Get Ready for 2014 – Creating a Communications Calendar

Happy New Year! I hope you have taken time to put together fundraising and marketing plans. My last post in this series about getting ready for 2014 is to create a communications calendar (also known as an editorial calendar). 

I like the term communications calendar because it emphasizes the importance of communicating with your donors and other supporters all year round. One of the great things about having a communications calendar is you won’t get so stressed out trying to come up with content for your newsletters and other updates.

As you put together your communications calendar, think about how you will use different channels. You may only send out direct mail a few times a year, but send out a newsletter once a month and communicate by social media several times a week. You will often use a number of different channels when you send out a fundraising appeal or promote an event.

All your communication should be audience-centered and emphasize how you are making a difference for the people you serve and in the community.

Here are some categories you can use in your communications calendar. Some items will be time sensitive and others won’t be.

Does your organization hold any events? Besides your events, are there other events in your community that would be of interest to your supporters? This is a great thing to share on social media.

Advocacy alerts are a wonderful way to engage with your supporters. Be on the lookout for any federal or state legislation that’s relevant to your organization. Encourage people to contact their legislators about an issue or a bill. Report back to them with any updates, and thank them for getting involved.

Time of year
Is there something going on during a particular month that is pertinent to your organization? Perhaps it’s homelessness awareness month or your organization was founded in May 1994.

Thanksgiving, the holidays, and winter can be a difficult time for some people. How can you weave that into your work?

News stories
You won’t be able to predict news stories in advance. However, as something newsworthy comes up, see if that’s something you could share.

Fundraising and recruitment

Be sure to add your fundraising appeals to your communications calendar. You want to highlight these and not inundate your donors with a lot of other information at that time.

If your organization has specific times it needs to recruit volunteers, add that to your calendar, as well. 

Thank your donors
Figure out different ways to let your donors know how much you appreciate them. Do this at least once a month.

Ongoing content
If you are making a difference, you have stories to tell. Share your clients’ success stories. You could also profile a board member or volunteer.

Put together a collection of stories and profiles to use in your newsletter and website throughout the year. If you are profiling board members or volunteers, highlight what motivated them to serve on your board or volunteer with your organization. Keep it focused on your mission.

Keep it up
As you hear about other relevant information, add it to your calendar, so you will always have good content to share with your supporters.

Here is more information to help you create a communications/editorial calendar.

Photo by Adam Sporka via Flickr

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