Thursday, August 16, 2012

Want to Engage More Women in Your Cause: Try Pinterest

If a picture is worth a thousand words then you may want to check out Pinterest for your nonprofit.

Pinterest is a newish social network that according to the site, lets you "organize and share all the beautiful things you find on the web. People use pinboards to plan their weddings, decorate their homes, and organize their favorite recipes.  Best of all, you can browse pinboards created by other people. Browsing pinboards is a fun way to discover new things and get inspiration from people who share your interests."

I know.  I know.  Another social network.  Where will you find the time?  How will you measure the ROI?

Good questions!

Still, check out these stats.

Pinterest is now ranked 41st in the world for most trafficked websites.  (This means that Pinterest gets more traffic than!)  Also, it's a haven for women ages 18 - 34.

If you're trying to reach young women, in particular, and you can squeeze a little more time out of your day, Pinterest may be a great way for you to drive more traffic to your site, generate new email sign-ups, showcase the people and spirit behind your nonprofit, and just plain have a little fun!

To learn more about Pinterest or start "pinning" today, check out Steal These 42 Creative Pinterest Ideas for Nonprofits and read, How to Use Pinterest for Business by Hubspot.

Also, for inspiration, check out the pinboards for Oxfam America, Heifer International, and AARP!



Wednesday, August 15, 2012

What are the Values You Choose to Lead By?

James Kouzes and Barry Posner developed The Leadership Practices Inventory, a survey to ascertain the most important qualities of successful leaders.  Over the past thirty years, over three million respondents have ranked the leadership characteristics that matter to them most.

Can you guess what these qualities are?

People want and follow leaders who are:

  • Honest
  • Future-oriented  
  • Inspiring
  • Competent

If you ponder this for a moment, this seems like such a no brainer. 

Of course, we want our leaders to be honest.  It's hard - no impossible - to follow someone you don't trust. 

Of course, we want our leaders to be future-oriented.  It's hard to follow someone who doesn't know where they are going.

Of course, we want our leaders to be inspiring.  Work is hard and, especially in the nonprofit sector, our battles long.  We want and need the encouragement and can-do attitude that inspiring leaders provide.

Of course, we want our leaders to be competent.  It's hard to follow someone (even the nicest someone) if they don't know what they are doing or can't get things done.

Here is the question that stymies me.

If we know what we want from our leaders (and ourselves!) why is it so hard to find and be the types of leaders who actualize these values in the real world?

The answer is simple.  We're human.  Unfortunately, we're prone to ego, fear, confusion and all kinds of other human emotions that hurt our ability to lead and lead well.

Still, if you aspire to become a better leader (I hope you do!), there are concrete steps you can take to enhance your leadership skills and become a more powerful force for good in the world.

First, create your own leadership code of ethics (see above and mine below) - a simple statement of the values you choose to lead by.

Second, ask for feedback.  Ask trusted advisers, friends, mentors and those you serve how you can improve your leadership and then USE their feedback to improve.

Third, take on leadership roles.  Like any skill, leadership takes practice.  You can't become a better leader in the abstract.  Volunteer at your local church, temple or mosque.  Take on a new challenge at work.  Step up in your family and community to serve others. These experiences provide the training ground for your leadership.

Fourth, read about and take The Leadership Challenge by Posner and Kouzes and join millions of others trying to build a better word.



Here are the principles that guide my leadership.
  • Tell the truth.  
  • Be vulnerable aka admit mistakes.
  • Care deeply about others.
  • Listen well. 
  • Learn as much and as quickly as you can about everything!
  • Express praise.
  • Be passionate.  
  • Have fun.

What are the values that you lead by?

Sunday, August 12, 2012

People Buy People: How Are You Connecting Your Constituents to Your Organization and Each Other?

"You can be part of a well funded startup, have all new planes, a cool product, leather seats, live TV, cool snacks.  But none of it matters.  The people are the are the brand as a person."
- Dave Barger, President and Chief Operating Officer, jetBlue
Why do you go to Starbucks or Dunkin' Donuts or Caribou Coffee every morning?  (Don't answer unless this is something that you religiously do.) 

Is it because you can make your own delicious blend of caffeinated juice?  Is it because it's the closest coffee shop to work?  Or is it because you like the other regulars and staff?

Chances are it's a little bit of each - product, place and people - that draws you to your favorite coffee bar.  But I venture to guess that the PEOPLE there have a big influence on you.  If you have a B or B- barista, you'll change shops, maybe even chains, one day.  Conversely, if you know your barista by name, you're likely to become a true believer.

