4 questions, 3 words, 1 message

At the NDOA Spring Conference, I gave a presentation on Using Messaging to Engage your Community.

I challenged the group to pick three words that define and differentiate their organization. And then weave those into their messaging across all platforms–elevator pitch, social media, brochures, case for support. You name it. Those three words should come through. Concise, consistent, compelling. That’s what this approach gets you. That’s why it’s effective.

Here are the four questions to ask to get you to the three words:

  1. Why do you exist?
  2. What do you do?
  3. Why you?
  4. Why now?

What are your answers? What are your three words?


Going Viral at NDOA’s 2011 Winter Conference

We had a blast at the NDOA Winter Conference! In addition to seeing old friends and meeting new ones, Erica moderated a panel with some of Seattle’s savviest social media folks on “Going viral: using your social networks to ignite supporters”. Each of the nonprofit pros on our panel shared real-life stories about how they have used the power of social networks to maximize their organizations’ efforts to move ‘believers’ to action on behalf of their causes.

Following is a recap of our 75 minute whirlwind discussion. Thanks again to the amazing panelists and all who attended!

Some Video Highlights from Our Session Today

And here is Erica’s prezi (this is what is playing in the background if you watch the vid above)

Panelist’s Tip’s & Tricks for Social Media Success

How to Listen

How to Engage

  • Check out how Charity:Water engages their supporters for a great example.
  • Ask for opinions.  Spark a conversation about an issue related to your organizations’ mission.
  • Find out what kind of content your supporters want.  How? Ask them. (Have a Follower Meet-up Pizza Party!)
  • Give your organization a persona.  Ask: “If my organization was a person, who would they be?” It’s easier for an organization to “be real” if they imagine themselves that way.

Tools for Measuring ROI

  • Simply Measured: Easy Social Media Measurement. Reports built in excel.RowFeeder:  Social Media Monitoring and Analysis made easy.Export.ly: Easy Social Media Data Exports.
  • Care 2’s Social Network Calculator: Use this tool to calculate an estimate of cost and return on investment for the recruitment and fundraising efforts of your staff in social networking sites.
  • Tweetreach: Guide to analyzing your Twitter reach.
  • Start with a simple monthly report, taking baby steps to figure out what is most important to measure for your organization. (Remember: go back to your goals!)
  • Constantly evaluate and re-evaluate – it’s a process!
  • Find out where online conversations about your organization or field are already happening and engage there.

Who are some Influencers and Experts on Social Media?

Our Favorite In-Person Social Media Resources

Download Session Handouts

HANDOUT #1: Common Nonprofit Social Media Concerns

HANDOUT #2: Four Social Media Tools for Nonprofits

HANDOUT #3: The 123 Marketing Mechanism Calendar

Did you attend the conference?

What did you learn? Share your a-ha moments below!

Global Partnerships: Focus Pays Off

Global Partnerships (GP), a Seattle-based nonprofit, expands opportunity for people living in poverty by supporting microfinance and other sustainable solutions in Latin America. They partner with innovative, mission-driven microfinance institutions that reach people traditionally left behind—such as women and the rural poor—with microloans and other services that can help families break the cycle of poverty.

They are a shining example of a nonprofit that knows how to deeply engage with people who care about their mission.  In recent years, they’ve integrated social media into their marketing mix–with excellent results. We recently sat down with Elisa Murray, Director of Communications, and Chris Megargee, Director of Community & Corporate Relations, to learn more about their experience navigating the social media waters.

How did GP get started with social media? Global Partnerships works in Latin America, far, far away from where their supporters live. This makes it hard to get a sense for the impact their partners have on the lives of those they serve. A few GP supporters go on PartnerTrips but most don’t have the opportunity to see the work first-hand. Knowing how much the PartnerTrips mean to those who did have a chance to go, GP was inspired to explore ways for supporters to be able to have that experience while staying local via photos and videos. They wanted to share their great videos and photos from these trips abroad, as well as local events like the awesomely successful Business of Hope Luncheon. (‘Awesomely’ is our word, not theirs, by the way.)

It was 2008 and they had a website with loads of great information but it was time consuming to update and fairly static.  One day, they attended an NDOA event where they learned from nonprofiteers who were dipping their toes in social media. It was there they realized that social media might be a great way to connect supporters with their work on the ground.

They went back to the office and signed up for personal Facebook accounts. This was before we had Facebook Pages like we have today, so they experimented with Facebook Groups and a Facebook Causes page. Eventually, they created a Global Partnerships Facebook Page, which turned out to be a perfect fit with their overall communications strategy.

The Results? They have measured their website visits since launching the Facebook page and their website visits have gone significantly up, an excellent sign that they’re achieving their goal.

Advice from GP

  • Identify your goal and your audience before the tool. They knew they wanted 1) to deepen their relationship with current supporters who couldn’t travel and 2) to reach out to women and younger people interested in improving the lives of women in South America. Facebook was a logical place to engage with their target audiences since they are already active Facebook users.
  • Start by focusing on one tool and doing it well enough to make it worth it. Of all of their time spent on communications and outreach, they have the resources to spend only 5-10% on social media–a fairly common situation for nonprofits.  Pick one and go with it.
  • Just say ‘no’. Over the past couple of years, they were tempted to start a blog but realized that they didn’t have enough resources to do a blog well at the moment.  Based on their goals and their capacity at this point in time, they decided to say no to a blog.
  • Say ‘thank you’. Facebook is a great way to thank volunteers.

