Overview

Client: Operation Exodus

Operation Exodus is a nonprofit organization offering educational services for Hispanic children and families who live near or below the poverty line in certain neighborhoods of New York City. The organization turned to Red Rooster Group for marketing consulting services that would help raise its profile, expand its reach, and increase donations.

Challenge

As a result of the persistent violence and lack of academic challenges in area schools, Luis Iza Jr., a businessman and Sunday school teacher, joined with parents from a Latino church to establish Operation Exodus. Its mission was “to inspire students in poor neighborhoods of NYC to achieve goals that no one expects them to reach, through tutoring and mentoring programs.”

Today the organization operates two sites in Washington Heights and Inwood, offering K – 12th grade children a range of educational programs. Exodus has become a home away from home for many of the students, rather than just a place to study and learn. However, in order to sustain its programs and operations, Operation Exodus needed to raise its profile and increase donations. At the time, the organization did not have a cohesive way of coordinating communication with its various audiences and, therefore, was unable to leverage the good work it did in the community.

Marketing Strategy

The Process

We collaborated closely with a small committee at Operation Exodus so we all could understand the organization’s history, services, issues, and challenges, and to develop a viable plan that they could realistically execute. We worked with their team through a series of meetings over four months, reviewing our work with them at every stage of the process to get their feedback and ensure that all parties were aligned.

Marketing Audit, Competitor & SWOT Analyses

As a foundation for addressing Operation Exodus’ marketing challenges, it was important for Red Rooster Group to validate the current situation and identify gaps within the context of the organization’s vision. To do so, we conducted the following research:

Marketing Audit

The Marketing Audit reviewed all of Operation Exodus’ existing communications including brochures, presentations, campaign letters, and volunteer handbooks. The audit also included a review of the website and social media platforms, analyzing participant surveys and reports from the organization’s donor base. We also conducted a site visit in order to experience its work first hand. Tips for improving the facilities were put forward as ‘quick wins.’

Competitor Analysis

To understand the other supplemental educational programs in the area, we conducted a competitive landscape review that gave us powerful insights for presenting Operation Exodus effectively.

SWOT Analysis

The findings from both the Marketing Audit and Competitor Analysis were summarized in the form of a SWOT Analysis that provided Operation Exodus with a complete picture of the current situation, from Strengths and Weaknesses to Opportunities and Threats.

Marketing Goals

Based on our understanding of the organization’s needs, we developed the following marketing goals:

  • Expand reach into ‘at risk’ communities.
  • Increase overall amount of donations from individuals.
  • Maintain a steady stream of qualified and motivated volunteers.
  • Establish a partnership for Operation Exodus’ third site, which was set to open in 2013, and discover two to three new potential venue partners in 2014.

Marketing Strategies

To achieve these goals, Red Rooster Group recommended a number of strategies:

1. Refine the mission and ensure shared understanding among all audiences.

To align better with Operation Exodus’ vision and goals, Red Rooster Group proposed that the Mission Statement be stronger and more reflective of the intent to become a force for positive change in communities. Given Operation Exodus’ grounding as a religious organization, Red Rooster Group also recommended that consideration be given to the role of religion in the mission and to the organization’s definition of success. We proposed that the approved Mission Statement be consistently executed across all media so that it was readily understood by all stakeholders.

2. Increase brand awareness and recognition among donor base.

Recognizing the need to raise Operation Exodus’ profile, Red Rooster Group proposed that the organization refine its brand positioning in order to clarify its important and distinctive benefits and values, and to define the organization’s ‘personality’ in order to set the tone and feel for future communications.

Other tactics proposed for this strategy included:

  • Developing brand ambassadors among the professional staff, board members and volunteers.
  • Establishing relationships with other nonprofit organizations in the community.
  • Creating corporate sponsorship opportunities.
  • Building the brand among Operation Exodus students and parents from their first encounter with it.
3. Improve community building, outreach, and engagement with all audiences.

We recommended a variety of outreach tactics:

  • Improving the website to better convey the organization’s mission and its impact in the community.
  • Revisiting the objectives of existing social media platforms and optimizing them as real tools for engaging with key audiences.
  • Producing fundraising events specifically capitalizing on the 25th anniversary of Operation Exodus.
  • Building relationships with the media and potential program partners.
  • Initiating a matching program to pair donors with specific students and classes.
4. Develop a more robust, targeted communications program.

To help Operation Exodus improve the effectiveness of its communication with donors, parents, potential staff, and partners, Red Rooster Group put forward a number of ideas for targeted communications. These included developing a more professional organizational brochure for donors, establishing quarterly newsletters for students and adults, and developing campaign mailings for existing and new donors.

5. Improve the organization’s internal marketing capability.

Our ultimate goal was to leave Operation Exodus with a stronger ability to handle its ongoing marketing needs. To that end, we recommended improvements to their systems and processes including:

  • Automating the system for managing tutors, volunteers, and students.
  • Streamlining the students’ application process.
  • Developing more detailed surveys for assessing the satisfaction level of volunteers.
  • Implementing a database system and improving data capture for all audiences to increase donor giving levels.

Marketing Plan

As the next step in this process, Red Rooster Group developed an 18-month Marketing Calendar that provided overall strategies and specific tactics to reach key audiences within the organization’s budget. The plan outlined the tactics for accomplishing the goals, parties responsible, and costs — all on a month-by-month basis. To help Operation Exodus implement these recommendations, we created a Google Doc spreadsheet that the organization could use on an ongoing basis.

Results

As a result of this process, Operation Exodus now has a comprehensive understanding of its needs and a robust marketing plan for addressing them. Equipped with specific marketing strategies and tactics, the staff now have the road map for achieving their goals, including the creation of a working document that is already being put to use. The implementation of our plan was the first step in major changes for the organization as it matured and evolved in the way it operates. Red Rooster Group’s services provided a solid foundation for the future of Operation Exodus, and set the organization on a path of growth and success.

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