Online videos offer endless opportunities to non-profits

Mission in Motion

By Rose Reinert
Guest blogger

rose1It was years into my role as Executive Director at a youth serving agency that it became crystal clear to me that helping people see could help them believe. Hands down, I encouraged board members to bring people in for tours, which often ended in an ask for an investment in our mission.

There is no argument that a story rich in description — sharing colors, smells, and sights — is gripping and engaging. There are countless opportunities for our beloved elevator speeches, and organization overviews, but there is no doubt, when you can provide someone the first hand look at the mission in motion, your sales pitch gets much easier.

This is the concept of Chapter 10 — “Got Video? (Video Sharing)” — in Lon Safko’s book, The Social Media Bible.

It is very easy nowadays to capture your “Mission in Motion” through various strategies. Consider utilizing some of these:

  • Client Testimonials
  • Board Member Orientation & Engagement
  • Donor Highlights
  • Organization Overview

It is sometimes difficult to get prospects for a tour or even to an event. So, why not utilize a short video via e-mail to share your mission and introduce them to your services? One of my favorite stories is a video that was made especially for a donor that highlighted a youth of the program thanking them for their investments.

How impactful!

Another great one was another youth agency that featured youth inviting guests to attend a benefit event through a short video invite.

Another great way to stand out to supporters!

Of course, the most simple online video is the simple case for support message like the one you see in the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) video about stopping the ivory trade and supporting their efforts to save the elephant population. Click here or on the video below to check-out this example.


In addition to reading Lon Safko’s book, here are a few additional links you might find helpful in developing your agency’s “picture” to share with prospects and donors:

So how can you capture your mission to share your story best? How have you used video to engage donors or volunteers?
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Why your non-profit agency should be blogging

Non-profit blogging: What’s In It For Me?

By Rose Reinert
Guest blogger

rose1Last Monday, we explored chapter 5 of Lon Safko’s book “The Social Media Bible” and talked about how online forums might be helpful to your non-profit organization’s fundraising program. This week, we explore chapter 6 where Safko unpacks the history and power of blogs.

A little history

As we discovered last week, online forums or communities became public in the 1990’s. Using various online communities, people posted to bulletin board systems and forums. People started posting online diaries or journals that documented their personal activities to these sites, and they often included pictures and video. In the late 90’s and early 2000’s, blogging began to move from personal diaries to include other topics.

If you are reading this- you can check “reading a blog” off your bucket list!

The very first guest blog that I posted on the DonorDreams platform addressed the key issue that all readers address every time they open an email, visit a website or visit a blog. Of course, it is the question of What’s in it for me?” (aka WIIFM). What’s cool about today’s post is that we’re going to discuss WIIFM with regards to both reading a blog and writing a blog.

WIIFM? – Reading Blogs

We all know there is only so much time in the day, and while we work to fulfill our day-to-day job duties, it remains challenging to also fit in personal development and staying up-to-date on industry trends. Who has time for trainings and conferences?

There is an easier way!

I recommend hitting the web and taking a look at some blogs that speak to your profession.

Select a few that you can remain committed to reading. Subscribe to those blogs, and content will be delivered to your email inbox as frequently as the blogger publishes. Some bloggers write a monthly post, others do it weekly, and some (like our friend Erik Anderson at DonorDreams blog, try to post something every day).

My suggestion is to set aside about ten minutes into your schedule at the beginning of your day when you’re powering up your computer. Dedicate those 10 minutes to your professional development by reading a blog or two that you’ve subscribe to and speaks to your professional interests.

If you are not sure where to start you can ask colleagues about some of their favorites. Here is a short list of blogs that I suggest you check out:

For more suggestions, please check out the Blogroll section of the DonorDreams blog. If you have suggestions of other blogs to add to blogroll, please use the comment box to share your suggestion and Erik will add them to our online community.  (Isn’t he always saying something like: “We can all learn from each other?”)

blogWIIFM?—Writing a Blog

This is the first time that I have ever blogged. I did one or two guest spots here on the DonorDreams blog platform, but this is the first ongoing guest spot that I have had.

The first several times that I sat down to write- I ended up:

  • stopping and doing the dishes
  • making a phone call to my mom
  • writing a little . . . erasing it
  • playing a game with my kids
  • finally pushing through to finish

Much like anything, with practice, it becomes less intimidating and each time I sharpened that skill a little more.

