Managing Communications and Media

The partnership’s communications plan centered on a website, video testimonials, and media outreach. The goal was to explain the project’s mission, motivate donors, and put a human face on the program.

Website

The online portal was created to receive donations from individual donors and prominently featured a donation button, a video featuring participants and partners, and links to media reports about the project. Donations that came in through the website exceeded $300,000.

Well-timed media stories pointed people to the portal. The partners received funds through the end of the 2020 holiday season and into 2021.

TIP: Ask media to publish the link to the donation portal when possible.

Storytelling

Staff collected insights from the executive directors of the partner organizations as well as a testimonial from a program participant and hired an editor to produce a video. The video put a human face on the program and helped bring in donations. It was a useful resource that helped build trust with donors and the wider community.

TIP: Service navigators or other direct service staff can help identify participants with distinct stories to feature in a video.

TOOL: THRIVE video

Media Outreach

Local media attention and funder-to-funder word of mouth propelled large bursts of funding for THRIVE in June, July, and August 2020, with momentum slowing somewhat by September and October. Local and national media reports spurred large bursts of individual donations. The project coordinated across organizations to reach out to reporters interested in covering its impact. Staff relied on relationships with journalists, not press releases.

The outreach focused on local outlets and national journalists who cover cash benefits. Staff started by convening a communications committee that set up shared resources for media and by sending journalists (many of whom they already had relationships with) a project overview. Leaders also worked with journalists, meeting with them to frame THRIVE as a vehicle for empowerment.

TIP: Leverage existing relationships with news organizations and journalists, and avoid requests from multiple people to the same outlet.

TIP: Set up a process for finding representatives who can tell their story and talk about how they spent the money, and prepare them for interviews.

WARNING: Maintaining the trust and confidentiality of program participants is your foremost obligation. If someone agrees to take part in a media interview and would like to be supported during it, have a representative from a partner organization participate.