How do you tell the story of your SWFI program? Why is it important? How can you translate sharing your story into sustainability, especially in these changing times?

During the H1-B convening in November 2019, Rosa Maria Castaneda of the Annie E. Casey Foundation shared some helpful tips about how to pitch your SWFI programs to potential funders. She said that there is an inherent tension with using philanthropic support in that philanthropies usually do not fund sustainability efforts. In approaching philanthropy and other funders, reach out through a lens of innovation, evidence building, and a dynamic approach.


One way to approach the philanthropic community is to bring more to the table. Share with the funders how your program is building the body of evidence or what can be learned from your program to help inform the field. A report on Investing in Innovation discusses how funders and programs “need to embrace the idea of using data to make decisions.” The use of data and developing concrete evidence to show how the program has affected participants are key to understanding how the program can make a difference.


Sharing evidence with funders and then demonstrating how you plan to scale your program or take the program to the next level can give you an edge. Ms. Castaneda discussed how philanthropies want to drive change, and showing how your program can support that change is critical. How does your program show promise or something new that funders would want to invest in and support?


In addition to data, success stories can share how the program is engaging with families in a deeper, meaningful way. The success stories in combination with the data provide the human element of how your program has affected families in their daily lives. These success stories should convey the story of the participants and how the program benefited them and moved them toward increased self-sufficiency.


The TA team developed the case study template as a tool that can help you share your story with your community, funders, and partners. It includes sections on building evidence, telling your program’s story, and the success stories of participants. Your TA coach can work with you to customize the template for your program and identify the best information to share with partners and funders. Your TA coach can also help you communicate how your program is adapting to changing circumstances while working towards your program’s goals.