Any time you enhance communication with your donors or supporters, you continue to build trust. Depending on how you structure your blog contents, a blog can:

  • engage donors
  • keep them updated on news
  • align your organization with national trends or initiatives
  • demonstrate how your organization is working to meet needs and solve problems.

If your agency is striving to become a donor-centered organization, your blog content should be focused on:

  1. appreciating and expressing gratitude to donors
  2. showing donors that you are using their investments how you said you would during the solicitation visit
  3. illustrating the impact that contributions are having on the lives of your clients and throughout the community

Blogging is a great way to show relevance within your industry. I believe that anytime you can differentiate your organization as an expert in a certain area, you build trust and accountability.

Are you thinking about starting a blog? If so, don’t just jump in and start blogging this afternoon. Ensure you are committed to the time it takes. Make sure your dedication to consistently blogging  is a sustainable commitment. The worst thing to do is start with a bang and fizzle out.

So, now it’s your turn. I would love to hear more about your experience blogging. If you don’t blog, then please tell us the comment box to tell me about your favorite blogs.

Does your organization currently use blogging? If so, who is the target audience? Share your ideas for blogging for your organization. Do you think blogging is worth your investment of time?
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Does your agency use email effectively as a marketing tool?

Keep your non-profit email marketing out of the Trash Can

By Rose Reinert
Guest blogger
rose1Does this sound familiar? You spend hours preparing your agency’s e-newsletter. After proofreading it and perfecting it, you click send and hope it survives the delete button.
Chapter three of “The Social Media Bible” by Lon Safko did not just hit home for me, but it provided some phenomenal insight on how to increase the likelihood that your e-news will make it past the Trash Can and make an impact.
E-mail is so common, sometimes its power as a marketing tool is overlooked as the new and flashy social media trends continue to emerge.
What are the benefits of utilizing e-mail for marketing?  Let’s take a look:

  • What other marketing medium allows you to reach 5,000 to 50,000 of your potential customers for (nearly) free or a very small cost?
  • What other marketing tool allows you to count how many impressions, responses, conversations, and pass- alongs your e-mail had?

Well, there you have it! This e-newsletter is important, can make a difference, and is trackable and affordable. Eureka!
But wait . . . there are tricks to the trade that you need to learn in order to maximize the effectiveness of your agency’s email strategy.
Content is King
wiifmThe most important question in all marketing is one we broached in last week’s blog — WIIFM — “What’s In It for Me?
With e-mail you have to convert the WIIFM for your reader quickly, and I mean within seconds.
Many times, just with a glance of the subject line, you are asking your recipient to quickly calculate their investment in reading your message.
Think about your organization, and how you communicate with donors. Every time you ask them to open a piece of direct mail, look at an e-mail or visit your website, there is a transaction. It is not a one-time thing either, every time you have to convince them of their WIIFM.
This entire concept is presented by Safkow in this passage:

“Suppose for some reason, that you really wanted to read the newspaper advertisements today. Your eyes are scanning over the pages of many ads, one of which catches your eye. You decide to not turn the page, but to look at the heading for that ad. How long do you think you are willing to spend to determine if the WIIFM is worth your stopping to read further? A study showed that people are willing to invest or spend only 1.54 seconds of time to make that determination.”

Wow! As I read on, Safko unveiled some great information to help maximize my e-mail efforts.
Your subject line has to convince your recipient in roughly 1.5 seconds whether he should move on to the next stage of investment.
If they decide to continue reading, you now have a whopping 5 seconds! Although much more time than 1.5 seconds, it only allows a person to read about one sentence.
So, within the first seconds of reading your e-mail message, your reader must find WIIFM to remain engaged. If you successfully do this, you move into the third phase which is conversion.
Your reader is likely to read on and follow your call to action, or click-through to your website.
Always remember . . . your e-mail message should always be about building and strengthening a relationship with the reader.
Practice makes Perfect
segmentingAs you work to perfect your strategies, it is important to take some time to test it through what Safko calls segmenting.
Segmenting is no more than splitting your distribution list. Split the list into five and send the exact same body of the message, but with five different subject lines. When doing this, remember to:

  • Pay close attention to the nouns, verbs and adjectives you use.
  • Take your time and be deliberate.
  • Send it out and see if there was a difference in the open rates or click-through rates.

