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Join the Social Media Conversation: Sunday May 1 8:00 PM EDT

Looking forward to an hour on Twitter Sunday May 1 8:00 PM on #CargillChat on Twitter with @CargillCreative Bob Cargill. The guy with the marketing sensibility that points us in smart directions on how to build Nonprofit communication effectiveness by applying social media tools. Relationship Fundraising means we first build the relationship. The donations follow when the donor gets the impression that your nonprofit is delivering value to a client base s/he feels some empathy for. It’s about the good you deliver to customers. The nonprofit is an empty shell if it’s only promoting its own survival. It’s about the primary customers you serve and how they value your service. Social media are tools that help deliver that story.

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Fully Engaging Your Nonprofit Networks

Here we are, ready to launch into 2015.
The New Year is a good time to take stock. How is our Annual Appeal doing? Are we going to meet or exceed goal? How are we doing reaching our friends and our potential new friends with a message that properly declares the need of those we serve?
In recent years, our economy has not experienced inflationary growth. Some might say that growth is far too gradual. We need to raise more funds from more friends of our mission to feel “successful.”
Nonprofit organizations must utilize their precious networks — to strengthen their ability to deliver on their mission today and to grow tomorrow.The goodwill, future financial support, and contacts developed by networking will be the silver lining to emerge if we work our resources well.
Networking is the art of identifying, cultivating, and engaging friends of your organization. These friendships ultimately may yield monetary support, sources of non-financial support, and ambassadors who can cultivate more friends. Now is the time to identify these potential friends, hone your messaging, and plan how to best deliver those messages. By getting your staff, board of directors, and other volunteers ready to communicate your message, you’ll build your capacity to thrive.The best place to start is a meeting of the board of directors, who must stay mindful of their role as emissaries for the organization to which they have committed. They know the mission, they know the goals, they know the good that the organization brings to the community. How do they communicate this value? How do they spread the good news with people they work with, play with, pray with?
Start with a conversation. Take some time at a staff meeting and the next board meeting to talk about reaching out to friends to share your mission. There may be members who are doing this now. Identify them before the next meeting. Ask them to share their techniques with the group. Use their experiences to kick off the discussion. Listen for the ideas that have been most successful. Share a summary of the results with all who can benefit from these experiences.
Continue the conversation. Be sure to put the discussion on the agenda for subsequent meetings. Find out in advance who is trying the new techniques. Ask one or two of the new practitioners to report on what they’re doing.
Engage communications experts to share advice. Do you have a director of communications on your staff? If not, does one of your board members or volunteers have communication expertise? Strategize with this person about your approach to engaging networks. Incorporate messages that are consistent with your brand so your staff and volunteers are talking about your work in a unified and consistent way.
Twitter? Facebook? Blogs? Is someone on your team familiar with social media and willing to show others how to effectively use these tools? It’s likely that this person will be younger than most of the team. If so, this is an excellent opportunity to let an up-and-comer show their stuff. An effective plan for social media can engage people you otherwise might miss who will support your mission once they learn what the organization is about.
What’s your story? Nonprofit organizations have numerous stories about your clients’ great experience with your services. Incorporate telling of stories as part of “conversation time.” A program staff person or a volunteer probably has more than one such story to share. Let your group hear a story or two each time you meet, and encourage your board, staff, and volunteers to retell these stories when they are out engaging their networks.
Begin at the beginning. Gary Stern, a marketing expert based in Portland, Maine, encourages nonprofits to be sure that their mission and clients are in the forefront of their thinking, planning, and doing. “Begin at the beginning” is his first admonition in his pamphlet, “Ten Things Every Board Member Should Know.” In your networking, you want your conversation and stories to be about the people you serve. That way, potential supporters and volunteers will be more eager to join your cause when they realize that it’s more about the people you serve than it is about your organization.
There is a reservoir of good will out there, ready to hear about the good you do. And every day, your volunteers and staff talk with many people who will want to help bring the “good” you deliver to more people. Your organization’s job is to forge links through staff, board, and volunteer networks so you can grow the circle of friends and supporters. When you take the time to apply creative approaches to communication through networks, you engage and energize people for your mission. It takes commitment and work, but it will put your organization in the strongest possible position as the economy continues to strengthen.

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Customer Service for the Nonprofit in the Social Media Age

Nonprofit organizations need to practice great customer service for their primary customers (those who use their services) as well as their supporting customers (volunteers and donors). If the staff and volunteers working for your mission aren’t practicing quality Customer Service, it’s a turn-off. And with Facebook, You Tube, Twitter and other social media platforms, it’s good communication practice to assure that all people understand that working as staff or volunteer assumes a good attitude when interacting with primary and supporting customers in these media, too.

How do we know when we’re providing “good” Customer Service? When we survey our customers and they respond that they are satisfied. Doing spot surveys of our customers to check in on customer satisfaction is a good idea for nonprofits, as it is for commercial companies.

Some companies use Feedback Loops to learn how they are doing. In the United Kingdon, National Express, a public transport company, invites commuters to text about their experience while they are commuting. This kind of check up tells the company how they are doing.

I suggest that you ask board members how their companies check on Customer Service. Take a few minutes at your next board meeting for a conversation on this topic. Discuss how you might apply the concept at your nonprofit. If you have a communication or public relations committee, and a staff person with responsibility in this area, ask them to do a bit of research on how to go about assessing and improving Customer Service in a 21st Century work environment. Come up with a plan and incorporate it in the performance review process at your workplace in the upcoming year. Assure that it becomes integrated and part of the job.

Taking steps to assure that your primary and supporting customers are satisfied with service at your nonprofit will deliver positive returns.

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People to Watch: Pam Moore

There’s a special cluster of folk I pay particular attention to among the 2,500 I follow on Twitter. One of the thought leaders in Social Media is Pam Moore. You can find her @PamMktgNut on Twitter, and on her website http://www.pammarketingnut.com. Most recently, (October 22, 2012) she delivered “Social Return on Relationships: 13 Tips to Ignite Relevant Value.” Pam delivers value on her tweets, on her tweet-ups, on her blog. She’s down-to-earth and shares stuff you can understand and use easily. She’s among the top ten folks I’m touting to my friends in the nonprofit sector.

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Social Media for Nonprofits: Understanding “Online Persona”

John Haydon, a thought leader in nonprofit social media, wrote recently about “Online Persona.” http://bit.ly/Rot7Ap. You can learn more about John on his website: http://www.johnhaydon.com. John has taken a useful Infographic produced by Blackbaud that organizes nonprofit social media audiences into four groups: Key Influencers, Engagers, Multichannel Consumers, and Standard Consumers. In setting social media strategy, it’s important for those responsible for communication to understand the audience(s) and to tailor outbound communication approach reaching the various personas out there. As nonprofits consider social media approach it’s important to know your audience.

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