#GivingTuesday is just around the corner, and with it, the opportunity to see a substantial increase in support for your nonprofit. Since its inception in 2012, the movement has raised over $1,000,000,000 online in the United States—including last...Read more.
Sample Slide Deck Outline/ Template Social change isn’t easy. Your organization may have the best of intentions, but unless you can convince others to join you, you’ll never make the impact you’ve been dreaming of. You need volunteers, donors, and...Read more.
We are excited to announce our 2019 brandUP participating organizations. Atma Connect is an award-winning creator of software products and digital services that connect people to report problems, share solutions, and improve their communities from...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...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marketing has stolen the spotlight in recent years, thanks to its accessibility and reach, but does that mean print is obsolete?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 firstname.lastname@example.org
#GivingTuesday is just around the corner, and with it, the opportunity to see a substantial increase in support for your nonprofit. Since its inception in 2012, the movement has raised over $1,000,000,000 online in the United States—including last year’s record-breaking total of $400,000,000! How are these organizations making such an impact? They’re asking the right people the right questions the right way.
Easier said than done, we know. In previous #GivingTuesday posts, we shared memorable campaigns and broke down their common elements. This year, we thought it would help to focus on that crucial messaging formula.
The Right People
If you’ve conducted stakeholder interviews or sifted through your analytics, you likely have a good idea of who your audience is and what resonates with them. You may have even created a few personas—or, fictional, generalized representations of your ideal donors. These are the people you should consider when writing any text copy this #GivingTuesday. Social media posts, emails, video scripts—anything.
Avoid this pitfall: Too often, organizations assume because they represent a universally acknowledged “good” cause, their audience is everyone. Unfortunately, this is the kind of thinking that exhausts budgets and prevents meaningful connections.
The Right Questions
Let’s say you have a few personas. Take a moment to think about how each one prefers to interact with your organization. Are they financial donors? Do they prefer a more involved role as a volunteer? Maybe their contribution is sharing your content with their network. Once you’ve made that determination, you can segment your mailing list and tailor your “ask” to what they’re most comfortable giving.
Tip: The easier you make the experience, the better your results will be.
If you’re looking for volunteers, include a list, search, calendar, or map of opportunities.
If you’re looking to spread the word, provide share buttons, scripted click-to-tweets, links to existing posts to share/retweet, etc.
The Right Way
How does your persona perceive value? What is it that makes them believe and motivates them to act? The answers to these questions will shape your campaign.
If your persona is focused on impact, you should highlight an impressive statistic.
If they’re drawn to more emotional pleas, share a touching story or photo.
And if you’re attempting to reach multiple personas, consider who you are centering and address their preferences first.
Putting It All Together
Personas are key.
Using what you know about them, you can better frame your ask.
Using what you know about them, you can better shape your campaign.
Asking the right people + the right questions + the right way = success
So, what do you think? Are you ready to kick off the charitable season?
Applications are now open for our 2020 cohort!
"Learn How to Scale Your Impact through Communications Strategy"
Effective communications is the difference between an idea and a movement. brandUP empowers nonprofit leaders, like you, to escape the day-to-day and focus on communicating your vision through a strategic brand and communications plan.
Social change isn’t easy. Your organization may have the best of intentions, but unless you can convince others to join you, you’ll never make the impact you’ve been dreaming of. You need volunteers, donors, and advocates—and the only way to get them is an engaging pitch.
So, how do you condense the complexities of your work into a concise and compelling argument? We’ll walk you through it.
As we shared in "Simple Steps to Authentic Brand Strategy," branding is really just a fancy word for personality. A strong brand thinks about, interacts with, and wants to be seen by the world in a certain way. It’s critical to building operational capacity, galvanizing support, and maintaining mission focus. So, before anything else, you’ll want to:
Develop a clear value proposition and brand position to establish reputability.
Once you know the positioning, core beliefs and values of your venture, you can begin creating conversations. The question is, with whom?
If you’re not aware of what a persona is, think of it as a semi-fictional character that represents your ideal customer, donor, or supporter. To create one, simply group your audiences based on:
Common motivations or pain points
Shared goals or outcomes
As you identify these figures, you’ll want to start brainstorming things like:
What will capture this persona’s attention?
What motivates them?
Think compassion, finding community, statistical impact, broad systems change, prestige and status, improve economic opportunity, children/family, better health, political outcomes, strengthen community fabric, stability, etc.
What is their vision for the world, and how can you help them get there?
Lastly, it’s time for a gut check:
How might people of different ethnicities identify with what you’re creating?
Who has historically been under-represented or marginalized?
Are you focusing all of your audiences on donors and funders, or are you thinking about clients and partners as well? Are there people your work may impact indirectly that need to be considered?
Knowing your audiences and messaging to them based on their motivations, wants, and needs, will compel them to engage with you.
Your brand needs a consistent tone. Whether it skews casual or formal is up to you, but either way, you should always be mindful of how you phrase things. You don’t want to unintentionally hurt someone. If this is a new concept, work in a group to check your language and possible biases—like we did in this example:
A few points to focus on:
“Generational health crisis” - How do you create messaging that is not inadvertently criticizing culture?
