This project is produced by Brotherton Strategies
with support from the David and Lucile Packard Foundation.


Brotherton Strategies and the Packard Foundation worked together to select six examples in which programmatic investments were strengthened, and outcomes improved, by the smart, strategic and complementary use of communications.

We focused on a handful of investments made over the last 15 years, a period in which digital technology and social media have transformed the marketing communications landscape, and fundamentally changed the design and approach of countless social movements.

These case studies are not exhaustive in detail, and they do not reflect every aspect of the Packard Foundation’s current work. Rather, they offer a specific, point-in-time examination of several noteworthy projects where communications helped a foundation to up its game and deepen its impact.

Brotherton Strategies researched each story, drawing on (1) interviews with Foundation staff, grantees, and other informed stakeholders; (2) internal grant materials from the Packard Foundation; (3) program evaluations performed by the Foundation, the grantee or other outside evaluators; (4) and publicly available information about each issue area or effort.

The ideas presented here reflect Brotherton Strategies’ perspective, informed by more than 20 years of working in the intersection of communications, policy, public relations, and philanthropy. This project was funded by a grant from the Packard Foundation.

Brotherton Strategies


Brotherton Strategies is a strategic communications consultancy based in Seattle, Washington. The firm’s work is focused largely (though not exclusively) on the philanthropic and nonprofit sectors. Brotherton Strategies delivers integrated and creative communications services, helping clients advance social change and improve the world. Learn more at

David Brotherton is the founder and president of Brotherton Strategies. David is a communicator of conscience and practitioner with principles who has spent more than a 25 years in public affairs and public relations framing complex issues, communicating corporate values and articulating persuasive messages. Through writing, research, evaluation, strategic planning and media relations, David helps clients advance their business objectives, foster positive social change, and influence public opinion.

Maggie Hess is a writer and researcher with a background in nonprofit communications. At Brotherton Strategies, she works on case studies, stories of impact, and issue research. Maggie has a passion for storytelling—whether it’s the history of a company, a peek behind the scenes, a recent success, or the rollout of a new brand, she wants to find the right angle, language, and platform so that the message will reach its intended audience. She’s a problem solver who likes to dig in and figure out how to express complicated concepts in a clear, compelling way.

Pete Nice of Nice World Industries designed and developed this website.

The Packard Foundation


For more than 50 years, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation has worked with partners around the world to improve the lives of children, families, and communities—and to restore and protect our planet.

The Foundation’s philanthropy is guided by Lucile and David’s approach to business and community participation: they invest in leaders and institutions, collaborate with them to identify the most effective solutions, and give them freedom and support to best reach their goals.

The Foundation’s guiding values include integrity, respect for all people, belief in individual leadership, commitment to effectiveness, and the capacity to think big. The six stories told here all embody those values—especially the capacity to think big.

The values of the Foundation reflect the personal values of Lucile—who spent her life as a volunteer in the community, often on efforts aimed at improving the lives of children—and David—who believed in the power of science to improve the human condition and restore the health of the planet. Today, their children and grandchildren continue to help guide the Foundation.

The Foundation works on the issues the founders cared about most: improving the lives of children, enabling the creative pursuit of science, advancing reproductive health, and conserving and restoring the earth’s natural systems. They use many effective methods to create change—one of which is strategic communications.

The Foundation is unique in their appetite for organizational learning and experimentation. This project, an in-depth study of some of their communications efforts, was born of the Foundation’s desire to better understand how their own forays into the realm of strategic communications have moved the needle.