calendar month

Editorial calendars are tried and true tools used by media professionals in both the for-profit and do-gooder worlds. Tying an organization’s work to what’s happening in the world—be it a holiday, a legislative battle on Capitol Hill, or something more cause-specific—has long been used to create a connection with audiences.

What’s new today is the wealth of tools that allow nonprofit communicators to act as their own publishers. No longer do you have to convince an editor that your story has merit in order to get your message out. An email blast, a Facebook post, or a tweet can carry your message directly and instantly. Include a short video or some clever interactivity, and you have the makings of a viral campaign with the potential to reach millions.

To help your organization connect its stories to larger trends, we’ve created a 2011 Editorial Calendar tool, free for you to download and use. It contains our best thinking on how to tie your social change work to red letter days of all types.

▶ Download the 2011 Editorial Calendar (PDF)

Nonprofit communicators can use our 2011 Editorial Calendar to begin to craft a content strategy. It is meant to spark your creativity, allowing you to craft communications that remind your supporters why they care as well as introduce your issue to new audiences. You can forge strong personal connections with your audiences by talking about your work in terms that resonate with what is happening in their lives.

Ideally, your organization will adapt the 2011 Editorial Calendar and make it your own. Work as a team to add dates that are important to your cause such as conferences and events you’ll sponsor or attend, reports you’ll release, and legislative debates tied to your cause. You might add a few minutes to your staff meetings once a month to update the calendar with new opportunities.

In this way, your organization’s editorial calendar becomes a tool for alignment. It helps get everyone at your organization on the same page around priorities and next steps, and ensures that your communications work is tightly integrated with the day-to-day work of your organization.

Creating and using an editorial calendar is a step you can take to harness inspiration and insight in the service of greater impact for your organization and its work.

It’s a New Year’s resolution worth making—and keeping!

(image courtesy Flickr user Facubeagle, Creative Commons)
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Holly Minch is LightBox Collaborative’s chief engineer and founder. She has resolved to share more tips and tools in 2011 via the LightBox Collaborative blog that do-gooders can use to help jump start thinking, create clarity, and spark action.