2009 Case Study - Helena Food Share
The Excellence in Nonprofit Communications (ENC) program was launched in 2008 after Toni Broadbent, owner of Allegra Print & Imaging in Helena, approached MNA Executive Director, Brian Magee, about ways to assist local nonprofits in strengthening their communication efforts. Toni and Brian approached other potential partners who could play a key role in providing consulting services, products, or financial assistance to the program.
The original program partners included Allegra Print & Imaging (marketing & print production), Articulink Services (content development and editing), Cinch Design (logo and design layout), Gallatin Public Affairs (messaging and public relations), Mountain West Bank (program funding), and the Montana Nonprofit Association (program administration and case study). Additional partners – Johnsons.net (web development) and Signs Now (sign production), were brought on board after the scope of the project was determined. All partners agreed to the program memorandum of understanding, outlining their responsibilities and project timeline.
2009 Program Partners:
Purpose: The ENC program was designed to showcase the positive impact that targeted communications and strategic printed materials have on furthering a nonprofit’s mission and capacity. The nonprofit grant award winner would work with the project partners to define strategic communications objectives and target audiences, craft key messaging tailored to the desired audiences, create strategic and compelling printed and/or electronic materials to support the messaging, and develop a distribution plan for implementation. Year one of the program also served as a pilot program for collaboration between nonprofits and local business partners, working together to build the capacity of a local nonprofit.
MNA encourages organizations and businesses in other communities to build this type of partnership and will aid collaborative efforts by sharing documents and our experience in implementing the program. Contact MNA with questions about starting this program in your community.
To be eligible for the grant, an applicant must be:
recognized as an IRS 501(c)(3) organization,
based in the program partners area of service - in this case, Lewis and Clark, Jefferson, or Broadwater County, and
a member in good standing of the Montana Nonprofit Association.
Grant Award Package:
The grant award winner will receive the following assistance:
up to 10 hours of strategic communications consulting to identify goals, objectives, target audiences, messages, and written communication tools, and
up to $25,000 of in-depth design, development, print, and distribution assistance for a complete make-over of an existing communications tool or the development of a new product (e.g., annual report, brochure, fundraising appeal, etc).
Grant Award Winner Commitment:
If selected, the grant award winner agrees to:
attend project development meetings with the grant partners,
work with partners to set project goals and strategies, and provide information and feedback pertinent to the project,
ensure that the organization can meet project deadlines,
showcase the results and impact of the project through this case study.
Grant Application, Selection Process & Implementation Timeline:
In November 2008, twelve applicants submitted a grant application and the selection panel reviewed the applications based on set criteria. The panel selected four finalists for interviews, and in December announced the 2009 award winner - Helena Food Share (HFS). Implementation began in January with determining Food Share's needs and strategies for how best to meet those needs. The remaining meetings loosely followed the project timeline and evolved based on the project scope and partners' time constraints. The grant projects were completed in phases starting with a community unveiling of the new logo (see sidebar) and website in November 2009, followed by letterhead, and culminating in May 2010 with a printed brochure.
Helena Food Share Needs
Program partners and HFS Executive Director, Ann Waickman, began the process by refining the needs that Food Share presented in their interview. The overarching need was for improved community awareness of HFS program growth, and the need for donations of funds and volunteer time. This would be accomplished through:
- Create new logo and branding, including color & fonts
- Create a unified agency image - revise print and electronic materials to incorporate new logo, look, colors & fonts
- Prep for capital campaign with creation of a comprehensive brochure or annual report
- Development of a Food Share website to provide information to the community and a place to make online donations
- Updated Direct Mail Presence
Resulting Strategies & Outcomes:
Strategy: New Logo and Branding -
With the development of a new logo and branding, HFS would be able to streamline all print materials with a unified look. Materials included letterhead, business cards, visuals for in-store posters and food collection sites, and new signs for the store and delivery trucks. It would also set the groundwork for the development of a website and printed brochure, items Food Share did not have previously.
Results: The new logo is now visible throughout the distribution centers in Helena and East Helena, on all HFS trucks, and at all food collection locations (where they now have new stands thanks to University of Montana - Helena students & Pacific Steel) with new educational pieces (boards with facts, numbers, etc.) for public information. The new logo is now used frequently for ads in the Helena Independent Record.
"Our new look has given us a strong brand presence and staff have pride in our look and its consistency. Because of this, they care about our image and have been enforcing the use of our new font. For some staff, it is their first time having a business card, which they proudly share with clients, volunteers and the public."
- Helena Food Share Staff
Strategy: Develop Tagline, Message Points & Public Relations - Food Share Executive Director Ann Waickman is a passionate leader for her organization, inspiring all she speaks with to give generously to Food Share and care about hunger in their community. The project partners wanted to capture Ann's passion and build it into a tagline and corresponding message points that her board, staff and volunteers could use. Having consistent messaging was particularly important for Food Share as they begin work on their capital campaign.
Results: The new tagline, Creating a hunger free community, is used consistently and has set a goal and tone for HFS efforts within the community. Board and staff members now repeat and use agreed upon message points whenever speaking about the organization. Relationships were established with local press that resulted in coverage of the kick-off event to unveil the new HFS logo and a meeting with the editorial board at the Helena Independent Record (IR). The IR now highlights Food Share activities within the community with small color ads featuring the new logo at no charge whenever space is available.
