Fri, August 15 2008
Filed under: Websites and web usability •
As promised in yesterday’s post, Bryan at Collective Lens has been kind enough to provide these tips, as well as these stunning photos, generously shared by the talented Shehzad Noorani and Kathy Adams.
copyright Shehzad Noorani
Sathi’s (8 years old) face is blacked with carbon dust from recycled batteries. Often she looks so black, that children in her neighborhood call her ghost. She works in battery recycling factory at Korar Ghat on the outskirts of Dhaka. She earns less than Taka 200 ($3.50 approx) per month.
Kathy Adams, Empowerment International
Look Mom, I CAN count! Empowerment International works with not just students in Nicaragua but also their parents. Getting the parents involved and supportive of their child’s education is one key to success in completing at least primary school (in a nation where only 50% of the enrolled 1st graders complete 5th grade).
- Use photos to tell a story. “A picture is worth 1000 words,” as they say. Imagery can go much further than written text to bring out the events and emotions of a particular cause or issue. One photo can describe a pressing situation, warm the heart of the viewer, or cause your audience to react and respond. Furthermore, with multiple photos organized into a photo essay, an entire story can be told from the big picture to the smallest details in an efficient and effective manner.
- Use photos to grab the attention of the viewer. In today’s media-driven society, words alone can not compete for the attention of your desired audience. With television, movies, YouTube, texting, and millions of competing websites, your message must make an instantaneous impact. This is especially true if you are vying for the attention of today’s youth. If your message is text only, you should not expect most people to read more than five sentences. Lead with a powerful photo.
- Use photos to create an emotional impact. Human faces attract the viewer’s eye faster than any other subject matter. Use this to your advantage, and display photos that showcase the human impact of an important issue and the work that your organization is doing around it.
- Copyright issues are extremely important. If you see a photo on the web, you are most likely not allowed to use it. The photographer has full copyrights to the photo unless otherwise noted. However, it doesn’t hurt to ask for permission! Many photographers would be delighted to hear from you, especially if you’re using the photo for a good cause. Keep in mind that the production of good photography costs money and is a career for many people. Also, many websites such as Collective Lens and Flickr allow photographers to mark their photos with Creative Commons licenses, and then allow the public to search for photos marked with these licenses. These licenses allow others to freely use the photos, but only under certain conditions, and always with attribution. For example, a photo marked with a Creative Commons Non Commercial license (CC-BY-NC) can not be used for commercial or advertising purposes. However, it is permissible to use it in an editorial story. It is also important to note that the people in the photos have rights as well. If a photo is to be used for commercial purposes, then every identifiable person in the photo must sign a release. If a photographer does not have releases, then he or she should have marked the photo with a Creative Commons Non Commercial license. Sometimes copyright rules can get complicated, but don’t let that deter you from asking questions if you have doubts about a photo. If all else fails, email the photographer and ask for permission.
Thu, August 14 2008
Filed under: Websites and web usability •
Answer: a great photo. One that moves you to a smile, a tear or a click to donate.
I look at dozens of nonprofit websites a week, and almost none of these have a dynamite photo. They may have no photo. Or a photo, but it’s small. Or corporate, stock-photo-looking image. Or a dull photo.
This should be the hottest priority for your home page. People glance at web pages, not peruse them. You want to pull them in fast, and there’s no better way to do that than with a compelling image.
Do you work with kids? Feature photos of them - or taken by them - on the home page. Or put a piece of their artwork on the home page. Do you work with animals? Put a big image of Rover on your page. Do you do something abstract, like advocacy for public lands? Show one of your super advocates standing in front of something they saved. Do you work on domestic abuse? Put a big photo of one of your hotline staff on the home page. HUMANIZE what you do. Bring it to life. Put it in pictures. Make that image a big piece of your home page real estate.
But Katya, you might say, what about YOUR home page? Errrrr, right. Paging Dr. Hypocrisy. BUT, we’re about to do this right at Network for Good’s nonprofit site - This is “before.” Stay tuned for the transformation. Goodbye field, hello humans.
Some great inspiration is at Collective Lens. I’ve invited them to share tips for great photos, and they kindly agreed, so stay tuned for those in an upcoming post.
Mon, August 11 2008
Filed under: Fun stuff •
I truly believe that email is valuable, but it can take over your day. So can meetings, phone calls and other task-oriented events. And in the buzz of busyness in these tasks, it’s easy to lose the vision you need to know what you should do first and why.
