Launching Your Individual Giving Program


The Children’s Discovery Museum of San Jose (CDM) is a California-based nonprofit organization that emphasizes the benefits of early education, curiosity, and lifelong learning through its engaging exhibits and programmatic offerings. This interactive museum provides children with the space and materials they need to let their instincts as learners take over as they physically explore their world through play. As a 501(c)3 nonprofit, CDM depends on donors’ gifts in order to remain an affordable option for all families, despite the challenges that come with San Jose being the most expensive metro area in the U.S. 

In November 2019, CDM added a new digital tool, Luminate Online, to its database platform that upgraded its ability for automated marketing.

As email message KPIs began to steadily improve overall following a successful, largely inaugural, year-end campaign (raising $22,169 in total revenue from 84 donors over the course of 11 emails), CDM next strove to encourage recent donors to contribute once more, while also converting prospects. A campaign of this nature was new territory for CDM, as the museum primarily relied upon its successful membership model prior to year end. In an effort to continue strengthening its newly launched individual giving program, CDM dug deeper.


The Outcome

This campaign raised a total of $8,158 from 36 gifts, surpassing CDM's campaign goal of funding 30 annual gift memberships before its February 14 deadline.  


memberships funded by donors


gifts from new donors


average gift amount

CDM needed to develop a strategy for converting leads into valuable, longer-term donors while engaging and nurturing recent donors.

The museum decided to leverage multiple factors in order to execute a unique campaign with a creative ask. Taking into account its new Potter the Otter exhibit —  opening the day after Valentine’s Day (February 15, 2020) — as well as the museum’s upcoming partnership with Child Advocates — CASA of Silicon Valley, it utilized these compelling components to establish a “Give the Gift of Membership” campaign.


Messaging focused on the fact that Children’s Discovery Museum of San Jose is not a stand-alone organization in the community serving young kids and their families. But rather, it’s a member of a network of organizations, all with the same mission — to provide learning experiences and educational opportunities for children. CDM effectively emphasized this coalition to its advantage.

The campaign featured a public goal of funding thirty CDM memberships for Child Advocate volunteers and their foster children, the equivalent of $175 per membership, with aims of raising $5,250 in total. Since this effort was CDM’s first spring campaign, together we settled upon an attainable, yet slightly ambitious goal, as we sought to rely upon the campaign’s results as a benchmark for future fundraising appeals.

Emails additionally noted that foster children as well as their Child Advocate volunteers would gain access to exclusive CDM membership benefits, including complimentary admission throughout 2020 as well as access to the museum’s latest exhibits.

The museum also invited Child Advocates and their foster children to attend the special February 14 opening night of its new Potter the Otter exhibit to celebrate this successful new partnership, while also pointing to the Valentine’s Day holiday.


Campaign Strategy

This campaign ran for two weeks in February 2020 and included five messages.

The first two emails to CDM’s audience file were the top-performing messages of the campaign and employed entirely different tactics. Email 1 featured graphics and bullet points to break up the message text, introducing the campaign.

Messaging Strategy

Meanwhile, Email 2 featured only text with hyperlinks and performed nearly as well across most key performance indicators.

The messaging focus on the partnership with Child Advocates and the foster children they serve, as well as language’s emphasis on including the donor as another “partner” in this meaningful work likely resonated well with CDM’s audience.


Ready to drive growth and impact through digital strategies?

Contact us