- Thu, June 13 2013
- Filed under:
Next week, the team at Network for Good will be hosting an important webinar for fundraisers—all about nonprofit storytelling. Regular readers of this blog know the best way to get people to remember, relate and react to your cause is through story. Now we’re going to help you get started on your own stories and teach you how to make them better. Nicole Lampe of Resource Media and Mark Rovner of Sea Change Strategies are two champions of storytelling and will be on hand to share their best tips, plenty of examples, and are ready to answer your questions. Here’s the session description:
Compelling stories help people remember and connect with your mission. If we want to change the world for the better and further our good causes, we must embrace the power of storytelling. Wondering how your nonprofit can move people to action through story?
Join our panel discussion to learn how to tell an effective story that gains supporters and raises more money for your organization.
Learn how to craft an amazing story for your cause
Avoid common mistakes when telling your story
Find, create and use compelling images for nonprofit storytelling
The webinar will be on Tuesday June 18 at 1pm EDT. It’s free, with registration required. Even if you can’t make the live session, sign up and you’ll get the slides and recording to view on demand. We look forward to seeing your stories in action!
posted by: Caryn Stein
- Wed, June 12 2013
- Filed under: Fundraising essentials
In a recent commencement speech, novelist Jonathan Safran Foer lamented the risk of isolation in our wired culture. As technology becomes more ingrained in our daily lives, simple actions that have traditionally involved face-to-face communication have been transformed by apps and interfaces. As we’ve become more connected than ever, it’s become easy to avoid true connection.
For nonprofits, it’s ironic that just as we have the ability to reach so many more people in the world, it’s increasingly tempting to opt for generic messages and efficiency. Resist this urge! If we want to inspire action and support for our causes, we must continue to appeal to the emotions of our fellow man. Passion. Hope. Empathy.
So how do you ensure your digital outreach has a heartbeat? Keep these tips in mind:
Tap into emotion by featuring a human face in your communications.
Avoid jargon. Talk like a real person to connect with real people.
Make it clear that your emails, social media channels and website have a living, breathing person behind them.
Stir passion through story. Focus on an individual’s struggle and illustrate how your work has helped.
Don’t neglect the interactive part of online interaction.
There are so many ways to get it wrong, yet as agents for social change, we have the best opportunity to get it right. Use the tools of technology to amplify the heart, soul and emotion of your cause, not avoid it. Your message and mission depend on it.
(Thanks to Allison McGuire for the inspiration for this post.)
posted by: Caryn Stein
Editor’s note: While nonprofitmarketingblog.com will get an updated look in the next few weeks, the team at Network for Good will continue to bring you the latest trends, tips and inspiration. Don’t worry—all of Katya Andresen’s posts will remain online and accessible just as before. Thanks for reading!
This week, Mary Meeker presented the 2013 Internet Trends report during the All Things Digital D11 conference. Meeker’s report is consistently a treasure trove of data, trends and opportunities within the digital world. This type of insight is incredibly useful for nonprofit fundraisers as we navigate how to effectively engage and inspire supporters in a rapidly changing online landscape.
The entire report is worth a look, but here are a few especially important points for nonprofits:
Mobile usage continues to explode.
If you’re wondering whether mobile is important for your cause, consider this: there are now 1.5B smartphone subscribers. Plus, mobile traffic is projected to maintain its current rate of growth if not accelerate. To drive this point home, Meeker also reveals that smartphone users, on average, reach for their devices around 150 times per day. Wow!
Takeaway: It’s critical for your cause to be mobile friendly. Make it easy for constituents and supporters to find, interact and give to you via smartphones.
Rich content is ramping up.
Digital photos, video and audio are becoming easier to create, refine and share. To effectively compete for attention in crowded inboxes, social streams or browsing sessions, stand out with original content that embodies your message.
Takeaway: Incorporate multimedia formats in your online outreach to illustrate your impact, attract new donors and retain existing supporters.
Sharing and connecting diversify.
Social media platforms are still on the rise with sites like Pinterest, Instagram and Tumblr showing significant growth. Though Facebook was the only platform in the report to see a drop in usage from 2011 to 2012, it still sees the lion’s share of usage.
Takeaway: Leverage social media to provide supporters another way to forge relationships with your cause and empower them to share your message with their networks.
We live in an age of unprecedented “findability”.
With such easy access to massive amounts of information online, it’s nearly impossible not to have full transparency—whether that’s coming from your organization or those talking about you.
Takeaway: Understand what is being said about your cause online. What do readers find when they search for you? It is critical to take the lead in being open about your organization to build trust and loyalty.
