YOU CAN DO BIG THINGS! Let me tell you how…

by Monica Tierney, MBA, MEd, CPRE, Director of Parks & Recreation, Lower Makefield Township

It is time to think BIG and make a BIG impact on your community. The Power of positive thought is not made up it is a research-backed, proven method. So why do we fight it?

Most of the people reading this blog work for a nonprofit or government agency. Some are a little more seasoned than others, and many are completely burnt out and overworked. It is very easy to get caught in a cycle of preservation rather than innovation in our industry. The thing is there is no need to give up, if you think something is important speak up, set BIG goals, and push yourself to believe they are possible.

Research shows that mindset can have a significant impact on achieving your life outcomes. From health to financial success or general wellbeing, there are many studies that support that a positive mindset alone will determine your success.

BELIEVE

If you believe you can succeed, you will. Once you believe something is possible doors will open for you that you never imagined would be available. You will look at different possibilities and find resources that will help get you to where you want to be.

Sometimes our biggest adversary is the one in the mirror. The idea that you are going to fail enters your thoughts and possibly your speech and eventually it will be true. This is a self-fulfilling prophesy. The good news is, if you believe that you are going to succeed, and you speak about your success, this will all come true for you.

SPEAK IT INTO EXISTENCE

Speak it into existence, learn more about others who have had success, excite people around you. Speak positively and look at yourself in the mirror and imagine yourself where you want to be 1, 2, 5, 10 years.

What good is a personal goal if you do not share the idea with others. The Truth is none of those doors will open for you if you don’t open the door first. Do not keep your goals or big picture items to yourself., share them with others. Start talking about it to your peers and discuss them with your most trusted advisors.

WRITE IT SOMEWHERE YOU HAVE TO LOOK AT IT EVERYDAY

In my office, we call this the Universe but many call this a vision board. When we set the goal of CAPRA there were many more micro goals that came about as we discussed certain aspects of Accreditation. We started saying to each other, let’s just put that in the universe. Eventually, we decided that we would create a Universe where we can put everything in writing. Do you know what, many of the things we placed in the universe came true. Once the staff recognized the success of the vision board each individual employee added vision boards to their desks to set individual goals for themselves.

REFRAME YOUR MINDSET

It is so easy to get wrapped up in a negative space, we all do it, me included. Recently I heard another Parks and Recreation Professional say “we all know committees are where things go to die.” If we think like that things will die with committees. If there is something you truly believe in, reframe your mindset, and discover how you can best work with the committee to make this a reality.

Now it is your turn, go make the impossible possible in your community. If you Believe It, Speak It, Write It and Reframe your Mindset you can build a bridge, conserve land, build a playground, a park, and accomplish things you never imagined were possible!

Research and Articles worth reading:

Crum, Alia J., and Ellen J. Langer. 2007. Mind-set matters: Exercise and the placebo effect. Psychological Science 18, no. 2: 165-171.

What Leading with Optimism Really Looks Like (hbr.org)

Positive Intelligence (hbr.org)

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Attend the PRPS Conference Expo Hall

Ahoy, Me Hearties!  Batten Down the Hatches and Set Your Course to join the PRPS Staff & Conference Committee for the 2023 Conference & Expo at the Hershey Lodge from March 19th-22nd.  The conference theme this year is ‘Banding Together to Forge Community Treasures.’

Get Shipwrecked at the Expo Hall with over 70 commercial and non-profit exhibitors on Sunday & Monday.  Featuring ScanTrivia, Speed Meet & Greets, and the Prize Pool, there are endless opportunities to network with colleagues and exhibitors.  Shiver Me Timbers!

Avast Ye! Participate in the Expo Hall game, SCANTrivia.  SCANTrivia cultivates an experience that generates high-energy competitive interaction between attendees. Signage will be posted with instructions to access SCANTrivia on your mobile device. Thirty exhibitors will have QR codes located at their booths.  Engage and interact with exhibitors and scan the QR code with your mobile device to answer their trivia questions for a chance to win your Bounty. All activity can be seen during gameplay on your mobile device by clicking the leaderboard link.  Exhibitors have donated prizes. Points leaders at the end of the game may pick up their Treasure from the Expo Hall Committee.

