Friday, June 26, 2009

Write Your Organizational Epitaph

This is "A Soldier's Grave" by mtstradling.

The tragic deaths of Farah Fawcett and Michael Jackson's this week have me (and people all over the world) thinking about life, death and what people leave behind.

Legacies are a complicated thing. Like brands, you can't control what you are remembered for -that photograph, quote or experience that gets stuck in another person's head. I think it's safe to say that when we die folks will wax on and on about both our good and bad traits.

All organizations, like people, die too. Witness the slow, agonizing deaths or decline of some of the worlds most venerable intuitions - Chrysler, Morgan Stanley, the San Francisco Chronicle - this summer too!

The point is not whether you give or gave a hoot about these organizations. The point is that they are going or gone and one day all we'll be left with is the conversation about what they didn't or didn't do in the world.

Call me morbid. But you should do this today. Write your organizational epitaph.
  • What did you stand for?
  • Who did you help?
  • How did you make a difference when your nonprofit was alive?
  • What were some of the shining examples of what you did well?
  • What were some of your gravest mistakes?
I hope you see where I'm heading. This IS your value proposition NOW.
  • Is it true or false?
  • Does it inspire?
  • Are you there yet?
There's not much time in this crazy adventure called life to do something great. To build a first-class team. To create a world changing product or service. To make meaning.

Don't squander your time or anyone else's by settling for mediocrity, hypocrisy or bureaucracy.

Warmest regards,

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Let's Talk Taglines

My new frolleauge (friend and colleague) Nancy Schwartz, keeper of Getting Attention: Helping Nonprofits Succeed Through Effective Marketing just launched the 2009 Tagline Awards. Submissions are due July 31, 2009.

"Taglines?" you say.
"Yes! Because great taglines are a key ingredient in any messaging platform."

Think about it...

"Just do it!"

"Got milk?"

"Good to the last drop."

Amazing right? You just have to say a few words and all sorts of emotions and associations jump to mind.

"But these are taglines for consumer goods. Do nonprofits really need taglines too?"


According to Nancy (and I agree),

"A strong tagline does double-duty -- working to extend your organization's name and mission, while delivering a focused, memorable and repeatable message to your base. It's one of your most effective marketing tools. (Unfortunately) the 2008 survey
showed that 72% of nonprofit organizations don't have a tagline or rate theirs as performing poorly.

Nancy's trying to change this sad state by highlighting the best nonprofit taglines around and giving the winners lots of FREE PR!

So, why wait? Learn more or enter your nonprofit tagline now. You can also download last year's report here for FREE!


Tuesday, June 23, 2009

4 Reasons Facebook Might Not be Right for Your Nonprofit

This photo is from dvs' Photostream.

This spring, Facebook made some significant changes to the functionality of Pages on their site in order to help brands market more effectively. This has led to a lot of discussion and encouragement aimed at nonprofits about how to market via Facebook. I'm not anti-Facebook but I do want to lend a little objectivity to this discussion so before you just dive in, consider these 4 reasons why Facebook might not be right for your nonprofit (at least not yet)!

1. None of your key stakeholders, i.e. donors/members/volunteers/advocates, etc. communicate via Facebook.

Based on the current stats regarding the HUGE number of people that are on Facebook (over 200 million at last check), it is highly unlikely that none of your key stakeholders are on Facebook. However, you should still check to be sure that this is where your donors are hanging out! How? Send a survey or do a social data append.* Why? There is no point in communicating with someone via the wrong channel. Instead, do your due diligence and determine if Facebook is a preferred mode of communication before you dive in.

2. You don't have the time or talent on staff to develop engaging content.

Here is my soapbox. "FACEBOOK IS NOT FREE!"

Yeah, yeah the software is gratis, but the TIME and ATTENTION required to market via social networks is EXPENSIVE. (I've been blogging at night for almost 2 years! Trust me.) Before you dive in, determine if devoting a significant amount of human resources to this channel is a wise investment and don't go unless you decide that it's the best and highest use of your staff time.

3. You don't have any way to promote the site.

Facebook is not a Field of Dreams, i.e. if you build it, they will not come unless you are a household name. (Interestingly Beth Kanter is doing an experiment right now to test this hypothesis.) Instead, you will have to do the heavy lifting to drive traffic to your Facebook Page in the same way that you have to do the heavy lifting to drive traffic to your organizational website. So don't build a Page unless you already have a robust marketing program in place which you can leverage. This means, in part, having an up-to-date online subscriber list and an Email Service Provider (ESP). Next, to get folks to join your Page, you'll want to send an email to your subscribers and tell them the benefits of becoming a fan.

4. You don't know how to define or measure success.

It's a terrible idea to do any marketing without first determining your goals and developing some metrics for success. While I'm not saying that you have to write a 10-page marketing plan for each tactic or campaign, you must take a few minutes to decide (and write down) how you will measure your efforts - traffic, comments, donations, etc. - this is the only way you will know if you're going in the right or wrong direction.

If after reviewing this list you decide that a Facebook Page is right for your organization, here is what I recommend.

1. Check out this guide - How to Use Facebook for Business from HubSpot.

2. Mosey on over to John Haydon's blog. He has a whole section dedicated to helping you get more out of Facebook.

3. Take a webinar from Heather Mansfield at Diosa Communications. You can also contract directly with Heather directly to build your Page.

4. Finally, if it's donations you're after, check out the new blog by Causes - the Facebook application which enables you to mobilize your friends, raise money and do good stuff in the world.


P.S. I'd love to hear from you! Is your nonprofit on Facebook? What have been the benefits and challenges to date? How do you measure success?

