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Is your nonprofit’s brand ready to support fundraising this year?

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How to leverage your nonprofit’s brand for better fundraising results.

By Kyle Schnurbusch, Strategy Director

Your nonprofit’s brand is more than just a logo, name or slogan. It’s an expression of your organization’s values, mission and the causes you support. A strong brand can be a powerful tool to reach donors and build loyalty with current supporters. Investing in developing your nonprofit’s brand can increase visibility and help you meet your fundraising goals.

As 2023 begins, use the following assessment questions and considerations to ensure your nonprofit’s brand is ready to support your fundraising initiatives ahead.

Do your current donors know your brand’s purpose in the world? 

When annual fundraising goals are on the line, it can be difficult to slow down fundraising activities to ensure outreach communications are on-brand and clear to donors. However, the discipline to regularly gauge your donors’ interest, perceptions and knowledge of your organization can influence more fundraising success in the long run.

A donor survey is a great way to uncover insights into your donor’s knowledge and interest in your organization. Questions might be:

What aspects of our mission are most important to you?
What do you hope for in our future?
Why do you support our mission?
What do you tell others about our organization?

When assessing responses, analyze the results based on your annual case for support and the information within donor personas you typically use in your everyday outreach to see how they compare. The insights gathered in the survey can expose messaging opportunities that bridge knowledge gaps.

Remember, even the most loyal donors are busy and constantly bombarded with communications from other organizations, so it’s never a waste of time to reach out to your donors to keep them connected while inspiring more purposeful communications.

Are your donor messages inclusive of your brand’s values?

If you’ve created unique messages for different donor types, take time to review your messaging alongside donor personas to ensure your brand values are represented and aligned with the intended recipient.

If your organization hasn’t developed donor personas that highlight shared values, use these steps:

1. Create a donor survey to obtain insights into what aspects of your organization interest and inspire them. Incorporate your values (4 to 5) into answer options and have them rank the statements from highest to lowest priority. Ask donors to provide a rationale for their ranking as well.

2. Using the responses, group your donors based on their top ranking. Once grouped, look for commonalities they share like other known interests, preferred channels of engagement and support behaviors.

3. Using the values shared and corresponding psychographic and behavioral information, develop 4-5 donor personas.

4. Use the personas to guide the construction of your individualized messaging within your different communications.

When your messaging clearly represents the values you share with your donors, connections are reaffirmed and fundraising success will happen.

Does your organizational culture align with your brand values? 

Creating a positive, productive culture for a nonprofit organization means aligning it with the values and vision of the brand. When these two elements are in sync, it can lead to increased engagement from both employees and donors, as well as improved decision-making and productivity.

To ensure that your culture is aligned with your brand values, organizations must integrate  brand values into everyday process frameworks and activities. Organizational leadership should encourage your team to live out these values in their daily activities, be it providing outstanding client service, embracing diversity and inclusion or partnering with others in the community—whatever best aligns with the values in place.

When a team is living out the organization’s values, everything is more connected and purposeful. A team will feel more inspired to advocate for your organization’s mission, and go above and beyond to ensure others surrounding your work, including donors and volunteers, are welcomed, appreciated and inspired to build on your mission.

Is your internal team prepared to be brand ambassadors? 

An important responsibility for anyone serving at a nonprofit is being a brand ambassador. Organizations that have team members who understand this responsibility and equip them with the tools to promote the brand are more effective marketers and are better fundraisers.

If your organization is just beginning to prioritize brand ambassadorship among team members, It is important to create clear expectations and objectives from the start. This could include determining the type of content they will be responsible for creating, as well as who should be responsible for creating it. It is also important to provide training on how to properly use the brand’s social media channels, as well as any additional resources they may need to create effective messages.

Additionally, your organization’s leadership should provide team members with a clear understanding of the company’s vision and mission. This will ensure that they are always on-brand when representing your organization. As part of their preparation, team members should be given access to the company’s brand guidelines, so they have the information to accurately represent your brand on hand.

Finally, it is essential to provide ongoing feedback and support for your brand ambassadors. Set quarterly check-ins with your team to determine what’s working well and where they might need more support.

When your team members become inspired brand ambassadors, you’ve multiplied the number of communicators and fundraisers at your organization that can amplify your fundraising success.

So, is your brand ready to fundraise in 2023?

How Associations Can Help Member Reputations

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How professional associations can influence a member’s reputation and value in the workplace.

