Bonds are for building.
Levies are for learning.
We’ve all said this. It’s the easiest way to explain the difference between levies and bonds to the community. But with it becoming increasingly difficult to pass school funding measures districts can no longer solely rely on community members to understand the need behind school construction projects. A more robust communications plan is needed to reach audiences when there is competition for audience attention.
Here are three tips to running a successful bond campaign:
Research: In our experience, it’s vital to conduct research to learn the funding priorities of the community, get a benchmark of the public’s understanding of school funding and develop messaging to discuss the measures with the community. There are a couple of ways to do this depending on the size of the district:
- Public Opinion Research: Conducting a poll is a valuable way to get information on how the community thinks and feels about school funding measures and potential projects. Polls also provide an opportunity to hear from everyone in the district – not just those connected to the schools.
- Stakeholder Interviews: These interviews can help you understand public perception of school funding measures within communities.
- Survey of students, staff, families, and community members: An online survey that asks key questions about funding priorities is a great option for districts that are too small for a public opinion poll.
Use Social Media Strategically: Social media is an important tool to reach your audience and share news/updates about the district. It’s important to use this tool to share factual information about upcoming funding measures, how they work, and what they might fund.
Since bonds usually fund major projects, we recommend beginning a social media campaign a year out from the election. We have found success in social media posts that explain school funding, share updates from past bond-funded projects, and illustrate how voter-approved funding translates to student success. A steady cadence of posts can help reach the supermajority of voters that’s required to pass a bond.
Launch a Digital Media Campaign: Digital media allows us to reach our target audiences where they are – on their phones, computers, and tablets. These targeted ads run across multiple platforms and ensure your community members:
- Know an election is coming up and what’s on the ballot for the district
- Have a direct link to learn more about the funding measures
Our favorite digital ad platforms are search, display, YouTube, and NextDoor. We found these have a high engagement with key community members.
School communications teams have a lot on their plate, and a bond information campaign is a big lift. We are here to support you!