Nominations and applications are now open for the 2019 brandUP , a free 2-day intensive marketing and communication workshop co-presented with Full Circle Fund . One of last year's nonprofit participants Frailty Myths has now had some time to...Read more.
Last year, we showed you a great way to save time and money by letting your web team produce a website for your annual report. Online presentations are easy to deliver and easy to track, making them the perfect approach for conscientious...Read more.
If you’re frustrated with trying to increase your donor base, strategic partnerships and membership, we have a proven tool that we use with our clients that can help. It’s called a nonprofit logic model. Building a nonprofit logic model will help...Read more.
Nominations and applications are now open for the 2018 brandUP , a free 2-day intensive marketing and communication workshop co-presented with Full Circle Fund . Last year's Awardee Root & Rebound has now had some time to reflect on the...Read more.
Even nonprofits with established identities need to reevaluate from time to time in order to stay relevant. In many cases, a brand refresh may be necessary. What is a Brand Refresh? Simply put, a brand refresh is a makeover. The goal is to enhance...Read more.
Digital marketing has stolen the spotlight in recent years, thanks to its accessibility and reach, but does that mean print is obsolete? Not according to a Two Sides survey: “88% of respondents indicated that they understood, retained or used...Read more.
Mood boards are a an effective way to discuss ideas, share insights and clarify communication. They will help you visually explain a feeling and in turn, develop a more authentic and successful brand. What makes a successful mood board process? Here...Read more.
Mood boarding can be tough, but is a great excerise to help generate a new look and feel for your brand. We've generated an infographic to that makes creating a mood board fun and easy in four simple steps. Below we've written out a step by step...Read more.
Building a logo can be as easy as ABC, or 123...yes, just like the Jackson 5 song. It is composed of basic building blocks of shapes, colors and letters. Just like a children’s cartoon, because really, if it does not read that simply, then you are...Read more.
Recently, Rootid and American Rivers, a Washington, DC based nonprofit, launched a new website together that showcases refreshed branding, an updated UX design focused the use of storytelling to drive user conversions, as well as seamless...Read more.
1. Identify your core values This is not just your mission, philosophy or that elevator speech people are always telling to you refine. These are the heart and soul of the work that you do, the high level concepts, the attributes of your brand that...Read more.
A style guide should have a few main components, but often times it gets bogged down in a lot of “descriptive jargon” that is just not that useful for your typical non-profit organization or association. A style guide is needed so that anyone who is...Read more.
UPDATE: Our presentation at Innovations in Healthy Food at The Federal Reserve Bank on December 14, 2016. See Slide Deck This past weekend a few of our Rootid co-hort and friends participated in the first hackathon ever organized in Richmond,...Read more.
Nominations and applications are now open for the 2019 brandUP, a free 2-day intensive marketing and communication workshop co-presented with Full Circle Fund. One of last year's nonprofit participants Frailty Myths has now had some time to reflect on the experience, so we sat down to chat with their Co-founder and Director, Erinn Carter, to provide helpful tips to this year's participants.
1. What is Frailty Myths currently focused on as an organization?
As an organization entering our third year of operation, we’re working to solidify our foundation as an organization, working to share our vision as to how to change the world with an even larger audience, and discovering new donors to expand our impact to more communities. From an institutional perspective, this means streamlining and defining how we speak about our theory of change, our strategy for creating that change, and discovering new ways to partner and collaborate with other organizations to amplify our mission.
We’ve partnered with a number of organization, community groups, and leaders to create dynamic spaces for inspiring our participants to challenge inequality, patriarchy and what exactly a leader “looks like.” From our three part series with community garden Pollinate Farms in the heart of the Fruitvale community in Oakland, CA to our “Lift As We Climb” aerial ballet workshop with internationally renowned Bandaloop performers, Frailty Myths has looked to expand our voice while maintaining a strong connection to our core mission, which is inspiring a new generation of women, trans, and gender nonconforming folks to embrace leadership and smash the myth of frailty.
2. Through a communications lens, what have you been focused on over the last year and how is that supporting your overall organizational goals?
We’ve worked hard to share the story of Frailty Myths, both our founding and our theory of change that we accomplish through our work. We’ve worked on this from a number of fronts:
1. Establishing a voice online in our social media accounts and how we interact with our audience. This includes creating original content, engaging questions from our audience, and engaging with organizations and groups that share our overall mission of empowering marginalized communities around the world.
2. Participating in media opportunities, including podcasts and local media to share our message in new audiences. We worked to create a press release regarding our work and developed a database of outlets that overlap with our mission and began to reach out to them.
