Pull Your Base into Your Org for Powerful Marketing (and More) -- Carnival of Nonprofit ConsultantsThis is it. The boiled-down, essential, greatest potential takeaway I have from the Nonprofit Technology Conference
is the value of
imperative for nonprofit marketers to fully involve our bases in our organizations.

It’s not just about Web 2.0, social marketing gewgaws, getting attention, or capitalizing on our constituencies’ (external audiences, partners, boards, colleagues or…) creativity or intellects to create high-impact content. The whole dynamic has shifted, and you have to embrace it.

Here’s confirmation and some exciting models:

  • ServingYouth’s Amy Jussel is passionate about engaging communities in program design and content creation. She points to HopeLab’s global idea competition to get kids exercising as a great example. Contests are definitely a great way to crowdsource (get ideas from the field) and get your audiences involved and excited.
  • I just love this one! Joanne Fritz recommends Peter Shankman’s matchmaking service to connect journalists expert sources like you. Jump onto Shankman’s Help a Reporter today to register for this no-charge, grassroots version of ProfNet.
  • Ashoka intern David Stoker points to the power of an engaged citizen base, as outlined in this great overview from Ahshoka’s Citizen Base Initiative.
    • “…That a nonprofit can engage a community like a church or sports team does is very interesting. Team fans do all sorts of crazy things: sacrifice large amounts of their time and money, and more.  And what they get in return is much more complex than ‘entertainment’.  The idea that a nonprofit can engage its community in a way that satisfies similar needs is exciting, and seeing so many examples [in this paper] of creative ways orgs are already doing so intrigues me,” says Stoker.

I couldn’t have said it better myself, David. Don’t wait till your base goes elsewhere; remember, loyalty is to issues, not to organizations. Open up your arms today.

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Nancy Schwartz on March 24, 2008 in 08NTC, Carnival of Nonprofit Consultants, Citizen Participation/Crowdsourcing, Nonprofit Communications, Strategy, Trends | 0 comments

Your Org's Base is Most Vital Nonprofit Marketing Power You Have -- Pull Your Peeps In, NowThis is it.

The boiled-down, most essential, most vibrant, most potential (you can sing that) takeaway I have from the NTC Conference is the value of imperative for nonprofit marketers to fully engage our citizen bases, aka crowdsourcing. It’s not just about Web 2.0, social marketing gewgaws, getting attention, or capitalizing on our constituencies (and that can mean external audiences, partners, boards, colleagues or…) their creativity or intellects to create high-impact content.

They are you and you are them, or not (and that’s trouble). The whole dynamic has shifted, and you have to get with it. This is the natural continuum of ceding control of our brands — ala Everybody’s Talking About You–Why Your Nonprofit Needs to Listen, and Listen Hard, and we’ve moved ahead very quickly.  Now it’s clear that proactivity is key to growing and strengthening your org. Don’t wait till you have no other choice.

Read my posts from the 08NTC (Nonprofit Technology Conference) for several inspiring models and hands-on how-tos. Then get to work, today.

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Nancy Schwartz on March 24, 2008 in 08NTC, Branding and Messages, Carnival of Nonprofit Consultants, Citizen Participation/Crowdsourcing, Nonprofit Communications, Social Networking, Trends, Web 2.0 | 0 comments

Disconnect with Donors and Other Audiences Sets Stage for Dissapointment and Loss of Confidence, According to SSIRGoogle.Org SurveyGood news for your 2008 nonprofit marketing agenda– the writing is on the wall, the just-released findings of this new survey of over 8,000 donors who gave in 2006.

