• Public Relations
  • Special Events
  • Fundraising
  • Research & Policy Briefings
  • Crisis Communications
  • Strategic Planning


What would happen if more people knew about your organization, its relevance and its role within the social change ecosystem? 

Chances are you would have more support to carry out your work. Most nonprofit organizations are making great strides but need more individual and institutional supporters to know what they do, why they do it, and why it matters. We help organizations tell those stories in a way that connects the dots for audiences and propels them to action.

Public relations in its broadest sense encompasses a number of tools such as strategic communications, message architecture, thought leadership, positioning, social media and more. We leverage these tools to help create a narrative that links your organization with the appropriate audiences. An effective public relations campaign will build an emotional connection with your stakeholders and prompt them to action.

Some nonprofits say they can’t afford to invest in PR. We say you can’t afford not to! With more than 1.5M registered charities in the United States and a finite pool of resources, there is competition for financial and other support resources. By leveraging public relations, you heighten the profile and impact of your organization.

Depending on your goals, we will identify the best strategic and tactical approach to execute upon. We are often called upon by organizations to create Awareness, Thought Leadership or Programmatic campaigns. Each of these campaigns requires that we work with our clients closely to extract the most compelling stories about the organization. Our impact has spanned communities, stakeholders, audiences and issues of many types, emanating from the inside out.

We perform research, conduct analysis and mine the landscape of your space with an ear to the ground, an eye toward trend-spotting and a voice that ensures influencers take note. We ask probing questions. And in some cases, we may make recommendations that require you to try new approaches.

The old rules of engagement have changed in the world of media. We are well equipped to help you navigate the forever-changed world of news, linking you with reporters, producers, bloggers, vloggers, reviewers, citizen journalists, and other opinion-framers and informers with the end goal of connecting you to stakeholders.

The public relations discipline has entered an exciting new era, one that allows organizations to connect with their public in a myriad of ways.

For more information please call (212)-500-5953 x113 or send us an email. 

Case Studies Nonprofit Help For Children

At-A-Glance: The Wakeman Agency was engaged by Help For Children (HFC), a global nonprofit that funds organizations working to prevent and treat child abuse. HFC was launching a 3,000-mile Run2Heal by endurance athlete Christian Griffith to raise awareness about child abuse. With media coverage that crossed the country and all boundaries, we sparked a national dialogue on this critical issue.

The Wakeman Agency Helps Break the Silence on Child Abuse with a Coast-to-Coast Campaign to Raise Awareness

How does a global nonprofit that funds programs to prevent and treat child abuse keep the momentum going during a five-month run by an endurance athlete? And how do you shine a spotlight on this shattering issue while also instilling hope and healing?

Creating a Roadmap for a Complex PR Campaign

Help for Children (HFC), a not-for-profit established in 1998, is a global foundation supported by the alternative asset management industry. HFC provides grants to the most effective and efficient child abuse prevention and treatment programs in seven countries and operates in 13 cities. It has distributed more than $51 million in grants in 20 years.

In spring of 2018, HFC was planning to launch Run2Heal, a 3,000 cross-country run by Christian Griffith, a former American Ninja contestant, ultra-endurance athlete and child abuse survivor. Christian was set to run an epic 30 miles a day—an ultra-marathon distance—five days a week for five months, beginning in New York City and finishing in San Francisco.

A survivor of sexual abuse that he experienced in his early teens, Christian is dedicated to empowering others to speak out about child abuse and seek treatment. His anthem: break the silence and speak out loudly!

The Wakeman Agency was retained only two weeks before Run2Heal was set to begin. Our team went into high gear, creating messaging and press materials and developing a communications strategy. Our plan required a nuanced approach in order to highlight Help For Children and the organizations it funds, as well as Christian’s story. We listened to HFC’s leadership carefully, then crafted the messaging and materials to ensure they emphasized HFC’s mission and a clear call to support the cause, in addition to Christian’s compelling adventure.

Read more about our HFC case study.

