Vision: Establish recognition as the trusted resource for education about highway-rail grade crossing safety and trespass prevention on railroad property in Minnesota
Mission: To create awareness and provide education to the public on how to make safer decisions around tracks and trains in an effort to reduce collisions, deaths and injuries at highway-rail grade crossings and on railroad property in Minnesota
We were honored to be joined by our railroad, nonprofit, and industry partners, during our tenth year operating under our own 501c3. With their continued support, in addition to sponsorships, the successful receipt of a grant award from the Federal Railroad Administration, and the dedication of our Board of Directors and Authorized Volunteer team, MNOL was able to leverage hundreds of volunteer hours and thousands of contribution dollars to directly impact at least 68,000 people among the well over half a million impressions of our See Tracks? Think Train! logo and rail safety message over the past twelve months.
Increasing People – In addition to approximately 300 formal presentations allowing our OLAV team to reach over 10,000 people and events throughout the state reaching another 40,000 people, we utilized a generous grant to launch a unique geo-fencing and digital outreach effort garnering a conservative estimate of a half-million impressions.
Increasing Initiatives – Not only were we able to repeat successful initiatives like our partnership with CHETs Shoes and AM980 to air 140 PSAs to over 200K listeners during the Minnesota State Fair, our partners at BNSF Railway helped to provide an extra special safety reminder to the 1,200 in-person guest listeners on the fairgrounds during that time!
Increasing Outreach – With 3 established social media platforms and efforts to share our safety message via our Google AdWords grant we’ve been able to reach an exponentially larger audience year over year. With over 165K impressions since January 1st, we hope to expand even more in 2019 – check us out on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram!
Increasing Recognition – Our participation and commitment to the Towards Zero Deaths coalition over the past several years has further helped us to establish recognition as the trusted source for rail safety education in the state of Minnesota and beyond. In addition to our break-out session and exhibit space at the annual conference, requests and connections to new audiences continue to come to us on a regular basis through this network of law enforcement, safety advocates, and first responders dedicated to preventing tragedies.
As we continue to build a strong, progressive and effective state program as well as gain recognition as the ‘go-to’ statewide rail safety education organization, our need to partner with companies, organizations, communities, law enforcement, state agencies, and more continues to grow. With support from partners like YOU however, we can continue to make impacts like these and more. In this document we’ve compiled details regarding the efforts we made this year to accomplish the goals we set for ourselves. If you take the time to read through them we’d love your feedback on what goals you’d like to help us accomplish in 2019 and beyond!
Goal 1: Create and strengthen relationships to promote our mission
Maintained and enhanced our existing Volunteer relationships by:
- Continued to foster good communication with all volunteers, via regular presentation and event requests, social media, and bi-monthly eNewsletters
- Ensured access to program leadership and Coach Trainers by sharing invites when State Coordinator or a Coach traveled to an area outside of the Metro
- Launched volunteer team member survey to gain insights on barriers to participation and continuing education desired from our team
- Mailed rewards to active volunteers and prizes for survey participation in recognition of Volunteer Appreciation Week in April
- Coordinated both group and one-on-one Face-to-Face opportunities welcoming 14 new OLAV team members this year
- Hosted recognition dinner and team member meeting in the Duluth/Superior area
- Continued to meet with our Outreach and Advisory Committee giving volunteers a place to be a part of the planning and decision-making end of our annual events, activities, and projects
- Showed support of our OLAVs by ensuring access to adequate resources, providing supplies for events, schools, drivers ed classes, and more
Grew and Fostered our relationships with Media Partners by:
- Proactively contacted media partners throughout the year for issues including a spike in collisions from FRA statistics, continued trespassing issues, Rail Safety Week, and more
- Coordinated with MnDOT to release statements about rail safety week and safety at crossings
- Spoke with the MN Commissioner of Agriculture who interviewed with the Red River Farm Network and the Brownfield Ag Network during Rail Safety Week
- Partnered with CHETs and AM980 to share our recorded interview and over 100 PSAs during the Minnesota State Fair
- Supported efforts of OLAVs to submit approved letters to local media including a daily series presented during Rail Safety Week
Continued to strengthen our relationship with the Public by:
- Reached approximately 10,000 people through our free safety presentations across the state
- Increased our social media following by over 32% from November of 2017 to November 2018 and garnering 145K impressions across our three social media platforms
- Further worked to enhance and maintain our Google AdWords grant account to get our safety message in front of even more people across the state and beyond, accumulating 20.3K impressions this year!
