Sample marketing communications proposal

As presented to Charis Worship Center Ministries (Burtonsville, MD) in March 2013


As directed by Charis Worship Center Ministries (CWCM), Tawana Jacobs, APR, conducted external marketing communications research to assess the church’s current position within the community and more accurately determine potential opportunities for growth. The process included an analysis of other churches in the same market, university chapels, religious conventions and ministerial alliances. The following components were reviewed for each entity:

  • Branding and marketing
  • Community involvement (partnerships and sponsorships)
  • Media presence

CWCM has done many things well during its short existence. Its commitment to providing members with a comprehensive scriptural education, early development of its Men’s Ministry, special health and wellness offerings, history highlights, and the establishment of an online presence has set it apart from many other area churches. CWCM, however, must decide how to set itself apart from other churches in an overly saturated market where the traditional community reach of religious institutions is diminishing.


With only a few rare exceptions, black churches in the area lack creativity with branding and marketing. Stagnant, outdated websites that lack adaptability for use on mobile devices are common. Sites are often text heavy with language that fails to offer unique visitors distinct reasons for a specific church’s existence or are never completely finished, with established pages completely blank.  Weekly church announcements are often buried in obscure sections of websites without timely information being promoted to a larger audience.

Area religious institutions use special events as a vehicle to build and sustain their public profile. The standard methods used to reach audiences in this highly competitive market are word-of-mouth advertising, printed flyers, and radio ads on gospel music shows and stations with associated website promotions. A number of new, more diverse congregations are using purchased mailing lists to distribute church postcards with coupons or freebies from area businesses to attract audiences. Others are purchasing advertising space on county buses and at area bus stops in targeted communities.

Design and implementation of robust media relations strategies to promote events and fill seats are also rare. The same audiences are tapped again and again, with area religious institutions only reaching a very limited and already converted audience.


Area churches remain committed to achieving social justice for the poor, uninformed and underserved. Ministries tutor children, distribute free produce, offer free tax preparation services and support substance abuse programs among other community activities. However, despite this commitment and larger, more invasive issues affecting the black community, area churches appear to only rarely partner with one another to address concerns.

For example, multiple black churches in Montgomery County, MD host their own annual back-to-school events. All have the best of intentions, but they are duplicating efforts to support kids’ education. The same businesses are tapped for school supplies, the same celebrities are approached to make appearances, and county officials are only able to make very time-limited visits. A better option might be for these churches to work together collective to increase minority presence at the school system’s sponsored event. Parents at the county’s event have direct access to top county lawmakers and education officials, kids are given quality school supplies from county businesses, and top area celebrities make appearances.


Interest and participation in spiritual discussions on social media is at an all-time high. Younger people, who are less likely to be regular churchgoers, are seeking and sharing words of faith and encouragement on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Google+. However, a majority of black churches in the market are not actively pursuing this growing audience with a comprehensive plan for engagement. The lone exception is Life Change A.M.E. Church (Columbia, MD) Senior Minister Rev. Jay Gamble. His daily Monday-Friday Twitter messages with the #Twitter Church hashtag now reach 50,000 followers from around the country.

Live streaming of weekend services on websites are common. A number of churches are also posting weekly sermons on their own YouTube channels. Success rates appear to be uneven based on publicly available information.

Area newspapers and blogs targeting African Americans lack the regular presence of local churches who are actively working to create social change within the community. Only very high profile ministers are seeking opportunities to bring attention to the various issues. Paid advertisements for church sponsored special events appear with the most regularity.


The external research confirms my initial assessment that CWCM has an opportunity to create a unique presence in the community with a sizable investment of time, energy and inventiveness. After reviewing a compilation of feedback from church leaders, I will be positioned to guide CWCM leadership through the process of crafting feasible marketing communications goals for the year and move towards designing an integrated plan.


