Military, Digital strategy, Email strategy, Fundraising, Lead generation, Strategic planning, SMS strategy

The USO supports military heroes around the world, providing comfort and entertainment to people experiencing conditions many of us never will: life-threatening dangers and long-term distance and separation from loved ones. It relies on its digital efforts – spanning paid acquisition, email, SMS, and more – to fund support for service members and families throughout their journeys.

8 million digital supporters acquired

The Goal

To increase revenue for the organization, we knew we needed to invigorate the USO’s familiar, personal story, infusing it with both urgency and emotional resonance – delivered in ways that are fresh, new and attention-grabbing. We did it by drawing upon unique milestones, high-impact creative and emerging channels.

The Strategy

Making Our Own Moments

While nonprofits share reliance on Giving Tuesday and the holiday giving season, the USO has opportunities unique to its mission: holidays like the Fourth of July, Veterans Day, and even military branch birthdays. All have created natural “whys” for the USO to share its story and invite supporters and would-be supporters to be a part of fulfilling its mission. By identifying these seasons of increased attention and energy, we were able to help the USO increase the volume of its outreach over ads, email, and SMS in ways that generated huge step-ups in revenue.

Developing Breakthrough Creative

When it comes to storytelling opportunities, the USO has one-of-a-kind assets: experiences that are triumphant, resilient, connective … and of course, military K9s. We’ve utilized the full measure of these to ensure the USO’s audience experiences the organization as dynamic and multi-dimensional as it is. This has meant interactive opportunities to vote for the ever-popular Fourth of July T-shirt, engrossing narratives on injuries and the long road to recovery, and first-person reflections from the children of service members on the meaning of connection over the holidays.

Blazing New Paths

When we took over the USO’s acquisition in 2015, nonprofits were in the early stages of investing in Facebook for audience growth. Having seen potential in it, we shifted more of the USO’s media budget to Facebook – and on the shoulders of strong performance, have progressively invested more and more – returning revenue at the point of acquisition and over time.

Subsequently, we experimented over YouTube and built an SMS audience of more than 200,000 supporters. Both channels – and their conventions – worked because they aligned the USO’s biggest objectives for its digital program: raising more revenue by connecting supporters to the USO in new ways.

The MissionWired team has helped us realize incredible returns, achieve scale we never imagined, and reach millions and millions of supporters online to honor military heroes. Adam Faircloth
Senior Director of Donor Acquisition

The Results


total ads ROAS (2020)


search ads ROAS (2020)


year-over-year email revenue

8 million

digital supporters acquired