How do you feel about the photos you’ve been capturing and using in your nonprofit organization’s communications?
This resource roundup is for you if you struggle with photography – or struggle with getting colleagues and team member to capture quality photos you can use with pride in your newsletters, on your website and in other communications materials.
Though they are a few years old, the photography tips for nonprofit organizations in these posts are so timeless, I wanted to make sure they aren’t forgotten! If you need help with your approach to photography, I hope you’ll find the following links useful.
Marlene Oliveira is communications consultant and copywriter at moflow and founder of the Nonprofit MarCommunity blog. Having worked in the nonprofit sector since 1999, Marlene specializes in working with capacity building and grant-making organizations, advising on communications strategy, and writing stories and other content.
We’ve all seen how industries such as entertainment, media, retail, and even transportation, have had to adapt to the huge shifts caused by technology or risk disappearing. Nonprofits are not immune. Unlike the other industries, we face more difficult challenges to innovate, due to inadequate funding, lack of expertise, and leaders who may be averse to technology.
Communications professionals are often the innovators in our organizations. Being so close to stakeholders, visitors, or donors, we are usually the person who represents the organization, and also the first to learn what people want from our organizations. We are often, due to the catch-all nature of our jobs, the first to be aware of new trends in technology and how that could make our jobs more efficient. However, persuading leadership that such change is needed can be a challenge.
Here are six tactics to get buy-in for your technology projects:
How nonprofit communicators can get buy-in for tech projects #NPMC Click To Tweet
Tie technology into your organization’s goals
Organizations are fearful of spending limited resources on software or hardware that might not create tangible benefits in the short run. Even when there are enough funds, technology is not seen as a priority. To tackle this mindset, tie technology use into your organization’s overall goals.
Take this scenario: your organization is conducting a campaign drive or holding a fundraising gala. You propose that email marketing software can help them reach more people. Start by pointing out how the software connects to your CRM, so you can track when donors are more likely to respond to your campaign emails. Or, highlight how donors are more likely to respond when they receive a personalized email.
Another strategy is to prove that technology provides tangible benefits that can be tracked. For instance, if your organization puts in place an online payment system, it can save staff x hours a week, and thereby, reduce the need to hire new accounting staff. If staff is trained to update the website themselves, the organization saves x number of dollars when you don’t need to hire a web developer to make minor changes on your website. When you put in a password replacement feature on your website, staff receive x less number of calls from frustrated donors and members.
When you use these tactics, you show why technology is necessary, and how it can help the organization achieve its goals in a practical manner.
Tip: spark innovation in your nonprofit by showing its tangible benefits >> How to get buy-in for your nonprofit's tech projects #NPMC Click To Tweet
Help your leaders embrace technology
People have a tendency to close up when technology is discussed, due to their insecurities or lack of knowledge. Not knowing enough about tech can make people feel like they are out of control, and no one, especially at the Board level, wants to show that they don’t have a full understanding of the issues.
To tackle this, present technical information in a user-friendly format, in a way that empowers your bosses. Here’s where communications skills come in handy. For example, in Board reading material, include case studies of successful tech implementations in complementary organizations. Present information using storytelling and infographics. Include fact sheets explaining confusing aspects of technology, and invite questions. Offer to serve as a resource for Board members who might have questions, but don’t want to ask in front of all the other members.
Share examples or case studies
Use aspiration (or envy) in a good way! Organizations such as charity:water are using data to prove how effective their wells are in improving health and water reliability. During a fundraising gala, potential donors were given an iPad that showed a live feed of women and children spending all day making three-hour round-trips to collect water. To increase the impact, each donor’s live feed matched their demographics. For instance, “pregnant attendees were paired with stories of other women who were expecting.”
While not all nonprofits have the resources of charity:water, we can all learn from each other. Our leaders want technology to show results. When you point out how other organizations have achieved such results, they are more likely to want to invest.
Start small with a sample project
As pointed out, leaders need to see proof that technology will work. By creating a sample project or prototype, you can prove that change is needed, and also demonstrate how much effort, time and money are needed to make the change. Giving leaders an actual action plan and visual representation can help support your case.
For many nonprofits, the most important tool on which change is needed is the website. Start to experiment by making small improvements to the navigation, layout or content. Monitor the analytics to prove how the changes you have made have increased conversions and actions taken. From there, present your findings to demonstrate why the organization as a whole could benefit from improvements.
Start small with a sample project + 5 more tips for getting buy-in for technology projects #nonprofit #communications #nptech Click To Tweet
Get support from a champion
Technology change cannot happen with a solo staff person. To be effective, there needs to be support for implementation throughout the organization. To gain such support, start to sound out your co-workers. Propose new ideas in meetings to see who shares the same views. If necessary, interview colleagues in complementary organizations to ask how they’ve obtained support from leadership to make tech changes.
Find the right time to suggest innovation
When you are proposing change, it’s best to find the right time and conditions in which to approach your leaders. Organizations have their own distinct history, culture, and personalities, which can affect how they perceive innovation.
Suggestions for acceptable times include summer, which is a slower period, in which you could implement new software. Leverage times when you’ve received a great performance review! Other options include budgeting season or the fiscal year end. Avoid periods of turnover, or new staff hirings, as these are often when there is high stress within an organization.
It all starts with one step!
Technology change doesn’t happen all at once. It requires time, mindset shifts, persuasion, negotiation and even, watching people to gauge the right time to speak. Let us know, in the comments, how you’ve implemented tech change in your organization.
6 tactics to get buy-in for your technology projects: tips for nonprofit communicators Click To Tweet
Temi Adewumi is principal of TAGb Consulting, which provides not for profits with training and tools to improve their websites. With over 15 years in website management, she has collaborated with nonprofit staff and volunteers on website strategy and adoption of digital technology. Frustrated by a chaotic website? Take the 100 Experiments challenge (http://tagb.ca/100-experiments-challenge/) which teaches communicators how to improve their websites by making small, consistent changes.