Sample marketing communications proposal

As presented to Charis Worship Center Ministries (Burtonsville, MD) in January 2013

It is important to develop a marketing communications plan that is a natural fit for CWCM, its budget and staff capacity. I take into account the following “must haves” for any successful effort:

  • Clear, measurable goals
  • Extensive knowledge of your stakeholders and what issues are most important to them
  • Compelling brand introduction and messages to connect with target audiences
  • Smart strategies and tactics for reaching audiences
  • A simple work plan that will help to guide the work and prioritize activities

My thinking about how to approach this endeavor is below. After additional consultations with Pastor Wilson and CWCM stakeholders, I will work to develop a comprehensive work plan for achieving Charis’ goals for 2013 and begin to lay the groundwork for future marketing communications efforts that will work in concert with the strategic plan.




Community Engagement Strategy

Online Engagement Strategy

Refine Charis’ Brand Narrative

Media Outreach

Signature Events


Measuring the impact of a marketing communications strategy is both an art and a science. I will work with CWCM leadership and staff to implement appropriate quantitative and qualitative evaluation tools to measure results and fine-tune both the short and long-term plans in real time. These established tools include techniques to track website visitors, measure online donations, social media influence and coverage in the news media. Once the complete strategy is developed, I will assist with developing performance indicators that correspond with objectives and measurements that can track changes over time.

Contact Tawana at tawana.jacobs@gmail.com to request a complete copy of the proposal.


Letter to the Editor

As submitted to the Washington Post on April 1, 2012

Dear Editor:

Ms. Parker got a lot right in her recent column on the Trayvon Martin case (3/30, Fear and Bloodshed in Florida), but she missed one critical point: being a racist is very different from being guilty of racial profiling. To understand that difference would do a lot to help Parker and other white Americans understand why African Americans of all socioeconomic backgrounds are so enraged by the murder in Florida.

Countless black Americans, including those with economically privileged upbringings, Ivy League educations, high-level jobs, and even those with fame and fortune do not escape racial profiling. And clothing choices do not matter. Just ask Oprah. The thing to consider here is that most of them are alive to tell their stories. Trayvon is not.

Zimmerman probably isn’t a racist, but he most certainly was guilty of racial profiling in Martin’s case. The transcript of the 911 call says it all. Justice must be served in this case by arresting Zimmerman. African American young people deserve to know their lives matter, and that some trigger-happy neighborhood watchman can’t just shoot them and walk away scot-free.

Tawana Jacobs, Germantown, MD


AlertNet AidWatch: The evolution of U.S. foreign assistance

By Tawana Jacobs | Friday, December 16, 2011

“Country ownership” has become a popular term used in discussions about the future of U.S. foreign assistance. But its definition shifts depending on who you’re talking to. InterAction’s just released policy paper, “Country Ownership: Moving from Rhetoric to Action,” provides a clear and easy to understand definition that all who care about international development should consider using.

Defined in the paper as “the full and effective participation of a country’s population—including government, civil society and the private sector—in conceptualizing, implementing, monitoring and evaluating development policies, and programs,” country ownership is a partnership approach to development assistance. It empowers and supports countries and their citizens to take responsibility for their own development, using local systems and resources to create new opportunities and change in their communities, while becoming less reliant on foreign aid.

It’s not just NGOs who believe in country ownership. The Obama administration has become attached to the concept, promoting it in development policies such as the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review and initiatives such as Feed the Future and the Global Health Initiative. However despite this progress, the administration’s attempt to “adopt a model of development based… on partnership, not patronage,” as Hillary Clinton has described, has been inconsistent.

If the administration gives the new paper a read, they will see that current and future development assistance programs can be run more effectively and efficiently. In addition to a clear definition, the paper’s five recommendations outline the core elements of country ownership. These suggestions would go a long way toward ensuring the engagement of all those involved—the Obama administration, Congress, U.S. NGOs and the private sector.

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UN World Humanitarian Day 2011

Aug 19, 2011

Every year, disasters both natural and man-made, cause suffering and hardship for millions of people. Humanitarian aid workers provide life-saving assistance and long term rehabilitation to disaster-affected communities, without discrimination.

