Volunteer Spotlight: Jared Longmore

Volunteer Spotlight: Jared Longmore

Volunteer Spotlight with Jared Longmore
Associate Director of Advancement for Athletics, University of Rochester

Can you talk a little bit about the work you do at University of Rochester?
My current position is Associate Director of Advancement for Athletics at the University of Rochester. Most of my work is cultivating donors who can reasonably give at the major gift level over a 5-year period. The majority of my job is to build long term relationships with donors. I like to say I am in the business of creating transformational relationships rather than transactional. My ultimate goal is to try and find a project that a donor is super passionate about and funnel them towards a positive relationship with the University.

How did you get involved in development work?
I think, like most people, I kind of stumbled into development. I was at Colorado State, finishing up my graduate degree in English. A friend of mine, who was working at Foodlink told me about an open grant-writing position. I naively thought that if I studied English, I would be able to write anything, including grants. I realized that wasn’t the case but instantly clicked with the nonprofit world. About 3 ½ years ago, the opportunity to work for the U of R came up and it was an opportunity that I couldn’t refuse. As a first-generation college student, it was really important for me to be on a campus so working for one was almost like a dream come true.

The U of R has a pretty amazing reputation in Rochester. What do you think is the secret for why it’s such a successful organization?
I guess there are two parts to that. I think the reason the U of R has such a successful reputation in the community is because of its motto, Meloria. Meloria is Latin for “ever better” and the U of R lives and breathes that every day. It’s unique to find an organization so committed to its brand but it’s true that we are always trying to do better than we did yesterday. Secondly, I think the ability to grow and specialize in one area of interest adds to why people love working there. Everyone at the U of R is an expert at what they do; you are able to immerse yourself in that field. I know that has been one of my favorite things about working at the U of R.

How did you first hear about Causewave and what motivated you to get involved with us?
When I was at Foodlink, part of my responsibilities included being on the direct mail team. It’s a pretty big program and Foodlink has been quite successful in that area but we had no perspective on it. We didn’t know how we compared to others in the field and hadn’t done a deep dive into our data. Another team member and I decided to come to Causewave for a Coffee and Consult. Ultimately the conclusion was that Foodlink was doing great, and we didn’t need additional support from Causewave. I remember thinking how this was a core part of what Causewave does, but yet they’re telling us not to take their services. This was a level of expertise and integrity that I had not seen before.

Everyone has different ideas about how to make a difference in the community. What’s your philosophy?
I think people have an obligation to pay it forward. Everyone has a different skill set, by recognizing that and owning it, people can find those opportunities that allow them to use their unique abilities. For me, I am comfortable with the fundraising side of things and that’s where I think I can volunteer my skills to have the biggest impact.

You’ve been involved in two really important fundraising plans with Causewave, what sticks out to you as the most rewarding?
Honestly, both projects I worked on were really rewarding for me. I had little to no knowledge of the true role the National Women’s Hall of Fame and the Gillam Grant Community Center played in their respective communities. And when you looked closer, each organization was filled with these talented and hardworking individuals, who for the most part, are volunteers. But what made these projects so exciting was the fact that they had so much untapped potential and were so willing to listen to what Causewave had to say. I think small nonprofits don’t always realize there are simple things they can do to make themselves more efficient. Seeing first-hand how our advice was really able to make a change is pretty rewarding.

Do you have any thoughts or advice for other people who volunteer with us or in the community?
Like I said before, people have an obligation to pay it forward. Everyone can find the time to give back in some way, maybe it’s monetarily. Personally, I strive to volunteer and donate. As a W.B. Potter Society Member, I feel as though both my donations and professional skills are being put to good use. Something that’s unique about volunteering with Causewave is that there is this multiplier effect around the work you do. By working with so many organizations, Causewave is helping all of them become better and in turn, that helps those organizations serve the community better. By volunteering in that way, Gilliam Grant is hopefully a little bit better, National Women’s Hall of Fame is hopefully a little bit better and the communities they serve are hopefully a little bit better. At Causewave, you are surrounded not only by passionate, hardworking staff members but you are exposed to numerous other passionate and hardworking organizations in the community striving to make it better.

What might be something readers are surprised to know about you?
I have an underground supper club! We usually do a multi-course meal that is inspired by a part of the world. Our next dinner is French inspired.

How do you drink your coffee?
Just black. I’m pretty simple.

If you could live anywhere on this planet, where would you choose to live?
I love Rochester- but I guess that’s a pretty boring answer. There are other places that are beautiful; like when I lived in Colorado or visited Portugal. But, all of my family is in New York, so it’d be tough to leave. Rochester all the way!

Any final thoughts you would like to share?
I think people should get involved. I think people should find things they’re passionate about and should do them. Reach out and be open to new opportunities. It’s really easy to say “no” to things, but people should just try saying “yes” more often; usually good things happen!

       Partner:  The Housing Council and the City of Rochester   Project:  Zombie Properties Foreclosure Prevention   The Context  Foreclosure is not inevitable. There are very successful options available to help an at-risk homeowner avoid losing their home to foreclosure. And, with The Housing Council these solutions are always free. They help more than 600 Rochester homeowners with foreclosure prevention services every year and have a 95% success rate.   The Challenge  Many homeowners either don’t know about these services or don’t reach out soon enough. Once they receive a foreclosure notice, homeowners are often overwhelmed or think it is too late to do anything about it. Past experiences with predatory lenders or other systems may make it so that homeowners are hesitant to trust something that seems “too good to be true”.   The Goal  Expand the visibility of The Housing Council foreclosure prevention services, and to increase the timeliness of reaching homeowners so that they reach out and connect with a homeowner advocate before it’s too late.     What We Did  Causewave worked with our partners to better understand the challenges and barriers homeowners face when it comes to foreclosure prevention and developed a strategy to overcome them. Rather than try and hide it, Initial Here Creative Services developed a multi-media campaign that put the word “Foreclosure” front and center so homeowners know they don’t have to be afraid and that trusted resources are available to help save their home.  A microsite was developed to serve as the central resource for the campaign. In addition to messaging directed at homeowners, supporting materials for referral sources were developed to distribute in the community. The campaign ran from May through August of 2018 using radio, social, billboards and e-mail.    Impact  The campaign generated over 4 million impressions and 5,800 website visits during the three-month period. As a result, The Housing Council saw an 20% increase in foreclosure related appointments compared to the same period in 2017.

