By Jordan Lappin
Within the last five to ten years, social media has become fully integrated into advertising, marketing strategies, and driving sales. If you read our blog from last week, you now understand the value of social media for your nonprofit organization. Social media is a powerful tool that has the capacity to scale your nonprofit to new heights - and the best part about it is that it’s free! Having a strong social media presence has enabled Triangle Cares to reach over 200% more people each month since our rebranding. This now leads to the question: Who should be in charge of social media at your nonprofit organization?
The ideal social media manager is multifaceted: creative, a story teller, an excellent writer, video editor, and maybe even a graphic designer. This person also plays an important role as the spokesperson of your nonprofit organization for the digital world. Today, many people use social media as a means of communication through direct messaging. Thus, your social media manager acts as a “facilitator of sales” as they are talking to potential donors and volunteers on your platforms. Your social media manager also acts as a data analyst - this person has to observe social media trends, create content accordingly, and analyze performance data.
Finding an individual that is capable of all of these characteristics can be daunting. And the truth is - you probably are not going to find this seemingly perfect “unicorn”.
Here are three characteristics we think you should hone in on when hiring your next social media manager:
Because most nonprofits operate on a tight budget, many organizations do not have the means to hire someone solely as the social media manager. Tasking the director of outreach or marketing with the role of social media is a great alternative to making sure that you are taking advantage of all that social media has to offer, while also operating within your financial means. (Just make sure that this is not asking too much of them!) Individuals in these roles typically make out as very successful social media managers. However, if your nonprofit does have the means to employ a full-time social media manager, we think this is ideal.
By Jordan Lappin
As a nonprofit network, our goal at Triangle Cares is to connect volunteers with different organizations throughout the greater Raleigh-Durham area. By now, you probably understand the power of social media within our society, and at Triangle Cares we utilize our social media platforms big time! Social media acts as our main form of connection and communication with our volunteer base. These platforms also give us the ability to showcase the different organizations that we have partnered with to an endless audience of potential volunteers.
At the beginning of this summer, our team decided that we needed to rebrand our social media platforms as they were not performing as well as we would like them to. We hired a new intern that specializes in social media and digital marketing which proved to be an excellent investment for Triangle Cares. Since our rebranding, our following and engagement has increased by nearly 200%, but more importantly, our partnerships have strengthened as we’ve brought a significant amount of exposure, volunteers, and excitement to these organizations. We’ve consolidated our knowledge into a simple Social Media Strategy that you can start using today to boost your online presence.
By Jordan Lappin
For years, one of the most effective ways a nonprofit could raise money was through large in-person fundraising events - a fancy gala, a charity luncheon, or a live auction full of desirable memorabilia and a free 7-day trip to the Caribbean. However, fast forward to 2020, when the pandemic literally put the brakes on all large in-person events for nearly a year and a half, many nonprofit organizations had no idea where to turn to raise money when their annual fundraiser was canceled. Today, organizations and institutions across the US are operating business as usual. This now begs the question, are large fundraising events making a comeback? Or are they gone for good?
A few weeks ago, the nonprofit organization that I work at had its first in-person fundraising event since 2019. It was so awesome to have all of the people who make the organization run on a day to day basis - donors, volunteers, families, and friends - in the same room celebrating our mission.
In the months prior, the Head of the Organization, the Director of Development, and I met a number of times to plan this event. The two years without our annual gala gave us an opportunity to take a look at the event we put on in previous years and evaluate it with a fresh set of eyes - do we really like the structure? What about the theme? After some thought, my colleagues and I came to the conclusion that our annual gala was probably dreaded by most of our donors - the classic Friday night event with a subpar chicken dinner and just too much small talk. So we decided to take a new approach and structure an entirely new event. This turned out to be a massive success: we were able to reach our fundraising goal, engage new donors, and reconnect with ones we had lost over the course of the pandemic. The success we had leads me to this conclusion: In person fundraising events are BACK, but now is the time to innovate.
