Reframing newsletter

Long-Time Reframer Sees it as Natural Progression

May 16, 2019

Volunteers of America Ohio and Indiana LogoWe’re always excited to share some great reframing in action. In this issue, we check back in with our friends at Volunteers of America Ohio & Indiana (VOA), who started reframing after attending a National Reframing Initiative workshop at the Volunteers of America National Conference in 2016. Most recently, the organization incorporated the Building Well-Being Narrative into its inaugural Power of Hope fundraising event on May 1, 2019 in Sandusky, Ohio to raise funds for programs for veterans, families, and individuals who are homeless, those who are in recovery, and those with mental health conditions.

From start to finish, the event fully incorporated reframing:

  • The invitation (below) noted that “together we can build a stronger community” and help “achieve well-being.”
  • A client spoke of how VOA programs helped him build well-being.
  • In the President and CEO’s remarks he stated, “You can help by providing the tools needed for every person – at any age – to rebuild and have the opportunity to reach their full potential.”
  • A Board member’s speech noted that donors could help more people “reach their full potential” so they could “contribute to our community in meaningful ways” which makes the community thrive.
  • The acknowledgement letter thanked donors for helping people “achieve well-being.”

Sandusky Register mastheadThe event also was featured in an April 23, 2019 article, “Volunteers of America hosting event to help homeless vets,” in the Sandusky Register, with an interview with Becky Carlino, Director of Development. Carlino noted, “We believe that when every person has the opportunity to reach their full potential, they can fully contribute to our community in meaningful ways. This helps our community to thrive and remain vibrant.” She described the shelter program that “helps homeless veterans, families and individuals achieve well-being while providing a stable environment and the support needed to rebuild their lives.” Invoking that it takes a team to build well-being, Carlino said the event was intended “to connect the community to how they have helped and connect the community to how they can help.”

VOA Ohio and Indiana Power of Hope Invite

We spoke with Carlino who said that after she and staff learned about reframing at the 2016 workshop, they came back to the office and immediately rewrote collateral and wove it into the organization’s website. They started with the residential re-entry program, explaining that it could help clients reach their full potential and contribute to their communities so they would thrive. Once the framing of that program was established, it was easy to translate reframing over to other service areas.

Nicole Knowlton, Executive Vice President of Development and Communications, relayed that reframing information cards about programs led seamlessly to more detailed fact sheets and was a natural progression into all their external communications, including communications plans, case for support, giving campaigns, donor thank you letters, and social media. In a past newsletter, we featured Volunteers of America Ohio & Indiana’s pre- and reframed program description of veterans’ services. Reframing has become part of the organization’s “natural speak” on external communications pieces.

According to Carlino, “We have been working as much as possible to integrate the human service narrative into as many of our communications pieces and dialogue as possible. I’ve seen on people’s faces the understanding that happens when we talk about building well-being and thriving communities.”

Among the benefits of reframing she has observed, Carlino noted that the Building Well-Being Narrative allows them to reach audiences across political lines. And the construction metaphor—literally building a foundation for well-being—lends itself to capital campaign appeals, which she thinks had a positive impact on their 2017-2018 capital campaign, as well as the recent fundraising event.

As the team in Ohio and Indiana was learning to reframe, they found the swamp image and website particularly useful. They also heeded advice not to lead with the negative or myths. Volunteers of America Ohio & Indiana plans to stay the course and dig deeper where it hasn’t yet. They see it as a natural practice, and they advise other organizations that are just starting the reframing journey to integrate reframing among their staff and throughout messaging by using the National Human Services Assembly’s reframing website, pilot testing, and taking it the whole way through, not just reframing one piece of communications.