Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Have a Safe and Happy Holiday

Experience Mobile Mobile from James Théophane Jnr on Vimeo.

I wish you all a wonderful, safe and happy holiday.  Here is a beautiful mobile tune for you.

Warmest regards,

P.S.  I found this video by reading Katrin Verclas' MobileActive blog.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

New FREE e-Book for U

This photo is by David Reece.

Seth Godin has a new, FREE e-book out called What Matters Now.  It's a compilation of big thoughts by big thinkers.  It's inspiring.  You can download it here. 

I resonate with the excerpt below, called Change, by Chip and Dan Heath, co-authors of Made to Stick. 
"A troubled teenager named Bobby was sent to see his high-school counselor, John Murphy. Bobby had been in trouble so many times that he was in danger of being shipped off to a special facility for kids with behavioral problems. Most counselors would have discussed Bobby’s problems with him, but Murphy didn’t.

MURPHY: Bobby, are there classes where you don’t get in trouble?
BOBBY: I don’t get in trouble much in Ms. Smith’s class.
MURPHY: What’s different about Ms. Smith’s class?

Soon Murphy had some concrete answers:

1. Ms. Smith greeted him at the door.
2. She checked to make sure he understood his assignments.
3. She gave him easier work to complete. (His other teachers did none of the three.)

Now Murphy had a roadmap for change. He advised Bobby’s other teachers to try these three techniques. And suddenly, Bobby started behaving better.

We’re wired to focus on what’s not working. But Murphy asked, “What IS working, today, and how can we do more of it?”

You’re probably trying to change things at home or at work. Stop agonizing about what’s not working. Instead, ask yourself, “What’s working well, right now, and how can I do more of it?”
I don't know about you but I'm a perfectionist (this is a bad thing). I'm obsessed with making my life and the lives of others just a little bit better, faster. This often leads to feelings of guilt (since I'm not perfect) and depression (when I fail). What a crappy way to live. Why not then shift my paradigm (and yours)? Why not focus on what is working and do more of that in 2010. Revolutionary.


P.S. I found out about What Matters Now by reading Katya Andresen's Nonprofit Marketing Blog.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

ShareThis Study Says Email Rules

You're on a website or reading a blog post and you think, "Gee my girlfriend would really love to read this too."  What do you do?  Naturally, these days you share the info via the friendly little button at the bottom of almost every online article, called ShareThis.  But how do you pass the news item along?  Do you send it via instant messenger, email, Facebook, Twitter or Digg, etc.? 

A new study by ShareThis shows that

"Email remains the tool of choice for [sharing content online], accounting for 46% of content-sharing activity compared to 33% for Facebook, 14.5% via other channels and just 6% for Twitter. People who receive links through ShareThis also tend to spend time with the content, at an average 2.95 page views per click, followed by Facebook (2.76), with Twitter trailing at 1.66."
Aha!  I knew it.  While social media is all the rage, email still reigns when it comes to sharing info with others. What this means for you.  Don't neglect email marketing.  Make it a core staple of your online communications diet.  Why?  People read (and share) email. 


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Is Your Nonprofit Hitting the "She Spot?"

New post by moi on re: why you should be marketing to women and how to do it.  You should check it out!  You should also read the book by Lisa Witter and Lisa Chen.


Friday, December 4, 2009

Calling All DC Nonprofits - Apply for 10K Social Media Grant Today!

This pic is from Matt Hamm's photo stream on Flickr.

Fenton Communications is now accepting applications for a $10,000 social media grant from Washington, DC-based nonprofits.

Trying to determine what Twitter, Facebook and blogging means to you? Apply today!

The winning applicant will receive the following:

1. Social Media Audit - Fenton will survey the organization's current social media efforts and analyze how they stack up against industry benchmarks.

2. Social Media Monitoring - Using monitoring tools and research, Fenton will tell the organization the state of the online conversation about their organization, campaign or issue.

3. Strategic Recommendations - Based on the results of the audit and monitoring report, Fenton will provide five strategic recommendations to help the organization integrate social media into their communications and marketing efforts.

To enter the organization must be a Washington, DC area nonprofit organization interested in expanding their mission or campaign through social media. Deadline is December 18th.

Good luck!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Free TeleConference on Year-End Fundraising for you!

The holiday season is in full swing and that means that year-end giving is here as well. I hope you're ready to receive a boatload of donations but in case you need that extra push to propel your fundraising program into high gear, check out this teleseminar, sponsored by my new org - Care2.


The Procastinator's Guide to Year-End Fundraising TeleConference December 3rd

Join Alia McKee and Mark Rovner from Sea Change Strategies, as well as Kathryn Powers of Conservation International, and moderator Eric Rardin of Care2 on December 3rd at 2PM EST for a great discussion on 11 critical action steps for mobilizing your donors and raising money.

Participants will learn the most successful fundraising strategies including:

  • How to create compelling fundraising campaigns that motivate web visitors to make a donation on your website.
  • Which easy fixes you can make to your donation page, so that donors complete the donation process.
  • How to communicate with donors before, during, and after they donate money online to your nonprofit and build long lasting relationships.

The Procastinator's Guide to Year-End Fundraising Presented by Care2 and Network for Good

When: Thursday, December 3, 2009 at 2PM Eastern Time.

There are a limited number of teleconference lines, so please take a moment to sign up now. It's FREE!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Do You Think We'll Ever Come Up First In Google Search?

If a tree falls in the woods and no one hears it, does it make a sound?

If a donor searches Google and your organization doesn't appear in the results, does that mean that your nonprofit doesn't exist?

