Year after year, those of us here at Denny Civic Solutions are proud to be able to learn so much from our clients. Maybe its because we don’t go into a campaign thinking we know everything, or because we know that not one size fits all. Or maybe it’s because our clients just happen to be such smart, innovative, and effective organizations and leaders.

Here are just a few of the things we learned from our clients this year:

1. The power of social media (#IWantToWork): As it turns out, it only takes about 30 tweets or posts to get the attention of an elected official. Yet in one year, #IWantToWork has far outpaced that, amassing over 1,600 followers and reaching more than 20,000 people a month. Want to see why they’ve inspired so many people? Click here to check out out their latest YouTube videos, featuring some of Pennsylvania’s top leaders talking about why they’re lining up behind the campaign’s efforts.

2. An energetic entrepreneur with a strong, dedicated board can do anything (Three Rivers Mothers Milk Bank): At first we thought the goal was a stretch – raise $500,000 in less than a year for a new nonprofit sporting a whole new concept. But when you have a great idea, with a super leader, backed by an engaged board, anything can happen. In one year, the Three Rivers Mother’s Milk Bank raised $730,000, and is now well on its way to $800,000!

3. If you want to get big things done, bring everyone to the table (United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania): No one brings everyone to the table better than the United Way. One of the big issues this year was the growing number – and increased needs – of family caregivers of elderly parents. DCS has helped develop a policy agenda for this initiative, and is working to pass legislation and improve programs to help the family members who are already giving so much.

4. Never, ever, ever give up on your dream (RAND Group): Left for dead five years ago, one man with an idea has resurrected the real possibility of building Skycar. At once a viable transportation option and first-day tourist destination, Skycar would be a multicar gondola running from Mt. Washington to the North Shore. The plan’s mastermind is Bob Randall, a true visionary if we’ve ever seen one.

5. Every child is a gift from God, especially those who wish to be “Victims No More” (Amachi Pittsburgh): It’s all right there in the name – “Amachi” is a Nigerian Ibo word meaning “Who knows but what God has brought us through this child.” Through their tireless work, Amachi Pittsburgh knows that every child is a gift, and those of incarcerated parents need extra help to let their own gifts flourish. The Victims No More Campaign is designed to help policy makers understand that these kids need our help and support more than ever.

6. Before jumping feet first, do the research (Pittsburgh Child Guidance Foundation): A smart leader understands the value of doing deep research to be successful. And that’s just what DCS helped the Pittsburgh Child Guidance Foundation do when determining the right direction to go in order to help homeless children.

7. Self-advocates are the best advocates (#IWantToWork): Whether it’s a teenager with a disability, or their parents and siblings, no one can articulate a powerful message like a self-advocate – someone who has experienced exactly what they are advocating for!

8. There’s room for two major health care providers in one region (Allegheny Health Network): And we need them both! DSC is pleased to help AHN with their community-based health care efforts and advancing their women’s health programs.

9. Being in the middle isn’t the easy thing – but it’s the right thing (Center for Sustainable Shale Development): You might think that bringing together the oil and gas industry with the environmental community to develop a win-win scenario for all is just a pipe dream (pun intended). Yet amazingly, the Center has done just that and come up with a powerful way forward that protects the environment, encourages business innovation, and keeps everyone working together for the betterment of all!

10. More bees with honey than vinegar (Elsie Hillman): What can one say, except that she was simply one of a kind? Elsie’s leadership style always brought people together, not apart. She was one of a kind, we dearly miss her, and need her unifying approach to leadership now more than ever!

11. Sometimes you just can’t compromise (Vision for Equality): Maureen Devaney and Audrey Coccia went to court more than two decades ago to make sure their daughters with disabilities had the right to an education. Our branding effort focused on their ongoing mission: making sure people with disabilities and their families get the services they deserve. They may not win popularity contests with bureaucrats, but Vision for Equality’s services are more crucial now than ever before.

12. Hire people who know what they’re talking about (#IWantToWork): Who better to manage and run a campaign supporting a bill to get teenagers with disabilities paid, integrated summer and after-school employment than young adults with disabilities themselves? That’s just what we did when we hired 5 outstanding young professionals who just happen to have a disability.

13. Sometimes you need to turn the system upside down (Holy Family Academy) – That’s what Sister Linda Yankoski has done with her Academy for 9th through 12th grade students from very low income neighborhoods. The idea is simple: expand classroom learning to include one day of paid, meaningful employment for every student each week! The results are simple, too: it’s a model that works.

14. Focus on more than business – serve the community, too (Oxford Development): This is a highly community-based, caring company in Pittsburgh. DCS was honored this past year to help connect Oxford to meaningful partners in our community that helped find win/win situations for all!

15. Sometimes, one decision maker is better than two for some kids (Kidsvoice): Kidsvoice faced a challenge. For some foster kids whose parents are no longer around or have lost rights, making both the medical and educational decisions for a child with significant needs should be coordinated – which sometimes means one organization, like Kidsvoice, making those decisions. DCS helped Kidsvoice strategize the best way to proceed to make it happen.