Crisis Brings Passion: How to Turn That Into Engagement
On June 12, the worst mass shooting in U.S. history occurred in Orlando, Fla. People around the world are mourning this terrible event, and, as expected, social media is a huge place where people are sharing their anger, pain, worries and the need for change in the world.
At one point, my entire Facebook feed was full of supportive posts and profile pictures for the LGBT community, along with a call for more regulation around specific types of guns, etc. In addition to the posts, there were quite a few petitions circulating and other calls-to-action involving talking to legislatures.
The question among nonprofits is how to take the passion from the people and turn it into real benefit—action, engagement and, ultimately, financial support—to drive the change people want. Here are some key points to keep in mind:
- For urgent issues like this, nonprofits need to have a crisis plan so they can provide people across social media a way to funnel their grief, anger and passion in productive places. For any advocacy-based organization, that is necessary. This plan transcends days of the week and represents 24 hours in a day. In other words, waiting a day doesn’t work. The organization needs to be able to come together as soon as possible and start messaging.
- From a marketing perspective, the goal is to push messages to current constituents, but also to put ads and videos into the digital world as quickly as possible with a very clear, non-donation-based call-to-action. The petitions will happen, so make sure you have one to push with a goal of capturing likes, comments, shares and, of course, contact information. Don’t be shy. Yes, there is a fine line between taking advantage of a terrible situation and creating a pathway for people to follow, so be respectful, but don’t be shy about it.
- Ensure that your marketing tools are collecting as much information as possible. In this past weekend’s events, there was a clash of LGBT-related issues, ISIS-related issues and gun regulation-related issues. While all three easily can be aligned together for someone, there are leading issues for people. Make sure you are doing everything possible to capture that lead interest by providing options for people to engage around specific issues and make choices or provide information. Having someone tell you something more specific about his or her issue is critical.
- While a perfect communication plan is not built overnight, some plan is better than no plan. For people who are motivated by a crisis associated with your cause, the key is to continue to talk with them and advertise to them across social and search through targeted ads. If you drop them, you’ve lost them. If you wait a day, you’ve lost them. Their anger, pain and passion will subside, but if you continue to talk with them about the issues and allow them to see how they can make a continual difference, you tap into their expectations of change. This especially applies for new people to the organization. You need to welcome them and show them the way.
- As you further cement the relationship, don’t be afraid to ask for additional information. As always, be careful that if you ask for information, you use it. In other words, don’t ask for information about the individual’s other interests and then not reference them in future communications.
- Don’t be afraid to ask people for money, but make sure they have received two to four touches in front of those asks. Since most of these people are digitally based, those touches should happen pretty quickly. There is an option for a one-time gift, but if you have a monthly giving program, this is a great opportunity to show someone how he or she can move from donating to an episodic situation or crisis into yearlong impact.
Nonprofits understand that not all donors and advocates are permanent if they come by means of a specific crisis or episode in life, but your organization must be prepared to show how it can help donors continue their impacts far past the event.
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.