National Human Services Assembly

Engaging the Community

Module 4

Module 4: Engaging the Community

Human service organizations can look beyond the individual organization level and take meaningful steps to institutionalize the Building Well-Being Narrative throughout their communities. Many human service organizations already understand and capitalize on the power and efficiencies of coalitions for advocacy objectives. Some are also achieving the benefits of formal collaboration on reframing by establishing task forces or engaging coalitions to help plan for and implement reframing, supplementing their own individual organization efforts. Similarly, there are a number of advantages to membership or partner organizations establishing reframing as a priority, including more consistent and stronger messaging across the sector to clearly demonstrate the impact of human services on community well-being and thus increasing public support across the board.

There are several ways that organizations can implement reframing on the community level:

  • Task forces or committees – you can begin a reframing task force or committee as part of an existing coalition or by developing a coalition specifically around reframing.
  • Membership organizations or associations – membership organizations have an established connection and means of communication with the groups they represent and can more easily share information and convene people on reframing. The fact that they are a known entity whose purpose is to support their members breaks down some barriers to addressing reframing, but these umbrella groups must also make sure they have the support of their potentially diverse members.
  • Partnerships outside the human service sector – human service organizations can partner with public agencies, educational institutions, funders, the media, and other community organizations to support the broad understanding and use of the Building Well-Being Narrative and the impact of framing in general.

Regardless of which strategy works best for your organization, best practices for institutionalizing the reframing process and outcomes include:

  • Establish a standing committee or task force of a representative and diverse cross-section of organizations for accountability
  • Designate a point person for the committee or task force to drive progress
  • Set a regular meeting schedule to identify and achieve consensus on objectives, priorities, desired outcomes, assignments, and next steps
  • Engage decision-makers and influencers to shepherd decisions throughout the coalition
  • Conduct outreach and education for member/partner organizations not on the task force or committee to explain reframing and its benefits
  • Determine if the initiative is focused on the coalition and its communications, or if it also includes implementation at the individual member/partner-level
  • Identify if the initiative focus is one issue area (e.g., immigration) or across the human service sector
  • Create easy to download tools and resources on a shared platform
  • Track how and how often tools are used
  • Create a feedback loop that actively solicits member input
  • Report out progress and outcomes

Below are a few examples of National Reframing Initiative partners who have successfully invested in developing a centralized reframing effort on the state- and community-levels.

Illinois Partners for Human Service logoIllinois Partners for Human Service, a coalition of over 800 organizations across the state and a reframing pioneer, formed a Reframing Committee as one piece of its broader reframing strategy. The committee is comprised of human service leaders from several communities to accelerate the sector’s adoption of reframing. Together, they have mapped out a strategy for mobilization and implementation–while also reframing their own organizations’ communications–that includes:

  • Organizing and leading workshops and presentations to engage partners in reframing,
  • Communicating the Building Well-Being Narrative to policymakers and the public, as highlighted in this news article,
  • Developing a fact sheet on human services that serves as a template for advocacy day talking points and other sample communications developed for their partners, and
  • Integrating reframing messages in public-facing communications, including the organization’s website (e.g., potential and well-being) and the launch of a new awareness campaign inspired by the reframing communications model.

One Voice Central Texas, a coalition of the leadership of over 100 nonprofit health and human service organizations in Austin, Texas, established a Reframing Leadership Task Force of its members that is a model for embedding reframing in membership coalitions. As with Illinois Partners, One Voice Task Force members are leading efforts to reframe their individual organization’s communications, in addition to successful coalition-wide strategies such as:

  • Convening monthly meetings for trainings and hands-on learning to identify reframing opportunities and address common implementation challenges,
  • Conducting outreach and organizing reframing workshops and presentations to raise awareness among the broader Austin human services community, and
  • Reframing One Voice communications, such as advocacy principle statements, talking points, and collateral, on key Austin human service priorities.

Sustaining Reframing

MODULE 3: Learn how to achieve sustainability by establishing Reframing as the lens through which to make communications, development, and policy decisions across the organization.

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