Be on the Lookout Monday for Speed Meet & Greets throughout the day in the Expo Hall.  Register on Sunday with the Expo Hall Committee to participate.  Space is limited.  Speed Meet & Greets provide the opportunity to learn from industry exhibitors in a private one-on-one setting.  Don’t get hornswoggled with lengthy conversations.  Exhibitors will have several minutes to present their company to participants.  Once the Speed Meet & Greets are completed, and you have your sea legs, visit the exhibitors at their booths for more information.

With so much going on, don’t end up in Davey Jones Locker.  Change Course and head to the Prize Pool at the back of the Expo Hall.  Ticket sheets are available for purchase, labels are not needed.  Payment is accepted via cash or credit card. Donations are still being accepted. Thank you to all Prize Pool donors and the Community Branch Executive Committee.  Winners will be announced around 2:00 p.m. Monday to pick up their Booty.  Unclaimed prizes will be available for pick-up at Registration.

Come About to Central Park, located in the middle of the Expo Hall, to enjoy your Grog & Grub at the tables provided.  Share your community treasures on the Community Treasure Tree for all to enjoy.

Buccaneers and Buckos, Sea Dogs, Landlubbers and Lasses alike, Splice the Mainbrace at the Conference Socials each evening.  You Arrrrrrrrr the most sought-after Treasure!  YoHo YoHo A Recreation Life for Me! 

The Case For Keeping It Simple

We all want to put our best effort forward when we serve our communities. Often we can get wrapped up in dreaming up ways to make our programs and events bigger, and therefore better. While this instinct is natural, I’d like to posit some ways that keeping recreational opportunities simple can have benefits such as promoting inclusivity and equity, preserving your (and your team’s) sanity, and ultimately help you achieve your programming goals.

Note: For the purposes of this blog post, the words “program” and “event” will be interchangeable.

Promoting Inclusivity and Equity

Running programs require resources, which require money. While each municipality may have a different philosophy on the role of finances in Parks and Recreation, one fact remains true: Every community has residents in varying economic situations. As additional activities are added, the cost of running your event increases, equating to an increase in the fee charged to participants. Sadly, some families are priced out of programs if the fee is too high. While scholarships can help offset this financial challenge, the truth is some families won’t even consider asking for a discount if the advertised price is too high for their situation. By keeping programs focused on one or two central activities or attractions, you can offer a less expensive and more inclusive experience for your community.

Preserving Your (and Your Team’s) Sanity

As more aspects are added to your event, there is more for you and your team to coordinate and manage before, during, and after the event. While everything may look perfect on paper, when you add people to the equation, there are countless challenges that can arise. Maybe a vendor calls and says they will be late. Maybe 10 volunteers signed up to help, but only 5 showed up. Maybe you communicate instructions to a team member in charge of an activity, but as soon as you walk away to check on another area, that person changes the rules (and not in a way that improves the execution). The point is, people all have their own opinions, level of work ethic, personal issues, and unlimited facets that can cause problems that you have to solve. 

To be clear, I am not saying people cannot be trusted. This is just a disclaimer to consider who is on your team and their strengths and weaknesses to determine if the additional activities will enhance your program or lead to headaches and unfortunate optics. Know who you can rely on, and what your team can handle at this point in time.

Achieving Your Goals Through Simplicity

Keeping your programs simple actually allows you to more effectively run them at a larger scale in the future. For example, maybe you run a vendor fair that is simply an opportunity for residents to stop by and purchase from the sellers. Once you have the core activity solidified, with safe and effective arrival, setup, and breakdown logistics, you can add another layer if your team can handle it. You can add a simple kids activity like a movie so parents can shop without distraction. Maybe you bring in a food truck or live music. Allow yourself and your team to stand firmly on one step before climbing the entire staircase. Would you rather rush into a full production, be overwhelmed, and potentially encounter safety issues, or would you rather take your time, successfully manage all of the aspects, and run the event you actually wanted to share with your community? Furthermore, you can use participant feedback to build the event around what your community wants.

