Wednesday, December 16, 2009

RECAP: December CCG Lunch, "It's All in the Spirit of Giving"

First off, let me just give a HUGE "thanks" to all my members who attended yesterday's lunch. We managed to collect 43 toys for Toys for Tots (plus one monetary donation) from our 37 attendees. Great job, everyone!!

Second note: Did you know that one of Toys for Tots biggest challenges is getting enough gifts for the 10-14 age range? If you haven't yet donated this year, think about choosing something for these older kids. (Even better, Tweet and Facebook this fact to your networks and help us start our own mini campaign to address this challenge.)

Okay. Now, on to the lunch recap...

December's lunch was about handling PR and communications for a charity or a charitable giving campaign. Our distinguished speakers were:
  • Sergeant Matthew R. Johnson, who is in his fourth year as a Toys for Tots Events Coordinator... and was looking quite dapper in his Marine uniform
  • Wendy Beach, Director of Communications, Global Impact. (In addition to raising funds to support international relief and development programs, Global Impact manages the Combined Federal Campaign of the National Capital Area and Overseas.)
Key messages from our speakers:
  • Evaluation is key: Before starting this year's campaign, Global Impact evaluated past CFC campaigns. Staff used that feedback when creating key messages, revamping collateral materials, crafting a new "theme," and creating goals for this year (such as generating more participation from the the younger government employees and new government employees). This is great advice. I think a lot of us focus so hard on a particular project, and when that project is complete we move right on to the next one. As a result, we often don't take the time afterward to evaluate the project, collect feedback, etc. And there's so much to learn from evaluating what you've done... both good and bad.
  • You Can't Ignore Social Media: I know. It sounds like a no brainer, right? But what do you do when you're in an environment that doesn't embrace social media, which is the case with many federal agencies that block access to Twitter, Facebook, etc.? Global Impact solved this dilemma by using the (social media) tools they knew government employees could access, such as GovLoop, which is a social media tool specifically for the government.
  • Know Your Audience: Global Impact realized it was important that any collateral materials created for the campaign be customizable by the volunteers so that materials would speak to particular communities.
  • Social Media Isn't Everything: For the Marine Corps, having Marines in blues on the street talking to people directly is the best advertising. So one of the top goals is to get as many Marines out there as possible. It beats any other advertising channel they could use. (Of course, my CCG members already understand the importance of direct person-to-person contact. After all, we're a group that thrives during our in-person monthly meetings.)
  • Coordination, Coordination, Coordination: Toys for Tots is a HUGE campaign that always gets national and local media attention. When that's the case, communication is key. You need to make sure everyone has all the information available... after all, you never know when someone might end up being an "unofficial" spokesperson for your cause.
So those were my biggest lessons learned from yesterday. Sure, some of them weren't exactly "lessons learned" -- because they were strategies I already knew -- but I love when our speakers reinforce conventional wisdom and remind me that sometimes I need to go "back to basics."

For my fellow CCG'ers who attended yesterday's lunch... what did you learn from our speakers?

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