In my last blog, I talked about the factors that need to be considered to effectively and credibly create a year-end campaign goal – the ones that I ignored that got me fired from my first, big fundraising job. Now that you’ve learned from my mistakes, you’re probably looking at your year-end campaign goal and asking, “What can put me over the top?”
There are many answers to that question, but I believe we should concentrate on the one that has the best chance of success – and expand the number of front-line fundraisers at your nonprofit with committed volunteers.
There is probably no more exciting or misunderstood of opportunity for nonprofits to raise money during the holiday season than GivingTuesday. Right now, it’s arguably the one day on the calendar where local and national media outlets, civic leaders, funders and philanthropists are all promoting giving, but what makes it successful – and raises money?
GivingTuesday becomes a source of new dollars and donors not by the number of people who give to your organization, but the number of people who are sharing your content with their social networks and asking them to give – Ambassadors you recruit from your board, staff, and volunteers.
To create a successful GivingTuesday Ambassador strategy, it must be integrated into your existing calendar year-end campaign activities, including the relevant, mission-driven content you will create this month that can be shared. To help those nonprofits who have the passion to do-it-all but the budget for do-it-yourself, it’s time to get started.
Nonprofits have been using social media, with varying degrees of success, for quite some time as a communication and fundraising tool. The bad news, nonprofits are not universally seeing a direct return on their social media investment. The good news, though, all of this trial and error, a body of social media best practices have emerged – and tapping into the social networks of your organization’s stakeholders to promote and advocate for your mission and programs is one of them.
So, what exactly is a #GivingTuesday Ambassador?
- Any stakeholder (internally or externally) that is passionate about your organization and your mission.
- Someone who is willing to share information about your organization and spread the word through their social media network.
- And further, someone who is willing to ask members of their network to support your organization (read: make donations).
How do I go about recruiting and training these Ambassadors?
Your social media objectives should break down into two categories – hard (financial) and soft (non-financial). Before starting an ambassador program set hard targets related to how much money you’d like to raise through social media. Determine a variety of revenue goals. Maybe your goal is to get broad support from your current donor base (i.e. secure gifts from 400 donors). Or diversify your donor base (i.e. secure gifts from 100 new donors). Or maybe your goal is to engage people who attended your annual event (i.e. secure gifts from the people that attended last month’s auction).
Your Ambassador search should start with the people who know your organization best and will commit – your staff, board and volunteers, people who:
- Can tell your organization’s story from personal experience.
- Believe in the mission of your organization and have a desire to make it better.
- Have social networks of people who will listen and interact with them.
After building a base of Ambassadors inside your organization, look for support externally. This can be slightly more labor-intensive, as outsiders will require additional work in terms of recruitment and vetting. You will have to take a little extra care in making sure that your external Ambassadors are a good reflection of your organization. When identifying candidates make sure they are:
- Connected and have a network and/or following that has the potential to support your organization
- Relevant and have some connection to your organization, your mission, or the people that you serve.
- Credible and have some authority related to your mission or a true authentic passion for what your organization is doing.
Once you’ve built a pool of potential ambassadors, start to narrow down the list to a few individuals who best match your needs and values. Selecting Ambassadors requires careful consideration:
- How large is the person’s existing network of followers, what’s their reach?
- Does it align with your target market of donors and your values as an organization?
- Does this individual’s viewpoint reflect your organization’s brand? Is their voice complementary to yours?
Set Up Communication
An Ambassador strategy isn’t just about finding people and hoping they’ll help. You must communicate and manage them for as long as you want them to represent your organization. This can be as easy as establishing an email list or Facebook group. Communicate regularly and share updates about your organization. Keep them in the loop and keep them excited about your organization and your mission.
Provide Tools & Training
Ambassadors will only be successful if you ensure they are confident. Provide your Ambassadors with talking points, sample posts (tailored to Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter), logos, and links to your marketing collateral and website. Logos should be optimized for social media, and sized correctly.
With the above in mind, proceed with caution – and with as much time as possible. To make the ambassador strategy work, you need to be prepared to accommodate volunteer schedules – and communicate on evenings and weekends. A more phase-one alternative is to begin this year by just asking staff to serve as ambassadors.
In either case, the best strategy to level up your year-end campaign game plan is to expand the number of people sharing your content – and ask people within their networks to make a gift.