How Cure Cancer Finds, Stewards and Retains Donors with Salesforce Pardot

Automation has often been the realm of big business but today, it is possible for smaller organisations to harness its power. 

Often you see small to medium enterprises and charities being stuck in the past when it comes to technology, with many relying on confusing and complex excel spreadsheets that just “work” to get things done.

Cure Cancer is an Australian charity who are dedicated entirely to funding early-career cancer researchers. We identify, assess and fund the research we believe has the best possible chance of finding a cure. We have been on the journey with Salesforce for three years and counting!

In this blog post, I’m going to outline the journey that we took in developing our automation capabilities through Salesforce Pardot — where we started from, initial learnings and how we are setting ourselves up for the future.

Life Before Automation

When I joined Cure Cancer as their Digital Coordinator, we had just transitioned away from our older data server and were beginning to use Salesforce as the primary CRM. While this was a great improvement, many of the staff were still stuck in the mentality of “push and pull” with exporting information and having to manually manipulate data for email sends, which was adding a heavy strain on resources.

At the time, Cure Cancer had a separate mail platform to handle our electronic direct mail (EDM, or email) for fundraisers. In order to facilitate EDM sends, staff were pulling reports from Salesforce and then importing  them into the separate mail provider.

This made tracking customer touch points as a single source of truth difficult, limiting the reporting and segmentation that we could as a result of our EDMs and on our contacts in the database.

Starting the Journey with Pardot

The decision was made to implement Pardot, as it would address the issues that we had been having with sending and reporting on email results and introduce marketing automation into the business. It also helped that it was built on the Salesforce platform, providing a unified experience for our team. To get started, we reached out to Destined, a Pardot implementation partner, to guide us through our set up of Pardot and in less than a month, we were up and running.

By introducing Pardot, the whole company sat down and re-examined our touch points with the consumer, their current customer lifecycle with us and re-imagined what this would look like in the future through Pardot.

This empowered the Marketing and Fundraising teams to take ownership of their data, become more proactive as opposed to reactive, and make sure our customer data was clean and up-to-date.

We decided to launch our new campaign, BarbeCURE , calling for people to host a BBQ to raise money for cancer research, and harnessed the power of Pardot to launch our campaign through email nurture and automation.

Quick Wins and Early Learnings

By focusing on launching a single campaign as the first use case for Pardot, it enabled us to test many of the features in a controlled manner before rolling it out to the wider business. 

Our initial approach to Pardot and marketing automation started with automating the little tasks.

Firstly, we looked internally at the target demographics in our database who would be interested in our new campaign and segmented them into lists using Pardot dynamic rules, setting a criteria for a contact to appear in the list automatically. This helped facilitate a more targeted approach to acquisition through our database and enabled us to track the response rate and optimise.

We then started to build Pardot forms into our website, which would capture people who might be interested in hosting a BarbeCURE and automatically add them to our database for a follow-up EDM or call (the capture form is shown below).

We found that by implementing these little automations early, it was an easy hands-on learning experience for the team and showcased the power of Pardot to the business.

Setting up our first campaign: BarbeCURE

Before getting started, we sat down and wrote down all the different interactions that the customer could make with us throughout the three-month campaign and what our communication journey would look like.

We decided to set up an automated nurture email program called an Engagement Studio for the campaign. This program would send automated emails to fundraisers at pre-determined times or based off their engagements with us. 

For Cure Cancer, this meant that the fundraising team could focus on the fundraisers themselves, rather than making sure emails were sent manually.  

One of the challenges that we faced in designing their journey was that the fundraiser could choose to have their event date be any date over the three month summer period and our email journey needed to take this into account and be flexible enough to maintain their personalised communications.

As a result of these use requirements, the first drip we created looked like this:

This drip split up the campaign into 12 different weeks and had them running from right to left, with week 12 (12 weeks out from their event date) on the far right, cascading down to week 1.

We found it beneficial to roll out our Pardot implementation through the business with the launch of a new campaign. In our experience, it allowed multiple teams in our organisation the ability to get hands-on with the platform and really focus in on creating the best experience possible for fundraisers and donors. And by having just the BarbeCURE campaign to focus on, we could respond to issues quickly and in a thorough manner to ensure that when we introduced Pardot into all our business streams, all the little issues would be ironed out.

We recommend that other organisations give themselves the time to explore, make mistakes and be flexible in your strategy when you bring Pardot onboard.

The Future of CRM and personalisation

The future is exciting at Cure Cancer. 

In building on our early learnings and success, we have optimised our nurture programs and have rolled them out successfully across the business.

By utilising Pardot, we have maintained our focus on improving the fundraising experience for our donors through personalisation, without worrying that they haven’t received communications.

We have implemented personalised communication journeys for both our old and new supporters, recognising if they have donated or fundraised with us before and enabling a custom communication journey tailored to their interests.

In doing so, we have seen a 421% increase in donations through all email sources in the past financial year compared to last year.

We are also tracking more consumer touch points now than ever, recognising that our website is a key tool in the fundraiser’s journey with us and tagging key page visits on their record to further assist personalisation and fundraiser outreach.

The next frontier for Cure Cancer is adding more channels into our communication mix and automating them through Salesforce Pardot. A new focus for us is the use of automated and personalised SMS which opens new possibilities and further customises the fundraiser and donor’s journey with us.

As we continue to work with Salesforce, we are always open to any exciting opportunities that come our way. If you want to reach out to us or get involved in the work that we do, please email

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