Are you thinking about working with communications volunteers? Do you have people in your network with specific communications skills to offer?
A few years ago, I urged readers of this blog to think beyond the “communications committee”. I provided 14 different skills-based communications roles to consider (with some suggestions about exactly how these roles might fit into your work).
Later that same year, I ended up working with a very organized and skilled volunteer, Hui Xuan Chew, who developed template descriptions for those 14 volunteer roles.
At the time, I provided the templates alongside training I was offering on the topic of volunteer management. But since then, they’ve been gathering dust. Today, I’m making sure that these volunteer communications role templates are available to anyone who might need them.
14 template role descriptions for communications volunteers [links to Google docs]
You’ll see that these roles are very specific – there’s no general “communications volunteer” role here. That’s because I designed them to help you bring in volunteers who want to apply specific skills as a marcom volunteer.
If you’re new to working with Google Docs, please see the download instructions below.
Full disclosure: I’ve quickly reviewed them, but I haven’t updated these templates since 2014. However, since they are templates, I feel they’ll provide you with helpful starting points – even if you need to make a few updates here and there.
Copywriter and communications consultant at moflow
Marlene Oliveira is a copywriter and communications consultant at moflow and founder of the Nonprofit MarCommunity. Marlene specializes in working with nonprofit clients and has worked in the sector since 1999.
Marlene’s approach is to work with clients and community members, tapping into the knowledge and wisdom they already possess, to help the communications ‘flow’.
You may have heard the expression “content is king”. This is especially true for resource-strapped nonprofit marcom professionals. With the trend of upcycling mason jars as centerpieces and old doors as coffee tables on the rise, it’s time for us ask ourselves this question, “Am I using my content to its fullest potential?” Chances are the answer is “no”.
Repurposing or upcycling content is an easy way to optimize your resources, stretch your marketing budget dollars and reinforce your brand message. It just takes a little planning and coordination.
Here are four tips to help you to start repurposing content:
Repurposing or upcycling content is an easy way to optimize your resources, stretch your marketing budget dollars and reinforce your brand message. Click To Tweet
Schedule your content
Planning ahead is critical. It’s difficult to successfully repurpose most content on the fly or in pieces. You may miss critical steps or duplicate work, eliminating any efficiencies you were trying to find. The best thing you could do for your marketing team is to establish a content calendar.
Your content calendar should outline all of your marketing campaigns for the year, such as appeals, events, social media, ads and public relations. Include campaigns you do every year such as year-end appeals and annual fundraisers as well as special occasions like the start of a new program or a new community partnership. Once you’ve got your calendar in place, you can plan consistent messaging and tactics that are timely, integrated and brand right.
Start with the big projects
The next step is to look for the long form projects that will take the most resources to develop. Give yourself enough time for repurposing as you write and design the content. Make a plan for the types of content you want to build out of each project.
For example, consider your annual report. This project comes around every year and for many of us, it’s a project that we accomplish on autopilot. But stop and think for a minute. What is actually in your annual report? Can you use the impact stats as infographics for social media posts? Can you use the client stories in direct mail appeals? Would you link the financials page of the annual report on your About Us webpage? Make a list of the content in your annual report and the tactics you could use to deploy it elsewhere. Then, create a plan to break up the finished annual report into these chunks of content. Lastly, store the content in an easily accessible place for future use.
Here’s an example of how my organization repurposed our fiscal year 2017 annual report [pdf].
Impact stats broken up into nineteen individual infographics and shared throughout the year on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram
Impact stats used on program webpages
Four client stories and photos used in print and e-newsletters throughout the year
Four client stories and quotes used in press releases throughout the year
Four client quotes and photos shared throughout the year on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram
Our Services and Our Mission pages used in a PowerPoint presentation for the CEO to present to prospective board members and in community partnership meetings
Photos used on program webpages
Finance page graphics used in printed program case statements
Give yourself enough time for repurposing as you write and design the content. Make a plan for the types of content you want to build out of each project. Click To Tweet
Other ways to repurpose content
It’s important to always think about how you can integrate your message in every campaign. You should never send out a direct mail appeal without also planning to send an email, deploy a search engine marketing (SEM) campaign and post on social media. Design a campaign that is impactful on all marketing platforms, both traditional and digital. Use the same messaging and images so that your message is consistent and clear but tailored to the platform.
Repurposing on the fly
Of course, there is always that opportunity that comes up unexpectedly. Sometimes it makes sense to stop what you are doing and make it happen. If you need last minute content for an ad or an appeal, it’s best to have evergreen content on hand that you could repurpose quickly into something new. If you have time, you could even build a library of “just in case” evergreen content to pull from when you need it.
Your marcom team is only as effective as the quality of content you produce. Establishing a consistent content publishing loop is critical to your success. Repurposing content helps you optimize resources. Don’t think of it as old content. With a little love, it can be timeless.
The power of repurposing your nonprofit organization’s content Click To Tweet
Vice President of Engagement at Lutheran Social Services
Pam Georgiana, MBA is the Vice President of Engagement for Lutheran Social Services in Ohio. She is a marketing strategy professional with more than 20 years of experience in experiential and relational marketing, communications, and branding. She is passionate about identifying trends, brainstorming innovative engagement ideas and creative brand messaging and turning them into impactful strategies that change the world.
Automated welcome emails can benefit your nonprofit in many ways. Let’s start with the most basic: building a relationship with your supporters.
Just like in real life, you can’t just ask someone to donate or volunteer the first time you meet them. You have to build some kind of relationship first — or at least introduce yourself — before anything else.
Sending an automated welcome email series is the best way to introduce your nonprofit to your new donors and constituents. It offers you the chance to build a relationship with them and familiarize them with your organization not just once, but through several emails.
