Saturday 5 November 2016



Morning presentation:

Elisa Kline Editor and Publisher of is skilled in digital marketing. She began the workshop with an introduction to what this form of marketing can do and how to use it to good effect for your non-profit organization. Her experience in working with nonprofits on digital marketing since 2011 told in her presentation of this complex effort; it was concise and practical and her guidance based on current trends in digital marketing efforts.

As non-profits we are all challenged to solve: ”how to best leverage the power of the digital environment to make the world a better place.”

Leadership within the organization is a critical part of what is required to have your organization use digital marketing successfully. Leadership is what it will take to bring your board members, staff, and select volunteers into alignment for the undertaking. Everyone one needs to be up to speed on using the various digital media your organization intends to use. Your organization needs to have the computer and communications systems that support your digital marketing effort, the staff trained to implement and manage its performance, and everyone participating in the use of the relevant social media. A marketing plan is also essential and Elisa recommends creating a plan that includes a content calendar. This type of calendar is a schedule of what content will be published and when for the year. The calendar enables you to visualize how your content will be distributed throughout the year. This allows you to:

  • Plan content that tells the story of how your organization is realizing its mission every day, give your community information about things they care about that fit within your mission, and share what happens at your events and how people experience them;
  • Plan content around key events for your organization and those of other like organizations in your region keeping in mind the activities and interests of your community;
  • See where you have time gaps in your content plan when you have plenty of opportunity to line up more content;
  • Make sure you have your content ready in plenty of time to publish.

In general, the further ahead you plan your digital content publishing, the better placed you are to produce a consistent flow of the type of content that builds your organization’s perceived expertise in realizing your mission.

In 2016 non-profit organizations, are in general, spending 5% of their overall fundraising budget for digital strategy; Elisa recommends your organization include a l line item for digital marketing in your budget.

The most immediate focus for digital marketing for most organizations has been engagement. Thus, your organization uses social media to invite your community to “discuss” things that resonate with them associated with your mission. This spreads the story of your organization and as your audience grows and becomes more engaged, more people are inclined to participate in your organization, donating and volunteering.

There are many skills that people in your organization will need to master as a collective or that you will need to contract out to have the best success with digital marketing. The essential skills are:

  • Graphic design
  • Website maintenance
  • Email management
  • Recruiting and managing volunteer assistance with marketing
  • Complicated software
  • Understanding how to use digital analytics to track digital marketing performance
  • Growing and monitoring social media engagement
  • Reaching and addressing multiple audiences
  • Search engine optimization, the mechanics of it (see below)

Other related marketing skills that can move digital marketing into more specific niche engagement are:

  • Means to expand your community beyond your known, existing, community
  • Planned giving partner relationship building
  • Building donor relationships and groups

There is a trend to incorporate visual forms of media in your digital marketing effort, and this multifaceted approach is replacing what has been a predominantly text-based content. Horticultural organizations are lucky in this regarded because visuals are easily integrated into mission based messaging.

Another innovation has been, to be considerate of your constituents’ traditional lifecycle routines, as well as your organization’s events when developing your content schedule.

Lastly, there is an increasing emphasis on the importance of defining how your organization will measure the success of an effort within your digital plan and the impact each outreach has had on your constituents.

To truly use digital marketing to your best advantage, considering the evolution of digital marketing technics and strategies, you will need to be proficient with the following:

  • Be search engine optimized and maximize your presence on mobile devices so you will grow your outreach and engagement (this effort requires skills in the use of metatags, and the maintenance of website codes)
  • Have your events go live on social media, sharing the experience attracting interest using visual data to engage people
  • Use digital analytics tools to aid you in measuring success and in increasing the reach of your messages to you community

Using these tools skillfully you can drive your engagement with your community, attract new donors and volunteers, and grow your community.

Panel discussion:

A thank you to all the participants on the pane, we all learned something from them.
The first presentation of the panel portion of the workshop was given by Ben Streissguth. He showed everyone some of what you can learn from Google Analytics (GA). Google Analytics helps you to determine who uses your website and what they do when using your site, and more. To use GA, you sign up for free at Google then gives you a small piece code to put on your website to track users. Once this is done you can log into GA to see who visits your page, where they came from, what they looked at, how long they stayed on the site, whether the visit is a repeat visit, the sex of the visitor, age and more. All this without cost to you. Ben showed us the GA dashboard for the GCNN website on a screen using his computer and a power point projector.

Colleen Adams-Schuppe gave the second presentation and encouraged folks to think outside the box when marketing. She gave an example of how she used programing to expand the Yakima Area Arboretum’s outreach and expanded its community engagement. She hosted a “Pokémon Go” event recently at the Arboretum. In planning the program Colleen encountered concern from several individuals that the event was not an appropriate use of the Arboretum. Using one’s smart phone to play a virtual reality game through the Arboretum was not a part of the organization’s mission. Colleen’s reply was that the engagement of people with nature is often facilitated using tools. Bicycles, snowshoes, cameras, etc. have led people to appreciate the outdoors engagement might also come when people play a virtual reality game outdoors. Her argument won the day and her hopes for the event were realized. Despite the pouring rain, the event turned out to be very successful; there were lots of people, many of them had never been to the arboretum before, and a number indicated they loved the place and would return. Pokémon, Colleen noted, is an innovative game and there will be other such virtual reality games that take a player out of his or her computer room and into the real world blending the real with the virtual. There will be other opportunities for our organizations to hook people into the world of plants and our organizations.

Colleen then described the online marketing tool that the Arboretum uses to post classes, send emails and do surveys, Constant Contact. She showed people what CC looks like to those who are using it by logging into her CC online account. She demonstrated some of the productivity tools that CC offers and talked about the CC calendar widget, which makes posting classes and events so easy. It automatically posts any classes she creates onto the Arboretum website saving her a lot of work/time. Timing announcements is important, as a rule of thumb, for large community events she will post and send an email announcement 3-6 months out. Then she uses CC to send out reminders one month out and the week before the event.

The Third panel presentation was given by Nancy Kartes and she discussed the importance of meshing your mission and marketing efforts to build your organization which in turn, aids you realizing your mission. Tie programing and events to the Garden's mission and master plan, no matter what marketing tools you intend to use to get people to those events. Whenever possible, weave development of the collections and/or garden spaces into programs or events - make them the focus of classes or events in an effort to continue to connect people to the Garden. Simply having a class for the sake of having a class is an opportunity lost. The ultimate goal for your organizations marketing effort would be to increase the number of people who embrace and care for your organization and its efforts to realize its mission. These people are likely to then become volunteers, members, and donors - rather than simply increasing the number of visitors or program attendees.

There were questions and discussion resulting from the panelist’s presentations.

General meeting

Project reports:

The Passport Brochure: The 2017 Passport brochure has been printed and will be distributed after this meeting to current members of the GCNN, 40 copies to each member. The price of the brochure remains $15.00 for 2017. We will do another evaluation of the Passport in late summer to decide on the future of the Passport.


Workshops for spring 2017 and fall 2017:

The Spring 2017 workshop will be In SeaTac, WA on Saturday 11 March hosted by the Highline Botanic Garden. The topic will be GRANT WRITING.

The workshop for fall of 2016 will be in Oregon and we hope at the Ainsworth House in Oregon City. The topic TBA. The will be a questioner sent out soon to determine the topic for the autumn 2017 workshop.


Last update: 18 February, 2018