That's where data from Google Analytics and Facebook play an important role.
In addition to filling in the gaps, data can also confirm findings from other research methods. You may even be surprised by some of the trends and behaviors that pop-up in your data.
If you’re only looking at pageviews, traffic growth, and Facebook Page Likes, you’re missing the full story.
We've all been there... looking at Google Analytics and Facebook reports can be overwhelming.
So much data! How do you know what matters?
This guide is here to help you get started sorting through what matters and how to use the data effectively.
By setting up just a few simple reports we can dig deep into data that will help you learn more about your donors, volunteers, members and other target audiences, so that your communications efforts can be more effective.
Use Segments To Compare Behavior and Find Trends
Google Analytics segments are a way to look at discrete user groups based on demographics, type of device, location, behavior and a lot more.
Why is this important?
Take a look at this example of our client’s data.
This data shows that over 865 conversions took place on their site from traffic that originated on Facebook.
In comparison, traffic that originated on Twitter converted just 12 times!
Clearly, their ideal audience is spending time on Facebook, not Twitter. This is critical information when making campaign decisions, right?
How do you use segments?
At the top of almost every report, you’ll see an area where you can add segments. Choose the ones you want to compare, then click apply.
Segments may be one of the most important features that you can use when doing research.
It's important to realize that this process is about looking for trends and anomalies. Not all reports are going to give you a nugget of information. But, keep digging and you can find incredible insights.
Take some time to explore the different segments that are available. You can also make custom segments.
Some other popular segments that Google Analytics provides out of the box are:
Pro Tip: Segment Traffic By Conversions
When researching your target users, you should be looking for users that have completed a transaction or taken an action on your website to engage with you.
This could be a donation, volunteer sign-up, newsletter sign-up, or any other action you want users to take on your site.
These are the people you want to target, right?
In Google Analytics these are referred to as "conversions."
When performing research, we use segment to learn trends and behaviors that are specific to your audience.
After segmenting by converting traffic, think about the following questions:
What external marketing channels do they come from?
How often do they come back to the website?
What pages do they land on?
What topics are they interested in?
What actions do they take before they convert?
Hacks to Find Donor and Volunteer Demographics
Now that you understand how to use segments, you can segment to learn a lot about your target audience.
Demographics are critical to getting your messaging and campaigns strategy correctly.
Compare the campaign strategy for communicating with a 60+ year old versus a 30 year old. Different channels. Different messages. Different asks.
Demographic information lays the bedrock for much of what we do in communications.
You may already have a pretty good grasp on your donor and volunteer demographics based on other research that you’ve done. But are you getting the full picture?
How do you know your intuition is accurate?
Use Facebook Audience Insights to Perform Donor Research
Facebook Insights is a little-known tool in Facebook that will provide all kinds of amazing information about people that like your Facebook page or have interests in your mission.
In addition to demographic information like age, marital status, and education, Facebook Audience Insights will tell you about their additional interests so you can start to put together a full picture of your personas.
It can also help you identify potential strategic partnerships.
Go to your Facebook Ads Manager. You can find the Audience Insights in the main menu under Plan.
Once on the page, add your page name into field “People Connected to” field.
This will bring up your audience information. In addition to age, gender, marital status and education level, you can find out location information and additional page likes.
We like to focus on additional Page Likes, as this can tell you a lot of additional information about their interests.
Use Google Analytics Demographics Information
Google Analytics has also developed an interface for analyzing demographic information of users visiting your website.
Some information, like location, has always been available.
However, more recently, Google has given us information on things like age, gender and interests.
Google does not have access to this data on all users, so it is not nearly as accurate as Facebook. Regardless, Google Analytics can be a nice compliment to that information.
Find this information under Audiences -> Overview.
How Should You Use Google Analytics Demographic Data?
Demographics are one of the foundations for understanding your users.
If you don’t understand your nonprofit “customer” (meaning donor, members, clients, etc.) then your marketing campaigns aren’t going to be successful.
Here are a few ways we’ve used this information to develop personas with clients:
Demographic data will help you create your almighty donor and client personas that underpin your marketing efforts.
Location data focuses your campaign approach. One of the advantages of digital marketing is that you can fish in a targeted area of the ocean, rather than casting a wide net to see where you might find fish.
Location data allows you to identify new locations where you might expand your marketing efforts and find new constituents. It also allows you to see how campaigns in particular locations might be lifting your overall performance (think radio PSA, billboard, newspaper ad or article).
Don't forget that all of this is in context of your work.
Perhaps you're wondering if your target audience is urban or rural.
Perhaps you're interested in knowing what regions you need to target for an acquisition campaign.
What are some creative ways you can use this data in your marketing efforts?
Using Event Tracking To Understand Behavior
Google Analytics events are ways to track behavior on your site that may not be business critical, but do show user engagement or behavior trends.