Here are the facts (as reported by the survey), why you should care, and what you should do about it (fix):

  • Fact: Most donors overestimate the percentage of their gifts groups that will go directly to help the needy.
    • There is a wide gulf between donors’ intended and actual giving.
    • The largest segment of respondents (47 percent) said that their primary reason for giving to charities was to assist the needy.
    • Yet in 2006, these donors dedicated only 6 percent of their giving to organizations that aim to meet people’s basic needs in the United States, and sent just 2 percent of their donations to organizations that aid people in other countries.
    • At the same time, they gave the bulk of their charitable contributions (60 percent) to religious causes.
  • Impact:
    • Wide
    • Donor disappointment, disengagement and anger. Lack of confidence cuts future gifting potential.
  • Fix:
    • Clearly articulate — through text, graphs and case studies — what your organization does, and how contributions are used.
    • When you do, you’ll avoid disappointing donors, volunteers and program participants and other key audiences.
    • As a result, you’ll strengthen existing relationships, and do better at building new ones.

Note: Survey implemented by the Stanford Social Innovation Review, and sponsored by

More tips on clearly and accurately telling your nonprofit’s story:

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Nancy Schwartz on February 12, 2008 in Fundraising: Innovations & Research, Nonprofit Communications, Nonprofit Marketing News, Trends | 1 comment

8 Trends to Shape Your 2008 Nonprofit Marketing SuccessTracking trends (Yes, I mean consumer trends. Because nonprofit markets ARE individuals ARE consumers.) is a must for nonprofit marketers striving to engage. But trend tracking is hard to do, on top of everything else.

Let me recommend Trend Briefing, Trendwatching’s free and useful resource for tracking trends. Subscribe here for monthly email insights on the trends to shape your marketing agenda around.

Here’s what Trend Briefing outlines as the key trends for this year:

Status Spheres — Look at your markets by what drives them. The drivers are mix and match in 2008, which means it’s not as easy to pinpoint what motivates your key customers. Consider these possibilities:

  • Transient sphere: Focused on the right here, right now. Catch ’em with succinct, focused communications
  • Online sphere: Nothing matters more here than relationships. Find ways to integrate your org into those relationships.
  • Eco sphere: Most composters couldn’t be prouder of themselves. Even if the environment isn’t your issue area, find a way to celebrate your supporters and staff who do green.
  • Giving sphere: Now that giving gets news (think ProductRed, Hilton Foundation and more), it’s gained some long-deserved status. While your org goes after folks getting a toe in the water, don’t forget to nurture your long-time supporters.

Premiumization — Excuse the English (or lack thereof). We’re talking best in class, right down to luxury marshmallows. Extend the concept to your nonprofit’s value to the community. Best in class community center, after-school programs or healthy lunches?

Snack Culture
— Going beyond between-meal eats to encompass a way of living via transient, short-term experiences. Instant gratification is the name of the game. Marketing-wise that means shooting straight from the hip, in a timely way, and in as few words as possible. Your challenge is keeping your audiences coming back for more.

Online Oxygen — Continued pumping of online communications. For your organization, that means diving into mobile fundraising and advocacy and maybe an online community (like Facebook) for your supporters, especially if they fall into a niche, ala animal rights advocates.

Eco-Iconic — Make sure your nonprofit makes operational decisions to support a healthy environment (with choices in paper and printing, cleaning products and more), even if you don’t focus on environmental issues.

Brand Butlers — Rather than push your cause on your markets, provide them with something they need or want. Austrian Airlines includes passes to Vienna attractions in passengers’ boarding passes. How can your organization be relevant and useful to your supporters?

Make it Yourself — Find a way (better yet, wayS) for your supporters to create content for and about your organization (blog comments and posts, videos, music). Trendwatching points to the next step as enabling your supporters to make a product themselves (custom Sierra Club t-shirts, anyone?).

Crowd-Mining Crowd-sourcing evolves to having your markets solve your problems for you. Crossroads Community Foundation counts on its corps of 100 teenagers in nine schools to, with guidance, select grantees for $1.5 million/annually. Netflix promises $1 million to the person who can significantly improve its system for predicting what movies its subscribers will like based on their views and preferences. What problem can your supporters solve for your nonprofit?