A Word on Expectations

Residents may have expectations about what a program or event should include, and how things should be run. Often this is based on an event from somewhere else, or an imagined scenario in their head. You can control this to a degree. In your marketing, only advertise activities that you know 100% you can deliver. Allow any additional items to be icing on the cake. As long as you deliver everything that you explicitly promised, you have done your job. You can take feedback into account as ideas, but do not feel like you let anybody down if you hear comments about what “should” have been included in the event. This is your program, and even if you’ve inherited it from someone who held your job previously, you have the right to adjust it to your style and make your own mark on the event.

In Conclusion

There is a place for extravagant Disney-like experiences, but ultimately our work as Parks and Recreation professionals is to foster social connections. It’s not about the shiny attractions you have at your event, but the community experience it offers.

Practical Marketing for Recreation Events

You’ve ordered all the supplies, scheduled the staff, and worked out the logistics and schedule for your next event. Now you have to market it!

As I write this, I’m marketing Montgomery Township’s 20th Annual Autumn Festival. With so many moving parts, there’s a lot to communicate. There are also a lot of places to put the message, and the channels of communication seem to keep stacking up. It’s enough to make my head spin, and event marketing is a major part of my job as a Public Information Coordinator.

The good news is that you don’t need to be a graphic designer or social media wizard to get the ball rolling. Below are some quick tips to put together a practical marketing plan for your programs and events.

What do you do if you don’t have a knack for marketing?

Start with what you know

Begin by simply listing the basic information:

  • What is the event’s name?
  • Where will it take place?
  • When will it take place?
  • Who is it for?
  • How much does it cost?
  • What is included?
  • Who can people contact for more information, or where can they go to find information?

Select supporting photos

If this is a recurring event or program, select a few photos from the last time you held it. These don’t have to be professional quality, but they should showcase some of the activities that take place. People respond more to programs and events that show engaged attendees having a great time.

If you don’t have photos, pick an image or two using a program such as Canva that represent the event. Canva offers a free version to begin designing.

Design a flyer

Don’t be intimidated by the word “design.” You can use Microsoft Word, Microsoft Publisher, Canva, or any other program you are comfortable with to make the flyer. As long as it has the answers to the basic questions and a few photos or clipart graphics, your flyer will get the message across.

Pick Your Channels

This is where it gets tricky. Instead of getting into the many channels, you can use to communicate, just think of what you currently have. My recommendation is to have the following:

  • Website – This is your home base where all information is available. All social media posts and email newsletters about the event should directly link back to your website or event-specific webpage.
  • Social Media –Stick to one platform and do it well. If you’re comfortable expanding to more social media platforms, go for it at the right pace for your organization. If all you have is Facebook, that’s great! Despite what you hear about the decline of Facebook as a social media platform, it is still my experience that you will engage with the most members of your community on Facebook than other social media platforms.
  • Email Newsletter – Ideally you have access to an email newsletter platform. Putting your information in front of people who specifically opt in to receive your updates has tremendous value and is extremely effective.
  • Print Media – Many organizations are reevaluating their relationship with print media. It’s expensive to print and mail, but it does help reach the population less comfortable with using the internet. Including basic information with some direction about where to find more information can at least increase awareness of your event.
  • Local news outlets – Form relationships with your local news outlets so they can publish your event on their website.
  • Word of Mouth – I assure you, people are talking to their friends and family about events as you share information. In fact, this is the best marketing you can ask for!

Work with Your Communication/Public Information Office

If you have a good relationship with your coworkers responsible for Communication/Public Information, use them as a resource! Their job is to get the word out. As someone who has been on both the Recreation programming and Public Information sides, I cannot stress enough how important this relationship is if your municipality has the resources. As long as you provide accurate information for your Public Information Coordinator to work with, they can help get the message out to the public.

I hope this provides a basic overview of how to market your event using the resources you have. There’s nothing groundbreaking here. Like most other things, it’s about mastering the fundamentals.

 If you have questions, reach out to me at dmuller@montgomerytwp.org . Happy marketing!

Do you know the Difference between Sponsorship and Fundraising?

I notice that these words are often used interchangeably and that could land you in hot water!

