Thu, November 20 2014

Rallying the Troops: the Staff Plan for #GivingTuesday

Jamie McDonald's avatar

Chief Giving Officer, Network for Good

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Filed under:   Events • Fun stuff • Giving Days •

Make #GivingTuesday an event for your team, and a win for those you serve.

giving tuesday

In less than 2 weeks it will be December 2nd, and #GivingTuesday will be here. Whether you’ve planned for months or just for a week or two, there’s one more thing you can do to make it a great day for your nonprofit.

Organizations large and small can put their campaigns over the top on #GivingTuesday by creating a “day of generosity” that involves your staff, board, and volunteers. Plan a day of hard-working fun that involves your team in outreach and celebration as you hit milestones toward your goal.

The recommendations below are targeted at a mid-sized organization, so scale the plan for your day up or down to fit your organization’s capacity.

Make it a party!

Set up a #Givingtuesday ‘war room’ so the team is all together in one place. There will be hard work to do and a party atmosphere will make a long day more fun.

Consider these suggestions to elevate the excitement and spur the efforts of your staff and volunteers:

  • Provide special t-shirts, wristbands, hats or other swag if you have it. If you don’t, consider asking each team member to wear something in the colors of your organization’s logo to create that spirit of a team.

  • Have food throughout the day.

  • Have a first gift ceremony, where the team members contribute whatever they can to the campaign and put that total on the board as the “founders” gifts for the campaign.

  • Take an UNselfie of each team member and one of the whole team together and post on social media.

  • Have a visible tally board so everyone can see when you are getting close to key milestones

  • Covering the day

    Your #GivingTuesday staff plan should cover a time period from about 8am to 10pm. The busiest donation periods are likely to be from 9am to 3pm and 7pm to 10pm, and these are the windows when you’ll want the most coverage.

    Suggested staff roles

    Leader Appoint a leader so campaign staff have a single point of contact for questions throughout the day. The leader should have a list of contact information for all staff and partners (include cell phone numbers and email addresses). He or she should be ready to address technology issues should there be problems with your online giving site. Have the phone number of your software provider handy in the event there is an issue. He or she may also be assigned as designated representative to talk with the media if there is press interest in your campaign. The leader (or a designee) should be ready with talking points highlighting the key aspects of the campaign.

  • Thank key partners and sponsors

  • Alert the community to Day-of challenges and contests (especially if they change hourly)

  • Inspire the community with Day-of rewards or incentives

  • Ask the community to GIVE and SHARE

  • Mention the Campaign Hashtag and URL

  • Phone outreach team

    Your phones can be the most powerful weapon on #GivingTuesday. You can organize an actual phone-a-thon of sorts, reaching out to supporters to thank them for past generosity and invite them to join your #GivingTuesday campaign. At a minimum, you should reach out to board members, key friends of your organization, and active volunteers to enlist their participation as givers or sharers.

    Donor support

    Assign one or more people to be available to answer questions from donors should they arise.

    Social outreach staff

    The social team will be the ambassadors of excitement for the campaign. They will focus on:

  • · Building excitement by posting content to social media channels.

  • Engaging with followers, fans, tweets.

  • Promoting key milestone content such as Goal Updates, Prize winners, media coverage.

  • Alerting other staff to any social postings related to issues or questions.

  • Forwarding any social postings from the media to the team leader.

  • Volunteer Event coordinator

    If your nonprofit is hosting a hands-on service event for #GivingTuesday, the volunteer service coordinator should be part of the war room team. Ask them to provide photos, quotes, and results from the volunteer activity that can be shared with potential supporters online and in email.

    Work hard, have fun, focus on your goals, and it will be a great #GivingTuesday!


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    Wed, November 19 2014

    How Did You Handle…? 3 Examples of Change Ups for 2014 Year-End Campaigns

    Nancy Schwartz's avatar

    Nonprofit Marketing Expert

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    Filed under:   Giving Days • How to improve emails and newsletters • Marketing essentials •

    This post is the first in our new How Did You Handle…? Series—specific how-tos based on YOUR experiences.Please watch for our requests to share your wins, challenges and recommendations. YOU are the best trainers there are!

    Year-End fundraising tops most organizations’ “must do, every year” list, but it’s challenging both to figure out how to do it differently but better and to get approval for a fresh approach for a campaign that’s so vital.

    But case studies from colleague organizations commonly work as a calming balm for anxious decision-makers afraid to deviate from the norm (even when that norm isn’t working so well). Here’s what some of your peers are trying this year, with early results where available:

    1. Change Up: Revising campaign tone and content—to be more direct, frank and engaging. For example, we’re showing results of donor generosity (rather than talking about them) and sharing organizational changes in progress as a result of grant guidelines.