Our very first event in 2003 was a luncheon for a small New York city-based nonprofit etiquette school for girls. Since then, we’ve gone on to produce events of all formats and sizes including major multi-day conferences, galas, 5K runs, concerts, intimate donor cultivation parties and more. These events are often crucial components of our clients’ fundraising and marketing strategies.

Working with nonprofit organizations for more than a decade has enabled us to create a process that addresses the unique issues and desired outcomes with a deep understanding of the giving trends of the philanthropic community. You want your fundraising event to accomplish two things – generate revenue and introduce or remind attendees of the importance of your work in a way that elicits an emotional response. We know how to do both very well.

With nonprofits facing more pressure than ever before – and a more competitive landscape for dollars – our process focuses on fundraising strategies that best leverage your organization’s circle of influence. In addition to administrative services such as venue scouting, vendor management, day of event execution and registration, organizations come to us for strategy and execution. This includes wealth audits for potential honorees, revenue pyramids, board and committee coaching, and experience design.

We have pioneered a model that is both strategic and tactical. We leverage years of experience with an emphasis on the big picture to amplify your activities with larger, deeper organizational imperatives. Our approach is very process-driven, mixed with just the right amount of creativity, to produce an outcome that genuinely reflects the DNA of your company.

Through our efforts, we have seen a shift in culture and awareness at organizations, and in how their boards and key stakeholders envision special events.

While every event and organization is different, we have enough collective experience to recognize the patterns, behaviors and actions that lead to success. We work collaboratively with you – and that means we want and need to be seen as an extension of your team, with all of us working toward the same goal. We will challenge you to try new things and to approach your gala through a new lens each year.

We live for project plans, RAG statuses and milestones, but also know that the experience and emotional connections you build with guests are what will ultimately influence people to open their checkbooks and remember your organization long after the event.

While our most requested event service is gala planning, we are equally as qualified to help you plan and produce any other type of event you can conceive. Visit our case studies to read about some of the exciting events we have planned.

We have produced events in New York City and Silicon Valley where we have offices, but we also enjoy taking our expertise on the road. We have made our mark in Arizona, Denver, Chicago and West Africa.

To learn more about our special event services, call us at (212) 500-5953 x113 or send an email.

The YWCA of the City of New York partnered with The Wakeman Agency to revitalize the YW’s Salute Luncheon.

Results at a Glance

  • Completely overhauled and executed a signature event in fewer than four months
  • Exceeded funds raised by 15%
  • Increased giving at the event
  • Initiated a fundraising model the YW still uses today
  • Coached the Board of Directors into a more active fundraising role
  • Partnered on the event for five years, increasing fundraising year over year 

Read more about the YWCA case study.

Fundraising is a key step to the sustainability of every nonprofit. As we see increased competition for donations and a changing philanthropy landscape, we know how vital it is for organizations to have support with their fundraising efforts.

We have helped organizations build campaigns and fundraising strategies that create emotional connections with stakeholders. From fundraising events to influencer and third-party engagements, we have experience in helping to maintain and grow your donor funnel.

You need to fundraise to support the organization of your mission but what may have worked previously may not be as effective as the needs of donors change. Are you positioned to proactively respond to their needs without straying from your core mission? We are experts at helping organizations identify opportunities to generate revenue.

The Wakeman Agency Helps a Large Member-Based Organization Honor its Members With a Fundraising Event

The National Domestic Workers Association is a leading advocacy organization that works to protect the rights of millions of domestic workers across the United States. They turned to The Wakeman Agency to help them organize and execute their Leading With Love 10th Anniversary Event.

Results at a Glance

  • Planned and Executed a major fundraising event with more than 400 attendees in a short time frame.
  • Increased donations by developing an event strategy and establishing a fundraising committee.
  • Translated a strong nonprofit brand into an event’s ethos.
  • Developed a strategy to engage a new donor population of young professionals.

Read more about the National Domestic Workers Association case study.