World Humanitarian Day is a celebration of people helping people. Humanitarian aid workers help millions of people everyday around the world no matter who they are or where they are. The day recognizes the sacrifices and contributions of those who risk their lives to give others help and hope.

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The Hill’s Congress Blog: The global economy and our “human security”

By Samuel A. Worthington, CEO of InterAction – 07/08/11 03:19 PM ET

Prospective 2012 U.S. presidential candidates who want to limit our engagement abroad and  those lawmakers who propose  cuts to the 2012 foreign affairs budget have forgotten a basic budgeting rule. It is often less expensive to preserve something than it is to restore or replace it later. Instead of cutting U.S. foreign policy investments, why not focus on making them more effective?

Integrating global development and conservation policies would be a good start.

By doing this, America would protect its current investments and ensure success over the long-term. And no, this would not burden U.S. taxpayers. In fact, such an approach could create jobs in America by opening up more markets for U.S. exports. Last year, 48 percent of our exports went to developing countries. Estimates are that this percentage will increase as those economies get stronger.

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Monthly Developments Magazine, June 2011

Who’s at the Table?

 America’s Face is Multi-Ethnic, but Development’s Isn’t

By Tawana Jacobs, Associate Director of Public Relations, InterAction

This year’s nasty battle to protect U.S. foreign affairs spending has revealed once again that there is a dearth of diversity within the top ranks of the U.S. international NGO community because the only faces seen consistently during the fight have been white and mainly male. This is despite the fact that U.S. minorities from all walks of life—some with extraordinary backgrounds—have become increasingly interested in development and relief work in recent years. The lack of diversity at the top of  U.S.-based NGOs has led most in this group to donate to organizations where people of color are in decision-making positions, because they view them as being more committed to the well-being of the populations being served, or to start their own organizations such as the Black Global Development Corps.

Newt Gingrich, a prospective 2012 U.S. presidential candidate and former Speaker of the House of Representatives in Congress, recently stated in an article about diversity in the Republican party, “Inclusion is when you’re in the room when the decision is made. Outreach is when a group of people make a decision and call you….” After many years of discussing diversity and offering various initiatives to improve it, some groups have learned that inclusion is the key to adding some color to the face of development.

New World Bank initiative

The World Bank recently launched a new initiative to help increase the recruitment and retention of U.S. minorities in international development work. The initiative includes an internal action plan that will be implemented by the Bank’s human resources and management staff, and a partnership action plan to be implemented by a special U.S. Minorities Task Force comprised of representatives from World Bank partner organizations. Expected to begin this year, it will likely include shared internships, educational and mentoring programs, consolidated vacancy postings and ways to increase the number of U.S. minorities working at mid- and senior-levels at development organizations.

The launch event’s keynote speaker, Ted Childs, a former chief diversity officer for IBM, said it all when he stated, “Global diversity and inclusion objectives should include attracting and retaining the best talent, creating space in the workplace for that talent to perform at its best, and working to eliminate barriers and disadvantages thereby increasing diversity within the talent pool.”

Understanding and removing barriers

Many minorities working in development in the U.S. believe that people of color are often excluded from employment opportunities because the sector is very insular. “Only 19 percent of the people who volunteer for Peace Corps are minorities. You are indirectly excluding many people of color from hiring pools from the start,” remarked Crystal Lander, senior policy officer at Management Sciences for Health.

Others interviewed for this story said the community remains overwhelmingly white because people tend to hire those who look and sound like themselves. But according to some, this could be changed with a little extra effort. “If an organization is looking proactively to recruit and sustain a diverse workforce that will enrich their knowledge of communities overseas, they should be prepared to act as a sponsor or petition a worker. This sounds terrifying, difficult and expensive, but in reality it does not need to be if both sides agree to work together and share the load,” commented Luisa Córdoba, resource development coordinator at InterAction.