    Goal: We’re hoping to open up an active conversation with donors and prospects by inviting them into our organization! Our goal is to have these folks contact us with questions or suggestions.

    Results to Date: Many donors have already contacted me to share appreciation for the more friendly and inclusive messaging. Several of them requested permission to share content from our year-end newsletter in their own communities (thus increasing our reach).

    Others got in touch to share ideas or offer their assistance to tackle some of our organization’s concerns. That’s exactly the kind of response we’re looking for—stronger, closer relationships!

    Source: Todd McPherson, Inter-Faith Community Services

    2. Change Up: Participating in #GivingTuesday for the first time plus, beefing up our online and monthly giving options.

    Goal: I (the Executive Director) introduced these changes to my board. I became aware of #GivingTuesday last year at the last moment, so investigated and proposed to our board that we make an effort this year to use this to kick off our December campaign this year.

    I also hoped to motivate other charities in the area to participate in #GivingTuesday, so we’d all get more attention.

    Results to Date: I’m still trying to persuade other local charities to participate in #GivingTuesday with us but have not been able to get them to understand the significance. We have decided to lead by example and hope they join us next year.

    TBD on the campaign itself.

    Source: Bob Stephenson, Executive Director The Literacy Coalition

    3. Change Up: Personalizing our year-end content (and segmenting our list accordingly)

    We’ll feature the story of one of our beneficiaries in the same state as the donor or prospect receiving the direct mail letter, to strengthen the connection between that donor/prospect and our impact.

    Goal: We have read that relevancy/segmentation will increase the number and dollar value of gifts.

    NOTE from Nancy: Personalization/segmentation is powerful when you can connect with what’s top of mind for your prospect or donor. If you can discuss state specific challenges likely to be known of and/or experienced by your prospects and your featured beneficiary, that’s golden!

    Results to Date: Drops the first week of December!

    Source: Emily Behan, Development Coordinator Community Solutions

    What are YOU changing in this year’s year-end campaign? Please share your new approach with us!

    With refreshing practicality, Nancy Schwartz rolls up her sleeves to help nonprofits develop and implement strategies to build strong relationships that inspire key supporters to action. She shares her deep nonprofit marketing insights—and passion—through consulting, speaking, and her popular blog and e-news at

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    Tue, November 18 2014

    7 Steps to Social Success on #GivingTuesday

    Jamie McDonald's avatar

    Chief Giving Officer, Network for Good

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    Filed under:  

    Your #GivingTuesday campaign will depend on SHARING.

    Sharing can happen through many channels: email, in person events, volunteer activities, and phone outreach. But today we are focusing on social media sharing.

    #GivingTuesday is an inherently social event – a big, exciting, international party for generosity – and you’re invited! Now is the time to take a look at each of your social channels and get them ready for #GivingTuesday.


    7 steps you can get done today:

    1. Brand your channels. If you have created special visuals for your #GivingTuesday campaign, be sure that the images are used as backgrounds or cover photos for your various social channels.

    2. Engage social followers. Begin to communicate regularly with your social followers with #GivingTuesday focused posts. Posts with images perform better, so either post with your own campaign images, or tap into the rich resources at the national #GivingTuesday campaign.

    3. Provide ready resources. Provide cut-and-paste posts, tweets and images to your board, staff, clients and volunteers so they can amplify your messages and build excitement through their channels. Their personal sharing is the most effective way to reach new and lapsed supporters.

    4. Get people involved with #UNSelfies. Ask supporters to post a “unselfie” naming your organization. You can print out the template here and other #GivingTuesday graphic resources here.

    5. Plan for the big day. Improve your chances of driving social sharing by creating a simple communication plan for Monday, December 1st and #GivingTuesday, December 2nd. At a minimum, we recommend:

    · A plan to arm ambassadors with pre-prepared posts, Tweets and visuals on Monday and hourly on #GivingTuesday.

    · On #GivingTuesday, send at least one email (a second email could be sent after you reach your goal). Share updates on social channels as you reach key milestones, such as 30%, 60%, 80%, 90%, and 100% of goal.

    · Plan 2-3 Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram posts throughout the day, and 8-10 Twitter posts.

    · Prepare thermometers and other visual elements in advance so you will have them ready to share.

    6. Activate volunteers. If you are having a volunteer event, be sure to take ask participants to tweet and post pictures from the activity and a link to your donation page. In addition to a volunteer service day, phone-a-thons and tweet-a-thons are popular ways to incorporate volunteers into your #GivingTuesday.

