After the holiday break new media managers return to work energized to update and implement their list of priorities for the upcoming year. The goals suggested below are fairly easy to achieve, yet transformative to a nonprofit’s new media strategy. Most do not require a financial investment, but preliminary results on the 2014 fundraising season are strong and if your nonprofit did well in 2014, investing in staff development in 2015 is a wise decision. Skilled new media managers are essential for nonprofits to adapt quickly to advances in technology.
1. Write LinkedIn Recommendations.
Work colleagues and clients will greatly appreciate you taking 5-10 minutes to write and post a positive recommendation on their profiles. Throughout 2015, add to your calendar the time necessary to write one or two LinkedIn Recommendations each month. You can also endorse your connections on LinkedIn with one a simple click and though they do not carry as much weight as recommendations, they are a simple way to build professional relationships and foster good karma on LinkedIn.
2. Add cause awareness days to your calendar.
Cause awareness days can be very powerful for fundraising because social network communities are highly likely to promoting your nonprofit on cause awareness days. The trick is to build a sense of anticipation among your followers and an essential first step is to select and add relevant cause awareness days to your nonprofit’s editorial calendar.
3. Experiment with at least one new social network.
The vast majority of nonprofits have a presence on Facebook, but with continuing changes to the News Feed algorithm its becoming more difficult to justify spending large amounts of time on Facebook unless you are also willing to invest in Facebook Advertising. Also, now ten years into social networking, online communities are becoming more niche-oriented and mobile. In fact, recent research revealed some very surprising data about social networks which is that after Facebook, users are spending their time (and more of it) on Tumblr, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, and SnapChat and in that order. 2015 would be a good year to spend a little less time on Facebook and more time building a community on another social network.
4. Download and study nonprofit mobile apps.
It’s very expensive and time-consuming for nonprofits to launch their own mobile apps, but nonprofits should still download and study apps created by nonprofits – as well as fundraising apps created by social entrepreneurs – to stay current on the trend. Global smartphone sales are expected to continue to grow rapidly in coming years and as a result mobile app downloads will also continue to soar.
5. Refresh your social media training.
Unless your full-time job is to study the tool sets of social networks and read tech blogs religiously, there’s a good chance that you need social media training – even if you have already had social media training. The functionality of social networks change so often that the best practices that you learned a year ago could very well be out of date and counter-productive. Therefore, its essential that you get refresher training from social media professionals that have experience building and managing social network communities. In partnership with OnGood, Nonprofit Tech for Good is presenting a series of free webinars in 2015 (see full schedule). NTEN, Idealware, and Connecting Up also offer social media training for nonprofit professionals.
6. Experiment with Crowdfunding.
Launching a crowdfunding campaign is a simple way for nonprofits to add creativity and variety to their online fundraising campaigns. Crowdfunding is similar to social fundraising in that multiple people donate publicly to crowdfunding campaigns; however, crowdfunding is focused on funding specific projects rather than a nonprofit’s general fund. Indiegogo and Kickstarter are the most well-known crowdfunding sites, but there are crowdfunding services specifically tailored for the nonprofit sector, such as Crowdrise and CauseVox.
7. Host or participate in a Tweet Chat.
The rise of Twitter has resulted in a new campaign awareness strategy and online event known as a tweet chat. Organized around the use of a hashtag, nonprofits worldwide are adding tweet chats to their editorial calendars. Scheduled to occur at a specific time for usually an hour or less, nonprofits use Twitter to have live conversations on topics relevant to their mission and programs. You can either host a tweet chat or participate in a tweet chat hosted by others.
8. Create a Social Media Fundraising Success Spreadsheet.
A simple system to track whether your social media campaigns are resulting in more dollars raised online is explained in detail in Mobile for Good: A How-To Fundraising Guide for Nonprofits. The book recommends creating a Social Media Fundraising Success Spreadsheet (download template) to track and report success. Provided that your nonprofit implements a multichannel communications and fundraising strategy and upgrades its mobile and social fundraising systems to accommodate tablet and smartphones users, the numbers in your social fundraising success spreadsheet will grow month to month, year after year. Even without buying the book, the spreadsheet template is hopefully self-explanatory and useful.
9. Take an Adobe Photoshop class.
The best staff development investment your nonprofit can provide for new media, communications, and fundraising staff is training in Adobe Photoshop. To be effective online, your nonprofit needs to be able to create graphics and digital promotional materials for your website and blog, e-newsletters, and social networks quickly and efficiently. Most major cities offer two-day Photoshop trainings and though they are expensive, the pay off is significant in terms of increased dollars raised online through effective visual communications and not having to hire outside graphic designers. Of course, Canva and PicMonkey are low-cost, do-it-yourself alternatives, but having a new media manager skilled in Adobe Photoshop is very valuable.
10. Take regular breaks from technology.
No matter how much you love technology, even the most adoring must admit to themselves that taking breaks from technology is absolutely necessary to avoid burnout. In fact, science is beginning to reveal that too much technology can hurt our mental and physical health. In 2015, make an effort to take mini tech breaks by leaving your phone at your desk during lunch, taking tech-free walks and hikes, and by not always sleeping with your phone next your bed. When running errands, going to events, or even traveling, occasionally leave the phone or tablet at home and live in the present moment by interacting with the human beings and natural world around you.