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Case study

Donald Berman Maimonides Foundation

The Background

The Donald Berman Maimonides Geriatric Centre Foundation (DBMF) significantly contributes to the well-being of Québec’s aging population by funding improvements in the Centre’s services and facilities and advancing research in geriatric care. They believe that every resident should benefit from innovative geriatric care and live a life of dignity and well-being.

Donald Berman Maimonides Geriatric Centre is home to 387 residents, living with late-stage dementia and/or other illnesses which are primarily aging-related. The long-term care facility, affiliated with McGill University, is located in Cote St. Luc, Québec and part of the Integrated Health and Social Services University Network (CIUSSS) for West-Central Montreal.

With government funding being limited to basic health services in Quebec’s long-term care facilities, the pressure is on healthcare centre foundations to fund services that go above and beyond the minimal requirements established by political will. The pandemic only highlighted the inadequacies of systems that don’t strive for innovative gerritric care across the country. The work of foundations like DBMF became all the more important in order to quickly respond to the emergent needs of older people living in an unprecedented health crisis.

Traditional in-person fundraising became impossible given public health restrictions and the urgent transition to digital became essential in offering seniors access to programming that immediately improved their well-being.

Only 20% of nonprofits consider themselves “leaders and innovators” in adopting digital avenues for fundraising, communications, etc.

(Source)

The Challenge

The Foundation’s board of directors recognized the need for modernization and improving digital communications. Unsure they would be able to take on such an all-encompassing task outside of their wheelhouse, the small team knew they would need guidance on optimal website creation, email marketing, and social media posting. Their donor relations had always been on a one-on-one basis, and the thought of doing outreach on a scale of one-to-many was a daunting transition!

The Foundation’s web presence was buried deep within an outdated government website. The content was out of date, the site was difficult to navigate, and difficult for the staff to update regularly. They were not accustomed to using an email marketing system, nor were they consistent in updating social media on a regular basis to engage with their audience and drive fundraising. In fact, they had many social media accounts that were started for different initiatives, but each were not very active and lacked strategic focus.

The branding of DBMF was relatively clean and well recognized, however their signature events had very little visual correlation to the Foundation therefore very little brand recognition.

Phil’s challenge was to make the Foundation part of the 11% of nonprofits reporting digital effectiveness, train their team to be comfortable with new tools, and increase online donations while reaching a younger, wider audience through the web.

Fundraising will become more difficult unless nonprofits change the ways they approach both donors as well as data. Recent studies have shown that donor retention has been consistently going down and a big part of that is while technology is getting better at communicating, fundraisers aren’t using the technology in ways that make a meaningful connection with their donors. The organizations that invest in smart usage of their data will buck the trend of retention and grow their missions significantly.

Tim Sarrantonio

Director of Business Development, Neon CRM

The Solution

Phil and DBMF worked together to accomplish the following projects:

    • Website audit & planning
    • Brand improvements & stationery updates
    • Donald Berman Maimonides Foundation and Jewish Eldercare website makeovers
    • Online donation forms using an automated fundraising platform
    • Email marketing strategy and training
    • Social media strategy and training

We started with a brand perception survey to get the lay of the land. It was wonderful to hear all the feedback from the board and staff. It gave us great insight on how to position the Foundation going forward and how to make the different brands come alive.

We didn’t need to do much with the main brand, but we did recommend DBMF start using English-only and French-only logos when appropriate instead of always using the bilingual version, which was too cumbersome. We also developed new logos for each of the three signature events, creating a unified look and feel throughout.

Event logos before

Event logos after

The website audit proved to be a worthwhile exercise as it allowed Phil’s team to better understand the strengths and weaknesses of their current site while identifying opportunities for the new one. The audit provided insights on user behaviour and a clearer picture of the new site navigation budget required for the makeover.

We worked on creating a simple-to-navigate, fully accessible, and mobile-friendly website including revised content, new brand elements, and a new online donation platform.

With email marketing, we started from scratch. We analyzed the donor database and helped DBMF create segments. We set up their Mailchimp account, imported contacts, established branded templates, and helped them launch their first campaigns. We provided training so not only could they update their website on their own, but they also were able to take care of sending their email campaigns according to their newly created marketing calendar.

For the Foundation’s social media, we consolidated their accounts and created a month-by-month calendar with overarching themes that tied back to their ongoing initiatives. With this social media calendar in place, the door opened for DBMF to proactively schedule relevant posts and deliberately time campaigns to reach their target audience.

We provided training sessions for the staff to teach best practices for community management and how to grow the online audience.

The Results

DBMF is receiving half a dozen online donations a week since launching their new website, and the numbers are growing.

The Foundation has made getting involved easier for their donors and volunteers. With their brand improvements in place, they can cohesively advertise annual events and keep stakeholders in sync under the recognizable logo. They are now leading online conversations and keeping new supporters invested in their organization and mission through posting regularly on Facebook and Instagram: their audience has grown by 45% since the beginning of 2022, and they have seen a 965% increase in reach.

DBMF is now proactive in their outreach and the communications manager is able to easily prepare the content in advance of deadlines. The Foundation’s narrative is more human through better writing on their website and in their emails, providing more compelling videos and images. In their email communications, they effectively showcase their work with other organizations and collaborations across their sector that foster a positive impact in their community and highlight their innovative solutions.

Making the investment of going digital proved to be a game changer for both the staff and the organization as a whole. Every transition is fraught with uncomfortable moments that need to occur in order to blaze new horizons. This Foundation is proof that all you need to do is take that first step in a new direction for the real journey to start.

It was our lucky day when we discovered Phil. We were looking for a digital media small shop consulting firm because our Board of Directors was very firm with me, it was time to go digital in a big way. We were mid covid-crisis and now was the time to jump.

The truth is I was dragged kicking and screaming to the cliff until I met Kim Fuller. She had me very early on in our interaction. I was impressed by her calm attitude, her creativity, her vision and most of all the team she has assembled. They have pushed hard when they had to and together we are well on the road to integrating digital strategies in all that we do. They listened intently and provided us with exactly what we asked for. That is the secret sauce that is Phil!

Karen Flam

Director, Donald Berman Maimonides Geriatric Centre Foundation