"John, our program partner from Gallatin Public Affairs, has helped us increase what the IR does for Food Share. We would not be where we are without his help; he ensured coverage at our kick-off and arranged for me to meet with the IR editorial board. This led the IR to include 'Let's make Helena a Hunger Free Community' in their yearly resolutions."
- Anne Waickman, HFS Executive Director
Strategy: New Website - The creation of a website was a critical communication piece needed to reach a broad audience, provide general information about HFS products and services, solicit money and food donations, and a place to connect with clients, volunteers and donors online.
Results: To meet this need, program partner Toni Broadbent asked Tobe Johnson of Johnsons.net to join in the program to assist with web development. Tobe quickly took the design elements and message points and translated them into a website that also allowed for online donations. HFS is now able to reach clients, donors and volunteers via the internet, generate funds through online donations, communicate timely information about collection and fundraising events, and spread the word about HFS needs (as small as something like the need for grocery bags!).
Helena Food Share staff, volunteers, board members, program partners and community leaders gather at the Helena distribution center for the unveiling of the new logo and signage. Photo: Eliza Wiley, Helena Independent Record.
Strategy: Brochure - The new brochure was developed with the capital and annual campaigns in mind to reach various audiences - annual donors, capital donors, volunteers, and clients.
Results: (A link to the brochure and strategy results will be available soon.)
"This whole project has really helped us move towards our goal of a capital campaign. Because of our new unified look and new materials, we feel confident in moving forward with the campaign. Overall, we’re able to take these new initiatives and work them into our campaign budget. The bulk of the work that we needed done was completed by our ENC partners - they got us through what would have been a long, painful, expensive process, had we taken it on alone. We feel very blessed to have the ENC partners as a professional resource. It has been incredible to know we can rely on their expertise and ask for their professional opinion & advice. Their comments and thought-provoking questions always promote good discussion among staff & board, and cause us to question our systems and steps."
- Carrie Ritter Gillman, Development Officer, Helena Food Share
What We Learned
Because of the grant, Helena Food Share now has a unified look that includes updated materials, new signage, website, and brochure that will carry them forward as they begin work on their capital campaign. Some final thoughts from those involved...
"We started out with a group of fantastic partners. Once Food Share was selected it was an amazing collaboration. All the partners became so involved with Food Share and volunteered and promoted a Hunger Free Community far beyond providing professional services. The emotional involvement and commitment was an aspect I had not expected – we all agreed we wanted to help lay a foundation for a capital campaign and we accomplished that. But we didn’t recognize that the process of working so closely with a nonprofit would change us in so many ways."
- Toni Broadbent, Allegra Print & Imaging
Some of the ENC Project Partners: Glenna Wortman-Obie (ArticuLink & Intermountain), Toni Broadbent (Allegra), Ann Waickman (Helena Food Share), John MacDonald & Callie Johnson (Gallatin Public Affairs), Lee Huber (Cinch Design), and Patty White (MNA). Photo: Eliza Wiley, Helena Independent Record.
"This program has helped us tremendously by expanding relationships with businesses in the community, providing our board and staff with a clear message that they feel passionate about and comfortable with sharing. The new materials and clear messaging has resulted in new sponsors for our Mardi Gras event and general support of the organization. It has helped portray Food Share as an organization that has their act together. I have personally learned a fantastic amount about how to look at the agency through the eyes of others, about how to create a presence for the agency, and how to better involve my board members in promoting our programs and our needs."
- Ann Waickman, HFS Executive Director
Ann works with Callie Johnson and John MacDonald of Gallatin Public Affairs on messaging.
“It was the second meeting Callie Johnson and I had with Ann Waickman when we made her cry just a little. We had brushed away all the clutter that ended up around Ann’s feet every day as the director of a small nonprofit, and demanded from her an answer to that most-important question: `What are you trying to do?’ She looked us square in the eye: `I want to create a hunger-free community.’ That was it. We knew it. She knew it. Her tears were those of joy and relief as she realized this was really going to work. Ann is an amazing woman and it was an honor to work with her and her organization on this great project. It made it very easy for us to say `yes’ to being involved in the future.”
- John MacDonald, Gallatin Public Affairs
“This project was a pleasure, an honor, and a joy. The Board and staff of Food Share and the partners of ENC represent perfectly what makes this such a great community—they are people who care for others.”
- Glenna Wortman-Obie, ArticuLink Services & IntermountainI am honored to be a part of this unique grant project. It's been rewarding working with a great set of partners - all true professionals, collaborators, and advocates - and to assist such a deserving organization like Helena Food Share in helping themselves through better communication, focus and direction. Ann Waickman and her staff have been fantastic to work with, and have done an excellent job in implementing the advice and work of the grant partners, in a way that works for their organization.
- Lee Huber, Cinch Design
Details about the 2010 ENC Grant - www.mtnonprofit.org/encgrant.aspx
2009 Grant Application - PDF format
2010 Grant Application - Word format ; PDF format
2009 Applicatin Review Criteria - PDF format
Project Partners Memorandum of Understanding - PDF format
Project Partners: Allegra Print and Imaging, Articulink, Cinch Design, Gallatin Public Affairs, Johnsons.Net, and Signs Now