Before we discuss how your organization can use automated welcome emails, let’s first take a look at why you should use email marketing.
Email marketing is one great way to connect with your supporters.
There’s no denying the power of email as a communication medium. It delivers 3 times the value than social media. In addition to this, more than 269 billion email messages are sent every day.
You can utilize email marketing to expand your reach, grow your donor base (the right way) and drive donations.
But considering that nonprofits sometimes lack the time and manpower, is it possible to keep your audience engaged while you juggle several other tasks? The answer: it’s possible.
Enter email automation.
Automating your emails can help you do just that, plus save you time and money in the process. One good example of this — and also one of the easiest to automate — is the welcome email.
True to its name, your welcome email should welcome your new subscribers. Thus it should be sent immediately after a new subscriber signs up.
Use a welcome email to introduce your subscribers to what your nonprofit does and how they can get involved.
However, sending a single email isn’t enough to set the stage.
That’s why you need to send a welcome email series.
A welcome email series lets you go beyond the welcoming part by familiarizing people with your organization through several automated emails.
It allows you to connect more often, create trust and build a stronger relationship with your subscribers. This eventually leads to deeper engagement, which can result in better involvement with your organization.
Open rates of welcome email series can average over 50%, while those with a call-to-action receive a click-through rate of nearly 15%. These numbers show how effective welcome email series is.
Let’s take a look at why you should send a welcome email series.
To enhance opportunities. Not all subscribers are engaged right from the start. Their engagement level may differ from one another. Sending a welcome email series gives you more opportunities to connect and engage with your subscribers through several automated emails.
To increase interactions. A welcome email series offers more interactions with your supporters than a single welcome email. It gives you the opportunity to know your subscribers better. For instance, you’d know if they find the resource you sent them helpful or not. They can also ask you questions, thus opening more avenues of interaction.
To encourage action. A welcome email series can tell the audience more about your organization, advocacy, and work. What’s better is that you can include an incentive in your emails, such as a free resource, a discount, or a gift, to encourage action.
An automated welcome series needs to be done right especially since it’s the first phase of establishing a relationship with your subscribers.
Here are four steps to create an automated welcome email series for your nonprofit:
4 steps to create an automated welcome email series for your nonprofit #NPMC Click To Tweet 1. Determine your goals and key messaging.
Start with setting up goals for your welcome email series — with the primary goal of introducing them to your organization. Craft the essential things you need to say, such as:
Your history, vision mission and goals
Stories of impact you’ve made
Exclusive perks for subscribers
Your events calendar
You can also take your welcome email as an opportunity to make new subscribers more engaged and eager to participate.
Invite them to follow your organization on social media.
Tell them about your blog and give an option to subscribe.
Invite them to volunteer or upgrade their donation habits.
It’s important to speak to your subscribers where they’re at. Since they’re new to your organization, you’ll want to get them on board and inspire them to adopt your mission.
Also, provide a clear action in your message. A test by Unbounce found that a single, strong call-to-action in an email increases clicks by 371%. So better cut the clutter and make the next step clear.
2. Create a structure and set the pacing.
After setting your goals and outlining the messages you’ll send, it’s time to create a framework and decide on cadence.
The sequence of your email delivery is crucial.
To elaborate, you would naturally send a personal introduction — with your organization’s story, history, etc. — to your subscribers first before asking them to make additional commitments.
The rest of your emails’ sequence will depend on what actions you want subscribers to take. A good rule of thumb? Start with a call-to-action with the least resistance.
They might not be ready yet for the campaigns or promotions in your regular emails.
The number of emails they will receive from you might be overwhelming.
If you choose not to add them on your regular list, you need to keep them engaged with your welcome email series.
A good tip: Space out your welcome emails that won’t overwhelm your new subscribers.
Craft the message and design of your email.
The overall look and feel of your email reflect your organization’s brand. The design, imagery, style, and tone you use matter in communicating your message.
Putting a lot of thought into your overall email design is another important aspect. Below is a checklist of things to do in creating and designing your email.
Use a clear template. Keep your layout looking sleek, uncluttered and professional so you can present your message in a reader-friendly way. Be sure your template is consistent in your welcome emails.
Craft a compelling subject line. Your headline should describe the content of your email and pique your reader’s interest. Make the subject line stand out by keeping it short, clear and persuasive.
Include a call-to-action button. Every email you send must have a call-to-action — ideally, a button for easy recognition — to encourage subscribers to take an action. Use an eye-catchy design and a persuasive CTA copy to compel them to click.
Use subheads and bullets. Organize heavy texts and multiple paragraphs in your email by adding subheadings and bulleted lists. Breaking your content into chunks makes your email easier to read.
4. Monitor your results.
After your welcome email series has been set up and sent, there’s still one thing left to do — and that’s to track your campaign’s performance.
Your welcome series forms an integral part of your organization’s email strategy. Monitoring your results helps you refine your series and improve your engagement.
To track the performance of your series, you need to look at the key metrics below.
This metric measures the number of supporters who opened your email — nonprofits get an average of 25.96% open rate. Monitoring your open rates can give you insights into the quality of your subject lines, quantity of your emails, and the relevance of your content to your subscribers.
Around 75% of nonprofits use click-through rates as a benchmark for success. This metric measures how many supporters click on your CTA or a link within an email. Check on your click-through rate to know if your content is engaging your audience and if you’re using compelling imagery and messaging.
Email conversions show you the number of subscribers who click on your CTA and follow through with your request. Watching your email conversions is important to know how many of these subscribers are committing their support to your organization through email.
This metric measures the number of subscribers who opted out of your email list. Though most nonprofits have a low unsubscribe rate, monitoring this metric still helps in ensuring your content stays relevant and interesting to your audience.
