M+R began working with Oxfam America in February 2002, when the organization had no capacity for online advocacy and an email list comprised largely of job seeking applicants. Since then, we have helped Oxfam grow its email list from 4,000 to more than 440,000 people and raise more than $81 million online. This funding is critical for Oxfam to continue its amazing mission for people in the world’s poorest countries.

Over ten years of working with Oxfam, what are the strategies that have contributed to the organization’s enormous success? There are more than you probably care to read about. But here are a few of our favorites:

Building an Email List. M+R has helped Oxfam make smart investments in list growth. We negotiate and manage hundreds of thousands of dollars of paid online acquisition, then conduct in-depth return-on-investment analyses of both online and offline giving by new members. We work closely with Oxfam to help set recruitment budgets informed by these analyses, breaking out multiple investment scenarios with long-term fundraising projections for each scenario.

Online Fundraising Campaigns. Over the years, M+R has helped Oxfam America run many successful online fundraising campaigns, including:

  • Haiti Relief Campaign. M+R helped Oxfam raise nearly $7 million online in response to the devastating earthquake in Haiti in January 2010 through emails – including a rapid-response message that went out within hours of the earthquake – text messaging, personal fundraising, multiple homepage promotions and a lightbox on OxfamAmerica.org, numerous Facebook promotions, an aggressive keyword program on Google and Yahoo, and paid list buys organized immediately after the earthquake. We also brokered relationships with non-relief organizations to promote Oxfam’s donation page to their communities, including MoveOn.org, Facebook Causes, Al Gore’s Alliance for Climate Protection, Change.org, Good magazine, Faithful America, and others.
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  • Tsunami Campaign Earned Promotion. M+R helped Oxfam raise more than $14 million online for the tsunami relief effort in 2004, raising Oxfam’s online profile to an unprecedented degree. More than 35 online outlets agreed to run ads, place links or write about Oxfam’s relief efforts, including major outlets like Salon.com, FinancialTimes.com, and Overstock.com. M+R also coordinated corporate donations, placed search engine ads and promoted candlelight vigils to engage supporters.
  • Oxfam America Unwrapped. M+R has helped make Oxfam’s gift program a success through an email strategy that includes constant testing and optimization of formats, price points, and conditional content, coupled with ongoing donor surveys. This program now raises over $1 million for Oxfam annually, and continues to grow every year.
  • Annual Matching Gift and End of Year Campaigns. Every year, M+R helps implement major campaigns integrated with Oxfam’s direct mail program. These campaigns pull out all the stops – from lightboxes that take over Oxfam’s homepage, to aggressive keyword advertising, to experimentation with giving forms and testing new approaches in fundraising emails. These campaigns now account for more than $2 million for Oxfam each year.


Converting Offline Supporters to Online Giving. M+R works with Oxfam and its direct mail firm to coordinate multichannel strategies that treat supporters in a consistent, holistic way – improving both initial returns and long-term retention. We conducted pioneering analyses of efforts to acquire email addresses of direct mail donors via commercial list appends, and we established unique URLs for direct mail efforts and carefully tracked results. For years, we’ve used direct mail data to inform our online audiences – and now, M+R is helping Oxfam use online data for targeting in telemarketing and direct mail audiences as well.

Partnering for Offline Recruitment. M+R has also helped Oxfam America capitalize on partnerships with Coldplay and other bands, where volunteers gather petition signatures and email addresses at concerts. M+R has worked with Oxfam America to develop and test variations on a three-week welcome series for these recruits. Tests proved the most effective strategy was a highly personalized welcome series which acknowledged the source of the recruits (as opposed to online recruits, for whom mentioning their source depressed response).

Revving Up Monthly Giving. M+R has worked with Oxfam to test and standardize a monthly giving appeal series sent out to low-dollar donors within 31-120 days of their gift. M+R has also integrated monthly giving conversion techniques into the giving process – like an “upsell lightbox” (shown to the right) and a “make it monthly” checkbox. Without increasing email volume, this has converted a growing portion of Oxfam’s single-gift donors into Oxfam’s growing community of over 21,000 monthly donors.

Engaging in Online Advocacy. M+R has helped Oxfam take its online advocacy program to the next level – running campaigns, training Oxfam staff in online writing and online-offline organizing, and driving supporters to Oxfam’s volunteer structure. Oxfam’s advocacy work has been effective both at engaging supporters and driving real-world change, helping increase transparency in deals between US energy companies and foreign governments, getting tobacco companies to improve conditions for workers, and pressuring Congress to preserve (and improve) funding for foreign aid.