Recommended Resources

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, 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 | 1 comment
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Where's Your Org's Social Media PolicySocial media is a free-flowing, wide-open phenomenon that needs to be handled and handled well. So frame its use for your staff, volunteers and base.

The clearer you are, the more likely it is that your org will make an impact with these tools  — whether you're just monitoring conversation about your org via Google Alerts, have a two-pronged approach with Facebook fan and cause pages or are experimenting on several fronts.

Core issues to cover include:

  • What's the personal/professional split, if there needs to be a split?
  • Any approvals necessary, at any point?
  • Who responds to conversation about your organization and how?
  • Who else needs to hear about that conversation?
  • How do you protect your brand?
  • Can anyone on staff who wants to be a spokesperson?
  • Which platforms do you get active on, and how?
  • What social media-ing is ok to do at work, and what's not ok?

Here's what your policy will do for your organization:

  • The policy creation process itself makes you think through issues too easy to ignore, but far too important to.  It will also increase your organizational understanding of how use of these tools intersects with existing operating processes, and what may have to change.
  • Makes people feel at ease because they know what to do and what to expect.
  • Ensures your team is in sync with each other, rather than working (usually unknowingly) at cross purposes.
  • Leads to a consistent, recognized voice online — via your Web site, e-news and social media presence(s). That's the only voice that your base will recognize, in a snap, where ever they are. Make it easy for them to do so.

Nonprofits-and-social-media guru Beth Kanter offers several guidelines for shaping your org's social media policy here, along with links to sample social media policies.

P.S. A powerful tagline is a critical success factor in bringing your organization's messages to life.  Download the free Nonprofit Tagline Report for must-dos, don't dos, case studies and 1,000+ nonprofit tagline examples!

Nancy Schwartz on April 23, 2009 in Nonprofit Communications, Recommended Resources, Social Media, Web 2.0 | 4 comments
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Ask Nancy Our Org Wants to Launch a Web Site wo Much Time or Expertise. Where Do We Start
Dear Nancy,

I am a member of a small non-profit organization for the deaf, and we're now embarking on building our first-ever Web site.

With tight funding, few available hours and little expertise, where's the best place to start?

We're looking for a launch pad that doesn't require too much of an initial outlay but is designed to evolve as does our understanding, needs, content and expertise. It would also be nice if the web can be easily modified by our members to post various events.

Thank you,
Bill Dukarski
GGRAD/HH (Greater Grand Rapids Association of the Deaf/Hard of Hearing)


Dear Bill,

First of all, let me commend you for your realism and focus. You know what you need now, and what your organization can invest. That understanding is THE critical first step!

Your challenge is avoiding a static, unchanging, old-fashioned site for your organization when there are these significant limitations on your time, effort, and/or expertise generally required to create and maintain a dynamic site. You'll need a set up that is easy to build, launch and provides some support — all at a reasonable cost.

I'm happy to say I have a clear recommendation for you — Nonprofit Soapbox. Soapbox is a content management system (CMS, a what-you-see-is-what-you-get content editing tool) that will enable GGRAD/HH to build and grow an engaging, dynamic site without the headache. In fact, anyone who can use Microsoft Word can create and run a web site.

What's great is that the Soapbox folks are expert in working with orgs tight on time, budget and know-how. And they've set up a process that works for them, and for their clients. If you end up needing more help, let's say in strategy or graphic design, you can purchase those services on an as-needed basis at a reasonable cost.

So get in touch with Nonprofit Soapbox, Bill. Then please email me and let me know how it goes. I'll share your experience with Getting Attention readers facing the same challenges.

All the best,

P.S. The right messaging is critical to the success of every nonprofit Web site! Download the free Nonprofit Tagline Report for must-dos, don't dos, case studies and 1,000+ nonprofit tagline examples!

Nancy Schwartz on March 18, 2009 in 08NTC, Ask Nancy, High-Impact Websites, Nonprofit Communications, Recommended Resources | 10 comments
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Free Guide Top Nonprofit Marketing To-Dos for 1st 100 Days...and BeyondNonprofit Marketing Guide Kivi Leroux Miller has just released this free map to the first 100 days of your new marketing job. But don’t ignore it if you’ve been there more than 100 days — it’s full of great advice for every nonprofit communicator.

Kivi and her friends in the field outline 100 should-dos for the first 100 days of starting your new job…or the next 100 days. These tips have lasting value.

Here are a few of my favorites from Kivi’s guide, and my suggestions on how to use them day 101 and forward:

  • Kivi says: Review the organization’s 12-month calendar to learn key “lifecycle” events
    • Post 100 days: Review colleague orgs’ calendars, and legislative and editorial calendars to find ways to hook your org’s news into other news.
  • Kivi says: Try to understand why your supporters care.
    • Post 100 days: Talk to your network, not just occasionally but on a regular basis, to learn what’s crucial to them, their perceptions of your orgs. etc. Surveys, focus groups, ad-hoc advisory board…
  • Kivi says: Volunteer for a non-marketing project…to show you’re a team player.
    • Post 100 days: Engage non-marketing colleagues in your marketing work to capture their perspectives and information, especially program staff (also helps build buy in).

Dive in today for 100 ways to strengthen your marketing agenda — whether it’s your 15th day or your 15th year.

P.S. It’s likely those 100 days will reveal a huge messaging gap between your org and your supporters. Close it with an effective tagline. Download the free Nonprofit Tagline Report for must-dos, don’t dos, case studies and 1,000+ nonprofit tagline examples!