Next, test the first line, again taking care with how you craft it. See the results and keep doing what seems to work.
Finally, test some different times of the day in sending the e-mails.
Ultimately, after about a year, you will have perfected your delivery to maximize your efforts and engage your readers.
How have you worked to perfect your e-mail efforts? What challenges have you found? Success?
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Happy #GivingTuesday!

givingtuesday2The turkey has been consumed (and so have the leftovers). Black Friday came and went with only a few bumps and bruises for Americans. Cyber Monday also came and went with consumer dollars flying all over the information super highway. Are you ready for one last hurdle? Today, is #GivingTuesday, which is the day that the non-profit sector is trying to establish in the minds of Americans as the day to make online charitable contributions of time and money to your favorite charities.
Two years ago, DonorDreams blog featured this ePhilanthropy inspired holiday in its “Mondays with Marissa” series with a post titled “Five ways your non-profit can participate in #GivingTuesday“. In 2013, we spotlighted this special day in a post titled “Is your non-profit ready for the homestretch of 2013?
This holiday is so new that I almost forgot about it this morning until I opened my email inbox.
My first #GivingTuesday solicitation came from an organization named A Safe Haven. Their email highlights a “challenge” that ends tonight to instill a sense of urgency among its donors.
The second email solicitation this morning came from Mikva Challenge. This organization is promoting a link to a video featuring one of their members. The video highlights their client participating in a program they call Project Soapbox.
Out of curiosity, I went to Google this morning and did a search on #GivingTuesday. Believe it or not, there are three paid ads featured at the top of my screen for the following agencies:

My magic crystal ball broke a long time ago, and I normally have a hard time predicting the future. However, it looks like #GivingTuesday, which is only a few years old, is starting to take root.
Of course, none of my favorite local charities appear to be participating this year. As I soaked this thought in, it got me wondering:

  • Is your agency participating in #GivingTuesday this year? If so, what do your efforts look like?
  • What strategies are you using to attract online donors?
  • Did you participate last year? If so, what did you learn and what changes did you make between last year and this year?
  • If you decided not to participate this year, why not? What went into making that decision for you?
  • If you are looking at next year as your first foray into #GivingTuesday, what do you need to do in order to get your agency well positioned?
  • Are you doing other things online at the end of the year that don’t correlate to #GivingTuesday?

Please scroll down and use the comment box to share your thoughts and experiences.
Here’s to your health! (And Happy #GivingTuesday)
Erik Anderson
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC!/eanderson847

Are your non-profit agency's social media posts relevant?

Use social media to talk about your agency’s needs in a relevant way

By Rose Reinert
Guest blogger
rose1Last week I began this blog series by providing an overview of “What is Social Media” from the book “The Social Media Bible” by Lon Safko. In chapter 2, Safko starts to unfold terminology, tools and tactics for utilizing various social media tools.  So the big question remains . . . “What is in it for my organization?
Yes, we understand that Social Media is a strong tool. It is a free tool we could use to engage current and prospective donors, clients, and community members. But how impactful is it really?
Think about how many commercials, brochures, ads, and other marketing you see each day. Better yet, how many different marketing pieces and messages does your own organization have? How many other non-profit organizations have similar messaging as yours? When was the last time you were asked to make a donation to a very worthy non-profit when checking out at an area store?
We are undoubtedly overwhelmed with messages that ultimately turn into noise.
Safko challenges a transformation of engagement through the following excerpt of “Sales Manifesto” by James Burnes:

“We need to transform the way we touch our clients, and integrate ourselves into the very fabric of what they do every day. . . . We need to tell our story in a way that doesn’t just interrupt our clients, but engages them and gives them a reason to pass it along. . . . We’re going to build a culture where communicating, engaging and embracing the feedback, positive and negative, make us a better organization.”

How inspiring!
feedbackI read this and imagine my organization with engaged donors engaged in open communication, positive feedback, while building a better organization. Ahhhh, nirvana, but wait . . . did he say negative feedback, too?
Ahhh yes. There is always a catch.
The thought of having someone post a negative comment or negative feedback on your organization’s social media page can be scary. However, Safko challenges us to push through that initial reaction and think of it as an “opportunity” when he says:

“We need to take advantage of a new approach to selling where we are problem solvers and the “go to” team for our prospects whenever a project arises that we contribute to. Everyone sells [product]. We have to be bigger than our [product]. We have to solve our client’s pain points.”

Although this seems more relative to for-profit businesses, it proposes several opportunities.

