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Making The Most of Digital Marketing Tools: 5 Quick Tips

Marketing is a critical part of running a successful nonprofit. Whether you’re planning an exciting new campaign, improving your volunteer program, or hearing from beneficiaries about how your services have improved their lives, you want to get the word out to your community. Doing so helps demonstrate why your work is important and encourages your supporters to take action.

There are many digital marketing tools out there that can help you spread your messages far and wide. But using them efficiently and strategically can be tricky, especially if you’re spread thin running other parts of your nonprofit’s operations. 

That’s where this mini guide comes in. We’ll walk through five quick tips to help you make the most of your digital marketing tools. As you dive in, remember that you don’t have to be a coding genius or expert online marketer to get the most out of your tools. All you need is good ideas, and many digital tools can do the rest. Let’s begin!

1. Optimize your nonprofit’s website.  

As your organization’s internet outpost, your website is an essential part of your digital marketing strategy. Think of it like a storefront, where internet passersby can stop in to learn about your mission and take actions like donating or signing up for an event. Like a well-decorated store window, a well-designed and functional website draws visitors in. 

So, how can you optimize your website and ensure that it’s the best “storefront” for your mission that it can be? Follow these best practices: 

  • Ensure navigation is streamlined and intuitive. Create a menu that showcases your most important pages, and place call-to-action buttons in prominent places throughout the website to help direct visitors to your action pages. 
  • Check for and resolve any accessibility issues. When your website is accessible, people of all abilities can use it. Familiarize yourself with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) and check for any glaring issues using Google Lighthouse. Some issues, like images needing alt text, can be easily resolved, while others may require the help of a web developer. 
  • Improve your online donation form. In addition to being a marketing tool, your website can also be an excellent digital fundraising tool. Spend time improving your donation form. Brand it with your logo, color scheme, and other brand elements, and ensure it’s quick and easy for donors to use. 
  • Automate matching gifts. To further streamline the online donation process, consider embedding a matching gift database on your donation form. Matching gifts are a form of corporate philanthropy that allows donors to give more without reaching back into their wallets, as their employers financially match their contributions. A database empowers donors to see whether their employer offers gift matching and kickstart the process. 

Even minor details can affect how well your website markets your mission. Before pushing any updates live, ask a staff member or trusted volunteer to test your changes and provide feedback on their experience. Getting another pair of critical eyes on your website will help you see additional areas that could be improved. 

2. Maintain consistent branding across platforms.  

The best digital marketing strategies ensure that your organization stays on your supporter’s minds. What’s the secret sauce you need to make this happen? It’s a simple recipe: An effective branding strategy. 

Successful branding means that your supporters will recognize your work no matter where they see it. For instance, they might see your logo on a social media post about an upcoming fundraiser or receive an email that talks about your specific approach to your cause. In both of these cases, they’ll know that these messages come from your organization. 

Keeping your branding consistent across platforms is essential. Not only does this unify all of your marketing efforts, but it also builds brand recognition. When your brand is out there for the world to see, it becomes more and more familiar to your community, as does your mission and your needs. 

There are two types of branding you’ll want to make sure stay consistent across all your digital marketing efforts: 

  • Visual branding: This is probably what you initially think of when you hear the term branding. It encompasses your logo, color scheme, typography, and graphic design style. 
  • Messaging: Your brand extends beyond colors and font choices. Your organization has a certain way of talking about its mission, and a certain tone or voice that is unique to you. This impacts the words you choose to describe your work, the punctuation you select for your sentences, and more. 

There are additional benefits to keeping your brand consistent everywhere you use it. First, the consistency makes your organization look more professional. Second, it also helps you build trust with your community. When they see your nonprofit’s branding, they’ll recognize messages that come from your organization and feel confident in taking the actions you ask them to, whether that’s donating or sharing a blog post with a friend. 

3. Leverage the Google Ad Grant.  

Have you ever Googled something and seen an ad above the typical list of search results? They typically look like this: 

Google search screen for wildlife conservation and ad result for Defenders of Wildlife

These are pay-per-click (PPC) search ads, where organizations post an ad on Google and pay a fee each time the ad is clicked. This type of digital marketing is effective, too. On average, organizations see a 200% return on investment (ROI) with PPC ads.   

The good news is that for nonprofits, this advertising opportunity is free through the Google Ad Grant program. Google offers qualifying organizations $10,000 in monthly ad credits to spend on making their own Google ads. And, as long as you maintain your account, you can automatically renew the grant each month. 

