Nonprofit Digital Communications

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For those doing digital strategy work, including written or multimedia content for nonprofit websites, social media, and e-newsletters. This group is for those digital communications folks who create written or multimedia content for websites, social media, and e-newsletters for nonprofits. Members will discuss topics such as social media trends, digital analytics, developing content, storytelling, planning and resources, content strategy, and more.

Topic: Giving Day employee engagement 

1.  Giving Day employee engagement

Posted Jan 18, 2018 08:34
​We're prepping for an annual community-based giving day that we have done for the past 2-3 years. This year, we want to do a better job of getting our employees engaged in promoting the event both before and on the giving day in order to gain more donations. We have thought about sending a series of 3-4 emails leading up to the giving day, each with a different way employees can help in order to motivate the rest of the staff and make it easy for them to get the word out. In the past, we have just sent out one email with all of the information and we've felt like that's pretty easy to ignore or read and forget about.

We have tried individual fundraising pages in the past since this is an option with this giving day, but didn't have much success in getting employees to participate.

I'm curious what others have done that they have found successful in getting employees engaged in promoting giving days to their network.

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Ariana Estes
Web and Social Media Specialist
Lutheran Family Services of Virginia
Richmond, VA
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2.  RE: Giving Day employee engagement

Posted Jan 19, 2018 06:44
@Ariana Estes this example isn't for a giving day but could work for you: each month I rotate the company email signature with a new image and link back to our website. It may be to promote an event or department highlight. For you it could be a link to that giving page.

I send the email change up request the last week of the month and ask Staff to email me back with the updated signature. They are then entered into a Staff gift certificate drawing presented at the next Staff meeting (first Monday).​ I use a random number generator to select the winner.

I usually get 24 out of 54 employees to respond. Not great but it's a cultural shift for us. Many times Staff just don't understand how to do it (even with emailed step-by-step instructions) the cost is $10 gift certificate (12 Per year), but I'm upping our messaging for $120 (54 employees x 20 emails a day conservative x 20 business days a month = 21600 impressions) which is pretty cost effective.

i also use the the gift certificate incentive for photo submissions. This has been well received and I usually give away 2 gift cents at each staff meeting to liven the pit and I share the photos that morning too to boost moral. Surprisingly Our maintenance crew is AWESOME about group selfies and behind-the-scenes pics that people really enjoy on social media. The two pics attached were of Christmas elves running snow removal; the second pic caption said "Ken Brown goes to any length as he continues his search for a raise."

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Tara Collins
Director of Communication & Resource Development, RUPCO - Kingston, NY
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3.  RE: Giving Day employee engagement

STAFF
Posted 27 days ago
Love the email signature suggestion from @Tara Collins! Depending on your system, you could actually remove employee participation entirely by setting it at the admin level. That's what we do, and it's great because staff don't have to remember to do it or update it, it just automagically appears.

I'm also curious about the "different ways" - what do you give them exactly? I know we've had better success when we do a promo kit with sample language for the various social media channels, with a handful of options to choose from. Lots of people have anxiety about writing or whatnot, but if they can copy-paste and even better, modify, that often feels more doable.

I like your idea about sending multiple emails, each with a concrete action they can take. And then you can tie it into what you're doing better: we just published a blog so please share it, or here's a link to a tweet you can retweet, or here's this fun/gorgeous graphic made for sharing, etc.

On the day itself, more cheerleading is probably needed, and that's where you could use updates on amount raised so far and have some fun.

Personally, I'm not a fan of the individual fundraising pages for staff: they're staff, not donors or volunteers. It's great if staff *want* to give back, but when it is required or feels required, people tend to get resentful. Lots of interesting discussion about that on the Nonprofit Happy Hour group on Facebook.



