Articles & Resources About Budgeting & Money

Budgeting and MoneyWhat do budgeting and money have to do with marketing and messaging?


Below you'll find valuable information and strategic advice on how to use marketing to advance your organization’s financial goals, and how to budget for your different marketing needs.

16 LOW- and NO-Cost Ways to Market Your Blog

Marketing your blog doesn’t have to be a high-cost adventure.  In fact, taking advantage of each of your organization’s touch points offer a number of low- and no-cost opportunities to market your blog.  Here are a few ideas to get you started!

  1. Insert the blog URL into your email signature. It’s simple, but you’re looking to build the blog into your comprehensive marketing approach. Keep in mind that by inserting your blog URL into your email different audiences will get a glimpse of your blog.
  2. And…integrate your blog into ALL of your operations. Beyond including a link to your blog in your email signature, include the URL on all organizational communications, meeting agendas (“Let’s continue to keep the lines of communications open—follow ABC Organization’s blog at!”), business cards, outgoing voicemail messages, and more.
  3. Put a sign in your organization’s/school’s office window or announcements area (or bulletin board) to promote your blog.
  4. Include a blog link and a call-to-action in everyone’s email signature file. Make sure that you can change these signature file URLs centrally.
  5. Have a sign-up sheet at your organization’s/school’s meetings to collect email information by hand. Don’t forget to simultaneously gain permission to contact signees.
  6. Create a handout for visitors/meeting attendees using a few of your best how to articles as a take one in your place of business.
  7. Identify a volunteer of the week and promote them using your blog. Recognizing volunteers is also a great way to retain volunteers!  Provide background information about why the person was selected—this individual and their friends will certainly share this announcement via their social media and email channels. (Just remember to get people’s permission.)
  8. Promote the blog via customer service using mentions on written emails and phone hold messages.
  9. Include a blurb about your blog on customer facing materials.
  10. Ask partners to promote your blog. PTA, boosters, business partners…and, remember this should be a two way street. You need to offer to help their promotion efforts in return. Coordinate efforts!
  11. Make a decorative sign promoting your blog and its URL. Hang it in a critical area with a lot of traffic like a conference room or, even, the restrooms.
  12. Place a computer in a public place in your location so customers can check out your blog and register for emails.
  13. Write a column for a local newspaper that helps build interest in your product and your expertise. For example, an “Ask the Principal” feature can answer readers’ questions. Include a mention of your blog in your column bio with a link back to your blog.
  14. Work with a local business. For example, you can offer a series of talks or demonstrations related to your organization’s offering and use the opportunity to promote the blog through their communications channels.
  15. Offer to help one or more of your local houses of worship and cross promote your blog through their communications vehicles.
  16. Use other tools creatively to promote your organization/school. Ifyouspend a lot of time in your local Starbucks, why not put a URL with an attention getting sign on your computer so people see it as they pass by?

We like to give credit where credit’s due, and inspiration from this blog post was drawn from Heidi Cohen’s “24 Ways to Promote Your Blog With NO Budget, NO Time & NO Resources”.  Read the full blog here.

Best Practices and Tips for Districts Communicating New SB1404:School Property-Civic Center Act Fees

I had the recent opportunity to develop a presentation and handouts for a client regarding California SB1404: School Property-Civic Center Act, which, in September 2012, the California State Legislature approved amendments to the Civic Center Act (more information about SB 1404 can be found here.)

With SB 1404 approved, your district is eagerly anticipating new revenue to fund facilities’ repairs from the new direct fees that will be charged to its facilities users.  New policies and fees have been approved by the board, new forms have been developed, and…wait…how did you communicate the new fees to your facility users?  Here are a few tips and practices to remember when considering the smooth implementation of your district’s new fees.

One very important thing I cannot emphasize enough is, communicating early and often, and including stakeholders in the process, will help in retaining and maintaining these critical relationships with your district’s community partners!  This is so important when communicating new fees to your district’s stakeholders.  So, here are some tips to help ease the transition of implementing new fees for your district’s facilities.

Timing Matters

Chances are, your facility users are already collecting their own fees for their programs…based on last year’s fees (unless your district already notified them of the new fees earlier this year).  They based their budgeting and communications on last year’s fees, and approaching them with information about your new fees, now, would put a huge monkey wrench into their operations.  Or, perhaps you are still in the process of developing new fees—your users should be aware that there are changes on the horizon so that they can plan accordingly.  Considering that these users have been and continue to be your district’s partners, consider developing and implementing a communication plan—based on both your district’s timelines for adopting the new fees, as well as a timeline that takes your facilities users’ timelines into consideration—for informing your current and future facility users not only about the fees, but also educating them and including them in the process of developing the new fees.

Relationships Matter

Your district’s community has and will continue to be comprised of the people who your district relies upon to approve facilities bonds and parcel taxes…so, when your district develops new fees on the very buildings their tax dollars are helping to fund, make sure that you take care of your relationships.  One day, you will be approaching them about upgrading the same facilities (or building new ones), and seeking their approval of funding those upgrades.  So, when approaching communications about the new fees, highlight the following: “We are protecting your investment by incorporating fees that ensure that our community facilities are safe, in good repair and in good working order for youth and community activities.”

Educating Matters

When communicating about the new fees, include stakeholders early in the process—preferably before adopting new fees.

  • Hold meetings (either one on one or in larger groups, depending on the number of stakeholders) with representatives of existing facility users, community leaders/managers, and district staff who will be involved with implementing the new fees.  Notify your local media, as well.
  • Provide information about SB 1404, including an estimate of the amount of money your district has spent annually on funding the repairs from community use, and how the new fees can only be charged for direct costs and used toward direct costs related to users’ facility use.
  • Provide stakeholders with the information about how new fees will be calculated, along with an estimate of how much more their group will likely need to pay (pending board approval on new fees), if possible.
  • Obtain stakeholder input on the new fees, as well as any other input on your district’s facilities use permitting process (this is a great opportunity to obtain customer service feedback!).
  • Provide stakeholders information on how the new fees can legally be used (designated in a special fund for purposes described in SB1404).
  • Once the new fees have been approved, communicate the information (including the process) about SB 1404 and the new fees to stakeholders and the local media.

Need more assistance with communicating SB1404 or other changes in your district?  Contact me for more information about how we can work together to obtain, maintain, retain, and strengthen your district’s stakeholder relationships.

Congratulations! Your district passed a general obligation bond or parcel tax….now what?

Over the past few years, faced with huge budget reductions and increasing facility and operating costs, school districts across California successfully obtained approval from their local communities for general obligation bonds (GOB) or (and in some cases, AND) parcel taxes.

The bond funds provided much-needed financial resources to districts facing new, ongoing and other facilities and technology infrastructure costs, and the parcel tax dollars helped to stabilize certain areas of districts’ operating budgets.

Now that your district has the money….how are you going to ensure that tax payers not only know how their money was spent, but how their taxes resulted in positive outcomes for your district?  Furthermore…how will you ensure that the next time you reach out to voters isn’t to ask them to approve another bond or parcel tax–but you approach them before you make this request?

Continue Reading