Setting attainable social media goals for your non-profit

social media plan1If there is one thing non-profits know about, it is goals. There are goals within the mission. There are fundraising goals. There are membership goals. Today, we are going to talk about setting goals for social media. If you want your organizations social media campaigns to be a success, setting attainable social media goals is key.

Start with a Baseline

Just like anything, you have to see where you are before setting goals for where you want to go.

Measuring success in social media can be a tricky thing. There are many tools to help you define metrics that can be good indicators of interaction. For example, Facebook gives you Insights, which can tell you which posts were successful and which ones were not based on how many people saw them, shared them or liked them. Google Analytics can tell you about how many people visit your website and how long they stay engaged on your site. This type of data is helpful when you’re setting a baseline.

I would also encourage you to look at things outside of traditional metrics to help you define success. For example, how many posts were made in a specific platform can help you form a more complete picture of where your organization currently stands.

Keep in mind, there may not be an easy way to get data for all of the social media networks you use and that’s okay. However, gathering a baseline of data can help you measure success as your organization’s social media plan grows.

Look at Your Data

social media plan2Take a look and see if you can spot any patterns. Here are a few questions you should ask yourself:

  • Are there posts that are super successful?
  • Are there posts that just seem to tank?
  • Do photos do better than text updates?
  • Do posts made at the beginning of the day tend to do better than those posted later in the day or vice versa?
  • Which social media networks are the most active?
  • Which social media networks are the most dormant?
  • Are posts containing a call to action more successful than those without?
  • Do posts with links tend to get users more engaged than those without?

The list could go on and on, but the point is to take a look and see what’s working and what’s not.

Looking at your data is important in the beginning stages of goal setting, during measuring a goal and once the goal timeline has passed. Getting in the habit of collecting and looking at data early, will help you out along the way.

Talk to Your Staff

Social media is a powerful tool for nonprofits. Due to its very low cost, it gives organizations a much louder voice to reach new members of the community and keep up-to-date with those who have been there since the beginning.

While there may be just one person in charge of posting things on social media networks, it is important to get the whole agency together when forming social media goals. Take the time to meet with your staff and talk about how social media can help them reach their own departmental goals. For example, the membership team might like to use social media to run a membership drive during the month of October.

Talking with staff early can help you plan out a specific campaign. Because you’ve taken the time to look at where your organization stands now, you’ll be better able to shape these conversations into what will be most successful for your agency.

Set Goals

social media plan3After establishing a baseline and taking the time to look at what works and what doesn’t, you are ready to take on social media goal setting. The following are a few tips for writing and monitoring goals:

  • When writing goals, make sure they are SMART (e.g. specific, measurable, action oriented, realistic/relevant, and time bound).
  • Make sure you have ways to capture data throughout the goal’s timeline.
  • Discuss and adjust your posts with your team along the way.
  • If a goal isn’t met, it doesn’t mean that it failed completely. Take the time to examine what barriers kept it from succeeding. Maybe the goal wasn’t a great goal in the first place. This can be a lesson to learn in and of itself.

What type of social media goals does your organization set? How to you keep track of your data? What challenges do you face when it comes to setting and meeting social media goals? Let us know in the comment section!
Marissa sig

Bad cause related marketing is offensive

cause related1Have you ever been the victim of a bad cause related marketing promotion? If so, then perhaps you would agree with me that bad cause related marketing is offensive and even damaging to the non-profit industry. For this reason, the industry really needs to start policing itself and developing a set of commonly accepted best practices.

My story

On Saturday, I decided that I needed a new pair of glasses. So, I took a trip to the mall and walked into LensCrafters because it felt convenient. I saw the doctor. She poked around my eyes and dilated them. I picked out my frames and proceeded to check-out. During the process of ringing up the bill, we got to a point that sounded something like this:

  • Cashier: “Would you like to add $1.00 to your bill today to support a charity called OneSight?”
  • Me: “Ummmmmm, what is that?
  • Cashier: “It is a charity that helps poor people around the world who suffer from bad eyesight.”
  • Me: “Can you tell me anything else about the charity?
  • Cashier: “Ummmmmmm, no.”
  • Me: “Then no, I wouldn’t like to support that charity.”

My issue with this exchange

I understand that it is only one dollar, but as a donor don’t I deserve a better case for support than: “It is a charity that helps poor people around the world who suffer from bad eyesight.”?

