Your Organization Can Endure This Crisis. Here's How.

In the midst of a global crisis that we’re only just beginning to understand, we believe strong branding, communications, and digital experiences for social impact organizations are critical to keep the world moving forward.

March 18th Articles 8 min read
Digital Presence Website

By Eric Ressler

In the midst of a global crisis that we’re only just beginning to understand, we believe strong branding, communications, and digital experiences for social impact organizations are critical to keep the world moving forward. As organizations adjust to the current circumstances in each of our communities we thought you could benefit from a high-level checklist to ensure you can continue the good work during these unconventional times.

Start with Your Foundation:

In light of the magnitude of the current circumstances, it’s important to review the foundational elements of your brand to make sure that you’re current and tuned into the experience of uncertain times.

Assess your visual brand

  • Do you have a strong visual brand?
  • Does your current logo and visual brand extension create a distinct, memorable identity for your organization?
  • Do all of your visual brand elements work effectively in the digital realm at different sizes?

Review your target audiences

  • Who do you serve? Limit this to 2-4 primary audiences.
  • Be clear about which audience you are communicating with in each of your digital channels: website, emails, social channels, and paid media.
  • Each piece of communication should speak to a single audience whenever possible.
  • Consider doing Target Audience Interviews to avoid internal biases or assumptions about the people you serve

Establish clear messaging and positioning

  • For each audience segment, establish 3-5 key messages and 3-5 supporting proof points or talking points. Less is more here, and consistent messaging is key.
  • Establish or refine your main messaging components: Brand Story, Positioning, Differentiation, Promise, Brand Purpose, Values, Tone, Elevator Pitch, Core Messaging, and Tagline with an eye towards how they relate to your audiences.
  • Are you clear on your point of view?
  • Are you in a place where you can also speak to the moment?
  • Does your brand voice and tone need to change?

Update your Theory of Change for the current times

  • As our society responds to this crisis, there may be needs or opportunities to rapidly make changes to your organizations core strategies
  • Take the time to review your Theory of Change to determine how the shifting global situation might impact it

Build a Solid Digital Hub

It’s time to review your digital presence and the technology stack you are using to engage with your audiences. Your digital presence is increasingly relevant as Social Distancing drives everyone to interact with the world through their devices.

  • Consider your website to be the digital hub for everything you’re doing in the world.
  • Each piece of communication you put out should drive back to your website. This means your newsletters, emails, social media posts, physical mailers, physical collateral, and advertising needs to point back to your website, where your audience should find clear calls to action focused on your immediate ask(s).
  • Your underlying website technology needs to be robust.
    • Look at your website’s server, will it be able to handle increased traffic?
    • Do the pages load quickly?
    • Is your site easy to navigate and can your audience quickly find what they are looking for? Are you enticing users to take critical action?
  • Donor engagement should be handled through a CRM that is designed for ongoing engagement. We suggest using EveryAction or a similar integrated donor engagement platform. The ability to have your entire customer/donor experience handled between your website and EveryAction will allow you to make informed and nimble choices about how to communicate and engage going forward.
    • Ensure your digital donation experience is seamless and up to current-day best practices
    • Growing your donor and volunteer lists can easily be handled in EveryAction.
    • Your social presence can also be integrated into your digital hub using EveryAction.

Spread Awareness with Targeted Campaigns

Once you have reviewed your brand’s foundation and digital presence, it’s time to think about new campaigns to drive awareness, engagement, and action.

  • Remember that people are overwhelmed. So simplify your message or break it up into smaller bites and create a series of content pieces.
  • Positive messaging is key at a time like this. Focus on positive outcomes, ways that people can connect (alibiet digitally), or messages that provide people a sense of purpose as they support your organization.
  • Spread Hope. We have all chosen to work in the world of social impact because we have hope for the future. Remember to continue to point to the places where society can find hope in these times of confusion and fear.
  • If you are not already using landing pages or action pages, now is the time. Create a single page with a clear story and request from your audience. You can have different landing pages for each campaign that you run.
  • Create campaigns that help you capture contact information from your followers so that you can grow your list.

To Cut Through the Noise, Be Creative

The digital world is going to be an even noisier place than it was before. So there’s a need to get creative in how you reach out to your audiences.

  • Back to hope. Not all of your content needs to have an action associated with it. Sometimes it’s just enough to put out a positive message. Share something positive that your organization has recently accomplished.
  • You can still protest and advocate for change digitally. Greta Thunberg is leading the way with #DigitalStrike and #ClimateStrikeOnline. Choose a hashtag or join existing hashtags and get people to rally behind them.
  • Is there a synergistic way to support those in your community while still moving your mission forward? Can you pay a local musician to perform a digital house concert as a fundraiser for your cause? Or can you ask a famous musician to do the same to raise funds to support your community?
  • There will be an increased need for interesting content as individuals self-shelter. Think about producing interesting stories, series that can be followed, clever ways to use already existing video bits, etc.
  • Interactive content will be key. Now is the time for a survey or rallying people to sign a petition. Not all content should be focused on raising money. Provide ways for people to engage with your brand and further your cause that doesn’t require money.
  • Provide information on how people can digitally organize in their communities to help further your cause. You might want to reference the work being done by Indivisible for inspiration.
  • What other organization’s Theory of Change is similar to yours? Become a convenor and work to multiply your impact by collaborating with other organizations.

Use your Theory of Change as the basis for new approaches to storytelling for your brand.

Hopefully this list inspires you to remain calm, take action, and further your mission. Thank you for helping to change the world and keep it moving forward.

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