May 31, 2011

How to make your tweets last longer with Twylah

twylah1 How to get more juice from your tweets with Twylah

John HaydonIf you use Twitter for your nonprofit, you’ve probably been able to meet amazing people, form unexpected alliances and find relevant conversations that you wouldn’t have found anywhere else.

But there is one big problem with Twitter.

Tweets lose juice. Fast.

tweet short life cycle How to get more juice from your tweets with Twylah

The graph above is a perfect example of a typical tweet’s lifespan. Born at noon, in the grave by 4 pm the same day.

Twylah gives tweets longer tails

Eric Kim is founder of Twylah, a tool that transforms your tweets into a custom fan page (see mine here).

With Twylah, your tweets are organized by the topics you tweet about the most and showcased on a single page where people can easily scan for content they find interesting. Continue reading

May 26, 2011

Hope Institute shows how nonprofits can get strategic

JD LasicaWhen nonprofits roll out a social media program, their tendency is to launch a presence on Facebook or Twitter and then treat them simply as new communication or marketing channels.

No, no, a thousand times no!

Of the 1.5 million charities in this country, perhaps 99 out of 100 go about using social media the wrong way, as a stand-alone tactic. The right way, as we tell our nonprofit clients, is to roll out a social media plan where all of the channels begin to work with each other in an integrated, aligned, complementary, strategic fashion.

Easier said than done, right? But one nonprofit that seems to be doing this well is worth a close look: The Hope Institute for Children and Families of Springfield, Illinois. It’s a midsize nonprofit that provides educational, residential and health services to children ages 5-21 with multiple developmental disabilities, including autism spectrum disorders.

Building out a digital marketing platform

Jarid A. Brown

Jarid A. Brown:

I chatted the other day with Jarid A. Brown, who runs online interactions for Hope (which I’ll use as a shorthand here for the organization that runs education centers, residential services, a children’s home and a school in Chicago, among other things). Hope brought on Jarid 18 months ago to create a digital marketing platform.

“Our first task was to decide how to make the website, social media, event marketing and direct mail all work together,” he said by phone. “Because they weren’t. We had a traditional information-based website, all very technical and clinical with no opportunity for people to interact. It was basically a very thorough online brochure with no considerations of marketing.”

Jarid set about making changes. Hope began to integate Australia-based Prosper, a customer relationship management database, into its email marketing and event marketing activities and began using Constant Contact for email marketing. Most importantly, he made sure that social media, direct mail and events put on by Development all began working in tandem. Continue reading

May 25, 2011

Apps for Change: Top mobile ideas from around the world


JD LasicaOver the past few weeks, Nokia held the first Apps for Change contest, inviting people from around the world to suggest a mobile application to benefit society — which Nokia has agreed to develop. The winners also get to steer a $10,000 contribution to a nonprofit organization.

Some 302 submissions were fielded from people in 53 countries. I was one of the judges in the contest (along with Jussi Hinkkanen, Peter Hirshberg, John M. Jordan and Juliette Powell), and we’re now announcing the winners.

The winning entry was Red Heart, submitted by Sana Refai and Kamel Seghaeir of Tunisia. The entry put it this way:

This application will help you to generate your blood donor’s networks. In case of emergency, you (or someone else) activates the search of your nearest person in your blood donor’s connection (GPS Localization) and contacts him to come give you help. By installing the application, you precise your blood group. When you add a new entry, the application decides whether your connection can be a donor or not according to her/his blood group. The application can be extends from a private network to a public community by creating a website gathering all blood donors worldwide …

We liked the idea of a mobile app being at the center of a process that brings together hospital or emergency workers and volunteers in the community in a way that benefits accident victims through the use of geolocation services. Such an app could allow a wide range of individuals in desperate need of a blood transfusion to find compatible donors in their geographical area. While Kamel and Sana’s app could be useful in developed countries, perhaps its greatest value could be found in developing economies, where mobile phones are ubiquitous – but advanced blood transfusion services are not.

Honorable mentions: Using the crowd to carpool — & more

The judges also singled out three other entries for special recognition:

• Seamus Maguire from Ireland submitted an idea for an app designed to increase the use of carpools, and thereby reduce an individual’s carbon footprint. Using such a mobile app, the user could view other nearby users in need of a ride. Continue reading

May 25, 2011

Socialbrite looking for part-time Executive Editor

Socialbrite, the learning hub & sharing community for nonprofits and social good organizations, is looking for a part-time Executive Editor.

