Fri, August 08 2014

This Book Could Change Your Life: Great Summer Reads for Fundraisers

Nancy Schwartz's avatar

Nonprofit Marketing Expert

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Filed under:   Fun stuff • Nonprofit leadership •

When I asked nonprofit experts in a range of fields, from fundraising to programs, to share their summer reading lists, I had no idea what to expect.

I was thrilled to hear so many passionate stories about books that have made (or are likely to make) a huge difference in these folks’ lives. I’m sure that you’re reading all the time—blogs, Facebook, e-newsletters—but my colleagues told me that, for them, reading a book is something different. The process of immersing oneself in a work that is longer, richer, and typically experienced in a distinct format, be that hard copy or on an e-reader, is a unique experience. This immersion outside the day-to-day is highly engaging, energizing, and refreshing on the creative and intellectual fronts.

With that potential in mind, consider these top picks for your end-of-summer reading list. One of them could change your life:

Auto Biography: A Classic Car, an Outlaw Motorhead, and 57 Years of the American Dream, Earl Swift

Sally Kirby Hartman, vice president of communications at the Hampton Roads Community Foundation, adored this pleasure read about a ’57 Chevy and its various owners. Sally’s a superstar communicator and extracted a valuable marketing insight: “Auto Biography is a great reminder that a good observer can bring any topic to life by writing about real people,” she said.

Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking, Malcolm Gladwell

If you know the work of fundraising scribe Tom Ahern, you won’t be surprised by the passion he brings to this recommendation. When Tom likes something, he really likes it. So when he told me that Blink was “blowing his mind,” I had to know why.

“Try this one,” said Tom. “A psychologist administers a test to college students. There are 10 questions. Scattered through the questions are words such as ‘worried,’ ‘Florida,’ ‘old,’ ‘lonely,’ ‘gray,’ ‘bingo,’ and ‘wrinkle.’ When the students arrive to take the test, they act their age. When they leave after taking the test, they act old, walking slowly. What you read when taking the test affected the way you behaved.

“OMG, Nancy,” exclaimed Tom. “The great unknown for copywriters (me) is the human mind and how it actually works, not how we guess it works. That’s why Blink is blowing my mind: it’s all about recent psychological research, as told by a fabulous journalist.”

Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products, Nir Eyal

Nonprofit Web mastermind Seth Giammanco, of ModLab, is digging into Nir Eyal’s model that can be used to help products stand out in a world of constant competition for attention. He outlines that model here. It’s useful guidance and great inspiration for shaping your programs and services and positioning your organization’s fundraising and marketing campaigns for the strongest results.

Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook: How to Tell Your Story in a Noisy Social World, Gary Vaynerchuk

Kevin Martone, technology program manager at the Harold Grinspoon Foundation, is just digging into this one now. It’s the latest (maybe greatest?) from social media guru Gary Vaynerchuk, who shares secrets on connecting strongly with customers—donors and other supporters to us. Sounds worth a read!

To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others, Dan Pink

In his breakthrough book, A Whole New Mind, Dan Pink broke through traditional perceptions on success drivers, suggesting that right-brain skills are a huge success factor. Celeste Wroblewski, vice president of public relations at Chicago Symphony Orchestra, is eager to read his latest. Celeste, I’ve read To Sell Is Human, and you’re in for a treat.

Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder, Arianna Huffington

Fundraiser Amy Eisenstein got a jump-start on her summer reading, finishing and enjoying Thrive even before the solstice. She then raved about it to me.

What’s heading your end-of-summer reading list, or what book tops the list of those you’ve already finished? Share your picks in the comments below!

 

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Tue, August 05 2014

6 Simple Steps for Successful Campaign Planning

Caryn Stein's avatar

VP, Communications and Content, Network for Good

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Filed under:   Marketing essentials •

Whether you’re you looking to win support for an issue, impact policy, or inspire donors to take action and give, a campaign rarely succeeds without a solid, thoughtful plan. At Network for Good, we’ve always been big fans of Spitfire Strategies’ original Just Enough Planning Guide as a primer for doing just that, and have featured the Spitfire team in our Nonprofit 911 webinar series. We’re happy to announce that the folks at Spitfire are back with an interactive road map to successful campaign planning with their Planning to Win: The Just Enough Guide for Campaigners™. The new Planning to Win toolkit builds on the original concept and provides nonprofit changemakers and campaign organizers with a nice set of resources to create an effective strategy.