In particular, it can help you understand how users are engaging with content topics and how users are using your user interface.
Here are some common events that we setup on client sites:
Page Scroll Tracking. Using a tool like Google Tag Manager you can setup events to fire based on how far down the page users scroll.
This can help you learn more about how users are navigating your landing page, or you can use this to find out which blog posts are getting the most engagement. This could help you adjust content strategy and the topics of your content.
Video Watching. Events can also be fired when users what a video. This would give you insights into which videos are most popular, and the topics that resonate most with your users.
Track UI calls to action. For example, let’s say that you have a banner image on your homepage with a button that has a main call to action.
You can track the number of times that users click on that button versus using the main navigation to get to a location on your site. You could do the same thing for sidebar call to action buttons, etc. Again, these are not main conversions, but it would inform you how users are navigating your site.
Using Traffic Channel Analysis to Research Your Target Audience
How is traffic coming to your website? More importantly, which traffic is most engaged and converting on your website?
You can see an overview of traffic by channel under Acquisition -> Overview in Google Analytics.
Use Traffic Channel Segments to Dig Deeper
Instead of using the overview report, I prefer to use segments and compare behaviors.
Some questions that are helpful to ask yourself:
Which channels drive the most conversions?
Which channels drive the most engagement with content?
Does a particular channel drive most of the conversions for one goal? Meaning do volunteer sign-ups come from Twitter, but donations come from Facebook? If so, this can lead to two distinct personas.
Are there clear demographic patterns based on channel?
Use Organic Search and CPC Campaigns to Learn More
When you connect Search Console and your Google Grants account, Google Analytics will provide really powerful information about what users were searching before they landed on your site.
Why does this matter?
Search queries can provide a really clear view into a user’s motivations and concerns.
If you can connect traffic to search queries and behaviors, then this can help you model your target audience's motivations and concerns.
If you have connected these services to your Google Analytics account, go to Acquisition -> Search Console -> Queries to see organic search queries.
You can see your Google Grants data by going to Acquisitions -> Google Ads -> Search Queries
Create your personas with a group of colleagues. Each individual in your organization has a unique experience with your personas, therefore a unique perspective. Bring those experiences together to build a 360 degree view of who your persona is.
Spend a minimum of 20-30 minutes per persona. It’s worth taking time to get the details right. Don’t assume anything, and make sure your assumptions are backed up by data and survey results.
Think outside the box. Don’t just hone in on donors. Think about strategic partners, press, clients, board members and others.
How to Start Making Data-Driven Decisions at Your Nonprofit
I hear this all the time from our nonprofit clients. And, honestly, we love data too!
The real question: "How is your team making marketing and fundraising decisions based data you collect?" Furthermore, are those data-based decisions positively impacting your key business goals? How do you know?
What does it take to really make to be a data-driven marketing team?
In this post, I want to provide a starting point for any organization that is looking to do a better job making data-driven marketing and fundraising decisions.
We will provide tips on how to better collect your data from your website, email marketing and social media marketing channels. Finally, we will look at how to make it digestible and actionable.
Setup Google Analytics Conversions
At Rootid, we get asked a lot: “what metrics in Google Analytics is most important to track?”
The answer is… It depends.
I know, that is not the answer you were looking for. But, it’s true.
Every organization has different inputs, outputs and outcomes they're looking for. If you haven't defined this at your organization, it's worth doing a logic model exercise. It will clarify your marketing and fundraising a lot!
If you do have a firm grasp of your business logic model, then the most important data to track are your KPI (Key Performance Indicators). Or, simply put, the actions that you want users to take.
Some examples of KPI’s:
Contact form submissions
When you are thinking through your communications strategy, think who are your audiences, and what do I want them to do.
First, these are actions on the site that provide value to your organization (more to come on this). They are actually transactions with some monetary value, or they may provide engagement value now that leads to monetary value later.
Meaning, they indicate a how users are engaging with your organization.
Secondly, goals should be the main data point that drives your marketing strategy decisions. Goals allow you to filter the mountains of data that Google Analytics provides in order to show you information about those users that are performing the actions that provide value.
Interestingly, you can also look at the behaviors of user that do NOT convert, and try and figure out how to better make them convert.
Finding trends in this data can help you make larger decisions about how to improve your website, messaging, campaigns and much more.
You can find out things like, where users originated from, what channels are most effective in producing goals completions, etc.
Assign Value for Your Google Analytics Goals
When you are setting up your Google Analytics Goals, it’s really important to add a value in your Goal Details when setting up your goals.
Many of our clients say, “well there is no monetary value to our volunteers. Volunteers are not paid.”
True. Kind of….
