Dec 262017
 

When’s the last time you received a great thank you?

Maybe it was a beautiful handwritten note, or an unexpected public shout out.  Do you remember how it made you feel?  A little bit warm and fuzzy, a bit inspired, a bit motivated and excited?

Those are the feelings you want to inspire in your donors.

We need to thank our donors at least 5 times a year! Fortunately, saying “Thank You” can take many forms.

Here are some ideas as you say thank you to your donors.

 1. Handwritten Note

In an age of email and text messages, a handwritten note carries even more meaning.  One of my favorite thank you notes I ever received from an organization was a simple DIY card with a photo of a program participant on the front.  It was heartfelt and really reflected the organization. I felt truly valued. Be sure to include your logo. The personal touch makes a difference you’re your donors will notice!

 2. Social Media

Use the power of social media to highlight some of your more touching donor scenarios, whether it’s a photo of a local business office that brings their whole team to deliver a giant check, or it’s an individual who arrives with a grocery bag of much needed supplies. Whether you have photos of the donors themselves or just the fruits of their donation, post the photos and give social media shout outs. Don’t forget to tag and share so that the donor themselves see the post! They, in turn, will most likely share it via their social media, increasing your exposure.

 3. Public Thank You

You can use your newsletter and annual report to highlight donors, and/or by creating a Donor Wall at your organization, where lots of visitors and service recipients will see it. Some donor walls look complicated or expensive, but if you enlist your staff in some brainstorming, you’ll see that you can create some low-cost ways of celebrating your donors that fit your organization’s budget.

 4. Welcome Package

For first time donors, a small welcome package with a thank you note, a story or photos of the impact of their donation, and a small gift (like a book mark) can really make a donor feel appreciated and even more excited about your organization’s work. You can also set up a series of emails (otherwise known as a “drip campaign”) that your new donors receive over a series of weeks after they’ve made their donation. Research shows these people are quicker to give again, and at a higher level.

 5. Video

A good thank you video can go a long way. Acknowledge your donors’ gifts with a clear and simple thank you video at any time of year. A 2 – 3 minute “thank you” video will not only engage your donors, but it provides you with a way to publicly recognize them through social media and promote your organization to other potential supporters.  Make it more impactful by having your service recipients deliver the message. Don’t worry about equipment. Video technology has come so far that a smartphone can make a great video worth sharing. Don’t worry about editing, either – today’s donors don’t want a highly polished piece that’s been produced in a studio. Keep it short, so you can do it in one take.

6. Impact Updates

Make sure the donor knows how his/her donation was used. Donors like to see how their donation made an impact on the people you’re serving (because that’s who they want to help!). Give number breakdowns where applicable, be specific, give examples, and tell stories. The thank you note should be as thorough and heartfelt as the initial plea for support.

 7. From the Service Recipients

Whether you engage service recipients in making cards or take a big group photo holding a big “Thank You” sign, engaging your clients or constituents can be powerful for donors, and it helps engage your clients in what it takes to keep the organization and services running, which can be empowering for them. If you service children, hand drawn pictures and/or cards are particularly heartfelt.

 8. Phone Calls

Doing a Thank-A-Thon is a great way to engage volunteers and board members.  Divide up a list of donors, and sit down and make phone calls just to say thank you.  It’s powerful to connect directly with individuals, and they’ll feel touched by the personal outreach.  Sometimes you even learn incredible stories of why they gave to your organization or cause.

 9. Donor Cultivation Event

A donor cultivation event is an intimate affair (I recommend no more than 100 people, including board and staff) that allows you to connect with your donors and to let them feel like part of group or movement.  This can take the shape of anything from a breakfast to a cocktail hour, and can be held on-site, at a board member’s home, a local restaurant, art venue, or event space.  Think about what would fit your organization’s capacity and budget.

 10. Tour

Let your donors see your work up close. Invite them in for a tour of your facility and to see the impact of the work up close.  This can even involve a driving or walking tour, depending on the nature of your work.

(A quick reminder: when using photo or video, be sure to get a media release signed by the people you’re filming!)

