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How to expand your email campaigns and event planning

Never underestimate the power of communication.

At an intimate learning workshop series at the Centre for Social Innovation, communications professionals from various non-profits, including Sierra Club of Canada, Community Environmental Alliance and Scouts Canada, gathered to learn from the best. The workshop, “Supercharging Your Purpose”, offered important tips on how to gain support and donations to succeed in the world of non-profits. The workshop was run by Second Revolution Communications, a communications company that leads workshops in conjunction with the Sustainability Network, a non-profit that provides learning networks to non-profits across Canada. The workshops run about three times per year.

Over the course of two days, non-profits were invited to learn about strategic planning, designing a better brand, event planning, and email campaigns from speakers Brad Pearson, Creative Director of Second Revolution Communications, and Keith Treffry, Director of Strategy at Second Revolution Communications. Both speakers come from an extensive background in the environmental non-profit sector. Previously Treffry was the Director of Communications for Earth Day Canada, a non-profit that has been around for over 25 years. Pearson is a graphic designer by trade, and previously worked for Greenpeace.

Women’s Post had the opportunity to attend the event planning and email campaigns workshops and left with valuable takeaways on how to plan for success in the world of non-profit.

Event Planning

“The biggest challenge in event planning is creating a unique event that will resonate strongly with your supporters,” Treffry says. “There are so many variables in events, you could have the best event semantically, but screw up by charging too much for tickets. Create a unique niche and separate yourself from your competition.”

When planning an event, begin by creating a steering committee. Researching finances, potential partnerships for the event, timing, competition, and venues is critical to a successful event. It can be dangerous to jump the gun and start planning before all these details are considered. The second step is to define the budget and consider important things like food, speakers, A/V, marketing and insurance. Don’t forget to developing a theme and brand for the event that can be used on social media.

Only after all of those factors are taken into consideration can you choose the venue. Make sure to ask about indoor/outdoor, A/V capacity, food and beverage options (if you are using their catering), size, and location. From there, implement your communications plan, which includes event materials, an Eventbrite or other ticketing system, a website, and signage for the event. Be sure to focus on getting speakers, deciding on catering or food options, and venue décor.

On the day of event, be sure to have a run sheet that lays out A/V needs for speakers or panelists along with any required images needed throughout the event. Don’t forget to make sure your sponsors are front and centre. Pearson recommends to obtain presentations from speakers in advance, noting that it can be difficult, but will make the event much smoother.

Both speakers focus on different aspects of the most integral elements on the day of the event:

Treffry: “Execution of the event is essential. Make sure everyone knows their responsibilities and knows what to do and when. Make sure they stick to the script.“

Pearson: “I focus more on A/V aspects of the event. At larger events, I’ll be in the sound booth coordinating with the presentations. My background is in design, but I’ve enough multimedia experience to be reasonably efficient. You learn how to wear multiple hats.”

Finally, after the event is complete, don’t forget to debrief with the team. Engaging with the people who contributed to running the event will make future events even more successful. Communication is key!

Email Campaigns

Emailing campaigns continue to be an important part of communications and marketing for non-profits. Though various social media outlets can appear to be more effective, emails are still an essential form of engagement for online communication. Pearson says that people have three times as many emails as other social media accounts and 56 per cent of people check their email first when they wake up and last before they go to bed, more so than other social media networks.

When building a subscriber list for emails, provide a banner and button on the website that will engage people to click on it. Providing click-bait such as a fun phrase or compelling image will draw people to subscribe. When asking for information, keep it simple as well. Simply ask for an email and provide an option for people to give additional information such as gender or city to build a better idea of the demographics your website is reaching.

Be sure to test different times, various subject headers, and different images in email campaigns to gauge success with your audience. Try using videos as well. Using video or other multimedia storytelling will raise email engagement by about 35 per cent. Be sure to focus on who you are audience is. Pearson pointed out that 80 per cent of people who have stopped opening emails feel it has become irrelevant. Engaging an interested audience is imperative to the success of an email campaign.

There are key challenges that remain to email campaigning, but there are solutions. “It is a difficult process. You can’t buy lists anymore because you need explicit consent,” Pearson says. “It isn’t so much about the size of your list as compared to the quality of your engagement. Make sure not to miss an opportunity. Testing different variables is also important and improves engagement rates. It is about long-strategy vs. short-term panic.”

