LIFT A unique multi-channel storytelling approach, using infographics, for a year-end fundraising appeal

Background
Legal Information for Families Today (LIFT) empowers families to advocate for themselves in the complex NYC and NY State Family Courts system, and addresses the emotional ramifications of Court involvement.

Challenge
Like many nonprofit groups, LIFT receives most of its donations at the end of the year during its annual year-end fundraising drive. We needed to once again draw donors’ attentions to the problems existing in the NYS Family Court system and encourage them to give. But this time we wanted to explore an alternative to the typical text-only letter they’d employed in the past with merely ho-hum results.

Solution
We decided upon using a storytelling model to frame our campaign, and infographics to illustrate numbers represented in a graphical style, thereby communicating the urgency of the situation in a direct, attractive and easily digestible manner. We needed to take both the medium and the message into account.

Format
First, we considered the format. We wanted a direct mail component which would allow us to express the “big story”; an email component which reiterated the direct mail piece;  and then both of these channels driving supporters to LIFT’s website to make a donation. This approach would work together to reinforce the urgency of the message Here’s the elements we included in the campaign:

  1. Direct mail: the package consisted of a printed tri-fold card and remittance envelope packaged in an eye-catching outer envelope
  2. Email: variations of the infographic were adapted for inclusion in several fundraising emails that went out in November and December
  3. Online: the entire infographic was also included on LIFT’s website donation landing page to tie it all together

Storytelling
Second, we decided on a storytelling approach for the content of the campaign. We love using Hatch for Good‘s tools for crafting a storytelling framework, and took into account:

  • People served: Low-income families with children with no legal representation, attempting to navigate the complex New York City and State family court system
  • Goals: To help families feel more prepared, confident, and empowered to successfully navigate family court— ensuring brighter futures for their children
  • Problem: An overwhelmed court system with not enough judges for the # of caseloads, where families often have to wait months to get in front of a judge, and decisions are made in minutes that impact a child’s entire life
  • Solution: One-on-one services; phone, email and live chat; publications; and educational workshops
  • Call to action: If your family had five, life-changing minutes in court, wouldn’t you want LIFT’s support? By donating to LIFT you will help ensure that thousands of families across NY state have LIFT’s support and can access justice

We also carefully considered the donor audience. We knew they were familiar with the organization, but probably did not know the extent of the problems existing in Family Court, and the specifics of the work LIFT does.

We began with an outline of the issues in the family court system, and came up with several facts and figures that helped make our case. We wanted to tug on recipients’ heartstrings, but also make a solid factual case – after all, this is a legal organization. For example, consider these startling statistics:

  • Number of filings per year in NYS Family Courts: 750,000
  • Number of Family Court judges: 53
  • Average annual caseload per NYC Family Court judge: 1,927

As with most design projects, we started sketching using pen and paper. We jotted down our main thoughts and organized the points we most wanted to illustrate. We quickly discovered there were too many statistics and we had to edit content down, since just a few of the most compelling points would make the most impact.

Results
To maximize giving, this campaign draws the donor in with eye-catching graphics and a story that speaks to them and compels them to engage. It includes an explanation of why LIFT exists, the people they serve and how LIFT aims to accomplish their goals. The tone of the campaign is direct and urgent. The style is simple, bold and graphic, using LIFT’s existing visual brand identity.

With the calendar year ended and the campaign now concluded, the infographic continues to be updated according to current statistics, living on in a section of LIFT’s website, By the Numbers.