Nellie Mae Education Foundation

The Nellie Mae Education Foundation (NMEF) is a educational foundation with a focus on promoting student-centered approaches to learning in public schools across New England. In order to better reach their audiences, NMEF had been moving in the direction of a more integrated, broad-based web presence, including the development of a new website. The foundation was looking for guidance around smartly developing their social and new media communications programs, in conjunction with the launch of their new website. Echo & Co. came on board to do a thorough digital assessment of the Foundation’s existing digital assets and program, and make strategic recommendations for strengthening them in the future.

We began the digital assessment by taking stock of all of the online tools the Foundation was currently using, including email, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. One of the key elements of our digital assessment program is the combination of quantitative and qualitative analysis that we do, in order to get a holistic picture of an organization’s online program. With NMEF, we found that their email traffic, while somewhat infrequent, was getting great open rates and click through rates, indicating that their audience was interested in what the Foundation had to say. Social media was being updated regularly, but posts were often clumped together and audience engagement was low. Overall, the Foundation had a lot of interesting stories to tell, and an audience that was eager to learn about what the Foundation and its grantees were working on, but wasn’t always delivering content aligned with the audience’s interests.

Coming out of our digital assessment process, we developed a set of recommendations that NMEF could use to build a more robust online communications and engagement program. The recommendations covered ways to improve engagement using platforms and tools that the Foundation was already active on, as well as some suggestions for new ways for NMEF to effectively engage with its audience. Finally, we helped the Foundation’s leadership think about ways to effectively staff and allocate resources towards some of these new and reinvigorated initiatives.

Throughout the process, we worked closely with the Foundation’s Communications team, interviewed staff and grantees, and met with a wide swath of the Foundation’s leadership team, in order to get a good sense of the priorities and interests of the Foundation and its grantee population. Out of this we built a series of recommendations that fit with the Foundation’s mission and capacity, and will help NMEF to better spread the wealth of information and powerful stories being generated every day in the schools and programs that they work with.

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