The Henry Ford

Connecting innovations of the past with today’s cutting-edge technology


The Problem

The Henry Ford (THF), a more than 80-year old organization, wanted to propel its image, message and value into the 21st Century. The organization embraced and celebrated the spirit of American innovation, but its visitors and donors saw it simply as a history attraction, not as something specifically relevant to modern technology and innovation. THF needed a new way to communicate its vision and value to the community locally and nationally. To that end, the organization needed to establish a sustainable mechanism for donor support. The organization must successfully communicate its vision and articulate a compelling case for support using channels that are relevant to its audience. THF engaged Dandelion to help activate and leverage its underutilized assets toward greater impact in the Annual Campaign.


The Solution

Our team faced several challenges in taking on this project. We knew we would need to extend the lifecycle of THF’s Annual Campaign, transforming it from a six-week year end appeal into a consistent program which would bring in year-round revenue. We also needed a way to activate members who saw their relationship with THF as a transaction – they received a membership to the museum and village in exchange for a donation. The vast majority of THF members did not contribute donations beyond their membership. If we could replicate that sense of value exchange in their Annual Campaign, we could broaden their donor base. Finally, THF needed to increase their online donations, which accounted for a small portion of their total gifts received, in order to be nationally competitive and to position itself as an innovation hub.

Our multifaceted solution included a new campaign which delivered exciting, original content exclusively to members. Six Degrees of Innovation, which later became Spark Innovation, juxtaposed
historic innovations found at The Henry Ford with modern technologies and inventions, creating a compelling case for support and solidifying your position as an innovation hub. Dandelion built this campaign from concept to implementation. The story was released in six parts over the course of one year, with each installment weaving a new artifact into the story.

To establish a tangible thank you gift that would incentivize donors to act, Dandelion negotiated the commissioning of an internationally-renowned photographer who captured visually stunning
images of six artifacts from THF’s archives, some of which were not on display or available to the
public. These same artifacts appeared in the Spark Innovation content. Donors who gave above a
certain threshold were rewarded with the gift of a signed print of each artifact.

To deliver a streamlined user experience online and low barrier to participation, our team built a dedicated, mobile-friendly webpage to deliver the Spark Innovation content and donation appeal to THF’s audience. We also assisted in implementing a new donation platform onto this page, making it easier than ever for their supporters to give.