Nonprofit Marketing News

On Jan 24th, Congress will vote to pass internet censorship in the Senate, even though the vast majority of Americans are opposed. We need to kill the bill – PIPA in the Senate and SOPA in the House – to protect our rights to free speech, privacy, and prosperity.

I urge you to act now to fight these bills–my voice, and many others, are in peril:

  1. Contact your representative and senators to tell them to oppose PIPA & SOPA.
  2. Sign this petition.

Nancy Schwartz on January 18, 2012 in Nonprofit Marketing News | 0 comments
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NOnprofit marketerI want to welcome guest blogger Susie Bowie.  As communications manager at the Community Foundation of Sarasota, she is a passionate and talented  force helping organizations in the region develop their nonprofit marketing finesse. Today, Susie heralds her call to action to us nonprofit marketers…

Recently, I’ve heard a couple of remarks about nonprofits and nonprofit staff that just kill me…

First a local business person shared his view that “most of us drawn to nonprofit leadership roles care about charitable work but generally lack the skills to be leaders in the for-profit world.

Then Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook, bluntly stated (his modus operandi) that nonprofits don’t have the power to change the world because they “have no resources” and are “constantly out trying to raise money instead of generating it and being self-sufficient.”

My guess is that if I’ve heard such patronizing criticism from these vocal folks in just the past couple of weeks, that this perspective is fairly widespread.

Why should nonprofit marketers care about such silly comments?

Each time word goes out, in a comment, article or broadcast – about how ineffective or unprofessional our sector is – it costs us financial support. Those messages generate doubts among our supporters, much less those who are still prospects. A heavy onus lies with nonprofit communicators to set it straight, but we can’t do it alone.

So what can and should nonprofit communicators professionals do about it within our sector? Here are three ways we can advocate for the truth:

1) Nurture the business people who do understand the power of nonprofits, support us with sponsorship dollars and provide us with outstanding board leaders.

In Sarasota, FL, local companies like Cavanaugh & Co, Kerkering Barberio, SunTrust and Northern Trust are just a few of the successful for-profits doing their part. As nonprofit communicators, we must thank such boosters profusely and set the stage for keeping the relationships going, highlighting their good work in our nonprofit’s outreach and encouraging our leadership to spread the praise.

It’s simply good public relations. Your personal and business pages on Facebook provide a great forum for shout-outs. Don’t let them slide once a sponsored event or program is over. And let your business partners know what you’re doing—just because you see a good news announcement in your local paper doesn’t mean they’ve seen it.

2) Remember that it’s a constant education process to help those who live outside our sector recognize what important and vital work we do.

We can’t fault the business world for a lack of understanding about charitable work anymore than you can fault yourself for not understanding how to fix the oil spill. Consider yourself not only a marketing ambassador for your organization but one for the sector.

Get wise about the economic impact facts in our charitable sector. Sarasota County nonprofits, for instance, reported over $2.8 billion in assets and over $1.2 billion in revenue in 2008 alone. (Source: National Center for Charitable Statistics, January 2010) That’s a result of caring but inept people begging for money. Who’s the one to shed light on this? You. That’s right, it’s your job too.

3) If we’re going to be seen as professional, we have to stay ahead of the curve in professionalism and in our knowledge base.

All staff members, but particularly nonprofit leadership and communicators, represent the sector wherever they go – whether on the job or not. As the marketing ambassador for your organization, remind your staff of their personal brand (how they carry themselves, what they say about their work and your organization) and how it influences your nonprofit brand—and vice versa.

It’s not about “casual” versus “formal” in your virtual and geographic communities. It’s about aligning your actions and comments with respect and intelligence.

I think most of us do a great job of this. Our ongoing education can’t stop with awareness of the issues we care about most. Having one leg in that business world—with constant monitoring of the corporate news and trends—is critical. Communicating the intersections between the nonprofit and for-profit worlds is partly our responsibility. We have the skills to actively convey these connections to essential internal and external audiences. Leadership can determine where we go with them.

Nonprofits are taking (and historically have taken) a leading role in relationship building, the hallmark of success for any venture, public or private.  But it’s up to us to communicate our successes and strengths in a clear, consistent way, through all the grains of staff, board and program running through our organizations.

Powerful food for thought. Thank you, Susie.

What are your thoughts on how (and if) nonprofit marketers can best promote an accurate understanding of the strengths and power of the nonprofit sector and its people? Should we respond directly to slams such as Zuckerberg’s or take the high road  -showing rather than saying – our expertise and professionalism.

Please comment here. Thanks.

Guest Blogger on July 14, 2010 in Nonprofit Marketing News | 13 comments
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Last Day to Enter 2009 Tagline Awards -- Deadline Midnight TonightYour nonprofit could be a 2009 Getting Attention Nonprofit Tagline Award winner!