    7. Thank and celebrate. Thanks, appreciation and celebration go a long way on a big day like #GivingTuesday. Thank those who donate, volunteer, and spread the word for you throughout the day with shoutouts that tag supporters. (Please be careful not to name a supporter that has asked to remain anonymous.)

    BONUS: Grab a copy of our sample social media messages for #GivingTuesday. You can use these to update your followers leading up to and during your campaign.


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    Fri, November 14 2014

    4 Rules for Images that Inspire Action

    Caryn Stein's avatar

    VP, Communications and Content, Network for Good

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    Filed under:   Fundraising essentials •

    PhotoPhilanthropy is an amazing organization that brings together photographers and nonprofits to tell stories that drive action for social change. They believe in the power of images to inspire action. The folks at PhotoPhilanthropy are seeking entries for their Activist Awards, which honor outstanding work by photographers in collaboration with nonprofit organizations worldwide. Are you working with a photographer that deserves recognition? Encourage them to enter. Submissions are now open through December 3, 2014.

    Wondering where to begin when it comes to using social documentary photography to tell the story of your mission? PhotoPhilanthropy’s Nathan Dalton shared these tips for nonprofits on how to use photographs to make an impact:

    1. Use powerful, high-quality images.

    What we see has a profound effect on what we do, how we feel, and who we are. The images your organization chooses must not only have solid composition and be artistically strong, but they should also be informative and educational to provoke the interest of your audience.

    Photographs have the power to elicit emotions and evoke empathy by letting us in to another person’s experience.

    This is a photograph by Adam Nadel of an African woman grieving the loss of her child to malaria.

    We are drawn in by the beauty of this image, but the photographer has also captured something else much more elusive: an intimacy with her grief that transcends culture and nurtures compassion.


    American documentary photographer Stephen Wilkes believes that a still image can “burn” into our minds and that “things (don’t) stay with us unless we have the image.”

    In his own work, he talks about a subtext beneath his photographs: “The power of what’s underneath is much greater than what’s on the surface…. I want you to go underneath what I’m showing you, but the only way I can get there is to draw you in with beauty.”

    2. Edit for impact.

    Beautiful images are essential, but they can’t stand alone. It is crucial to edit your visual story for impact.

    Effective curating and editing turns compelling images into powerful narrative vignettes. A well-curated and edited photo story has the potential to expand a viewer’s field of vision and to create meaningful and sustained impact.

    Photo essays should focus on a central theme, such as we see here in select images from Inge Kathleen’s Activist Award winning photo essay, “90 Days” about a family of Burmese refugees who have just arrived in the United States.

    Only include photos that are relevant to and strengthen the theme. Create a dynamic sequence of images that take into account context, order, variety and range. It may follow an individual or activity over a period of time.

    3. Make it Human.

    Like the previous photo by Adam Nadel, select images that elicit an empathic response in your audience.

    Avoid negative campaigning. People are more likely to be moved to act by images that offer hope for positive change, rather than images designed to shock, shame, or guilt them into support.

    Jerry Sternin of Save the Children says to “look for ‘bright spots’ already happening in your community—find out what is getting supporters actively engaged with the cause that you serve. Then, build your campaign around that.”

    4. Move beyond illustration.

    Compelling imagery is not always enough. Images, like a quote, need context to be understood or the audience may not comprehend the story behind the image. Audiences should not have to dig for the story. Select your text carefully as they affect the meaning and interpretation of your story.

    Photo by Zishaan Akbar Latif on behalf of Ambuja Cement Foundation

    How are you using photos to help tell a compelling story about your work? Share your examples in the comments below, and don’t forget to check out PhotoPhilanthropy’s Activist Awards.

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    Thu, November 13 2014

    3 Steps to a Powerful, All-Organization Team of Messengers [Part Two]

    Nancy Schwartz's avatar

    Nonprofit Marketing Expert

    Read more by this author

    Filed under:  

    Be sure to check out part one of this two-part series on messaging.

    3 Steps to a Team of Powerful Messengers

    Training your staff, leadership, clients partners and supporters is a high-impact, low-investment marketing strategy for every nonprofit, but one that’s frequently overlooked. It’s the ultimate low-hanging fruit for nonprofits like yours.

    Take these three steps to launch your team of messengers:

    Step One: Build Buy-In and Ask for Help

    Ensure that your message platform is clear and relevant. You may have been using these messages for a few years, or they could be new.

    If you’ve done it right, you’ve sourced the insights of your colleagues and leadership in developing these messages. Along the way, you’ve nurtured their understanding of and buy-in to the process.

    Secure leadership buy-in by sharing the value of an all-org message team (and what happens without one).

    Position the message team as a program, not a one-off; as a way of doing business, not a Band-Aid.

