How VOA Illinois (Volunteers of America – Illinois) collaborated with Prosper Strategies to create transformative messaging and an updated brand identity to propel their marketing and fundraising.
VOA Illinois is a 134-year old organization that, despite its age, is constantly innovating. However, its brand, messaging and marketing had not kept pace.
Additionally, many people still mistook Volunteers of America for a volunteer-based organization that served primarily veterans, when in fact it serves people of all ages and walks of life and is made up of a staff of full-time professionals in social work, mental health, child welfare, housing and more.
The organization came to Prosper Strategies with three goals:
- to transform its image to accurately reflect the work it was doing
- to highlight stories of impact across all service areas
- to amplify marketing and fundraising efforts to reach new donor audiences
As with all such projects, Prosper leveraged the Nonprofit Impact System™ to help VOA Illinois reach their goals. This system provides a proven approach and a complete set of tools to maximize a nonprofit’s mission impact.
At Prosper, our Shared Power Strategy™ guides how we engage with nonprofit stakeholders at every stage of our work.
With VOA Illinois, this meant we needed to bring in the opinions of the leadership, staff and board at strategic checkpoints throughout the process.
We also decided to seek insights from other Volunteers of America chapters around the country. Development directors at several of these chapters spoke with us about their own donors’ motivations and how the chapters were communicating with them.
Then, as we worked to create an effective messaging campaign, we collaborated closely with VOA Illinois’s marketing team to gather client stories, ensuring they would be portrayed accurately, respectfully and from a place of strength.
VOA Illinois supports veterans, older adults, foster children and people living with disabilities. Because of the organization’s wide range of services for people of all ages, it was crucial to create cohesive messaging that tied each one of their efforts to the nonprofit’s overall vision.
To shape our approach, we conducted an organization assessment evaluating VOA Illinois’s existing marketing and messaging, and an ecosystem assessment looking at three comparator organizations.
Through these assessments, we identified an opportunity for VOA Illinois to differentiate itself from other human services organizations by emphasizing its longevity and dedication to ongoing innovation. Additionally, we found that the donors VOA Illinois was looking to attract were interested in giving to nonprofits that address immediate, local needs, but they also wanted to contribute to a larger, more visionary goal.
We used these findings to develop a Reason for Being statement, along with an updated mission and vision for the organization. We also identified new donor groups the organization could focus on reaching and engaging and developed donor profiles and key messages.
Then, we shifted our focus to helping VOA Illinois bring this messaging to life across all of its marketing and fundraising materials. We created a campaign concept, “More than a Home,” which acknowledged that while VOA was a home for many, it was also so much more – it was “A New Beginning,” “A Bright Future,” “A Better Quality of Life,” and “A Community that Cares.”
We used this unifying campaign concept as the cornerstone of a marketing and fundraising strategy that focused on showcasing real stories about people who benefitted from VOA Illinois’s services. It also included strategies to help the nonprofit reach new audiences, build their donor database, and nurture leads from prospects to donors.
Now that we had a powerful campaign concept and plans for how to share it with VOA Illinois’s audience, it was time to develop a realistic marketing budget, calendar and an objectives and key results (OKRs) dashboard to ensure that the plan was carried out successfully.
These tools created accountability and also allowed for regular tracking of the plan’s success, so that any needed pivots could be implemented in a timely manner.
Shortly after the marketing and fundraising plan was complete, VOA Illinois introduced their “More Than a Home” campaign, releasing a video, an updated brochure and new donor lead generation content. The resulting end of year campaign used these new assets to double the fundraising results of the previous year’s campaign.
“Everything we did with Prosper exceeded my expectations. It was all clearly based in research and strategy. Plans were well laid out and easy to follow, giving us a clear vision for our work. We also have the ability to reference and update these materials for years to come. We are so excited to launch our new campaign concept this year as well as our new donor acquisition programming.”
– Nancy Hughes Moyer, CEO, VOA-Illinois