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Erin Doherty
Digital Engagement Manager
Nonprofit Technology Network
Portland, OR
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4.  RE: Giving Day employee engagement

Posted 26 days ago
​@ErinDoherty can you share the admin back-end you reference, the HOW TO to making all organizational email signatures the same? That would SOOO take the sting out of employee compliance: those who don't do it at all or those still running the promotion from four months ago!. Thanks, T​

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Tara Collins, Director of Communication & Resource Development, RUPCO, Kingston, NY
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5.  RE: Giving Day employee engagement

STAFF
Posted 26 days ago
We use the G Suite (Gmail), and I'm not sure how we did it! @Lyndal Cairns and @Karl Hedstrom got it set up, I believe. Tagging them here so they can helpfully help out.

I've also heard you can do it in MS Outlook, too!
​​

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Erin Doherty
Digital Engagement Manager
Nonprofit Technology Network
Portland, OR
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6.  RE: Giving Day employee engagement

Posted 26 days ago
If you're using G Suite, you can follow these instructions: Append footer setting - G Suite Administrator Help

As Erin mentioned though, I assume there are similar ways to do this in most enterprise level email systems.

Regardless of which system you're on though, make sure to confirm that it's working correctly as soon as you set it up.

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Karl Hedstrom
IT Director
Nonprofit Technology Network
Seattle WA
karl@nten.org
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7.  RE: Giving Day employee engagement

Posted 22 days ago

Thanks @Erin Doherty and @Karl Hedstrom! Just two things I'd add, to think about before you move forward with a global signature block:

  1. Consider the context of the emails going out. If your organization sends what might be considered bad news by email, you probably don't want to follow up those emails with a signature full of sunshine. Likewise, if your emails are full of asks, consider the adage: People remember the first and last things you say, meaning your signature ask might trump the other very important asks.
  2. Staff often consider their emails to be their own property, so there's an internal communications parameter to this. I always let staff know that I've changed the global block, and update them on the positive impact of the previous period. "Thanks for sending email, y'all - we got 435 click-throughs to our NTC site from your emails last month," or similar. When your colleagues understand the why, they're more likely to move with you.
Best of luck!

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Lyndal Cairns
Membership and Engagement Director
Nonprofit Technology Network
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8.  RE: Giving Day employee engagement

Posted 15 days ago
This is an interesting topic! I am curious about adding a link for everyone/at admin level for Outlook users? Thank you!

I  would be interested in promoting at least our website across the board as we do not require everyone to have an identical format for e-signature on emails, and most do not list the website..

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Taida
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9.  RE: Giving Day employee engagement

Posted 21 days ago
Hey there! Love employee engagement, and always such a cool way to mobilize people.

I'd consider some sort of public recognition- a shirt, something to put on your desk- that show others who is giving their time, energy, or even dollars to doing good. That kind of thing can be inspirational (and contagious) to literally see around the workplace!

Also The Social Press Kit is a low-cost engagement tool that can be a hub for social posts- so your employees can share pre-packaged posts on social media in one click- thesocialpresskit.com.

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BRE VERGESS
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10.  RE: Giving Day employee engagement

Posted 19 days ago
​Thanks everyone! We do ask employees to change their signatures. However, I don't have the ability to change it for them. We're also a state-wide agency and this is just for one area, so we don't expect all of our employees to change their signature.

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Ariana Estes
Web and Social Media Specialist
Lutheran Family Services of Virginia
Richmond, VA
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11.  RE: Giving Day employee engagement

Posted 9 days ago
Edited by Christopher Rollyson 9 days ago
Most employee engagement initiatives underperform because they are organization-focused, not employee-focused. Yes, employees work for you, and you can "expect" their support, but that's not terribly voluntary. And if your org falls anywhere near the norm for U.S. orgs, many of your employees aren't very engaged.

Here's how you can do something rare:

First, the suggestions for email signatures are undoubtedly effective in generating some web traffic, but they are not true engagement because they are tools for helping the organization nudge/coerce employees. I'm sure this sounds harsh to some, but if you want true engagement you need to be honest and put employees first. You need to trust them to support you when it's truly voluntary. You can give them tools, but your attitude must stem from trusting them. They feel it when you trust them.

I see in your title that you're involved in social media, so you've probably experienced some of the effects of digital social behavior. Use this to help spread engagement.

