Advocacy

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So proud of these girls in our town who are pushing back on being blamed for “distracting” boys with their outfits, and getting punished for it. Punishments include having to wear a huge Scarlet Letter-ish “shirt of shame” for the rest of the day, totally covering their bodies.

But I’m thrilled that this group of girls has mobilized to protest this code and punishments. They are utilizing the online communications tools that make now organizing so much easier to build and scale. And they know how to message! Check out the hashtag #iammorethanadistraction.

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Nancy Schwartz on June 18, 2014 in Advocacy | 6 comments

Imagine this—What you say and when you say it are completely OUT OF YOUR CONTROL for a full 24 hours.

#surrenderyoursay

That’s what Surrender Your Say participants experienced via this imaginative campaign from Tourette Syndrome Foundation of Canada (TSFC). TSFC launched this out-of-the-box Twitter takeover to boost gut-level understanding of what having the disorder is like, specifically that it’s more complex than the popular misconception of a disease that causes people to swear uncontrollably (which affects less than 10% of those with Tourette Syndrome (TS)).

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Nancy Schwartz on June 27, 2013 in Advocacy | 2 comments
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I’m pleased to welcome guest blogger Leslie Kerns, Senior Vice President and Director of Campaigns at M+R Strategic Services.

As communicators for nonprofit issues like land conservation and human rights, it’s natural to be drawn to work that plays up our strengths. As a group, we tend to like writing press releases, blog posts, reports, stories, position papers, tweets,and factsheets that make the case for our causes.

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Guest Blogger on June 14, 2012 in Advocacy | 0 comments
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I’ve always admired the work, style and smarts of Kaboom, which helps communities nationwide to build and restore playgrounds. So I was thrilled to interview a few Kaboom staffers — including Jim Hunn, Vice President, Mass Action — in my discovery process for a client’s web strategy.

Engagement is the success factor for every program, including the project I’m working on, and a primary topic of my work.  Jim and colleagues outlined several key motivators for community participation in the work they do, ones they’ve identified through getting to know what’s important to these communities. Knowing that, and what’s top of mind for the network you need to engage is the prerequisite to relevance, which drives engagement.
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Nancy Schwartz on December 21, 2011 in Advocacy | 0 comments
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NJ Library ChampionsAs a Jersey Girl , I was thrilled to hear that the New Jersey State Library was recently honored for outstanding marketing of its Tell Us Your Story advocacy campaign with a 2010 John Cotton Dana Award.

Here’s how the campaign worked:

  • Campaign organizers mobilized staff members in 240 libraries across the state to ask their  communities to Tell Us Your Story.
  • Countless Jersey-ites who rely on public libraries for computers to aid in job searches, free summer programs for kids, books, DVDs and films stepped up to share their stories here.
  • The organizers used these terrific stories (you can read some of them here) locally and in a statewide media campaign.

There’s lots to learn from the way the Library designed and marketed this campaign. Here are the campaign’s main success factors:

1. Mobilizing and training first-line messengers – library staff – as campaign advocates

This fantastic campaign harnessed on-the-ground staff to solicit patron stories. But organizers didn’t just expect that library staff would know what to do or would spend the time to figure it out.

Instead the organizers trained library staff (a.k.a. messengers) via a marketing toolkit supplemented by a  library communication network linking more than 500 users.

2. Motivating the second-line messengers – Library users to library champions

Campaign organizers knew that NJ library users had a lot of good stories to tell. And that their favorite library staffers could motivate to do it.

But they made involvement more compelling by naming it. Become a Library Champion is a far more powerful invitation than Share Your Story. It tells library users that their story will help sustain the library and gives them a name easy to remember and repeat.

3. Putting the stories to work in an all-state media campaign

The campaign generated powerful stories on how libraries have helped users in areas as varied as job searches to providing audio and braille books for blind users. But it didn’t stop there.

It used NJ library users’ stories as the core of a strategic media campaign that reached millions of people, including elected officials, through stories, commercials, outreach and the website.

