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Marketing is an important element to the success of the Intergenerational School Breakfast Program (ISBP). Marketing is necessary to recruit volunteers, raise awareness of program goals and objectives, and inform community members about this valuable program.
There are a number of ways to promote your program. The following materials can be adapted for use by any school.
Before you begin, please be sure that there is a system in place to handle volunteer inquiries. School staff should be briefed about where to direct calls from prospective volunteers, and should receive training on program requirements.
Targeting Your Audience
The goal of any marketing campaign should be to communicate the right message to the right audience. For instance, active adults who rise early and like children are the primary recruitment audience for the ISBP. When promoting your program to the community, focus on the positive benefits of the program. Be sure that the key messages are clear, and don't try to communicate more than three key messages in a single marketing piece.
Look for ways to reach out to the right audience. Where are these people found? What media do they read or tune in to? Where do they gather in groups? The answers could identify prime opportunities for successful marketing efforts.
There are a number of tools that can be used when reaching out to these key audiences. Some of the most popular include:
Flyers can be posted in high-profile locations or distributed to groups to convey information about the ISBP. Some popular locations for distributing flyers are:
- Other schools in your area
- Senior centers
- Retirement communities
- Churches and synagogues
- Social and civic groups
- The Small Business Administration’s Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE)
- Volunteer centers
- Local colleges
- Credit unions, banks, and savings and loan associations
- Naturalization ceremonies
- Estate planners
- Insurance offices
- Housing developments and adult communities
- Bloodmobiles and high blood pressure clinics
- Social Security offices
- Labor unions
- Chambers of Commerce
- Cultural/ethnic centers, clubs and agencies
- Beauty salons and barber shops
- Dentist’s and doctor’s offices
- Dry cleaners and laundries
- Movie theatres
- Police and fire stations
Flyers can also be distributed to PTAs (Parent and Teachers Associations) or students to target family members such as parents and grandparents.
Simple but eye-catching posters can be created and placed in public viewing locations (see list above). Posters differ from flyers in several ways. First, they are normally on card stock, which is heavier weight than a flyer, and will therefore last considerably longer. Second, posters are usually larger than flyers. On average, flyers are standard 8-1/2" x 11" while posters are usually 11" x 14" to 20" x 30" in size. Posters are more visible when placed in a shop window, on a display easel, or on a wall in a public building.
Letters and Direct Mail
If a list of prospective volunteers already exists, send out a recruitment letter. When budgets allow, consider using a direct mail campaign consisting of an information packet with a postage-paid reply card. Also, add volunteer recruitment messages to all mail and direct mail going out from the school.
Brochures and Newsletters
A school's own marketing materials can be used to promote volunteerism. Include a mention of ISBP volunteer opportunities on Back to School notifications, the school calendar, lunchroom notices, and all other materials sent home to parents. In the school's newsletter, feature volunteers and volunteer opportunities.
Reach out to other organizations and ask them to include volunteer opportunities in their newsletters as well. Ask community partners to include a mention of volunteer opportunities in all of their mailing materials.
Publicity means getting mentioned in print or broadcast media. Virtually any program can take advantage of the value of publicity. However, there are a few necessary steps that should be taken and a few principles that should be applied.
First, determine which media are going to reach the target audience. Make a list of those media and call them to ask who should receive the information, and in what format they wish to receive it. (News release or letter, mailed, faxed, or e-mailed).
Second, what is going to make the print editors or broadcast producers care about the story enough to use it in their media? Highlights of that information should be at the beginning of the news release. The first paragraphs should answer the questions "who," "what," "where," "when," "why" and "how" about the topic. Remaining paragraphs should be written in descending order of importance. (This is called the "inverted pyramid" style.)
Third, take a look at current events. Are there local, regional, or national trends that can be tied in to the ISBP? If so, approach the target media and explain to them-concisely-why the ISBP would be good topic to add to a trends piece; then supply them with material to use.
Finally, don't flood media contacts with information. Limit outreach to once or twice a month unless there is something very important to communicate. Call back once or twice after the release has been sent.
Speaking to groups is an important marketing method. Local senior groups, churches, synagogues, and other places where groups of people gather may be looking for interesting speakers for their meetings. Contact these groups and see if there is an opportunity to talk to them about the ISBP.
When speaking, address the most compelling areas of the program. Discuss the opportunity to work with children, how participants can give back to the community and spend time as a mentor and role model. Emphasize the flexibility that the program offers, and the limited time commitment necessary to participate. Some places to spread the word include:
- Churches and synagogues
- Community center meetings
- Association meetings
- Social/civic group meetings (Kiwanis, Elks, Optimists Clubs)
- Scouting meetings
- Public municipal meetings
It may be helpful to create a speaker's bureau so that several of the program's volunteers can take on the responsibility of attending meetings and promoting the program. Also, if no one in the program is comfortable speaking in front of large groups, consider trying an alternate strategy, or speaking in front of small groups to start. To brush up on public speaking skills, attend a meeting of Toastmasters International. Find a meeting near you at http://www.toastmasters.org.
Public Service Announcements
By law, broadcast stations are required to devote a certain portion of their time to broadcasting for the public good. This law creates opportunities for free advertising for nonprofit groups and community programs. To get more information on the pubic service announcement policies of local radio and television stations, contact their public affairs officers to get guidelines for submission of information about ISBP. Opportunities may include:
- Community calendar listings or announcements
- Interviews on public service programs
- Public service advertising opportunities
Existing special events or specifically targeted special events can be used to promote volunteer opportunities. If the school sponsors specific events, be sure to attend and distribute information about the ISBP. Consider holding a volunteer recruitment day at the school. Hold it during National Volunteer Week in April or participate in local or regional volunteer fairs. Set up a table at local fairs, bazaars, or midnight madness sales. Be sure to have volunteer sign-up sheets and information flyers on-hand at any event.
The Internet has become an essential media outlet for recruiting volunteers. There are a number of ways to use the Internet in a marketing campaign:
- Post volunteer opportunities on the school's own Web site, either as an article, a banner, or as a continuously scrolling headline.
- Ask the local municipality to publicize the ISBP on their Web site.
- Ask the school's Internet Service Provider (ISP) to post volunteer opportunities as a banner on all the sites they host, or on their own customer service Web site.
- List volunteer opportunities on volunteering Web sites:
- Ask local newspapers and magazines to post volunteer opportunities on their Websites. Publications may not have room for complete press releases in print, but often have more leeway for "fillers" online.
- Use email-create a recruiting message to go out automatically on all of the school's email.
Click here for Sample News Release and Sample Public Services Announcement Script [Word 38KB]