Outreach Strategies

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After designing your packet materials, the next step is to develop and implement an outreach plan. This plan will describe how you will contact and inform eligible organizations about the availability of your awards and how they will obtain the RFP packet. Developing and implementing an outreach plan requires that you create a master list of your contacts, develop a distribution strategy, and provide support to applicants.

Create a master list.

By now, you have identified your targeted groups and organizations. Next, compile a master outreach list (using both email and postal mailing address lists) in order to contact those groups.  You can develop your master list by combining a series of lists:

    • Your own organization's mailing list
    • Mailing lists of partners associated with your project
    • Association lists (organizations in particular service areas:  homeless shelters, after-school programs)
    • Nonprofit lists (lists of nonprofit organizations usually compiled by city or area by the local United Way, Chamber of Commerce or by the Junior League or other civic group)
    • Faith organization lists (churches, synagogues, mosques, etc.) by type of faith, denomination or in a particular geographic location.

Choose your tactics.

To develop an effective outreach and distribution strategy, consider including the following elements in your strategy.

    • Post information on your partners’ websites.
    • Make arrangements to post information on other websites supportive of your project.
    • Send out email notices to your master email mailing list.
    • Send out notices by direct mail and/or fax to your master mailing list.
    • Make personal phone calls to targeted and influential groups to invite them to apply, and to ask for their help in outreach. 
    • Make presentations to targeted audiences at organizational meetings, conferences, trainings.
    • Place notices in publications and newsletters serving the nonprofit and faith community sectors.
    • Develop a PSA (public service announcement) and release to radio, print, and local cable TV media outlets.
    • Hold a press conference to inform the community about your plan. Be sure to inform statewide media as well as local sources that represent the communities you wish to serve. If you have received a Federal grant, members of your Congressional delegation may wish to participate. Their presence can help attract the media.
    • Ask other organizations (which work with the same target group of organizations) to provide the information via their mailing lists, on their websites, and in their newsletters. 
    • Hold grant workshops, to which you invite target agencies, and where they will learn about your program and about how to apply for your grants.
    • Depending on your budget and staff skills, consider contracting with a public relations expert for assistance.

Provide support for applicants.

Many intermediaries view the subaward process as a training and technical assistance opportunity to help applicants further build their capacity in fundraising. They offer grant application workshops for this purpose.

A typical workshop agenda would include:

  • Introductions (this can help build solidarity among local organizations)
  • A program overview
  • The purpose of the grants
  • Eligibility criteria
  • Review of the RFP instructions
  • Review of the RFP sections
  • Your decision-making process and timelines
  • Overview of requirements and regulations regarding the use of Federal funds
  • Time for questions and answers
  • A writing exercise geared toward completing the proposal

To help foster cooperation and collaboration, consider asking each person who attends for permission to release their contact information to the others in attendance. Then, send the contact list to all that agree.

If your organization cannot or chooses not to provide formal training workshops or individualized technical assistance to support applicants, consider providing assistance online or by phone.  Whether provided in person or remotely, any assistance could help to eliminate non-eligible applicants, make individual proposals stronger, and ensure accountability from your subawardees.

If your outreach plan doesn’t seem to be working, don’t be afraid to make changes.

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