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Vision and leadership

Surdna Foundation

Surdna Foundation

Spitfire has provided strategic communication support to the Surdna Foundation for more than a decade – giving counsel and support on a wide variety of activities at key moments in the Foundation’s history. 

In August 2018, the Surdna Foundation chose Don Chen as its new president. Spitfire created a strategic communication plan to guide the announcement and drafted corresponding deliverables to engage the Foundation’s key audiences. When word of the announcement began to spread internally ahead of schedule, Spitfire worked fast to create a rapid response communication plan and ensure all of Surdna’s most important audiences felt valued and informed. As a result of our efforts, Inside Philanthropy interviewed Chen, and My Social Good News, Philanthropy News Digest, Youth Today and the Chronicle of Philanthropy covered the announcement. On social, not only did top influencers like Grist, the Chronicle of Philanthropy and the Ford Foundation share and retweet the announcement, but it also received an overwhelmingly positive response and reached a potential audience of more than 3.5 million people. By creating a buzz around the news of Chen’s appointment, Spitfire helped set the new president up for success and further engaged Surdna’s key audiences in its work in a more personal way. 

Shortly after Chen took the helm as president, the Surdna Foundation set out to announce refined program strategies, the culmination of a year of work examining the Foundation’s programs to ensure they were as effective and impactful as possible. The Foundation had all the elements necessary for a strong announcement: a theory of change, well-defined program strategies and clear objectives. Spitfire brought these elements together into a single, powerful message — a message informed by in-depth interviews with Foundation staff. We interviewed all of Surdna’s program staff, asked thoughtful questions about the refined strategies and examined each program’s theory of change to build a strategic plan for the announcement. In the end, we made the strategic decision to emphasize the Foundation’s bold shift to a racial justice focus. We knew this was an important shift for the Foundation at this moment in its history and knew this approach would cement its brand and raise its profile – strengthening the visibility of its important work moving forward.

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Issues Covered

Racial justice