Good fundraisers find capital; exceptional fundraisers cultivate lifelong supporters. With dwindling audiences and shrinking donations, Hume Lake needed more than another fundraiser; they needed to connect with their main support base.
The Challenge: Armed with a fundraising game plan formed decades before, Hume relied on chicken and cheesecake dinners to generate its annual capital. They engaged the same donors the same way, yet were surprised with diminishing annual returns. Finally they realized that the same formula that led them to mass-create campaign materials also enabled their audience to ignore those materials. They needed something new, but their choice had millions of significant consequences—in dollars.
The Solution: Assessing the fundraising collateral from previous years gave us immediate insights. Warm colors and bright photos could not overcome a message that consistently relied on charts, graphs, and numbers. Even the occasional photo of a starry-eyed student needled donors like a pleading panhandler. The message was stuck in the weeds, and the entire campaign needed a new framework. We decided that the best path forward was to go back.
Hume’s history is legendary. To this day, speakers and staff recount the stories of founding fathers and their unshakeable faith as examples of dependence on God. This storytelling tradition soaks into every corner of Hume culture, from onstage presentations to fireside lessons and midnight sleeping bag conversations between campers. Through the stories of Hume Lake, we instantly connected both with the hundreds of viewers for whom they were familiar history and with supporters who were drawn into engaging narratives devoid of numbers and price tags.
Stories from Hume’s past helped us tell our audience a new story about the future, one we invited them to join. Hume’s staunchest supporters knew and believed in the camp’s original ripples brand mark as a symbol for its mission. We created a new, bolder ripples logo, one that captured Hume’s heritage as it looked forward to fulfilling Hume’s mission in the future. Together, the new logo worked with Hume’s stories to point to the road ahead and show how important it was to invest in and grow the camp for the future. The necessary roads and new infrastructure weren’t high-dollar extravagances but essential steps to fulfill the Hume Lake mission and move forward.
The collateral cover focused solely on the camp’s updated branding. Previous years had featured forest scenes and floating boats, but these images distracted from our central message. We focused on story over data, crafting a narrative that led, one face at a time, through a series of ever-expanding influences in people’s lives. We related the same stories we had heard every day at the camp: my life was changed, my brother’s life was changed, my friend was changed, my distant uncle was changed, my host family in Germany was changed, Papua New Guinea was changed, the world was changed by God. And it stared at Hume Lake.
Our audience knew this story. Many of them had experienced it themselves. In telling the story back to them in a new way, we hoped to re-ignite their passion for what God was doing at Hume Lake and fuel their desire to add to the story as lifelong supporters.
The Result: Hume Lake’s audience was familiar with their ministry, but earlier campaigns found this to be a liability, not an advantage. By taking a personal approach, we were able to overcome reluctance and capitalize on this built-in support base’s passion to help the camp continue to do what alumni and supporters know and love. The updated logo and story-based fundraising strategy connected with both older and younger audience members. In its first year with the new campaign, Hume Lake raised millions of dollars and saw a renewed commitment from their audience. Story continues to be a foundational component of their fundraising strategy.