    If you or your bosses see training as one-time or finite, results will be equally limited (but that may be how you need to start). Be aware that this strategy is likely to be perceived as a significant cultural shift—and it is, since it tears down formal or unspoken silos with your organization—and the complete transition may take some time.

    Open the conversation by sharing your vision, and then emphasize these immediate benefits and longer-term gains:

    Benefit: Greater accuracy and consistency of messages conveyed in conversations and communications across audiences and programs.
    Gain: Clearer, quicker connections with more of your target audiences.
    Gain: Increased likelihood of motivating the actions you need.

    Benefit: Improved understanding of goals and priorities across the organization.

    Benefit: Enhanced ability to harvest and share relevant information and feedback with the right colleagues across the organization—on programs, audience preferences and values, and more.
    Gain: Stronger programs and processes via acquisition of broader and deeper audience insights and cross-department collaboration.

    Benefit: A more highly skilled group of staff and board members.
    Gain: Greater employee and board satisfaction.

    Gently introduce the concept to your colleagues.
    It’s always best to start dripping out an idea like this in casual hallway or drop-in conversations (or the virtual equivalent). You’ll learn what resonates with your colleagues and what doesn’t, and you can fine-tune before rolling out the program more broadly.

    Recruit your message team. Email your colleagues to:

    • Ask for their help (attention, time, and effort) in strengthening conversations and communications.
    • Outline their potential impact as organizational messengers.
    • Calm their qualms by sharing your realistic expectations about how much extra time and effort this will take. Note: In most cases, your colleagues are already having the conversations; becoming a skilled messenger will help them do so more confidently, quickly, and effectively.
    • Build interest (WIIFM—what’s in it for me?—or how becoming an effective messenger will help them) and confidence (with a brief overview of how you’ll help them prepare via training, practice, and feedback).

    Include the message platform along with some context on why and when the messages were developed, how they connect with each target audience, and how they differentiate your nonprofit from organizations competing for attention and action.

    Also, share a brief one-page summary of your overall marketing strategy that shows at a glance how messaging fits in. It’s hard to be an effective messenger without an understanding of the larger framework.

    Post these docs in your organization’s online workspace for ongoing reference.

    Step Two: Build Messenger Skills

    Lead skill building for your message team. Invite your message team to join you for an in-person messenger training focused on training, practice, and feedback.

    Begin with a review of the message platform—its purpose and value, and when and how you developed it.

    Next, inspire your messengers with specific examples of how their new skills will help them (for example, next time you’re at a conference and are asked what you do, here’s what you’ll say and how it’ll make a difference). Provide concrete models of how this approach is working in colleague organizations (tap into your peers in colleague organizations here).

    Then, train your messengers in speaking (when and how to deliver each type of message), from the unchanging tagline to the elevator pitch that’s customized to the interests of the conversational partner.

    Ask your messengers to listen hard—that’s the first step to being an effective messenger—and to share what they hear with the right colleagues throughout your organization.

    Role-playing in pairs is a proven technique for increasing comfort level and effectiveness. Practice makes almost perfect here. Ask a pair or two to roll it out in front of the larger group to get your messengers listening and to generate useful feedback.

    Note: If your team is geographically dispersed, hold a video training session. This approach works best when facilitation responsibilities are distributed among participants at the various locations rather than coming from a single location.

    Create a turnkey message toolkit that your team can reference, including:

    • Message platform.
    • One-page organizational fundraising and marketing strategy.
    • Message cheat sheet—email to messengers’ smartphones, or index cards for non-smartphone-users—with the message platform and when, how, and why to use each element.
    • Messenger hotline and online FAQs for ongoing questions and guidance.
    • Monthly email outreach sharing success stories and tips to keep your message team focused and confident.
    • Style guide featuring standards of how to present your organization’s messages and graphics.

    Step Three: Thank, Share Successes, and Provide Ongoing Support

    Nourish the ongoing message focus within your organization. This includes thanking your messengers for their focus, effort, and achievements and showing how their work has made a difference for the organization. This trifold recognition approach works well:

    • Trumpet successes with specifics in one-to-one and all-team communications.
    • Recognize star messengers.
    • Recognize the entire team in an annual celebration.

    Keep the message team going and growing with ongoing communications. Continue training on at least an annual basis. There’s turnover to consider, and a regular refresher course powers focus and skills.

    I urge you to get your all-org message team off the ground now to gain the immediate benefits and longer-term gains outlined above. They far exceed the time and effort you’ll invest—great ROI guaranteed.

    Let me know how it goes!

    How do you guide your colleagues to be more effective messengers? Please share your strategies here.

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