Sunday, March 30, 2008

"And in the end all that mattered was that I told the truth and made a difference..."

Ahhhhh, to be 21 again! I have been going through old papers and came across this "quote" written (by me) on the back of a napkin. Remember when you were naive enough to have a personal mission statement?
Actually, it's interesting to notice how little my thinking has changed over time. I've been interested in telling stories for long time.
So what is your story? What do you believe in? What are you passionate about? I'd like to know.

Thanks to Technology, Talk is CHEAP!

Thanks to the Internet, there are SO many affordable ways to COMMUNICATE via the Internet, including:

electronic press releases

thing is, you still need to have something to SAY and more than that you need to back up your words with ACTION.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

E-mail Still Rules!

Despite all of the SHINY new tools like blogs, widgets, social networking sites, and YouTUBE now available for marketing to donors, members, clients or customers - this report suggests that e-mail still RULES!

Why? Because it works.


P.S. Saw this first on Froogloop.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

FREE Social Media Event Comin' Up!

Podcamp DC is an “unconference” focused on educating participants on how to use, implement and share any/all new media tools including, podcasts, videocasts, blogs, Second Life, Facebook, and YouTube. The great news is that it's going to be FREE!

Hope to see you there!


Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Outsource or Bust!

I just left an interesting discussion on this report. "Ready to Lead Next Generation Leaders Speak Out" is the culmination of a research project that seeks to understand -

1, how youngish nonprofit leaders feel about becoming EDs
2. why they DO and DO NOT want to take on these INTENSE jobs and
3. what EVERYONE else can do next.

Call me crazy, but who would want a job where they have to be the CEO, COO, CMO, CIO, and CFO all wrapped in one? Not me, that's for sure!

This is not news, but being a nonprofit ED is probably the most difficult jobs in our sector. (Maybe this is why it's mostly women who do it.) EDs are expected to do life changing work in organizations that are MOSTLY SMALL (77% have annual budgets under $1,000,000), MOSTLY POOR, and MOSTLY POORLY RUN. (Sorry if this is turning out to be a terrible rant!) If it weren't for the critical MISSION-work they're doing, I'd suggest that we all just close up shop.

But seriously. Something has to change or NO ONE will want to lead these vital organizations - we fondly call nonprofit. Assuming that foundations are not going to change their funding strategies overnight and assuming that 100 new donors are not going to come knocking at your door any time soon, I suggest we consider the merits of OUTSOURCING.

By outsourcing, I mean off-loading critical, yet burdensome, administrative tasks like IT management, payroll, accounting, membership management, etc. to the experts. My organization - NPower Greater DC Region - is trying to do this for technology, i.e. we are giving nonprofits an affordable, high-quality option for moving IT out-of-house.

I would love to know if/how any of you are using outsourcing as an option to improve efficiencies, control costs, improve quality, and most important STAY SANE Please write me!


What do Buddha and Freud and Marketing Have in Common?

According to Katya Andresen of Network for Good and Mark Rovner of Sea Change Strategies - a lot.

Thanks to Britt Bravo, author of Have Fun. Do Good. for summarizing this workshop on the topic from the Nonprofit Technology Conference last week.

Do I smell a new book in the making????


Monday, March 24, 2008

Still Thinking About Websites...

And this one is REALLY good!

1. It's clean.
2. It's clear.
3. It's easy to navigate.
4. The larger font size makes it easy to read.
5. Use of verbs as header pages shows ACTION.
6. It's easy to tell what I should do next.

Most important, the simplicity of the site, makes me feel as though Changing Congress (what I'm being asked to do) might just be possible.

When redoing, updating, or launching a new website, think about the "story" that you are telling with both content and design.

Peace, Jocelyn

Friday, March 21, 2008

How to Start a New Nonprofit - DON'T

I spoke to a very nice young woman today who has started this new nonprofit. (Thanks Melissa for letting me use you as a "straw man.")

She asked my advice re: best practices (I know, I'm getting sick of that word too!) in starting a new nonprofit. For those of you in a similar boat, here's what I said:

1) Don't start a new nonprofit. (I hate to be harsh, but it's really good advice.) Did you know that there are over 1,000,000 nonprofits in the U.S. today? Unless you have friends in high places or have LOTS of money, you will not be able to compete with all these groups for grants, volunteers, and attention. It's just too hard! Instead, use your PASSION to connect with other organizations that do similar work. In this way, you will:

- gain experience in your chosen cause
- build your network
- build more credibility with funders
- still be able to pay the rent!

2) Find the orgs in your area or if you do business in cyberspace (online) who do similar work and contact them. Ask to have a brief conversation (I recommend 20 minutes max) to pick their brains and learn more about their organizations. People LOVE to give advice. If you make it about them, they will generally make time for you.

3) Join a social network which targets the audience you want to serve or the folks who serve your audience. Again, your goal is to begin to understand the "market" you want to play in and to build relationships with the folks already in your space.

4) Read The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing by Al Ries & Jack Trout. Launching a new org (for- or nonprofit) is ALL about marketing. And this is the best/easy read to get you started.

5) Once you have done ALL of the above - write a 1-pager about your product or service which answers the following questions.

What do you do? (This is your mission.)

How do you do it? (This is your programs.)

Why is your work/product/service important? (FYI, it's not important because you say it is. you'll have to find data/stories/illustrations/case studies to make your case.)

Now, data aside, and this will be the most difficult question to answer...

