Strategic planning

LPFM Research Guide

Organization: 
Prometheus Radio Project

A guide for researching Low-Power FM Radio stations; created by corps member Katherine Ingersoll.

LPFM Research Guide

Organization: 
Prometheus Radio Project

A guide for researching Low-Power FM Radio stations; created by corps member Katherine Ingersoll.

Community Media/Radio Center Plan

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Organization: 
WSLR, Inc.

A community media center planning document, with examples and case studies for facilitating community dialogue and planning; created by corps member David Beaton.

Feedback Process Inspires Surge of Support

Snapshot of Choices

Two weeks ago the Transmission Project began soliciting feedback from its allies and partner organizations regarding what specific projects we can do over the next few months to help assure our legacy remains relevant to your work in the future. We were impressed by the effort you put forth.

Event Planning and Fund Raising

VISTA Name: 
Dana Sou
Program Start: 
11/2006
Project Outcome: 

Dana Sou actively participated in building the capacity of the Community Technology Organizing Consortium on various levels. Dana helped to organize 3 major events which included: COTC’s Annual Christmas event in December, NTEN’s Accessibility Institute in Los Angeles in January, and our annual Meet the Funder Event in June. Each of these events required vast outreach and community organizing to CTOC’s members which consists of various non-profit organizations and CTC’s in the Los Angeles area. Dana was successful in drawing attention and generating interest to these three events by actively communicating with numerous organizations through phone calls, and posting on the listserve.

Dana has also collaborated with CTOC staff to write and edit parts of CTOC’s three year strategic plan that spans from fundraising to media policy initiatives. She has also helped in areas of funding through conducting research for potential funding through foundation searches and has written up Letter’s of Inquiry (LOI’s) as well as draft and edit grant proposals. She is also currently writing a policy position paper concerning technology standards among high schools. Dana’s participation with CTOC has greatly helped the organization through community outreach, funding, and creating resourceful research projects.

CTC Development

VISTA Name: 
Terence Kennedy
Program Start: 
11/2001
Project Description: 

The VISTAs duties will include strategic planning, staff training, technical support, seeking funding, and providing computer access to the populations served.

Social Media Development

Organization: 
Portland Community Media
VISTA Name: 
Denise Cheng
Program Start: 
7/2008
Program End: 
7/2009
Project Description: 

Access 2.0 is a three year project to expand access to and viewership of community media through new media channels. In this project, PCM will upgrade its technology and training to integrate new media channels with traditional public access channels to expand and enhance access to media as a communications tool for community members, community-based and non-profit organizations, government partners and other stakeholders. Through Access 2.0, PCM is upgrading equipment, improving technology, upgrading the PCM website, redeveloping the PCM database and reaching out to a number of groups and organizations in the community with an emphasis on underrepresented populations.

The Access 2.0/New Media Vista will work with PCM’s Media Educators and Media Facilitators to:

-Develop media education training projects, classes and curricula for expanding the skills of community producers, organizations and other stakeholders through in new media areas
-Develop skill building activities and materials to improve the competency and confidence of community members and other stakeholders in the use of new media
-Further develop PCM’s drupal-based website to strengthen user participation and better meet user needs
-Actively participate in and contribute to technical planning for PCM’s Access 2.0 project to develop new media opportunities and distribution channels for community members, community-based and non-profit organizations, government partners and other organizations.
-Build skills of community members and stakeholders in new media applications to increase distribution and sharing of community media including blogging, podcasting, cross posting and others
-Initiate and develop participation of PCM in PEGSpace project of the Alliance for Community Media and other collaborative development projects
-Develop new opportunities for volunteer participation, particularly related to new media

Project Outcome: 

Denise’s activities are focused around research and development of new media services and education. She has assisted with development of two new classes that focus on teaching participants how to prepare content for distribution via the Internet, and how to utilize online video and social networking tools to increase distribution of content, and to connect with target audiences. Denise also participates on the PR and Marketing committee, is helping to redesign our website with the goal of building capacity, is participating in grant research and writing, and helps with proofreading and layout in creation of new documents.

Denise researched and proposed a new project that was submitted for consideration to the Knight foundation. Denise’s proposal made it through the first round but has been dropped from consideration by the Knight foundation. PCM will continue to try to secure grant funding to realize this proposal. The proposal would create a new acquisition and distribution path for audio content via a new website portal. The focus of the project targeted increasing participation from immigrant, minority and youth groups using cell phone and Internet technology. Denise’s research identified very high cell phone and Internet penetration among immigrant populations in the Portland area. Denise’s project would also create a backbone for a large scale expansion of Internet based acquisition and distribution for PCM participants.

Denise revised our existing Media Education schedule to create a more polished document to promote Media Education classes and workshops. Denise has routinely been proofreading and editing public documents to maintain voice and consistency.