3. Streamlining our visitors experience on our website. This meant doing a lot of editing to summarize our mission and also working to envision what the journey that each website visitor may go on, depending on their entry point to our website.
4. We’re celebrating March and “Women’s History Month” by going on a nationwide tour, bringing Frailty Myths workshops to the community in five cities across the United States. We’ve worked over the past few month and leading up to the tour amplifying our mission to new audiences across the country and connecting with allied organizations in different cities.
3. How did your experience with Rootid and our BrandUP Award inform your communications strategy?
As a new and growing organization, getting an opportunity to get new eyes on our work and our vision was invaluable. We spent so much time as an organization essentially speaking to ourselves; getting an opportunity to get educated and passionate eyes on our product and getting feedback as to how we could make it clearer and more effective was amazing. We changed a number of things after the workshop. We think a lot more now from the perspective of what our participants or outsiders journey may be in experiencing us for the first time. Can we make understanding what we do at Frailty Myths clear, concise, and to the point? What is our theory of change and how can we share that vision with our audience? After the workshop, we made those questions central to our communications mission.
4. Did anything change in your communications and processes from before to after your brandUP experience? How have you integrated the work into your marketing materials and planning?
We’ve mentioned some of the specific ways in which we’ve incorporated this work into our marketing materials online with our social media profiles. We’ve also streamlined and focused our filmed marketing materials, including a new commercial advertising our mission and impact.
5. Was there anything that was unexpected or surprised you that came out of the work we did together?
I think the continued communication that I’ve had with so many of the people from Rootid and Full Circle Fund after the workshop. The fact that I’ve been able to email and ask questions impressed me so much. There’s a real sense that the folks that have created this program believed in the projects that were selected to be a part of BrandUP, even beyond the few days that we spent together at the workshop.
6. In what ways do you think we can use this process to help organizations like yours further their missions?
As a new organization, we’re primarily focused on what we need to improve, how we can streamline established processes and make our own that fit with our goal and how we operate as an organization. As such, we’re pretty focused on what we’re doing wrong. Having this process, which not only helped to highlight what we could do better, but also showed us spaces where we were succeeding, was really inspiring for me.
I’d also say that the process of being able to pull back from the day to day grind of operating a new nonprofit to be able to refocus on what we’re doing and why we’re doing was so valuable. Prioritizing the bigger picture of “Why” and what are the larger steps to successfully manifesting our “Why” was really helpful in reminding us of what our process is and why were have dedicated our lives to creating a new space for change to blossom.
When I think about BrandUP in terms of the return on the invested time, it’s an impressive experience. Almost more than a year later, we’ve implemented ideas from the workshop into our day to day practice, we’re continuing our relationship with many of the organizations and leaders we met in the workshop, and we’re thinking about ways to use this work in the future. If people are willing to invest the time and effort, the BrandUP experience is definitely worth it.
7. What advice would you give to this next co-hort so that they can be prepared for and get the most out of their experience?
The “homework” for the workshop is really important. I know that many organizations like mine are just a few people doing a incredible number of jobs at the same time. But taking the time before the workshop to think about different donors and their specific donor journey, solidifying your theory of change, and connecting with each staff member that will participate at the workshop beforehand feels paramount to getting the most out of the workshop. With so little time to think about really dynamic questions, you’ll want to spend as much time being able to think about new ideas and new strategies, not questions about the direction of your work or your foundation vision.
Want to learn more? Read about our 2017 BrandUP Awardee Root & Rebound.
Mood boarding can be tough, but is a great excerise to help generate a new look and feel for your brand. We've generated an infographic to that makes creating a mood board fun and easy in four simple steps.
You do not need to be a typographic guru to know what fonts look good together and what ones don't. Focus on personality and legibility.
The first font you choose should be something that you would want to use for headers on your print and web materials (show something with some ‘character/ personality’). The second font you choose should be something that is easier to read and will work well as body text across your print and web materials. Choosing a font family that is flexible and has thin/narrow options, bold, extended and black will get you the furthest.
2. CREATE A COLOR PALETTE
2-3 colors is fine, you do not need a huge assortment to feel visually cohesive— less is more.
Overall, it is good to pick 1-2 brighter colors to use for accents and then think about something additional that is more neutral.
Also consider using lighter and darker tones of the same color (hue) you are already using...lightening up (adding white) to your header color and then using it for a sub-header is a nice way to have something feel cohesive without needing to choose an additional color— make sure everything you choose goes with your logo as well.
3. PATTERN & TEXTURE
Not everyone likes or wants texture, but it should be considered either way. If you already know you want your colors and backgrounds to be flat, that is still a texture...