Take 3 minutes now to enter today. More information here.

You’ve been fantastically enthusiastic about this year’s award program, and over 1,700 of you have already entered your org’s tagline for award consideration. I thank you for your interest, and for spreading the word.

Let me also thank you for your contribution to strengthening the nonprofit communications field! All taglines entered will be integrated into the Getting Attention Nonprofit tagline database (and the updated 2009 tagline report).

All tagline entrants get a free copy of the report when it’s published in late fall! If you’d like a copy too, but you don’t want to enter your tagline, simply subscribe to the free Getting Attention e-update. That’ll ensure you’re on the list!

Nancy Schwartz on July 31, 2009 in Awards, Branding and Messages, Nonprofit Communications, Nonprofit Marketing News, Taglines | 0 comments
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Kennedy Center's Michael Kaiser Launches 50-State Tour to Help Arts Orgs Flourish in Economic CrisisBack in February, I read about Arts in Crisis, the Kennedy Center's initiative to help arts organizations survive in this challenging climate.  The program, open to non-profit performing arts organizations that apply online, provides free guidance for fundraising, planning and management.

I was heartened and intrigued by the concept, but not provoked to dive in deeper until I heard Kennedy Center President Michael Kaiser interviewed yesterday about his 50-state tour to deliver guidance in person. This guy is incredible — he noted the (relatively) small volume of requests for help, and decided to take the show on the road where he can provide arts management advice face-to-face!

Far more than just a cheerleader, Kaiser strongest message is to avoid "bunker mentality," advising that's the quickest path to organizational failure. Here are his core guidelines:

  1. Do new things, adventurous things. Otherwise you'll be like everyone else, and won't get much attention or support.
  2. Be creative — do more for less. For examples, do staged readings, with the best actors, rather than full-fledged productions. Collaborate. Cut print marketing; relying more on online channels. Kaiser reminds us that a tough environment like this one allows organizations to become more creative.
  3. Don't cut programming, because when you do, you cut a revenue source AND your ambitions.

Kaiser's wisdom is relevant to nonprofit's in all fields. It's far too easy to retreat in the face of adversity. Since we are in tough times that seem to be here to stay for a while, push it to see how you can use them to grow your organization — marketing-wise and programmatically.

More useful guidance, for arts orgs plus, at ArtsManager.org, Arts in Crisis' info-packed, online resource center.

P.S. Share your creativity by entering your tagline today in the 2009 Nonprofit Tagline Awards! Deadline is July 31st.

Nancy Schwartz on July 14, 2009 in Nonprofit Communications, Nonprofit Marketing News, Professional Development, Recommended Resources, Special Opportunities | 1 comment
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YMCA Brand Valued at $6.4 Million -- What This Means for Your OrgThe YMCA of the USA’s brand is worth almost $6.4 million, making it the nation’s most valuable nonprofit brand, according to The Cone Nonprofit Power Brand 100.  This first-of-its-kind research report explores the unique relationship between nonprofit brand image and financial performance.

The survey uses brand image, 2007 revenue and potential for future growth to calculate brand value, a formulation similar to many for-profit valuations of brand, an intangible asset. Cone's goal, states the report, is to help orgs "understand how to protect and evolve their brands to generate as much revenue as possible," and "demonstrate to companies and other partners that there is an established and justified value and cost to working with them."

The top 10 are: YMCA, the Salvation Army, United Way of America, American Red Cross, Goodwill Industries, Catholic Charities USA, Habitat for Humanity International, American Cancer Society, The Arc of the United States, and Boys & Girls Clubs of America. What's surprising is that both Catholic Charities USA and The Arc of the United States are under most consumers' radar despite top 10 rankings for Power Brand and revenue.

What's crucial to know is that nonprofits that clearly identified their mission in their name performed best. For example, the National Cancer Coalition scores higher among consumers than City of Hope.

But if your organization name is not descriptive (and even if it is), add clarification with an 8-word-or-less tagline. Remember, the name and tagline always work together — a sum far greater than its individual parts. Learn more on taglines here

P. S. Don't forget to enter the 2009 Nonprofit Tagline Awards today. Over 850 entries already in!

Nancy Schwartz on July 9, 2009 in Branding and Messages, Nonprofit Marketing News, Recommended Resources | 0 comments
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Ask Experts, Share Issues, Get Inspired -- Join Getting Attention Discussion Group on LinkedIn
Looking for marketing answers? Stuck and need inspiration? Surprised at something that's worked great and want to spread the word?
Please join me and (already) 400 fellow nonprofit communicators in the Getting Attention (GA) Group on LinkedIn.

Here's the deal. For years, folks have been sending me queries on nonprofit marketing dilemmas (Ask Nancy). I do respond via the GA blog or e-update when possible, but…

  1. I just can't respond to the volume anymore, and more importantly…
  2. You'd get a lot more from hearing from your peers, as well as from me. They're the ones out in the field, testing, testing testing. 

