#GivingTuesday is just around the corner, and with it, the opportunity to see a substantial increase in support for your nonprofit. Since its inception in 2012, the movement has raised over $1,000,000,000 online in the United States—including last...Read more.
Nominations and applications are now open for the 2019 brandUP , a free 2-day intensive marketing and communication workshop co-presented with Full Circle Fund . One of last year's nonprofit participants Frailty Myths has now had some time to...Read more.
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...Read more.
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...Read more.
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marketing has stolen the spotlight in recent years, thanks to its accessibility and reach, but does that mean print is obsolete?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...Read more.
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...Read more.
You've spent time crafting your website— planning , designing , and writing —and now traffic is really starting to pick up. So, what's next? You may be getting a lot of new site visitors, but are they signing up for your newsletter, an upcoming...Read more.
Generating a marketing plan for a nonprofit is a daunting task, to say the least. Content strategy is an easy process that will help you figure out who you are marketing to, and how to talk with them in a way that motivates them to take action. Our...Read more.
Let's face it—writing content for nonprofit websites can be difficult. We all know the feeling of staring at a blank page and trying to develop compelling content. Unfortunately, research shows that great content for your online marketing efforts is...Read more.
Even in a debate-driven world, there’s one thing most professionals agree on: Word-of-mouth is king. Think about it. Would you be more likely to trust the intentions of a banner ad or the person sitting across from you at brunch? A recommendation...Read more.
Every organization has a story. Somewhere along the line, a spark inspired someone to challenge the status quo, and that idea was tempered by milestones to forge the business we see today. What better way to celebrate that history than to put it on...Read more.
"Being a human-centered designer is about believing that as long as you stay grounded in what you’ve learned from people, your team can arrive at new solutions that the world needs." -IDEO Field Guide to Human-Centered Design What is Human-Centered...Read more.
Designing a new website, or redesigning your old website, is a large project to undertake. Larger than most people think. According to SME Website Statistic , 48% of people cited a website’s design as the number one factor in deciding the...Read more.
Keeping your audiences attention in this time of phone alerts, sound bites, social media and noise is hard. But, a powerful story is one of the most powerful ways to capture someone's attention. Relating to stories is hard wired into the human...Read more.
Deciding which marketing channels you want to focus on and what you want to present on those channels can be challenging. Many organizations and companies try to "do it all" and find that they are not getting the results they had hoped for. If you'...Read more.
Every organization has a story. Somewhere along the line, a spark inspired someone to challenge the status quo, and that idea was tempered by milestones to forge the business we see today. What better way to celebrate that history than to put it on display?
Your audience wants to connect with you. They want to relate and invest in your success. But to do so, you have to let them in on the narrative. That’s why timelines are so popular in web design right now. With a few clicks, audiences are able to see an organization’s impact through solid, qualitative facts that stick with them. When executed properly, they might even encourage your visitors to become part of your future—but how?
Don’t worry. We’ve searched far and wide for seven of the best tips and examples to inspire you.
"Being a human-centered designer is about believing that as long as you stay grounded in what you’ve learned from people, your team can arrive at new solutions that the world needs." -IDEO Field Guide to Human-Centered Design
What is Human-Centered Design Thinking?
Really all it means is putting the people you are serving front and center—learning from them and working in collaboration to develop the most authentic and powerful results. In the case of IDEO and IDEO.org, they are working with people and organizations to solve poverty, hunger, and other large-scale world problems. But these same techniques and processes can be used to guide communications strategy for non-profit organizations.
Human-centered design thinking frames the process Rootid facilitates with clients at the start of new projects, during what we call "the discovery phase." Sometimes, we refer to what we are doing as 'strategic art therapy' but ultimately, it is using art, design and the creative process to develop stronger, cohesive and more thoughtful communications strategies grounded in the core values of our clients' missions.
We also refer to the discovery process as our 'sponge phase' because it is our opportunity to absorb as much information about our clients, their work, and their communities as we can. As a collaborative communications firm, Rootid our goal is to become the expert facilitator and guide rather than 'tell' clients what they need to do.
By working together and helping our clients tap into their own creativity, inspiration and passion, we are able to develop brand and communications strategies that are more powerful, authentic and ultimately engaging to constituents.
Tips & Resources for Applying Human-Centered Design Thinking to Communication Strategy
Understanding the core values of the organization & defining what success looks and feels like. This can often be more complicated than you would think. Maybe programs are changing or a shift in organizational culture... Using design thinking to revitalize your brand and then moodboarding your vision (individuallly or as a group) can be a really effect way to regain concensus amongst key stakeholders.
Establish the paths/workflows/journeys your organization wants community members to take toward specified end-goals. Think through the transformation of each persona. (see Tab 3: Persona Journeys from the spreadsheet above.
Download our free resources to help you get started on this project internally!
"Creative confidence is the belief that everyone is creative, and that creativity isn’t the capacity to draw or compose or sculpt, but a way of understanding the world." -IDEO Field Guide to Human-Centered Design
Our clients are the experts in their fields, our job is to help them communicate what they do more effectively.
