Yeah, Yeah, Yeah: The Beatles and Youth Marketing for Nonprofits

by Josh Jacobson
For real fans, February 9 is one of many dates in the history of Beatles that is etched into memory.  As you have no doubt heard at some point this past weekend, it was this day in 1964, fifty years ago, that the Beatles played the Ed Sullivan show.  The world would never be the same.

For me, it is one of several dates to celebrate (or mourn) related to my favorite band. There’s January 30, the date of the band’s final live performance in 1969 on the rooftop of the Apple building in London.  Or June 1, the date Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band was released in 1967 to an unsuspecting world audience.  And of course, December 8, the day John Lennon was murdered in 1980 outside the Dakota building on the Upper East Side of Manhattan.  That most of these events took place before I was born (I was too young to remember Lennon’s death) is besides the point – as a fan, I have committed them to memory.

StrawberryFieldsOne date that has a direct impact on my life is November 29, the evening in 2001 that George Harrison died.  I know this because it was a Thursday, and I had only just arrived at LaGuardia Airport for a vacation in NYC.  The following day, my friends and I happened upon a memorial for Harrison at Strawberry Fields, a section of Central Park devoted to celebrating Lennon, the other departed Beatle.  We spent three hours there singing and clapping along with more than 200 people as musicians played the entire catalog.  Leaving the area, exhausted and emotionally drained, I declared my love of NYC to the universe and vowed to relocate there as soon as I could.  And four months later, I did.

But back in 1964, when the Beatles arrived in America, no one knew the impact the band would have on generations of music fans, much less one very enthusiastic future consultant to nonprofits. The signs were certainly there – 300 screaming fans met the band at the airport, most of them children and teenagers who had been clued in to what was happening across the Atlantic by savvy radio DJs.  The Ed Sullivan appearance served to add gasoline to a fire that had been growing steadily for almost a year.

That night, 73 million people tuned in to hear the Beatles warble through songs that were all but drowned out by screaming fans in the studio.  It was the largest television event up to that point, constituting an incredible 45% of American households with televisions.

Looking back now, it may be easy to dismiss the achievement.  The show was certainly aided by the absence of competition, in the days when network television was the only option.  Popular music was largely homogeneous in the suburbs – it would be at least another decade before sub-genres like Rap, Alternative and Heavy Metal would fracture popular music, creating niches that informed the culture and style of devotees.

No, in 1964 the world was somewhat simpler, and reaching the lion’s share of teenagers in America was a fairly straight-forward equation.

Youth Marketing: A Missed Opportunity

teenagers“So, how is your nonprofit working to engage the youth market?”

Try asking that question of most nonprofit Executive Directors and watch the blank expressions.  This is an industry that is only just recently waking up to the opportunity of the Millennial generation, and “getting younger” largely means attracting the buy-in of people under 40 years old.

“The youth market? Are you kidding? Who has time for that?”

I’ll tell you who has time for that – any company that understands the importance of the youth’s influence on the spending of family members, and the vital role branding plays during these formative years.  Billions (and billions!) of dollars are spent annually by marketers attempting to influence the youth market, particularly the teen market.   Companies like Microsoft, Coca Cola and Toyota realize that “getting to them early” is critical to building affinity that can last a lifetime.

I find even large, established nonprofit organizations have fairly half-baked teen marketing plans, too often dependent on relationships with school districts.  Because of course, the best way to build brand affinity with teenagers is through school-based activities where participation is required (he said sarcastically).  Even the most well-known participatory organizations like the Boy Scouts tend to lose market share as children age into their teen years.

Marketing to teenagers certainly isn’t easy, but is it a potential blue ocean for nonprofits?  I think so, and consider it one of the myths of fundraising worth exposing.

Myth: Marketing to Youth Yields Poor ROI for NonprofitsBookCover

While unlikely to be a major tent pole strategy for most nonprofits (particularly small shops), a youth marketing plan should be an essential component of any development effort for a number of reasons:

  • Homogenous Population – Quick, what was your high school like?  I bet mine was fairly similar, as most are throughout the country over the past several decades.  Sure, popular culture is more fragmented than it was when the Beatles arrived in 1964, but teenage populations present a fairly clear blueprint – trends are defined by a handful of individuals within a much larger group of peers who seek to emulate their choices.