Follow these steps to get started with the Ad Grant: 

  • Sign up for Google for Nonprofits: This will involve providing your tax ID number, contact information, and other organizational details. You’ll also need to register with Percent, Google’s technology partner. 
  • Install Google Analytics on your website: With this free tool, you can track conversions that take place on your website’s important action pages, like your donation page or events registration page. 
  • Submit your website for review: You’ll wait for the Google Ad Grants team to give your website their approval. Then you can create your Ads account, which you’ll also need to get approved. 

Once you’re up and running with a Google Ads account and your credits, you can start creating your ad campaigns and running ads for keywords that are important to your mission. 

Keep in mind that managing this entire process can quickly become quite complicated. You’ll need to conduct keyword research, create ads, track your ads’ performance, optimize your action pages, and stay compliant with Google’s program policies. 

Because of this, Cornershop Creative recommends hiring a Google Ad Grants expert to manage this marketing channel. The right agency can help you fully utilize your monthly Google Ads budget and stay up to date with Google Ads best practices. Since you can create ads for free thanks to the grant, consider using some of your marketing budget for hiring an Ad Grants professional. 

4. Use AI wisely. 

The rise of new artificial intelligence (AI) tools over the last few years has been an exciting development in the world of digital marketing. With generative AI tools like ChatGPT, you can input a short prompt and quickly create text and images. 

Using AI in this way may sound like a great shortcut for creating content for your marketing efforts. However, it’s important to remember that relying on AI to do all of your content creation work for you is not the best move. Here are two big reasons why: 

  1. Relying on AI to produce a perfect product will usually just lead to more work. While platforms like ChatGPT have many promising capabilities, they’re not perfect and their responses typically require extensive editing to get right. 
  2. AI lacks the nuanced understanding, creativity, and empathy that humans have. If you want content that truly resonates with your audience, you’ll need to be involved in creating it. 

That being said, there is still a place for AI in nonprofit marketing work! You just know how to use it wisely. Here are a few things that you can use AI for:  

  • Brainstorming ideas
  • Outlining content and content calendars
  • Creating a first draft of website, email, or social media copy 
  • Sourcing data and statistics (Just be sure to double-check the information on your own!)
  • Generating ideas for visuals 

The next time you sit down to write a social media post or the copy for a web page, try thinking of generative AI as your personal writing assistant. Ask it to help you rewrite sentences to be stronger and more engaging, or to give you ideas for eye-catching headlines and images. This way, you’ll maintain your organization’s brand voice but also speed up the content creation process. 

5. Prioritize building relationships with supporters. 

No matter the specific channels or tools you use for digital marketing, your primary goal should always be to strengthen your connections with your supporters. 

The challenge lies in standing out from the crowd. Your nonprofit isn’t the only organization trying to take advantage of the wealth of opportunities offered by digital marketing. While your cause and your unique approach to your mission give you a leg up, you’ll need to do a little more to catch your audience’s eye and capture their hearts. 

Try these best practices: 

  • Segment your audience. Segmentation is the process of grouping your audience members by their shared characteristics and interests. For example, young donors and older donors likely have different motivations for contributing to your cause, as well as different interests and perspectives. Recognizing this and creating different marketing materials for both groups will help you better connect with both of them. 
  • Personalize your communications. Instead of addressing your donors with a generic greeting like “Dear Valued Donor,” be sure to use their actual name (or preferred name!). Doing so immediately makes the message feel more personal and special.  
  • Share the impact your supporters are having on your cause. Knowing that they’re making a real difference motivates supporters to keep giving. You can demonstrate impact in several ways, from sharing your annual report on your website and spotlighting volunteer work on your social media profiles to writing a blog post that calls out specific examples of recent advocacy work your supporters have engaged in. 
  • Interact with them on social mediaSocial media is a great place for posting quick updates and sharing things like photos and videos related to your mission. However, avoid posting and ghosting—in other words, don’t just post on your profile and walk away! Make sure to read and respond to comments and direct messages. This will help supporters feel like your organization cares and know their voices are heard. 
  • Express sincere appreciation. Your supporters are the backbone of your nonprofit, so they deserve some thanks. Stand out from other nonprofits by sending thank-you notes as quickly as possible. Using email marketing platforms or eCard tools, you can even automate these messages so they arrive right after a donor submits a donation. But don’t forget to take things a step further and send a personalized thank-you note later! 

Whether you’re cultivating new prospective donors or hoping to maintain relationships with existing volunteers, relationship-building should be a priority as you engage in digital marketing. Do your best to remind supporters why they should stay engaged with your organization by letting them know you care about them and appreciate their support. 

