Tue, June 30 2015

No Kitties or Puppies. HELP! (Step Two)

Nancy Schwartz's avatar

Nonprofit Marketing Expert

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Filed under:   Social Fundraising • Social Media •

Review Step One

Okay, your organization is one of many that can’t use kitty or puppy photos to raise money or recruit volunteers. So what can you do to quickly and effectively connect with the emotions of prospects and supporters?

In Step One of this two-part post, I shared my take on why this type of emotional candy works so well to raise money or recruit volunteers. I cited a reliable litmus test for photo impact—would you share it with your own family and friends, and would they “like” or share it?

Step 2: Make emotional connections and compelling content—if not candy—even without the supercute.

If your organization is not an animal rescue or somehow directly related to puppies, kitties, or babies, these alternatives will be far more effective in helping you forge connections and motivate giving. Most important, they are authentic, relevant expressions, rather than manipulative clickbait.

Here are some recommendations, with examples:

For all causes and organizations: Highlight the similarities between your audiences and your organization’s clients, participants, or beneficiaries.

What sweet moments, when the kids at the Shelter get one of the adults to whisk them away into a book. Among many other...

Posted by Findlay Hope House on Wednesday, June 3, 2015
  • Findlay Hope House does a great job of this on its Facebook page time and time again. Consider the post above, showing kids without homes living in Hope House’s transitional housing.

  • Clearly, we never want anyone to be homeless, much less our own family. The cause has the potential to scare off supporters because of their fear that it could happen to them. Stigma!

  • However, by photographing an older resident (like your grandma or mine) reading to a couple of kids, Hope House busts through and connects us with the residents in a positive way. (I remember when my grandma read to me.)

For policy and intermediary organizations: Connect the dots between your work and the people who are the ultimate beneficiaries.

Have you visited the Children's Museum of Findlay yet? BIG NEWS! The Community Foundation just approved a two-year grant totaling $35,000 to fund a museum educator.

Posted by The Findlay-Hancock County Community Foundation on Friday, May 22, 2015

Organizations like yours have it even harder when building relationships and motivating action, be it giving or something else. That’s because your work is indirect.

You’re working on legislation related to a cause or supporting other cause organizations. This makes it challenging for prospects to connect emotionally. It takes your audience time and thought to make the connection between your impact and people, which is always a deterrent.

But there is a great method of speeding that vital connection—make the message for your prospects and supporters. Connect the dots between your organization’s work and impact and your ultimate beneficiaries, even if there are layers in between.

  • The Findlay-Hancock County Community Foundation does a great job of this on its Facebook page, as shown in the post above. Here, the foundation makes it easy to make the connection between its work and the individuals who benefit from its grants for a real “aha!” moment.

  • Get detailed and personal in words and/or photos. The close-up (bottom left) of the little girl focused on drawing is compelling!

  • The details are what sticks (or doesn’t) and make your story memorable and more likely to be shared.

How do you make your organization’s content compelling—beyond kitties, puppies, or babies? Please share your recommendations in the comments!

Review Step One

With refreshing practicality, Nancy Schwartz rolls up her sleeves to help nonprofits develop and implement strategies to build 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.

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Tue, June 23 2015

No Kitties or Puppies. HELP! (Step One)

Nancy Schwartz's avatar

Nonprofit Marketing Expert

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Filed under:   Social Fundraising • Social Media •


View Step Two

Ooh! Aah! Who can resist the cuteness of kitty or puppy photos like this one?

Don’t feel silly for loving them. It’s human nature. In fact, photos like the one on this page are such tasty emotional candy that every bite takes folks one step closer to a donation.

But if your organization can’t rely on kitty, puppy or baby photos most of the time (and that’s most of us), what can you do?

Here are two practical, proven steps:

Step 1: Consider what makes kitty and puppy photos so delicious and so effective for nonprofits.

I’m no psychologist, so I turned to the Interwebs for the answer—and I learned absolutely nothing. That’s right. I couldn’t find any definitive research behind the why.

What I do know is this:

People share photos of their pets. It’s just what we do, the same way we share photos of our kids or gardens.

  • We’ve been sharing these photos for a long time, way before Facebook and Instagram.
  • Our families and friends share the same kind of photos with us.

Even if you don’t have pets or kids, it’s easy to appreciate the cuteness of someone else’s. These images are upbeat and nonthreatening.

Which leads me to this why-didn’t-I-think-of-it litmus test for compelling content from ActionSprout founder and CEO Drew Barnard:

“Before you post anything, ask yourself, ‘Would I share this? Would I want this piece of content associated with my Facebook persona?’ If the answer is no, go back to the well and create or curate something new.”

So, make sure your photos are something you’d share with your family and personal friends. And put this at the top of your “compelling content” checklist!

View Step Two

With refreshing practicality, Nancy Schwartz rolls up her sleeves to help nonprofits develop and implement strategies to build 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.

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Mon, June 01 2015

Social Media Content Is Sitting Right in Front of You

Liz Ragland's avatar

Senior Content and Marketing Associate, Network for Good

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Filed under:   Social Media •

Content for your social media channels is sitting right in front of you. Really! Your website, donor appeals, and newsletters are just waiting to be translated into a Facebook post, tweet, or YouTube video. Repurposing content can take some time, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll start thinking of ideas to feed your social channels in your sleep.

To help get your creative juices flowing, here are some quick tips and content ideas for Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram:


    Quick tips:
  • Think visual. Studies show that posts with images perform much better than posts without.
  • Which posts have done well in the past? Try to repeat what works well but with a fresh twist.
  • Don’t be afraid to be fun. Organizations are made up of people, and your Facebook fans know that. Step outside the box every once in a while and let your personality shine.
    Ideas for posts:
  • Repurpose a success story from an appeal letter.
  • Share stats from your annual report.
  • Share a photo of your volunteers in action.
  • Invite people to join your email list.


