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While associations should embrace social media, true success lies in committing to your brand.
This is the advice of Maj. George Hood of The Salvation Army in the session “The Naked Truth About Our Future” at the Direct Marketing Association Nonprofit Conference last week in Washington.
DMA Nonprofit Federation, host of the conference, said the 762 participants was the second-highest in the conference’s history.
Hood explained that the Salvation Army realized a few years ago that it needed to change, especially as numbers showed the organization had no growth in the 18-25-year-old age range in 2005. To reach this market, the group started a new technology outreach effort in 2007, supplanting radio efforts with online publications, blogs and videocasts. Most recently the Salvation Army created an app for its social justice program.
During the 2010 Christmas season, the Salvation Army videocast live a concert called Rock the Kettle that was viewed by 18,000 teens. Hood recounted that someone at the time asked how much money was raised. He said, “You missed the point. Every one of those kids who walks by a red kettle will put money in it.”
Now, the organization has a 92% awareness rating among 18-25-year-olds, and an overall approval rating of 87%.
But he cautioned that communication tools won’t be effective if the association does not support and reinforce its brand. The Salvation Army adopted “Doing the Most Good,” and centers all its projects and marketing in supporting that slogan.
“Every piece must consistently deliver on that brand promise,” he advised.
Honored at the conference with the Max Hart Nonprofit Achievement Award was Carole Portale, COO of March of Dimes, who heads up the organization’s fundraising efforts. The effort usually raises more than $1 million a year.
In her acceptance remarks, Portale recounted “four lessons from my lifetime”:
- Be proud of who you work for
- Do business with nice people
- Hire people smarter than you are
- Know when to stop talking.