May 4, 2010
Author: Joanne Federman, Executive Director, Family Connections
We began our venture by requesting assistance in the two main areas of Information Technology and Marketing. With an awareness that we cannot address both concurrently, we determined that our first priority would be to clarify people’s perceptions of our organization. There was considerable confusion about our identity, which resulted in significant barriers to program participation and funding. With initial funding from the O’Neill Foundation and subsequent support from SVP, we contracted with a marketing firm to uncover these perceptions and recommend a new brand identity that would clarify our purpose. With numerous areas in need of capacity-building, SVP helped us strategically plan out how and when we would work on these things. Each step along the way impacts our program performance.
This process led to a name change to better reflect our vision, strategies, goals and values. A new name led to a new logo, website, promotional brochure and other collateral materials to help us “tell our story” for both internal and external purposes. These measures have also increased our efficiency; decreasing the amount of time we spent on clarification and increasing the amount of time spent on building capacity to serve families.
Our new name, Family Connections, reflects the fact that we do not only serve the Shaker Heights community. We actually serve 12 different communities. Our brand of service – family support – is not available to many cities, and we want families to know that our doors are open to them. Our website “traffic” and increased program participation is an indication that we are successfully getting the word out about our programs.
Now that we have the structures in place to promote our programs and services, we can move our focus to outcome measurements and evaluation. But through our bi-weekly conversations with SVP, we realized that we first need the appropriate software for capturing the data. Our SVP partner helped us develop the criteria for making a decision about software.