Successful Website Projects: 4 Things to Discuss BEFORE You Start
In the age of content marketing, control of your website is a must. Your visitors expect fresh content constantly.
Make sure you you get trained on how to manage your website.
Great, I have my obstacles, now what?
It’s important to provide context to the obstacles. Once identified, it’s important to better understand how they contribute to your goals not getting met.
For example: “I spend so much time downloading and uploading CSV’s to our CRM, that I can’t follow-up to thank our donors.”
Know Your Audience
I can’t stress how important this element is:
It’s hard to engage an audience that you don’t fully understand. Take the time to get to know and understand them. Your success counts on it.
Your organization should have a clear description for each audience group your work with and the top 3 things that you want them to do.
Do you know what they do on your site currently?
Do you know what you WANT them to do on your site?
Notice: there is a big difference between what they do, and what you’d like them to do. This is an important distinction.
How do you measure success on our website?
It’s hard to measure if you never set goals.
We find that many people don’t set goals because they don’t want to know if they’re not meeting them. Failure is not celebrated enough.
Failure to meet a goal can be as bad as blowing a goal out of the water because maybe you set your expectations too low.
At the end of the day, you need establish what you’re going to measure and how you’re going to measure it.
How to get started
Getting this conversation started can be difficult, especially in an organization that has a lot of voices to be heard. Here are some keys:
Set expectations that you would like to hear all staff thoughts on these matters, but not all suggestions provided will be implemented on the new website. It’s important to establish this early and often.
Internal surveys can be helpful to facilitate this process.
Make sure to engage senior staff early in the planning process. Getting their buy-in on the project is extremely important.
Download our comprehensive guide that breaks down the technology and strategies into easy to follow steps. The solutions are simpler than you think.
To write an effective story, there has to be a clear message that you are delivering. Once your audience has been established, you should know their concerns and pain-points. Use that knowledge to generate a powerful message.
The now-famous Ted Talk by Simon Sinek, talks about focusing on the “why” to connect with your audience. Why is the struggle that you have introduced important? Why does that struggle matter to the world, and more importantly to your readers?
As Simon Sinek has what he calls the Golden Circle. At the center of this circle is "why."
The “why” is linked to the primal center of our brains, so use it to your advantage as the storyteller. If you can connect readers with the “why” then they will continue to read, and engage with your content and in the long-term your mission.
Go through this exercise in two simple questions to develop a clear message:
1) “What is my audience and what are their concerns?”
2) “How do I distill my message into one simple sentence.”
How to Write a Great Story Introduction
In today’s distracted world, there are million things tugging at your reader’s attention at all times. If you don’t capture their attention in the first two sentences, they are lost. That’s why writing a great story starts with writing a great introduction.
Here are few tips on how to write a great introduction:
Introduce the main character (it should never be your organization)
Introduce the challenge or struggle
Set the mood or environment, focus on emotion
What is the Struggle in Your Story
A story without a struggle is not a story.
This writing mechanism is commonly referred to as the Hero's Journey.
When writing your story, be sure to introduce the struggle early. At this point, since you have done your audience research, you should be writing about a struggle that speaks to your target audience. Introducing this struggle early in the story will capture their attention.
The struggle in your story should serve as the rallying cry for readers. It should be the tool that motivates them.
The struggle also sets up your main character to be a hero when they eventually overcome the struggle.
Lastly, it is important to connect your character’s struggle to a larger universal struggle or truth. If you can connect this one person’s struggle to a larger problem, then your mission, and the reader’s engagement in it, become vital to empowering more heros like your main character.
Keep Your Storytelling Simple
Keep it simple for your audience. Remember, you are competing with a million other tasks that your reader is thinking about. They should not have to think too hard about the narrative of your story. Here are a few rules you should follow:
Don’t use jargon or internal organizational terminology.
Use short paragraphs that contain only one idea per paragraph.
The first sentence in each paragraph should clearly state the idea that will be in that paragraph.
Simple stories can be the most memorable.
Expand story details like emotion (happy, sad, frustration, a look on a face), not on mundane facts (time of day, date, weather, etc.)
The Call to Action
Don’t forget that your story should end with a call to action, or a logical next step for your user. Once you have captured their attention, set-up the struggle, and inspired them, it’s time to get them to act!
Relate your call to action back to your story and include an obvious way for users to take action. Use active language, and set a time limit on the action if possible.
Use calls to action that empower your reader. For example, “You can make a difference, act now!”
Lastly, it is important that if the user takes action, you capture their information. The user has already shown an interest in supporting what you do, if you capture their information, you can continue to engage them further in your mission.
Deciding which marketing channels you want to focus on and what you want to present on those channels can be challenging. Many organizations and companies try to "do it all" and find that they are not getting the results they had hoped for.
If you're feeling overwelmed with all the information out there about multi-channel marketing and how to drive more traffic, you're not alone. Here are a few steps to help you make sense of it all.
