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How Causes Should Evaluate Their Cause Marketing Campaign

So your cause's cause marketing campaign is over (or at a pause) and it’s time to evaluate. How do you do that?
  • If your nonprofit is like most of your peers you’ll probably put everybody who was even remotely connected to the project in a room and hash it out until everyone’s eyes bleed. Sounds like a good reason to cut back on the number of participants, right? On the contrary. The fact is, given the turnover in nonprofits, the very most junior person Bulleted Listinvolved with the campaign this year could be running it 18 months from now. Moreover a debriefing is a form of training. (But be careful that it’s not training in how not to run a debriefing!)
  • At a minimum the debriefing should lead to a discussion about whether the campaign met the goals you set out for it. Of course that means that you committed the goals to paper or some digital format beforehand, didn’t you? It also means that people come to the meeting prepared to talk specifics. If the goal was to convert fans into donors, then someone needs to bring a spreadsheet to the meeting with the numbers of new supporters and how much money they generated.
  • If the campaign is large or important there may be a need for some kind of formal evaluation. Maybe an outside firm needs to validate the number of social media expressions and/or old media impressions.
  • Perhaps an audit of the campaign’s books is required or maybe it’s just prudent.
  • Maybe you need to study formally the participants’ satisfaction with the campaign. If the campaign requires a customer satisfaction survey, consider leading with “the ultimate question” devised by Bain consultant and author Fred Reichheld. The ultimate question is: rated on a 1-10 scale, “would you recommend this campaign to a friend.” If you don’t get a ‘net promoter score’ of nine or 10, well, then the next survey needs to determine why that is.
  • Whether or not you ask the ultimate question of your customers, you must ask your sponsor(s) some version of it. If you don’t get a net promoter score of nine or 10 from them, you better start doing some damage control. Remember in almost every case it’s cheaper to keep sponsors than to find new ones.
  • If the campaign didn’t meet your internal goals, talk about why. One answer could be that the goals were unrealistic. It could be that someone involved didn’t execute one or more elements of the campaign correctly. Maybe the campaign was poorly designed. If it went well, don’t just pat your own backs, figure out why it succeeded. Everyone knows a grand slam homerun when they see it, but not everyone knows how it happened. Spend the biggest single chunk of time in the postmortem meeting talking about how and why things went right or wrong.
  • Even if the meeting is large, make sure that everyone gets their say. There’s a couple of reasons for this. Many after-action meetings get dominated by the people with the strongest personalities. But they’re not necessarily the smartest or most insightful. That mousy student intern… with a true outsider’s perspective… may offer the most astute observation of all. The second reason to require that everyone speaks is to ensure that everyone gets a chance to be heard. You don’t want to be the kind of nonprofit that doesn’t allow your people to be heard. You can do that by going around the room and insist that everyone make some remark that goes longer than one sentence. Prep them in advance for their participation so that people who need to prepare can do so.
  • Talk about the role vendors, outsiders and sponsors played. Was the agency participation dynamite? Underwhelming? Somewhere in between? Was the work from other vendors up to snuff? Did the sponsor seem especially pleased? If so, ask them to put that on paper or offer an endorsement for your flip camera.
  • If you had an agreement or contract with the sponsor, did you meet all its terms?
  • Make sure that minutes from the debriefing are kept. After the fact, require that participants review and update the minutes and give them a deadline to make changes. Sometimes fresh ideas or thoughts come after the meeting and if they’re pertinent they should be added to the document. Prepare some kind of summary sheet that explains the campaign completely, if briefly. Stuff the summary, the minutes from the debrief, and all the exhibits (budget figures, copies of contracts, samples of the creative, and the like) into an expandable file folder. You could do this digitally as well. As everyone moves to other projects, most of the specific memories people have will fade. The file, whether digital or analog, becomes your organization’s living memory of the campaign, so make sure it’s as accurate, complete, and accessible as you can make it.
  • For the same reason, most of the people involved should make their own notes from the campaign, apart from the organizational memory folder. These could be general in nature, but they must also contain notes and ideas specific to their function during the campaign.


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In other words, you’ll want to hold back some of the promotion’s budget to continue to activate the effort until the very end.

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