Nonprofit organizations can face challenges when it comes to planning and executing successful communications and community engagement work. But Family League of Baltimore (FLB), an intermediary nonprofit, has uniquely positioned itself to invest in initiatives that provide access to resources and opportunities not readily available to children and families in many city neighborhoods. Their deep collaboration and capacity for building with local leaders, community-based organizations, funders, and other stakeholders have all contributed to their Gold Stevie Award in the Communications Department of The Year category in The 2017 American Business Awards.
Positive Changes that Align with Community Priorities
Each year, FLB makes collaborative efforts, and targeted investments to help open doors to education, health care, and economic opportunity for tens of thousands of children, youths, and families living in Baltimore, MD USA. Amy Bernstein, Director of External Relations at Family League of Baltimore says winning a Gold Stevie has made an immediate impact on their organizations.
“It prompted a meaningful conversation with our CEO and COO about the true strategic role and potential reach of communications as an organizational asset; validated our professionalism; and gave us an opportunity, through Facebook, to link the recognition with our dedication to sharing stories and progress about people and programs in the communities where we invest public resources.”
FLB occupies a unique niche in Baltimore's nonprofit landscape. In large part, as a hub organization that's able to braid together federal, state, city, and private dollars to ensure these funds are invested in programs and services that align with community priorities; direct resources towards the needs of the “whole” child, from prenatal and family health care up through college and career; strengthen the capacity of existing service providers across the City; and advocate for meaningful policy changes to improve lives and build equity.
Since FLB relies on government funds, a great effort in working closely with elected officials at the state and local levels is necessary for continued success. Bernstein keeps a close eye on their, “value proposition and ability to achieve results that matter to children, families, and their communities.” This requires constant and vigilant efforts to educate and inform leaders on an almost daily basis.
Trends in personal and institutional usage of technology -- Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Periscope, etc. -- also helps them deploy the right mix of tech to suit. Bernstein believes access to internet services plays a huge role as well.
“Our message and our target demographics depends more and more on online communications, it's increasingly challenging to reach people who do not use the Internet regularly.”
Constantly Learning From Each Other
Bernstein is a big fan of their three-person team aimed at reflecting diversity in terms of age (GenX, Millennial, and Baby Boomer), work experience, and core skill sets. In many workplaces, navigating inter-generational relationships is a source of tension and conflict.
“For us, it is a source of strength; we constantly learn from one another. We approach every communications campaign with clear goals in mind; we listen closely to our internal "customers" as to what is needed”
Staying as creative and integrated as possible is the name of the game. Whether in their graphic design, social media or print and video campaigns, “striving for authenticity in our work--using real images, voices, and testimonials of real people from our local communities, as much as possible is a significant predictor of success.”
Bernstein acknowledges how important experiences in collaborative efforts are when the time comes to sway partnerships to their path. Inexperienced professionals may or may not be ready.