Partner: The Housing Council and the City of Rochester
Project: Zombie Properties Foreclosure Prevention

The Context
Foreclosure is not inevitable. There are very successful options available to help an at-risk homeowner avoid losing their home to foreclosure. And, with The Housing Council these solutions are always free. They help more than 600 Rochester homeowners with foreclosure prevention services every year and have a 95% success rate.

The Challenge
Many homeowners either don’t know about these services or don’t reach out soon enough. Once they receive a foreclosure notice, homeowners are often overwhelmed or think it is too late to do anything about it. Past experiences with predatory lenders or other systems may make it so that homeowners are hesitant to trust something that seems “too good to be true”.

The Goal
Expand the visibility of The Housing Council foreclosure prevention services, and to increase the timeliness of reaching homeowners so that they reach out and connect with a homeowner advocate before it’s too late.

What We Did
Causewave worked with our partners to better understand the challenges and barriers homeowners face when it comes to foreclosure prevention and developed a strategy to overcome them. Rather than try and hide it, Initial Here Creative Services developed a multi-media campaign that put the word “Foreclosure” front and center so homeowners know they don’t have to be afraid and that trusted resources are available to help save their home.

A microsite was developed to serve as the central resource for the campaign. In addition to messaging directed at homeowners, supporting materials for referral sources were developed to distribute in the community. The campaign ran from May through August of 2018 using radio, social, billboards and e-mail.

The campaign generated over 4 million impressions and 5,800 website visits during the three-month period. As a result, The Housing Council saw an 20% increase in foreclosure related appointments compared to the same period in 2017.

Spotlight: Gladys Pedraza-Burgos

Spotlight: Gladys Pedraza-Burgos

Volunteer Spotlight Interview with Gladys Pedraza-Burgos
Chief Operating Officer, Ibero-American Action League Inc.

How do you drink your coffee?

I liked mine with flavored cream, something sweet like hazelnut.

Can you talk a little bit about the work you do at Ibero-American Action League? Why you got involved and how long have you been working there? 

Well, I’ve been involved with Ibero my whole life; my Dad was a founding member so it’s always been a big part of my life. In high school, I worked part-time and volunteered whenever I could. Before I started my current position, I was on the Board for about 7 years. Currently, I am the Chief Operating Officer and have been for just over 5 years. I’ve done so much with Ibero, it's better to ask what I haven’t done!

We have heard so much about your commitment to Rochester, specifically with the Hispanic community and the resettlement of displaced Puerto Ricans from Hurricane Maria. What has motivated you to get so involved with the community?

I think it’s my upbringing. Both of my parents valued people who worked hard, and who were courageous. They've instilled their strong values in me, not only by teaching me but by their actions as well. I was able to see first-hand how hard my Dad worked at making Ibero a meaningful organization. His strong commitment and dedication really impacted my life. Plus, I have a really good reminder to "Be the Change" when I come into work and see the Ibero mural outside our offices. It forces me to ask myself every day: Am I doing enough to make a change? (Ibero mural pictured above!)

You’ve done a ton to support Causewave’s work, including being an influential member of both the Every Minute in School Matters and Unintended Pregnancy Reduction steering committees. But what volunteer role sticks out as most rewarding?

While I have really enjoyed my time working on the Unintended Pregnancy Reduction Campaign (and I am so excited to see our hard work pays off), I have to say the most rewarding role has been working with the Every Minute in School Matters campaign.  As the first person in my family to graduate high school and college, I am a huge proponent of education. I believe that the right education will pull people from poverty and into prosperity. Therefore, I see, the issue of student absenteeism as a very critical issue. Parents simply weren’t aware of the effects of missing even two days of school. This campaign is focused on educating and encouraging parents to get their kids to school. Since the beginning of its launch, I have seen a real shift in attitude towards a child’s attendance and I am so happy to have been a part of that work.

Are you working on any projects right now that you are particularly excited about?

Wow, there is so many it’s hard to pick just one. However, I am really excited about working with The Children’s Agenda, a local nonprofit that advocate for kids. We have partnered with them to ensure Rochester City School District (RCSD) provides an equal education to all its students, no matter their background. In the upcoming school year, there will be 600 new kids and we are working with RCSD to help prepare the schools for the influx of these students. Ibero and The Children’s Agenda’s main role will be to advocate for these new children.  

The project I am most proud of is, the resettlement of over 3,000 displaced Puerto Ricans. After Hurricane Maria, Ibero led local relief efforts, which meant coordinating with 25 other agencies. Many Puerto Ricans were coming over through November, December and January, and as you can imagine, there was quite an adjustment period (especially with the snow). Our job at Ibero was to help these people build a new reality and settle in. We provided everything from food, shelter and healthcare providers. 

Do you have any thoughts or advice for other people who volunteer with us or in our community?

Rochester is a community that is not only culturally diverse but also has a variety of life stages. We have people who are retiring, people who are in the middle of their careers, and people who are just beginning their professional journey. Volunteering provides a different avenue for each of those populations and has so many benefits. It allows you to step out of your comfort zone both professionally and personally, it allows you to live out your values, and I believe it's the most rewarding job there is. Volunteering is a way to show you care about others; it’s a way to stay connected and show your gratitude for your ability to share your knowledge. It gives you the ability to know you have made a real difference in the community. Rochester might be cold, but our community knows how to keep everyone warm!

If you could sit on a bench in a beautiful woods, who would you like sitting next to you on the bench?

Well, I would want someone who’s talkative; I don’t just want someone who is just going to sit there and not say anything! I think I would like to have my Dad, he passed away recently and he loved nature so I would love to be able to sit next to my Dad and just talk for awhile. 

What might readers be surprised to know about you?

Oh! That’s an easy one, I love Star Trek! I just love the creativity and the connections between our world and theirs. They struggle with similar social problems but learned how to embrace the diversity. My dream is that we have a world like that, a world where we celebrate and appreciate what makes us unique. 

