by LEAH LEWIS
Ten years ago, I took on my first position as director of public service at a radio station. The station manager chuckled and told me that I had my work cut out for me as Missoula has more nonprofit organizations per capita than the city of San Francisco.
I have yet to actually find evidence to prove this statistical claim, however I think we all know that our small city is a hotbed for all sorts of dot orgs. From the Flagship Program that keeps kids engaged and motivated during those crucial after school hours to The Humane Society of Western Montana that keeps our four legged friends healthy and safe.
Clean water, healthy kids, terminally ill patients, home bound seniors there are many causes that tug at our heartstrings and get us to roll up our sleeves or open our wallets to help out.
Over the last year, our locally owned Montana Radio Company started a program along with the MSO Hub to support and showcase some of our favorite nonprofit organizations. Becky Smith, co-owner of the Montana Radio Company, Kim Johns from the MSO Hub and I decided we could target specific organizations.
We wanted to help them market their events or fundraisers or create some targeted visibility for those groups that are continuously and quietly working everyday to make our community a better place.
Featuring a downtown window display, a targeted radio ad campaign and an in-depth on-air interview, The Community Kindness Project was created.
Tammy Bodlovic of Missoula’s Flagship Program saw a measurable increase in awareness of their annual Fiesta For Flagship fund-raising event and awareness of the critical youth prevention program in general.
“Creating the store window was a lot of fun and the radio ads were excellent!” Bodlovic summarized in her Community Kindess re-cap. “To have the support of a partnership from a prominent downtown business gave a new perspective to potential supporters and volunteers.”
We are wrapping up our first year of Community Kindness and we learned some lessons along the way. There will be some minor changes, some scheduling adjustments, some re-working as we head into a second successful year of showcasing our amazing and tireless organizations in Missoula and the Bitterroot Valley.
However, our companies feel great knowing that we have provided something valuable and meaningful to the organizations that mean so much to our families and neighbors.
By working together we accomplished more than we imagined working alone. I would like to see more of that happen within our non-profit community. As budgets get cut and grants go away we should step back and look around at who we can help and who can help us.
It is a very real fear that we could see some nonprofit organizations cut back this year. Not just community aid and outreach but also the crucial jobs they provide for many of our friends and neighbors. I ask all of us in our nonprofit circle to look around and see what we can do to share and support each other.
Chances are you are involved in a non-profit. Either as a employee, volunteer, client or donor. Think about starting the conversation of working together with other groups that share your goals and vision at your next board meeting or fundraiser. We never imagined that a store and a radio station could work together so successfully, who knows what the next great partnership could be?
Leah Lewis is public service co-coordinator for The Montana Radio Company in Missoula.