If only adult populations were so easy to understand! Identifying individuals to serve on your board of directors would be a much easier proposition without political affiliations, socio-economic disparities and career choices clouding the picture.  But not unlike your organization’s young donor society, the key to successful youth marketing is encouraging those who set trends to engage with your brand, and that isn’t going to happen without some groundwork.

  • Gatekeeper Relationships – Brand marketers target the youth for a very good reason – they drive sales.  While they may not have much disposable income themselves, youth are gatekeepers to their parents who buy their children the products they desire (or demand, depending on the teenager).

The pathway for nonprofits has been forged by participatory organizations like Girl Scouts.  Every winter, without fail, I would purchase ten boxes of Girl Scout cookies from the CFO of a past organization where I worked.  I did this because I felt it would somehow help me should I ever request a grant budget at the 11th hour.  Silly, sure, but such social pressure at work drives nonprofit revenue as effectively as any United Way workplace giving campaign.

One organization in Charlotte recently worked with, Hands On Charlotte, has seen a spike in recent years of interest in volunteerism by teenagers who must fulfill a set number of hours of community service in order the graduate.  A parent called them recently looking for opportunities that could be easily squeezed into an already busy social schedule.  She was very willing to pay a fee in order to make it possible for her teenager to accrue those hours – something around which your nonprofit might consider building a revenue strategy.

  • Lifelong Affinity –The things we love as children are likely to stay with us the rest of our lives.  Coca Cola knows that, which is why they seek to win teen preference in the lunch line of high schools across the country.  I am a Beatles fan because I stumbled on my parent’s collection of scratched-up albums when I was 12 or 13, and discovered them as if they were a secret known only to me.

At a party this past weekend at the home of a friend and colleague, I had a great conversation with a gentleman who was raised in the area.  In high school, he volunteered at the Carolina Raptor Center and developed a strong affection for their birds and the organization as a whole.  Now an adult and a banker in Charlotte, he returns with friends and relatives, and because of the lifespan of some raptors, can even visit some of the birds he helped as a teenager.  When the Center engaged that teenager as a boy, it is unlikely that donor cultivation was top of mind, but perhaps it should have been.

Engaging the youth market is a bit like establishing a planned giving strategy – another activity most nonprofits put off.  Nonprofits in need of near-term revenue are unlikely to prioritize teen engagement unless it can impact this year’s bottom line.  And so they miss opportunities to foster those relationships and find themselves forever in the hamster wheel.  But for the savvy nonprofit, it can be a differentiating strategy that has a lasting impact long after the end of the current fiscal year.

Three Questions to Consider this Week:

  1. How, if at all, do you currently engage the youth market? Are there opportunities to leverage latent connectivity to encourage deeper affinity?
  2. How can youth serve as a bridge to their 30-something and 40-something parents for your nonprofit, either as charitable donors or purchasers?  How does social media factor in to that engagement?
  3. How are the children of your staff and board encouraged to engage with your nonprofit?  Are they potential gatekeepers to their peers?

Image Credits: Featured Image (Alan Levine), Harrison Memorial (NYC Gov Parks), Teens (123RF – vlue)

“I Spent the Night in My Car” — Lessons in Crisis Response

by Josh Jacobson
As I sit here writing this, most Carolinians are waking up to bright sunshine and temperatures in the low 50s.  Our dog Miyagi is bouncing off the walls because she knows the mild weather will mean a long walk around the neighborhood.

What a nice change of pace after a January that saw some pretty dicey weather-related challenges.  While many of my former colleagues in the northeast would scoff at such a notion, the issue hasn’t been extreme temperatures (for comparison, it is currently 1 degree in Duluth, Minnesota), but how woefully under-prepared cities in the South are for sub-freezing weather.

Just last week, Atlanta learned the hard way how just a little bit of snow and ice could bring a city to its knees.  A near perfect storm of mistakes and miscalculations followed (pun intended), and for the better part of a week Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed and Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal were fixtures of the morning news circuit.  The most compelling stories came from commuters who were stuck on the freeway in their cars overnight, or who abandoned their cars and trudged 5-6 miles in the ice and snow to reach the warmth of civilization.  A public relations disaster, to say the least.