Any final thoughts you would like to share?

Live long and prosper!

A Winnable Public Health Battle

A Winnable Public Health Battle

The Center for Disease Control has identified teen pregnancy prevention as a Winnable Battle. With additional effort and support for evidence-based, cost-effective strategies that we can implement now, we will have a significant impact on our nation’s health.” (Source: CDC.org)

In 2016, the City of Rochester had a teen birth rate of 31 births per 1,000 women ages 15-19.  This compares to rates of 16 in New York State and 24 nationwide. While these numbers have steadily declined over the past two decades, they are still much higher than in other developed countries (e.g. Canada=11 and the Netherlands=4). However, research shows that in Rochester, it's not just teens. In fact, the highest rate of unintended pregnancies of young women are between the ages of 20-24, followed by 25-29 year olds, then 15-19 year olds. 

Over the past year, Causewave helped to convene a powerhouse of local experts to create a community-wide initiative. The catalyst for taking on this issue was twofold:

  1. Evidence shows that by improving access to more effective contraception like long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARC), unintended pregnancies will drop; and 
  2. There was a mix of passionate individuals and organizations ready to take on this challenge in our community. 

The initiative is focused on reducing the number of unintended pregnancies in young women from teens up to 29 year olds by improving access to and awareness of all available contraception methods. The Steering Committee determined that the key message should aim at educating young women so that they can make informed reproductive choices without judgment.

Stay True to You echoes a great deal of what young women are hearing from mentors and other women they respect. It’s a great platform for those mentors and healthcare professionals to engage and inform young women even more about the true facts they likely don’t know about their birth control options, to make the discussion more publicly and culturally acceptable, and ultimately help reduce the number of unintended pregnancies in young women in the Rochester area.
— Matt Smythe, Creative Director at mattsmythe.com

JAY, a local advertising and marketing agency,  has created an eye-catching messaging with media to intrigue young women to learn more about their birth control options. With help from Nan Burgess-Whitman, a volunteer market researcher, we were able to test two possible campaign messages and the corresponding creative. Nan, who has years of experience in the market research field suggested Causewave use both online and in person focus groups to test these concepts. This was decided partly on the age demographic we were trying to target and partly on the numerous benefits of using online focus groups, which includes reduced cost, more data and quicker results. Causewave had never used online focus groups prior but found them to be easy, fun and the results were really surprising!

Thanks to JAY, who is donating all of the creative development and media planning, Causewave and its many partners are now in the final stages before officially launching the campaign.

Keep an eye out for the public launch of the campaign this summer! If you'd like to learn more or get involved, please contact Stacey Saracene, Senior Program Manager, at ssaracene@causewave.org.

Huge thanks to all devoted steering committee members, including: Rachael Phelps, Katherine Greenberg, MD, Andy Aligne, MD, Sherita D. Bullock, Jess Coleman, Sandy Coleman, Sheila Driscoll, Marielena Vélez de Brown, MD, Tori Toliver-Powers, Audrey Korokeyi, Mary Terziani, Krysta Baccari, Jessica Cranch and Gladys Pedraza-Burgos. Special thanks to Jay Advertising and Nan Burgess-Whitman for all the hard work and dedication they’ve put into the messaging strategy for this initiative.

Picture Source: The Sunday News

Spotlight: Lisa Chen

Spotlight: Lisa Chen

Volunteer Spotlight Interview with Lisa Chen
Principal, Lisa Chen Research Consulting

Can you talk a little bit about your work?

I’ve spent most of my career doing qualitative market research with potential customers. The research I do is typically quite detailed and in-depth — I delve into deep questions and really get to know people. My work is about revealing the narrative story to clients and solving the disconnect between the end results and the means to how we got there. Most often, this takes the form of in-person and online focus groups.

How’d you get into market research?

I first started working in Sesame Street’s research department when I was in graduate school for Developmental Psychology at NYU. In that role, I talked to a lot of two- to four-year olds to assess the appeal of characters and comprehension of the educational content.

You’ve done a ton to support Causewave – what motivates you to be involved?

I love the causes that Causewave is behind. In particular, I care a lot about diversity and inclusion initiatives — it was the focus of my studies and I wrote my dissertation on racial/ethnic socialization among Chinese immigrant families. That’s why I got involved in the Race and Media project, which I believe is going to make an important impact when the study results are announced. 

In recent years, I’ve realized I also need to consider taking on leadership roles; that it’s not always enough to be a committee member. I take my Causewave work and my board position at www.RochesterKids.org very seriously. I try to look towards the future and think about what mark I want to make with my social justice work, and so that’s why I step up.

Capacity building is at the core of all our projects. Our Senior Program Manager Stacey Saracene said you recently helped to build our own team’s capacity by training her in how to organize a focus group. Why do you think capacity building is important or why you enjoy it?

For years I’ve worked in a small boutique firm where I rarely have the opportunity to mentor any more. I love being around young, vibrant people, so I miss that. Plus, that was for the Diversity of Opportunity (DO) Partnership, an important project gathering feedback from urban and suburban parents about new opportunities to increase the socioeconomic and cultural diversity of the city schools. 

You’ve done a ton to support Causewave’s work lately, including focus groups RCSD, Student Attendance Initiative, Hillside Foster Care, an Opioid Prevention Project. Do any of those roles stick out as particularly rewarding?

Carly Layton from Hillside followed up after the Foster Care project and let me know how successful that campaign was in attracting new foster parents. Typically when conducting a research study, I don’t get to hear the final results or impact of the research. Learning about the people who foster children in our community gave me a whole new outlook on parenting. How does a person take in six foster kids when I can’t even get mine to soccer on time? It’s incredible what foster parents do by opening their hearts and their homes.

What might readers be surprised to know about you?

One day I think it’d be fun to see if I could pull off being a blond.

Social Media Takes On Drug Addiction

Social Media Takes On Drug Addiction

The United States is in the midst of an opioid crisis, and upstate New York is no exception. A new study found that roughly half of those in the Finger Lakes region who overdosed on heroin or other opioids had prior prescriptions for painkillers, the largest group affected being those in the 15 to 29-year-old age range.

