- Fri, January 11 2008
- Filed under:
There were two gems in other blogs over the past week, and I want to pass them on.
1. THE 15-MINUTE MISSION STATEMENT: If you know me, you know I think nonprofits spend way too much time crafting mission statements in an exercise that too often degenerates into navel-gazing neurosis. Yet they can be useful to focusing programs if they are done right. Here’s a neat solution from Kelly Kleiman on her blog The Nonprofiteer, which was picked up on the Give and Take blog: Simplify the process by spending an hour — or even just 15 minutes — drafting a single sentence that outlines their mission” “We do [activity] so that [result will occur].” I like it.
2. THE FUTURE OF FUNDRAISING: Mark Rovner says this: “Here is the current online fundraising model: build your prospect list however you can and then bombard them relentlessly with email solicitations. If you’re clever, maybe throw in mail and phone solicitations as well. Repeat, repeat, repeat…” The problem? It works less and less effectively, it drives people away and it’s not sustainable. If you’re doing this, stop. Focus on growing a list of new prospects that want to hear from you and treat them well. There’s a lot at stake. Mark says:
EVERYTHING is going to change. In his latest book, Meatball Sundae, Seth Godin makes the point that organizations and companies are generally built around the mode of marketing available to them. If your organization began its life between 1970 and 2000, chances are it was built around cheap mail and high response rates. The first victim of expensive mail and low response rates is your fundraising efficiency. And in this era of CharityNavigator, your fundraising efficiency is no secret.
- Tue, January 08 2008
- Filed under: Cause-related marketing
Photo by sadalit, flickr.
If you are a company or nonprofit teaming up to do cause-related marketing in 2008, take heed: slapping charitable branding on a product is not enough. Today’s consumers are socially conscious but they are also savvy—and skeptical. Cause-related ventures are held to high standards, and vague claims of social good are scrutinized. So, in support of Cone’s What Do You Stand For? project, here are the four things all cause-related ventures should stand for:
Does the partnership pass the sniff test for suitability? For example, even if the company donated all of its profits, Hummer would never be a good partner for Greenpeace. Sounds obvious, right? But I’ve seen some partners that seemed poorly suited this year, including Trident promoting Save the Children nutrition and literacy programs. Gum doesn’t fit with nutrition—or literacy, since it’s not even allowed in libraries or schools. Operation Smile would have made more sense as a partner. You want a fit that makes sense to the consumer - it’s stickier that way (pun intended). You also want a fit that makes sense to the partners, who should look for a deeper win-win. An ideal partnership is one where the cause and company’s objectives reinforce each other.
A close cousin of suitability, authenticity is about the company walking the talk of the cause. A nice example is the Pure Prevention campaign, which my organization helped plan and support (so I’m biased). Luna Bar walks the talk of health concerns and nutrition, so it makes sense for them to support a cause that focuses on the environmental causes of breast cancer. Check it out here.
This is HUGE. It’s not enough to say, we’re partners and a portion of proceeds benefits xyz charity. Both the company and the charity need to say what amount of money is going where to do what. Very, very clearly - on everything. Put it on price tags, marketing materials, everywhere. Err on the side of openness. The RED controversy shows there are people out there watching! (PS: RED has done a good job on reporting - check out their site.)
4. Selling Point
Lots of research, including from Cone, shows consumers will buy cause-related products over those that don’t have a charitable tie-in, PRICE AND QUALITY BEING EQUAL. So don’t think alignment with a cause is a unique value proposition, unless you have the same price and quality. If you don’t, you need other selling points. The Susan G. Komen partnerships make things pink, which believe it or not, is a selling point—people went crazy for Campbell’s cans in pink because they looked neat (and were different and unexpected). So color can actually be a selling point. What value can you add to you add to the product in question that extends and supplements the charitable merits it presents? Figure it out. You want people to buy into this!
I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to follow these principles - and don’t just take my word for it. From Cause-Related Marketing Blog, here’s a great analysis of what happens when you don’t.
