Three tips to creating a charitable campaign in your community

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I’ve always been aware of current events and social issues, which may be why charitable giving and volunteerism has been a priority in my life. Growing up, volunteerism was a priority in my house.

It took me a long time to understand that not everyone has had a similar experience.

Several hands forming a circle.

As a community manager, one of the most important lessons I’ve learned is that everyone comes from a different background and has a completely different frame of reference for almost every situation. While this can make for exciting debate and interesting banter, it can also make it difficult to engage large segments of an audience for different community campaigns, especially charitable campaigns.

Charitable causes often elicit deep personal reactions, as any successful campaign really should. Unlike other kinds of campaigns that we’re presented on a daily basis, such as a brand awareness or marketing campaign, charitable campaigns ask for us to do more than shell out our cash for a good or service. We’re donating money (or time) for what is often an intangible benefit: bettering the world we live in. Unless you can pull at someone’s heart strings or tug at someone’s conscience, it can be difficult to engage most people in something that doesn’t appear to have an immediate benefit to or impact on them or their lives.

If you find yourself organizing a charitable campaign for your community and you want to engage as many members as you can, these three steps have helped me immensely and I hope they’ll help you, too:

  1. Create a story. Just like a great novel or well-written journal article, if you can create a story around the campaign that the members of your community can easily relate to, you’re well on your way to success. The story should succinctly describe the issue, why the community should care and what members can do about it. A great example can be found in the way Friday Night Yoga Club LA supports South African charity LionHearted Kids. At first blush, a community of yogis in LA may seem (and feel) far removed from a South African charity that supports the healing of mentally and emotionally traumatized children. However, through vivid stories and examples of what LionHearted Kids provides, the community has been shown that both organizations have different ways of approaching the same goal—to help people calm their minds and tap into their inner selves.
  2. Be transparent. Everyone likes to feel like they have ownership of something, that they’re in at the ground floor. If you’re transparent about the campaign- why it began, how it is being implemented, what the goals are and how long it will go- you’ll find a lot of community members feel like they have a little skin in the game. Keep pushing updates and sharing information to continue to promote interest and support. The Junior League of London’s Little Black Dress Initiative did a great job of keeping all community members interested and engaged. Members participating in the initiative posted pictures on the League’s community pages each day of the initiative. They included anecdotes of their personal experiences, and promoted members to contribute their money. They also personally thanked everyone who supported them.
  3. You can’t be everything to everybody. Your campaign needs to be catchy and interesting, but it shouldn’t be overly broad. Remember, you win some and you lose some. Wearing your marketing hat, you may want to try to come up with something that appeals to the masses in your community; if you can do that and remain authentic to the cause, do it. If not, take the risk of losing some members and stay true to the overall mission and vision of the campaign.

What else has set you up for success when creating a charitable campaign for your community?

Editor’s Note: Khaleelah Jones was a panelist for this year’s Community Manager Appreciation Day panel on Strengthening Community Engagement through Charitable Campaigns.

Khaleelah Jones

Founder at Something with Words
Khaleelah Jones has worked in digital marketing for the past five years. She has found an intersection of her passion for all things digital and love for social media, communication and people as a community manager. Her digital marketing company, Something with Words, won the StartUp Leibster 2013 award for quality social and CRM services. When she’s not working, Khaleelah can be found traveling, yoga-ing, writing, reading, pontificating about history, making up verbs and blogging at www.carefulfeet.me.
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