By Kyle Schnurbusch, Strategy Director

Having a professional association membership can be an invaluable asset in the workplace. Professional associations provide members with access to resources, knowledge and experiences that can help them develop their skills and increase their value as employees.

While many professional associations are helping their members bridge skill and knowledge gaps, which enables them to advance their careers, few are providing the education, resources or opportunities for engagement to employers and their leaders that can ultimately increase a member’s reputation and value at the organization.

Here are three ideas that your professional association can implement to help influence your members’ reputation in the workplace:

Create a direct-to-employer marketing campaign focused on member’s business value

The business value that a professional brings to a company isn’t always obvious. Professional associations can take the lead in communicating the business value their members deliver. A straightforward way to do so is by launching a direct-to-employer awareness campaign on behalf of your members to educate and remind employers of their business contributions be it cost savings, revenue growth or company reputation.

What needs to be demonstrated in your campaign to help organizational leaders understand the business value your members bring to their success? In your campaign, support those facts with great content like testimonials from organizational leaders, infographics that explain their benefits and messages that convey your members’ commitment to the field and moving an organization forward. Also, a campaign should recognize the significance your professional certification program(s) bring to companies and the collective industry.

Establish an employer recognition initiative

Professional associations are in a great position to recognize employers and company leaders that influence members’ career successes. A recognition initiative facilitated by your professional association can acknowledge the important contributions employer parties make to members. This initiative will serve as an invitation into your association’s inner workings, and it could deepen your connections with organizational leaders as well.

Nominations for your recognition initiative can be led by your staff, but it is more meaningful when your members have the opportunity to nominate a leader at their organization. By opening the opportunity to members, you’re broadening the possibilities for employer connections that can ultimately lead to strong perceptions of your association among important organizational leaders.

Make your research inclusive with influential organizational leaders

If your professional association is developing original research studies about the industry or industry vertical in which your members work, it’s important to create opportunities to include organizational leaders. Doing so can bring a wealth of knowledge, experience and resources to your study. It can also bring forth new perspectives to the research process and help ensure that any outcomes achieved are representative of the population being studied. Utilizing influential organizational leadership can involve having them provide guidance, mentorship and access to resources with their organization. Developing relationships with these individuals can also be useful for promoting the research’s objectives or any desired outcomes.

An invitation into your study can create a strong, long-term connection between them and your professional association, and the relationship will positively influence how they perceive your members’ and association’s value.

How is your professional association promoting your member’s reputation in the workplace?

Improve Your Home Healthcare Agency’s Brand Image

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Four ways to improve your nonprofit home healthcare agency’s brand image online

By Kyle Schnurbusch, Strategy Director

If you’re a nonprofit home healthcare agency operator, we know you’re busy, and based on population trends in the U.S., your operation will grow significantly in the years ahead.

According to America’s Health Rankings, the population of people 65 and over in the U.S. will increase to 70 million by 2030, a 30% increase from the current senior population. The increase in older Americans is projected to grow the home healthcare service market to $153.19 billion in the same time period. Seniors’ preference to remain at home as they age contributes to the market’s increase as well.

If you’re an independent operator, there’s never been a better time to strengthen your brand, and building your image online can connect your organization to where prospective customers and their adult care influencers are looking for home healthcare services.

Here are four ways you can strengthen your agency’s brand image online:

1. Consistently communicate your points of differentiation in your messaging.

What are your agency’s core strengths? It’s important to evaluate your agency, your market and the perceptions surrounding your organization to develop a brand that’s authentic and has a point of difference based on your strengths. Through your research, establish three to five key points that can direct your online communications and marketing channels⁠—your website content, advertising and social media.

For example, consider “holistic approach” as a key point for your home health agency. You must convey your holistic philosophy consistently in your messaging. Support your message with stories, images and videos that provide additional perspectives for your strengths.

Connect your points to actual results as well. Using the “holistic approach” example, develop a client story that communicates the details of the approach and the results it has influenced for the client’s health⁠—mentally, physically and spiritually. Stories with outcomes allow a client or their loved ones to fully understand your service’s impact and why your differences matter.

2. Incorporate your client testimonials throughout a prospect’s online journey.

Referrals from current and past clients are great for promoting your home health care agency. Testimonials and reviews provide proof of your effectiveness. According to the 2020 Home Care Benchmarking Study, current and past clients are the top sources of new referrals.