Denise was asked to submit a design mock-up for our upcoming website redevelopment. Her mock-up showed an advanced understanding of the kind of content rich site that many Internet viewers would appreciate. Denise’s research on social networking and how different groups consume information via the Internet comes through in her clean and rich design concept. Denise is currently assisting with implementation of our new open source database project being developed in partnership with Denver Open Media.

Impact Quote: 

Denise participation in brainstorming and discussion has provided me with a new perspective on a variety of topics including community media, who we serve, immigrant issues, community engagement and a millenial perspective on technology. Denise has reshaped my views on my career field because she asks questions I’m not often asked, and she brings a different perspective and set of experiences to the organization. I am very grateful for the opportunity to have worked with her.”
- Bea Coulter, supervisor

Marketing and UI Design

Organization: 
MicroMentor
VISTA Name: 
Mary Chant
Program Start: 
7/2008
Program End: 
7/2009
Project Description: 

Mary Chant has been working with us across three primary areas:

1) Marketing Strategy and Capacity Building: Mary’s primary duty has been to establish MicroMentor’s marketing operations from the ground up. She has produced an extensive Marketing Plan, helped us establish our core value proposition and messaging, identified mechanism for distributing our message and compelling participants to join MicroMentor, and she is setting up key systems and processes for planning, managing, and evaluating our marketing efforts. These systems include Google AdWords, Google Analytics, and Salesforce.com (including the integration of third-party applications such as AdWords for Salesforce, Vertical Response, and DreamTeam). She also leads our weekly Marketing Meeting and manages our Marketing Calendar.

2. Developing and Executing Marketing Campaigns: In addition to leading our marketing strategy and planning, Mary also leads the execution of this strategy. This primarily involves producing and rolling-out individual marketing campaigns, aligned with either specific events (e.g., National Mentoring Month, National Entrepreneurship Week, etc.), or a specific target population (e.g., women entrepreneurs, skilled business volunteers, etc.). Each campaign is multi-faceted, usually included a mix of web content development, Google Adwords, posts on relevant external sites (e.g., usaservice.org), outreach to relevant organizations (e.g., Consortium for Entrepreneurship Education/National Entrepreneurship Week), and social media outlets (e.g., Facebook, Digg, etc.). Mary also coordinates ad hoc marketing opportunities, ensuring that we are disseminating a consistent message across a variety of web sites and media outlets.

3. Product Development: Mary has lent her deep experience in usability and interaction design to our major web application development project: MicroMentor 2.0. She has advised MicroMentor management on best practice and has analyzed and made recommendation at key decision points during the process. She has helped us conduct usability testing and analyze the results. All of this has greatly enhanced our product development process and has substantially improved the quality and usability of MicroMentor 2.0, which we will be releasing in late March 2009.

Project Outcome: 

Mary has made many valuable contributions over the first half of her VISTA term. A few of her more major accomplishments during this period include: a) Developing a Marketing Plan: Mary surveyed our existing (and admittedly disorganized) market research, marketing materials, web content, etc. and performed research and analysis (including interviewing key staff and partners) to produce a comprehensive Marketing Plan, This plan includes market research, competitive analysis, positioning/branding, internet marketing strategies, offline/traditional advertising strategies, marketing goals, and evaluation mechanisms. The Marketing Plan is key piece of our strategic planning work, and has guided the development of our marketing efforts. b) Overhauling the MicroMentor Website: Mary gave the MicroMentor website a badly needed makeover, re-arranging the navigation and content to make key sections easier to find, changing the layout of our homepage to increase the conversation rate of first time visitors, and adding keywords to improve our search engine optimization (SEO), and adding content to improve our SEO and better support our participants. She has continued to improve the website throughout her tenure, and we will be migrating many of these changes to our new website when it launches in late March. c) Implementing Key Systems and Processes: Mary has set up key systems for the MicroMentor team, including Google AdWords, Google Analytics, Salesforce.com, and several Salesforce applications, such as Vertical Response, and DreamTeam (a project management application). She has also established a marketing campaign planning process and a website and marketing material change control process for us. These key systems and processes have greatly increased our program capacity and will remain in use long after the end of Mary’s VISTA term. d) Leading Usability Testing and Analysis for MicroMentor 2.0: Mary helped us significantly enhance the usability of our new mentoring platform–MicroMentor 2.0–by leading a user testing and analysis project. She provided usability training to our staff, planned our user testing process, oversaw the tests, reviewed the results, and made recommendations for modifications to our application design. This project was particularly challenging as we had to perform the tests and deliver the results in a very short timeframe, and Mary worked long hours and significant overtime to help us meet our goals.

