December 2008

Best Wishes for a Wonderful Holiday SeasonHowdy all, 

I'm off to spend the holidays with my family — relaxing, sleeping, eating too much and catching up.  Can't wait.

Hope you have the chance to do the same. Enjoy it.

I'll see you in 2009!

All the best,

Nancy Schwartz on December 23, 2008 in Nonprofit Communications | 0 comments
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Ask Nancy What's The Best Software for Designing Print MaterialsQ: I've been researching software to use for developing marketing collateral.  I have researched Adobe PageMaker, Illustrator, QuarkXPress and more, but just can't seem to determine the best tool for me, our organization and our marketing goals. 

We currently Microsoft Publisher to design marketing collateral (brochures, one -pagers, etc., but I want to be able to do more with photos and graphics than I am able to do in Publisher. What software, if any, you would suggest for an organization that does not want to hire a graphic artist for all of its marketing needs?
                  — Talia Piazza, Program Coordinator, Pittsburgh Partnership for Neighborhood Development

NOTE: Since I'm not a graphic designer, I consulted with one of the best — Susan Edwards — on this one.

A: Sue says "Adobe's InDesign is the professional design and layout software of choice these days. It's expensive and powerful (code for 'steep learning curve')."

If you're designing for professional printing, I definitely recommend you learn to use InDesign. Professional offset or digital printers require high quality PDFs in order to create high-quality printed pieces. Publisher and Word just aren't designed to create output for professional printing.

A great way to quickly master InDesign is to dive into these modestly-priced online tutorials at You can sample a few of the Getting Started segments here, at no charge."

P.S. Please send your nonprofit marketing inquiries to Ask Nancy. I promise you that I'll respond to as many of your questions as possible, always sharing the responses with readers of the Getting Attention blog and e-news.

Nancy Schwartz on December 22, 2008 in Ask Nancy, Graphic Design, Nonprofit Communications, Professional Development, Recommended Resources | 0 comments
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“Make a gift today and I’ll double it.”

That’s the “gotta open this one” subject line of the email I received recently from Michael Stein, nonprofit tech consultant and dealware board president.

Seems Stein and his fellow Idealware board members are putting their money where their mouths are, offering to double any contributions made by year end. I love it.

I assume the email was sent to the Idealware email list (I’m on it) but I urge Michael and friends to hit up their own contacts as well. We know that friends and family are a huge influence on giving and this is a great way to make the ask.

How about turning the matching gifts concept completely on its ear, empowering your supporters even more broadly (staff, board members, individual donors, volunteers) to execute their own matching gift campaigns? Anyone doing so?

P.S. Here’s another great way to help your supporters fundraise: Show them how Facebook makes it easy for them to create a Facebook cause page, asking for birthday gifts for your organization. Here’s how nonprofit tech blogger Amy Sample Ward did it. Hat tip to Beth Kanter.

P. P.S. Yes We Can! When a powerful tagline is joined to a compelling mission…nothing is impossible! Download the free Nonprofit Tagline Report for must-dos, don’t dos, case studies and 1,000+ nonprofit tagline examples!

Nancy Schwartz on December 18, 2008 in Case Studies, Fundraising: Innovations & Research, Nonprofit Communications | 1 comment
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Your Volunteers Make, Or Break, Web 20 Outreach -- But You Have To Help Them Do It RightYou know an idea is big when it bubbles up from various sources at the same time. That’s what’s been happening today with this one…

Putting social media tools to work should be on your “to-do” list for 2009, although you have to take a quick look at what your communications goals are before jumping in. But even if you don’t see a strong immediate match with your goals, it makes sense to experiment with a tool or two so you’ll be up to speed when the time is right.

At a minimum, start with:

  • Facebook: Both Fan and Cause pages for your organization, and a personal page for you (so you get to know how Facebook works, and doesn’t work). “The Cause will require little upkeep and should spread virally with only a little help, while you can focus on maintaining the Page with current content and information, much like a website, ” says Aaron Palmore with the Human Rights Campaign.
  • LinkedIn: Personal profile for you, and a group for your organization (so other LinkedIn users can affiliate themselves with your org, and you can reach them easily via LinkedIn).

But once your org is using some social media tools, putting your existing volunteer base to work is the best way to build out your social media presence. Here’s how:

  • Ensure your base knows your org is out there on Facebook, LinkedIn, Flickr or whatever by:
    • Featuring links on your homepage to those pages and profiles. This is so obvious, but less than 5% of nonprofit orgs using Facebook and other social media do it. Here’s a few that do:
      • Greenpeace, but it’s way at the bottom of the page. Move it up top!
      • Sierra Club, middle of the right column. A bit buried.
    • Including links in your email signature, to your Facebook pages and LinkedIn profiles.
  • Empower your volunteers as organizers to build awareness of and engagement in your cause. But you have to feed them the right content and tools to do it right.
    • CauseWired author Tom Watson advised orgs participating in an online discussion today to “free up your content and volunteers to organize in the venues they prefer.”
    • Here’s how the Red Cross provides its volunteers with “tools [they] can use to help [their] online fans, friends and family join the Campaign for Disaster Relief.”

