During the first phase, while you are focussing on large donations from corporations, government, large personal donors, and foundations, you have the opportunity to use some of your best resources to build strong communications going forward. Internal resources are one of your greatest assets: board members, employees, volunteers, and clients. These are the people who have already shown their commitment to your organization – they can offer a powerful message.
Let your internal audiences speak for you:
The best way to encourage your internal audience to champion your cause is to make them part of the plan. You need to make sure they are aware and involved in the campaign from the start and make it clear how you want them to help. Your employees and volunteers will receive the same message as your external audience, but theirs should focus on their contribution to the plan. Let them know their role in the overall plan and the reason they are important to the success of the project.
Many non-profits don’t have a marketing/communications department or the resources to dedicate staff to this function. Empowering your board members and staff to spread your message is an excellent use of resources if you make it easy and clear. Provide them with the tools to communicate your message in a clear and consistent manner. Let the people who dedicate themselves to your cause every day be part of communications plans going forward.
The most important part to get your staff involved is to provide them with everything they need to be effective. Create a broad framework and overarching messages with the information they need to spread the word about your organization while using the key messages you developed.
What you will need in this phase:
- Key messages for the phase one – 3-4 messages that clearly demonstrate why the work you do is important to your “ideal donor” and shows why people dedicate their time and money to your organization.
- A content calendar for social media that ties into the key messages. The content calendar should be tied back to the overall goals of the quiet phase. Every post should have a purpose.
- Set specific goals for your plan and measure your success – X more new volunteers, X new donors, X more twitter followers, X more people in our database, etc. You need to collect data about your messaging to know if it’s successful.
- Communicate with your audience. You need to thank the people who support you and often.
- Respond to every question or comment – even if it’s negative. By answering everyone you give yourself the opportunity to improve and to possibly turn a negative into a positive.
Your goal in the first phase is to build and maintain your community members. If you are able to stay connected and relevant to this group, they will help spread the message during the public phase of your campaign. You should be focussing on numbers and engagement during this phase. Provide useful information and test your messages to make sure they are meaningful to your target audience.
Close the first phase of the campaign with the groundbreaking and kick-off for the public phase of the campaign. Coming up in Part 4…