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Thursday, January 22, 2015

Meet the Teams: Communications

You may have noticed an increase in communications-related work within Family Development during the last couple of months. We're happy to announce that Family Development has heightened its focus in the area of communications and that a new Family Development Communications Team has been formed.

What Does the Communications Team Do?

An effective communication strategy takes a multi-level approach. As you probably have experienced first hand, just because you've created a new curriculum or developed a new workshop, there's no guarantee it will draw customers.

Our communications team is set up to help those of you on program area and project teams approach your communications and marketing work at different levels: annual planning, constituent relationship management, media relations, marketing resources and tools, staff development, and staff communication.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

No Work Is Insignificant

This week's guest columnist: Mary Marczak. 

“No work is insignificant. All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence.”
― Martin Luther King, Jr.

In the wake of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, I’ve been thinking how his words ring true for our work at the Center for Family Development. We go about our work every day to “uplift humanity.”

From Fresh Spectrum's 6 Logic Model Cartoons.
Some of us might say, “Isn’t it good enough that we are doing good work and have good intentions?” To those who invest millions of dollars to support our work, the answer is “No. You need to show that our investment is making a difference — that it’s having an impact on the health and well-being of our children, families and communities.”

But that puts us all in a conundrum. It’s difficult showing impact when we are mostly addressing complex, interconnected “wicked problems” So, how can we meet this challenge? One way to better demonstrate our impact under these conditions is to tell a collective story of our combined efforts. As I write this blog, Family Development is involved with three major collective impact-story telling efforts:

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

And the Award Goes to . . .

Dear colleagues,

Sunday evening I watched the Golden Globes, in which George Clooney reflected on winners and losers. Addressing his show business colleagues, he said, “Four out of five of you don’t win. Literally 80 percent of the people in this room don’t win. [But] if you are in this room, you’ve caught the brass ring. You get to do what you’ve always dreamed to do and be celebrated for it, and that just, it ain’t losing.” Well said.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

We’re in This Together

This week's guest columnist: Renee Obrecht-Como.

Between Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve, it seemed that every organization to which I have contributed anything in the past decade — time, money, a good word — had one purpose: Send an email each day declaring that time was running out to make a tax-deductible contribution before 2014 was over. How much did I donate during that week? $0. I’m simply not the target audience for these end-of-year donation pleas: deducting charitable contributions does not reap tax benefits for my household.

The annual deluge of emails asking for donations always sets me thinking about fundraising. This isn’t surprising, given that Health and Nutrition’s fiscal wellness is a major focus of my work. This year, my mind turned not only to fundraising but also to volunteering, program partnerships, and employee engagement. What do these have in common? Relationships. All demand strong relationships, forged through identification, satisfaction, trust, and commitment, in order to succeed over the long term.

Monday, December 22, 2014

What Are You Searching For?

Dear colleagues,

Google: Trending Searches 2014
See all the top charts here.
This is the time of year when the "lists" for 2014 come out. I was intrigued by Google’s most searched words of 2014. The most frequent searches reflect hope, fear, compassion, and fun. They also reflect our role as global citizens.

Google also breaks down searches by category into sub-lists such as people, actors, actresses, beauty, celebrity pregnancies, diets, donations, losses, major league baseball, and selfies. What fascinated me about these sub-lists is the obsession with "famous people," especially actors and athletes. Are we simply curious about their lives? Or do we strive to be more like them? How does knowing more about famous people change our behavior or improve our personal or professional lives?

As we approach a new year, I challenge you to review and reflect on your own most frequent search queries for 2014. Maybe you keep an “internal log” of your searches in your head. If you need help, though, you can look up your most recent Google searches on this web page site:

You may not have web history turned on for your U of M account (which is probably a good thing), but you may have it “engaged” on your home computer or personal Google accounts. Once you have accessed your search history, ask yourself what your queries say about you and your work in 2014. Chances are your searches reflect research for projects you’re working on and on topics covered in your classes or workshops. That’s all good, but were your searches targeted to what you planned to accomplish in 2014? Or did you get off track from time to time?
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