It is correct that no money it exchanged, but every transaction has a value to your organization. Here are some ways to think about a few common transactions:
Volunteers: If your average volunteer shift is 4 hours, and they perform a service or task that a paid employee would have to do if the volunteer was not there, that’s value. You could say then that the task volunteers perform is worth $10/hr (I made up this value, feel free to assign your own). Therefore, each volunteer sign-up is worth $40.
Newsletter Sign-ups: If on average you generate $20 per email that is on your newsletter list each year (Formula: Total Donation Amount from Newsletter List / Number of Emails on Your List = Average Value per Email), then you can easily say that each email sign-up is worth $X per year to your organization.
Membership Applications: if your membership dues are $50 per year, then each membership sign-up is worth $50.
There are a few reasons why using values matters:
First, goal values will help your team make strategic decisions about where to invest staff time and resources. Which efforts are truly generating the most value for your organization.
Second, you can also use this data to figure out which marketing channels are producing the most value to your organization. We will talk more about this in the UTM tags section below.
Finally, if your organization is doing any paid advertising, you can use these values to understand ROI (return on investment) and ROAS (return on ad spend).
Setup Google eCommerce Settings
There are some transactions that have immediate value.
For most organizations, generating revenue through donations, memberships, tuition or some other means is a critical part of their business model.
Google eCommerce settings was built for online retailers, but it is a critical piece of data for nonprofits as well.
In a nutshell, eCommerce settings will track the amount of money that spent on your website on a transaction by transaction basis.
You might be saying, “that seems like an issue with donor privacy!”
The good news: Google is just tracking the amount and product of each transaction. There is no personal information that gets logged with the transaction data.
For nonprofits, it will provide you powerful insights into which marketing activities are generating the most money online.
If you use a 3rd party system (like Classy, Action Network, etc.) to process your online payments, there may be a chance that it provides a simple plugin that dynamically sends this transaction data directly to your Google Analytics account.
That said, it is worth investing a little bit of money in your analytics to get a TON of powerful data.
Google Analytics Goal Wrap-Up
Don’t forget, goals are essential to making informed data-driven decisions about how much value is being generated for your organization, and what channels are driving that.
Once you have your Google Analytics Goals setup, do this...
How to Use Google UTM Tags
Wouldn’t it be great if you could have a granular understanding of which campaigns, marketing channels or even individual marketing pieces (think blog posts, emails, social posts) are driving them most value for your organization?
What if we could even drill all the way down to which specific link within an email campaign is working best?
You can with Google Analytics UTM (Urchin Tracking Module) tagging!
UTM tags are built into Google Analytics, and there’s no setup required.
By simply adding some data to the end of a link, you can send a bunch of data to your Google Analytics account each time a user clicks on that link.
Anatomy of a Link with UTM Tags
So, what are UTM tags?
You likely have seen them before. Maybe without knowing it.
Below is a breakdown of what a link looks like that includes UTM tags.
How to Use UTM Tags in Your Marketing Efforts
The beauty of UTM tags is that they create “layers” of data that allow you to drill down in order to find where you are generating the most value for your organization.
Here are the 5 values that you have access to, and how we recommend your organization uses them:
Campaign Source – this should be the platform (or vendor) where the traffic originates, like Facebook, Twitter or your email newsletter.
Campaign Medium – Identify the medium like Cost Per Click (CPC), social media, social ad, blog post.
Campaign Name – Identify the specific campaign that the content is a part of. For instance, “2018 Year End Donor Appeal”
Campaign Content – If you’re A/B testing ads, then this is a useful metric that passes details about your ad. You can also use it to differentiate links that point to the same URL. For instance, if you have a banner at the top of an email and a button at the bottom of the email, this can be used to tell you which link the user is clicking more frequently.
Campaign Term – In most cases, you will not need to use this. This is mainly used for tracking your keywords during a paid AdWords campaign. If you’re not using paid CPC advertising.
Note that these are only suggested uses. Each organization is going to find a system that works best for them. So, it is important for your team to talk through it and setup rules together.
Tools That Help Build and Manage Your UTM Tags
So, what’s the best way to build these links?
Fortunately, there are a few killer tools that can help.
Google URL builder is really easy to use. Just fill in the appropriate fields, and Google will spit out the full link at the bottom. It also will shorten the link for you so you use them in your posts without seeing the ugly tags.
Conveniently, Google usually will save the last link that you entered into their tool.
First, it will help you manage your links when you have a team of marketers linking to your website across the web. This tool will help ensure that your team is using a consistent naming convention.
Second, it helps you avoid spelling mistakes, which can really screw up your data in Google Analytics. Typos can make data analysis harder (more about this in the Common Mistakes section below).
Last, if you are like most nonprofit marketing teams, you may have several different campaigns going on at the same time. By using this spreadsheet, you will be able to refer back to a list of campaigns that you may have at any given time. Keeping track of the campaigns will help you remember which campaign is which.