I don't mean to get all existential on you but in this day and age when 88% of online adults use a search engine to find information, it's a reasonable question.

"OK," you say. "I get it."

"But how do I ensure that my organization magically appears on page 1 or 2 of Google results when someone types in "melting ozone layer," "human rights"or "health care reform?""

Good question.

Unfortunately, there's no easy answer. Blogging will help improve your organic search engine ranking as will sticking to a regular schedule for updating your website. However, you may also want to try advertising on Google.

Luckily, NTEN (Nonprofit Technology Network) will be your guide to the prickly Google Ad Words forest. Check out these upcoming webinars:


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

No More Bull

Commentary On Trust With Larry Checco

Check out this new NPR podcast featuring my frolleauge Larry Checco, Principal, Checco Communications.

Larry reminds us that great brands are not built on bull#$&!. On the contrary, great organizations are build on transparency, accountability and responsibility.

Can your donors, members, advocates and employees trust your organization? Do you live by your word? Do you apologize and take responsibility for your mistakes?

Take heed. It's VERY hard to earn back trust. Better to be clear, honest and open in all your dealings with all your stakeholders all the time.



Monday, November 9, 2009

What Blogging Can Do For You

I love blogging.

I love having a voice on the issues I care about.

I love being part of a community of people with similar ideas and passions.

I love when people respond to my words and ideas.

I also love the fact that blogging has helped me to land my last two jobs and build my professional profile. How? People find me through Search.

If you are still debating the who, what, when and why of blogging for yourself or your organization, check out this paper from Compendium Blogware.

There are lots of reasons to blog, one is to help ensure that people can find you when they're looking for you online. In this paper, Chris Baggott outlines how blogging helps you master this very important marketing skill.
"The key to success in marketing today and marketing in the future is that you need to be found on the search engines." In fact, 44% of all web interactions begin with search. And while billions are spent on Pay Per Click (PPC) and other ad-centric strategies, nearly all of the clicks on search results come from an organic area...It doesn't take much to come to the conclusion that the strongest acquisition strategy in a marketer's arsenal is high rankings in organic search." - Chris Baggott
If all of this is Greek to you. Let me break it down.

Click on the screen shot above. I googled "marketing for nonprofits" and this is what I found.

1. The links in white on the left hand side of the page are "organic search results." These are the links that Google considers most relevant for this keyword search. Google is telling you - "go to these sites, they have information you want."

2. The links in yellow above and on the right hand side of the page are "paid results," i.e. someone has paid money to have their advertisement shown for this keyword. Google is telling you - "go to these sites, these businesses say that they have the information you want."

Get the difference? Good.

Here's the rub, according to Marketing Sherpa Search Benchmark Study, "to say that 99% of people click on organic search results would be an understatement." In other words, organic search is where it's at.

From writing titles for your posts to using keywords judiciously, Baggott's got some great ideas and data on how blogging can help you get found in Search.

I hope you'll check this paper out!



Note: I'm not endorsing Compendium's software.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Are Online Communities Just As Segregated As Offline Communities?

I would like to be remembered as a person who wanted to be free... so other people would be also free. Rosa Parks

Check out this interesting piece on NPR's All Things Considered called, Facebook, MySpace Divide Along Social Lines. The interviewer speaks to several young people in San Francisco about how they view social networking sites.

"No one uses MySpace," says 17-year-old Halie Pacheco, a student at The Urban School [an elite school in San Francisco]. She likes Facebook. "It's safer and more high class," she explains.

Sixteen-year-old Nico Kurt lays out his view of the MySpace users this way: "It [MySpace] seems trashy to me. The only people who use it are trashy people."

"I have friends who are white. ... They are mostly on Facebook. That's why I use Facebook. My brown people are on MySpace."

Call me naive but was disturbed by the veiled racism and classicism in the first two comments. More important, I was disturbed by the warning that online communities are just as segregated as offline communities.

According to danah boyd, a researcher for Microsoft, "Young people — and for the most part adults as well — don't really interact online with strangers," she says. "They talk to people they already know. You have environments in which people are divided by race, divided by class, divided by lifestyle. When they go online they are going to interact in the same way."

Segregation anywhere is distressing. But it's particularly distressing online because it invalidates a central promise of the Connected Age.

New technologies finally enable us to build tribes across time and space. This promise can help us to break down the barriers that bind us and build new communities across culture, religion, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation and gender.

What's your experience online? Does your online posse look just like your offline community? Or are you stretching yourself to reach for people who are not like you? And conversely, are you sharing your own unique experiences with lots of different people? Finally, if you are meeting people across lines of race, class and gender how do you do it?


Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The Fine (Yet Simple) Art of Saying "Thank You"

Here is my November column in Fundraising Success. Enjoy!

BTW, thank you, dear reader for being here and reading my blog. :)

It's a familiar scene. I'm in line at the grocery store. A young girl and her mother are ahead of me. The girl is poking at the food items on the conveyor belt, running her hand up and down the gray metal. In an effort to distract her, the clerk compliments the young girl on her dress. Embarrassed and surprised by the clerk's attention, the young girl slips behind her mother. Almost as if by rote, the mother pipes up in a syrupy-sweet voice. She asks, "What do you say?" The girl, now hiding from the clerk's view, peeks out from behind her mother's leg and whispers, "Thank you."

Thank you — two simple, familiar and important words that have been etched
into us since birth. As fundraisers, we all know that saying them is a core part
of any successful program. But not all thank-yous are created equal. Here are
some suggestions for making yours 
stand out. Continue reading...


Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Are You Sure There is Demand for What You Do?

I had a fun call today with a woman starting her own business. She wanted my advice on how to find customers. In order to understand her business, I asked my usual questions.
  • What do you do?

  • How do you do it?

  • Who is the audience for your service?

  • What makes it unique?
But my next question made her stand up and take note.
  • Have you validated that there is demand for what you do? In other words, have you determined that there are people who want to buy your stuff?

Now, not all services and products fill a pre-existing need. It is possible to create demand. For example, I didn't know I needed a Netbook until I saw the adorable one sitting on my boss's desk. :) I also didn't know I needed Linkedin until all of my contacts somehow landed in their database. But creating demand is hard to do, especially with little to no marketing budget. It's much easier to fill a pre-existing need or - as it were - address a point of pain.

Too many entrepreneurs become enamored of an idea for its own sake and forget to validate that there is indeed a market for what they sell. This holds true for nonprofits too but it takes a slightly different form. In our case, determining that there is demand for our programs means finding funders who are willing to subsidize our work.

Running a small business is hard. Running a nonprofit is harder. You have to create great programs and services. More important, you have to find someone who wants to BUY them. Before diving into a new endeavor, be sure to determine if there is an overlap between your passion and someone's wallet.



Saturday, October 24, 2009

Where's the Party At?

We're launching a new website at my company in a few months. If you're curious you can read this article. We've done the usual - hired a design firm to help us build and optimize the site. We're also working on new messaging, branding and positioning for our services. Here's the rub. We don't and won't ever have the marketing dollars necessary to get lots and lots of people hang out on our site. And, even if we did have a Procter and Gamble-sized budget, people don't hang out on corporate websites. It's not where the party's at.

Think about it. When was the last time you pulled up a specific organizational or corporate website? Did you go directly to to book a plane ticket? Did you go directly to to buy a new pair of shoes? And what about nonprofits? When was the last time you went directly to the home page of your favorite charity?

If you're like most people before you visit specific websites, you visit search engines like Google, Live or Bing to gather information. Or you visit "site aggregators" like Expedia or Wikipedia to get an overview of lots of different brands and collect information. From there you drill down to visit specific sites.

And, there's probably one additional way that you get the 411. You use social networking sites, like Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin to shop, research, connect and learn.

Don't believe me? Check it out. According to, these are the top 13 sites on the Internet. Note: Your website is not on this list. :)
  1. Google
    Enables users to search the Web, Usenet, and images. Features include PageRank, caching and translation of results, and an option to find similar pages. The company's focus is developing search technology.

  2. Facebook
    A social utility that connects people, to keep up with friends, upload photos, share links and videos.

  3. Yahoo!
    Personalized content and search options. Chatrooms, free e-mail, clubs, and pager.

  4. YouTube
    YouTube is a way to get your videos to the people who matter to you. Upload, tag and share your videos worldwide!

  5. Windows Live
    Search engine from Microsoft.

  6. Wikipedia
    An online collaborative encyclopedia.

    Free, automated weblog publishing tool that sends updates to a site via FTP.

  8. Microsoft Network (MSN)
    Dialup access and content provider.

    The leading Chinese language search engine, provides "simple and reliable" search experience, strong in Chinese language and multi-media content including MP3 music and movies, the first to offer WAP and PDA-based mobile search in China.

  10. Yahoo!カテゴリ

  11. Myspace
    Social Networking Site.

  12. Google India
    Indian version of this popular search engine. Search the whole web or only webpages from India. Interfaces offered in English, Hindi, Bengali, Telugu, Marathi and Tamil.

  13. Twitter
    Social networking and microblogging service utilising instant messaging, SMS or a web interface.

These are the sites where consumers, i.e. your current and prospective donors, members, advocates hang out. This is where the party's at. What this means for you. Find a way to hang out there too!

Now, this is a list of the most trafficked sites on the Web. And while it does give you a good overview of where you need to be, you should also determine which sites are the best hot spots for your unique audiences. You can do this via a survey of your members or via a social networking data append.

Before I go...I'm not saying that you shouldn't have a corporate website. (Although, many social networking utilities and site aggregators are enabling charities to use their websites as micro sites for their organizations.) You still need a home base on the Web to do business, i.e. collect information about your supporters and raise money. But it is also imperative that you develop and employ strategies to connect with your audiences where they already live online.


Sunday, October 18, 2009

Are We Still Bowling Alone?

This photo is by MLHS.

Do average citizens really have the power to change the world? Can online technologies fuel real community?

These are two questions The Case Foundation is trying to answer with its second America’s Giving Challenge. The Challenge - a month-long contest to encourage as many people as possible to donate and spread the word about the issues that matter to them the most - is also a test of what happens when people come together online.

There are supporters and critics.

“Online organizing is the way of the future. It has the power to help us achieve unprecedented advances by enabling us to organize people and resources across space and time.”
“Online activism is slacktivism. Signing an online petition or making an online donation doesn’t really connect you to a cause. It’s face-to-face organizing that is essential to making lasting change.”

What would Robert Putnam say?

Ten years ago in his seminal book, Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community, Putnam noted,

“Our stock of social capital – the very fabric of our connections with each other, has plummeted, impoverishing our lives and communities.” He also warned that, “We were becoming increasingly disconnected from family, friends, neighbors, and our democratic structures.”
But this was pre- Facebook, MySpace and Twitter. Now look at us.

Obama for America raised $30 million online. And while the money raised online dwarfed the money raised from old-school tactics, it did help elect the first African-American President.