How are you making it easy for your volunteers to organize via Web 2.0? Email me and I’ll share with Getting Attention readers.

Nancy Schwartz on December 17, 2008 in Nonprofit Communications, Social Media, Volunteers, Web 2.0 | 0 comments
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Join me, Big Duck’s Sarah Durham and brand brain Larry Checco Wed., 12/17 to learn how to make sure your org’s brand shines through the deluge of messages and media out there.

We’ll guide you to do so in this info-packed hour-long webinar sponsored by FundRaising Success, Wednesday, December 17th, 2pm eastern/11 pacific.

You’ll learn: 1) How to establish a strong, memorable brand for your organization; 2) How to create a powerful tag line that will bolster your organization’s brand; and 3) How to monitor consistency of your brand across channels.

Come to this session armed with your questions about branding, to be answered in a live Q&A segment.

Register now. Slots are limited and going fast.

P.S. Yes We Can! When a powerful tagline is joined to a compelling mission…nothing is impossible! Download the free Nonprofit Tagline Report for must-dos, don’t dos, case studies and 1,000+ nonprofit tagline examples!

Nancy Schwartz on December 15, 2008 in Branding and Messages, Fundraising: Innovations & Research, Nonprofit Communications, Professional Development | 0 comments
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Create a Style Guide to Ensure Audience Recognition & Boost Engagement There’s never enough time when you’re getting your nonprofit’s communications out the door. But when two different spellings of the same word (both correct) are used in a membership drive campaign, or the way your nonprofit is described varies from email to email or letter to letter within a fundraising campaign and your logo appears in different colors and different sizes in different places, your audiences will be confused. Promise.

That’s just not the kind of mistake you can afford to make, especially now when attention spans are harder to get than ever. So I urge you to  define editorial and visual identity standards and publish them in a style guide.

Style guides aren’t sexy, and they aren’t top of mind right now when you’re focused hard on what’s next in uncertain times. But a style guide is a straightforward way to make sure you get the most from your communications for no cost and not much time.

As a bonus, your organization’s style guide will cut confusion big-time among your content-creating colleagues, since all their questions are answered in a single, accessible document. Less waiting on answers, less frustration, double fun.

Here’s an outline of the core editorial and graphic elements to incorporate in your style guide. Digest these guidelines, and with that framework in mind, dive into the 10 nonprofit style guide models ( at bottom of this article).

I challenge you, my friends to dig into these models, harvest what makes sense and put together a guide for your nonprofit before the end of the year. It won’t take long, but will generate substantial return for your organization in 2009 and beyond.

P.S. Yes We Can! When a powerful tagline is joined to a compelling mission…nothing is impossible! Download the free Nonprofit Tagline Report for must-dos, don’t dos, case studies and 1,000+ nonprofit tagline examples!

Nancy Schwartz on December 11, 2008 in Nonprofit Communications, Social Media, Web 2.0 | 4 comments
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Learn From Harvey Milk's Communications Finesse Observations of a MoviegoerMy husband and I saw Milk last weekend, the astonishing biopic about gay rights activist, Harvey Milk.

The film works on multiple levels, illustrating Milk's personal journey from a closeted gay man to the first openly-gay elected public official, as it traces the evolution of a focused, organized gay rights movement. Incredible (but human, like the rest of us) man and an incredible story. See it.

Beyond this compelling story though was the back story of Milk's communications finesse. I sat in the dark scribbling down a few of the communications strategies Milk used regularly to dazzling effect:

  • Make a clear, succinct call to action, right up front. It'll frame the rest of the conversation.Harvey Milk introduced himself  to groups with, "I'm Harvey Milk, and I'm here to recruit you." (First heard in a 1978 speech)
  • Keep the issues front and center, personalities behind. Time and again, Milk moved attention back to what really mattered.. When attention kept turning his way, he responded: "I'm not the candidate. The movement is the candidate."
  • But humanize the cause by focusing on the lives affected, making the abstract real and accessible. "It's not an issues, it's our lives," said Milk.
  • Mobilize support for controversial issues through one-to-one relationships. Milk urged the gay community to come out, certain that once people knew their child or or cousin was gay, they'd "make a place for us in this country."
  • Use humor to navigate tight spots. Sometimes it's the only way to move through. When Milk met with a group of union members (big, tough guys) to build their support for his candidacy, his first words were, "You probably haven't met many people like me, so I left my heels at home."