Show Visually: ie. flat, smooth, clean, etc. Or maybe you want a little more of a grunge feel, or something else that has a tactile or 3-D quality to it.
Choose 1-3 main photos and/or illustrations and another 4-7 images that you can use interchangeably across all of your materials.
Make sure the images you choose (as a collection) show the core values of your organization, campaign, project or idea.
This is not just your mission, philosophy or that elevator speech people are always telling to you refine. These are the heart and soul of the work that you do, the high level concepts, the attributes of your brand that are inspiring to you, yes, you as a person who works for said company, organization, association, etc. Think about it this way, what makes you stick around other than your paychecks?
Good branding comes from within—it needs to be ‘REAL’ or everyone will know you are faking it. Authenticity is what will draw supporters and keep them around. If you begin by identifying your core values and then align your messaging and visual language around them, you will have a strong foundation for authentic branding and a cohesive strategy to turn supporters into brand champions.
Core Value Sample: “I am inspired by the people I work with and the impact we are able to have on our local community as well as the nation as a whole. Though we are only one part of a larger organization, our office really is on the front line, leading the charge. It is exciting to be a part of real change.”
2. Figure out how your brand thinks.
Branding is really just a fancy word for personality. A strong brand has a way that it thinks about, interacts, wants to be seen by the world. All of these things are based in the brand’s core values, and once you know what they are, you can begin creating conversations. Try breaking things down into silos. What are they type of things that inspire this brand and how would it talk about why that thing is inspirational? What would make this brand laugh/what is its sense of humor like? What would make this brand cry? argue? feel smart? You get the idea. Now actually come up with descriptions of at least 4 that are applicable.
Recent Client Sample: “We want our brand to feel professional, strong and be a thought-leader in the international arena, but have a little bit of junkyard dog/scrappiness mixed in there as well. We are a small but mighty group and take on issues many organizations can’t.”
Once the above building blocks are in place, you can begin to develop the assets to support them, ie. the actual language you are going to use (messaging) and the visuals that match (color palette, typography, iconography, photography, etc.). Ultimately, creating a short style guide at this point in the process can be helpful. Then you can move onto specific deliverables like websites, social media, brochures or other marketing materials.
3. Build relationships not subjects
No one is looking for a friend who is constantly engaging in monologue, so your brand should not be doing this either. It is more than abiding by the 80-20 rule. (80% of your messaging should be information, resources and opportunities and 20% can be tooting you own horn.) People make new friends when that person has something interesting and exciting to share—they are looking to connect with someone of similar interests. This is the same for a brand who wants to engage with new community members…start by being a good friend. Listen to what people want, teach them about issues and ideas they may not be familiar with, but do so through conversation, not preaching. Present new ideas, ask for input, and discuss. As Seth Godin would say, “Build a tribe.”
A style guide should have a few main components, but often times it gets bogged down in a lot of “descriptive jargon” that is just not that useful for your typical non-profit organization or association. A style guide is needed so that anyone who is creating marketing materials for you will have the basic components and rules to maintain brand consistency and cohesion, but this does not need to be the next Iliad.
Your basic style guide needs to have some examples of your brand’s personality, how it talks about itself in different circumstances and then examples of the visuals that support this messaging. I have seen a lot of style guides during my tenure as a graphic designer and brand strategist, and more often than not I come away thinking, “Half of that was not necessary and only would confuse people who are not used to looking at or using this type of thing.” Keep it short and sweet, less is more.
Here are the basics:
1. Come up with a concise list of frequently asked questions about your organization and then answer them clearly with the tone and feel that you want others to use. This gives your brand champions/staff members/volunteers easy talking points without bogging them down in concept and explanations. Show don't tell.
2. Provide examples of how your logo can and should be used across your various marketing channels and materials so that people using your logo do not stretch or deform it. Remember to show black, white and colored backgrounds as well as in print and for the web.
3. Identify primary and secondary color palettes. If you really only want neutral tones with one pop of color used, show that, but make sure you have a enough secondary colors that your brand will feel consistent and unified without feeling dull and flat. Many organizations/associations have silos to their programs, so being able to color code these different areas is often useful.
4. Provide font families for print and web. If you are not providing people with fonts that you have purchased, make sure that you choose some strong, free web fonts. Always using Arial can get pretty boring, so look into widely used Google Fonts. Their library has gotten pretty extensive now and you can find some good stuff. In this section of your guide, you also want to show people how to layout text. Show a few samples of headlines, headings, sub-headings, body text, quotes, bulleted lists and provide line-heights and letter-spacing notes.
