Case Study: Make-A-Wish Foundation

The Make-A-Wish Foundation has built one of the nation’s best-known nonprofit brands through a highly effective storytelling formula: heart-tugging tales of children who have been helped by the organization.

These highly emotional stories have long been told through the eyes of the children themselves. And while they make great copy for news programs and fundraising appeals, they haven’t fully connected with some of the audiences that are key to Make-A-Wish’s success.

With that in mind, Make-A-Wish worked closely with Turn Two and See3 Communications to develop a series of audience personas that are used by the organization and its chapters to better understand and speak to donors, volunteers and medical professionals.

The personas were the result of an extensive process that began with researching Make-A-Wish’s brand, investigating data from its donor files, and gathering surveys from its chapters. This data provided significant information about its supporters, their opinions about the organization, and — perhaps most importantly — who it wasn’t connecting with.

To supplement the data collected on Make-A-Wish’s behalf, we used publicly available data to add depth to the organization’s internal data and conducted a series of interviews with each of its key audiences.

Armed with this research, we then developed a series of personas that put a face on Make-A-Wish’s volunteers and donors -- as well as the medical professionals who provide crucial referrals.

The personas were packaged in a number of formats -- including flip books and posters that could be easily referenced by employees as they were developing fundraising and communications materials.

Today, instead of defaulting to the standard “wish story”, the organization is now finding new ways to show donors, volunteers, and medical professionals the value of its work by making them characters in the story.