Strategies to maximize your Georgia Gives Day campaignGeorgia Nonprofit NOW, Fall 2016
Our Georgia Gives Day 2016 campaign kick-off, held September 16, brought together more than a hundred nonprofit representatives to rally and prepare for Gives Day success. We started with a group photo shoot in Woodruff Park where GCN President & CEO Karen Beavor led the group chant, “Come together now!” That teed off a full morning of strategic and tactical insight, shared by a panel of leaders from two nonprofits with highly successful 2015 campaigns, Senior Connections and Girls Inc. of Greater Atlanta, and representatives from two of GCN’s partners, SunTrust Foundation and Edelman Atlanta. Attendees also covered an idea board with their Gives Day plans, and discussed their questions and perspectives in topic-specific breakout sessions focusing on social media, new donors, leveraging incentives, and planning campaigns.
Below, we share takeaways worth applying to your own campaign, and to your development efforts year-round.
RUN A SMART SOCIAL CAMPAIGN
Social media is a vital tool for any fundraising effort, but especially an online-exclusive opportunity like Georgia Gives Day.
Andrew Moon, Senior Account Executive, Edelman: Social media can be everyone’s opportunity to contribute – not an effort that should be put on just one person. Coach people in how to snap a quick photo or share inspiring words they heard from a donor or client.
Which social channels? Facebook, to reach the general population – people logged in to their phones, who will forward things to their moms, are really going to drive your donations. LinkedIn comes into play when trying to reach a corporate audience: They’ll research you once you’ve made contact, and your LinkedIn profile is a great opportunity to communicate your mission and impact.
Twitter is helpful for engaging news outlets: If you tweet to WSB-TV or 11Alive about something you’re doing, more often than not they’ll retweet you, expanding your reach. If we don’t hear back, we’ll tweet a specific reporter. Reaching out to anyone who’s influential with a media source can also help. And don’t be shy about reaching out to national media. If it’s an international story, don’t limit yourself – dream big!
Sally Eggleston, Manager of Donor Relations, Senior Connections: We knew we needed to figure out the social media thing – apparently, it’s not going away! Though many of our donors are older, and still sending checks in the mail, our online messages are reaching more 30-to-50-year-olds, which helped us raise more than $8,000 in last year’s campaign.
Corby Herschman, Director of Development, Girls Inc. of Greater Atlanta: We create a campaign calendar that paces out our social media efforts. We take a fun approach that’s engaged a lot of different people. Our favorite thing to promote is the Georgia Gives Day “Unselfies” campaign. We provide printable signs, which supporters customize with a message about why they give, print out, and hold up in photos they post online. It’s helped us grow our Facebook followers from 1,000 to 3,000.
Alex Brizzi, Assistant Account Executive, Edelman: Think of key posting times. People are busy all day long—they’re at work, they’re at school—so they might not be on social media. For something important, it’s usually best to aim for early morning, lunchtime, and right after dinner. For instance, I’m a typical millennial, so I wake up in the morning and check social media like it’s my newspaper.
Moon: Don’t overwhelm yourself or expect too much: Try making three Facebook posts and three tweets a week. Watch the number of likes that roll in, and ask friends who follow you what they remember from your feed. Use the posts that resonate as models. Partnering with influential people – even other nonprofits, if your efforts are complimentary – can help drum up a following.
Brizzi: Tagging someone or another organization helps increase your reach, especially on Facebook, because it’s going to put your post in their timeline as well, which then goes to their followers.
Moon: The beauty of hashtags is that they plug you into an existing conversation. Find one that has a lot of activity around it, but be sure it aligns with your message.
Jolie Maxwell, Vice President of Community and Government Affairs, SunTrust Foundation: We’ve used Georgia Gives Day to help us align our new giving priorities: The Suntrust Financial Wellness Challenge offers the chance for participating nonprofits with financial literacy or well-being programs to win extra funds. Social media has played a big part, helping us reach nonprofits we didn’t know, showing our constituencies how we’ve shifted our giving priorities, and sharing with our clients how we give back to the community.
ENGAGE DONORS WITH GIVING INCENTIVES
Matching funds make small donations more meaningful, prompting people to take action.
Herschman: A board member decided to make a challenge gift of $10,000 to match new donor giving, which was a great way to say to our fans, “If you’ve never given, now’s the time.” We highlighted the challenge grant in all our messaging: every post, email, and conversation. Be sure to repeat your message. You might think you’ve said it a thousand times, but any one time could be the first someone hears of it.
