I spent the first 14 or so years of my career working in the charitable sector, managing large fundraising events and doing fund development for several mid-sized charities in Halifax, Nova Scotia. These charities had large networks of dedicated volunteers who would sell tickets and sponsorships, recruit emcees and talent, organize silent auctions and develop media relations and advertising campaigns. It was only as I was exiting the charitable sector that social media was coming to our region as a viable method of getting the word out about a charity or its programs and events. So much has changed in four years! Today, every charity is working on social media campaign strategies.
When it comes to executing successful social media campaigns, one of the struggles I see for smaller, local charities is mobilizing their volunteers and supporters. In this environment it is simply not enough for a charity to have a good “cause” and put the word out on their own social media accounts. They *MUST* motivate their supporters to amplify their message.
Amplify Your Message
To “amplify your message” simply means to get other people to share it, so that it reaches more people, more media, more supporters, than you could do by yourself. The concept is simple…if two people share the message, and just two of their followers share, and two more, then eventually a whole lot of new people will be exposed to your message. The question is “How do I amplify our message?”
Giving Tuesday Ambassador Kit
Here is the short list of things you need to do to mobilize your volunteers. Simple things like asking your dedicated Board of Directors to click Like and Share whenever possible. Yes, you may even have to send them a daily email reminder…they are busy people too.
Recently I was asked to help amplify the message of Giving Tuesday locally. Giving Tuesday is a national campaign by CanadaHelps.org to encourage individuals and businesses to give back to their community after Black Friday and Cyber Monday. One of the items provided to me as a Giving Tuesday Ambassador was a link to an amazing social media campaign tool kit that serves as a fabulous example of what smaller charities can do to be successful with their social media campaigns.
What makes this kit such a spectacular example of how to mobilize your volunteers to amplify your message?
- They clearly state the case for support, up front. There’s no question about what you’re being asked to support or why.
- Partners, and links to them, are clearly outlined, with hyperlinks…no getting lost trying to find them, if needed.
- Messages are broken down into three parts: Mega Messages (overall sound bites), Tweets (Mega Messages in 140 characters or less) and Facebook Posts.
- The sample tweets and posts can be copied and pasted, as is. They include relevant hashtags and @ tags, ready to go. Your volunteers don’t need to understand them, as long as they use them!
- A list of other resources that can be shared.
- A list of ideas for other social networks, or additional ideas if you are really motivated to support.
- Links to download the logos and embed codes for badges for your website.
- Pre-designed graphics for Facebook Cover Photos and they are hyper-linked… simply click on the one you want and you go to the download page.
Yes, this takes some planning. Yes, you need to do this ahead of time. Yes, it is intense. No, you don’t need all of these pieces, but if you can do them all, why not?
Yes, it will work. It will make your volunteers’ jobs much, much easier if everything they need to support you is right there in one document. All the links, all the graphics and all the words are there, done for them. How can they NOT support your social media campaign now? And when you think of that awesome idea you wish you had done this year, just add it to the campaign kit for next year, because it’s all in one place!
Having worked with several local Halifax charities on social media, I know that many board members are just scratching the surface of social media. They’ve just joined because they know they need to for their charity work. Or they’re only there to keep up on the antics of their children or grandchildren. If you want to have a successful social media campaign, whether it’s to raise funds, win a voting contest, crowdfund, sell event tickets or advocate for services, you need to ensure your supporters know what to do.
One step further
To really make it work, I would even suggest having a special board meeting, just before your campaign goes live, to train your board how to do the above things. If you’re not sure how, then find another volunteer to come in and show them how to do it. None of this is very hard, but if you’re all new to social media, it’s going to be difficult to make a social media campaign work.
I would love to hear from other charities about how they are mobilizing their supporters. Let me know if you’ve seen a great example. In a couple of weeks, I’ll have a guest post from one Halifax charity that has done a fabulous job, and none of their tactics are listed above!
**I am a volunteer Social Media Ambassador for Giving Tuesday. I was not directly requested to write this blog post, nor have I been compensated for it.