Imagine the year is just starting. A lot of non-profit organizations are starting to create their annual plans for fundraising. In addition to figuring out how you will raise money this year, one of the key components to a fundraising plan is donor communications. This is where you can begin to integrate your fundraising and communications efforts to create a robust experience for your donors. Having an integrated non-profit editorial calendar is key.
One part of donors’ communications is figuring out what stories you will tell. Rather than randomly telling stories over the course of the year, it is possible to take a proactive, organized approach that will yield much better results. This involves creating a non-profit editorial calendar for storytelling.
Remember, “For every minute spent organizing, an hour is earned”. So in this post I will show you how to create a non-profit editorial calendar for storytelling.
WHAT IS A NON-PROFIT EDITORIAL CALENDAR?
Also known as a storytelling content calendar, it’s a useful tool that most non-profits create in order to keep a better time control on their communication efforts with the organization’s donors. And a story editorial calendar allows you to collect, get approved and ready to be published by when your campaign will be launched.
Scheduling your stories and actions to be taken, allows you to know what you are going to share and when you are going to share it.
WHAT ARE THE COMPONENTS OF A STORY EDITORIAL CALENDAR?
Before analyzing what are the components of a non-profit editorial calendar, I will invite you to read a 2-part blog series where I explain how to develop your non-profit’s storytelling strategy.
Every Storytelling strategy is comprised of 4 parts:
- Setting your goal
- Creating the umbrella message
- Collecting the stories
- Seamless integration
Once you have a handle on your goals for storytelling and know what stories you want to tell, it’s time to figure out how those fit into your fundraising efforts.
I recommend looking at this from 3 different vantage points to start.
Chances are you are probably going to send out appeals. These are a great place to begin incorporating stories. Make notes about the different dates that appeals are going to be going out and what the appeal is for. This will help you figure out the logistics of collecting a story as well as what kind of story best will complement the appeal.
Check out this post where I show you 5 Opportunities for Storytelling during year-end appeals.
Another great opportunity to connect donors to their impact is through stories. Make a list of what stewardship you provide your donors and then think about which ones might be the best opportunities for a story. A thank you letter is a great choice, for example.
Are you curious about how to write an impactful thank you letter to your donor? In this post you’ll find 10 tips for writing an impressive donor thank you letter plus some great nonprofit thank you letter examples.
Most organizations regularly send out newsletters – be it monthly or quarterly. They are a content rich communication that can cultivate donors’ interest in your organization’s work and help keep you top of mind for them. Start by figuring out when you are sending out newsletters and whether or not there will be any theme for the content.
If you’re wondering what the purpose of sending a non-profit organization newsletter is, read this blogpost.
And here I share some Newsletter content ideas: 10 improved content ideas for your non-profit newsletter.
These are likely to be the three most common places you will want to tell stories over the course of the year. But there could be other things your organization does that might be in need of a good story. Pull out a copy of your fundraising plan and go through the list of fundraising tactics to look for other opportunities for storytelling.
The point of this exercise is to simply understand what your content needs are and to add them into a timetable, for better organization purpose.
MAKING AND USING YOUR CALENDAR
Once you have set the circumstances when you will use Storytelling throughout your donor communication plan, then it’s time to create your Non-profit Storytelling Editorial Calendar.
It is key to recognize what are your plans for the year, and have a great understanding of your content needs. This will provide you with a bigger picture on what your narrative needs for the year.
Now it’s time to actually put the pen to your non-profit editorial calendar!
There are three important dates to keep in mind as you develop stories for your fundraising program. We’ll begin with the end in mind.
1) FINAL DEADLINE:
Starting by the end allows us to make clear what we’re expected to deliver and by when we must have it. It also helps us to work along achieving a shared goal and to keep our projects on time.
This is the date that your piece is going to print or is being formatted to send. Think of this as the absolutely last opportunity you have to make changes to the copy.
2) STORY APPROVAL:
I would recommend to already get all the necessary staff approvals and also the consent of the story’s subject by 2 weeks prior the Deadline, as maximum.
With these main approvals, you’ll be good to continue with the publishing of the story. Hit send if you’re sharing it by email, or send it to print if it’s a physical pamphlet.
3) STORY COLLECTION:
In my experience, it has taken me between 2 – 4 weeks to find and collect a story.
Since you are starting to work backwards from your story approval and deadline times, then you will have enough space on your Non-profit Editorial Calendar to collect the best story for the message that you want to convey.
Some of the project management tools that I recommend and like to use are:
- Google Spreadsheet
- Google calendar
- Any other collaborative digital tool that might be useful and preferred by your team.
Once you have figured out these three main dates, market them on your calendar or preferred tool and use them as a guide for your work.
Now you are done with the heavy lifting of project coordinator.
Always remember to do a follow through of your campaigns and take action to bring your stories to life!And this is how you create your non-profit editorial calendar. Since Storytelling is key when sharing any non-profit campaign, I recommend you to read this ultimate study collection that I collected with 20+ Examples of Non-Profit Storytelling that Raise Money and Awareness. In this blog you’ll learn the processes of more than 20 non-profit organizations behind the collection and publishing of heartwarming stories.