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raise money nonprofit

9 Ways to Raise Money for Your Nonprofit

Are you a nonprofit that needs to hire that next staff person? (Growth.) Need to raise awareness for your cause? (Promotion.) Or do you simply need to keep the lights on? (Sustainability.)

So–besides collecting member dues (if your structure allows it; we use Qgiv for secure, recurring giving like this)–here are nine more ways for your nonprofit to profit:

  1. Hold a fundraising event (or two.) Add them to your annual calendar so you can plan and promote them well in advance every year. (See almost 100 fundraising event ideas here…)
  2. Send a fundraising letter to your list of donors. This may be asking for a one-time gift (is it ever only just “one” time though) or a request to commit to a gift that renews monthly or annually (if they’re not already set up for this.) More, expand this to a fundraising email sent to your whole mailing list.
  3. Apply for grants. You know who the players are. If necessary, hire a grant-writer to navigate this process, but make sure your hat is thrown into the ring. Someone is going to get that money; may as well be you. Put in the work to develop a strong grant application and submit in advance of the due date.
  4. Get added to the United Way. While the organization may keep over 20% of the donations to cover operational and promotional efforts, you’re tapping into a broader audience. Research the local United Way offerings to ensure this aligns with your core values before signing on the dotted line.
  5. Launch a board giving campaign. Often, board members are selected not only for vision-casting and decision-making, but also for their ability to fund the effort. If board members don’t have pockets deep enough to lend to your cause, they may be able to leverage other resources (staff hours, volunteer base, contact lists, etc.) toward advancing your mutual mission.
  6. Recruit volunteers to raise money on your behalf. This may look like a telethon or crowdfunding campaign, but make sure your volunteers are equipped with your story, a solid understanding of your cause, and a solid script complete with answers to frequently asked questions (phone script, email script, social media script, etc.) Some telethons lean on leveraging their volunteers’ contact lists, bringing in way warmer leads than simply making cold calls to local businesses. Smart.
  7. Ask a donor to run a hosted event. Here you’re able to come alongside one of your larger donors or partners to tap into their audience, on their turf. This is especially helpful if you have a new or under-established brand in contrast to your donor. One example of this might be a client-appreciation party/fundraiser thrown by your donor to their clientele where the proceeds go to your cause.
  8. Seek out a major donor to fund a project. Instead of the more nebulous and airy “support our great cause” approach, have an actual project the donor can apply funds to. Be sure to round back with the donor and share the success of the event so they can see what kind of impact their dollars made.
  9. Seek out in-kind donations to meet your needs, instead of asking for money. Maybe a donor doesn’t have a lot of cash but they are able to print and mail your next event save-the-date postcards at low or no cost to you. Need office supplies? Need items to donate to your clients? Ask your community to fulfill these non-cash needs.

There you have it. Nine ways to raise money for your growing nonprofit. (Actually there were ten ideas–did you see how I slipped that whole membership dues tip in there at the beginning? Tricky!)

Did I miss a fundraising idea in this list? Feel free to suggest one in the comments below!

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References

Garecht, J. 17 Ways to Raise $25,000 for Your Organization. The Fundraising Authority. Retrieved from http://www.thefundraisingauthority.com/fundraising-ideas/17-ways-to-raise-25000/ .

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conference sponsorship package examples

Conference Sponsorship Package Examples

Unfortunately, a common weakness in many events is the underwriting. Seeking sponsorships for events is often placed upon the shoulders of some over-worked staffer (or executive director) who already has a full-time job. As such, seeking event sponsorships often gets placed on the back-burner.

Want a successful event? Treat it seriously. Ensure your event manager seeks funding to help offset the costs. If you expect the whole event to be covered by registrations, you’re leaving money on the table.

Aggressively seeking sponsorships and exhibitors will go a long way toward making your event profitable. Just be sure your sponsors and exhibitors know exactly what they’re getting and deliver exactly that—at a minimum!

Use the conference sponsorship template below for ideas to help you design sponsorship packages for your next event.