- Participated for the fourth consecutive year at the Minnesota State Fair reaching approximately 30,000 people with many more impressions of our See Tracks? Think Train! logo and safety banners beyond them
- Answered calls and provided guidance, resources, and further contacts for people with questions about past incidents or potential situations regarding making safer decisions around tracks and railroad property including school bus companies, snow plow drivers, and those engaging in recreational activities
Created and Strengthened Relationships with our Strategic Partners
- Worked with the City of New Ulm and the Farm City Hub Club to include our Rail Safety presentation in their regional farm show, an exhibit table during the event, and an article about our organization and mission for the annual publication
- Graciously accepted the invitation to speak at this year’s Minnesota Regional Railroads Association Annual Conference regarding the innovative projects we’ve worked on, our 10th year as an independent 501c3 and our growing partnerships
- Worked with our partners to honor their requests to help promote the Operation Lifesaver safety message through events and other activities at the North Shore Scenic Railroad in Duluth, St. Paul Union Depot, the Minnesota Transportation Museum, Twin Cities Model Railroad Museum and more
- Promoted the inclusion of Rail Safety to the Towards Zero Deaths (TZD) Coalition members with exhibits at the Southeast and Metro Regional TZD Workshops as well as a break out session and exhibit at the Annual TZD Conference in Mankato
- At this year’s Health Conference hosted by the Minnesota Safety Council Safety we presented rail safety for commercial drivers
- Worked with REMSA and GoRail to include the topic of rail safety through our participation and networking with our partners at legislative meet and greets
- For the 4th consecutive year we promoted our rail safety message and resources to Law Enforcement partners at the Annual Minnesota Chief’s of Police Executive Training Institute and Expo event
- Welcomed new Volunteers from Federal Railroad Administration, CN Railway, Minnesota Regional Railroads Association, BNSF Railway, and Minnesota Limited
- Worked to expand our safety partnerships including Cities of Dilworth, New Brighton, St. Paul, and Minnetonka, joined the mascot race during the Twin Cities Marathon, began working within Robbinsdale Schools, started presenting at several new driver’s ed programs, and more
- Continued to foster relationships with our existing industry and organization partners through good communication including via our quarterly enewsletter, and social media updates as well as maintaining our blog for posting information like grant reports and our strategic action plan for partners to view on-demand and partner recognition
- Participated via live-stream in the Trespass Prevention Summit held in D.C. in October of 2018
Maintained a strong relationship with Operation Lifesaver, Inc.
- Completed the State’s Annual Report by the annual deadline
- Continued to utilize and promote the See Tracks? Think Train! Campaign, new PSAs, and other new materials being developed by OLI
- Reviewed OLI’s Membership Benefits & Standards document and ensured all state Board members were caught up on the 4 Get Legal, Stay Legal videos by OLI legal Counsel Sandra Pfau Englund
- Attended State Coordinator’s Meeting at FRA Regional Offices and OLI leadership to discuss new state agreements with OLI and how to successfully move forward with a shared mission
- Built out and continued to maintain the new OLI-based state website via oli.org
Goal 2: Promote and implement safety initiatives throughout Minnesota
Continued to identify new and innovative ways to deliver our safety message
- Worked with many partners to recognize the second annual rail safety week conducting 25 activities and outreach initiatives, directly reaching 3,300 people, getting Rail Safety Week mentioned in at least 15 different media outlets, and over 103K digital impressions during just one weeks’ time!
- Thanks to a generous grant from the Federal Railroad Administration we launched a three-month innovative geo-fencing and digital outreach project through which we achieved over 4.4Million impressions and directly impacted well over 40,000 people (this included our joint booth at the MN State Fair)
- We participated in at least 7 Community Safety Camps, 2 of which were some of the largest in the state
- Our Executive Director was a guest speaker presenting on our mission and use of marketing and outreach initiatives to share our safety message for a course on Social Marketing at St. Mary’s University of Minnesota
Continued to use our growing recognition as the trusted source for rail safety education and information in our state to promote positive safety culture
- Because of our continued involvement with the Towards Zero Deaths Coalition we’ve been contacted with inquiries ranging from interested volunteers, to obtaining our safety items, to invitations to additional events and presentation opportunities
- Our submission was chosen to both present and display our work with the Twin Cities Road Crew on our #MNOffTheRails Safety Challenge launch and surrounding social outreach and outcomes at this year’s MN Childhood Injury Prevention Summit
- For the fifth consecutive year we successfully requested a month-long rail safety proclamation from the MN Governor’s Office
Goal 3: Ensure professional administration of State Program
Ensured transparency and adequate oversight in nonprofit operations
- Ensured all Board Members have viewed the current nonprofit legal modules developed by OLI Legal Counsel Sandy Pfau Englund as well as the current OLI Member Standards for state organizations
- Our Governance Committee reviewed our organizational risk analysis as well as our Board Member recruitment policy, and updated our Bylaws
- Renewed our bronze level of recognition for providing donors with quality information on our Guidestar profile
- Updated and set up our GiveMN profile on their new platform and specifications
Practiced best principles for nonprofit operations
- Attended the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits Annual Conference to gain further insight in nonprofit best practices, network, and bring back resources to grow and strengthen our organization
- Coordinated a year-end Strategic Session to review our annual goals and strategy
- Continued to foster and support the new Advisory, Governance, and Finance Committees
- Agreed to the updated partnership agreement with Operation Lifesaver, Inc. and submitted our commitment in writing prior to the year-end deadline
Practiced effective financial management
- Promoted Give To the Max Day for the second consecutive year with the support of a matching grant from the Twin Cities & Western Railroad and over 10 individual donors!
- Successfully applied for, executed, and reported on a Competitive Safety grant project focused on innovative geo-fencing technology paired with global digital re-marketing and traditional events and outreach initiatives for a overall project reaching nearly 5Million impressions of our safety message over a 3-month period
- Successfully secured a partial scholarship to attend this year’s Minnesota Council of Nonprofits conference gaining insight in Board leadership, Social media and digital marketing, and more for an even smaller investment than sending our organizational leadership through full courses or training programs
- Continued to work towards a sustainable budget through further refined budgeting, seeking out new and increased sources of funding, and planning for future uses for the growth and expansion of the program in years to come
- Continued to follow Operation Lifesaver, Inc’s best practices by employing and working closely with a certified CPA to handle our payroll, bookkeeping, taxes, and annual audit to ensure transparency and accurate accounting of all of our finances
- It is in large part through the generosity of our existing partners and their willingness to give their time, space, in-kind support, and more that help us make our program as successful as it can be based on a group of dedicated volunteers, a single staff person and a small budget.