UTM Tag Best Practices
1. Create a naming convention for your UTMs.
You are probably not the only one on your team building links, so make sure there are guidelines about the structure of your tags.
Pro Tip: Using “+” symbol will add a space to your data, which makes them easier to read in Google Analytics. We generally recommend not using “-” or “_” in the names if you can avoid it.
2. Always use lowercase with your tags.
For example, utm_source=eMail is different from utm_source=email.
Or, utm_source=LinkedIn is different from utm_source=linkedin.
Why does this matter?
Google Analytics will respect the capitalization in your data. So, when you use capitals sometimes and not others, your data that was meant to represent one utm_source will actually be on two different lines.
This will make your data harder to analyze.
3. Keep your URLs clean, descriptive, non-redundant and easy to read.
Avoid using the same word or vendor name in two different tags. This is redundant and will make your data confusing.
So, do not do this:
Try to make your data flow like you would read a sentence.
For example, “the user came to our website from facebook, by clicking on my post from our 2018 giving tuesday campaign.”
4. Create a system that works for your organization
Ultimately, there is no right system for every organization. You will need to work with your team to generate a system that works for everyone.
Write it down, and stick to it!
Common Mistakes to Avoid
Creating unique campaign names for each medium and source
You want your UTM links to span multiple marketing channels. That’s one of the purposes of UTM - track how each channel contributes to a specific overarching campaign.
If you tag your links correctly, here’s how your data should look.
2. Making spelling mistakes when using Google Analytics UTM tags
If you have multiple administrators creating tags, or you are building many tags each day, it’s really easy to make spelling mistakes using something like the Google URL builder.
Especially when you have longer campaign names, it can become very easy to mistype something.
This will guarantee that your Google Analytics data remains clean and useful.
3. Using UTM tags to track internal links - Don’t do it!
Unfortunately, sometimes we see clients add tags to their main menu, or buttons on their homepage.
They set values like utm_medium=mydomain.com and utm_source=homepage+banner.
The bad news is that if a user clicks on a link on your Twitter account that has UTM tags, then clicks on the button on your homepage that have different UTM tags, the original Twitter UTM tags get overwritten.
In your Google Analytics report, your Twitter post would no longer get credit for the user’s actions. Instead, you would simply see that the user came from your homepage banner.
The original referrer will be overwritten and your data will be messed up.
You should never use campaign tagging for internal links.
If you want to track how users are interacting with your website, use a tool like HotJar, or another heatmap service.
UTM Tag Wrap-Up
Once your UTM tagging is in place, it provides you a 360 view of how your marketing channels are contributing to website conversions. On almost all of the reports within Google Analytics, you can filter you view to show any of the UTM data layers (campaign, medium, source) to parse your data.
By using these data layers, your team should be able to better understand which marketing efforts were most successful, find trends and then use that data to continuously improve your campaigns.
Building Meaningful Data Reports with Google Data Studios
By this point, the important tracking pieces are in place. Now, we need to make sense of the data we are collecting.
Making your data digestible is critical to making data-driven decisions.
We have seen a lot of different ways to manage data reporting from our clients.
Google Analytics custom dashboards
Custom Data displays in 3rd party services
However, none of these other options include the flexibility, professional visuals and dynamic nature of Google Data Studio.
Once you've downloaded the template, follow these instructions to get your custom dashboard setup.
Connecting Data Sources
First, Google Data Studio allows you to connect data from multiple data sources. It takes less than a minute to connect each source. Some of our favorite connectors include:
Stripe Payment Processing
Each connector has a setup of metrics that you can add to your reports and display in a professionally designed way.
Professionalize Your Data Visuals
Second, Google Data Studio provides a beautiful visual design suite that allows you to make your data really stand out.
It’s really easy.
The drag and drop interface allows you to select from a number of different types of data displays like bar graphs, line graphs, data tables, pie charts, to name a few.
You can also add design elements like colored backgrounds, custom graphics and dynamic link text if you want to refer to outside resources.
Settings up the reports to use your brand colors, fonts and logo is really easy.
If you don’t want to start from scratch, Google provides wide variety of starter templates that are easy to customize to your liking both visually and with your data.
Sharing Your Data Reports
Last, sharing beautiful reports is extremely easy with your team, colleagues and board.
One of the other great features, is that the data is dynamic. Users that are viewing the report can change date ranges, filter by data sources and much more. It makes the data a much more interactive experience.
Not only does this make the data more interesting, but there is definitely a sense of professionalism and intrigue around the reports.
Just think, you will never have your monthly analytics report thrown in the trash again!
Now your ready to be a data-driven marketer. That’s a powerful feeling!
To recap, remember that data will empower your team to be better decisions, but it needs to be measured in a smart way. These techniques are a starting point that will help you make better decisions in your marketing strategies.
