May 1, 2012

A new player in the nonprofit donations space

FrontStream’s entry into nonprofit sector from JD Lasica on Vimeo.

FrontStream enables nonprofits to handle donations with several advantages

Target audience: Nonprofits, foundations, NGOs, social enterprises, cause organizations.

JD LasicaIlove the serendipity of who you bump into at the Nonprofit Technology Conference each year. At last month’s event, I sat down to lunch with my partner John Haydon and Leila Khoury, director of business development for FrontStream Payments.

If you haven’t heard of FrontStream, they’re a newcomer to the nonprofit space, although they have a long and solid record with businesses and the education marketplace.

With FrontStream, nonprofits can build a donation capability into your website with your own branding — and at a remarkably low cost of just 2.99% of the amount when donors use most credit cards (3.5% for American Express). Customized branding is included at no additional cost. You can create a special campaign widget using FrontStream, or have someone set up a booth at one of your events to accept donations on the spot using a swipe terminal or wireless device.

One the benefits of FrontStream for nonprofits over other alternatives is that you can collect donations directly on your own website instead of being sent off to a third-party site like Fundly, Rally,, PayPal or Google Checkout. And, unlike donation aggregator Network for Good, which holds your funds for 30 to 60 days, your nonprofit will receive the donations immediately.

“We want to be the donation processor anywhere and any time,” Leila says.

Watch, download or embed the video on Vimeo Continue reading

April 13, 2012

10 secrets to video storytelling success


“Protect Our Defenders,” winner of the DoGooder Nonprofit Video Award among small organizations.

At NTC, expert advice on best practices in telling your nonprofit’s story

Target audience: Nonprofits, foundations, NGOs, social enterprises, cause organizations, brands, businesses, Web publishers, educators, video producers, storytellers.

JD LasicaIf there was one buzzword at last week’s Nonprofit Technology Conference, it was storytelling. On Wednesday Debra Askanse wrote about our Future of Storytelling panel. And there were at least two or three other sessions about nonprofit storytelling.

One of the most informative was the session “Sight, Sound, and Motion: Video Storytelling and Using Video for Advanced Messaging” put on by Michael Hoffman and Danny Alpert of See3 Communications, which works with nonprofit clients to create compelling video stories.

Michael and Danny offered these tips on how to make your visual story work — and I’ll second all of these recommendations, since I know a little about video production.

Choose one message

1Here’s one of the biggest shortcomings of far too many videos. Settle on a single message — not three, not two. One. You don’t need to cram your organization’s entire message into a single video. Be selective. The more messages you include, the more muddled it becomes. Marketing folks have lived by this rule for decades.

Decide who you’re trying to reach

2You’re creating your video for a reason, right? It’s not to communicate to your staff. Or even to the public. “There’s no such thing as the general public,” Michael said. Target your audience and speak to them. Frame the story in a way that touches and appeals to those people.

Decide what you want them to do

3After you grab people’s attention, what is your call to action? You want to gently but forcefully direct viewers to take a specific action on your behalf. “How realistic is the ask?” Michael said. He pointed to YouTube annotations (see our article How to effectively use calls to action in nonprofit videos) as a great, underutilized mechanism to make your call to action crystal clear — in text form that pops up during the video. “Every one of you should be using annotations in your video in some way.”

One video with a great call to action — Protect Our Defenders (shown at top, with screen grab immediately above) — won this year’s Nonprofit Video Award in the small organization category for best use of video for the social good. At the end of the 1:45 video you’ll see a way to take immediate action, transporting viewers to the petition page or letting them share it on Facebook or Twitter. (This gets a little technical: You add 15 to 20 seconds at the end of the video with these “buttons” hot-linked to your pages; only certain kinds of software can pull this off.) Continue reading

April 9, 2012

Highlights from the Nonprofit Technology Conference

A graphic recording made of Socialbrite’s session, “You need a strategy”

At 2012 NTC, we delved into tools, strategy & storytelling

JD LasicaLast week’s Nonprofit Technology Conference in San Francisco was easily the most fast-paced and frenetic of the three NTCs I’ve participated in, and not just because, at 1,800 attendees, it was the biggest NTC to date.

Several reasons for the frenzy: Four Socialbrite team members led sessions or participated on panels; I wound up also attending the Where conference on geolocation technologies, two blocks away; I commuted home each day (a three-hour round trip by train) even after attending the evening social gatherings; and I reached out to a number of attendees to sit down and share their nonprofits’ experiences and challenges with social media.

I also captured a Flickr set of my NTC photos. And here are a few of my takeaways from the annual gathering.
Continue reading

April 5, 2012

3 keys to nonprofits’ success: Strategy, prioritization, dedicated staff

Results of 2012 Nonprofit Social Networking Benchmark Report, with infographic

Target audience: Nonprofits, foundations, NGOs, cause organizations, Web publishers, educators, journalists, general public.

