Following are some tips on how to enhance the effectiveness of your organization. Comments, suggestions, and questions are welcomed.

  • How To Get In The Paper
  • The Power Of A One-On-One Meeting
  • A Survey Can Tell Us How Our Organization Is Doing

How To Get In The Paper

Do you want to get information about your organization in the paper, but don’t know how? Grab a copy of the paper and check out the different sections as you read through these suggestions.

Eric Cravey, the Managing Editor of Clay Today shared tips on how to get in the paper at a workshop this spring. For those who weren’t able to attend, here are some of the suggestions he shared with us.  There are several places in the paper that your organization’s information might fit:

The Community Calendar of upcoming events includes fundraising and church events, governmental meetings, special guest speakers and more.  Include CALENDAR ITEM in the subject line of the email when submitting to Eric.

Community Briefs and InSpirit Briefs is where you may be able to get information out to the community about services you offer or projects you are working on. Send an email to Eric with two to five paragraphs that summarize your news and include a contact name, phone number, and email that readers can use to get more information.

Business Briefs is the way that Clay Today strives to connect readers with the business community. Contact Eric to get a copy of the Business Briefs form which makes it easy for a business to submit their information.

Write a Letter to the Editor as a way to promote conversation in order to ignite a debate, promote change, or just share your views. These must be on Clay County topics, no more than 450 words, and you need to sign your name.

The Guest Column is an excellent way for a community leader to speak to the community without the filter of a reporter. These can be 400 to 650 words, and probe any local topic. Usually they highlight important initiatives going on in their organization or offer insight into issues and events that significantly affect the community.

Good Deeds is a way to share and get recognized for what you did. Send in your who, what, when, where, and why along with a photo to Eric in an email with GOOD DEEDS in the subject line.

Don’t be self serving. Tell the story of those you serve. Use specific and plain language. When submitting information make sure to include ‘who, what, when, where, and why’. Submit photos, but don’t have a lineup of smiling people facing straight into the camera holding a piece of paper. Have people stand sidewise. Better yet, capture the action of what’s going on.

Send your request to Eric Cravey via email ( He gets lots of emails so make sure that the subject is very clear about your request. If you don’t hear back within a day then call him. (904) 579-2151

Know the publication schedule for the paper and submit information way in advance of the event. For example, cut off for the Thursday publication is Tuesday. However, it is extremely unlikely that waiting until Monday or Tuesday that you’ll get in that edition or even the next one. The layouts are done a week in advance.

Mike Ford, a staff writer with Clay Today attended our August Shaping Clay meeting and gave us very valuable advice on how to get the word out about our organizations. He emphasized that information in and of itself, is not transformative. In order to build community we need to strike a chord, to tell a compelling story that people will relate to. He encouraged us to capture and share stories of those we have helped. As nonprofits we don’t offer products like chairs. Rather we provide services that change lives. Clay Today is not there to promote us, but can help by sharing stories of those we’ve helped.

If you want to be in the paper, then you may want to read the paper. It’s a great source of what’s going on in Clay County. And what a deal! A full year’s subscription is only $34; an amount that should fit into most organization’s  budgets.

The Power Of A One-On-One Meeting

There are many great networking meetings in our county. Do you collect handouts and business cards that sit on your desk until thrown out? Or do you contact people that you met and schedule a one-on-one meeting to explore the nuts and bolts of how you can collaborate?

cropped-shaping-clay-logojpg2Attending Shaping Clay and other networking meetings is a great way to find other individuals and organizations that you might like to work with. But to identify ways to collaborate, it starts with getting to know each other. And a one-on-one meeting can be a great beginning.

These are informal meetings, which could be at a place of work or over coffee at a Panera or Starbucks. Once you start having them regularly you’ll experience their power. At the end of each week set up a one-on-one for the following week with someone that you’d like to get to know.August 2015

It’s really important that the conversation is balanced, so that each gets a chance to share. It is not a marketing meeting for you to dump all over the other person and then run. Encourage the other person to start by asking some leading questions.

You’ll get more out of these meetings if you go in with the perspective of finding out –

How can we advocate for each other?

If one-on-one meetings are new to you, here are a few questions to get you started.

  1. Tell me about your organization?
  2. Who do you serve? How can I help you reach them?
  3. What’s an example of a success story that I could share with others?
  4. Are those you serve provided with the opportunity to give back?
  5. Who do you presently collaborate with? Who would you like to collaborate with?
  6. Where does your support come from?
  7. What resources do you need?
  8. What challenges do you face?
  9. Do you respond to crisis (quick), chronic (ongoing), or both needs?
  10. How do you get the word out about your organization?

We’d love to hear about your experiences with one-on-one meetings whether you’re an old timer or newbie. What questions could we add or modify to the ones suggested above?

A Survey Can Tell Us How Our Organization Is Doing

When was the last time your organization took the pulse of how it was being viewed in the community? Is your mission being accomplished? Are resources being deployed effectively and efficiently?

Here’s a summary of results from a survey that Shaping Clay conducted in Feb 2015.

Feb 2015We sent a survey to all those who have been involved in Shaping Clay over the past 4 years. We received a lot of great feedback and want to share some of the highlights from those that responded.

The overall message that came through was the benefit of networking, of finding out what other organizations are doing and exploring if there are opportunities to collaborate. Here are the results from 2 of our survey questions.

How can Shaping Clay help your organization?

  • Facilitate formation of affinity groups.
  • More networking. More support from other nonprofits. More communication.
  • Networking, encouraging, collaboration, sharing ideas
  • I always find it very informative to hear from other organizations to take back that information.
  • I enjoy the networking and hearing the latest news/events etc. of all of the organizations. The educational piece (guest speakers and/or hearing best practices from group members) is also a very important resource.
  • Very interested in what the nonprofits are doing in Clay County.
  • Wonderful collaboration of ideas and direction toward available resources. Also helps our organization plug in further in the community by being able to help other organizations.
  • Getting the word out about community-area groups and project. Bringing community groups together for shared activities.
  • Networking/Sharing
  • Keep hosting meetings.
  • I am meeting other companies and organizations.

What are your ideas for meeting topics?

  • What services do our members provide? Are any services duplicated? If so, how can we consolidate these services? This would allow expansion to provide new services.
  • Professional development in leadership skills, managing volunteers, discussion on fundraisers and the challenges and successes that come with the different types
  • Any pertinent information that would be helpful to any non-profits.
  • Group members share recent best practices and lessons learned. Corporate/business and nonprofit partnerships (success stories maybe with a panel of business owners who support local nonprofits and why that is important to them). The new Florida Nonprofit Alliance (advocacy is important now more than ever)
  • Continuing community-oriented conversations. What do members see as the key issues facing our community that they’d like to address and key resources underutilized?

Feb 2015 MtgWhile the survey results were tallied, we still want your ideas for ways that Shaping Clay can grow and support the nonprofit organizations within Clay County. We want to make sure that our meetings provide value – a place to learn, network, and guide us all to turn ideas into action.

If you’d like to see the entire survey results contact one of us on the Shaping Clay Team.