Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Take Action Now! Don't Let Congress Hurt Charities

Trying to cut the federal budget has got to be one of the worst jobs in town.  There are so many competing interests, so many lobbyists and unfortunately so little money to go around.

I don't want to engage in partisan rhetoric with you or anyone else BUT help me understand why our government is proposing (prolonging?) huge tax cuts for Big Oil at the same time that they are proposing to take money AWAY from charitable organizations.

I just don't get it.

Please take a look at this petition sponsored by Network for Good, Nonprofit Technology Network (NTEN) and (my company) Care2 and sign on if you agree that we need to support charity efforts, not defund them!



Sunday, May 29, 2011

5 Signs You're Not Ready for Social Media

1. Your email list is under 10K names.
2. No one in your organization has "Communications" in their title.
3. You cannot EASILY create landing pages via your website.
4. You don't have or don't know what a CRM is.
5. You're email client is Constant Contact or worse - Outlook!

If I've said it once, I've said it a thousand times.  Don't invest in a social media presence or strategy UNTIL you optimize your website and email list.  There is a huge OPPORTUNITY COST for spending time on Facebook and Twitter when you could be building your home base.

I know it's not exciting but email is still the killer online app, ESPECIALLY when it come to raising money.  If this was true for Obama for America (and it was), it's definitely true for you.

For more information on what the Obama campaign did and what you CAN emulate, read this.

In short, if you want to raise the bar on your online program, you MUST master the basics BEFORE branching out into social media.

Want help? 

Listen to this recent webinar from my company, called Your Website Doesn't Matter: Why Email Still Rules Online Fundraising.

Read The Mercifully Brief Real World Guide to Raising Thousands (if Not Tens of Thousands) of Dollars with Email by Madeline Stanionis. It's an oldie but goodie!

Read Don't Make Me Think! A Common Sense Approach to Web UsabilityHere's a sample chapter for FREE!



Friday, May 20, 2011

5 Signs You've Arrived

1. People address you as Mrs. or Mr. X.
2. You have 81 Linkedin requests from strangers you've never met. (I guess that is the definition of stranger.)
3. You no longer check Google Analytics on a DAILY basis.
4. The word "keynote" is part of your vocabulary.
5. You're ready to move on to the next campaign/project/job.

Bonus: You're totally insecure and trying to stay humble.


Monday, May 16, 2011

Marketing and Love?

Is it heretical to put marketing and love in the same sentence?

Love is pure and blind and all things good.  Right?

Marketing is manipulative and evil. 


It turns out that LOVE is equivocal and MARKETING may just be your best friend if you have a measure of respect for your "audience."

A good friend once told me that all marketing seeks to create an intimate bond between two people.  If this is true than instead of CMO your title should be Chief Love Officer.

People crave connection and long for an intimacy that is similar to what you experience in romantic love. That's why Drew Barrymore sells me cosmetics and Princess Kate could sell me anything.

I'm not a romantic (well maybe I am) but I like this notion of good marketing = deep respect, humility and care for another.

What do you LOVE most?  How would you sell it to your closest friend?



Motivate Me

There is nothing like picking up a book or an article and feeling affirmed by what you read.  You nod your head in agreement and feel a sense of connection with the author.  Someone else has a similar view.  My ideas and convictions are valid.  I'm not crazy after all!

This is the experience I had this weekend after reading Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel Pink.  Pink is the author of Free Agent Nation: The Future of Working for Yourself and A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future.  If you haven't *met* Daniel Pink yet, you're in for a real treat.  He has a fundamental understanding of the new knowledge economy and what hinders and prepares us for success.  In Drive, he weaves a powerful narrative about what motivates us, why, and how we can do more of it.

I was nodding my head in response to this great book because it affirms something that I've felt for a LONG time: MONEY is not the be all, end all.  And, work can and should have much more meaning than it often does.

Here's a question:  If I offered you a job as an Architect making $75,000 a year vs. a job as a Toll Booth Operator making $100K, which would you choose?  According to Pink, and the researchers he interviewed, many more people (in wealthier countries) would choose Architect - the lower paying, more creative job. 

This resonates with me.  Once we've met our basic needs for shelter, food and clothing, our desire for creativity, meaning and purpose at work is key.

If Pink is right - and I think he is - then cause-oriented organizations - like nonprofits - should have a serious leg-up when it comes to attracting new talent.  Boomers in their third act and millennials who are full of enthusiasm and optimism should be drawn to organizations with a social purpose.  How can we be sure that we're ready for them?

According to Pink, keeping and retaining the highest caliber employees and building a high-performing work environment means adhering to three basic principles.

First: Give people autonomy over their work.  Don't prescribe all of the tasks, techniques and timelines that people must observe.  Give people the tools that they need to do their jobs and then trust and encourage them to be their best.  In short, hire well and then get out of the way.

Second: Provide the environment and tools for people to achieve mastery on the job.  This means giving people an opportunity to practice, practice, practice at work and get into "flow" or the "activity of being fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and success in the process of the activity."

Third: Make sure that people know and are working toward a larger purpose.  Raising 25% more money than last quarter is not meaningful [enough] for many of us.  Why are we raising money?  How are we changing the world?  What difference do all these late nights make?  These are the questions we need to answer. 

I've been a "knowledge worker" for a while now.  Success in my job depends on my ability to forge, nurture and maintain good relationships while providing constructive consultation and advice.  Like everyone else, I have to engage in boring, rote activities during the week (I too have to do data entry:)).  However, my primary job is more nuanced and complex.

Pink's right that what keeps me motivated is mostly the intrinsic rewards that I receive from my work.  Meeting new people, being helpful, resourceful and smart!  My employer can't mandate this behavior. But they can give me the support I need to be a solid performer.

