Yesterday I asked if you or your Executive Director are writing your own fundraising letters
. We discussed the fact that you and your key staff are simply too close to the organization to write effective, persuasive copy. And we talked about the fact that the lion’s share of your supporters – let’s call them the 99% — don’t share the same thought processes and understanding of your mission and subject matter as do you.
Today, we’re going to discuss ways to improve our fundraising and marketing communications by getting inside the hearts and minds of our constituents.
HOW DO WE FIND OUT WHAT OUR CONSTITUENTS CARE ABOUT/VALUE?
Now that we know what advice we should not rely on, what advice is reliable? The advice we get from our newly empowered (via social media) constituents, of course. There are a number of ways to tap into constituents’ knowledge:
1. Do plan your social media dive and dive the plan.
Our goal is to get more people to take the road that leads to us, and then also figure out how to take the roads that lead to them
. Communication is more than ever a two-way street. And we need to put in place the tools that enable a flow of conversation and engagement. There are tons of resources out there to help us get started (just google “top social media tips”); the key is finding a way to act
on all this great advice. This means putting in place a strategic, systematic plan to ensure a true information exchange
between our organization and our supporters. We don’t want to just dive right in without thinking about what we’re doing (We could end up in a drained swimming pool. Ouch!).
2. Do invest in new technologies and advanced analytics to get a better grasp of how individual customers behave. Any good plan requires an investment of resources. We need to pay attention to what we’re doing. If we know what headlines our constituents respond to online, which e-news articles they click on, which Facebook post they “like” and what they’re saying about us Yelp, we begin to get a sense of the key issues and stories they care about. And then we know what dive to plan next.
3. Do create and strategically manage relevant content. We can’t just think about the information we want to impart; we must move from talking about ourselves towards that point where others are talking about us. We get there by tapping into things that have personal relevance for people. We educate. We stimulate. We amuse. We offer content that causes people to want to comment and/or share with their friends. We start to build a community. When our community members engage with us, we find out what they like/don’t like/want more of/less of/etc. We develop an editorial calendar and plan to keep all our content buckets (website, email, Facebook, etc.) full. We develop guidelines for who decides, and how, what gets written, when it gets published, and which content goes into which bucket.
4. Do inject new skills into the marketing function by expanding digital and analytical capabilities of existing employees and/or by hiring staff or partnering with specialists to fill the gaps
. The people who run our social media
campaigns will make or break them. And since it’s important to lead by example, the directors of development and marketing should enhance their own expertise in these areas as well. Leaders need to take a new attitude
towards social media; if leaders don’t “get” it, then it’s unlikely they will change their style or their opinions. Then opinions will continue to trump knowledge. And fundraising communications will continue to be a one-way street – going in the wrong direction!
Here’s what we know:
(1) People outside our organization DON’T think about it like we, our boss or our board do;
(2) We care more about our organization than our constituents do, and assume everyone else cares the same way we do;
(3) Advice acquired from random consultants and pundits is not the same as knowledge acquired from our 99%;
(4) Knowledge sourced directly from our constituents, via social media, is the best way to get a direct, real time, up-to-date read on what our community cares about and values
(5)We may be doomed to continue to put one bad foot in front of the next if we continue down the road of unsubstantiated opinion (anecdotes don’t count) above knowledge.
READERS: How confident do you feel, on a scale of 1 to 5 (with 5 being supremely confident), that you know what your constituents most value about what you do? What roadblocks are standing in the way of communicating in a more constituent-centered manner?