Again, you’re probably thinking to yourself: “Come on, Erik. It is one dollar. You’re not going to get the song and dance that charities give you for larger ask amounts.”

Of course, you are right, but am I asking too much for something like:

  • A brochure sitting at the cash register that explains more about the charity.
  • In-store posters or displays explaining who this company’s charity of choice is and why it is their charity of choice?

Buyer beware!

cause related2So, I came home and decided to Google around to find a few answers about the charity I was asked to support at the LensCrafters cash register.

Here is what I found on the LensCrafters website:

Twenty-five years ago, LensCrafters founded the OneSight organization with one purpose in mind: To provide better sight for all—everything from free eyecare to eyewear to important research that will change how people see tomorrow.”

Perhaps, I am being cynical, but isn’t LensCrafters asking its customers to fund its charitable work?

Back in the day, I remember corporate America feeling the need to re-invest part of its annual profits back into the communities from where those profits came or into a charitable mission about which they felt strongly. Again, I might be off-base here, but it feels like today some companies are keeping their profits and asking their customers to fund their charitable work and then turning around and asking for customer loyalty because of all their good works.

I did go to Guidestar and snoop around OneSight’s 990 forms, which as you know can be like deciphering hieroglyphs at times.   From what I can tell, this organization raises very little money from more traditional resource development methods and gets most of its money from LensCrafters’ cause related marketing cash register program.

As a consumer, I believe I deserve a little transparency at the cash register if I am just being asked to essentially support a company’s charitable activities.

Is a brochure or display really asking too much?

Cause related marketing is here to stay

Cause related marketing is here to stay because it generates substantial revenue. It is an easy ask. After all, it is just one dollar, right? Come on. Isn’t it a small price for a concerned citizen and donor to pay so that they can feel good about doing something to feed a hungry person or give the gift of sight?

Call me old fashion, but this feels like lazy philanthropy, especially when companies can’t even be bothered to train their cashiers to answer a few questions or produce a brochure for distribution at the cash register.

If only there were best practices and some minimum standards that we could all agree upon.

Ummmm, wait! Perhaps, we have something . . .

My online friend, JoanneFritz, at posted a great article titled “3 Cause-Related Marketing Trends That Matter to Nonprofits and Their Business Partners“. It is definitely worth taking a minute to click-through and read it.

Joanne ends her post with a call to action and includes a few good links for non-profit organizations that are searching for best practices.

Has your agency played around with any cause related marketing efforts? If so, what did you do? More importantly, what did you learn? Please share your thoughts in the comment box below. We can all learn from each other.

Here’s to your health!

Erik Anderson
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC!/eanderson847

How Storify can help non-profits raise awareness

storifyIf there is one thing Social Media is about, it’s sharing — sharing information, photos, videos, statistics. If it can be displayed on a screen, it can be shared. Sometimes, it can be hard to keep track of all of the items being shared on a single topic. That’s where Storify comes in. Today, we are going to look at how your non-profit agency can use Storify to share social media updates with the world.

What Is It?

Storify defines itself as:

“Storify helps making sense of what people post on social media. Our users curate the most important voices and turn them into stories.”

I like to think of Storify as a personalized social media newspaper. Every now and again, I’ll see a Storify link in my twitter feed. I will click it to find a collection of status updates, tweets, photos, and articles on a topic that was important to the user. As the recipient of the Storify story, I find it brings attention to articles or updates that I may have missed on a specific subject.

Why Use It?

Storify can be a great way to share with your social media followers updates on a certain topic. For example, let’s say your mission has to do with cancer research. Once a week, it might be nice to collect stories about the advancements in cancer research, put them all together in an easy to read format, and share it with others.

What I like is that Storify gives you a way to provide context to the articles to which you are linking. Many times the hardest job a non-profit organization has is educating the public about their mission. Storify provides an easy format to do just that.

Additionally, Storify is a great search engine for finding content on different subjects. Even if you don’t use Storify to share articles and updates with others, it can be used as a powerful search engine to find what people are saying about your organization and its work.

Furthermore, once you publish a story on Storify, the service will notify the people quoted in your story to let them know they are being featured in your story. This can help you raise awareness about your issue faster and facilitate networking connections through social media.

Finally, Storify offers complete flexibility when it comes to how you share your curated stories with others. You can share it as a link to various social media networks or embed it right onto you website. Storify provides you with the code to do it, which makes it as simple as copy and paste.