Communications is key to creating relationships with supporters when working in the non-profit sector. Using events to network and engage with people will help create lasting partnerships and loyalty. Likewise, email campaigning can foster an online relationship that could further the success of a given cause. Most importantly, focus on the purpose for your non-profit and you won’t lose your way.

How to find a winter coat as a vegan in Toronto

Finding a winter coat appropriate for vegans is similar to spotting a koala in downtown Toronto. There are very few options to choose from, especially considering most winter jackets are filled with down or made of wool. Many popular coats have fur collars and use water repellent sprays that are high in chemical usage. As a vegan, I find it frustrating looking for clothing that will keep me warm in the winter, especially coats. They are one of the most obvious examples of animal cruelty in the frivolous fashion industry. But, they are necessary in this wondrous Canadian winter.

Here are five vegan options I found during my search:

Better Sweater Fleece Jacket by Patagonia, $89.
Better Sweater Fleece Jacket by Patagonia, $89.

Patagonia Women’s Better Sweater Coat

Patagonia’s sweater coat was by far the best pick when considering style, cost, being cruelty-free, and environmental sustainable. The coat is made of polyester fleece instead of wool, and does not have a down stuffing interior. It has a soft fleece inner lining, which increases warmth of the coat. It comes in black, white, or burgundy and is dyed with a low-impact process that is environmentally sustainable. The coat is a fair trade sewing product and contains no animal product whatsoever. To boot, it is on sale for $89. Patagonia has several eco-friendly and cruelty-free jacket options and the prices are the most affordable out of any of the environmental conscious coats available in Toronto.

Hoodlam Hemp Ladies Parka Jacket, $484.95.
Hoodlam Hemp Ladies Parka Jacket, $484.95.

Hemp Hoodlamb Ladies Parka jacket

This parka jacket is can be found at the Hemp Store on Yonge St. in Toronto. This jacket is available in black and has a vegan faux fur collar. It is made from hemp and organic cotton, and costs $484.95. It is fair-trade and is well-made, which means it this jacket should last years. There are several more options available online if the parka jacket isn’t the right fit, and all the available jackets are eco-friendly and vegan-approved.

Doe Parka Jacket from Wully Outerwear, $699.
Doe Parka Jacket from Wully Outerwear, $699.

Mammoth Outerwear Doe Parka

The Doe Parka is made from a poly-cotton water resistant shell and has Primaloft insulation. Primaloft is a vegan replacement for down and is made from recycled fibres. It is one of the best down replacements in the eco-fashion market and is sought after by sustainable jacket companies. Wully Outerwear (formerly Mammoth Outerwear) is a Toronto-based, animal-free jacket company. Wully Outerwear donates $10 of each purchase to the Association for the Protection of Fur-Bearing Animals. The Doe Parka is $699, but is the top quality animal-friendly jacket that is made and sold locally.

Belden Future Vaute Couture Coat, $371.
Belden Future Vaute Couture Coat, $371.

The Belden Future Vaute Couture Coat

The Belden Future coat by Vaute Couture is a trendy dress jacket that will make heads turn on Yonge St. The jacket is available online and ships to Canada with no extra fees. Vaute Couture is one of the largest vegan jacket producers and is based out of New York. The company uses primaloft lining and organic moleskin on the exterior. This is a cruelty-free product and is water resistant. Vaute Couture are trend-setters in eco-fashion and no other dress coat comes close. The Belden Future is on sale for $371.50.

Lady Lane Fur Collar Jacket, $298.
Lady Lane Fur Collar Jacket, $298.

Free People Faux-fur coat

Free People produce some of the most trendy fashion items at affordable prices. The company also has a line of faux fur and vegan jackets that are funky and environmentally conscious. These jackets deviate from the norm, and don’t follow the traditional look of a winter coat. They are fashion-forward and are reminiscent of coats from the 60’s and 70’s. There are several jacket options ranging from $300 to $600. The Lady Lane Fur Collar Jacket is $298, making it one of the more affordable Free People jackets and eco-friendly.

Do you wear vegan-friendly winter wear? If so, let us know where you got it from in the comments below!