What are Marketing Channels?
It sounds fancy, but marketing channels are simply the different ways you can communicate with customers, clients, donors, volunteers, etc. Here is a quick list of marketing channels that might be on your mind:
Website: Clearly you need a website, but depending on your size, this can be anything from an interactive "brochure" with a few clear calls to action to a fully integrated social hub. Make sure you are keeping your content fresh and that visitors will get a clear sense of what you do in the first 3 seconds they land on your home page. See attached picture for more info.
Blog: Though always important, your content strategy is becoming more and more important not only so you can communicate what you do, but also for your Search Engine Optimization. Key words are important to include in what you are writing about, showing in infographics or creative artwork, but meta-tagging and all that other "behind-the-scenes" magic is just not as useful as it once was.
Print/Direct Mail: Yes, people do still do these and if created and used sparingly can be really effective. Just make sure you are creating something useful that people will want to keep for some reason. Maybe it is sharing information about something your company/organization knows a lot about...then the fact that it also has your branding and is a reminder of where they got this great tool is just a bonus.
Email Newsletters/Flyers: A strategic email campaign schedule can go far as long as you are thoughtful about the information you are sharing and are not sending out "junk mail" too often. 1-2x month or less, keeps people engaged and not annoyed with the amount of emails they are recieving from you. Also, keep your message short, sweet and more about then rather than just broadcasting your latest good news. Give them something they will want to share with the people they know. As in all marketing, 80% of what you send should be sharing information for the greater good, 20% can be broadcasting why you are great.
Facebook/Google+: These two platforms are more about awareness than anything else. Posting fresh content with attached images 4 or so times/week, liking and commenting on other people's posts will keep you engaged in your community and also give you the social credability you want. That being said, posting too often can hurt you so think about what you are sharing and why as well as how others are engaging with your posts. It may seem obvious, but if a lot of people are liking and sharing something, you are on the right track, if it is always just the same people, rethink what might be more successful. Asking questions and again making about them
Twitter: Great for sharing articles, artwork and information with your community. Keep in mind this is something that takes constant engagement on your part. You can not build a following if you are not spending min. 30 minutes a day/5 days per week reading, retweeting, favoriting and posting.
Instagram/Pinterest: Choosing one of these as a channel you focus on can be great if you generate a lot of photos and/or short video clips on a regular basis. Posting images at least 3x/week from your last function, fundraiser, meeting, or just pictures from around the office, with a quick caption can go far in communicating your brand and getting people interested in following you.
Be Strategic About Selecting a Marketing Channel
If you are reading this, you probably already know that spreading yourself too thin will actually get you no where. Being thoughtful about your approach will not only save you valuable time, but come across to your audience as more authentic and grounded. There is plenty of noise out there so be more focused and directe
Interview Your Audience Members to Learn What Marketing Channels Work Best for Them
To use the correct marketing channels, you have to know how to communicate with your audience. For instance, if you're customers are 40-60 years old, you probably don't want to use SnapChat as a major marketing channel - you won't reach them there. However, you might want to look at growing your email list, or use Facebook, since older populations tend to be in those spaces.
Stakeholder interviews and surveys are an extremely effective way to learn more about your audience. At Rootid we perfer interviews, since you can "read between the lines" when chatting with people. But, what should you ask? Download our interview guide to make sure you're asking the right questions.
Take Multi-Channel Marketing One-Step at a Time
There is no need to jump in all at once. Be strategic about how you start marketing through the channels that you use. Pick a channel to focus on, build out your program, then move to the next. You'll also see that once you have one channel built, you can use that to build more. For instance, if you have a large email list, you can use that to promote your Facebook page.
Do Work in Bursts: Automate Your Marketing Channels as Much as Possible
As a marketer, it is really important to manage your time. Rather than spending time each day managing your marketing channels, use tools that allow you to do work in focused bursts, and schedule content. Note that it is really important with social channels that you continue to "listen" and respond in real time. But, planned content can be written and scheduled easily.
Here are some ideas for how to do work in bursts and some useful tools to help you get this done.
1) Write all your blog posts for a month in at one time. Use native functionality Wordpress or Drupal scheduling to publish them over time.
2) Once you have the content for your website you can write and schedule 2 weeks of social posts in one sitting. Tool: buffer, hootsuite
3) Once you have your website content written, you can also write and schedule all of your email newsletters. Tool: MailChimp, VerticalResponse
In today's world, multi-channel marketing is extremely important. If you haven't had a chance to start, today is the day and Rootid can help. We provide a free marketing channel assessment to anyone that mentions this blog post!
Selecting the Right Channel for Online Fundraising
Multi-channel marketing is even more important in fundraising. Donors that receive asks through multiple channels are far more likely to donate than those that receive an ask through just one channel.
If you're raising money online (which you definitely should be!), then your website is critical to your success. Download our Ultimate Guide to Online Donations to ensure that your website is doing all that it can to help you raise money online.