Jo Daviess County: Listening, Learning, and Do-overs

Christie Trifone-Simon, development director for the Jo Daviess Conservation Foundation, stands in front of the recently opened Galena Gateway Park. The City of Galena and the Conservation Foundation worked together to raise dollars to support new structures and features at the park.

Christie Trifone-Simon, development director for the Jo Daviess Conservation Foundation, stands in front of the recently opened Galena Gateway Park. The City of Galena and the Conservation Foundation worked together to raise dollars to support new structures and features at the park.

During the strategic planning process, JDCF planned to host community listening sessions. They wanted to see where the organization could fill existing gaps in local communities and assess the readiness for a Jo Daviess Community Foundation. While listening sessions should have been central to a local needs assessment, they were, as Trifone-Simon describes them, “not well received.” JDCF only hosted one listening session, inviting members with the most vested interests in the Conservation Foundation to the first meeting. Only six people attended.

“If our closest supporters were not showing up to this, it either meant that this wasn’t the right tool or that they already thought we were doing such a great job that they didn’t need to come and give us comments or feedback,” says Trifone-Simon.

So the JDCF went back to the drawing board and allowed its approach to evolve.

“Nothing is ever simple,” says Trifone-Simon. “It takes creativity, and a willingness to experiment and we really put on our thinking caps as we approached these deep and critical questions that will help our organization to grow.”

JDCF sent an online survey to its members seeking responses to important questions and then devised a marketing strategy to bring greater awareness of its mission to the local community.

“Community is really the name of the game,” says Trifone-Simon. “This area is so small it needs to have support from a good majority of the folks to get anything off the ground and running. This Philanthropic Tools grant helped us with critical marketing to connect with some of the folks we wouldn’t have otherwise been able to reach without
the grant.”