Introducing Integrated Living Opportunities: Our Marketing, Fundraising and Corporate Sponsorship Vision

Friday, June 19th, 2015

As ILO continues to grow and evolve as a leader in creating communities for self-advocates with developmental disabilities, it will become of the utmost importance that the story behind the non-profit reaches the eyes and ears of those individuals we are trying to help. In other words, we need all adults with disabilities and their families to know who we are, what we do, and how we can help them reach their goals for independent living.

Earlier this year, ILO was presented with a great opportunity to access the resources necessary to realize this goal – in January, we were awarded three interns from the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business. This team of interns came on board to help ILO develop a marketing plan that would increase visibility, open up new avenues of funding, and open up the possibility of future partnerships.

We would like to take a moment to acknowledge these indiviudals for their hard work – Nicole Centi, Stephanie Thompson and Tia Yang, thank you so much for all of the time and effort you have put into developing a marketing plan for ILO. We look forward to putting these plans into motion. To all of our readers, please join us as we share with you the ways in which we intend to implement the valuable advice that these college students provided us.

Marketing

As mentioned, one of ILO’s key goals going forth is to increase the visibility of our organization; the interns immedietly recognized the importance of this goal, and put into place a plan to “ get the word out to the public about the positive impact that ILO will have in communities around the D.C. area”, with the aim to “build awareness of the organization, as well as the community of individuals with disabilities, and what their lives can be when afforded independence.”

The comprehensive marketing plan included (among many other things) identifying a target audience (individuals with disabilities, their family, friends and members of the special needs community), and ensuring that this audience has access to the information that they need in order to get in touch with ILO. Our interns noted a number of ways to get our message out to the public, including developing a website and building a strong social media presence. As our organization is primarily devoted to facilitating networks and helping our self-advocates build communities for themselves, the interns recommended that we show the public exactly what we are accomplishing, through the use of videos, pictures, etc.

Well, here at ILO we are hard at work putting these plans into motion! Our website is currently under construction, and is projected to be completed by the end of July. Following the websites completion, we will be implementing our social media strategy, and building a presence on a number of different platforms. ILO’s website will also feature a weekly blog (similar to M&L’s blog), which will cover topics related to special needs communities and independent living. We will also be working on the other recommendations in the marketing plan – including developing videos that show all individuals with disabilities how rewarding it can be to join ILO, and take the first steps towards independent living.

If you would like to be kept in the loop regarding ILO’s progress with our website and social media, please subscribe to M&L’s blog. We will be posting regular updates. If you would like to help us get the word out, then please feel free to share this blog with any and all of your family members, friends, colleagues. As always, contact us with any questions and/or suggestions you may have – we love to hear from our readers!

Fundraising

Another key element of ILO’s future success is to build a strong fundraising platform; this is imperative to create a sustainable model to achieve the goal that ILO will continue in perpetuity. The team of interns identified a number of fundraising options for ILO, including hosting fundraising events (i.e. 5k run), signing up to a crowd-funding platform such as Indiegogo or Fundly, or by seeking grant opportunities. In addition to the mentioned fundraising options, the board and the founder have angel donors who are anxious to hear how they can help. The goal is to present ILO’s model to the angel donors this fall.

Here at ILO, we feel that these are all excellent opportunities to both raise funds and increase the visibility of ILO. We are currently looking into various crowd funding platforms and grant opportunities to see which would be the right fit for ILO; and, as ILO’s spearhead (and owner/founder of M&L) Maedi Tanham Carney CFP®, CWIC has been known to run a kilometer or two, the 5k sounds especially appealing! In the short term, however, we will be looking at ways to create partnerships with the possibility of contributing to and benefitting from an ongoing fundraising campaign. In the long term, we will definitely be looking to create our own fundraising opportunities – so, stay tuned to see what we come up with!

Corporate Sponsorship

The last of the three key focus points in ILO’s recommended marketing plan was to develop a list of potential strategic partnerships, and to then pursue a partnership with one of these identified corporate sponsors. According to the National Council of Non-Profits, “Corporate sponsorship is the financial payment by a business to a nonprofit to further the nonprofit’s mission, that is generally accompanied by an acknowledgment that the business has supported the nonprofit’s activities, programs, or special event.”

So, why are corporate sponsorships important, and how can they benefit ILO? Well the answer, (according to the interns) is simple: “Brands in the non-profit sector exist to make a positive impact. However, to make a real difference, they need support. To achieve their desired goals, non-profit brands often rely on corporate partnerships to help them expand their presence in the marketplace and gain visibility, much needed funding, and access to a broader donor base. When successful, these partnerships can ultimately lead to lasting change in the world.”

The team of interns noted that a diversified portfolio of partnerships is essential to the sustained ability of ILO to achieve its mission; they did note that there are a number of things to consider before entering into a partnership, however. First and foremost, the partner must have a capacity for partnership, i.e. sense of community, commitment, and access to resources. The capacity of collaboration must be considered as well as how the partnership can be mutually beneficial. Above all, they stressed that a partnership must be maintained once it is formed, by establishing clear procedures so that all parties can share in the success of said partnership.

As with the other recommendations, ILO will be working towards forming partnerhips with corporate sponsors as well as like-minded organizations in order to achieve our goal of increasing community based living opportunities for individuals with disabilities. If you would like to discuss the possibility of becoming a partner with ILO as we work towards this goal, please let us know! And, again, we ask that you please share this blog with any and all of your family, friends and colleagues.

Would you like more information, or are you interesting in joining the ILO movement?

Thank you all so much for taking the time to visit our blog today! As always, we encourage you to contact us with any feedback you may have, whether it be suggestions, commentary, questions, or requests for topics to be featured on our blog. If you would like more information on ILO, please take a moment to browse through all of our blog posts on the topic.

If you are interested in joining ILO and becoming a part of our growing network of families with disabilities, please contact us. The next installment of the New Futures Initiative™ training is tentatively scheduled for February of 2016 – we have a wait list just waiting for you to add your name! If you are interested in helping us with our fundraising efforts, or would like to pursue a partnership with ILO, then please let us know! We would love to hear from you.

Thanks again for dropping by – hope your weekend is fantastic!

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