As I mentioned before, most nonprofit fundraising events are strikingly similar, and oftentimes dreaded by donors and volunteers alike who attend out of pure obligation. If you are going to bring back these large in-person fundraising events, you should evaluate your previous events with a fresh set of eyes and innovate. The pandemic revealed to most people that as human beings, it is wired into us that we want to gather, be together, and celebrate. Capitalizing on the opportunity to gather again in person gives your organization an opportunity to celebrate your mission, present your dreams for the future, and raise money. Here are two ideas for a new in-person fundraising event:
SPORTING EVENT - Sports bring people together. Instead of the dreaded chicken dinner and guest speaker combination, what about organizing a golf tournament? Or a kick-ball tournament?
PERFORMANCE - People love entertainment. If you plan on having a gala type event, add some entertainment to the nightly program. Perhaps a comedian, a band, a play, or even a trivia night!
During the pandemic, a number of nonprofit organizations created virtual events to try and make up for the absence of their annual in person gala. As we turn back to these in-person events, you might be wondering - should we do away with all virtual fundraising? At Triangle Cares, we believe that you should utilize all resources to maximize your fundraising abilities. While we value connecting with our donors and volunteers face to face, a virtual fundraising event or a Giving Day is a great way to supplement your annual in-person event and raise even more money for your organization.
By Jordan Lappin
As summer is winding down, now is a great time to start planning a Giving Day for your nonprofit organization. Around the holiday season, you have likely received an email from a nonprofit organization to remind you that Giving Tuesday is approaching and that you should consider donating to that organization. However, if you are unfamiliar, Giving Tuesday falls each year on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, and the day has become a national Giving Day throughout the United States. The idea of a “Giving Day” is that if a large number of people all give a little, these small donations can make a massive impact. Some organizations have organized their own Giving Days outside of Giving Tuesday. Many universities and academic institutions have adopted this idea and have a day separate from Giving Tuesday dedicated to raising money for the future of their school.
How does this relate to small nonprofits though? On Giving Tuesday, it seems like all the attention is on bigger organizations who have the means of spending a significant amount marketing for this day. This is why you should consider starting your own Giving Day specifically for your organization. A Giving Day for your nonprofit is a great way to shed light on your organization and leverage your local community for fundraising. So how do you set up a Giving Day?
Choose a date.
When choosing a date for your Giving Day, consider your revenue cycle. Is there a time of year when you are tighter on funds or when you could use more money? Perhaps you should plan your Giving Day in the months prior. Is there a time of year when you are less saturated with work? Maybe then would be a good time. A great strategy for choosing your date is recognizing times of year when you are stretched thin (whether that be financially or with your time) and plan your giving day accordingly. Once you’ve considered a few times of year when you could have a Giving Day, take a look and see if there is already a holiday or significant event that you could tie your mission to.
Create a goal.
Create a goal that is realistic and achievable, but not too easy. For example, if $10,000 is easy for your organization to raise, but $25,000 is overzealous, perhaps $18,000 is a goal that is achievable but will certainly take a lot of generosity from a number of donors. When you are thinking about your goal, the amount of money you are raising is certainly a big piece of it, but you can also consider the number of donors you want to have or to engage a matching donor. Having a specific target number of funds or donors gives the community an incentive to come together and collectively reach the goal.
Making sure that your donor base knows that you are having a Giving Day is key success. You should utilize and prioritize your email communication and social media in order to do so. Here is an effective communication strategy you can use:
In addition to email communication, you should definitely utilize your social media platforms! All of the communication that you make via email can be reconfigured in a creative digital way. Using social media is a great way to remind your donor/volunteer base without flooding their inbox. You also might grab the attention of people in your community that you might not have on your email list.