Over the last few months, Causewave partnered with The Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition in Ontario County (SAPC) to launch an awareness campaign. With the help of trusted designers Andrew Soucier and Sarah Mongeau (a former Causewave intern), as well as the media experts at Butler/Till, we were well prepared to make some change.

The goal
To increase perceptions of risk for opioid, heroin and prescription drug abuse among youth and young adults.

Our Approach
We planned and implemented a social media campaign targeting 12 to 25-year olds, leading them to landing pages with information about many of the lesser known risks of opioid use. Because the target audiences and goals for each audience were different, our team decided to develop two strategies and two landing pages.

Each site was given a vanity URL and included testimonials and jarring facts that demonstrate how addiction can happen to anyone. To drive traffic, we ran ads on Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat (a Causewave first!). Each told the story of someone struggling with addiction, reaching out for help and wishing they had known the consequences of substance abuse before it happened to them.

Some lessons learned:
This campaign experimented with a number of tactics, which we adjusted based on initial results.  If you’re considering a paid social media advertising campaign for your organization, here are five best practices you should know.

1. Troubleshoot digital ads before sharing
If you plan on running ads on Facebook or Instagram, you should familiarize yourself with their ad policy. Essentially, ads with more text will be shown to fewer people, and ads with less text will experience greater reach. We recommend using Facebook’s Image Text Check tool to make sure your ads are as effective as possible. In our case, we got dinged for using doodle-like graphics, which Facebook considered text.

2. Use a variety of creative assets   
Creative fatigue is real and happens fast! When audiences get used to seeing certain images and text, they tune out. The solution is to prepare extra imagery and copy that can be rotated throughout a campaign to maintain people’s attention.  

3. Understand banner ads
Many people write off banner ads as a failure because of low click rates, but that’s not really their purpose. Banner ads expose your target audience to your message, leading to familiarity and interest. Once someone sees these banner ads enough times, they’ll be more likely to click when they see that ad appear somewhere else — so don’t count these guys out!

4. Try a vanity URL
A unique, branded domain name will stand out to your audience and be easier to remember. A custom URL is more pleasing to look at and easier to share on social. Plus, they’re not expensive – they typically cost around $20.

5. Track using Google Analytics
How can you tell if your campaign is meeting its goals? One easy way to track essential metrics is with Google Analytics. Take the time to install the tool on your website before you launch your campaign and get trained on the basics (there’s many free webinars). We promise it’s worth it!

Our Takeaway
With an issue as complex as the current opioid epidemic, trying to make a positive impact can feel as difficult as boiling the ocean. However, at the end of the day, even one life saved from the battle of addiction is the most priceless form of ROI anyone could ask for, and in this case, social media may be to thank.

Interested in social media and community change? If you have questions, contact us at info@causewave.org or 585-442-0200.


Healthy Baby Network Exceeds Fundraising Goals

Healthy Baby Network Exceeds Fundraising Goals

Partner: Healthy Baby Network
Project: Fundraising Planning and Support

The context
Health starts in our homes, schools, workplaces, neighborhoods, and communities. It is often determined by access to social and economic opportunities, including the resources and supports available to parents.

The challenge
Healthy Baby Network (HBN) is dedicated to improving health outcomes for mothers and babies by addressing the inequities in these social determinants of health in Greater Rochester. HBN works to reduce infant mortality, connect mothers with individualized case managers, and ensure that all women have equal access to care, no matter their income, zip code, or race.

Traditionally HBN has relied heavily on federal funding, and last year the board saw a need to diversify the sources of funding to sustain their work in the future. And as a first step, they needed to develop their capacity to fundraise.

What we did
Causewave helped to create and implement a fundraising plan to develop the staff and board’s fundraising skills, increase individual giving, and expand sponsorship for their current events. The work included fundraising tools and training for staff and board, annual appeal support, and activities that would increase donor engagement to retain and grow relationships.

You will be proud to learn that your support has allowed Causewave to offer strategic direction and support to this small-but-mighty nonprofit organization. As a result, HBN successfully raised twice their year-end annual goal and secured a $5,000 major gift from a dedicated volunteer.

This is thrilling. We now have concrete data to go back to the board with. Fundraising really is a true mix of both art and science. Clearly we’re on a path: what a difference a year — and a fundraising plan —make!
— Karen Elam, Board Member and Fund Development Chair

Call for volunteers!

Call for volunteers!

Would you like an opportunity to make an important impact on how the media covers people of all races in our community? We're hoping you can join us for just few hours, for one session of an upcoming study that we're conducting.

Background: Structural racism and unconscious bias have a significant impact on poverty in greater Rochester. Indirect experiences, like messages seen in the media, play an important role in shaping attitudes towards race. To better understand the effects of local media on racial attitudes, Causewave is conducting a scientific study.

We're recruiting a group of volunteers to help analyze a large set of local media content and assess how different racial groups are currently represented.

What's involved: You will be trained by our professional research partners at the start of each session. You will then answer brief questionnaires about local media stories (print and recorded TV).

Timing: 3-hour sessions will be held the following dates...

Thursday 1/18 4–7pm
Saturday 1/20 9am–12pm
Monday 1/22 4–7pm
Thursday 1/25 4–7pm
Monday 1/29 4-7pm
Thursday, 2/1 4-7pm

Note: It is important to the study’s design that we recruit a racially balanced volunteer team.

Who’s a good fit: Any adults with availability during one or more sessions. No background in media or marketing needed.

Location: All sessions will all be held at RIT.

Please let me know if you are available to participate in a session. If you have friends, family, or colleagues who may be interested, please spread the word!

If you have any questions, please email me or call 442-0200 x206.

Thanks so much!
 Marta Driscoll
 Program & Outreach Manager

Finding fresh framework, message, and voice

Finding fresh framework, message, and voice

The Partner

Each year, Sojourner House at PathStone provides shelter, structure, strength, and inspiration to more than 250 women their families. When women arrive in the transitional housing program, 82% struggle with alcohol abuse, 94% deal with drug dependency, and 75% are victims of domestic violence.

