I am a little pushy about grant announcements. Maybe a nicer way to say that is that I believe very strongly in how important it is to announce projects in a way that gives the project the best chances of success.
It’s not about the big check and the photo opportunities; it’s about spreading the word in a way that attracts others to the cause. It’s one of the reason our Foundation posts about grant projects and much of why I’m here in your inbox each week. In short, we believe there are good things happening, things solving important issues and communicating about them regularly is one way we can help ensure they are successful and replicated.
In the last few months, our partners have done an extraordinary job announcing grants in ways that have attracted some real attention. Partners like the Milam Street Kitchen, the City of Ruston, Workforce Development Board 83, HEAL and ULM have put a lot of effort into creating events, inviting partners and sharing their stories and ideas widely.
In more than one of those cases, news about the project generated from a grant announcement reached other funders, who have since stepped in to additionally support their important work.
Great work can wither on the vine without some light shed on it. Just because we build great things does not mean people are going to show up. We have to tell them. We have to brag sometimes, too.
For organizations without dedicated communications or engagement staff, pulling away from the life-saving work to do communications and outreach work can be difficult. And so many rule it out altogether.
But if you can make the time, it will yield dividends. More investments, more volunteers, or even just connections with other leaders and conversations that may eventually yield something big.
Don’t know where to start? Last year, we published a public relations toolkit for our grantees. It includes step-by-step check lists for creating a message, choosing where to share it, how to plan a community announcement event or a press release, how to do an interview, and templates for everything. (I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that we built much of this around the Ontario Trillium Foundation’s public relations toolkit — with their permission, of course.)
You can download it here. It’s a great place to start. And, as always, we are ready to help navigate the process of getting the word out about programs and results that are dramatically improving lives.
BCBSLA Foundation President and Head of Community Relations