Friday, 25 November 2011

How to evaluate your charity's communications

Before designing the communications strategy for next year take some time to evaluate the marketing and fundraising communications your charity sent out this year. Here is a hands-on, simple evaluation framework that can reap great dividends.
Step One: Gather the various mailing packages, and other related online fundraising and marketing materials that your charity has prepared and sent to donors and contacts on the last 18 months. What you have in front of you and on your computer screen is likely to represent the sum total of intentional messages received by your charity's constituents.
Step Two: Take a highlighter and mark every purpose statement, expression of your charity's mission and fundraising asks you find embedded in your communications pieces.
What do you think? Can you see message consistency? Clearly stated fundraising asks?
Are you speechless? Stunned? Pleased? Alarmed?
Step Three: Ask yourself and - get your colleagues to ask themselves too - the following questions as you evaluate your charity's communications. Remember to be honest, otherwise there is no point in undertaking this exercise.
1. Does every communications' piece contain a clear statement of your charity's vision and mission? - Your goal should be to have bite-size version of our mission and vision in all communications so that donors are reminded of what you do and why their participation in your wok is important.

2. Do your printed and online materials communicate your charity’s brand? - Examine the language, style, design, use of images, headlines, colour schemes - do they adhere to your charity's style guide? Do they express your charity's unique personality and style? - Donors should be able to recongnise your materials and your messages in a crowded marketplace.  

If a donor visits your website, facebook page, or reads one of your promotional mailings, they should be able to easily identify elements (both copy and design) that set your charity apart from others involved in similar work.  

3. How are you telling your charity's stories? - People connect with a cause through compelling stories. How are you telling your stories in words and images? Are they inspiring? Memorable? Captured in headlines, copy as well as powerful authentic images?

4. How are you communicating the impact that the donors are making through their giving? - Today's donors want to know how the money they give is being spent. Openness and transparency helps to build donor trust in charities. So, have a look at your communications? How often do you let donors know how the money is being used? Do you report back on how much was raised through various appeals? Do you let them know what your administration costs are and how much money goes to the project in the field? Is there consistency in these messages or do they contradict each other?

5. How do you thank your donors? - Saying 'thank you' is a way of strengthening relationships with donors and assuring them that their gifts will be used as intended. It is also a way of securing future gifts. How do you say 'thank you'? Are there any thank you messages incorporated in your newsletters, emails, etc as well as personalised letters? Are the thank you messages dry and formal or warm and encouraging?

6. Do you encourage donors to engage with your charity? - How many of your charity's communications give donors opportunities to offer feedback, ask questions, share their views about your work, or even tell you why they support your charity? Do you give donor's a voice through your printed materials, your website or online forums? Do you act on their suggestions and offer them feedback? - In a connected world one way communications are becoming extinct and collaboration is the name of the game. 

These might seem like simple questions but you would be surprised as to how many time charities get them wrong .... so take your time with this exercise, evaluate the findings and improve the effectiveness of your communications in 2012.


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