Nonprofit Logic Models: A Complete Guide to Building Better Fundraising and Communications Plans
A nonprofit logic model is one of the most versatile and useful tools you can have for any nonprofit strategic planning process.
Your organization can use logic models for strategic planning, operational resource planning, building a communications strategy, program service design and much, much more.
However, if you've never built a logic model before, there are a few key elements that can help you successfully complete the task. That's why we put together this guide to building a nonprofit logic model.
To get the most out of this guide, download our nonprofit logic model template and follow along.
This template and the process outlined in this article are the exact tools and techniques we use with our nonprofit partners.
Overview to Build a Nonprofit Logic Model
At the simplest level, a logic model is a way to map out the activities and strategies that your organization performs to produce the outputs and outcomes that eventually lead to your mission work.
In short, this process helps connect the vision for your organization's impact to the day-to-day operations of your organization.
Download the Full Circle Fund example along with our Logic Model Template.
Here are the 4 steps to the process:
Define your Ultimate Impact and problem statement
Outlining your activities and outputs
Grouping activities into strategies
Defining the outcomes that your strategies generate
Formulating a Blue Sky Statement To Connect the “Why”
Why does your nonprofit organization exist?
Let me give you a hint... it's not just to deliver services.
As a nonprofit leader, there are values that are driving your mission work. These values and the ultimate impact they create are your "why."
Your "why" or the underlying values of your organization should be the starting point of any strategic work you do, including when creating your logic model.
Answering “why” is actually one of the most important things that you can do as a nonprofit, and in the logic model exercise we use this "why" to create our Ultimate Impact statement. Your Ultimate Impact then becomes the big vision for the work that your organization does.
Now that we know why it's important, let's talk about how we create it.
Keys to writing your Ultimate Impact:
Consider a situation in which no barrier exist
Make sure it includes the vision for the future
Work with your team and stakeholders to formulate your Ultimate Statement
Formulating a Problem Statement
In addition to defining your Ultimate Impact, we need to define the problem that your work is solving. Without a well defined problem, your work has no context.
Here are three keys to clearly defining the problem that your organization solves:
State the scale and scope of the problem - Is the problem local? International? Who is affected and for how long? And, finally, what makes your organization uniquely qualified to resolve this problem.
What is the result of the problem? - Think about how your constituents and the community are impacted by the problem and why they should care. For instance, if the problem is that groundwater is contaminated think about why this matters to your constituents. Is it that children's health is being compromised? Is it that sportsmen can't fish? Is it that the community can't drink the water?
Why should the reader care - What motivates your constituents and supporters and try to build that into your problem statement?
Our “why” is often best defined by a problem that captures our hearts and feelings.
Defining Your Nonprofit Activities and Outputs
Simply put, activities are the work that your organization does. They are often connected with your organization programs.
Examples of activities could be things like services that you deliver, volunteer programs that you run, events or education services amongst other things.
The second part of this is to define all of the outputs that your activities generate.
Outputs are directly linked to activities that your organization performs.
What makes outputs unique is that they are discrete units of work that can usually be measured.
Some examples of outputs could be:
Number of students participating in a class
Number of environmental clean-up projects completed by volunteers
Number of clients served
Amount of event attendees
The activities and outputs can be recorded in our logic model template.
Grouping Activities into Strategies
Strategies are groupings of your activities.
Most nonprofits have 3 or 4 strategies that they use to accomplish their work.
Each strategy will have a direct outcome (to be talked about later in this article) associated with it. So, each strategy should lead to one outcome at a minimum. It's important to note that strategies can lead to more than one outcome.
Each strategy will have a direct outcome
In order to group your activities into strategies, start to think about what common characteristics some of your activities have?
Some common strategies that we see a lot with our clients are:
Community or individual education
Connecting and convening
Many, many more!
Outputs vs. Outcomes
Before we talk about outcomes, it’s important to understand how they are different from outputs. This can be a bit confusing, so it’s worth taking time to clarify.
Put simply, outputs tell the story of what your organization produces. Outputs do not address the value or impact of your services.
On the other hand, outcomes are how the work you do impacts or effects the communities and individuals you serve.
Outcomes communicate the impact of your organization and how you impact your clients or those you serve.
Outputs are direct results of your activities that can be measured.
Digging into Logic Model Outcomes
As mentioned before, outcomes are the impact that our work has on the communities and individuals who you serve.
There are important things to consider about outcomes:
First, logic model outcomes can be really helpful in generating your communications messaging. We’ll dig into this shortly, but remember that outcomes communicate impact and showing your impact helps to activate your community and engage new potential supporters.
Secondly, when using outcomes to tell a story, frame them in the context of who you are "speaking to." Meaning, if you know your audience is motivated by the impact your work has on something specific, use that in your messaging.
How does the logic model make us a better nonprofit communications professional?
By now you should see how the logic model helps make you a better nonprofit communications professional.