Conference Sponsorship Package Examples

Special Event Sponsor $25,000 (qty 1)

  • Sponsor of the highest-profile project in the exhibit hall
  • Opportunity to introduce the project from the conference podium
  • 12 complimentary conference registrations
  • One single exhibit booth (10’ x 10’) in exhibit hall or near special project
  • Full-page back cover, 4-color ad in conference program
  • Full-page, 4-color ad in anniversary banquet and awards ceremony program
  • Logo on conference giveaway
  • Promoted on conference mobile application
  • Company profile, logo, and contact information in conference program
  • Logo on conference signage, event promotions, event wear and event website
  • Attendee email list
  • Option to participate in ongoing event-day promotions
  • Organization profile included in pre-event social media promotions

Platinum Sponsor $20,000 (qty 2)

  • Podium recognition at 20th anniversary banquet and awards ceremony
  • 12 complimentary conference registrations
  • One double exhibit booth (10’ x 20’) with prime location in exhibit hall
  • VIP seating at front of conference hall
  • Full-page back cover of 20th anniversary banquet and awards ceremony program
  • Full-page, 4-color ad in conference program
  • Company/organization branding on all event lanyards
  • Logo gets top billing on conference giveaway
  • Company profile, logo, and contact information in conference program
  • Logo on conference signage, event promotions, event wear and event website
  • Attendee email list
  • Option to participate in ongoing event-day promotions
  • Organization profile included in pre-event social media promotions

Media Sponsor $15,000 (qty 1)

  • Recognition as media sponsor for event
  • Branding and sponsorship recognition on all post-event video productions
  • Branding on event backdrop for press conferences and speaker interviews
  • 10 complimentary conference registrations
  • One single exhibit booth (10’ x 10’) in exhibit hall
  • Full-page, 4-color ad in conference program
  • Full-page, 4-color ad in anniversary banquet and awards ceremony program
  • Logo on conference giveaway
  • Company profile, logo, and contact information in conference program
  • Logo on conference signage, event promotions, event wear and event website
  • Attendee email list
  • Option to participate in ongoing event-day promotions
  • Organization profile included in pre-event social media promotions

Gold Sponsor $15,000 (qty 4)

  • Podium recognition at 20th Anniversary banquet and awards ceremony
  • Podium recognition during conference proceedings
  • Podium speaker introduction as sponsor of ONE of the following speakers: Monday opening keynote, Tuesday luncheon keynote, Wednesday luncheon keynote
  • 10 complimentary conference registrations
  • One double exhibit booth (10’ x 20’) in the exhibit hall
  • VIP seating at front of conference hall
  • Full-page, 4-color ad in 20th anniversary banquet and awards ceremony program
  • Full-page, 4-color ad in conference program
  • Log on conference giveaway
  • Company profile, logo, and contact information in conference program
  • Logo on conference signage, event promotions, event wear and event website
  • Attendee email list
  • Option to participate in ongoing event-day promotions
  • Organization profile included in pre-event social media promotions

Silver Sponsor $10,000 (qty 6)

  • Podium recognition as sponsor of ONE of the following event meals: Monday breakfast, Monday luncheon, Tuesday breakfast, Tuesday luncheon, Wednesday breakfast, Wednesday luncheon
  • Six complimentary conference registrations
  • One single exhibit booth (10’ x 10’) in exhibit hall
  • VIP seating near mainstage
  • ¾-page, 4-color ad in conference program
  • Recognition (with logo) in rotating signage from conference main stage
  • 50-word profile of company/organization in conference program
  • Logo on conference signage, event promotions, and event website
  • Attendee email list
  • Option to participate in ongoing event-day promotions
  • Organization profile included in pre-event social media promotions

Hot Spot Sponsor $10,000 (qty 1)