- Tue, January 08 2008
- Filed under: Social Media
If you’ve ever taken a dive on AstroTurf, you know it hurts - like the worst kind of carpet burn. It also hurts to AstroTurf online - which is an expression for seeding fake, faux-grassroots material that’s disingenously disguised self-promotion. For example, posing as a fan of your employer and posting comments to a blog as if you’re a third party. AstroTurfing hurts your organization. It hurts you. And it hurts the people you deceive. And the burn is the fifth-degree kind.
There was a sad case of this over the past few days. Holden Karnofsky of GiveWell, an organization that’s been pushing for greater transparency in grantmaking and results from nonprofits, was found to have been AstroTurfing for his organization. AstroTurfing is always bad, as I’ve noted on this blog in the Whole Foods case. It saddens me so much in this case, because Holden’s actions flew in the face of what he called for: namely, honesty and transparency. Here’s what the Chronicle of Philanthropy described today:
On Metafilter, an online message board, Mr. Karnofsky promoted GiveWell without identifying himself. In one message he asked for ideas on how to choose a charity to support and then “answered” as another writer by touting GiveWell’s evaluations of nonprofit groups.
A Metafilter member uncovered the self-promotion, which violated the Web site’s rules, and announced the discovery on the message board.
Mr. Karnofsky quickly apologized and said that he had a “horrible lapse of judgment” by hiding his identity. He also offered to make a contribution to Metafilter to compensate for his mistake – an offer that was derided by Metafilter contributors as a bribe.
Metafilter members found other examples of Mr. Karnofsky’s praising GiveWell as an anonymous source, including instances where he criticized other nonprofit groups.
I met Holden when he minced no words in criticizing Network for Good (my organization) on his blog, and I responded. We ended up having a productive conversation and ultimately a collegial professional relationship. I’ve followed and blogged what he’s doing. He’s committed a lot of energy to what he believes, and while we haven’t always agreed (including on this blog), I respected his energy and the end result of what he wanted—motivated donors and the most effective nonprofit sector possible. But it seems his energy has gone terribly awry, and it’s a real shame. He’s apologized, but he lost his job [clarification: he was demoted] and a lot of people are furious, particularly because Holden (often harshly) demanded such honesty and transparency of others. Bloggers and commenters have written literally hundreds of posts and comments on this turn of events—read them here.
I hope some good comes of this - for the [very worthy] work Holden wanted to do and for anyone observing the situation. I’d like to use this sad tale as a reminder to all of us that you MUST be honest and authentic online, or else. In the Web 2.0 world, no matter how good your intentions, you pay a big price for misrepresenting yourself. In your job, please never be tempted to AstroTurf. Don’t anonymously post good things about your organization or bad things about others without identifying yourself, because it’s unethical in my view. And if that’s not incentive enough, know that those tricks tend to get discovered. They will estrange and enrage the very people you set out to influence. You and your cause will get burned.
- Wed, January 02 2008
- Filed under:
I got asked by Beth Kanter to post on this topic: “What if I could start all my social media and nonprofits work over from scratch? What would I do differently? What lessons have I learned that will stick with me for 2008?”
Having Beth Kanter asking me to post on social media is a little like Yo-Yo Ma asking me to play cello for him. Beth is THE maestro on nonprofits and social media (and she could probably accompany Yo-Yo Ma on flute). So read what she says first. Then read what Britt Bravo says. Britt, in addition to having The Name I Wish I Had, is also very wise on the social media front. Then you can read my list, which is below.
Four Things I Wish I’d Known from the Start about Social Media:
1. It’s not that hard, and I should have gotten over the intimidation factor sooner. Not too long into my job here at Network for Good a few years ago, I kept hearing people reference Web 2.0. I remember, filled with fear of ridicule for my ignorance, asking people what it meant. I’m glad I did, because I realized a lot of people had trouble defining it and were grappling with its meaning just like me. Today, social media to me means the electronic manifestation of the human desire to be heard and seen and part of a community. It’s using technology as a platform for personal expression and as a means to connect to others around things we care about. It’s not hard to learn how to do that online - you don’t need any real technology expertise (I’m living proof of that) as much as social skills - and it’s a lot of fun making new friends which is the real point. No matter how much of a novice you deem yourself, you CAN explore social media and find ways to benefit from it. If you haven’t, make 2008 the year you do.