Planning to Win

Inspired by the new guide, here are six key steps to putting your campaign plan together:

1. Define the Victory
It’s important that everyone agrees on the core goal or goals of your campaign. You also need to make sure the definition of your campaign’s success is specific and actionable. What exactly are you trying to accomplish? How will you know that you’ve hit your goal?

2. Evaluate the Campaign Climate
Once you clearly define your campaign win, it’s time to evaluate the climate in which you’ll deploy your outreach. When you understand what’s going on around your issue or audience, you can plan to maximize the positives and strengthen any weaknesses. Identify what’s already working in your favor and what obstacles might cause your message to get lost or be misunderstood. Some questions to help you evaluate your issue’s climate:

  • Is your issue hot on the agenda or stuck in limbo?
  • What is the current conversation around your issue?
  • Who is the opposition and what is their agenda?
  • Who else is working on this issue?
  • What current events or opportunities can you use to your advantage?


3. Chart the Course
Lay out the series of milestones that you must hit on your way to reach your goal. Ideally, these steps should build off each other and indicate that your campaign is gaining momentum. Focus these milestones on the desired outcomes, rather than the tactics themselves. For example, if your campaign will reach out to local businesses to gain sponsors, your milestone should not be pitching these business owners. Rather, it should be that you reach your desired number of confirmed business partners for your cause. 

4. Choose Your Influence Strategy
Along with each step, understand the decision makers who will determine your success. These may be voters, business partners, or public officials. Then, find out who will have the most influence on these decision makers. These are the people you want to reach and activate to help your initiative gain momentum. Warning: avoid naming broad groups such as “the general public,” “voters” or “women.” Just as you did with your campaign goal, get very specific about your influencers so you have clear picture of the kind of person you need to reach to achieve victory.

5. Message for Impact
All campaigns benefit from a message platform that provides everyone in your organization with a consistent positioning statement. Keep in mind that a message platform doesn’t need to be rigid, nor does it need to be memorized, but it should provide the core concepts and talking points to serve as a guide for your spokespeople. A good message platform includes the following four points:

  • explain the problem/need that currently exists or the situation that you are working to change
  • specify what your campaign is working to accomplish
  • describe how you recommend addressing the need or problem, along with the with specific actions that decision makers need to take
  • explain the result that a campaign victory will have and how it solves the problem you noted at the start


6. Manage Your Campaign
Once you outline the main tactics to achieve your goals, you still need to plan the day-to-day details to get it done. Each assignment should have a deadline/timeline, owner, metrics including outcomes, and a budget. When it comes to metrics, it’s important to think of ones that lead to outcomes. Once your campaign is underway, don’t forget to celebrate the small victories with your team to keep everyone motivated.

For a step-by-step guide to building your campaign strategy, check out Planning to Win: The Just Enough Guide for Campaigners™.

How are you applying these steps to your campaigns? Share your current efforts in the comments below and add in your tips for fellow campaigners.

 

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Wed, July 30 2014

Simple, Timeless Social Media Tips

Liz Ragland's avatar

Marketing Content Associate, Network for Good

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Filed under:   Marketing essentials • Social Media •

As of September 2013, 73% of online adults use social networking sites. If your nonprofit isn’t active on at least one social network, now is the time to get moving! A quick Google search will provide you with tons of best practices and tips for using social media but in this video, you’ll find that I stuck to actionable tips that go beyond the latest fad or algorithm to help your nonprofit excel (and have fun) with social media.

 

Take your social media outreach to the next level. Download our free guide, 101 Social Media Posts, for content ideas that you can use for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and more.

 

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Tue, July 29 2014

Nonprofit Spotlight: July

Annika Pettitt's avatar

Senior Communications & Success Specialist, Network for Good

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Filed under:   Fun stuff •

We love taking a little time to celebrate the amazing things our nonprofit partners are accomplishing in their communities. Our Nonprofit of the Week series lets us spread the word far and wide about the great things the organizations we’re working with are doing to improve their corner of the world. In July we celebrated a New York charter school that boasts a dedicated alumni network, a community center that provides unified support for the people of the San Gabriel Valley, and Georgia’s oldest nonprofit childcare center.