Referrals can be used on your website, social media pages and paid advertising campaigns. Additionally, testimonial quotes or videos make for great remarketing content on social platforms and help you remain visible to past visitors from your website. Remarketing has become increasingly important in the last year due to longer decision cycles for home health care services, and testimonials can create trust and a compelling story that solidifies contracts.

3. Ask for and engage with your online reviews.

Trust is essential to developing any relationship, personal or business. For home health agencies, showcasing that your business is trusted by its clients is critical to acquiring more relationships. Online reviews are a great way to display the trust and strong client relationships your organization possesses, and good reviews have a direct return.

Yelp, a popular consumer review site for local businesses, reports that for every one-star increase that a business receives, it sees a 5-9% increase in revenue. Additionally, products and services that receive five-star reviews are 270% more likely to be purchased.

It’s clear that reviews are important to your prospective client’s decision journey. So, you must make the time to respond to the (good and bad) reviews you have acquired across review sites⁠—Facebook, Google, Yelp, A Place for Mom, etc.

It’s important to ask your satisfied clients to leave a review about their positive experiences as well. Most review sites have easy-to-use user portals to share a review quickly. Train your team in the field to use the review portals and ask clients for reviews when face-to-face. In-person requests are the most successful for receiving a review.

4. Be an educational resource to cultivate relationships with prospective clients.

As mentioned earlier, the decision cycle for prospective senior clients and their adult care influencers has gotten longer in recent years, mainly due to safety concerns related to COVID-19. It’s important to remain in front of these prospects, providing information and opportunities to engage as they move through their decision journey.

Educational content and online webinars are effective ways to build value and increase purchase consideration for your home health care agency’s services. Educational content and events can be promoted on your website, through SEO and on social media platforms.

Both open and gated content should be included in your content plan. Gated content might be a webinar, video or whitepaper about matters related to your service, and a visitor must submit their contact information to download or view the material. You can then use that information to reach out, answer questions, schedule a consultation or share more information. This helps them in their decision process.

Investing time in SEO-focused content can help your agency build awareness through search engines. By using key terms or asking common questions related to your services within content, users have a chance to find your business. An easy way to find keywords to use in your content, enter related questions and terms, such as “home health agency” or “caregiver agency,” into search engines to see what auto-populates in the search dropdown and the “people also search for” section.

Social media, specifically Facebook, can help your business build category authority as well. Share your educational content on your page along with other posts that shape your brand’s image, like client stories, organizational news, organizational culture highlights, caregiver tips or information about the issues your home health agency helps solve.

For 2023, use these tips within the first four months of the year to set your home health care agency up for success for years to come. Results don’t happen overnight, but your setting up a winning digital foundation that will produce real leads in the long term.

Questions? Reach out to us.

Using Insights, Outcomes and Data to Have a Successful Giving Tuesday

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Deepen your curiosity when planning your Giving Tuesday campaign this year.

By Kyle Schnurbusch, OrgStory Strategy Director

Giving Tuesday is November 29th this year (yes, less than a month away). It’s the start of the end-of-year giving season, and it’s a great opportunity for your organization to incite giving among donors, especially low and mid-level ones.

As you’ve probably experienced in your past campaigns, Giving Tuesday can be quite burdensome and frustrating if you don’t plan ahead. I hope you’ve begun your planning process for this year, but regardless of your plan’s status, I encourage you to deepen your curiosity within your planning process to inspire a campaign that truly stands out to your donors amid the magnitude of asks.

Here are three ways you can push your curiosity within your campaign planning to have a more successful Giving Tuesday:

1. Gain insights from your donors to inspire your campaign message.

Insights from your key donors are crucial when planning any campaign. For Giving Tuesday, I recommend focusing on obtaining insights from donors that engage online frequently (email or social media) and have volunteered or given at least once within the last eighteen months (maybe the last Giving Tuesday). If your organization is using Giving Tuesday to raise money for a specific program or need, identify donors that have given toward that initiative.

Once you’ve generated a report on these donors, take time to analyze it to identify commonalities among these donors (occupation, family make-up, interests, etc.). It’s best to establish two to four donor types based on the data.

Next, you’ll want to get to know those donor types beyond the data. You can do this by asking these questions for each audience type:

  • What interests them about your mission?
  • What makes them most proud to be associated with your mission?
  • How does your organization’s work make them feel?
  • What are their expectations of your organization?
  • What communication channels do they prefer?

