How Prosper helped Wentcher Foundation revamp their brand and marketing efforts while better telling the story of their 900+ person Wentcher Scholar community.
Wentcher Foundation provides scholarships to help highly talented students from the Chicago area to pursue higher education at colleges and universities across the United States. Endowed and sustained by the legacy of the late Ernest “Ernie” Wentcher, the founder of the organization, the Foundation awards scholarships on the basis of academic merit, character and financial need.
With over 900 current and past Wentcher Scholars in their network, the organization has already made a significant mark on the world. However, their desire to grow their brand awareness, elevate the reputation of their scholars and serve even more Chicagoland students is what drew them to Prosper Strategies. They wanted to better communicate the vast opportunities Wentcher Foundation can provide to students and encourage more young people to apply.
Our work began with a convocation of the Project Taskforce. This included Wentcher board members, alumni, CPS scholarship managers, officers at partner colleges and full-time staff members. Involving such a broad and diverse group of stakeholders helped us ensure that the people who matter most to the Wentcher Foundation were prioritized in this work.
Research is at the center of any effective strategy and that was no different with Wentcher Foundation. After our initial discovery kickoff meeting with the Primary Client Committee, we conducted three critical assessments that would shape our engagement. Those included: an organization assessment where we uncovered how the brand is presented and perceived by stakeholders today; an ecosystem assessment where we aimed to understand how the organization exists relative to others in its ecosystem: collaborators, comparators, competitors for funding etc; and a stakeholder assessment where we interviewed Wentcher Scholars to understand what it was about the foundation that attracted them. The research was eye-opening and helped us uncover six standout organizational strengths.
After identifying what made Wentcher a standout foundation, we were ready to begin the Focus aspect of our work.
The Wentcher Foundation’s messaging needed to be inspirational and inclusive while representing current scholars and alumni and appealing to prospective applicants. With the identified organizational strengths, we shifted to the reason for being — an internal statement we recommend every nonprofit establishes to communicate their unique points of differentiation. We determined that Wentcher’s reason for being needed to communicate their Chicago roots and focus on scholar success with an emphasis on equity and community.
Once we finalized the reason for being, we drafted a brand concept, key messsages and created a framework for them to effectively gather scholar and alumni stories. From there, we began the process of developing Wentcher’s new website with Talooka Studio. We built a sitemap and wireframe, drafted web copy, coordinated design assets and put it all together. We were able to build a dynamic, brand-aligned website that better told the story of what it meant to be a Wentcher Scholar.
Once we’d finalized the Focus elements, it was time to shift to building out Wentcher Foundation’s marketing and communications plan. At the center of this plan were three pillars: reputation building, stakeholder engagement and relationship building. We then created a strategy tailored to the bandwidth, budget and skillset of their team. This included tactical elements such as: social media, blogging, email marketing, direct mail, video production and more.
We wrapped up the strategy phase by developing a year-long marketing calendar. From here, Wentcher Foundation had the tools and strategy they needed to expand their marketing efforts.
Wentcher Foundation wanted to activate past, present and future scholars. That meant Prosper spent significant time speaking to alumni and current students to learn as much as we could about their perception of the Foundation. Alumni and other stakeholders sat on our Project Taskforce to guide the engagement and provide feedback on deliverables. Current Wentcher Scholars shared their personal stories with our team and Storyview during video interviews that we later produced into content.
To track Progress, we developed key performance indicators for Wentcher to compare their metrics against. This would allow them to track growth across their marketing efforts for tactics like website traffic, email marketing, social media engagement, blog engagement and more.
Wentcher Foundation walked away from their engagement with Prosper with new key messages, a year-long marketing strategy, a new website, four produced videos of Wentcher Scholars and training on how to use these new assets. The summer after our partnership concluded, they welcomed their largest class of Wentcher Scholars, 110 new Wentcher Scholars from 44 high schools across Chicago.
Could Your Organization Benefit from Similar Results?
Contact us to tell us about your needs and learn how a partnership with Prosper Strategies can help your organization achieve its goals.