Nonprofits rely on dedicated employees and volunteers to provide services, support causes and spread the word. A good employee or volunteer serves as an ambassador, promoting the nonprofit’s mission and engaging with the community.
Turns out your nonprofit can have a great ambassador who will work days, nights, and weekends – online social calendars. Robust calendar solutions offer features that support the way nonprofit communities function. Just like a good employee or volunteer, a social calendar can improve and grow a community. By generating buzz and increasing word of mouth, recruiting volunteers, bringing together the community and more, calendars can be a critical tool for any nonprofit to grow and reach their mission objectives – with simple, easy to use tools.
An online calendar will:
- Generate more buzz online and on social networks. Like any good ambassador, online calendars will help spread the word about your nonprofit, its community and its events. Online buzz can translate into new members, raised awareness, increased support and packed events. Online calendars with the option to leave comments provide a forum for people to talk about your events and organization. Then social media integration takes it to the next level by allowing events to be shared with users’ vast social networks with one click.
- Recruit volunteers and/or increase membership. Nonprofits depend on people power. By showcasing your active community and awesome events, online social calendars can hook in that people factor and help you recruit new volunteers and members. Detailed descriptions and pictures on your calendar will help prospective volunteers see what it would be like to work at one of your events. Then, through social features such as comments and social media integration, they can connect with current members and volunteers to talk about upcoming events and volunteer opportunities.
- Provide more opportunities for members to support each other. Nonprofit communities can be important support networks for members. Online calendars provide information about how and where members can connect, but can also tailor to specific populations within the larger nonprofit community. Using sort options, members can search for events that speak to them and their needs. For example, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) tags its events with population-specific categories such as, “For Adults with Type 1,” “For Parents and Caregivers,” “For Kids with Type 1,” and “For Teens with Type 1.” A parent looking for a support group of others caring for children with Type 1 Diabetes will feel connected to JDRF, and each other, when they see events tagged with them in mind.
- Help members or event attendees fundraise. Do you ask attendees to fundraise a certain dollar amount in order to attend some of your events? Some nonprofits ask attendees to fundraise in lieu of paying for a ticket to an event or a registration fee. Using an online calendar, attendees and volunteers can ask their Facebook friends and other followers in their social media networks to contribute to the cause. Social media and human generosity are a great fundraising combination. Event attendees will reach their goals in no time, and can focus on more important things.
- Increase event attendance. An easy-to-use online calendar works seamlessly with the way people seek information and make plans on-the-go. Of course, online calendars have the potential to reach more people, at a lower cost, than old-fashioned print calendars. Drive traffic to your online calendar and you’ll see a boost in event attendance numbers at your fundraisers and other important events. Online calendars make it easy for attendees to see event information, get directions, share info with friends who might also want to attend, find out who else is going, and talk about the upcoming event.
The Pitt County Arts Council, a nonprofit arts organization, found that by having other community organizations add events directly to a calendar and being able to generate newsletter using that event information, they were able to vastly improve productivity.
At the Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center, they made the decision to switch from a basic calendar that wasn’t aesthetically pleasing and hard to read, to an interactive calendar that was more visual and easier to use. The new calendar made it easier for people to find events they were interested in, thanks to the ability to filter by categories. This has helped them gain more page views, now averaging 1,500 hits a month.
In a recent case study, the Greater Baltimore Tech Council (gb.tc) implemented a robust calendar solution to support its mission of bringing together diverse and creative people. The organization found that the work to maintain the calendar was minimal thanks to community submissions. Every once in a while, a staff member would load something in the calendar manually, but most submissions come from the community with staff moderating the content to make sure it’s relevant.
Because staff were able to save time with the calendar, they started posting even more events online. This resulted in increased attendance and support at events and a boost in website traffic, with the calendar being a top referrer.
Easy-to-use customizable features and social media integration through a robust event calendar can build your nonprofit’s community and get people involved. The more people are seeing your events, the more awareness you will build and, with that, increase support. Why not “hire” an online social calendar as a great ambassador for your nonprofit?
Mykel Nahorniak is the co-founder and CEO of Localist, the industry’s only provider of an interactive online calendaring platform for the marketing professional. In this role, Myke is responsible for the evolution and overall strategy for the company and the Localist platform. In addition, he heads the development team in conceptualizing new features, leading creative development of site design, usability and overall branding. His past experience includes serving as Chief Creative Officer at Betanews, Inc., managing IT projects at The Baltimore Sun and leading web development teams at media companies, nonprofits and PR firms. Myke was a computer information systems student before helping to launch Baltimore’s first co-working space and co-founding Localist in 2008. Myke is currently a mentor at Betamore, a Baltimore incubator. He is passionate about all things web and business, media, and cycling. Myke lives in Washington DC with his wife Mary and greyhound named Senna.