Buddy Walk 2018 Case Study


Buddy Walk is RGDSN’s single-most impactful fundraiser. It was originally established in 1995 by the National Down Syndrome Society to celebrate Down Syndrome Awareness. SiarzaSD was tasked with developing a strategic communication strategy that would promote Buddy Walk and its mission. Increasing sponsorships, volunteer numbers, total attendees, and overall donations were SiarzaSD’s primary goals. The results of the campaign truly show the generosity of the Albuquerque community and the power of community outreach and social media in accomplishing philanthropic goals.


The Siarza team began with conducting research in order to maximize the campaign’s effectiveness in meeting Buddy Walk’s mission.


Having previously worked with RGDSN to promote its Buddy Walk event, the Siarza team began by analyzing what had worked well in the past. Then, the team began to analyze its past social media and advertising work on similar charitable events, laying out data analyses for engagement, reach, impressions, total followers, and ad cost.

Once these analyses had been completed, the Siarza team searched through other organizations linked to the National Down Syndrome Society to view other Buddy Walk campaigns.


The Siarza team made use of research compiled by companies (such as Sprout Social, HeyOrca and Hubspot) that specialize in social media analysis and frequently and regularly publish their findings. SiarzaSD analyzed reported best times to publish, highest performing posts by type, and greatest performing hashtags.


SiarzaSD designed the 2018 campaign to carry the classic Buddy Walk brand while still differentiating it from previous years. The Siarza team accomplished this through their research. Analyzing different Down Syndrome Society marketing campaigns for Buddy Walks across the country showed SairzaSD just how impactful strategic communication can be when it is organized to meet goals similar to those SiarzaSD and RGDSN set for their campaign. Because of this research, Siarza was able to promote Buddy walk as occupying a unique philanthropic position while simultaneously utilizing trends to optimize the campaign. Primary and secondary research influenced post times, content creation, photography suggestions, hashtag use, tone and voice.


TARGET AUDIENCES: Knowing target audiences is important to direct the outreach of RGDSN and tailoring messaging to reach the right people. The following target audiences are the core groups we wanted to reach for Buddy Walk, based off of market research RGDSN performed at the event’s conception that showed the most likely audiences to generate revenue:

  • PRIMARY: Parents or caregivers of an individual with Down syndrome, Individuals with Down syndrome
  • SECONDARY: Donors, Event Sponsors, Volunteers, Community Partners, Extended family and friends of an individual with Down syndrome, Local media networks, Local community

PROJECT GOAL AND MISSION: Promote awareness of RGDSN. Strengthen communication with existing membership. Increase engagement among the community, and re-engage members who have moved away from the RGDSN group. Raise attendance at Buddy Walk. Grow RGDSN membership. Interact more with sponsors and partners, taking into account their feedback.

KEY MESSAGES: We are a resource. We connect families and their communities through advocacy, education and support. We are a community online, in schools and in places we live and work. We empower individuals with Down Syndrome and their families by raising awareness, assuring inclusion, and promoting independence. We promote public awareness through partnerships and community initiatives. We celebrate individuals with Down syndrome by highlighting the moving stories of RGDSN’s members.

OBJECTIVES: In order to maximize the effectiveness of social, digital, and traditional media in accomplishing Buddy Walk’s mission and goals, SiarszaSD and RGDSN established the following objectives:

  1. Increase Buddy Walk event attendance by 20% YoY.
    1. STRATEGY: Utilize social media and email marketing
    2. STRATEGY: Advertise through social media channels
    3. STRATEGY: Reach out to the public
  2. Increase gross total revenue for Buddy Walk 2018 by 10% YoY.
    1. STRATEGY: Utilize social media and email marketing
    2. STRATEGY: Distribute traditional media ads
    3. STRATEGY: Introduce new sponsorship opportunities


TIMEFRAME: Siarza Social Digital began to meet with Carrie Tingley Hospital Foundation to discuss Mudd Volleyball on January 1, 2018 through August 17, 2018.


  1. Monthly Social Media Content Calendars: The SiarzaSD team was responsible for creating a social media calendar that included written content and ideas for Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Full calendars for the accounts were sent to the RGDSN team for review and approval prior to scheduling. Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter Live features were utilized for key Buddy Walk moments throughout the course of the campaign. Inc team features for kids teams were created around, put a face to the name.
  2. Monthly Social Media Drawings: Monthly drawings were held through Facebook Live and email marketing. Participants were automatically registered for monthly drawings, when the Siarza team gave prizes donated from local businesses.
  3. Email marketing: Including Buddy Walk event information and updates in RGDSN’s monthly newsletters made sense with limited resources. Buddy Walk-specific emails alerted members about registration deadlines, packet pickup dates, and what to expect.
  4. Public Relations: The Siarza team Added event to local calendar listings, created and distributed fliers to partner businesses where families regularly attended (such as inclusive gyms and therapy centers). Press releases were distributed, securing pre-event promotion through morning shows and radio spots. Engaging journalists brought coverage to the event itself.
  5. Buddy Walk Website Management: The Siarza team created announcements for landing page, promoted sponsors, and generally maintained the website.
  6. Community Relations and Fundraisers: The Navy Funk band as part of Albuquerque Navy Week was integrated, garnering additional media coverage for Buddy Walk through extended media relations. Buddy Walk partnered with many local businesses such as Buffaly Wild Wings, Scentsy, J. Crew, Ink Theory, food trucks that appeared at Buddy Walk, Blue Bell Ice Cream and local schools to raise funds and expand community outreach.
  7. Live Event Coverage: Aside from the same-day coverage SiarzaSD garnered through public relations, its team members participated in the event and covered the day through social media. Everything from live-streamed posts to Instagram and Facebook and Twitter static posts were utilized to share the event with those who could not participate.
  8. Location-based marketing: The Siarza team developed a Snapchat filter to place over the event location to reach new audiences and increase community engagement.

RESOURCES USED: SiarzaSD utilized ASANA to track deadlines and task out edits. The social media scheduling platform HeyOrca was utilized to draft, schedule and edit social media posts, allowing for the SiarzaSD team to collaborate with theRGDSN team. The team used the review monitoring service Reputology to respond to reviews. The Adobe Creative Suite was used to create graphics and visuals and to edit videos and photos. The simplified graphic design tool website Canva was used for less complex design tasks. Social media analytics were gathered through Facebook Insights and OnlyPult for Facebook and Instagram, respectively. Snapchat’s filtering tools were used to place the day-of filters.

BUDGET: RGDSN had no budget to support the Siarza team’s efforts, so Siarza chose to sponsor the event. As a sponsor for Buddy Walk, SiarzaSD spent $850 a month for content development and day-of event coverage, including email marketing services, web maintenance, and public relations efforts.

CHALLENGES OVERCOME: SiarzaSD needed to spend the smallest amount possible to sponsor Buddy Walk. The team did this by utilizing their resources to remain efficient and to utilize as many “free” services as possible (i.e. services without additional cost, such as email marketing or social media). Buddy Walk competed with other events on the same day. The Anderson-Abruzzo International Balloon Fiesta also had another event on the same day.


OBJECTIVE 1 WAS MET: The Anderson-Abruzzo International Balloon Museum Foundation recorded an attendance of 3,000 for Buddy Walk 2018, up 20% from the 2,500 attendees in 2017.

OBJECTIVE 2 WAS MET: Gross total revenue for the event increased to $62,766 up from $56,504, an overall increase of 11.08%.