  1. Every non-profit “has needs.  One of my mentors — Fred Paulke, who is the Vice President of Organizational & Executive Development  Services for Boys & Girls Clubs of America for the Midwest region — taught me much of what I know about resource development. For example, when talking about building an effective case for support, he would emphatically talk about how every non-profit has needs and needs money. For every need you have, there are a dozen other organizations that could line up with similar worthy needs. He would argue, the key is to demonstrate how you are meeting needs in the community. So, my question to you is “How are you demonstrating this to your prospective and current supporters via social media?
  2. Being relevant matters.  Last week, I talked about how social media is like entering a networking event. You first find a group of people and begin listening to the conversation and then provide relevant input. With this in mind, we need to ask ourselves how can you use social media tools to be strategic about being relevant? If you work for a youth service agency, design your posts around topics like childhood obesity or education. If your organization is a health organization post healthy recipes, address changes to health care or exercise tips.

Safko recommends you keep your page 85% informative and resourceful for “Like”-ers and 15% about your business. This sounds like a good rule of thumb to me!
What are some ways you engage your “Like”-ers on Facebook? What are some connections you have made through strategic posts that relate to your mission? What breakdown does your organization’s page reflect in regards to information and posts about your business?
Please use the comment box below to answer some of these questions.
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How is technology changing your non-profit organization?

The School Bus Won’t Wait

By John Greco
Originally published on May 21, 2012
Re-posted with permission from johnponders blog

Pensive Businessman Using LaptopDavid was a tenured college professor.  While an expert in his field, he knew very little about computers; just enough in fact to get on a network and ask for help.  Fortunately, a more experienced user came to his aid, never failing to give just the right advice.

One morning, when a vexing problem was plaguing him, his expert advisor who had been on-line with him for over an hour, said, “I’ve got to go.”  David pleaded with him, “You can’t leave me, we’ve almost found the solution.”

Across the electronic world came the next sentence:  “You don’t understand, my school bus won’t wait for me.” 

David thought for a moment, his curiosity mounting, “How old are you?” he asked.

“I’m twelve,” was the response on his screen, “and I’ll talk to you later.”

Source:  Community Building:  Renewing Spirit and Learning, Edited by Kazimierz Gozdz, (c) 1995.

A few short years ago, we couldn’t have even imagined such a scenario.  In the past, proximity and commonality brought us together.  We had family and close friends; help came from familiar places.

Today, help can come from anywhere, from anyone, at any time, on anything.  Help can come from the most unlikely people.  And from the most unlikely places.

A twelve year old across the globe can help a college professor.

There is great potential in the invisible network of an electronic community, no?   Technology is enabling us to connect like never before, opening up possibilities like never before.

We can pretty clearly see the upside for problem solving and innovation, speed and progress, quality and quantity of work.

But just think of the possibilities for changing our attitudes; our prejudices and biases; of slowly dissolving bigotry, and discrimination; and racism, sexism, ageism …

Even the possibilities for relationships!  Today, my son can play an online, real-time game with like-minded people from all across the world, and in so doing, develop a friendship with a girl a thousand miles away that has real meaning.

Gives new meaning to “the girl next door” doesn’t it?  She can now be here, there, anywhere!

I can imagine a lot, but I can’t imagine what life will be like 100 years from now.  You and I will never know.  Even my mom’s upcoming fourth great-grandchild may not know.

I wonder who my mom’s fourth great-grandchild will have as friends and family?  It certainly does suggest a different slant on “extended family” …

And I wonder who will be helping my mom’s fourth great-grandchild when she is an aging professional seeking help with the emerging technology of that time?

Technology.  Adapting to change.  And possibility.

As I age, and as technology advances, it is likely I will start falling behind.  It is already happening.  I have a cell phone that I only use to make telephone calls.  :-)

And I already see that I’m not adapting fast enough to keep pace with the innovations.  The technology school bus isn’t waiting for me!

But, as I age, I hope I can keep seeing the possibility.  I will likely need help with this.  I hope I can stay open-minded and aware enough to know that my mom’s fourth great-grandchild’s help will only be a click or two away.

Here’s hoping she can help me before she needs to leave for school!
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Non-profit social media strategy? Quality not quantity!