“In our community” - Are we victimizing?
“Obese” - Are we alienating individuals or treating size as a health crisis? Instead, let’s focus on health issues, i.e. the diabetes-specific statistic.
The differences are subtle but meaningful. We’ve changed the focus from shaming what children eat to leveling the playing field to create opportunity.
Have a compelling and inclusive visual language (photography, fonts, color palette, iconography, etc.)
Like written messaging, visual language conveys a lot about the organization, but how do you develop it? Design is such a complex arena. Logos, icons, photography, fonts, and colors—it’s enough to make your head spin, but don’t worry. We’ve got you.
If you haven’t already, take a look at our “Quick and Dirty Guide to Color Theory,” and then consider the colors that best represent the feeling you want as your first impression. Need help getting creative? 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.
So, now that you have the framework, how do you turn it into an engaging pitch? Start building.
Below, you’ll see a few example personas we’ve created for clients; for the purpose of this post, we’re going to focus on Darren. What would this professional giver/investor want in a pitch?
1. Your ‘Why’
In his TEDx Talk on inspiring action, Simon Sinek shared that people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it. This is grounded in biology. Decision-making is emotional, so paint your vision in a way that helps people imagine your better world. Skeptics will still want proven results (your cynical majority), but your fellow visionaries will become your brand advocates. This ties in to the second point.
2. The Problem
Clearly articulate the problem you are trying to solve, using simple terminology (no jargon). Why does your organization exist?
Problem statements are important, because often times, they are the lead-in to your messaging and meant to capture your persona’s attention. Think of it this way: If you were stuck in an elevator with Bill Gates, how would you start your pitch for him to support your new venture? You’d probably lead with the wrong you’re trying to right in the world.
Note how the iconography used is gender-inclusive.
3. Your Unique Approach
Why is your organization best suited to tackle this problem?
4. Your Impact
What measurable difference are you making?
5. Your Expertise
Why are you qualified to drive this mission? Are you a cutting edge leader? Break it down for us, and then back it up with headlines of mass scale impacts.
6. Who You Serve
Who’s on the receiving end of this effort?
Of course, all of this leads up to the one thing too many organizations dance around: the ask. We’ve established what WorkIt does, as well as how and why they do it. The only thing left is what kind of help they need to fuel their mission.
If they’ve correctly identified their personas and built upon each point above, chances are, the “Darrens” they’re pitching to will respond favorably. Onward and upward!
We are excited to announce our 2019 brandUP participating organizations.
Atma Connect is an award-winning creator of software products and digital services that connect people to report problems, share solutions, and improve their communities from the ground up. Their free mobile app, AtmaGo, has reached more than 1,200,000 Indonesian users since 2015, delivering real-time, crowd-sourced content. Citizens share everything from traffic updates and job postings to breaking news during national emergencies.
City Surf Project connects underrepresented youth to the ocean—and themselves—through surfing. Their programs support those who may not otherwise have the opportunity to experience swimming lessons, ocean recreation, stewardship activities, and environmental education. They encourage healthy lifestyles and active global citizenship. (2019 Full Circle Fund Grantee)
The Environmental Volunteers organization inspires people of all ages to learn about the wonders of the natural world. They train volunteers to lead hands-on science and nature programs in schools, community organizations, and at the EcoCenter—their public nature center in the Palo Alto Baylands Nature Preserve. They also have a transportation fund to provide affordable and easy-to-schedule transportation for low-income K-12 students in the San Francisco Bay Area who would not otherwise be able to access science and environmental education field trips.
GAIA is a worldwide alliance of more than 800 grassroots groups, non-governmental organizations, and individuals in over 90 countries whose ultimate vision is a just, toxic-free world without incineration. They focus on three initiatives: promoting zero waste, reducing problematic waste streams like plastic, and putting an end to the ineffective and hazardous practice of burning waste.
LitLab creates connected and interactive early learning environments by deploying books, digital content, and blended learning solutions for under-resourced children, their caregivers, and educators. They engage parents and caregivers as a child’s first teacher, mobilize early learning advocates, empower teachers with training, and provide blended learning interventions customized through pre-survey data for each child. Through combined resources and integrated, yet customized programs, they are revolutionizing early learning.
Mobile Pathways’ team consists of immigration attorneys, technology experts, and immigrant advocates. They help undocumented and under-documented immigrants gain access to reliable legal information via mobile phone technology. A proprietary “decision tree” texts users potential paths for legal immigration status. Once they understand their options, they are given a list of qualified immigration advocates who can assist them.
MotherCoders helps women with college degrees and work experience get on a career track in tech that leverages their unique skills, experiences, and passions. Whether it’s acquiring a particular skill-set for career advancement, re-entering the workforce after a pause for motherhood, or accelerating the growth of a startup, their training program enables students to gain enough skills, knowledge, and community support to confidently take the next step (or 2 or 3) toward a career in tech.