And in early 2009, 10,000 strangers in 202 cities participated in Twestival – a Twitter festival. The result? More than $250,000 raised in one day for charity: water, a nonprofit devoted to bringing safe drinking water to people in developing nations.

Like it or not, we are now witness to an explosion in online communities and technologies to share, connect and annoy. This online organizing raises interesting questions. Will online communities help to rebuild our faith and trust in each other? Better yet, will online communities help us to build the social and financial capital we need to change the world.

It's true, there may never be a better substitute for in-person organizing. Face-to-face meetings fulfill a basic human need for connection and will always be central to helping us come together to learn about and care for one other. But newer online tools may be just the complement we need to rebuild and galvanize our American spirit of advocacy, volunteerism and giving.

What do you think? Are we still bowling alone? Or, are new online communities and tools helping to create powerful new connections that can help us change the face of the human race?



Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Wall Street Journal Says Email No Longer Rules. I Disagree.

Monday's edition of The Wall Street Journal had an interesting article called "Why Email No Longer Rules." While it's an interesting overview of how tools like Twitter and Facebook are changing the landscape of 21st century communications, I disagree with their assertion that email is losing it's importance as a communications channel. On the contrary, especially when it comes to fundraising, email is increasing in importance.

Here's why. People read email!

According to the Pew Internet and American Life Project, "sending or reading email" (42%) and "using a search engine" (38%) are the top 2 activities that online adults engage in EVERY DAY! And those percentages have only increased overtime. In comparison, only 15% of online adults use a social networking site every day.

More important is the fact that most online giving is driven by email and donations to organizational websites, not by fundraising via social networking sites like Facebook or Twitter. Specifically, Blackbaud estimates that $15 billion was given online in 2008.
"Online giving has continued to grow year-over-year even during the recession. Blackbaud analyzed the Giving USA data, along with other important metrics, and estimates that more than $15.42 billion was given online to US charities in 2008. This is a 44% increase over 2007's online giving estimates. Online giving accounted for just over 5% of total giving to charities in the US during 2008 and has been growing for many years now." - Steve MacClaughlin, Director, Internet Solutions
In addition, we know from the 2008 DonorCentric Internet Giving Benchmark Analysis by Target Analytics that email communication lifts direct mail response rates. Again, this is a quote from Blackbaud.
"Offline donors who have an email address on file, and who have no record of giving online, give far more per year and retain and reactivate at higher rates than those who do not have an email address on file. Providing an email address may indicate greater affinity towards an organization. In addition, donors who have email addresses on file may tend to be those who have had more opportunities to provide it to the organization, and who would therefore be those with greater giving loyalty or who receive more frequent communication from the organization."
Now, I can already here the naysayers. "Yes, but I"m overloaded with email. Many days I delete half of the emails in my inbox."

Well, that's true and it highlights the challenge for all of us. We must start sending compelling emails to the right donors at the right time, right now!

Here's how:

1. Build and clean your online list. Ask for email addresses at every turn. Collect them via direct mail, events and on the phone. Looking for a big lift in your online subscribers? Do an email append.

2. Buy a subscription to an Email Services Provider. Be sure to contract with a provider that has a solid reputation for getting your email into the inbox. Idealware has done a good overview of email vendors that work specifically with nonprofits.

3. Improve your copy writing skills and learn to write for the Web. Copyblogger is well-respected blog that offers great copy writing tips for online marketing. Subscribe today!

4. Create an editorial calendar and stick to it! Map out the key events in the life cycle of your cause and use these dates to direct your online and offline campaigns. But also be willing to let current events drive your appeals.

5. Learn from the best. There are many nonprofits, including Conservation International, Care, The Carter Center, Defenders of Wildlife and Sierra Club that run first rate email marketing programs. Study their appeals and emulate as you see fit.

Email marketing is a tough road to hoe but if you're goal is to raise money online you have to master this channel.


Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Raise Money for Your Favorite Cause You May Win $50,000

The Case Foundation, Causes and Parade launched America's Giving Challenge today!

This is a great contest especially for small nonprofits and I urge you to participate.

How it works:

1. Enter a cause or start a new cause.
2. Reach out to your friends, family members and colleagues.
3. Encourage them to donate. (Don't forget to make your own donation first!)

What you get:

The cause that receives the most unique daily donations in 30 days (October 7 - November 6) will win $50,000. The 2nd runner-up will receive $25,000. And $10,000 will be given to the charities that place 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th.

In addition, daily awards of $1,000 will be given to the cause that receives the most unique donations each day of the Challenge.

Here is what I LOVE about America's Giving Challenge.
  • Any person or organization can participate.
  • It levels the playing field for smaller charities because awards are based on donation volume vs. money raised.
  • It's really easy to see where you stand at any minute. Check out their cool leader board.
  • It's a great way for you to dip your toe into social networking and peer-to-peer fundraising to see if it works for you.
  • Matt Damon is their national spokesperson. :)
Questions? Learn more here and then go forth and fundraise!


FREE Chat on How to Market via Facebook

So you've done the research and you know that a majority of the your target audience is on Facebook. You've also done an audit of staff time and you know that engaging with folks on Facebook is the best and highest use of your time. Now you just need to know how to do it.

It's your lucky day!

The Chronicle of Philanthropy is hosting a live chat next Tuesday, October 13 at 12:00 on How to Use Facebook Causes with Sarah Koch, nonprofit coordinator at Facebook Causes.

Ask a question here!

