The Salvation Army Boosts Holiday Snap Ad Spend to Achieve 43M Impressions and Increased ROAS

Increase in Ad Spend

Increase in ROAS

Decrease in CPC


From Bells to Bids

The Salvation Army, a household name associated with charity and community service, is renowned not only for its iconic Red Kettles during the holiday season but also for its year-round mission to aid those in need. Annually, this organization touches the lives of millions in 134 countries across the globe (including 23 million in America), providing essential services like food, shelter, and even Christmas cheer to families who might otherwise go without.

Yet, even with such a strong presence and noble cause, the challenge of keeping the spirit of giving alive throughout the year has remained. When the Christmas season rolled around in 2023, The Salvation Army faced the usual colossal challenges the holidays bring for any marketing entity attempting to be heard above the rest—especially when it comes to fundraising: Find an effective advertising channel to superpower holiday fundraising, and, in turn, continue reflecting the spirit of Christmas throughout the year.

The Digital Leap: Snapchat Sparks a New Era of Giving

In November 2023, with the expertise of LERMA/ Agency, The Salvation Army embarked on a digital transformation by launching their first-ever advertising campaign on Snapchat. The platform’s popularity among younger audiences promised to infuse a fresh, dynamic element into their fundraising efforts—a bold move by any measure.

The campaign utilized Snap Ads featuring static images of joyful children and families—visuals that resonated deeply with users—accompanied by prompts in native Snapchat style to support local families in need during the holiday season and beyond. Theirs wasn't just a call to action; it was a call to heart.

Recognizing the potential from November’s successful initial run, the team increased their investment nearly fourfold in December 2023. This wasn't merely about spending more; it was about spending smart. They optimized their ads for pixel purchases and introduced Custom Conversions in their Ads Manager, enabling them to measure donations in detailed dollar-amount tiers—a strategy that painted a clearer picture of their impact and substantiated refining their approach in real-time. Along with the 28-1 optimization in play—a 28-day swipe-up and 1-day view optimization window—the December campaign hinted at another level of success.

A Testament to Strategic Adaptation

The results spoke volumes. The decision to amplify their investment resulted in a substantial increase in the return on ad spend (ROAS), as well as a 22% reduction in the cost per swipe-up—the digital equivalent of dropping a coin into those familiar Red Kettles. Throughout the holiday season, the campaign generated a staggering 43.2 million impressions, boosting the ROAS by over 1.5 times.

The success of this digital initiative did more than just exceed monetary goals; it unlocked additional budget allocations for 2024, allowing The Salvation Army to maintain strong performance and support throughout the year.

The Salvation Army’s strategic pivot to digital advertising via Snapchat has redefined what it means to engage with donors and support communities effectively. For small and medium-sized businesses, this story serves as an inspiring blueprint for leveraging modern platforms to enhance engagement and achieve sustained success.

1 Data from Snap Ads Manager as of Nov. 1 – Dec. 31, 2023.