New Left Accelerator empowers emerging, progressive organizations and leaders working to strengthen civic engagement and advance a more just and equal society. They accomplish this by running an accelerator program and serving as a resource clearinghouse for these promising, new organizations.
Partnerships for Trauma Recovery (PTR) aims to reduce the mental health gap by addressing the psychosocial impacts of trauma caused by war, torture, forced displacement, human trafficking, and persecution due to identity and beliefs. Their model is built on three complementary components: mental health care for international survivors of human rights abuses, clinical training for globally-minded clinicians, and policy advocacy for efforts aimed at reducing trauma. (2019 Full Circle Fund Grantee)
Renaissance Entrepreneurship Center empowers and increases the entrepreneurial capacities of socially and economically diverse women and men, thereby strengthening communities through the creation of sustainable new businesses, new jobs, and the promotion of financial self-sufficiency. They offer low-cost office space and ongoing business support to emerging and established small businesses at several locations. They also offer free one-on-one financial consultation. (2019 Full Circle Fund Grantee)
Richmond Promise is a community-wide college success initiative to build a college graduating culture in Richmond, CA. Through a college scholarship, collaborative cross-sector partnerships, and supportive programming, they aim to ensure all students in Richmond excel to and through higher education, reach their career goals, and become change-making leaders in the community.
RYSE creates safe spaces grounded in social justice for young people to love, learn, educate, heal, and transform lives and communities. Their youth center has free programs in education and justice; community health; media, arts, and culture; and youth organizing. Programming at RYSE is anchored in the belief that young people have the lived knowledge and expertise to identify, prioritize, and direct the activities and services necessary to thrive.
Shawl-Anderson Dance Center provides Bay Area dance students of all ages and levels with high caliber training in both contemporary and traditional movement forms in a welcoming, non-competitive environment. The Center is a non-profit organization, committed to nurturing and mentoring the growth of dancers and choreographers; cultivating a healthy and supportive atmosphere for creative expression; sustaining traditions essential to excellence in the field; and fostering the evolution of the art of dance.
Sirum saves lives by connecting organizations with surplus medications to patients in need. in the U.S. there is often a large supply of unexpired drugs that are collected from manufacturers, wholesalers, pharmacies and health facilities. Sirum helps connect that surplus supply with clinics and pharmacies that serve low-income families. (2019 Full Circle Fund Grantee)
The Social Justice Sewing Academy (SJSA) is an art program that bridges artistic expression with activism and empowers youth to amplify their voice through art that advocates for social justice. By using textile art as a vehicle for personal transformation and community cohesion, SJSA empowers youth to become agents of social change. A unique part of their program intentionally bridges generational, racial, and socioeconomic divides by sending youth art blocks to embroiderers all over the world.
The Spanish Speaking Citizens’ Foundation empowers East Bay families to improve their lives, embrace their heritage, and develop as civic leaders. They provide educational and workforce development services, as well as help navigating immigration and citizenship. They also partner with government and community organizations to assist families and youth in securing programs, services, and resources to enrich their lives.
TalkingPoints drives student success in low-income, diverse areas through building strong partnerships across parents, schools, and communities. Their goal is to impact 3 million students and their parents by 2020. (2019 Full Circle Fund Grantee)
Tandem® engages the community to ensure all families have the resources, skills, and confidence they need to support their children’s kindergarten readiness. StoryCycles®, their school-to-home book-sharing program, provides families with access to high-quality children’s books and support materials. They also offer free, community-based workshops for families, caregivers, and educators to deepen their knowledge of early childhood brain development and share simple, effective strategies for building language and literacy through everyday activities. (2019 Full Circle Fund Grantee)
Tarjimly means “translate for me” and was founded in 2017 in response to the Syrian refugee crisis and the US Refugee & Travel Ban. Their mission is to improve the lives of refugees and the efficiency of humanitarian services by eliminating language barriers. The Tarjimly mobile app allows the world’s 3 billion multilingual speakers to remotely volunteer their language skills as translators and interpreters for the 65 million displaced people. (2019 Full Circle Fund Grantee)
Turn Out maximizes the impact of volunteerism to strengthen LGBTQ+ communities. They accomplish this via three main programs: recruitment, matching, and events. Through their biweekly newsletter, which highlights new opportunities, and their online platform, volunteers can join the projects that are right for them.
Urban Ed Academy leverages community partnerships in education to drive culturally reflective experiences for students of color in schools as a means of closing the opportunity gap. They use hands-on, interactive, and culturally relevant approaches to ensure students gain an understanding of themselves, the world around them, and how it applies to various academic and social settings.
Urban Strategies Council is a regional research and advocacy organization, dedicated to social, economic, and racial equity. Their mission is to eliminate persistent poverty in the Bay Area by working with partners to transform low-income neighborhoods into vibrant, healthy communities. Issue areas include: criminal justice reform, boys and men of color, economic opportunity, pathways to career and college, and violence prevention.
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.