<img height="1" width="1" style="display:none;" alt="" src="https://dc.ads.linkedin.com/collect/?pid=173746&amp;fmt=gif">

JASWDC grows event audience on a small budget

Japan-America Society of Washington DC
4 min read
May 18, 2023


tickets sold


T-shirts and plush toys sold


ad spend

The Challenge

The Japan-America Society of Washington DC (JASWDC) is a small nonprofit with a communications team of one. Olivia Kent, the director of communications, handles everything from the website to the newsletter to running digital ads. She had successfully run campaigns promoting Sakura Matsuri, the organization’s biggest event, but she felt like the organization was missing out on reaching a wider audience through a more integrated, omnichannel approach.


JASWDC used Feathr to significantly expand its audience at Sakura Matsuri. Leveraging built-in campaign templates called Flights, they were able to build an omnichannel marketing approach, promoting the event while engaging new audiences through automated emails and timely, well-placed ads.

Sakura Matsuri is the largest celebration of Japanese culture in the United States. It takes place every year around the time the cherry blossoms appear in April.

Olivia Kent is a one-person communications team for the Japan-America Society of Washington DC. She has her hands in everything — from designing plush toys for Sakura Matsuri to managing the organization’s website and social media accounts.

She had been using Constant Contact as the organization’s primary email platform, and was happy overall with the software. But she felt that she was missing out on creating synergy with her other marketing campaigns. 

She said, “​​I felt like if we really wanted to take our programs — especially Sakura Matsuri — to the next level, we needed a more effective way to manage and track our marketing campaigns together. As a one person team, I wanted a framework that could help put those ideas into action and produce tangible results.”

The more she researched Feathr and its features, the more she began to wonder if it was the missing piece in the puzzle. She thought about all the ways that she could streamline her emails through automation, and just as importantly, she wanted to use the platform that gave her insights into her audiences, allowing her to segment them more effectively.

Trying their newfound wings

Olivia started working in Feathr two months before Sakura Matsuri 2022, so she had a big test fast approaching. She wanted to get a feel for the campaigns she could run and jumped head first into the software.

One of the first things she set up was an automated email that triggered when someone visited the membership page but didn’t join. She said, “Once people go to our membership page and they don't click on anything, they get a little welcome email telling them about the society prompting the next action.”

She additionally set up Conversations on the organization’s language school page to gather more information from visitors. When someone lands on that page, a pop-up appears, asking what brought them there. Is it for work? Is it for leisure? By better understanding their audience, she knew she could more effectively engage them in the future.

And she tapped into the power of geofencing to build up new audiences by targeting people based on their locations. By serving mobile ads to people who attended another one of their events, Digital Japan Bowl, and also Katsucon, she was able to keep Sakura Matsuri top of mind.

While Olivia was happy with the initial results of her Feathr campaigns, she knew that with more than two months, she would be better able to tie the campaigns together and exponentially increase impact.

From mono to stereo

With more time to promote Sakura Matsuri 2023, Olivia took her campaigns omnichannel by using Feathr’s built-in campaign templates, called Flights. She says, “I really love how easy it makes planning all the marketing activities.”

Olivia kicked things off with a launch email to engaged supporters, and followed up with retargeting ads to those who visited the website from that email. And that was just the beginning. She then built a landing page to streamline the process for registration and continued to follow up with ads to people who made it all the way to registration but dropped out.

Screen Recording 2023-05-11 at 10.42.25 AM

The launch email that JASWDC built in Feathr.

This year she wasn’t leaving anything to chance. She said, “The Flight this year has made our marketing efforts more effective in general, and I've seen better results. Also, they’re easier to analyze because they’re all there together.”

Leveraging the simple power of email

For all the ad campaigns and new tactics she included over the last few years with Feathr, much of their success is still based on the humble email. She said, “Overall, the single-send emails are just very effective. I think that's probably where we get the biggest response.”

Email is very much at the heart of successful marketing efforts for nonprofits. Nonprofits on average have some of the highest open rates and engagement through the channel. But by creating synergy between email and their other campaigns, they’re able to significantly increase their effect.

And nothing increases the impact of an email more than a deeper understanding of your community. Olivia said, “It's been really helpful to have access or to be able to generate segments in Feathr and sift through the data and target people who are more receptive to different messages.”

Screen Recording 2023-05-11 at 10.43.23 AM
The event reminder email that JASWDC built in Feathr.

Olivia builds many of the email graphics in Canva and Illustrator, then imports them into Feathr’s templated and easy-to-use email builder. She says about the transition from her previous email provider, “It's pretty much exactly the same, if not better than Constant Contact, in terms of some of the tools that you can put in emails like the countdown clocks and things like that, which are fun! So really it's been a pretty seamless transition.”

Starting from the ground up

For small nonprofits, it can be difficult to take the leap into new initiatives. Olivia suggests for other nonprofits who are on Feathr to take the risks that they’re comfortable with at first: “If you want something that's low risk, you don't have to spend the full recommended budget. You don't even have to spend anything if you're starting with email.”

Speaking about the success of her own campaigns, she says, “You spend $50 and you get $1,000 of revenue back. For a society like us, that's a huge return on investment and it's very encouraging. I have a lot of confidence in the system.”

Speaking about Feathr, Olivia says, “You know, it's been kind of the final piece of the puzzle in updating our communications practices.”

“You spend $50 and you get $1,000 of revenue back. For a society like us, that's a huge return on investment and it's very encouraging. I have a lot of confidence in the system.”
Olivia Kent

Director of Communications, JASWDC



The Japan-America Society of Washington DC (JASWDC) is a driving force in forging close ties between the United States and Japan. They are building a world in which Americans and Japanese of every generation value and contribute to the U.S.-Japan relationship. Learn more at jaswdc.org.


Washington, D.C.


Membership and attendee acquisition

Subscribe to the Good Marketing Brief