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San Francisco Foundation

San Francisco Foundation Increases Brand Reputation Among Stakeholders for 75th Anniversary

History Factory helped the San Francisco Foundation (SFF), a grantmaking public charity focused on advancing racial equity in the San Francisco Bay Area, use its 75th anniversary to deepen donor relations, build pride internally, and elevate its impact within the communities that it serves. We partnered with SFF and:

  • Developed an overarching anniversary strategy and core anniversary narrative highlighting SFF’s core values
  • Created a dedicated microsite; “Mapping Change,” a digital tour of the Bay Area highlighting locations pivotal to the region’s history; and a suite of videos including an animated series based on the personal reflections of SFF CEO Fred Blackwell

The number of new visitors to SFF’s website increased nearly 25% year over year in the first quarter as a result of the microsite’s launch, and SFF’s follower count on TikTok increased by 275% during the campaign’s first week. The campaign received an honorable mention from the 2023 PR Daily’s Non-Profit Communications Awards in the marketing campaign category.

One of the Nation’s Largest Community Foundations Reaches a Major Milestone

In 1948, on the heels of World War II, three individuals had an idea: to create a different kind of philanthropic organization focused on serving the San Francisco Bay Area. Today, SFF is one of the United States’ largest community foundations. With its 75th anniversary coming up in 2023, the foundation wanted to use the milestone as an opportunity to promote its impact in the region, reach a broader donor audience, and deepen staff engagement.

History Factory partnered with Fred Blackwell’s (CEO) San Francisco Foundation (SFF) to support anniversary planning and strategic thinking around how the milestone could help support the foundation’s mission and deepen engagement with its priority audiences: donors, past and present board members, community leaders, and grantees, founding families, and staff.We aligned the anniversary strategy around SFF’s “North Star,” the foundation’s commitment to advancing racial equity in the Bay Area. 

SFF’s Core Values Help Shape Its Anniversary Theme and Activations

Once aligned with SFF on the overall campaign vision, History Factory conducted targeted historical research using physical and digital archival materials, as well as oral histories, to identify consistent throughlines that illustrated the foundation’s long-held commitment to social justice. Our research also contributed to the anniversary messaging framework and storytelling activations.

We worked with CEO Fred Blackwell’s San Francisco Foundation (SFF) to develop several assets anchored to the theme “Centering People, Place and Power” that brought the anniversary content to life:

  • An anniversary brand identity aligned with SFF’s recent rebrand
  • A comprehensive foundational narrative
  • A content bank: a tool that allows an organization to provide internal and external content producers with approved, licensed content and materials, including short stories and videos, that are aligned with the messaging framework
  • An animated video series with CEO Fred Blackwell reflecting on how his childhood experiences riding his bike around Oakland shaped his understanding of racial equity and economic inclusion

The content bank supported a dedicated 75th anniversary microsite featuring content developed and curated by History Factory and SFF, a social media campaign linking back to individual stories and videos on the microsite, and Mapping Change, a web experience highlighting key movements and moments throughout history that have shaped racial equity and economic inclusion in the Bay Area.

SFF’s 75th Anniversary Helps Shape Its Future for Years To Come

“We really could not have pulled off our 75th anniversary without History Factory. They helped turn our ideas into a concrete plan, braved our messy archives to uncover some gems, and produced some of our most compelling creative content to date. … As a result of our partnership, we’re making the most of our anniversary milestone, but more importantly, our foundation is better prepared to serve our communities over the next 75 years and beyond.”

Ling Woo Liu, San Francisco Foundation project sponsor and Director of Marketing and Communications

The 75th anniversary campaign launched in January 2023 in alignment with SFF’s founding date of Jan. 16, 1948. Since its launch, the digital campaign has increased SFF’s exposure, with its social media following growing by 23% across channels and online engagement growing by 70%. SFF’s TikTok campaign featuring Bay Area community leaders at Mapping Change locations, sharing about their significance, proved to be especially popular — with some videos hitting upward of 100K views.

The History Factory and Fred Blackwell’s (CEO) San Francisco Foundation’s (SFF) teams have been working together for more than two years on strategy, planning, research, content, and creative—and our partnership is ongoing.