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February 2, 2012 / Ben Simon

Mozilla 2011 End-of-Year Fundraising Campaign Report

In December 2011, Mozilla undertook its first concerted end-of-year (EOY) fundraising campaign. With incredible cross-organizational support, we were far more successful than even our most optimistic goals beforehand. In the month of December, we raised $204,000, and an additional $15,000 or so has come in since January 1st from EOY pushes.

The biggest piece of the EOY campaign was the animated video we put together which can be seen at The numbers discussed below all refer to pushes to that page, though about $40k in additional donations came in through the Join page, the t-shirt campaign, and others.

Along the way, there were pushes from all major Firefox channels, along with frequent promotions to our own base of supporters.

For us, the biggest takeaway from the results of this campaign is that when we’re in channel with a chance to tell our story in an understandable way, we can be successful – even with a not-yet-initiated audience.

However, we also saw that the more space & time we had to tell that story, the more successful we were: our own emails, which featured a multi-part arc, were the most successful channel in terms of dollars raised per impression, followed by the FF email list, with the snippet and social media behind. Interestingly, the snippet was far more successful overall than social media, which does track with the results most organizations see when trying to fundraise directly on Facebook and Twitter. While social media can be an effective tool for many things, fundraising effectively on it remains a not-yet-perfected art.

Going a step further, here’s what’s contained in this report:

  • Top-line results by communication channel
  • Some of the takeaways from the different tests we ran
  • Breakdown of more in-depth results for email & snippet communication channels

Channel-by-channel results


Due to the sample sizes and other constraints in different channels, the only ones in which we were able to conduct true A/B tests were the about:home snippet and the FF & You newsletter.

Snippet tests

The following snippets were tested against each other at one point or another:

Test 1

Snippet A: Watch <link>The Mozilla Story</link> to see how we’re shaping the Web and <link>how you can help!</link>

Snippet B: Watch <link>The Mozilla Story</link> and help us keep the Web a constantly evolving source for innovation.

Results: Snippet B had fewer clicks through to the video, but a statistically significantly greater number of donations.

Takeaways: Nothing too concrete here, except the wording of the second ask provides a bit more meat on what the user will be doing – helping us keep the web a constantly evolving source for innovation rather than just “how they can help” shape the web.

Test 2

Snippet B: Watch <link>The Mozilla Story</link> and help us keep the Web a constantly evolving source for innovation.

Snippet C: Help Mozilla keep the Web a place where anyone can dream, discover and create. <link>Make a donation by Dec. 31st.</link>

Snippet D: See how Mozilla is keeping the Web a force for good in the world — <link>and help us keep it up by making a year-end donation today!</link>

Results: We expected Snippets C & D to outperform B due the direct nature of the ask; the expected result would be fewer clicks on C & D, but more donations from them. That result held with C – it had ~1/4 the clicks of B, but twice the donations. However, D generated about the same number of clicks as C, but fewer donations than B.

Takeaways: Here, there are two factors that could lead C to outperform D – one is the specific date as the deadline, which makes it a bit more tangible, and the other is the “dream, discover and create” language, as compared to the “force for good in the world” wording. Helpfully, this matches precisely with where the Foundation is heading in the coming year.

Test 3

Snippet B: Watch <link>The Mozilla Story</link> and help us keep the Web a constantly evolving source for innovation.

Snippet F: Know the Mozilla story? How we’re a non-profit that puts you first? <link>Watch this quick video to learn more.</link>

Results: Snippet B significantly outperformed Snippet F on both clicks and donations.

Takeways: The difference was likely because there was a bit more substance to B, instead of just questions.

Test 4

Snippet C: Help Mozilla keep the Web a place where anyone can dream, discover and create. <link>Make a donation by Dec. 31st.</link>

Snippet E: Mozilla is a non-profit dedicated to keeping the Web awesome. <link>Help us make it happen. Donate today.</link>

Results: These snippets were roughly equal in their clicks generated, but C generated about 1.5X the number of donations as E.

Takeaways: Hard to draw any specific conclusions, other than the “dream, discover and create” language continuing to resonate.

Firefox email test

In this send, we were able to test three subject lines against each other. They were:

  1. The force behind Firefox
  2. Thank you for all you do
  3. Help Mozilla protect the web

Results: “The force behind Firefox” vastly outperformed the other two (fewer unsubscribes, 50% more donations), and “Thank you for all you do” did slightly better than “Help Mozilla protect the web.”

Takeaways: For this audience, tying the ask back to their reference point – Firefox – was absolutely crucial.