2. It’s about “social,” not “media.” As I said in this post, while social media seems oh-so-new, what makes it hot could not be more ancient or old-school. What’s significant about social media is how it allows us to quickly and expansively fulfill our unending human need for connection. While I myself have fallen into the trap of focusing on my organization’s need to do Facebook or Twitter or YouTube, that’s not the point—what matters whether those are places to strengthen connections with my target audience. If my target audience isn’t there, I’m not going there.
3. Social media cranks WOM up to 11. What excites me most about social media, now that I sort of get it, is its potent potential to amplify word of mouth. Good word of mouth for your good cause is invaluable. People listen to people they know, and if those people recommend something, they listen. If people make recommendations, that good word of mouth spreads faster and farther through their circles of influence. Social media enables people to evangelize in their own way, in their own words, where their peeps congregate. We’re so underfunded and overworked in our sector - how great is it other people can help us spread the word so efficiently?
4. Think before you build something new, because we already have overdevelopment in social media. You could build (yet another) new social network. You could create yet another blog. You could make a new video. But if you’re one of those underfunded and overworked people, think twice and first read my Four Laws of Social Networking. You may get further, faster by connecting to existing infrastructure than trying to create it.
- Wed, December 26 2007
- Filed under: Marketing essentials
When I’m asked about whether I think a marketing campaign is good, I always ask:
Who was the audience and what action was the campaign seeking to effect?
These are good questions to ask yourself before you launch any marketing effort. Is it well targeted? Will it resonate with the audience in question? Is it consistent with your brand? Will it get people to act in the way you want?
In other words, you’d better know
you’re marketing before you jump to
to market something.
Some colleagues recently called my attention to two campaigns, and while they both have merits, I"m not sure they nailed the “who and why” before they leaped to the “how.”
Here’s the first, which was a PETA campaign that was eloquently blogged by CK. It’s a website trashing the Olsen twins for wearing fur, providing interactive, bloody dress-up games, and a faux Full house video, which unfortunately is nearly as boring and unwatchable as the show.
So does trashing these celebrities make sense as a marketing strategy? It really depends on what PETA is trying to do. If they are trying to please their base, yes. It’s a highly negative, on-the-attack, celebrity-shaming, attention-grabbing campaign that is completely aligned with PETA’s brand and followers. If it’s trying to get online media attention for PETA, it also makes sense because it’s blogworthy. If it’s trying to get the Olsens or other celebs to embrace PETA’s cause and/or get new people to support PETA by writing to the Olsens or giving money, I doubt this will work. Going that negative will just estrange the mainstream, which includes people who like Mary Kate and Ashley or, if they don’t, prefer to visit Perez than PETA for their Trollsen dose. Quite simply, the campaign encourages people to think of PETA as being “fringe,” which I think is far less scary than being influential. So if the “who” is new audiences and the “what” is eschewing fur, I don’t think it works.
On to a campaign that is the polar opposite of the Trollsens - it’s a feel-good spot sent to me by a reader from Italy. Daniele writes:
I’m working for a campaign called superegali.org for the NGO Terre des Hommes Italia. It’s a fundraising campaign for PerÃ¹, Ivory Coast and Zimbabwe to help kids of these countries. We made a viral video for this campaign where the protagonist is our mascot, a paper toy. The video is a spoof of Dove Onslaught.
(If you want to know what the Dove campaign is, I posted on there here.)
I thought the video was cute (especially if you’re familiar with the cultural reference of the Dove campaign) for an audience of potential supporters in Italy - provided they know the Dove campaign. But the “why” was unclear. What does the ad want you to do? It seems to ask you to rethink the concept of superhero, but it’s not clear what you’re supposed to do as a result, or how cutting out superheroes helps kids. I think the campaign is interesting but has a perplexing (perhaps even absent) call to action. So I asked Daniele what was the “why” of the campaign. She responded the purpose was to spread the word about their work and raise money. If that’s the “why” of the campaign, I think it could use some tweaking. Thoughts for Daniele?