"Facebook Causes, a tool created to let people develop their own charitable projects and campaigns on the popular social networking site Facebook, has become a useful tool for many nonprofit groups that want to raise money and reach out to potential supporters, especially young people, online. But fund raising isn't the only reason to use Causes. How might the tool be used to simply attract people to a nonprofit organization's Web site where they can find out how to volunteer, donate, or just learn more about a charity? How should nonprofit leaders use Causes to talk about their charity's mission? How does one get started using the Causes tool? What's the difference between a cause and a nonprofit profile?"


Friday, October 2, 2009

FREE Fall Fundraising Success Guide for You!

My friends at Network for Good have created a new guide to help you glide through year-end fundraising called 25 Steps to Fall & Holiday Fundraising Success.  You can download your FREE copy by signing up here.

I particularly like their suggestions in Step 10 for building your online list.  However, I would add another tactic - email append

An email append is the process of using a 3rd-party vendor (like my company) to add email addresses to your offline donor or member list.  Here's how it works.

1. You send us your donor file.
2. We match your postal file against our database.
3. When we find a match, we add the email address to your file.
4. We send your branded email from our servers and invite your constituents to engage with you online.
5. We flag the folks who opt-out.
6. We send the enhanced file back to you.

The entire process takes 2 - 3 weeks.

While email addresses gathered organically usually perform better than appended email addresses, the low cost of email appending is a great way to jumpstart your list.  And email is one of THE most cost-effective way to stay in touch with your donors all year long.

Want more information?  Contact me at


Thursday, October 1, 2009

Apply Today to Think With Seth Godin

Seth Godin is offering his time and talent to 40 nonprofit marketers, fundraisers and "change agents" for FREE on Oct 22 in NYC
"The goal is to help you think through ways you can use new marketing, storytelling, fundraising, permission, social media and more. It really is free, and nothing is going to be sold or pitched. The goal is simple: To help your organization to be more successful."
Don't know Seth Godin?  You should.  He's a great thinker on all things marketing. (He's written over 10 books on the subject.) And he writes a hugely popular and highly respected blog. 

Need help thinking about your fundraising strategy or how to build a real, live, viable community of people who care about your cause?  Act now!  Deadline to apply is Oct. 5.


Philanthropic Throw Down for Public Schools

The 2009 Donor's Choose Social Media Challenge officially starts today! is an online charity that makes it easy for anyone to help students in need.

If you care about public schools and have friends and family members who care about public schools too, consider creating a giving page.

This campaign is an excellent example of:

1. Connecting with influencers (like bloggers and Twitterers) to ask them to leverage their networks to raise money for you.  According to the DonorsChoose website, "last October, over 150 bloggers devoted their time (and various methods of persuasion) to help inspire their readers to give over $270,000 in classroom projects via the Blogger Challenge, reaching over 65,000 public school students in need of essential learning materials."

2. Using technology to encourage peer to peer fundraising.  Also called distributed marketing/fundraising, peer to peer fundraising can be powerful. 

Thinking about empowering your supporters to support you?  Check out these tools you can use!


P.S.  I first learned about the 2009 Donor's Choose Social Media Challenge on Amy Sample Ward's Version of NPTech.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009


Focus. It's a word that's coming up a lot for me lately - at work, at home, at church. Most days I have more on my plate than can possibly be accomplished in 16 hours of awake time so I do my best to "concentrate my attention or energy on something." The challenge for me is - focus on WHAT?!

Organizations, like people, hate to focus. It means putting a stake in the ground, standing for something and being accountable. It means leaving other stuff out. But there is great power in focus, i.e. determining what you do best and pursuing that goal/objective/task relentlessly.

Last week, I was privileged to attend a 4-day sales training for my company. There was a lot of talk about customer-focus, creating "win-win" solutions and utilizing research to build accounts. Still, I think what impressed me most was the emphasis on the need for discipline and focus in all world-class organizations.

I hope you work for or have the chance to build a world-class organization one day. Our time on this earth is too short to run willy nilly from one task to the next - chasing our tails and constantly putting out fires. Making real, lasting change requires stepping back to "assess the next" and put it to paper. Making real, lasting change also means making hard choices and forgoing certain options.

The next time you're sitting at your desk deciding what to do next. I hope you'll take a moment to stop, breathe and remember what you care about and why you’re here. Then do the next right thing that will lead you to your goal.


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Vote Today on the Best Nonprofit Tagline!

My frolleague, Nancy Schwartz, author of Getting Attention - a great blog about all things marketing for nonprofits - is running the 2009 Getting Attention Nonprofit Tagline Awards.

She wants you to vote today on the best nonprofit tagline.

Here's why I voted and you should too.
  • Get a sense of the way your peers describe their organizations.

  • Get a sense of what does and doesn't work in nonprofit communications.

  • Get your creative juices flowing. (Is your own tagline working for you?)

  • Get a FREE copy of the 2009 Nonprofit Tagline Report.
The 60 tagline finalists have been culled from over 1,700 entries in 13 categories, including grantmaking.

Polls close midnight, Wednesday, September 30th.

Happy voting!


Don't Write Crappy Content!

Check out my column in Fundraising Success this month.

Remember "Green Eggs and Ham," the famous children's book by Dr. Seuss? Sam wants X to try his new breakfast. When X refuses, Sam keeps trying to serve it up in exciting new ways — on a boat, on a plane, in a house, on a train — until finally X tries it and thanks Sam for his persistence.

We have a similar content strategy for nonprofit marketing. The only difference is no one is thanking us for repurposing bad content.


Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Most PR Bad. This PR Good.