Many nonprofits have access to data that can help them to build credibility for their respective causes. We can help you identify how to best leverage your data, research or policy brief to get the attention of your desired audiences.

From third-party groups to Capitol Hill, we can develop a strategy that gets your information in front of the right people. Data is one of the most valuable resources that nonprofit organizations possess. By utilizing information about your constituents, your cause and your mission, you can drive conversations about important social issues.

Together, we will strategize about how to leverage your data and position your organization.

Case Studies Nonprofit UCLA

At a GlanceThe Wakeman Agency was retained to provide media relations for the UCLA Civil Rights Project/Proyecto Derechos Civiles report on “New York State‘s Extreme School Segregation: Inequality, Inaction and a Damaged Future.” The goal was to create awareness of this problem throughout the state, get people talking—and ultimately empower advocates to bring about change. 

The Wakeman Agency Turns the Media Spotlight on School Segregation in New York State

How do create widespread media interest in a research study on education—especially one that challenges the general impression of diversity in the New York metro area? And how do you position the press announcement to ensure it sparks meaningful dialogue that leads to stakeholders seeking long-term solutions?

A Stunning and Surprising Report that Might be Overlooked

UCLA’s Civil Rights Project/Proyecto Derechos Civiles (CRP) seeks to create a new generation of research on the critical issues of civil rights and equal opportunity for racial and ethnic groups in the United States. With more than 400 commissioned studies and 15 book publications, the organization has monitored the success of American schools in equalizing opportunity and is recognized as the authoritative source of segregation statistics. In fact, the U.S. Supreme Court, in its decision upholding affirmative action, cited the Civil Rights Project’s research.

Wakeman was engaged to launch a media relations campaign for a major CRP report on “New York State’s Extreme School Segregation: Inequality, Inaction, and a Damaged Future.” This study explored trends in enrollment and school segregation patterns at the state and regional levels, including the New York City metropolitan areas.

The study’s conclusions were stunning. It found that in New York City, practices and policies perpetuated racial imbalance and educational inequity across schools. This resulted in educational problems linked to racially segregated schools, which are often intensified by poverty, a less-experienced and less-qualified teacher workforce, high levels of teacher turnover, inadequate facilities and learning materials, and high dropout rates. Conversely, desegregated schools were linked to profound benefits for all students, the study reported.

The Civil Rights Project leadership wanted to create awareness of this issue throughout New York State, get people talking and asking questions, and provide advocacy groups with data points to help them bring about changes. The challenge was to share the information with the public at large as well as stakeholders. The goal was to generate a dialogue that would lead to better policies and opportunities.

Read more about the UCLA Civil Rights Project case study.

The probability of your organization emerging from a crisis successfully depends on your ability to communicate with your audience effectively. Risk management should be part of every communications plan, and that is where many organizations fall short. Our job is to help you identify how to effectively share your story and minimize any damage to your organization’s reputation.

Nonprofit organizations are among the most vulnerable entities when it comes to the aftermath of a crisis. The public holds nonprofit organizations to a higher set of standards. If they believe that the organization has participated in any wrongdoing, the “court of public opinion” can quickly erode confidence, and leave an organization needing to rebuild trust and confidence.

Our crisis PR services engage your organization during your time of adversity.

We help you navigate the many pressures and considerations you encounter with multiple audiences during a crisis. We will help:

  • Develop messaging strategy and prepare talking points;
  • Create a short and long-term strategic and tactical plan, based on potential triggers and outcomes;
  • Prepare crisis communications, such as letters, press releases and announcements;.
  • Provide media coaching for the appropriate spokesperson(s); and
  • Develop an after-action plan.

Our team can function as your sole crisis management partner, or in tandem with your in-house communications team.

You will need to navigate the many considerations that emerge during times of crisis. Our crisis management services are both proactive and responsive. Over the years, we have provided strategic direction and tactical steps to a number of organizations that helped them maintain their reputation and minimize any long-term negative impact. We know exactly what needs to be done in a crisis and can guide you step-by-step.  