Fundraising is connecting people to causes they love and wish to support with their personal (or business) donations. “No goods or a service” is the phrase that is used in the tax language on the receipts.

“Sponsorship is for the purpose of achieving commercial objectives. Philanthropy or monetary donations, on the other hand, are in support of a cause without any commercial incentives. Money is donated simply for the good of the cause with no ‘strings’ attached” (from nonprofnetwork.org)

Sponsorship has an expectation of some kind of commercial return, such as generating new business, brand recognition, or another measurable result. The primary piece to this relationship is access to an audience or group of people. In this type of relationship, a sponsorship “package” is offered and sold to a business, and they benefit from the reciprocal relationship. Whether its tax deductible is debatable but that is usually unlikely, because they ARE receiving goods or services at a certain value from you.

Sponsors have access to your audience

Putting a value on the sponsorship package or “deal” is when you determine how much a sponsor should pay for the activities, benefits, and the website and social media exposure they will get, all outlined in a proposal. This is not the same for every sponsor. Understanding the revenue model of the sponsor and what the motivation or benefit is for them is critical to this step. Always be sure you’re not offering something you cannot actually deliver.

This kind of relationship also requires you to provide data or statistics to show them the value they received, particularly if you’re asking for support again in the future.

Now, there are grey areas in between, for example, event sponsors.

An event sponsor is any person or company that provides something free (money, services, products) to increase the value of your event. Sponsors are key to your event because they add incentives that will draw people to your event or help you cover costs.

This could be use of a venue space, tickets or an art item for a silent auction, t-shirts for your gift baskets, or gift cards. They are freely given, they have a value, and what do they get in return? Publicity. Access to your donors, guests, and their family. So this is still a form of sponsorship and providing tax receipts and language in this case can be tricky.

I hear a lot of Parks & Recreation professionals saying that they need to get sponsors and donations. Yes. But I encourage you to take the time to get to know your donors, encourage philanthropic and big hearted gifts that are freely given because someone loves your mission and your impact in the community. These gifts and relationships are the path to the future.

Next, if you can find a business owner who will be a sponsor for an event because they strongly believe in your mission and your event, and want to support you and the audience you serve, then enter into that agreement and accept the sponsorship and happily promote their support to your audience. If you work with a business that is all about the numbers, their marketing dollars and what social media and print media exposure they expect in return, the stats and data they want to see, perhaps a request to access your mailing list or have major exposure at your events — consider passing on those. These companies know what they need for the dollars they are investing in the sponsorships, and unless you are a well-established enterprise who can devote someone full time to “sales” – which is what sponsorship amounts to – it’s a landslide of work and can really get out of control quickly.

This is just a little blurb to get you pointed in the right direction. I encourage you to read more about the differences between sponsorships and donations, and then set up the processes and proposals that work best for you. Good luck!

PS: Refer to IRS publication 1771 for information on tax language and always talk with your tax accountant or solicitor when you are unsure how to set up or word donation and sponsorship language.

Planning a Website Redesign?

Helpful prep and planning ideas

Thinking of redesigning your website? It’s a big step that can be a daunting idea before the actual process even begins – even more so when you’ve never undertaken this process before. While I don’t specialize in website redesign, I have been through the process and I found the following considerations helpful to act on prior to the actual redesign process taking place.

Assessment

Go through your current website and, page by page, consider what works on your current site, what isn’t working, and think about how that can be improved. 

Mapping

I found it helpful to sketch out a map, or site structure of your new website. What would you like for your new site to visually look like? How would menu items and pages be structured? Search out websites of similar organizations and do a deep dive into some of them. Take notes of what you like and consider how this could work on your new website. Don’t be afraid to reach out to others for insight into how they approached the design of their website, especially if you like the functionality of their specific website. 

Goals

Your website should reflect the goals and mission of your organization. Approach the redesign of your website as you would a strategic plan. Be intentional with your objectives and consider how your website can help to achieve your organization’s goals. 

Insight

Talk to members of your team about what they would like to see on the new website. While it’s good to have a set, specific team dedicated to the redesign process, getting feedback from staff or even volunteers in your organization can be invaluable to gaining different perspectives on how the new website can be better utilized.