After you’ve completed your insight gathering, combine the data and responses to create donor personas. Then, develop specific messages that align with the interests and motivations of each. Your curiosity in shaping each persona and crafting unique messages will help your campaign’s success.

2. Determine how to best communicate your organization’s outcomes against broader data points.

In your Giving Tuesday campaign, I recommend using outcome data to complement the messages and stories you share. However, your data should be shared within the context of a greater point to make it more impactful. Research relevant data to share alongside your outcomes that clearly define your success. For example: how many children in your area face the same challenges your clients do? How do your outcomes compare to regional or national outcomes?

Additionally, It’s important to share how your organization’s results directly impact your donors as well. For example: if you continue to evaluate outcomes, will your community operate differently in five years? Will a breakthrough happen if outcomes are sustained?

As mentioned above, data should complement your message and stories for your Giving Tuesday campaign. By combining great results with your stories and the benefits donors receive from your work, campaign success will follow.

3. Leverage donor data to determine how to best spend your time marketing your campaign.

Asking your donors about their communication preferences is important when developing your campaign’s strategy and marketing plan. However, sometimes what people say is not what they do. That’s why I recommend pushing your curiosity about your donor’s communication preferences by analyzing analytics associated with your website, social platforms and email campaigns.

  • Where do donors engage most often?
  • When do donors tend to engage with your content?
  • Do donors tend to give through social media? Email? Website?

Analytics also can uncover the types of content that lead to higher engagement and/or giving behaviors:

  • What pages on your website are visited before the donation page is visited?
  • What stories have received the highest engagement? Where does a user go after they engage with the story?

Gathering analytics shouldn’t be an alternative to talking to your donors, as suggested in #1. Each step is important when informing your campaign’s strategy, messaging and distribution methods.

Good luck on Giving Tuesday! If you use these ideas, I know you’ll create a campaign that will excite and deliver results.

Reach out: Feel free to email Kyle Schnurbusch to share ways your organization is planning for Giving Tuesday.

Five Communications Strategies for Fundraising in an economic downturn

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How to keep donors engaged and giving using appropriate strategies

By Kyle Schnurbusch, Strategy Director

With many experts suggesting that an economic downturn is looming, it can be unnerving for nonprofit communications and fundraising professionals. However, an economic decline can inspire fresh ideas and reinforce the effectiveness of certain communications and fundraising strategies at your organization. Here are five strategies to consider in an economic downturn.

1. Prioritize donor communications focused on mission education and impact.

Communication that showcases your organization’s resilience and drive to make an impact during uncertain times is very important. Donors want to know their investment in your mission is being utilized no matter the circumstance. They believe your work can’t stop, and you must provide them with peace of mind that your mission is moving ahead.

Increasing your client storytelling and regularly displaying your outcomes with timely metrics make for great content that can keep your donors and supporters close during turbulent times. By increasing the frequency of such content, you provide more opportunities for donors to make a gift or offer support as well. However, the main objective of these communications should be stewardship, not fundraising.

2. Focus on strengthening relationships with your existing donors.

Some organizations have a tendency to pull back their asks during an economic downturn. However, statistics show that existing donors still give during these times, and many give more if they’re able. With that in mind, it’s a great idea to strengthen your relationship with them. Personalizing your fundraising communications to maintain or even upgrade your low and mid-level donors is crucial. In your communications, share information about your sustainers giving club for donors not yet members. It’s important to consistently express the difference an incremental gift could make to your mission as well.

Again, personalization is critical in your communications with your donors. Make space in your communications to recognize the financial impact they’ve made in the past. For large donor upgrade opportunities, incorporate a donor’s organizational interests and personal giving motivations in your messaging.

Extra tip: Remember to end your communications with an ask. (Example: Would you consider an increase of $X in your giving this year to help us serve more fathers through our financial literacy counseling?)

3. Create a matching program, led by board members or large donors, to engage and retain lower-level donors.

Hopefully, your organization’s board members are great financial contributors. If so, establish a matching program made up of their gifts for the year to encourage low-level donors (or even first-time donors) to give. When donations are matched one-to-one (or even 2x and 4x), these donors are attracted to making a bigger difference, a feeling they might not have enjoyed if they planned to pause or reduce their giving because of financial hardship.

It’s a great idea to connect your matching initiative to the timing of a larger fundraising or cause-awareness event (i.e. a national giving day, cause awareness day/month, or organization’s anniversary) to make the campaign more meaningful to donors. Also, make sure the matching campaign is well-supported with communications, and give it an end date to create structure and urgency.

