The 500 Festival Foundation
“The 500 Festival’s mission is to bring meaningful and positive experiences to Indianapolis through celebrations of the Indianapolis 500,” says Christine Swarm, Executive Director. The Foundation harnesses the excitement of the Indianapolis 500 to drive lasting, sustainable impacts across Indiana.
Three years ago, the Foundation faced a challenge. Swarm noted, “When I joined, everything was on spreadsheets, and all fundraising had been reactive.” This approach limited broader community engagement and impact. Relying on multiple spreadsheets made it impossible to manage campaigns and support an ambitious $5 million capital campaign to ensure perpetual funding for the 500 Festival. Swarm realized, “We needed a unified system to manage donor and prospect information with an integrated wealth screening tool that was intuitive and user-friendly.”
The Foundation selected Bloomerang and DonorSearch. DonorSearch data enrichment enhances the Bloomerang platform by delivering data-driven insights into each donor’s generosity and engagement, seamlessly integrated within the database. Swarm explained, “We reviewed each prospect using DonorSearch data to set targeted ask amounts they were likely to agree to.”
“There are limitless opportunities with Bloomerang. It’s affordable, yet it still has all the capabilities to help you accomplish your goals,” said Swarm. “The ability to have custom fields and build functionality to suit your needs sets Bloomerang apart.”
“We knew six-figure gifts were likely, but there were some great surprises with Bloomerang. One of our donors who was originally assessed at $10,000 ended up contributing $150,000 for the campaign,” Swarm shared. “Having the data from Bloomerang and DonorSearch on whether we should be asking for $5,000 or $25,000 is hugely helpful.”
Under Swarm’s guidance, the Foundation has so far raised nearly $3 million for its capital campaign and increased the annual fundraising average from $200,000 to $300,000. This dramatic increase is not just monetary; they started with about 30 annual donors. In three and a half years, they’ve acquired nearly 5,000 donors, and now average 1,600 annual donors, marking an exponential increase in community engagement.
“There are limitless opportunities with Bloomerang. It’s affordable, yet it still has all the capabilities to help you accomplish your goals.”
The Foundation plans to expand its use of Bloomerang to steward major donors, cultivate a new generation of supporters, and establish a monthly giving program. Bloomerang is very user-friendly and has excellent support and training resources,” said Swarm.
"I’m so excited because we’ve just scratched the surface of what Bloomerang can do for us and how it can help us."
In annual fundraising
In first-time annual donors