Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS

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Nonprofit Organizations
North America

Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS looks to sustain its mission by cultivating long-standing donor connections.


With ever-growing needs, Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS looks to move beyond traditional “red bucket” fundraising after performances and toward strategic, thoughtful donor cultivation. The New York-based organization leverages Blackbaud’s fundraising and relationship management solution to build and grow its annual and planned giving programs.  

Every year more people living with HIV/AIDS and people who work in the performing arts rely on Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS to help provide a safety net of social services. This much-needed lifeline includes access to lifesaving medication, counseling, healthy meals, emergency financial assistance, and more.

“We raise as much as possible to ensure that our expanded community has access to the support they need, a need that is ever-growing,” said Senior Development Officer Sarah Cardillo. “In this complicated political climate, our grantees at more than 450 organizations nationwide are facing severe budget cuts, as state and federal funding continues to shrink, so we do our best to help. As a grant-making organization, that means we have to work
harder to meet those needs.”

In 2018 Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS awarded $7.3 million to HIV/AIDS and family service organizations in all 50 states, Puerto Rico, and Washington, D.C., through its National Grants Program. An additional $5.8 million was awarded to The Actors Fund, which provides essential social services for all individuals in the performing arts and entertainment, including actors, stage managers, ushers, choreographers, dancers, musicians, and stagehands. Those numbers reflect a 9% increase in funding to the National Grants Program and a 5% increase in funding to The Actors Fund over the previous year.

Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS looks to harness the most strategic tools available to connect with loyal supporters and untapped audiences alike. “Technology, in general, creates awareness to spread the word about what we’re doing, to get people excited and aware that their contributions will be impactful,” Cardillo explained. “We’re using Blackbaud to identify current supporters who may want to get more deeply involved and have the capacity to do so.”


Understanding Donors

Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS uses Blackbaud Raiser’s Edge NXT to better understand donors. With Blackbaud’s flagship fundraising solution, the organization can see how donors first became engaged and then tailor future communications appropriately.

“I use Blackbaud Raiser’s Edge NXT every day,” Cardillo said. “It’s so userfriendly, and it’s mobile. We can put notes in records on our way back to the office after a visit. Or if we need to look something up, we don’t have to be at our desks to do that.”

Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS historically has relied on its iconic “red bucket” campaigns, in which actors make appeals from the stage after the curtain call, and audiences donate directly into the red buckets while exiting theaters. With Blackbaud as a partner, the connection to Broadway Cares/ Equity Fights AIDS doesn’t have to stop there.

“A lot of people travel in to see Broadway shows and our events, so being able to understand who those people are, whether they have the capacity to give, or how to get them more engaged is key,” Cardillo said. “It’s critical to be able to look at who’s in attendance and know how to connect with them.”

Cardillo and her colleagues now tap into individual donors’ interests and segment appeals accordingly. Plus, with a dynamic database logging every interaction, staff changes don’t affect the continuity of messaging.

“Blackbaud Raiser’s Edge NXT has been a game-changer for us,” Cardillo said. “It’s helped our entire team be better fundraisers. It has improved our relationships with our donors in feeling connected to the organization. It’s really made a difference.”

Sustaining an Organization

Anticipating a growing need for support in the years ahead, Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS will rely on the people who believe in the organization’s mission to carry it forward. With the right solution in place, Cardillo and her team hope to grow their Angels Circle of annual giving donors.

“Annual giving is one of our fastest-growing sources of revenue and something we know is beneficial to the sustainability and health of our organization,” Cardillo said. “When you have ups and downs in the economy, the audience appeals can fluctuate—so the more robust annual giving becomes, it’s not only going to deepen relationships but better sustain the organization.”

Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS looks also to build its planned giving program. “We’re identifying who in our database is a long-time supporter and at an age where they’re looking at estate planning,” Cardillo said. “We can be more targeted than in previous years and better inform our supporters about the options available to continue to support our efforts.”

The organization intends to turn future fundraising into an even more donor-centric experience, where supporters feel understood, appreciated, and stewarded. Cardillo and her colleagues plan to harness the tools available to drive them forward with that objective in mind.

“Technology is essential,” Cardillo said. “What we are able to understand about people, in terms of their interests and capacity to give, is transformative. It helps us to focus our energy so we are that much more effective in fundraising and, ultimately, in making a difference for those who are simply looking for a helping hand in times of need or crisis.”

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Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS
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