Some believe the lack of diversity stateside is also related to economics. Most internships in the community are unpaid; and regardless of a potential minority hire’s economic status, many are persuaded to look elsewhere for a career. Stated Steven Rocker, senior research and advocacy associate at InterAction, “Growing up in my hometown, if you were black and gifted academically, your family and community expected (or pressured) you to pursue the more traditional and prestigious professions of law, medicine or finance. People in my hometown just were not … aware that one can make a profession out of international development.” Others, including Nasserie Carew, a former senior-level NGO professional, believe, “Many [just] don’t think an NGO career is lucrative.” As difficult as it is for U.S. minorities to begin a career in development, it has proven to be even more arduous for many to advance their careers in the field.

Inclusion brings about change

Once my parents got over the shock of me not following in my father’s footsteps to a lucrative career in corporate America, they began to appreciate my commitment to public service and support my career as an NGO communicator. When I began focusing on development issues in the late 1990s, I knew of only about ten people of color working at U.S. NGOs—and only two of them were in leadership positions. Unfortunately, the number of minorities in NGO leadership positions hasn’t grown very much in nearly 15 years.

The slowness of the U.S. NGO community to become more diverse at the top has led many minorities at NGOs to move to other sectors in order to work on development issues, or to leave the field altogether. Others—including yours truly—have developed a thick skin and forge ahead in our careers, determined to succeed despite being faced with double-standards and inconsistencies along the way. According to an NGO colleague, “I have found that many times my credentials were questioned by colleagues in development. I was asked what background and education did I have to get into the policy arena?” This experience seems to be shared by others. A former NGO coworker who left her career in development went so far as to say, “If you or I were white and working at an NGO with our credentials, we’d be two or three steps further along in our careers. Only minorities from developing countries will be accepted in this sector until there is more diversity at the senior management level.”

Her observation isn’t a new one. During a period in which I reconsidered my own career path, I conducted an experiment to determine if my communications advice to senior management was flawed or if there was a problem with me—a U.S. minority—being the advisor. After talking directly with management about how to respond to a communications issue and being second-guessed, I gave the advice to my supervisor—someone with a direct connection to the developing world—who carried the idea forward and received immediate approval. The plan succeeded. When my boss told senior management about my involvement, there was an awkward acknowledgment and the subject was quickly changed.

However, as Córdoba interjected, “Organizations like ours are not monolithic and different areas within the same organization could have different approaches to managing diversity and minority inclusion.” She added, “When top management is sincerely committed to it, there is a very valuable opportunity to open doors. It is not the same as having an organizational mandate, but it certainly is leverage to combat what Joanna Barsh and Lareina Yee recently called ‘imbedded institutional mindsets’. ”

Moving things in the right direction

Panelists at the World Bank event stated that U.S. NGOs should examine their dynamics before embarking on any new and improved diversity recruiting strategy. Acknowledging that disparities exist would be a good start. InterAction and some of its member organizations have run diversity initiatives with some success, but there is still a long way to go. Stated another NGO colleague, “In a former position [I held], the CEO allowed junior staff to talk to her directly, bypassing me, their supervisor. When I told my CEO that she was treating me differently than the white managers, she was stunned and swore she wasn’t a racist.” The World Bank panelists also mentioned that in addition to securing skills training for senior management to nullify hidden biases, there should also be a monitoring system developed that catches systemic differences in promotion rates and pay raises.

Most of those interviewed agree that increasing the number of minorities in U.S. NGO senior leadership posts is imperative to the future success of American-led work on international development. All agree that it is important for them personally to see minorities in leadership posts and share Rocker’s opinion that “NGOs [should] look beyond the traditional community  [and seek] U.S. minorities with expertise in management, finance and other fields, but who have at least a burgeoning interest in international development or humanitarian affairs.” To build that pool of candidates, Carew says, educating them about development is important. “Go and talk to all of the minority-centered professional organizations. Begin to engage them as potential members of advisory committees and boards of directors while they are still in their corporate jobs.”

Most agree that for change to come, senior leadership will need to be held accountable. To some, this means attaching their participation in diversity and inclusion initiatives to performance appraisals. Others think funders could add a needed incentive by not funding organizations without a diverse senior leadership.