5. Include photography and iconography examples. Your look and feel is important as well as any sensitivities you want to make sure brand messengers are aware of. Showing samples of good photography (even if it is stock) that illustrate the correct tone as well as any color or texture treatments is important to make available.
Final Note: It is important to provide guidance to those who are going to create print and/or digital assets that support your brand. It is also important to have your brand messaging and visual identity clear, consistent and cohesive. However, this can be easily accomplished in under 20 pages. Keep it simple.
Need help with your branding or building a style guide? We can help! Contact us at email@example.com
Last year, we showed you a great way to save time and money by letting your web team produce a website for your annual report. Online presentations are easy to deliver and easy to track, making them the perfect approach for conscientious organizations.
This year, we wanted to revisit that notion with a fresh dose of inspiration. From standout styles to user-friendly features, these annual reports are raising the bar for everyone:
Scroll through this vibrant report and you’ll find a clever way to display a lot of (pertinent) information. Donor lists are accessed by selecting a contribution level and navigating side-to-side, rather than appearing as one giant wall of text.
According to the text, “Visitors to the Museum are encouraged to leave a message on digital screens near a piece of World Trade Center steel.” Here, some of those impressions have been incorporated into the design and are displayed on a loop.
This organization provides a print (.pdf) option at the end of its digital report.
Websites may be the future of annual reporting, but for these impressive organizations, that future is here. If you’re ready to join them, shoot us a quick message. We’d love to help you show off your work to the world!
Nonprofit Logic Models: A Complete Guide to Building Better Fundraising and Communications Plans
If you’re frustrated with trying to increase your donor base, strategic partnerships and membership, we have a proven tool that we use with our clients that can help.
It’s called a nonprofit logic model.
Building a nonprofit logic model will help your team target the outcomes that your mission needs to succeed (think donations, volunteers, etc.). It will also help you prioritize your work plan, and understand what you can say “no” to on a day-to-day basis.
Logic models are commonly thought of as nonprofit operations tools, but that’s not all they should be used for.
We’ll talk more about how logic models are foundational to a great communications strategy, help you generate more powerful messaging, and target the right audiences at the right time.
In this post, we’ll take you step-by-step on how to create your nonprofit logic model, and provide you the tools we use to do this with our clients.
What is a Nonprofit Fundraising Logic Model?
At the simplest level, a logic model is a way to map out your organization’s inputs (we’re going to call them activities), outputs and outcomes that are associated with your business.
Great! So what does that even mean?
Simply put, think about what your organization needs to do its work. This could be money, volunteers, supplies, etc. These are inputs/activities.
After you complete you work, you are left with outputs and outcomes. These are the results of your work. There is a really critical difference between these two, even though they sound similar. We’ll get into that later in this post.
Use this template to build your own nonprofit logic model as you go through this guide.
Defining Your Inputs/Activities
For this exercise, I created a fictitious organization that we can use as an example.
I’m calling my fictious organization “Clean-up And Restoration Team” - or CART for short.
EXAMPLE ORGANIZATION: CART is a volunteer-driven environmental clean-up and restoration organization that uses volunteer labor to clean-up locations that have been left polluted by industrial companies. With volunteer crews they clean-up these locations and restore them using native species of plants.
Inputs or activities are the things that we do everyday to make our mission run.
In the case of CART (our fictitious example nonprofit), here are some example inputs:
Volunteer Recruitment - The organization needs volunteer to participate in the clean-up and restoration process.
Clean-up Site Acquisition & Scouting - These sites aren’t just coming out of nowhere. Someone needs to find the abandoned sites, get permission to work on them, and then setup the logistics to actually do the work
Volunteer Crew Leader Training - CART can’t just rely on a group of volunteers to run themselves. Crew leaders are vital to creating a safe, enjoyable and productive atmosphere for volunteers.
Volunteer-driven Plant Nursery for Native Plant Species - CART has elected to raise their own native plant species so they can supply their teams with the plants that they need.
Realize that we’ve drastically simplified this for the sake of this post. Every organization is different, so if you have more than this, that’s normal.
Outputs vs. Outcomes
Before we talk about outputs, it’s important to understand how outputs are different from outcomes. This can be a bit confusing, so it’s worth taking time to clarify.
Put simply, outputs tell the story of what your organization produces. Outputs do not address the value or impact of your services.
On the other hand, an outcome is the level of performance or achievement that occurred because of the activity or services your organization provided.
Here’s an example for CART:
Output = The volunteer leader training program generated 5 new volunteer crew leads.
Outcome = CART is expanding its clean-up program to 2 new regions, doubling the number of acres that are being cleaned-up and restored.
Here’s another way to look at it. This is really important to understand:
Outcomes communicate the impact of your organization and how it impacts your clients or those you serve.
