Branding and Messages

Guest blogger Karen Petersen is Director of Annual and Planned Giving at the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology in Huntsville, Ala.

In my previous life, I was a TV reporter. My favorite part of the job was interviewing people and weaving their words together with mine to construct a compelling story. Little has changed since I changed careers.

In fundraising, we are all storytellers!

To tell the best stories, we need to find convincing characters who can provide passionate and powerful quotes. As Nancy has said in previous posts, “testimonials provide credibility.

You may automatically reach out to external donors for your organization’s testimonials. However, you may be surprised by the storytellers you can find in the cube, office or even lab next door.

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Guest Blogger on March 21, 2017 in Branding and Messages | 0 comments
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Call to ActionRemember when you were a teen and your mom told you to clean up your room, call your grandmother, and set the table all within the same five minutes.

Remember how frustrating that was. How even if you wanted to do what your mom wished—not every teen’s desire, for sure—you couldn’t do three things at once. So instead, most of the time, you did nothing!

I was thrown back there this morning when I uncovered this card I had picked up at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (the Met). Just count the calls to action featured on this small postcard:

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Nancy Schwartz on March 8, 2017 in Branding and Messages | 0 comments
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Consistent MessagesWhether you’re all in on year-end fundraising or working in some 2017 prep, I bet you have some pretty ambitious goals to meet. You wouldn’t be reading this otherwise.

Here’s a proven but frequently overlooked method to help you get there: consistent communications. Consistency enables your people and prospects to recognize your organization’s communications in a flash. Time and time again, I’ve seen consistency across channels, programs and services, and audiences help nonprofits like yours motivate the actions they need. Those are the same messages likely to be remembered and repeated. Here’s how to get there:

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Nancy Schwartz on December 14, 2016 in Branding and Messages | 1 comment
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Relevant MessagesThis morning’s election news dug into the divide that’s fracturing the U.S. Hearing the stats on how deep and broad these divisions are—rural vs. urban, men vs. women, those with post-secondary education vs. those without—wasn’t surprising. But it was distressing, especially as I contemplate where we go from here.

So many organizations have ignored the chaos we’ve lived in during this extended election ramp up. In sharp contrast, StoryCorps has communicated with non-partisan honesty and heart:

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Nancy Schwartz on November 8, 2016 in Branding and Messages | 0 comments
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distractedHow many times did you get distracted already today?

It’s no secret that we need to communicate quickly, briefly and on point to grab the attention of folks in a near constant stage of distraction. That’s been one of the most significant fundraising challenges since the advent of the Internet, compounded over time by our reliance on more content on more platforms on more devices more of the time. But the first step to connecting in our age of distraction is understanding what’s going on.

Consider your habits. How much attention do you give your 8-year-old daughter’s first-time request to host a sleepover, your BFF’s distress over her mom’s increasing dementia, or your colleague’s wrangles with her boss? For most of us, the answer is “not as much as I would like to.”

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Nancy Schwartz on May 17, 2016 in Branding and Messages | 0 comments
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via GIPHY

Punxsutawney Phil predicted an early spring this morning, and I’m thrilled we’re not going to get stuck in the snow. In fact, it’s melting fast in the 50-degree sun right outside my New Jersey window.

Your marketing doesn’t have to stay stuck either. Instead, turn to comic genius Bill Murray for guidance on breaking out of your same old, same old marketing approach. He’ll help you take the rest of the year by storm.

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Nancy Schwartz on February 2, 2016 in Branding and Messages | 0 comments
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connectWelcome back to our new Do-It-Differently series, featuring fresh ideas from the field. Thanks to today’s idea generator—Todd McPherson, development director, IFCS.

We revised our tone and content to be more direct, frank and engaging—like a one-to-one conversation: For example, we’re showing results of donor generosity (rather than talking about them) and sharing organizational changes in progress. 

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Nancy Schwartz on December 8, 2015 in Branding and Messages | 0 comments
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Passion is Contagious & ConnectsLast summer, my husband and I finally visited The Stickley Museum at Craftsman Farms, which had been on our go-to list for a decade. It’s the former country estate of noted turn-of-the-20th-century designer Gustav Stickley, a leader of “the Arts and Crafts movement in decorative arts, home building, and furnishing styles.” It’s the only house Stickley ever built for himself, so showcases his design esthetic, utopian vision and radical approach to daily life.

Here’s what surprised and delighted me:

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Nancy Schwartz on May 28, 2015 in Branding and Messages | 0 comments

Flickr: Bradley JohnsonHere’s how I partnered with a wonderful client organization to develop relevant, memorable messages (and guided graphics to match) that are bringing employees, supporters, partners and participants closer and motivating them to get more involved. YOU can do it too

The Challenge: Outdated Messages Were Deterring Key Actions: Registering, Donating, Partnering 

I recently completed an all-new message platform (tagline, positioning statement, talking points or key messages at organization and program level and elevator conversation) for the largest human services organization in Massachusetts.

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Nancy Schwartz on May 20, 2015 in Branding and Messages | 0 comments

Break-the-Rules CommunicationsWake up, girls and boys! It’s time to change our ways.

Here’s the thing: I’m a rule follower, and I bet you are too. After all, nonprofit communications isn’t the Wild West. But…

Rules are made to be broken, at least once in a while. And as much as I believe in defining clear goals to guide your right-now marketing decisions, and staying consistent within that framework for as long as its relevant, sometimes you just need to bust out. Here’s how:
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Nancy Schwartz on April 8, 2015 in Branding and Messages | 0 comments

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