How to Use It

Signing up for an account is simple. Just go to to get started.

The whole interface is drag and drop so it makes deciding where things go very simple. Use Storify to share news about upcoming events, issues important to your mission, or collect when your organization is mentioned elsewhere on the web to share with members of your team.

See how The Weather Channel used Storify to collect stories about the latest winter storm.

I would just like to note that I was not compensated in way to write this post. I just think that Storify is a powerful tool that non-profits could use to raise awareness.

What do you think? Is Storify a tool for your non-profit? Do you already use Storify? If so, what do you believe to be most impactful when using the service? Share answers to any of these questions below in the comments section. I’d love to hear from you!
Marissa sig

The Chicago Cubs Convention through non-profit eyes: Part One

cubs6This last weekend I attended the Chicago Cubs Convention with my family.  As we drifted from session to session, I couldn’t help but see all sorts of blog themes and things that non-profit organizations could learn from this major league franchise. I will use the next few days to share a few of these observations and hopefully stimulate a few new ideas for you and your agency. Today, I want to drill down on the idea of stewardship.

In one of the sessions that I attended, there sat Cubs General Manager Theo Epstein and the brain trust for the entire Chicago Cubs organization. There was a lot of talk about improving the stadium, improving the product of the field, and a lot of blah-blah-blah. I’ve attended a number of these conventions, and I always marvel at how I am paying them to market to me. I also can’t believe that the script never seems to change very much.

However, something struck me as very interesting this year. It was Theo’s second convention since being hired, and I heard him say this:

“The Cubs have a covenant with the fans.”

This isn’t the first time that I’ve heard him say this. I heard it at last year’s convention. I’ve heard it and read it in various media interviews. And this time it sparked the following questions and thoughts:

  • I wonder what he means by that?
  • He is emphasizing this point . . . this must be part of a larger narrative?!?!
  • This sounds and feels remarkably similar to non-profit stewardship efforts. Huh?

theoSo, I went back to the basics and looked up the word “covenant” and defines it as follows:

“cov·e·nant  (kuv’e-nent)  noun. 1. A binding agreement; a compact.”

Of course, every time I hear this word it takes me back to my childhood and confirmation classes. There are obvious Biblical connotations.

I believe that when Theo talks about this covenant with Cubs fans, he is referring to:

  • Transparency,
  • Accountability,
  • Reporting,
  • Recognition, and
  • essentially demonstrating that the team is doing what they say they’re doing.

Isn’t this exactly what non-profit organizations mean when they talk about stewardship?  I believe so.

If you agree, then this raises another  interesting question: “With whom does your agency have a covenant?

I believe that non-profit professionals and board volunteers form a covenant with many different stakeholders such as: donors, clients, collaborative partners, staff, funding partners and institutions (e.g. United Way and other foundations), and the at-large community. While there are common threads that run through each of those covenants, there are also some unique promises being made by your organization.

Have you ever thought through this part of your social contract? If not, then I suggest this might be an interesting “generative discussion” at an upcoming board meeting.

After a little more thinking, I started identifying ways the Chicago Cubs try to hold up their end of this covenant. For example:

  • The annual convention is in part an accountability exercise where ownership, management and players open themselves up to answering questions (e.g. ticket pricing, player acquisition, organizational development philosophy, etc).
  • The Cubs talked a lot about investing time and resources last year in fan surveys and focus groups.
  • The Cubs publish a magazine called “Vine Line” in an effort to keep fans informed.

How is this any different that what some non-profit organizations do with newsletters, annual meetings, and donor communications.

As I always say . . . “We can all learn from each other.” And I do mean ALL because the Chicago Cubs Convention proves to me that there is more commonality between for-profits and non-profits than we care to admit.

What is your non-profit agency doing to fulfill its covenant? With whom do you think you have a covenant? What tactics are you using? Where do you find your inspiration and new ideas? Who do you see doing a good job with this?

Here’s to your health!

Erik Anderson
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC!/eanderson847

Facebook Graph Search will impact your non-profit social media strategy

graph search1Last week, Mark Zuckerburg and friends held a press conference announcing a new feature for Facebook. No one had any real idea of what it was going to be. Were they changing privacy setting again? Did they buy another social media network? Was Facebook finally going to make a Facebook phone? It turns out that none of those questions were the topic for the press conference and what they announced was a change in “Facebook Search” with something called Graph Search. Today, we are going to take a look at what Graph Search is and how it will impact the social media strategy of your nonprofit.