Outputs are direct results of your activities.
Logic Model Outputs
Now that we understand the difference between outputs and outcomes, here are the examples we created for CART, examples of outputs can be:
Volunteer Recruitment Outputs Volunteers
Site Scouting Outputs Clean-up Sites - CART has a pipeline of abandoned industrial sites that it can work on with volunteer leaders.
Crew Leader Training outputs Volunteer Crew Leaders - The CART crew leader training program will directly output competent crew leaders that keep volunteers motivated, empowered and efficient at their work.
Native Plant Nursery outputs Native Plants - The nursery program pumps out a lot plants that can be used at the clean-up locations
Is this making sense? From this you can start to see how outputs are directly related to activities.
Digging into Logic Model Outcomes
One thing that’s important to note about outcomes, is that often, multiple outputs can lead to a single outcome. There doesn’t have to be a one-to-one connection.
For CART, examples of outcomes might be:
Restored native habitat and ecosystems leads to clean drinking water sources for nearby population centers.
Community members feel empowered to take a leading role in cleaning up and advocating for their local ecosystems.
Outcomes focus on impact to your clients or communities
This is a really important distinction.
There are two other important elements to outcomes:
First, logic model outcomes are closely related to generating marketing messaging, which produces better marketing campaigns. We’ll dig into this shortly, but we’re starting to get closer to connecting the model with our marketing.
Secondly, logic model outcomes should always, always, always be measured so you can use those measurements in your marketing messaging.
Here’s an example of using outcomes to create better marketing messaging.
Consider two impact statements that you might find in a fundraising letter, or impact report:
“In 2018, CART empowered community volunteers to restore abandoned industrial waste sites and helped restore the quality of our drinking water.”
- Versus -
“In 2018, CART empowered 20,000 community volunteers to restore more than 1,200 square miles of abandoned industrial waste sites (that’s the size of Rhode Island!) and helped restore the quality of our drinking water to over a million people!”
Using a Logic Model For Nonprofit Communications Strategies
One of the things that makes Rootid’s logic model unique is the focus on strategies.
This is important because it takes the logic model, which is often thought to be a nonprofit operations tool, and makes it a powerful communications tool.
Now that we know our inputs/activities, we can build communications strategies around them, and most importantly prioritize them.
When building strategies, it’s important to think about the audiences that you’re talking to and group them into nonprofit personas based upon their motivations.
Who are they? What messages work for them? Where can we find them?
For example, the way CART recruits volunteers may be very different than the way you scout and acquire clean-up sites.
When acquiring clean-up sites, CART may be interfacing with local governments officials or industrial business leaders to get permission to clean-up the site.
On the other hand, volunteer recruitment may target college kids at nearby schools.
Not only are these very different audiences requiring very different messaging, but the way that you find and communicate with these audiences require very different communications strategies.
Let’s continue with our audience assumptions for a second. What would be a strategy for volunteer recruitment, knowing that you’re main demographic is college kids?
What about something like utilizing social media advertising targeting younger adults. So, a strategy may be digital advertising and online sign-ups.
In contrast, let’s talk about the strategy for industrial site scouting. Local government officials would require a one-to-one outreach and presentation. This could be at a local town hall meeting, or concerted lobbying to individual members, or perhaps using your network to make connections with these leaders.
You can see how these strategies differ drastically based on the activity, right?
Formulating a Blue Sky Statement To Connect the “Why”
How does this model make us better at nonprofit communications?
Remember, Outcomes help us formulate impact statements and messaging. Impact statements can help us communicate big ideas to our audiences.
We can continue to build on those impact statements by building what we call our blue sky statement. The blue sky statement sets out the vision for the organization.
As communication professionals you know how important vision statements can be. They help connect audiences to the “why.”
Answering “why” is actually one of the most important things that you can do as a nonprofit communications professional. If individuals can connect with why you exist as an organization, they are far more likely to get behind the “how you operate” part of the organization.
Our blue sky statement is a critical part of our elevator pitch as an organization, and a key to connecting with our audiences.
How Do Logic Models Help Prioritize Communications Work?
I said at the beginning this model will allow you to prioritize your work, and stop running around with your hair on fire, right?
Because we know the relationship between inputs and outcomes, we know what strategies and inputs are priority based on the organization's strategic goals.
OK - there’s a lot going on there….
Imagine a situation where our fictitious organization, CART, has a goal to increase the number of acres cleaned up in 2 years. To do this, they need to double the number of clean-up sites in their pipeline.
Now that we understand our organizational logic model, we know that we need to ramp up the outreach work with local government officials. We also know that we need to implement campaign strategies and generate communications tools that our site recruitment team can use during their big push to acquire more sites.
