Chicago Foundation for Women

Background

Chicago Foundation for Women is the leading Chicago-area grant making organization dedicated to supporting basic rights and equal opportunities for all women, girls, trans, and gender nonbinary people. As CFW approached its 30th anniversary, the organization was looking for new messaging to freshen and clarify strategy andmission to build the case for support.. Following completion of the messaging engagement, CFW sought media relations counsel to support the anniversary, the introduction of a major new initiative to promote gender equity, preparation for a new capital campaign, and the appointment of a new President and CEO.

Our Work

We began our collaboration with CFW interviewing staff, board, grantees and donors to gather a comprehensive understanding of the organization’s distinctiveness, legacy and importance to Chicago women and girls. This fact-finding underpinned message development that was tested among key stakeholders and used to train senior management and board members to prepare them to carry forward the fundraising. The messaging provided a logical platform to build a broad-based strategic media relations plan throughout CFW’s 30th anniversary year – creating story ideas and drafting timely, issue-focused Op-Eds and seeking high-value speaking engagements to promote thought leadership. The centerpiece of the media planning was preparing the rollout of the signature initiative, The 100% Project, a bold plan to achieve gender equity in the Chicago area by 2030. The appointment in 2019 of a new president and CEO was the occasion for her introduction to media.

Impact

New messaging, together with a new visual identity and marketing collateral, were rolled out to all constituencies and through all channels. The key theme: CFW’s central role in providing well-informed investments in organizations that promote opportunities for women and girls to achieve “their full potential and live in safe, just, and healthy communities.” In its 30th anniversary year, then-CEO K. Sujata was the subject of major profiles in the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, Crain’s Chicago Business, WBEZ, and WGN Radio; a featured speaker at leading forums, including the Chicago Council on Global Affairs; and the author of Op-Eds in leading publications. The 100% Project for equity became a major point of discussion and attention across Chicago, firmly setting CFW on its path to improving economic security for women and girls across the region. President and CEO Felicia Davis was the subject of a series of media profiles and interviews when she became leader of CFW in 2019.