What is Graph Search?

Facebook has tons of information on every user. Just think about it. Not only does Facebook have your name, but it knows where you live, what school you attended, what music you listen to and even in some cases what toothpaste you prefer. What is Facebook going to do with all of this information? Make it searchable.

Graph Search will change how people use Facebook for searching for information. It has been said that Mark Zuckerburg wants people to use Facebook as their internet and never leave the page. Instituting Graph Search will make that possible.

Currently, if you try to use Facebook Search to find a name of a company or a person, it isn’t very helpful to you. It is easier to go use a search engine like Google to find the information you need.

With Graph Search you can search for topics such as – people who give to charity – and it will bring up a list of your friends or people who live in your area that give to charity. The search results will be based on who you know and where you are located. Because of this, it is important to note that two people could search for the same topic and get different results.

How Will Graph Search Impact Your Nonprofit’s Social Media Strategy?

graph search2Before answering that question, let’s think about how Facebook has changed in the past few months. At the end of 2012, Facebook began to limit the amount of times a post from your brand page (not your personal page) would show up in your supporters News Feed. To get around this, they introduced Sponsored Stories and Promoted Posts causing people to pay money to get their message across.

With the launch of Graph Search, the number of “likes” on your page and the amount of engagement will be more important than ever. These two metrics will determine where you show up in Graph Search search results. Because Facebook has shortened the visibility of a post by a page, your non-profit might want to start thinking about allocating some money for a promoted post every now and then. This can help expand the reach of your message outside of your current supporter base and help you in both the short-term and long-term.

What Can Nonprofits Do Now to Prepare for Graph Search?

Graph Search is still currently in beta, but there a few things that you can do to your Facebook page to make sure it is ready to go when Graph Search launches.

  • Create Engaging Content – Post frequently and use photos to create a community on Facebook where supporters want to comment on or like what is being posted.
  • Fill Out Your About Section – Make sure you have all of the information filled out in your Facebook profile. Don’t forget to include a location as this is one of the main data points for Graph Search.
  • Plan Ahead – Take some time to think about what this change in search will mean for your organization. How will you grow support with more “likes”? What content are you publishing and when? What posts are most successful? For more help on what posts people are responding to, check out your page’s Insights data.

It will be interesting to see how Graph Search pans out and what impact it will have in the land of search engines. I am interested to see how Facebook plans to monetize their search. People take what their friends have to say seriously.  So, a more personal search might be what non-profits need to gain more support.

Hopefully this post helped clear up what Graph Search is and helped you to start thinking about how it will impact your non-profit organization.

What do you think? Will Graph Search make an impact? How are you going to change your organization’s page to prepare for Graph Search Launch? Leave a comment below. I’d love to hear from you.
Marissa sig

Cause related marketing 101: Educate, educate, educate!

CRM1It is that time of the year when retailers are pulling out every stop in their little bag of tricks to get your attention and hopefully your holiday dollars. One of those shiny objects that some retailers use is called cause related marketing (CRM). Wikipedia does a nice job of explaining this phenomenon: “Cause marketing or cause-related marketing refers to a type of marketing involving the cooperative efforts of a ‘for-profit’ business and a non-profit organization for mutual benefit.”

Joanne Fritz at recently wrote a blog post titled “Hasbro and Macy’s Invite Letters to Santa in Holiday Cause Marketing Campaigns“. She ended her post with this simple question: “Do you have a favorite holiday cause-marketing campaign? Let me know.”

As I sat here contemplating what my favorite CRM initiative has been throughout the years, I remembered that just last week my partner — John — returned from a business trip with a present for me from the Nashville airport. It was a new part of “Mens Lounge Pants” (or as I affectionately refer to them as: “Erik’s Comfortable Fat Pants”)

John purchased those pants for me because the tag said “Your purchase helps kids in need” and he knows that I love charities and for-profit business that help “those kids who need us most”. So, in his mind, this was a win-win because I needed a new pair of lounge pants and his retail purchase would also “help kids in need”.