Social Media Madness

By Rose Reinert
Guest blogger
rose1For those that have seen the movie Julia & Julia, Julie Powell takes on the challenge of cooking every recipe in Julia Child’s first cookbook and blogs about it. I too will take on a challenge to read, “The Social Media Bible: Tactics, Tools & Strategies for Business Success,” by Lon Safko and blog about the things that I find.
With the challenge in mind, I cracked Safko’s book opened to chapter 1, “What is Social Media?”
Safko quickly defines Social Media by splitting out the two words:

“The first part of the terminology, social, refers to the instinctual needs we humans have to connect with other humans. . . . The second part of that term refers to the media we use with which we make those connections with other humans.”

Well how logical, I thought. But was I using that logic when I was posting Facebook posts for my non-profit? Other questions started whirling in my head.

  • When I make a post, am I trying to engage my audience?
  • Do I know the people that have “Liked” our page?
  • Are they clicking through on to our website?
  • Am I just trying to get posts in without being strategic about message?

I realize that each of these questions seem to haunt many of us.
I was excited to recently attend a local celebration for Philanthropy Day coordinated by the Fox West Philanthropic Network. During this wonderful event, I attended a roundtable focused on Social Media.
One of the first questions the facilitator asked was what types of social media we took part in for our non-profits.
We went around and rattled them off — Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc, etc, etc. Without a doubt, there was a sense of burden in each person’s voice.
Yes, burden!
I could identify it because I too have felt it.
With the laundry list of things on our to-do list along with countless other projects, how could we focus on keeping relevant posts going up on Facebook, or ensure we are on LinkedIn?
As the conversation continued, the questions for the expert facilitator began about the most popular social media site that we all used, which of course is Facebook.

  • How often should we be on Facebook?
  • What day and time of day is best to post?
  • How much staff time should we spend with Facebook?
  • What should we be posting?

The facilitator summed it all up with the following simple piece of advice:

Quality not Quantity

Safko also uses a very logical analogy to make a similar point and makes a distinction between conventional marketing approaches and the new marketing approach being used on social networks.
rose2Safko explains that social media marketing is like going to a networking event, a party, a trade show, church, or anywhere large groups of people gather.
Using a conventional marketing approach, you walk into the group, interrupt everyone, and start announcing your name, and telling everyone what you do for a living, what you sell and that they should buy it from you!
In real life, what do you suppose would happen if you did that?
Now consider the new marketing approach. You enter the room, choose a group, walk up to them and say nothing. You listen first. You understand what has already been said; you consider how you could add value to the conversation, wait for a break and politely share your ideas. You now become part of the group, the network, and you have credibility and trust.
In this simple analogy, it is clear that there is so much more I could be doing to maximize my agency’s Facebook and social media presence. By focusing on quality of posts, not quantity, I am able to think strategically at how to engage those that have trusted us enough to “Like” us.
What does this analogy stir in your experience?
Are you currently scrambling to post quantity in your social media outlets?
Share your approach to social media marketing using the comment box below.
Oh yeah, you can also visit Lon Safko’s website to learn more about social media.
Stay tuned. Next Monday I’ll read a little more of The Social Media Bible, try it out and let you know what I learned from a non-profit perspective.
(Disclaimer: I am not getting paid by anyone to promote this book, and I am not profiting from these blog posts. I encourage everyone to buy a copy of this book and start the hard work of improving your agency’s social media presence.)
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Is your non-profit ready for the homestretch of 2013?

yearend5Don’t look now, but we are seven weeks away from drinking champagne and celebrating the end of 2013 and the start of a Happy New Year 2014. It is this time of the year when non-profit organizations are super busy. Many of you are closing out your fiscal year, and almost every non-profit with a pulse is executing its year-end giving strategy.
According to a survey by Charity Navigator, respondents reported that they expect to raise 40% of their annual revenue budget between Thanksgiving and New Years.
Holy Cow! Year-end giving is a big deal for many non-profit organizations, which is why I’m dedicating today’s post to just a few giving strategies I see being employed or talked about by my friends.
Traditional year-end appeals letter
There are many different “schools of thought” on how to craft the perfect year-end appeals letter. I’ve seen all of my favorite bloggers weigh-in on this subject. The funny thing is that each and every one of them have a slightly different take on the same subject.

