Before social media, nonprofit communicators needed mostly text, and convincing non-communications staff to devote time and energy into writing was (and still is) a challenge.
Now, communicators need visuals as much as they need text. With the proliferation of smartphones with good cameras, it’s easier than ever for everyone on staff, regardless of writing talents or interests, to contribute to your nonprofit’s communications channels.
Two nonprofits recently shared with me how they made this work for them.
Scarlett Bauman, director of marketing for Air Force Enlisted Village, a senior living community in Shalimar, Florida, relies on activities coordinators, community directors, and maintenance supervisors to send her photos. She created a “photography tips sheet” with procedures for submitting to her up to five of the best photos with descriptions whenever they are participating in something that others might enjoy seeing. “Staff have emailed me and texted me photos after hours, on weekends, or when I’m on paid time off,” says Scarlett. “I can create a social media post from anywhere with my phone so our Facebook page is always current.”
Scarlett says it took awhile to get everyone on board, but investing time in building good relationships with everyone she works with has paid off. “Now when I need something, they’re happy to cooperate,” she says.
Scarlett also relies on the residents themselves to contribute content. “I’m Facebook friends with some of our residents. They like to post photos from their activities and daily life, so if I see something I like, I always ask permission to share their photos on the Air Force Enlisted Village Facebook page,” says Scarlett.
Julie Edwards, executive director of the Humane Society of Northeast Georgia in Gainesville, Georgia, agrees that contributing photography is an excellent way for program staff to fulfill their communications responsibilities. “We highly encourage all staff to take ‘candids’ and forward them to the marketing team,” says Julie. “As the marketing team has received and posted these photos, the staff have seen that their contributions are important and impactful which, in turn, continues to turn the wheel.”
Julie says the marketing team has also developed great relationships with the shelter’s clinical team and adoption and intake coordinators. “They give us a heads-up when there is a great story to cover,” says Julie, rather than waiting for the marketing team to come looking for stories after the fact.
With a little creativity and your commitment to building relationships with staff, you can get help with your communications responsibilities — and have other staff members welcome taking on some of that responsibility themselves!