I often say “If you want gifts, you must give them.”
I’ve written about this multiple times, suggesting little gifts of useful or inspirational content – things that cost you virtually nothing – you can ‘gift’ to your constituents.
- Often it’s information you use in your daily work, and it’s just a matter of sharing your expertise and recommendations with your larger community.
- Other times it’s inspirational stories to uplift spirits.
- Or you can share a news article if you don’t have the expertise you wish to share in-house. It’s okay to outsource from another publication. Just make sure to give credit where credit is due.
Think from the perspective of your donors and volunteers.
What information do you have they might find helpful, thought-provoking, inspiring or fun?
Rather than guess, why not ask?
1. You can survey your constituents directly using a simple format like Survey Monkey, or
2. You can ask your staff who work with your clients and/or supporters on a regular basis. For example:
- Ask your reception person what some of the most frequently asked questions are when folks call your organization.
- Ask your webmaster or marketing person what website pages are most frequently visited.
- Ask your marketing staff what e-newsletter or blog articles are most frequently opened.
- Ask your volunteer coordinator what most inspires and keeps your volunteers engaged.
- Ask your program staff what their clients and client families most need from them.
Here are some content ideas from different sectors — especially for the times we’re in:
- Five Tips for Successful Video Calls with Someone Who Has Dementia (Jewish Family and Children’s Services)
- Senior Safety During Covid-a19 (Jewish Family and Children’s Services)
- Ways for Seniors to Remain Socially Connected. (Comfort Keepers)
- Staying Connected While Practicing Social Distancing (University of Maryland Medical System)
- Reflections on Addressing Social Needs During a Pandemic. (UCSF Healthforce Center)
- No cap or gown, but ready for tomorrow just the same (St. Jude; Perspectives blog series)
- Safe Indoor and Outdoor Activities for Families in the Time of Coronavirus (The Center for Discovery)
- 4 tips for seniors to stay connected during coronavirus outbreak. (PBS; outsourced article via Creative Commons license)
- Home School. (Center for Investigative Reporting)
- Why we capitalize ‘Black’ (and not ‘white’). (Columbia Journalism Review)
- 5 Tips for Parents of Students Doing Distance Learning (Academy at Penguin Hall)
- 6 Ways to Help Your Child Manage Their Anxiety During COVID-19 (Our Children, National PTA)
- 11 tips for coping with climate and coronavirus anxiety (Environmental Defense Fund)
- Coping with Climate Change Distress (Environment Victoria)
- Free Live Streams (San Francisco Playhouse)
- Free Artist Talk (De Young Museum)
- Free Video Series (San Francisco Symphony)
- Penguin Field Trips (Shedd Aquarium)
- Pets and COVID-19: Your Questions Answered (SPCA International)
- 7 Proven Ways to Calm Your Anxious Dog (Central California SPCA)
- How to Call Your Legislator (ACLU-NC)
- 5 Powerful Ways to Take REAL Action on DEI (Diversity, Equity & Inclusion)(Center for Creative Leadership)
- Covid-19 Public Resources (California Lawyers Association)
This list is by no means exhaustive; just some examples to get you thinking. Perhaps you may find something here from which to borrow. Surely you’ll find something to help you begin your own brainstorming process.
How to Brainstorm Content Ideas
Remember: In brainstorming there are no bad ideas. You want to throw everything out on the table in the beginning to get creative juices flowing.
It’s best if you have a group to do this with, as your idea will spark an idea for someone else, and vice-versa.
Gather virtually using a platform like Zoom, and ask everyone to:
- State their ideas and
- Throw them into the chat box so you can create a collective memory.
You can get fancier than this if you have someone on staff who is good at graphically charting things, and someone who is technologically savvy enough to do so while sharing their screen with the group, but this isn’t a necessity. For terrific tips on virtual brainstorming and meeting ice breakers, see Beth Kanter’s blog.
Once you’ve got a bunch of ideas, try to narrow them into smaller groups.
You’ll likely find a lot of similar and/or overlapping ideas that can be consolidated.
- (1)You can put one person in charge of this consolidation process;
- Then ask them to share their draft document with the group (preferably within 24 hours before energy and enthusiasm for this project wane).
- See if anyone has comments, changes or additions.
- Now finalize your list and re-send to the group to assure everyone is bought in to the plan.
Write a plan for content creation and dissemination.
Just like any other plan, make sure you have clear assignments and deadlines.
- Note who is responsible for content creation, editing, image selection, design, scheduling, dissemination, follow-up or anything else that seems appropriate.
- Now share this strategic work plan with the group to close the loop. This has the added benefit of holding everyone accountable.
When you get positive feedback, share it with your team!
When you’re helpful to others they’ll often say thank you. This, of course, feels really good. Make sure you share the incoming gratitude you receive from your supporters with everyone involved. Gratitude has been shown to do wonderful things for mental, physical and spiritual well-being, so this is a gift you can easily give to your staff and key volunteers.
It’s just an added benefit of doing the right thing by your constituents.
Have fun – and be well!
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