Are you ready for Fall Fundraising?

by Molly Hetrick

Fall is the peak time for falling leaves and for fundraising! Here are some ideas and helpful bits of info for you to consider this fall…

Why Fall? What about the Holidays?

Traditionally people give more in the second half of the year as the holidays approach. Here are the important parts:

  • Get your fall appeal letters and marketing out before Thanksgiving.
    • When do other non-profits and big fundraising organizations get theirs out in your community? Try to work around this…
  • Early December is a good giving time IF your appeal is already out. It’s an excellent time to send email or social media reminders that support your original letter to people with a gentle nudge.
    • If not, do not send an appeal letter in the beginning of December. People are busy, holiday shopping is looming, and it will end up in the recycling!
    • At this point, you’ve missed your chance, so, you can try this next idea…
  • December is an opportunity to re-route holiday giving… instead of giving someone a gift that they may not want, people like Alternative Holiday Giving! What options can you offer?
    • Instead of a gift…
      • Put their name on a brick!
      • Sponsor a kayak!
      • Put their name on a scholarship to send a child to camp!
      • Name a wild animal after them…
      • {Insert your unique creative idea here}
      • No ideas? Offer to either send a special holiday card to the person they are gifting for (this requires extra work for your staff, really tragic if you mix things up) – OR offer them a special fun card to give themselves to the person they gifted for.
  • The last week of December is the big giving week – a great time to support your appeal letter with follow up stories, image similar social media or emails, etc.
    • Motivation at this point is often tax breaks and getting final donations made before December 31. With tax law changes, this is not always possible. Many donors still give even if they cannot claim it on their taxes.
    • This is also when donors remember their Top 3 charities. Your work all year long helps to align you to be one of their top three. If it is the end of December and you haven’t done outreach, start planning for next year to connect people and their passions to your mission.

Other Ideas?

  • Remember all year long to collect emails and addresses so you have an easily accessible list to communicate with for fundraising.
  • Is it okay to send fundraising materials to your participant lists? Double check with your Director, Board, or Attorney, but usually the answer is yes. They participate in your programs and enjoy your parks, they care about your organization, so let them know how things are going and the projects you’re raising money for in the future.
  • Remember Donor Centered Language – if you forget, look back at my previous blog posts.
    • Compare:
      • “We can’t wait to build the new picnic pavilion and we need your help to fund it!” (ie: you are the ATM machine)
      • “Your generous support for the new picnic pavilion will provide a large multi-use space for hundreds of community activities!” (warm and fuzzy!)
      • “Your gift last year made such an impact on the children who attend summer camp, will you consider a gift again this year?” (you matter! You make a difference!)
      • How do these messages feel to you? Which one makes you want to support something?
  • If you can’t handle the details of a large Fall mailing, instead:
    • Set up easy online giving and promote it through social media and eNewsletters…
    • Ask your Board Members to write personal notes or make phone calls to ask for gifts…
    • Create a special giving group and call some donors you know to offer them a special opportunity to make an impact gift towards a particular project… (exclusive, small group!)
    • Send hand written New Year’s cards that include a warm message and “please consider a year end gift to support the programs and services your family loved this year.”

I hope these ideas were helpful and got you thinking about fundraising for the Fall. This is a great time to connect with people, keep them up to date on your programs and projects, and ask them to be part of the exciting upcoming plans.

If you’re still feeling stuck, please reach out to me or to Tim Herd, PRPS CEO, as we are always interested to know what resources would be most helpful for you.

Parks and Recreation: Continued Complicity or Time to Stand Up?

by Guest blogger, Jamie Sabbach

Why is it that “social equity” is part of parks and recreation’s daily nomenclature yet is not part of any substantive collective action? Public statements about helping those who are disenfranchised and not afforded equal opportunity while giving less than our best must be scrutinized as good intention only goes so far.

If we really pay attention to the news feeds right now we may deduce that today’s protests and riots, while prompted by a tragic action, are symptoms of something much bigger than any one issue. And the fundamental problems at the core of these symptoms have been lingering for a long time and out of plain sight of those insulated from many people’s heartbreaking realities.

