January 23, 2019

Want Action? Tell Positive Visual Stories

Child under the rain in Mali by Riccardo Mayer

Some methods of storytelling are more fruitful than others. And non-profits rely heavily on being able to tell their story really well.

 

For instance, studies into online donor activity reveal that video is currently the hot ticket to accessing hearts and minds: with a 64% higher response rate to ‘Calls To Action’ after watching, as opposed to other formats.

 

A tweet with an image will get around 150% more retweets than one without – imagery is one of the strongest means of storytelling in our world today.[1]

 

And prospective donors tell us this is true – 91% of audiences prefer visual or interactive messaging.[2]

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January 3, 2019

Connecting our Communications Work to our Mission

As many of my nonprofit communications colleagues do this time of year,  I look back on my year and wonder how I will move forward more purposefully and meaningfully in my communications work this new year.

Having been fortunate enough to do this work for over 15 years, I sometimes skip over connecting the bottom-line – the ‘do-gooder’ part – and go straight into the “doing” part of the work.

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January 2, 2019

Your 2019 Personal & Professional Strategic Plan

 

If you’re anything like me, then that week before New Year’s Day can sometimes throw you for an existential loop.

 

via: @hurrahforgin

 

All those end-of-year memes on social media seem to be true, given the amount of laugh emoji responses from my friends and family that they’ve received. Truth!

 

We all want to begin the New Year feeling full of energy, clarity, and direction, but it’s not always how we start off.

 

One of the ways I try to ground myself for the New Year (while still enjoying all the cheese and champagne), is to fill out my yearly personal strategic planning chart.

 

I spend a lot of my time as a consultant creating strategic plans, so it’s a format I’m familiar with and with a little simplification, readily lends itself to a personal plan.

 

While some people enjoy vision boards (which are awesome!), there’s something about a strategic plan that for me feels more tangible.

 

And I need tangible these days.

 

So below I’m sharing my personal and professional strategic planning process.

 

By the way, I’m still working on mine, so don’t feel like you’re in any way behind. Truth be told, I usually get to finishing mine around mid-January.

 

So we’ll just work on it together! Much more fun that way, anyway.

 

My plan is be focused on five key areas of my life:

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November 20, 2018

Top Facebook Blunders That Hurt Year-End Fundraising

Can you believe it? Summer flew by, and now we’re headed right into year-end fundraising season.

If you’re like most nonprofits, you will raise most of your money during the last three months of the year, particularly between Thanksgiving and December 31st when the big ball drops.

Now is the time to put all your resources into attracting and retaining as many donors as possible!

Avoid these top five mistakes that could hurt your year-end fundraising on Facebook.

1. Ignoring Facebook altogether

If you’re like most nonprofits, you have at least a minimal presence on Facebook. So does your competition. Not only that but most of your donors are using Facebook.

Facebook isn’t going anywhere, and again, even if you ignored Facebook until November, don’t regret ignoring it during the biggest spike of fundraising you’ll see this year.

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July 30, 2018

Building your Nonprofits Thought Leadership Capacity

 shutterstock_298674425

Content marketing has risen to the forefront in recent years as an important tool (if not the most important) in the nonprofit communication toolbox. It’s about creating great content on your blog, through social media messaging, email, quarterly and annual reports, case studies, whitepapers, etc.

At its core, content marketing is about communicating wisely with your supporters. The nonprofit, social enterprise or organization is providing value by creating and sharing information, innovative ideas, and insights that makes your supporter smarter and in the know. You become a resource. The result, much of the time, is that you earn the trust and loyalty of your supporters and donors. You no longer interrupt them with “messaging” but invite them into a conversation they find value in, that resonates, that they deem worthy of sharing with others, that makes them come back and ultimately invest in you.

The issue with creating great content is that often change-makers and nonprofit leaders are unsure about how to activate the most powerful resource they have: their intellectual capital. Nonprofits can be treasure troves of insights, experience and expertise, just waiting to be unleashed and shared with the world, but often the best of ideas and expertise lies dormant within the walls of an organization.

The Readiness Dance: Share your insights despite the misgivings

There are many reasons why organizations keep their most valuable thoughts and findings internal. I call it the Readiness Dance. People will say, “Our data isn’t completely ready yet – we’re not 100 percent clear internally on our direction with this project,” or something similar. While I completely advocate for presenting breakthrough insights that are research-based and clearly thought out — in fact, that is the essence of true thought leadership — very often it’s more about that “readiness” variable. It’s less about how analyzed the data is and more about how comfortable and confident we are in sharing our ideas and insights with the world.

Thought leadership is one of the most effective and least expensive ways an organization can build awareness of their cause and influence the communities they need to reach.

When nonprofits hone in on their years of experience, research, collaborations and discoveries, they can advance their mission by using those same valuable thoughts and insights to lead. Many people call this thought leadership, and I’d like to see more organizations build their capacity to lead with their thinking.

Especially for smaller to medium-sized nonprofits, thought leadership can be one of the most effective and least expensive ways an organization can build awareness of their cause and support for their ideas and programs, and influence the communities they need to reach, including decision makers, policy makers and donors. By harnessing the power of their collective insights, an organization can shape its thought leadership to inspire and move its supporters to action.

While building a thought leadership program for a nonprofit should be thought of as an organization development exercise and not just a communications/PR job, communications teams often and appropriately lead it.

Below is a short primer to help you get the conversation started with your team. I recommend getting your group together around breakfast (or Google Hangout!) one morning and running them through this little primer. I promise it will get the conversation started and make for an interesting talk about how you approach your work and the insights and ideas that lie just below the surface.

Start with the big idea or revealing insights

Every big idea starts with a vision. It has a strong viewpoint and brings new insights and problem solving to an issue. Ask yourself what original, innovative and valuable perspective you and your organization bring to the table. What do you want to achieve from it?

Overcome culture shock

Effective thought leadership programs are an organizational development function, not just a public relations function. Powerful thought leadership campaigns need to be embedded into the culture of an organization to be truly successful. Teams need to be on board with sharing those ideas and insights with the world. They are your greatest ambassadors. Does your culture support that? If you encounter resistance, ask them what about it makes them uncomfortable?

Tell a great story

Concentrate on telling one focused and clear story and communicate it using channels you know your audience engages with. Social media, online communities, associations, traditional media and speaking events like panels and conferences are all fair game.

Become a resource

People don’t like to be sold things, for the most part — even when what you’re selling is a noble and brilliant cause. That said, they do buy into solutions, expertise and problem solving. Share your insights. Spread your idea. Offer guidance and people will follow.

Inspire action

Powerful thought leadership can inspire people to act. Whatever your idea is, make sure that it is actionable. What do you want people to do? Be brave. Ask for what you want.

What are some of the ways your team is leading the conversation on the issues that drive your cause? I’d love to hear some examples. If you’re not quite there yet, I would love to hear what some of the barriers are that you’ve encountered.

 

May 9, 2018

5 Ways to Show Progress Toward Your Nonprofit’s Mission

Photo by Daniel Funes Fuentes on Unsplash.

 

Chances are, your nonprofit has a bold goal, whether it’s eradicating poverty or curing a disease. Your organization helps make progress toward that goal every day, but of course, complex problems have complicated solutions that can take a long time to achieve.

 

Unfortunately, slow progress, even if it’s impactful, doesn’t always make for the most inspiring message for supporters. We put together five strategies that you can use on your nonprofit’s blog, on social media, in email marketing, and other outlets to help maintain momentum as you work to achieve your mission.

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