by Ed Lallo/Newsroom Ink
Shiny skyscrapers, bustling shoppers and tourist competing with local businessmen for a piece of sidewalk on Michigan Ave, the music and dancing of local street artists, the joyful sounds of Mozart playing in Grant Park, water taxi’s crisscrossing the Chicago River and 18 Chicago nonprofits; all these wait for the more than 1300 IABC attendees from around the world converging on the Gold Coast for the IABC World Conference 2012.
One of the first attendees arriving from IABC Austin was past chair Glenda Holmes. “This is my first time in Chicago, and I am really looking forward to seeing old friends and learning from great presenters.
As communicators from around the world join Holmes, they are being offered the chance to share their knowledge with local charities in helping give a voice to BeHeard and make a difference in the community.
The Gift of Communicationis a program in which chapter members work with local nonprofit social service agencies that have communication issues but lack financial resources for needed communications counsel.
IABC members are briefed on the agencies’ communication issues ahead of time. Then, during the session, members sit down at tables with the agencies and, in the span of 60-90 minutes, listen to and discuss their issues and questions and provide needed communications advice and support.
“It was such an honor today to watch all of the IABC members lend their time and talent to the Chicago area non-profit community,” said Carrie Newton, senior director,of volunteer center for the United Way of Metropolitan Chicago. “ Without a doubt, the non-profit agencies benefited tremendously from the consulting, but what was so lovely to see is that the IABC members also clearly enjoyed the experience. When these non-profits take the invaluable ideas they learned today into their communities and begin to impement the plans created today, be those ideas around fundraising, marketing, branding, or community outreach, the real impact will be found in their strengthened ability to fulfill their agencies’ missions. United Way is proud to have been involved in today’s program, bringing the energy and skills of IABC’s professionals into the Chicagoland community. Thank you for being part of it!”
This unique program concept was originally developed by IABC’s Maritime Canada chapter, which has been running it successfully for nine years. IABC’s Golden Horseshoe chapter has done it for five years. Both consider it a success — and have made it an annual tradition.
“I work for a social service agency with a limited budget for communications projects,” explained Amy Weber associate director for Respond Now, a south Chicago organization that helps create stable lives for those who need it most. “We are behind the times technologically. The IABC Gift of Communication workshop was a fantastic opportunity to meet with top communication professionals from around the world – a much appreciated gift.”
A new term for cooperation between various agencies came out of the workshop – coopertition, the act of cooperating with the competition to achieve greater success than acting alone.
This program can be implemented at any time during the calendar year, but it seems especially appropriate during the year-end holiday season. For many organizations it is during that time when planning for the upcoming New Year takes place. At a time when many holiday traditions include the giving of gifts, what better gift for communication professionals to offer than the Gift of Communication.
Participating agencies, 2012 World Conference Gift of Communications
Aging Care Connections
A Safe Haven
The Cara Program
Corazon Community Services
Ford Heights Community Service Organization
Gads Hill Center
Girl Scouts of Northern Illinois
Howard Brown Health Center
New Hope Center
Parenthesis Family Center
Proviso-Leyden Council for Community Action
South Suburban Family Shelter, Inc.
Teen Parent Connection
YMCA Metro Chicago