4. Keep saying “thank you.”

There’s never a bad time to say “thank you” to your donors. Sharing your gratitude for their loyalty to your mission preserves community and brings joy to donors in a troubling time. You never know what challenges they may be facing, and your appreciation for them goes a long way.

Extra tip: If your internal capacity allows, write handwritten notes to the top 20% of your donors (based on a three-year average giving amount). The extra time and personalization could encourage increased or added gifts.

5. Keep bringing supporters together.

An economic downturn shouldn’t be a time to discontinue your organization’s marquee fundraising events targeting sustained, mid-to-large donors. In a down economy, your organization has the ability to bring your supporter community together and provide special moments of inspiration and maybe even perspective. Remember that an economic downturn could mean better negotiation power for your organization when acquiring a venue and vendors for the event.

Extra tip: Through the years, it’s our experience that inaugural events should be delayed if planned during an economic downturn if possible.

What are some fundraising and communications strategies you recommend during an economic downturn?

Using Information to Grow Donor Relationships

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Personal information your organization should prioritize to grow key donor relationships.

By Kyle Schnurbusch, Strategy Director

If you’re a fundraising professional, your organization’s donor management system is an essential tool to record and operationalize individual, corporate and foundation information. A great database enables you to be efficient in your work, and it can set you up well to renew and upgrade key donors’ gifts throughout the year.

There’s a lot of information on donors that can be collected and stored within a donor database, but certain information areas should be priorities to strengthen relationships, especially among your top 20% of donors, who give a large majority of total individual contributions. This information includes:

  • General demographic and contact information: Collect mailing address, email address, phone number, birthday, spouse and child(ren’s) names and birthdays, company name, education and professional background and household income.
  • History of giving and support: Track frequency of gifts, giving patterns, gift type, fundraisers participated in and the timing of gifts. Also, record service roles as a board member or program volunteer.
  • Giving motivations: Identity what about the organization’s mission, programs and history impacts the donor personally and influences them to give.
  • Philanthropic goals: Understand a donor’s long-term philanthropic desires.
  • Personal connections: Identify ways a donor is connected to other stakeholders and supporters.
  • Communication preferences: Determine how the donor likes to engage in communication, including email, phone, text or mailing. Identify the most appropriate times to reach out.
  • Digital interactions: (Although more sophisticated), record emails, social media posts, text messages or QR codes a donor has opened, completed or engaged with recently.

Based on our experience, these areas are what we believe to have the greatest utility for impactful communications and direct interactions across a spectrum of donor personas (accessibility of information plays a role in our thought process as well). Specifically for major donors, if the first four areas are known, your organization can grow its fundraising goals year-over-year.

An information-rich donor database is an exceptional tool to help any fundraising professional produce stronger, partnership-minded donor relationships for their organization.

For samples of donor-based fundraising projects we’ve worked on, visit

6 Ways to Improve Digital Communications for Donors

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How to use digital communications to upgrade gifts from your small to mid-sized donors.

By Kyle Schnurbusch, Strategy Director

As a fundraising professional, you spend countless hours looking at donor profiles, researching their giving potential and strategizing to get them to upgrade their gifts for the year. Donors in your database that have the potential to upgrade to middle or major donors are a big deal, and impactful communication is vital in moving those donors along in their philanthropic journey with your organization. Digital communication methods have become more important in cultivating and soliciting these movement-ready donors as they allow content to be dynamic and efficient to deploy.

Use these six ideas in your communications with these prized donors this year to make moves happen.

To move donors to give more, you have to make your digital communications highly personalized. To do this, you need to indicate you know a bit about them and their philanthropic interests. That is why keeping quality notes on your top movement-ready donor targets is important. When you personalize your digital communications—email, text, direct messages on social platforms—make sure you’re using the right information at the right time. Some personal information might only make sense to leverage in stewardship-focused touch points, whereas mentioning their philanthropic goals might be more important to include in a personal appeal during focused fundraising times.

Virtual engagement
Have you ever considered sending a personal video message to donors? A simple 60-second video message that shares your appreciation of their support and an indication of what an increase in their annual giving would do for your mission can go a long way. Share your videos via email or text message, and follow-up with a phone call to discuss giving options to complete the donation process.