  • Podium recognition as wi-fi hot spot sponsor
  • Conference wi-fi hot spot named after company/organization
  • Six complimentary conference registrations
  • VIP seating near mainstage
  • Recognition (with logo) in rotating signage from conference main stage
  • 50-word profile of company/organization in conference program
  • Logo on conference signage, event promotions, and event website
  • Attendee email list
  • Option to participate in ongoing event-day promotions
  • Organization profile included in pre-event social media promotions

Pre-Event Kickoff Dinner Sponsor $7,500 (qty 1)

  • Dinner with keynotes prior to the first day of the event
  • Six complimentary conference registrations
  • One single booth (10’ x 10’) in exhibit hall
  • ½-page, 4-color ad in conference program
  • Recognition (with logo) in rotating signage from main stage
  • 50-word profile of company/organization in conference program
  • Logo on conference signage, event promotions, and event website
  • Attendee email list
  • Option to participate in ongoing event-day promotions
  • Organization profile included in pre-event social media promotions

Bronze Sponsor $5,000 (qty 8-10)

  • Four complimentary conference registrations
  • One single booth (10’ x 10’) in exhibit hall
  • ½-page, 4-color ad in conference program
  • Recognition (with logo) in rotating signage from main stage
  • 50-word profile of company/organization in conference program
  • Logo on conference signage, event promotions, and event website
  • Attendee email list
  • Option to participate in ongoing event-day promotions
  • Organization profile included in pre-event social media promotions

Exhibitor Plus $2,500 (shares exhibit hall capacity with Exhibitor level)

  • Listing as co-sponsor of exhibit hall
  • Two complimentary conference registration passes
  • One single booth (10’ x 10’) in the exhibit hall
  • ¼-page, 4-color ad in conference program
  • Logo on conference signage, event promotions, and event website
  • Organization name, website, and contact info in conference brochure
  • Attendee email list
  • Option to participate in ongoing event-day promotions
  • Organization profile included in pre-event social media promotions

Exhibitor $950 (shares exhibit hall capacity with Exhibitor Plus level)

  • One single booth (10’ x 10’) in the exhibit hall
  • One complimentary registration to conference
  • Logo on conference signage and event website
  • Attendee email list
  • Organization listed in conference program and event website

Patron $500 (unlimited)

  • Logo on conference signage and event website
  • Organization listed in conference program and event website

A note about kick-off dinners, evening awards banquets, off-hour city tours, and other events-within-events: the cost impact and resulting registration fee should be calculated separately. You will want to track the total operating budget for these mini-events and the total number of paying attendees to determine if the function helps or hinders the success of your event.

topic ideas for Christian leadership conference

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web hosting upgrades

3 Ways We Are Improving Web Hosting

On the morning of Wednesday, May 30, we received an email from one of our long-time customers stating her site was down.

After confirming that, yes, it was down for us too (sometimes people just get locked out due to misbehaving browsers or too many failed login attempts), we tested a couple other sites. Two out of three sites we tested showed an “internal server error 500” which is tech jargon for “we don’t know what’s wrong but something is really wrong.”

We immediately called the datacenter where it was revealed a virtual memory shortage had taken down a majority of our customers’ websites. We believe the issue was corrected within 15-30 minutes for most customers.

While we’ve been hosting websites a long time, we’ve never run across this one.

The immediate fix was to simply raise the virtual memory allocations over the default 1GB for the affected sites whereby they were able to load.

Still, how to keep this from happening in the future? More on what the long-term fixes look like in a moment.

First, a brief-yet-morbid snapshot of three other oh-man moments we’ve seen in past years:

  1. We once had a server administrator attempt to adjust user permissions on a single website, however he accidently blew out user permissions across an entire server. All sites went down. I can still remember the last keystroke before the moment of silence punctuated with a quiet, “Oh no.” Permissions had to be reconstructed by hand, taking the entire night and halfway into the next day to restore. To make timing worse, the client who had the unfortunate honor of being “patient zero” had a paid ad campaign funneling traffic to their extinct site, making the temperature in the server room a few degrees hotter. No pressure.
  2. Our datacenter once had an internal router go down within their network. Fortunately, they had a backup router waiting in the wings for just such a moment. Unfortunately, the routing table on the replacement router was out-of-date, which wreaked havoc on that segment of the network. Fortunately, the issue was corrected within a few hours and procedures have been put into place to ensure routing tables are kept current.
  3. A client called once about slow web performance. When we tested our sites, we found indeed, sites were slow to respond; really slow. Turns out one of the datacenter’s major telco carriers was under a massive DDoS attack (I believe it was AT&T under fire at the time.) The only reason sites were able to load at all was because the datacenter also had two other fiber optic connections to two other carriers leading into their facility. (More carriers have been added since.)

This is all to say we know the unforeseen happens. It’s kind of an occupational hazard in the web hosting industry.

Now, about those long-term fixes..

Fix #1: Site Monitoring

It’s never a good feeling to find out a client’s site is down, but it’s even worse when the client is the first to notice. In fact, it’s an awful feeling.

Servers can send out email notifications to raise the alarm when services stop working, however there are no server-side monitors to report whether webpages are actually being served.

Seems like a big gap, right? It is.

logo site uptime

To counter this, we are partnering with site monitoring company, SiteUptime, to monitor all Platinum (now marketed as Revelation) web hosting plans. Customers on smaller hosting accounts benefit by proxy since server-wide problems experienced by their larger neighbors will alert us on their behalf.

Of course, a problem experienced by one site doesn’t mean a problem will be experienced by all sites, but this goes a long way toward ensuring a fire in town is noticed quickly.

Smaller accounts have the option of having site monitoring added for an extra $2.00/month.

Fix #2: Offsite Backups

As our web hosting customer, you’ve always had a pretty robust backup routine supporting you, whether you knew it or not. We have nightly, weekly and monthly backup routines for every web hosting account we carry. The next level in maintaining your data integrity is to ensure a higher degree of safety for those backups.

95% of the time, your current backups are enough, but if the whole server died in some dramatic, fiery way, you (and we) would be sorely out of luck. Such destruction is rare, but the potential exists.

By next week, we will have an additional layer of redundancy in place. That extra protection is called Guardian Backup & Recovery. Essentially, additional snapshots of the server are made and securely stored at a completely different datacenter facility.

We figure this should close the risk gap another 4%, leaving the last 1% up to catastrophic acts of God and nuclear strikes. If these events happen, we have other things to worry about besides our websites.

Fix #3: Server Upgrade

This is probably the most attractive, most meaningful adjustment we’re making. While the server affected by this outage was only four years old, that’s something like 28 years old in tech years.

Sparing you the techno-babble specifics, suffice it to say we’re moving to solid-state drives (really fast) and quadrupling the memory (really, really fast) while upgrading the entire server to something more current and cutting-edge.

With this server upgrade, we should also be able to safely double the virtual memory limits for all sites.

Sorry

So, this has been a long way of saying, “Sorry about that.” Again, it never feels good to get those “site down” calls and I hope you can accept my personal apology.

It is my hope and plan that this extra investment in infrastructure will ensure solid, steady performance for your digital marketing storefront for many years moving forward.

P.S. There will be no increase in your regular hosting bill as a result of these advancements—in case you were wondering. (We’ll just need to adopt a few additional hosting customers, that’s all.)

Please contact us if you have any questions.

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names for God

35 Names for God

I developed this short list of biblical names for God for our youth ministry at church. The idea was to first lead our Sunday school students through God’s identity and then eventually lead them into God’s identity for them.

Of course, there are two potential sources for our gleaning our identity in this life. We can believe what the world says about us, or we can believe what God says about us; these are two wildly different things.

Since we were made in His image, there is great merit in growing in understanding our Holy Father.

I hope you can use this free PDF handout for your church’s next Sunday school!

