Fri, July 18 2014
Filed under: Fun stuff •
Our daughter Charlotte’s world right now is probably familiar to many of you.
She’s in the middle of a blissful summer at a few different day and overnight camps. At the end of every day, her mind and creativity are stimulated, she’s made new friends, and she sleeps soundly with a smile on her face. Charlotte finishes the summer inspired, energized, and smarter than ever.
As a longtime overnight camper myself, I greatly envy her. Finally, this summer I decided to follow her summer camp strategy lead and am doing something completely different from the everyday. I’m taking a two-month sabbatical to refresh and restore—my first-ever break beyond a brief vacation since I rushed out of college to work.
For many, however, a sabbatical isn’t possible, so I wanted to outline effective approaches used by fellow nonprofit staffers and consultants. I became a reboot detective, determined to find what’s working since rebooting is so valuable and so productive in teeing you up for a great fall and beyond.
I did what I typically do when I’m looking for answers—ask my friends and colleagues. Here are some of the fantastic approaches I heard from our peers in the field:
Seek a different point of view. Gillian Ream Gainsley, who works in communications and development at the Ypsilanti District Library in Michigan, does something very surprising.
“My summer camp plan is to go to overnight camp. Literally. I’m on the board of a summer camp and spend a week volunteering there every year. It’s the most rejuvenating part of my year,” Gillian says.
“Mostly, it’s a fantastic break. But I do communications for a youth organization, so it’s a great way to take a deep dive into how kids talk and think and feel. You have a much better sense of what their (and their parents’) needs are after a week of 24-hour interaction at camp.”
Get together and get outside. Caroline Avakian, founder of Source Rise, which connects journalists with experts in international development, spends more time outdoors and with her family. “Not only is it necessary, but I find that it fuels my work and creativity, making me much more productive during my work time,” she says.
Make a commitment to doing summer differently. Unless you’re lucky enough to actually go to summer camp, as Gillian does, it can be super hard to pry yourself away from the day-to-day routine, no matter how much you want to. That’s where I often fall.
You’re much more likely to succeed in getting to your own version of summer camp if you formalize your commitment. I did so by telling a few close friends and colleagues about my plan and asking them to keep me honest. My husband is good at policing as well!
I’m not alone here. “I have to consciously cut down on work hours to do that,” admits Caroline. “But it’s worth it since my productivity shoots up when I do get down to business. I tend to goal-set instead of clocking in my hours, so as long as I feel I’ve met my goals, I’m happy. That said, my ‘summer camp’ goals tend to be more focused on strategic priorities and organization. That focus gears me up and preps me for the busy fall season.”
Take a new approach to the same old. Danielle Brigida, senior manager of social strategy and integration for the National Wildlife Federation, is one of the most creative people I know. She brings that creativity to the way she tackles her work, including her own version of summer camp.
Like most of us, a lot of Danielle’s day is spent tackling ongoing challenges. Although the challenges themselves don’t vary wildly, she spices up the way she approaches them: “I break out the sidewalk chalk and the Idea Frisbee in the summer. I grab whomever I’m working with, and I just toss the Frisbee around when we need to think up clever names or ideas around campaigns. We find that moving while we brainstorm really helps.”
Work your body, nourish your soul. Many of the folks I spoke with increase their physical activity when summer comes around or add seasonal treats like biking and waterskiing.
Danielle, for example, goes way beyond the Idea Frisbee. “I went out on a limb and signed up for a marathon in Iceland in late August,” she says. “So I’m mostly training for that and spending as much time outside as I can. I also try to balance the running with yoga.”
Connect with peers in the field to build satisfaction and smarts. Graphic designer Julia Reich uses summer’s slight dip in her firm’s client work to build relationships with other nonprofit marketers and, she hopes, find some strong strategic alliances.
How will you get a little summer camp this summer? Please chime in with your comments to share how you recharge and look at things differently.
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 GettingAttention.org.
Mon, June 30 2014
Filed under: Fun stuff •
Across the country and around the globe our nonprofit partners are changing the world every day. Our Nonprofit of the Week series helps us spotlight the great things these organizations are doing to serve their mission. Take a look at how this month’s featured organizations are improving their communities:
Maryland Zoo in Baltimore isn’t just a place to come and visit lion cubs Zuri, Leia, and Luke, and a growing community of African penguins—it’s an organization working hard on behalf of wildlife and wild places worldwide. By focusing on participating in global wildlife conservation efforts and creating dynamic educational opportunities in Baltimore, the Maryland Zoo is working hard on behalf of wildlife and wild places worldwide.
Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Ohio Valley provides a home away from home for the families of children receiving critical medical treatment at local hospitals. By creating a place of community and respite the RMHC of the Ohio Valley truly cares for families in times of crisis.
Families First of the Greater Seacoast is a community health center offering high-quality care for all members of New Hampshire’s Seacoast, regardless of their ability to pay. For the past 30 years Families First has been expanding their mission and services to create a healthier and happier community.
Join us in celebrating and thanking these amazing causes!
