Decreasing child mortality, improving health outcomes.
A refreshed identity and comms assets to scale community-led healthcare.
Lwala Community Alliance has been transforming the health and well-being of an entire community in rural western Kenya for over a decade. They have big plans to extend their innovative community-led model to a population of one million people (then beyond). But they first needed to diversify individual donors, develop a strategic brand position for institutional funders, and create a holistic suite of communications materials to launch them to global scale.
The power of community-led impact.
After Kenyan brothers Milton and Fred Ochieng lost both parents to HIV, they resolved to fulfill their father’s dream of bringing health to their community. While attending medical school at Vanderbilt University, the brothers founded Lwala Community Alliance in 2007 – to deliver crucial healthcare, education, and preventative programs to the people of Lwala.
The village that once sold their chickens and goats to pay the Ochieng brothers’ airfare has built a powerful model of grassroots, community-driven health. Local leaders identify the most pressing priorities and needs, then work alongside the U.S. team to design and implement necessary interventions.
As a result, the organization delivers much more than clinical care. They’ve developed education initiatives around water and sanitation, reproductive health, pre- and post-natal care. They’ve established onsite lab testing, created nutrition programs, and equipped community health workers to test, treat, and track their clients. All services are backed by rigorous M&E, giving the community clear insight into what’s delivering improved outcomes.
With so much on-the-ground good already happening, the organization was looking to its next horizon: scale and replication.
Growing grassroots into global scale.
Lwala’s homegrown roots contrast its advanced outcomes and its goals for widespread expansion beyond the village. This expansion is a first step to proving that quality community health development can be achieved in a rural setting, guided by its own people. And that core elements driving the success of Lwala’s model can be replicated across the continent and globe.
Along with growing the current operations, Lwala needed to solidify itself as a leader in innovation – demonstrating to the international development community that their model could contribute to systems-level thinking.
These lofty goals clashed with a lackluster brand and stale systems. Lwala’s visual identity and website were outdated, signaling a parochial, homegrown NGO. And their donor cultivation efforts were constrained by manual retrievals, instead of being guided by data to match their programmatic execution.
Lwala needed to amplify their story, raise their platform, and further develop their funding base. Past efforts had served them well to this point. But it was time for a re-think. The goal was to trumpet the story about an organization worthy of a spot on the world stage among best-in-class global health NGOs.
On-site immersion in Kenya, where we conducted workshops, stakeholder interviews, and input sessions with leaders and people from the community.
“As a current Executive Director and former funder, I’ve seen the kind of impact an agency partner can make. Mighty Ally is quite unique in helping us with both high-level strategy and marketing guidance and also on-the-ground implementation. Not to mention that their engagement model is designed to truly meet the realities nonprofits face.”
ASH ROGERS, CO-CEO
New audiences, allies, and assets.
Lwala has historically been sustained by a passionate community of donors. Financial support was consistent, allowing for steady growth across a decade. But as with any investment strategy, the pool of donors needed diversification.
Our first priority was to capitalize on a timely opportunity to engage a younger donor audience. It was serendipitous: a popular former contestant – and NICU nurse – on ABC’s The Bachelor learned of Lwala and was enamored with the model. With a desire to use her vast social platform for good, she offered to host a watch party. Through branded images posted by the cast, a dedicated hashtag, a custom Snapchat filter, and the launch of a text-to-donate platform, we increased access to and garnered contributions from a new pool of young supporters. The Lwala message was amplified to hundreds of thousands of people via social networks – tripling followers within two weeks.
We then turned our attention to the ever-paramount holiday giving season. Lwala’s year-to-date individual donations were lagging, so there was a lot of ground to make up over November and December to close the year strong.
We recommended engaging individual donors through a carefully crafted appeal: one that highlighted Lwala’s evidence-based work and tied it to the individuals impacted by the community’s work. We paired whimsical drawings made by Lwala schoolchildren with the stunning data that proved a dramatic decrease in the mortality rate of children under five. We also incorporated a simple tree ornament imprinted with another illustration drawn by a child – a memorable leave-behind to keep Lwala top of mind for days (years!) to come.
Armed with a mailer, email templates, social media images, and messaging – we led an all-out push across digital and traditional channels. We ran cycles of email A/B testing, looking closely at metrics to drive iterative updates. And we segmented out recipients who hadn’t opened or clicked, sending highly targeted and personalized requests to them.
We aimed to increase overall donations and the average donation amount. We optimized their online donation form to create a frictionless experience and encourage increased giving by connecting support amounts to real outcomes.