By Jordan Hannan
It can be tough to accept the fact that you might not be the perfect candidate for a leadership position or volunteering opportunity, and long-term volunteers and permanent employees at nonprofits experience the same gravity; though appreciative of the efforts of everyone who has contributed to the cause, lasting and talented volunteers are truly the heart of a charity’s mission. They define and spread the culture of your organization, and their connections with those they serve are the defining factor in the success of the nonprofit. For this reason, it is vital that every organization seeks out passionate volunteers and creates an environment for them to succeed in. We’ve designed the most effective way:
Expand your promotional projects. Get the word out about your latest events and movements. Not only is this essential to the expansion and future funding of your organization, it will also attract new volunteers. We tend to disregard the fact that nonprofits require marketing, but it will positively impact every aspect of your charity, most importantly being the quantity and demographic of your volunteers. For example, depending on how you market, you can reach younger or older age groups (such as through the use of social media as opposed to traditional ads or word of mouth). By working with a variety of different people and groups, you gain a better understanding of who can best represent your charity.
Consider your organization’s mission. With a newly broadened web of connections to enthusiastic volunteers, find whose passions align most effortlessly with that of your nonprofit. Your advertisements will have attracted the attention of a variety of people for endless reasons--interest in your work, a need for service hours, parental or peer pressure, or a personal connection to the cause. By getting to know your volunteers as you work, it will become clear who would benefit your project through a long-term or paid position.
Take a look at the daily tasks you need filled. Not every nonprofit needs the same roles filled, but each charity has a variety of moving pieces, and many of these positions go unnoticed. For the Food Bank or Diaper Bank of NC, an organized and task-oriented person is essential, but empathetic and extroverted volunteers would thrive best at Durham Nativity School and Miracle League. However, even within these organizations, there are endless opportunities for your volunteers to immerse themselves in the project, no matter what their skillset is--accountants, coordinators, and managers to name a few .
Finding the “perfect volunteer” sounds like an impossible task, but it’s actually just finding the perfect position for your passionate and caring volunteers.
By Jordan Hannan
On October 16th, 2002, my sister was born three months premature. Kaitlyn weighed in at two pounds and twelve ounces, small enough to be held in the palm of our dad’s hand and wear his wedding ring past her elbow. For two months, she awaited the daily visits from our parents to her incubator at Duke’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit before she could finally come home that winter.
Kaitlyn’s next trip to the Duke NICU took place more than fifteen years later; she began visiting babies and families during the Christmas season. Kaitlyn provided the hope parents needed during the holiday season, proving their ability to leave the hospital with a healthy, complete family. It was clear how greatly she impacted the parents she interacted with, but I doubt they realized just how much they affected her, too. She consistently returned with a new perspective: gratitude for the doctors, staff, and benefactors of Duke Children’s and compassion for every family that’s walked those floors.
Every time you volunteer, you have the chance to leave with a new perspective, and all it takes is a willingness to participate and an openness to learn from those around you. But how exactly can service change your mindset?
Find your next opportunity for growth at Triangle Cares.
By Jordan Hannan
With the continuously rising pressures of honors and AP classes, standardized testing, and college applications, the academic life of a high school student can be quite isolating, filled with solitary study and individual results. The adolescent mindset is stuck in this self-serving culture, and high schools are looking for impactful ways to connect students and form a supportive community. Sporting events, school dances, class celebrations, and team dinners might feel like the right addition, but the perpetuation of this dilemma, despite this common conclusion, proves its fruitlessness. Our solution? An emphasized student outreach program.
The difference between the effects of a class picnic and a team volunteering day might seem negligible at first glance: a group of students doing something unique to their normal activities while having fun as a community. However, serving others has lasting positive effects, while the memories of a luncheon are already fading.
But how can high schools implement student outreach programs?
Let us help you get started! Triangle Cares connects volunteers and nonprofit organizations; check out our website to find charities to partner with for your student outreach program.
By Jordan Hannan
Yes: Undoubtedly. Easily. Immediately.