So I'm shifting discussion to the Getting Attention LinkedIn Group (we'll have a Facebook group soon). Already have 400 nonprofit communicators there, including several in every issue arena, org size and budget, etc.We already have lots of topics in play and through those discussions, I've been getting tons of new ideas and "meeting" new colleagues.

And, if you're not yet on LinkedIn, it's the perfect motivation for you to spend 10 minutes putting up a profile — great networking, discussion groups from all perspectives (I put queries out and get great responses).

Here's how to join now, in 10 minutes or less:

  • If you're already on LinkedIn, sign up here today. And welcome, in advance.
  • If you're not on LinkedIn yet, sign up here (see Not a User yet line at bottom of page), then join the Getting Attention group. You're going to love being on linkedIn, and part of the group.

Once you're in, ask a question, tell a story, get involved. Like anything else, the more conversation, the richer the experience. Welcome one and all!

Nancy Schwartz on March 31, 2009 in Networking Op, Nonprofit Communications, Nonprofit Marketing News, People, Professional Development, Special Opportunities, Web 2.0 | 0 comments
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Thanks to You 3,062 Voters for the First Getting Attention Nonprofit Tagline AwardsA big thanks to all of you who showed your interest and support by voting for the tagline award winners.

I was amazed that more than 3,000 nonprofit professionals voted; more than I ever expected.

Stay tuned for mid-July publication of The Nonprofit Tagline Report, with dos, don’ts, trends and award winners. And that’s not all…

Report readers also get The 2008 Nonprofit Tagline List with 1,000+ nonprofit taglines. These taglines are a great inspiration and brainstorming tool for your organization’s branding process.

Strengthen your nonprofit brand with the Getting Attention Nonprofit Tagline Report. Subscribe to the Getting Attention e-newsletter (in-depth articles and case studies on nonprofit marketing) to get the free report on publication in mid-September 2008.

Nancy Schwartz on June 23, 2008 in Branding and Messages, Nonprofit Communications, Nonprofit Marketing News, Taglines | 0 comments
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China's Response to Earthquake Recovery May Crack Open Door to Real Nonprofit PresenceUpdate 5/20/08: New York Times reports on unprecedented volunteer movement among Chinese citizens wanting to help earthquake survivors.

As I listened to earthquake news this morning from China’s Sichuan province, I realized that the cards may be aligned for the Chinese government to welcome a real nonprofit sector. Reminds me of post-Berlin wall days in Eastern Europe.

There are already thousands of grassroots nonprofits in China, but they are fighting just to survive without the necessary support and infrastructure, much less to provide services to this huge population (estimated at 1.4 billion). Weak management skills and lack of operating resources are among the  key barriers to Chinese nonprofit impact, as cited in a recent McKinsey & Company report.

However, dramatic events are the most common harbinger of major change, and there’s little more dramatic than the events of the last days in China. There may be a star in this dark, dark sky.

The Chinese government’s response to this earthquake is strikingly different than that to the last major quake in Tangshan in 1976. In those last days of Mao’s regime, the government tried to hide the earthquake, vastly underestimating the death and injury toll. By the end of the year, the Gang of Four was out of power.

In this last ten days, we’ve seen the Chinese government act very differently in:

Yes, this is political maneuvering (aka crisis communications) as China tries to shine in contrast to Myanmar’s government’s disgraceful power play rather than the well being of its people and to the worldwide critique of its anti-human-rights approach, while maintaining some semblance of national glory in hosting the 2008 Olympics. Nonetheless, it’s the end result that really matters.

In addition, over $1 billion in domestic donations have been made by a citizenry largely unpracticed in giving. What a great start. Much of the giving, according to NPR, is coming from students, and those who have achieved urban success after migrating from rural locales who are already busy on message boards questing for accountability for the use of their gifts. 

This is a society aching for nonprofits to fill the gaps the government has been content to hide for so long. This is a people no longer willing to live without rights, or in poverty. This is a country where nonprofit organizations can bring their issue and functional expertise to complement what the government can provide.

Watch, look and listen. With over 50,000 dead and 5 million homeless quake survivors, there’s no better time than now for China to birth a robust nonprofit sector.

Your thoughts?

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Nancy Schwartz on May 19, 2008 in Nonprofit Marketing News, Special Opportunities | 2 comments
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Big Give's Small Impact on Upping Volunteers & Giving

There continues to be a rabid debate swirling around Oprah’s The Big Give. My take? I just don’t see evidence that it’s motivating a groundswell of giving and volunteering at the local level. Wish I did.

The show is just too fake. People aren’t biting, even though the mainstream attention the show has brought to causes and the nonprofit sector is all good. The potential was there; here are some of the ways I imagined nonprofits could leverage Big Give attention. But not that much is happening.