The impact of Mary’s contributions is readily apparent in our quantitative and qualitative program feedback. First off, her marketing efforts have spurred tremendous growth in our program. Our participant enrollment during the first half of her VISTA period (7/1/08 - 12/31/08) jumped from 236 to 684, a 190% increase, compared to the same period a year ago. Additionally, when comparing the first half of Mary’s VISTA period to the same period a year ago, visits to the MicroMentor website have increased 180%, the average time spent on the site has increased 39%, and our bounce rate (the number of people visiting the site and immediately leaving) has decreased by 11%. All of this indicates that more people are learning about the MicroMentor program and that our website is more compelling and useful to visitors.

Donor Outreach

Organization: 
Community Software Lab
VISTA Name: 
Eric Bryant
Program Start: 
7/2007
Program End: 
7/2008
Project Description: 

We provide free Internet hosting and low-cost custom web-based software development to non profit organizations. For instance, we provide free web and email services to 30 youth centers, homeless shelters, adult education centers, immigrant aid agencies, and disability advocacy groups. These agencies assist thousands of poor people every day.

We accomplish this mission with

* Free software (Linux, Perl, Apache, etc.)
* Below market salaries
* Volunteers
* Grants

The grant writer VISTA member will:

A) Make fundraising contacts and create fundraising processes

B) Develop and maintain relationships with funders

C) Establish ongoing donor database

D) Create calendar of grant deadlines

E) Write grants

The Community Software Lab (CSL) has never had a grant writing/fundraising position. Their director and staff members are volunteers. With 100,000 and the establishment of ongoing fundraising contacts and processes as the year-end goal, a grant writer will enable CSL to support the full-time salaries of its director and staff. This will dramatically enhance the services CSL provides to their clients.

Project Outcome: 

Originally, Eric’s primary goal was to raise money writing grants. His secondary goals were to create a process for us to continue successful grant writing, to get a handle on our bookkeeping and accounting, particularly in regard to presenting our finances to funders. We had very limited success with the grant writing and other pressing needs. Eric shifted the focus of his work to supervising interns, expanding mvhub, doing paperwork for the government, creating a process to do that paperwork in the future and looking at non-grant writing funding opportunities.

We do have, however, a good start on a plan to get a better program. One of Eric’s clear successes was expanding http://mvhub.com into Lawrence. We were struggling here. In Lowell we know a lot of people. A quick reminder phone call was enough to get people to add their information This didn’t work in Lawrence where we knew few non-profit people. Eric broke the bottleneck. He asked people to fax us their brochures. He typed the brochures into our database and got people to confirm their records and got our stalled project moving. Before Eric arrived, our workers were contractors, volunteers or Americorps/VISTA members. We didn’t need a payroll system. Eric figured out the complexity of state and federal payroll taxes for our first employee.

Impact Quote: 

It is testament to Eric’s abilities that he did what ordinarily requires a a software and a team of professionals to accomplish.”
- Dan MacNeil, supervisor

Fundraising & Outreach Coordinator

Organization: 
Community Software Lab
VISTA Name: 
Carolyn Thompson
Program Start: 
9/2009
Program End: 
7/2010
Project Description: 

The Community Software Lab is in need of a Community Organizer to do fundraising and outreach for our organization. The current plan is to divide their time on structured tangible work like making networking phone calls and unstructured work like figuring out how to get more of the public using our sites. The VISTA will attend meetings of groups of agencies, demo our software, develop ways to increase viewership, attend public events like festivals, make followup networking phone calls to agency representatives after meetings, and contact agency & program contacts to get them to update or add entries to the database.

- Increase the number of organizations putting their records into our databases
- Increase the number of people searching for information on our sites
- Document a reproducible process for getting organizations to put their info on our sites.

Project Outcome: 

Carolyn has brought in approximately $3,000 in undesignated donations, almost reaching her goal of $5000. Working with board members and other staff, Carolyn scheduled coffee or lunch meetings with past and potential supporters and asked them for money. Carolyn created a database of past and potential donors of more than 300 members. Carolyn also organized and ran a fundraising Tea that brought in approximately $1000. Considering our past best year for individual donations was about $700, this is quite a leap forward.

The Community Software lab now has the infrastructure for soliciting donations and for putting on fund-raising events. We also now have an organizational culture that values fundraising. To insure we can continue, our board and permanent staff have worked with Carolyn on fund-raising setup and implementation and pledged to continue when she leaves. Remaining work includes refining our presentation for different potential donors. We need to cultivate donors outside our existing network.

When Carolyn started we realized that her work should fit into a larger plan, a plan that we had not yet created. Carolyn has contributed to our business planning efforts and our draft/working business plan document. Carolyn has done planning work on an un-conference we are exploring putting on with another organization. Carolyn recruited somebody who is proving to be one of our better board members. Carolyn helped write two grants.

Transmission Project