Case Studies

Our clients include Fortune 500 companies, leading foundations and nonprofits, and large-scale projects by emerging coalitions. Read below to see examples of our work.

Impact and alumni engagement

Fortune 100 Company - Office of Corporate Engagement

Community and collective power

Unlock Aid: Advocacy Coalition

Putting data to work

National Council on Teacher Quality

Case Study: Alumni Engagement & Fellows Program

Client: Fortune 100 Company, Office of Corporate Engagement

The Challenge

Thousands of small business owners had graduated from the education program the client offers, but there was limited engagement after that. Moreover, a majority of the small business owners consistently said hiring qualified candidates was a huge challenge.

Digital management

A key component to executing the program was the digital infrastructure supporting its durability and growth. Working through rapid iterations, Starling built portals to solicit and review internship applications using no-code solutions, established the architecture and managed participant data, supported digital communications to participants and managed surveys and feedback collection and analysis.

What we did

Starling was asked to design and implement a new alumni program, helping small business owners recruit talent while giving valuable professional experiences to community college students. The pilot was set for four markets, each with a different set of local partners. Starling interviewed end users, community college partners and industry experts to prepare the initial strategy for the program. We then built a community among the four markets, managed and streamlined communications, oversaw communications, ran weekly meetings and supported local innovation and experimentation within a national framework.

Relationships endure

Throughout the project, we were able to build effectively because we stayed connected to the various end users, supporting virtual trainings and community building events for students and business owners, and checking in weekly with the community college teams on the ground. This also enabled us to bring valuable stories to the client’s marketing, PR and government affairs teams to support the company’s brand.


Small businesses and students participating within 8 months of program launch


Small business owners who would recommend the program


Fellows who said the internship provided them with meaningful work experience

Case Study: Community and Collective Power

Client: Unlock Aid

The Challenge

Starling was initially approached by a small business with experience in global development - and many questions about why massive public funds in the space were so difficult for innovative companies to access. Once we researched and understood the problem, the next challenge was identifying and convincing companies - often in competition with one another - to work together in a coalition to build pressure for structural reform by public institutions.

From Slide Deck to Standalone Organization

Unlock Aid is now a stand-alone, sustaining c(3)/c(4) with a vibrant member community, and Starling has diminished its role accordingly, proud to have played a role incubating a critical effort for the global development space. Maybe you've got an idea for the next one? Let's talk.

What We Did

Through over 70 interviews, Starling researched the landscape of global development and aid to understand factors limiting innovation, impact and scale. Based these findings and our client's support, we designed an advocacy effort. Starling built a business plan for this alliance, recruited 20 initial founding members, established the 501c3 and c4, pitched foundations and successfully raised over hundreds of thousands of dollars from organizations such as the Skoll and Mulago Foundations. During the initial fundraising and recruitment, Starling also placed op-eds, developed a website and engaged policy-makers to jumpstart momentum for the nascent community.


Organizations join as Unlock Aid members, across 9 countries, in less than 6 months


Congressional meetings in Unlock Aid's first Washington, DC Advocacy week

Case Study: Putting Data to Work

The Challenge

A long-established think tank, NCTQ, was sitting on piles of data generated from thorough assessment of topics like the quality of teaching schools' curriculum and outcomes from different styles of teaching. Despite having a vast amount of valuable content, NCTQ felt they needed to do more to build interest around education reforms and mobilize allies to implement improvements.

Starling's Work Helps Raise Money

One of the unanticipated benefits of Starling's work, according to NCTQ, is how their digital strategy has made fundraising conversations more successful. Being able to talk about a digitally-informed plan and point to current projects already underway adds to NCTQ's credibility when asking for large investments from major foundations.

What Starling Did

After an accelerated discovery phase, Starling delivered a digital strategy with specific findings and actionable recommendations. We quoted staff members and potential partners to humanize feedback, developed target personas and organizations and then visualized the segments of priority audiences within NCTQ's single house list and created an outreach plan to grow. We also connected NCTQ with partners eager to consume and reuse their valuable data to deliver positive impact for teachers and, ultimately, students.