Open It Up — Engaging Your Base Behind the Scenes

behind-scenesIn an era where even Loehmann’s (THE original discount ladies clothing store w/famously-communal dressing rooms, spent many Saturday afternoons there with my mom as a child) has a Facebook page, you know it’s hard to get through to your network of supporters, much less engage them.

But giving folks a chance to go beyond — whether behind the scenes, after the show or standing in the shoes of is a great way to do just that. Here are two great examples:

==> Behind the scenes: As a long-ago member of New York’s American Museum of Natural History, I was invited to participate in a behind-the-scenes tour of the entomology (bugs) department.

It was incredibly compelling,  and gave me a real understanding of what it takes to find, research and exhibit the incredible shows at the museum. The research side of the institution is something the public is largely unaware of, and this was a powerful way to show how an exhibit evolves.

I renewed my membership for several years thereafter.

==> After the show: My husband and I see many experimental performances in the Peak Perfs series at a local university.

The performances frequently raise questions (and consciousness) and are often complemented by a live discussion with performers and/or director directly after the performance, continued online for a month or so.

Those opportunities ensure that we keep thinking about what we saw, and Peak Perfs! We renew our series year over year.

How does your organization open up your “behind the scenes” to your network? Please share your experiences in Comments. Thanks!

Behind the scenes is a proven method of increasing engagement, so if you’re not doing anything along these lines why not experiment with a test program this fall?

P.S. Get more in-depth articles, case studies and guides to nonprofit marketing (and video) success — all featured in the twice-monthly Getting Attention e-update. Subscribe today.

Nancy Schwartz on September 1, 2010 in Strategy | 5 comments
Tags:, , ,

  • My first fundraising job was in a community where the daily newspaper, the dominant AM news and sports station, and an FM music station were all owned by the same family. The family had entered the local media market in 1946. One year in the early 1990’s the current head of the family enterprise decided to turn the business over to his son who had just graduated from college. He was the third generation to own and manage the business.

    When the young man took the helm, my fundraising colleaguecalled up the young man and welcomed him to his new post and asked if he could arrange a tour of our nonprofit with our executive director.

    The young man agreed to the tour and by the end of the tour he was captivated by what a difference our nonprofit was making in the lives of adults with developmental disabilities. That tour proved to be the beginning of a relationship between our nonprofit and this key figure in the local media world.
    My colleague who was building a relationship with the young publisher of the daily, arranged for me to send news releases directly to him. I soon discovered that if I wrote an excellent news release and took a good photo, the article appeared in the paper with little or no changes. At the time we had a newsletter for our nonprofit called the Horizon Sun. So many of our press releases began to appear in the newspaper, that its own reporters joked that it was the Sun.

  • Nancy Schwartz

    Thanks, Rich, for sharing this story. The story doesn’t surprise me – nor does the result! Strategy still working for you these days?

  • That was in the 1980’s. Both the publisher and I have moved on since then. It was good while it lasted.

  • Pingback: What We’re Reading, Week of 9/6 « i On Nonprofits()

  • Nancy,
    This is a great post and a great reminder that even with all the wonderful online tools at a nonprofit’s disposal it’s important to think of offline opportunities for supporter engagement. Thanks for sharing.

<< Back to Main