There is truly no formula for this category. Whether it is conducting focus groups to understand the hidden and misunderstood impact of a rare disease, or listening to young people talk about life-altering decisions, or even helping a true crusader just do things more efficiently we can develop the right questions, of the right people and get good direction. There are non-profits with millions of dollars at the ready to do the work that need help understanding the best use of the money, others have no money at all and need to understand how to begin to fundraise, we’ve helped both. Examples of our work are below.
More than anything else supporting a cause or a non-profit leader is about channeling and importantly focusing passion into a plan that can succeed, in its environment.
WE PUT MONEY TO WORK FOR GOOD
Whether it’s millions or billions, The Zodiac Group builds philanthropic campaigns for honorable crusades. We work with our clients to ensure that the money raised faithfully and efficiently serves the cause. We create a strong case and develop high-impact programs, with new ideas and energy, inspiring important contributions large and small, financial and otherwise. We help our clients improve lives, livelihoods and communities, help young people make good decisions and people in positions of influence, use their power wisely.
The Boy Scouts of America
The Zodiac Group was hired to assist the office of philanthropy to develop a comprehensive campaign plan, with new and more compelling strategies to generate ongoing financial support for the operation of a $650M Scouting Jamboree venue in West Virginia, and to include the development of a world-class, and sponsored Leadership Development Center.
We developed a Brand Manifesto Case Statement, a Marketing and Business Plan as a campaign tool, to use the new Jamboree venue to establish a new voice and positioning for the Boy Scouts of America. The Case Statement described a more inclusive, and more progressive Boy Scouts of America, focused on character and community development, and identified practical applications – 25 Great Ideas – to inspire broader and enhanced donor funding and popular support.
The Campaign Plan was approved by the volunteer chairperson and presented to key donors over a 6-month period resulting in unanimous support, including a renewed $50M pledge by the Bechtel Family Foundation and a $7M personal pledge by Rex Tillerson, among others.
“The work you did for us gave us a foundation for the BSA that extends out 10-20 years.”
-Brad Farmer, SVP BSA Office of Philanthropy
The American Society of Mechanical Engineers Foundation
ASME was committed to developing a new reputation for the association, and the profession it represents, to make Mechanical Engineering a more welcoming community, and to be more gender and ethnicity inclusive. The Zodiac Group was engaged by the ASME Foundation to build a new positioning, vision and voice for the ASME Foundation that would generate greater philanthropic energy internally among association executives and facilitate new collaboration among the global units of the association.
Working with the staff and leadership of the ASME, and the leadership of the Foundation, The Zodiac Group developed an entirely new approach to describing the holistic and humanitarian value of Mechanical Engineering and its great global impact. This broader and more engaging value proposition would inspire a new more diverse generation of potential engineers, i.e. women and persons of color, and the Global Impact positioning elevated the approach of the association with members, through high-profile partnerships and sponsorships with NASA, The Tiger Woods Foundation and EVERFI.
We produced a series of Global Impact Reports focused on Human Health, Sustainable Energy and Solving the Worldwide Water Crisis. We supported the development of programs with Futureengineers.org, Engineers4Change.org and NASA, driving youth and energy into the foundation, and generating exciting programs that chapters chose to fund in cooperation with the national office.
“We finally started talking about the human side of engineers and the life and health benefits of mechanical engineering to people and communities; we focused on humanitarian aspirations, as opposed to the schematics of a light switch.”
-Tom Loughlin, Executive Director ASME
The U.S. Naval Institute
The U.S. Naval Institute had an auspicious and audacious beginning, founded by a group of naval officers that included John Paul Jones. The mission was to keep an eye on how the U.S. Government handled the procurement and the human capital management of the service. USNI was the “Leading Independent Forum for the U.S. Navy.” The work was carried out through meetings and publications, including PROCEEDINGS magazine and publishing, including books
like “Hunt for Red October.” However, a monthly magazine and oral histories couldn’t compete with the instant “independent forum” of the information superhighway. USNI needed a capital campaign to attract donors, reposition the Institute, rebuild their membership base, satisfy their advertisers and sponsors and to grow their influence.
The Zodiac Group worked with key staff internally, including the President of USNI and the Executive Director of the Foundation, the head of publishing and the Managing Editor of PROCEEDINGS to develop a new vision, brand manifesto, and fundraising approach for the USNI. We redesigned and launched a more sophisticated web presence for USNI and its offering and developed a dedicated giving site. The research indicated that in addition to being a watchdog for the Navy, many sponsors and donors were especially interested in deep dives into naval history. With the ED of the Foundation we developed an “Americans At War” series of vignettes as a television series, and a 65th Anniversary of the Battle of Midway Event in Norfolk News as a fundraising event.
The Americans At War series was a self-sustaining initiative through donor funding and the equivalent of a $25M ad campaign as it ran on television in advance of Ken Burns’ epic series “War” on PBS. The 65th Anniversary of Midway event was the first of many new highly successful gala celebrations and fundraising events. It featured the heroes of that battle and their families as special guests, and put them together in a highly entertaining and visually stunning venue where they could be recognized by people of high net worth with honorariums, gifts and pledges. The PROCEEDINGS magazine was then allowed to crystallize its approach and do deep focused analysis of weapons systems, Pentagon decisions and the future of the Navy.
“We knew we had to basically start all over, and build from scratch, it’s hard when your organization has as rich a history as ours, but it was necessary. The Zodiac Group would be an asset to any organization in need of positioning for the future.”