P.S. When a powerful tagline is joined to a compelling mission…nothing is impossible! Download the free Nonprofit Tagline Report for must-dos, don't dos, case studies and 1,000+ nonprofit tagline examples!

Photo: Roberrific

Nancy Schwartz on December 10, 2008 in Campaign Marketing Models & Tips, Incredible Minds, Nonprofit Communications | 1 comment
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Ask Your Base to Make the World a Better Place, Without Spending a Cent The Give ListThe Give List, launched just last week by Allison Fine and Marnie Webb, already lists 71 ways to support communities and causes without your wallet.

It’s rough out there right now for all of us, but that means that other folks and organizations need our help more than ever. So incredible minds Fine and Webb put their heads together to shout out for ways gift givers can strengthen lives and communities.

What’s great is that Fine and Web are putting Web 2.0 to work to brainstorm far and wide, and have already received some great ideas. Take a look at this eye-opening list of $0 helping ops from Lacey at the LA Chamber Orchestra.

Take 15 minutes today to brainstorm how your supporters can help your org even if they can’t give a cent, then shout it out via your blog, site and e-news. Don’t forget to add your ideas to the Give List by tagging your ideas with #givelist on Twitter, or with “givelist” (without the quotation marks) on de.licio.ous, your post or flickr photo so the Give List team can share them with the world.

Great job of seeing the bright side, Allison and Marnie, and crafting a network to inspire others to share their bright ideas for making the world a better place.

Photo: Kevin Eddy, Flickr

Nancy Schwartz on December 9, 2008 in Fundraising: Innovations & Research, Incredible Ideas, Incredible Minds, Nonprofit Communications | 1 comment
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The Upside of the Downturnis incredible ideas.

I've finally taken off my coat, 1 1/2 hours after arrival at the office.

You see despite my best intentions, I couldn't resist diving right into all the incredible ideas delivered to me over the last 24 hours. (BTW, they come in automatically — once I subscribe to the blogs, sites, etc I want updates from — via my RSS reader. RSS readers are a Web-based, spam-free, quick and efficient way to read news you need. Once you take 3 minutes to watch this video, you'll be ready to set up your own reader.)

I've seen no stats on this, but it really seems that adversity is breeding innovation. The economy is in the toilet with life as we've known it gone for good, but I think it's spurred us to be more creative than ever.

There were so many incredible ideas, guidelines and models in my reader this morning that I've realized I have to share more of them. So I'm launching two new post types — Incredible Ideas and Incredible Minds. Watch the blog for introductions to some of the best minds and ideas out there, which I promise will teach, motivate and inspire you.

My first recommendation: If you don't have your RSS ready to go, do it NOW. My top picks are Google Reader and Bloglines. Then as you come upon blogs, sites or other resources you want to keep up with,  just subscribe to have new content sent to your reader. 

Nancy Schwartz on December 4, 2008 in Incredible Ideas, Incredible Minds, Nonprofit Communications, Professional Development, Web 2.0 | 1 comment
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We're in tough times (as if you didn't know). Everyone is, even if the toughness is relative.

The world around us is changing, fast, as practices and institutions we believed in collapse. Many of us feel disrespected by these institutions (employers, banks, etc.) we've invested ourselves in. Plus, we don't know where things are going, and that's anxiety-provoking.

That's why it's vital that you're precisely in tune with your organization's base right now, and convey that in all your interaction. We want to be understood and respected, and that's the way to do it.

The Council on Foundations (COF) showed it gets its base with its recent decision to cut its weekly e-news and replace it with a bi-monthly e-journal on critical issues.

This decision, and COF's effective email announcement
on it, shows audiences that the organization is committed to their needs while the Council demonstrates that it's facing tough times too and is responding appropriately by evaluating all programs. Here are some excerpts from the email:

  • The current economic downturn has every organization reviewing how and why it does all aspects of its business. Here at the Council, we are closely examining all our communication vehicles to ensure they address the current and future needs of our members.
  • From communication surveys, we know that ..,This Week in Philanthropy (TWIP), it is not a vital source of information. That is why this will be the last issue of TWIP.
  • In deciding to stop publishing TWIP, we sought a more useful and compelling
    replacement, and last week we launched a new bi-monthly e-journal, 
    Thought>Action>Impact…on topics that are timely and matter most to you.

This is truly effective planning and communications for now, when responsiveness and respect is everything.  Make sure your organization puts your base front and center in everything you do, and don't forget to let them know about it (show, don't tell, as always).

P.S. Yes We Can! When a powerful tagline is joined to a compelling mission…nothing is impossible! Download the free Nonprofit Tagline Report for must-dos, don't dos, case studies and 1,000+ nonprofit tagline examples!

Nancy Schwartz on December 3, 2008 in Branding and Messages, Case Studies, New Challenges, Nonprofit Communications | 0 comments
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