Decades of inequality and ignorance have perpetuated intolerance, unacceptance of anything or anyone different, and a focus on “me” and not “we”. Fundamentally, this is the essence of social inequity and sadly, it painfully continues today.

Why is it that “social equity” is part of parks and recreation’s daily nomenclature yet is not part of any substantive collective action? Public statements about helping those who are disenfranchised and not afforded equal opportunity while giving less than our best must be scrutinized as good intention only goes so far.

In many ways, an equitable society seems like a distant fantasy. With what feels like irreversible damage having been done over the years and now on full display, anything short of a complete reconstruction of systems that are supposed to serve all people will not do.

Where to begin in our little corner of the world? We can start here understanding there is significantly more work that must be done.

First, let’s be clear that scholarships and reduced rates do not qualify as a comprehensive effort to address social equity. While financial assistance is a way to provide access for those in need, it is a singular method that is commonly under-utilized for many unfortunate reasons. Having a scholarship program does not opt us out of our responsibility to dig deeper to understand the barriers that many face. When we spend more time on satisfying wants than on understanding needs, we compromise opportunities for profound community impact. Connecting with local schools, public health providers, and other human services organizations can provide better optics of a community’s profile including sub-communities, which often tend to be overlooked and go unnoticed. Once a more complete understanding of the needs of the community as a whole are in focus, we can begin to design relevant strategies and actions that align with these needs. This work will always be more effective if done in collaboration with organizations of similar purpose.

2018 27 dorling inequality

Next? We must stop kneeling at the feet of entitled community members who have the resources to pay but do not want to by virtue of an inflated sense of self or an ignorance of how far their tax dollars actually go. For example, the $25 that youth sports groups pay to use fields that cost organizations tens of thousands of dollars each year to maintain is nothing less than a travesty (note: this metaphor represents any service that should not be subsidized to the degree they have or continue to be). Allowing special interests to raid the cookie jar time and time again only dilutes finite financial resources and limits opportunities to affect community needs. It is past time to stand up to those who have an ability to pay yet little to no willingness on behalf of those who rely on us and our voices to be their champions and advocates.

Finally, we should do all we can to ensure that policy makers are educated and informed about the communities they have been elected to represent. While many of these people believe they know it all, they may know very little about the community they serve. They are likely representing people who may never vote due to their mistrust of government, may never attend a meeting as they believe no one will listen and that the system is corrupt or pitted against them, and in some cases, may never engage simply because they fear government. Take a chance and begin a dialogue about designing an education and training program for policy makers based upon the critical and timely topic of “the common good.”

Will we actually learn something this time around and not allow our subconscious short-term memory to take us back to “normal” – a “normal” that was profoundly inadequate offering a way of life tilted heavily in favor of the vocal, entitled minority? Let’s hope so.

Fundraising Review – DIY consultation

I recently had the opportunity at the invitation of a Board President to visit a local non-profit and review their fundraising, in order to make suggestions and help them take their donations to the next level.

What I found was a wonderful warm group of people with a small overworked staff who does amazing work, a super marketing coordinator who puts out some of the best materials I’ve seen in a long time, innovative new programs, ongoing vital community services, and a really exciting new grant funded construction project.

They are rocking! They’ve got this, what can I possibly add to help?

Well, the need to increase their donors and find ways to encourage participants paying program fees to also make donations, plus engage a wider audience to attract new donors.

It occurred to me in sitting down to write this post that what I prepared for them might also work for you. Here are some things to consider:

