Fri, June 20 2014

The 4 qualities of powerful visual storytelling

Caryn Stein's avatar

VP, Communications and Content, Network for Good

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Filed under:   Marketing essentials •

Power of Visual Storytelling

Content syndication outlet NewsCred has teamed up with Getty Images to create a new site, The Power of Visual Storytelling. The online guide (and accompanying whitepaper) boils down the essentials of effective imagery into four principles:

  1. Be authentic.  With stock images and Photoshop, it’s easy to be fake. Allow your readers to connect with the human side of your work by highlighting candid photos that show the reality of your work. Your images don’t have to be perfect, but they do have to stir emotion.
  2. Excite the senses.  Don’t avoid the gritty details that bring a story to life. Generic or too-glossy photos remove the personality from your subject. Choose or create images that make your audience feel like they can almost hear, smell, and touch the world you’re inviting them into.
  3. Evoke a familiar archetype.  Tap into what resonates with your audience by creating a persona to connect with their experiences or aspirations. Remember: powerful characters are a must for any great story.
  4. Be relevant.  To really connect with your supporters, your images and stories need to reflect the things that are immediate and real to them. This means that your outreach must be current and culturally sensitive to make an impact.

The Power of Visual Storytelling offers more insight on each of these components, complete with stats and examples. As you’re creating your next campaign, try incorporating all four elements to command attention and draw your audience even closer to your cause.

Want more storytelling ideas? Download our free guide: Storytelling for Nonprofits.

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Thu, June 19 2014

Want your message to spread? Evoke emotion.

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VP, Communications and Content, Network for Good

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Filed under:   Marketing essentials • Social Media •

We know that emotion is tied directly to giving, but does it matter when it comes to sharing online? This week, Business Insider featured a chart to illustrate the primary emotions evoked by the top 10% of most shared content.

Virality by Emotion

Awe, amusement, and joy are among the top emotions that prompt people to share with their networks. However, the emotions that work to power the viral engine are not necessarily the same ones that drive people to give. You’re not BuzzFeed, after all—your mission is to connect with your donors on a primal level and inspire giving.

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Wed, June 18 2014

Fundraising + Marketing = Greater Than the Sum of Their Parts

Nancy Schwartz's avatar

Nonprofit Marketing Expert

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Filed under:   Fundraising essentials • Marketing essentials •

Imagine: You’ve worked long and hard to grow a strong relationship with your communications colleagues (or, if you’re on the communications side, with your fundraising colleagues). You all know that working as a team to solicit, gather, and share insights on supporters is the path to strong and lasting relationships that motivate greater giving, plus desired actions on other fronts.

Note: If you haven’t launched this partnership yet, do it right now!

You’ve put in the time and sweat to build this vital partnership within your organization, and you’ve probably seen some payoff already. But all too often, once we get some satisfaction, partners begin to take each other for granted. This happens in the vital fundraising–marketing partnership as well as in love.

Here are four ways to keep the fundraising–marketing partnership alive and productive:


1. Work hard to understand the other person’s point of view.

Strong relationships come from understanding the other person’s point of view, even if you don’t share it. Put the same effort into understanding your marketing partners as you do with your prospects. Avoid futile arguments, and remember that the objective is not winning but what’s best for your partnership (and your revenue).

2. Know that it will take work.

Despite what you may have heard in John Lennon’s famous song, love isn’t all you need. Successful relationships require hard work.

Fundraising and marketing are nerve-racking professions—you’re the folks your organization counts on to keep it going. Plus, we all have quirks and habits that can grate on our colleagues. Stressful times are when many relationships flounder. Jump on the bumps as they appear to keep them small.

3. Encourage each other to grow.

Mutual respect is the foundation of every successful partnership. That means appreciating and accepting your marketing or fundraising partners for the wonderful, unique human beings they are. And vice versa.

Your marketing partner may want to grow in ways you don’t like or team up with you on strategies or experiments you’re uncomfortable with. Preventing their growth will stifle both them and you—because your communications partner will treat you the same way. Tit for tat.

Instead of tamping each other down, it’s far better to encourage your marketing or fundraising partner to continue building her skill set and confidence, and vice versa. It’s the only way a good partnership will flourish.

4. Keep the spark alive.

Whatever you do, don’t let this partnership flicker and die. Not after you put so much into it!

I frequently see this chain of events after a successful partnership ramp-up: Contentment sets in, you start taking the communications folks for granted (and vice versa), and you gradually fall back to your old ways. You rarely reach out, and collaboration slows to a halt.

Keep it alive by making the effort to share new adventures. Refresh this crucial partnership: Take brainstorming meetings off-site for a change. Bring a program colleague into the discussion. Collaborate on a working session where, together, you’ll build your colleagues’ understanding of current and prospective donors, train them in dialoguing to strengthen relationships, and ask them to share the insights they gain.

Follow these four steps for a fundraising–marketing partnership that equals true and long-lasting success in engaging your supporters for the long run and makes your workdays more satisfying than ever.

Want more tips? Download the free guide: 7 Steps to Your Best Nonprofit Marketing Plan Ever.

With refreshing practicality, Nancy Schwartz rolls up her sleeves to help nonprofits develop and implement strategies to build the strong relationships that inspire key supporters to action. She shares her deep nonprofit marketing insights—and passion—through consulting, speaking, and her popular blog and e-news at

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Tue, June 17 2014

Charitable giving on the rebound, says Giving USA

Caryn Stein's avatar

VP, Communications and Content, Network for Good

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The latest Giving USA report was released today, showing that total U.S. charitable giving increased for the fourth consecutive year in 2013. Overall giving grew 4.4% last year to an estimated $335.17 billion, with donations from individuals driving much of the growth that sees giving inching closer to pre-recession levels.

Giving USA

Some highlights:

  • Giving by individuals increased by 4.2%, while corporate giving declined by 1.9%.
  • Individual giving made up 72% of total contributions in 2013.
  • Donations to faith-based organizations were the biggest chunk of overall giving (31%) when segmented by organization type, although gifts to this segment were flat compared to 2012.

Individual giving

You can visit Giving USA for a free summary, or to purchase the full data set and reports.

How do these stats line up with your own fundraising results? Chime in below and let us know how you use reports like Giving USA and what other data you’d like to see .


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Mon, June 16 2014

3 basic rules for raising more online

Caryn Stein's avatar

VP, Communications and Content, Network for Good

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Filed under:   Fundraising essentials • Websites and web usability •

Don’t let the speed and convenience of technology suck the life out of your fundraising. Online or off, you must connect with your donors and inspire them to take action. When creating your online giving strategy, keep these three rules in mind:

1. Keep donors in the moment of giving.
2. Make it easy.
3. Focus on the relationship with the donor.

Here’s a quick slideshow that helps illustrate these key qualities:

Download the full webinar recording and slides, then register for the free Ultimate Donation Page Course to get more in-depth guidance on optimizing your online fundraising.

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