At a basic level, it creates clarity for you, and for your marketing strategy.
Prioritizing our marketing campaigns to generate the inputs inline with our organizational goals - we talked about prioritizing and focusing campaigns based on the order of inputs you need to succeed. We also talked about focusing on specific tools and strategies based on the audiences we need to generate the inputs that we need.
Outcomes generate better messaging - we talked about how outcomes should be measured to generate better messaging. We also talked about how outcomes focus on impact, and impact is going to be what gets audiences excited about supporting your work.
Blue sky statements acquire & build loyal supporters - we talked about how blue sky statements answer the question “why.” Why do you exist? Why should people care? Once an individual gets behind the vision, they can become a loyal advocate.
We saw earlier how measuring outcomes creates more effective marketing messaging.
Knowing that, commiting to measuring outputs and outcomes is critical at an organizational level. Not only will they help in your marketing process, but they will also help generate better impact messaging.
So how do we do that?
Here are some steps to help you measure impact better:
Describe the outcomes you want to achieve (why do you perform the process or service in the first place?).
Turn the identified outcomes into a quantitative measure (i.e. % of clients demonstrating new behavior, % of clients coming back into treatment, etc.).
Confirm that your desired outcomes are actually linked to your outputs or activities. In other words, ensure that it is reasonable to expect your desired outcomes to be achieved based on your activities.
Implement these measures and track them over time.
Demonstrate and increase your success because you have the data to confidently and appropriately communicate your impact and value.
BrandUP Award Winner Root & Rebound - 1 Year Later
Nominations and applications are now open for the 2018 brandUP, a free 2-day intensive marketing and communication workshop co-presented with Full Circle Fund. Last year's Awardee Root & Rebound has now had some time to reflect on the experience, so we sat down to chat with them to provide helpful tips to this year's participants.
1. What is Root & Rebound currently focused on as an organization?
Founded in 2013, Root & Rebound (R&R) is a California-based reentry advocacy center that creates leading-edge solutions to one of the most pressing challenges of our time - mass incarceration - working to help people break out of poverty into freedom and economic opportunity, and alleviating the heavy personal and societal costs of our bloated and broken justice system.
Leveraging lessons learned from our California long-term work & our growing national collaborations & projects, our core initiatives have grown over the last year to include expanding to 2 additional sites with California; deepening our direct services work, expanding our legal clinics & hotline services; running employment clinics & educating employers, pushing for occupational licensing reform, & building a statewide prison/jail based curriculum.
Nationally, we are growing our footprint and initiatives, with 7 state-specific toolkits & beginning a national expansion strategy that will bring our model to key, high-need states in the coming years.
2. Through a communications lens, what have you been focused on over the last year and how is that supporting your overall organizational goals?
R&R has invested heavily in our PR and Communications strategy on both national and community levels to raise awareness about second chance opportunities through partnership and coalition building, educating employers, policy makers and journalists, and engaging corporations like Facebook to support this work as we explore our model for scale.
We are also in the process of building the first ever reentry legal wiki and sharing it across the country.
3. How did your experience with Rootid and our BrandUP Award inform your communications strategy?
Our experience with Rootid allowed us to think critically and holistically about the ways in which we communicate with our key stakeholders - donors, partners, and people directly impacted by incarceration. It allowed us to strip back our assumptions and dive into the way these people live their lives and how we could engage with them on a journey of discovery about Root & Rebound.
Now, we go much deeper and we have concrete engagement strategies for our key stakeholders whereas before we would keep a more broad and sporadic approach to our communications and PR and community connection.
4. Did anything change in your communications and processes from before to after your brandUP experience?
Our communications strategy has definitely expanded to include larger views of our audience and the ways we can help them to understand and see the value our work. Additionally, having realized the importance and potential in our communications, we have now made it a priority to align both the programs and development team in our communications strategy. Now our communications strategies are wider-spanning and effective for both teams.
We have also more deeply understood the impact of storytelling by launching a 48,000 barriers campaign in conjunction with Valerie at Rootid at our first ever Empowerment Summit in Spring 2017, which allowed us to gather quotes and stories that we can use going forward. This has deeply informed our social media communications on an ongoing basis
5. How have you integrated the work into your marketing materials and planning?
On the programs side, we have:
Leveraged Rootid’s design support to streamline our programs materials with new hotline cards, updated program flyers, and the ongoing creation of partnerships packets. With the hotline cards, we can easily pass out digestible information to the people we serve, at clinics, trainings, etc. As we ramp up our direct services across the state, this level of synthesised information is more critical than ever.
We are also re-creating the R&R website to more strongly reflect our growing programs and make sure that information is easy to read, digestible, and clear in how users can engage with our services.
We have also heavily leveraged Rootid’s consulting advice to promote our paid services to partnerships across the Bay Area and have secured three new long term contracts to date.