When John went to check-out, he made an honest mistake and asked the cashier: “So, how does my purchase help kids in need? Which charities does your company support?”  Unfortunately, the cashier’s response was less than inspiring. She shrugged and pointed to a point of purchase coin box sitting on the counter top.

Needless to say, John’s enthusiasm for the brand evaporated and when he gave me the present my “blogger curiosity” went through the roof.

As I sat here contemplating Joanne Fritz’s question, I decided to do a little more research on my lounge pants.

After a good hour of clicking around, I’ve come to the following conclusions:

  1. This cause related marketing campaign is a little unusual because it benefits the company’s own corporate foundation and not an independently owned and operated charity. I liken this to McDonald’s supporting Ronald McDonald House. 
  2.  I’m still not very sure what the foundation actually does . . . training? programming? advocacy? conferences?
  3. This campaign is very glossy and slick. It is one heck of a “shiny object” that appeals to consumers.

However, Joanne Fritz hits the nail on the head in her blog post when she says that great cause related marketing campaigns focus more on the “cause” than they do the “marketing” (which does not mean that the marketing isn’t top-notch).

The big take away lesson for me from “Life is Good” is that effective CRM campaigns  must focus on education:

  • Employees must be able to talk intelligently about the cause, and
  • Consumers must be able to understand what their retail dollars are supporting.

I’ll end today’s blog post the same way Joanne ended her’s by asking you: “Do you have a favorite holiday cause-marketing campaign? Let me know.” Please click over to Joanne’s site and share your thoughts or scroll down and do so in the comment box below. If you want to learn more about CRM, I suggest clicking over to

Here’s to your health!

Erik Anderson
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC!/eanderson847

How to start a successful non-profit YouTube channel

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. YouTube is for more than just cute cat videos. In fact, YouTube is home to web networks, political commentary, educational videos and . . . OK, maybe some of the most adorable cats you’ve ever seen. If your organization is not on YouTube you’re missing a great opportunity to reach a new audience. In today’s post, let’s look at how YouTube can be a great resource for a nonprofit in today’s social media savvy society.

Why YouTube?

Well, think about it. Have you looked at a YouTube video yet today? If not, I’m sure you’ll see one posted in your news feed on Facebook that will catch your eye. The point is that YouTube is a place people go to find videos that are about topics important to them. YouTube is a familiar site for people. When people think of videos on the internet, they think of YouTube.

YouTube has a built-in audience. Many people don’t just go to YouTube for one video, they will often find a video that was linked to their video that they find interesting and watch that one too.Why not use this familiarity, and automatic audience to your advantage and make sure your organization has a YouTube Channel?

YouTube Basics

Once you’ve decided that YouTube is a network for your organization, it’s really simple to get started. All you have to do is sign up. Every YouTube user is given a channel where she can upload videos. This channel’s name is customizable. You will want to make sure that your organization’s channel name is easy to remember and recognizable to your organization.

The background of your channel is also customizable. You can upload banner graphics and change the color scheme to match your agency’s logo.

Beyond the cosmetic changes, make sure you take the time to fully fill-out your YouTube profile. This not only lets people know what your channel is all about, but it also gives them other places on the web to go (e.g. your website, Facebook page, etc). Additionally, filling out the profile helps with the SEO of your channel, which will help Google point people in your direction when they search for you.

Subscribing to other channels also helps you build your YouTube community and can help your organization gain new subscribers. The channels to which you subscribe cannot be seen by others; however, when you like a video or add it to your favorites list this action will show up in your activity feed and users will be able to see that.

YouTube users also have the option of choosing a video that is shown on their channel’s page first. Make sure you choose this video wisely. While some channels make this their most recent video, others choose to make it a welcome video. You can changed this at any time, but make sure that the video that is displayed prominently on your channel is one you think is a good representation of your organization.

As is true with any social media site, remember that sharing is caring. So, share your content on all of your other social media networks.

Nonprofit YouTube Extras

Like many other Google products, YouTube has made resources available for nonprofits to help them achieve their goals. This includes YouTube’s Nonprofit Program.

Benefits of being accepted into this program include:

  • a donate now button on your channel’s page,
  • the ability to livestream on your channel, and
  • call to action overlays that pop-up on related videos for users to participate in.

These tools will help your organization succeed on the YouTube platform. Applying is easy. Your agency just needs a YouTube channel.

I hope this post has given you some insight on how to get started on YouTube. As for what type of content to include on your organization’s channel, that’s a post for another Monday.

