As most of you probably know, October 23rd was Make A Difference Day – the largest day of service in our grand ol’ country. Let’s think for a minute…there is MLK Day in January, National Volunteer Week in April, the National Day of Service and Remembrance on September 11th, and quite a few other service days or weeks that are recognized throughout the year. So, what exactly is it that makes Make A Difference Day so great? In my humble opinion…Marketing.
Marketing, huh? That’s right – MADD, as I’ll call it from now on, is sponsored by USA Weekend Magazine. Yup, that little insert in your Sunday paper (if you still get one) that’s always mixed in with the coupons, ads, and comics is actually helping to drive more than 3 million volunteers to serve their communities on the third Saturday in October. And, not only are people serving, they are also sharing their story of service through video, photos, and more!
On MADD 2010, I was one of those people – I spent the day travelling around with my new friend (and AmeriCorps member) C. We had a video camera and captured volunteers doing step-one weatherization in local homes. Part of me felt a little guilty, like here it was, MADD and all I was doing was dropping into homes and talking to people (well, I also managed to score some quality Halloween candy). It was nothing like last year when K. and I were stepping over cat poo to measure windows or getting spray foam all over ourselves. Was I really doing anything of use, let alone making a difference?
The video isn’t done yet, but I’ll just go ahead and say YES. Plus, there must be value in people taking a minute to describe what they are doing and why (that whole reflection thing). Which I suppose gets me to my point – in your every day work volunteering or managing volunteers, or whatever it is you do…take a minute to capture the moment and share it! Your organization’s ability to broadcast its mission has a huge impact on how well you engage volunteers and donors.
Here are a few basic tips and tools for making sure your organization is sharing its story:
– Sign up for http://greatnonprofits.org/ and ask your current supporters for reviews. The stories they share will appear on the site, but will also be tied to your GuideStar account (hopefully you have one) where many informed donors research 501(c)3s.
– Apply for YouTube.com’s Nonprofit Program so your organization can tie donation buttons to videos of your most recent project
– Don’t have videos of things your organization is doing? Consider connecting with a local university’s media department for a service learning project. Or, get in touch with community television in your area. Here in Portland, Maine we have a wonderful resource in CTN5 – they even made an annual appeal video for my organization. Shameless plug HERE.
– Ask for free advertising from local papers and radio stations.
-And of course, use social media, blogs and other online tools like email marketing in a way that works for your cause…find the format that reaches new audiences without over-stretching your time and money.
How is your organization getting the word out about the great work it does? Share it here!