Expanding the Circle

Nonprofits of all sizes are facing the same dilemma: finding ways to engage younger donors and deepen relationships with established givers. In working with the largest performing arts fund in the U.S., which raises millions annually to support community arts groups, Branigan Communications conducted comprehensive research to develop insights surrounding donors and attitudes about giving to the arts in the community at large. 

Data Dive

We used qualitative and quantitative research to help the organization understand its strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.

Focus groups
Donor and CEO surveys 

One-on-one interviews 
Knowledge inventory

Communications audit 
Digital media audit 
Competitive analysis

Integrated Insights

The research provided rich psychographic intel to aid the UPAF organization in understanding the characteristics and needs of each segment of donors, now and into the future. Insights from data formed the basis for an integrated marketing strategy, with an overarching goal of increasing funding.

“This in-depth research has been critically important in identifying and prioritizing growth opportunities.”

— Deanna Tillisch, president and CEO, UPAF

Strategic Engagement

From the research, three primary strategies emerged.

Branding: In order for the organization to raise awareness among its target groups, we developed a formal branding campaign that featured a new UPAF logo and style guide.

Marketing: Research data became the springboard for a strategic five-year marketing plan that included media relations, among other tactics.

Social media: We outlined a strategy to leverage storytelling through every channel to connect with donors and potential donors — particularly millennials — through digital platforms.

Visual Impact

Images often speak louder than words on social media, so we developed a series of infographics with shareable messages about UPAF, the local arts groups it supports and their combined impact on the greater community. Local arts organizations shared content, which was picked up by local media and received national social media attention. We coordinated additional merchandising opportunities for the infographics after the first wave of coverage.


Reaching Millennials

We reached out to the coveted millennial audience to gain focus group data that could be applied to Next Generation UPAF, an affiliated organization that connects young professionals to the arts through employee giving programs, social media outreach and personal involvement. Through our cooperative efforts, Next Gen membership is up about 50 percent and giving has increased by nearly 90 percent from 2010-2015.

Statistical Success

During our ongoing partnership with UPAF, the team's research findings have formed the basis for communications tactics to strengthen existing programs and increase awareness, participation and donations, all of which are detailed in an annual dashboard for the client. Among the most compelling statistics is a nearly 24 percent increase in donations during UPAF’s annual campaign from 2010 to 2014.