  • Long letter vs. short letter
  • The importance of cross-channel promotion or not
  • Send the letter early or closer to Thanksgiving

mailboxesI just finished helping a client with their year-end mail appeal. The executive director called on Friday to report the letters were delivered to the post office and we both did a little happy dance. The next thing on his year-end fundraising task list is preparing for the phone-a-thon follow-up the week of Thanksgiving.
If you are like most non-profit organizations, you are doing something traditional like sending a letter. Hopefully, you’ve already sent it or are very close to doing so, but here are just a few thoughts of my own on this very popular subject:

  • The letter must be emotional and pull at heart-strings
  • The letter must tell a story about impact and not focus on your agency’s needs
  • A matching gift is a tremendous incentive that sets you apart from lots and lots of other appeals
  • Go light on the stats and data . . . let the story be the feature and sprinkle outcomes data into your story sparingly
  • Don’t be overly fixated on restricting your letter to one page . . . tell your story
  • Use lots of white space, pictures and graphics
  • Keep in mind how readers read . . . write your letter accordingly (e.g. personalized salutation, ask for a specific contribution in the first paragraph, influential signature, catchy post script)
  • You need to design a great outer envelope . . . entice people to open the envelope and read your request or your awesome letter is worthless (e.g. handwritten names and addresses on the outside envelope)
  • Follow-up . . . organize your board members in a phone-a-thon and send a follow-up postcard or another appeal before New Years Eve

If you don’t like my suggestions or are looking for more advice, here are a few additional links to bloggers who are amazing:

Amazon-Smile-300x300Holiday shopping appeals
Perhaps you didn’t notice, but there are lots and lots of people spending lots and lots of money on gifts for family and friends. Something about “’tis the season“.
With this is mind, there is a big year-end giving trend that has materialized over the last decade or so where non-profit organizations try to tie their year-end appeal to those shopping habits. It is typically rooted in cause-related marketing efforts as retails try to differentiate themselves from their competitors, seize the halo effect and drive foot traffic through their doors using charitable goodwill.
I can almost hear those cashiers asking, “Would you like to donate a dollar to . . .”
A good friend of mind and fellow blogger — Dani Robbins — just informed me via Google+ that has a new charitable giving program called AmazonSmile. In a nutshell, Amazon shoppers will be able to donate 0.5% of their purchase to a charity of their choosing (as long as that charity can be found on Guidestar AND is registered with Amazon).
Is your agency participating in AmazonSmile? Click here is you want to learn more.
giving tuesday#GivingTuesday
What?!? You haven’t heard of #GivingTuesday?
I guess you get a pass because last year was the first time the non-profit sector attempted to get this “national day of giving” off of the ground.
In a nutshell, there were 2,500 giving partners located in all 50 states. More than 50 million people worldwide helped promote this day by posting, tweeting and generally talking about it on social media. Both Blackbaud and DonorPerfect reported an increase in giving resulting from these efforts.
Will your non-profit organization participate in the second annual #GivingTuesday this year? If so, then . . .

  • Mark your calendars for Tuesday, December 3, 2013
  • Start developing your online giving strategies to promote this opportunity to your donors
  • Get registered as an official partner

For more info, click here to read the #GivingTuesday FAQ page.
You might also want to do a little research on #GivingTuesday best practices. Hubspot published a great post titled “12 Ways to Amplify Your Giving Tuesday Campaign” that you may want to check out.
What does the homestretch look like for your non-profit organization’s fundraising efforts? Please use the comment box below to share. Why? Because we can all learn from each other, and it is the season of giving, of course!  😉
Here’s to your health!
Erik Anderson
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC!/eanderson847

Have you discovered non-profit radio yet?

radioI don’t know about you, but radio plays an important role in my life. I used to live in my car traveling from client-to-client throughout the Midwest when I was an internal consultant. After opening my own consulting practice, I now travel much shorter distances, but I still spend a decent amount of time in my car. So, the radio is where I turn for a decent amount of news and entertainment, especially when I’m on the road. However, when I’m at home I don’t listen as much because I don’t get very good reception in the house, which is why I was so elated the other day when I discovered the Tony Martignetti Nonprofit Radio online.

On Fridays from 1:00 to 2:00 pm (eastern time), Tony broadcasts his show online and focuses on non-profit topics that will excite many non-profit professionals and board volunteers who read this blog. Here are just a few topics from the last month:

Click here if you want to check out the last 100 radio shows by Tony in the iTunes store. They are free to download.

You’re probably asking yourself, “Who is this Martignetti guy?

In a nutshell, Tony started his work with non-profit organizations 16-years ago in 1997 as a planned giving officer. He created the planned giving programs for Iona College and St. John’s University. Along the way, he obviously spun off and created his own consulting practice. For more about Tony, you can click here to view his extensive profile.

