5 Election Planning Tips
Unless you've been on a long term digital detox, you have likely noticed it's an election year. Although we are more than 6 months away from the general election, many campaigns are in full swing. Below are a few tips for your electoral organizing efforts.
1. Get some counseling. While you made need some therapy after the elections, you’ll definitely want legal counsel before you start. First, last and many times in between, check with your legal counsel about what is and is not permissible for your organization when it comes to the elections. There are also a lot of great resources to get you started from the Bolder Advocacy Initiative of the Alliance for Justice. Check out their resources to help you navigate the rules of electoral activity here.
2. Consider your impact. Yes, 2012 is a presidential election year. And yes, the media will be blanketed in coverage of the race. But there will also be initiatives, referendums, school boards members, state legislators, and more on the ballot. These will also have lasting impact and receive state and local media and blog coverage. Consider where and how your organization might have an impact or be a key player.
3. Make it mobile and social. Do you have a resource that might help your constituents on election day? Whether it is a polling site locator, candidate guide or any other type of resource that is good to reference on election day, do your best to make it mobile friendly. People will be waiting in line at the polls, checking facebook or twitter on the bus or train and you want your information to be quick and easy to read.
4. Make the most of your resources. Making a voter guide? Send it in the mail, highlight it multiple times in e-mail (if you have capacity, customize your content based on districts), add it to your volunteer orientation kit, tweet a tidbit and link to the full guide, bring it to your major donor meetings, have it with you when you table, schedule time for volunteers to hand it out at a public event.
5. Check the mail. Vote by mail is required in WA and OR. Be sure to adjust your communication calendar in these states to reflect the ballot in hands date and deadline for return. In addition, many states offer the option to vote absentee with no excuse and mail in options continue to grow, especially in CA, CO and HI. Keep these folks in mind while drafting your GOTV plans as well.
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5 Workplace Volunteer Coordination Tips
Most of my posts are written for the non-profit audience, but this month, I’m taking a different approach. I’d like to offer some tips to anyone who is (or could be) organizing group volunteering opportunities in their workplace - be it non-profit or for-profit work environment.
This May, Convio will host our 8th annual Convio Cares Days, where employees across the country take time off to support local non-profits. Here in DC we'll be heading out to help American Rivers, The Congressional Cemetery, Food & Friends, and Miriam's Kitchen. It’s a great chance to give back to our community and bond with our colleagues. A small team in the Convio office in DC has been setting everything up and I wanted to offer 5 tips on organizing an office volunteer event.
1. Make it Tangible – Look for volunteer opportunities that offer something tangible. Don’t just say, we’ll help save the earth or feed the hungry. Many people are motivated by before and after pictures of the 6 trees they helped plant or knowing they will serve lunch to 100 people. Find stories of people impacted by the organizations you are planning to serve to help motivate your colleagues.
2. Make it Different – We use our volunteer time in the DC Convio office for everything from bake sales to picking up river litter in a canoe. Not everyone enjoys the same kinds of activities. Make sure to offer a variety of options to help fit people’s interests. A quick survey on survey monkey can help you find out what kind of work people want to do.
3. Ask in Person – Go cubicle to cubicle and ask people to join you one-on-one. They might feel more comfortable asking you questions in a smaller setting and excited to sign up because of the personal ask. Also, don't forget that most people don't like to sign a blank sheet, so make sure to have an early adopter sign up first.
4. Get Organized – I know it’s very basic, but people really like a well-organized activity. Send them an outlook appointment to block the time, organize a carpool to and from the event, tell folks you’ll provide the sunscreen, food prep gloves or other supplies they will need.
5. Celebrate – Last week, we had empanadas and slide show of photos from last year’s efforts to help motivate people to sign up. We were able to fill 16 shifts with the kick off party. In late May, we’ll share photos on flickr and have an ice cream social to share our stories and pictures with each other. Be sure to thank everyone who participates.
Remember, just because your workplace doesn't offer a coordinated event like this right now, doesn't mean you can't get something started. It never hurts to ask!
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Interested in Pinterest?
A handful of nonprofits recently started dipping their toes in the Pinterest waters. You can find a list of a few to follow here.
Personally, I'm not running around thinking every nonprofit needs to develop a strategy for Pinterest now. However, I do think it's something to watch and if you have capacity and a organizational mission that fits well with visual content, you might want to try it out. Check out this list of tips (these aren’t specifically nonprofit focused, but still useful) if you are moving into Pinterest land. Here are a few good things to keep in mind if you decide to jump in.
