Social is Here for Good: Meals on Wheels and More
I pull up to Meals on Wheels and More’s (MOWAM) East Austin facilities on a sunny Wednesday morning. The lot is full of refrigerated trucks, sedans, and minivans, and people are moving about with packed coolers. As I take a lap to find a spot, I think to myself, “No parking? Great problem to have.”
I’m here to meet Amy Atchley, MOWAM’s Manager of Online Marketing. She’s going to tell me about the services they provide to Austin’s homebound population—from delivering over 3,000 daily meals to, as the name implies, much more. The organization also assists with safety-related home repairs, to pet food delivery and basic veterinary care for companion animals through their PALS Program, and beyond.
She’s also going to tell me how they are using social media for good—to build awareness and drive action around their cause.
Reaching the right audience
When it comes to connecting with volunteers, donors, and partners, social media is a vital part of MOWAM’s communications strategy. “We have a diverse, loyal audience and following. They are passionate and they have their own voices and preferences. We strive to meet them where they are, on the channels where they want to be in touch with us.”
But social has also become an avenue to get new people involved. During the 24-hour Amplify Austin (#AmplifyATX) event, MOWAM raised over $100K.
Even more impressive—about a quarter of donors who participated in Amplify Austin were new donors.
Connecting with Corporate Donors
Increasingly, social is being integrated and, in many cases, required as part of corporate sponsorships and grant programs. From Amy’s perspective, it’s a win-win. “We get exposure and the corporate entity gets to align themselves with our mission.” It’s a cobranding opportunity that works especially well when partners align with the MOW mission—when they are food-based organizations for instance.
Aligning with the Parent Org
Founded in 1972 and currently under the leadership of Dan Pruett, Meals on Wheels and More is one of the more established and innovative member organizations with its own established brand identity. So how do they interact with their parent organization?
The national organization, Meals on Wheels Association of America (MOWAA) provides a critical advocacy piece for those they serve, but every Meals on Wheels organization is run independently at the local level. MOWAM’s CEO is a member of the national board as many organizations around the country look to him for his leadership. As a board member he is able to keep the Central Texas local, grass roots efforts in the forefront of policy making process.
MOWAA also helps secure national partners. They run large fundraising campaigns where organization members can apply for grants. One upcoming example is “Share the Love,” an event with Subaru where a portion of car sales goes to the charity of the customer’s choice. While the relationship is at the national and corporate level, MOWAM has partnered with Austin Subaru to help build awareness in the Austin market. During last year’s “Share the Love” event, MOWAM was granted $3,500 to go towards a day’s worth of home delivered meals. In addition, the local event brought in nearly 1,000 gift baskets of basic needs items that were distributed to their clients most in need.
Creating Content that Connects
Amy maintains an editorial calendar that is planned about three months in advance.
“It’s really a framework, so much changes. You have to be so flexible—it makes it fun. I’d imagine it’s the same as for profit enterprises.”
In addition to a steady drumbeat of content about volunteer opportunities, community events, and client stories, Amy builds space in the calendar for planned real-time marketing. On Veteran’s Day, MOWAM shared content to drive awareness around MOWAM’s Veteran’s Services program. Tying in to top of mind events like these make the conversation more resonant.
Making it Count
For Amy, strategy begins by looking at the measurement. She has validated social’s role in the marketing program with her board by presenting data showing its impact on overall donations.
“It’s been many years coming. When we launched our website back in 2006, we weren’t even taking online donations.” As digital and social marketing efforts have grown, so have donations. “We went from raising nothing to raising $400,000 annually online alone. This isn’t going away we really need to consider this a vital part of our online marketing strategy.”
Meals on Wheels and More is one of five featured organizations in our “Social is Here for Good” Holiday Campaign. Vote for MOWAM and they could receive a donation and day of service from the Spredfast team.