At its core, fundraising is about relationships. As with any relationship, showing appreciation is central to continuing to grow and deepen the connection.

And now, we want to hear from you!

Which idea did you like best?

How do you thank donors at your organization?

Share your ideas with us so we can learn from one another!

 

And THANK YOU for reading my blog!

 

 December 26, 2017  Posted by at 9:08 am Communications and Social Media, Fundraising
Dec 182017
 

You know those people who can just tell an amazing story? The dinner party goes quiet as their story unfolds as everyone gets drawn in.  Or when you get so caught up in a news article that you hear nothing around you because you’re so enthralled that nothing else matters?

That is good storytelling.  And YOU can be that storyteller.

You HAVE to be that storyteller.

We need to tell our stories — not stories about ourselves, but stories about the people our organization is helping.  Becoming a storyteller doesn’t mean you have to be the center of attention at parties (in case any introverts out there are already feeling nauseous!), but you do need to make your clients the center of attention for your donors, volunteers, and fans through good storytelling.

Why is storytelling important? Storytelling is crucial, because it’s through stories that we connect to each other, to the world, and to our deepest humanity. The feelings evoked by a powerful story are stronger than anything our response to facts and figures (even for data nerds, like me!). Fundraising is, at its core, a heart-centered activity. While data is important — because people need to know you’re having an impact — sharing the story of a former client and the struggles she’s endured with her children, how she overcame them with YOUR organization’s support, and where she is now, and how she’s doing, they will feel connected and invested and will want to support her — and those like her — at any even deeper level.

We have hundreds of stories of the people we’ve supported through our work.  Make sure those stories capture the imagination, hearts, and wallets of your supporters (and would be supporters!).

Here’s How:

  1. Stories need a beginning, a middle, and an end. Be sure your story had a strong beginning, some tension in the middle and resolution at the end.  Before you start writing, ask yourself, what is the point of this story? Be sure your reader/listener gets that point from beginning to end!
  2. Pique their curiosity. What if I told you we’ve figured out a way to eliminate childhood cancer?  Using a bold, provocative statement perks people’s interests and entices them to hear (read) the rest of the story.  Storytellers call this an “inciting incident.” We are, by nature, curious beings — tapping into that tendency by using provocative questions opens the window wide for the rest of your story.
  3. Evoke VAK! No, Vak is not some mystical storytelling guru living in the mountains, but rather stands for Visual Audio Kinesthetic. Use visual, audio, and kinesthetic (hands-on/experiential) modalities to immerse a person into a desired experience or state. (If a story tells 1,000 words, think about the impact of video!)  When the mind begins to imagine emotional and sensory experiences, parts of the brain light up as if it’s actually happening. Using these cues to describe “the adrenaline racing through your body,” or the “tragedy that brought you to tears,” will shift the audience from passive listener, to feeling like an active participant.
  4. Engage in Conflict Resolution. Two traditional storytelling elements are conflict and resolution. Your story should outline the problem, then show how your agency/ approach/intervention provides a resolution. Be sure to come at this from the CONSUMER’S perspective, not yours!
  5. Appeal to Self-interest. The truth is, we’re wired for self-interest (otherwise, we wouldn’t survive!). Leveraging people’s self-interest helps you connect with them more quickly and on a deeper level.  Help the reader/listener understand how getting involved or providing support makes them a better person. What do your supporters care about?
  6. Shock and Awe. We humans think in patterns. We take information out, try to make sense of it, spit it out. A break in that cycle is like a splash of icy water on our face. It’s why movies like The Sixth Sense and Fight Club are captivating — the plot twist breaks our mental pattern.  Plot twists don’t always need to happen at the end. You can open with a paradoxical statement or introduce it later on. Incorporating pattern breaks anywhere within a story increases its impact.
  7. Create an Inventory. Stories are the perfect way to illustrate and impart a lesson!  Use your personal experiences and those of your clients to build up your inventory of metaphors and illustrations. Doing so enables you to add more color to your stories.
  8. Know your Story by Heart. The best stories come from the heart. Know your story by heart, but do not memorize it. Use your authentic voice. Speak from the heart. This is not a dissertation, it’s a story.
  9. What’s at Stake? Get some skin in the game!  Stakes are essential in good storytelling. What do you stand to gain or lose? Why is what happens in the story important to you? If you can’t answer these questions, then think of a different story or a different way to tell this one.
  10.  An Ending. Whether it’s a hopeful or a tragic ending, don’t let your reader/listener get all the way to the end of your story only to have it peter out!  Ending with a powerful statement, and/or a call to action is a great way to make sure the story hits home and sticks.  If the story has tragic elements to it, make sure the call to action mobilizes your listeners so that they don’t feel powerless in the face of overwhelming forces.

