Four Ways To Engage Nonprofit Staff in Communications
It’s impossible to effectively write about the success of your nonprofit without the help of your colleagues. As much as you try to keep in touch with everyone’s efforts, those on the ground know their impact best. Engaging staff also gives you just a bit more time to focus on the other dozen things on your plate. While there will be a bit of planning and follow-up on your end, after time your program teams will expect to be involved and know exactly what is needed on their end. Here are four ways to engage staff in communications.
Ask program staff to write blog posts and social media content
You would be surprised how eager staff will be to have the opportunity to write about their programs. Just by asking, you are letting them know that they are experts in their field, and that your partners and supporters want to know their stories.
I’ve found that the best way to do this is to ask two weeks, if not a month, in advance. Be clear on what you need, and give content ideas and examples. Here is a sample email that you can use:
Hello from the comms department! March is National Nutrition Month, and I thought that would be the perfect opportunity to showcase the WIC team and the amazing work you guys are doing in the Bronx.
Do you think you could write a blog post about the WIC center and some social media content?
The blog post should be about 350 words. I was thinking you could write “A day in the life of a WIC nutritionist.” For social media, I was thinking of posting a nutrition tip once a week throughout the month, so you can just share a sentence or two for each tip and we will design the rest.
I attached the blog post and social media content from last month’s National Minority Health Month that our nurse helped with. Check out our Facebook to see how the campaign went. Our audience loved it!
Open to your ideas, too. I hope you can take part.
If staff are able to commit, give a deadline a week before the month to give you time to edit and design, and send at least one reminder mid-month. Be sure to attribute the content to the team that wrote the content. They will be thankful to be featured, and your audience will feel that much more connected to your clients and field staff.
Host editorial meetings
One sure way to get some great content ideas is to invite one or two staff representatives from each department to a quarterly editorial meeting. The main purpose of the meeting will be to brainstorm story ideas to showcase at events, blog, social media, annual reports, and more. They can share touching client stories, a rockstar staff member to highlight, events that were a smashing success, or a need for fundraising. Your program team may also be privy to national observances and trends that should be on your radar and communications calendar.
How are you going to get program staff away from their desks to yet another meeting? Two words: donuts and coffee.
Go to team meetings
There is a good chance that departments in your nonprofit have monthly team meetings. Ask if you can join the team meetings once or twice a year to listen in on what the teams are up to. This serves two purposes: You will get insight into what they are working on and care about, and it will also remind them that you exist! You can even ask for 5 to 10 minutes to talk about what the communications/marketing/development department is up to, and how they can take part. This is a great opportunity to make that ask to write program content in person.
Start a staff social media ambassador program
Getting your staff engaged with your social media should be low hanging fruit, shouldn't it? I’ve worked at organizations where staff were incredibly engaged with social media, and others that seemed to keep asking me if we were on Facebook no matter how hard I tried to engage them. Don’t leave it to the goodness of their hearts—incentivize staff to get digital.
Here is a simple staff social media ambassador program idea:
Identify 10 staff who are already engaged on social media, and another 10 that are not, but could be. These Staff Ambassadors will commit to complete three social media action items per month, and will also compete to earn the most points. Try this point system:
Like a post (1 point)
Comment on post (2 points)
Retweet/share post with personal message (2 points)
Share blog posts, eNewsletter, or webpage, with personal message (3 points)
Ask personal followers to like our platforms (3 points, 1 extra point for each new referred follow)
Ask personal followers to subscribe to our email (3 points, 2 points for each new referred email)
Each month’s winner can be acknowledged for free with a fun shoutout on all social media platforms. If you have a budget, offer a $10 gift card to a local coffee shop. If it catches on—which I bet it will—invite more staff to join as members as the year goes on.
Engaging staff may take some time. Keep at it, and I promise it will pay off. Eventually, staff will be eager and excited to be involved, and to see their hard work featured for donors and other audiences.
Have you been successful in engaging staff at your organization? Share your hack in the comments!