    Quick tips:
  • Do some research on hashtags. Does your issue area or local community have a hashtag?
  • Don’t be afraid to retweet. Share content that is relevant to your audience.
  • Follow back. You can’t have a conversation if you aren’t following your followers.
    Ideas for posts:
  • Share opinion pieces from your staff or experts from your issue area.
  • Remind everyone what a $25 donation will accomplish.
  • Post a photo from an past year’s event for #tbt (Throwback Thursday).
  • Live tweet an event, rally, or staff luncheon.


    Quick tips:
  • Even more than on Twitter, hashtags can help you connect with new audiences.
  • Do share candid images. Don’t share stock photos.
  • Try experimenting with videos and picture slideshows.
    Ideas for posts:
  • Share a glimpse into the day-to-day life of staff, clients, and volunteers.
  • Create an image of your mission statement. (We like Canva for projects like this.)
  • Post images of your team prepping for an event.
  • Post pics of the thank you notes your organization sends (or receives).

Get more ideas (101, in fact!) for social media posts by downloading 101 Social Media Posts and watching our archived webinar The Art of Social Media, with social media expert and author Guy Kawasaki.

The Art of Social Media with Guy Kawasaki

And if you aren’t following us on our favorite social channels, what are you waiting for?


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Fri, February 06 2015

Nonprofit Link Round Up

Caryn Stein's avatar

VP, Communications and Content, Network for Good

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Filed under:   Fun stuff • Social Media •

Nonprofit Link Round Up CowboyYou might forget to call your mom, but you’d better not neglect to call your donors. A recent study found that thank-you calls increased subsequent giving and gift amounts. via Nonprofit Times

Social media. Storytelling. Two of our favorite things combined together. It’s better than a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup. (Ok, almost.) Learn 8 ways to become a better storyteller through social media. via Adweek

Still stuck for story material? Vanessa Chase will send you story prompts to get those creatives juices flowing.  via The Storytelling Nonprofit

Do you “own your zone”? Find out why being the go-to resource for your issue is vital. via FeverBee

Are You Addicted to Acquisition?  ‘Fess up…we’re all friends here. via 101 Fundraising

Gail Perry shares 5 Ideas that Make Asking Much Easier and More Successful. via Fundraising Success

Does your online experience work well for your donors over 65? Check out this detailed read on 7 things to know about designing technology for older people. via Smashing

“The work non-profits do is too important to be afraid of failure, and their work is too urgent to honor every sacred cow.” Seth Godin outlines some important lessons from DoSomething.org. via Seth’s Blog

That’s it for this week! What’s your must-read resource? Share it in the comments below!

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Fri, January 30 2015

Why It’s Time to Get Over ‘Slacktivism’

Caryn Stein's avatar

VP, Communications and Content, Network for Good

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Filed under:   Social Media •

Clicks. Likes. Shares.

Cone Communications Digital Activism Study

Image: Cone Communications

It’s easy to write off the small online actions of “slacktivists” as passive behavior that won’t make much of a difference, but digital activists can turn into donors, advocates, and major supporters over time. Late last year, Cone Communications released their Digital Activism Study which reveals insights on digital consumer behavior when it comes to supporting causes online. A few nuggets:

  • 58% of Americans believe sharing information about a cause online is an effective form of advocacy.

  • 52% use social media to discuss issues they care about and believe their online activity makes a meaningful difference.

  • Of those surveyed who made a donation in the last 12 months, more people gave online (27%) than regular mail (23%).

  • Americans are most willing to take online actions that have a direct impact on an issue – such as voting (71%), signing petitions (70%) and learning about changes they can make in their everyday lives (70%).

But do all of these micro-actions really add up to anything meaningful for your cause or do they simply replace more significant contributions?

Change.org founder Ben Rattray recently challenged organizations to look to results before dismissing online activity as slacktivism.

“I think the measure of the effectiveness of online action isn’t whether it’s easy to do, it’s whether it actually accomplishes a specific goal,” Rattray observed.

Cone’s study revealed that 63% of Americans they are more inclined to donate or support a cause in other ways after learning about the issue online. While these initial online gifts may not be large ones, consider that small dollar serial sharers are often able to influence others to contribute a cumulative total that goes well beyond the individual act. This multiplier effect is why peer-to-peer fundraising can be so powerful.

So, how do you make the most of these digital do-gooders?

Open the door.
Embrace and enable these so-called slacktivists by lowering the barrier of entry to participate in your cause. This means making actions easy to understand, easy to do, and easy to afford. Remember: these supporters are not likely to be your high-dollar donors—yet. Offer ubiquitous opportunities to get involved and make it easy by giving your fans prepared tweets, Facebook updates, and email copy to use.

Hoist your billboard.
Cone’s research did find that there can be a gap between intent and action when it comes to supporting causes online. Organizations need to adapt their calls to action to match digital expectations. To do this, make your ask bold, concrete, and compelling. Your messages should clearly underscore a sense of urgency and illustrate the impact a donor can have. You’ll have better luck capitalizing on the desire to help when you script the actions you want people to take.

Clear a path.
Supporters who take a small action are more likely to take additional, larger actions over time—but it’s up to you to clear a path for them to do so. This means organizations should have a plan to build relationships with these digital activist and encourage them to take the next step to more involvement with your cause. Remember: depending on how they came to your organization, these donors, petition signers, or social media warriors may need an additional introduction to your work and why their support matters.

3 Step Action Plan for Digital Activists

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