We can do this with confidence based on our logic model.
We saw earlier how measuring outcomes creates more effective marketing messaging.
Knowing that, commiting to measuring outputs and outcomes is critical at an organizational level. Not only will they help in your marketing process, but they will also help generate better impact messaging.
So how do we do that?
Here are some steps to help you measure impact better:
Describe the outcomes you want to achieve (why do you perform the process or service in the first place?).
Turn the identified outcomes into a quantitative measure (i.e. % of clients demonstrating new behavior, % of clients coming back into treatment, etc.).
Confirm that your desired outcomes are actually linked to your outputs or activities. In other words, ensure that it is reasonable to expect your desired outcomes to be achieved based on your activities.
Implement these measures and track them over time.
Demonstrate and increase your success because you have the data to confidently and appropriately communicate your impact and value.
How does the logic model make us a better nonprofit communications professional?
By now you should see how the logic model helps make you a better nonprofit communications professional.
At a basic level, it creates clarity for you, and for your marketing strategy.mca
Prioritizing our marketing campaigns to generate the inputs inline with our organizational goals - we talked about prioritizing and focusing campaign based on the order of inputs you need to succeed. We also talked about focusing on specific tools and strategies based on the audiences we need to generate the inputs that we need.
Outcomes generate better messaging - we talked about how outcomes should be measured to generate better messaging. We also talked about how outcomes focus on impact, and impact is going to be what gets audiences excited about supporting your work.
Blue sky statements acquire & build a loyal supporters - we talked about how blue sky statements answer the question “why.” Why do you exist? Why should people care? Once an individual gets behind the vision, they can become a loyal advocate.
BrandUP Award Winner Root & Rebound - 1 Year Later
Nominations and applications are now open for the 2018 brandUP, a free 2-day intensive marketing and communication workshop co-presented with Full Circle Fund. Last year's Awardee Root & Rebound has now had some time to reflect on the experience, so we sat down to chat with them to provide helpful tips to this year's participants.
1. What is Root & Rebound currently focused on as an organization?
Founded in 2013, Root & Rebound (R&R) is a California-based reentry advocacy center that creates leading-edge solutions to one of the most pressing challenges of our time - mass incarceration - working to help people break out of poverty into freedom and economic opportunity, and alleviating the heavy personal and societal costs of our bloated and broken justice system.
Leveraging lessons learned from our California long-term work & our growing national collaborations & projects, our core initiatives have grown over the last year to include expanding to 2 additional sites with California; deepening our direct services work, expanding our legal clinics & hotline services; running employment clinics & educating employers, pushing for occupational licensing reform, & building a statewide prison/jail based curriculum.
Nationally, we are growing our footprint and initiatives, with 7 state-specific toolkits & beginning a national expansion strategy that will bring our model to key, high-need states in the coming years.
2. Through a communications lens, what have you been focused on over the last year and how is that supporting your overall organizational goals?
R&R has invested heavily in our PR and Communications strategy on both national and community levels to raise awareness about second chance opportunities through partnership and coalition building, educating employers, policy makers and journalists, and engaging corporations like Facebook to support this work as we explore our model for scale.
We are also in the process of building the first ever reentry legal wiki and sharing it across the country.
3. How did your experience with Rootid and our BrandUP Award inform your communications strategy?
Our experience with Rootid allowed us to think critically and holistically about the ways in which we communicate with our key stakeholders - donors, partners, and people directly impacted by incarceration. It allowed us to strip back our assumptions and dive into the way these people live their lives and how we could engage with them on a journey of discovery about Root & Rebound.
Now, we go much deeper and we have concrete engagement strategies for our key stakeholders whereas before we would keep a more broad and sporadic approach to our communications and PR and community connection.
4. Did anything change in your communications and processes from before to after your brandUP experience?
Our communications strategy has definitely expanded to include larger views of our audience and the ways we can help them to understand and see the value our work. Additionally, having realized the importance and potential in our communications, we have now made it a priority to align both the programs and development team in our communications strategy. Now our communications strategies are wider-spanning and effective for both teams.
We have also more deeply understood the impact of storytelling by launching a 48,000 barriers campaign in conjunction with Valerie at Rootid at our first ever Empowerment Summit in Spring 2017, which allowed us to gather quotes and stories that we can use going forward. This has deeply informed our social media communications on an ongoing basis
5. How have you integrated the work into your marketing materials and planning?
On the programs side, we have:
Leveraged Rootid’s design support to streamline our programs materials with new hotline cards, updated program flyers, and the ongoing creation of partnerships packets. With the hotline cards, we can easily pass out digestible information to the people we serve, at clinics, trainings, etc. As we ramp up our direct services across the state, this level of synthesised information is more critical than ever.
