Viewing entries tagged
Capacity Building

Determination, Endurance, Evolution

Determination, Endurance, Evolution

The Partners
Thanks to grant funding from the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation, Causewave was able to offer capacity building grants to nonprofits in Monroe, Genesee and Orleans counties over the past two years to help offset the cost of services and support nonprofits in those regions.

In Genesee and Orleans counties we have partnered with a range of organizations including GO ART!, the Byron Bergon Community Center, the YWCA of Genesee County, the Genesee County Office of the Aging, Hospice of Orleans, and the Genesee Orleans Ministry of Concern.

One of these nonprofits — the Ministry of Concern — is an organization that began in the 1950’s to support the many migrant workers who resettled in Genesee and Orleans counties, facing job and housing discrimination and economic hardship.

The Need
The Ministry of Concern’s mission is to help families living in poverty (primarily the working poor) avoid crisis and overcome difficult circumstances. This is done through three main programs – supportive services to help with a financial gap or emergency; a furniture program; and a team-building, youth development model involving volunteers and parents.

The Ministry’s ultimate goal is to reduce community members’ dependency on public welfare and short-term emergency services. With a limited number of staff and board resources, this small but mighty organization was looking for support to raise the profile of the organization with donors and reconnect with historical donors across Western NY.

Our Approach
Before launching a fundraising communications plan, we spent time learning about the challenges and community resources in Orleans County. In partnership with the Executive Director, Causewave developed short- and long-term goals to: develop a fundraising plan to raise private funds, develop institutional capacity among board and staff to successfully implement fundraising activities, and answer the question: what is the Ministry of Concern uniquely qualified to do?

As part of the plan, we prioritized the target audiences for this effort (current donors, prospect donors who have a connection to the cause, and local foundations) and came up with three key messages to leverage the Ministry of Concern’s story of resiliency and determination, endurance, and evolution. 

What’s Next?

Today, the Ministry of Concern is moving forward with fundraising strategies and tactics that help tell their story to new and current donors. Last year they hosted a 50th anniversary celebration – a successful event which raised awareness in the community about the legacy of their founders and the work that continues today. This spring, they planned their first-ever gala, “Legends and Laughter,” which included live entertainment, dinner, an auction, door prizes and raffle— plus 220 people in attendance!

UPDATE (September 2019):

Thanks to the generous support from the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation, we are pleased to announce that grant funding is available to offset the cost of Causewave programs. We are able to offer capacity building grants to nonprofits in Monroe, Genesee and Orleans counties to help address a variety of issues and projects. For more information and to find out if you are eligible, click here.

By learning from and working alongside rural county organizations like the Ministry of Concern, Causewave has seen firsthand the critical nature of collaboration and partnership. We look forward to continuing our community coalition and capacity-building work in this region in order to help meet organizational needs, ultimately aiming to have a greater impact in the communities we live and work in.  

       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 a 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.

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 a 20% increase in foreclosure related appointments compared to the same period in 2017.

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.

Partners
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.

Impact
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

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.

Results

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.

Highlights

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.

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

Our most recent data shows:

impact+2016.png
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.

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.

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

Every Birdy Welcome

Every Birdy Welcome

Behind the door of a construction trailer, sits nature-lover-turned-director, Natalie Payne, plotting trails and making plans. The doors of the Finger Lakes Museum & Aquarium are not yet open, but that doesn’t deter efforts to work from the outside in. The ultimate goal? To inspire appreciation and stewardship of the cultural heritage and ecological evolution of the vast Finger Lakes region. Work is well underway to convert the former Branchport Elementary School into a hub for nature-lovers, but preserving their 16-acre wetland adjacent to Sugar Creek, a Keuka Lake tributary, has been priority number one.

The Townsend-Grady Wildlife Preserve is a pristine ecosystem filled with a variety of mammals, birds and waterfowl species. The unique soft-shelled turtle has also chosen to call this beautiful wetland home. Currently, the preserve is only accessible by a few crude paths; finishing these pathways, adding boardwalks, building observation platforms, and installing interpretive signage allows residents and guests to experience its beauty responsibly, without disturbing the friendly inhabitants.

Due to the small size of the museum team, Causewave Community Partners was asked to help develop a crowdfunding campaign to raise $15,000 for these much needed additions. Fundraising efforts kicked off with an online appeal, inviting area residents and museum supporters to “Take a Walk on the Wet Side.” The project was also featured in the Democrat and Chronicle. A Keuka Lake resident mailer and a well-planned social media campaign also allowed for a broader reach, finding its way to an anonymous donor, whose contribution tipped the scales to exceed the fundraising goal.

“The last envelope I opened contained a $5,000 donation to the wetland campaign! Thank you so much for all of your efforts...it really paid off.” - Natalie Payne, Executive Director

Causewave is continuing its partnership with the museum through the development of a museum membership program. Central to this work are two powerhouse volunteers, Nancy Bloom and Alan Cohen, who are bringing their years of market research and strategic planning experience to create a strategy that takes advantage of the Museum’s current program offerings, and will evolve as more of its vision comes to life.

 

 

Library Transforms into 21st Century Hub of Discovery

Library Transforms into 21st Century Hub of Discovery

A time traveler from all the way back in 2005 wouldn’t even recognize the Gates Public Library of today. First of all, it is no longer in the same location. And second, the former small, dated facility has been replaced with a beautiful, two-story glass, steel and wood structure on Elmgrove Road. Utilization is up – way up – and a new energy permeated the new place. 