Technically speaking, a donation is your return on investment. Tracking how many people from your list became financial donors helps you gauge whether your welcome emails are productive and effective, or if it still lacks engagement.
First impressions last. Making that first impression with your new supporters through an automated welcome email series is crucial in building and nurturing a relationship. To set your best foot forward, you have to be clear on your goals and messages. Likewise, a good email structure, pacing, and design all contribute to a great welcome email series. Following these steps while monitoring your email performance will drive more engagement and conversions, thus making a bigger impact on your organization.
How to set up an automated welcome email series for your nonprofit organizations #NPMC Click To Tweet
Lane Harbin is the Senior Content Marketing Manager at Campaign Monitor, an easy-to-use email marketing platform that empowers marketers to send targeted campaigns that grow their business. When she’s not geeking out over email marketing, she enjoys binge-listening to podcasts, catching up on the latest tech news, and constantly rearranging her living room.
Any nonprofit communicator can tell you how essential your organization’s values are. Similar to your vision and mission, they’re vital characters in the stories you tell about who you are and what matters to you.
This is the same for any of your partners—their unique values shape the narrative of who they are and what they do. And when entering into a co-branding partnership, it’s important to remember that you’re also entering into a partnership with their values.
So, before publically connecting yourself with those beliefs, it’s worth taking the time to explore how the partnership between your two brands will look to your audiences.
Co-branding? Five ways to protect your nonprofit’s values
How to protect your values in co-branding partnerships: 5 steps #NPMC Click To Tweet
1. Strengthen your values internally
Everything starts at home. Within your organization, your values should guide how you live and work, and help build strong teams and office culture.
It’s important to make sure that staff across all departments actually understand what your organizational values are. The more familiar they are with your values, the more likely staff will be to ensure they’re translated into co-branding partnerships.
As a non-profit communicator, here are some ways that you can ensure your colleagues across all departments understand your organizational values.
Visibility: Don’t just put your values somewhere on your website where the virtual cobwebs can build up. They should be succinctly and accessibly itemized somewhere easy to find, but ensure they are also ingrained in everything that you do—from weaving them into your key messages to tying them into all strategies.
Actionable behaviours: Create behavioural habits and characteristics for each value. For instance, if one of your values is ‘Inclusivity,’ your behavioural habit might be to share content from voices that are diverse across age, ethnicity, gender, religion, ability, experience, class, and size. It will transform your values from abstract concepts to actionable traits that staff can carry out. This clarity will make it easier for staff to live your organizational values in day-to-day interactions and in co-branding partnerships.
Values bootcamps: Run a values bootcamp for new staff when they join the team, as well as refresher sessions for those who have been around for a while. It will strengthen their connection to your values and provide staff with a chance to ask any questions they may have.
The origins and importance: When staff understand how and why your values were created, and what the larger consequences are of misalignment—not just to you, but to your community and the causes you support—they may be less likely to sacrifice them along the way. So, take the time to inform your staff on the origins and importance of your values.
2. Do your research
Brand values determine the goals organizations set for themselves, what their voice will sound like, and how they will interact with their community.
By partnering with another organization, you are also partnering with their values—whether or not they differ from yours. Do your research so you know what they stand for and how they behave before you partner with them.
Ask questions: Ask yourself lots of questions (and put in the work needed to learn the answers). Is the potential partner reliable? Understanding? Do they seem honest and transparent? Are they socially responsible and non-partisan? The specific questions you ask should be informed by your organizational values.
Priorities: Partner with organizations that prioritize their values. Are they easily visible on their website? Does it explain how their values translate into action? Does it feel like they take pride in their values? If their commitment to their values appears to be all talk, chances are they will be less likely to respect yours.
Consistency matters: Priorities change. Your values may be aligned today, but will that be the case three months from now? Make sure that the brand you’re partnering with isn’t slated to change their strategic priorities or organizational values any time soon.
Online footprint: Spend some time exploring their social media profiles, but don’t just look at their number of followers. Pay attention to the type of content they are posting and how they interact with their community. Would you like your community interacting with them? You can also run a quick background check online to see if any red flags pop up.
Consider staff: The line between personal and professional brands is becoming increasingly blurry (and, in some cases, non-existent), so it doesn’t hurt to extend your search to the potential partner’s senior-level staff. Their actions often represent their employer and, therefore, could also reflect on you as their partner; you’ll want to know if their content misaligns with your values.
Look even further: Similarly, a partner’s partners can impact you (Try saying that five times in a row. It’s a tongue twister, but that doesn’t mean it’s not true.), so look at the types of brands they are partnered with. It may seem extreme, but taking this step will go a long way in securing your integrity and assuring your audiences that your values are important, not just all talk.
'By partnering with another organization, you are also partnering with their values—whether or not they differ from yours.' #cobranding #nonprofit #NPMC Click To Tweet
3. Educate your partner
After completing the above steps, if you’ve decided to move forward with the co-branding partnership, now is a great time to educate your new partner about your values.
Your values are part of the reason why people like and support you. If you do something that misaligns with them or shows poor values, they won’t be afraid to abandon their loyalty to you. Ensure your partner doesn’t indirectly sabotage your integrity by miscommunicating your values. Make it easy for them by providing as many resources as possible.
Values: First things first, let your partner know what your values are and how they translate into behaviours and actions.
Key messages: The language you use should align with your values. Share your key messages and language guides with your partner, or consider creating messaging specifically for the partnership. Feel free to point out terms or phrases that you intentionally don’t use, and provide context on why they should be avoided.
Style guide: Your values aren’t just expressed through your language. They are also represented in your imagery and tone. Share your style guide so your partner knows how to live your values in all aspects of the partnership.
Values bootcamp: Consider running your values bootcamp—even if only a condensed version—with your partner. Just like when done internally, it will strengthen their awareness of your values and provide an opportunity for them to ask questions.
