Our work: Operation Smile

Recruiting new donors with data driven strategy

Experience: Engagement and acquisition

Founded in 1982, Operation Smile is one of the oldest and largest volunteer-based organisations dedicated to improving the lives of children born with cleft lip and cleft palate worldwide, providing hundreds of thousands of safe surgeries.


Cross channel digital marketing strategy

Operation Smile needed to grow the brand awareness and visibility of their valuable, life-changing work amongst target audiences.

To create a successful digital marketing programme Manifesto carefully established the correct digital parameters to capture an audience with a high propensity to give. Our team then needed to create an approach to facilitate clear, frictionless digital donor journeys, to successfully recruit new donors. 

To do this, Manifesto developed a cross channel always-on campaign strategy that spanned Facebook ads, Google and Bing paid search, Google Grants and Google Display.

The campaign approach balanced targeted awareness with prospective target audiences, whilst re-capturing highly relevant site visitors through targeted remarketing.

The prospective audiences followed two main approaches: lookalikes and interests. Manifesto focussed on raising the average value per gift which involved the creation of several different cuts of donors, with a focus on higher-value donors. Our team developed these data lists to build lookalike audiences. For interest-based audiences we identified relevant targeting groups with specific demographics and interests that most aligned with Operation Smile’s core audience and charitable purpose.


Developing a digital testing program to optimise conversions

At Manifesto, we don’t rest on best practices alone, we let data lead our digital strategy allowing us to make continuous improvements to our digital marketing campaigns, reacting to external factors as and when they arise. 

We worked with the team at Operation Smile to understand the full donor journey and examine those journeys to identify points of friction.

This involved an extensive testing plan, first optimising the conversion rate by focusing on the optimum content, length and structure of the landing page. The team then focused on the creative approach, testing the effect of different patients and copy sentiment.


Improving the rate of conversion by 114%

On-site donation journeys

Through a series of informed changes resulting in a redesigned landing page and optimising the on-site digital donation journey, we were able to increase the conversion rate by 114% for the test compared from the year to date average. 

Patient testing

Using Facebook’s split testing tool, we tested the effect of different patients on ROAS using a variety of emotive patient imagery. The results of this test increased the ROAS by 9% from the year to date average. 

Messaging testing

Typically, Operation Smile’s messaging sentiment had been a mixture of descriptive and emotive calls to action to support their work. By testing the effect message sentiment on ad copy for search, we increased the average conversion rate by 173% from the year to date average.


“It’s been a real pleasure to work with the team at Manifesto for the past number of years. In 2018 we approached them with the aim of establishing digital as a new channel of acquisition for Operation Smile UK. We felt that this would add to our acquisition portfolio, and future proof the organisation in an increasingly digital world. The programme has been hugely successful, not only in its ability to efficiently acquire donors and support other acquisition streams, but also as a support to retention, where channels have seen a related lift, and many lapsed donors have been reactivated. In recent times a well established digital programme has allowed us to weather COVID-19 more effectively. Ultimately this channel has increased our ability to execute our mission of caring for children born with cleft lip and cleft palate in low and middle income countries.” Mairéad O’Callaghan, Head of Individual Giving and Legacy, UK & Ireland, Operation Smile


new donors




conversion rate

Sign up for the Manifesto newsletter and exclusive event invites