Sojourner House helps people transition into permanent housing and gives them the tools they need to succeed so they can avoid homelessness in the future. One graduate describes it as “a house of miracles where lives are transformed. It is a sanctuary, where nurturing of the spirit begins, where the process of healing and loving of self takes place.”

The need

In recent years, Sojourner House merged with Wilson Commencement Park, a Rochester community where low-income single-parent families can transition from public assistance to financial independence and personal self-sufficiency. The merger meant changes in leadership, organizational structure, and services for Sojourner House. They needed help clearly articulating what they offer, the impact they have, what makes them unique — all important considerations when convincing donors they’re a smart choice to invest in.

Our Approach

Before launching a marketing effort, we recommended doing some groundwork to help their team come to consensus on the organization’s brand.

First, we conducted a survey with program participants, the board, volunteers, partner organizations, donors, and funders. Next, we facilitated exercises with their staff and board to prioritize target audiences and agree on language that clearly and consistently articulates who Sojourner House is and what they do.

“That process was critical to us,” says Dr. Seanelle Hawkins, Executive Director at Sojourner House. “It got our board thinking in a different way.”

And, once they had a plan ready to put into action, we were there to assist them every step of the way—with strategic thinking and resources.

“Later, if we got stuck, I’d call Todd Butler at Causewave” Seanelle says.


Today, Sojourner House has a fresh framework, message, and voice to tell their story. Their work with Causewave was instrumental in helping them clarify who they are today, both as a unique organization, and one that benefits from the added resources of being joined to Wilson Commencement Park. And the relationship didn’t end with strategic planning or marketing. It’s an ongoing partnership that continually brings value to the table.

I know first-hand the capacity Causewave builds and now, my CEO is working with their team on an even bigger initiative for the future. Causewave makes resources available that we couldn’t otherwise afford. They connect us to innovative individuals throughout the Rochester community. Their team helped Sojourner House fully understand the asset we are to the community, and gave us the language and strategy to tell people our story.
— Dr. Seanelle Hawkins, Executive Director

Partnerships like these have extraordinary ripple effects: Stable communities. Economic independence. Continued education. Safety and security. Family unity.

By working with organizations like Sojourner House, we get the chance to play a role in tackling many of our community's most pressing challenges. We were grateful for the opportunity to work alongside their team.

It's more than marketing

It's more than marketing

In 2014, Causewave began working closely with Rochester’s Summer Meals program, with the goal of ensuring that every child and youth in the City of Rochester has access to free and healthy summer meals.

The Need

In the Rochester City School District, 82% of students qualify for free and reduced-price meals.

Causewave began working on the project shortly after the Center for Governmental Research completed a needs assessment, which found:

  • Nearly 21,000 RCSD students participated in the free and reduced-price school lunch program in 2012.
  • Only 4,750 students participated in Summer Meals.
  • Leaving a gap of approximately 16,000 students.

Our Approach

To close that gap, Causewave has been working to increase awareness of summer meals among school officials, parents, other family members, and community groups. We also collaborate closely with other partners to support projects that make the Summer Meals program more appealing, empowering, accessible, and efficient.


Innovative new ways to distribute Summer Meals

In 2016, we helped launch a “mobile meals” pilot, which brought Summer Meals directly to four locations where young people already gather, play, and learn during the summer months. The pilot succeeded in attracting more kids to eat meals provided, and this year grew to ten locations, including libraries, parks, and other community sites.

New mobile and user-friendly website

To ensure children and parents can easily find the closest Summer Meals site, we developed a new website that treats kids and parents respectfully as customers – quickly answering questions about locations, menus, and eligibility.

Collaboration and alignment of partners

The Summer Meals Partnership of Rochester includes numerous nonprofits and government agencies who partner to provide meals and promote the program. In partnership with Common Ground Health and the Community Foundation, Causewave helps to quarterback this group’s joint efforts that ensure the program operates seamlessly. Now delivery routes are now efficiently aligned, decisions about new site locations are made strategically, and participants can expect similar positive experiences at all sites.

Summer Meals participation is up 24% over the last 3 years.

Our most recent data shows:

Not only do we have a dedicated staff person from Causewave to help us implement our marketing plan, but Causewave has been a partner in helping us analyze our communications. To ask: Who’s missing from the table? What conversations do we need to be having throughout the community? It’s more than marketing. It’s experts from so many areas.
— Dina Faticone, Director of Community Health and Engagement at Common Ground Health

This success story has a cascading effect: Positive experiences children and youth. Less-stressed parents. Students who retain more of what they learn. Lower obesity rates. Better outcomes for the next generation.

So much good begins with you.

We couldn't do this work alone: a broad coalition of donors, foundations, and volunteers have made countless critical contributions to this important project. Staff and volunteers at partner organizations show extraordinary dedication to the goals. It’s a testament to the spirit of community that sets Greater Rochester apart.

Primary partners: Foodlink, Rochester City School District (RCSD), City of Rochester, Common Ground Health, Rochester Area Community Foundation (RACF)

Summer Meals Partnership of Rochester members: Common Ground Health, Foodlink, RCSD, City of Rochester, RACF, Horizons, YMCA, Youth Voice One Vision, Kids Thrive 585, Law NY, Children's Agenda, Urban League, Hunger Solution

Bringing A Brand To Life: REOC Case Study

Bringing A Brand To Life: REOC Case Study

At the end of our work helping a nonprofit develop their brand, we always share this nugget of truth: brand ownership is not the same as memorization. The Rochester Educational Opportunity Center (REOC) recently provided a stellar example of how we can all think about bringing our brand to life by engaging our teams, whether staff, board, trustees or volunteers.

REOC came to Causewave to help develop a brand platform that truly describes their organization, which operates in a field that has changed dramatically in the last decade. REOC is part of the statewide network of ten Educational Opportunity Centers (EOCs). It has provided quality, tuition-free, short-term College Preparation, Career and Technical training for adults in the Rochester area for over 45 years. It is sponsored, in part, by The College at Brockport.

From the beginning, REOC leaders focused on shared ownership in the process, putting together a diverse team of employees and stakeholders from across the organization, including employees at all levels, to participate in the brand development workshop. Together, they developed a brand platform that is rich, well-rounded and aligned with where the REOC is heading.