How to Share Those Stories

Find clients, members or someone else in your organization that has a really powerful story to tell.  You might be surprised by the number of clients, volunteers, board members and other stakeholders who are willing to tell their story. The best way to capture it is on video, but if they’re reluctant to get on camera, capture it in writing. Be sure to snap their photo! How many of them would be willing to tell their story to a small group of donors or potential donors? Or to a legislator?  Or on stage at an event?  Find out who right in your midst could tell their own story.

There are many “channels” you can use to share your story — in newsletters, at annual meetings, various social media platforms, in email blasts or as part of an action alert.  For one client, we sent out quarterly story postcards — client photo and a quick summary of their story, with a link to the full story on their website. The response was phenomenal!

You can create both long and short versions of stories to use easily across different communication channels.  And if you memorize some of the stories in the form you want to share them, you’ll be ready for when you have a last minute interview opportunity or the next time a reporter calls.

As you’re putting together your strategies and plans for 2018, make sure you take the time to think about your storytelling strategy for your non-profit.  Pull your team together and brainstorm the who, what, and where, and you’ll be amazed at what sharing a story can do for your organization, your fundraising and your mission!

We want to hear from you in terms of what you need from us! Don’t forget to fill out our year-end survey.  Everyone who completes it gets a free gift AND will be entered in a drawing to win a Dunkin’ Donuts gift card! Survey is open through December 18.

Also, my book – The Field Guide to Fundraising for Nonprofits – is officially out! You can buy it here. If you’re on our mailing list, you’ll soon be receiving a postcard for 20% off!

Wishing you all the very best this holiday season. You’ll be hearing a LOT more from us in the New Year!

 December 18, 2017  Posted by at 2:28 am Communications and Social Media, Fundraising
Feb 062015
 
Depositphotos_38903051_original

With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, it’s the perfect time to show your donors how much you love and appreciate them!

This starts with understanding their needs.

Each one of our donors has a vision for how they’d like to see the world. Your donors give to you because they believe that your organization can make a difference in the cause they care about. You are their partner in changing the world and their gifts are an investment in that partnership.

One of our chief tasks is to help our donors feel connected to the changes we are making in the world, to feel that they ARE making a difference, to inspire them to give again so we can continue our important work. They need to be acknowledged and to feel appreciated – after all, without them, we’d be in tough shape!

How do we do this?

The quickest way to a donor’s heart is through a story.

Because at its core, philanthropy is a heart-centered activity.

And stories help us connect to one another through our heart space.

I know you have a million great stories you could tell!

Stories that focus on the Underdog, a Quest, the Journey, Comedy, Tragedy, or Rebirth. Stories about your clients’ challenges, triumphs and celebrations. We need to post success stories on our website, on our Facebook page, in our newsletter (and e-newsletter). We need to create case studies and collect testimonials. To sprinkle quotes in everything that goes out the door or over the internet.

You’d be surprised how many of your clients WANT to share their stories with you. After all, you helped them overcome a challenge and move to a better place in their lives. They want to share that triumph with others, let others in the same situation know that change is possible. It makes them feel good to give help and hope to others. For many clients, they feel it’s one way they can “repay” the agency for providing them with much-needed help. So don’t be shy about asking! We should, of course, ensure client confidentiality, but that’s easy enough to do with made up names and stock photos.

