Getting to the Heart of the Matter: Mercy Health Foundation

Getting to the Heart of the Matter: Mercy Health Foundation

There’s nothing more important than a strong, central message. Whether you’re building a new brand or starting a fundraising effort, the message is everything. Our recent work with Mercy Health Foundation showed us why.

The Mercy Health Foundation is the fundraising arm of Mercy, which generates support for health-related programs across its five-state region.

While we had worked with Mercy in the past, this was our first time working with the Foundation. When we first started on the project, we saw the ultimate outcome of our work as a campaign to reach their various donor audiences. It was a long, daunting list of audiences and pieces. Large donors. Small donors. New and current board members. Patients. Employees. Web visitors. Hospital visitors. The list went on and on.

Two things helped us get through. First, of course, was prioritizing the audiences. And second? The most important of all: finding a cohesive message that would run through all efforts. A message that would complement Mercy’s brand, yet allow the Foundation to stand alone.

Our exploration of new brand elements.

Our exploration of new brand elements.

Mercy Health Foundation's past collateral.

Let’s talk about messaging.

We talked to board members and residents across all five states, and found incredible consistency. Everyone sees Mercy as a positive force in the community. And they’re proud to be a supporter.

One thing we learned, though, is that, until now, the donors’ relationships with the Foundation had been largely transactional: when there’s a need, Mercy calls, and people are often happy to contribute. We saw an opportunity to create a deeper, long-term, emotional connection.

Of course, for us, this starts with a story.


Mercy Health Foundation - Brand language

Here we introduce the one, core element that makes it all possible. It’s the reason people give. The reason people support Mercy. That reason is belief.

Mercy Health Foundation - Brand tagline

As a tagline, “Believe in Mercy” became an active, empowering, encouraging message. Again, it’s not just about asking people to donate money. It’s about inspiring them to do so. Reminding them why Mercy is an important part of their lives, and the lives of people in their community.

What do you believe in?

As we talked to Mercy’s supporters, we learned one key point that drives donations: it’s not just about giving to their local hospital. It’s about supporting specific programs. The reason is simple: when people have a positive personal experience, say with a pediatric program or cancer care, they’re more likely to support those areas.

Mercy Health Foundation - Brochure Design

The look itself leans heavily on strong, existing Mercy branding, but also blazes its own trail where necessary. Luckily, Mercy’s standards let us work with a wide color palette, letting us establish a tone that was consistent with the overbrand but still unique for the Foundation.

For example, we used Mercy’s colorful pixel imagery that has become so central to their marketing of late. Combining this with our “Believe in…” messaging, we created a visual story that reinforces the level of care and personal touch made possible by every gift.

Against this backdrop, we wanted to be intentional with every photograph. We spent a lot of time curating both natural, documentary-style stock images and images from Mercy’s rich photo library. We wanted to make sure each image could carry the story. To us, it was about being authentic and not posed, but still warm and approachable. A tall order, to be sure.



With the pieces in place, we started to imagine how we could use this framework to broaden the Foundation’s reach in Mercy communities. We imagined tray liners, posters, even coffee mugs, all designed to inspire belief in all the good that Mercy can do.

This was, admittedly, the fun part: seeing all the ways we could use this messaging to build the brand.

Mercy Health Foundation - Business Card Design

Mercy Health Foundation - Mobile Website Design

Of course, as we moved forward, the priority became much more focused on practical pieces the Foundation’s board could use when they talk directly to donors. This kind of personal outreach is a critical part of Mercy’s fundraising efforts.

We worked with the Foundation to produce a series of pieces that highlight their current fundraising priorities, focusing on useful, impactful, flexible pieces that would give them the opportunity to adapt to constantly evolving needs. And to build a bridge between these new pieces and the existing website, we created a systemwide landing page that would capture the brand and act as a funnel to direct prospective donors to their regional Foundation pages.


We also provided a set of templates and comprehensive brand standards, giving the Foundation critical guidelines as they localize images and customize content for each of the 30 communities that make up the organization.

Mercy Health Foundation - Brand standards guide

Keeping the relationship going.

Finally, we gave Mercy Health Foundation new ways to follow-up with donors in the form of emails, slicks and other pieces. These serve not only to thank donors and show progress, but to allow donors to see firsthand the impact they’re having in the community.

Mercy Health Foundation - Marketing materialsThis approach does more than make people feel closer to Mercy. In fact, it even does more than encourage repeat donations. It builds belief. Belief in Mercy. A belief people will share with their friends, neighbors and co-workers.

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Rich Heend

Rich Heend

Rich Heend is a senior copywriter for Atomicdust, helping us develop engaging websites, print materials and, as you can see, the occasional blog post. Basically, he reads and rights writes for us. (Oh, and he edits too.)

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