The excitement around the REACH – the Kennedy Center’s (KC) first-ever major expansion – was palpable across the DC area leading up to the September 2019 opening. The REACH allows visitors to connect with JFK’s powerful legacy and makes the arts more inclusive, interactive, and accessible.
This new chapter in the KC’s history was all about bringing the community together. So what greater way for the public to participate in this transformation than by being part of the story?
The challenge was raising designated funds for the REACH amidst emails for membership, marketing AND development, all while promoting the opening festival. It was a lot of content to manage and we had to be careful not to bombard patrons with too many emails!
We conducted this multi-channel capital campaign in two phases, engaging current Members, previous Donors, Subscribers, and Multi-Ticketbuyers through email, direct mail, digital ads, social media, and the website.
The two multi-effort email series, which raised nearly 70% of the total revenue, utilized several techniques to motivate giving:
The two mail communications also leveraged urgency, using a format designed to spur giving over the three months leading up to the opening. Three reply slips showed images of construction progress—from architect’s sketch, to artist’s rendering, to the completed look—and three return envelopes included a calendar image with each month’s deadline circled in red.
The mailings also included similar elements to the emails, including the matching gift offer. A REACH bookmark with a JFK quote provided a tangible reminder of the power of immersion in the arts.
But perhaps the theme that resonated most throughout the campaign was the spirit of inclusion and community. Donors not only had the opportunity to participate in helping to launch this new arts center, but they can also be a part of this evolving space for years to come.
In addition to meeting the direct marketing goal over a 3-month period for the REACH, the biggest win was that the capital campaign did NOT cannibalize other membership/fundraising efforts during this time!