According to Childs and other diversity experts, more than 50 percent of the world’s population lives in the developing world. Some organizations within the InterAction alliance have made commendable commitments to diversifying their American staff by taking the necessary steps to change the way they do business, but that number remains very small. I join my colleagues of color throughout the community in wondering how much more time will pass before the face of U.S. development and humanitarian assistance evolves to more closely resemble America’s multi-ethnic face.


Let the budget games begin (Appropriations 2011)

From InterAction’s AidBuzz Blog:

The battle lines have been drawn over the federal government’s 2011 spending bill. With negotiations scheduled to begin next week in Congress, one side recognizes the need for budget cuts but takes great issue with the depth and severity of the reductions included in the spending bill passed by the House of Representatives early Saturday that slashes $61 billion from this year’s budget and puts many critical programs, including U.S. foreign assistance at risk. The other side has stated their refusal to put their budget cutting scissors away.

Negotiations to break the stalemate are expected to be long and contentious despite the looming government shut down on March 4 if no compromise is reached. President Obama is threatening to veto the spending bill if it gets to his desk as is. House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) is on record declaring that his caucus would not consider any spending bill without substantive spending cuts.

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News Release

U.S. NGOs remain committed to Haiti’s recovery

Joint statement from undersigned InterAction member organizations working in Haiti and Samuel A. Worthington, InterAction President and CEO

Washington, D.C. (January 10, 2011)—The InterAction alliance of U.S.-based international nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) remains steadfast in its commitment to support Haiti’s ongoing recovery from last year’s earthquake. About half of our almost 200 members are still actively working in the country and many will remain there for many years to come, working alongside the country and local governments, the UN, local Haitian NGOs and other international partners to rebuild Haiti and put it on the path to a more stable future for all of its citizens.

The earthquake put a spotlight on the realities this country has faced for decades. It, along with the current cholera crisis, has been a wake-up call for us and others to come together and dedicate the time, effort and financial support needed to help the people of Haiti to rebuild their country and resolve many of their long-term structural problems, which cannot be solved by any one entity on its own. For example, a comprehensive shelter and resettlement plan still needs to be developed for the 1.3 million people living in camps.

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Haiti Offers Opportunity to Begin New Era for U.S. Foreign Assistance

By Samuel A. Worthington, President, InterAction

Posted: June 16, 2010 03:42 PM

In the wake of Haiti’s January 12 earthquake, the community of U.S.-based international nongovernmental organizations (NGO’s) has focused efforts on rebuilding the country. While the commitment to the long haul of rebuilding has been impressive and progress has been made, there is always room for improvement, especially in how NGO’s coordinate to handle such a massive effort.

At the InterAction 2010 Forum, Dr. Rajiv Shah, Administrator for the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), highlighted some of the progress made on NGO and development work in Haiti since the earthquake. “Data shows more people getting clean water now than before the earthquake,” said Dr. Shah. “There is less diarrhea and many people are healthier.”

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2010 InterAction International Reporting Media Summit

The 2010 Media Summit focused on an exchange of innovative media/programmatic experiences and best practices relating to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). What are the political and programmatic challenges facing the United Nations Millennium Development Goal Review Summit September 2010? Will the MDGs be met by 2015?

The Summit brought together a broad group of national and international journalists, media educators, development and humanitarian practitioners, donors and media decision makers.

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InterAction Viewpoint: Trade and Investment in Developing Countries Key to Making Progress Against Poverty

October 2009

InterAction believes it is imperative for the Obama administration to push for an open, rule-based, predictable and non-discriminatory trading and financial system that takes into account the unique needs of the developing world.

Lesotho offers an example of the growth and opportunities that trade and investment can offer less-developed countries. In 2007, the Millennium Challenge Corporation agreed to a $362.6 million compact with Lesotho, aimed at reducing poverty and increasing economic growth. By removing barriers to foreign and local private sector investment, the private sector has created jobs and increased exports. The African Growth and Opportunity Act has also given Lesotho the opportunity to export more than $300 million every year in clothing to the U.S. and created jobs and opportunities.