We are surrounded by innumerable, seemingly insignificant chances to create a better world. Unfortunately, these situations are usually overlooked or blatantly ignored. If we collectively decided to consistently hold the door for the person behind us, skip on disposable plastics, and warmly greet strangers, we would all feel more supported, appreciated, and a little less of the effects of global warming. But how can we volunteer our time, talent, and treasure in the same manner?
As I have mentioned previously, you don’t necessarily need to free up more time in order to volunteer, and the same goes for donating: no matter your financial standing, there are opportunities for your treasure to benefit the lives of others, and it will only change 1% of your routine:
Visit Triangle Cares next week to discover why it is so important to implement service among schools.
By Jordan Hannan
Brooke does absolutely everything but sleep. She’s a two-sport athlete, enrolled in one of the most rigorous course loads possible, works two jobs, and is the most incredible friend to everyone around her. Not only that, but she was also the first of my friends to inquire about how she could volunteer through Triangle Cares when I first joined the team. Even when her schedule doesn’t allow for rest, Brooke continues to prioritize having a positive impact on others. She’s able to accomplish everything she needs to, as well as everything that the average person makes excuses to get out of. How can this be possible for the rest of us?
Despite its simplicity, the common idea of donating your time, talent, and treasure can be quite difficult to put into practice, particularly due to the rarity of free time. Everybody deems their lives to be busy, indicated by the growing market for productivity apps and time-saving home-automation accessories. If we have convinced ourselves that we’re too preoccupied to even queue up a playlist without Alexa, it must seem even more inconceivable to dedicate hours at a time to cleaning up trash at your local park or serving at the nearest soup kitchen. However, incorporating service into your weekly schedule doesn’t have to be a great disruption or huge commitment:
If you’re in need of some new nonprofits to donate your time to, check out our website here!
By Jordan Hannan
It seems that there’d be absolutely no way that a middle schooler could raise four thousand dollars from a charity bake sale in an elementary school cafeteria, but I did. For four consecutive years.
My limited skill set would never allow for even the formation of this service project. However, when combined with that of my peers, family, and school community, we were able to donate a total of $16,000 to the Marfan Foundation. My grandmother’s and teachers’ baking, parents’ organization, and peers’ support were equally integral in ensuring the success of the project, though I doubt our eager patrons ever realized just how many uniquely talented people had helped in its creation.
While it’s obvious that any business would need website developers, accountants, leaders, handymen, or marketers, we tend to disregard that a nonprofit might need to fill those roles also. There is far more to any organization than the food drives and charity events that one-time volunteers attend. Without the donation of your skills, nonprofits would never be able run successfully, eliminating all potential for service opportunities or positive change.
The concept of volunteering tends to get put into a box--as if the only way you can contribute to your community is by donating a bag full of canned green beans once a year. Instead, nonprofits are the culmination of innumerable volunteers’ talents. If you are looking to provide long-term support for your favorite charity, here are some ways you can get started:
Take a look at your career. Your résumé is filled with skills that can be easily applied to serve others, whether you are a teen with a part-time summer job or a parent with a twenty-year history with your corporation. My mom provides a great example: She’s an accountant, making her extremely organized and comfortable with numbers, so she volunteers as the head of the finance committee at our parish. Similarly, if you tutor younger kids, you would be a wonderful addition to the Gigi's Playhouse team. If you wait tables, A Place at the Table would love to have you.
Reconfigure your hobbies. While there are plenty of service opportunities that align exactly with your interests (check out our blog regarding this here), don’t limit yourself to just those. A friend of my parents, Jon, exemplified this perfectly by channeling his knack for construction into creating a book cart for our local NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit). If you love to draw, find a nonprofit in need of new digital advertisements. Try leading a charity 5k if you’re a talented runner or great host. Focus on why you excel in your extracurriculars rather than activities themselves.
The balance between school, work, service, athletics, and social activities may seem overwhelming or nearly impossible; allow Triangle Cares to help you find time to serve in next week's blog.
Jordan Hannan and Jordan Lappin