Making the most of your nonprofit’s digital marketing tools can be challenging, especially when you have other priorities to juggle. Use the tips in this guide to refine your current marketing strategy, and remember that you can always reach out to a skilled professional, like a nonprofit web designer, for extra help when your marketing efforts need a boost. 

Author: De’Yonté’s a late-80s baby who found his passion for web design and development during MySpace’s heyday, when he helped his friends create awesome profiles. He’s spent the last three years specializing in WordPress and conversion optimization, and is an active proponent of coding guidelines. In his off time he enjoys cooking, Rugby, and hanging out with his wife.

A Guide to Social Media Marketing for Nonprofits: 6 Tips

Between January 2023 and January 2024, the number of social media users worldwide increased by 320 million people. As social media becomes increasingly more saturated, brands, influencers, and nonprofit organizations are constantly competing for people’s attention on platforms like Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, LinkedIn, and Twitter.

That’s why it’s crucial for nonprofits to develop comprehensive social media marketing strategies that drive their goals forward and help them reach current and prospective supporters. With a dedicated plan, you can create impactful social media content that resonates with your audience and inspires them to take action.

In this guide, we’ll present tips for how your nonprofit can develop a comprehensive social media strategy. Along the way, keep your organization’s unique mission and audience in mind so you can successfully adapt this approach to your own nonprofit.

1. Determine your goals.

As with any new marketing initiative, start by determining the goals for your campaign. These goals should align with your overall marketing and organizational strategy and will guide the focus of your content. 

Common nonprofit social media marketing goals include:

  • Raising awareness
  • Increasing donations
  • Recruiting volunteers
  • Promoting events
  • Showcasing impact
  • Driving newsletter sign-ups

Additionally, take note of any new offerings or programs you’d like to highlight within these broader objectives. For example, an environmental conservation organization running a social media campaign to increase donations may promote their new donor-advised funds (DAF) giving option.

2. Gather audience insights.

Next, research your audience so you can create tailored content that resonates with them on the platforms they prefer. Start by consulting your database for any relevant information you’ve collected from your supporters in the past, such as their names, ages, and contact information.

While you can survey your audience to obtain additional information, you can more efficiently gather insights about your supporters through data enrichment. Data enrichment refers to the process of supplementing your database with third-party information that allows you to dig deeper into supporter interests, behaviors, and preferences.

By enriching your database, you can fuel your social media marketing efforts with additional supporter information, such as:

  • Demographics
  • Education
  • Marital status
  • Income
  • Net worth
  • Nonprofit engagement history
  • Lifestyle information

Before you add this new information to your database, ensure your existing data is clean and organized. Implement data hygiene procedures, such as standardizing data entry and consolidating duplicate entries, so you can easily identify useful information for your campaign.

3. Segment your audience.

Once you have a better understanding of your audience, personalize your campaigns by grouping supporters into relevant segments. You may choose to segment your audience by:

  • Demographics, such as age or location
  • Engagement history, such as whether they’re donors, volunteers, event attendees, or newsletter subscribers
  • Lifecycle stage, such as prospects, new supporters, long-term supporters, and lapsed supporters
  • Interest areas within your nonprofit’s broader mission

For example, a hunger relief organization like Feeding America may group supporters based on whether they’re interested in supporting their food access, food rescue, disaster response, or hunger research efforts and create content that resonates with each group. Alternatively, you may segment your audience by age, reaching older audiences on Facebook and younger supporters on TikTok.

4. Develop your content strategy.

Now, it’s time to create content that aligns with each audience segment. While it’s important to cater your content types and messaging to each platform and segment, you’ll also want your posts to remain cohesive throughout your social media accounts.

Follow these tips to keep your content consistent:

  • Coordinate your posting schedules. Double the Donation’s digital marketing guide recommends implementing a regular posting schedule so your followers know when to expect your content and can be ready to engage. Make sure you post similar content on different platforms around the same time so users can access it no matter which channels they use.
  • Use branded templates. For infographics and announcement posts, create branded templates with dimensions that fit the post sizes for each platform. Incorporate your brand colors, fonts, logo placement, and visual style to keep your content cohesive across social media platforms.
  • Develop a style guide. In addition to your visual content, your messaging should also remain consistent. Work with your team to nail down your brand’s specific voice, tone, and language preferences and share them with everyone involved in your organization’s marketing efforts.