-Tom Wilkerson, CEO USNI
Johns Hopkins Rising to the Challenge Capital Campaign
The Johns Hopkins Institutions—the University, Hospital and Health Services Group—had recently completed a $3.2B capital campaign. In the intervening months following the campaign, in the ramp up to the new campaign, the new University president specifically identified, as a grand challenge, the University’s inadequate funding for competitive financial aid as a “moral imperative” and as a top fundraising priority for development.
The case for financial aid had to be functional as a precursor to the thematic development of the new overall capital campaign case. Based on hundreds of interviews with alumni, administrators, donors and friends, we researched and developed the case statement for comprehensive financial aid fundraising across the university’s disparate undergraduate offerings. The central pillars were articulated as a brand manifesto—Opportunity, Legacy and Impact. These pillars worked seamlessly with the Institution’s overarching brand positioning as “exceptionally dedicated to the advancement of humanity.” For the first-time ever, all the university units functioned as “One Johns Hopkins” in an integrated media campaign, featuring matching pledge initiatives, printed collateral, advertising and a dedicated website.
The “Opportunity, Legacy, Impact” initiative generated $150M in gifts and pledges,
guaranteeing that the University had the latitude to offer “need blind” admissions and “no
loan” financial aid. Most of the funding came from a handful of major donors, that had never given to financial aid before.
“The financial aid initiative was groundbreaking and extremely successful, and demonstrated to the Johns Hopkins family that anything was possible when the community acted in a coherent and focused way.”
-Fritz Schroeder, Senior Vice President Johns Hopkins Institutions
U.S. Naval Academy Leaders to Serve a Nation Campaign
The US Naval Academy was committed to attracting and matriculating a higher-quality student body; in search of academic achievers, the Academy was also in search of the best and brightest youth in America that could eventually become leaders. At that time, the USNA was 100% financially supported by tax dollars, and had no independent foundation or development function seeking private support. The Naval Academy set its sights on significantly improving its position among peer universities in infrastructure enhancement, academic and athletic facility construction, laboratories and endowed professorships.
The “Leaders to Serve a Nation” was the first campaign of its kind in the history of the US Naval Academy. Conceived and developed as an overture to the nation, a focus on leaders from the Academy in all walks of life, not just the Navy community. The “Leaders” campaign was the bedrock that facilitated the creation of the Naval Academy Foundation. The Foundation was a new, and enduring idea and an initiative that required the development and execution of a complete strategic staffing and implementation plan. The Foundation then completed a strategic plan for the Naval Academy writ large, and conducted an internal assessment, feasibility study and a sustaining campaign for the Foundation.
The comprehensive capital campaign raised $254 million in support. The Foundation developed a major gift department, a planned giving practice, corporate and foundation giving strategies, and efficient gift processing and President’s Circle donor society. The cam Foundation created a new and permanent fundraising capability for the Naval Academy, that continues to raise more than $45 million annually
“The ‘Leaders to Serve a Nation’ campaign was extremely rewarding, not just because we were able to achieve our goal, but because we established a Foundation and development capability and new avenues of outreach, that will provide incredible support for the Naval Academy for decades to come.”
– Dick Johnson, EVP, Naval Academy Foundation
The Ocean Conservancy
Build and launch a capital campaign, and grow a sustainable fundraising capacity for the organization.
The “Campaign for the Oceans,” was unprecedented in its aspirations and was driven by a bold and challenging case statement and a coherent and practical branding principle.
Implementation of the President’s Circle donor society, major gifts, and planned giving teams required a comprehensive strategic staffing implementation plan.
The Campaign for the Oceans generated more than $35 million in its 3 years. Among the many specific achievements, the campaign raised a restricted $10 million to purchase a new headquarters building on K Street, the first permanent home for the organization since their founding in 1972. The campaign was successful in securing five, 7-figure gifts, the first of their kind and scope in the history of the Ocean Conservancy organization.
“The Campaign for the Oceans enabled us to increase our staff from 60 to 90 people and our members from 120,000 to 150,000. The campaign also allowed The Ocean Conservancy to expand our presence in critical coastal areas—the California Coast, the Florida Keys and Gulf of Mexico, the Gulf of Maine, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Alaska. Campaign funds helped us to launch BLUE PLANET QUARTERLY, the premier ocean conservation magazine, whose mission is to “make oceans matter.”
– VADM Roger Rufe, USGC, (Ret.) President of the Ocean Conservancy
In the years leading up to the tragic events of September 11, 2001, the USO had lost a sense of self, relevance and national value. The average donor was 82 years-old, and the future was uncertain, as the near term financial solvency of organization was in question. Leadership identified the need for a $100 million endowment to ensure the future existence of the organization.
The “USO Campaign” launched with a $50 million campaign goal following 9/11, coupled with a stipulated $50 million in matching Congressional funding. The new brand identity and brand manifesto of the USO served as the foundation for the corporate World Partner program ($250,000 per year), and the USO refreshed and re-engaged with its Hollywood heritage to powerfully reintroduce the brand and its mission to the American public, and to return aggressively to its critical mission of “bringing home” to deployed troops.
The “USO Campaign” succeeded in achieving the Congressional matching funds and independently raised $75 million, delivering $150M to the cause that continues today in Afghanistan and Iraq, and around the world where American troops are defending our freedom on foreign shores.
The “USO Campaign” brought a venerable and supremely important organization back from a long sleep, to once again serve future generations of soldiers and sailors stationed around the world.”
– Jim Miller, USO Board Member