Make your goals urgent and clear
Have you ever heard the phrase “clear is kind”? When it comes to asking your donors for a gift, that phrase applies. Whatever your ask, be clear about why you’re reaching out to them, how their gift will impact your mission, the timeline in which you’ll use the funds and what increased amount you’d like them to consider for the year. (if they say “no” to the asked amount, respond by asking what they would consider right away).

If you’re making an ask in response to an event, like a policy change, natural disaster or related crisis, make sure they know the details of the event, how your organization is responding and ways their incremental giving will be used in that effort.

Send emails from personal addresses, not marketing ESPs
Stewardship or solicitation emails to your movement-ready target donors should never be sent in mass. These are highly prized donors, and they demand the attention of personalized, direct and well-thought-out digital communications. The only use marketing ESPs have in your interactions with these prospects is sending organizational newsletters and announcements. If the donor isn’t subscribed to your newsletter, invite them to join the list in your direct correspondence.

Link to supporting stories and information
If you’re sending a personalized email, remember that not all content has to live within that email. Use hyperlinks to send donor targets to webpages on your site that have more information or stories that support your enclosed message. If a potential movement-ready donor prefers online giving, make sure your email has a link to your donation form. When using hyperlinks in your email, make sure there’s a clear call to action preceding the link. Simply hyperlinking a keyword in a paragraph is not as intuitive as you might think, and if you don’t include a call to act, donors most likely won’t.

Track response and follow up in other ways
The magical thing about digital communications is that it’s all trackable. Utilize your donor management system’s tracking capabilities to monitor email opens, clicks or even social media engagements. As you collect data about their interactions with you, you can have better follow-up conversations via phone, email or in-person. How great would it be to have coffee with a movement-ready donor and know what interests them about your mission and work based on their online interactions?

Share your ideas. We’d love to know how you’ve enhanced your digital communications to better steward relationships and solicit gifts from your movement-ready donor prospects.

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Five Ways to Ensure Your Nonprofit Brand is Inspiring Your Team

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Inspire Your Nonprofit’s Team with an Effective Brand

By Kyle Schnurbusch, Strategy Director

Branding matters when building connections to the world around your nonprofit organization. External stakeholders, such as donors, volunteers and clients, are influenced by the messages and unique experiences shaped by branding. They become better advocates for your organization’s mission and vision when your brand is delivered effectively to them.

The most important delivery vehicle of your brand is employees. From working with your clients to engaging with your supporters, your team ultimately determines the experience your organization facilitates. So, providing them with training and communications that keep them close to your brand in their everyday work is essential to the way they successfully evangelize for your mission. Here are five ways to inspire your team:

1. Your mission and vision statement are visible

What good is a mission and vision statement if it isn’t visible for your team to see? Put these important brand statements in the hallway or cafeteria. You can also encourage your team members to place these statements in their email signatures. If you manage your nonprofit’s internal communications or intranet, make sure the statements are displayed prominently.

2. Connect your nonprofit’s mission to team members’ “why”

Are you asking team members about ways your mission statement connects to their own professional convictions? It’s important to help them connect the dots, and display how they come alive in their daily work. Showcase their testimonies on internal communications as well as your social media channels and website. You might even consider structuring this exercise as part of an employer brand campaign.

3. Incorporate training opportunities that advance your nonprofit’s core values

When thinking about ongoing training to provide employees, structuring opportunities that align with your nonprofit brand values is a great place to start. If diversity is a value, what diversity, equity and inclusion training is available for employees? Every value should be considered when developing your annual professional training calendar, and make sure the connection between your nonprofit’s brand and available training is clear and promoted.

4. Keep your closest brand ambassadors accessible for questions

Oftentimes, team members have questions about strategic statements, especially as these statements become more prominent in their everyday lives. This is especially the case as they’re asked to participate in applying the statements into their own career journey and work. Therefore, your closest brand ambassadors—executives, fundraising, communications or HR team members—should be accessible to answer questions. It’s a good idea to ask for nonprofit brand strategy-related questions or feedback from your team in internal communications as well.

5. Include team members in your nonprofit brand development process

When it’s time for your nonprofit to evaluate your brand strategy, make sure to include your team members in the process. Set up interviews with team members that represent each department of your organization, and bring them in for feedback later in the process as nonprofit brand elements are developed. By including them in ongoing developments, you’re building ownership that can morph into unmatched brand stewardship.

Branding is a great way to unify your employees, and the most successful organizations work everyday to ensure their nonprofit brand influences a culture that inspires and creates impassioned leaders.

Share what your nonprofit is doing to ensure your brand is inspiring your team members.

