AFP Conference Roundup: Six Best Practices for Balancing New and Traditional Media
The first step to learning how to balance new and traditional media to better connect with donors is to accept that we're living in an interconnected age. So said Mitch Maxson, senior creative director, and Scott Henderson, vice president of marketing, for MediaSauce in their session the 46th AFP International Conference on Fundraising, which took place last week in New Orleans.
Communicating with donors and prospects isn't just a matter of tossing messaging out to the masses. Today, media equals community, and nonprofits can buy it, earn it and/or build it.
The rate at which technology is adopted keeps increasing. It took 38 years for radio to reach 50 million people; four years for the Internet to reach 50 million people; and two years for Facebook to reach an audience of 50 million people. But technology is only as good as the people it connects, Maxson and Henderson said.
Powerful stories of the impact that organizations are making are key. Despite the technology leap, traditional media still remain primary vehicles for driving engagement. But new media offer amazing opportunities to connect with people you haven't met yet and get them to come to you.
Nonprofits need to recognize that their audiences always must come first. Donors don't want to know how they can help you; they want to know how you're going to help them feel better. Think about how you can construct your story so it's powerful for them.
Maxson and Henderson highlighted these six best practices for balancing new and traditional media:
- Be real. Represent yourself honestly. Authenticity equals trust. And find like-minded partners.
- Be realistic. There is no such thing as a magic strategy. One point the presenters stressed throughout the session is that you can't make something go viral. And you don't have to be viral. Some people won't like your cause, but others will. Find them, and those people will help you find others like them.
- Be passionate. "If you won't bleed for it, who will?" they asked. Forming relationships with donors requires long-term commitments. People aren't just going to come in and give you $1 million. They also recommended anticipating criticism and skepticism about your cause.
- Be transparent. There is nowhere to hide in this new age, so don't try. Be upfront with donors about what you are hoping to get out of relationships with them. Treat every donor like an investor, and be clear about your plans for the future. No secrets, no surprises.
- Be creative. Think differently to break through. You don't have to follow the template, they said, e.g., remaking a "Got Milk" ad. Think big so you can stand apart from the noise. It's not where you've been; it's where you're going.
- Be connected. It's all about people and relationships. Leverage relationships in new ways, and seek out ideas and leadership. Social media allows breakthrough ideas to spread.