Help a beloved charitable organization bounce back from the pandemic with a fresh, new WordPress site optimized for engagement and easy fundraiser and donation options.
XWP’s design and development expertise combined with WP Engine’s enterprise WordPress platform for speed, security, and scalability.
Full return to pre-pandemic fundraising levels with a modern website built for growth. On Good Friday 2021, the site saw an 81% increase in traffic, a 91% increase in sessions, and a 145% increase in session duration. Meanwhile, Average Page Load Time has decreased by nearly 40% and Average Page Download Time has decreased by nearly 60%.
Good Friday Appeal is a charity that raises money for the Royal Children's Hospital in Melbourne, Australia, enabling it to provide world-class care to children and their families. The Appeal brings all sectors of the community together to raise funds throughout the year, culminating in an annual telethon on Good Friday.
XWP is a performance-centered web agency that crafts custom, enterprise solutions to meet business needs. A WP Engine Agency Partner, XWP approaches every project with a performance mindset, ensuring that your project performs for you, your users, and your team.
"One of the great things about working with WP Engine is that our team was able to fully focus on the design and development of this project without having to worry about server configurations or security compliance. WP Engine covers all that.”
—Amit Sion, Chief Revenue Officer, XWP
Meeting Disruption With a Digital Solution
There’s never a good time for disruption, but the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic in early 2020 was particularly untimely for Good Friday Appeal.
Founded in 1931 and one of Australia’s longest-running charities, Good Friday Appeal has grown into a network of giving and charitable events around the country, but true to its name, its Good Friday telethon remains the organization’s largest fundraising push every autumn.
With lockdowns in effect around the world and the ongoing transition to digital for everything from grocery shopping to religious services, Good Friday Appeal’s traditional telethon model, which was focused on phone lines and physical cash payments, saw a downturn in 2020, prompting the organization to look for help in creating a more modern, digital donation and fundraising experience.
WP Engine Strategic Partner, XWP was tapped for the project, which included a full redesign and rebuild of Good Friday Appeal’s legacy website to simplify the user journey, encourage the digital donation process, and enhance internal team use of WordPress.
“We wanted to create something that was highly performant and highly efficient,” said Amit Sion, Chief Revenue Officer at XWP.
“Our strategy focused on the best practices to help shift the organization. We needed to build the right user experience that made it easier for people to get to the clear elements: What is the charity and who does it help? Where does the money go? And how do they make a donation?”
Working with their dedicated agency team at WP Engine, XWP was able to focus on the redesign and rebuild while checking off needed boxes around platform security and scalability.
“One of the great things about working with WP Engine is that our team was able to fully focus on the design and development of this project without having to worry about server configurations or security compliance,” Sion said. “WP Engine covers all that.”
Appealing to Donors, Wherever They Are
UX improvements were focused on streamlining the online donation process while helping to clarify the purpose of those donations across the site.
A “Donate” button was added to the top of the website (in addition to other donation gateways), integrations with BigCommerce and PayPal were completed for easier payments, and personal stories were added across the site, bringing to life volunteer activities and improvements to hospital patients’ well-being. To meet more donors online with an optimal digital experience, XWP also focused heavily on mobile users and the way they would interact with the new site.
“We know that mobile traffic is up across all sectors,” Sion said, “but what became clear as we were working on this project, was that mobile was an excellent channel for boosting donations, specifically through the telethon.”
While desktop and mobile users were greeted with a sleek new static site, the XWP team worked hand-in-hand with WP Engine to embed the live telethon into the mobile experience, giving users the ability to track donations in real-time, with a prompt to donate on their phones or call-in to the telethon directly.
“This created a psychological connection so that when users see the telethon on their phone, they're also seeing how the numbers are tracking, how they're trending up, and how they're able to make that donation,” Sion said.
Additionally, XWP empowered Good Friday Appeal’s internal team with more intuitive user flows, leaning on the WordPress block editor for easier content creation. The site’s PHP and other back-end code were also optimized for performance.
“Having a great organization at the heart of this project played a major role in its success,” Sion said, “and with a modern, digital approach that aligns with the new realities we’re encountering, it all came together really well.”
With all of the improvements added well ahead of Good Friday 2021, XWP was able to deliver a seamless finished product that began generating higher traffic immediately, leading up to Good Friday Appeal’s live telethon.
On Good Friday itself, the site experienced record-breaking traffic with zero downtime, resulting in more than $17 million raised, aligning with the organization’s pre-pandemic donation level.
Traffic on the site mirrored this digital donation trend. In the chart below, which shows site analytics for 2019 (the last pre-COVID fundraising period) compared to 2021, it's clear to see how much more traffic flowed through the site concurrently in 2021, with the most extreme hourly spikes equaling as much traffic as the site might experience in one whole day.
For 2021, all session and user numbers were up over the two-year period. The number of users increased by 81%, with a 91% increase in Sessions.
Finally, session duration increased by 145%. Traffic nearly tripled during the busiest hour of the appeal (8 pm on Friday), aligning with conversion data (a direct increase in donations on the website).
In short, the new strategy not only worked, but WP Engine’s platform also ensured the site was ready for audiences to come.
In addition to the massive growth in users, analytics also show users’ Average Page Load Time decreased by 38%, and Average Page Download Time decreased by a whopping 59.1%.
“This is one day out of the year when the charity tallies the majority of its annual funding,” Sion said. “And not only did the site work perfectly, it provided an optimized user experience that really exemplifies the collaboration between WP Engine and XWP.”
As a result of the successful project, the relationship between XWP and Good Friday Appeal has also blossomed, with the agency now working on next phases of the web project.
Additionally, a few XWP team members supported Good Friday Appeal initiatives directly, with the XWP's CEO and CRO joining for the Neil's Wheel fundraiser. XWP aligned with the mission to transform the non-profit to fit the modern fundraising era.
“Going beyond the pandemic, people simply don't carry coins anymore,” Sion said. “They’re engaging differently with charities, and for Good Friday Appeal to stay relevant, they had to embrace technology in order to adjust."
"I’m thankful that XWP, together with WP Engine, was able to provide the solution this great organization required to succeed.”