This is a highly collaborative position that requires someone with serious editorial chops who is familiar with the nonprofit landscape and can hit the ground running.

At the outset, the hours will be sporadic and the compensation modest. Our intention is to gradually build up your hours and your compensation. Socialbrite accepts no advertising, so all revenues comes from consulting projects we perform for nonprofits and social enterprises. We are a small consultancy, not a nonprofit, and work exclusively with nonprofits, foundations and social change organizations. We do not have an editorial staff but instead rely on our team members’ contributions and unpaid outside freelance pieces.

In this position, you will:

  • Plan the editorial calendar
  • Work with outside contributors to whip their articles into shape to conform with our editorial guidelines
  • Be responsible for upkeep of our evergreen resources, such as our Sharing Center
  • Work with our team members to edit and code up their articles
  • Work with strategic allies for content sharing
  • Monitor metrics
  • Exercise a high degree of independence and report in to founder J.D. Lasica
  • Post updates to our Twitter and Facebook accounts
  • Help drive conversations on the site
  • Write occasional pieces relevant to our audience, as you have time.

Continue reading

May 24, 2011

7 tips to set your live presentations on fire


Target audience: Nonprofits, cause organizations, public speakers, educators, NGOs, general public.

Shonali BurkeIdon’t know what it is with us PR folk, but we like to use words, phrases, analogies that evoke destruction when we put our rah-rah hats on.


“Crush it!”

“Kill it!”

We’re a bloodthirsty lot and happy to be so.

Today, I wanted to share seven lessons I learned as I prepared for a big presentation at Ignite DC. These tips go beyond the commonsense “know your audience,” etc. They are also a testimonial to Jill Foster, who served as my unofficial coach for Ignite, because she really underscored the importance of what I’m about to tell you.

What is your story?

1I envy speakers who have the perfect anecdote or joke ready to warm up their audience … because I usually don’t. They begin with a short story that they come back to at some point in the presentation that bears out the point they’re trying to make.

Even if you don’t have a funny story, I learned it’s important to set the stage for your story, and to tell the audience what they can expect over the course of the presentation.

This doesn’t mean you have to go into every detail. But you can take 15 seconds (that’s how much time each Ignite slide was allotted) to go through the top three or four “sign posts” on the journey they are about to take with you.

So write – yes, write – out your story arc. Where will it begin, where will it go, and where will it end? Then start filling it in.

Time yourself

2One of the most important things when you’re about to give a presentation is to time yourself.

The Ignite format is more tightly timed than others (5 minutes, 20 slides, 15 seconds per slide). Most conferences allow somewhere in the region of 40 – 50 minutes for your entire presentation. That includes Q&A, which is often the most interesting part of the session.

That means your presentation itself should be no longer than 20-25 minutes. The only way you’ll know if you’re hitting the mark is to time yourself.

There are a couple of ways to do this.

First, and most basic, use a watch or stopwatch to time yourself from start to finish. That way, you’ll get a sense of how long you’ll be carrying on.

Second, and I think a better way to do it, is to use the “custom slideshow” option in PowerPoint (which is still the most frequently used presentation tool), to set a specific time for each slide.

On a Mac, which is what I use, you go into “Slide Sorter” view and then set the time for each slide (assuming they are the same) in “Transition Options.” On a PC … you’re on your own, sorry!

Then practice to your timed slides. You’ll know where you’re going long, and where you need to add more content or banter.

Once you’re comfortable with your story and its timing, I suggest removing the timing from the slides, because you have no way of knowing when the audience will interrupt you. If they do, then it’s disconcerting to have your PPT proceed on its own without your accompanying commentary.

Identify the core message of your presentation

3While this might be one message, it could take the shape of two or three phrases that are central to your story arc.

For example, in my Ignite presentation, these were “humanity,” “the future” and “ball of light.”(You’re wondering just what the heck I was talking about now, aren’t you?)

This helps because, first, it will help you identify the most important moments in your story arc, which might help you with No. 1 above. Continue reading

May 23, 2011

Build a WordPress site for your nonprofit in 9 steps


John HaydonBuilding a website is for your nonprofit is not as hard as some people make it seem. As we’ve said before, we recommend using a self-hosted installation over one hosted at because you can take advantage of thousands of free plug-ins created by the WordPress developer community.

You may want to hire a developer to set up your blog if you have nobody on your team who’s technologically proficient. But often, you can execute all of these steps on your own.

Generally speaking, there are nine steps to getting started: Continue reading