The consequences: You know your audience and have expertise in communicating about your cause. Your values are informed by that experience. It’s important for your partner to understand that there could be real consequences—like public shaming on social media platforms— if they communicate inappropriately about your organization and the work you do.
'Ensure your partner doesn’t indirectly sabotage your integrity by miscommunicating your values.' #cobranding #nonprofit #NPMC Click To Tweet
4. Review, approve and monitor
You did the research. You educated your partner. You’re done now, right? Wrong. Now comes the ongoing work on sustaining the conversation about your values.
People admire charities and brands when their values resonate with them. So it’s important that you don’t abandon your values if your partner wants to do something that isn’t aligned. Remember, you are the expert on your brand and your audience, so trust your insight.
Review and approve: Make sure you have a chance to review and approve anything before it’s published. Nothing should go live unless you have given the ‘OK.’
Timelines: A great way to ensure that nothing gets missed is to create a shared work-back plan with built-in time for reviews and any required changes. After all, when people are rushing, things get inevitably messy.
Contracts: Even if you trust your partner, it never hurts to include something about brand and value alignment in your partnership contracts.
Monitor: Regardless of whether you’ve followed all of the right steps, things can change and mistakes can happen. Make sure you monitor your partner’s communication channels regularly to ensure everything is aligned.
At the end of the day, your values are the foundation on which your brand was built. Embrace that reality and let them help you to build new, great things for your organization.
'People admire charities and brands when their values resonate with them; don’t abandon your values if your partner wants to do something that isn’t aligned.' #cobranding #nonprofit #NPMC Click To Tweet
What steps do you take to protect your organization’s values? Share your insight in the comments below.
Alex Kruger is the Marketing and Brand Manager at Canada’s award-winning social innovation, Pathways to Education Canada. With close to 10 years’ experience working in marketing, brand development, communications, and media, she has consistently helped non-profit organizations build their brands, share their work, and create positive social change. She is a firm believer in the power of authentic storytelling.
Social media contests are excellent tools for brand awareness and community engagement. Online sharing, and tagging, is the new word-of-mouth for 2018. Contests can generate user content that spreads the message of your nonprofit. People like to participate, and it is always fun to dream of winning a prize.
Because of social media, running contests has never been easier but there are a few steps you can take to improve your chances of success.
Here are eight tips to help with running an online contest for your nonprofit
Running an online contest for your nonprofit: checklist of tips for success #NPMC Click To Tweet
1. Determine your measure of success
Do you want to promote brand awareness? Are you looking for online community engagement? Are you looking for feedback? A contest can do all of these things. If you want brand awareness, you can have contestants tag their friends and follow your page. If you want user-generated content, a photo contest is your best option.
Think about the measure of success for your contest: it will form the contest design. Building from your goals will also prevent you from designing a contest that does not fit for the topic. If you want online engagement, a photo contest would then be unsuitable. Users would post to their own page, and will not engage with yours. It is also difficult to measure engagement on other users’ profiles. Decide what you want from the contest, and then design it.
2. Use a landing page
Even if your contest only runs on one social media platform, always have a landing page on your website. The landing page should should be attractive and clear. It should include all rules, such as eligibility, duration, and the prizes. If you are unsure of what to include, research on the internet for examples. Adapt these rules to your own use, and use them to focus your landing page. If you would like to see the landing page of one of Conservation Halton’s contests, you can view our Share Your #maplemoment contest landing page here.
3. Set a reasonable contest duration
Your contest should have a reasonable duration. If it is a small, week-long campaign, make sure there is time to promote the contest, so people can enter. If your contest runs for multiple weeks, contestants and your online community may forget about it.
One of Conservation Halton’s contests, Share your #maplemoment, was designed to encourage user-generated content during the six weeks of the Maple Town festival: we had to plan how to sustain attention over the six weeks. We gave out weekly prizes, as well as a grand prize entry at the very end of the festival. Entries submitted for a weekly prize were also eligible for the grand prize. Because of this strategy, contestants stayed interested over the six week period. Also, some people visited the festival again, and posted more content, because they were excited about the grand prize.
4. Offer prizes that match the effort
Make sure the prize matches the effort needed to enter the contest. The more you ask of a contestant, the bigger and more desirable the prize(s) need to be. Believe it or not, asking contestants to take a picture and post it online is a big ask. Thus, a suitable prize, such as a $500 gift card, would be worth the effort of entering the contest. Many contests have failed to interest people, because contest organizers did not find appropriate prizes for the effort asked.
Make sure you promote the prizes and grand prize when you announce the contest. For example, the Princess Margaret Home Lottery promotes all the fantastic prizes contestants can win. Not all nonprofits are able to offer prizes on that scale, but regardless of what prizes are offered in your contest, promote the prizes early and often.
Make sure the prize matches the effort needed to enter the contest + more tips on running an online contest for your nonprofit #NPMC Click To Tweet
5. Promote the contest
If no one knows about the contest, no one can enter it! Promote the contest in all your communications. Reach out to partners and ask them to share the contest to their networks.
6. Use hashtags appropriately
There are many misconceptions about the use of hashtags in social media, and especially for contests. Hashtags are not useful for promotion. Many hashtags have already been in use, and very few people will necessarily know which one to use. Hashtags are far more useful for the function of a contest rather than its promotion.
In my experience, I have found that hashtags have two primary uses for social media contests: to submit entry or to find entries. If contestants are entering a photo contest, hashtags are useful. Contestants use the hashtag to submit their entry. Contest organizers, on the other hand, use the hashtag as a ‘bookmark’ to find all the contest entries and promotional posts. Hashtags are handy after the contest when one needs to compile a report.
Do bear in mind that not all contestants are perfect spellers; you may have to search several different spellings of your contest hashtag to find all the entries.