Read this.
Jocelyn -

We haven't met; I am the 'chief storyteller' for GamesThatGive, a new startup that creates casual video games that people can play, for free, and raise money for charity. I know, I am a fan, and I thought that you might find what GamesThatGive is doing interesting. So, that's why I am reaching out.

Full transparency - I want you, or someone from the nonprofit times, to think GamesThatGive is cool enough that you will write about it, tell your friends, shout from the rooftops, and similar. Of course, I have spent a lot of time working in the PR business, so I know how awful being pitched can be. My goal is to make this email not like all those other pitches you may have received.

Ok - Here is what you need to know:

- went live about two months ago, as a beta, but our big public rollout just started. Not only do I think you might find what we are doing on the site interesting, but we know that the people who read your stuff are interested in supporting charities and causes, and probably don't mind playing a few games every now and then.

- The model behind GamesThatGive is simple: people play really cool games, for free, and by doing so, help generate donations for our partner charities. That's it. No catch.

- How do we do this? The games are sponsored by advertisers, and we donate 70% of the ad revenue generated to the charities. If you do the math, that has the potential to be a lot of money for some really terrific causes.

- Our charity partners include Feeding America, the United Way, the US Fund for UNICEF, DoSomething, and about a dozen others. We have limited the number of charities that we invited to be on the platform, because we wanted to help raise a massive amount of money for these groups -- we have learned the lesson of other social and game platforms trying to raise money for charity and won't dilute the experience by allowing every nonprofit in the world to participate.

- Our advertisers, to date, include Dominos Pizza, Pepsi, and Mastercard. And in addition to their advertising presence, all our advertisers will be offering coupons or incentives for people to play.

That's about it. Like I said, the site went live two months ago, but promotion really begins in earnest today. We have about 3500 registered users so far and the early statistics have shown that people are coming back to play (average of 2+ times per day), and playing for a long time (average time on site right now is more than 13 minutes). Those are big numbers, and we are obviously very excited about the potential for the site.

I have a background document I can send you, with more detail, as well as a 'thinking paper' that we released providing some arguments about why we think GamesThatGive is pretty special.

As I said above, my hope is that you will think what we are doing at GamesThatGive is pretty cool and help to get the word out. If it would help, I would also love to connect you for a conversation with our CEO Adam Archer, or one of the other folks on the senior leadership team, who can walk you through the ins and outs of this in more detail.

Let me know what you think and if you have any questions. You can shoot me an email or call me at anytime (978-793-1393).

I look forward to hearing from you. Thanks.

Mike Wood
Chief Storyteller
GamesThatGive, Inc.
m: 978.793.1393

Don't just play. Give.
It's an EXCELLENT example of a pitch. So good in fact that I'm sharing it with you even though I'm not into online games.

Here is why it works:

1. It's PERSONAL. I actually felt like this release was written just for me.

2. It's written for the Web. (News flash! If you want bloggers to sell your stuff don't send us traditional releases for print media. Chunk up your copy. Keep it short and sweet. This will make it easy for us to cut and paste and pass along.

3. It's authentic. Mike's voice mirrors the stuff he sells - games. This makes the release resonate. A stiff, formal release wouldn't be true to the brand/image and service he is promoting.

Pitching bloggers is different from pitching traditional journalists. Don't be sloppy but do speak in the voice of the media. Blogging is less formal than print so you can and should take this into account when doing outreach.

Also, you should ALWAYS know your customer before trying to connect. Bloggers and journalists are people too! We want good tips and we want to believe that you care about the work we do. Remember good PR is about good RELATIONSHIPS.


P.S. I LOVE that Mike's title is Chief Storyteller. Again, this title may not work for all PR pros but it's a perfect fit with Mike's brand.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Is Facebook the New Phonebook?

The Yellow Pages landed on our doorstep last week and sat there for a couple of days. Both my husband and I feel guilty about tossing out ALL THAT PAPER. (At least, that's my excuse for not recycling it.) On the other hand neither of us wants to bring it inside because what's the point? I don't know about you but I haven't opened a phone book, specifically the Yellow Pages, in years. Instead, when I want to find a business I look it up via this service called (you may have heard of it) Google.

It's the same when I want to connect with people I don't know. But in the case of individuals, instead of the White Pages, I use Facebook and Linkedin.

This has me thinking, is Facebook the new phonebook?

I mean, with 200 million + members, is Facebook quickly becoming our collective resource for research on new friends, family and colleagues? And what about businesses? Will there come a day when all searching for businesses is done online?

Finally, and maybe most important of all, what will happen to the people and organizations who aren't on Facebook? Will they invisible?


P.S. My friend Evan Parker from The Nature Conservancy (I've been talking a lot about him lately) is the one who seeded this idea that Facebook is now the new phonebook. You can see more re: what he thinks here.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

So More People Can Drink Clean Water

The story of charity: water - The 2009 September Campaign Trailer from charity: water on Vimeo.

In the past 2 years of blogging I've never highlighted a specific charitable campaign unless it was to illustrate a marketing or fundraising principle. Today is different. My mom just turned 61 and for her September birthday I made a donation to charity: water.

Charity: water is elegant in its' simplicity.

"Water changes everything. Our vision is simple and ambitious: clean, safe drinking water for everyone on the planet."
Their website graphics, photos and videos from the field do more justice to their cause than a million miles of text. Learn from their marketing. Watch their videos. Please donate now.


Wednesday, September 9, 2009

FREE Social Media Training Starts Thursday!

The Case Foundation has put together a great lineup of free tutorials on all things social media for nonprofits. The program, called Gear Up for Giving, starts Thursday, Sept. 10th. See the video above for an overview of the program.

