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RFP - Clean Water Messaging

Date Posted: 6/25/2021
Department: Programs
Type of Employment: Full-Time

Iowa Environmental Council
Clean Water and Land Program

Job type: Consultant

Reports to: Water Program Director

Request for Proposal issued: June 24, 2021

Submission Deadline: July 14, 2021

The Iowa Environmental Council (IEC) requests the services of a consultant to perform message testing on key program area messages and assist with developing at least one statewide communications campaign based on the results of such message testing.


The Iowa Environmental Council educates, advocates, and builds coalitions to raise awareness, generate action, and impact policy to make Iowa a better place to live, work, and explore. We achieve our mission through education, advocacy, and coalition building.

Founded in 1995, the Iowa Environmental Council is the largest and most comprehensive

environmental coalition in the state. We are a nonpartisan alliance of more than 90 diverse

organizations (such as the Environmental Law and Policy Center, the Center for Rural Affairs, RayGun, Des Moines Waterworks, and Iowa Interfaith Power and Light) and individuals

working together to protect and preserve Iowa's environment. Together, we unify Iowans to advocate for clean water and land stewardship, clean energy, and a healthy climate.

IEC and its balanced, nonpartisan approach is unique, effective, and well-respected. Our abilities to gather the knowledge and expertise of our members, assemble diverse stakeholders around the table, collaborate, create productive dialogue, and offer solutions are among some of our greatest skills. We pride ourselves on our credibility, our science-based and results-oriented programs, and our passionate, knowledgeable staff and members.

The IEC Clean Water and Land Stewardship Program (Water Program) works to improve and protect Iowa’s water and land to strengthen Iowa’s resiliency, economy, public health, and quality of life. This requires widespread land-use change across Iowa. The Water Program’s focus is on increasing conservation and land stewardship practices that achieve any of the following: improve water quality, mitigate flooding, increase wildlife habitat, enhance outdoor recreation opportunities, protect soil health, and sequester carbon. Many practices provide several of these co-benefits. Widespread behavior change is necessary to achieve the goal of transformative land-use change across Iowa.

Our policy priorities reflect a mix of incentives and requirements (carrots and sticks) to drive behavior change. The Water Program’s current priorities include: addressing agricultural pollution; investing in a diverse, inclusive, and multi-functional landscape; and flood mitigation and climate resiliency.


As the political climate has become increasingly polarized over the last several years, the IEC Water Program has identified a need to re-examine our public messaging and to find compelling narratives that speak to various constituencies. Particularly following the November 2020 election, it was evident that the environment was not a voting issue for a majority of Iowans.


The goals of the message testing are to:

  • Decipher what environmental messages are most compelling to Iowa voters.
  • Transform environmental concerns into voting issues.
  • Move those that are unengaged but receptive to environmental messages from inaction to action.
  • Mobilize voters to ask and push state legislators to prioritize the environment.
  • Reach diverse audiences and broaden Iowa’s community of environmental voters.

The communications consultant will:

Develop and test engaging messages during the summer of 2021 related to the following topics:

  • Water quality impacts on public health and quality of life in Iowa
  • Agriculture’s role in water pollution and outsized influence on Iowa politics
  • Fairness and equity of water quality solutions and expenses
  • Climate change action and urgency in Iowa
  • Investment in outdoor recreation and public lands
  • Develop a digital communications campaign for IEC to implement in fall/winter 2021. The consultant will use the best-testing message(s) to develop core messaging and a campaign strategy and materials that will move voters to become “votes for the environment.” Digital communications may include social media, targeted advertising, video, website content, and earned online media.
  • Provide guidance to IEC Water Program and Communications staff for future implementation or expansion of core messaging.
  • Collaborate, communicate, and provide regular updates to IEC staff (preferred frequency of bi-weekly check-ins to start). Work may be completed entirely remotely, but there may be opportunity for in-person internal or external presentations or meetings depending on distance and safety.


The successful firm or individual will be selected on the basis of professional qualifications and demonstrated competence. Particular attention will be paid to: 

  • Ability to perform the requirements outlined in this RFP. 
  • Qualifications and relevant experience of the firm and individuals who will work on the contract.
  • Reasonableness of the fee requested to do the work; comparability of fee to similar services offered by other qualified firm(s) or individuals.
  • Demonstrated commitment of the firm or individual to justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion in their work.
  • Demonstrated record of success by the firm or individual. 

The Iowa Environmental Council is an Equal Opportunity Employer dedicated to building a culturally diverse and pluralistic community engaged with working in a multicultural environment, and strongly encourages proposals from all qualified firms or individuals.


July 14, 2021 – RFP Submission Deadline (11:59 PM)

July 23, 2021 – Anticipated Award Notification

August 1, 2021 – Anticipated Project Start Date

September 30, 2021 – Message Testing Completed

October 31, 2021 – Full Project Completed


Firms or individuals should send their proposals to Ingrid Gronstal, Water Program Director, at Iowa Environmental Council, 505 Fifth Ave, Suite 850, Des Moines, IA 50309, or via email to gronstal@iaenvironment.org.

How to Apply:

1. View job description

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2. Cover letter & resume

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3. Response

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