About Christine Schaefer

Christine’s passion for community service led her to Salsa. Having worked with organizations like Habitat for Humanity, Auburn Wesley Foundation, and Quilters Unlimited of Northern Virginia, she has a wide-view of the varied needs of nonprofits that helps her better build Salsa’s community. Her team shares her passion and is dedicated to helping nonprofits build their own community of support as well as connect with one another to share best practices. Christine’s B.A. in Marketing from Marymount and her deep-dive into research, statistics and functional sociology completing her M.S. in Sociology at Auburn heavily influence her approach to marketing, communications and community-building. www.salsalabs.com

Inspire Action – 5 Tips to Create a More Effective Campaign

Nonprofit MarketingTo be successful building support for your cause, fundraising and motivating, you must absolutely look at how you communicate your message and whom you are targeting.

With several active generations spanning in age from teens to seniors, all with different backgrounds and communication preferences, you need to make sure you’re using a multichannel strategy, individualized as much as possible to the audience you are addressing. To make an impact, nonprofits need to be sure they are creating campaigns to reach all of their supporters effectively.

Good news – there’s a lot you can do to build your base of support and engage your fans. Whether its digital or traditional communications, using a combination of the right tools, at the right time, will get you that return on investment you are seeking.

The following five tips will help any nonprofit raise more funds, grow your lists and engage your supporters:

  1. Effectively tell your story. Whether in print or online, generating supporters requires establishing strong relationships. Potential donors are out there, but getting them to choose your organization over others requires you to provide a compelling story behind your mission. When crafting your story, consider including the motivation behind your organization or focus on past events or objects, highlighting how you’ve helped those in need. Practice quality over quantity. Make sure your communications are relevant and actionable for your followers. Tying your content in with current events is another way to pique interest and make it compelling.
  2. Know your supporter and individualize the message. Really stop and think about who your supporters actually are, how they like to get their information, and what you can do to effectively engage them. Do they use Twitter, Facebook or other social media channels? Maybe they prefer emails or more traditional approaches to getting their information. Do they value the long term relationships, are they passionate, do they go to Facebook for advice, do they need to have your trust before they engage, or do they place more importance on convenience? Nonprofits should think through their messaging and try to create a message for as small a group as possible that speaks not just to their name, but to things you know they care about.
  3. Take it one segment at a time. If your nonprofit is small, your ability to tailor communications and programs for every segment of your audience is likely limited. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it; just take it one segment at a time. Determine who your best supporters are (online or off) and then focus your efforts there. Whether they prefer Twitter, e-newsletters, or direct mail, invest in the outreach channels they use most. Craft your messages to have the greatest impact with them, and when you have a strong foothold with that segment, you can work on the next. Tailored messages have exponentially more influence. It is better to get big impact with one group, than little to no effect with an unfocused campaign. This is a key step toward raising money.
  4. Be visual. A picture is worth a thousand words right? Well, it’s definitely worth a lot more clicks and engagement on social channels than text. Photos are an easy way to tell a story that shows what a donor is making possible. Whether included in your monthly newsletter, or used on your website campaign page, photos are a must. Video is another great medium for telling a story. And gaining momentum quickly. Use Facebook to tell a story about your campaign, how much money is being raised (use an infographic or even a video!) and where it’s being used, then tweet it out using your campaign hashtag. It’s the perfect way to express emotions via the same social media channels your donors use. With today’s mobile devices, telling a visual story is inexpensive and has never been easier.
  5. Show your appreciation. Donors give to your organization because they believe you are making a difference. Showing appreciation to your supporters is incredibly important and can be done online or offline. If you accept donations on your website, you can thank donors by taking them to a “thank you” page after the donation is made. You can enhance this page with a video story. And, it is easy to personalize the page with the donor’s name. Or send a note. Just about everyone still appreciates a hand written letter in a regular envelope with a stamp. And to really make an impact, make sure it is signed by a recognizable figure within your organization.

If you can take a step back to listen and truly understand what your supporters want and how they want to receive the information, you will be able to successfully develop targeted communications plans to effectively reach and inspire action.