We are never fully prepared for a crisis when it hits, as it rips us out of whatever we were doing and demands our full attention.  But I find nonprofits are particularly susceptible to poor crisis response – I can’t tell you how rare it is to find any sort of crisis communication plan in place, or one that is dusted off occasionally to accommodate new advancements in communication (how does one handle a particularly awful review on Yelp?).

DeficitMost nonprofits are unlikely to experience the sort of negative attention that comes with a debacle like the response to the weather in Atlanta. However, most organizations will experience a different sort of crisis at least occasionally – the dreaded shortfall in the operating budget.  How your organization handles the situation says a lot about your leadership, integrity and management protocols.

When an organization realizes that it is unlikely to hit its revenue goals, or experiences unexpected expenses that threaten operations, donors too often hear about it from a third party or read about it first in the local newspaper.  Why keep your donors in the dark about your financial troubles – embarrassment? Aren’t these the same people you will look to engage to help you out of your current situation?  Before considering your statement to the public via media channels, think first of a strategy for communicating with those individuals, companies and foundations that make a difference to your bottom line, and consider the following communication points:

  • Take the Blame and Explain Why – Your donors support you because they care about your mission.  They are very likely to forgive whatever caused the current crisis – but they want and need to understand how and why it occurred.  While you may have carefully scripted language for the broader public, someone in your organization should step up and accept responsibility to the organization’s most influential stakeholders.  Meet in person or by phone with important donors and past board leaders to explain the current situation simply and with straightforward language.

I was quite impressed with how Cathy Templeton, Executive Director of the Community Arts Project in Cornelius, North Carolina, handled recent front-page coverage of her organization’s financial troubles. “The revenue streams we projected didn’t happen,” she noted, acknowledging that a recent move had a greater impact than anticipated. “We didn’t see ourselves as a start-up because we had been here for 15 years, but it was still more like a start-up than expected…” While other groups may have blamed the economy or other outside factors, she wisely saw good reason to level with the community about how the current crisis came to be. As a donor to their cause, I would want to know how we got to this point were I to contribute again.

  • Detail What You Have Learned – Acknowledging that mistakes were made is only meaningful if you follow that up by explaining how you will avoid making them in the future. Just like any investor, your donors will want to know that history will not repeat itself.  This needs to be more than just a talking point – if this happens again (and again and again), your donor community is unlikely to keep rallying to your cause.

Atlanta remains ill-equipped to deal with such weather emergencies, this despite the fact that the city experienced a similar snow-related crisis just three years ago.  The headlines from early January 2011 were eerily similar to ones from this past week.  Back then, the city responded by increasing the number of snow response equipment, but did not create a plan to avoid congestion on the freeway system.  The creation of such a plan was a central talking point for both Mayor Reed and Governor Deal, though neither seemed willing to take responsibility for this failing.

  • Show Genuine Gratitude – Surprise! Your donors are not obligated to bail your organization out when it finds itself in a financial crisis.  When a donor does decide to help you at your time of need, that individual deserves more than just a form letter detailing tax deductibility.  These individuals are clearly very devoted to your mission, and should be thanked personally for making a special effort.

I’ll never forget an interview I had with a major donor to a past client, who shook his head when I asked if he felt adequately acknowledged by the organization.  It was as if the organization came to expect the gift annually, and when the gift dipped slightly during the downturn, he felt as if he was letting the organization down – this despite more than a decade of significant investment!  Staff can sometimes get so caught up in their fundraising challenges, that they forget what amazing acts of charity such gifts are to a nonprofit’s cause.

Thankfully, nonprofit management is more often smooth sailing than choppy waters, but being prepared for the unexpected is essential.  I’d say more on this subject, but Miyagi really wants to go for that walk!

Three Action Steps for the Week:

  1. Do you have an crisis communication plan? If so, dust it off and consider areas in need of focus. If not, search the Internet for plans from organizations with similar missions.
  2. If a crisis were to hit, who are the top 10 donors you would contact personally? How about five past board members?
  3. If you are concerned with your own financial sustainability this fiscal year, how would you explain why it happened and what you would do differently in the future?

Image Credits: Featured Image (123RF – Robert Crum), Deficit (123RF – Bram Janssens)

Prospecting: Step One to Stronger Grant Submissions

The lure of grantsmanship is the intoxicating concept that your nonprofit can secure outsized investment by simply applying for it. Too many think of it like submitting a credit card application; based solely on the merits of your organization’s mission and impact, the grantmaking source will prioritize your project and reward it with a big check with many zeroes.