It’s hard to draw too many conclusions from these tests, but the few that seem sound are:

  • Providing a more tangible ask is better than trying to be mysterious
  • If using a deadline, provide the specific date, even if it’s a common day
  • The specific wording of the web as a place where people can “dream, discover and create” resonated more than the wording of the web as a “force for good in the world”
  • With the Firefox audience, it’s important to tie the ask back to their reference point as much as possible

Fuller Results

Here’s a more in-depth breakdown of results from email and snippets, followed by a bit of summary of each one. A few metrics to define at the top:

  • Clicks: Number of clicks on the main link
  • Click %: Number of clicks / Number of recipients
  • Response %: Number of donations / Number of recipients
  • Unsubs: Number of recipients who unsubscribed in response to the email
  • Donations / Unsubs: The ratio of donations to unsubs in response to an email. This can be a crucial monitoring metric to gauge relative success of an email. As a rule of thumb, a donations/unsubs rate of 1:2 for non-donors is good, and of 2:1 for donors is good.
  • Conversion %: Clicks through to the page / number of donations

Firefox email

By far the most valuable channel for this campaign was the Firefox & You newsletter list. The EOY campaign & story video was promoted twice to this audience – in the December newsletter on 12/15, and in a standalone email from mark Surman on 12/28 (subject line tests) & 12/29 (main send).

Here are results from those sends:

The biggest takeaway for me from these results is that they were pretty great, especially for a non-donor/consumer-oriented list. They showed an appetite from this list to be told the story of what we at Mozilla are doing – and the story of how they’re doing something good just by using Firefox.

On the level of the most important metrics, the response rate and donation/unsubscribe ratio were both *very* good when compared with industry benchmarks to large lists of non-donors. I would have been very happy to see a response rate around 0.10% and a donation/unsub rate of 0.5. Instead, we saw a 0.15% response rate and a 0.8 donation/unsub rate!

The promotion in the December newsletter was less successful, as we’d expect when it’s put alongside a bunch of other content, with less space to tell a compelling story and make the case for giving – but it stands up fairly well to other results we’ve seen in that channel.

About:Home snippet

The homepage snippet was also tremendously important for the success of this campaign – including 100% snippet saturation in the final week of 2011.

Here are the results, split up by snippet and wave of rotation:

These were discussed a fair bit in the “testing” section above. A few things worth noting in addition:

  • The low conversion rate is somewhat concerning, but it was much higher off of snippets with direct asks. This is in part a limitation of the medium – hard to tell a bit of story and make an ask in so little space — and partly a function of this being the first time a lot of folks were exposed to the idea of us as an organization that needs donor support.
  • We certainly could have upped the total raised off of this channel by going with a “only direct ask” approach, but the strategy was also about long-term storytelling and cultivation, which was the reason for the large variety of approaches.
  • Overall, the level of traffic that the snippet can drive is absolutely staggering. Working at Mozilla is awesome.

Join list emails

We sent four different emails to our own lists, with tailored content to folks who came in through SOPA (and actually only sent three to SOPA folks), and different ask amounts for donors and non-donors.

The first, on 12/8, had no direct asks – it discussed the story video along with some other things coming up (specifically the Ignite Project and the Learning, Freedom and the Web book.

The first direct fundraiser was on 12/21, with subsequent pushes on 12/26 (not to SOPA-only folks), and a final one on 12/31.

Here are the results:

We definitely saw the strongest results off of the first appeal, which isn’t too surprising. This audience had by far the best conversion rate of any major source of traffic, which I’d expect – every visitor who came through (except for the first email) did so from an explicit ask, made in long-form.

Overall, we definitely had the strongest “performance per impression” on this channel. That’s the main reason why it’s so important for us to continue building a strong list – it allows long-term narrative arc and a building story, rather than one-off touches.

Final Thoughts

Overall, we were thrilled with these results. In a single month, we raised more than we ever had before in a year. We shattered our goals for overall 2011 fundraising, and this is what did it.

Many thanks first, to everyone who donated to support our work! And tons of thanks to all the folks in User Engagement who helped promote this, and to the great people at Thought bubble, who produced the video.

Still reading? If you’ve any questions, thoughts, or concerns, please let me know in comments.


Leave a Comment
  1. Kathleen M / Feb 23 2012 11:28 am

    Can you ell me what agency you used to create The Mozilla Story animation?

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  1. Join Mozilla update: 2/10/12 « Engaging Openly
  2. 2012 End-of-Year (EOY) Fundraising Update « Engaging Openly

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