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One nonprofit's evolution aided by donor research



Customer Research

How does an organization’s message need to adapt with a changing community?

That was the question posed to us from Lifelong, a Seattle nonprofit delivering food, housing, and health services to people living with chronic illnesses, including HIV and AIDS. 

The organization started over 40 years ago. However, with the climate of AIDS changing now from 40 years ago, the organization has had adapt.

Over time, developments in medicine provided clinical ways of helping those with the disease. Lifelong expanded their mission to service all community members with a wide variety of illnesses. It is no surprise that while they were rooted in the AIDS epidemic, expanding their outreach and services caused some communication challenges with the community and donors.

Questions arose such as, “did they still serve those with AIDS? Were they changing their mission?”

How we helped

While the organization itself has evolved, so have their donors. With internal leadership shifting and geographic areas expanding, it was imperative that Lifelong learned how to better market their mission, importance, and reach.

Brilliant Marketing was called on to work with Lifelong on donor research and social media support to assist with better understanding and connecting with their donors. 

Brilliant Marketing did two separate types of research: 30-minute interviews with donors and a donor email survey. The outcomes of the research were somewhat surprising to Lifelong’s team. 


The research reinforced some of the marketing strategies that they were already implementing; however, other responses gave insight on what their donors wanted to see more of. The engagement team was able to determine what to prioritize most in their marketing strategies moving forward. 

With these insights, Lifelong was able to better understand their donors and become more aware of how to better communicate not only their statistics, but the personal story behind the organization, causing consistent realignment to the mission.

Watch the full video case study with Lifelong's Engagement Director, Sage Fitzpatrick.

The work we did with [Brilliant Marketing] really built a nice foundation… The research helped inform our team on how to build out a strategic communication plan that would better reach our donors in the ways that they wanted to be engaged… It helped increase the buy-in from our team.

- Sage Fitzpatrick, Director of Engagement at Lifelong

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