Nancy Schwartz on February 19, 2009 in Nonprofit Communications, Planning and Evaluation, Professional Development, Recommended Resources | 0 comments
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Free Marketing Wisdom -- Get It While It's HotMarketingSherpa is sharing some wisdom again in its just-released 2009 Marketing Wisdom report.The report features 94 useful real-life lessons learned last year by marketers just like you, each conveyed in a single paragraph. Great example of creative crowdsourcing too!

I’m a big fan of this report, read it annually and urge you to download it today, for free. Here’s what you’ll get out of it:

  • Succinct, engaging first-hand accounts of marketing techniques that work — from colleagues in nonprofit and business world.
  • Diversity of goals, perspective and experiences.
  • Easy-to-scan content, indexed by tactic, organization and contributor name.

As a bonus, the submissions provide an overview of trends in marketing. This year, the editors point to “email is not dead,” “clarity on the effectiveness of social networking” and the persistent importance of SEO (search engine optimization) as the big three trends.Is that what you’re seeing?

Dive in today and let me know what you learn and put to work.

P.S. Now here’s a bit of my wisdom! 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 February 9, 2009 in Nonprofit Communications, Recommended Resources, Special Opportunities, Unique Approaches | 0 comments
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Social Networking Sucking in Adults Big Time May be Right Channel for Your NonprofitOnce again, the folks at the Pew Internet & American Life Project have opened our eyes: The share of adult internet users who have a profile on an online social network site has more than quadrupled in the past four years — from 8% in 2005 to 35% now. And Tech Crunch just weighed in that one in five Internet users are visiting Facebook in a given month.

The fact that mom and dad and maybe grandpa are on social networks, reported out in detail here, has huge implications for your nonprofit communications work tomorrow and a few for your work today:

  •  75% of online adults 18-24 have a profile on a social network site, but only 7% of those 65 and older do. Those stats are bound to grow in these age groups and those in between. But for now, track your target audiences with their current level of involvement.
  • Social networks are becoming a more important part of fundraising and advocacy campaigns, but mainly through individuals sharing their passions and interests with their friends. These online boosters are folks you want to help spread the word.
  • Right now, explore social networks in a minor way if your targets skew 45 and up; more so if they're younger. But do participate so you're ready to go when those older are on board (not likely to be so far away).
  • Keep tracking who's on social networks, and jump on board when your core audiences are there too. Meanwhile, read about strategies, case studies, dos and don'ts from your colleagues who are already out there.

Just in from TechCrunch (tip of the hat to The Agitator):
"In November 2008 Facebook drew 200 million unique worldwide visitors; more than 1 in 5 people who accessed the Internet that month visited the site. When sites are that big growth generally stagnates, but in Facebook’s case it’s still skyrocketing. In December, 222 million people visited the site says newly released Comscore stats, a 10.8% month over month growth rate. 22% of the total Internet audience went to Facebook in December."

P.S. Whether you're engaging over-65s or 20-35s, 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 January 27, 2009 in Nonprofit Communications, Recommended Resources, Social Media, Social Networking | 1 comment
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Scan These 2 Style Guides & Harvest What's Relevant For Your OrgMy recent article on the what, why and how of style guides generated a huge response. Seems many of you have — eventually — developed style guides (a.k.a. brand book or identity guidelines) that help your organization avoid conflict, save time and deliver a consistent voice and image. What's clear is agreement that the most effective identity guides incorporate both editorial and visual identity guidelines.

Many of you shared your style guides with me. But I was dismayed to see that 85% of these guides feature visual/graphic identity guidelines only. When you neglect the messaging side of the branding equation, you make it harder for staff and other supporters to easily spread the right word.

Here are two strong style guide models (the article links to several more) submitted by readers for your review. Dive in, cherry-pick the elements relevant for your org, and customize as needed.

  1. Identity Guidelines, Bloomberg School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins University
  2. Brand Standards Manual, UMFS (Richmond, VA social services organization)

BTW, if you are using a style guide or brand book that keeps everyone on the same page,  please email me  (w/attachment or a link) so I can share it with other Getting Attention readers.

Nancy Schwartz on January 15, 2009 in Branding and Messages, Nonprofit Communications, Recommended Resources | 0 comments
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Who's the Chief Performance Officer for Your Org's MarketingObama just named Nancy Killefer as first-ever Chief Performance Officer on the White House staff. According to the post, Killefer will be tasked with pinpointing "new and more efficient ways of getting the job done."

It's a no-brainer that effectiveness is the name of the game, and efficiency is a big piece of the effectiveness puzzle. But when was the last time you evaluated the impact of your org's marketing agenda, adjusted accordingly, measured again and so on — on an ongoing basis.

Last time I checked, only 37% of nonprofits track marketing impact. But without that data, you're just driving blind. Here's more on what I learned about the black hole of tracking nonprofit marketing performance. It's pretty shocking. 

I recommend you follow Obama's lead and name a Chief Performance Officer (CPO) today for your organization's marketing. You need a single owner to make it work. Lots of folks can help, but your CPO needs to have impact top of mind every morning, every day. Planning too, because planning and impact are two sides of the same coin.

BTW, you can get free, practical guidance on evaluating your communications in Are We There Yet?, written by evaluation experts at Asibey Consulting and just published by the Communications Network. The guide leads readers through a nine-step process to learn how to monitor and measure  communications.

P.S. Here's the full Getting Attention article series on communications planning and evaluation.

Nancy Schwartz on January 8, 2009 in Nonprofit Communications, Planning and Evaluation, Recommended Resources | 1 comment
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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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