When Social Media Breakfast Madison announced the Digital Dream Grant this spring we knew that we would have a chance to help local small businesses and non-profit organizations in need of a digital boost. But we had no idea the scope of demand in our community.
It was overwhelming.
Social Media Breakfast Madison Board President Josh Klemons explains, “The pandemic has caused a tremendous strain as organizations have been forced to pivot their marketing and community engagement strategies to digital platforms.”
In the month we collected applications for the Digital Dream Grant, just shy of 400 (4-0-0!) organizations submitted their request for consideration. Each project was worthy of funding. But alas, decisions had to be made.
We’re so excited to introduce you to the projects that made it through rounds and rounds of review and scoring to emerge as the first-ever recipients of our Digital Dream Grant.
Badger Prairie Needs Network
This Verona-based volunteer-run food pantry will kick off a capital campaign this year. The organization will fund digital ads on Facebook and Instagram to promote the fundraising effort with grand funds. Expansion will provide additional services through the pantry including a community center that offers job training services with the goal of decreasing the high level of food insecurity and systemic poverty in our area.
Beth Skogen Photography
Beth Skogen will pay it forward one image at a time with her grant. Four local businesses will get a photo session through her project aimed at helping four companies tell their own stories about the work they do, which is more important now than ever due to decreased marketing budgets during the pandemic.
“Being able to offer four businesses a photography session puts the biggest smile on my face,” says Skogen. “Last year was rough for so many businesses. In a time when social media marketing and photography probably mattered the most, the funds might not have been there to hire a photographer. I’m excited to offer this opportunity to a few businesses with the grant money from Social Media Breakfast Madison and DreamBank. What a gift!”
Box of Balloons
Fundraising events at this non-profit switched to a take-home and online model. To continue providing birthday celebrations to 1,700-plus kids in the Madison area who would otherwise go without, Box of Balloons will invest its grant funds into digital marketing to promote these fundraisers and launch a digital ad campaign.
This Madison economic equity organization will supplement its Accelerate project with its Dream Grant. Accelerate is a video and digital ad campaign to promote black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) entrepreneurs and community leaders in Dane County. The campaign will highlight an entrepreneur/leader with video clips, photography and written word weekly.
Little John’s community kitchen and restaurant will subsidize recording and editing costs for three short videos. These videos will explain how the organization turns excess food into chef-made meals through a culinary job training program for veterans in our community.
“We are very appreciative of SMBMad’s Digital Dream Grant,” says Dave Heide, Little John’s chef/executive director. “Having funds that directly support our digital and social media strategies is crucial in helping to get the word out about how Little John’s is feeding feel-good food to everyone, regardless of their means.”
Madison’s Central Business Improvement District (Downtown Madison/BID)
Look for BID’s Who Do You Know digital ad campaign, as downtown rebuilds from the pandemic and social unrest that impacted many businesses along State Street. This new social media initiative focuses on telling the stories of small businesses owners and connects people with their stories.
“Being selected for this grant means so much to our downtown businesses,” says Tiffany Kenney, BID Executive Director. “After this year struggling through the pandemic and challenges related to civil unrest it’s important for us to be able to tell the stories of our downtown business and their unique and diverse ownership. We plan to use this grant to tell those stories.”
Olbrich Botanical Gardens
Olbrich is piloting a digital map project through its grant. The map project will produce an interactive, mobile-friendly tool that expands accessibility to the gardens and learning tools that will connect 335,000 annual visitors with plants.
This organization that promotes the dignity and empowerment of people in Wisconsin who live with vision loss will upgrade its e-commerce website, creating a more welcoming and informative experience for its clients and customers. The existing site will improve design and keep accessibility for low-vision users.
“The new site will continue to be the go-to place for purchasing adaptive equipment designed for people whose vision is changing,” explains Fund Development Director Lori Werbeckes. “The improvements will add detailed product descriptions, suggested uses and customer reviews from those who have found success with the product. These additions, along with personalized staff assistance, will guide customers to the items that are right for them.”
We’re so excited to watch the ripple effect that each of these new programs will have, as they get implemented and ultimately benefit all of us in the greater Madison area and beyond.
There would of course be no grants without the partnership of our longtime supporter, American Family Insurance — DreamBank. We’re deeply grateful for DreamBank who provided the sponsorship funding to make the Digital Dream Grant happen. DreamBank believes communities are stronger and the future is brighter when people are actively pursuing their dreams. And we are seeing that belief in action through these grant awards.
How cool is that?