Reframing newsletter

New Fundraising and Advocacy Resources

May 14, 2020

As attendees of the National Reframing Initiative’s webinar, Human Service Messaging During the COVID-19 Crisis, know, we’ve been developing resources to help you make the case for human services support and funding.

The resources were developed in response to our recent survey of the Network regarding desired resources to support the human service sector’s message development in the age of COVID-19. The Reframing Network survey responses showed that sample messages around public funding and private donors would be useful. To that end, we crafted a sample message to policymakers to support public funding and a sample communication to private donors to support development efforts. The sample message for policymakers applies to human services generally and is meant to be built upon with details related to your specific requests. The fundraising message focuses on housing and homelessness prevention in order to provide an example of how reframing can be applied to a more specific issue. Please feel free to borrow or adapt any of the language to your organization’s programs and otherwise meet your needs. We also included the following overarching guidance.

Overarching Guidance:

  • Appeal to our society’s interconnection and our responsibility to each other.
  • Feature the collective, societal benefits of human services and/or your organization’s work before getting into the particulars of your request.
  • Move quickly from expressing urgency around the COVID-19 crisis to offering solutions when possible.
  • Avoid framing that focuses on the vulnerability of specific people, which activates zero-sum, us vs. them thinking.
  • Offer explanations and concrete examples relying on the tested Construction Metaphor for human services. Do not assume the public and policymakers will understand how your organization operates in typical times, how your organization’s work is being impacted by the pandemic, or what role your organization would play in the long-term recovery effort.
  • Consider your audience’s existing relationship with your organization as you craft your messages. For example, if your request is not specifically related to responding to COVID-19, it may not be the best time to reach out to new donors and funders.

We also developed tip sheets on two common communications traps — individualism and fatalism — to help you avoid cuing them up. The references guide you in what to avoid and what to advance so audiences don’t get mired in traps that will cause them to disengage from seeing human services and policies as solutions. We’ll talk about those in an upcoming newsletter. We hope these tools are helpful to you in your communications.

SPOTLIGHT: Reframing Piece in Human Services Today

Bridget Gavaghan, National Reframing Initiative Director, authored a piece in the National Organization for Human Services’ April 2020 issue of Human Services Today. In “Reframing Human Services to Show Their Value,” Bridget describes the background and development of the Building Well-Being Narrative and offers the reframing success story of Strong Nonprofits for a Better New York.