To begin breathing life into their new brand, Roosevelt Mareus, Dean/Executive Director of the REOC, brought together the full REOC staff to kick off the new school year. Everyone was given a tutorial on what the concept of brand means and its importance, survey results from the process, and an overview of how the brand was developed during the workshop.

Three staff members, who participated in the workshop presented the REOC brand platform: Wendy (faculty) presented the target audiences, Jeannette (professional staff) presented personality traits and brand essence, and Doug (maintenance) presented the brand promise.  They didn’t just read the brand elements, they talked about what each one means and how they plan to truly incorporate it into their own daily actions.

In the spirit of ownership, Roosevelt then asked people to pair up to role-play one thing they could do right away to start living the brand. Volunteers enthusiastically shared examples...so many examples that it turned into a fun competition among the employees. Roosevelt took the stage to cheer-lead and challenge everyone to start living the brand right away. As someone who leads by example, Roosevelt shared how he plans to begin by focusing on incorporating the brand promise into internal operations.

To cap the event, Roosevelt did his best Oprah audience giveaway impression and passed out t-shirts that have the REOC brand essence on the front and personality traits on the back.

REOC and Causewave worked collectively to develop our brand platform. Causewave did a great job with helping us to create a successful and exciting brand,” shared Roosevelt. “Our faculty and staff wear our brand t-shirts with pride, knowing that REOC has been and will continue to create ‘Life-changing opportunities.’

Causewave is excited to see REOC staff so enthusiastically embracing the results of the hard work that their colleagues put into developing such a thoughtful brand platform. We look forward to seeing REOC continue to expand their impact in our community through free, hands-on training and connections to in-demand jobs.

If you have questions about bringing your organization's brand to life, give us a shout at info@causewave.org or 442-0200.

Spotlight: Sara Wallace

Spotlight: Sara Wallace

I think of Butler/Till as a media planning company. What does that mean and how do you describe your role there?

Media is such an interesting term…it makes a lot of people think of print ads or the ads they see on Facebook. As part of the Account Team, it’s our responsibility to tell our clients and our partners what we can really bring to the table. It’s not just that we can buy this print ad or that digital ad for you – it’s using media to spread the right message in the right places at the right time and making smart decisions in the future based on the insights we gain.

Butler/Till has a reputation as a great place to work. What do you think is the secret sauce?

The reason why I came here was the culture. I knew I wanted to be around good people, who are highly motivated and want to make the organization stronger. Part of why Butler/Till is like that is because the interview process focuses on how candidates will add the the culture. Once we're on board, we're an employee-owned company, so everything we do directly affects the business, no matter your title. The leadership here does a great job talking about that and attributing every achievement to their entire team.

You’ve volunteered (a ton) with us both as a representative of Butler/Till and as an individual. What made you want to become so involved?

At Butler/Till one of our principles is to step up and not out. It doesn’t just apply to our internal work here, it speaks to reaching out and investing in the Rochester community as well. One way I do that is by participating in projects with Causewave. When moved here in 2015, I wanted to get more involved because I’m not originally from Rochester. I needed to learn more about this community and understand what Rochester is so I was asked to consider the board position. Originally it was to get a better feel for everything, but now it’s become something that just feels good to be a part of.

The media landscape is always changing. How do you keep up?

I was recently out on maternity leave for 12 weeks. On my first day back at work, I sat in on a conference call. After about 20 minutes I got up and walked out. I was so overwhelmed about how much had changed in just 12 weeks. Audiences shifted and the information you can pull from platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn had changed. You can never sit back...keeping up is a constant project. What helps, is that on every team here, we have designated experts who dedicate time monitoring new trends and act as resources to catch the rest of us up. I also subscribe to a boatload of newsletters and spend 15 minutes in the morning to skim them.

Anything else going on in your life right now you want to share?

I had a baby girl four months ago, so that’s definitely the biggest thing going on in my life right now. It has completely changed me in a lot of ways I didn’t expect. There’s a lot going on in the world right now, and having a girl in particular has made me think about what kind of woman I want my daughter to become and what I can do to lead by example. I have a real opportunity to stay involved, get more involved, and then be able to get my daughter involved too. I want her to learn about giving back and staying true to her beliefs and accepting of others.

Spotlight: Krystal Starks

Spotlight: Krystal Starks

We recently met with Krystal Starks to learn about her experience interning at Causewave:

M: How did you first get involved with Causewave?
K: A counselor from DePaul was familiar with Causewave and encouraged me to apply for a graphic design internship. I am glad I did because I love working here. It's such a comfortable office and everyone sees and accepts me.

M: You have done a lot of design for us for various causes and programs. Of all the projects you have worked on, which would you say was your favorite?
K: This spring I designed a series of ads thanking Causewave supporters. It was my favorite because it involved many new challenges for me, so I really benefited from the experience. My second favorite was creating pieces for the Annual Celebration in May because I actually got to see what I created at the event, which made me so proud. 

M: Can you tell us a little bit about your background?
K: I was born in Jackson, Mississippi and raised in Chicago, Illinois. It was very interesting moving from South to North. I am more of a Southern person. I went to Rochester Institute of Technology because there is a deaf community where I could connect with both the hearing and the deaf world. I studied at RIT for six years and finished with two degrees, in graphic design and web development.

M: What would your dream job be?
K: After this internship, it's my dream to find a permanent position in graphic design or any media art technology. In this internship I'm working on gaining experience, so I can be ready to jump in as a professional designer. Please find me in LinkedIn and check out my recommendations!

M: What is something that the readers would be surprised to know about you?
K: I think some of my friends are surprised I know how to write code for websites (since I am a woman). Also, I normally talk with no voice when I'm using American Sign Language, which is pretty unusual.

- Interview with Marta Driscoll and Krystal Starks


Facebook for Audience Research

Facebook for Audience Research

Hillside reached out to Causewave last fall because they faced challenges recruiting qualified Foster Care families for the youth they serve. Peter Platt of Accountable Digital volunteered his digital advertising expertise on the project.

