Wharton Studio Museum

Wharton Studio Museum

The Wharton Studio Museum is a nonprofit organization dedicated to transforming a historic studio building in Ithaca, New York, into a silent movie museum to preserve and celebrate Ithaca’s role in the history of American film making. Originally founded as Ithaca Motion Picture Project, the organization re-named itself as their vision for the museum became a reality.


    Fundraising, Strategy, Development, Design, Implementation, Hosting, Support


    Wharton Studio Museum

Business Need

When Ithaca Motion Picture Project changed their name to Wharton Studio Museum, they not only needed to re-brand the organization, but they needed to discover ways to increase membership and uncover effective fundraising strategies. Their website also needed to play a different, much larger role to serve the museum and the community in new capacities. News and community events had to take center stage for greater community presence and as a means to reach membership and fundraising goals.  The website also needed to be easy to maintain and update, especially for a changing roster of volunteers. And of course, the online donation process needed to be simplified and promoted prominently for supporters to use.

Key Challenges

  • Effective fundraising strategies needed to be developed and this nonprofit was young
  • Increase membership pool
  • The integration of social media, news, and events calendar on home page needed to be simple to maintain and update.
  • New branding, logo and marketing campaigns with name change
  • Create a new website that was both functional, fresh, and user-friendly so that volunteers could easily maintain and update content.
  • Content migration from the previous Drupal site to the new WordPress site.
  • Limited budget and quick turnaround needed


In consultation with the client, development strategies were formed for individual giving, increasing membership numbers, marketing, recruiting, and fundraising. By bringing visibility to the cause promoting the culture and  history of its pre-Hollywood heritage, this created a buzz in the community. This fascination provided a rare and timely opportunity to powerfully reintroduce the brand and its mission.

With regular community events, particularly  an outdoor movie night that was a hit, the studio could more easily access fundraising and membership goals, and even recruit great talent, strengthening the organization inside and out, all of which ultimately increased donations of every size and an elevated nonprofit that launched and was well on the path to continued success.


  • Membership and donations goals were reached and in some cases, surpassed since the completion of the project.
  • New branding and website launch succeeded in creating higher visibility and interest in the history of the museum and its current activities.
  • Sanmita customized their content management system and moved to a WordPress platform, which was well-received. The content migration from the previous Drupal site to WordPress went well and ahead of schedule.
  • Google Analytics was integrated with the site to enable easy tracking of website visits and trends for targeted marketing and overall development for this nonprofit. For its time, this was more the exception than the rule.
  • Mobile responsiveness was built into the site at no additional cost, a feature that impressed and pleased the client.
  • End result was the strengthened nonprofit with strategies in all areas of fundraising, increased membership base, web design, development, marketing, branding, and technology.
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