Remember to keep your social media presence fresh and interesting by incorporating various content types like photos, videos, infographics, case studies, and user-generated content.

5. Integrate your marketing channels.

Social media isn’t the only marketing tool you’ll use in your broader marketing strategy. Your social media platforms should also work in tandem with your other marketing channels for a more consistent user experience and better cross-channel engagement.

Explore how you can integrate your social media accounts with your:

  • Website. For instance, you may embed your social media feeds on your website, use social media to drive website traffic, or leverage analytics from both channels to inform your approach on the other. 
  • Email marketing platform. Check to see if the platform you use allows you to sync contacts with your social media accounts so you can reach email subscribers via social media.
  • Online fundraising campaigns. Try adding the link to your online fundraising campaign in your social media account bios and directing those who contribute to your campaign to follow your social media accounts.

When you integrate your social media with your other marketing channels, you can ensure a cohesive experience for your supporters and increase engagement by allowing them to seamlessly hop from one channel to the next.

6. Assess your approach.

Determine your social media strategy’s effectiveness by tracking relevant key performance indicators (KPIs). Deep Sync’s first-party data guide explains that the following social media metrics can help you better understand your supporters’ preferences:

  • Likes
  • Shares
  • Comments
  • Post clicks

Use this data to determine which content resonates most with your audience and where you can alter your approach. Additionally, you may analyze the content of the comments you receive for deeper insights into your supporters’ thoughts about your posts and your organization as a whole.

Competing for your supporters’ attention online is no easy task. With a comprehensive social media marketing strategy, you can better catch your audience’s interest and engage them through cohesive, informative content. That way, you’ll remind them of why they support your cause in the first place and encourage them to continue their involvement long-term.

Author: Gabrielle Perham, MBA

Gabrielle is the Director of Marketing & Sales Operations for Deep Sync. She joined the organization in 2017 and brings 20 years of experience in strategic marketing, branding, communications, sales enablement, and digital marketing. With a roll-up-your-sleeves-and-get-it-done attitude and a big-picture mindset, Gaby loves solving marketing and business challenges. She earned both a B.S. in Marketing and an M.B.A. in Marketing Management from the University of Tampa. Gaby enjoys spending time with her fiercely outspoken daughter; hiking and kayaking; rocking out in the first row of a live show; and giving back to her local community.

6 Creative Volunteer Engagement Ideas for Nonprofits

The title of the post next to a photo of volunteers packing canned goods.

Volunteers are critical to the success of your nonprofit’s events, campaigns, and other initiatives. However, effectively engaging and retaining volunteers is an ongoing challenge for charitable organizations. 

According to the Volunteer Management Progress Report, 32% of volunteer managers said recruitment was their organization’s greatest roadblock. If your organization is struggling with volunteer engagement, the key to revamping your efforts is to get creative. Changing up how you interact with volunteers can inspire supporters and inject energy into your program. 

This guide will explore these seven creative volunteer engagement ideas: 

  1. Interact with volunteers on social media.
  2. Offer a reward for volunteer of the month.
  3. Inspire friendly competition with gamification.
  4. Give your volunteer opportunities a fun theme.
  5. Encourage volunteers to bring along family and friends.
  6. Help volunteers cultivate new skills. 
  7. Create appreciation videos. 

Engaging with volunteers in unique and meaningful ways starts with having the right software solutions on your side to keep your stewardship efforts organized. Bloomerang recommends investing in nonprofit software that allows you to view and manage all constituent data in one place, whether volunteers, donors, or other supporters. This can make it easier to track volunteer interactions and leverage data to personalize volunteer outreach as you try out these ideas.

1. Interact with volunteers on social media.

Social media is more than just a tool for accumulating followers. It’s also a great place to show off your volunteers’ achievements, update them on upcoming events, and express appreciation.

Level up your social media interactions by taking these steps: 

  • Post volunteer shoutouts. Highlight successful volunteer projects or specific volunteers who went above and beyond during a recent opportunity. 
  • Share photos from events. Take candid photos during volunteer events and tag volunteers in them on social media with their permission. 
  • Let volunteers do an account takeover. Account takeovers are a popular way to provide a behind-the-scenes look at your nonprofit’s work. Give a long-time, trusted volunteer access to your Instagram account for a day to share videos and photos on your story of them participating in volunteer activities. 
  • Interact with volunteers’ posts in support of your nonprofit. For example, let’s say a volunteer shares a link to your online donation page in a Facebook post. Show your appreciation by liking the post and commenting to thank them for their support. 