  • I'd start by developing a simple format for videos. Have a couple people go around with their iPhones and interview employees, starting with people they know and trust.
  • Give them a choice of questions like: what's your favorite project right now and why? what's the most inspiring thing that you've seen in our work this year? where do we need to improve and why? why do you work here? how does our mission/program touch you personally?
  • Make the videos 1-3 minutes max, and honor employees with a page on your website; make sure it has social media sharing buttons on the page. Get a few example videos up, so other employees feel how they look. Fight the urge to make them too pretty; don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Authentic trumps all.
  • Feature these videos in your email communications.
  • Also give employees the chance to have a text response, along with their picture, if they don't want to be on video.
  • Train the interviewers to create an open trusted emotional space for the interviews; they should not try to coerce "positive" videos. Do not fall to marketing, PR or spinning. Employees have to feel that you really want to know. When you do this right, you'll be amazed and inspired, and your donors will be, too.
  • Most people yearn for meaning in their lives, and this initiative, when done with trust, sensitivity and curiosity, gives employees the opportunity to share how their work is meaningful to them personally. I think you'll be blown away by the response.
[Update]
By the way, my inclusion of the third question was very deliberate: "Where do we need to improve and why?" Most managers would be aghast and afraid to have that question as a prompt. But guess what it communicates to employees? "We trust you. We want your true experience." It's a beautiful way to show people, emotionally, that this is real. It creates a space of honesty for all interviews.

And employees who choose that prompt will be moved that you're trusting them. We all know that every person or group of people (a.k.a organization) can improve, so let's learn from it, be open about it, especially in front of potential donors. Donors yearn for honesty, too. So if an employee chooses that prompt, and you promote it with the others, you're sending a very powerful emotional message: "We trust you to accept us, even in our imperfection. We care more about honesty than 'looking good.'" They are deluged by all the polished messaging, so this stands out.

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Christopher Rollyson
Primary Contact
CSRA Inc. | Chief Customer Office
Chicago, IL
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12.  RE: Giving Day employee engagement

Posted 8 days ago
​Thanks, Christopher. We're looking for engagement in spreading awareness. Content creation is a whole other uphill battle that I think most non-profits face. We've had little success in the past with having staff create their own videos and we don't expect our staff to have the time or capacity to create content for us to share. They truthfully just don't have that time if they're going to focus on those that we serve, and we're super appreciative when they do think to snap a photo to share from a particular activity or event.

For this giving day, we as a communication team produce videos where we interview staff and individuals in our programs that we share on our social media page and emails. We ask program staff to determine what activities/projects they want to be featured in the videos that has to do with the fundraising goals (we have to assign dollar amounts to different categories) so that we can schedule to film around those activities happening and talk to the staff involved. We get very positive involvement with this process, but then find the next step of actually getting the videos out beyond our own efforts falls flat with staff. Since this is a community-sponsored giving day, it doesn't make sense to drive traffic to our website since we are trying to drive them to the giving platform. Donations through the official giving-day page make us eligible for additional funds through the organization that runs the giving day which we have won in the past.

What I was hoping to find was any sort of activity or out-of-the box way non-profits have motivated employees to actually share those videos, share the link to the fundraising page, tell others why they should donate, etc. We stay away from incentives like gift cards and other monetary offerings because we have to claim those as income for our employees which ultimately hurts them tax-wise. We do provide pre-written social posts and emails that they can use if they're not comfortable creating their own, and encourage them to share our content right from our page.

We don't have zero employee engagement on promoting this giving day, we're just looking for ways to increase it! A challenge we face is that our services are not all out of the same office, so it's not as easy to center attention for this. In this particular area, we have two schools, a day support center, and multiple group homes that the giving day funds are raised to support. Administration for these programs are spread across three offices in the area as well.

We have a couple of ideas that I'm excited about testing, so I will report back and let you all know what happens!

