Rodgers Townsend, DDB St. Louis

Pianos for People
"Thank You Notes"

Client: Pianos for People
Product: Music Education
Title: Thank You Notes
Media: Case Film, Board, Website:
Country: United States
Date Of Campaign: October 2017

Background: Pianos for People is a St. Louis-area nonprofit that finds, repairs, then gifts pianos along with free lessons to those who don’t have access to either. As a relatively unknown upstart with little funding, PFP relies on donors who support its mission in St. Louis and nearby Ferguson, Missouri.The benefits of learning a musical instrument on a child’s self-esteem, empathy and overall development are undisputed. But with budget shortfalls affecting public school funding and community programs, music and the arts are often the first to go. Pianos for People seeks to help fill that void with help from, and appreciation for, its many donors.

Idea: Our idea was to create a website that showed Pianos for People donors the great impact they’re making on the lives of PFP’s young students, but one that could also serve as an ongoing donor portal to support the organization and its mission going forward. Using a simple black-and-white interface, and the pictures and voices of the very children who benefit from the free pianos and lessons the donors help provide, we gathered a group of students, assigned them a “note” on the keyboard and gave them a chance to speak from the heart. Their “thank you notes” ranged from heartwarming to inspiring. Viewers also have the ability to turn off the comments, leaving a functioning piano keyboard for donors curious to explore their own musicality. Finally, viewers are able to share each student’s “note” on social channels with other music lovers and arts patrons as a gateway to this uniquely heartfelt online experience. Once there, a functioning metronome in the upper right-hand corner invites them to pledge their own support with a personal donation.

Results: The website debuted on Oct. 22 — the night of Pianos for People’s annual Evening of 100 Fingers fundraising concert. It thanked current donors and targeted new donors who see the emotional value and transformative benefit of music education. The event sold out and raised more than twice the amount of the previous year. In the bigger picture, the site has helped PFP raise enough money to gift over 200 pianos. The nonprofit has just opened its second location in embattled Ferguson, Missouri, and its star pupil has just accepted a scholarship to the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston.

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