Client: YMCA of Austin Industry: Nonprofit Our Services: Research-Based Consulting


The YMCA of Austin wanted to better understand the perception of its brand and mission in the Austin community after its 2010 rebranding effort, as well as localize the messages of the organization’s national campaign. They also wanted to uncover why only a very small percentage of its members were also donors; obtain an understanding of current donor and member demographics; evaluate how current communications efforts were performing; and use research to inform modifications of its communications plan, used to educate the Austin community and change brand perception.


A combination of quantitative and qualitative research methods was employed to assess YMCA member and donor perceptions, motivations, and satisfaction levels. Research methods included online surveys, focus groups, executive interviews, and on-location intercept interviews.


Within the initial months … the organization reported a measurable increase in member donations
The YMCA of Austin has since used our findings to shape localized messaging and strategies for the organization’s internal and external communications, particularly for its Annual Campaign. Within the initial months they had begun implementing just a few of our recommendations, the organization reported a measurable increase in member donations. Our work also received positive attention from the YMCA’s national office.

What the Participants had to Say:

“Healthful living includes a variety of dimensions – eating, moving, playing. YMCA does a good job of creating a welcoming atmosphere where healthy activity can take everyone, regardless of socioeconomic background or race.”

What is the YMCA?

“A diverse community under one roof all coming together for a different reason or goal in mind. It’s a place that not only helps the physical dimension but the mental, emotional, and spiritual dimensions of each individual.”

What is the YMCA?

“At the Y I know people from all walks of life. I can’t think of another organization I’ve been in where there are so many interesting people. I feel comfortable going to work out. I don’t feel bad because I’m not an athlete.”

Small Donor

“I want the children in my area to receive the programs we are able to pay for through the Y.”

YMCA Program Participant

“If the donation helped to improve the community…I’m part of that community.”

YMCA Member