Other fascinating tidbits include emerging devices and formats that could prove to be powerful tools for nonprofit storytelling, fundraising events and reporting impact.
• Tablets are showing more rapid growth than smartphones; they may also become the predominant type of large-screen computing devices.
• Short-form and temporary content sharing (think Vine and Snapchat) are also seeing rapid adoption rates.
• Wearable technology and other connected devices—such as Google glass, smart watches and activity trackers—are poised to transform how we interact with all of the information available to us online.
You can view the full presentation below or via the KPCB website.
How do think these trends will affect your organization’s fundraising and how you fulfill your unique mission? Chime in with a comment below!—Caryn Stein
- Thu, May 23 2013
- Filed under: Personal
Many, many years ago I ran the 4 X 400 relay on my track team. I was no star, but I loved the race. It’s a long, tough sprint that leaves you completely spent yet strangely exhilarated. The coach used to tell me to leave nothing behind on the track. The trick at the end was to finish with only enough strength to raise an arm and pass the baton.
I started this blog nearly seven years ago. For the first few years, I posted several times a week. Then I got serious on January 1, 2011, when I started posting every single weekday. Go big or go home, I figured. If I was going to blog, I should throw my full self into it and truly sprint. I didn’t miss a day for nearly two and a half years, and that’s when this blog really took off. I think the daily posting forced me to be a more disciplined thinker and writer, and as the quality of my posts grew, so did the community around the blog. It’s been a good lesson to me in the power of concentrated commitment in the face of discomfort (which daily posting can be!).
But now it’s time for me to pass the proverbial baton, for several reasons. First, I am striking out on a new adventure. After eight wonderful years at Network for Good, I’m moving on to take a job as CEO at ePals, an education media company that connects learners around the world. That will be my new sprint. Second, I’m more than a little winded. After nearly 1,500 posts, I’ve said nearly all I could ever imagine saying. And so I am passing the blog baton to the Network for Good team. Network for Good will host the blog and all the archives and add posts content regularly, starting now.
This is the perfect handoff, because Network for Good’s mission is the same as mine has been with this blog: to give you, the amazing person doing good in the world, a little information, insight or inspiration to help you along the way. The Network for Good team will be lucky to have you, and they know it and will serve you well.
I said in my book that writing advice for others is an act both vain and humbling. Vain, because to sit down and write you must believe yourself an expert. Humbling, because in writing you discover there is so much you don’t know. I’m grateful to you for being with me as I learned along the way. Thanks for reading this blog over the years - and for continuing to read it in the future. And even more important, thank you for the incredible work you do, day in and day out, to make a difference for someone or something that matters. The world needs you and your concentrated commitment in the face of discomfort. How fortunate we all are that you chose to be a sprinter for good.
- Thu, May 16 2013
- Filed under: Cause-related marketing
image via the Sparkologist
As I’ve often written on this blog, human beings are inherently empathetic. Our brains are hardwired to relate to other people’s experiences. When we witness or imagine someone acting, our neurons fire the same way they would if we were undertaking the same action. That’s why your heart races when your favorite athlete soars toward the basket or why the sight of a mother struggling to save her child from floodwaters causes you pain.
When we translate this empathy into helping another person, our brains have another reaction: We’re rewarded with happy feelings, thanks to a dopamine dose to our brain’s pleasure center.
That’s powerful stuff for nonprofit marketers.
You can read about how the science of giving relates to nonprofit marketing in Network for Good’s eBooks Homer Simpson for Nonprofits and Lisa Simpson for Nonprofits. And now I’ve translated these same learnings for companies looking to engage their customers through cause marketing programs. This new eGuide – The Brainiac’s Guide to Cause Marketing: How People’s Minds Really Work, and What That Means for Your Next Campaign – shows that if we get how people think, we can get them to do.
While the findings are geared toward a corporate audience, the lessons still apply to those of us who work in nonprofit marketing. Plus this is a great resource to share with your corporate partners. You can demonstrate true value as a partner in helping companies deepen their engagement with customers through cause initiatives with your organization.
The Brainiac’s Guide to Cause Marketing has lots of ideas to do just that.
- Wed, May 15 2013
- Filed under: Marketing essentials
Update: I corrected the links to the webinar, and they should be working now. Some folks had trouble accessing them earlier due to a coding error on my part.
Did you know that you could have fantastic pro bono marketing experts helping your organization? No? Then you should attend the next Network for Good webinar. Here’s the description.
Effective marketing is absolutely critical for organizations to succeed in winning hearts, minds and donations for their cause—yet 68% of nonprofits lack a dedicated marketing role. Does this sound like your organization? We can help.