  • Be human. Your supporters don’t want to know about every latte run you go on, but sometimes sharing what you had for lunch make sense. People engage with people, so don’t be afraid of being human.

  • Change it up: Adding variety and focusing on those outside your organization keeps your page lively and interesting.

  • Master your message: Make sure your messaging is consistent with other communications. Supporters should come away with the same impression of the organization whether they come across you on-line or on-land.

Many thanks to Global Partnership for sharing how they’ve gone social without going crazy!

Do you have a social media success story to share?

How Social Media Can Help You Do 5 Things You’re Already Doing

Group of Hands Holding Speech Bubble with Social Issue ConceptsJohn Janstch of Duct Tape Marketing constantly offers great advice that is as relevant to nonprofits as it is to the small businesses he works with every day. A few months ago, the Claxon crew got to see him in person in Seattle. Fantastic!

This post is modified from a recent post of his called “5 Ways to Use Social Media for Things You Are Already Doing.” What person working in a nonprofit doesn’t like the sound of that?!

Thinking that sounded pretty great, I took his key points and made them specific to nonprofits. (My changes are in [brackets].) The terminology may be different, but the advice is the same. And it’s good!

1) Follow up with [prospective donors]

I love using social media tools as a way to follow-up with [prospective donors] you might meet out there in the real world. So you go to an [AFP or NDOA] event and meet someone that has asked you to follow-up. Traditionally, you might send an email a week later or call them up and leave a voice mail. What if instead you found them on LinkedIn, asked to be connected and then shared an information rich article that contained tips about the very thing you chatted about at the [AFP/NDOA] mixer. Do you think that next meeting might get started a little quicker towards your [mission]? I sure do.

2) Stay top of mind with [donors]

Once someone becomes a [donor], it’s easy to ignore them, assuming they will [donate] next time they [want to] or, worse yet, assuming they understand the full depth and breadth of your offerings and will chime in when they have other needs. Staying in front of your [donors] and continuing to educate and [move them up the ladder] is a key ingredient to building marketing momentum and few [nonprofits] do it well. [Because it’s really hard to do everything well with so few resources!]

This is an area where a host of social media tools can excel. A blog is a great place to put out a steady stream of useful information and success stories. Encouraging your [donors] to subscribe and comment can lead to further engagement. Recording video stories from [donors] and uploading them to YouTube to embed on your site can create great marketing content and remind your [donors] why they [donate to] you. Facebook Fan pages can be used as a way to implement a [supporter] community and offer education and networking opportunities online. [For a great example of this, check out The Pride Foundation.]

3) Keep up on your industry

Keeping up with what’s happening in any industry is a task that is essential these days. With unparalleled access to information many [donors] can learn as much or more about the products and solutions offered by a [nonprofit] as those charged with suggesting those products and solutions. You better keep up or you risk becoming irrelevant. Of course I could extend this to keeping up with what your [supporters], competitors, and key industry journalists are doing as well.

Here again, new monitoring services and tools steeped in social media and real time reporting make this an easier task. Subscribing to blogs written by industry leaders, competitors and journalists and viewing new content by way of a tool such as Google Reader allows you to scan the day’s content in one place. Setting up Google Alerts and custom Twitter Searches or checking out paid monitoring services such as Radian6 or Trackur allows you to receive daily email reports on the important mentions of industry terms and people so you are up to the minute in the know. (Of course, once you do this you can teach your [donors] how to [learn more about the mission you both care about] and make yourself even more valuable to them – no matter what [your mission may be].)

4) Provide a better [donor] experience

It’s probably impossible to [do too much donor recognition], too [provide too] much of a great experience, but you can go nuts trying.

Using the new breed of online tools you can plug some of the gaps you might have in [cultivating donors] and, combined with your offline touches, create an experience that no [other organization] can match.

While some might not lump this tool into social media, I certainly think any tool that allows you to collaborate with and serve your [donors] qualifies. Using an online project management tool such as Central Desktop allows you to create an entire [donor] education, orientation, and handbook kind of training experience one time and then roll it out to each new [donor] in a high tech [donor] portal kind of way. This approach can easily set you apart from anyone else in your industry and provide the kind of experience that gets [donors engaged].

5) Network with potential partners

Building a strong network of strategic marketing partners (i.e. another organization that cares about the same cause as you and offers complementary services) is probably the best defense against any kind of economic downturn. One of the surest ways to attract potential partners is to build relationships through networking. Of course you know that, but you might not be viewing this kind of networking as a social media function.

If you identify a potential strategic partner, find out if they have a blog and start reading and commenting. Few things will get you noticed faster than smart, genuine blog comments. Once you establish this relationship it might make sense to offer a guest blog post. If your use a CRM tool (and you should) you’ve probably noticed that most are moving to add social media information to contact records, add your potential partners’ social media information and you will learn what’s important to them pretty quickly.

If you know how to set up a blog already, offer to create a blog of network partners so each of you can write about your area of expertise and create some great local SEO for the group.

Maybe you’re not doing all of these things, but you’re probably doing at least a one or two.

Take John’s advice and you’ll definitely engage your donors more effectively. And who doesn’t want that?!

Do you communicate as effectively as you think?


Do you communicate as effectively as you think?