Business of Building Lives: BUILD DC

The Challenge

BUILD is a mentorship program that helps underserved high school students start businesses in order to prepare for post-secondary education. Originally based in California, BUILD has since opened 4 new offices across the United States. However, its relatively new branch in Washington, DC was experiencing low visibility and very limited local donations. In addition, the DC chapter did not have much information or experience with donor information and retention.

BUILD Metro DC brought on REaction Strategy Group (RSG) to generate greater awareness, streamline the donor information workflow, and better illustrate social impact to donors.


To better understand motives for supporting the organization from the point of view of BUILD's stakeholders (rather than the program managers), RSG interviewed and surveyed students in the program, mentors, and board members. This stakeholder analysis focused on motives, rather than demographics - we found that a message of serving the community's underserved (versus entrepreneurship, mentorship, etc.) resonated most with BUILD's donors. RSG also pinned down newsletters and events as the most preferred channels of communication.

RSG also identified an opportunity to develop deeper relationships with current and prospective donors. A more complete, organized contact database would facilitate communication, reduce inefficiency, and allow for the distribution customized, timely information. Secondly, the local website could benefit from more clarity of social impact and simplification of overall mission.


RSG outlined a blueprint to streamline the donation process using Network for Good to receive donations, Raiser's Edge to manage gifts and contacts, and My Emma to distribute customized email newsletters, event invitations, pictures, and videos. RSG worked with BUILD to revamp the newsletter to clearly and sleekly communicate events and social impact, all while minimizing the amount of work that would be needed to put the letter together. Also, drawing upon research and knowledge of nonprofit website design, RSG recommended several changes to improve both the local and national websites.

Using the information gleamed from the stakeholder analysis, RSG outlined a new communication plan (with all of the media above) for BUILD based on the identified motivations.

This project is currently being implemented.