Helpful Resources for Associations and NonProfits

By Cyan Solutions on May 14, 2020 10:20:33 AM

We are all struggling  to figure out what the "new normal" looks like when everything around us is changing on a daily basis. From talking to our clients, we hear that marketing and communications people at associations and non-profits have the added difficulty of trying to keep diverse groups of stakeholders informed and engaged today, while planning for a future that will certainly be different than the past.

In order to help you, no matter where you are in this, we've put together a list of links to helpful resources and divided them into two sections. 

The first section is meant for those people who are in the trenches and concerned about adjusting to the reality of what's happening right now. Maybe you are trying to figure out what do about your annual conference or fundraising events while you crank out daily briefings. 

The second section is for those of you who might be thinking about the future, once restrictions start being lifted, and we can begin the monumental task of moving forward. Nobody can be certain when that will be or what the world will look like but I'm finding lots of great opinions on that. Perhaps you're lucky enough to have time for some strategic planning now after the plans you wrote late last year were torched in mid-March. 

Adjusting to the Reality of Today

We're going to avoid diving into the topics of working from home and/or productivity simply because those seemed to have been covered extensively over the past month. Here's a great content hub from Hubspot with all kinds of useful tips

By the same token, there have also been lots of great content published about developing communications and marketing strategies specifically during this pandemic:

We think there's value in breaking down the resources by tactic or channel so we can get a bit more granular. 

Pivoting to Online and/or Virtual Events

The Spring and Fall tend to be busy times for events, conferences and annual general meetings. For the past month, many of our clients have had to cancel, move or shift their events into online or virtual events. The Business of Software has a detailed guide on their blog about running successful online events and here's a summary from somebody who hosted over 3,000 people at an online event

In case you missed it, we hosted a webinar in partnership with CANARIE with practical tips for hosting virtual AGMs. You can also read CANARIE's blog post on the topic and/or download this comprehensive guide from the Ontario NonProfit Network.

Social Media & Live Streaming

Of course social media is largely one of the main communications and marketing channels that we're all trying to leverage as much as possible. Most social media platforms have seen huge spikes in usage since the pandemic started as people use them to communicate, share content and live stream. Here are some great stats from Hubspot on live video. Instagram has launched a fundraising button for live streams and Facebook Messenger has enabled rooms for over 50 people with no time limit. 

When I hear that social media usage is up, that also tells me that there is probably more noise that you need to compete with so perhaps it's a good time to think about social media copywriting. Here is a handy copywriting formula that, although more B2C or B2B, would still apply to anyone. 

Website and eCommerce

We have always maintained that associations and non-profits can learn a lot from B2C retailers and they have really been the canary in the coalmine during this pandemic because most physical retail had to close immediately in mid-march. At the same time, the products we need and want changed just as quickly.

It's probably a good idea to take some time and do a comprehensive review of your website, check analytics and make sure it's set up to handle traffic increases or changes in user behaviour. Here's a great checklist for you and if you sell products online or take digital donations, he's an analysis of the impact of COVID-19 on consumer behavior and ecommerce


Recording in-person videos right now (and it could be a while before this changes) will be nearly impossible while respecting physical distancing guidance.  If you need to try and capture your own video, our client CCUNESCO has some tips from our video team on their Youtube channel:

We've been doing a number of animated videos during the shutdown, as animated videos are still a great way to get your story across. We've blogged about this recently. Also, here's a great guide from ClickZ that covers almost every other aspect of video marketing


Anyone that needs to raise funds during this difficult time is going to have challenges for which there are no easy answers or even a blueprint to follow. Imagine Canada has a compiled a list of articles, resources and events that is continually being updated. One interesting fundraising campaign that we've blogged about recently is the face-mask campaign by the Vancouver Aquarium that sold 42,000 masks in a matter of days

If you're new to digital fundraising, here's the recorded version of webinar hosted by CanadaHelps back in March:


Ideas For the Future

As scientists around the world race towards a vaccine, and governments look toward technology-enabled contact tracing programs, it's clear that tomorrow will look much different from today.

Here's a great piece in Foreign Policy that brings together twelve thought leaders on the topic of how life in cities and urban areas will change

We can also learn from the retail sector and this piece by McKinsey talks about how retailers are preparing for the recovery and The Atlantic has published lots of great content about the changing face of retail and here's a fantastic roundup of published articles in their series called "Uncharted". 

Chris Brogan has a great video here that talks about setting up your business after the apocalypse. The keyword in it is "help" and I think that concept makes perfect sense in the association and nonprofit space:


If you have some time, check out this discussion between Mitch Joel and Henry Mintzberg. This is a deep conversation full of insight about what we can learn from the pandemic and how society puts itself back together again on the other side of this. Pay close attention and you'll notice that there is a unique need for associations and non-profits in that rebuild.



I've been through three of four major economic shocks in my career so far, but there isn't much of a playbook for what's happening now. Never have so many people been so profoundly impacted across country, not to mention all across the world.  

But, if you look at it from a distance, you'll notice that the pandemic really accelerated certain themes, such as digital transformation, which associations and nonprofits have been thinking about for years.  Perhaps it's time to make the leap. 

As always, if you need any help figuring your next moves, get in touch

Contact Us Today!


Topics: Social Media Strategy, eCommerce Strategy, Virtual AGM, Annual General Meetings, Fundraising

Cyan Solutions

Cyan Solutions

Cyan Solutions is one of Ottawa’s most comprehensive marketing and communications firms. Whether you’re looking to create awareness, change a perception or downright sell, we have the people and the tools to deliver.