On the fundraising side, we have:
Committed to engaging more deeply with our existing individual donors and increasing our network even further, by creating a Circle of Friends to support R&R either through donations, leveraging their platform, or their skills. Over time, we hope to build a key initiative that draws people into the organization and creates long-term ambassadors for our work.
More heavily focused on sharing our stories of success to our wider audience via newsletters and social media to show the work we are doing and the impact it is having.
Finally, we have streamlined our communications strategy between the programs and the development team so there is a cohesive calendar and content strategy between them. We have also hired two Americorps VISTAs - one Development and Communications VISTA and one Community Partnerships VISTA to execute on this strategy and build our communications content.
6. Was there anything that was unexpected or surprised you that came out of the work we did together?
I think it’s easy to come into a consulting project saying you have an urgent need for concrete materials and plans and you need your online website hits to increase by X%, but the biggest value add for us was the thought partnership and the focus on approach of listening, hearing, and sharing of experiences. Rootid showed us ways to go beyond a communications strategy, printed or web content, and instead get to the heart of our mission and impact which lies directly in human experiences of reentry and the daily barriers they face.
By focusing squarely on elevating those experiences, we were able to come up with a thoughtful and strategic communications strategy that aligned with our mission and that brought the organization’s development and programs team together to streamline our work, elevate the voices of those we serve, and really demonstrate what really matters to the wider public - which is breaking down barriers to opportunity for all Americans with criminal records.
7. In what ways do you think we can use this process to help organizations like yours further their missions?
I think the most valuable piece for our team was having strategic thought partners that could dig into our model and where we were and where we were trying to go and help figure out simple steps and best practices to achieving those goals. E.g. focus on your stakeholders journey before thinking about creating materials tailored to them.
A helpful way to approach it might be to focus on some big questions upfront that might be even higher level than communications strategies necessarily and then spend time digging into ideas and resources on a macro level. A lot of Rootid’s value add can be the ability to see above the micro day-to-day of a nonprofit professional’s workload and allow them the space and support to engage critically and thoughtfully with the challenges they are facing and how they can get to the end result in new ways.
8. Since we are changing the format of BrandUP to now be a 2-day intensive covering the material we did but with 12 nonprofits, what advice would you give to this next co-hort so that they can be prepared for and get the most out of their experience?
Ask as many questions as possible! Don’t be afraid to share the small and big questions and the real challenges, time and capacity constraints you face in communicating with your stakeholders. Chances are Rootid will be able to draw on experiences with other nonprofits that have wrestled with the same challenges and draw on their own expertise and experiences to bring solutions to life.
Be ambitious! Talk about where you want to be as an organization and what you’re trying to achieve in the next 5 -10 years, every step you take now with your communications is a step further to making that impact a reality.
Happy New Year From Rootid & Exciting Announcements!
Though it began with a sense of confusion and uncertainty, we can’t help but feel inspired by how our clients, friends, and partners have joined together to make a difference around the world.
In 2018, we continue forward with the momentum of our collective beliefs toward more equitable and healthy communities that celebrate diversity.
Growing Beyond Just Websites & Print Materials
Last year, Rootid continued to grow our rockstar team as we expanded our service offerings to nonprofits.
Our team now spans 3 time zones and offers more than just print, web design and custom development services.
Our continued expansion provides a more holistic approach to nonprofit marketing and communications that helps our clients engage their communities through authentic and strategic brand development, more thoughtful and effective messaging, and multi-channel marketing management.
We also formed a major strategic partnership with Full Circle Fund, where we helped launch the Nimble Nonprofit Series, capacity building workshops that serve Bay Area nonprofits and community members. Valerie Neumark Mickela, Rootid Co-Founder, also joined their Board of Directors this past fall.
We Love Our Clients!
We're still fueled by our inspiring clients.
Their impact around the world is literally changing lives inc communities, influencing policies that shape our future, and building a more equitable society where everyone can thrive.
In 2017, we refreshed some inspiring brands, including:
We’re determined to serve more nonprofits, both established organizations and 'nimble' newcomers.
In addition to continuing to grow our 360-degree approach to customized marketing services, Rootid is excited about a new product to be released in 2018 that will help smaller nonprofits get started with a powerful online marketing tool set at an affordable price. Keep your eyes peeled for announcements!
Our team is also committed to giving back to the nonprofit community through in-kind services. Last year, we completed the 3rd Annual brandUP campaign, by providing $10,000 in marketing services to Root & Rebound. Our team is determined to continue to be a catalyst for big ideas and great nonprofits.
This year, we will expand the scope of brandUP to impact even more nonprofits. Stay tuned for our 2018 announcement!
Even nonprofits with established identities need to reevaluate from time to time in order to stay relevant. In many cases, a brand refresh may be necessary.
What is a Brand Refresh?
