Furthering Lakewold Gardens' Community Outreach

Organization Name
Lakewold Gardens
Mission Statement

To preserve and enhance Lakewold Gardens as a historic estate garden of world class distinction, offering each visitor an inspirational experience through growth and learning in a profoundly unique setting.

City & State
Question 1
The Before: What was the challenge, issue or problem your organization was facing? Or, what was the opportunity you were not able to take advantage of before you put a technology solution in place?

Answer: Lakewold Gardens is a historic garden estate. Visitors step back in time to a place of elegance, enjoying the Georgian-style mansion with original crown molding, and a stroll through the 10-acre garden. Inspiring Thomas Church landscape architecture and a botanical palette of color leads the visitor through artistic garden rooms. In order to attract guests to this visceral experience we must produce marketing materials that are rich in color and design. Previous materials were novice, at best. Expensive marketing firms and costs associated with full service print shops were not affordable. Since our materials did not properly ‘sell’ the estate nor truly depict the inspirational experience we offer to the community, we could not optimally communicate with our diverse stakeholders.

Question 2
What Microsoft software have you used/are you using in your organization to more effectively engage your beneficiaries, donors and/or volunteers and/or to make a difference in your community?

Answer: Microsoft Office 2007 or 2010 (Includes any of the following: Access, Excel, PowerPoint, Publisher, OneNote, Outlook, and Word)
Other: Windows 7 and Vista

Question 3
The After: How have these Microsoft products allowed you to engage your stakeholders more efficiently or effectively to make a difference in your community?

Answer: Use of Microsoft products provides continuity that staff needs to engage our stakeholders more efficiently. In the past, program access was limited. However, with ease of learning and user-friendly help menus, staff now confidently uses the Microsoft products across departments. Specifically, Outlook has centralized an organization calendar, Donor and financial reports are downloaded into Excel, presentations are given using PowerPoint, and our 10-acres of plants are recorded in Access. With an organizational culture that embraces technology as a friend and means for efficiency, all of the aforementioned Microsoft products have engaged our stakeholders more effectively by allowing staff to move efficiently through the various programs and communicate their messages with confidence.

Question 4
What about these products (the features or the way you used them) made them particularly helpful in enabling your organization to expand and improve upon its community impact?

Answer: As time and money are the scarcest of resources, staff relies on Microsoft products to increase job efficiency. Effective communication is time consuming. However, the sum of these products allows us to reach many people, in a short amount of time, with effective marketing mediums, specific to the needs of each stakeholder. Whether by email (Outlook), presentations (PowerPoint), finance reporting (Excel), letters (Word), or an incredible newsletter (Publisher), the integration of these products allows us to personalize our approach with thousands of people each year. We communicate effectively and our community responds by visiting the gardens. In turn, we remain a viable cultural experience serving the community through historical, horticultural, and environmental interpretation.

Question 5
Please provide any examples, stories or data that illustrate the difference the use of Microsoft software has enabled you to make (i.e., # of new clients reached, new program added, increased dollars raised, increased volunteers, etc.

Answer: Before, Staff presented the gardens, offsite, to organizations via a slide projector. Pictures were stunning, however, flexibility was limited and slide production was costly. The move to PowerPoint became a necessity. Now, presentations are personalized to each group, change by season, and incorporate film footage. While previously engaging audiences in small ways, now people become members of the gardens at the end of presentations, in addition to planning visits the following weekend. This improvement has aided in two consecutive years of record admissions with our membership base at a 5 year high. Our ‘road show’ PowerPoint presentation has increased the effectiveness of our outreach generating an increase in the numbers of people we serve in addition to increasing our bottom line.

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