Speakers include:
No registration is required.

Gear Up for Giving is the precursor to the second America's Giving Challenge and aims to get nonprofits ready for entry into this fall's online fundraising contest. (You may remember that the Case Foundation ran a similar contest in Dec. 2007. ) Interested in learning more about the inaugural America's Giving Challenge? Read the Assessment and Reflection Report by Beth Kanter and Allison Fine.

FYI, you don't have to enter the Giving Challenge to attend the tutorials so be sure to check them out. Finally, in addition to the tutorials, Gear Up for Giving has archived some of the best social media resources on their site, including the fantastic videos by Common Craft which explain Twitter, Blogging and other social media tools "in plain English."

Good luck and happy learning!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

My Summer (Uh, I Mean Fall) Reading List

Here is my fall reading list. (Who wants to read books about marketing on vacation anyway?) And you? What's on your nightstand?

A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future - If you're like me and you missed Daniel Pink's fantastic overview of why we should get more serious about using our right-brain skills like empathy, storytelling and making meaning, pick this book up today. He makes a persuasive case for why we need to cultivate our creative minds in the Conceptual Age and he also shows us how to do it.

Management Rewired: Why Feedback Doesn't Work and Other Surprising Lessons from the Latest Brain Science - Sticking with the brain science theme, I enjoyed Management Rewired by Charles S. Jacobs. While it's not technically a marketing book, there is some great information from the scientific community on how to be a better leader. It's also fascinating to learn that neuroscience is now validating what many of us already knew - the best leaders motivate by getting us excited about our work for its' own sake vs. feeding us carrots or beating us with sticks.

Here Come's Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations - Clay Shirky's classic provides some great examples of how regular folks (like you and I) are using online tools to come together and change the world. He also shows how organizations often get in the way of organizing. (Really?) I especially liked the chapter about how teenagers in Belarus used flash mobs to expose and organize against the fascist regime. Andy Carvin has also blogged about the Belarus case study here.

The Twitter Book by Tim O'Reilly and Sarah Milstein is a quick and well-written overview of all things Twitter. If you haven't conquered the Twitterverse yet, this guide will help you get your tweet on! BTW, U CAN FOLLOW ME ON TWITTER HERE!

And if you're wondering about my non-marketing reads...

I loved The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon - Another new oldie for me, this is a beautiful and funny book written from the perspective of an autistic, teenage boy. You'll love the way this book makes you think about how different people think and how this effects their world view.

Life is Short but Wide and Family - According to the foreword, J. California Cooper was discovered by Alice Walker. If that's not endorsement enough, read this first paragraph of Life is Short but Wide. (Wow!)

"Occasionally, actually quite often, someone will refer to a family or person as dysfunctional. Which, I believe is a sign of ignorance, for the obvious reason that 70 or 80 percent of all the people who have ever lived were dysfunctional. The other 20 to 30 percent tried to be, or had sense enough to be, a little wiser. Among them, the greatest were disliked, hated, killed or crucified. And they weren't perfect, except one."
I love California Cooper's voice. In fact, I've never read anything like it. Read it for the pure joy of reading. Also read it to gain a sense of the power of voice and then continue to refine your own.

Next up...

Free! The Future of Business by Chris Anderson, Editor in Chief, Wired.



Thursday, August 27, 2009

Should Small Nonprofits Use Facebook as a Total CRM Solution?

I was talking to my friend Evan Parker, Manager, Digital Membership for The Nature Conservancy yesterday and he raised an interesting question.

Should very small nonprofits, i.e. orgs with staffs of 1 -2 people and/or mostly volunteer-led use Facebook as their CRM?

In case you don't know this tech lingo, a CRM is a Customer Relationship Management system. For example, Salesforce is a CRM. So are Convio and Sphere. A CRM is a super-charged database. With a CRM you can manage your contacts, send email and raise money. Every organization needs one at some point.

Fact is you can do all these things right now via Facebook for FREE. Well, the technology and applications are free, the management of the tool is not.

Here's how it would work:

1. Your Facebook Page would serve as the home page of your website.
2. Facebook would also serve as your email services provider (ESP) since you can email your fans directly via your Page.
3. Causes would serve as your "Donate Now" button.

I've generally been opposed to this idea. You can read more here. My thinking is that there is a logical progression you should follow when wading in online - especially if your goal is to raise money - and moving into "social" is 3rd not 1st on the list. However, Evan reminded me that not everyone's goal is to raise money. You may be more interested in using your web presence to do programming and or raise awareness of your issue.

What do you think? Are you using Facebook as a total CRM solution for your organization? Would you? If not, why not?


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Musing on Metaphors

"You are the light of my life."

"I have a coffee headache."

"Don't try to pull a Dick Cheney on me."

"It's raining men."
Metaphors. They are the stuff of life.

Use them to enhance your writing. Use them to connect emotionally with your audience. Use them to connect with yourself.
"Metaphor - that is, understanding one thing in terms of something else... is central to reason... it also helps us to understand others... Metaphorical imagination is essential in forging empathic conversations and communicating experiences that others do not share."

- A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future by Daniel Pink.
Metaphors are also the lifeblood of good writing. You can give me facts and statistics but I won't remember them. Besides I can look them up on Google. Instead, paint a picture of your programs. Tell me a story about what you do. Help me feel the significance of your work.

Metaphors come in words and phrases. They also come in pictures. See above. What do these metaphors say to you?


Friday, August 21, 2009

Why Having a Hammer Doesn't Make You a Carpenter and Other Truths About Social Media

This photo is by Waplu.