We are also re-creating the R&R website to more strongly reflect our growing programs and make sure that information is easy to read, digestible, and clear in how users can engage with our services.
We have also heavily leveraged Rootid’s consulting advice to promote our paid services to partnerships across the Bay Area and have secured three new long term contracts to date.
On the fundraising side, we have:
Committed to engaging more deeply with our existing individual donors and increasing our network even further, by creating a Circle of Friends to support R&R either through donations, leveraging their platform, or their skills. Over time, we hope to build a key initiative that draws people into the organization and creates long-term ambassadors for our work.
More heavily focused on sharing our stories of success to our wider audience via newsletters and social media to show the work we are doing and the impact it is having.
Finally, we have streamlined our communications strategy between the programs and the development team so there is a cohesive calendar and content strategy between them. We have also hired two Americorps VISTAs - one Development and Communications VISTA and one Community Partnerships VISTA to execute on this strategy and build our communications content.
6. Was there anything that was unexpected or surprised you that came out of the work we did together?
I think it’s easy to come into a consulting project saying you have an urgent need for concrete materials and plans and you need your online website hits to increase by X%, but the biggest value add for us was the thought partnership and the focus on approach of listening, hearing, and sharing of experiences. Rootid showed us ways to go beyond a communications strategy, printed or web content, and instead get to the heart of our mission and impact which lies directly in human experiences of reentry and the daily barriers they face.
By focusing squarely on elevating those experiences, we were able to come up with a thoughtful and strategic communications strategy that aligned with our mission and that brought the organization’s development and programs team together to streamline our work, elevate the voices of those we serve, and really demonstrate what really matters to the wider public - which is breaking down barriers to opportunity for all Americans with criminal records.
7. In what ways do you think we can use this process to help organizations like yours further their missions?
I think the most valuable piece for our team was having strategic thought partners that could dig into our model and where we were and where we were trying to go and help figure out simple steps and best practices to achieving those goals. E.g. focus on your stakeholders journey before thinking about creating materials tailored to them.
A helpful way to approach it might be to focus on some big questions upfront that might be even higher level than communications strategies necessarily and then spend time digging into ideas and resources on a macro level. A lot of Rootid’s value add can be the ability to see above the micro day-to-day of a nonprofit professional’s workload and allow them the space and support to engage critically and thoughtfully with the challenges they are facing and how they can get to the end result in new ways.
8. Since we are changing the format of BrandUP to now be a 2-day intensive covering the material we did but with 12 nonprofits, what advice would you give to this next co-hort so that they can be prepared for and get the most out of their experience?
Ask as many questions as possible! Don’t be afraid to share the small and big questions and the real challenges, time and capacity constraints you face in communicating with your stakeholders. Chances are Rootid will be able to draw on experiences with other nonprofits that have wrestled with the same challenges and draw on their own expertise and experiences to bring solutions to life.
Be ambitious! Talk about where you want to be as an organization and what you’re trying to achieve in the next 5 -10 years, every step you take now with your communications is a step further to making that impact a reality.
Even nonprofits with established identities need to reevaluate from time to time in order to stay relevant. In many cases, a brand refresh may be necessary.
What is a Brand Refresh?
Simply put, a brand refresh is a makeover. The goal is to enhance your organization’s image, while staying recognizable—but how do we go about that?
Steps for a Brand Refresh:
Review your core values. Go back to the beginning. Remember all of those questions you sat down and asked yourself the first time around? It’s time to revisit them to see where your answers now differ.
Conduct stakeholder interviews. As a general rule, it’s good to do these once a year, as a tool to gauge the effectiveness of your mission, outreach, and short/long-term goals. Getting feedback from stakeholders (internal staff, your board of directors, community members, etc.) will help you determine which aspects of your brand need addressed.
Example question: Using a few keywords, how do you want people to see your brand?
Redefine your target audiences and personas. Determining your target audience was tough the first time around. Thankfully, you should have a better idea of who is most receptive to your message now. If you haven’t already, it’s time to start grouping common characteristics to create personas—or profiles of imaginary people.
Consider what they want from you and what you want from them in return. How can you guide them from being unaware of your organization to a loyal brand advocate? Keep fleshing them out.
Develop content that will interest them at various stages in their journeys.
Update your visual language. Mood boards are an effective way to discuss ideas, share insights, and clarify communication. They help visually explain a feeling and, in turn, develop a more authentic and successful brand. They’re where your brand refresh will be most evident, especially if your organization adopts a new logo.
