case study • American Diabetes Association

Despite Challenges, the American Diabetes Association Has a Banner Year

What we did

  • Strategy Assessment
  • Deliverability Monitoring
  • Master Template System
  • Creative Recommendations
about vectors
3xIncrease in donor revenue for End-of-Year digital campaign
90% Increase in December donations via email
Record-breakingGiving Tuesday campaign results

The American Diabetes Association® (ADA) is a national non-profit with a mission to prevent and cure diabetes and to improve the lives of all people affected by diabetes. The ADA consists of a network of almost 530,000 volunteers, a professional society of 17,000 health care professionals, and approximately 250 staff members.

The Brief

The Brief

There’s no two ways about it: 2020 was a tough one. As we all adjusted to life in the time of COVID-19, many businesses and households found themselves tightening their belts. For non-profits that rely on donations, times of hardship are often accompanied by a drop in charitable giving.

Here’s how a bit of innovation helped the ADA turn things around and end 2020 on a high note.

The Story

When Trendline initially engaged with the ADA in the first half of 2020, the organization faced a number of the same challenges that many other non-profits were experiencing due to the pandemic. The number of donors was already down over the previous year, as was the overall engagement of its email audience.

Trendline conducted an audit of the ADA’s existing email program and soon found a few fundamental issues. Deliverability rates had fallen, and Trendline determined this was likely due—at least in part—to the ADA’s use of a particular email template commonly employed by not-for-profit organizations. This template is heavy on text and internal links, and generally not ideal from a user-experience perspective.

The ADA team had limited tools for mitigating deliverability issues. Despite the team’s proactive approach to reducing the risk of bounces by maintaining list-hygiene on an ongoing basis, the manual nature of the process consumed precious resources. Its use of multiple Email Service Providers (ESPs) only compounded the problem, as an inability for the platforms to communicate natively with one another made it overly difficult to segment the ADA’s email lists. These issues resulted in reduced reputation scoring, limited inbox placement, and less-than-ideal engagement rates.

Trendline’s first order of business was to implement deliverability services and proactively monitor blacklists, spam, traps, and sender reputation.

At the same time, Trendline’s Creative Department set about modernizing and customizing the ADA’s email template system. They created drag-and-drop templates for both of the ADA’s ESPs, so the client could be self-sufficient at some point in the near future. They also implemented dark mode compatibility, along with optimizing the amount and types of content necessary to improve the UX design.

The Story

The Results

The results were both dramatic and swift. The non-profit saw significant improvements regarding deliverability issues. The ADA’s end-of-year campaign generated three times the revenue via email over the same period in 2019. In December alone, the ADA saw a 90% increase in email donations compared to the previous year. The organization’s annual Giving Tuesday campaign in 2020 outperformed 2019’s as well as 2018’s, setting a new record for the organization.

With powerful, automated list-segmentation tools now at their disposal, the ADA saw an approximately 60% increase in donations through its email funnel.

In fact, 85% of the ADA’s email-fundraising donations for 2020 came in the second half of the calendar year. Given how much harder hit by COVID-19 that time period was compared to the first half of the year, these results are quite remarkable and a testament to the great work accomplished by the ADA and Trendline partnership.


I’m very proud of the resulting Q4 email fundraising metrics, which saw improvements in all but one category (even managing to generate more click-throughs while sending fewer emails). The resulting fundraising performance based on our revenue numbers further highlights how critical these efforts were. Overall, the numbers are fantastic, with consistent improvements in key metrics such as delivery rates, hard bounces, and click-through rates. ”

Dave Aimone

ADA Managing Director, Data Analytics and Marketing Technology

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