Stuart Buchanan’s Digital Strategy for Nonprofits Masterclass

By March 31, 2016Blog, Learn
Nonprofit Masterclass Review - Leafcutter

In mid March 2016 we attended a masterclass workshop put together by the Guardian featuring Stuart Buchanan’s masterclass workshop on digital strategy for nonprofits. The content was fantastic as I am sure all those who attended would agree.

It was a full 8 hour day and the style of Stuart’s Masterclass was very involving, engaging all of the audience who came to learn about how to apply digital strategy to their organisations (mostly nonprofits).

The organisations that attended were:

  • Leafcutter (Myself, Michael Campbell, and James Hornitzky)
  • Wesley Mission
  • Care Australia
  • Smart Water Mark
  • Diabetes NSW
  • Cat Protection Society
  • Good On You, Ethical Shoppers Australia
  • Freelancers & Contractors – some freelancers and contractors working for various organisations (generally smaller organisations with smaller budgets)

Each had a common objective: to learn about digital and think about its application to their own marketing and communication activities.

Of course each organisation was focussed on solving their own very independent problems and it was great to hear about the range of challenges each organisation was looking to solve through digital platforms, channels and activities.

Some examples of the problems people were trying to solve are below.

Problem #1: Resource Structures

One organisation was looking particularly at how to better structure their in-house digital resources. Their challenge was that a bottleneck was forming in the organisation and their digital resources wasn’t able to proactively grow and improve the digital presence because he was being heavily relied on by all the departments internally who needed continuous updates to content on their website.

This was draining his time and was preventing him from being able to gather momentum towards actually making larger impacts through improving the web infrastructure. For example, having the ability to conduct a thorough review of the google analytics outlining the use of the website and identifying patterns that needed addressing e.g. customer journey drop off rates.

Problem #1: Our Solution

We have experienced this type of problem on many occasions in the past, not only in the nonprofit sector but organisations within the private corporate sector as well. With the RSPCA for instance, we worked with their team to implement a robust internal briefing process and an education plan in order to accustom all relevant teams as to the new process for getting updates made on the RSPCA NSW website.

For more info on the briefing process we implemented to prevent heavy bottlenecking and poor productivity of the in-house digital resources due to sporadic requests that bombard the digital lead, speak with one of our team. Another option is that we have seen work in the past is to setup your website infrastructure in a way that provides user access permission to key teams within the organisation who have a voice online e.g. Fundraising, Communication and Marketing, Service and Program Delivery etc.

When we did Camp Quality’s digital strategy, we designed the infrastructure and process of empowering each team within the organisation to be able to manage their content needs through the website.

Problem #2: The NDIS

A few organisations in attendance were disability sector organisations who provided services to people with a range of disability and other care needs. They were specifically interested in how to use digital to improve their processes and drive NDIS related searches online towards their own organisations.

Wesley Mission for example was making use of the Google AdGrants program and investing in digital tools that helped their planners and carers in the field to better deal with NDIS related services.

Problem #2: Our Solution

With the Cerebral Palsy Alliance, we worked with their team to devise an innovative digitally driven service delivery solution to an existing process of theirs which was largely manual and paper based and led to a loss of data (written documents would get filed and very rarely referred back to so all the data contained within was effectively lost).

Our solution effectively digitised the manual process and the system we created ensured that the data captured at each planning session was connected to their CRM system. This enabled many benefits and ultimately allowed Cerebral Palsy Alliance to better understand their customers and deliver more effective service.

Topics of the Masterclass

The masterclass covered a range of information topics, the key takeaways were as follows:

Australia’s use of Digital

A lot of insight was provided as to how the Australian population consumes and interacts with digital content across many different devices, platforms and channels (Neilson research data). This was really interesting to understand because whilst all organisations have variations in target audiences, the macro trends at play are important in driving marketing and communication decisions.

Channels and Platforms

Each major digital channel was touched on and its use was explained. For example, Facebook was explored and the statistics behind its use were shown which illustrated clearly that the most effective times to get people to engage with your content on Facebook was during ‘social hours’. The data clearly showed that Facebook engagement was at its peak first thing in the morning, followed by just after work.

A tremendously good insight for people to know when considering using Facebook as a channel to promote content and messages. On top of this, we also explored the 3 key actions people can do to interact on Facebook including; Page Likes, Comments & Shares. The conclusion being that Shares is what drives exposure and spread of messaging and content therefore it was the most valuable metric to track when assessing results of your promotions on Facebook as a platform.

Types of Content

Each distinct type of content is either more or less engaging than others. It was somewhat obvious but still great to confirm that video content was the most engaging medium as a general rule. This was closely followed by what is known as a ‘listicle’. A listicle is an article written in list form/bullet points and is particularly engaging because of how simple and easy it is to take in the key points of content. This article for instance can be taken as a listicle.

Content Planning

Content marketing was touched on a lot throughout the masterclass. Stuart shared some great content planning frameworks to help organisations prepare their own content plans. The framework was broken down into a variety of sections to help direct content efforts throughout the year including; activities, target audience groups, major annual events etc.

The Web Ecosystem

A major illustration made was that of the web as an ecosystem and an organization’s main website being the centre of the ecosystem. This was a great way of visually illustrating not only the importance of proper care, investment and management when it came to an organization’s own website but also the way an organization’s main website ties back to other online properties that lead to greater exposure online.

In Review

The masterclass represented great value to many smaller nonprofit organisations in Australia and indeed any small business in general. It started with a focus on the basics (marketing 101 stuff about who your brand is, who your audience is etc.) and then led into great detail as to the digital landscape and how it can and should be utilised by any organisations looking for greater reach, exposure and general results through use of digital channels.

Underpinning this explanation was a set of great frameworks for Australian organisations to use to apply their learning.  Highly interactive and educational, we would definitely recommend this course to organisations looking for guidance and direction on their digital strategy.

For those of you who are in a position to outsource the execution of your digital strategy or certain elements of it and are looking for a digital agency with high focus to deliver on your needs, feel free to reach out to our team here at Leafcutter. We are digital partners to many Australian nonprofits and would love to continue our great work in the sector with many more great organisations.