The Nonprofit Marketing Blog

Interview: How to better integrate digital tools into your outreach

Allyson Kapin and Amy Sample Ward have written a new book, Social Change Anytime Everywhere: How to Implement Online Multichannel Strategies to Spark Advocacy, Raise Money, and Engage your Community. Since I get so many questions about how to best integrate online and mobile efforts into an overall strategy, I thought I’d ask them to share their thoughts with us.

This is the first part of our conversation. I’ll post the second half tomorrow.

book cover

Katya: Your book is an answer to the question, “How will online and mobile tools really help our nonprofit and the issues we work on?” So, how will they?

Allyson: I think it boils down to the speed of connecting with people wherever they are, giving them access to information and sharing personal stories to get people involved with your issues. As organizations it’s critical that we reach people across multiple channels and identify what channels they want to communicate with us on. For some of your constituents it can be through social networks like Twitter. For others it can be through your blog on your website or a through a thought provoking blog column that your President writes on Huffington Post. Yet others may prefer to receive a text message or an email alert from your organization reminding them about an urgent action to take.

You realize how the Internet, social media, and mobile have evolved into some of the most effective tools to facilitate social change when you reflect on how major disasters like Hurricane Sandy or the earthquake in Haiti unfolded across multiple online channels. You remember hearing about personal stories of the destruction of homes and local businesses, the loved ones who did not survive. And how can you forget the numerous opportunities organizations offered people to get involved and support disaster relief efforts through donations, volunteer opportunities, etc. Nonprofits quickly raised $50M through mobile fundraising for the first time in the U.S. just through $5 and $10 donations. Can you imagine how long it would have taken for the news of either of these tragedies to reach people or raise that amount of money if it had happened 20 years earlier? It would have taken so much more time, resources, and money to connect directly with people, gather and share stories, and mobilize people into supporting relief efforts.

Amy: Your mission and message don’t live on your website or in your office. Using multichannel strategies to ensure you’re meeting your supporters wherever they are – online or offline, Facebook or email – means you get your mission and message out to them more directly and can help them spread it even farther.

Katya: What are your top three pieces of advice for organizations struggling to integrate these tools into their work?

Allyson: The first step is to set up a small multichannel campaign and test it. To do this you will need to set up a multichannel campaign plan, which should include identifying realistic short term and long term goals, identifying your advocacy target (if it’s an advocacy campaign) and who your supporters are, developing the core campaign message, outlining what actions you want people to take and what different channels you will reach your target audiences on, etc. (We have a chapter devoted to setting up a multichannel campaign plan and rolling out the plan in the book.)

Amy: You can also start where you can have the most impact: personalization and segmentation. Are you segmenting your email messages to go to those who respond to that kind of content or are interested in that topic? Are you personalizing those messages? What about segmenting content for each social channel instead of just having your tweets auto post on your Facebook Page?

Use your current communications or content to test what works and what doesn’t – it’s great to invest in some of this testing and tinkering when you aren’t running a campaign so you know what gets the most response from your community. Try subject line lengths or message lengths for email, test out links to your website or ways to engage that keep people on the same page on social media.

Katya: Thanks. Tomorrow, we’ll cover how to get your colleagues on board with mobile and online tools.

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Carrie Saracini
Content Marketing Manager

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