Social media is also a useful communication method for sharing important information with your entire volunteer base. You can post timely updates about volunteer event logistics, cancellations, open shifts, and other urgent matters. This gives volunteers a convenient way to stay informed about updates relevant to their involvement. 

2. Offer a reward for volunteer of the month.

Acknowledging and rewarding your volunteers is critical for keeping them engaged and motivated. Your volunteers donate many hours to your cause, so it’s necessary to recognize their dedication and positive impact on your organization. 

To reward volunteers who make a sizable impact on your mission, consider offering a volunteer of the month program. Choose one volunteer per month who went above and beyond the call of duty, whether by helping find new donor prospects for a major campaign or taking on a major project by themselves. 

Make the designation extra-special by offering winners a prize or award. Examples of rewards can be:

  • A gift card to a local business or restaurant
  • Free merchandise, such as a branded t-shirt or hat
  • A trophy or certificate to serve as a symbol of your appreciation

If you have a smaller budget, even a simple gesture of gratitude like a handwritten note can go a long way toward making volunteers feel appreciated. 

3. Inspire friendly competition with gamification.

Gamification involves adding game mechanics to non-gaming environments using elements such as points, leaderboards, and badges. This concept can be used to motivate and engage your volunteers in a fun way.

To get started with gamification, use your volunteer management tools to keep track of each volunteer’s progress. For instance, you might track volunteers’ total hours or how many peer-to-peer donations volunteers raised. Then, incorporate gamification into your volunteer tracking system to inspire a little friendly competition.

Award volunteers with badges or points once they hit certain milestones, such as a specific number of hours worked or donations raised. Then, they can continue earning points until they hit a certain benchmark, at which point they can receive a prize.

4. Give your volunteer opportunities a fun theme.

Giving your volunteer events a theme turns a routine volunteer opportunity into an exciting, fun experience. 

For example, if you’re hosting a canned food drive around Halloween, consider making it more than just a canned food drive—make it a spooky canned food drive! Or, if you’re holding a volunteer and donor appreciation event, you could give it a groovy 60’s theme. 

Themed events make it easier for your volunteers to socialize with others, making their volunteering experience less work-intensive and more fun.

Making your volunteer and fundraising opportunities themed also helps market them to community members. You can catch the attention of anyone who passes by, offering a great opportunity to talk about your event and volunteer program. This can encourage community members to donate to your cause or even sign up to volunteer at a future opportunity. 

5. Encourage volunteers to bring along family and friends.

Volunteers will feel much more comfortable participating in your events when they can bring along a friend or family member. Encouraging volunteers to bring a loved one also promotes awareness of your program to a wider audience.

Be sure to offer a fulfilling, memorable experience that encourages current volunteers to promote your program via word-of-mouth marketing. Use the tips in this guide to create fun events with themes, gamification, and recognition opportunities. Volunteers will feel more inclined to invite their loved ones when they’ve already had an amazing experience.

When volunteers do bring their friends, collect the names and contact information of volunteers’ loved ones to add to your volunteer database. This makes future follow-up easier and allows you to grow your volunteer pool organically. 

6. Help volunteers cultivate new skills. 

Every volunteer offers a unique set of skills and strengths. By providing training opportunities, you can enhance their skill set and cultivate skilled volunteers. 

Help volunteers earn new skills through:

  • eLearning. Create digital modules for volunteers to complete at their own pace. The courses should be relevant to your volunteer activities. For example, if volunteers at your organization help maintain your community garden, your courses could be centered around gardening best practices. Offer certificates for completing online courses and spotlight volunteers who completed this training using your social media or email newsletter to recognize their achievements. 
  • Leadership opportunities. Long-time or experienced volunteers may want ways to level up their involvement. Offering them leadership opportunities is the perfect way to recognize their commitment and allow them to become even more involved in your mission. Train them to lead volunteer events by themselves or onboard new volunteers. 
  • Mentoring program. Match experienced volunteers with new supporters to help inexperienced volunteers learn the ropes. This is also an effective way to foster personal connections among volunteers, creating a stronger volunteer community. 

Provide support for each of these opportunities as needed, whether through technical support or troubleshooting, answering questions, or facilitating connections between mentors and mentees. 

7. Create appreciation videos. 

An appreciation video is a memorable recognition tool that will stand out in supporters’ email inboxes and social media feeds. Your videos can include thank-you messages directly from those involved in your nonprofit’s mission, such as: 

  • Staff members
  • Beneficiaries
  • Volunteer leaders

Include interviews, video clips from volunteer events, and direct quotes to demonstrate volunteers’ impact. 

