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Case Study

Northern Illinois Food Bank

In the wake of COVID-19, Northern Illinois Food Bank began serving 50% more people than before. Giving Tuesday was the opportunity to use targeted email campaigns to acquire more donations and further relationships with current donors.

By the


Raised, not including match incentives


Increase in Giving Tuesday gifts


Email open rates or higher

By the


$461K raised, not including match incentives


72% increase in Giving Tuesday gifts


25% email open rates or higher

The Challenge

Northern Illinois Food Bank serves 13 counties in northern Illinois (excluding Chicago), including everything from some of the country's wealthiest suburbs to some of the most rural areas and farmland in the Midwest. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the organization is serving 50% more people than it did before 2019. Moreover, the economic turbulence of recent years has led to a perfect storm: greater need, increased food costs, but fewer monetary and food donations.

Giving Tuesday presented an opportunity to get some much-needed cash and further relationships with current donors. The team built on what has worked in previous years, let data guide their outreach, and took storytelling cues from public media to resonate with as many donors as possible. 

Specifically, the food bank utilized match incentives, which the fundraising team divided up and put a time limit on. The pre-Giving Tuesday match was only good until Tuesday morning, Then, there was a mid-day match that ended at 5 p.m. Finally, the team saved its largest match for those who check their email in the evening. Upon analyzing the campaign results, the team saw that giving peaked each time a new match was announced.


We knew something had to change. We needed new strategies and tactics for stewarding and retaining our existing donors. The need in our communities is as great as it was during the pandemic, but giving hasn't kept pace. Last year was a soft year for fundraising, and as a result, we've been playing catch-up for a while. We knew we needed to address this with our Giving Tuesday campaign. With help from Allegiance Group, we listened to our data and took a new approach to our messaging. And this year, our donors stepped up! This was a much-needed win that will enable us to continue our important work. 

Steve Christensen
Director of Annual Fund and Donor Relations, Northern Illinois Food Bank

The Solution

  • Email campaign that included an “early access” email on Friday, Nov. 24, five emails on Giving Tuesday, and a “thank you” email on Wednesday, Nov. 29.  Sustainers were included in one of the Giving Tuesday emails, with sustainer-specific language.
  • Social media campaign that ran Friday, Nov. 24, through Wednesday, Nov. 29
  • A telethon-style approach to messaging that sought to increase awareness and excitement
  • Data outlining the best days and times to send messages
  • Suppressed donors who had given and high-value donors to maintain strong relationships


Emails and Ads


#GT email 1
#GT email 3
#GT email 4

The Results

  • $461,650 raised, not including match incentives
  • 72% increase in Giving Tuesday gifts
  • Email open rates of 25% or higher
  • 14 donors signed up for monthly giving — an all-time high

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