Join Aaron Hurst, President and Founder of Taproot Foundation, and Meg Garlinghouse, head of Social Impact at LinkedIn, to learn how to harness the power of pro bono resources and professional networking to get top-notch marketing support for your nonprofit.
This free webinar will show you how to master these key skills:
-Learn what pro bono resources are available and the right way to work with them
-Find out how to use Taproot’s “Powered by Pro Bono” tools to find free marketing help
-Discover how to use LinkedIn to recruit professionals with marketing expertise for your board
- Tue, May 14 2013
- Filed under: Nonprofit leadership
Last year, I was talking about the critical importance of getting to the point quickly in meetings - and in messages - and a friend who is in the Navy taught me about BLUF. That’s the acronym they use in the military for Bottom Line Up Front. In a military setting, BLUF communications allow people to grasp the essence of a situation immediately and seek details only as necessary. It’s like a Cliff Notes for every situation.
More recently, a reader wrote me with this nifty list, also from the military. Always describe:
If you’re in a meeting that is focused on getting to the bottom of an important situation, these are great guides. Encourage people to cite their headlines from the start. It not only saves time, it ensures the communicator has a point in the first place.
- Mon, May 13 2013
- Filed under: Writing
I’m excited to announced that today, Characters Magazine is live. Master storyteller Mark Rovner and I founded this literary magazine to feature the writing of people who work for good causes and to inspire better storytelling in our sector. You can read it free online here. Thanks to everyone who submitted - as well as to the amazing editor and designers I highlighted in the following introduction included in the magazine. It was a labor of love to put this together, and I’m especially grateful to Mark for his partnership and creativity—as well as his willingness to take over the full reins going forward. He’s a Character, and so Characters couldn’t be in better hands.
This magazine was born over breakfast one year ago, when I showed Mark the moving short story I’d been reading on the metro that morning. It was a prize winner in the Mississippi Review written by my cousin, Elisabeth Cohen, and it launched an impassioned conversation about why storytelling matters.
The story was called “Irrational Exuberance,” which happens to be an apt term for the creative process. We fall in wild love with an idea, yet when we set it down in words, it becomes a deflated and devalued bit of what we imagined. This is the maddening twin truth of story. It packs such power that every other form of communication is flat and feeble by comparison. And yet, as Flannery O’Connor said it so well, “Most people know what a story is, until they sit down to write one.” A cracking good story could change the world, if only we could write it.
We are hell-bent on trying, along with you. That’s because we spend much of our waking hours working with good causes, and we know that there are thousands of people among us who hold within them extraordinary stories. That includes you. Maybe it’s the story of who you are or what you do or why you came to care for a cause. Maybe it’s an incomplete tale, a slice of everyday experience, that - if told - would transport us out of ourselves and thrust us into your shared space, never to be the same. We don’t know what your story is, but we do know this: You must summon the irrational exuberance to try to set it down. Because it will make a difference in a way that taglines, mission statements or technological bells and whistles cannot. It is a direct conduit to someone else’s heart, because it came from your own.
Because we think this is so important, we decided that morning to create Characters. It’s both a call to tell your story and celebration of good storytelling by people who are seeking to change the world. The first law of story is to show, don’t tell, so we are not telling you how to write a story (as if we could). We are showing you stories that matter. We called it Characters because in these pages are authors - characters trying to do good in the world - along with the characters within their own experience and imagination. It’s a motley, entertaining and inspiring crowd you will most certainly want to meet.
Thank you to everyone who brought together these characters. First and foremost, Elisabeth, who agreed to be its editor. It is only fitting as she was the original character who started this story. Taughnee Stone and Jake Van Ness created the stunning design, and we are grateful for their talents. And last, but most important, thanks to everyone who had the courage to tell their story, in public, in these pages and on the Characters website. You show a cracking good story can be told, and that we can write it.
- Fri, May 10 2013
- Filed under: Personal
I posted this on LinkedIn this week and thought I would share it with you. I was asked to write about what inspires me. I think “inspire” is perhaps not the right word given the tragedy I describe here. It was unspeakable. This is how it has shaped me, ever since. It held the fundamental lesson of life - one I should have known but just didn’t quite get till then.
I used to have a recurring nightmare: I was a passenger on a plane that plunged downward in a sudden death-spin. I would awake from the dream breathless and stare at glow of the bedside clock till I was certain I wasn’t dying. The nightmare repeated with haunting regularity.
Then a crash really happened – but I wasn’t on board.