The fact is, this isn’t how it works. Grantmaking sources receive hundreds, if not thousands of submissions every year. The movement toward online submission processes has made it relatively easy for 501c3 organizations to submit applications and grantmakers are deluged with requests, many of which do not match giving guidelines. The likelihood that your proposal is carefully reviewed is relatively low given the number of applications that must be processed.

So what does this mean? Should you give up on the hope for grant funding? Of course not. But it does mean that you should do your homework and focus your energy on sources that are more likely to fund you. In Next Stage Consulting’s first installment in its five-part series, I’ll talk about prospecting for grantmaking sources.

Identifying Sources
It is an oft-asked question – “isn’t there a website where one can seek grant opportunities?”

The answer is “yes and no.” There are certainly websites, but they are rarely free. Some of the best sources are The Foundation Center and FoundationSearch, both of which offer access to searchable foundation profiles for a fee. My personal favorite is FoundationSearch, which is run by Metasoft, a Canadian company that operates as a for-profit business. The Foundation Center has a very good product as well, Foundation Directory Online, but I’ve found Metasoft does a good job of staying one step ahead of the competition.

In some communities, you may find that your local library provides access to foundation software. For example, the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library provides access to The Foundation Center at its Main Library branch and six satellite branches.

These are fairly comprehensive resources, but you might find that not all corporate sources of support are profiled. Some companies may have a community relations team that provides gifts and sponsorships, but do not operate under a 501c3. Still other foundations operate under the umbrella of your local community foundation, and do not report directly to the IRS.

To identify these and other sources, search engines like Google can be the best bet. Search for queries using your mission focus, geographic region and words like “gift,” “grant,” “allocation” and “award.” You may also want to look at the websites of organization similar to yours and seek out online annual reports that might give you an idea of sources you have not yet uncovered. If you are familiar with the IRS form 990, set up a free login with Guidestar.

Types of Sources
Grantmakers are likely to fall into one of three categories:

  • Corporate Foundations/Corporate Outreach – Some companies develop a separate 501c3 foundation to operate as a channel for grant making. These are typically large companies that want to separate gift making from sponsorships, where they are likely to receive sponsor recognition in return. Most companies do not have a foundation, though they may also allocate gifts to support causes. Corporate foundations will often have a designated contact along with a board of directors. Companies without a foundation will designate a Director of Corporate Communications, External Relations, or Corporate Outreach to be the initial contact. In both cases, internal contacts at high levels of the company have the ability to introduce projects for support, and overlap with sponsorship efforts are common.
  • Process Foundations – Foundations where the founder is no longer the sole decision maker are more likely to operate with a very defined process. A gatekeeper is apt to be defined (either an Executive Director or Foundation Director), and the foundation’s board of directors are each involved in determining which organizations receive support. These foundations are attractive because they seem to be cut-and-dry regarding the application process. However, many factors contribute to whether your organization will receive support, and relationships are key to success.
  • Family Foundations – Though they are formed as 501c3 entities, soliciting family foundations is often akin to soliciting an individual – there is typically no defined process for applying for support, and the decision is made by a single or handful of individuals who are related. Relationships are the single most important factor to receiving support, either through direct interaction with foundation directors or gatekeepers connected to decision makers.

Determining Likelihood of Support
Like most forms of fundraising, successful grant seeking typically boils down to three motivations:

  • Mission-Suitability – This seems obvious, but grant makers usually tell you what they want to support. This information can be found online, but you might have to look of the foundation’s Form 990 to figure out where they tend to allocate funding. However, not all missions are created equal. Knowing that a foundation supports education programming is useful, but it is also important to figure out whether there is a preference for direct service or systemic change, or if there is a geographic focus to grantmaking. Even when an organization’s mission is very appropriate, the foundation may already be supporting an organization with a similar profile, and may choose not to duplicate support.
  • New/Latent Relationships – As indicated throughout this post, relationships are singularly important – an organization must understand the importance outreach plays in securing grant support. These may be relationship that already exist, as in a board member who is friendly with a member of the foundation’s staff or board. Or is may be a relationship that does not yet exist, and requires intentional outreach by your organization’s leadership to establish connection. The first stop is typically a program officer or lead contact – it is perfectly acceptable to seek a meeting to discuss programming. Board members may also be successful at connecting with other decision-makers, particularly important in influencing corporate giving.
  • Self Interest – It may be not be obvious, but self interest is a very important factor. For family foundations, recognition opportunities play prominently, particularly in capital asks. In corporate giving, while it may not be considered pure sponsorship, the recognition plan for a charitable gift should be described in detail.