In his awesome book, The Culting of Brands: Turn Your Customers Into True Believers, Douglas Atkin, makes the very strong case that in this world of commodities, people buy the experience they have with other people - not the products/services alone.
"True and lasting commitment to effected through people. It's all about the "primacy of the person."  What do I mean by primacy of the person?  The conventional wisdom is that people buy ideas or things.  The transaction is between the individual and the object or idea...But we will be handicapping our attempt to build a successful business if we settle for these answers or accept the perceived wisdom of our community.  People buy people.  Of course, they buy into belief systems, whether religious, political, or those devised for brands.  It would be ridiculous to underestimate their importance...But for real commitment, the recruit and existing members need to feel that they have a relationship with "an other" or "others."  The buy-in to the ideology and tangible benefits comes later."
I use a Mac because it makes me feel like I am part of a community of other creative types who are using our brains and energy to create a better world.

I drink a grande, half-caff at Starbucks on weekend mornings because I like the taste (not the price!) of the $2.00 coffee AND I also like being part of my local community.

I shop at Trader Joe's because they stock some of my favorite snacks, but also because the store has such a great, upbeat, and quirky vibe.  The store ambiance and the friendly staff make the dreaded grocery visit less of a chore.

When I think about the causes and charities I support, the same logic applies.  One of the reasons that I give to some nonprofits vs. others is because of who works there and how I FEEL about the community of givers.  In short, my philanthropy is driven by the experience I have with other people involved in the organization in addition to the work that the people in the organization do!

What this means for you

In addition to focusing on the "features and benefits" of your programs, you'd be wise to invest some time and energy thinking about how you are connecting to the constituents in your organization and how they are connecting to each other.

This means moving beyond a transactional approach to fundraising and marketing where you "sell" your programs to an individual to get an email sign-up, event registrant or check.  Instead, this means being in relationship with your supporters and helping them to be in relationship with you!  

You can and probably are creating a community of givers offline.  Through events, walk/run/rides, and house parties you bring donors together and help them to get to know each other and you. 

The great news is that in the Connected Age, you can also use online tools and channels to create rich and inexpensive experiences to bring people together and create long-lasting relationships.

Here are some nonprofits that are doing a good job of connecting people with each other online

How are you using the Internet to build a community of believers?

The Nature Conservancy has created a community of nature photographers who share their love of the earth via sharing pictures of their favorite places.  They run an annual photo contest to highlight and recognize the communities' work.

Charity: Water does a fantastic job of engaging its donors in the water crisis by encouraging them to share the work of the organization via peer-to-peer giving.  In this way, the charity is not just raising more for the organization, it is actually creating greater meaning for and connection between donors.

On their blog, Autism Speaks does a great job of sharing the personal stories of the women, men and children who have been touched by this mysterious disease.  Again, these stories, do more than connect you to the cause, they give you a glimpse into the people who comprise the Autism Community, which helps you to decide whether or not this is the right community for you.

In the nonprofit sector, we're getting better at telling the stories of the people we serve.  We're also getting better at highlighting the impact of our programs and services.  But if we want to create lasting institutions and movements where people feel a deep sense of loyalty and commitment to our causes, we also need to connect people to each other.  We can do this online or offline - the channel doesn't matter.  What does matters is that we never forget that humans are innately social beings.  And in addition to focusing on how and where we spend our time, talent and treasure, we want to know WHO we are spending it with. 

To become a consummate community builder and create intense loyalty toward your nonprofit, read The Culting of Brands: Turn Your Customers into True Believers by Dan Atkin.



Thursday, August 9, 2012

We are All Sikhs

I am speaking today to a group of nonprofits in Chattanooga, TN and am dedicating my talk to the people who lost their lives in the terrible shooting last week in Wisconsin.

If you too are grieved by this hate crime, please read and sign this petition and share with your friends.

Warm regards,


Friday, August 3, 2012

Friday Quotes

In homage to the late, great, leadership-guru, Stephen Covey, author of the awesome 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, I share this quote with you today.
"So, what do you want to be when you grow up? 
That question may appear a little trite, but think about it for a moment.
Are you--right now--who you want to be, what you dreamed you'd be, doing what you always wanted to do? 
Be honest.
Sometimes people find themselves achieving victories that are empty--successes that have come at the expense of things that were far more valuable to them.
If your ladder is not leaning against the right wall, every step you take gets you to the wrong place faster."
Have a great weekend!

Warmest regards,