Brand strategy, positioning & personality
There are innumerable healthcare NGOs competing for limited support. So, Lwala needed a crystal-clear brand strategy and positioning that would appeal to advanced institutional funders. It had to highlight the inherent strengths of the organization, identify broad funding priorities, and tell a resonant story.
To get there, we facilitated in-depth conversations through multi-day collaborative workshops with teams in Kenya and the U.S. We detailed and prioritized their target audiences. And we conducted a series of exercises designed to capture the essence of the Lwala brand personality.
By comparing and contrasting possible key uniques against other orgs, we were able to validate and challenge what was on the table. For example: while Lwala’s use of community health workers is a lynchpin of the model, we found it couldn’t hold up as a core differentiator. We did discover that Lwala’s partnership with university research is unique and compelling, as is their propensity for scale. And of course, to break through the melee of NGOs claiming to be community-led, we knew they needed distinctive messaging about what this looks like for Lwala and how it’s different from others.
The analysis resulted in a shorter, more resonant list of value props from which we honed the elements that would best resonate with Lwala’s audience. Then we wrapped the package by documenting the heart of the Lwala brand personality using archetypes. We deciphered that Lwala possesses a unique combination of Caregiver and Magician: an organization that’s loving and nurturing, but also catalyzes change and makes the impossible possible.
All of this work was condensed into a clear, concise brand strategy blueprint – to steer future comms and marketing efforts. Also, to serve as an evergreen tool for Lwala team members spread throughout the world.
Now, Lwala’s foundation was laid. With a brand strategy in place, it was time to harness the talent of our agency allies in support of this tremendous organization. And in keeping with the guiding principle of Lwala, a true community of creative and technical experts came together to take it on.
LS Creative designed the influencer activation materials and holiday giving campaign. Love + Science tapped Lwala’s free AdWords grant. And Ballyhoo Blue Workshop skillfully blended visual storytelling, data visualization and infographics, and adept use of photography into a first-rate annual report.
Ballyhoo also immersed into a full brand identity refresh, banking off our strategy, positioning, and personality work to give a refreshed face to the organization. Besides an updated logo, they rounded out the brand by creating a full roadmap and diverse set of templates to ensure the Lwala team was stocked with all they needed to bring (and keep) the brand to life.
Our goal is to never create a reliance on Mighty Ally or any agency long-term. Instead, we equip clients with enough tools – presentation templates, social media images, discrete creative elements – to produce high-quality materials on their own.
And lastly, we activated the digital wits of LaunchPad Lab to develop a new website – starting with a thoughtful sitemap and information architecture, then a wireframe buildout that sketched an ideal user experience. The dev team translated these into a site that’s both visually engaging and highly editable, ensuring it can be maintained and updated to reflect a growing organization over the long haul.
“Mighty Ally is a true ally in any communication and branding journey. Despite having lots of cases to draw from, they come in with a clean slate. Wanting to hear more rather than impose their perspectives. The conversations and solution building is genuine. I am impressed by how they have helped us bring freshness to our communication materials.”
JULIUS MBEYA, CO-CEO
Smashing averages, goals, and child mortality.
Over the course of our 18-month partnership, the results were energizing – from tactics like behind-the-scenes managing and optimizing email send times, to creative collateral meant for audiences around the world.
Lwala exceeded their holiday campaign stretch goal, where the average donation more than doubled the historical average. We did this in part by generating more email-driven donations in this campaign than the annual totals of the three prior years combined.
We also helped Lwala increase their digital reach on web and social platforms. Instagram more than tripled. The website garnered a 36% increase in visits and a 45% jump in Donate page views vs. the year prior. We also witnessed a 41% increase in new site users from the year prior and 79% higher than the year before that.
Our collaboration also generated many sustainable assets: an annual report (digital and print), a new website, a full suite of templates, a library of creative assets and iconography, and a set of clear brand guidelines.
And while we always get fired up about driving tangible marcom results, it’s the impact those results drive that really matters. We were proud to play a small role in the grand effort that resulted in the enrollment of 11, 474 households in community-based care, the full immunization of 95% of children within the service area, a 98% elimination of transmission rate for HIV-exposed kids, and ultimately a 64% reduction in child deaths.
As demonstrated by Lwala, it takes more than a village. Our partnership proved just that: in uniting various communities, joining them across oceans and continents, we can together create lasting and replicable change.
Generated in one holiday campaign (exceeded stretch goal by 62%)
Increase in website users compared to year prior
Average donation amount (double the historical average of $287)
Driven in email marketing in just two months
Children receiving healthcare for a year resulting from a single campaign