After posting an appreciation video, make sure to track video data, such as how long supporters watch your videos or how many supporters click on videos within your emails, to improve your strategy. For example, if you discover that most supporters stop watching your videos after a minute and a half, you can shorten your videos to that standard length. 

After reviewing these creative engagement ideas, consider which strategies will work best for your volunteer program based on your volunteers’ preferences and your current resources. Don’t be afraid to test different approaches to see what works and what doesn’t. The more creative and flexible your approach, the more your program will stand out to volunteers and provide them with an enjoyable, satisfying experience. 

Author: Joshua Meyer brings more than 20 years of fundraising, volunteer management, and marketing experience to his current role as the VP of Demand Generation for Bloomerang. As a member of the Bloomerang marketing team, Josh manages the organization’s growth marketing efforts. Through his previous roles at the Human Rights Campaign and OneCause, he has a passion for helping to create positive change and helping nonprofits engage new donors and achieve their fundraising goals.

Socially Savvy: The Art of Engaging Members on Social Media

The wide reach of social media empowers organizations to cultivate new prospects and engage current members. However, to access a broadened audience and prompt their engagement associations must employ socially savvy strategies on the right platforms. 

To develop a successful association member engagement approach, you’ll need to master the art of posting, sharing, and commenting. That’s why we’ve compiled this list of social media engagement tips! 

Before we jump into these recommended techniques, let’s explore how your members are currently using social media.

Social media engagement trends

Of the 5 billion social media users in the world, most users engage on Facebook. This platform is the world’s most widely used social media platform, followed by YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok. Here’s how they use those platforms:

  • Viewing content: TikTok users spend over half their time on the app watching videos that are 1 minute or longer, indicating that long-form video is making a comeback.
  • Making donations: Social media is a popular platform for soliciting donations since 32% of donors are inspired to give via these platforms.
  • Screening advertisements: 34% of social media users say that self-promotion is a turn-off, and 56% say brands should be more relatable on social media. This means your organization should be careful to share its brand and mission in a non-promotional way.

In other words, your association’s social media usage should include reasonable asks and authentic, educational content in the right formats. 

How to engage members on social media

What are some practical ways your association can tap into these trends and start engaging members on social channels? Here are a few strategies for acting on these insights.

Post polls and surveys

Social media’s main advantage is its interactivity. NPOInfo notes that social media differs from other marketing channels because it opens the door for two-way communication. Not only can followers like, comment on, and share your content, but your organization can do the same with theirs. 

A primary way to engage with members is by asking them directly for their responses. Share polls and surveys to encourage members to interact with your content. Some questions you might ask include:

  • How long have you been a member?
  • How many events do you usually attend per quarter?
  • How satisfied are you with your membership experience?
  • What additional benefits or services would you like to see offered to members?
  • Would you be interested in participating in member-led discussions on social media?

Along with asking questions that help you learn more about your members, you should also use their responses to identify the types of content that engage them best. For example, a Facebook poll might receive more engagement than a survey posted on your association’s Instagram story. 

Engagement levels can vary depending on factors outside of your content, such as the demographics of a platform’s audience or the ease of participation in your surveys. Remember to consider these external factors when analyzing member engagement for a holistic view of your social media performance. 

Share visually appealing content

High-quality content is more likely to capture members’ attention and heighten their engagement. Visually appealing graphics, compelling videos, and other eye-catching visuals will stand out in your followers’ feeds.

Use graphic design best practices to engage members when posting about:

  • Events and campaigns: Use your brand colors and fonts to create compelling content about upcoming events and campaigns. To streamline this process, Protech recommends using association management software (AMS) to launch digital fundraising campaigns and promote them on social media. 
  • Industry news: Share quick facts and statistics about your organization’s vertical. For example, an association in the healthcare industry might share an update about a recent advancement in medical technology. These posts could include efficiency metrics, patient outcomes, and clinical trial results that highlight eye-catching statistics. 
  • Educational content: Create quick tips, best practices, tutorials, and other educational content related to your organization’s mission. 

To foster cohesiveness on your social media pages and bolster your organization’s online presence, create post templates for various channels. This way, you’ll have predesigned posts that convey professionalism.

Create private member groups

Members will be more inclined to engage with your content when they feel invested in your organization. For example, meaningful recognition, such as sending a thank you letter or gift, is a vital component of relationship-building because it shows members that they’re a valued part of your organization.

