How we got the word out about a disease most people couldn't even spell.


Scleroderma Foundation Michigan Chapter


Though it affects more than 300,000 Americans, scleroderma is still a little-known disease, and the Scleroderma Foundation Michigan Chapter was having a hard time finding support. They wanted to increase membership, build their board of directors, raise awareness for the disease and raise money for a cure.


To increase membership, we positioned the Scleroderma Foundation Michigan Chapter as the most trusted, most compassionate and most connected community for support, education and research. We refreshed all communication and branded materials to increase effectiveness and strengthen the brand identity.

To build their board of directors, we introduced them to professionals with a passion for giving back—including the regional healthcare director of Walgreens. With the Chapter’s new connections, they were able to get space in many metro Detroit stores to raise awareness for the disease during June: Scleroderma Awareness Month.

To increase awareness of the SFMC, we bolstered a social media presence on Facebook and Twitter. We earned new followers with relevant, meaningful and timely content, including tips for coping with scleroderma, links to articles on new treatments and research, and inspirational quotes. We also built strong media relationships and a widely-followed blog, becoming a valuable news and features source. Additionally, the Brogan team worked to develop an email strategy—keeping more than 5,300 members informed and engaged. 

To increase fundraising, we focused on two major events. We launched the chapter’s first annual Hideous Holiday Sweater Run, a themed, zany race focused on fun first, cause second. Next, we rebranded the chapter’s annual “Family Fun Day” at the Detroit Zoo to “Stampede Scleroderma.” The centerpieces of the event were the 5k and 10k “stampedes,” but first and foremost, the event honored those affected by the disease.

For each event, fundraising goals were set, and we strived to help the chapter meet them. In June 2015, just days before the Stampede Scleroderma event, we noticed the Chapter was incredibly close to their goal. So, we presented the idea of deploying an email to the Chapter’s membership list letting them know how close they were—asking for just five extra dollars from everyone who had registered. Hours later, a supporter walked into their office with not $5, but with a $5,000 check. The chapter went on to raise more than they had in years.

Our partnership with SFMC has sparked many successes. We've broadened their community, nearly tripling Facebook fans and doubling Twitter followers. We doubled attendance at the Hideous Holiday Sweater Run in just two years, and resurrected Stampede Scleroderma from its lowest participation rate to among its highest in 2015. We've increased its database of members, partners and donors by 40 percent and attracted diverse, talented new board talent. We've earned lots of media attention, including tradition and new media. Our work has led to projects with the National Scleroderma Foundation, the Scleroderma Research Fund and the Scleroderma Society of Canada.

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