  1. How is your social media?
    • Consider adding video or images that show how it “feels” to be a donor. Make it look really exciting and enticing to be part of that group
    • Consider using donor centered language. Instead of saying “Help us serve preschool children” say “You can raise up a child by supporting preschool programs” or “You can be the hero for a child!” (See below for more on this)
  2. Do you have a donor database or list?
    • Gather “everyone”: recent donors, old donors, sponsors, program attendees, vendors, grant coordinators, newsletter lists, etc – AND then ask your Board members to each provide 10 names who can be contacted. (They give their valuable time to your organization, why wouldn’t they want others in their sphere to know about your organization too?)
  3. Define Audience or Segments: who are your audiences, or communication segments, and is your message different or the same for each?
    • Insiders – those connected to and active with your programs
    • Connected – those who are familiar with your programs (think grandparents, teachers, etc)
    • Community – maybe these folks don’t know about your programs but wouldn’t it be great if they did?
  4. Make Donating Easy: I’ll say this simply: WHERE IS YOUR DONATE BUTTON? If I can’t click on your website and immediately see it, fix that first. Don’t lose people on their way to give because its not easy enough. After that:
    • Do you allow facebook fundraisers to be held on your behalf? (Awesome when someone chooses you to support during their birthday)
    • Can people set up a monthly gift? (excellent for cash flow)
    • Do you have a wishlist or list of programs/services they can support?
  5. Use Your Board:
    • Having an event? They get four extra tickets to bring people with them.
    • Having a fundraiser? They call people and champion your cause
    • Sending a mailing? They write a personal note on the mailing before it goes out AND write the thank you note when that person makes a gift.
    • (If they don’t or wont – explore why… consider bringing a consultant in to train them)
    • Ask the Executive Committee of the Board to start a “Give or Get” Policy. Each member has 12 calendar months to give or get $1000… if they want to write a check Jan 1, great. If they are not able to or don’t want to, they have 12 months to get creative with their kids, friends, church, pets, neighbors to raise $1000. Sounds fun, right??

If you don’t have time for all of this, then skip it and just read the rest because I want to talk again (like my last post) about Donor Centered Fundraising. In my experience and training, this has been my main focus. It’s a philosophy, a practice, a physiological exploration, and more. AND, it works.

This is the Very Best graphic I have ever seen to clearly show what we’re talking about. Read through – do you see the difference? Does it make you want to give? If you make no other changes, use this and change your wording. The donor wants to know where THEY fit in to the fantastic things you’re doing, not just about the fantastic things you’re doing. The full article that included this graphic is available here, authored by Cathy Elton.

I hope these suggestions were helpful! Please reach out and ask for help if you need it. You can improve your fundraising in small ways, even if it feels impossible now. Good luck!

Parks and Rec in the Time of Corona

Love in the Time of Cholera, written by Gabriel Garcia Marquez in 1985, has become a modern literary classic. It follows a young couple in love, torn apart multiple times by fathers, communities, circumstances, infidelity, who in the end somehow see all those scars as beautiful experiences and grow old together. The book’s title is completely misleading, cholera only plays a minor part in the story. The coronavirus is not playing a minor role in our story right now.

The coronavirus has come in like a thief in the night, virtually by day break changing they way Americans see and interact with the world around them. So much of what we do as park and recreation professionals relies on people wanting and needing to be near each other, and that is just not an option right now.

I wish I had answers for every question swirling in my head, because I know the PRPS membership has the very same questions. We are still vital. We are still essential. One only has to look at the crazy spike in trail use across Pennsylvania to see that our residents still need our parks in their lives. Programming is the hurdle, day to day, that’s what we do. One could argue that our programming efforts are MORE important now than ever. With families stuck inside 24/7, we can play an integral role in making that a beautiful experience rather than a destructive one. Convert as much as you can to online platforms and get active in new ways, host a food drive or maybe create a COVID mask sewing group.

But it can’t stop there. I ask you to do two more things.

One, tell your Township Managers and elected officials about your programming and have residents email them that what you are doing is vitally important. Literally, email residents and say “please email the Township Supervisors” that this Teddy Bear Hunt was important to your six year old. How many of us have been to a Supervisors meeting and seen decisions flipped or postponed based on one resident’s opinion in the crowd? I certainly have. Plant that resident.

And two, share your programming and communication ideas, successes and failures with your fellow PRPS members. Whether that is simply through your neighboring municipalities, a PRPS District or through the Facebook “What’s Up P & R” page we are collectively Stronger Together.

I am an eternally positive person, and I know we will come out better for this “Parks and Rec in the Time of Corona” experience. But we do have a dogfight ahead of us. Our residents need us right now. Our families need us right now, and we need each other right now. Let’s roll up our sleeves and be Stronger Together.

Take care!

Jason

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