- Pinterest is visual. People are in it for the pictures and videos. Focus your strategy on your best visual content that you have to share and the visual content out there that reinforces your mission and brand.
- Pinterest is growing. They have over 10 million registered users. There’s likely cross over in your supporter lists, so be sure let your supporters on e-mail, facebook, twitter, etc. know if you’re on Pinterest too.
- Pinterest users are overwhelmingly female, a recent post reported the number at 80%. And the lionshare of users are between 25-44 years of age. I expect these number to change over time, but for now, it’s something to keep in mind in terms of the audience you’ll reach.
- Pinterest might help you reach people where you normally don’t. The same study above points to Pinterest users being more likely to live in mid-west, plains and southern states than your typical social networker.
- Pinterest is not the same everywhere. Check out these differences in use for US vs. UK. I’ll have to ask my colleagues across the pond for their thoughts.
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Thoughts from the Korean Taco Truck
On my last trip to Austin, I visited the Chi’Lantro food truck. It was delicious. But, more importantly for this post, it was nice to have the option to pay with a credit card. A lot of businesses are jumping on board with mobile payment services to be able to take credit card payments while on the go. I see them most often in food trucks, craft fairs and other business models that move around and don’t stick to a traditional store front location.
There is a nice summary here of three different companies that offer this service. As far as I can tell, none of them offer special non-profit rates as of yet, but I hope they will soon because I’d like to see more folks in the non-profit community experimenting with this technology.
Here are some places I think it’d be great for the non-profit community to experiment with mobile payments.
1. Event Crowds: You have an audience of supporters for your cause lining the streets cheering on their friends and family as they run/walk/bike/climb/etc. While they wait, why not offer them the chance to give one more time (or for the first time). Offer them a pom-pom, small cow bell or other cheering enhancement as an incentive to give.
2. Tabling: Are your staff or volunteers sitting behind a table at festivals, conferences and fairs all year long? Gathering petition signatures, handing out stickers and candy, and educating the public about your great work? Maybe they are taking cash and check donations or maybe they aren’t yet taking gifts at all. Having a mobile payment option would offer a way for supporters to quickly make a gift that they may feel is more secure than handing cash to volunteer. Added bonus, you should be able to set this up so the donor can instantly receive an e-mail receipt for tax purposes.
3. Canvassing: Do you have a street canvass team? Are they using this technology? Seems like another area where being on the go and accepting payments would work hand in hand.
Has your organization tried this or have you run into a non-profit making use of this technology? I want to know more! Tell me about it in the comments below.
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Which channel is netflix on?
Netflix has been getting a lot of attention lately for some recent changes they are making. Just take a look at twitter for a small example of what people are thinking and saying. The nonprofit industry has some lessons to learn from their mistakes, which is why I take a moment to highlight this today.
As a consumer, I was relying on Netflix to fulfill what I saw as their mission - to provide me with programming, regardless of the channel I consumed it on. Sometimes, I wanted a DVD to take on the flight, sometimes I wanted to stream a TV series and sometimes I had to rent by mail because streaming was not an option for the program I wanted.
As a constituent, I rely on the nonprofits I am involved with to work towards fulfilling their mission, which I support. I do this in various channels as well. Sometimes, I will make an online gift, sometimes I will attend an event and sometimes I will volunteer in person.
What I don’t want, from Netflix or from the organizations I support, is for my interactions to be treated so siloed and independently that the left hand doesn’t seem to talk to the right hand. When it works well, it’s just a great experience. (If you’ve ever arrived to volunteer somewhere and been thanked for your recent donation, you know what I mean.) And it keeps me coming back and supporting them for years to come.
So what are some lessons we as the nonprofit community can learn from Netflix’s current challenges?
1. Make it as easy as possible for your organization to understand the full picture of how your constituents are supporting you. This takes a lot of work, but a database where employees can see all different kinds of interactions with your organization is key. Put those pieces of the puzzle together, so you get the full picture of your supporters.
2. Your internal structure (departments, programs, etc.) should not dictate a disparate experience for your supporters. Your donors, activists, etc. see you as one organization, working towards one mission. Help them feel that, even if you are in the midst of a budget battle or some other internal challenges.
3. Allow constituents to opt in or out of certain communication channels. Reach them where they are and how they want to be reached, it will make them happy campers.
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