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Growing Your Community

No matter what organization you run, you have to look at your customers as a community. That's what folks are looking for. They want to know you understand them, they want to feel empowered by their support of you, and they want to feel good about investing in your organization. Your donors, your customers, your clients, your evangelists - it's all about building a community. Even in our digitized world, people are looking for connection at all times. Once you know this, you need to start treating them like they live in your community, like they live right down the block from you. How are you talking to them? How are you meeting them? And how are you supporting them?

Feeling Free

When I work with a client, I want them to feel free to say what they want, to take chances, and to try new things. Too often, companies can get stuck. Stuck in the same way they write, the same way they talk about themselves. When I take on a campaign, I look for the thing that makes them different. What is something new and fun you can do, but still ties back into your mission? How can we lift this video, lift this campaign? I want them to see themselves in a new light. I want them to see themselves as an organization that can try anything. 

Emotional Storytelling

Companies can be scared of it. Politicians can hide from it. Firms can scoff at it. But as often as companies want to shy away from it, they know it's what they need. They know this is the one thing that's going to separate them from the crowd. And what is this elusive thing? Emotion.

If every company says they want to tell their story, but they don't think emotion needs to be in it, then they are making a mistake. If every digital agency says they know how to tell a story, but they don't get to the heart of the company, then they're not changing anything. Every business, no matter you are, need to emotionally connect with their audience. Whether you're selling cures, selling cranes, or selling carpet. It doesn't matter. Something has to connect with your audience. It can be joy, laughter, pain, hurt, sorrow, pride. Whatever the case may be, whatever the "what" is,  you have to bring that to your audience.

When commercials fail, it's because they sold the product and not the experience. When nonprofits don't get donations, lots of times it's because they didn't connect their cause with the emotions of the audience. When movements fail, it's because they lost what brought them to the batter's box in the first place. Every product has a reason for being and every audience members has a reason to invest. Connect the two together and that's where the alchemy starts to happen.

Non-Profits: Look to Now

If your Facebook feed is anything like mine, it is filled with daily news articles about what's been happening in Washington. The hardest hit, it would seem, are the non-profit, advocacy groups, and community agencies that support so many groups. 

Here is my question: how are you going to respond? Here is my solution: you need to keep fighting. You need to keep reaching your donors. You have an active pool of donors who want to wise up, act up, volunteer, and get out there and pound the pavement. You have to reach them. 

The Action Plan:

Tell your story: Focus on the story of your organization. Showcase how you have fought for years to protect the rights of citizens. Show the world how you have been out there, plotting and mobilizing. Your history matters. It brings people into your story. It connects with older donors and rallies younger donors. Tell your story, honor the stories of today, and honor the stories of your audience. They donate because their story is tied to your mission, your history, and your purpose. Bring them back to the "why" they are giving.

Get the message right: Think about what you want to say. Think about what matters to you. Focus on the tangible action items that will bring you into the next chapters ahead. What matters right now? What needs to be solved right now? What are you fighting for right now? Consider how your message is reaching those audiences. What avenues are you using?

Get the word out: If it's a rally, get people to attend it. Get the message right. Create branding materials, create videos, let your staff loose with their iPhones. Bring your message to the voices of your community. If it's a campaign video, interview the right people, create a narrative that walks the viewer through your story. Make it more than just a company profile. Make the viewer realize how vital their donations are right now. If it's social media, engage with your audience, pose questions, include them in the dialogue, and connect with fellow thought leaders. Too many times, non-profits work in silos. Don't. Not anymore. The rules have changed. It's time for your rules to change, too.

These are just a few ways of making sure your message finds its way to an audience who needs it. To learn more, drop us a line. We'd love to help.



What Universities Can Do

These are uncertain times. We all recognize this. And nowhere is this sentiment stronger than in the university system. Students worrying about what's going to happen next, students of color wondering how the nation will respond, undocumented students scared they may be deported. Staff who fear they may lose their rights. Veterans who feel pulled in a number of directions. There are many questions. And it's up to universities to be a light out of the darkness.

How can we ease people's worries? How can you bring your university together? This is going to be an ongoing discussion, but here are a few things to consider:

Create content that makes a difference: Hold program discussions with your leadership teams. Create banners that show your are committed to diversity and inclusion. Create videos that show the many voices of your campus community. Offer new programs that make faculty of color feel appreciated. Reach out to your community via social media.

Align your messaging: What are you saying to these students? How are you easing the pain of your staff? How are you creating avenues where your faculty can speak up? What are you doing that will make a difference? Think about you want to say, how you want to say it, and who it is being directed towards. You have to have clearly defined goals and objectives.

Bring people together: It may sound strange, but you will need a strategy to respond to changing times. And that means more than just surveys and tweets. It means getting out there, listening to your community, understanding their concerns, and creating materials that engage them, activate them, and inspire them. Anyone can start a rally. But it takes long-term planning to ensure your message continues to resonate. 

Share Your Stories: What divides us, many times, is that we don't know much about the other person. We see divisions when we should see common ground. We see polar opposites when we are really more alike than we realize. To ease the fears of your students, get them talking to each other. Create forums where students can meet and engage. Branch out into the community outside your campus. Learn what is going on with them. Connect your faculty across departments. Show them that they are not alone in their concerns.

The road ahead is uncertain. But by bringing our voices and experiences together, we can find a way through the changing times. That's what we do, here at Glitter Corps, and we are ready to help.