Case Study
Case Study Notepad

Customized and well-aligned planning processes result in national professional society’s successful diversification of funding and active engagement of members

The Client:

A professional society with more than 8,000 members from over 100 countries.

The Challenge:

In the midst of the economic recession, the society, which traditionally had relied primarily on corporate donations, sought strategies for diversifying its funding base to meet future needs. The client recognized that for such strategies to be effective, the society would need to learn more about it membership and explore new opportunities for engaging members. These challenges coincided with the society’s need for a new strategic plan to guide it over the next four years.


The Approach:

Initially engaged to test the viability of a fund development strategy that focused on members as potential donors, Clarus designed and executed a thoughtful assessment phase to characterize the society’s membership and gauge receptiveness to a member-specific funding campaign. Through interviews and surveys, Clarus gathered information on members’ perceptions of the organization, as well as their opinions of membership benefits, unmet member needs, challenges in the industry, communication preferences, and potential funding strategies.

Later, Clarus used feedback collected in the assessment phase to underpin the society’s overarching strategic plan for communications, marketing and fund development. The survey also served as a valuable starting point for engaging and educating individual members.

Following careful analysis of the responses collected in the assessment process, Clarus determined that the organization’s members would respond to a direct donation appeal. To support this finding, Clarus delivered a series of initial recommendations on how the society could better engage members in the funding process. These recommendations included a breakdown of the membership segments, with messaging and appeal strategies that would be most effective for each. Mindful of the society’s ongoing communication and image efforts, the recommendations delivered by Clarus were designed to leverage those efforts with current and anticipated resources.

Through additional interviews with groups representing the various segments of membership identified in the assessment, as well as facilitation of a strategy session, Clarus helped the society’s member-led fund development steering committee—also created in response to a Clarus recommendation—finalize funding strategies and formalize a fund development plan. The plan and its strategies were supported by Clarus-crafted communication messages and marketing materials.

The success of the fund development project led the society to reengage Clarus to work with its Board of Directors to develop the organization’s next strategic plan, ensuring the carryover of momentum and valuable feedback from the fund development project. Clarus facilitated a strategic planning retreat where the society’s leadership reexamined the organization’s mission and vision, discussed key industry challenges, explored stakeholder engagement opportunities, and analyzed marketing objectives for the years ahead. Additionally, Clarus led a breakout session where smaller groups held detailed discussions about the organization’s goals and objectives for the immediate future.

Following its analysis and synthesis by Clarus, the discussion and feedback from the retreat was used to populate a strategic plan that the society is now executing. In addition to delivering the plan, Clarus provided the society a final set of comprehensive recommendations addressing critical implementation issues, including evaluation methods, governance structure, communication strategies, and succession planning.


The Results:

Armed with a comprehensive fund development plan and supporting communication strategies, the society’s now fund development steering committee immediately began implementation of a campaign that appealed to the organization’s members. In addition to an increase in member donations, the society experienced an uptick in membership engagement, as members felt a greater sense of ownership of its programs and a better understanding of its relevancy to their profession.

To continue the successful execution of the fund development plan, the society followed Clarus’ recommendation to install a full-time development staff person. This person is responsible for continued implementation and tracking of the communications and appeal strategies informed by Clarus’ analysis of feedback from members.

With a diversified stream of funding and an increasingly active membership, the society is well-positioned to effectively execute a strategic plan that will help the organization optimize its success and continue to grow for the foreseeable future.