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July 7, 2016

Building your Nonprofits Thought Leadership Capacity

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By Caroline Avakian

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.

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June 28, 2016

Asana for Nonprofits: How to Manage your Direct Mail Schedule

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By Leili Khalessi

As a nonprofit fundraiser (and communications officer and technologist and…), I’ve developed sharp project management skills – it’s the key to wearing all of the hats!

My favorite project management tool for nonprofits is Asana, a web-based “teamwork without email” platform.

I use Asana to manage our direct mail fundraising and communications processes – a series of critical deadlines involving multiple team members and vendors – with ease.

Here’s how you can manage your nonprofit’s direct mail process with Asana, too:

1. Create a new project for your mailing

Start by setting up a new project in Asana. Write a descriptive title and include the drop date in the title. Using a standard naming convention will make it easier for you to keep track of multiple mailings. For example: Direct mail: Summer newsletter – 6/20/16

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June 14, 2016

Is Giving Tuesday a Waste of Time?

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By Edgar Rodriguez

Is Giving Tuesday a waste of time? Good question, right?

First of all, the data says it’s been hugely successful in the past. Over 15,000 nonprofits participated last year, raising over $45 million.

Yes, some nonprofits probably raised very little money. But Giving Tuesday is NOT just a 24-hour fundraising campaign. It’s a movement that your supporters are embracing, more and more each year.

How did your nonprofit do last year?

If you participated in Giving Tuesday before, you can look at several metrics to judge your past success.

Depending on your goals, you can look at:

  • Total donations ($)
  • Number of new donors acquired
  • Number of current donors who gave
  • Number of new emails acquired
  • Number of people who engaged with campaign (clicks, conversions, shares)
  • Engagement with follow up messages (email, social, etc)
  • You get the idea

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June 6, 2016

When Your Biggest Enemy is Being Perfect

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You spent five hours on that blog post to get it perfect, and you still haven’t published it.

You can’t find that perfect image for Instagram, so you don’t post anything.

And forget about video – you’ll never get that perfect so don’t even try.

Done is better than Perfect

Perfect slows everything down. Perfect can never be agreed upon. Perfect never gets done.

Are you daunted by perfectionism? If so, here are a few ways to tame the perfectionist in you:

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May 16, 2016

Using Virtual Reality for Social Change Work

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By Caroline Avakian

Virtual reality is a newer medium that has the potential to revolutionize the way many global development and human rights organizations communicate their work. It also presents an opportunity to virtually bring supporters, donors, and all others curious about the work being done on the ground, right to the communities and people they would otherwise not have access to.

The award-winning, “Clouds Over Sidra” a virtual reality film that was released in January of 2105, was one such film. It follows a twelve year-old girl named Sidra in the Za’atari camp in Jordan — currently home to an estimated 84,000 refugees from the Syrian civil war. The groundbreaking film shot for the United Nations using the Samsung Gear VR 360-degree platform, is the first ever film shot in virtual reality for the UN and is designed to support the UN’s campaign to highlight the plight of vulnerable communities, particularly refugees.

Since the success of “Clouds Over Sidra” there has been some buzz on how nonprofits and global development organizations might be able to leverage virtual reality to build awareness of their causes.

One such organization taking on virtual reality is Trickle Up. Trickle Up is a global poverty alleviation organization that works with the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people to help them achieve financial independence and social connection. I spoke with Tyler McClelland, Trickle Up’s Communications Officer, to learn more about what the learnings, challenges, and best practices were for them as a smaller organization, taking on VR for the first time.

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May 5, 2016

How to Build a Marketing Funnel Your Donors Will Love

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john-haydonFundraising is quite a different game then it was even just a few years ago. Mobile and social media has donors constantly distracted (and bombarded) with messages from friends, brands, and competing causes.

For nonprofit marketers this shift means embracing a donor-centric approach that moves from interruption to invitation.

For example, Human Rights Campaign often presents a fundraising ask only AFTER a supporter signs a petition. Their assumption (a correct one) is that people signing a petition are more likely to give.

After signing a recent petition supporters were encouraged to buy a t-shirt:

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