The other way you can inspire your donors is to interview your existing donors. Ask why they give. You will be amazed by some of the stories you hear! Like your clients, many of your donors are more than happy to share their story with you and it can serve as a major inspiration for others. Interviewing your donors will also help you get to know them better and deepen their connection to your organization (win-win!). Like client stories, sprinkle these liberally across your communications!

One quick way to share stories is to create a series of story postcards. These are easy and relatively inexpensive to create – most printers charge only $165 for 2,500 four-color postcards! Use a real or stock photo on the front, with a synopsis of the story on the back. End the story with a Call to Action – an invitation to read the full story on your website, a request for a financial or in-kind contribution, an invitation to volunteer. Send these out at strategic points throughout the year to reach out and engage with your stakeholders. We tried this with one client and the response was incredible!

Story-telling is a sure-fire way to connect more deeply with the people who truly care about the people who turn up at our agencies, looking for help. This Valentine’s Day, show your donors how much you love them by sending them a heart-warming, inspirational story about the difference they are helping to make in the world. It will inspire them to love ya right back!

 February 6, 2015  Posted by at 3:36 pm Communications and Social Media, Fundraising
Oct 172014
 
newsletter_or_snoozeletter

Many of you are gearing up for your fall appeal. For many agencies, the fall appeal is one of the key components in their fundraising program and a reliable source of income. 

But when was the last time you communicated with your donors? 

The donor cycle is inform, ask, inform, ask, inform…. But due to time constraints and pressure, many of us make the mistake of focusing solely on the ask. Without information about your programs and progress, however, donors are left to wonder if their gift was put to work as they intended, and if it made a difference.  

With 1.5m non-profits out there to choose from, your donors have plenty of giving options. Don’t give them cause to exercise them! 

One of the key ways to stay in touch with your donors is through newsletters. Yet, to be frank, many of the newsletters I’ve seen are pretty bad. Well, actually really bad. Why? Because most of us invest little time in the layout, look and content of our newsletter.  

Done right, newsletters can be one of the most effective cultivation, stewardship and fundraising tools in your toolbox!  

Here are some tips on creating a newsletter that will serve all three of these purposes: 

Keep the NEWS in newsletters. When you tune into your favorite news program, are they talking about things that happened several months ago? Not unless they’re connecting to something in the here and now… Yet many nonprofit newsletters are written in the past tense. 

 

While it’s important to share news of a recent grant, a large donation or photos from an event, unless these take place as you’re moving into production, Facebook, Twitter, and/or an e-news blast might be a more appropriate channel through which to broadcast this news.  

 

Your newsletter should focus on what’s NEW — things that are happening now, as well as things that are about to happen. Use your newsletter to educate your readers about the issue(s) your agency is facing and to share success stories. You want the content of your newsletter to be inspiring, informative and interesting, not a nighttime sleep aid! 

 

Keep DONORS at the heart of your stories. This doesn’t mean you have to write stories about your donors – although that’s an idea you might want to consider – or include long lists of donors in each edition. It means keeping your audience in mind as you write, thinking about what’s meaningful and important to the people who are supporting your cause (if you aren’t sure what that is, survey them – what a great excuse to reach out and touch them!).  

 

You know that saying, “It’s not all about you”? Well, when it comes to your supporters, it actually is all about them! To write in a more donor-centered way, change your tense — use the word “you” instead of “we.” Acknowledge the role that your donors have played in making things happen and thank them for their support. After all, you wouldn’t be able to operationalize your mission without their support! 

 

Pluck at their HEART STRINGS! Philanthropy is a heart-centered activity, and donors give in response to an emotional trigger. Use your newsletter as a means through which to share stories about the lives you’re changing, the impact you’re having, the difference you’re making – it keeps things on a human scale and strikes an emotional chord with your reader. Stories are the vehicles through which we connect to others, through our hearts, not our heads. Post your data in sidebars or boxes, rather than co-mingling with your stories. Graphs and infographics are a great way to draw attention to data that might otherwise appear dull and unnoteworthy. 