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Names for God

  1. Spirit
  2. Jehovah Bashayim, God in Heaven (Deuteronomy 4:39)
  3. YHWH
  4. Yahweh Shalom, The Lord Our Peace (Judges 6:23,24)
  5. Fortress
  6. Immanuel, God with Us (Isaiah 7:14)
  7. Alpha & Omega
  8. El-Shaddai, Our All-Sufficient/Almighty God (Genesis 17:1)
  9. Jehovah El-Kanna
  10. Exodus 34:14 (The Jealous God)
  11. El-Olam, The Everlasting God (Genesis 23:33)
  12. Jehovah El-Emunah, The Faithful God (Deuteronomy 7:9)
  13. Adonai, Our Sovereign Lord (Isaiah 6:1)
  14. Elohim Yisraeli, The God of Israel (Leviticus 18:2)
  15. Sabaoth, The Lord of Hosts (1 Samuel 1:3)
  16. Abba, Father (Matthew 6:9)
  17. Jehovah Rohi, The Lord Our Shepherd (Psalm 23:1)
  18. Jehovah Shaphat, The Lord Is Our Judge (Isaiah 33:22)
  19. Jehovah Elohim, The Lord God (Genesis 2:4)
  20. Jehovah Yeshu’athai, God of Salvation (Psalm 18:2)
  21. Love
  22. Jehovah Roi, The God Who Sees (Genesis 16:13)
  23. Jehovah Elohim, The Lord God (Genesis 2:4)
  24. Creator
  25. Jehovah Ma’ozi, The Lord Our Strength (Exodus 15:2)
  26. Elohim, The Eternal God (Genesis 1:1)
  27. Present
  28. Majesty
  29. Jehovah El-Chai, The Living God (Psalm 42:2)
  30. Holy
  31. Yahweh Rapha, The Lord Our Healer (Exodus 15:26)
  32. Jehovah El-Rachum, The Merciful God (Deuteronomy 4:31)
  33. Jehovah El-Hanun, The Gracious God (Exodus 34:6)
  34. Jehovah Selai, The Lord My Rock (2 Samuel 22:2)
  35. Redeemer

Download this free “Names of God” PDF for your next Sunday school


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digital evangelism

Digital Evangelism: Tips for Extending Your Church’s Digital Outreach

If you’re a church pastor, chances are you use a computer on a daily basis. There’s also a 39% chance you access the Internet with that computer. (After all, how else would you be reading this?)

But you’re not the only one that needs a digital presence; your church needs a solid digital presence in this modern world too. Your church needs to do more than reach people by announcing church events, listing prayer requests and providing an online worship experience.

These days you must also consider appealing to the younger generation within your congregation. But you need to balance any shifts in culture against the older generation who may be comfortable with the way things are.

And then there’s the youth ministry.

Juggling all this sounds simple, right?

Well, maybe not.

It’s not as easy as opening a bunch of social media accounts. Fruit from this effort takes both prayer and meticulous planning; kinda like your last road trip!

The strategies you use in your digital outreach program are as important as plugging in proper coordinates before you begin any road trip. It may feel daunting at first (and maybe a little technical too) but I assure you; it’s much easier than it looks. Mostly.

Am I prophesin’ or prophe-lyin’? You be the judge. A few tips to get you on your way:

Decide What You Want Out of Your Digital Evangelism

Everything has a purpose (in theory). A church that decides to dive into the Internet and establish a digital presence is trying to solve a problem. Are you trying to broaden communication with your existing congregation? Are you trying to extend your church’s reach to the wider community, e.g. millennials?

A well-defined purpose will help anchor you when you run into hurdles later on, reminding you about why you started. It also helps to actually write those goals down. Your digital strategy bears as much importance as other kinds of business at your church and writing your purpose down helps to cement the commitment you are making.

In other words, before you engage in any church web design, stand up a single social media channel or contact a Christian web hosting service, make sure you have a solid reason to start.

Remember, not every church requires a digital presence. If your church is a small church in a small community, it might not be a priority to have strong digital presence just yet. Maybe using a Facebook Page would be enough?

