Communications Theme for 2015

Communications Theme for 2015

Fundraiser’s Almanac: January

Happy New Year!

For 2015, I will be creating a week-by-week guide to organizing a fundraising program. My ambition is to provide strategic ideas for approaching your work rather than providing some kind of overlay to what you might be doing already. Some of the ideas might work for you now; others might work later in the year. Some might not be relevant for you at all. If these posts offer you some fresh ideas, if they provoke your thinking about getting your work done, if they pull you out of reactive mode and into proactive mode – if they do any of these things, writing them will have been worthwhile.

Please give me feedback along the way. What works for you? What doesn’t? What twist did you employ? What were your results?

Here are the four topics for January:

  • Communications Theme for 2015
  • Top 100 Working List for 2015
  • Board Evaluations, Board Campaign
  • Thank You Calls

So what’s your land trust’s theme for 2015?

January is a great time to consider having a communications theme and what that theme might be. A communications theme is a theme that will run all the way through your communications for the entire year. It will provide substance for newsletter and website articles; Facebook, Twitter, and other social media; solicitation and thank you letters; and even events.

You might have a single word theme, such as “stewardship” or “flowers.” You might have a theme that is more of a phrase, like “reconnecting with nature,” or “preserving farms, preserving heritage.” Or even one that carries a message, like “Open Space is Good for You,” or “Healthy Land Produces Clean Water.”

Here are several tips for arriving at a theme for your organization:

  • First make it a group process. Sure, it takes longer, but you will be dependent on everyone buying in and coming back to the theme with everything they produce as well. Engaging everyone up front will make everything more effective later.
  • Review everything you produced last year, even if it wasn’t connected with an obvious theme. Was there an intentional theme? An accidental one? Is there a thread that could be followed this year?
  • Now take a look ahead to what will likely happen this year. Is there something that jumps out for you?
  • Now brainstorm (no bad ideas yet!) and develop as long a list of themes as possible. You’ll want to save this list; the ideas will be useful for starting the exercise next year as well. Then winnow, combine, and wordsmith. Be picky.
  • Go with a single theme, rather than multiple themes or sub-themes. Less is more here. Having a theme does not constrain you to only writing and communicating about that topic, but it does mean that the theme should be more visible in your materials than other items. And it will get you thinking about how to connect everything. Repetition aids comprehension for your audiences. Having a theme running through will create the possibility for connection, convergence, and leverage. Your work will be more memorable, and more likely to be retained.
  • Bring Judy Anderson’s concept of “drip feed communications” to bear. Plan a series of news stories containing parts of a larger story. For example, if your theme is “Stewardship,” you might want to talk about land management challenges in February, restoration training and work days in May, work party results with before and after photos in August, and stewardship budget needs in the fall appeal (and thank you letters!). To the extent you can, calendar these communications.
  • Make the theme internally visible – meaning post it in big letters on the wall where board and/or staff will see it. Regularly ask yourself whether you can tell what the theme is just from reading some of the communications materials.

So what’s your land trust’s theme for 2015? If you’ll share, I’ll post all the themes I am aware of on this blog.

BTW: In researching this blog, I ran across a provocative post from business blogger Chris Brogan. In his New Year’s post, he describes a process for arriving at a more personal type of theme for 2015 – one that he forces into just three words. You can find his post here (

Think about it for a couple of weeks, and I’ll share with you my three words on 20 January.

Happy New Year!




Photo credit: Bullock’s Oriole, courtesy of Walt Kaesler.

Share this!
  • Jill Lewis
    Posted at 18:48h, 16 January

    Signing Up :>)

  • Reggie Hall
    Posted at 12:43h, 16 January

    Happy New Year in return!

    Seems to me, the new year is always a good time to sit back and evaluate the annual implementation of the larger strategic plan (programmatic and financial) to see what worked and what didn’t as well as what’s ahead.

    Also if there was net income (hopefully!), where should that be applied to grow the balance sheet and enhance the financial health of the organization. How do you know where it should go?

  • Dianne Alves
    Posted at 10:44h, 09 January

    We have done this for the past 5 years and it works in many ways. This year our theme is “25” since it is our twenty-fifth anniversary.

    thank you.