 

Design with PURPOSE. Make sure your front page is engaging and dynamic. Use color, catchy headlines, text boxes, pull quotes and photos to move your reader through the newsletter and make stories more “digestable.” Make sure you use a font type and size that are easy to read – as tempting as it is to use Arial Narrow or 9 point font to squeeze in more information, doing so is a huge turn-off to your readers. Use your prime real estate wisely – most readers skim the news, so place the most important stories on the front page and pack the most important information into the first two paragraphs of each story, continuing it on another page.  

 

Look at your PRODUCTION SCHEDULE. The purpose of a newsletter is to inform, inspire, acknowledge and thank your supporters. Since the ultimate goal of your newsletter is to retain donors and encourage them to increase their giving (in both frequency and amount), the newsletter production schedule needs to coincide with and support development activities. When reviewing the newsletter production schedule of an agency in CT, we realized we had to change it in order to better serve this purpose. Since instituting the new schedule – and creating complementary Facebook and e-news blast schedules — both event attendance and donations have increased.  

 

Don’t leave MONEY ON THE TABLE! Be sure to slip a remittance envelope in every edition of your newsletter or place a “donate here” button in a prominent place in your e-newsletter. Most donors are happy to give more than once per year and it can’t hurt to make a “soft ask” while you’ve got their attention. After all, your newsletter is going to be inspiring, informative and interesting – strike while the iron is hot! 

If you want to boost the return on your appeal, send out a newsletter a week or two before the letter lands in their mailboxes (or email in boxes). You may think you don’t have time to do it this year, but you do!  

Right now, we’re working with an agency that hasn’t sent out a newsletter since 2006. Yes, you read that right, it’s been 8 years since they had any kind of regular communication with their donors! Since we’re under a significant time constraints and there’s no money in the budget for this project, we’re creating a simple, one-page, four-color newsletter that focuses on all the positive changes that are being made at the agency. We plan to mail the newsletter only to the organization’s top donors as a means of containing cost – moving forward, we’ll distribute it to everyone. I’ll let you know how this impacts giving!

 October 17, 2014  Posted by at 3:22 pm Communications and Social Media
Aug 142014
 
slacktivism

Have you heard about – or seen – the Ice Bucket Challenge?  

It’s an ingenius strategy being used to raise awareness about ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease). Started by Pete Frates – who lives in Beverly, MA and has ALS – it entails people getting doused with buckets of ice water on video, posting that video to social media, then nominating others to do the same. Anyone who declines to participate is asked to make a donation to the ALS charity of their choice. 

The Ice Bucket Challenge has gone viral and attracted thousands of followers. And people don’t even have to leave their house to support the cause. It doesn’t get easier than that! 

 

This is Slacktivism at its best!  

 

What IS Slacktivism? 

As you might have guessed, it’s a combination of the words “slacker” and “activism.” Words, which by definition, are at odds with one another! According to Wikipedia, it’s a perjorative term used to describe “feel-good measures” that support a social issue or cause, but have little impact or meaning. 

 

Here at New Era, however, we have a different definition! We believe that employing easy, user-friendly strategies that involve little effort on the part of the participant is a great way to help busy people get involved with your cause and can lead to good things.  

 

In the span of a few weeks, the Ice Bucket Challenge is helping to raise awareness about ALS among thousands of people! While it’s hard to tell how many of these people will continue to engage – as fans, donors or volunteers – this strategy has certainly improved the visibility and awareness for the cause.  

 

We believe the key to a good Slacktivism strategy is consistency and follow-up. If you want convert Slacktivists to activists, you need to stay in touch with them on a regular basis – via email, social media and newsletters — and let them know about all the great work you’re doing, the difference you are making in the world, and specific ways they can help. With each communication, include a call to action. This might include asking them to sign and circulate a petition, sharing or tweeting the news item with others, volunteer, make a donation of money or goods, etc. 

 

What would it be like if you were able to make thousands of people aware of the great work you’re doing and get a portion of them to go to work on your behalf? We encourage you to start using Slacktivism strategies today and find out! 

 

 August 14, 2014  Posted by at 12:27 am Communications and Social Media
May 232014
 
do_you_pass_bounce_test

Did you know that the average website visit lasts less than ONE MINUTE? 

Did you know that if people can’t readily grasp what you do within THREE SECONDS, they’ll leave your site?  

