“Fangelism”

10 Jan

Monday, January 10, 2011

What is the one thing that all non-profits have in common? They all need money to fund mission-enhancement projects. And how do they acquire this lifeblood? There are thousands of non-profit organizations across the country that do all kinds of amazing work. They’re also vying for people to help. So where do you go for volunteer recruitment? How can you reach new donors?

Expand your search through “FANGELISM” of course.

The principle of “fangelism” is very simple really. But it’s implementation must be well-thought and seamless. The idea is: Existing volunteers and constituents – who already have a passion for the cause – engage people, initiate conversation and, ultimately, ignite excitement and promote action.

“They turn strangers into friends. They turn friends into volunteers.
They then do the most important job – Turn your volunteers into advocates for your mission.”*

This could take many forms. It used to be by way of traditional word-of-mouth promotion – friends telling friends telling friends…well, you get the idea. Word-of-mouth has evolved into the use of social media networks making it super viral and immediately accessible. I call it “E-fangelism“.

How do you create a successful e-fangelist?

Well, not all of this is totally in your hands. You might already have e-fangelists in the social-network sphere that you don’t know about. But what you can do is offer ways to coach and encourage your fan base. You want to make them feel that they have freedom in disseminating the message, but ensure that they do it with tact.

1. Confirm the core group of efangelists. Gather your development team and discuss which volunteers you would like to approach. These should be trusted volunteers who have a history of helping toward mission delivery and development goals. Create a list of best practices and guidelines for success. (Note: These will vary from organization to organization because expectations and goals are distinct.) Familiarize yourself with the platforms available to you: Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, Flickr, Foursquare, etc. You don’t have to be an expert in the various functions, but you ultimately want to know how each network can work for you.
2. Approach the volunteers and inquire about their interest in helping. Make sure they are aware of the full commitment.
3. Host a training session emphasizing key terms and concepts. Make sure they know the mission explicitly. Be prepared to do a tutorial for each social networking platform for new users.
4. Maintain regular communication with your team in order to circulate important messages and updates, offer encouragement and send reminders. (Tip: You will want to “monitor” new followers so you can follow up with them and, ideally, turn them into e-fangelists also. The key is to stay involved! Or if that’s not a feasible option because of time constraints, consider appointing a volunteer to serve as coordinator to organize the activities.)
5. Track your progress using features such as TweetReach.com and Facebook’s built-in insights attributes.
6. Tip: Always thank your advocates!! It goes a long way to hear that your work is appreciated. They will reciprocate by working harder.


What are the benefits?

1. The internet is more wide-reaching than traditional direct mail pieces. Most people in America participate in social media in some capacity. In fact, Facebook has more visits per week than Google in the United States.** You can reach more people in a shorter amount of time.
2. Volunteers can help do some of the work you’ve been wanting to do, but haven’t had time to commit to. You likely have many projects going on at once. They have one mission, one project to which they can devote their time and energy. A wider network of people doing one job should result in greater outcomes.
3. It’s legitimate “advertising”. E-fanglism is volunteers vouching for your successful programs. People value the opinions of friends and peers over the persuading of advertising from the source.
4. The message you communicate is immediate. And, therefore, you’ll be able to measure your return on investment (ROI) instantly.

You already have the most amazing, fervent sales team. Now, with a little coaching and encouragement, you can expand that network and continue to grow. If you’d like to know more about implementing e-fangelism into your development plan and for more tips, please contact me at 610.393.4430 or LRDConsulting@gmail.com. I look forward to hearing from you.

~Laura~

*adapted from Seth Godin’s concept
**Hitwise blog

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