On the other hand, a larger church (or one that is rapidly growing) will benefit immensely from having an online presence. For the moment, let’s assume this means you..

Pick Your Web Channels Carefully

There’s a lot more to your church’s Internet marketing than just setting up a Facebook channel and letting the office manager give it a go. You need to have a clear idea what kind of audience you’re dealing with and what kind of engagement they would prefer from their church.

For most of us, social media has become a major part of our lives (a blessing and a curse!) So, at first blush, it might seem like a good idea to have an account for your church on all the major social media platforms. (Yes, even Instagram.)

However, this can be counter-productive in the long run. For starters, you might not have the bandwidth or manpower to manage all of those accounts effectively.

Second, your congregation might not even want to engage with their church on social media. They might simply prefer regular emails through the church email service, or even a blog they can read from time to time.

Survey Your Flock

There’s no magic bullet here; you’ll have to conduct a survey of your congregation to figure out what usage demographic makes up the majority. Are they a Facebook crowd or a Pinterest crowd? Are they willing to share their email addresses with their church? What age demographic are you targeting? If you’re targeting millennials in the wider community, you’ll need to understand what kind of digital outreach they engage with most.

Your Spiritual Cornerstone is Jesus. Your Digital Cornerstone is Your Website.

When laying your digital evangelism foundation, the best place to start is a simple website. Unlike using a Facebook Page or some other social media channel, this is actually Internet real estate you control. The best church websites are not an intrusion but an extension of what’s already on the ground.

From your church website, you can post sermon transcripts, a church calendar and run a regular blog where you post spiritually-edifying Christian material. For the camera-brave, you may also test the YouTube waters by posting videos of your sermons and impromptu lessons on hot topics in today’s culture.

If the response is good, you can advance your marketing blitz from there and create accounts on social media channels relevant to your audience (and—now that you’ve surveyed them—you know what those channels will be.)

Have Growth Goals

How do you know if your church’s digital outreach efforts are successful? Is the number of visitors to your website growing? Are you gaining followers and seeing more engagement on your social media accounts? You need to set clear goals to know where your strategy is working and where it needs improvement.

Don’t worry about getting great results at first. There’s no need to set lofty goals in the beginning. If you’re new to cyberspace, I recommend you just start small by looking at the engagement you get on social media and the visits you get to your website, and then set greater goals as you develop your voice and content.

Oh.. about that content..

Content Jesus is King

It doesn’t matter whether you are a church or a corporation, content is still king (lowercase “k”). This is as true for a church’s digital evangelism as it is for anyone else.

As you begin developing and posting your content, you’ll notice some content will do far better than other content. You’ll see some social media posts get more engagement; more likes, comments, and attention. Maybe you’ll notice you have certain blog articles accounting for a majority of your traffic.

This is the content you should study closely. You may want to regularly rinse and repeat this type of content to strike a chord with your audience.

Remember, different people are looking for different things in their church, especially when they’re considering the prospect of joining a new church.

Promoting Your Content

When it comes to SEO for churches, it helps to categorize your content. (SEO stands for search engine optimization, which is a practice of positioning content to show up in search results.)

Categorizing your content will give you a better idea about your audience’s interests: church matters, Scripture teaching, youth ministry, general announcements, spiritual advice, etc. Clear categories will give you insight into what is working and what isn’t.

Tip: Once you’ve developed a reliable cheat sheet of content topics, you’ll find it much easier to generate well-performing content on a regular basis.

Deliberately Delegate Digital Evangelism Duties

While it may be tempting to give away the keys to the Kingdom and have everyone on your staff submit articles, you may want to reconsider. What you’ll likely end up with is a mess: Lots of different writing styles, conflicting answers to audience questions, and a badly coordinated digital marketing campaign.

Recommendation: Have a single point person (or a small team of people) managing your digital outreach. Meet with them and tell them and document your expectations (remember those goals you settled at the beginning of this article?)

Since you have your digital outreach strategy documented already (ehem), provide it to your team for their feedback.