Vietnam Airlines Flight 815 crashed at Phnom Penh airport on September 3, 1997. I was a correspondent for Reuters in Cambodia at the time, and I covered the story.
It was monsoon season, and the pilot tried to land during heavy rain and low cloud cover. The plane missed the runway, struck a stand of palm trees just beyond the airport and exploded in a rice paddy. Everyone on board – 66 people – was killed except for one child pulled from the wreckage.
There wasn’t much left of the plane except the tail, which stuck up straight in the field like a monument. The rest was shattered into smaller, unrecognizable fragments. An ambulance had slid into the mud at the crash site, its front tire submerged among the electric green of new rice shoots. There was no one left to rush to the hospital. Bodies were scattered, one nearly completely covered by a cloth. All that was visible was a hand, the fingernails neatly trimmed, clean and white like half-moons. I will never forget it.
I have thought of the poor souls on that flight ever since.
As I stood among their remains, something fundamentally shifted. There was sorrow, and there was also solidarity. I would be among the dead someday, and I saw that time would come as sudden and unstoppable and complete as the events of that rainy afternoon. Why bother fearing it in a dream? It would be my reality, just as it was theirs. But that last moment would matter little in the end. The preceding ones deserved the attention. Because every person on that flight would be remembered for how they lived, not how they died. As will we all.
Someone once told me that recurring dreams cease when you’ve finally received the message they are sending. After the horror of the real plane crash, I never again dreamed of an imaginary one. Perhaps I had finally gotten the point of the dream. It was not to wake up and realize I wasn’t dead. It was to wake up to the fact I was very much alive and to do something about that fortune with the unknowable but numbered hours left on the clock.
Steve Jobs said in his exquisite commencement speech:
“Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything - all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure - these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.”
Nothing is more inspiring to me than that thought. The fact of our inevitable end is not a nightmare. It is a wake-up call, as bracing and emboldening as a billion-bugle rendition of reveille. Rise and shine, it blares. Do that big thing in your heart now, right now, this minute, because you are alive and able.
- Thu, May 09 2013
- Filed under: Fundraising essentials
A new Donor Experience guide is out from Crown Philanthropic Solutions. While it is written for community foundations and others providing giving platforms, the useful tips apply to all fundraisers. Here are some of the recommendations.
Online giving should be:
1. Social: Personal connections are essential, so donors must be able to easily share their cause with friends and family. Giving is often a way to bring people together. Says the guide, “Many families rally around charitable giving as the touch point to stay connected as generations grow up. This, in turn, provides a philanthropic home base as family members become separated geographically.”
2. Emotional: The giving experience should make donors feel closely connected to the cause. Says the guide: “The act of giving is an expression of gratitude and a search for meaning, which in turn leads to happiness. In a series of studies at the University of California, people categorized as “grateful” reported feeling 25 percent more happiness and energy—and 20 percent less envy and resentment—than ungrateful people. Americans want to be happy. And they expect their experiences with philanthropy to help get them there.”
3. Easy: Online giving must be intuitive, easy, fun and personally satisfying. “Online technology is evolving from a purely transactional medium to a powerful tool for delivering an enhanced donor experience,” notes the guide. “The winning tools in online philanthropy will be those that create a positive experience for donors—a trusted home for their giving—in a format that is intuitive, visual and as simple to navigate and use as Amazon.com, from a desktop or a mobile device.”
4. Reliable: “Transparency and transactional accuracy are essential, because in the end, charity is about trust.” Donors must trust the system and know their charitable investment dollars are being handled responsibly.
For more tips, you can get the full guide online here.
- Wed, May 08 2013
- Filed under: Social Media
Dan Zarrella is one of my favorite thinkers on social media, because he mines massive amounts of data and bases his recommendations on hard science. This is relatively rare yet needed in the field of social media marketing, and so he’s well worth following.
He recently analyzed 2.7 million tweets and concluded the following that people retweet when they are asked nicely as part of the original tweet. Conclusion? If you have something you want people to spread, ask them - with a pretty please.
- Tue, May 07 2013
- Filed under: Branding
Yesterday, I talked about brand reinvention. Today I want to talk about brand storytelling.
The biggest mistake people make in brand storytelling is they forget the party shaping your brand story is the person experiencing the brand - and not your marketing department. That’s why this cartoon is so apt.
Bad brand storytelling is:
1. Simply stating a vision or mission statement
2. Spewing jargon that describes what you do - rather than why it matters to someone else
3. Not interesting
Good brand storytelling is telling stories that emotionally plunge your audience right in the middle of your cause and stir them with your value to others. It has a heartbeat.