Eggleston: I asked people who give end-of-year if they would give a little early, so we could use their gifts for matching funds.
Maxwell: If there’s a corporation or foundation you think might be interested but hasn’t yet given, reach out and ask them to partner with you. Use any metrics you have from last year to make the case that their matching or challenge grant can amplify giving.
WORK THOSE POWER HOURS
Power Hours, set up throughout the day, give nonprofits the chance to win bonus funds by raising the most money in a given 60-minute period.
Herschman: We decide on the Power Hour to go after by looking at the time of day our social media engagement is at its peak. If you get a lot of Facebook likes around noon, chances are your audience is most active then. Ours is most active in the early morning, so our message was, “Wake up and give to Girls Inc,” using photos of coffee cups and kids pretending to be asleep. Just by telling people when to give, we won both an 11Alive prize and that Power Hour.
Eggleston: We leveraged incentive dollars from three donors, who each put up $1,000 matching grants and directed people to give during Power Hours, concentrating all our donations between 11am and 1pm.
ACTIVATE YOUR TEAM AND YOUR CAUSE CHAMPIONS
Every one of your stakeholders – your board, staff, volunteers, clients, donors, and even family and friends – can contribute to your Gives Day success.
Herschman: Create an outreach toolbox for your people by tweaking the Georgia Gives Day materials created by GCN to make them your own. The toolbox for our board members includes emails for the entire run-up – a month out, a week out, and two days prior – plus sample tweets and Facebook posts, and guidance on when to post. On Gives Day, we monitored each board member’s top five contacts, and let board members know who hadn’t yet given so they could reach out.
Moon: Educating is empowering. For the HRC Atlanta steering committee, we created a two-page social media outreach action plan, giving them “guiderails” regarding the types of stories to post, the tone to use, and how to quickly snap a photo and share it. We also did a long walkthrough of the Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram apps.
Eggleston: Try getting creative with your appeal – for instance, my sister, who lives in Pennsylvania, decided to find a donor from every state, and is up to 33 states in just three years.
Herschman: Don’t forget to pitch to volunteers. A good approach is to find out the hourly rate for a volunteer service, and ask them to give an hour of their service time in dollars.
VISUALIZE YOUR STORY
Because the internet is a visual medium, images and videos can make a powerful impression and call-to-action.
Herschman: Because we serve young girls, we need waivers from parents to feature images of their children. We get their buy-in by telling them about the opportunity Georgia Gives Day represents, and how fun photos of their kids will help support the organization. Then, when we’re posting a photo of someone’s kid, we tell them to go online, like it, and share it with friends. We also give parents materials to print out so they can take their own photos with their daughters. It’s an opportunity to have fun while helping us get the message out.
If you can’t post images of clients due to confidentiality or safety concerns, use photos of staff or volunteers, maybe holding up a sign with a story or a statistic on it.
Moon: Facebook is moving toward prioritizing video content, which makes it incredibly shareable. Everyone has a smart phone, which means everyone can shoot a video. If you pair a 15-second video with your message, I guarantee it’s going to reach more people than text alone.
Brizzi: Ask yourself, “Would I want to watch this?” Tell a story, and keep your video to a minute, three minutes max, if you really have to explain a lot. No one wants to watch video on Facebook that’s 13 minutes long.
IT’S NEVER TOO EARLY TO PLAN
Though it’s just one day in November, the most successful participants make Georgia Gives Day preparation a part of their annual fundraising plans.
Eggleston: Follow up the day after Georgia Gives Day with a staff debrief, and put dates in your calendar right then! Think about what you need to get done each month. After last year’s debrief, we marked dates for the upcoming year, including when to update donor lists and when to start the outreach process around matching gifts.
As soon as we have the date, I start promoting it—if only at the bottom of an email or newsletter: “Stay tuned for more information on Georgia Gives Day, taking place Nov. 17, 2016.” We posted several times throughout the summer to thank people who donated last year, but not so often that the message burned people out. I spent September reaching out to my corporate groups. Promotion will be heavier in October, and in November it will be frequent, including news about Power Hours and other incentives.
Because we have everything scheduled, including themes for each quarter and every month, I’m very conscious of how a story fits into our calendar. If we’ve got a great picture of Congressman Johnson delivering meals, I know when we’re going to be focused on that topic and how to use that image.
Moon: We often see success by aligning outreach with something timely like International Children’s Day. Set realistic expectations, then find something to get you moving. Ask yourself, “What’s timely? What’s going to resonate with my donor base?” With practice, you’ll train your instincts for timing and prioritizing messages to create the most impact.