Guest post by Frank Barry

Blackbaud, the Nonprofit Technology Network and Common Knowledge have just released the fourth annual 2012 Nonprofit Social Networking Benchmark Report.

We learned a lot of things, but one prevailing theme stood out: Despite limited budgets and staffing, nonprofits continue to find great value in their fast-growing social networks.

The report is packed with insights into how nonprofits are leveraging social networks as part of their marketing, communications and fundraising strategies. Have a look at the infographic below, and then download the full report to learn more about important behaviors and trends.

6 key findings from the report

  • 98% of the nonprofits surveyed have a Facebook page with an average community size of over 8,000 fans. (The nonprofits tended toward the mid- and larger size organizations.)
  • Average Facebook and Twitter communities grew by 30% and 81%, respectively.
  • Average value of a Facebook Like is estimated to be $214.81 over 12 months following acquisition.
  • 73% allocate half of a full time employee to managing social networking activities.
  • 43% budget $0 for their social networking activities.
  • The top three factors for success are: strategy, prioritization, dedicated staff.

Continue reading

April 4, 2012

Socialbrite strategists’ sessions at NTC

Beth Kanter and John Haydon at the Nonprofit Technology Conference. (Image by cambodia4kidsorg)

If you’re attending, please stop by and participate today & Thursday

JD LasicaFour of Socialbrite’s strategists will be speaking at the Nonprofit Technology Conference — the year’s biggest nonprofit tech event — which concludes today and tomorrow in San Francisco. We might have the largest crew speaking on panels or leading sessions at NTC. But we haven’t been publicizing that fact much, because that’s not how we roll.

Socialbrite has already received a lot of love at NTC because of the thousands of free resources and tutorials we’ve made available to the nonprofit community since 2009. But it’s worth letting NTC attendees know which speakers we’ve got on tap, since there’s just so much going on at the conference!

Wednesday, April 4

Today, look for the following sessions:

Online Organizing for a Cause/Movement Building (hashtag #12NTCOnOrg on Twitter). Debra Askanse, 10:30 am to noon today, Cyril Magnin I (Parc 55 hotel).

Come and meet your fellow nptech-ers who are working in community building, movement building, and developing online organizing campaigns. Find support and as a place to discuss challenges, issues, online campaigns, and the brass tacks of how to build movements online. If you’ve ever developed an online campaign to develop leaders and recruit stakeholders for your cause, or want to learn more about it from your fellow online organizers, join us for this Birds of a Feather discussion.

Fellow panelists: Avi Kaplan of Rad Campaign and Charles Lenchner of Organizing 2.0.

Designing Online Engagement to Collaborate With Your Community (hashtag #12NTCCollab on Twitter). Debra Askanase, 1:30-3pm today, Yosemite B (Hilton).

You can design online engagement to unleash your evangelists. In this workshop, we’ll focus on all aspects of designing high-value, engaging, and participatory content that creates a partnership with your fans. A true evangelist is moved to create, is a seamless co-creator with your organization, and motivated spreader of content. Successful organizations intentionally design and construct multiple online channels that enable access for all fans and develop paths for relationship reciprocity and trust, fostering true evangelists.

Fellow panelists: Amy Sample Ward of NTEN and Vanessa Rhinesmith of StartSomeGood.

Personal & Professional Brand in Social Media (hashtag #12NTCPPB on Twitter). John Haydon (co-author of “Facebook for Dummies,” 3:30-5 pm today, Golden Gate 6 (Hilton).

Are you proudly representing your organization, seamlessly blending your personal and professional persona online? Or are you scared stiff that someone will figure out that your old beloved handle “bunnykiller” actually belongs to you, the Executive Director of the Animal Protection and Welfare Society? Are you stymied by your organization’s social media policy, annoyed that you can’t discuss politics, religion, and sports online? Do you juggle multiple online accounts in order to express yourself authentically in different spheres of your life, or have you embraced a modified authenticity, knowing that your grandma might be listening in? Do you behave differently on different platforms? Come discuss these issues and many more. Tell us your real life successes and failures.

Fellow panelist: Laura Norvig, ETR Associates.

Thursday, April 5

On Thursday, look for these sessions:

You Need a Strategy, Dammit, Not a Twitter Account (hashtag #12NTCDammit on Twitter), led by yours truly and Carla Schlemminger of Socialbrite. 10:30 am to noon, Plaza Room A (Hilton).

Sure, your nonprofit has a Facebook or Twitter account. So why aren’t you getting traction with social media? It all begins with a strategy. Nonprofit consultants J.D. Lasica and Carla Schlemminger of Socialbrite will map out the essential ingredients of a Social Media Strategic Plan that’s aligned with your mission, that enhances your fundraising efforts, and that’s integrated with development and marketing. We see a lot of industry events focus on tools and tactics, but your nonprofit needs a strategy to steer your team toward your organizational goals in the social media era. In this highly interactive session, J.D. and Carla will offer concrete steps and actionable advice and resources to help your organization create immediate and long-term impact. Continue reading