4. Building a core of citizen advocates – From sharing a story to fighting for library funding

It’s likely that many of those who shared their stories would never have stood up to fight for library funding if asked directly. But sharing their stories engaged them.

And now, the Library has compiled a database of library champions (you can become one here) to update them on urgent legislative issues as they arise.

Due, at least in part to this campaign, the 2011 cut in library funding was reduced to 42% of the 2010 budget, from the 74% slashing initially proposed.

NJ State Library’s campaign design and process of engagement is a definite success, and a fantastic model for your organization. Of course the celebrity champions didn’t hurt – but they alone wouldn’t have had the same impact.

What are you doing to mobilize your colleagues and base as messengers? Please share your story here.

P.S. Get more in-depth articles, case studies and guides to nonprofit marketing (and video) success — all featured in the twice-monthly Getting Attention e-update. Subscribe today.

Nancy Schwartz on July 28, 2010 in Advocacy, Case Studies | 1 comment
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Nothing Raises Awareness like In-Your-Face AdvocacyI was vacationing last week, doing some winter unwinding in warmer climes. In that relaxed state, it was particularly startling to walk by this graphic banner outlining the foie gras production process.

These multiple graphic images of force-feeding geese helped me understand how foie gras is produced, in a few seconds. Those dining in the restaurant these protesters were targeting didn’t stop eating, but I know they learned something too.

What worked here was:

  • Relevance: The protesters made their case on site, right in front of a restaurant serving foie gras.
  • Strength of messaging: Messaging was mainly graphic here. These strong, unforgettable images told the story. More than you wanted to know.
  • Call to action, with a clear, doable act outlined: The brochure distributed a card from the Humane Society stapled to it, ready to be detached to give to the waiter or owner of a restaurant serving foie gras. Easy.

But here’s what could work even better:

  • When I asked the protesters what organization they were with, they couldn’t answer. One said they were just individuals, not an organization. Another handed me a brochure from In Defense of Animals.
  • That was confusing, and raised a question of credibility for me. Have your story straight, and be consistent in sharing it.

P.S. Get more in-depth articles, case studies and guides to
nonprofit marketing success — all featured in the twice-monthly
Getting Attention e-update.
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Nancy Schwartz on March 3, 2010 in Advocacy | 1 comment
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Obama Win Signals Communications Game Change -- Get on BoardUniversal confirmation roots Obama's win in the melding of community organizing and internet-based networking (parlayed into a high-power ground game).

If your organization has poo-pooed social media or simply shied away from it, there's no bigger signal that it's time to step in.

More to come.

P.S. Obama got this simple and heartfelt thank you email out to his network just minutes after his victory was declared. That's immediacy.

Nancy Schwartz on November 5, 2008 in Advocacy, Campaign Marketing Models & Tips, Citizen Participation/Crowdsourcing, Nonprofit Communications, Social Media | 1 comment

Rainforest Action Network Grabs Headlines -- Connects Its Work wFinancial CrisisMy husband Sean, who works down in the Wall Street area, called in yesterday with this hot story: The Rainforest Action Network(RAN) had hoisted a huge "FORECLOSURE" banner, printed on a 150 square foot American flag, over the Wall Street bull. About 50 protesters and an interested crowd had gathered, including several media reps. Sean’s photos here.

Frame or be framed, as they say. RAN did a fantastic job in framing their campaigns as attacking the foundation of the current financial crisis. You see, RAN is generally perceived as a typical environmental organization. But for some time now, the org has broadened its focus to include a socially just and ecologically sustainable economy. It’s just that most people don’t think of RAN that way.

With today’s dramatic action, RAN linked its Global Finance and Sustainable Economies campaigns to a broader
concept of sustainability. In connecting its work with the financial debacle as follows, RAN grabbed headlines and boosted awareness of its focus, work and impact:

It is critical that we look beyond the bailout to the underlying cracks this crisis has exposed in our financial system. We have an unprecedented opportunity to rebuild our economy and establish a financial system that operates within ecological limits. It’s time for Americans to demand structural solutions that put families before financiers and the planet before profits.

