Relevance Rules

I was thrilled to see Van Jones’ introducing Dream CorpsDay of Empathy via this video. Wow!

This incredible experiment in using virtual reality to build empathy—the first step to engagement and action—could be groundbreaking. I am following closely, can’t wait to see how this evolves, and promise to report back along the way. Van, I hope you and your team will share out what works, what doesn’t, and how other orgs and causes can use this technique to build the empathy necessary to motivate action.

Please join me on Day of Empathy’s Facebook group to follow its development, roll out, and results. So much to learn. So much inspiration. I’m so excited!

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P.P.S. This Day of Empathy approach is all about making Dream Corps’ methods and goals relevant to more of us, via virtual reality. Relevance Rules! And it’s meta—Van does a fantastic job of making the experiment relevant to us in this video.

Nancy Schwartz on August 4, 2016 in Relevance Rules | 2 comments
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Nonprofit MarketingPart 1

Dig in a.s.a.p. to these tested and terrific ways to get your people out of the heat and into action—shared by peer fundraisers and communicators in the field. There’s no better source of ideas, guidance, and support!

Personalize to Connect!
Here’s where you rely on your robust, reliable donor management software. The more you know and log about your prospects and donors, the better you’ll connect with them.

Connect with Your Patrons, Donors, and other Supporters via THEIR Summer Habits and Passions
When I coach folks on communicating to donors, it’s one-on-one—an individual strategy. I don’t advise them to feature Hawaiian shirts and mai tais on their communications. But every communication needs to consider the audience, so I guess we naturally consider it. People leaving or arriving for the summer have different agendas and needs.

If the recipient is “in town” for the summer, we explore why she’s interested in the nonprofit. What causes her to support a charity while on vacation? From there, we create a strategy.                                     —Marc Pitman, Fundraising Coach


Nancy Schwartz on August 3, 2016 in Relevance Rules | 0 comments

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.

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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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