*Full disclosure: I work at Triplex Interactive.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

FREE Email Marketing Guide for You!

My frolleague (friend and colleauge) Kivi Leroux Miller, owner of The Nonprofit Marketing Guide has partnered with the great folks at Network for Good/Fundraising 123 on this new FREE Email Marketing Guide.

Read it now and learn how to:

1. Choose the right Email Service Provider (ESP) for you. (No, it's not OK to send bulk email via Microsoft Outlook!)

2. Build and segment your list.

3. Develop targeted messaging. (Yes, it's important to send the right content to the right audience.)

4. Evaluate your efforts.

5. and more...

In addition to this guide, check out these other free online marketing resources archived on Email for Impact (where I work).

Finally, I'm doing a webinar for The Nonprofit Marketing Guide on August 6 called Nonprofit Marketing With Personality. I hope you'll check it out!


Tuesday, June 16, 2009

What You Need to Get Online

I love this video from the folks at Network Solutions re: how to build your online presence.

Getting online is more than just building a website. It's also about creating a plan to "get found" by potential customer, donors and members and creating an ever loving stream of content.

Check it out!


Monday, June 15, 2009

Want to Succeed With Social Media? Change Your Culture First.

This photo is by the inimitable Geoff Livingston.

I spent last Friday with some smart folks at BlogPotomac - a DC-based event focused on helping communications and marketing professionals learn more about social media and put these tools to use at their own organizations. It was a refreshing day because rather than talk about the utility of Twitter vs. Facebook, we spent a lot of time talking about the role of organizational culture in making or breaking your social media strategy.

I was particularly impressed with Scott Monty - social media guru from Ford Motor Company. He talked about how Ford has used social media for crisis communications. He also talked about the importance of culture fit in making social media work.

I'm paraphrasing...

"Our goal is to humanize Ford. To put faces to the blue oval and to connect people with our employees. We believe in openness and bringing value to our customers in all of our interactions. But our social media success didn't come first. Culture change came first. When I arrived to lead our social media efforts last year I fully expected to have to educate folks on social media and to allay fears, but that wasn't necessary because our CEO had already set the course for change. Instead, people were like. Finally, you're hear. Let's go."
Monty also talked about how Ford plans to operationalize openness by "democratizing and distributing the use of social media across the enterprise."

Again, I'm paraphrasing...

"Our employees are a key audience that is interested in our future. And while the communications department is responsible for providing employees with a communications policy and giving them guidance on the use of the tools, we don't want to "own" social media. We want other people to provide value to our customers by using them. It doesn't matter which department is connecting with customers online - Product Development, IT, Human Resources or Customer Service. The goal is to provide value to people as a part of the interaction and social media are great at enabling this type of relationship building."
I really appreciated Monty's reminder of how importance culture fit is to the successful use of any technology but especially social media. For example, it's one thing to tell your employees to get on Twitter. It's a whole other ball of wax to tell them that you trust them to connect authentically with customers online or offline and to get going!

In order to succeed with social media you need to pay attention to and cultivate a culture of openness and honesty. You also have to get over yourself and be willing listen to and hear critique.

According to folks at the event many (most?) organizations aren't there yet. Here's what I heard.
"I like what you have to say Scott, but we don't have a culture of trust in my organization."

"I can't imagine my boss letting me start a blog."

"Is there ever a time you should just give up?"
I'm not an expert in change management but I do know that if your organization doesn't value dialogue and authenticity in the workplace you'll never succeed with social media. So work on changing your culture first. Then go Tweet.


Monday, June 8, 2009

Can Nonprofits Really Raise $ Through Social Media? Come and See...

Last week, Mashable - a leading tech blog focused on Web 2.0 and Social Networking news - launched Summer for Social Good - an all social media charitable givLinking campaign to benefit 4 charities.

According to the release, "the Summer for Social Good is the first large scale online charitable campaign to raise funds strictly online through the power of Social Media and the Internet over an extended period. The goal is to use the power of “Social Influence” via Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, blogs and other online media to raise an unprecedented amount for our fund."

From June 1 - August 28 Mashable and others will promote the campaign via their site which according to Technorati logs 5 million page views per month! The hope is also that the campaign will go viral and that folks like you and I will donate and spread the word via our networks. See the widget above. All donations will be processed by Global Giving. To date, $1,140 has been raised.

The 4 charities to benefit from Summer for Social Good include:
I don't know how they were chosen.

I'm excited to see how this campaign unfolds as it will provide additional benchmarks and information regarding the ROI of social media and how nonprofits can best use these channels. Specifically, it will help us all answer the question, "can nonprofits really raise money through these channels or is brand awareness a better "'play.'"

Interested in learning more? Visit Summer of Social Good. You can also follow the campaign as it unfolds on Twitter. FYI, looks like this initative may be just be one in a series of social good campaigns organized by Mashable. Kudos to these bloggers for using their social media powers for good not evil!


Thursday, June 4, 2009

A FREE Conversation About Charitable Giving You Can't Afford to Miss

This beautiful photo is by Mr. Kris.

On June 10, the Giving USA Foundation will release the latest edition of Giving USA - THE authoritative source of information on U.S. philanthropy.
  • Want to see how your fundraising results stack up vs. other charities?
  • Want to know what you can expect from donations in 2009 and beyond?
  • Want some suggestions for how to change your fundraising course, if necessary?
Join this conversation with the authors of the report being hosted by The Chronicle of Philanthropy.

The chat runs from at 12:00 - 1:00 (EST).