“All the success we were having was great,” according to Greg Benoit, Library Director. “But it was also bringing the library to a crossroad. The needs of the community had changed and our programs and resources were in high demand. The library needed to evolve quickly to keep up with changing technology and the interests of our patrons. We were concerned that if we couldn’t do that, we’d lose the momentum we’d built. We wanted to find a way to use this energy to become the hub of community activity and life-long learning in Gates.”

State and local funding covered the cost of library operations, but didn't provide the library the additional resources to achieve their ambitious goals. A group of passionate board members, staff and Friends of the Library decided to launch a foundation.

Causewave Community Partners worked with this group to develop a vision: The Gates Public Library Foundation would allow the library to innovate and demonstrate the success of pilot initiatives that support literacy efforts, make emerging technologies accessible to patrons, and create a vibrant place of discovery for the community.

To get the fledgling foundation off the ground, we partnered on a series of strategic planning efforts – from mission and vision development to a constituent survey, SWOT analysis, communications planning and support of their first annual appeal. David Robertson, of Linchpin Strategy, volunteered to partner with us on the communication plan and public relations efforts. 

Fundraising efforts kicked off last fall with a public appeal, inviting the community to support a new afterschool program with Neil Armstrong elementary school. The initiative was profiled in the Democrat and Chronicle and the appeal raised enough funds to launch the pilot this May.

“Causewave partnered with our group and really helped us find the direction we all believed we needed,” Benoit said. “They helped us develop a plan that we could implement, and we’ve been building on it ever since. We know where we’re going, and we are making real, visible progress towards getting there.”

Momentous Changes to Organ Donation Laws in NY

Momentous Changes to Organ Donation Laws in NY

On May 10th, Program Manager Elizabeth Murray and our partners at Finger Lakes Donor Recovery Network traveled to Albany to meet with New York State Assembly members and advocate for four pieces of legislation that will increase the number of people enrolled in the NY organ donor registry. 

One priority this year was the extension of  "Lauren’s Law," an existing law that requires applicants at the DMV to answer the organ donor registry section of the application by either 1) choosing to enroll or 2) postponing their decision (in the past, the question could be skipped). In the first month after the original law went into effect, the percentage of people signing up at the DMV nearly doubled!

We are pleased to report that THREE of these four key pieces of legislation have now been passed by the NYS Assembly:  a 4-year extension of Lauren’s Law, which was scheduled to expire in October 2016; Young Adult Enrollment, allowing individuals aged 16 and older to enroll in the NYS Donate Life Registry; and the opportunity for residents to enroll through NY State's Online Health Insurance Marketplace.  We are hopeful that the remaining bill will be passed by the Assembly as well. 

Thanks to these legislative actions, people currently on the organ donation waiting list will have a greater chance of receiving a life-saving transplant!

Community comes together to open Light Hill home

Community comes together to open Light Hill home

It is especially rewarding for our volunteers and staff when we get the chance to see our capacity building work with a nonprofit come full circle.  Recently we were fortunate to have that opportunity with the Canandaigua Comfort Care Home (CCCH).

CCCH, which provides a peaceful and compassionate home for the terminally ill and their families, first met with our team in 2014 as they looked for advice about launching a new nonprofit. We suggested they embark on a brand development process, to establish a guide for future organizational activities, behaviors, and decisions.

Shortly after developing their brand, CCCH used it to guide an important decision for the organization – what the home should be called. They partnered with us to facilitate the process to develop a new name, tagline and logo that align with their newly established brand.

Partnering with copywriter Julie Garland Clementi and designer Andrew Soucier, we helped their team come to consensus on an identity that accurately captures the positive and caring environment the home will offer its residents. The new name, Light Hill, communicates their mission to promote comfort, peace, and living well through end-of-life journeys. 

With hundreds of volunteers, donors, local businesses and supporters, Light Hill is truly a community-built and supported home.  The staff and board wanted to bring all of their supporters together to celebrate the hard work that went into bringing the home to life before it welcomed its first residents.

Causewave assisted with the planning, coordination and communication an opening celebration on May 26th. Hundreds of supporters turned out to help open Light Hill just as they helped to build it – as a community. 

Urban/Suburban 50th Anniversary

Urban/Suburban 50th Anniversary

Last year, we partnered with Monroe #1 BOCES and the Urban-Suburban Interdistrict Transfer Program to help coordinate a yearlong celebration of the program’s 50th Anniversary. The celebration kicked off with a breakfast at Irondequoit High School (where the program got its start) and culminated in June with a commemorative gala co-chaired by Jennifer Leonard, President & CEO of the Rochester Area Community Foundation, and Dr. Walter Cooper, NYS Regent Emeritus.

While the benefits of this program to our community are many, our team was especially excited to get involved in this effort because of its vital role in desegregating our community – a key element in the fight against poverty.

The overall goals of our work with Urban-Suburban were threefold: to increase support for the program in currently participating school districts, to increase support in districts considering participation, and to help raise funds to support both the celebration year events and the Urban-Suburban Scholarship Fund.

As a result of this collaborative work, five new suburban districts signed on to participate in the program in the 2015-2016 school year, and several others have indicated interest in participating in upcoming years. Nearly 300 people celebrated the program at the June 12th Gala and community members donated over $47,000 to help Urban-Suburban continue its mission in our area.