We began the 3 1/2 hour session with brief presentations. Olivia suggested engaging supporters to help raise funds, and suggested utilizing free research available from site such as HubSpot. I then followed with ideas on how to Kick Start your Online Fundraising, such as tweaking your donation form and developing a multichannel approach. Then Steve reminded us that good communication starts within our own organizations (if we can’t communicate well internally, how can we do it well with constituents?). He also encouraged our audience (mostly small nonprofits) how even the smallest organization can be a big communicator using currently available tools. Also, make sure donors can see their role in stories you share.
After a break, Brian challenged us to ‘stop doing what’s not working’ and that we measure our nonprofits not only to each other, but to online vendors such as Amazon since this is the type of customer service and responsiveness our constituents are accustomed to. He also explained how phones have changed everything since we can ‘get information when we want it – don’t have to wait.’ In response to a question, he suggested (and I agree) that instead of only providing an annual report, we provide ongoing feedback to our donors on how their contributions are helping others. (Kivi Leroux Miller also has many resources covering this topic.)
As expected, our extended interactive discussion with the audience was the most stimulating – for us and hopefully for them. Some key takeways:
if you’re on Facebook, you MUST be ready to have a conversation, not just post updates. If you’re not getting likes / comments to your posts, you need to try something different to encourage interaction
want a novel way to thank donors? Do a monthly conference call with the ED, invite constituents to participate and record so others can listen later.
don’t build a mobile app (too expensive and high barrier to entry) – focus on having a web presence that is optimized for phones and tablets
you must use a tripod when making videos – no one will watch a shaky video
repurpose content for different communication channels, but make sure you optimize them for each platform
Thanks to everyone for participating in our session!
My favorite takeaways (mentioned in many of these lists):
Examine how your website and email communications read on mobile phones and tablets. This is how more of your constituents are accessing your content now
You don’t have to recreate the wheel. Our nonprofit colleagues are incredibly generous with their knowledge. Learn from other people (like Beth Kanter or Nancy Schwartz) and organizations (like Nten and Idealware) that offer multiple resources to help your nonprofit succeed online (and off)
Learn more about your supporters by analyzing information you probably already have: website statistics, email analytics, registration forms, polls / surveys – then use this data to better segment your communications
But as Kivi said during her webinar that described her recommendations in detail, it’s not enough to just read or listen to these suggestions. What will you do this month to apply these ideas at your organization?
Coming up with strong content is the key behind any online strategy. As I and many of my nonprofit colleagues around the country do, I try to find the most worthwhile posts to share with my followers. Beth Kanter explains that Content Creation is Listening and Engaging, then followed up with this look at Scoop.It as a way to organize your content.
For best results in ephilanthropy initiatives, I’ve always advocated for an active partnership between Communications and Development. Here’s more reasons why from Kivi Leroux Miller, If you’re not getting the type of response you want from your nonprofit e-newsletters, Kivi also offers a free 15 day e-newsletter course at her Nonprofit Marketing Guide website. which offers many simple tips you can easily implement.
If your organization is undergoing a major change (as most of us do sooner or later), Peter De Jager provides many great resources on change management at Technobility. See also Chaos is the New Normal.
Do you use an editorial calendar to plan what content you will post on your website and other online platforms, or do you mostly create content on the fly? In Deciding What the American Red Cross Tweets, social media guru Wendy Harman says that it’s a combination of both, and that her organization encourages staff to learn by using social media but also provides training. At certain times of year or when disaster strikes, the Red Cross uses much more planned content.
Having engaging content to share in our multiple communication channels is a continuing challenge. Per Kivi Leroux Miller, here’s how ASPCAPro Manages Content Creation, which reinforces why regular editorial meetings / calendars are so helpful in developing ideas and planning your outreach.
According to Kivi Leroux Miller‘s new 2011 Nonprofit Communications Trend Report, email marketing and websites are still the most important tools in a nonprofit’s communications strategy, followed by print (newsletters or direct mail), in-person events, Facebook and media relations/PR. So until you have the basics in place, social media probably shouldn’t be a top priority. Kivi recommends three strategies for nonprofit communicators in 2011:
Be responsible for generating great content about your cause – don’t rely on others to do it for you.
Help your supporters to clearly understand what your organization is about and what you are accomplishing. Sometimes the abundance of information makes it more difficult for constituents to ‘connect the dots.’
Show passion for how your organization helps others and always be aware of what ‘brand’ you want to represent.
Yesterday I spoke about Selecting and Implementing a Donor or Membership Database at Congregations 2.0, a technology training workshop for churches, synagogues and mosques. For a small organization that is just getting started, in addition to collecting email addresses and having a website, I would add having the ability to collect donations online and having a good donor database, preferably using an online platform. Social media and blogging can come later.
Many of us are now managing or working with colleagues across the country or even in other countries. Nten has just kicked off a webinar series, Virtual Team Leader: Training for Managers of Remote Teams (a recording is available of yesterday’s first of four sessions). Tip: Don’t rely only on email as your main communications device.