“Campbell & Company developed a strong case for support that helped identify the highest priority initiatives and combine them into a compelling and urgent vision.”
– Karen Bates Kress, President of Yellowstone Park Foundation
The Yellowstone Park Foundation (YPF) is the official fundraising partner of Yellowstone National Park —the world’s first national park, established in 1872, noted for unique geothermal features including the Old Faithful geyser and spanning 2.2 million acres of wild landscapes in Wyoming, Montana and Idaho. Although the U.S. National Park Service oversees administration of the land, YPF funds projects and programs that protect the changing ecosystem, enable scientific exploration and inspire future generations of visitors. Since its inception, YPF has raised more than $85 million for Yellowstone and successfully funded more than 300 Park projects.
In 2013, YPF prepared to launch the most ambitious fundraising campaign in its history: a $40 million comprehensive effort that would coincide with the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service in 2016 and pursue a much larger set of opportunities than the focused, project-specific efforts of the past.
In order to succeed on this scale, the Foundation knew they needed to share a higher-level, visionary narrative about the enduring importance of Yellowstone; clarify how the campaign’s several fundable projects fit into broader initiatives that matter for the Park’s future; and still remain specific about the use of donor dollars to advance particular projects and programs.
The Foundation needed, in short, a cohesive, compelling case for support that would elevate donors’ sights and unite the campaign under a larger narrative. That’s where Campbell & Company came in.
Alongside our firm’s fundraising counsel, Campbell’s Communications Consulting team threw themselves into the campaign, engaging deeply with the work of YPF and treasures of the Park while leading an inclusive process to develop a clear campaign message. In addition to YPF staff, we sought feedback and input each step of the way not only from Board members, but also from Park Service staff, knowing that their philanthropic role would be critical and understanding the need to align internal priorities with donor-facing messaging in the case for support.
“They explored the land. They talked directly with park workers. They really experienced our world,” says YPF President Karen Bates Kress.
This approach made it possible to crystallize the focus and impact of this multifaceted campaign—in a way that worked for everyone. “We have a lot of needs, yet we couldn’t fund everything,” Kress says. “Campbell & Company helped to build consensus around our key initiatives.”
In the end, we worked with YPF’s design partner, Ogilvie & Mather, to create a set of donor-facing materials to capture the essence of the Yellowstone Forever campaign: a stunning, highly visual brochure tells a story about the Park we all share and our role in passing it on to future generations, as well as a set of detailed one-pagers on initiatives to support wilderness, scientific studies, youth education and the visitor experience.
Nearing the end of its second year, the campaign has raised $17 million from private development efforts and will enter its public phase in 2016 to coincide with the National Park Service Centennial. As it engages this broader set of donors on a higher level than ever before, YPF now has a message that will resonate more deeply, helping them see the Foundation’s vision more clearly and understand the role of philanthropy in shaping the Park’s future.
“We see this as a teaching moment,” Kress says. “We want people to understand that Yellowstone really belongs to them. And that they have a responsibility to ensure that the varied experiences that have inspired them will be around for generations to come.”