April 2012.

This case study was written by Jodie Dolgner, Project ManagerThe National Marfan Foundation (NMF) is the only non-profit organization in the United States solely dedicated to saving lives and improving the quality of life for patients and families affected by Marfan syndrome and related disorders.Challenge: 

The National Marfan Foundation partnered with Armbruster Consulting to help generate revenue and engagement opportunities while increasing awareness of Marfan syndrome.

Project Goals:

Multi-phase project

  • Develop a pro-active community events program structure through endurance programs and third party fundraising resources while increasing fundraising potential and  participation levels
  • Build a database of constituents including donors, volunteers, and patients through local and national branded initiatives
  • Provide recommendations for volunteer network reorganization to improve effectiveness , engagement and retention

Services Provided

  • Reviewed existing program assets and completed a non-profit comparison analysis as well as conducted interviews with key Board Members and constituents
  • Developed National Brand
  • Implemented turnkey event structure
  • Customized communication plans with e-mail templates
  • Provided website content and wireframe design
  • Created effective training tools
  • Strategic organization restructure


After completing extensive research on both the community events and the volunteer program, the brand “Team Heart and Soul” was developed and will be implemented throughout the NMF.  This umbrella approach is designed to embrace all constituents to make a difference by organizing and participating in events or volunteering within the volunteer network to support the mission.  There are exclusive benefits for Team Heart and Soul members including online resources such as fundraising tools, turn key events, letter templates and Team Heart and Soul University training program.  Furthermore, Armbruster Consulting provided a comprehensive plan to restructure the chapters into six Regional Leadership Councils to further build the organization across the US.  These enhancements will allow NMF to improve and increase community leaders and participation, improve ROI, increase collaboration, and increase fundraising opportunities and total dollars.


Team Heart and Soul to be launched in phases during 2012


“Rachel and her team are enthusiastic leaders who have walked us through each and every step along the way of our first steps toward building a new endurance and community events program. They listen to your organization’s needs, become a true partner, and offer well thought out and strategic guidance. Unlike some consulting relationships, Rachel sees her self as a true extension of our staff and the work she generates is easy to implement. We are thrilled with our partnership and have signed on for additional help with our national volunteer program.”

Jennifer Grignoli, Director of Development, National Marfan Foundation 



“Never become so much of an expert that you stop gaining expertise. View life as a continuous learning experience.” – Dennis Waitley

This year’s Run Walk Ride fundraising conference was held on March 6-7 in Atlanta. Every year I look forward to attending the conference. It is a great time for learning, sharing, catching up with old friends and making new ones. Everyone is there with a shared goal: more effectively and efficiently raise funds for their cause. At the conference, industry leaders shared success strategies to help you:

• Raise more money
• Cut costs while maintaining quality
• Manage people and technology better

Last year I provided three separate e-newsletters with notes. This year, I decided to focus on the couple of items that stuck with me post-conference and make them very actionable for you. Here are my recommended follow-up or action items from the conference:

 Explain your mission in 140 characters (read http://nonprofitpr.org/?p=311)

 Know your story (read http://liveyourlegend.net/tell-your-kick-ass-story-and-influence-the-world/)

 Get comfortable making the ask and then be quiet and listen (read Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People)

 A great ask is tactical and practical (ask should include specific instructions on what to do next and be something that is within the donor’s ability to deliver)

 During the hire process, ask the interviewee to make an ask (can be related to job they are applying for or something they are personally raising money for currently)

 Focus on largest teams to make biggest impact (pretty clear!)


For more information including slides and presentations from this year’s conference, visit runwalkride.com and be sure to sign up for the e-newsletter and other highlights.