Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Don't Let Trust Hang in the Balance: Follow These 5 Principles

This post is by my friend, Larry Checco of Checco Communications.
This photo is from EssG's photostream on Flickr.

A brand screams out TRUST ME!  A good brand quietly-and always-fulfills that pledge.

Unfortunately, the public's trust of institutions and organizations of all kinds-especially with respect to some of our most venerated for-profit, nonprofit, government and dare I say religious institutions-is at an all-time low.

Here are five things can you do to help ensure that trust is part of your organization's core values:

Recruit and hire well, especially your leaders.

How often have you heard, "We need to recruit board members of affluence and influence?" Recent history has affirmed that if the portfolios of your leaders don't include wisdom and integrity, their affluence and influence may come back to bite you in the butt. 
Educate what's at risk.
Ethical lapses are easy to make, especially when the organization's culture gives a wink and a nod to unethical behavior.

Countless organizations have suffered greatly because they failed to understand the risks of their questionable or unethical behavior. We'll refrain from mentioning names here, but if you just glance at the news these days you know who they are.

Be transparent with your finances.

Be sure that you can account to your funders for how your organization spent their money; better yet, how it made a difference in helping you achieve your mission. And poor bookkeeping is no excuse. Hire a certified accountant, if necessary. To learn more about the state of transparency in nonprofits, see this report from Guidestar

Speak truth to power.
Create an organizational culture in which employees feel free to speak truthfully to management.  Pent-up worker frustration often becomes cancerous and ugly, not to mention harmful to the organization's brand.

Legal is not the litmus test.

There's a difference between what's legal and what's ethical. If you're sitting around a conference table trying to split hairs between the two, don't go to your legal department for a resolution to your dilemma. It's being paid to find you a loophole. Rather ask yourself, "What would my mother think if this decision I'm about to make finds itself on the front page of the local newspaper or on the 6 o'clock news?"

Want to hear more from Larry?  Register today for "Don't Be Fooled: The Pitfalls, Myths and Assumptions that Can Fool Executive Communicators a brown bag luncheon hosted by Washington Women in Public Relations on Thursday, April 1 from 12:00 - 2:00 pm.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Creating a Culture of Candor

A new poll by Harris Interactive shows that St. Jude Children's Research Hospital and Susan G. Komen for the Cure are among the most trusted nonprofits.  The two charities also rank in the top ten for "nonprofits to which people are most likely to donate." 
According to the poll, "one of the most critical elements of a non-profit's brand name is Trust. The trust that the general public places in non-profits is paramount to their success as enduring and powerful brands. Those that deliver well on their promises and missions stand the test of time," noted Justin Greeves, Senior Vice President of Public Affairs at Harris Interactive. "In the context of this brand evaluation, Trust should be viewed as both a concrete organizational trait and a point of emotional connection with supporters and those in need of help and assistance".
The study also seem to suggest that there is a strong correlation (maybe even causal link) between consumer trust in a nonprofit and likelihood to donate.  Makes sense.  So here's the question. If trust is an essential ingredient in creating a thriving (and profitable) organization, how do you create it?  

According to Transparency, a very interesting set of essays by Warren Bennis, Daniel Goleman, James O'Toole, and Patricia Ward Biederman building trust is a long-term process and has to be built into the very fabric of an organization's culture.  Moreover, trust building is an ethical responsibility of both followers and leaders in an organization.

In their first essay, Creating a Culture of Candor, the authors suggest that trust is dependent on the free flow of information in an organization.  They also talk about the role of digital technology, in particular blogs, in forcing organizations to become more transparent.
"Blogs can do far more than reveal secrets.  They are able to spread information virally at stunning speed...Blogs can blindside and cause damage to companies as well as individuals...No leader can  afford to ignore such a force...[In short], blogs are uniquely powerful tools for promoting products, brands, and ideas, but they can also be ruthless and all but unstoppable in punishing what they disapprove of.  And as their numbers soar, blogs will only get more powerful."
Is your organization trustworthy?  Are you open about your triumphs and failures?  Do you share critical information widely and with various stakeholders?  In short, are you on the level and do you keep people in the loop? 

Rather than wait for your secrets to be revealed by the digerati, why not start now and create a culture of candor where both leaders and followers practice the fine art of speaking the truth.  According to Harris Interactive's research, this will build your brand equity.  It may also create a powerful economic incentive for people to give more money to your organization.


Thursday, March 18, 2010

Understanding Poverty

If you want to understand the structural challenges facing people in poor countries - like Haiti - watch
this video from Oxfam.  It's POWERFUL.

It's really important to be able to explain what you do in a simple yet compelling way. Video is a great medium for storytelling.  (That's why we LOVE movies!)

Got a video that SHOWS the impact of your work? If so, enter the 4th Annual Nonprofit DoGooder Video Awards today.  You could win $2,500!  Deadline to apply is tomorrow.

No video yet?  Check out these resources from YouTube.  Also, call your local college and recruit a film student to help you tell your story.


Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Software for Fundraising - New FREE Workshop for You!

This photo is by tashland.

One of the six steps of effective online fundraising is building a sound technology infrastructure.  (I know.  Big words.  But really,  it's not as scary as it sounds.)

Idealware - a nonprofit that provides objective reviews of nonprofit software is doing a workshop, called Software for Fundraising on March 31 at 1:00 EST.  You should check it out.  It's FREE!

According to their website, you will learn:
  • how different software can be useful for fundraising;
  • which tools are hardest/easiest to implement;
  • what different software costs.  (Very useful!);
  • how much work it will take to keep up with your purchase; and,
  • which tools you should keep an eye on.
Register today!


Monday, March 15, 2010

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Make Your Next Hire a Writer

 This photo is by churl on Flickr.

I'm finishing up Inbound Marketing | Get Found Using Google, Social Media, and Blogs by the fabulous folks at HubSpot.  The thesis of the book is that it's far more effective to acquire new donors, members and advocates by getting them to come to you (via Google, social media and blogs) vs. interrupting people (boo!) with unwanted emails, telemarketing calls, and radio and TV spots (even if you could afford them). 

The trick is, "getting found" online takes a lot of work.  You have to have the talent, creativity and patience to build up a lot of great content that people actually want to read.  This is why your next hire should be a writer.

According to Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah, co-authors of the book,
"Ten years ago, your marketing effectiveness was a function of the width of your wallet.  Today, your marketing effectiveness is a function of the width of your brain (bold my emphasis).  You no longer need to spend tons of money interrupting your potential customers.  Instead, you need to create remarkable content, optimize that content (for search engines, RSS readers, and social media sites), publish the content, market the content through the blogosphere and social mediasphere, and measure what is working and what is not working.

You want to think of yourself as half marketer and half publisher.  You might consider making your next full-time hire a writer/journalist."
In short, if you want to get found via search engines and via social media you need to start creating great whitepapers, e-books, (short) videos, podcasts, webinars, teleseminars, articles, blog posts, etc. NOW!  The only way to do this is to have someone on staff that can write.

Can't afford to hire a marketing communications person?  Read my tips for becoming a better writer in this article.  You should also check out Copyblogger for excellent advice on composing compelling prose.


Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Come Learn With Me!

This pic is by Metaroll.
  • Want to learn what social media can and cannot do for your nonprofit?
  • Want an overview of tactics you can use to find new donors, members and advocates online?
  • Want information on how and why diversifying your staff can help you improve your campaign results?
 Join me for one or all of these events! 

First, on March 18, I'm joining my friend Katya Andresen, COO of Network for Good for Social Media Slam! Everthing fundraisers need to know about online engagement - and why you should care hosted by Fundraising Success.

Here is a description of our webinar.
Learn how blogs, online communities and social-networking sites likes Facebook and Twitter can help you engage supporters more fully and, if handled with care and patience, generate more funds to support your mission.

You'll leave this fast-paced session knowing how to:
  • Create, join and optimize online communities for maximum exposure
  • Gain friends and influence supporters who will spread the word about your cause
  • Attach your social-media efforts to strategies that will result in more income
Register today!

Next, on March 30, I'm joining my colleague Eric Rardin, Director of Nonprofit Services for Care2 for Nonprofits and New Blood: An Overview of Online Acquisition Tactics and Strategies hosted by ArtexInterAction.

Here is a description of our workshop. 
All businesses need to find new customers or perish.  It's no different for nonprofits, although in our case, we need to recruit new donors, advocates, members and volunteers to stay alive.  There are numerous tactics for online acquisition including Search Engine Marketing, Co-Registration, Email List Rental and Lead Generation.  This workshop will provide you with an overview of these tactics.  In addition, we'll discuss ways to evaluate the performance of your online acquisition program so that you can improve your return on investment.  Finally, we'll talk about best practices in converting new subscribers into donors through direct appeals, multi-channel conversion, and peer-to-peer fundraising.
Register today!

Finally, on April 10, I'm joining Allyson Kapin, Rad Campaign; Shireen Mitchell, Digital Sistas; and Ivan Boothe, Rootwork for Diversifying Your Tech and Online Communications Teams at the Nonprofit Technology Conference hosted by NTEN.

Here is a description of our workshop.
When we create technology we develop it for the masses to consume. When we create online advocacy campaigns we develop them to reach hundreds of thousands of people including women, men, people of color and a wide array of ages from Gen Yers to Baby Boomers. But, how diverse are your tech and online communications teams? And do the demographics of your tech teams impact your advocacy and recruitment success? Join us for a thought-provoking discussion on how and why you should consider diversifying your tech and online teams in order to maximize your nonprofit advocacy, marketing and fundraising goals.

  • Why diversity in your tech teams will make your nonprofit's communications, fundraising and organizing stronger.
  • How nonprofits can recruit diverse tech and online communications staff.
  • Tools and strategies for nonprofits looking to broaden their appeal to a more diverse audience of supporters.
Register for the NTC today!