We began by holding focus groups with current foster families to identify audiences such as empty nesters and LGBTQ couples who might be more likely to foster a child (thanks to Crux Research for facilitating!). We then tested Facebook ads with various images, audiences, and messages to learn what combinations would drive the most inquiries.  

As groups showed inclination or opted out, we were able to evaluate, in almost-real time, how to better hone our audience, messages and imagery.

Here are four lessons we learned:

1) Facebook is a great place to test out different audiences because users are very honest and forthcoming about themselves on the platform. For instance, users usually don’t lie about their age because they're typically friends with people from high school. The robust data provided by this platform allows hyperfocused targeting that limits wasted advertising dollars on targeting the wrong people.

2) The more variables you want to test, the more expensive it is to do effectively. Fortunately, our preliminary focus group research allowed us to narrow 16 variables down to 8 before we began testing on Facebook.

3) Message testing is worth every penny! Facebook is a reasonable option for conducting A/B and even multi-variable testing. In our case, we needed a weekly budget of about $500 to get a directional read on which messages were most effective, but our test had more variables than a typical A/B test. A true single-variable test would require a significantly smaller budget.

4) Unlike traditional market research (like a survey or focus group), Facebook campaigns generate leads and clicks while the research is being conducted.  So, your dollars are working twice as hard!

The results

"This effort led to a significant increase in foster care inquiries and trainings for Monroe County." said Carly Layton, our partner from Hillside. "After our Causewave pilot, we extended the program directly with Accountable Digital to target key audiences in Hillside’s other regions, all of which are showing similar positive results. This was one of the first times Hillside undertook a dedicated marketing/messaging test. Causewave’s approach helped us clearly identify steps and milestones to manage, and show program results in a clear, comprehensive manner."

Our conclusion

Facebook advertising can be an affordable and powerful tool for nonprofits to make small marketing budgets go further. If you try an audience or message test, let us know how it goes! If you have questions, contact us at info@causewave.org.

Many Barriers to Cancer Screening

Many Barriers to Cancer Screening

We’re partnering with the Cancer Services Program of Monroe County, Martino Flynn, and Myers Creative Imaging and nearly a dozen nonprofit organizations to refresh our current cancer screening initiative. This initiative works to encourage more people to get potentially life-saving breast, cervical, and colorectal cancer screenings.

From behind the scenes at a recent video shoot, we heard volunteers share how cancer has affected their lives. One individual grabbed our attention and our heart strings with his incredible story. Patrick, age 67, is a grateful survivor of prostate cancer. His case was detected early by a prostate screening test.

After losing his father and four brothers at an early age to cancer, Patrick was motivated to get screened. Thankfully he did, because Patrick says he wouldn't be alive today without it.

As a survivor of prostate cancer whose cancer was detected early enough for cure, I have learned that cancer respects no boundaries and early detection saves lives.
— Patrick

The mood changed though as he spoke of barriers that are holding him back from getting screened again. His high health insurance premiums and fear the test might be positive mean he's reluctant to get screened for colon cancer.

His story was a powerful reminder to us that awareness alone won't solve the problem. There are so many other barriers to getting screened. To succeed, we must help people overcome these barriers and dispel the misconceptions around cancer screening.  

Keep an eye out for the public launch of this initiative within the next few months. If you'd like to learn more or get involved, please contact Mary Hadley, Senior Program Manager, at mhadley@causewave.org.

#ROC National Volunteer Week

#ROC National Volunteer Week

April 23rd-29th marks National Volunteer Week! Join us in recognizing and thanking volunteers who lend their time, talent, voice and support to causes in our community. 

Here's a quick, easy way to participate. There's a good chance you'll win a prize! 

Here's the deal: 
1. Post a picture of someone who's a gold star changemaker (volunteer) on your Twitter or Instagram account. If you post on Facebook, please make sure to tag Causewave (our website can't pull them in directly). 
2. Write a caption about why this changemaker inspires you
3. Include the hashtag: #ServiceUnitesROC
4. All posts will appear on the tagboard below. 
5. All posts will be entered into a prize drawing as a small token of appreciation! First prize: Fuego Burundi coffee and set of Causewave mugs. To keep things simple, the person who posts gets the prize – feel free to share it with the nominee! 

Nonprofit Partner Sponsorship Opportunity

Nonprofit Partner Sponsorship Opportunity

2018 Annual Celebration Nonprofit Partner Opportunity


As a Nonprofit Partner Sponsor for this event, your organization would be a financial sponsor at the $500 level in exchange for public recognition at the event and a $500 credit to be applied to a future Causewave program.


In exchange for supporting this event, you will receive:

  • A $500 credit towards any Causewave Community Partners program (program credit is good through May 15, 2019). Engagements can begin three months after the event.

  • A one-hour consultation with Causewave staff on your organization's challenges and opportunities. Whether it's strategic planning, brand development, marketing planning or something in between, we've been there, and we can help (value of $250)

  • A display table in the lobby on May 15th (7am-10am)

  • 2 tickets to the event breakfast (value of $45 each)
  • Listing in the event program
  • Year-long Causewave membership benefits


Our mission is to help you meet your mission. Here are some examples of the type of work we've done.


Our Annual Celebration audience is a unique blend of leaders from the government, nonprofit, media, marketing, and corporate communities. Each year, 500+ people attend the breakfast, making this a unique opportunity to network with some of Rochester's greatest change makers.


Our 2018 keynote speakers are expert storytellers: Virginia Butler, Democrat & Chronicle; Adam Chodak, WROCTV-8; Tianna Mañón, WXXI; Nikki Rudd, NEWS10 NBC and Norma Holland, 13 WHAM.


Tuesday, May 15, 2018 8:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m. (Registration begins at 7:30 a.m.)

Joseph A. Floreano Rochester Riverside Convention Center (123 East Main Street | Rochester, NY 14604)


Contact Beth Hershel and she can sign you up or answer any questions. Email her at: bhershel@causewave.org or call: 585-442-0200 x202.


Ticket purchases can be made online here until May 13th. Hope you can join us!

Cold Can't Stop Us

Cold Can't Stop Us

Winter is back - with a vengeance! For young children who walk or take the bus to school, this weather is especially tough. Each year, when temperatures drop, the Rochester City School District sees a rise in the number of students who miss school.

