New York Urban League

Elevating a Legacy Event: New Audiences and Increased Revenue



  • Refresh event to reflect deeper focus on Diversity, Equity and inclusion
  • Expand engagement in honoree nomination process
  • Increase fundraising revenue


  • Event Management
  • Fundraising Strategy
  • Audience Development
  • Event Rebranding
  • Messaging Architecture


  • Exceeded increased fundraising goal by 15%
  • Event branding and positioning that reflected a more current understanding of DEI challenges
  • Increased engagement with sponsors
  • Expanded stakeholder engagement

Champions and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

New York Urban League (NYUL) retained The Wakeman Agency to revitalize their signature diversity, equity and inclusion fundraising event, Champions of Diversity. For the last 16 years, the event was structured as an awards breakfast. Wakeman helped them reimagine the event in a manner that positioned their expertise, while engaging in meaningful and action oriented conversations related to DEI. With this being NYUL’s first in person event since 2019, it was important that it incorporated a number of emerging themes around DEI.

As a historic civil rights organization, NYUL’s mission is rooted in DEI principles. Following the events of 2020, The Wakeman Agency recognized the opportunity for NYUL to expand the event to more accurately reflect the organization’s efforts given the current narrative about DEI within the corporate arena. This approach allowed NYUL to meet its audience development goals– and allowed for a more robust event program, both of which paved pathways to greater fundraising results.

The Wakeman Agency expanded the two hour breakfast program to a half-day symposium, with sixteen featured expert speakers and keynote, all focused on current themes related to DEI. Our understanding of the DEI space and communications expertise was a benefit to NYUL, as we were able to create relevant panel topics and descriptions, while also suggesting panelists and moderators that could make meaningful contributions to the conversations. Some key efforts included:

  • Lexical adjustments in messaging to more intentionally reflect modern perspectives around DEI.
  • Changing the event name to more broadly encompass DEI.
  • Developed a jury process to rigorously vet nominations for DEI awards, to ensure award recipients had measurable and sustainable DEI practices in place.
  • Developed and successfully executed a fundraising pyramid designed to increase revenue by 15% from the previous year’s event.
  • Used panels and a jury process as a way to engage former honorees, keeping them connected to the organization.
  • Redesigned the sponsorship opportunities to create additional revenue streams with the new event format.

Events That Drive Action

Leveraging The Wakeman Agency’s expertise in event management, messaging architecture, social justice based communications and fundraising strategy, what emerged was a unique and updated experience for one of NYUL’s signature events.

Through The Wakeman Agency’s strategic approach to event experiences and deep understanding of how that connects to fundraising, audience development, and supporter engagement, NYUL was able to strengthen their existing stakeholder ties, while establishing new connections—all geared towards driving action in message amplification around the organization’s mission, DEI and fundraising.

Contact us to explore how our strategic communications expertise will help shape the trajectory of your organization’s work toward meaningful impact.