The poorest 49 countries of the world currently represent 10% of the global population but only 0.4% of world trade. These less developed countries have been hit particularly hard by the global economic crisis. While many rich nations are already beginning to see signs of recovery, the less resilient economies of the world’s poorest countries are unable to pull themselves out of the crisis through policy reforms or massive bailouts because they lack access to funds and the flexibility to design and implement counter cyclical policies and social safety nets. Particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa, where many less developed countries were already struggling after food and fuel crises in 2008, the financial crisis has severely tested their already limited resilience.

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InterAction Viewpoint: Obama’s 2010 Budget is a Smart Investment

The Obama administration’s solid request for poverty‐focused development and humanitarian programs is a smart investment in a more stable, secure and prosperous world and accurately reflects American values of generosity and solidarity.

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2009 InterAction International Media Summit

As the largest alliance of U.S. based international humanitarian and development nongovernmental organizations, InterAction is very concerned about the dwindling number of foreign news bureaus. Comprehensive international news coverage provides an essential global perspective to many of our national challenges.

In an attempt to turn back this still-growing trend, InterAction created the International News Reporting Media Summit in May 2009 as an attempt to reinforce the fact that the global media community plays a critical role in the ongoing debate about the extent of U.S. engagement in global development.

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As submitted to The Los Angeles Times

Letter to the Editor, July 2008

Dear Editor:

Jonah Goldberg is way off when he characterizes the ’68 Olympics black power salute (7/29, “’68 Olympics salute deserves no honor”) as being militant and racist. For one thing, he wasn’t yet born. And secondly, to fully understand the significance of Tommie Smith and John Carlos’ gesture, Goldberg needs to spend time either reading some accurate history books and talking to some black men who came of age during that era.

As I learned from college studies and my father, who was a young black man in 1968, the salute signified strength and perseverance – the ability to excel and maneuver past many of the country’s existing societal roadblocks.

And while black America celebrated the successes of Owens and Robinson and were gratified by the passing of federal civil rights legislation, many were still living in a world that was “separate and unequal” from their white counterparts in 1968. Poverty was rampant and racial discrimination was still the rule rather than an exception.

It’s extremely ironic we’ll be marking the 40th anniversary of the history-making salute in China – a place well known for their own human rights abuses, past and present. With the news stories about how Beijing’s poor neighborhoods are being hidden from public view and blacks and other so-called undesirables being secretly banned from bars in town, let’s all hope that we’re not marching back in time.

Tawana Jacobs
Germantown, MD


*As originally published on January 12, 2005*

Three steps forward, two steps back


By Tawana Jacobs 
(Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service)

This is a busy time of year for black Americans. The celebration of Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday is upon us and Black History Month is looming. A host of activities and events designed to celebrate the black community’s colorful past and complicated history are filling up the calendar. But one question looms even larger than coming events: When looking at the state of blacks today, would our past leaders — Dr. King, Malcolm X, Marcus Garvey and W.E.B. Dubois among them — share in our celebrations and be confident about our future? Or would they hang their heads in shame?

We’ve all heard the pitiful statistics: 70 percent of black children are born into homes headed by single women. More than 80 percent of black children are being raised in poverty. More black men go to prison than college every year. Blacks make up 12 percent of the U.S. population, but according to the U.S. Census Bureau, they account for 54 percent of all new AIDS cases. And although the size of the black middle class has quadrupled in the last 40 years, the median net worth of white families is nearly 10 times the median net worth of black families.

Although the civil rights movement is responsible for the huge strides made by blacks in business, entertainment, politics, science and countless other arenas, since Dr. King’s assassination in 1968 an overwhelmingly large part of the community has lost its way. The morals, values and principles that were once the backbone of the black community, which helped to insulate it against a number of negative outside influences, no longer exist in many households.

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