Relevance Rules

Summer-ize Nonprofit MarketingYou know it, and I know it. Shaping content that matters to your readers is everything. But that’s tough when we’re all seasonally distracted by the fireflies, fireworks and family vacations.

Even though schooldays ended eons ago for most of us, our focus, attitudes, and readiness to act change as the weather warms. But how to reshape your communications to meet your people where they are?

Here are three ways to up your summer communications game in the next few weeks and future summers:


Nancy Schwartz on August 18, 2015 in Relevance Rules | 0 comments

LisaSargent 2.1

Guest blogger Lisa Sargent is one of the best fundraisers and copywriters I know. She focuses here on donor communications, but her take is relevant for all nonprofit campaigns and audiences. Read on, and we up!

Lately it’s been that the 24/7 donor communications fiesta … is getting a little tired.

Same old players, same old info, recycled the same old ways: more you/less we, Flesch Kincaid and readability, ban all jargon, timely thank-yous, and on and on and on.

Then Nancy Schwartz wrote this. She said:

“[It’s] about WE…not you. This is a critical shift in voice that I’m starting to feel is very important.

For so long, experts have advised cause communicators to address prospects and supporters in second person—you. The shift to WE—signaling the power of collective action for stronger results—is a vital strategic shift.”


Nancy Schwartz on June 9, 2015 in Messaging, Relevance Rules | 2 comments
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Relevance RulesThere’s no better way for your organization to get your supporters’ and prospects’ attention (media attention, too) than piggybacking on what’s already top of mind. Your people are already thinking on this stuff, so are far more likely to connect with your campaign than at any other time. Relevances rules!

So, make the most of Mother’s Day—you still have time if you act now. Mother’s Day campaigns are right-things, right-now marketing and I’ve seen some fantastic examples from nonprofits like yours in recent years. Take a look and act NOW:


Nancy Schwartz on May 5, 2015 in Relevance Rules | 0 comments
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Watch it and weep, with laughter and recognition (if you’re a working parent, or overloaded in any other way). That’s definitely me! Is it you? This video from Make It Work—a community making things better for hardworking women, men and families across the country—works wonders. It: READ MORE

Nancy Schwartz on March 11, 2015 in Relevance Rules, Video | 4 comments
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 Take 3 minutes to listen to this incredible speech. Relevance rules at the Oscars too.

That was reinforced big time in this fantastically-moving acceptance speech by Lupita Nyong’o (Best Supporting Actress for 12 Years a Slave) AND in the massive media coverage of her speech from the moment it started. Journalists, bloggers and others were clearly as moved as I was by this motivating and memorable 3-minute speech.

Even for folks like me, who find the actual Oscars’ ceremony tedious, there’s much to enjoy retrospectively, including this speech. And for all of us nonprofit communicators and fundraisers, there’s much to learn from Lupita’s words and delivery.


Nancy Schwartz on March 3, 2014 in Branding and Messages, Relevance Rules | 12 comments

Feeding America-Shutdown2Part 2: Newsjacking the Shutdown WWII Style (Case Study)

Dramatic and quickly-implemented changes like the United States government shutdown—even when known in advance to be a strong possibility—are challenging to respond to promptly and well.

OPPORTUNITY ALERT: I urge you to leverage the shutdown in right-now fundraising and advocacy campaigns if it has increased the demand for your services and/or threatened your budget and ability to continue providing services. Make that connection, clearly and simply, and reach out today.


Nancy Schwartz on October 2, 2013 in Relevance Rules | 9 comments

Shutdown ResponseNonprofit communicators!

1) Is the Federal government shutdown affecting your nonprofit?

2) Are you addressing that impact in your content? If yes, what, where and how?

3) Have you decided to hold on any planning or posting?

Please share here a.s.a.p.! I hope to blog on how-tos first thing tomorrow morning. Thank you!

P.S. Take a look how D.C.’s Sixth & I Synagogue, which doubles as a vibrant Jewish community center, opened its doors to provide community (what else?) to those displaced by the shutdown, including Political Ping Pong.

The staff did a great job prepping ahead of time for the possibility of the shutdown, giving folks a heads up and was all set to open doors at 10am this morning. You can join in via the Synagogue’s Facebook page. That’s relevance. communications.

P.S. Get in-depth case studies, templates and tools, plus guidance for nonprofit marketing success in the twice-monthly Getting Attention e-update. Subscribe today.

Nancy Schwartz on October 1, 2013 in Relevance Rules | 5 comments
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We’re long-time members of the local JCC (Jewish Community Center, sort of a Jewish Y). Our daughter was there for daily pre-K care but now we’re there mostly for the pool and gym rather than the Jewishly-oriented cultural and learning programs.

Big Change: New members with diverse cultural perspectives
There’s been a big change at the JCC over recent years, as the membership has grown to include many who are not Jewish. When the JCC needed to funded a major facilities redo a few years ago,  the leadership decided to invite the larger (i.e. beyond Jewish)  community to join—focusing on use of the athletic facilities—and made changes, such as opening on Shabbat, to support their wants.

Challenge: How to connect with new members without losing the base
Brilliant idea and it’s worked well, but I watched eagerly for the JCC to revise their core messages (shaped to a shared Jewish context) too.

Nancy Schwartz on April 30, 2013 in Relevance Rules | 1 comment
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Updated April 20
Now that the manhunt for the suspect in the Boston bombings is over, it’s time to reassess when and how to re-engage with your base. Listen to them, closely and carefully, and analyze what they want in the context of your organization’s goals, personality and voice

But most importantly—make sure you have people, processes and decision-making criteria in place to you can reassess your approach the moment things change in the next unexpected situation. More to come on that.

Please share your take, questions and/or how your org is moving forward now here.

Nancy Schwartz on April 19, 2013 in Relevance Rules | 29 comments

Right-Place Nonprofit Marketing

Here’s one of the most common pain points nonprofit marketers like you have just shared with me. NOTE: I’m interested in hearing your greatest pain point—Please take 2 minutes to tell me now right now.

There are so many choices these days in choosing the marketing direction forward, that it’s tough to ID the right things to do right now.

And it’s not just you. It’s the world we live in. But I have a way out for you…


Nancy Schwartz on March 28, 2013 in Relevance Rules | 0 comments
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