Home > IDEAS: Georgia Nonprofit Innovation at Work, Part 5

IDEAS: Georgia Nonprofit Innovation at Work, Part 5

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Ads to aid diagnosis

Often misdiagnosed as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease, people suffering with Lewy Body Dementia (LBD) suffer disproportionately due to a lack of awareness about their disease. Through foundational funding, the Lewy Body Dementia Association launched a nationwide media campaign that incorporates banner ads on AARP websites, social media, healthcare media outreach, and a national photography campaign called Faces of LBD. “Accuracy in diagnosis is critical to LBD patients, as the wrong medications can be fatal,” said Davida Morgan, director of development for the national organization that makes its home in Lilburn. “The campaign has created a compelling story of disease differentiation, and the results are astounding: our website and social media numbers have increased from a few thousand to tens of thousands of hits with each new release.”


Spreading the word through images

Participants in Moving in the Spirit’s dance programs are often unavailable—between school, rehearsal, and just being kids—to hype the organization’s work in person. Internal conversations about ways to raise awareness, combined with a growing catalog of images taken by longtime supporter and photographer J.D. Scott, led Scott and Moving in the Spirit to create a traveling photography exhibit called Believe in Me: Dancing from the Inside Out. Through candid portraits and striking poses, recorded testimonials from students and faculty, and additional mobile content, the exhibit tells stories of the nonprofit’s impact for an audience of dancers and non-dancers alike.

“The exhibit connects people to our mission and shows the confidence and leadership our students gain through dance,” said Director of Marketing & Communications Erin Weller Dalton. With appearances at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, City Hall, Coca-Cola Headquarters (where they met their latest board member), the Loudermilk Center, and, currently, the Bank of America Plaza, Believe in Me has been seen by more than 1.1 million people and helped boost visits to Moving in the Spirit’s web page by 92 percent.


From grantmaking to growing

For 23 years, Atlanta-based Captain Planet Foundation (CPF) has funded environmental education and stewardship programs for K-12 students around the world.

To evaluate the opportunity to expand beyond grantmaking, and into operating a “best practices” program, CPF conducted a study of the school gardens—more than 750 of them—that they had funded.

The resulting program, Project Learning Garden, integrates school gardens into everything from core subjects to the cafeteria to teacher training. With key funding and program partners on board, the program will have established learning gardens at 110 metro Atlanta schools by the end of 2014, with a goal of 525 metro-wide by 2020. The campaign moves beyond Georgia this fall, when CPF, in partnership with Pratt Industries, will offer the Learning Garden lessons, supplies, and mobile cooking cart at cost to any U.S. school that wants them.


Giving voice to the community

The latest community-first initiative from GCN partner WXIA 11Alive is the crowdsourcing 11Alive News #RaiseYourVoice hashtag campaign, an idea that “helps us shine a light on the problems in our community, so we can find solutions together,” said Robbin Steed, vice president of community relations. Somewhat predictably, they’ve heard from many about traffic, but they’ve also used viewer’s online shout-outs—monitored on Twitter and Facebook, and accepted through their website and email—to air stories about community causes, like an area swimmer’s campaign to reopen the shuttered Martin Luther King, Jr. Natatorium on Boulevard. “We’d love the nonprofit community to raise your voice about an issue we should address,” said Steed.


Making the mission known

Even with 89 years of work under their belt, and high visibility in the form of their thrift stores (the fastest-growing retail operation in the national network), Goodwill of North Georgia was still facing an all-too-typical dilemma for nonprofits: virtually no one in their communities knew what it is, exactly, that Goodwill does.

“People correlated our brand with a place to drop off no-longer-needed clothes and household items,” said Jim Caponigro, vice president of marketing, “but there was very little awareness of what we do with that donation.”

That’s why, for the first time in its history, Goodwill of North Georgia’s board approved an outreach plan to educate the public about their work placing unemployed Georgians in jobs. The resulting advertising campaign, The Goodwill Mission, hasn’t just engaged people across Goodwill’s 45-county service area through TV spots, billboards, bus stop posters, and “a little bit of radio,” but has also won two awards from the Atlanta chapter of the American Marketing Association.

