May 17, 2024

Digital Donations Strategy with Google Ads & YouTube – Gilda’s Club


Gilda’s Club Simcoe Muskoka provides a gathering place where people with cancer, as well as their families and friends, or people who have lost someone to cancer, can join with others to actively involve themselves in building social and emotional support as a supplement to regular medical care.

All services and programming provided by Gilda’s Club are provided free of charge to anyone who walks through the doors (physically or virtually). Approximately 750 individuals take advantage of these services on an annual basis. 

Covid, as with all organizations, has affected Gilda’s Club in two major ways: 

1) By moving all programs and services online during the lockdowns, their audience has grown from being primarily Simcoe-Muskoka focused to being Ontario-wide.

2) According to RVH Cancer Centre’s Mark Unwin, as early as the first quarter of 2021, it’s already apparent there is a correlation between missed screenings due to the covid-prioritized focus of Ontario’s health care system and undetected cases.  

The Pandemic has created a backlog of the following screening tests in North Simcoe Muskoka: 

  • 10,464 FIT (Fecal Immunochemical Test) 
  • 15,156 mammograms
  • 16,560 pap tests

These backlogs are projected to result in the following volumes of undetected cancer cases in North Simcoe Muskoka: 

  • 16 colorectal cancer cases
  • 71 breast cancer cases
  • 53 cervical pre-cancerous cases

This surge of patients amplifies the need for Gilda’s Club’s programs.

Gilda’s Club is run by a small, passionate three-person administrative team with Aaron Lutes leading the vision as Executive Director. A 12-person volunteer Board of Directors is in place along with an additional team of 80–100 volunteers.

Gilda’s Club Simcoe Muskoka receives zero funding from government sources. 100% of all operational dollars are earned through donations. 


With limited funding resources, and a staff of volunteers, Gilda’s Club Simcoe Muskoka was struggling to bring in new donation dollars, increase their volunteer base, and promote their services to all people impacted by cancer, family members and friends of those diagnosed, children, and people who have lost someone to cancer.


GCSM applied to RTOWN Digital Agency’s Not-For-Profit Grant Program and Google’s Ad Grant Program and were successfully approved for both. This provided GCSM with approximately $10,000 in services from RTOWN and $10,000 per month from Google for advertising.  

With these financial resources RTOWN’s team of digital marketers descended on GCSM and implemented the foundational elements required to launch an advertising campaign to attract donors.  

Digital Marketing Services by RTOWN

Keyword Research – Full keyword research was performed leading to targeted keywords to be incorporated into content, ads, and landing page copy. Keyword lists by personas were also created to speak directly to GCSM’s three personas.

Persona Development – RTOWN developed three personas including: Donors, volunteers and cancer patients & family. Developing these fictitious characters is an important step prior to any advertising or content development. They are also used to identify the target audience’s interests, infinities, buying habits and discovering where they “hang out” online. 

Audience Journey Mapping – This is the process of the journey your customer takes in finding you online, what their decision making and buying process is, post purchase follow-up and their overall experience.

Social Media Account Optimization & Renovation – Oftentimes social media accounts and access to those accounts get messy over time resulting in brand confusion. RTOWN helped GCSM gain access to their Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube and Google My Business. Elements including: using the right name, customizing the vanity url, completing profile information with special attention on the About Us section, making use of keywords, taglines and design to match the website.

YouTube Ad Campaign – GCSM produced a 2-minute video and Team RTOWN edited it to its final version. The powerful messaging speaks to multiple personas, with the main call-to-action being “Donate”. This video can be used across multiple channels. WIthin the first month it had attracted 63,843 Video Views!

Facebook & Instagram Video Ad Campaign – Posting a Video with a link to your website, and selecting your audiences’ likes, groups and interests you can drive qualified traffic right to your website landing page.

Targeted Landing Pages – By creating a page with a strong and simple call-to-action, we can engage the page visitor by knowing what user experience they prefer, i.e contact form, phone number, email, where leads will be sent to. 

Campaign Result(s)

Gilda’s Club Simcoe Muskoka is just getting started. Executive Director, Aaron Lutes, confirms, “Our digital presence was lacking and we knew we had to modernize it to more effectively reach our audiences. RTOWN’s team connected all the dots for us and got the job done faster and more accurately than we ever could. We don’t know where we would be without them. We are now driving more donations online than ever before. In the first month alone, we have tripled donations from the same period last year. I feel we are now poised for digital growth and we have RTOWN to thank for this.”

Gilda’s Club Simcoe Muskoka is always looking for volunteers. Reach out to them today if you are interested in getting involved.

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