A Q&A with VNA Volunteer Coordinator Sue Risch

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Experts for Good: A Q&A Series Featuring Nonprofit Professionals

By Kyle Schnurbusch, Strategy Director

Volunteerism is at the heart of many nonprofits as volunteers work to make a tangible difference in communities with the support of organizations that facilitate their work. We spoke with Sue Risch, Volunteer Coordinator at the Visiting Nurse Association of Greater St. Louis (VNA), about their volunteers, volunteering best practices and why nonprofit volunteer opportunities are so important.

The following has been edited for length and clarity.

Share a little bit about VNA’s volunteer program and some of its areas of opportunity and focus.

We feel our volunteers are the heart of VNA. We use volunteers in all of our programs, and right now we probably have a total of over a hundred volunteers.

We use them in our hospice division in a variety of capacities. We provide companionship to patients. We have pet therapy, massage therapy, craft volunteers, volunteers who do notarizations for us, bereavement support volunteers… One thing for our hospice program is that we are mandated to have at least 5% of total staff hours be volunteer hours as per Medicare to be an operating hospice, so they really see the value of volunteer opportunities in the hospice arena. We use our volunteers in pretty much the same capacities in our palliative care program.

We have volunteer nurses that provide vaccination and administrative services. They’ll work in clinics or here at the office too. And then we have our Visit-A-Bit senior program where volunteers provide companionship to lonely seniors. We also provide service hours and externships to students in the St. Louis area. We’ll get nurse practitioners and nursing students that do intern externships. They’re provided with a really good learning experience.

What makes you most proud of your program?

What makes me most proud is the dedication and flexibility of our volunteers. We saw that a lot with COVID-19 because around March 2020, something like 93% of all volunteering had been canceled or postponed. At that time, I still had volunteers calling asking what they could do. I had one volunteer who called right away and said, “I can make masks.” There were nurses that called and wanted to help in any way they could and give open vaccinations. We probably had about 15 volunteer nurses that we trained and volunteered in our clinics. And even outside the pandemic arena, our volunteers are always willing to help where needed if I have a patient care volunteer and maybe we need some help in a vaccination clinic.

When it comes to the recruitment of volunteers, what have been the best referral sources and practices?

The United Way is a great referral source for us. They have an online volunteer opportunity directory, and they’re affiliated with a lot of senior fairs and health fairs that we’re involved with and get volunteers from. Volunteer Match is another online volunteer directory that people will use to search for volunteer opportunities.

Our website is excellent and really engages volunteers. We get a lot of calls from people who were just looking on the website for opportunities. I also think that the name “Visiting Nurse Association” itself is a name that people are familiar with, which helps. We get churches that call based on that alone who are looking for volunteer opportunities, or I may approach churches.

How do you effectively communicate with volunteers?

As far as existing volunteers, I think keeping in touch and supporting them is necessary. For new volunteers, we do orientation training and onboarding. We provide a lot of ongoing support and education too. I try to keep in touch with volunteers weekly, especially our volunteers that are assigned to hospice, but if it isn’t weekly, it’s at least every two weeks, whether it be a phone call, text or email.

What type of system do you use to track volunteer information and feedback?

Volunteers [depending on where they volunteer within VNA] do visit reports, and their written visit reports will document their time and the activities they did with patients or whomever. I also will contact volunteers and talk to them about their visits to make sure they’re meeting the goals of seniors’ care plans and that they’re satisfied on their end with what they’re doing. And we have patient satisfaction surveys we send to patients.

How do you think volunteer opportunities will evolve over the next five years?

Going through the pandemic forced everybody to start thinking out of the box about how we could do things differently. And that includes a whole virtual component that has allowed people to develop hybrid programs. For us, that looked like having volunteers do televisits and phone calls. It’s something we’re going to see ongoing because I think these virtual visits can be just as effective. The same goes for orientations and training too.

What types of resources do you use to help facilitate volunteer opportunities?

I think communicating with similar groups in hospice and palliative care helps. We do monthly volunteer chats that we invite other volunteer managers to. We get to talk about what people are doing, what types of innovative things people are working on and what they’re struggling with. Communicating with those other groups and sharing the stories provides emotional support along with inspiring new ideas.

To see a recruitment campaign we’ve worked on at OrgStory, visit

5 Details Not to Overlook When Planning A Nonprofit Marketing Campaign

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Get the most out of your nonprofit marketing campaign by using these tips.

