Though weather in the mid-Atlantic continues to flirt with spring while staying surprisingly loyal to winter, it is the season to be planning summer festivals, fundraisers, and rallies. And if you really want to stay on top of your nonprofit’s schedule, start planning your end-of-year banquet as well (). But in this day and age, a nonprofit’s fundraising festival should be but one component of a multi-media plan to engage constituents, volunteers, and supporters both at the event and in the social networks of those attending.
in previous posts, and today we draw on a really useful compendium of ideas from Trevor Jonas at Mashable.com.
First and foremost, you want to establish an ‘Online Hub’ so that people who want to follow your organization’s events know precisely where to go. Your charity can (and should) have various Facebook, Google+, Twitter… accounts, but you want to establish a single space (a web page at your charity’s and/or event’s website) to send people to so they can choose how they will keep in touch with your goings on. And Trevor rightly recommends getting people to sign up for one of the networks listed on your ‘space’ as part of the registration process. They’ll likely continue to follow you after the event as well
The latest thing in promoting the online conversation is a ‘Twitter Wall’ (many news programs and their networks’ election coverage have used them). The technology side need not be too fancy (even connecting a laptop to a decently sized flat screen TV will do it), but your staff want to create some hashtag filters and be ready for what is called a ‘hashtag hijack’ (Trevor’s colleague, David Berkowitz, offers some strategies for establishing hashtag guidelines and monitoring against hijacking.). Moreover, a Twitter Wall helps create a narrative of and around your event to keep people engaged, whether on site or not (which is all the more reason you want to dedicate a staff member to monitor it).An example of conference cartooning
And Trevor reminds us that sometimes the low-tech/retro outreach can have a profound impact in the high-tech/online outreach. He noted Mashable’s own printed ‘newspaper’ published during the South by Southwest Festival this past March. Hand-drawn cartoons, flow charts, and visual aids at presentations can also be a huge draw (provided they are a couple of steps beyond a black sharpie making stick figures on white paper).
The larger picture is that even the simplest nonprofit picnic and raffle should have an official online component. The ability of a smartphone to spread the word well beyond the attendees simply makes the opportunity to pair face-to-face outreach with online engagement too easy and potentially valuable to pass up. The financial investments need not be significant, but the return on investment could be huge with some planning and some creativity.