Five tips for nonprofits to turn your constituents into your biggest advocates
By Suzy Whitfield and Rhett Del Campo, SocialRaise
You may already know that your best advocates are your most vocal and passionate constituents. They are the people who tell your story often and with enthusiasm. They are the folks who work the room, sell the tickets and ask people to show up on a Saturday morning to lend a helping hand. They personally thank their friends, relatives, neighbors and colleagues for their financial support. Without some of these people, your fundraising and programs would be struggling. You want to hand those folks an engraved, gold plated, supercharged megaphone, right?
Well how about giving a megaphone to other people who are also great supporters, but maybe a little less vocal, and make it easy for them to communicate their enthusiasm for your organization’s goals, programs and events. Give them the tools to become your biggest advocates by providing the ability to share your message to their friends, neighbors, relatives and colleagues – easily.
Are you old enough to remember the shampoo ad with “And they told two friends and so on and so on” until the screen was full of faces? If not, stick with me here.
Enter Social Media tools. The beauty is in the math. Say you have 300 loyal supporters and they each share your message with 10 people. Now you have increased awareness of your organization by 3,000 (use your own numbers). Think of what it would mean if only a small percentage would get to know your organization and become donors, board members or volunteers. OK, not everyone is on Facebook or Twitter, but most have email, right? So make it easy for them to share – any way they might choose.
How do you get this done without hiring an IT staff (or a teenager)?
1) Make it easy for people to “share” – attach social media links to everything on your website (articles, announcements, events, donation opportunities, contests, volunteer needs etc.) to allow your constituents to forward, post, send, or share your message on their preferred social media networks.
2) Make the message tell your story (and then ask for something specific). Illustrate your successes and highlight how the donors, volunteers and board members made a difference and how they can too.
3) Ask your constituents to tell your story, engage their friends etc. Tell them they can help by spreading the word about your story or event.
4) Thank or acknowledge the message sharing and tell or show them it makes a difference. Make sure that their efforts are noticed and appreciated by talking about growth and new constituents.
5) When new visitors come to your site, make it easy for them to engage or get involved (e.g. make a donation, buy a ticket, volunteer, get more information, join a support group, attend a meeting etc.). In exchange they will leave their contact information and become part of your growing list of “leads,” people who are likely to become loyal constituents.
Think of your own experience. When a friend passes along a short article about the wonderful impact their favorite nonprofit organization has made in your community and asks you to get involved, you are much more likely to read it and, if asked, to act. Give your constituents the tools (great stories, links, offers, events and the means to share) and then encourage them to email, post, and tweet your organization’s successes with their friends, neighbors and colleagues. Include simple requests to join, sign up, donate, and volunteer. While this is not simple and requires a plan, it is no more complex than writing your end-of-year appeal, printing, addressing and mailing. But the potential reach is much bigger than a single letter. End-of-year appeals are great, but imagine if your mailing list were four times bigger this year.
In short, social media is much more than something teenagers use to plan a weekend. They are tools for success. Give lots of little “megaphones” to your volunteers, beneficiaries, donors and board members and ask for help in spreading the word. With the right message in the right hands, Social Media can become a powerful communication vehicle for your organization.
Suzy is the Vice President and Rhett is the Director of Arts Initiatives at the Chicago-based company, SocialRaise. To learn more, please visit www.socialraise.com