- Mon, December 24 2007
- Filed under: Fun stuff
Before the year ends, I wanted to thank you. Thank you, readers, for all you have done to make the world a better place in 2007. I know from conversations with you from this blog just how much you have done - to end homelessness, clean up our environment, protect our lands, feed the hungry, shelter animals, comfort survivors of violence, stop the spread of HIV, and restore hope to the hopeless. Your commitment to your cause - and your effectiveness in promoting it - is a daily inspiration and a source of deep gratitude. I wish you all the best in your work in the New Year and always.
- Thu, December 20 2007
- Filed under: Marketing essentials
Today’s edition asks the question, what do Mac users, Hillary Clinton and alcoholics have in common? Noah Goldstein, Ph. D., explains:
First-time Mac users have switched from IBM-compatible personal computers, longstanding members of Alcoholics Anonymous have turned their lives around by abstaining from alcohol, and Hillary Clinton switched political affiliations from Republican to Democrat over thirty years ago. In a sense, all three are converts of one form or another. But what can a convert do for us when it’s important to persuade others to take our point of view, give us buy-in for our initiatives, or take a particular course of action?
Social scientists John Levine and Ronald Valle conducted a study to find out. In their study, they had participants listen to a persuasive message in which the speaker was clearly an outspoken critic of alcohol use. Whereas some participants learned that the speaker had abstained from alcohol his whole life, others learned that the speaker was formally a heavy drinker who quit drinking two years prior. The results of the study revealed that participants were far more persuaded by the speaker who was formally a heavy drinker than the lifelong teetotaler. Although there are several reasons why convert communicators are more persuasive, perhaps the most powerful is that they are simply viewed as more experienced in the domain of their conversion. It’s this experience that leads audience members to view them as more of an expert authority on that topic.
This research suggests that when trying to convince others that your position is the right one, you should look for people who have converted to your way of thinking. For example, within an organization, this might mean that when trying to get employees to willingly adopt a new software system, you should ask others who have already adopted it to pitch the idea to more stubborn employees. Similarly, when attempting to get prospective clients to switch to your product from another company’s, try to solicit testimonials from others who have made the same switch, and then convey these testimonials to your prospects.
This is a great insight. People listen to converts. I think converts are not only credible to an audience, they are also especially passionate and eloquent spokespeople.
So who are your converts? Could they speak for you? Any skeptical donors who have seen the light? Any beneficiaries who have done a 180? Find them, and give them a platform to talk about their conversion. People will listen.
- Wed, December 19 2007
- Filed under: Social Media
About every 2-3 days, I get a phone call from someone starting a social network with a social conscience angle – a network for shopping for good, or for volunteering, or for donating, or for doing all of the above. Since I’m often asked for advice on this topic, I thought I’d share what I say.
It’s a timely topic to cover because Network for Good, where I work, just formed a new partnership with one of these social networks for social good – change.org. We chose to partner with change.org because its founder, Ben Rattray, is very focused on the principles I’m sharing with you here. In fact, change.org has lived up to its name and undergone a lot of interesting change itself. Once a more generalized site for doing good, it’s now increasingly focused on helping nonprofits use its social networking tools to connect to their donors in more personal and profound ways. Check out more on that here. Since we’re both focused on helping you – nonprofits – connect to your supporters and motivate them to action (and donations), it made a lot of sense to make that happen together.
So here’s some advice, before you start a social network for good – or join one:
1. Don’t build to a concept, build to people. People don’t look for a social network to join – they look for people like them. Networking technology is about NETWORKING – being amidst people like us – more than it’s about the tools or technology. So don’t build a network because you think you have a great concept – build a network because you have a real group of people that wants to spend time together, connecting.
2. Don’t try to create a constituency, serve one. Related to my first point, focus on serving an audience rather than creating one. Start with a passionate constituency – even a small one – and help it grow with your tools. A great example of point #1 and #2 done well is kiva.org. They built their entire site around people – individual people on the other side of the earth who need loans to change their lives and people who want to help them achieve their dreams. All the tools are tailored to that relationship, and their community grows by the day because of this.
