In 2017, the National Trust for Historic Preservation established the African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund to focus directly on Black historic preservation as part of its ongoing work to #TellTheFullStory of America. Two years later, the African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund set its sights on the childhood home of Nina Simone. At the time, the clapboard house in Tryon, North Carolina was in extreme disrepair and in need of restoration. Public awareness of the home’s connection to a great American artist was dwindling. Awareness of Black historic preservation as a cause and the African American Cultural Action Fund specifically were similarly low.
Facing an aging donor base and looking for a way to energize its supporters into giving to this important initiative, the National Trust for Historic Preservation came to Entertain Impact for a cause influence strategy to elevate the African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund and boost its fundraising campaign to save Nina Simone’s childhood home.
One thing was clear from the start: To ensure the success of the African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund, the National Trust would need Entertain Impact to reach an entirely new segment of supporters. We developed a cause influence strategy aimed at expanding the National Trust’s tent to include young donors and targeted people interested in music and the arts whom we could then motivate through our fundraising campaign to #SaveNinaCrib. We also focused on People of Color who would likely support Black historic preservation and the African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund.
In collaboration with the National Trust team, we crafted messaging that presented Nina Simone as not only a musician but a civil rights icon. The non-profit fundraising campaign to #SaveNinaCrib was framed within a broader cultural context: Only 6% of national parks, monuments, and historic sites in the United States are dedicated to Black history.
From there, we prepared a social media campaign that incorporated artists talking about Black historic preservation to generate organic reach for the fundraiser. The toolkit we created for the #SaveNinaCrib fundraising campaign spoke directly to artists inspired by Nina Simone, prompting them to support the African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund’s work through message amplification and donations.
With a solid cause influence strategy, well-crafted messaging, and thoughtful outreach to celebrities and influencers, our social media campaign generated over 17K social media posts and engaged 27 celebrities, including John Legend, SZA, Patti Labelle, Earl Sweatshirt, and rapper Noname, who led a conversation about whose history is preserved, whose is forgotten, and who makes those decisions.
In just a few months, the non-profit fundraising campaign raised over 140% of the National Trust’s goal of $25,000. As a result, the National Trust and the African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund developed a rehabilitation plan for Nina Simone’s childhood home and, in 2020, its permanent protection was secured.
By treating artists as true stakeholders in the #SaveNinaCrib fundraising campaign, we were able to form lasting relationships with an important and influential community on behalf of the National Trust for Historic Preservation–relationships that position the National Trust and the African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund for long-term success.