Donor Communications: Get It Documented! No Excuses
The other day I was taking a look at some great tools the folks at Marketo have made available. They have a Social Media Tactical Plan (sample), which is designed to walk you through the identification of your social objectives, define your goals and determine the metrics you'll use to measure success.
But what made me bring this up as a blog topic is they also have a Social Editorial Calendar (sample), which helps you map, track and share your social-marketing plan companywide.
Why is this a blog topic? It's simple; my experience is that due to various reasons — silos, lack of integration, lack of coordination and lack of interest in the donor experience even — many organizations do not have a basic communication matrix or calendar. As you can imagine, I absolutely love the idea of the social editorial calendar. But, honestly, I just want our industry to embrace the concept of "the calendar."
Yes, it can seem overwhelming to get even the basics together — but how else can you really understand what you are saying to your constituents across what channels and when? Don't try to boil the ocean in the beginning — just do these basics:
- Identify the major communication partners/departments in the organization. In the perfect world, once they are identified, the request should just slide right through. In reality, this will not happen. There may be some political issues to deal with, so I suggest that if you are not an executive, quickly get one on board and explain why this is critical. This will become very important if the outcome of documenting all the touches creates an "oh crap, that's a lot of stuff we are putting in front of our constituents" reaction.
- The first step is to just get it documented!!!!
- The basic information you want to gather (or ask to be submitted for inclusion) is: Name of Communication, Channel Used, Exact Communication Date (for example: If it's monthly, find out when in the month it is sent), the Primary Audience (for example: all donors, volunteers, XX event participants, etc.), and the Primary Purpose (for example: Why is this communication important? What is it trying to accomplish?).
- The advanced information for organizations that really want to do this the right way should include the cost of the communication, the projected financial gains (if applicable) and the way the communication is measured, i.e., how do you know that the communication is really accomplishing its goal?
Be very watchful for red flags:
- The "all" trap: If you have a lot of communications that are sent to audiences that start with "all," this is the first clue that segmentation has not been well-thought-out. Get on that pretty quickly because it is absolutely a problem, especially if you are a medium to large organization.
- The multipurpose trap: We all know that many communications serve multiple purposes, but we also know that if there are too many calls to action then success will not be as high because the messages are mixed. In reality, newsletters and magazines should be the only types of communications that truly have multiple purposes. If a lot of the communications are thought to fall into this category, that could be a sign that your communications are not focused enough or that the communication owner does not really know the true purpose of it. Believe it or not, there are a lot of cases in which communications are in place because they've been in place for the last decade and it's "just something we do."
But before worrying about all these issues, just get it documented. The worst position you can be in is unaware of what you are putting in front of your constituents.
Vice President, Strategy & Development
Eleventy Marketing Group
Angie is ridiculously passionate about EVERYTHING she’s involved in — including the future and success of our nonprofit industry.
Angie is a senior exec with 25 years of experience in direct and relationship marketing. She is a C-suite consultant with experience over the years at both nonprofits and agencies. She currently leads strategy and development for marketing intelligence agency Eleventy Marketing Group. Previously she has worked at the innovative startup DonorVoice and as general manager of Merkle’s Nonprofit Group, as well as serving as that firm’s CRM officer charged with driving change within the industry. She also spent more 14 years leading the marketing, fundraising and CRM areas for two nationwide charities, The Arthritis Foundation and the American Cancer Society. Angie is a thought leader in the industry and is frequent speaker at events, and author of articles and whitepapers on the nonprofit industry. She also has received recognition for innovation and influence over the years.