In the same way, attaching a sense of exclusivity to your social media communications can help members feel uniquely valued by your association. Certain platforms provide the tools needed to do this, such as private Facebook groups. 

Strengthen your community of members by creating private groups where they can receive exclusive information, such as:

  • Insider updates: Share special updates and sneak peeks that are only accessible in your private group. For example, you might announce a new program or member benefits before they’re communicated publicly.
  • Member discounts: Offer discounts and promotions from sponsors with only the private group. This might include discounts on products, services, or event registrations. 
  • Expert resources: Research reports, whitepapers, and other expert resources can help members advance their knowledge of industry-specific topics. 

Overall, your association should follow communication best practices when sending content in private member groups. For example, if your group consists of members who have reached a certain membership tier based on their heightened financial commitment to your organization, send messages that resonate with that specific audience.

An intuitive AMS can streamline your association’s membership management, making it easier to gather and store valuable member data for personalized communication. Invest in a Salesforce-native platform to integrate your existing CRM tools and access even more communication features. 

As you develop your social media strategy, remember that this method of engagement is ongoing. You’ll need to post regularly and continually evaluate relevant metrics to determine how successful your efforts are. This way, you can adjust your approach as necessary to share the most engaging content possible.

Author: Erin Lemons

Erin Lemons joins Togetherwork Association Solutions with over 15 years serving as a marketing director, event producer, and project manager creating robust marketing campaigns and initiatives that focus on the growing and ever-changing technology needs of the association industry. She leads the marketing teams and strategy at Fonteva and Protech.

How to Run an Auction for Your Performing Arts Nonprofit

The title of the article over an illustration of a guitar and a treble clef

Running a successful auction for your performing arts nonprofit is a multifaceted endeavor, requiring meticulous planning and strategic execution. Whether your event is virtual, in-person, or a blend of both, the right tools and approach can turn your event into a memorable and profitable experience. 

Start planning for your auction several months in advance, and be sure to document planning setbacks, discoveries, and opportunities. With this insight, you can create an action plan for running your most successful auction yet. Now, let’s dive into our top tips for hosting a performing arts auction.

Zero in on your audience.

As you start the planning process for your silent auction, it’s crucial to spend time getting to know your audience. After all, the amount of revenue you raise will depend on how much guests want to bid on your items—make sure you know what they want! 

Research your target audience’s interests, preferences, and past engagement data to tailor your event and offerings accordingly. Explore the information in your donor or member database, and revisit feedback surveys from past events to see what strategies were most successful at engaging your guests. Consider questions such as:

  • Which auction items were the most popular at past events?
  • What items or experiences appeal to our audience?
  • How can we enhance engagement during the event?
  • Are there any recurring trends among past attendees?
  • What marketing strategies effectively reach our target demographic?
  • Are there any auction themes that would particularly interest our audience?
  • What price range is reasonable for our audience?
  • Who is likely to attend? Parents, families, or working professionals?

Use the answers to these questions as an informed jumping-off point for your auction planning process. Don’t underestimate an empathetic approach—it will undoubtedly strengthen relationships and maximize your auction’s fundraising potential.

Reach out to local businesses. 

When you’re ready to solicit auction items for your event, start by asking local businesses to donate. Collaborating with local businesses can significantly enhance your auction catalog and help you cultivate lasting relationships. Follow these steps for successful partnerships:

  1. Research businesses before approaching them. Get familiar with each business’s services, giving history, and philanthropic values. 
  2. Reach out to medium and low-priority sponsors first. Your procurement team will get better at making your pitch to sponsors with more experience. Starting small will allow them to refine their presentation in lower-stress situations. 
  3. Present multiple support options. Present a variety of sponsorship options to accommodate different budgetary constraints. For example, some businesses may only be able to donate a gift card to their store while others can provide catering services for your entire event.
  4. Encourage businesses to attend the event. If they can’t donate or support financially, extend an invitation. Their presence adds to the guest list of potential bidders and strengthens your nonprofit’s relationship with the business. 
  5. Highlight the benefits of sponsorship. 360MatchPro’s guide to corporate philanthropy explains that businesses that sponsor nonprofits can see increases in employee engagement, their reputation in their community, and their overall work environment. Call out these benefits to attain more sponsors.

Remember that even if you don’t secure auction items from a business, the effort is still worthwhile. Just by reaching out, you’ll begin a relationship with them and open the door for future support.

Invest in necessary software.