Sit down with your colleagues today to assess which trends are most relevant to your nonprofit, and how you should respond to them.

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Nancy Schwartz on January 8, 2008 in Nonprofit Communications, Planning and Evaluation, Strategy, Trends | 0 comments

carnivalLike most of you, I’m sure, I’m busy listing my priorities for 2008. And wondering what’s at the top of your list. Where should more experimentation into social marketing fall? How about direct mail? Are you cutting back?

The timing is great. I’m hosting the always-provocative Carnival of Nonprofit Consultants here next Monday, and will cast a wide net on this question to the thoughtful and imaginative bloggers who participate.

So bloggers of the nonprofit world, what are the top 3 "to dos" leading your 2008 nonprofit marketing agenda? If you write a blog post this week that fits, please send the permalink to me by Friday COB, November 30th at npc.carnival AT or via the Blog Carnival form.

P.S. If you’re daunted by the specter of marketing planning, break it down into more palatable 90-day chunks. Learn how here:
How to Do Grand Plan Marketing 90 Days at a Time (Case Study)

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Nancy Schwartz on November 26, 2007 in Carnival of Nonprofit Consultants, Nonprofit Communications, Strategy, Trends | 1 comment

Cause-Focused Conscious Consumers Seek Authenticity, Connection & Satisfaction Use New Findings to Reach, Inspire & Motivate ThemAccording to the inaugural BBMG Conscious Consumer Report, the first major study to combine field observations with a national survey on purchasing behavior and social values, increasingly conscious consumers are demanding that companies (and, by extension, nonprofits that they support) be transparent about their practices and accountable for their impact on people and the planet.

Overwhelmingly, conscious consumers demand that organizations put their money where their mouth is; in other words, “back your words with social responsible actions,” says Raphael Bemporad, founding partner of BBMG. Although the research focused on how the five core values impact buying decisions, they have equal impact on these folks’ choices of nonprofits to give to, volunteer for and participate with.

Here are some of the key findings from the study and a sense of they shape your ability to engage prospective donors, volunteers and participants, and maintain existing supporters:

  • Personal issues are most influential in engaging audiences: Nothing engages prospects more than connecting your organization’s work with issues they’re facing in their own lives. The study points to health and wellness issues — such as safe drinking water — as the most important ones.
  • Socially-responsible is a tag that appeals; green far less so: Structure your messaging accordingly; matching what you have to say to what’s important to your audiences (when you can do so truthfully).
  • Honesty counts — Big time: Nothing is more important to building loyal supporters than honesty about processes and practices, and keeping your word. Do it; don’t say it.
  • Make it easy: To give, join, register…just make it as easy as possible. We’re all faced with ever-increasing time constraints. So make it a pleasure for audiences to learn about your org, and to interact with you.
  • Showcase the people you work with and for, rather than focusing on your organization: Organization’s aren’t interesting; people are. Audiences want more meaningful relationships with the organizations they’re involved with, and want to know who you’re working with, what they have to say and how your work changes their lives.

“We see a trend toward ‘self-centered consciousness,” where consumers want companies to meet their personal needs and positively impact society,” says David Libensky, founder of Bagatto, an ethnographic research firm that partnered on the study.

My experience shows conscious consumers want the same from the nonprofit orgs with which they’re involved. So make it easy for your supporters to get personal satisfaction from supporting your organization — keep them up to date on how you do things and why it makes a difference, share your org’s stories and thank them, frequently and profusely.

Dig into the report’s findings for more insights about how values-driven consumers are changing the marketing landscape. There’s a lot of useful information here that will help you shape your nonprofit marketing strategy to today’s audiences.

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Nancy Schwartz on November 5, 2007 in Nonprofit Communications, Recommended Resources, Specific Audience Segments, Trends | 0 comments

Media Habits of 12-24 Year-Olds vs. 25-54 Year-Olds -- Key to Shaping Your Nonprofit Marketing AgendaI just finished reading the 2007 Digital Future Report from the USC Annenberg School’s Center for the Digital Future, and am still digesting. Take some time to dig into the summary of findings that’ll help you shape your communications choices to today’s (and tomorrow’s) digital habits.