3. It’s the cause, not the structure (or network) around it, that compels action. People give money because they feel moved to make a difference for a specific cause – because the cause is important to them, moves them, or matters to friends or family. It’s that simple. I can tell you from experience, nearly no one comes to Network for Good to wander around looking for a cause. They don’t Google “donate to charity.” They are looking to do something about cancer or global warming or the hungry person they saw on their block. The relationship that matters is the one the donor has with their cause. So a good social network seeks to enhance that in every way possible. A bad social network gets in the way of it.
4. Communities are nice, but the most important relationship (and the deepest) is the one-on-one connections – the connections between the donor and the cause, the donor to their friend, etc. Focus on that in all you do with networking or any outreach at all. Beth Kanter is a good person to listen to—and emulate—when it comes to designing your outreach.
I’ll leave Ben with the last word, and it’s a good one: “Donors want a better giving experience, and social networking technology, properly used, can significantly improve this experience by making it more personal, by giving people a sense that they are a member of a community and not just a cash machine, and by enabling people to dramatically magnify their impact. Social networking will fail in the philanthropy space if it’s seen as a vague end goal (as in, our goal is to build a big community of people who care), and should instead be seen as a tool to solve real problems – as in, our goal is to use social networking technology to address the impersonal nature of most solicitations, the sense from donors that their individual contributions have no significant impact, the need for nonprofits to have authentic voices spreading their message on their behalf rather than relying on inefficient and decreasingly effective direct mail prospecting, etc.”
Happy networking in 2008!
- Tue, December 18 2007
- Filed under: Marketing essentials
In our house, there is a trunk full of stuffed animals. I don’t buy them, but my children periodically get them as gifts. We have too many, and the girls only play with a few. So every time I get the chance, I donate a handful of the better stock to charity or, if the stuffed animal sings or squawks something truly annoying, the trash can. But somehow, despite my downsizing, the number of animals remains constant. The trunk is always full. It’s as if these creatures reproduce when I’m at the office each day, their fluffy offspring rapidly replenishing any depletion in their ranks.
The phenomenon is something I call the stuffed animal rule: No matter how hard you try to simplify and give yourself space—to breathe, to live, to think big—silly things always crowd back into your life. Especially this time of year. We try to keep focused on what’s important, but it’s so hard. Stuff gets in the way - fluffy, inconsequential stuff that takes up too much space.
That’s why it’s a challenge to get people’s attention right now. To ask them to help your cause. They want to do good, they think of doing good, but then a flurry of things crowd their minds and the moment is gone. The trunk is full.
Think of your job this time of year as doing two things:
1. Not adding to the clutter. Don’t crowd people with your message. Don’t stuff in a lot of inconsequential detail that gets in the way of your point. Don’t be yet another appeal jamming their inbox. Show great economy in expressing why someone should care and what you can achieve together.
2. Clearing out the clutter. Help people remember what’s more important than the details distracting them from what matters most. Don’t criticize their clutter. But cut through it with the amazing stories that remind us of what it is to be human. Help people get back in touch with what this season is really about. They’ll thank you. And support you. And feel far better.
- Thu, December 13 2007
- Filed under: Fundraising essentials
I’m excited to share the following news:
PARADE and The Case Foundation today announced the America’s Giving Challenge to award $500,000 to charities in the U.S. and overseas. The program aims to show how anyone and everyone can have greater impact in their community and bring more support to the charities and causes they care about. Participants can choose to use a simple and fun Web 2.0 tool called a “charity badge” to promote their cause and help their charity get $50,000. Or they can simply give to a cause to help it qualify for a $1,000 award. The America’s Giving Challenge runs from 3:00 p.m. EST on December 13, 2007 through 3:00 p.m. EST on January 31, 2008.
Go here to participate.
There are two easy ways to participate:
CHAMPION A CAUSE: Using fun and simple charity badges, individuals can get $50,000 for the cause they support. Eight Champions will be named based on the number of unique donations they have gathered for their charity through the Challenge.
GIVE TO A CAUSE: Simply donate to a favorite charity through the Challenge donation partners—Network for Good’s Six Degrees site and GlobalGiving—and that charity could get $1,000. One hundred charities will each be awarded $1,000 based on the number of donations they receive through the Challenge.
