Community Resource Initiative

Spring-Summer 2022
Project Type
Fast track
Project Focus
Marketing & Communications
Organization Type
Human Services


Founded in 2007, Community Resource Initiative (CRI) is a collectively run investigation office and resource center, building narratives to challenge the death penalty and advocate for the value of human life. CRI collaborates with families and communities impacted by the judicial system to facilitate safety, growth, and resilience. CRI mitigators work with death penalty defense teams by providing documentation, data, and facts for a deep, clear, holistic view of the client’s background and situation. CRI also provides programming and support to affected families and communities and performs policy advocacy work.


CRI has grown significantly over the past seven years by becoming a sought-after partner for criminal defense teams. Simultaneously, the pandemic has made it more difficult for CRI specialists to do the in-person work for which they charge service fees. As the pandemic eases, CRI expects visits and funding to stabilize, but the need for diversified revenue streams remains a priority to alleviate overreliance on service fees to scale CRI’s impact. Within the last year, the organization has hired two Co-Directors of Programs who are dedicated to increasing donations and grants.

Project Objectives

CRI asked an ACT team to help develop compelling and differentiated positioning for CRI, with key and supporting messages to engage critical stakeholders, enable development and revenue diversification, and power a broader advocacy profile.

Project Overview

The project for CRI was structured in four phases:

  1. Planning – Objectives, scope, deliverables, and workplan sign-off
  2. Phase I – Document review, research on development trends and industry landscape, internal and external interviews (14), findings synthesis and insights
  3. Checkpoint – Findings review, facilitated positioning and messaging workshop, agreed-upon scope for Phase II
  4. Phase II – Development recommendations, final positioning, and messaging platform

Key Recommendations

The ACT team recommended that CRI:

  • Reconsider its development strategy, previously centered on individual grassroots donors, to pursue high net worth individuals, family funds, foundations, and issue funds
  • Recognize the “space” for its services is crowded and noisy, and pursue sharper brand clarity, specific differentiation, and targeted messaging
  • Invest in audience segmentation and targeted lists to support development performance
  • Consider branding alternatives that better reflect the mission, differentiate, and connect more directly with all stakeholders including clients, families, the justice system, and donors

Final Report Outline

  • Development landscape, benchmarks, strategy, priorities, and targets – to support clarity on positioning and messaging priorities
  • Positioning Platform – including core personas, key brand attributes, clarified brand voice, and a “Brand House” (What We Do, Why It’s Relevant, How We’re Different, and Why It Matters)
  • Messaging Platform – key differentiators; core statement and supporting copy; elevator pitch; messaging for key media including website, ads, social posts, and outreach emails; draft mission statement; messaging distribution (channels) recommendations