At Yearbox, we do loads of nonprofit fundraising calendars every year. Many of our nonprofit customers also use our online sales and distribution service. We make their calendars look nice, make it easy for their customers to order them securely online, and take care of all the packaging and shipping details. The only thing we can’t do for our customers is promote the calendar to their supporters. Of course, our customers know their supporters far better than we do. But after looking at the online sales figures, it is clear that not all nonprofits are experts at promoting their fundraising products.
With that in mind, we’ve put together some tips to help you with marketing and promoting your fundraising calendar. If you’re thinking that promoting your calendar involves a Facebook post and a couple of e-mails, think again. To have a really successful fundraiser, you need to approach marketing and promoting your calendar as an ongoing campaign. It doesn’t need to be expensive or time consuming — five to ten minutes a day is probably sufficient. But it should be ongoing, especially since calendars naturally have a limited shelf life.
So how do you go about promoting the calendar? Here are a few ideas. (By the way, most of these tips apply not only to fundraising calendars, but also to marketing and promoting any type of nonprofit fundraising product.)
Make Your Sales Message an Appeal
As a nonprofit, you will be marketing your calendar to your supporters. You can leverage this fact and increase sales by making your sales pitch in the form of an appeal for help. Yes, do mention that your calendar is attractive, functional, and high-quality. But what if someone already has a calendar for next year, or maybe they are not in the habit of putting up a calendar every year? You can lure in even these potential customers by emphasizing first and foremost that buying a calendar is a great way to support your organization — with the added bonus of a high-quality, attractive, functional calendar. A sales pitch along the lines of, “The perfect calendar for every golden retriever lover!” is only going to work well on people who are already in the market for a calendar. Since you are targeting supporters, a message like, “Help us to reach our fundraising goal by ordering your copy of this beautiful calendar now!” will probably get better results. And be specific! An appeal to help raise funds to buy a specific, important piece of equipment or service (don’t forget to mention why it is necessary or important) is going to be much more effective than a generic appeal for funds.
Put Time on Your Side
As I have already mentioned, calendars have a shelf life. People are not very interested in buying calendars before September or after December. You can put time on your side, however, by putting a deadline (even if it is a made-up deadline) on each of your sales pitches. “Help us to reach our sales goal by November 1st,” and, “Only 3 more days to help us to reach our sales goal,” are going to be more effective than a less specific timeframe. If you have a deadline, then you can start counting down days, which gives you something to post about on social media and puts a little pressure on your supporters to act. It doesn’t matter why there is a deadline — maybe it is your fiscal year end, or maybe the date by which you need the funds in hand, or maybe the date by which you need to decide how many calendars to print. What matters is that when there is a deadline, it is much harder for your supporters to postpone (maybe indefinitely) their purchase. And even after the deadline has passed, you can still make appeals: “We reached our goal, but you can still help!” or, “We almost reached our goal — there is still time for you to help!”
Go Social, and Go Social Often
Of course you’ve shared your calendar on Facebook, but have you posted about it every week? Every day, even? It’s easy for people to see something online and say to themselves, “That’s a good idea. Maybe I’ll order one of those.” And then forget about it completely. People are so busy these days that you need to frequently remind them why your calendar is such an attractive and worthy cause.
However, you don’t want to spam people with the same message over and over again. So, it’s important to think of your social media posts as an ongoing conversation about your calendar. Say something different about it each time. The obvious way to organize this is to go month by month. Do your own 12 days of Christmas by posting about a different calendar page each day, with a little detail about the model or subject for that month. For example, a dog rescue calendar post might go something like this: “Today we’re featuring Mr April: Skittles, a bassett hound rescued from a puppy mill and looking for his own forever home. Order your own calendar at our website. They make great Christmas gifts.”
The Internet is Visual — Use Pictures!
People are much more likely to respond to and to share your posts if they have great visual content. Luckily, your calendar is visual all the way through. If you are posting about April, then include the April page in the post. If Yearbox is printing your calendar, then you already have all of the images for each month and the covers. You can retrieve them by going to your proof page and right-clicking each image to save it to your computer.
Expand Your Social Circle
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that you are promoting your calendar only to your own supporters. The great thing about a calendar fundraiser is that it can help you grow your network. Every time you post about your calendar, encourage your supporters to share it with their friends. Ask them to add a few words of their own make it stand out. Every time a friend of a supporter buys a calendar, that’s a new supporter for you. And if a friend buys a calendar as a gift for someone else, then that’s two new supporters for you. Also, don’t forget to remind your supporters that fundraising calendars make awesome gifts — they can buy holiday gifts and give back at the same time.
It’s Not Just Facebook
Facebook is great, but don’t forget all the other social networks out there. If you are active on Twitter, then be sure and tweet your 12 days of Christmas as well as posting it on Facebook. Pinterest is also great for calendars because it is such a visual network. Set up a Pinterest board for your calendar and pin all the calendar images there. Make sure your pin includes a link to the calendar ordering page. Flickr, Instagram, and Tumblr are also great places to share images from your calendar — just make sure they link back to your calendar ordering page.
Offer a Promotion
One way to create interest in your calendar and to give you something to post about is to offer a limited promotion. For example, you could offer a sale price just for Black Friday or Cyber Monday. (If Yearbox is handling your online calendar sales, we can easily set up a time-limited sale price for you.)
Don’t Neglect the “Other” Media
Newspapers and local TV are a great source of free publicity. A story in the local paper or on the local TV news can drive sales online and also raise awareness. Write up a press release describing your project: how it came together, how funds will be spent, how people can purchase the calendar, and how the media can get more information. If possible, include a sample calendar when you send the release to media organizations. Do you know anyone who works in the news media? Or maybe some of your supporters know someone? (Maybe you should ask them…)
Promoting your calendar doesn’t have to be hugely time-comsuming. If you spend a few minutes each day for two weeks trying out some of these strategies, it’s bound to have an impact on your calendar sales. What strategies have you had success with? Let us know in the comments below!