Who Can Participate?
To “champion a cause,” you must be 13 years of age or older and a legal resident of the United States.
To “give to a cause,” all you need is the means to process a donation through one of the Challenge’s two donation partners—Network for Good, typically for those giving to U.S.-based charities, or GlobalGiving, typically for those giving to international causes.
Thanks to the Case Foundation and Parade for this wonderful support to charities - and to Wired Fundraisers.
- Wed, December 12 2007
- Filed under: Marketing essentials
I am extremely happy to announced that my organization, Network for Good, has launched a new online learning center about all things marketing, messaging, fundraising and online outreach at http://www.Fundraising123.org This. free online resource center is designed to be a searchable, readable survival guide for the overwhelmed, overworked nonprofit.
We think there’s not enough of this kind of information out there, so it’s been a labor of love.
A few highlights:
* The Learning Center features 500+ articles categorized by the following topics: Fundraising, Social Networking, Website 101, Email 101, Donor Database, & Nonprofit Marketing.
* There’s also a Training tab that is home to our popular Nonprofit 911 teleconference series.
* While some of the content you’ll recognize from this blog or from Network for Good materials, we’ve got lots of other articles from the greatest minds in our field: from nonprofit professionals, coaches, trainers, bloggers, and consultants—great thinkers like Beth Kanter, Seth Godin, Mark Rovner, Jeff Brooks, Nedra Weinreich, Nancy Schwartz, Kivi Leroux, and so on.
If you’d like to contribute your own content to the Learning Center, please visit the site and click on the FAQ button at the bottom of the page.
- Mon, December 10 2007
- Filed under: Social Media
Forget corporate savvy - here’s a case of nonprofit savvy.
According to a new study cited by massnonprofits, we nonprofits are cutting edge when it comes to social media:
Charitable organizations are outpacing the business world in their use of social media, according to a study recently completed by The University of Massachusetts Dartmouth’s Center for Marketing Research. According to the study, “America’s largest charities are turning to the Internet in an effort to increase awareness of their missions and to help connect with their constituencies. While these organizations are known for their nonprofit status and their fundraising campaigns, they demonstrate an acute awareness of the importance of Web 2.0 strategies in meeting their objectives.”
Wow, who knew?
Want to get started in social media? Here are two good places to start:
Hat tip to Erik at Orion for this story.
- Mon, December 10 2007
- Filed under: Marketing essentials
Three important things happened recently. Take note.
1. Sally Beatty of the Wall Street Journal says charities need to be more open and transparent. She says it feels good to give to charity, but “the warm feeling fades when we try to find out about charities’ successes and failures.” She says it’s very hard to know who is doing effective work. The article makes three recommendations to improve the situation. Here’s what she tells charities to do: 1) Provide more information online; 2) Adopt high standards of measuring efficiency; and 3) Adhere to those voluntary standards.
2. The Chronicle of Philanthropy did a story chronicling the work of GiveWell’s Clear Fund project - which aims to rate charities on their effectiveness. Founder Holden Karnofsky found that to be very hard work, for the reasons Sally Beatty cites. GiveWell has a new report on charities saving lives in Africa - useful for figuring out who to support this holiday. Holden and his colleagues went through all the major causes of death and extreme debilitation that affect Africans more than they affect us and recommended the best. They estimate that their top-ranked charity saves lives for something around $1000 each - 3-4x as cost-effective as their second highest rated. Find out what charity is so great here. (Hint: It’s one of my favorites and the one that opens my book!)
3. The Great Nonprofits site is getting nice traction in Pennsyvlania - enabling ratings of local charities. Yes, welcome to the world of customer reviews of charity - pretty fascinating stuff. Founder Perla Ni, who is an impressive innovator in our sector, likens it to Zagat’s for charities.
If you read this blog regularly, you know I’m constantly harping on two things: first, connect with your audiences and what they care about. Answer the question, “why me?” for them. Second, for those audiences, answer the question, “what for?” What will the audience get for their donation? What will change? What will happen? (The other questions to always answer, by the way, are why now? and who says?)
