Encompass Community Services

A nonprofit organization dedicated to providing services to over 8,000 in-need youth and adults every year

The Challenge of Effective Communication

Encompass Community Services is the largest nonprofit organization in Santa Cruz, employing 500 plus staff, directing approximately 40 different programs, and serving over 8,000 Santa Cruz residents every year. Internal communication, as well as communicating to the public about the valuable services Encompass offers the community, has been an ongoing challenge for the 42 year-old organization.

My role with Encompass is to improve communication and collaboration between the 500 plus staff and keep the public engaged with the organization by creating, managing, and writing all copy for two monthly e-newsletters: one for staff and one for the public.

Improving Internal Collaboration

By working side by side with the CEO, we established a tone for the internal newsletter that was friendly and conversational yet still informative. We worked on her own personal voice as well, keeping it professional and authoritative but also accessible and approachable.

The organization's previous internal newsletter was created using Outlook, but I wanted to improve the design so that staff felt engaged with the valuable content, rather than overwhelmed by too much information. I worked with the IT department to set up a monthly transfer of their mailing list from Outlook to MailChimp and designed a simple template for the monthly campaign.

The new layout features an occasional message from the CEO (that I compose based off a monthly in-person interview) and several recurring sections divided up by bright images and informative sub-headers. The recurring sections are comprised of information compiled from department managers every month, that I edit and rework for readability.

At the end of each month, I compile a report that shows the open and click-through rate for that month's newsletter so we can accurately measure engagement and hone the messaging to improve readership.

Strengthening Community Ties

Encompass mails out a print newsletter twice a year to donors and other interested members of the community. This mailing list is small, however, and because of the newsletter's infrequency, many of the organization's smaller achievements and news goes untold.

I created an e-newsletter sign-up form through MailChimp for the Encompass website and Facebook page with the goal of growing their list. The first e-newsletter went out in September and resulted in a 40% open rate, almost twice the average open rate for other newsletters in the nonprofit sector. The increase in public awareness achieved through the e-newsletter will hopefully lead to more public participation and support of Encompass programs.

The public e-newsletter requires active management of the list on MailChimp, monthly meetings with the CEO to determine that month's content, and interviews with program managers for articles about each program's current activities.

I also provide a monthly analytics report for the public newsletter to measure and compare each campaign's open and click-through rate.

Screenshot of a section of the August 2016 public e-newsletter for Encompass. Click the image to see the full version.

Screenshot of a section of the August 2016 public e-newsletter for Encompass. Click the image to see the full version.