While we are your partner during the crisis, we also know there are many benefits to nonprofits having a crisis plan in place in advance. Through our crisis drills and simulations, we can help you anticipate any challenges your organization may face and provide guidance on how to respond. 

 We’ve been called upon to help clients manage crisis dealing with human resources issues, financial matters, legal claims and a host of other challenges. 

To learn more about our crisis management services, call us at (212) 500-5953, x113 or email [email protected]

Crisis Simulations

In a crisis simulation, we have one goal: to prepare you and your org to react and respond to a potentially damaging situation. Hindsight is the least valuable trait to have in a crisis, yet the one that people often rely on, to try to make sense of what has happened and what actions they should have taken.

A crisis simulation is an opportunity to stress test your organization’s resources in a real-life scenario, based on the greatest area(s) of risk to your organization.

While you can’t predict when a crisis will hit, or what specific situation will turn into a crisis, you can plan and prepare for those areas that have the greatest risk.

Our crisis simulations offer:

  • Customized simulations geared specifically to your needs. 
  • An experienced facilitator, and team members, to observe your team’s activities. 
  • Post-mortem, to review key findings from the simulation, and provide recommendations for areas of improvement. 

Our crisis simulations are custom experiences designed for the needs of your organization. During the simulation, the Mistress of Mayhem, and members of her team, take you through a series of scenarios to see how key players in your organization manage the most important issues. It also reveals any areas of exposure in your internal process, as they relate to information and workflow for handling emergency situations. Some of the crisis simulations are full on productions with actors and others are simple, yet equally effective, workshops designed to provide teams the experience of a crisis.

Some of the most common challenges we identify are:

  • Ineffective messaging. 
  • Lack of communication, internally and externally. 
  • Inability to plan beyond the issue in the moment. 
  • Lack of ownership of tasks related to mitigating risk. 
  • Lack of awareness of areas of exposure. 

Our deep understanding of the nonprofit sector uniquely positions us to focus on those areas that are of greatest threat to the sector. Our experience prepares you to think about your key audiences, and ideate plans that will help to maintain relationships with funders and supporters during a crisis.

Our simulations increase your organization’s confidence that you can manage a threat, and helps everyone involved to better understand and prepare for their role in the process.

The Mistress of Mayhem and her team will:

  • Develop a crisis scenario, based on information gathered from your organization. 
  • Present and facilitate the simulation, and the appropriate triggers. 
  • Provide instructions and applicable documentation for participants.  
  • Provide real time challenges and tasks, based on responses during the exercises. 
  • Provide feedback and recommendations post-event, for internal planning. 
  • Provide strategy and counsel, for development of a PR crisis plan. 

The small investment of time and money involved in doing a crisis simulation has allowed a number of organizations to rethink crisis planning, and gain a greater understanding of how to best prepare and leverage their resources.  

What would the Mistress of Mayhem reveal about your organization? 

For more information, or to schedule a simulation, please contact Jennifer Lynn at [email protected] or 212-500-5953 x113.

The Wakeman Agency Strategic Planning

What needs to happen for your organization to fulfill its mission? That’s the question we will help you to answer and guide you in the development of a strategic plan. We serve as a trusted advisor to clients, helping them navigate those critical next steps of an organization. We understand the eco-system of social change and how organizations need to be agile and proactive.

The Wakeman Agency uses a Foresight Model for Strategic Planning. The model includes a six-step process designed to develop a solid strategy with a clear plan for action.

The Foresight Model is used extensively by corporations and is a key resource for many futurists. Our CEO, Vanessa Wakeman adopted this model for our work with nonprofits as she found it extremely valuable in helping teams in nonprofit organizations think beyond current conditions. Combining this model with our expertise of working with nonprofits, positions us to work with organizations in a way that many find refreshing while maximizing participation in the process.

We collaborate with nonprofit organizations who want to build influence and generate revenue for important social issues. Let’s talk about what that looks like for your organization.