Here’s how it’s done.
- Mon, May 06 2013
- Filed under: Branding
How can people or nonprofits reinvent their brands? What does it take to remake who we are and how we’re perceived?
I’ve been thinking about these questions since having lunch couple of weeks ago with Dorie Clark, a stellar marketing strategist. Clark graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Smith College at age 18 and hasn’t slowed down since. In addition to consulting and teaching, she writes for Forbes and Harvard Business Review and has a new book on personal branding called Reinventing You. (I finished my review copy this weekend and recommend it to those at a crossroads.)
As a branding expert, Clark has many interesting things to say about people and organizations who seek to fundamentally redefine what they stand for in the minds of others. I wanted to share four lessons I’ve learned from her, along with my own thoughts, here.
1. You have to start with the cold, hard truth of where you stand now. If you have a desire to rebrand yourself - or your nonprofit - you have to start with how you’re perceived in the present. Because a brand is not what you wish you were - it’s how other people perceive you right now. There may be a big delta between what you think you’re projecting or dream of being and how other people see you. In fact, there most certainly is. For individuals, Clark has suggests interviews and focus groups on you that shed light on strengths, weaknesses, and your current brand. Nonprofits can glean much by exercising the same kinds of listening skills. While you won’t hear everything you want, you will collect insights and positive qualities that give you a foundation on which to build - and ideas about how you should evolve.
2. Puffed up PR doesn’t reinvent anything. Shortcuts to closing the delta between an existing and desired brand don’t work. A new logo, inauthentic self promotion or trumped-up taglines can’t revolutionize your place in a market. There has to be substance to your efforts, and true reinvention is hard work. As Clark writes in her book, it might mean a person has to get training, make a host of new connections and develop a set of new skills to make change possible. A nonprofit may need a better strategy, a different approach to its donors or a drastic improvement in service. Which brings me to the fact that…
3. Real reinvention starts with showing your value to others. If you really want to rebrand, you have to solve a problem or address a true need of someone else. What you do for others, not what you say, is your real brand. I believe this is the single biggest factor of success for a person in a job or a company in a marketplace. People from Michael Milken to Al Franken have reinvented themselves by making a difference for years through research or public service respectively—as have brands like Harley-Davidson and Apple by focusing on giving people great product experiences. There was more than a change in words - there was a change in actions as well. And not just once but over time.
4. The reinvention story has to make sense - and tell the truth. You can stumble if you can’t create a narrative that helps people understand how a person - or a company - changed direction. People make sharp turns in their lives and so do companies. These shifts can be understood if they make intuitive sense and seem authentic. Clark talks about how people can go from one career to another successfully if they tell a story that builds a mental bridge between the two. The same is true for nonprofits. Provide a rationale for the transition, notes Clark, while showing you remain true to yourself. Then believe in the “new” you so others will as well. I’d add that if you’re rebranding your nonprofit, the same holds true. You need to make sure everyone who works with you believes you’ve become something new - and special - so they are united partners in the process of reintroducing yourself to donors and those you serve.
True reinvention is not easy - but for most people and organizations, it is necessary to do. As C.S. Lewis said, “It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We are like eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad.”
We have to hatch - and hatch again. That means doing the hard and thoughtful work of creation and re-creation - and doing it right. Don’t be afraid to try. Reinvention awaits.
Photo courtesy of BigStockPhoto.
- Fri, May 03 2013
- Filed under: Marketing essentials
I’ve shared this before, but it bears repeating: Your organization should dwell in the intersection of this picture, which is a combination of thinking from Jim Collins’ hedgehog concept and BBMG‘s branding thinking.
If you don’t know which program to pursue or which message to choose, ask yourself: which reflects all three of these factors?
That’s where you focus.
- Thu, May 02 2013
- Filed under: Marketing essentials
I co-presented a session at the Nonprofit Technology Conference, “Creating Habits for Social Good: Use Behavioral Insights to Get Your Audience Hooked on Your Web Experience.” If you missed it, now is your chance to hear it! I’m re-presenting it as a free webinar on May 14.
Here is the description:
The bar is higher. As a cause website, it’s no longer enough to just be informative. You have to engage and delight your users throughout their web experience. By applying insights from social psychology and neuroscience, companies like Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook have created addictive user experiences and you can do the same. See3’s Allan Burstyn will join Network for Good’s Katya Andresen and together, they’ll explore these concepts and how they can be applied to your organization’s online efforts. They’ll cover how your organization can harness the hardwiring of the brain to achieve social good. If you’ve ever been stymied by unresponsive online constituents, this session is for you!