Has your organization had success with YouTube? What did you find most helpful when setting up your channel? What did you find least helpful? Leave your tips in comments!

What non-profits can learn from a homeless man in Indianapolis

A few weeks ago I attended Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s Midwest Leadership Conference in Indianapolis as an exhibitor. I love conferences because they are great opportunities to learn and meet new people.

However, this time I walked away a little surprised at myself because the biggest takeaway for me didn’t come from any of the sessions or people I met, it was an ah-ha moment generated by a homeless person panhandling on the streets of downtown Indianapolis.

Meet Fred (or at least that was what I was told his name was).  Fred is homeless and needs money. His revenue generating strategy is to sit on the street and ask people to give him money.  From what I’ve seen, this is a fairly typical strategy employed by many homeless panhandlers.

However, Fred knows something that many non-profit organizations don’t understand and something that Seth Godin blogged about this morning:

The easiest way to get people to do what you want them to do… is to start with people who want what you want.

Please take a close look at the two pictures of Fred that I’ve included in this morning’s blog post.

Fred’s revenue strategy goes beyond the typical homeless person’s approach that I’ve seen, which includes tugging at my heart with a story about being stranded, cold, down on their luck, or hungry.

Fred figures that you already know the typical homeless person’s case for support, and he communicates that without having to say a word. However, he is trying to do something that makes him stand out from every other homeless person in downtown Indianapolis.

As you can see from these two pictures, he is flashing a simple message about the Presidential election to people who pass him on the street. If he sizes you up as a Republican, he flashes his anti-Obama sign. If he thinks you’re a Democrat, then he reaches for his anti-Romney sign.

Here are a few things that I think non-profit organizations can learn from Fred:

  • A picture is worth a thousand words. Your case for support can be effectively supplemented using a visual or picture.
  • Know your audience. Your case for support doesn’t change, but how you talk about it and present it can vary based upon your audience. Segmenting and targeting your audiences is critical to your fundraising success.
  • Grab their attention. Prospects and donors are bombarded every day (in fact every minute of every day) with information from other non-profits and for-profits. You need to figure out how to cut through that noise if you want consideration. (Note: I wouldn’t advise that you use Fred’s tactic, but whatever you decide to do, it should be equally effective)
  • Personalize your message. Fred’s approach of sizing people up by guessing their political affiliation base upon your appearance sends a powerful message of:   “Oh, he is talking to me“.   I’ve always believed that “general appeals, get generally ignored”.
  • A smile and good humor go far. OMG . . . everyone is so serious and uptight nowadays. Using humor (e.g. jokes) can be dangerous when talking about serious issues; however, smiling, good humor (e.g. mood, temper, state of feeling, etc), and having fun when cultivating, soliciting or stewarding prospects and donors will likely set you apart from others.

Again, Seth Godin summed it up best in his post this morning better and quicker than I can: “The easiest way to get people to do what you want them to do… is to start with people who want what you want.

Not only did I want Fred to get some food in his belly and get off of the street, but I wanted to laugh along and join in the joke that: 1) my small contribution can sway his vote in November and 2) this down on his luck gentleman was mocking Obama and Romney for their pandering to voters and donors. LOL   (Maybe I’m over-thinking this, but I think I’m close)

How have you targeted your prospects and donors? How have you adjusted your messaging to different audiences without changing your case for support? What appropriate visuals have you used to convey and supplement your case for support? How do you prepare and support your volunteers to have fun, smile and break through the noise with their network of friends with your case?

Please use the comment section below to share your thoughts and experiences. Not only can we all learn from each other, but we can learn from some unexpected and surprising people.  Please take a minute or two out of your busy day and share with your fellow non-profit professionals and volunteers.

Here’s to your health!

Erik Anderson
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC!/eanderson847

Email tools for your non-profit organization

With all of the social media services out there, sometimes you miss the one right in front of you. The one that most people use every single day. No it’s not Facebook. It’s not twitter. It’s email.

I know many of you are probably scratching your head and thinking that email isn’t part of the social media family, which is the position Peter Kim takes in his blog. Derek Halpern at DIY Themes blog makes the case for the other side. While I don’t want to engage in a debate over this question, I know these two things when it comes to email:

  1. People seem to use it for social purposes all of the time (e.g. organizing meetings, polling opinions, marketing, etc)
  2. People seem to use it to drive online traffic to their website and social media platforms (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, etc).