Here’s how I’m trying to cope:
1. I made a list of seven questions that speak to the seven most important strategic goals I have at work. They are questions about big aims. For example, on of them is, “Does it improve customer service?” I hung the list right over my desk.
2. Whenever I have a pause in my day or an inner debate about what to do next, I put any task that takes over two minutes against the list. If the answer to all seven questions is NO, then the task gets tabled. There’s no question, how you spend your time determines your success or failure with just about anything. Saying no to things that aren’t important frees up the time to focus on what is.
3. When things are important, I try to build a system around them that ensures they stay important. Our marketing team went on retreat at the beginning of the summer, and we spent a whole day on practical ways we could improve the experience of Network for Good prospects and customers - the people who use us to raise money. We spent hours going through everything we do from their perspective, and we uncovered all kinds of ways we could be more helpful to them. We turned that into a to-do list that we meet on bi-weekly. How many strategy retreats end up as a summary in a binder somewhere? We feared that, so we assigned owners and deadlines for every idea. Of course, no one is perfect. Our most recent meeting has been delayed twice because of urgent things that arose in the office - but at least those were things that spoke to the seven priorities hanging above my desk.
I still fail all the time at this and every other good intention, but I’m trying to stick to the plan. I’m also trying to make sure I structure the unstructured time I need to think creatively. Sometimes doing nothing is the best possible way to come up with great ideas.
Thu, August 07 2008
Filed under: Fun stuff •
When I got back from vacation on Monday, I had more than 1,000 emails.
After two days, I finished answering all of them. It was a hollow sense of accomplishment - sort of like eating the whole box of Thin Mints.
This have been the worst two days EVER in terms of my mood and creativity.
Then I read what Seth Godin said on this topic. Read his whole post - in fact, read his blog every day - but here are my favorite lines:
Do you spend your day responding and reacting to incoming all day… until the list is empty? ... and then you’re done.
...Years ago, I got my mail (the old fashioned kind) once a day. It took twenty minutes to process and I was forced to spend the rest of the day initiating, reaching out, inventing and designing. Today, it’s easy to spend the whole day hitting ‘reply’.
Carving out time to initiate is more important than ever.
Then I read what Beth said:
According to a new study from AOL, 59% of people check their email in the bathroom. The study of 4,000 users also showed people check their email from the following locations:
• In bed in their pajamas: 67%
• From the bathroom: 59%
• While driving: 50%
• In a bar or club: 39%
• In a business meeting: 38%
• During happy hour: 34%
• While on a date: 25%
• From church: 15% (up from 12% last year)
This is warped. What’s worse - I think I have done most of these.
No wonder I’m in a bad mood - I’m in reactive hell. Read email - send email - react - react - and, as Seth says, forget how to initiate.
What’s the solution? Beth has some suggestions. They’re good.
Here’s what I’m going to do: Get out of the email weeds and look at the rest of the world. Tomorrow, I’m hanging over my desk the top 10 things I need to get done to advance Network for Good’s mission. I’m going to spend more time checking that list than my inbox. I’ll let you know what happens.
I’d hang it up now but I need to check the 10 emails I received while writing this post.
Wed, August 06 2008
Filed under: How to improve emails and newsletters •
One of the most common questions I get asked about online marketing is, “How do I build an email list?”
I took a stab at answering this question with two smart cookies (I mean savvy marketing professionals), Jocelyn Harmon and Alia McKee. (We took a whole range of additional questions from nonprofits as part of a Network for Good Ask the Expert call - you can check out the whole thing here!) Here is the list we devised:
1. Make sure that all your media mentions are driving people to your website (make it a call to action)!
2. Create a strong email-address-collection device on that website. (NOT something lame like “sign up for news” but rather give them something enticing. Give them an incentive or a reason to join. Give them a discount on an event. Give them an article you’ve written or tips for better living and then get their email address in return for your sending that gem to them.
3. Optimize search: A lot of nonprofits are not taking advantage of Google grants—more on that here.
4. Collect emails from donors via direct mail - maybe they’d rather hear from you electronically.
5. Use your email signature - it is a great tool for doing marketing, whether it’s promoting an event or asking people to sign up to hear from you on your website.
6. Ask people to sign a petition - with their email address and with permission to contact them.
7. Collect email addresses at events. I have been to 10 nonprofit events in the last 18 months, and I can’t think of a single one that collected my email address. Lost opportunity!