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Sewickley's Village Green Partners funding, performance to be linked in $80,000 contract

Database, panel amongtools aimed at meeting goals

Part of Village Green Partners' efforts for 2014 include a business district database and establishment of an advisory committee made up of members of the business community and a borough council member, President Jennifer Markus said.

The purpose is to “ensure that our efforts are being directed in the appropriate places and to help us to find creative ways to overcome some of our challenges.”

Markus said the database project is the “thing that we are most excited about this year.”

The database will offer a streamlined area for information, she said.

“We have been using a variety of spreadsheets that we have either been given or created ourselves, and the Constant Contact database we use to send emails,” she said.

“We have known for a while that this was not an efficient or a sustainable way to manage our data long term.”

Using a virtual server, Village Green will establish and manage business, vendor and donor information and interactions, she said of the program that is free to use.

“We will be able to run robust reports that will help us focus our targeting for specific event sponsorships as well as a variety of other information that will help us in our daily interactions,” Markus said.

Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2014, 9:00 p.m.
 

Performance metrics detailing such items as Facebook “likes” and email addresses collected for regularly planned e-newsletters are part of a contract worth $80,000 in taxpayer money to a nonprofit group marketing Sewickley's business district.

Metrics — which provide a way to measure performance — achieved this year could produce more funding for next year. Sewickley Council members approved the Village Green Partners contract and performance metrics last week by an 8-1 vote. Member Carole Ford voted no, saying she thought the money allocated to the group was “too much.”

“It is good for any organization to have measured metrics to help ensure that the focus stays on the things that will help drive the mission,” said Jennifer Markus, president of the Sewickley-based nonprofit that works to promote the business district through marketing and organizing events throughout the year, such as Light Up Night. “As we continue to evolve and grow as an organization, the metrics will change.”

Metrics will offer quarterly checkpoints tied to funding levels for next year, according to the group's contract.

“If we hit our targets, we are rewarded financially,” Markus said. “If we do not, we are penalized financially. This is the first year, so we will see how it works out.”

Metrics are broken into five areas: paid partnerships established with local businesses, e-newsletter contacts, Facebook “likes,” fundraising for the Christmas season's Yuletide in Sewickley and completion of a business district database.

The group's $80,000 payment would serve as a base payment for 2015. Funding levels could be decreased or increased up to $10,000.

Three of the metrics are based on quarterly assessments. For instance, if the group reaches 1,300 Facebook “likes” by the end of March, Village Green would be given an additional $500 in 2015. They could earn an additional $500 for each 100 new “likes” added each quarter or see a decrease if those achievements aren't reached.

Markus said she is confident the group can achieve the goals set.

“Every tool we use at Village Green helps us to work toward our mission,” she said. “The newsletter pushes information to over 2,000 people who want that information on a weekly basis. People are using their smartphones everywhere, so using Facebook to tell our story is essential.”

Markus said the group is working toward increasing support it receives from private donors.

“We have said that we will work to decrease our funding from the borough,” she said.

She added that she wasn't certain of a time frame to decrease funding.

“I don't have a magic ball to look into the future to be able to answer that question.”

Council member Tom DeFazio, who was part of a team to develop the metrics, said he approved of the goals set.

With one paid employee — marketing director Alex DeLoia — Markus said much of the work accomplished by the group is volunteer driven.

“Everyone else is a volunteer, including myself,” Markus said. “We pay rent for a physical office space that helps us build relationships in the community, as well as some basic services like accounting and legal advice. All the other money we receive is put right back into marketing the community, running our events and our business development efforts.”

Markus said she thinks the group's efforts pay off when “attendees enjoy the events, the ticket sales increase year over year, we raise funds for great causes and the attendees learn about the offerings in the business district of Sewickley.”

Bobby Cherry is an associate editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-324-1408or rcherry@tribweb.com.

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