Tweak your messaging. Great content is critical to achieving higher conversion rates and engaging user experiences. Based on your profiles’ points of view, consider what tone of organizational “voice” would best reach, engage, and compel community members and donors.
Audit your marketing materials. You’re almost there! It’s time to look at your print materials, event collateral, social media channels, newsletter templates, website, etc. Are they achieving measurable results? Do they need to be updated to reflect any of the aforementioned steps?
Update your assets. Your assets are your brand messengers. As such, it’s important to maintain cohesive marketing materials in print and online. Doing so will lead to more donations and more volunteer signups, so be sure to keep them up-to-date.
For a successful brand refresh, you’ll need a look at where you came from, where you are now, and where you want to go from here. The adjustments will take work, but the end results should be well worth it!
Digital marketing has stolen the spotlight in recent years, thanks to its accessibility and reach, but does that mean print is obsolete? Not according to a Two Sides survey:
“88% of respondents indicated that they understood, retained or used information better when they read print on paper compared to lower percentages (64% and less) when reading on electronic devices.”
The key is understanding when and how to leverage that preference. Print collateral is best used in strategic settings, where you’re in a position to provide something tangible—something that either lends credibility (banners, signs, swag, etc.) or encourages engagement (programs, forms, business cards, etc.) Take Full Circle Fund’s yearly UNITE event, for example.
By utilizing print, we were able to set a festive and informative tone at SF Jazz. Everything was branded and strategically placed—from the stickers on the mini-wine bottles to the programs highlighting Full Circle Fund’s grant cycle.
Even our new foldout business cards had to pull their weight, that night. In addition to providing basic contact information, they also listed our services, featured a client testimonial, and encouraged follow-up with a tear-off ticket (redeemable for a drink with a Rootid founder).
That’s not to say digital didn’t play a role, of course. No one can dispute social media’s role in creating awareness.
The point is, by recognizing print and digital’s individual advantages, we were able to help Bay Area guests discover and celebrate social change in their community. That, in and of itself, is a huge success!
Mood boards are a an effective way to discuss ideas, share insights and clarify communication. They will help you visually explain a feeling and in turn, develop a more authentic and successful brand.
What makes a successful mood board process? Here is a simple 5 step process that will help you succeed.
1. Mood boards help us understand.
We use mood boards as a conversation starter—a way to describe things that sometimes can not be explained as clearly with words. It is also a way to build common vocabulary so that when a stakeholder says they want something ‘modern,’ ‘clean,’ ‘friendly’ or ‘leadership’ looking, we understand the nuances related to what they are describing.
2. Successful mood boards are built collaboratively.
Rather than presenting what Iwe think the ‘look and feel’ should be, your team shouldwe all work together to refine photography, fonts, icons and color palette options. The discussion that surrounds what project stakeholders like and especially, don’t like, not only creates a strong foundation for the new visual language, but lays the groundwork for more effective project communication.
3. Mood boarding is about following your gut.
Since clients sometimes have a hard time conceptualizing mood boards, breaking thethis exercise down into more bite size pieces helps them engage more deeply in the process.experience the process more effectively. Mood boarding has been called They often rename it ‘art therapy’ because it becomes less about what thetheir brand, identity, print, website or social media campaign will ‘look’ like, and more about how it will ‘feel’.
4. Mood boards help us visualize an idea.
During theIn our first round, Rootid’s teamwe always strikes out in a lot of different visual directions that feel unique from one another. Then we hone in 2 more rounds to get to a mood board that feels like a combination of the strongest attributes that will ultimately define the visual language.
The process is so much more than building a collage of inspiration, it is taking that idea one step further and saying, “These images, colors, fonts, and icons combined give us a strong and cohesive visual language.”
5. Mood boards are a single page style guide.
In many ways, you can think of it like a small, succinct style guide. Rather than multiple pages of information about look, feel and messaging, it gives you a quick overview on a single page that still contains all of the needed elements.
At Rootid, our team uses mood boarding as a collaborative and effective way to generate a brand’s look and feel. It is the best way we know to communicate the nuances that go into building a cohesive and authentic visual language for any brand.
Review Your Mood Boards with Stakeholders
Don't forget to test your moodboards with your audiences. Remember that you're trying to visually communicate with a lot of different people: customers, donors, constituents or whoever else.
We have had many clients share their mood boards with those they are serving as well as board memebers or any other stakeholders. The more feedback they got, the more effectively they were able to visually communicate with their supporters.
Conduct stakeholder interviews will help you get feedback and refine your work. Check out our stakeholder interview guide to make sure you get the information your need.