7. Beware of professional contest players
Professional contest players are people who seek out contests as a hobby, and some as a side gig, purely for the prizes. These contestants are not engaged with the mission of your nonprofit.
Your contest is a means of promoting your nonprofit and its story. So, you should reward the contestants who care about your organization. Use randomizers to select winners, but always screen the winners. Look at their social media profiles, and you will easily spot a professional contest player. Their social media profiles will be public (most contests only engage with public profiles), and you will see that their timeline is nothing but entries to other contests.
8. Announce the winner
This is the fun part! Always announce the winner(s) of your contest. Contestants also like to know that someone did indeed win the prize. If people do not see a winner, they will wonder if the contest and the prize was real.
Have you run a contest previously? Is there anything missing from my list? What tips would you share to successfully run an online contest? Please share in the comments section below!
Running an online contest for your nonprofit: checklist of tips for success #NPMC Click To Tweet
Karlee May has been the Digital Media Coordinator for Conservation Halton for the past five years. She leads the digital strategy and marketing for Conservation Halton, Halton Parks, Glen Eden, and Ways of the Woods brands. She believes in the power of storytelling, and in being human online.
We are constantly bombarded by messages every day of our lives. If you’re tasked with getting people to notice your message in all of that noise, your job can sometimes feel like an uphill battle. And for those responsible for internal communications, the task is even harder.
When your colleagues are focused on completing their role-specific tasks, often facing time and resource constraints, it’s no surprise that staying up-to-date on internal messages can fall to the bottom of everyone’s to-do list.
But the reality is that there’s a cost to not prioritizing your organization’s internal communications. Poor internal communications can result in lower levels of staff engagement, reduced productivity, higher staff turnover, and an increase in misalignment and errors. On the flip side, if your internal communications strategy is effective, you will often end up with a highly connected and engaged team.
So, the question is: how do you cut through all of the noise?
Here are some tips and tactics to help you execute an effective internal communications strategy
Internal communications tips for nonprofit organizations: 14 ideas to boost impact and engagement Click To Tweet How to communicate
How you communicate your message is just as important as the message itself.
Be concise: We’re all familiar with full workloads and short turnaround times, so the last thing we need or want is internal communications adding to the clutter. Keep your messages simple and to the point. Your colleagues will appreciate it.
Be transparent: Transparent communication fosters trust and open dialogue. If staff feel like they aren’t being told everything, they may be less likely to engage, discouraging the flow of information within your office.
Have fun and be creative: Your internal communications strategy doesn’t have to be boring. Yes, there will be times when you’ll need to adopt a more corporate tone, but, for the most part, try to remember that you’re speaking to real people who like hearing from a friendly, approachable person.
Let people tell their own stories: Regardless of the size of your organization (or your budget), everyone has access to the most powerful internal communications resource. Any guesses? It’s your people. Shift the power and provide opportunities for all staff to participate in the dialogue, not just senior leadership. For instance, an update on a successful campaign could come from the perspective of the staff who executed the plan from start to finish, instead of the department head who had a more arms-length role. The more voices that are shared, the more willing people will be to engage, and the more interesting and relevant your messages will become.
Leverage storytelling: Storytelling is an important part of external marketing, and for good reason. People tend to absorb information more easily when it’s packaged with a narrative that adds context and a relatable human element. So why not add stories to your internal communications toolbox? If your organization is expanding to support a new community, let staff know by sharing a story about what life is like in that community. Or breathe some life into a new staff announcement by highlighting the person’s favourite snack, in addition to their previous job experience.
Try to remember that you’re speaking to real people who like hearing from a friendly, approachable person. #internalcommunications Click To Tweet What to communicate
The specific messages that need to be communicated will vary from organization to organization, but there are key elements that all internal communicators should weave into their strategies.
Include visuals: In today’s highly visual culture, it’s no surprise that people respond well to images. They’re great at conveying information in an easily digestible manner and often have more of a lasting impact than text. To break up your text, incorporate visual elements like photos, maps, or GIFs.
Leverage video: Nearly all of us carry a mini video studio around with us all day on our phones, so why not leverage video content for your strategy? Plus, since it’s for internal use, there’s no need to worry about polishing off every video with fantastic editing. It doesn’t have to be anything special—just a short video of you and your message to cut through the clutter.
Provide a personal benefit: If staff feel there’s a personal benefit to engaging with your internal communications channels, they may be more likely to use them. Share information about industry trends, available courses, or upcoming webinars that may be of interest to staff.
Acknowledge successes: It’s no surprise that people want to feel valued and appreciated when they are at work. Internal communications channels can be used to recognize the great work that your colleagues are doing. Acknowledging individual successes will help to position your internal communications channels as positive and motivating spaces.
'Acknowledging individual successes will help to position your internal communications channels as positive and motivating spaces.' #internalcommunications #nonprofit Click To Tweet Where to communicate
When planning your internal communications strategies, think about whether or not the space—physical or digital—you’re communicating in is actually something that people will enjoy. There are plenty of different tools available for you to share your messages through, so you can afford to consider whether or not the medium fits the message.
Chat software: To avoid email overload, consider adopting a chat software, like Slack or Yammer. These types of tools offer a great place to inject some fun. And, since they’re perfect for sending short, quick messages, they’re also great at boosting productivity by decluttering email inboxes.
Presentations and workshops: Even though you have an abundance of digital communication tools at your fingertips, that doesn’t mean you should give up on face-to-face interactions. While some may view them as ‘old school,’ presentations and workshops can still be great places to share your internal messages—especially if one of your goals is to get your employees working with and learning from one another. Consider holding a Q&A between different departments or a Lunch & Learn for all staff (with free lunch for everyone, of course).
