Good storytelling is the key to fundraising and outreach success. In fact, if you can craft a compelling narrative, you can effectively connect with supporters. Learn how we told the fascinating story of Lydick Bog, near South Bend, Indiana.

   The Story.

The Lost Bog at Lydick

Lydick Bog in St. Joseph County, Indiana was lost to history for nearly a century. It's rediscovery in 2015 was just the first step to creating a state-dedicated nature preserve and hub for eco-tourism. 

Shirley Heinze Land Trust—the organization that secured the bog—sought to make the unique mosaic of wetlands and upland habitat a destination-attraction for nature enthusiasts and a regional hub for its expanding land preservation efforts. Bogs, by their very nature, can be difficult and even dangerous to access. But enabling visitors to get close-up with the unique habitat would be a vital part of the experience. We developed a master plan for the site, featuring an ADA-accessible boardwalk, interpretive signage, open-air pavilion, and public restrooms. It was the most ambitious project in the 40-year-old organization's history. 

(Read about another Shirley Heinze property—John Merle Coulter Nature Preserve)

fluffy white seed-head of cotton grass, a wetland plant

   The Challenge.

Lydick Bog: Crossing the Finish Line

The story of the bog and its distinct plants resonated with supporters. Their generosity was exceptional, enabling the organization to move forward on several aspects of the capital project. But completing the last mile required more funding.

Our team identified a matching grant opportunity through CreatINg Places—a place-based "crowd-granting" program facilitated by the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority in conjunction with the crowdfunding platform, Patronicity. The funding could carry the project across the finish line, but only if the $50k match could be raised in one month.

   The Strategy.

Employ a "Crowd-Granting" Approach. Identify Key Early Support. Engage the Public.

The land trust was interested in an outward-facing, community engagement campaign for the final stretch. CreatINg Places was the perfect fit.

CreatINg Places employs a novel donation-and-reward-based method of crowdfunding called “crowd-granting.” In crowd-granting, citizens actively support projects and activities through web-based donations. If the fundraising goal is reached within a set time, the donations are matched by a sponsor, in this case IHCDA. We designed our campaign—Let's Build a Boardwalk at Lydick Bog!—to raise the remaining funds between March 1 and March 31, 2021.

We identified key early supporters and secured several commitments to kick-start the initiative.

A website was developed on the Patronicity platform as a hub for community outreach. Then, we produced a video presentation, a rendering of the boardwalk, photos, interesting information about the bog, and more. Finally, we incorporated giving levels, which were fun facts and photos.

A month-long coordinated print, email, and social media campaign provided numerous opportunities for prospective donors to contribute. We urged people to share the project with friends, family, neighbors and co-workers, and invited everyone to join for a community hike when the project was completed.

Bonnie Hawksworth talks about the crowdfunding initiative employed to meet the funding raising goals for the Lydick Bog capital improvement project.

in 1 month


Lydick Bog: We raised more than $50,000 in just one month

The excitement surrounding the initiative was incredible. Including kick-start funding, we surpassed our $50k goal to earn the $50k match. In total, the campaign raised $136,500—more than $20k coming from first-time donors—making the boardwalk a reality.

Support for the undertaking was a successful synergy between current donors and numerous first-time contributors. The public outreach component was invaluable and will pay lasting dividends in the community and beyond.

Stories make our work human. Stories allow us to connect emotionally based upon shared values—regardless of our different experiences and perspectives. Telling the fascinating story of Lydick Bog was a huge key to our success.

— Bonnie Hawksworth

The Book and the Bog

The Serendipitous Story behind the Discovery and Conservation of a Significant Natural Area

by Scott Namestnik, Orbis Environmental Consulting

As I prepared for another exciting field season, I received a call from Jerry Wilhelm, the junior author of ... the revised and expanded Flora of the Chicago Region. Jerry was in the process of going through known county distributions for species that would be treated in the new flora, and he wanted to know if I'd ever seen the somewhat inconspicuous Scheuchzeria palustris (rannoch-rush) within the Chicago region. Although I'd seen this odd plant of Sphagnum bogs and a more northern geographical distribution in North America years previously in northeast Ohio, I had not seen it locally. As Jerry and I talked, I flashed-back to a journal article I'd read years ago by Father Julius Nieuwland, a chemist and botanist at the University of Notre Dame from 1904 to 1936 ...

Let's Work Together

If you have a creative project in mind, need help with fundraising or engagement, or want your next special event to "wow" even the most circumspect stakeholders, contact me today!

Bonnie Hawksworth
ph: 219-309-7638
email: bonniemhawksworth@gmail.com

Bonnie Hawksworth, non-profit leader and fundraising and engagement expert.

Bonnie Hawksworth

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