Simply put, a brand refresh is a makeover. The goal is to enhance your organization’s image, while staying recognizable—but how do we go about that?
Steps for a Brand Refresh:
Review your core values. Go back to the beginning. Remember all of those questions you sat down and asked yourself the first time around? It’s time to revisit them to see where your answers now differ.
Conduct stakeholder interviews. As a general rule, it’s good to do these once a year, as a tool to gauge the effectiveness of your mission, outreach, and short/long-term goals. Getting feedback from stakeholders (internal staff, your board of directors, community members, etc.) will help you determine which aspects of your brand need addressed.
Example question: Using a few keywords, how do you want people to see your brand?
Redefine your target audiences and personas. Determining your target audience was tough the first time around. Thankfully, you should have a better idea of who is most receptive to your message now. If you haven’t already, it’s time to start grouping common characteristics to create personas—or profiles of imaginary people.
Consider what they want from you and what you want from them in return. How can you guide them from being unaware of your organization to a loyal brand advocate? Keep fleshing them out.
Develop content that will interest them at various stages in their journeys.
Update your visual language. Mood boards are an effective way to discuss ideas, share insights, and clarify communication. They help visually explain a feeling and, in turn, develop a more authentic and successful brand. They’re where your brand refresh will be most evident, especially if your organization adopts a new logo.
Tweak your messaging. Great content is critical to achieving higher conversion rates and engaging user experiences. Based on your profiles’ points of view, consider what tone of organizational “voice” would best reach, engage, and compel community members and donors.
Audit your marketing materials. You’re almost there! It’s time to look at your print materials, event collateral, social media channels, newsletter templates, website, etc. Are they achieving measurable results? Do they need to be updated to reflect any of the aforementioned steps?
Update your assets. Your assets are your brand messengers. As such, it’s important to maintain cohesive marketing materials in print and online. Doing so will lead to more donations and more volunteer signups, so be sure to keep them up-to-date.
For a successful brand refresh, you’ll need a look at where you came from, where you are now, and where you want to go from here. The adjustments will take work, but the end results should be well worth it!
Digital marketing has stolen the spotlight in recent years, thanks to its accessibility and reach, but does that mean print is obsolete? Not according to a Two Sides survey:
“88% of respondents indicated that they understood, retained or used information better when they read print on paper compared to lower percentages (64% and less) when reading on electronic devices.”
The key is understanding when and how to leverage that preference. Print collateral is best used in strategic settings, where you’re in a position to provide something tangible—something that either lends credibility (banners, signs, swag, etc.) or encourages engagement (programs, forms, business cards, etc.) Take Full Circle Fund’s yearly UNITE event, for example.
By utilizing print, we were able to set a festive and informative tone at SF Jazz. Everything was branded and strategically placed—from the stickers on the mini-wine bottles to the programs highlighting Full Circle Fund’s grant cycle.
Even our new foldout business cards had to pull their weight, that night. In addition to providing basic contact information, they also listed our services, featured a client testimonial, and encouraged follow-up with a tear-off ticket (redeemable for a drink with a Rootid founder).
That’s not to say digital didn’t play a role, of course. No one can dispute social media’s role in creating awareness.
The point is, by recognizing print and digital’s individual advantages, we were able to help Bay Area guests discover and celebrate social change in their community. That, in and of itself, is a huge success!
If you're still putting out annual reports the old fashioned way—pulling stacks of statistics, rounding up designers, blowing your budget on print copies, etc.—this post might be an eye-opener for you. Not only are annual report websites generally less expensive, they're also easy to fill with impactful media, easy to deliver, and easy to track. Plus, they're much more conscientious of the planet.
Letting your web team produce a professional site for this year's accomplishments could be a great step into the future for your non-profit—but don't take our word for it. Check out these reports from businesses and organizations who've already adopted the process to impressive results:
gridalternatives.org/annual-report-15 GRID Alternatives' adopted an online annual report format a few years ago and now simply updates the stats, graphics and stories each year with new information...saving time and money. Their annual report is styled in a familiar, almost print-like layout.
echoinggreen.org/2014 Echoing Green's 2014 report used floating side navigation to make it easy for visitors to jump to the information they were most interested in.
shopify.com/2013 Shopify's 2013 report summarized their news with an interactive timeline.
mailchimp.com/2012/ MailChimp's 2012 report featured an interactive element that allowed visitors to browse user statistics by demographic.
lemonly.com/2016report Lemonly encouraged visitors to interact with their 2016 report, using a circular beam of "light" to reveal facts.
2016.flama.is/ Flama laid out their 2016 report as a click-through slideshow.
one.org/annualreport/ One's bold use of color and typography combined with compelling photography and language really makes their annual report shine.
Styles may vary, but all successful annual report websites have two things in common: professional presentation and convenience. Sounds like a win, win! Need help with your next Annual Report? Drop us a line!