Turning Fundraising on Its Head
Brown says he is very metrics-driven, so Hope tracks every e-mail campaign it sends to identify which communications and links drive traffic and which do not, including every click. Everything is tested and taken into consideration, from the placement in the e-mail to what stories tend to get more clicks, which get fewer clicks, what date and time the e-mail was sent, who's clicking through, who's sharing links, etc.
Coinciding with the Hope Institute's e-mail strategy is its social-media initiatives. Brown knows that the more visibility the organization has online, the more effective all the channels become. Thus, social media provides a great opportunity for Hope to spread its word and draw more people to its website and join the e-mail list.
But Brown didn't want Hope to just have a foot in a bunch of different doors — he wanted to focus on the big three: Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. So Hope developed a digital-media strategy and launched an integrated social-media platform. The development and communications departments worked closely in developing the strategy with the goal of increasing awareness, increasing funding, establishing a new and innovative way to engage internal and external audiences, and laying the groundwork for more intimate, genuine relationships with potential donors.
"Rather than us moving across multiple social-media platforms and trying to do a little bit in a lot of places, we decided to focus on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube," Brown says.
But he knows that social media really isn't the place to raise funds; it's a relationship-building arena that gets supporters through the door in order to cultivate them into donors.
"We are not openly soliciting our social-media following. We don't want to put anyone in a position where the first contact that they have with us is us asking them to give us money," Brown says. "We understand that social media's primary use is to build a relationship. So all the content that we post across our Facebook page, Twitter, YouTube is all designed to foster that relationship.