Recognizing your Speakers, Staff, Volunteers & Donors, using Social Media

Screenshot 2016-02-14 10.50.53In the world of public relations nothing is more important than acknowledging people.  Recognizing the work of your staff builds trust through praise, and praise is one of the key currencies in any school or non-profit. Thanking the visitors that support your organization seems obvious, but can often be overlooked or done in a cursory manner.  Why send a private thank you email, or a verbal “gracias,” when you can share your appreciation with a wider audience?

The following are my tips for using social media to make your thank you that much better:

For visiting speakers:  At the very least, take a photo of the speaker that can be posted on your website, Facebook, or Twitter page.  Ideally the photo will be with your Head of School, students, or within the context of the work that your non-profit does.  If the speaker has a Twitter account, be sure to tag them in the posting so they are able to retweet.  It is important to designate someone to take the photo, otherwise it might not happen.

A more complete appreciation includes a photo and a blog article.  The blog should include direct quotes from the speaker and perhaps video footage, especially if they are a musical performer.  The video can be shot with a camera as basic as an iPhone.  I also like to include quotations from members of the audience that reveal what they learned from the speaker.  At the end of the blog article, acknowledge the person who invited the guest and share links to the orator’s website or organization.  Send the article to the speaker and post on your website.  If you take these two steps you are almost guaranteed to be able to call on that person as a future resource.  See the link below (Erin Schrode) for an example of a blog written about a speaker who visited the Hamlin School in San Francisco.

For your staff:  Any given day, week, or year, members of your staff are doing incredible things.  Follow the same photo and blog guidelines that you would for a guest speaker. For members of your staff I recommend sharing a draft of the blog with them ahead of time to ensure that you have specific information documented correctly.  Once the blog has been written, you can send the link to their colleagues to further the public acknowledgement of their excellent endeavor.  See the link below (Grupo Amapola) for an example of a blog written about the work of a couple of Spanish teachers at the Hamlin School.

For your volunteers:  Perhaps you have an annual fundraising or community-building event?  Have you ever documented the history of the gathering and all the people involved? Do you ever find yourself reexplaining an annual event to enlist future volunteers?  A comprehensive blog article can acknowledge volunteers and help to recruit future helpers.  Do some research and give credit to the individuals who started the event, project, or partnership.  At the end of this type of blog I like to include a section that states, “Special thanks to the following people for their recent and past support of……” See the link below (Hamilton Family Center) for an example of a blog that acknowledges volunteers who were integral to a partnership/event.

For your donors:  This is an area where your organization is probably very vigilant, no doubt you send out a handwritten thank you letter soon after a donation is made.  Why not up your game by recognizing the donor in a tweet or blog?  This isn’t appropriate for all donors, but most philanthropists appreciate a public nod.  Beyond a tweeted thank you, a comprehensive blog can: inform a donor about what exactly their funds were used for, demonstrate how your organization’s mission is aligned with a donor’s interests, and provide relevant links to websites connected to the donor.  Donors often have a personal brand related to their philanthropy, your blog can help further their altruistic reputation and work, while serving to steward their future engagement with your organization.

By following these tips your organization will achieve positive internal and external public relations, while ensuring robust future involvement by staff and supporters alike.

To read an example of a blog that acknowledges a guest speaker, please visit:

To read an example of a blog that acknowledges staff members, please visit:

To read an example of a blog that acknowledges volunteers, please visit:






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