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.