Centralized approved folder: If your organization is too small to justify building an intranet, create a centralized folder where all of your organization’s approved content can live, whether it’s collateral materials, expense forms, contact lists, new templates, or the latest programming numbers. This should be the first place that staff look for content, and sharing a link to this folder can help reduce your memo’s word count.
Podcasts: Chances are you’re not even using podcasts for your external marketing, so this may seem like a lot of work for internal communications. But why not think about an internal podcast as a way to test the waters (and your capacity and skill level) to determine if it’s something you can explore externally down the road. Plus, podcasts are fun and offer an engaging way to create content that’s available to staff no matter where they are.
Whiteboard in a central location: It’s as simple as it sounds. Post a large whiteboard in a heavily trafficked area of your office, and let anyone contribute to it. It can be a space where staff ask one another fun questions, like what book are you reading right now? And it can also be a news bulletin for important reminders, like an upcoming event or a new fundraising goal. By allowing it to serve many functions, including it in a heavily trafficked area, and letting staff have control over its use, you increase the chances that employees will read what’s on your whiteboard.
You can implement all of these tips and tactics at your organization, but the reality is that you won’t know if you are communicating effectively unless you ask. Provide channels for staff to share their feedback and ideas. And, equally as important, make sure you adjust course if something’s not working.
Internal communication is important, but it also offers a space to try new things with less risk. So, have fun, be willing to experiment, and learn to tolerate failure.
Do you have examples of effective or interesting internal communications you’ve received? Let us know in the comments below.
Internal communications tips for nonprofit organizations: 14 ideas to boost impact and engagement Click To Tweet
Alex Kruger is the Marketing and Brand Manager at Canada’s award-winning social innovation, Pathways to Education Canada. With close to 10 years’ experience working in marketing, brand development, communications, and media, she has consistently helped non-profit organizations build their brands, share their work, and create positive social change. She is a firm believer in the power of authentic storytelling.
In most nonprofits, almost everything the organization does — from program work to direct service to fundraising — involves the marketing and communications team in some way. Many nonprofits also place high value on collaboration, but lag in using even the free versions of newer collaboration tools like Slack, Asana, or Basecamp.
When I talk to colleagues in nonprofits, one of their top critiques about the sector is inevitably that we all feel like we run from meeting to meeting all day long. It’s the way many nonprofit teams collaborate — gathering around a conference table to reach consensus, share progress, and plan new strategies. Given that marcom folks are involved in almost every aspect of an organization’s work and operations, that makes meeting overload even worse for our teams and ourselves.
These tips won’t get meetings off your calendar, and likely won’t even help make the meetings you attend more efficient (though I do include some resources at the end of this piece that might give you some ideas to make meetings less painful and more effective), but they will ensure you use those meetings to advance your strategic marcom goals.
3 ways to boost marcom’s impact at meetings #NPMC Click To Tweet
Leveraging meetings to advance marcom goals
1. Prioritize your priorities
Meetings — especially at the nonprofit senior staff level — can be great idea generation opportunities. When lots of new strategies and approaches are swirling in the air, enjoy the brainstorm, but take time to think carefully about how these new inputs fit in with what’s already been agreed upon as your most important work.
Take good notes, and circle back later. If the meeting is a true brainstorm, it might be better to just capture all those big ideas that surface. After you’ve had a chance to synthesize and review the notes, propose where and when you think the marcom team should move forward on particular new initiatives.
Be willing to shift priorities to accommodate valuable projects. Your marcom to-do list is not sacred — when a new project with a high organizational value arises during a meeting, don’t dig in your heels and defend your team’s existing tasks. Use the meeting as an opportunity to make recommendations about how these new priorities can be incorporated into your team’s project list, but also remain clear and direct about what has to come off to make those accommodations. Then follow up with an email after the meeting to document those agreements.
2. Collect stories
I can’t tell you how many times I or my team members have sent emails encouraging staff members in my nonprofit organization to let us know when they have great stories to tell. Though everyone has the best intentions of sharing their stories with the marcom staff, the reality is program team members and others in the organization get busy, get distracted, and get overwhelmed. If they’re not great storytellers to start with, they may find composing an email too much to overcome. But in a meeting, there are lots of opportunities to collect those gems that make your content sing.
Go for leads, not full narrative essays. Often, meeting agendas are crowded, so there won’t be time to hear a fully-formed story. Try, instead, to glean leads — anything from glimmers of a story that may be on the horizon to just a sentence or two that lets you know where to follow up — and keep a running list of them. Then you can follow up after the meeting, and incorporate the detailed version into your content strategy.
Listen carefully for clues. Did your head of programs just mention a new conference she’ll be attending? Did your executive director just mention a new major donor? Did your legislative director meet with a state senator last week? As people give updates and reports, they’ll likely drop a trail of breadcrumbs to what might just become your next great piece of content.
Send out a list of questions ahead of the meeting. It can be hard for people to think of recent stories when they’re put on the spot. This is particularly challenging for introverted members of your staff. A snappy list of three to five questions (Have you met any interesting people in the field lately? Did something exciting happen at a recent event or conference? Is there someone new we’ve touched through direct action?) emailed a day or two before the meeting can help prime your fellow staff members’ memories and get them ready to answer the questions in person.
In meetings, there are many opportunities to collect stories >> Leveraging meetings to advance marcom goals #NPMC Click To Tweet
3. Practice patience
As the marcom person at a meeting, I’ve listened to many other people tell me how to do my job. I’ve received “helpful” input from the finance director who wants to explain how their previous organization handled hyperlinks, or the program associate with an active social media presence who thinks we’re handling Twitter all wrong, or the development director who swears the marcom team at his last organization completely revamped the website in a couple of months (so why can’t we?). There will always be several people in the room who don’t understand marcom at all, or who understand just enough to be obstructive, and that can create a very frustrating meeting dynamic.
