When I joined Convio after 5 years as an event fundraiser, I was first introduced to the Communication Calendar while working with the Event360 and Komen 3-Day Events. It was amazing… and I wished that I’d known about this tool while I was still managing all the communications for my special events!
A Communication Plan is a document containing of all the communications organized by communication channel that your organization (or your fundraising event) is planning to send out during a specified timeframe. This document often lives in a spreadsheet and should be used as guide that is edited or updated as you approach specific milestones. My recommendation (especially for special event communication planning) is that you include all your communication channels in your plan including Print Communications like Save the Date cards or team captain packets, traditional media channels like print advertising or press releases, online channels like email or website and also Social Media channels like Facebook or Twitter.
Check out two sample communication plans in our recently published Social Media Kick Start Guide for P2P Events.
A couple weeks ago we released our 2012 Online Marketing Nonprofit Benchmark study. More than a few people have called it a “must-read” and as someone who knows it front-to-back and inside out, I must agree. To whet your whistle, here are just 10 of the interesting insights this bad boy contains:
Let’s talk about that last one for a second – if the average online monthly gift is $31.96, that means a donor who gives a monthly gift for a full year is worth a whopping $383.52! If you take away one thing from this benchmark, write this one down, you must have monthly giving as an option on your donation form.
While enjoying the spring conference circuit, Convio put our (very patient) camerapeople and me to work. We asked 70 nonprofit pros what they think the biggest challenge facing the sector is. Then we took the answers, identified trends, wrote up the "Heartbeat of the Industry" report and made a YouTube video (because it's 2012 and that's what you do right?).
Ritu Sharma, executive director for Social Media for Nonprofits does a lovely job summarizing it all: “This is a very interesting time for nonprofits. Fundraising is always a primary concern, especially as the economy looks to get back on track. But nonprofits have also become hypersensitive to successfully engaging with their supporters and creating awareness for their mission. Many organizations realize that knowing when and how their supporters want to be engaged is critical in this world of information overload.”
What do you think the biggest challenge is? Any ideas for addressing it?
Confession time: when I am not thinking about everything fundraising, I am a part-time energy economy dork. Meaning, I spend a lot of time thinking about carbon consumption, energy mix, whether it will be resource scarcity or technological progress that might one day wean humanity from carbon…
As a direct marketer, I’ve spent a large portion of my career in traditional marketing (Direct Mail (DM), Telemarketing (TM), and a little direct response TV). Early on, my inner tree hugger had to reconcile the millions of trees that it took to get DM campaigns with 5% response rates out the door with the cold reality that it was this sort of marketing that was the lifeline of many organizations’ revenue. I secretly hoped that at least those other 95% recycled….And I couldn't help but draw parallels in my mind about marketing channel mix and energy.
In my mind, the comparison works this way:
Email= Natural gas
Mobile, social, geolocation= solar, wind, geothermal
In the energy marketplace, coal and gas are still king. Get rid of either one of these and most of our houses won't have electricity, most of our cars won't drive. Over the years, both energy sources have become more efficient—gas mileage for cars has improved, coal power plants have been forced to implement all sorts of clean coal technology, but we may at some point run out of both while complete non-reliance is years, and likely decades away. Sure, there are the outliers: people living “off the grid”, whole villages in Africa using solar cookers, but largely, we all sigh and agree that while progress is made toward other forms of energy, coal and oil are in our lives.
Starting to sound pretty familiar? So direct mail and telemarketing (offline) for the large part rule the roost. Perhaps not the cleanest or most glamorous, but they power the revenue engine. And sure, there are also the nuclear believers—folks who've made DRTV work on a sustainable basis, but like the Frances of the world, they tend to be the outliers in the traditional revenue power equation.
And then there is the current energy industry darling, email, ahem, I mean natural gas…. The cleaner, cheaper, newer kid on the block, with the potential to replace some of the older sources, and in some instances, doing so quickly. It is also the one folks who are used to coal and gas are most comfortable with. Traditional marketers have for the large part embraced email as part of their marketing mix and are recognizing this channel as increasingly the driver of growth in revenue, donors, and reach for organizations.
What about solar, wind, and hydrogen? They are the energy gold rushes of the modern century, with folks thinking there are millions to be made, but turning out to be more complicated, slower to take off, and requiring huge economies of scale. And the reality of these industries is even they will never be truly independent--we need to account for what might happen on non-windy days, or cloudy ones. Under the right circumstances (disaster fundraising for example) there is money to be made, and the technologies are evolving, but for most organizations they still constitute a very small percentage of the revenue mix and are mainly a constituent engagement tool for now.
How do countries (and organizations) approach energy (channel) mix in an environment that seems more in flux than ever? I am not going to claim to have the answer, especially because for the largest countries (organizations), this is the more difficult to navigate with so many stakeholders involved. But a few thoughts:
Bottom Line: Not everyone (or organization) has the same access to, or need of, the various fuel types (channel types). So it is important to understand what is necessary and achievable within your own environment, and not rushing to be a fast follower just because everyone else is doing it. In the end, it will take a blending of each to establish energy (fundraising) equilibrium, and the recipe could be quite different from one nation (organization) to the next.
A presidential election year gives us an interesting opportunity to analyze and understand how some of the biggest constituent engagement operations are spending their dollars to communicate to their constituents. Today we are going to look at some of the trends in the campaigns this year, and more specifically on the Obama for America campaign.
Multi-Channel Strategy and Channel Changes
Obama for America, known for their cutting-edge digital strategy and understanding of constituent behavior, spent $3 million on digital ads in February alone. When combined, the Obama campaign and the DNC has spent over $10 million on digital since the launch of the campaign. During the month of February, OFA spent about the same amount, $3 million in February, on postage and printing, indicating that they are using multiple channels to reach multiple audiences.
Obama for America is using some of the same strategies that won Mayor Rahm Emanuel of Chicago his election. Using social media, and an aggressive digital strategy, Rahm was able to drive voters to the polls and educate them on campaign news and events. Facebook has published a case study.
Data Warehouse and Analytics
The ‘Big Data Movement’ has overtaken politics as well. The Obama campaign has invested significant resources in building a sophisticated centralized digital database of information about potential voters. Data is collected from vendors, web analytics firms, and field offices and fed into a digital data warehouse. Once there, the data is available for complex analysis, allowing the campaign to better target their constituents and focus their messaging on where, when, and to whom it will make the most impact.
They are using this environment to merge information captured online (like email interaction history, website visits, web ad interaction, ecommerce, social media information, mobile information) with traditional offline data (including voter files, 3rd party appended data, demographic data, information from data brokers) to give the campaign the necessary information to target messaging, channel, and frequency to key constituencies, both from the Democratic base and independent, or swing, voters.
What really got my attention, was that during February, the same campaign that spent over $6 million on digital and direct mail, spent only a few hundred thousand dollars on TV advertising, typically a lofty line item for political campaigns, especially national campaigns. How drastically technology has changed the way we communicate and others communicate with us! Campaigns formerly were able to count on the timing and reach of television communications, but with the introduction of TiVo and other recording devices, and Hulu and other streaming websites, the control over messaging is continuously slipping away.
As with any marketing organization, control of the message and measurement of impact is critically important. As more control and measurement is available in digital channels, it is clear why this has drastically overtaken traditional media in a short three election cycles.
What does this mean?
As we’ve seen dramatically over the last three presidential elections (from Dean to Obama), contstituent engagement strategies change about as quickly as I change my socks (thus, the below list might be outdated by the time you finish reading this!)
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