CASA of Oklahoma County, Inc. Mission Statement: “To provide trained court appointed volunteers who advocate for the best interests of abused or neglected children in the juvenile court system.”
CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) of Oklahoma County (CASA of OK CO) mission is to provide trained court appointed volunteers who advocate for the best interests of abused or neglected children in the juvenile court system. While most of the time this means advocating for the best interests of the child in regards to a permanent home, our volunteers also advocate to make sure children get all of the services they need that are available through DHS, like tutoring, clothes vouchers, healthcare, etc.
In 2012-13, CASA of OK CO was experiencing uncertainty in financial support, volunteers numbers and the ability to serve children in the Oklahoma DHS system. The organization has had only one full-time Executive Director in their 25 years of serving Oklahoma County. The organization was also dealing with an old facility, potential loss of some corporate support (due to the corporate issues, not CASA of OK CO) and an overall lack of presence in the community. Also effecting the CASA of OK CO organization were changes in the court systems (drug, veteran and parental courts) and an overall extremely negative view an the DHS system by the general public.
- To grow the organization (volunteers, staff, influence)
- To serve more children
- Explain what CASA is/does (not a Spanish house) to the public
- To separate themselves from the unpopular DHS system and past CASA state office embezzlement scandals (in the public eye)
To meet these needs,CASA of OK CO needs to
- Attract qualified volunteers
- Secure additional funding for staff to support volunteers (CASA of OK CO employs one Case Manager for every 30 volunteers appointed to supervise, guide and support them)
- Create a clear, positive and DIFFERENT message from the current dark, negative messaging
Growth of Organization
- Set a goal of +12% increase in number of children served for first 18 month of new ad campaign (based on current capacity)
- +10% for every 12 months after that with regular review processes
- Increase volunteers by 12.5%
These increase can to be achieved via improved staffing (see below) efficiencies, utilization of the 25th anniversary year and new marketing message (see below) for increased community awareness of CASA and mission.
- Increasing Case Management staff levels
- Implementation of a fast track approach to current approach to case selection and management (pilot program) to achieve a blended case management strategy
- Set a goal to increase advocacy 50% of cases in OK CO Juvenile Court
Strategic Marketing, Branding and Communications
Create a new volunteer centered marketing campaign to be launched in first quarter 2014 that takes a clearly new approach to explaining the CASA of OK CO story and impact. Unlike the current dark campaign using b/w photography of abused and neglected (sad) kids on a black background with red lettering. Focus will be on volunteer recruiting and “telling the story” of CASA impact. Secondary campaign will be more fact driven approach for funding (large gift, corporate, foundations, funds, etc…)
Financial Growth and Stability
- Create and maintain funding opportunities via individual gifts, foundations, grants, event sponsorship and corporate support.
New Ad Campaign
- New positive visual presentation
- Real CASA of OK CO volunteers telling success stories, reasons they volunteer
- Each volunteer is holding a picture of an example child (can’t use the actual children in the program for privacy) that volunteer works with/for
- Each photo/video is in the juvenile courtroom to convey their role of being in the courtroom with each child who needs them.
- Use of real volunteer text along with new, more direct position text
- Incorporation of the national CASA campaign cutline “I Am For The Child”
- This campaign is consistent in the new approach across all advertising, printed materials, video, website, e-mail marketing and public relations. Always positive, focused on volunteers, the kids they server and how CASA of OK CO impacts children’s lives in the DHS system.
- Replacement of a broken, outdated website on a platform (WordPress) so staff can update and maintain without additional cost.
- Volunteer story focused
- How CASA works, why it’s important
- Visual ads and printed materials with new, high impact photos
- Videos (YouTube Channel)
- How To:
- Powerful information such as facts and figures via visual presentation (info-graphics) for impact, simplicity and sharing
- Social Media
- Same elements as above (photos, video, charts)
- Volunteer story and impact driven
- Promote events (before and after)
- Present data when appropriate
- United Way Presentations
- Public Relations
- Tell the volunteers stories and impact
- Promote events
- Become the positive voice for “the system” and how the public can improve it
- E-mail marketing to supplement the new CASA of OK CO website, social media and PR for minimal delivery cost
Growth of Organization
• Increasing Case Management staff levels
- Expand case management by two positions in the next year (one new full-time by September 2013 to apply for a National CASA expansion grant)
- Replace (retiring) part-time position with a full-time position to support CASA goal of case and supervisory consistency as well further increase service capacity
- Increase by 1 full-time employee between July / August 2013
- Reduce and transition cases to new full-time employee
- Increase advocacy in OK CO Juvenile Court
- Preventative services such as parental education, mentoring and mediation to keep cases from ever getting into the court system
- Help OKDHS manage overall case load. Increases in these efforts could mean a measurable reduction in out-of-home care. All of these approaches serve the “best interest” of children without increasing case load for CASA volunteers or DHS.
Financial Growth and Stability
- Develop direct communications plan for potential large donors (current and future) for Board and Executive Director
- Set increased expectations for Board for donor cultivation (percentage or numerical count)
- Identify best funding sources (individuals and corporate) for creating new donor list
- Examine existing funding sources vs. new funding source development for best opportunity to make increases
- Board to commit to increase funding goals by the amount necessary to serve another 12% of children in court system and/or commit reserve resources for:
- Human capacity
- Technology needs
- Target prospective board members who will commit bringing in new donors
- Funding from events like Energy For Children
- Diversify funding when possible
- Maintain a minimum 6 month reserve for CASA of OKCO, growing the same rate of program expansion
- Create an endowment for future sustainability (direct gifts, planned giving, matching funds, etc.)
CASA of OK CO hired The Golding Group for research, planning, development and execution of a new marketing campaign and internal structure changes in 2014. Additional budgeting was added for purchasing ad space, printing and other cost associated with the new ad campaign. CASA of OK CO relies heavily on PSA and non-profit rate ad placements and the use of special event sponsorships to keep marketing cost as minimal as possible.
Donations in 2014 were $1,372,656 which was $318,096 higher than 2013 donations of $1,054,560. That is a 23% increase in just one year by The Golding Group creation and implementation of the new marketing campaign. This equals $11+ more raised per each dollar spent in a 9 month period between March and December of 2014.
For the 9 months (of an initial 18 month campaign) of the new marketing campaign executed in 2014, donations increased by 23% and all other goal areas (children served, volunteers, cases managed) increased by 6%. This is right on track for the 12% increase over the 18 month campaign set by the CASA of OK CO Board of Directors at the halfway point.
CASA of OK CO has added two new paid positions thanks to increased funding and efficiencies created by this planning process. This will allow them to have more impact in the lives of children in DHS custody.
Public Relations opportunities have increased 20% over the previous year, with features in the Daily Oklahoman, 4 page feature in Slice Magazine (completely volunteer focused) and all local television stations. Event attendance and sponsorship as also at the highest level ever.
The 9 videos created by The Golding Group as part of this campaign have been viewed a combined 3 times more than the previous 10 combined videos on the CASA of OK CO YouTube channel. The staff and board have all received multiple compliments and positive comments on the new, positive marketing campaign. The development staff has added the new, positive marketing language to grants and foundation request as well.
Overall, the new position, marketing approach, structure and execution have proven to all have positive impact. We provided CASA of OK CO with a long-term, manageable campaign that is connecting with their primary supporters. We achieved (or are on track to) all goals set by the CASA of OK CO Board of Directors and Executive Director before the new campaign began. Economic support is way up and all other areas of focus are trending up as expected.