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Ariana Estes
Web and Social Media Specialist
Lutheran Family Services of Virginia
Richmond, VA
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13.  RE: Giving Day employee engagement

Posted 7 days ago
@Ariana Estes thanks for the additional info! I don't know of any sliver bullets​ for motivating employees to share. Since the content production is well along, but it "falls flat" with the sharing part, I think the only insight I can give is that, from my experience, sharing is maximized when employees:
  • Feel ownership over what's being shared; it resonates with them personally
  • Feel it's personally relevant to them/their networks
  • Are inspired by it in an unusual way
  • Find it's easy for them to share
  • Don't feel it's "a duty"
I imagine that these things aren't useful now (I have the feeling the event is imminent), but that's where I'd look to improve it in the future. I'm also interested in other responses that could help you right now. Good luck!

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Christopher Rollyson
Primary Contact
CSRA Inc.
N/A, IL United States
http://rollyson.net
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14.  RE: Giving Day employee engagement

Posted 7 days ago
@Ariana Estes I just found this in LinkedIn. I'm assuming that you have many of these covered, but it's a great practical list, and some of them could help you immediately:
=> https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/how-create-nonprofit-social-media-toolkit-your-online-julia-campbell/

I also thought of another quick thing that might help. Put a feed of Twitter/Facebook/other-platform on your website and intranet, so employees can see how/what other employees are sharing. Of course, select the platforms based on how oft they are used by employees and donors.​

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Christopher Rollyson
Primary Contact
CSRA Inc.
N/A, IL United States
http://rollyson.net
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15.  RE: Giving Day employee engagement

Posted 6 days ago
Thanks for the link, Christopher!

I'm not sure that this LinkedIn article is up-to-date, or that it answers the original question.

I always refer folks to experts like John Haydon, Pamela Grow, Joan Garry, and Kivi Leroux-Miller, among others, before searching via LinkedIn.  These individuals have led the way in virtual expertise for nonprofits, and I generally search their pages first.

Issues of building enthusiasm within an organization for donating will always be a challenge. That said, more enthusiasm for the day can be generated when the entire organization has a culture of participation, a "we're all in this together" mentality.

What do you think?

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Tricia Maddrey Baker
Social Media/Communications Manager
Aplastic Anemia & MDS International Foundation
Bethesda, MD
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16.  RE: Giving Day employee engagement

Posted 6 days ago
@Tricia Maddrey Baker thanks for weighing in. I was trying to empathize with @Ariana Estes as I felt that the giving day as fairly imminent, so culture change is a long-term proposition at best. Thanks for mentioning the nonprofit experts; I'll check them out. I happened on the LinkedIn post by accident, and, although it does not address the context of Ariana's situation, any of those things could be very helpful to her if her team isn't doing them; they're also relatively easy to do. As you suggest, addressing root causes produces the best overall results in the long-term; I'm an advocate of that, too.​​

Maybe Ariana can advise us on her timeline; she might appreciate links to the experts' thought leadership, if she doesn't already know them.

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Christopher Rollyson
Primary Contact
CSRA Inc.
N/A, IL United States
http://rollyson.net
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17.  RE: Giving Day employee engagement

Posted 5 days ago
Culture change ideas aren't really what I'm looking for since we have a generally enthusiastic, engaged culture. I was more looking for ideas on how others have engaged their employees to spread the word of a one-day giving day that might make sense for us to try. We are a state-wide agency with offices and services all over. In the particular area this community-giving day is taking place, we have two administrative offices, two schools a day support center, and multiple group homes that the funds will go to, so it's not as easy as just throwing a party at an office and/or putting things on people's desks for that day to keep it top-of-mind. Plus, the majority of our employees are not able to be on their phones/computers for many hours during the day.

This fall we had an individual in one of our group homes get diagnosed with cancer. He was a huge Cowboys fan and our staff who work with him came together to raise money for him to go to a Cowboys game (tickets, hotel, and travel) which happened to fall on his birthday. So, it's not about this larger picture of getting our employees to be engaged in general and changing our culture, just looking to try out some new things for this giving day that would make sense given our infrastructure and staff responsibilities in the area.

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Ariana Estes
Web and Social Media Specialist
Lutheran Family Services of Virginia
Richmond, VA
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