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Profile of a Successful ENC Project


Once the Excellence in Nonprofit Communications (ENC) annual grant award is completed, the program does not require follow-up reporting to help the ENC Program Partners see what the impacts are over time for the nonprofit awardee. Mike Schechtman, Executive Director of Big Sky Institute for the Advancement of Nonprofits (BSI) began a discussion with Nick Zullo, Executive Director of Family Promise of Greater Helena (the 2014 ENC awardee), about this information gap. Mike explained that he felt it would be very useful and rewarding for the ENC Program Partners if they could get a snapshot report of how the ENC grant award impacted the nonprofit awardee a year after the project’s completion. 

Nick was very enthusiastic about reporting to the ENC Program Partners, and gave a brief presentation to the Partners in late February of 2016.  Nick forwarded his presentation notes to Mike, who added context for those not familiar with ENC – to help nonprofits interested in the ENC grant award program understand what a difference an ENC grant award can make for an organization, when the nonprofit embraces putting the products to use in its outreach, communications, volunteer recruitment and fundraising activities.

The messaging, communications strategies and products that resulted from the ENC grant award are not the full story behind what Family Promise was able to achieve. Much credit also goes to Nick, who became Executive Director of Family Promise in January of 2015. Nick energetically used all the new tools and guidance that came to Family Promise through the ENC grant award. Nick’s report provides helpful insight regarding the important role a nonprofit’s leadership plays to maximize the positive impact that enhanced communications messaging, strategies and products can have in both supporting and leveraging a nonprofit’s capacity to seriously step up its performance.                    



Every nonprofit must forage for financial sustenance. In the case of Family Promise of Greater Helena, we receive no federal funding. We are completely funded by individual, corporate and church contributions, along with the United Way, private foundations and fundraising events.

Message development was the critical focus for our ENC project. We needed to more effectively communicate what Family Promise does for families so that eligible families can access our program services, especially through referrals. We also needed to provide clarity about what we do so that potential volunteers and new supporters can easily distinguish our role from what other agencies do for those who struggle with homelessness. 

To our audience and our community, we have nine compelling words developed by the ENC project that say it all...

It’s in our primary brochure, and it is what Family Promise is all about: SUPPORTING CHILDREN AND THEIR FAMILIES AS THEY OVERCOME HOMELESSNESS.

To those we seek to serve, we have a face-saving message of support: SOMETIMES A FAMILY JUST NEEDS A LITTLE HELP, which is highlighted in a second brochure that resulted from our ENC project.

To the churches and prospective volunteers (the lifeblood of our interfaith hospitality network), we invite prospective volunteers to engage in meaningful service in this plea: HELP US KEEP OUR PROMISE TO HELP FAMILIES WHO ARE HOMELESS IN HELENA, which is highlighted in a third brochure that resulted from our ENC project.

When I came on board to serve as executive director of Family Promise in January of 2015 and received this collateral material, it was both a tool box and a treasure trove.

For Family Promise to grow and more effectively address the level of need we knew exists in Helena, we needed clients and we needed financial support. ENC resources, which included our QUICK SIGNS pop-up displays, empowered me to hit the ground running. They enabled me to invite and welcome people to the cause of eradicating family homelessness and helped clearly explain what we do and how we are different and valuable.


I started on January 5, 2015, and by the end of 2015, we were able to realize a 21% increase in funding and a 71% increase in the number of individuals served over the previous year. 

If you have the energy and NOT the tools, you do your best. But if you have the TOOLS, they energize your campaign. The primary (folding) brochure has been presented to:

  • Every civic club in Helena - to each person in the audience for every speech 
  • Every school counselor and many teachers at every level in the School District
  • Every District para-educator
  • Every new teacher in the District in their orientation program
  • Hundreds of church goers learning about Family Promise in more than a dozen churches on their Sabbath and at special church events. They have been handed out in chapels and sanctuaries! We have three new churches in our network and increased the number of trained volunteers by a net 10% despite inevitable attrition

This same brochure is the “textbook” given out at new volunteer training with a 75 minute PowerPoint presentation and handouts that follow the brochure’s format with expanded detail.

One of these brochures got to a social worker at the hospital. A couple was there and their first child was born. They confided their homeless predicament because they didn’t want to return with their baby to an abusive situation with a relative that was housing them. Thanks to the brochure, they came to Family Promise. The baby lived her first three months of life in Family Promise. Today, six months later, they are in their own home.

A brochure got to a deputy sheriff. He was carrying out an eviction notice but gave it to a family that came to Family Promise with a similar successful outcome.


The impact of the ENC grant award to Family Promise can be described in the following ways:

1. It empowered a new ED and an organization unsure of its capacity and frankly its future, but for the faith of its founders and dedication of its volunteers.

2. It enabled all of us to encapsulate what could be a complicated message that needed desperately to get to a larger audience when we were short on time and funds.

3. It has also become a resource to our website, Facebook communications and Friday Update, an email that goes to 1200 volunteers and supporters - up by 50% over the previous year.

4. It will likely support our plan to create a powerful and affecting video in 2016.



Beginning with the 2016 ENC grant award, the ENC program requires a brief report to be prepared and submitted to BSI one year after the ENC project is completed, to help BSI and the ENC Program Partners learn what activities and outcomes resulted from the services provided.