What Next?
In the next installment, Josh will review the process of cultivating gatekeepers and decision makers. To make sure you don’t miss it, subscribe to the blog!

Client Spotlight: Arts & Science Council (Theatre Strategic Planning)

Have you seen a good play lately?

It is a question at the heart of Next Stage Consulting’s current work with the theatre community through an engagement with the Arts & Science Council (ASC). How can producers and artists in the Charlotte region drive audiences to engage in locally-produced theatre offerings?

Since March 2013, Josh Jacobson has helped to facilitate a strategic planning process in partnership with Ryan Deal, Associate Vice President for Cultural & Community Investment at ASC.  The effort began with a community needs assessment ahead of an effort to convene community leaders to prioritize goals.

The result is a strategic road map, with a priority focus on advancing theatre in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg region over the next three years. Key aims of the effort are to dramatically increase the number of individuals experiencing theatre, create a consistent voice advocating on behalf of theatre in the region, and establish a formal system of resource development and sharing to encourage theatre at all levels.

For several years, leaders in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg theatre community have acknowledged a need to convene leading voices to discuss collaborative efforts to advance the sector. Past efforts had resulted in plans that were not implemented, and there was a desire to create a new process that would not only solicit ideas and opinions, but galvanize the community to work together to implement solutions.

Authentic collaboration is a key to advancing a sector that has undergone a difficult period in recent years. In 2005, following a rocky period of financial instability, Charlotte Repertory Theatre closed after nearly 30 years of producing work. Despite a wealth of resources and support for other performing arts institutions (e.g. North Carolina Dance Theatre, Opera Carolina), locally-produced theatre for all audiences has not garnered similar traction in Charlotte in the years since.

The Metro region features a nationally recognized children’s theatre (Children’s Theatre of Charlotte) and a high-quality presenting venue (Blumenthal Performing Arts Center) alongside several theatres with budgets under $1 million (e.g. Actor’s Theatre of Charlotte, Carolina Actors Studio Theatre, Theatre Charlotte) and many independent producers.

Next Steps
An Implementation Steering Committee and task forces have been created to advance efforts in the near-term and work on three-year implementation plans. Everyone involved is committed to seeing this effort succeed, and are rolling up their sleeves to make sure it happens.

According to Josh Jacobson: “Collaboration is never easy, but I am deeply impressed by the participants in this effort and their willingness to work together to create a brighter future. There are some very ambitious concepts that have come out of this process, and seeing them realized is something to which we are all committed.”

Introducing Next Stage Consulting, LLC

The time has finally arrived!

On January 6, 2014, Next Stage Consulting formally takes flight as a new strategy and implementation firm based in Charlotte, North Carolina and serving nonprofit organizations throughout the Carolinas. Founded by Managing Director Josh Jacobson, Next Stage Consulting aims to ensure organizations have access to affordable, high-quality consulting services to help them “get to the next level.”

The firm features four primary service lines:

  • Fundraising Counsel – Next Stage Consulting builds effective fundraising plans that fit the culture and assets of clients, and helps implement them, leading to bottom line results.
  • Grant Writing – From prospect research to outreach planning and proposal submission, Next Stage Consulting is a one-stop resource for all grant development needs.
  • Strategic Planning – Next Stage Consulting has a wide range of services to develop strategic plans and seek buy-in, from one-day retreats to multi-month planning efforts.
  • Speaking & Facilitation – Whether facilitating or leading one of the firm’s signature presentations, Next Stage Consulting provides engaging services for groups of any size or make-up.

More about what differentiates the firm’s services can be found here: Why Choose Next Stage Consulting?

There are many ways to stay in touch with the firm through Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn – make sure to follow/like/connect. The Next Stage Consulting Blog will feature in-depth analysis of issues facing nonprofits in the Carolinas, and will include original blog series like Five Steps to Stronger Grant Submissions.  Subscribe to the blog by entering your e-mail address above – we promise not to abuse the privilege!

