Marketing and Community Outreach are Key to Sustainability Planning
A primary concern for any grant-funded programming is what will happen when the grant ends and that funding is no longer available. To ensure that you can continue to serve your communities, the Four Pillars Model (Internal Support, Marketing and Outreach, Partnership Development, and Resource Development) provides an effective strategy for sustainability.
The second pillar, Marketing and Outreach, is crucial in and of itself, but it is also the pathway to the other three. How? A clear articulation of your program and its benefits is the foundation of your Marketing and Outreach, and it also serves to generate Internal Support (Pillar Number One). With your organization fully on board, you can then more effectively look outward for the help you need to carry your programs into the future with the other two pillars: Partnership Development and Resource Development. Without question, Marketing and Outreach will also help you achieve these last two objectives.
Building employer partnerships, seeking new financial or in-kind support, and connecting with advocates and like-minded organizations all depend upon your community knowing about your great work. By actively promoting your YCC goals, activities and results to a variety of networks, you convey the importance of your program and persuade potential supporters to become allies.
Here are some tips for creating awareness about your initiative:
Design a plan
- Set goals for your outreach efforts – enrollment, business participation, etc.
- Research businesses, organizations, influencers, and media to target.
- Create an action-item timeline.
Build your story
- Collect positive information to demonstrate your program’s potential, its effectiveness and its benefits.
- Create a consistent core message and tailor it to each audience – businesses, civic groups, public, students, news media.
Build on your sphere of influence
- Equip everyone on your team to be a one-on-one ambassador.
- Use everyone’s connections to spread the word.
- Identify every possible outlet and gathering place – churches, stores, medical offices, beauty parlors!
Share your story
- Utilize modern messaging – electronic newsletters, social media, podcasts.
- Reach your audience where they are – on different platforms and in different formats.
- Repeat your messaging regularly to make an impact.
Finally, remember that outreach should be consistent and ongoing, so that by the time you approach a partner or funder, your reputation will have preceded you. People want to know they are supporting an organization that is established and that has already had some success accomplishing good things in their community.
The YCC Community of Practice (CoP) offers several resources with more detailed information and guidelines on sustainability and community outreach. Links are included under "Related Content" on the left.