainty week to week, we had our 5 major goals for Angel Tree 2020:

  1. Build a virtual platform solution.
  2. Increase brand and campaign awareness to the public.
  3. Create an internal Angel Tree database of records.
  4. Strategize future digital campaigns through our Christmas campaigns.
  5. Reach 100% Angel Tree sponsorship.

With Angel Tree Romania only in it’s 3rd year, still an infant in this annual campaign for The Salvation Army, we needed to find a reliable strategy to achieve our goal of reaching 100% sponsorship, all while also trying to increase the number of children registered this year and while witnessing a decrease in initial sponsorships through partners.

We rely heavily on schools who partner with us for Angel Tree, but the current restrictions closed all schools throughout Romania, hitting us hard with success prior to launching the Angel Tree 2020 campaign.

Back in late summer we began research into various platforms that would be able to achieve a virtual experience, and settled on a template made by G-Lab Group and The Salvation Army Kentucky and Tennessee Division in the USA. After developing and implementing the setup, we began creating our strategy. Through this we were able to find a solution that allowed us to quickly adapt week to week between virtual and physical, ultimately relying on the virtual platform and increasing digital marketing.

We knew the need to utilize the virtual platform was becoming our most hopeful solution, and the idea is simple, transitioning the experience of a traditional physical tree and bringing it online, a transition all too known this year (physical to virtual). We identified and registered the angels from around Romania, our own locations and partner charities as well, logged everything into a new internal database for coordinating the latest progress and collaboration with internal staff to keep things on track, as well as provide effective communication as needed, and analyze the data to optimize digital marketing and strategies.

For the experience to the sponsors it’s still magical, the public can access the site, filter by gender or age if they prefer, and ‘adopt’ (sponsor) their angel (child), or multiple. They’ll receive automated messages to inform them of their angel’s wishes, as well as gentle reminders if they maybe lost track amidst the chaotic holiday season. They then visit their preferred place to shop, online or in person, and purchase the angel’s wishes, we all know that fulfilling experience of shopping for our angels, it’s a feeling that is never replaced. Once finished shopping for their gifts, they simply send it to us either dropping off in person or delivery through a courier or post to our office, and the week leading up to Christmas, we’ll sort and distribute to the families around Romania.

Joining us to donate expertise and their time assisting us in digital marketing was re7consulting, a marketing firm in Romania, Germany and other parts of the EU. Supporting us with trending keywords and creating ads and optimizing them, we successfully saw an increase in website traffic and search results via Google. There’s still more room to grow for us, but in a Communication & Development Department consisting of 1, we found better strategies to achieve our KPIs.

Lots of planning and development went into logistics for how to promote, digitally and physically, partnerships and individual connections and creating a reliable platform for Angel Tree Romania. Within the first week we already reached 40% of the virtual sponsorships and had a promise of 125 by the US Army, where they graciously setup a physical tree. We’re eager to see how the remainder of the season performs, but we couldn’t do it without support from our partners and accessibility to amazing technology.

So what are you waiting for? Go visit and sponsor an angel and/or donate financially to help cover the costs of the campaign or ‘forgotten angels’ (angels who’s sponsors forgot to return gifts, or angels that didn’t get sponsored). Together we Rescue Christmas!

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