“We worked with some very smart ad folks in our community to help us craft and place a message that talked about the donation, and the impact of that donation,” said Caponigro. “It tells the story of our mission: if you want to clean out your closets, we’re here for you. But if you want to help people in your community get back to work, we’re also here for that.”

Besides advertising awards, the campaign is also paying off in increased donations: 2013 donations were up 17% over the previous year, and up 12% so far this year.


A day to bridge the classroom to career gap.

Preparing the next-generation workforce, the aim of the Technology Association of Georgia Education Collaborative (TAG-Ed), means making sure students are well-taught in the STEM subjects: Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. To help build those capacities in students, schools, and school systems, TAG-Ed started Georgia STEM Day: Taking place in schools across the state, it’s a day dedicated to celebrating STEM education through special projects, speakers, and field trips.

The second annual Georgia STEM Day, held May 9, involved more than 620,000 students and educators—more than doubling participation in its first year. “Participants ranged from individual classrooms to entire school districts,” said Katie Dion, director of marketing and educational outreach. Also participating was State School Superintendent John Barge, the Georgia Tech Research Institute, and more than 20 nonprofit partners, including Junior Achievement of Georgia and Sandy Springs Education Force. Georgia STEM Day also serves as “an easy way to begin a dialogue between schools and businesses,” Dion said, helping close the classroom-to-career gap.


On-site wherever catastrophe strikes

In 2008, the Atlanta Community ToolBank responded to a string of tornado strikes across the Southeast by lending out their stock, free of charge, to anyone involved in response or recovery. “That was the first time our tools had been used in a disaster event,” said Mark Brodbeck, CEO of ToolBank USA, which grew out of the Atlanta ToolBank to cover seven other cities across the U.S. The response was so incredible, it gave Brodbeck the idea: a ToolBank devoted exclusively to disaster response.

A collaboration with Stanley Black & Decker in 2009 and 2010 on disasters in Texas—the Galveston hurricane and the tornado in Joplin—gave Brodbeck the vision to back up the idea: “Stanley Black & Decker had donated truckloads of tools to the recovery,” said Brodbeck. “They asked me to do what I do at the ToolBank, but there.”

That led the ToolBank to commission a study by Booz Allen Hamilton on the feasibility of a mobile disaster response unit. The results were overwhelmingly positive: Interviewing 60 disaster-response organizations, they found that tool availability represents a major bottleneck—and that the only people working to help were Stanley Black & Decker, who could provide the equipment but not the process expertise. “This was a natural next step,” Brodbeck said, “for both us and them.”

With Stanley Black & Decker providing all the tools they needed, and UPS granting $100,000 to the program, ToolBank USA purchased a 53-foot-long trailer and outfitted it with all the equipment and technology needed to take their tool lending program anywhere disaster strikes in the U.S. It was most recently deployed in June, when massive tornadoes struck two Nebraska towns. Setting off directly from the Points of Light conference in Atlanta, where Brodbeck and Director of Disaster Services Matt Walenciak were showcasing the trailer, ToolBank Disaster Services was on the scene within 72 hours. Setting up between the affected towns for a two week engagement, they lent out more than $44,000 in tools to more than 100 different relief and recovery projects.

“They’re ecstatic to see us,” Walenciak reported from the road. “It’s a new program, so we have a lot of locals come up and ask questions, and we’ve made a lot of great partnerships.”


Consolidating data for better client care

Last year, Columbus-based Enrichment Services Program (ESP) made the bold decision to restructure their processes in order to better serve their clients. Central to that plan was integrating the information kept by different departments and programs on each family served.

“For so many years, our departments were operating in silos,” said CEO Belva Dorsey. That meant their clients, families in poverty, had to answer the same questions multiple times for different services. To break out of these silos, ESP consolidated its client information into a single database they call the Circle of Care. That meant not only a better experience for their clients—who now go through the registration process just once for the full suite of ESP’s programs—but an easier way to track those clients that uses fewer resources. “We created Circle of Care for the families,” said Dorsey. “It allows us to focus on helping the family achieve their goal.”



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Marc Schultz is contributing editor for Georgia Nonprofit NOW. Communications Director Betsy Reid and Communications Manager Tom Zimmerman also contributed to this report.