The Multiplier Effect! How Small Investments in Communications Can Make Exponential Impact in Organizations and Communities
- You don’t need large communication investments to make a real difference.
- Strategic investments in outreach and engagement of diverse communities leverages program work and impact.
- Funding for communications can motivate organizations to assess and improve their capacity to serve diverse communities.
Danielle introduced herself and her family language history, including her parents. Selma spoke about the language history of her family. She prefers English, her mother would prefer Spanish.
There are many nuances in communication for nonprofits to keep in mind.
Bridges Program – A partnership between the Foundation and nonprofits
- Helps nonprofits develop more effective communication strategies and tools
- Helps families access information about available programs and services
Begins with an assessment of nonprofits, their needs and what they can sustain.
Some could not take it on. Those that were able to take it on go into a program phase.
- First copy Spanish language content/”translation”
- Includes conversion to references, background, vs word for word translation
- Mobile responsive video and audio – very high in Hispanic community
- Spanish language hard copy collateral
- Bilingual staff (also interns, consultants)
- App/texting tools
Research and Data
Their research helped define “the Hispanic Community” in the greater Washington, DC metro area, (which is close to National data)
- Hispanics in DC metro region have nearly doubled since turn of the 21st century
- The Hispanic population has become more diverse (language, country of origin, reasons for immigration)
- Vast majority are employed (80%), though skills may limit their ability to receive higher income and benefits
- Majority have a high school education or less, 62% lack English-speaking skills
- 78% make $50,000 or less
- 51% of those with no health insurance are Hispanic
Examples of Nonprofit Projects
Children’s National Medical Center (CNMC)
Need: bilingual communications staff, marketing
Grant: $120,000 a bilingual consultant to work with a team to develop a Spanish-language microsite to inform Latino families about available services.
Latin American Youth Center (LAYC)
Needs: Outdated technology, professional translation
Grant: $35,000 to design a new, bilingual website using professional translation to better reach members of the community in English and Spanish.
Latino Student Fund (LSF)
Needs: Communications staff, website, storytelling
Grant: $10,000 to create bilingual videos highlighting organizational success stories, and translate website and key communications materials in Spanish.
Girls Scouts of the Nation’s Capital (GSCNC)
Needs: Bilingual Staff, Web content
Grants: $15,000 to hire intern and create a Spanish-language microsite, photography of Latina girls, four short videos and translated registration materials and other information.
St. Ann’s Center for Children, Youth & Families
Needs: Community awareness, web content
Grant: $5,000 to create a Spanish-language microsite with original Spanish content, on its newly redesigned website. (website was designed pro bono). They brought in Hispanic women they were serving for focus groups.
Girls on the Run of Montgomery County
Needs: Minimal Funding, Parent Engagement Tools
Grant: $3,000 to create a Spanish-language microsite, translation and Spanish-language informational videos.
Results – annual conference received pacesetter award for innovation and released video and Spanish template for all 200 councils across the United States.
- See how the program assisted the communications capacity of nonprofits
- Identify the contextual conditions under which the Bridges grants were implemented
- 13 key informant interviews (Executive Directors, staff and foundation staff)
- Document review (grant proposals, website content)
- Data analysis
They wanted to share the results with Foundations. They developed a coding scheme to identify themes and make connections.
What did we learn? Small Investments Can Yield Significant changes
What would happen if you leveraged traditional grants with small communications grants?
They have antiquated tools.
- Increased enrollments for Girls on the Run
- (225 pre-grant, 368 Fall post grant, 467 Spring post grant)
- “(After Spanish micro-site launch) We noticed an increase in phone calls from Spanish-speaking families.” – St. Ann’s Center Staff
- If the organization had a strategic plan already (i.e. Children’s hospital grantee), if the organization got the grant they would hit the ground running to assist with implementation
- Communications grant increases capacity in other areas: “The site has spurred conversation about how a potentially increased volume of callers will be best served by our Spanish-language phone receptionists.” – St. Ann’s Center Staff
- Translation is a professional job
- Consider micro-sites as a way to get started
- Key elements for identifying nonprofit partners
- Committed leadership
- Strategic Plan or mandate to increase service to language minority population
- Approved investment of resources and staff time
- They require a commitment to maintain a line item for communications in the organization’s budget. They are also co-investing to some extent.
- Resource: (available on Crimsonbridge website)
Reaching and Engaging with Hispanic Communities (for funders and nonprofits)
Includes research-informed data – includes 18 recommendations
- Strategic Investment in Communications
- Yields “products” and supports leadership’s commitment to serve diverse communities
- Are a vehicle for realizing communications goals AND strategic plan goals
- Enhances action on justice, equity, diversity and inclusion work (JEDI)
- Improves consistency of messaging
- Creates efficiencies and boosts staff morale (when they can deliver on services)
- Small investments Work!
- Leverages program work
- Catalyzes assessments and improvements
- Supports growth and expansion
- High return on investment
- These strategies pertain beyond Spanish speaking to communications capacity building in general
- Funders should consider and nonprofits should request communications support as part of a program grant – part of mission delivery
These notes were captured by The Communications Network and have been reviewed by the presenters. ComNet18 Breakout Session notes were made possible thanks to the generous support of the Kalliopeia Foundation.