Email can be used in many of the same ways as many of the social media sites. It is a great way to get news out to your organization’s supporters, share photos and redirect people to your online platforms.

The great thing about email is that it is a tool that people are used to using, and it is something about which they don’t need to learn anything new. Why does this matter? Well, it significantly increases the likelihood of people reading your content.

Today, we are going to take a brief look at a few services that can help your agency make the most out of email.

Constant Contact

Constant Contact is a paid service that can provide email marketing services to non-profits. They are a trusted name in email services for small businesses as well. Here are some features Constant Contact offers:

  • Email templates
  • Coaching & support
  • Social media links
  • Social media stats / analytics

Click here to access an online manual about how to access and use more advanced features associated with this service.

Other email marketing services

It feels like Constant Contact is the “Gold Standard” of email marketing services, especially if you pay attention to the television, radio and online advertising. However, I see a number of my non-profit friends using other services such as:

There is even one company out there — VerticalResponse — who offers a free service for non-profit organizations. While I suspect it is a scaled back version with limited features, it is something you may want to check out.

Develop a strategy

As with every other aspect of your ePhilanthropy and marketing program, you need to develop a strategy because “hope is not a strategy”. The following are just a few questions to help you get started:

  • Who is our target audience?
  • How should we build our agency’s email house file?
  • How often should we communicate with this group?
  • How does email marketing fit into our agency’s cross-channel communication strategy?
  • What type of content should we develop for this communication tool?
  • How do we prevent this tool from feeling like “one-way” communication and turn it into more of a two-way communication vehicle?

Our friends at published a great article titled “Nine Strategies for Smart Email Marketing” that you may want to check out.

Does your non-profit agency use email marketing as part of its marketing and ePhilanthropy plan? How is that going for you? What service do you use? Are you happy with it? What would you do differently if you had a chance to do it over again? Please share your thoughts in the comment box below.

What is your non-profit agency’s year-end stewardship strategy?

Yesterday, I posted about the importance of developing your organization’s year-end fundraising strategy and doing so ASAP (by which I mean get it in writing by the end of this week). As I reflected on my post all day yesterday, I started thinking about all of the great holiday opportunities with regard to donor stewardship activities.

Over the years, I posted a number of articles immediately before, during or after a holiday talking about how organizations could have piggy backed on the holiday to implement some effective stewardship activities. After each of those posts, I remember thinking . . . “Hmmmm, perhaps I should’ve posted this a few weeks or months ago and readers might have had some time to put thought and planning into such an idea.”

With this in mind, let’s go back in time and revisit two blog posts from the fourth quarter of last year that spoke to the idea of using holidays as stewardship opportunities. Here they are:

Another thought that I’ve shared with a number of clients throughout the years is the idea of taking the “Twelve Days of Christmas” song and using it as a December theme for “The Twelve Days of Stewardship”. It can be as simple as doing 12 stewardship activities in December or as complicated as the song suggests (e.g. giving the donor two of this, three of that, etc etc etc).

If you’re rolling your eyes at this suggestion, I encourage you to stop and think about it for a moment. I bet that right now off the top of your head, you’ll be able to rattle off three or four stewardship things your agency does around the holidays, such as:

  • mailing holiday cards
  • hosting a holiday party for supporters and donors
  • thank-a-thon (e.g. stewardship thank you phone calls)
  • annual report
  • Running a “A few of my favorite things . . .” essay contest with your clients about your services and sharing the results with your donors.

With a little bit of thought and creativity, I bet you can weave things that you already do into a 12 day tapestry of stewardship opportunities.

The bigger point that I am trying to make today (and yesterday) is that these things don’t just happen. They require some thought and planning (and more than just a few days before).

The fourth quarter and holiday season offer unique and fun opportunities to steward donors, and it is something you need to start thinking about this week because the fourth quarter will be here starting Monday of next week. (Eeeeek! Talk about a scary Halloween gift)

What is your organization doing to steward donors for Halloween? Thanksgiving? Hanukkah? Kwanzaa? Do you have thoughts or ideas to help flesh out the aforementioned 12 Days of Stewardship concept?

Please scroll down and share your thoughts, plans and questions in the comment box below. We can all learn from and inspire each other.

Here’s to your health!

Erik Anderson
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC!/eanderson847