I think “what for?” has never been more important. You must answer this question before, during and after people give.
Skepticism about marketing is at an all-time high. You can’t just demonstrate need, you have to show results. If you don’t do it yourself, then GiveWell or Great Nonprofits or Charity Navigator will be doing it anyway. So you have no choice but to share honest information on where the money goes. People give money out of emotion, but that doesn’t mean they don’t care where their dollars go after they give. The number one reason people quit supporting a nonprofit is how they were treated by that nonprofit - as in too many appeals, not enough thanks, and insufficient information on impact of their efforts. People give because it feels good but if nothing seems to happen, it starts feeling bad. This is a problem.
Open up or else. Open up about the difference you make and how you make it. Or else people may start closing their wallets.
- Thu, December 06 2007
- Filed under: Social Media
There is a curious paradox: the more our lifestyle creates separateness, the more we crave connection.
We’re always talking about how technology sets us apart from the world around us - iTunes in our ears, Blackberry (Crackberry) in our hand. But at the same time, we universally tend to use technology to seek connections - in our online communities, our Twittering, our emailing, our Facebooking - it’s all about looking for bonds.
Don’t forget that.
No matter what you do, what you say, or how you use technology it’s not about the tool or the wires or the bells and whistles. It’s about the bonds.
Don’t ask, should we blog? Ask, is blogging a good way to connect with our audience? Don’t ask, do we need a website redesign? Ask, can people find what they need when they come to us? Do they feel closer to us after they’ve come to our site?
My esteemed colleague Jocelyn Harmon of NPower here in DC recently did a presentation on marketing and communications in the connected age. You can check it out here. She reminds us of two things to remember online:
1. Be real. Speak the truth, in your own voice.
2. Flip the funnel. (Katya’s note: That’s Seth Godin’s great term for surrendering your lonely megaphone and antiquated sale funnel and letting a thousand messengers bloom, in their own voices, to their own circles of influence)
In other words, be an authentic messenger and don’t be the only messenger. Be an organization that connects to people on a very human level. And make it possible for people who love your organization to connect to the people they love to share your story. This is what it’s all about.
While online tools seem oh-so-new, what makes them work could not be more ancient or old-school. What’s truly innovative is using the Internet to more quickly and expansively fulfill our unending human need for connection. Paraphrasing Pasternak, what’s powerful is what’s shared.
- Wed, December 05 2007
- Filed under: Nonprofit leadership
This time of year, I spend too much time thinking about money - spending it, giving it, and getting people to donate it. Marketing right now in my mind is all about shopping, donating and fundraising.
But an interesting book called Taking Care of the People Who Matter Most by Sybil Stershic, who was kind enough to give me a copy when I saw her a few weeks ago, reminds me there’s another truly important way to think about marketing other than spending and raising funds. And that is in terms of motivating and supporting our staff. They are the “People Who Matter Most.”
Just as audience-focused approaches work magic in marketing and customer relations, they also do with our employees. In fact, as she writes in Taking Care of the People Who Matter Most, they are all intertwined, with “a direct link between employee satisfaction and customer satisfaction, and between customer satisfaction and improved financial performance.” In other words, if we want money, we need to focus on our staff.
She likes to say, “Explain, Train and Refrain”—explain how people’s jobs fit into the big picture and their role, train them to do great work and refrain from getting in their way.
Here are some marketing principles I think belong inside our office, not just in our outreach:
-Knowing and listening to our audience (not just donors, but the people we work with. We want to listen to what they say because it helps us understand how to motivate them—and to make them and us more effective)
-Being authentic: Not just spouting feel-good HR drivel about the value of employees but really valuing them
-Providing incentives: See Sybil’s thought on that below
-Letting go a knee-jerk need to control our message: Just as we need to give our supporters the freedom to spread the word about us in their own language, we need to give employees the freedom to solve problems and serve customers/donors as they see fit. Look no further than United vs. Southwest or Macy’s vs. Nordstrom for the difference this makes.
So what incentives does Sybil say work but don’t cost money? Research shows there are three:
-Personal recognition for a job well done
-A written thank-you
So don’t just thank your donors this holiday, thank the people around you.