By Kyle Schnurbusch, Strategy Director

Over the last four months, I’ve been talking with leaders about developing nonprofit marketing campaigns that build awareness for their organizations. The thought is that as our world “normalizes,” supporters’ sentiments about our world will continue to become more optimistic and stable. Because of this, causes that are visible and can best define their position have an opportunity to gain attention from new and familiar supporters. I agree with this thinking and believe that nonprofits that can create strategically creative, well-targeted awareness campaigns will be most successful in reaching their programming and fundraising goals over the next year.

So, as you consider an awareness campaign for your nonprofit, here are five details you don’t want to overlook in your planning and execution:

1. Determine the perceptions surrounding your nonprofit’s brand before building a marketing campaign strategy.

When was the last time you asked your donors, clients or partners to share their perspectives about your cause? It’s important to gather and learn from these perspectives as you develop your campaign strategy and message.

What do they know? What do they wish they knew more about? How does your cause make them feel? Do they know your organization’s why and where your mission is headed? How is your organization solving a problem differently? Why do they trust you?

Once you’ve gathered interviews, look for consistencies and determine how to best use those insights within your nonprofit marketing campaign strategy. Responses can help shape personas and direct targeted content for each audience. Knowledge gaps that are uncovered can spark ideas for educational content that can help people develop a deeper understanding of the problem you’re working to solve, and why your solution matters. Finally, responses should provide insights on ways to keep audiences engaged so that you can eventually move them to action, be it advocating, volunteering or donating.

Extra tip: Ask supporters ways they like to receive communications from your organization. These insights can help inform your campaign’s channel strategy.

2. Build understanding of your mission in rich and diverse ways.

As mentioned, interviewing your supporters can help you uncover knowledge gaps about your organization’s mission. These gaps are opportunities for your organization to bridge education-focused content during your marketing campaign. Your plan should consist of various types of content that can provide people with multiple perspectives of your mission, work and impact. Here’s a list of great educational content to consider:

  • Q&As with program and leadership team
  • Client stories and testimonials
  • Process and service comparison infographics
  • Campaign case for support video
  • Facebook and Instagram stories that share the “behind-the-scenes” of your mission at work

It’s important to showcase your diverse educational content in one central place, allowing people to easily navigate and access contents. Consider how different types of educational content can live and scale on your campaign’s web page.

Tip: Infographics continue to be a strong way to visually educate supporters about an organization’s mission and facts about a problem it’s trying to overcome, differentiation in the market and organizational successes.

3. Create usable campaign content that empowers your board and staff to spread your message.

Your organization most likely has turnkey brand ambassadors, consisting of board members, junior board members and staff. Most likely, they just need a clear roadmap on what to say and when to help evangelize for your campaign. So, develop a campaign guide that includes a timeline, agreed upon goals and milestones, key talking points and shareable content like client stories, campaign graphics and videos.

Tip: During your nonprofit marketing campaign, remember to recognize those that are participating by acknowledging them with public and direct “thank you” messages.

4. Leverage strategic partners to expand your campaign’s reach.

Your organization is probably connected to local corporations and other public organizations. These relationships are strategic assets for a nonprofit marketing campaign. Evaluate your relationships and determine what your organization can do to recognize them and engage their stakeholders in your campaign.

Can you speak at an upcoming employee lunch and learn? Can you provide educational materials to employees? Can you share how your organization’s cause is impacting their organization?

Tip: Modify already-produced educational content to accommodate the interests of your partners’ audiences rather than starting content from scratch.

5. Have a plan to track performance, advance successes and pivot on failures.

When it comes to execution, your organization must have a plan that identifies your nonprofit marketing awareness goals, audiences, content, budget and channels you’ll need to be successful. Your plan should have a timeline that includes content development, channel setup and asset launch milestones. You need to include times designated for evaluating your campaigns performance as well. Is your campaign tracking towards goals? Are all of your target audiences being reached? What content and channels are most effective in reaching them? What’s not working?

Not everything in your nonprofit marketing campaign is going to work as planned, but with the right data, you can make decisions on when and how to pivot your plan for the best results.

Tip: Project management tools like, Asana or Basecamp are great for creating a collaborative workspace that makes your plan’s timelines and tasks clear for all involved. These three offer discounted or free versions for registered nonprofits.

Interested in learning more about awareness campaigns? Check out one we did with Lutheran Family and Children’s Services called “Faithful Promises:” ​​

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