Here are a few reasons why the show remains small potatoes:

  • The show is typical reality, giving is just the rubric. Nothing more. No modeling of true civic action here.No implicit training of citizens on they can work with/via orgs with issue, policy and program expertise to advance what’s important to them. The creators should have woven nonprofits into the show.
  • The show site’s link to VolunteerMatch force a prospective volunteer to click four times to get to the action page. Same with the links to Network for Good for giving.Every click is one more deterrent to action.
  • Oprah’s company, Harpo Productions, is holding tight to the copyrighted Big Give brand. Despite repeated requests for discussion with the legal team, I never got the reasoning behind this dictum. Too bad they won’t share the goods to replicate more locally-based, sustainable attention and action for nonprofits throughout the US.

On the up side, ABC (Oprah’s network) offered $10,000 seed money up to a total of $1 million to any affiliate eager to leverage it into a greater sum. Not that 10k is huge; but these efforts are engaging folks in a more real, more personal, and possibly more sustained way.

Many of the affiliates are simply choosing one great organization, and broadcasting a request for donations. But here’s a much more creative strategy: Sarasota, Florida’s affiliate asked viewers to make an online donation to one of three local charities. The group that raises the most money wins an additional $10,000 bonus(the network’s gift); the other two keep whatever they raise. Best yet, the Community Foundation of Sarasota County is handling all the contributions at no cost, so 100% of donated dollars get to selected charities. That’s a smart use of community expertise.

I’m hoping to see more awareness of, and action for, key social issues coming from the Big Give. Right now, the impact seems very small. Let’s move on. There are bigger fish to fry.

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Nancy Schwartz on April 1, 2008 in Fundraising: Innovations & Research, Nonprofit Communications, Nonprofit Marketing News, Unique Approaches | 0 comments
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Why I'm Going to the NTEN Conference -- And You (And All Nonprofit Marketers) Should TooLast winter, when the folks at NTEN (Nonprofit Technology Network) asked me to present at their annual spring conference, I couldn’t do so due to a long-scheduled client meeting. Beyond that, I just didn’t see a strong match between my marketing focus and the tech folks who would be in attendance.

Was I wrong! Mea culpa.

This year I know more, and I’ll be live blogging from the NTEN Nonprofit Technology Conference (NTC), March 19-21, in New Orleans. Here’s why I’m going, and why you and your colleagues in nonprofit marketing should too, in the words of Holly Ross, NTEN’s ED:

1) Communications and technology are two parts of a whole.
"A good story lies at the core of every effective communication.  But the ways in which we can share those stories, and empower our stakeholders to tell their stories, have exploded in the last few years — all fueled by technology. At the NTC, we explore the myriad ways the communications are empowered by technology – from email newsletters to social networking strategies, and how communicators and technologists working together (or one person with both skill sets) can generate huge impact."

2) NTC is more than a conference; it’s a gateway to colleagues whom you’ll connect with, learn from and want to keep in touch with. 
"The conference isn’t just a bunch of panels. You’ll meet more people with more ideas, energy and answers than you ever have before. NTC offers an opportunity to build and maintain a real community of peers for long term professional development and support. 

You can volunteer at the Day of Service, attend Affinity Group meetings, discuss important topics at birds of a feather tales at lunch, or join other marketing folks for a small group dinner.  We want our attendees to CONNECT, LEARN and CHANGE the world."

3) You get access to top-notch industry experts who care about, and understand,
the nonprofit dynamic. 

"For example, folks from Google will be talking
about their free tools for nonprofits like Apps, Analytics, and the
Google Grants AdWords program."

Don’t stop there. Here’s another huge benefit of attending NTC pointed out by my friend Michael Hoffman of See 3 Communications:

"Technology used to mean backend. Databases. Tracking donors, tracking clients served, etc. All the stuff you needed but didn’t want to think about. Today, tech means those things plus blogging and social networking, online video and fundraising, and personalized content.

So what was once the domain of geeks and coders is now the domain of us marketers and fundraisers. But we still need those geeks — to make our databases talk to each other, to program our sites and  connect our front end (Web sites) to our backend (donor and member databases.)

The NTC used to be the place where all the techies came together. Today, it’s those folks AND us —  those working on the conversation side of communications and fundraising. The bloggers, social media marketers, online video folks, and anyone interested in using Web technologies to attract, engage and motive nonprofit audiences. Having both groups in one place is a huge benefit — we usually don’t speak to each other, or at least not in the same language."

Register for the NTC today. Special discount available till February  29th.

Missing out on the Getting Attention e-newsletter? Subscribe now for in-depth articles and case studies on nonprofit marketing.

Nancy Schwartz on February 14, 2008 in 08NTC, Nonprofit Communications, Nonprofit Marketing News, Professional Development | 1 comment
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