Engage Supporters with a Multichannel Approach

Nonprofit Advice - Tips to Engaging SupportersWe live in an era where information is available and can be published by just about everyone; if you’re receiving email, odds are you have the power to forward it to tens, hundreds, or thousands of others with just a few clicks. The typical user is online every day, if not constantly tethered. What’s more, people believe their family and friends far more than they do an organization or nonprofit. Getting your message to spread widely and quickly happens when people get information from more trusted sources, and that requires social media.

Social media has become an essential strategy in generating donations for nonprofits and if you aren’t active in social media channels, your nonprofit is missing a huge potential for revenue and other types of support. From Millennials and GenX to Baby Boomers, the vast majority of the world’s population is connected online to one another, to their favorite brands, and to the causes they care most about.

But with several active generations, all with different backgrounds and communication preferences, the traditional approach to engaging a group of supporters will no longer work.  So how can you reach them effectively and get them to support and promote your cause?

Be Social – Really Know Your Supporters

Being social is about two-way communication, so get to know your supporters by conversing with them. Some of the strongest communities are based on relationships between supporters and the

organization. Read your supporters’ comments, chime in when you think you can add something, ask them questions to learn more, and take note of the type of content that engages them. If your organization covers multiple issues but supporters respond well to one particular issue, focus on that issue more than the others on that platform.

Develop Multichannel Campaigns

Offline and traditional methods for communicating, engaging and organizing are still important but are rapidly declining as each generation continues to age. Nonprofits need to look at creating multichannel campaigns to successfully incorporate the needs of all generations.

Research shows that each generation uses a variety of online and offline channels. For example, when responding to a nonprofit’s fundraising efforts, the younger the donor, the greater the number of ways they give. Relying on direct mail exclusively no longer makes sense, but when used with online methods, the result may be different. For instance, a donor may receive a direct mail piece and choose to give online. Or donors that are acquired via the Internet may prefer to continue to give through direct mail. That same donor might learn of a cause, or be motivated to support a cause based on something a friend posts on their Facebook wall, but then write a check or donate online. Or, in a natural disaster situation, a donor may respond by making a gift via their mobile phone.

Know Your Generations

All groups can be reached effectively with the right messaging.

  • Millennials are transforming communities, involved in causes that are important to them and are changing the world for the better. They build engagement with word-of-mouth through their social media channels as well as face-to-face events.  This generation places a higher value on the opinion of someone with firsthand experience, preferably a peer or close friend rather than experts with professional or academic credentials, to recommend a brand or product.
  • Gen Xers are highly technical, and with added skepticism, they are known to habitually research the purchases they make, which means they will have done their homework prior to supporting a particular nonprofit organization. Gen Xers can be inspired to engage in a particular cause based on what is being discussed in their social media networks. When this group feels they can trust, they will engage and be more inclined to give.
  • Baby Boomers established a connection with the organizations they care about in early adulthood, and are now in a position to give financial support. While many give through direct mail, Boomers are becoming more digital savvy each year and are more likely to value building relationships and trust than any bells and whistles.

Thanks to B2C companies like Amazon with advances in micro targeting, all three generations have come to expect a customized online experience – a message and call-to-action built specifically for them.

The important distinction to make is that there are very diverse supporters across several different generations that require different communication and prefer to take different kinds of action. To be successful, nonprofits need to understand how each of these groups wants to be engaged and personalize their campaigns accordingly.

Will Your Nonprofit Benefit?

The answer is yes, if, of course, you leverage your efforts well. Why? People are on email overload only reading the ones they really want with the help of spam filters and Google’s new tabs; they prefer social media where they can control the pace as well as what is important to them. Nonprofits and political organizations today need to be prepared for the social conversation by taking the first steps: listening and going where the conversation is happening. You may not think you have time for social media, but it’s going on around you. Users are now in control of a significant part of your message, not just as users, but as influencers. Individuals are influenced by friends, friends’ friends, and friends’ friends’ friends. Take advantage of the discussion, find out who your online supporters are, personalize your message, and make sure they’re involved with your cause.

Whether nonprofits are doing fundraising or advocacy, if they don’t rethink how they are reaching individuals (note we say individuals not people), and understand the modern rules of engagement, they can expect their support to decline as well. Nonprofits who define their communications and match their campaigns up with their supporter’s needs, will ultimately see the results of their efforts.

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