By Jen Fletcher, 2017 Get It Back Campaign Intern
Now that the summer’s over, it’s time to start preparing for the tax season in earnest. The outreach and planning work you’ve done over the summer are great building blocks for the months ahead; below are next steps to ensuring a successful season.
- Reach out to campaign partners. With tax season right around the corner, it’s a good idea to start regularly including campaign partners in meetings. Communicating with partners early and often will help ensure that you can work together smoothly when it’s time to set up VITA sites. Reach out to any new groups you want to partner with in the coming months to make sure they have ample time to prepare. Now is also a good time to connect with your IRS Territory Manager about free tax filing assistance plans.
- Find your volunteers. Whether it’s reconnecting with past volunteers or reaching out to new people, the fall months are the perfect time to start securing volunteer tax preparers. Ask returning volunteers what attracted them to your campaign in the first place, and encourage them to bring friends, family, coworkers, and classmates to lend a hand. Make sure your volunteering process is simple and be upfront about any steps new volunteers will need to take. The Get It Back Campaign has outreach materials and sample recruitment messages to help get you started.
- Develop a marketing strategy and conduct media outreach. As part of a solid marketing strategy, prepare a media packet for distribution to media outlets and campaign partners. Be sure to include fact sheets about the EITC and the CTC, describe why outreach is important, explain how folks can see if they’re eligible, and share success stories. Get in touch with previous media contacts, or identify some new ones, at local print, radio, and television outlets (here are some good suggestions if you’re not sure where to get started).
- Make a media calendar. Set up a few weeks’ worth of content in advance to make sure you won’t have to scramble to put out new social media posts or press releases down the road. Figure out which social media sites you’ll want to post to, and budget time for writing and editing posts accordingly. We recommend posting on Facebook 3 to 5 times per week, and on Twitter 2 to 4 times per day. You can schedule posts in advance on Facebook and use outside tools for Twitter like Buffer or Hootsuite to stick to your calendar.
- Connect with public benefit and asset-building programs. Help low- and moderate- income workers make the most of their tax returns by finding programs in the community that provide financial education, matching funds for savings, or services to transition unbanked and underbanked individuals into mainstream financial systems. Many organizations have successfully combined tax preparation services with these programs through referrals, partnerships, or on their own.
Check out our printer-friendly materials and social media graphics to help jump-start your organization’s preparations this fall! These resources are free to use and customizable to fit your campaign.