Virginia Outdoors Foundation Issues Marketing RFP
The Virginia Outdoors Foundation (VOF) is seeking proposals from qualified firms to assist the VOF in conducting marketing/messaging research in communities underserved by our programs to determine community needs, awareness and understanding of our programs, opportunities for our programs to meet community needs, and how to communicate effectively to achieve our work. VOF has already identified markets underserved by our programs. The firm’s work will encompass: identifying key stakeholders within those markets; implementing surveys, focus groups, and in-person meetings to assess their needs, as well as their understanding of our programs; developing messaging and marketing tools to help improve their awareness and understanding of our programs; auditing VOF’s existing marketing and communications tools to determine how those can be improved to better meet the needs of underserved communities; and providing recommendations for improving those tools
The Virginia Outdoors Foundation was established in 1966 as a recommendation of the Virginia Outdoor Recreation Study Commission. VOF is a component unit of the Commonwealth of Virginia and has all powers and duties set forth in Sections 10.1-1800 through 1804 of the Code of Virginia (1950), as amended. Its primary function is “to promote the preservation of open-space lands and to encourage private gifts of money, securities, land or other property to preserve the natural, scenic, historic, scientific, open-space and recreational areas of the Commonwealth.” VOF operates under a Board of Trustees appointed by the Governor of the Commonwealth; the Executive Director manages day to day operations of VOF.
Brett Glymph began serving as the Executive Director in August 2013. The VOF Executive Director reports to a seven-member Board of Trustees who are appointed by the governor. VOF has approximately 32 fulltime salaried employees and 8 part-time employees. The VOF Executive office is located in Warrenton, VA. There are six other regional offices located in Charlottesville, Staunton, Blacksburg, Abingdon, Richmond, and Tappahannock, as well as a small administrative office in Williamsburg.
At the time VOF was established, the Virginia Outdoor Recreation Study Commission identified several major finding in making the case for the creation of VOF and other conservation programs: 1) There is a strong and growing demand for more outdoor recreation opportunities; 2) existing facilities are inadequate for present demands; 3) the need for action is most urgent in metropolitan areas; and 4) the term “outdoor recreation” must include the entire Virginia outdoor environment. Today, these needs continue to be reflected in the Virginia Outdoors Plan, which is the descendant of the commission’s original report.
VOF has played a leading role in meeting the Virginia’s land conservation goals. It currently manages the largest portfolio of non-federal conserved lands in the Commonwealth—nearly 850,000 acres of open space across 109 localities. This portfolio makes VOF one of the most successful land conservation organizations in the nation. However, while VOF protects land in 93 of Virginia’s 95 counties (98%), it protects land in just 16 of its 38 independent cities (42%). This imbalance is attributable to several factors, one of which we believe is a general lower awareness and understanding of our program and services in urban and suburban communities, particularly in the eastern half of the state.
As federal, state, and local budgets have become more tightly focused on issues such as education, healthcare, public safety, economic development, and transportation, conservation agencies have not been able to meet all the needs for open space in every community. In recent years, legislators have asked VOF to help find more balance by doing more conservation work in communities where the need is especially high. As we’ve begun doing more work in cities and suburbs, we are finding a very positive response from citizens who previously did not know who we are or what we do. Throughout this process, we have been trying to find ways to bridge our highly successful work in rural communities with our efforts to be more relevant in urban and suburban communities. It is our hope to unite all our work under a common theme and brand identity that has relevance to a broader array of Virginians, so that our work can be more balanced and inclusive in the future.
VOF believes that it is uniquely positioned to meet the open space needs of Virginia’s underserved communities due to its depth of experience, focus of mission, and status as a public foundation created to facilitate private partnerships for open space conservation. In 2019, VOF’s board of trustees adopted a strategic plan that, among other things, called for expanding the relevance of our work into more communities and help more Virginians benefit from our services. This research is being done to inform and guide that campaign.
Scope of Work:
a) General Requirements: The Contractor shall work primarily with VOF’s Communications Manager and Executive Director, who will coordinate additional input from staff and trustees. The Contractor shall furnish all labor and resources necessary to assist VOF in conducting marketing and messaging research in the communities that have been identified, which are Northern Virginia, Greater Richmond, and Hampton Roads (also known as Virginia’s Urban Crescent). These three regions contain the greatest disparity between population size and open space protected by VOF.
The Contractor shall follow and/or adapt best practice models for marketing/messaging research relevant to VOF’s nature of business. The Contractor must agree to honor the process and maintain confidentiality of discussions as appropriate.
b) Specific Required Tasks: The Contractor shall perform the following tasks:
· Coordinate with the VOF contract administrator to manage timeline for the process and set work deadlines.
· Refine and guide the research process.
· Provide expert input and suggestions to guide the process, meetings, or in other areas.
· Prepare meeting agendas, meeting materials, and meeting follow-up work (summaries, etc.)
· Audit VOF’s existing brand (visual and verbal) to establish a baseline for research, as well as to identify consistencies and inconsistencies.
· Suggest tools and activities to creatively facilitate the research and message development process.
· Facilitate surveys, focus groups, or other tools/activities needed to conduct research.
· Present information as necessary.
· Document the entire research process.
· Recommend a time span for implementation of VOF’s relevance campaign.
· Recommend strategies for implementing the relevance campaign.
· Draft useful and realistic work products and reports as the process unfolds.
· Counsel communications manager and leadership team on how to develop and execute the relevance campaign in relation to the agency’s strategic plan.
· Provide a communications plan that identifies key audiences, key messages, and key outlets for guiding an overall relevance campaign.
June 11, 2019
Virginia Outdoors Foundation
900 South Main Street
Blacksburg, VA 24060