Funding a Capital Campaign by Connecting a Community

How this Case Study may be relevant to you: This project involved several tactics to engage the community and officials to bring attention and raise funds for a capital campaign project. From public relations and a social media contest, to event planning and a newsletter, we supported the campaign committee with mass outreach to the community that loves the park.

We earned 1.9 million PR impressions through 27 media placements, planned three press events and coordinated a contest on social media to curate user generated content.

July 19, 2016- Castile, NY - Governor Andrew Cuomo dedicates The Humphrey Nature Center at Letchworth State Park
Dedication by Governor Andrew Cuomo Photo Credit: Letchworth State Park

Situational Analysis

In early 2014, Letchworth State Park announced plans to build a new, four-season facility known as the Letchworth Nature Center. The park received a design grant for $288,000 through the New York Works Park Capital Improvement Fund and State grants. NYS Governor Andrew Cuomo also pledged his support by agreeing to match any funds raised by the park in a two-third share.

The Challenge

The Letchworth Nature Center Committee needed to raise approximately $2.1 million over the course of two years in order to be able to move forward with planning and construction. They needed to raise funds and build community support quickly to see this project take off.

Photo Credit: Letchworth State Park
Photo Credit: Letchworth State Park


  • Increase awareness of the Letchworth Nature Center project.
  • Build attention for the public portion of the fundraising efforts.
  • Establish the need for public/private partnerships.
  • Position the Letchworth Nature Center as a leader in collaborative project development.
  • Drive the public phase of private fundraising efforts.
  • Build credibility for the project to assist the committee in securing major gifts.

Strategic Insight

Nostalgia & Connectedness.

750,000 visitors come to Letchworth State Park each year, many have been visiting the park since they were young and have strong memories made in the park. Our strategy focused around leveraging that emotional connection and encouraging the Letchworth community to “be a part of the story.”

Photo Credit: Letchworth State Park

Strategic Approach

  • Create a campaign to engage and excite the public and mobilize them to contribute.
  • Create interest at the local level through public relations, creating alliances with Chambers and service clubs and enlisting the help of business owners.
  • Leverage the reach of Letchworth State Park and partner communication channels to spark public interest.
Photo Credit: Letchworth State Park
Photo Credit: Letchworth State Park
Photo Credit: Letchworth State Park
Photo Credit: Letchworth State Park


  • Public Relations: pitching, press releases, and media efforts to generate media coverage around major campaign milestones and construction updates.
  • Event Planning: campaign kick-off, groundbreaking and final ribbon cutting.
  • Leveraging Current Events & Opportunities: signage, booth coordination and messaging used at pre-existing park events, like the annual highly-attended Letchworth Arts & Crafts Show.
  • Newsletter: sent monthly to current and potential donors to share project updates and encourage continued support and giving.
  • Social Media Management: shared campaign updates on Letchworth State Park’s Facebook page to bolster already attentive fans and community.
  • User Generated Content: we developed a contest to collect and share audience stories and childhood memories of Letchworth State Park, further encouraging a sense of community. A winner was selected to win a stay at the Park's Glenn Iris Inn.



The Letchworth Capital Committee reached their full goal:

  • Raised over $2.1 million dollars within the timeline
  • In July 2016, construction was completed of the Humphrey Nature Center at Letchworth State Park

Over $16,000 was raised just within three days of attendance at the Letchworth Arts & Crafts Show – showing the true impact that community had on the overall success of the campaign.

Photo Credit: Larry Tetamore

Result Highlights

  • Over 1.9 million impressions through 27 print and digital media placements directly mentioning the campaign.
  • 8.4% growth of Letchworth State Park’s Facebook page.
  • Attendance at the groundbreaking by high-level state officials including Commissioner of Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, Rose Harvey, and New York State
    • Lieutenant Governor, Kathy Hochul gave speeches in support of the project.
    • Attendance at the ribbon cutting event by New York State Governor, Andrew Cuomo.