With planning and prayer, your entire online presence will be consistent and your work in advancing the Gospel beyond the digital divide will bear Kingdom fruit.

Go forth and conquer.

In support of your efforts,

matt signature

Matthew

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ways to improve annual report

22 Ways to Make Your Annual Report Remarkable

Ah, annual reports.

Awful things.

Full of stale, self-aggrandizing copy, dry pie charts, confusing bar graphs and committee-selected stock photos. This is 4-color, full-page bleed shredder-fodder at its finest.

Your annual report probably even has an opening letter from your Supreme Poobah, doesn’t it? And there they are, smiling away with that plastic, you-can-take-the-picture-anytime-now grin, their stiff image stuffed onto an entire page no one is ever going to read. Maybe even a chicken-scratch signature added for flair.

In fact—due to all the sub-par letters-from-the-chief we’ve seen over the years—you and I have actually been conditioned to skip that page entirely.

Tsk.

Oh, wait. Did I just describe your last year’s annual report?

I’m not asking you to feel condemned. I want you convicted. I’m trying to convert you.

What’s your plan to get people to actually read this typo-riddled train-wreck?

That is your intention, isn’t it? It should be.

Or are you just checking a box to please your board and trying to spend down this year’s print budget? (Now that’s stewardship. I see why they’re paying you the big bucks.)

What do you plan on doing about this year’s annual report, Sparky? I want you to consider turning over a new leaf. Or maybe not even printing any leaves at all. (Going completely digital is an option, you know.)

Here’s a not-so-novel concept: Your annual report is not a report; it’s a marketing piece.

I think it’s the word “report” that trips us up. When we hear the word “report”, we often think of things like driver’s license applications, tax forms and rows of numbers on spreadsheets with one-meeting lifespans.

If your annual report is a little slice of annual drudgery to produce, it’s time for a revolution.

In fact, your annual report can actually be leveraged as a springboard for your entire year’s marketing and outreach efforts. Sit with that for a moment.

The Annual Report 2-Step: Produce. Promote.

In this article, I’ve listed several ideas for improving your typical-fare annual report. My goal is to get you thinking out of the box.

Beyond that, you’ll find several fun ways you might deliver key information from your annual report to your anxiously awaiting audience.

Remember: You don’t have to stuff the whole report down their throats; just the important, most striking reveals.

Note: For these annual report ideas, I am targeting an industry we serve: homeless and humanitarian aid organizations. Obviously, if you are working in a different space, brainstorm on ways to adopt these ideas to your own niche.

Ways to Improve Your Annual Report

If you must print (and some do, appeasing federal, state or board requirements), here are 10 ideas for getting creative with your annual report format, design and content.

  1. Produce the annual report as a newspaper. One of the smaller “articles” will be titled “Newspaper is Not a Blanket”.
  2. Produce the annual report as a fold-out state map. Begin with a template provided by your state’s Department of Transportation.
  3. Use the familiar. If the conventional booklet format is used, design one of the pages after the PIT count sheets provided by HUD (https://www.hudexchange.info/resources/documents/Model-Service-Based-Count-PIT-Survey.pdf). As a subtle nod, this will be recognized by industry professionals but will pass unnoticed by most in the public square.
  4. Show maps of declining/inclining numbers across the state or country. Compare against 10-year averages.
  5. Illustrate the numbers. For key statistics, give real-world examples to give concepts of population sizes and impact as illustrative equivalents.
  6. Use comparisons. While providing state-based statistics, contrast against national numbers for larger context.
  7. Provide testimonials, case studies and success stories. Point to your website for additional stories.
  8. Interview your partners. Conduct an interview and highlight best practices from service partners. Ask them to speak to the impact those efforts have made in their communities.
  9. Include ways for the public to get involved at the local level (CTA). Ideas for getting more involved may include recurring volunteer opportunities like serving meals, fundraising, event support, board participation, lending creative services (photo, video, design, web), setting up recurring donations, etc.
  10. Ask for commitment. Perforated tear-out sheet containing homeless veterans pledge card or some other “get involved” or “get connected” message, form or survey. (If the newspaper format was used, this could simply be an insert.)