Never before have first impressions mattered more! 

The whole point of a website is to engage visitors – get them to stay, check things out. Designed correctly, our website is one of the most valuable tools for relationship building we have. You don’t want people coming to your site, only to “bounce” 3 seconds later. 

Here are some things you can do to make sure people stay: 

Use the space “above the fold” wisely. The space “above the fold” is the area of your website that people can see without scrolling down. Design this space well – make it colorful, interactive and engaging. What is it that you want to convey to your visitors in those 1st 3 seconds? 

 

Use the real estate is the upper left hand corner wisely. This is the first place your visitor’s eye lands. At the very least, you should place your logo and name in this area. But it might also be a great place to put your mission statement or a tagline. 

 

Rethink your navigation tabs – most sites have the “home” tab on the far left side, but this is a waste of valuable real estate. Since this is the 1st place people look, you want to place the most important information to the far left, followed by the next most important information. You might consider moving “programs/services” tab to the far left, followed by “how you can help.”  

 

Put your mission front and center and keep your mission statement short ‘n snappy. Remember, if they can’t immediately tell who you are and what you do, they’ll leave the site. 

 

You know the old saying, “a picture is worth a thousand words?” Nowhere is this more true than on the homepage of your website! Putting up a slide show of photos with captions is a great way to get people to stick around. If your website can’t accommodate this, then you can always post a graphic of a camera or photo album and invite people to click on it to see you in action, using a flickr account to host the photos. The only challenge with using this approach is you need to make sure people can get back to your website! 

 

Be sure to put a “donate” button on each page of your site. You want to make the process of donating quick ‘n easy. The more someone has to hunt for information on how to support your organization, the less likely they are to do so. 

 

If you’re using social media, but sure to include social media icons on your site. And if you’re using a social media channel like Facebook or Twitter, be sure to post on a regular basis so people can keep up with what you’re doing. These tools can help you foster and deepen relationships with people who care about your cause.  

 

It is IMPERATIVE to update your website on a regular basis! I can’t tell you how many nonprofit websites still have pages that talk about last year’s walk-a-thon or special event. This leaves people with a bad impression of your organization – and that’s the last thing you want to do! 

 

Using these tips will help improve the “visitability” of your website and help donors, prospective donors and fans connect with you more deeply. The more deeply they are connected with you, the more they are willing to do!

 May 23, 2014  Posted by at 12:21 am Communications and Social Media
Apr 112014
 
Good_Nights_Sleep_depositphoto

Believe it or not, your nonprofit is like a mattress company.

I know – that sounds bizarre. But hear me out!

The last time you shopped for a mattress, did it REALLY matter how many coils it had? Or if each was individually wrapped? Or whether it had a pillow top or memory foam? Did it matter that the super comfy, yummy mattress you took home cost $150 more than the one that wasn’t?

Of course not. Because at the end of the day, what we REALLY want from our mattress is… A GOOD NIGHT’S SLEEP!

At our nonprofits, we may have a large inventory of mattresses (read: programs) to “sell.” But our clients, donors and other stakeholders really don’t care about the mattress. What they really care about is whether or not we’re offering the people who turn to us for help a good night’s sleep (for some of you, this may literally be the case!).

Yet we spend a LOT of time talking about the different types of mattresses we offer. In doing so, we’re missing out on a huge opportunity to truly connect with people in their heart space. What donors REALLY care about is the people you’re serving. What’s going on that’s driving them through your front door, looking for help? What are you doing about it? Not only for the people who are showing up, but on a larger, more systemic basis? Are people in better shape when they leave than when they came?

Of course people need to know that we have competent, caring staff, that our prorams are well run, that our board is paying attention, and that our resources are well-managed. But at the end of the day, our “mattress” is just the container in which powerful life-changing transformations take place. What is of primary interest to the people who support our agencies is the good night’s sleep.

So the next time you sit down to review a communication you’ve just drafted, remember to ask yourself: did I just try to sell another mattress, or did I manage to sell a good night’s sleep?

If you’re interested in having us help you craft “good night’s sleep” marketing messages, let us know!

