More and more funders are eager to use their communications programs to elevate the dynamic organizations they fund. At Change, we believe grantee storytelling can be a powerful tool to lift up the work organizers and advocates are doing to strengthen our communities.

The funder partners we work with are focused on supporting power-building and growing movements that advance racial justice. One leading example is Akonadi Foundation. For 24 years, Akonadi Foundation has funded Bay Area’s racial justice movements to eliminate structural racism and build a racially just Oakland. They shared their interest in elevating grantee stories to spotlightt the groundbreaking work organizations are leading throughout Oakland.

Working closely with the Akonadi team and grantee partners, Change Consulting’s digital team develops social media, blog, and email content ont the foundation’s grantee partners, telling their stories, discussing their approaches to power building, and celebrating their wins.


All In For Oakland Blog Series 

To uplift Akonadi Foundation’s All in for Oakland grantee partners, we helped Akonadi launch a blog series spotlighting leaders from each of the fund’s grantee organizations to hear from them on power building, youth organizing, community safety, and healing. All in For Oakland is an Akonadi initiative to invest in people of color-led organizing, base-building, and policy advocacy to end the criminalization of Black youth and youth of color in Oakland.

The blog series came together from an initial idea to learn more from movement leaders. We wanted to understand how they are mobilizing communities and responding to recent concerns of community safety in Oakland with sustainable solutions like job and education opportunities, housing, and mental health resources instead of short-term, reactive tactics like increased policing.

To produce the series, Change interviews featured leaders to inform the spotlights using questions from Akonadi President Raymond Colmenar. The spotlights offer readers an opportunity to learn more about the grantees’ policy wins, challenges to pushing back against harmful narratives that call for increased policing, and use of ancestral and cultural practices to heal from systemic harms impacting Black, Indigenous, and people of color.

The blogs offer insight into what can happen when systems-impacted folks are at the center of solutions and come together to achieve major successes, such as closing youth prisons and removing police from Oakland Unified School District schools.

Together with the Akonadi team, we develop blog posts for the All in for Oakland series  monthly and share the stories via social media and email as well to make the most of their channels. Check out the entire series here, or view the latest blog post featuring Ella Baker Center’s Marlene Sanchez.


So Love Can Win Social Media Spotlights 

Akonadi Foundation’s So Love Can Win Fund (SLCW) provides grants to Oakland’s organizers, storytellers, culture bearers, and healers who are working to implement a collective vision of freedom and racial justice. To celebrate Akonadi Foundation’s 2023 So Love Can Win grantee partners, Change created 38 individual social media spotlights shared across Akonadi’s Instagram, LinkedIn, and Facebook accounts.

We started developing the spotlights by collecting information directly from grantee partners via Google Form which allowed each organization an opportunity to provide details about how the funding would further their work, highlight key accomplishments from the past year, and share photos. Each submission was used to create a social media graphic featuring the grantee with a direct quote, photo, and tags to their accounts where possible. From August through November, we released two or three posts  weekly.

2023 was our third year sharing individual social media spotlights for SLCW grantee partners, and we continue to hone and evolve our strategy each year. The individual spotlights are a fantastic way to ensure each grantee partner has its own shine, but that also means navigating a lot of content going out on Akonadi’s channels.

Here are a few things we’ve learned from the SLCW social media storytelling series that we will be keeping in mind as we gear up for their 2024 rollout.

  • Develop a consistent design – Our in-house designer created a set of SLCW templates all using a similar look and feel while keeping each visual fresh. We use a similar design for the SLCW application announcement as well, and the consistent design has created a recognizable sub-brand that compliments Akonadi’s overall branding and sets SLCW apart from the foundation’s other grantmaking.
  • Tailor content for each channel – As the algorithm on each channel is ever-evolving, a “one-size-fits-all” approach likely will not work even when sharing social media content from the same series or campaign. For example, LinkedIn engagement with the SLCW decreased as the weeks passed, while Instagram and Facebook remained consistent with particularly impressive engagement on Instagram. This year on LinkedIn, we’ll consider sharing one weekly post spotlighting two or three grantees versus individual posts for each.
  • Mix up the content – Overall, posts perform better on all platforms if there is other non-SLCW content shared in between spotlights. We continued to share events, blogs, and stories featuring non-SLCW grantee partners to ensure we had a good content mix.
  • Interact with grantee partners – Consistently, the posts with the highest engagement were those that received interactions from the featured grantee partners. Whether it was a comment or repost, when grantees amplify the posts to their own audiences, it creates authentic engagement. We’ll also consider coordinating collaborative Instagram posts this year with SLCW grantees that are active on the platform.

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