I received this great post today from Beth Harte, Writer, Marketing Profs. It's called 19 Things Social Media Consultants or Agencies Can't Teach You. Go ahead. Read it and then come back.

Here is what jumped out at me.

1. Social media is about being (well) social!

2. Being social has nada to do with the tools you use. (That's why lots of companies and nonprofits who are not using social media are still making lots of money.)

3. Being social has everything to do with having a social culture.

Think about it. Just like having a hammer doesn't make you a carpenter, using Twitter doesn't make you a social media expert. While tools may amplify your marketing communications effort making it easier, faster, maybe even more fun to get your job done. How you put the tools to use is what really matters and how is not always up to you.

Here's my suggestion. If you want your organization to "go social" work on your core values first. For example (and following Beth's guidance) be sure that you are:
  • Committed to transparent communications - Here is what this means in practice. Telling your grant officer that you need an extension on your funding because you haven't achieved your stated program goals not because you delayed the roll out of your program.
  • Trust your employees, channel partners or customers - Here is what this means in practice. Encouraging employees to share their views of your work in an objective manner in live meetings.
  • Want to remove internal politics - Here is what this means in practice. Encouraging people from different departments in the organization to collaborate on projects and creating an incentive package which facilitates this behavior.
Part of the excitement around social media is driven by "shiny new object syndrome." It's also driven by the fact that some people understand that social media provide us with an opportunity to get real with each other. Transparent, honest, open conversation excites people! (It's also the only type of communication that people trust.)

But this style of communicating doesn't exist in a vacuum. It only exists in organizations that truly embody these values.

"If I had a hammer..."


Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Friday, August 14, 2009

New Study Shares Secret Sauce of Obama for America Online Campaign

It's almost a year since President Obama's election, but there is still a LOT of interest in the staggering success of Obama for America (OFA). In particular, people want to know how the campaign used online tools to raise $500 million and win the presidency!

Did the money come in through Facebook,, email or SMS? More important, what can the average nonprofit learn from this historic campaign and what can never be replicated?

A great new study by M+R Strategic Services, Wilburforce Foundation and The Brainerd Foundation attempts to answer these questions. Specifically, the study outlines the 7 key elements of OFA's success. Interested in creating a kick-ass online program for your nonprofit? Read the full report. Here are the highlights.

1. Have discipline - OFA used a huge swath of media and tools to power the campaign - online and offline advertising, SEO, direct mail, telemarketing, SMS, Facebook, house-parties, a huge field organizing effort, etc. While most campaigns and nonprofits would come apart at the seams in the face of all this promotional activity, the OFA team made an extraordinary effort to align communications and stay on message. And it sounds like they did it through a tight organizational structure and daily team meetings. Are your fundraising, communications, direct mail and membership efforts in alignment? If not, why not?

2. Hire the right people and make it a full time job (italics my emphasis) - If you want to achieve success with online media, at some point you're going to have to INVEST in the human resources to get the job done. Just like any other functional department, new media requires financial and human resources to succeed.

Unlike OFA, you may not be able to draw the top talent in the world to your organization, but you should still try to hire the right people for the job and give them the autonomy and respect they need to get the job done. See page 9 of the report for a job description for your new media lead.

3. Keep the spotlight on your supporters - If there is one thing that OFA did well and that your organization must emulate it's this: focus on your audience(s)! Write this down on a post-it note and put it on your laptop.

Your cause is not about you or your organization!

If you want to be relevant (online or offline), you must focus all your communications on the people you serve and the great things they are accomplishing in this world. Please: No more press releases about the launch of your new website!

4. Be nimble - Online media are so powerful (and dangerous) because they are immediate. OFA used this to it's advantage by timing it's fundraising appeals to coincide with current events. This is a great strategy to emulate. However, if you want to become a "nimble online marketing machine," you've got to put the infrastructure in place NOW to succeed. This means purchasing a good Email Service Provider (ESP), investing in building and cleaning your online list, making your website easy to navigate and interesting to read, etc.

5. Be authentic - I can't say it better than David Plouffe.

"Nothing is more important than authenticity. People have very sensitive

6. Create great content - In my personal opinion this is our Achilles Heel as a sector - writing crappy content. All the best tools in the world can't make up for bad content.

"Tools are a frying pan. If the ingredients (the content) aren't tasty, you're still going to have a horrible dinner." - Scott Goodstein, External Online Director, Obama for America

Bad content is bad content. Period. It won't work online or offline. If you can't afford to hire a copywriter or designer, take some courses to improve your skills. The Goodman Center is a great resource. I'm devoting my September Column in Fundraising Success to providing you with some quick tips for writing better content. I hope you check it out.

7. Use data to drive decisions - According to the report, OFA was religious about testing EVERYTHING in order to optimize return on investment. You can do this too especially with your email-marketing program. Test your subject lines, copy, from lines, message timing and frequency. More important, once you determine what works best, be willing to let the data drive execution.

Bonus: It's interesting to note that the 20 social networking sites and the campaign's own online community (MyBo), which powered OFA did not yield a high return on investment in terms of fundraising.

"From a fundraising perspective, external social networks are not a good use
of time. No one has ever really cracked that code."
- Stephen Geer, Director of Email and Online Fundraising, Obama for America


"The real drivers were old school. They were email. And they were web." - David Plouffe, Campaign Manager, Obama for America

This last point resonates with what folks in the online marketing, communications and fundraising are saying. Social media work for awareness and brand building. But when it comes to bringing in the bacon online, you have to focus on email and your website.