Sweet dreams! 🙂

 April 11, 2014  Posted by at 12:18 am Communications and Social Media
Feb 062014
 
word-cloud-social_media

Hey everyone, it’s Christine! Today, I want to spend some time talking to you about how to overcome barriers to hopping on the social media train. Read on!

It’s no secret that social media has caused a revolution in our lives – personally, professionally, socially, and culturally. For any non-profit that wants to thrive, a social media presence is non-negotiable.

Why is social media a pivotal tool for today’s non-profit?

Let us count the ways:

1) Social media can be used to reach people of all ages – not just young people. Did you know that people over 50 are joining sites like Facebook at a greater rate than any other age group?

2) Social media and blogs now reach 80% of all active US internet users and 82% of the world’s internet users. In the month of October 2013 alone, people spent 6.7 billion hours on social networks. It seems like almost everyone is addicted to social media!

3) Yet, non-profits are lagging behind other organizations in their use of social media. More than half of non-profits spend less than four hours per week participating in social media. Only 7% of non-profits are “power users” who dedicate 20+ hours a week to social media maintenance.

Why are non-profits lagging behind? There are three key reasons. And things you can do to reverse the trend!

1) Many people working in the sector have been conditioned to think that technology is too expensive or difficult to use.

Let’s face it — we’ve been trained not to spend money. But the right investment of time and money can reap huge benefits and rewards – this is particularly true when it comes to social media!

Many people believe that new technology is too expensive to acquire. But a social media program costs very little – sometimes nothing! — to get up and running.

If your computers are old and slow, time to invest in an upgrade! There are funders out there who will support a technology upgrade (we just secured $17,500 for one client’s new technology) and the entire organization will benefit from increased efficiency!

Sometimes, it’s because we’re intimidated by technology. The reality is that managing social media is pretty straight forward and does not require a lot of technical skill or expertise. In fact, all it takes is a few hours with your favorite teenager or young adult!

If you think that your organization doesn’t have the time or money to invest in social media, it’s time to consider what NOT investing in social media is costing you.

So, now you’ve got new equipment and have set up some social media channels (ex: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.). Now what?!

You need to post a steady stream of content. Even if it’s just once a week, you need to have a regular presence on whichever channel(s) you choose! This can include quotes (from your clients, famous people, etc.), photos, videos, thoughts of the day, news alerts, event announcements, links to articles, etc. You have more to talk about than you might think!

2) You may not be certain which networks would have the most impact
You ask yourself, “Should we be on that Tweeting place, Facepage, or the Instathingy?” In all seriousness, there’s dozens of popular networks, and their relevance waxes and wanes. Five years ago, everyone was on MySpace. Today, people would laugh at you if you said that. Right now, Facebook has the “it factor.”

So, how do you know where to begin?

Here’s my rule:
There’s a group of social networks called the Big Four: Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and LinkedIn. You start with Facebook and one other channel, whichever will best serve the needs of your organization, the kind of content you produce, and, most importantly, where your audience is most likely to be.

For a few months, work hard at building these two, then expand to whatever is missing. Are you on Facebook and Twitter but find that you can’t broadcast longer stories? Get a blog. On Facebook and LinkedIn but want to show off more photos? Time to try Pinterest or Instagram.

And, yes, people have successfully used just one channel to broadcast to their audience, but that’s rare.

3) You may not know how to begin creating a strategic social media strategy that will yield good results
It takes more to build a social media presence than joining a network, so it’s best to start slow. You’re only on two networks first, right? From there, it’s time to figure out what goals you want your social network to help you achieve. Do you want to get more donors? Raise awareness for your cause? Promote events? Use it as a platform for the public to get in touch with you? Once you know where you want to go, you can figure out how to get there.

Too many non-profits are missing out on huge opportunities by not utilizing social media to share the news about the great work they’re doing. It’s time to hop on the social media train and shout it out from the rooftops. People want to hear from you! Getting on board with social media is easier than you think. If you want help getting a social media program established, give us a call!

 February 6, 2014  Posted by at 12:08 am Communications and Social Media