In today’s landscape, utilizing the right software is essential for streamlining auction management and enhancing the participant experience. Whether you’re hosting an in-person, hybrid, or virtual auction, consider investing in these tech tools to host a better event:

  • Auction software. Many auction platforms include features to create online item catalogs, facilitate remote bidding, and improve event communication, all of which help you provide more engagement opportunities for your guests.
  • Mobile bidding apps. Some silent auction apps have mobile bidding features that allow guests to bid from anywhere using their phones. Bidding with the tap of a button instead of fighting with paper bid sheets saves time and frustration for both attendees and your team. 
  • A CRM. Auctions generate a lot of donor data, such as event attendance and donations made, which can be leveraged for future fundraising campaigns. Make sure you have a database ready to store this important information.
  • Text-to-give tools. These tools allow guests to donate just by texting. Promote your text-to-give number through announcements, displays at the venue, and online marketing. Plus, seeing others pull out their phones to give will encourage a little giving peer pressure. 

Make sure to train your staff and volunteers on how to effectively use your software solutions. By providing them with thorough training, your staff will be more confident, you’ll get the most bang for your buck, and your events will be that much better. This will also showcase your staff’s proficiency and enhance their credibility as auctioneers, ultimately leading to increased guest satisfaction and future fundraising opportunities.

Market your auction.

Once you have the auction items and technology covered, you can start planning your marketing strategy. Promote your event across multiple channels to establish a variety of touchpoints, and leverage data to better target your audience

For instance, you might analyze the communication preference data in your CRM and see that many past attendees like to hear from your nonprofit on social media. With this insight, you could create promotional posts on multiple social media outlets to spread the word about your auction.

As you promote your auction and highlight high-value items, make sure to maintain a consistent brand identity so your organization is easily recognized. Additionally, consider using your nonprofit’s network of business connections to help promote your event. When you post on social, tag or collaborate with the business that provided the item to increase your reach.

Highlight your nonprofit’s mission throughout the auction.

Auctions are exciting events, and guests can get so caught up in bidding on items that your mission falls by the wayside. Make sure to tie your mission into different parts of the event to make a lasting impression on guests. For instance, you might: 

  • Share blog articles, emails, and social media posts that talk about your mission. 
  • Make announcements or speeches periodically about your upcoming initiatives.
  • Create displays for the event that talk about your nonprofit’s history and mission.
  • Host cause-relevant activities during the event, such as a meet-and-greet with your founder. 
  • Invite a volunteer, board member, or beneficiary to speak about your nonprofit’s impact on their life.

By emphasizing your mission throughout the event, guests may be moved to give more. Plus, after your events, guests will likely spread the word about your mission and not just the items they won. 

Follow up with guests and sponsors afterward.

Remember, your auction isn’t just a fundraiser—it’s also an opportunity to help build connections and create relationships with long-standing supporters. To cement these new connections, don’t forget to follow up and thank them for attending after the auction ends.

We suggest including the following in your follow-up messages:

  • A sincere thank you. For most supporters, thank-you letters, cards, and phone calls feel more personal than a thank-you email. Go the extra mile to show your appreciation, especially for sponsors and notable donors. 
  • An impact statement. Share concrete data about what you accomplished with guests’  contributions. Provide the total amount raised, and share something your nonprofit was able to do with the auction’s proceeds. 
  • A personalized address. Personalize your follow-up messages by addressing each guest and sponsor by name and including relevant details about their contributions to your auction. 
  • A post-event survey. This will help your organization evaluate your success and plan for the next event. Try to keep it short and sweet, and include open-ended questions in addition to multiple choice so you get as much feedback as possible.

Think of your follow-up process as an investment in your nonprofit’s future. Guests and sponsors who had a positive experience are likely to return for upcoming fundraisers, especially if they receive an invitation in your follow-up messages.

Auctions are complex fundraisers, but they’re also highly impactful when you run them successfully. With the right team and resource investment tied with these guidelines, you can make your performing arts auction a smooth, memorable hit!

Author: Jeff Porter, CEO of Handbid
Jeff is no stranger to fundraising events, having participated in them for over 25 years. He ran his first fundraiser in 2005 and has managed over 50 auction events and fundraisers for his own charities, not to mention hundreds more with Handbid. Jeff has been involved in technical product and software development since 1996 and has built and managed mobile app solutions since 2008. When it became clear that he and his wife, Kari Porter, needed a better solution for their fundraisers, developing a mobile bidding app was a no-brainer. The result? Jeff and his wife Kari developed and launched Handbid in 2011. The rest is what they call “history”

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