Case Study

The Sisters of Saint Mary of Namur

The Sisters of Saint Mary of Namur (SSMN), Western Region are educators, missionaries and pursuers of peace. They have served Texas communities since 1873 and have built many ministries through the years to serve the poor and powerless in their communities.

In 2021, friends of SSMN contacted The Cause Agency with a special request. They needed help reviving the Sisters’ communication with former students, community members and the public ahead of their 150th anniversary. In addition, they wanted to raise awareness of the Sisters’ story and service to communities throughout Texas. SSMN had just closed their last school, Our Lady of Victory, which was their only remaining source of revenue.

Among the challenges of this project, SSMN’s internal staff had not kept up a strong database of donors/friends and The Cause Agency would need to build this back up. In addition, SSMN did not have a budget, so the marketing and communications plan needed to be hyper-focused with organic marketing and very little paid media.

The Cause Agency’s work would center on identifying and spreading the narratives that would reintroduce the Sisters to the audiences that mattered. We started by researching the history of the Sisters — going back 150 years thanks to meticulous archives — and discovered many compelling stories that needed to be shared. We interviewed SSMN’s current historian as well as several other Sisters and families who attended SSMN schools.

We then used this research to create a communications marketing plan. Our goals were to nurture and increase awareness of SSMN’s continued presence in their community and connect with the thousands of people they have helped over many years.

Our team identified several primary, secondary and tertiary stakeholder audiences and then got to work creating outreach materials using various mediums including traditional marketing (direct mailers, brochures, events, public relations) and nontraditional marketing (emails, digital advertising, social media, videos) to be published and shared over the next two years.

The results were better than imagined. With The Cause Agency modernizing the SSMN email and mailing systems, both contact lists bloomed — the direct mail list by more than 10 percent and the email list by 243 percent. SSMN received financial support from several direct mail pieces — without even asking for it. In the last two years these communication efforts have led friends of SSMN to donate approximately $600,000 dollars to the Sisters (who live on very little and for the most part do not receive assistance from the Catholic Church or government services). The return on their dollar investment was 1905%!

Historical Collage of The Sisters of Saint Mary of Namur
Sister helping mother in school hallway

Social Media

Their Facebook page has become a place where people learn about SSMN news and fundraising efforts and reconnect with a part of their own history and story.

The Cause Agency took over the content creation and posting on SSMN Facebook page. With access to SSMN’s archives of photos and history books, we were able to begin a content calendar that organized regular posts covering topics including SSMN’s history, current Sisters and current work the Sisters are involved with, plus ways to support/get involved with the Sisters. Regular posting by The Cause Agency on the SSMN Facebook page reconnected the Sisters with more than 690 former students, volunteers and community members (up from 537 organically) while their anthem video reached more than 1,200 people. Proof that the community loves these Sisters is evident in their birthday posts on Facebook – they receive higher organic engagement and share rates than any other posts we do for them.

Overall, the page has become a place where people learn about SSMN news and fundraising efforts and reconnect with a part of their own history and story.

Opening a Bible

Branding & Design

Before relaunching their website, creating videos or reimagining their social media, SSMN needed branding. SSMN did not have a brand identity beyond their reputation in and around Fort Worth and their icon which is the cross featured in their new/current logo. Our plan was to launch their new brand personality via their brand-new website.

The Cause Agency team got to work creating a blue and yellow color scheme and chose colors that are more energetic together, including secondary blues that enhanced and supported the rich palette. We also designed a style of graphical elements that supported the mission and the message – a look of simplicity, boldness, community and faith. The goal was to create a serious yet inviting tone. The chosen blue and gold colors helped create good visual space throughout branding on SSMN’s website, newsletter and more. The colors helped indicate that the organization is both religious and academic. The same can be said for chosen images, communicating that SSMN is clearly a religious organization, but with academic undertones and strong, long history.

The Sisters are now more connected to their audience than ever, in large part due to the push to create new branding. The branding is now used in all aspects of the organization’s communications, including quarterly newsletters (created by The Cause Agency), letters from SSMN to their mailing list, social media, videos and more.

Quarterly Newsletter 

Website Design & Development

In order to revive communications, it was paramount to create a new website for SSMN. Based on their old website, the main challenge of the project was the organization of the website and rethinking the user experience.

Our team got to work designing a new website that would meet the needs of contemporary users. To meet these needs, we designed pages with cleaner sections, clearer call-to-action buttons and a main navigation that was easier to follow.

The website has become an easy-to-visit destination for all SSMN information. Special sections are dedicated to their history, stories from current Sisters, ways to get involved, a home for their current newsletter, videos all throughout and ways to contact SSMN.

Video & Photography

Two Sisters talking at Mass

To help tell the stories of SSMN throughout the state of Texas, The Cause Agency has used photography and videos in a number of projects. To start, our team conducted a number of interviews with the Sisters to learn more about their history and their mission. In the interviews, we heard many different stories about Sisters past and present as well as their current work. In other videos, former students and friends of the organization are interviewed about their experiences with SSMN. Many people shared how growing up with SSMN impacted their lives for good. These family interviews are also housed on SSMN’s YouTube page and the website.

Collected footage and interviews have also been used to create videos that encourage fundraising, including an award-winning anthem video that reached more than 1,200 people on Facebook (and received accolades from Fort Worth PRSA’s 2023 Worthy Awards). Interviews with former students have been shared on Facebook as well. Videos straight from the Sisters are housed on their website and provide a rare window into their lives and work.

As for photography, The Cause Agency has dug into the archives of SSMN photos and hired photographers to attend SSMN events for new photographs. SSMN leadership also regularly sends photos of everyday events happening in the lives of the Sisters to be used on Facebook. These personal, affable posts are always their best performing posts. They not only help connect the Sisters with their audience, but share their everyday lives with many beyond their community.