Communications capacity building boosts work in philanthropy

Communications capacity building boosts work in philanthropy

Posted on January 23, 2014 by The Patterson Foundation

It seems so easy and effortless  -- the beautiful music of an orchestra permeating a performing arts center while feeding the senses of its patrons. But beneath it all, it takes practice, precision, timing, coordination for 90-plus individual musicians to act with one purpose. We apply the same philosophy to building movements that matter through philanthropy.

The term "strategic communications" means different things to different people. For us and our firm, MagnifyGood, it means we are the maestros of a carefully orchestrated process -- one that infuses communications to magnify the impact of The Patterson Foundation and its partners. It's a proactive approach that accounts for crafting the best messages/stories, reaching out to the right people, using the smartest channels at the right times to maximize the goals of "doing good."

But what exactly does it mean when we say we work with The Patterson Foundation's partners?

It means helping to build communications capacity within partner organizations -- from all-volunteer groups to more sophisticated organizations.

Here's a snapshot of what it looked like when we worked with partners of the Legacy of Valor, a campaign created by The Patterson Foundation to build a movement to honor veterans and their families throughout Southwest Florida.

Our communications firm set the tone by creating and executing the creative concept behind the goal of honoring veterans and their families in Southwest Florida. To build upon the concept, the foundation leveraged good things already going on in our region (always important to not re-create the wheel in philanthropy) which resulted in more than 100 community partnerships to honor veterans.

With more than 100 community partnerships established, we met with 40 lead partner organizations in the following ways to build capacity and maximize the goals and messages of the campaign:

1) Communications Alignment Kickoff - When we met partners for the first time, we shared a communications handbook full of goodies that communications types drool over: sample messaging, media procedures, brand guidelines, sample social media posts, a stakeholder worksheet to get people at their organization up to speed and much more. From a capacity point of view, the handbook made it easier for everyone to be aligned.

2) Strategy Meetings - Following the kickoff, we got together with partners before their events. We reviewed and offered advice and expertise to finalize communications plans they developed to promote their events. We offered our best ideas for working with media, timing announcements and asked tough questions that helped them get out of the weeds and into a space of higher-level thinking that honored veterans.

3) "On call" consulting - Part of a partnership relationship is just that -- you don't abandon ship once some financial resources have been shared. As the communications partners to The Patterson Foundation, we're in it for the long haul. That means I get emails, phone call, requests to meet in person -- all in the name of this great opportunity to be a part of something that honors veterans in our region. I review creative work, fliers, offer suggestions to press announcements, share social media advice and more.

4) Training - This is the secret sauce. Throughout the course of the campaign we offered "added value" training --- all gratis to partners --- that help them build strength in areas like social media, sponsorship strategy and public relations.

What are the results? Just 9 months into the campaign, we've already recorded more than 250,000 touches from events and activities under the Legacy of Valor umbrella.


  • Learn about these and other concepts used in TPF's approach to philanthropy.


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