The same goes for fundraising. Right now, sites are usually pretty free to work on their own corporate relationships, grow their own direct-mail and e-mail lists, and attract donors in ways that are best received by their individual communities. There are no plans to stifle that individuality, Gordon says, but the organization is looking toward consistency across the sites, hoping to develop a fundraising strategy that is “75 percent consistent across the country, but 25 percent unique.”
“I think we always have to have an element of uniqueness because each community is a little different, and I’d also love to be able to incubate different ideas in certain communities so that the ones that do take off and become incredibly successful can be replicated across the footprint of all the City Year sites,” he explains.
Adds Franklin: “We’re now seeing from a communications perspective that the benefits of standardization are enormous, and they have been required due to [City Year’s] significant growth.
“It’s interesting that with nearly 20 sites, there’s a far higher caliber of communication — our brand manual is more thorough, is more exact, and our templates are more explicit — than we had with seven sites,” she adds. “So as we’ve grown, it’s been necessary for us to be more clear and more centralized with some of these things. I think every site benefits from that … especially in regard to fundraising, but also in terms of logos and things like that. Now there’s a central source for all of our sites.”
From the outside, it looks like City Year faces quite a few challenges in its quest to raise money and move forward with its mission — ministering to two distinct groups of people (corps members and students in the schools they serve) and corralling 18 individual domestic sites, each with its own interests, personality and community issues, to name just a few.