I suspect that I will start tuning in on Fridays when I’m sitting at my desk and not on the road working with a client. 

I need your help

This online radio show is one of many different sources for non-profit news, information and best practices. Here is where I get much of my information on a variety of non-profit subjects:

  • Blogs
  • LinkedIn
  • Google
  • eNewsletters from other consultants and thought-leaders
  • Old manuals and books
  • Conferences and in-person training events
  • Webinars

What about you? Where are you getting most of your information on non-profit best practices?

I am trying to update the DonorDreams blogroll, and I am taking suggestions from readers on what to add to this section of the blog. Please scroll down and share your thoughts and ideas. Please remember to also share the web address so I can include a link to it.

Here’s to your health!

Erik Anderson
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC!/eanderson847

Does your non-profit use shiny objects?

IMG_20131016_135643_455As I said in an earlier post this week, I am currently in Reno, Nevada at Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s Pacific Leadership Conference. The conference is being held at Silver Legacy Resort & Casino. Of course, in order to get from the hotel to the conference sessions, you need to walk through the casino where you are bombarded by all sorts of “shiny objects”.

By shiny objects, I mean:

  • Slot machines
  • Bars
  • Blaring music & P.A. announcements
  • Gaming tables with dealers
  • Alarm bells announcing winners
  • Restaurants and delicious smelling food
  • Distracting blinking lights
  • Interesting decorations

I literally found my eyes darting all over the place. I’m not a gambler, but I was definitely tuned in and engaged with what was going on all around me.

When you consider how much money casinos make, it is hard to argue with all of these shiny object  tactics.

As I sat in my exhibitor booth, I kept watching the salesperson at Markel Insurance spinning a “Wheel of Fortune” type of prop. As the minutes and hours ticked by slowly, I couldn’t help focus in on how this wheel worked its charm on conference attendees. Someone could be wandering by the Markel booth with no intention of stopping, but the moment that wheel started clicking and whirling people stopped to pay attention.

Shiny objects . . . human being like them. A LOT!

All of this got me thinking . . .

What types of shiny objects do non-profit organizations use to capture the attention of donors, clients, and volunteers?

IMG_20131016_135832_525In an effort to make the time pass more quickly, I started making a list. Admittedly, I started thinking way outside of the box, but here is some of what I came up with:

  • newsletters
  • websites
  • Facebook pages
  • Twitter feeds
  • Various other social media platforms (e.g. Pinterest, LinkedIn, etc)
  • Texting
  • Newspaper stories (e.g. earned media)
  • Newspaper advertising (e.g. public service announcements)
  • Outdoor advertising (e.g. billboard)
  • Cable advertising
  • Phone calls to donors
  • Announced challenge gifts
  • Radio ads
  • Special event fundraisers
  • Press conferences
  • Town hall meetings
  • Constant Contact e-blasts
  • Online advertising (e.g. Google ads, Facebook ads, etc)
  • Sending your executive director out in public (e.g. speaking at city council, Rotary meetings, etc)
  • Hosting small cultivation or stewardship events in board members living rooms
  • Direct mail
  • Health and community service fares
  • Cause related marketing campaigns

I suspect the list could probably go on and on and on.

As I stepped back and started contemplating how many shiny objects I had identified, I suddenly realized the problem with the road I was walking down.

The casino throws their shiny objects at their customers all at once. It is like an amazing fireworks finale that never stops. Most of the non-profits I could think of that do messaging well, use an eyedropper to carefully measure out their marketing efforts.

I am hard pressed to think of many examples of cross-channel messaging by a non-profit organization. The few that come to mind might used two or three different channels to cross promote their message. For example, a year-end direct mail appeal referencing a website address along with volunteers following up with a phone call solicitation.

This is not exactly comparable to my experience at the Silver Legacy Resort & Casino this week.

Let me end this post by asking for your help:

  • Please help me add to my laundry list of shiny objects used by non-profit organizations.
  • Please highlight communications efforts that utilize more than a few channels to engage supporters.
  • Please weigh-in with your suggestions on how non-profits can get better at lighting up the world around them.

You can share your thoughts and experience by using the comment box below. Why? Because we can all learn from each other.

Here’s to your health! (Enjoy additional pictures I’ve included from the conference that I’ve pasted into this post below my signature block)

Erik Anderson
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC!/eanderson847

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