Nonprofit Marketing Case Study

The Client

Driving Inclusion with Visibility

Special Olympics is the leading global advocate for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. In Washington State, the organization serves more than 17,000 athletes, on and off the field-of-play, through a wide range of athletic, as well as social, educational, and career programming – all guided by the Olympic spirit. The organization is powered by a network of over 8000 volunteers and countless additional community partners, donors, and advocates. Marketing plays an ever-expanding role not only in driving participation but in telling a story about how that participation impacts its constituents’ lives.

The Pain Point

Competing in the Nonprofit Ecosystem

The organization sends thousands of ongoing and tactical communications yearly to stay competitive with adjacent causes for both individual and corporate resources. To deliver the type of omnichannel marketing strategies that drive scale, Special Olympics Washington needed professional full-stack marketing resources, including strategic, creative, and technical expertise. Like all nonprofits however, its mandate demands operational strategies that return as much revenue as possible to the programs and services that drive its mission.
The organization needed a nonprofit marketing solution that delivered best-in-class expertise without the massive communications footprint it takes to power large scale integrated communications strategy on a continual basis. Like many nonprofits, it turned to a hub-and-spoke model that positioned its marketing executive as the marketing project manager, working with a small group of unaffiliated contractors. The resulting partnerships offered little collaboration between subject matter experts or continuity to make its messaging connect with fans.
The Strategy

An Integrated Nonprofit Marketing Strategy

While leaders initially approached Catalyst for social media support, our scope expanded quickly. We have become the company’s agency-of-record and work to complete and manage a wide variety of ongoing marketing tasks:


Branding support has ranged from the development of a style guide used to build consistent and compelling messaging across hundreds of community partners, to work on the identity of various fundraising campaigns, to messaging for strategic initiatives.



Digital marketing support included custom website design, development, and maintenance, PPC advertising, and a range of consulting services designed to integrate its digital marketing stack from customer relationship management to automation.



Content marketing work has included thousands of creative materials communicating the organization’s mission and principals, core programs, and calls-to-action. They include everything from graphics, to multimedia, webinars, videos, and more.



Communications are the most important part of shaping a compelling story about the work it performs. We’ve embedded with the organization to shape and deliver messaging through social media, email marketing, and public relations channels for 5+ years.


An Embedded Partnership Built to Scale

Special Olympics Washington stakeholders access a curated project team via an integrated PM with ongoing collaboration including regular sprint meetings, chat, email, and video conferencing. The PM facilitates collaboration between departmental leaders and subject matter experts like strategist, creative, and technical stakeholders. While channel specialists work continuously in the background, they’re brought in on an as-needed basis to advise and provide feedback on new strategies. Key performance indicators for feedback are tracked through Catalyst’s marketing dashboard.

“The Catalyst team is amazing to work with. They’re responsive, invested in our success and always able to provide insightful feedback on our overall marketing and communications strategy. Like many non-profit organizations, it isn’t possible for us to staff up a large marketing department.”


Modeling a Nonprofit Marketing Strategy that Works

Awareness of and positive sentiment for the organization’s mission have grown exponentially over the last five years. It’s led to sustained interest from the community and helped to drive its most important KPIs including donations, volunteerism, and participation. Catalyst played a key role in supporting communications throughout the pandemic as well as other organizational challenges and opportunities. Most recently, it played a key role in launching the largest strategic initiative in the organization’s history with a five-year integrated communications strategy.

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