But it won’t be all business, all the time. Check out the firm’s tongue-in-cheek social media e-cards, and follow us on Facebook for new laughs on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Throughout 2014, Jacobson will also be working on his first book – 10 Myths of Fundraising EXPOSED! – which will be set for publication next year. Excerpts from the book will be featured on the blog throughout the year.

“I’m thrilled to be launching Next Stage Consulting – it is really the realization of a long held dream,” Jacobson said. “Nonprofits throughout the Carolinas are facing challenges large and small, and my hope for the firm is to remain steadfastly focused on doing the sort of work that moves the needle for clients.”

Contact Josh Jacobson, Managing Director:, 704-998-1767

Five Steps to Stronger Grant Submissions

Nothing seems to make development professionals groan more with frustration than staring down the barrel of a massive grant submission. Fundraisers in small development shops must find ways to balance relationship-building with “computer work” that may include multiple grant proposal submissions. In larger shops, one staff member may be in charge of managing the grant calendar, but is often working in a vacuum of well-worn narratives.

In early 2014, the Next Stage Consulting Blog will feature a grant writing series – “Five Steps to Stronger Grant Submissions” – focused on improving your chances of grant-seeking success. Over the next few months, Josh will share tips on the following topics:

To make sure you don’t miss any of the series, please consider signing up for the Next Stage Consulting blog. Enter your e-mail address in subscription box to the right – we promise not to bombard your inbox!

2014: A Look Ahead for Nonprofits in Charlotte

As 2013 comes to a close, nonprofits across the Charlotte region are gearing up to advance their missions in the new year.  The region’s economy has improved mightily since the depths of recession, and yet many organizations continue to struggle with creating sustainable operations at a time when demand for their services remains high.

Next Stage Consulting may not have the gift of fortune telling, but we’ve peered into the crystal ball nonetheless, and make the following five predictions nonprofits should consider when planning for the year ahead:

  • Continued Confusion on Public Funding – Perhaps the single most important factor for nonprofits in the health and human services sector is the shifting leadership structure in state government.  According to our sources, the future looks grim for nonprofits, as cuts to funding over the last four years may have just been a prologue to what is to come. Key to this will be the 2014 election and its impact on the North Carolina legislature. If voters show that they like what they’ve been seeing, expect to see elected officials emboldened to continue making even deeper cuts to the state budget.
  • Dramatic Increase in Capital Campaigns – It would appear 2014 will be the year of the capital campaign in the Charlotte region, with several high profile campaigns likely to move from quiet phase to public phase. We’ve been calling for this for some time, with so many organizations having had to sit on their ambitious 2008-2009 campaign plans while the recession took its toll. Higher education, secondary education and the area’s hospitals have been largely quiet fundraising-wise over the last few years. If your organization wants to get in on the action, you had better act quickly.
  • The ‘Silver Tsunami’ Becomes A Top Headline – After a year that saw healthcare take center stage in public debate, less has been said about the continued influx of baby boomers entering retirement. In 2013, the issue showed up as turnover at the top of many nonprofit organizations in the area, where Executive Directors who were “holding on for a few more years” as their retirement funds improved began to leave the workforce. But caring for aging boomers (and their parents) is likely to become a more pressing issue in 2014. How can your nonprofit respond to this narrative through your programming (and fund development strategies!)?
  • Shift in Focus from Intervention to Prevention As public funding becomes more hard won, weary philanthropists in Charlotte’s top grant making institutions are seeking systemic change and collective impact. While a focus on meeting the need right in front us will continue, 2014 may be the year that funders in the area band together to advance preventative approaches to poor school performance, health and wellbeing, and basic human needs. How can your organization demonstrate moving the needle in the long term?
  • Uptown Charlotte Comes Alive – 2014 is going to be a big year for Uptown Charlotte, as BB&T Ballpark will open for the Charlotte Knights in the spring and the Charlotte Hornets will once again hit the floorboards at the arena. We predict a sizable influx of young professionals and their families pouring in to the uptown, at a greater rate than in recent years. How will your nonprofit take advantage of this opportunity to engage this hard-to-reach demographic?