Brooklyn Historical Society (BHS) is a nationally recognized urban center dedicated to preserving and encouraging the study of Brooklyn's extraordinary 400-year history. Founded in 1863, BHS is a cultural hub for civic dialogue, thoughtful engagement and community outreach.
BHS came to Cause Effective in advance of its 150th anniversary to design a campaign focused on raising visibility through high quality programming and establishing a cash reserve to give the organization more breathing room. BHS sought the opportunity to become a more vibrant resource through its ability to engage the interests and curiosity of the borough’s diverse residents.
Cause Effective worked closely with a board and staff task force to set far-reaching anniversary goals and mobilize all of BHS’s resources behind an 18-month campaign. Staff mounted a series of ambitious public programs, while BHS Trustees took the lead in bold anniversary-inspired fundraising, bringing in $4.4 million in new funds.
The lasting results, according to BHS President Deborah Schwartz, have been twofold. Creating a healthy cash reserve has meant that “we went from a scary accounts payable to one that was standard for a well-run business; and our conversations with the Board finance committee went from how to pay the bills to investing in the institution.”
But even more transformative was the institution’s increased public profile with the rollout of the anniversary campaign, according to Schwartz: “This institution was a bit of a backwater and it isn’t anymore. Now, BHS is a go-to place for people who care about Brooklyn history as well as Brooklyn’s future.”
In retrospect, mused Schwartz, “the visibility we gained through the anniversary helped us raise more money and garner a bigger audience.” This strategy set them up for a robust post-anniversary renaissance in a flourishing Brooklyn, including opening a satellite location in DUMBO in 2017.