Linking your org’s work and impact with page one news works time and again to boost media coverage. Make that connection clear to your media contacts who cover those issues/stories. It’ll increase awareness and engagement among your entire base while charging up your staff like the Wall Street bull.

P.S. Learn how to craft a compelling story for your org in 8 words or less. Download the free Nonprofit Tagline Report for must-dos, don’t dos, case studies and 1,000+ nonprofit tagline examples!

Nancy Schwartz on October 2, 2008 in Advocacy, Branding and Messages, Case Studies, Nonprofit Communications, Unique Approaches | 0 comments
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Urging millions around the world to “play the game” and “deliver nets,” the UN Foundation’s Nothing But Nets(NBN) campaign just launched an intriguing interactive game to build understanding (in an incredibly fun way) of how insecticide-treated bed nets to prevent malaria get to users in Africa.

Deliver the Net” teaches users about bed net distribution and challenges individuals to deliver as many virtual nets as possible before the sun goes down and malaria-carrying mosquitoes come out to bite. Players are urged to “race the sun and hand out as many insecticide-treated bed nets as you can to African families. The more nets you deliver—before the mosquitoes come out—the more lives you save. Once you’re done playing the game, sign up for news about the campaign and a life-saving bed net will be sent on your behalf!”

This is one of the most ingenious nonprofit marketing campaigns I’ve seen, ever. Here’s why:

  • Launched at the beginning of the month, the game is a build up to World Malaria Day on April 25th. I can’t imagine a better attention-getter; and this generates donations too.
  • NBN sent an engaging, colorful email invite to get participation going with this clear subject line: Play to win. Send Nets. Stop Malaria.
  • The game is truly fun and engaging; learning is organic rather than pushed and so has greater staying power.
  • Providing your email address at the end of the game — when players “get it,” and enabling follow-ups from the campaign — generates a $10 gift to NBN from its partners. $10 covers the cost of purchasing a long-lasting insecticide-treated bed net, distributing it to a family in need and educating the recipients on its proper use. And, players are invited to donate additional nets, at the affordable price of @$10.
  • After providing your email address, you’re brought to an online video of a UN worker in the field talking about the project and challenges of the  difficult security situation. It’s on YouTube, so easy to pass on.
  • It’s a fun game that delivers a powerful impression at the end when you see the guy inside his tent, filming the video, with the generator running in the 110 degree heat. The video creates a real sense of what it’s like for African’s fighting malaria.

Just a few days post-launch, 2,673 players to date have generated a gift of a net to Africans, and understand how nets can combat malaria — all while having fun. Fun while learning; nothing’s better than that.

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Nancy Schwartz on April 8, 2008 in Advocacy, Case Studies, Fundraising: Innovations & Research, Nonprofit Communications, Unique Approaches, Web 2.0 | 1 comment
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V3 Campaign Provides Window Into Candidates' Take on NonprofitsI never thought much about the potential political power of the nonprofit sector — stemming from its influence and economic contribution, thinking more along issue lines. But now, with the launch of the V3 Campaign, Robert Egger (President of the D.C. Central Kitchen) clarifies the power of the nonprofit sector’s "Voice, Value and Votes."

Many of Egger’s factoids are startling in their quantification of nonprofit impact:

  • 90% of college freshmen have performed community service
  • Nonprofits, via donations received, represent 7% of GDP
  • 14 million in the US work for nonprofits
  • Nonprofits collectively hold $3 trillion in assets.

What’s incredible is Egger’s mobilization of nonprofit staffers to use their power (and their votes) to vet candidates at all governmental levels. All I can say is, why haven’t we used our voice before? Now that we know how strong it is, let’s shout it out.

Thanks to Katya Andresen for the tip.

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Nancy Schwartz on February 6, 2008 in Advocacy, Nonprofit Communications, Unique Approaches | 2 comments
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