Take a look at the great things these organizations are doing and join us in celebrating their work!

Bronx Science Endowment Fund brings together a network of extremely dedicated alumni to support their alma mater’s commitment to the highest quality education, facilities and extracurricular activities. Since its founding in 1938, Bronx Science has produced an impressive list of notable alumni, boasted high graduation rates and a reputation for strong academics and performing arts. Their network for fundraising alumni is a vibrant part of continuing the school’s legacy.

Foothill Unity Center is the primary provider of food, case management, crisis help and health care resources for neighbors in need in the San Gabriel Valley. Through collaborative efforts with social workers, educational institutions and healthcare providers, Foothill Unity Center aims to provide vital support services that ensure dignity and respect for their community members.

The Sheltering Arms early education and family center in Atlanta was founded in 1888 by a group of women determined to provide care for children in need. Since then they’ve expanded their services to include early childhood education, family services and child care for all of Atlanta’s families regardless of income.

Join us in thanking these amazing causes and keep up with the latest Nonprofit of the Week by following us on Facebook or Twitter.

 

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Fri, July 25 2014

It’s Time to Retire the Reception

Liz Ragland's avatar

Marketing Content Associate, Network for Good

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Filed under:   Fundraising essentials •

Wine and cheese tastings. Fancy dinners. Receptions. What do all these events have in common? They are generic. Any nonprofit can host these events. They are not special to your donors. They are not especially meaningful. To paraphrase Lynne Wester, The Donor Relations Guru, in our popular Nonprofit 911 webinar:  Donors gave you money. They can buy themselves dinner. Hosting an event to honor and recognize your donors is good practice, but make sure that the face to face experience you give them is unique to your organization.

So what kind of donor experience do I recommend? I want to see more unique, memorable, heart-warming experiences. Create an event, an interaction, or an entire day that allows your donors to learn about your organization and gives them an understanding and appreciation for how you are using their investment.

LexyTo help get your ideas flowing, I asked a fundraising pro (and personal friend) Alexis Lux, CFRE and VP of Development for the YMCA of Greater Oklahoma City, to share some donor experience ideas:

So why should a nonprofit host “donor experiences”?

Alexis: These experiences should bring a donation to life. You want this experience to feel priceless to them but it shouldn’t really cost you much. It creates a closer connection to the nonprofit.

Can you give examples of specific donor experiences hosted for one donor or just a few?

I have three examples that were unique experiences for major donors:


1) When I was in the development department at a heritage museum we invited a major donor to the summer camp the museum hosted. He actually led a lesson for the campers!

2) When I raised money for a community boathouse foundation, we would name a new boat after a major donor and they had the opportunity to christen it in the traditional way (with champagne). Later, I would send them a photo of our youth team training with their boat on the river.

3) I also helped university scholarship donors meet the students they were supporting. I tried my best to partner the students and the donors by similar interest. One of our donors, an older women who loves the theatre, had a wonderful time getting to talk to a theatre student and heard firsthand about one of the upcoming shows

Lexy on HorsebackWhat about a donor experience that would be appropriate for a larger group of mid-level donors?

Well, at the YMCA we host a cancer survivor support group and we invite donors to attend the sessions. I even attended once and we did chair yoga! It was a lot of fun and wasn’t anything “extra” that I had to plan.

Also, at the museum we had a private “artist talk” before each exhibit opened. It was pretty cool to have a famous artist give our donors a tour and explain his inspiration for each piece that was included in the gallery.

Any other things to keep in mind when it comes to hosting these types of experiences for donors?

I know my future is full of more galas & wine/cheese receptions than I want to admit, but it’s so much more meaningful when donors can see their gift in action. I encourage all nonprofit leaders to get creative when it comes to the way you interact with donors!

——

Thanks to Lexy for sharing examples of unique donor experiences! I hope that you’re inspired! Need help thinking of donor experiences your nonprofit could host? Have examples that have worked for your nonprofit? Share your questions and ideas in the comments below.

For more on donor relations and why your organization should rethink how you relate to all your supporters, download the archived presentation, Transform Your Donor Relationships.

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