As the national Campaign for Grade-Level Reading (CGLR) Funder-to-Funder Huddle was being planned (it's a gathering of philanthropy leaders supporting the campaign) input from local campaigns seeking to have staying power and impact revealed the following concerns:

  • Founding funders find challenges keeping partners at the table
  • Changes in leadership weakens the campaign
  • Everyone is so busy that adding communications strategies is a burden
  • Communications is often an after-thought

Because of The Patterson Foundation's reputation of being a leader in how strategic communications heightens the impact of its initiatives, we presented a session at the Funder-to-Funder Huddle called “Creating Connective Tissue Through Strategic Communications.” The session included key themes for building a movement:

  • Passion
  • Connecting emotionally through both stories and data
  • Engaging advocates
  • Fueling the campaign through digital and in-person strategies

The impetus for building a movement starts inside one's organization -- every individual, whether it’s the CEO, board, staff, volunteers, donors, or beneficiaries, can bring their passion and stories to the table that will permeate the DNA of an organization. Other key themes?

  • The Campaign must embrace "de-siloization" by engaging business, government, media, nonprofits, and citizens. Each has assets and is a stakeholder in a community's future. When people buy into the why, how, what, who, and when -- the path will emerge.
  • Every communications channel must be integrated -- both high touch (ie. learning and sharing gatherings) and high tech (ie. social media). Creating a common language amplifies importance and will resonate with decision makers from moms to mayors.
  • Yes, it takes money. By committing dollars for communications capacity in every program grant, by sponsoring communications strategy and assisting with tactics like sponsoring a weekly column in the newspaper or a radio show focused on the campaign, the movement will become part of the community's DNA.

It all starts with passion....what is your story?


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


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