Bond Street Theatre ~ A Case Study

Communications strategy for Bond Street TheatreBy Ruth Zamoyta
May 2013

My team was given the task of raising $80,000 and gaining 2,500 to 3,000 new New-York-based donors for Bond Street Theatre, a non-profit organization that brings performance theater (acting exercises, acrobatics, pantomime, clowns, stilt bands) to conflict-torn pockets of the world in order to boost morale, bring healing, and help communities come together. The organization has brought its brand of “performance art as humanitarian aid” to many countries around the world, but is currently active in Afghanistan, Burma, Haiti, and Guatemala.

We performed a situation analysis, studied giving trends, and determined that in order to achieve this goal and then take it to the next level by moving that new donor base up the pyramid and establishing itself as a major humanitarian organization on par with Care USA or Americares, Bond Street needs to address three core issues: self-identity, mindshare, and strategy. We explained that, internally, Bond Street needs to think of itself as an organization that brings hope to people. Hope is the purpose; theater is the hook.

Once this is clear to all staff and volunteers, Bond Street should launch a two-part communications campaign, first aggressively spreading the word about who they are and what they do (mainly through experiential marketing and content marketing). When the target audience is more familiar with Bond Street, it can launch a $35-Campaign. What sets Bond Street apart is the power of its programming. The organization has achieved incredible results and the results are observable, as Bond Street has tons of video footage of their programming in action. The staff and volunteers at Bond Street need only to show a skit or an exercise first-hand to a potential donor to convey its impact. That’s why experiential marketing would be most effective. And with the rich photographs and videos, and powerful testimonials of staff and participants, content marketing would produce exponential sharing.

But, whom to target? We ran a survey of Bond Street’s current donors and received about 100 responses. It was clear that some of the qualities that resonated among donors were its global vision and its service to women and children. We also looked into women’s giving trends and found that women were more likely than men to give to charities, give to causes that helped other women, and give to causes focused on social and psychological benefits rather than material benefits. We thought that professional women would be a good way to narrow the target, as these women would have a higher income and were generally well-networked—a quality that would help word-of-mouth.

So we created the following character sketch of the quintessential Bond Street donor: the New York professional woman with a big heart and a global outlook.

She is moved to donate to causes both near and far. She knows the importance of healthcare, both physical and emotional, particularly for women and children. She enjoys “participating” with a cause beyond monetary giving. She considers arts important and wants increased funding for them. She considers herself liberal, progressive, educated, and global-thinking. She is highly professional and oriented toward success—results matter. She reads the international news on a regular basis and is well-travelled. She has already given to international humanitarian charities, or is primed to do so.

Since we recommended targeting women who already give, and who already give to global causes, the objective for communications was to persuade these professional women to add Bond Street Theatre to their giving portfolio. The role for communications was to inspire the target audience to realize that in war-torn communities there are higher but equally important needs—beyond the basics of food, water, medicine, and shelter. These are hope, peace, and self-esteem, and they are equally deserving of charitable dollars.

Just as Bond Street needed to have a consistent understanding of its own identity, it needed to be consistent with its messaging:

  • Food for the soul
  • You gave her water, now give her hope
  • The power of play.

Then it can launch the campaign. They should create powerful content by requiring volunteers to blog and by hiring professional content developers, designers, photographers and videographers. They can generate word-of-mouth through partnerships with professional women’s associations and alliances of charities that help women such as the Global Fund for Women. They can give demonstrations of their programming at events where professional women gather, such as the chapter meeting of the National Professional Women’s Association. They can target media that professional women read, listen to, and watch. They should follow-up with all contacts, and above all, listen.

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