Why should anyone else care? (How will you convince donors to give to your cause over giving to the myriad other causes out there? How will you convince your target audiences to pay to work with you?)

Got other ideas for starts up/entrepreneurs?


Monday, March 17, 2008

A NEW NPower Website is on it's Way | Part 2

I mentioned a few weeks back that NPower is getting a new website. My goal is to chronicle our adventure in the hope that I will share some tidbits along the way. This post is the second entry in this saga.

You won't be surprised to learn that we've gotten a little stuck in our conversations.

Creating a website - especially a site that will be shared among 12 different organizations - is not easy. Like many other groups, we've gotten lost in discussions about how to organize the site map and whether or not to create unique landing pages for the affiliates. Blah, blah, blah...

The thing is we're missing the point.

Yes, it's true that we should make it easy for folks to find what they need.
Yes, the site should be pretty enough not to scare folks away.

But, much more important is how we TALK with our audiences and what we SAY.

Don't let your website design and development get hijacked by conversations about functionality. Instead, spend much more time talking about TALKING. To your donors, employees, to your clients and customers.

A good website is like a great conversation with someone you care a lot about. It doesn't matter where you have it, when you have it, or even how long it lasts. What matters is that you get to CONNECT with others, share, listen, and learn.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Show Me the Money!

Had a GREAT time talking with a FUN group of fundraisers in this workshop yesterday. For those of you who attended, thanks for your enthusisam. E-mail me with any questions!



Wednesday, March 5, 2008

1,000 True Donors

This GREAT post by Kevin Kelly, author of The Technium blog, landed in my e-mail because I subscribe to Seth Godin's blog. You should read the WHOLE thing, but in case you're short of time - here's the gist.

The LONG TAIL has created a situation where even the smallest artist (read nonprofit) can gain access to fans (donors) cheaply and efficiently. Why? Because inexpensive technologies, like blogs, websites, social networking platforms, online video, podcasts, and e-mail, enables artists (nonprofits) to market (fundraise) for little or no monetary cost.

In other words, if you are a poor and/or new artist (charity) you don't have to wait to get a record deal (big foundation grant) in order to succeed. And you don't have to land on American Idol (get covered in the Times) to become a success. You can simply get online via a blog, Facebook page, YouTube video and slowly but surely find Your True FANS (DONORS).

I like Kelly's thesis so much because, aside from saving us all money, finding and nurturing relationships with a SMALLER number of folks is a much more rewarding way to work. Instead of treating prospective donors as anonymous checkbooks, it gives you the opportunity to have CONVERSATIONS with supporters and develop REAL connections.

That said, "micro-marketing" may not work for all charities. Maybe your advocacy strategy requires a mass market approach, i.e. 1 million signatures to get a bill passed. However, for most of us finding and nurturing 1,000 true donors is probably the best strategy. Try it. What have you got to lose?

Monday, March 3, 2008

How to Market like Barack

"I'M ASKING YOU TO BELIEVE." Not just in my ability to bring about real change...I'm asking you to believe in yours."

Barack Obama

Politics aside, I'm REALLY impressed by the marketing savvy of the Obama campaign. First of all, what a great message! The entire campaign is premised on the assumption that I/WE/ALL OF US are at the center of CHANGE. The campaign is not about Barak, he's just the vehicle. WE are the people in POWER. Second, the Obama campaign is using TECHNOLOGY to reinforce the Obama brand which stands (at least on paper) for service, diversity, inclusivity, collective power and strength. By using the Internet to exponentially expand the reach of the campaign they are saying in effect, this is about more than the top 1 % of donors, i.e. the political elite, this campaign is about all of us on end of THE LONG TAIL.

Want to be a better marketer? Here are some tools and rules from Barack.

1. Put me front and center. As narcissistic as this IS, put me in the center of your cause. What can I do to help? Why should I bother? What's in it for me? Make me feel special and important and powerful. Realize that you are just the vehicle for my self expression. I'm the one in charge.

Tool: Humility.

2. Inspire me. Make me feel like I'm part of something big and exciting and positive. I don't want to help you raise money for your operating fund. I want to help you send more poor kids to college, eradicate extreme poverty, build homes for families, or put a man on the moon!

Tool: Passion. Clear, concise, consistent messaging and IMAGES.

2. Ask me to help. Be direct. Tell me what you need me to do and then ask me to do it (and a little more). I don't care about all of your statistics. I'm busy. I want to help but I don't want to have too work to hard.

Tool: "Donate Now" button.

3. Invite me to the party. I may or may not decide to come but give me the option of connecting with other folks who share my passion. This makes me feel like I'm part of something bigger, instead of just another name of your mailing list. And who knows, once I'm engaged you may get me to do even more for OUR cause.

Tool: E-mail, List serv, forum, social networking platform.

4. Keep me informed. While no charity is likely to get as much PR as Barack (except in a disaster), don't make this an excuse to neglect me. Thank me for my support, let me know how WE'RE doing. Have we met our goal? Have we made a difference? Have we changed the world yet?

Tools: E-mail, RSS feed, website, blog

5. Listen to me. Here's the thing, I'm busy. This means that if I make the time to e-mail or write to you there's something important on my mind. Listen and respond authentically. Make me feel heard.

Tools: Therapy.

6. Encourage me to do more. Ask me to invite my friends to join OUR cause. If you treat me right I just might invite them along and then we'll raise even more money and have an even better time!