Thursday, June 28, 2012

What is the Moral of Your Story?

What is the moral of your story?
  • Anyone can make a difference.
  • Hard work pays off.
  • Slow and steady wins the race.
  • Good always triumph over evil.
  • Good gals finish first!
Jonah Sachs, of The Story of Stuff and The Meatrix fame, has a fantastic new book out called Winning the Story Wars: Why Those Who Tell (and Live) the Best Stories Will Rule the FutureYou should buy it and read the whole book.

I liked it for a lot of reason but I was particularly moved by his reminder that
  • Every brand is telling a story.
  • Every story has a moral.
  • To inspire and cut through the media clutter, the moral of your story has to empower others and resonate with the deepest human of values.
Let me elaborate.

According to Sachs, every brand (including yours) is telling a story.

Whether you like it or not, based on how you interact with others, e.g. how you answer the phone, solicit, greet, and thank your donors, etc. you are creating a brand.  This brand is the total impression and EXPERIENCE that others have with you.  It is your narrative.

You can try to POSITION your brand i.e. be intentional about the story you live and tell or you can let it happen to you.  Either way.  Your brand exists.

As a nonprofit, I hope that your brand is positive and that the moral of your story is connected to changing the world.  Because if this is not so, you have a problem.

Not sure of your moral?  Ask yourself these questions.  

In the end of the day...
  • WHY does my organization exist?  
  • WHY do I come to work every day?
  • WHY do donors give to our organization?
  • WHY are our employees, customers, supporters, clients, volunteers, etc. loyal to us vs. others?
Answer these question and you will have the moral of your story.  (I hope you like your moral.  If not, you need to think carefully about your work.)  This moral should anchor all of your marketing and communications.

Here is an example. 

My company, Network for Good, has a compelling vision.  Our goal is to unleash more generosity in the world by helping people and organizations become better fundraisers.

We believe that regardless of their means, people are inherently generous and that if we can make giving easy and (dare I say) FUN we can actually increase generosity in the world.  To date, we have helped to generate over $650 milion in donations to over 80K nonprofits.  This is the moral of our story.

To be clear, this post is not a brag fest about Network for Good, it's a reminder that most nonprofits (including mine) have a noble calling.

The challenge is this.

It takes work to stay true to your calling and to remember the moral of your story when faced with the chaos and business of daily life.

What is the moral of your nonprofit's story?  
  • Why do you exist?
  • What good are you doing in the world?
  • Why should everyone else care?

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Turn Your Website From Ick to Slick - Download 10 Things Your Nonprofit Home Page Must Have Now

Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Google+, Linkedin, and Airtime.  The list goes on and on.

There are myriad outlets for your connecting with your donors and building brand awareness but if you want to raise more money online, you have to get your home base in shape and that means (drum roll) fixing your website!

Fill out this form to access 10 Things Your Nonprofit Home Page Must Have and learn how to whip your website into shape now!  You'll also get to sample Fundraising Fundamentals Premium Training from my company - Network for Good. 

Happy Fundraising!


Wednesday, June 20, 2012

What Will You Do With Your One Wild and Precious Life?

The Summer Day by Mary Oliver
Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don't know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?
I just had the privilege of spending the weekend with my beloved in the mountains of Virginia.

We hiked the Appalachian trail.  We ate raisins and nuts and M&Ms and drank coffee.  We watched the sun set and listened to the sound of strange creatures (birds!) chirping. 

This is heady stuff for a city girl like me!

I was touched by how beautiful the wilderness can be and how easy it is to get out of touch with REALITY.

Marketing for Nonprofits started as a blog about marketing but lately it's a blog about life.  Because in the end of the day, we're all selling something and we all have important questions to answer about who we want to "shill" for and how we want to live in and leave the world.  And these are more interesting questions to me - now.

I don't mean to be morbid but life is really short. 

As Mary Oliver so eloquently says, "doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?"

If you're a young reader, you may not understand these words.  If you're over 40, you will resonate with her wisdom.

You (and I) only have one wild and precious life?

How will you spend your days?  Where will you work?  Who will you love?  What will you become?


Sunday, June 17, 2012

A Real Person Just Like You

Check out this great, short video from Derek Sivers of CD baby fame.

I like his reminder that we are ALL HUMAN and that the Internet is NOT anonymous.

Be careful what you say to others.  Just because you are behind a computer screen doesn't mean that someone else isn't having feelings.


Thursday, June 14, 2012

5 Ways to Become a Better Leader Today

Example is not the main thing in influencing others, it is the only thing.
Albert Schweitzer
If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.
John Quincy Adams
Becoming a great leader.  It's one of the hardest and best achievements in life. 

The good news is that with practice anyone can LEARN to LEAD.  It doesn't matter how many people, where or when you lead, PRACTICE the character traits below and watch your influence grow.
  1. Be self-aware.  Do you know your greatest strengths and weaknesses?  If not, you need to find out - now!  Ask the people who work for you these simple questions.  How did I help you last week?  How did I get in the way?  How can I be a better leader/mentor/coach to you?  It is HARD to hear negative feedback from others but you must if you want to become a better leader.  Use constructive criticism to enhance your leadership and your humanity.
  2. Be humble.  All of the best leaders realize that the people they lead know best - 90% of the time.  That is why you hired them!  Your job is NOT to be the smartest guy or gal in the room.  Your job is to check your ego at the door and create the ENVIRONMENT to unleash the talents of others and help them succeed.  
  3. Be honest.  It sounds simplistic but if you want to create an open, constructive, honest culture  at your organization, be open, constructive and honest!  Be willing to say what is true ESPECIALLY when it is hard.  If you don't model this type of behavior as a person in a position of power and authority you CANNOT expect your employees to do the same.
  4. Be brave.  Even the most seasoned leaders are HUMAN and we all get tripped up by pride, fear and loss.  If you are doing it right, leadership WILL feel uncomfortable at times.  You will be unpopular.  You will step out and say the things that no one wants to hear.  You will make mistakes - big and small.  Have heart; be brave.  If you are not living on the edge you probably aren't leading.
  5. Be trustworthy - People do not follow people who are duplicitous.  (Look at the zeitgeist about Congress.)  Sure, your employees may do what you say to get a paycheck but that does not mean that they are truly invested in their work, trust you and are loyal.  Say what you are going to do and do what you say.  And admit your mistakes.  (See Step 4.)  This will give your employees/neighbors/constituents the confidence they need to know that your word is your vow and they can and should follow you.
Leadership is no small feat and that is why so few of us do it well.  It's also an incredible privilege and opportunity.

Whether you lead a team of 0 or 20 you can become a better leader now.  Practice the characteristics above and watch your influence grow.