Are you a good employer?  Do you help your employees to feel empowered--really empowered--to do their work?  Do you trust them to get the job done, even when they are not in the office?  Do you ask them about their goals for the year?

We are not living in the Industrial Age.  The issues we work on and the problems we are trying to solve are extremely complex.  It's going to take much more than an "assembly-line" approach to work to achieve our goals.  The best employees and the best employers recognize this seismic shift and are moving toward a new "operating model" of motivation.  This involves treating employees as partners and ENGAGING them in meaningful work.


Friday, May 13, 2011

On Success

  1. Knowing what you want.
  2. Taking risks.
  3. Sharing the adventure.
  4. Making meaning.
  5. Being seen.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Can You Lobby for Good?

Here is a sobering fact.  According to Lobbying for Good, nonprofit organizations spent $222 million on federal lobbying between 1998 and 2004.  This compares to a record $2.6 BILLION spent by U.S. companies in 2006 ALONE.

Assuming that most corporate lobbying does not advance social justice issues, like ensuring that more kids have access to great public schools, public lands are preserved and protected, and all seniors have access to Medicaid, this is a REALLY sad state of affairs.

As nonprofits, we have to step up our advocacy game.  We also have to work with our corporate partners to encourage them to do more "lobbying for good."

Many nonprofits are confused about the rules and regulations around advocating for structural change. There is also a lot of confusion around the DIFFERENCE between advocacy and lobbying.   

According to Alliance for Justice, "Advocacy is defined as any action that speaks in favor of, recommends, argues for a cause, supports or defends, or pleads on behalf of others...Lobbying is only one kind of advocacy."

In practice this means that nonprofits CAN:
  • educate constituents and legislators;
  • organize; and,
  • conduct and disseminate research to inform the public about critical issues.  
Nonprofits CAN also register citizens to vote - an important activity your organization may want to pursue - as we head into the 2012 election cycle.

Finally, and this may surprise you, but 501(c)(3) nonprofits CAN also engage in a LIMITED amount of lobbying.

For more information on the difference between lobbying and advocacy and to better understand the advocacy rules and regulations for nonprofits check out Alliance for Justice.  

To make significant change on intractable issues like homelessness, immigration reform, access to family planning, environmental protections and more, nonprofits must fire on all cylinders.  This means doing direct service in addition to engaging in advocacy.  And, the good news is that the Internet makes grassroots advocacy even more accessible.

Use your power to make structural change in the world.  Read the rules and then go for it.  Lobby for good!



Thursday, May 5, 2011

Your Website Doesn't Matter (If No One Goes There!)

I'm always harping on the need for nonprofits to clean up their "houses" online.  But the fact remains, that even if you have a BEAUTIFUL website, it doesn't really matter if no one goes there. Thus, a key challenge for nonprofits it to MARKET their websites so that more people show up, get engaged, and GIVE online.

Register today for Your Website Doesn't Matter: Why Email Still Rules Online Fundraising a FREE webinar hosted by my company, Care2.

When: Thursday, May 12 at 2:00EST

Learn more below.



Your website doesn't matter and your Facebook friends don't care!  Shocked?  Studies show that when it comes to online fundraising only one thing really matters: the quality and size of your email list. Email remains the primary driver of online donations. This was true for Obama's 2008 campaign for President, and remains true for most, if not all, nonprofits raising money online. Yes, you need a secure, functioning website to send people to so they can donate money online. But supporters will never go there on their own in numbers enough to move the needle.

While we all love our Facebook friends and Twitter followers, nonprofits are raising very little money via social networks. At the end of the day the most reliable way to increase the amount of money your organization raises online is to maintain and grow a high quality email list.  Focus your Facebook and Twitter outreach on building relationships with your followers and fans and listening to their feedback.

Join us May 12 at 2PM ET to learn how to grow and maintain a quality email list, and how to make the most of it.

When: Thursday, May 12th at 2PM ET

We have a limited number of teleconference lines available so please take a moment to sign up now. It's FREE.


Lauren Miller, Director of Email and Online Communications Programs, Blue State Digital

Since joining Blue State Digital in 2005, Lauren has developed online communications, fundraising, advocacy, outreach and social media programs for more than 100 political, nonprofit, cultural, academic and corporate clients, including the Democratic National Committee, Senator Ted Kennedy, Wal-Mart Watch and Americans United for Change.

As Director of Email & Online Communications Programs, she currently oversees a team of talented writers and strategists who work with more than 75 active engagements around the world, including the American Red Cross, United Way, Partners in Health, the NAACP, and the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network.

Prior to BSD, Lauren served as State Volunteer Coordinator for the California Democratic Party and worked in their communications department during the 2004 election cycle. She holds a B.A. in Political Science and Middle Eastern & North African Studies from the University of California, Los Angeles.

Dionna Humphrey, Senior Email Campaigner, Greenpeace

Dionna recently started as the Senior Email Campaigner with Greenpeace USA. Dionna is responsible for developing and implementing metric-driven, multi-year email strategy to maximize the organization's fundraising and online advocacy campaigns. Dionna has worked in grassroots advocacy for more than a decade, focusing primarily online fundraising and advocacy strategies for the past 6 years.

As an independent consultant she assisted her clients with online fundraising, including both email and web. Prior to branching out on her own, Dionna worked as a Campaign Director with MomsRising and Director of Advocacy with the National Parks Conservation Association, where she was responsible for the online and offline grassroots strategy and capacity building. Dionna graduated from the University of Hawaii at Manoa with a BA in Women's Studies and an MA in Political Science. She currently lives in Maryland with her cat Butters.