- Melinda Steffy
CASE STUDY: Need in Deed
SERVICES: Communications, Writing, Workshop Facilitation
For more than 30 years, Need in Deed has provided a unique, culturally responsive educational model that puts students at the center of the learning experience. They train educators to lead elementary school classes through a year-long process in which students select a social issue, conduct an in-depth investigation of the roots and current situation, imagine a solution, and design their own civic action in response.
In recent years, staff felt like the way they talked about their work no longer reflected the impact of the work. The mission statement felt stale and out-of-touch, and they struggled to convey the complixity of the programming in ways outsiders would understand. They wanted to more boldly articulate the antiracism and decolonization embedded in their learning model, and the transformation experienced by teachers and students.
LISTENING & LEARNING:
Concentric Strategy worked with Need in Deed staff and board on a process to rewrite and refresh key messaging. We facilitated an iterative listening process involving staff, board, community partners, teachers, and students themselves.
To start, we led sessions with board and staff that got them talking about the organization's work using their own words, and we listened for core values and ideas. We pulled out high-impact phrases and invited input from various stakeholders about what resonated and what seemed confusing or problematic. This wordsmithing process provided the foundation for the key messaging rewrite.
We then drafted new language for the Mission/Purpose, Vision, Beliefs, and short and long About statements. We worked with staff to revise and refine the language to make sure it was accurate and useful for them across a variety of contexts.
We then packaged all of the new language into a Messaging Guidebook, designed to make it easy for staff and board to start using the new language. The Guidebook included the rationale for the changes, as well as real-time tips for implementing the messaging across different platforms and with their various audiences.
At the end of the process, Executive Director Wendy-Anne Roberts-Johnson wrote:
"Thanks so much for 'getting' us, for asking the right questions, assembling the right stakeholders, and helping us craft a clear message. It is rare to engage a consultant who produces a final product that satisfies everyone.
One of my very long-time board members called me after the board presentation to say that we [Need in Deed] have tried this 'communications refresh' multiple times as an organization and never have we captured the essence of our work and presented it in as clear a manner you were able to."
From the Messaging Guidebook: this infographic breaks out the key elements of the new mission statement to make it easier for board and staff to remember.