Shifting the Mindset: Are You Ready to Sell Your Program for Funding?
Stormwater programs across the county struggle to find the necessary financial resources to implement their programs and comply with NPDES Phase I and Phase II municipal permits. The success rates associated with competing for general fund money or pursuing local ballot measures is extremely low. As an example, initiatives in California over the past decade are successful less than 50% of the time. Yet the stormwater community keeps using the same approach over and over again. Why is that? Part of the problem is stormwater programs attempt to use the traditional approaches to securing funding more commonly associated with life critical infrastructure or services including water, sewer and refuse but unfortunately the public doesn't see stormwater as life critical (if they even know what stormwater is). At the same time, stormwater has a legacy of poor marketing, programs are often not well defined, and they typically lack a compelling message or story. This is all happening at a time when the public confidence in government is at an all-time low making successful revenue initiatives even harder to pass. This presentation will focus on how the stormwater community can "Shift the Mindset" about the way they think, talk and sell their stormwater programs. The audience will be interactively walked through a five-step process to overcome the financial realities and challenges stormwater programs in California face which includes: 1) Clearly defining the program, 2) Justifying the financial need, 3) Developing a compelling argument, 4) Creating strong branding and messaging and 5) Taking a different approach to obtaining funding. Implementing these five steps will increase the awareness and importance (internally and externally) of the stormwater program, helping to bridge the gap between stormwater and other more prominent infrastructure needs. These steps also create the foundation and credibility which allow stormwater to be more competitive in securing dedicated and sustainable funding. Audience members will be asked to respond to questions and thing about how these five steps relate to their real-life challenges in secure funding for their stormwater program. This presentation relates the Conference Theme of "Connecting the Drops from Summit to Sea" because programs across the state, from the Sierra's to the Pacific Ocean, are chronically underfunded. The presentation will include examples from stormwater programs in the mountains, along major river corridors all the way to the coast making the material applicable for diverse audience.