This winter, we're working with dozens of partners on a 100-day challenge called “Cold Can’t Stop Us.” It's a collaborative effort to achieve 97% attendance for city students in pre-k through 3rd grade from February to the end of April. Chronic absence at this age makes it hard for kids to be successful in later years.

We're not doing this alone. The ESL Charitable Foundation provided a grant to support this project. Strong National Museum of Play donated family passes for anyone in the 14 target schools who meets the challenge goal. Local meteorologists are reminding viewers of the importance of bundling kids up and getting them to school every day.

Pro bono ads are being contributed by PODER 97.1, WDKX, Lamar Advertising, and Rochester-Genesee Regional Transportation Authority. And a special shout-out goes to Partners + Napier for their continued leadership and ongoing pro-bono support of this initiative. 

“This outpouring of support makes it clear that excellent attendance is a true community priority.” – Todd Butler, Causewave President & CEO

Learn more about the Every Minute Matters initiative here.

Spotlight: Elizabeth Chatterton

Spotlight: Elizabeth Chatterton

We recently sat down with Liz Chatterton to chat about her work, volunteer service, and of course, beer advice: 

M: Can you talk a little bit about what you do?
E: I’m a copywriter by trade. I work with The Zimmet Group on all kinds of communications writing. We primarily do training and development work and e learning. So, I work on whatever writing needs to get done here. It comes in many different forms.

M: How did you first get involved with Causewave?
E: I’m originally from Rochester, but I lived in Buffalo for six years after college. I was very involved in the Advertising Club there and really enjoyed being a part of that larger marketing community. When I moved back to Rochester, I wanted to get involved and found Causewave. It seemed like a great fit, because it offers a chance to combine volunteering and my professional life.

M: You’ve done a ton to support Causewave’s work lately, including participating in our event committee, attending various strategic roundtables, and leading fundraising efforts and events. Do any of those roles stick out as particularly fun or rewarding?
E: Last summer, I helped with the Join the Wave Indiegogo campaign. There was some added pressure because we had a specific goal and it was important to meet it, but that just made it more rewarding, once we were successful.
M: Well our team is so excited to see all that work and the generous contributions come to life in the construction.  

M: Everyone has different ideas about how to make a difference in the community. What’s your philosophy?
E: I try to pick causes that are relevant to me personally. I’ve volunteered with Gilda’s Club in the past because a lot of people in my family were impacted by cancer, including cousins who lost their mother when they were very young. So, it was important to me to volunteer with Gilda’s programs for kids. That was an amazing experience, but at the same time I also want to think about how I can make the biggest impact. I have certain talents – so while I loved playing air hockey and coloring, my time is limited and I feel like I can make a bigger impact using my professional skills to make a difference.

M: Are there any personal projects you’re working on right now that you’re excited about?
E: I’m currently working on my first book. It’s a collection of human-interest stories that are particularly relevant to the Rochester community. I’m working on the details now, so stay tuned. I’m also planning an upcoming comedy night fundraiser to benefit the Every Minute Matters Initiative. I think it will be a fun way to support a good cause – and it’s a little bit different than some of the other events coming up.

M: I’ve heard you’ve a beer aficionado. Is there anything you’ve tried recently that you’d recommend?
E: I like to support local breweries as much as possible – and Switftwater and Stoneyard are two of my favorites. The Swiftwater DIPA, Brah is delicious, if you like citrusy IPAs. 

M: What might readers be surprised to know about you?
E: It’s generally surprising to people that I worked in the beer industry for seven years. I probably know more about beer than most big, burly, bearded men.  That’s unexpected.

M: Any last thoughts you’d like to share?
E: This seems like a pivotal time for our country and I’ve gathered that a lot of people are looking for ways to make an impact. It’s a great time to get involved in an organization that’s important to you - or step up what you’re already doing. It might seem like a small thing, to volunteer your time but if everyone does these small things we can make some big changes.

-March 8 Interview with Marta Driscoll and Elizabeth Chatterton


Service Above Self

Service Above Self

What would you do if your major funder cut back on their support? The Rotary Clubs of Monroe County recently faced this dilemma with Camp Haccamo; a very special summer camp serving approximately 200 children and young adults with different abilities – all at no cost to camper families.

At this point, the board knew their current funding model was unsustainable. With their reserve funds quickly eroding, they asked Causewave to help revive Camp Haccamo’s fundraising program.

Our work together began with a survey designed to test current perceptions of Camp Haccamo. It survey confirmed what the board was feeling – that those who know Camp Haccamo, love it. For campers, it gives them an amazing adventure, away from home, for a full week. For caregivers, it provides much-needed respite.

The survey also revealed that many Rotarians had no relationship with the Camp, despite the support provided by their dues. The Rotary has been the primary funding source for the camp, so this disconnect exposed a threat.

Michael Ponomarev, a Causewave volunteer, conducted community-wide research on similar camps in Monroe County. He found that Camp Haccamo is unique in its breadth of different abilities it serves, and that there is an opportunity to serve many more families in need.

Armed with the research findings, the Camp Haccamo board participated in a brand development workshop facilitated by Causewave. The group developed a new brand platform that defined Camp Haccamo’s target audiences, personality traits, and their brand promise.

The brand came to life in an inaugural fundraising appeal last fall. With the letter, Camp Haccamo began building relationships with two key audiences. A long-time Camp Haccamo family shared their story with Rotarians, and an enthusiastic camp counselor shared her experiences with other potential donors. 

Keeping in mind Causewave's goal of capacity building, our staff worked closely with Camp Haccamo's board on the 2016 appeal, while preparing them to run it independently this fall. Together, we created a project plan, vetted the donor list, created appeal templates and e-blasts, assisted with website optimization, and wrote customized thank you letters.

Camp Haccamo board member, Dick Butler, sent a note to project manager Mary Hadley saying, “It has been a pleasure working with you and Causewave on completing this project. You’ve shown a warm, can-do approach, focusing on solving the problems as they arose. Thank you for that!” 

And we thank the Camp Haccamo board, and staff, for living their motto of “service above self,” as they passionately continue such important work in our community!

March 2017