Today marks the day when over a billion people in 192 countries recognize and take action on the unique environmental challenges of our time. Activists and volunteers around the world are planting trees, organizing demonstrations, and cleaning up their communities to honor our Mother Earth. Imagine if you could find ways to harness the power of these types of significant events to increase the level of awareness and activation for your cause?
As nonprofit development and communications leaders, it can be a challenge simply keeping your head above water. With competing priorities and limited monetary, logistical and staff resources, nonprofit leaders need to maximize their effectiveness at every opportunity, including big events and awareness dates.
The Challenge: How can I capitalize on significant events to advance our mission and reach fundraising goals?
Here are 5 Steps to overcome the challenge:
Step 1: Identify Significant Events Throughout the Year
With limited resources, it’s common to be reactive when it comes to opportunities to capitalize on significant events. Sometimes, it feels it’s easier to not do anything at all until you have to, but by then is all you are doing is damage control? You want to cultivate success at every event.
Be proactive by creating an editorial calendar with significant events throughout the year. With free tools like Google Trends, you can identify patterns in which supporters and donors are searching for information relevant to your cause. By identifying the upcoming events and opportunities, your organization can be ready to maximize the potential of your event.
Step 2: Establish Benchmarks and Goals
Did you have a similar event last year? How many email addresses, mobile subscribers, volunteers, and donations did you get then? By how much would you like to increase that this year? If you don’t set the benchmark, how will you measure improvement? If you’re trying it for the first time, start tracking these key performance indicators (KPIs) and set realistic goals for next year.
Step 3: Use an Integrated Strategy with the Right Tools
You can’t build a house with only a hammer. It requires a combination of the right tools, used in the right application through a coordinated effort. Here are examples of some tools to use to build a successful event:
- Social media – To engage your current followers and reach new supporters. Be sure to use appropriate and strategic hashtags.
- Email – To send targeted messages to various segments based on interests and lifecycle stage.
- SMS – With nearly a 100% open rate, it can be used to get immediate responses from calls to action.
Step 4: Plan the Work. Work the Plan
By now, you should have a fairly robust outline for increasing your event success. Now just as a conductor orchestrates musical performances from the different instrument sections to come together and create one harmonious piece, you’ll want to assign ownership of each facet of your event and have periodic check-ins on the status prior to, during and after the event. Bring your event to an epic crescendo.
Step 5: Measure, Analyze and Optimize
Initially nonprofits can make the mistake of thinking that their one significant event had poor results and not worth the time and effort. That is because they are only looking at the surface. The most successful nonprofits are always looking at the data to identify ways to measure, analyze and optimize results by asking the following questions:
- What channel had the most interactions and engagement?
- What messaging and calls-to-action were most effective?
- What email subject line variations had the highest open rates?
As we reflect on Earth Day 2014, think about how your nonprofit can leverage significant events to raise awareness and advance your mission. Do you have additional insights that you would like to share with the nonprofit community? What has/hasn’t worked when it comes to capitalizing on significant events? Feel free to leave a comment below or share your thoughts on Google+.