HOW TO: Tap Into the Power of Cause Awareness Days (via nonprofit tech for good)

The following is an excerpt from Mobile for Good: A How-To Fundraising Guide for Nonprofits.

While embracing a comprehensive, long-term breaking news and crisis communications strategy is challenging for many nonprofits, all nonprofits, regardless of their size, can tap into the power of cause awareness days. Your nonprofit can create your own cause awareness day campaign or build one around those cause awareness days that already exist, such as Earth Day on April 22 (#EarthDay), International Youth Day (#YouthDay) on August 12, and World AIDS Day on December 1 (#WorldAIDSDay). Many of the international days are sanctioned by the United Nations. In addition there are also popular awareness days that are national and local (search“awareness days”). You can also participate in the annual #GivingTuesday (givingtuesday.org) campaign which now raises an average of 50 percent more in total donations each year for participating nonprofits. #GivingTuesday is the first Tuesday in December and coincides well with the year-end giving cycle. Your nonprofit may also want to experiment with creating your own giving awareness day in November or December, such as Valley Gives Day (#ValleyGives) created by the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts.

Many nonprofits already participate in cause awareness day campaigns. Unfortunately it’s without a strategy in place because most nonprofits aren’t aware of the campaigns until the actual day of the campaign when they see other nonprofits tweeting, sharing, and posting about the campaign. To effectively use mobile and social media to raise funds on cause awareness days, you need to prepare months in advance. The first step is to decide whether your nonprofit will create your own awareness day campaign or build your campaign around an already well-known awareness day, or both. Then when planning your content strategy, add the awareness day campaign(s) to your editorial calendar. At a minimum, you need at least six weeks to prepare for an awareness day campaign. Once scheduled, to effectively promote and build excitement for your campaign, your nonprofit should:

    • Create a page on your website that prominently features the date and hashtag of the cause awareness day and describes why the cause is important. It should also detail as least three actions that your donors and supporters can take on the awareness day, such as make a donation, sign a petition, share the page with their social networks, become a volunteer, and so on. This page should also prominently feature a donate button, an e-newsletter, mobile alert opt-in forms, and social network icons.
    • If fundraising is central to your campaign, you can also create a crowdfunding project and/or a social fundraising campaign to encourage others to raise funds for you nonprofit during the campaign. If you do so, add a “Fundraise” button and pitch your awareness day campaign page.
    • Consider hosting a tweet chat, Google+ Hangout, or webinar on the day of the campaign. Promotion for these online events should be integrated with your campaign page and included in all email promotions.
    • Design a set of promotional images and graphics for your campaign in order to maximize promotion and sharing on mobile and social media. Be sure to embed your avatar or logo and the hashtag for the campaign on the images and graphics.
    • At least one month before the cause awareness day, send out a save the date email announcing the campaign and ask donors and supporters to follow you on social networks so they can promote the campaign to their social networks on the awareness day. You should also encourage donors and supporters to subscribe to your mobile alerts so that they receive a text reminder on the awareness day. If you will be running a social fundraising campaign, encourage donors and supporters to create their fundraising pages in this email and provide a link to your fundraising guide. You should send a reminder email one week before the awareness day and again on the morning of the day.
    • In the weeks and days before the awareness day, send out countdown tweets, updates, and posts on mobile and social media. Always include the campaign’s hashtag and a link to your campaign page. You can also create a Thunderclap (thunderclap.it) to enlist your followers to help promote your campaign.
    • On the morning of the awareness day, your first tweet, update, and post should announce that it is a cause awareness day. For example, “It’s #WorldWaterDay! Help us provide clean water to the 780 million people worldwide who go without: yourlink.org” These are consistently the most popular tweets and updates on mobile and social media on awareness days. Post your announcement multiple times throughout the day for those in different time zones, but with different stats or powerful statements. If your audience is global, schedule these announcements to be sent throughout the 24-hour period of your cause awareness day campaign. Your announcement should also be sent in a mobile alert on the awareness day, preferably in the morning during working hours.
    • On the day of your campaign,  tweet and retweet a wide variety of content at least twice per hour and link to your campaign page and use the campaign hashtag as often as possible in your tweets. For other social networks, post two to three times throughout the day. Also, be sure to thank donors and supporters in real-time on mobile and social media.
    • In the days following the campaign, update your campaign page. Summarize the campaign’s success and thank donors and supporters for their participation. In addition to fundraising totals, you could list the number of page views, retweets, and shares received as well as the number of petition signatories, volunteers, and so on. You should also announce the date of next year’s campaign, if possible.

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