Wed, June 11 2014
Are you red hot? Or true blue? It’s no secret that color evokes emotion and is a key visual indicator that communicates meaning. But just how much goes on in our minds when it comes to color? Marketing strategist Gregory Ciotti offers an excellent review of how color can influence brand preference and, in turn, how we feel about the messages we receive.
- Up to 90% of first impressions of products can be based on color alone.
- Both men and women appear to have a strong preference for the color blue, while purple tends to be favored more by women, and shunned by men. (Orange and brown don’t seem to get much love at all from either gender.)
- Our personal experiences and cultural norms influence the way we interpret color.
- The perceived “appropriateness” of colors used will affect the perception of a brand’s message. (That is, do we generally expect baby blue to communicate power?)
What does any of this have to do with your fundraising approach? The various ways you use color to communicate with your donors can affect how your brand is remembered, and even affect the likelihood of a donor acting on your next appeal.
Be consistent with your nonprofit’s branding.
Ciotti notes that research has shown our brains tend to prefer recognizable brands. Establish a core set of images and colors for your organization and use them consistently throughout your marketing so potential supporters can immediately recognize you. This helps your audience form an association with your work and your visual identity, and can help build a preference for your organization. (Read how ASPCA made orange its signature color.)
Don’t be afraid to stand out.
People often ask what color they should use for their organization’s donation button. Many feel that a strong color, like red, is always the right answer. The reality is that it depends. If your organization’s marketing materials and website are predominantly red or orange, a contrasting color (such as blue) will likely perform much better. Our brains immediately notice the things that deviate from our surroundings. Use this to your advantage and avoid being too color coordinated. Consider how contrasting colors and bold highlights can help your key points and calls to action be seen by busy readers on the go. (Think about how yellow highlighting or red editorial marks in direct mail pieces effectively lead eyes down the page.)
Color descriptions matter.
People seem to gravitate more to colors that have elaborate or more descriptive names. Think raspberry instead of pink, or mahogany instead of brown. This is likely because these names are more specific and allow us to precisely visualize and remember them. While this fact is probably more important to paint manufacturers and fashion designers, it’s worth noting as you incorporate descriptive elements in your nonprofit storytelling. Replace generic descriptions with richer details to paint a more realistic and vivid picture in your donor’s mind.
How are you using color to communicate your organization’s brand values and personality? Have you tested the use of different colors in your fundraising materials? Chime in below and share your experiences or best examples.
Thu, May 29 2014
In last week’s edition of Tips, Network for Good’s weekly e-newsletter, we wanted to get a feel for what’s going on around the sector, especially in the trenches. So in our first-ever reader survey, we asked, “What’s the one thing about your organization that keeps you up at night?”
Here’s how you responded:
We had a friendly bet going around the department for the #1 reason nonprofit professionals lose sleep and we are astounded and delighted by the results! (Shhh … don’t tell my boss I guessed management—just kidding!) But seriously, fundraising keeps most of you from getting your 8 hours of beauty rest?! Well, we completely understand and fortunately, we’ve got something better than warm milk to cure your insomnia—tons of experience!
With 2014 nearly half over, December will be here before you know it. In the nonprofit world, we recognize year-end as prime fundraising time and too often, it’s met with nonchalance, trepidation, or worse—woeful unpreparedness. After seeing the results of the survey, we’re surer than ever that our next Nonprofit 911 webinar can help.
On Tuesday, June 3rd at 1pm EDT, Network for Good’s own Caryn Stein will lead a lively workshop on How to Create the Ultimate Donation Page. She’ll share some online fundraising best practices and must-do tasks to either create a brand new donation page or maximize your existing page. With just a few tips that can be a breeze to implement, you’ll be well on your way to bringing in the big bucks for the back half of the year.
We’re here to help and we want you to be prepared to get the most out of your online fundraising efforts. Register now! (Even if you can’t attend, go ahead and sign up and you’ll receive a copy of the slides and recording delivered straight to your inbox.)
(Graphic created with Infogr.am.)
Wed, May 28 2014
Filed under: Fun stuff •
Network for Good’s Nonprofit of the Week spotlight gives us the chance to highlight the work of some of the our community’s superstars. In May, we celebrated a diverse group of organizations working hard to better their corner of the world.
Check out the great things these organizations are doing for their communities:
Taproot Foundation seeks to build capacity through pro bono service by uniting skilled professionals with nonprofits in need. By creating these connections between professionals that want to serve and nonprofits that don’t have access to the marketing, strategic planning, human resources, design or technology resources they need to really succeed, Taproot Foundation is furthering the pro bono movement and helping the nonprofit sector grow and innovate.
Homeless Children’s Playtime Project works to nurture the healthy development of children living in temporary housing in Washington DC. Playtime is powered enthusiastic staff and volunteers that believe every child has the right to a safe and fun place for play. By protecting the right to play and advocating for children and their families Playtime seeks to create a city that provides opportunities for success for homeless children.
The National Czech and Slovak Museum and Library brings to life the unique culture and history of the Czech and Slovak people through their museum’s displays and community events. Their exhibits allow visitors to interact with the history, language, culture and people of the Czech and Slovak Republics in fun and innovative ways. As a part of Cedar Rapids’ Czech Village, the NCSML plays an important role in preserving Czech and Slovak heritage and culture in the US.