Ways to Promote Your Annual Report

As you may have guessed (or experienced), though you have produced this glowing gem of a report, there is still work to do. This is where you can allow all the work that went into your annual report to inform your ongoing marketing. If you did your homework in producing a thoughtful report, you should now be well-positioned to broadcast those golden nuggets of wisdom uncovered by your research. Here are some promotional ideas to consider:

  1. Public Service Announcements. Launch a PSA campaign, sharing vital stats with illustrative equivalents.
  2. Signs, signs, everywhere there’s signs. Use paid graffiti, stencil or reverse graffiti, or stickers to raise awareness around key stats. (Secure permission from local authorities.) Deliver on the sides of buildings or across high-traffic sidewalks. Develop and deliver yard signs. Ask local shops and restaurants with foot-traffic to display sandwich boards. Buy billboards. Scale to budget.
  3. Blogger/influencer outreach. Offer influencers advance copies of the annual report so they can scoop to their audiences on the day the report is released. Engage whatever positive or negative commentary comes your way.
  4. Make it into a video. Create a short video telling select pieces of the annual report story. Promote the video across the website and social media channels. Link back to your website.
  5. Use maps. Is there a way to illustrate the impact on a map? Would it make sense in a GIS application?
  6. Undercover marketing. Pay actors to approach people, strike up conversation and eventually deliver key stats and invitations to get involved. Caution: When revealed, this one could be seen as deceptive. It may be better to conduct a…
  7. Street survey. Less “undercover” than undercover marketing, street-level, face-to-face surveys across the state could be conducted to poll minds and hearts toward the homeless issue while educating participants at the same time.
  8. Road rally. Construct a road rally treasure hunt where participants are led across participating cities with clues that educate on key homeless issues as they go. The finish line ends with a meal in a soup kitchen and a brief interview to collect experiences and revelations.
  9. Youth poster contest. Conduct a poster or infographic contest across high schools and/or colleges zeroing in on key report takeaways. Posters are reproduced and posted across cities to raise awareness. Winning designs earn students a monetary award and bragging rights.
  10. Gamify the experience of becoming homeless. Players select their characters who are becoming homeless (financial instability, drugs, mental health, domestic violence, etc.) The game moves players through several scenarios in choose-your-path manner, forcing decisions on what to do, where to go, how to take care of children (or losing children into the system), how to find meals, lack of safety on the streets, bureaucracy, etc. Players are exposed to real-life accounts, testimonies and/or key statistics along the way. At the end of the game, players are presented with a brief message/video along the lines of “Homelessness is not a game. Get involved.” and ideas for getting involved locally.
  11. Shareable graphics. Develop and employ simple, shareable social media graphics and infographics containing key stats and a link back to your website. Use #(your state), #(your city), #(state-cause), #(country-cause), #homeless and other popular, relevant hashtags across social media channels.
  12. Make it easy for the media. Establish a media kit for housing the report, shareable graphics, quotes, links to new releases and all other pertinent marketing assets. Send to media outlets.

Conclusion

Well there you have it: 22 ways to revive your annual report experience, with a dash of guerilla marketing to taste. I encourage you to press in on your next annual report. Why settle for the standard, blasé, check-the-box annual report when you can enjoy the whole process from start to finish and come away with a much better product and a much bigger impact.

In support of your efforts,

matt signature


References

Marrs, Megan. December 18, 2017. 20+ Jaw-Dropping Guerilla Marketing Examples. WordStream. Retrieved from https://www.wordstream.com/blog/ws/2014/09/22/guerrilla-marketing-examples .

McCauley, Jim. January 30, 2018. 10 beautiful paper portfolios to inspire you. Creative Bloq. Retrieved from https://www.creativebloq.com/portfolios/paper-portfolios-5132559 .

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