Children’s Museum of the Lowcountry

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Arts and Cultural Organizations
North America

Children’s Museum of the Lowcountry applies lessons from immersive workshop to daily operations.

The Children’s Museum of the Lowcountry invites exploration and inspiration through play for families of all backgrounds. When the museum’s own team members had the chance to look at their strategy through a gamified two-day training—to get inspired through play—they learned fresh ways to best engage their community. 

When Simone Davis thinks about her role as a development associate at the Children’s Museum of the Lowcountry in Charleston, South Carolina, one statistic comes to mind: Charleston’s population grows by about 38 new residents every day, a number that includes 10 newborn babies.

“Since our mission is to focus on children that are birth to 10 years old, I feel like we have to keep up with the best practices and what would be good for those people,” Davis said. “The world is ever changing, ever evolving, and ever adapting—and we have to hone in on the needs of society.”

The museum invites children of all backgrounds to explore, ignite curiosity, and spark imagination through the power of play. Davis and her colleague, development associate Kayla Sewell, play a critical role in developing donor and member relationships and coordinating programs that help to achieve that mission.

The Children’s Museum of the Lowcountry partners with Blackbaud for its fundraising and relationship management solution to increase ticket sales and turn visitors into members and donors. Both Davis and Sewell rely on professional development opportunities through Blackbaud to stay current on trends about how best to engage their community and reach their goals.

“I think it’s important to participate in the best practices classes from Blackbaud University, because they specifically address how Blackbaud software can help nonprofits and museums answer real-world questions and challenges that they’re facing in their day-to-day operations,” Sewell said.

An Immersive Experience

The Children’s Museum of the Lowcountry team participated in a Blackbaud immersive best practices course on donor acquisition and retention, which included two days of onsite instruction and a gamified experience. The workshop tackled building a fictitious social good organization from the ground up and, in doing so, provided a fresh look at the museum’s operations—and how to maximize benefits from its fundraising and relationship management solution.

“This workshop was one of the most hands-on simulations that we’ve done, because it actually allowed us to partner on a mission and vision and come up with strategies,” Davis said. “It was definitely one of the best, most actionable workshops that we attended. It played into the children’s museum’s mission to learn through play, and that allowed us to retain the information and come to our supervisor excited about what we learned.”

Davis also participated in a Blackbaud grant writing workshop to learn industry-leading practices, and Sewell took an effective communications course to inform her fundraising appeals. “We figured out how to segment our donors,” Sewell said. “Blackbaud collects all that data and allows us to sort through it and decide who to engage with phone calls or personal meetings. That allows us to figure out our communication channels a little bit more effectively.”

Listening to Visitors

Ticket sales and membership management shape the museum’s strategy on everything from communication to programming. “The way that Blackbaud tracks how we engage with our local community informs us on our decisions on how to bring more people from more backgrounds to the museum—which is part of our mission,” Sewell said.

The Children’s Museum of the Lowcountry also takes advantage of Blackbaud’s integrated payment services solution that keeps lines moving and guests happy. “We’ve used mobile functions here at the museum to help our check-in process move quickly on busy days and to accept donations at special events,” Sewell said.

The Children’s Museum development team intends to participate in future trainings that help to further their own work and the museum’s mission. “A partnership with Blackbaud means that we always have access to tools, professional development, and best practices,” Davis said. Sewell continued, “We also get to engage with a network of employees who can help us get the most out of the Blackbaud products we use.”

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