On my best days, I handle this dynamic well. If I’ve had enough sleep and not too much caffeine, I listen actively, reflect their ideas back to them, and calmly explain our overall strategy and priorities. But I’ll admit I’ve been the frustrated communicator in plenty of meetings, and when my patience wears thin, so does my ability to remain diplomatic and calm. It’s important to find ways to stay centered when in the midst of a frustrating conversation.
It’s business, not personal. One of the great strengths of nonprofit work is how much of their heart everyone puts into their jobs. We’re all saving the world, and the world is better off for it. But…that can become one of the weaknesses, too. Trying to detach enough from the criticism and not take it too personally will make the work easier and less stressful.
Listen for new perspectives. These conversations are great opportunities to uncover what’s missing from your marcom strategy. Probe more deeply to find out what organizational and individual priorities might be driving those criticisms, and you might uncover a blind spot in how you’re addressing the needs of some of your key audiences.
As a nonprofit marcom professional, you may not be able to turn down all those meeting invitations, but using these tips, you’ll be able to leverage that time to make you a more effective leader and a stronger player at your organization’s conference table, and that, in turn, will make your overall marcom strategy stronger, too.
Additional resources to help make meetings manageable
Here are some great resources to help you master the art of effective meetings:
Do you have meetings this week where you can implement some of these ideas? Try them out, and share your experiences and additional tips in the comments below!
3 ways to leverage meetings at your #nonprofit organization to advance marcom goals #NPMC Click To Tweet
Genie Gratto is a mission-driven communicator with a passion for storytelling, technology, and social change. She began her career as a reporter, but has spent more than two decades communicating on behalf of nonprofits changing the world in myriad ways, from ensuring freedom of choice for all women to progressive police research to labor rights to protecting the public’s health to promoting diversity in tech.
For nonprofit organizations, the use of photos, audio, and video in marketing and communications is becoming more important than ever. Sharing original, high-quality visual and audio content tells an organization’s story in a way that motivates positive action and giving, both online and off.
But it can be a challenge for nonprofits to collect the content they need, especially when it means getting permission. I’ve faced this challenge every year in my role as sales and communication director for a YMCA summer camp, and I’ve learned many best practices that have helped me along the way.
One way to address the challenge of collecting quality content is to create a media release form for your organization and establish a system for using it. Media release forms are legal documents that grant authorization for an organization or party to capture, edit, use, and distribute photos, videos, and/or audio of an individual. Creating a form and establishing a system may seem overwhelming, but is possible for any size organization by following a few steps.
Implementing a media release system for your nonprofit: 3 steps
How to implement a media release system for your nonprofit organization Click To Tweet
1. Set up your media release form
Before you begin, check to see if your organization already has a media release form. Many national and international nonprofits have an existing form in place. Sometimes, you are required to use the pre-existing form. Other times, depending on the circumstance, you may be permitted to edit the form or create your own.
Once you’ve determined that you can, or need to, create your own form, the first step is to establish your team. Determine who in your organization will be responsible for or involved in creating the form and finalizing the system. This could be a combination of executives, marcom team members, program or event coordinators, or legal representatives. Make sure everyone clearly understands their role in the process.
What type of content do we need to collect? Based on that answer, what should the media release form cover (photos, videos, audio, or a combination)?
How do we plan to use the content we collect?
Who will we ask to sign our media release form? (Parties to consider include individuals you serve, third parties who attend your events or rent your space, and individuals who are under the age of 18).
Will it be optional or required?
What legal guidelines do we need to follow?
Who will approve the form?
Will the form expire after a certain length of time?
Discuss these questions during the meeting. When your team comes to a consensus on the answers, designate someone to draft the form and set a deadline for its completion. Then set a second meeting for your team to review and/or approve the draft.
2. Set up your media release system
Once your media release form is finalized and approved, work with your team to establish a system for using it. Consider the following questions:
Will we use paper forms, digital forms, or a combination? Can we legally accept a digital signature?
Who will be responsible for distributing and collecting the forms and how will they do it?
Where will the signed forms be filed? Who will be responsible for filing them?
Who will have access to the signed forms once they’ve been filed?
What happens if someone declines to sign it? How we communicate to others within our organization that we can’t take photos or videos or collect audio of that individual?
Your answers will largely depend on your organization’s needs and the circumstances under which you’ll be collecting content. You may need to consider setting up a digital filing system or integrating the forms into your existing paper filing system.
3. Train your team and communicate expectations
The last step in the process is training. Choose someone from your team to lead a training session for everyone in your organization. During the training, review the form and explain why you created it. Remember that you may encounter resistance as you start the process, so be prepared to explain the importance of a media release form and how it will benefit your organization. Discuss who is and is not allowed to collect and use photos, videos, or audio and explain the consequences (disciplinary and legal) for doing so without permission.
You should also communicate with the parties who will sign the media release form. Explain why you’ve created it and what it means when they sign it. Give them enough opportunity to sign it prior to any photo, video, or audio collection. Be prepared to answer their questions or connect them with a member of your team who can.
The timeline for this entire process will depend on your organization. Check your calendar for any upcoming events or other opportunities to collect photos, videos, and audio and plan accordingly.
Are you ready to get started? This is an important process for any nonprofit, so don’t be intimidated. Start with the first step of locating or creating your form and continue from there. Remember to rely on your team members for help, and follow the process in a way that makes sense for your nonprofit. Good luck!
Implementing a media release system for your #nonprofit: 3 steps #NPMC Click To Tweet
Kelly Rembold is a nonprofit marketing and communications professional with a passion for storytelling. She is the sales and communication director at Kon-O-Kwee Spencer YMCA, a year-round YMCA camp in Fombell, PA, that offers summer programs, group retreats, and environmental education. Kelly has a background in journalism, and has previously worked as a reporter and editorial assistant for newspapers in Pennsylvania and Ohio.