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Helping the National Center for Learning Disabilities Share the Love

We’ve been working closely with the National Center for Learning Disabilities to help them leverage their online presence and increase their online donations.  To kickoff 2011, we wanted to build a tool that gives back to the thousands of supporters who help NCLD with their contributions in time, money, and efforts. 

We decided a fun and meaningful project would be a tool that allowed visitors to send a customized Valentine’s Day eCard that features artwork by a student with a learning disability.

NCLD was excited about the project and gave us a greenlight to design and develop the tool.

Building the Application

We don’t manage the NCLD server, so in order to be able to build the eCard page quickly and manage it, we elected to build the page on our own server and point a subdomain (ecard.ld.org) at us.  This approach allowed us to focus 100% of our energy on designing and building the best tool possible without having to worry about navigating potential technical issues.

The process of launching the page was really split into three phases:

  1. Designing and coding the landing page
  2. Designing and coding the card that would be sent to people
  3. Developing the application that would send the card

We wanted the design of the landing page to be extremely clean and allow visitors to easily take action.  The point of the page is to help people understand the tool and let them send cards to their friends – we didn’t want to overwhelm visitors with competing calls to action or takeaway from the purpose of this application.

For the actual eCard, we wanted to have a festive Valentine’s Day feel, which meant heavy on pink and red.  Similar to the landing page, we wanted the card to have a clean design, putting the main emphasis on the sender’s message and the selected artwork.  Additionally, within the card, we have links back to the site to encourage recipients to send their own cards, giving an opportunity of the campaign to have a domino effect as recipients become senders.

After we had completed the designs, the actual application was created using web standards and the Slim PHP 5 micro framework. Website visitors enter a personalized message and select artwork to send with their eCards. The web application dynamically builds a custom email eCard based on the sender's message and selected artwork and dispatches the email to the intended recipient.

After designing and developing the application, we had the NCLD technical team point the subdomain at our server to instantaneously take the project live.

Promoting It

Everyone at NCLD and NMC were very excited about the application and the fun it could bring to their supporters.  The next step was making sure that we got the word out about the tool to ensure that it got put to good use and spread around.  To promote the tool, we're leveraging three main tactics:

  1. Email marketing
  2. Social Media
  3. LD.org traffic

To initially announce the new eCard application, NCLD placed a note about it in their monthly newsletter to supporters, encouraging the group to check it out and send cards to their friends and family.  This email blast just included a blurb about the tool among other notes, but we also have scheduled a blast to go out on Valentine's day morning that alerts the NCLD email list about the project.

In addition to the email list, NCLD is using their social media presences to push supporters to the tool.  The non-profit has a following of more than 1,800 people between Facebook and Twitter.  This audience will be very valuable in spreading word about the landing page, as they're passionate about NCLD and are active in social media with their own networks.

Our third tactic to promote the Valentine's eCard is to place a button in the sidebar of NCLD's homepage. By doing so, regular and new visitors looking for information on the website will become aware of the campaign.

Magnifying the Campaign's Impact

As we continue to scale out the campaign we'll also be gathering valuable data that will measure its success. When analyzing the data, we'll not only be looking to see how many people send an ecard, but also if our subtle encouragement to take further action is effective. The theme of caring that is carried throughout the campaign also seeks to subtly encourage visitors to become more involved and donate to the center. So while our main focus is on the ecard itself we're also hoping to see the campaign serve as a catalyst for newsletter sign-ups and donations.

We're really excited to be a part of this initiative and we encourage you to send a card and support the National Center for Learning Disabilities.

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