Communications strategy, partnership with private foundation elevates arthritis nonprofit fundraising

Posted on July 12, 2011 by Roxanne Joffe, MagnifyGood

By CAP, The Patterson Foundation, Communications Partner

What if an organization could inspire even greater generosity and forge new and valuable relationships all through the investment of a private foundation – one that values using communications strategy for the greater good?

The Patterson Foundation dared to see the possibilities.

To honor the legacy of its benefactor, Dorothy Patterson, who lived with rheumatoid arthritis, the foundation chose to partner with the Arthritis Foundation Florida Chapter on its 2010 statewide Jingle Bell Run/Walk series.

As the foundation’s communications partner, we understand that many nonprofits are so mission driven that strategic communications is often not priority No. 1. Sometimes, it's not even on the radar.

In the case of the Arthritis Foundation Florida Chapter, the staff's main priority is fundraising to advance AFFC's mission of a world free of arthritis pain. With that in mind, we knew communications strategy could help them do so much more in terms of fundraising and partnerships.

With seed money from The Patterson Foundation, we developed a plan that helped the Arthritis Foundation Florida Chapter increase money raised in its statewide winter event series by more than 300 percent.

Roadmap for Impact

  • November 2010 – The Patterson Foundation commits to a $500,000 matching challenge for the 2010 Arthritis Foundation Florida Chapter Jingle Bell Run/Walk series.
  • November 2010 – The Patterson Foundation commits $20,000 in media dollars and our time invested in creating and executing the media and public relations strategy.
  • Leverage Media Partnerships – Using media dollars as incentive for partners, we worked with media outlets in Pensacola/Ft. Walton Beach and Jacksonville, Fla. to secure radio, billboard, print, e-news and web promotions. Through our efforts, we fostered partnerships with media outlets as sponsors for future AFFC events.
  • Public Relations Strategy - In addition to working with media partners, we wrote and distributed press releases publicizing the match and contacted journalists in the seven race cities, securing coverage in local, regional and national outlets. We worked with the chapter’s national headquarters to promote the match via social media, providing a schedule of sample tweets and Facebook updates.
  • Building a Community – With a generous additional challenge from The Patterson Foundation, we produced a centralized Facebook page for the chapter to be used for future news and engagement and created a custom “Like” page to publicize the challenge. TPF offered $10 per person who followed the chapter on Facebook, resulting in a community of 4,800 committed to Arthritis.

Creating New Realities: By the Numbers

All dollars matched by TPF will go into an endowment for capacity and sustainability efforts of the Arthritis Foundation Florida Chapter.

  • The eight (seven cities and one virtual event) Jingle Bell Run/Walk events raised a record-breaking $710,598 — or an increase of more than 318-percent from dollars raised through the 2009 Jingle Bell Run/Walk events.
  • Participants increased by 57 percent
  • Sponsors increased by 176 percent
  • Volunteers increased by 138 percent
  • The Facebook challenge helped attract more than 4,810 followers and raised $48,100
  • The grand total included $75,668  raised through AFFC’s “Virtual”Jingle Bell Walk/Run event. This offered a new opportunity for increased donations through online participation.

How has your philanthropic organization used communications to work smarter, better?

About The Patterson Foundation Communications Lens

As The Patterson Foundation's strategic communications partner, the communications lens provides strategic consultation and ensures all communications are consistent with TPF's mission and values. The strategic communications partner also works with TPF, its initiatives and lenses to leverage and build relationships for the greatest impact. 

  • Learn about these and other concepts used in TPF's approach to philanthropy.


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