Building and leveraging community partnerships, especially with those organizations who work with low income populations, is a key component to successfully scaling your Kentucky Double Dollars program. This process can be slow but rewarding for the program and the market. Think in terms of years, not weeks, and you won’t get discouraged at the process. What are your goals for community partnerships? Building simple connections is a great place to start with an eye on increasing awareness about KDD to potential participants, and then later securing funding for your KDD match or additional funds.
1.) START WITH WHO YOU KNOW.
It is likely between the market manager, board, and vendors, that your market already shares many connections with community leaders. Start with these connections. The farmers market is a vital community asset and can become even more valuable. You aren’t going door to door selling vacuum cleaners—most people are excited to support local agriculture, so don’t be afraid to ask!
2.) LEVERAGE YOUR BOARD OF DIRECTORS.
If your market guidelines allow it or can be adapted to do so, strongly consider adding community members at large as board members of your farmers market. Having a vendor-only board can prevent the market from receiving valuable community input and building synergy with other community organizations.
3.) DON’T BE AFRAID TO MAKE SOME COLD CALLS.
If no one in your market has connections, don’t be afraid to make the ask anyway. Call up the director of the local health department or the community outreach coordinator for the local hospital and introduce yourself.
4.) CONSIDER WHAT BENEFITS THE MARKET CAN OFFER PARTNER ORGANIZATIONS.
Don’t approach potential partners simply asking for money or time (although that can work, especially if there is already a strong established relationship). Remember, you want to build a partnership, which means both parties mutually benefit. What can the market offer in exchange for time/services? Is it a chance to connect with potential customers, either via social media exposure or setting up a one-time informational booth at market? Can the market do a mini pop up market at a special event for the organization? Many nonprofits have outreach goals where they must connect with community members a certain number of times each year. Let the market be one of those times!
5.) START SMALL AND GROW.
Today, the nature of a community relationship might be a representative from the farmers market setting up at the local hospital’s wellness fair. Next year, the local hospital might come to the farmers market and do blood pressure checks for attendees. The following year, the hospital might decide to fully fund the Kentucky Double Dollars grant match or host a farmers market on their lawn. Just try to keep in mind that small acts of support can grow into something much larger as time goes on, so try not to reject small offers or express disappointment that you didn’t get the bigger help you wanted.
6.) FOLLOW UP.
If you make a positive connection with a local community person, be sure to follow up with a quick email of thanks or a phone call expressing your gratitude and your willingness to work together again on future projects. Don’t underestimate the power of a handwritten note as well!
POTENTIAL COMMUNITY PARTNERS
The list of partners for a farmers market is long! Here are some ideas of partners that specifically may be helpful to your Kentucky Double Dollars program:
- Health department
- Extension office
- Distribution sites for WIC FMNP and SFMNP programs
- School resource centers
- Local colleges
- Public libraries
- Medical offices and organizations
- Religious organizations
- Food pantries
- Local intramural athletic organizations & businesses (soccer leagues, cheer teams, karate, etc.)
- Major employers in your region
- Civic organizations, such as Rotary Club, Lion’s Club, Kiwanis, etc.
- Local media, such as newspaper, magazines, television, or radio
SPECIFIC “ASKS” FOR COMMUNITY PARTNERS
You’ve connected with a local community organization. Now what? Here are some specific requests your market can make:
- Would you be willing to share about the Kentucky Double Dollars program on your social media, newsletter, or other digital platform?
- Can the market provide you with signage and fliers about the KDD program to put up in your space or for workers to hand out or leave for folks to pick up?
- Can your organization set up at the farmers market one week during the season and provide something of value to Kentucky Double Dollar participants or market attendees more broadly? (Examples include vision checks, blood pressure checks, cooking demonstrations, information/fliers about community events, etc.)
- Can the farmers market set up an information table at your next event with information about the market and Kentucky Double Dollars?
- Does your organization grant funds or provide sponsorships to local organizations and is the market eligible to receive those funds? What is the process for applying?