I highly recommend that you subscribe to the Nonprofit Technology Network’s quarterly online journal, NTEN: Change. I’m on the editorial board, and it’s free. It’s written in plain English (i.e. for non-techies) to help nonprofit leaders make sound decisions about how they use and invest in technology. I’m reposting here a short article I wrote for the current edition on using technology to manage your editorial calendar.
Long gone are the days when a quarterly print newsletter was all you had to think about it. Today, nonprofits are mini media moguls, publishing and broadcasting in multiple channels, from print and email, to social media and the airwaves.
Reaching out to more people, more often, demands an integrated approach to your marketing and fundraising communications. Otherwise, you’ll send mixed messages and end up with “all action, no traction” communications.
That’s where an editorial calendar comes in. That simple word processing table or spreadsheet might still work. But to properly manage the overall communications flow coming out of multiple staff members and being delivered to your supporters through multiple channels, you need something a little more robust. Strongly consider a web-based solution that allows out-of-office (and ideally mobile) access to the files.
The next decision is really one of personal preference: do you prefer to see topics, assignments, channels, and dates at a glance in a spreadsheet layout, or do you prefer to organize this same information on a calendar? Both can work equally well, but your viewing preference will help decide which tool to use.
If you prefer spreadsheets, the simple solution is a shared Google Docs spreadsheet. Use a new tab for each month or quarter. If you want to upgrade to a tool with more project management features, but still in a spreadsheet framework, consider something like Smartsheet.
If you prefer a calendar view, set up several Google calendars within one account (e.g. one for each communications channel). This allows you to layer the calendars on top of each other so you can see everything at once, while using the color of each calendar to identify the channel. To upgrade to a calendar-based project management system, try something like Basecamp.