Here’s are some crucial takes on habits of those 12 to 24–juxtaposed with those of audiences 25 to 54–and how they’ll impact your nonprofit marketing:

Audiences 12-24

  • Will never read a newspaper but attracted to some magazines
    • So op-eds don’t reach them, at least in print
  • Will never own a land-line phone
  • Will not watch television on someone else’s schedule much longer, and much less interested in TV
    • TV ads won’t work, unless they’re part of the show (how about cause placement?)
  • Trust unknown peers more than experts/community at the center of Internet experience/want to be heard (user generated)
    • Stop ignoring social networking
  • For first time willing (2005) to pay for digital content—never before
    • Inventory your information assets and think about options for distribution
  • Little interest in the source of information and most information aggregated
  • Everything will move to mobile
    • More than advocacy and fundraising alerts, and make it interactive please
  • Use IM. Think email is for their parents

Life of a 25-54

  • Still read offline newspapers and magazines
    • Cast your op-eds to this group, boomers and seniors
  • Like mobile for voice (and a few for data) but do not see their world on mobile phones
    • I think this is going to change very soon, pay close attention to this factor
  • Aggregate information online and use RSS (though few know the term)
  • Community important for tasks, much less so for socializing
  • Trust experts on factual information but rely heavily on reviews of peers on hotels, electronics, etc
    • Start to use social networking with these folks, they’re on the path of increased reliance on audience-generated content
  • Care GREATLY about sources of news and information online
    • Nurture your brand — it’s vital for these folks
  • Heavy into email

P.S. The Center is doing a powerful job of getting attention for this report. Center staff release a nugget (aka Web Insight) from the report, with a brief explanation and summary graph, every two weeks. It’s a great way to refocus attention on findings; and to release a digestible amount of content (from a very dense report). I’m going to call it dripping (in the best sense). 

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Nancy Schwartz on October 30, 2007 in Nonprofit Communications, Specific Audience Segments, Trends | 3 comments

Op-Ed Advocates Nonprofits Need More MBAs, Including Marketing-WiseI was thrilled to read this recent op-ed in the Philadelphia Inquirer by Harvard biz school graduate Mike Kerlin, who sets the stage by reminding us that only 6% of MBAs enter nonprofit management. Yikes. I didn’t realize the situation was so grim.

What’s useful about Mike’s take here is his:
1) Caution that business tycoons like Gates and Buffett who become philanthropists aren’t the norm; and that philanthropy alone will not change the world. (Hallelujah, Mike. Finally!)

2) Understanding that nonprofits are the critical implementors for putting these funds to work; and that

Without talented leaders who can manage donor dollars as they would shareholder investments, nonprofit organizations can easily founder, rendering Gates’ and Buffett’s good intentions worthless.

3) Clear explanation of how well-trained experts trained in business can turn the tide towards stronger nonprofit orgs (remember, business isn’t restricted to corporations, it’s how organizations work)

The new era of philanthropy needs more M.B.A.s and other private-sector professionals to run effective and efficient nonprofit organizations. With business-savvy leaders come essential tools – marketing, finance, accounting, operations and organizational  leadership – that maximize philanthropists’ “social return on investment.”

For example, two-thirds of nonprofits fail to measure the results of their marketing programs, according to a survey conducted by Nancy Schwartz & Co. Such basic management techniques lie at the core of an M.B.A. curriculum.

(Thanks for the mention, Mike.)

4) Call to action for MBA administrators and students, nonprofit organizations and the corporate world to join together to make more MBA-nonprofit matches possible:

Nonprofit organizations need more than just patchy forays from M.B.A.s. Some private companies have begun offering “externships” or “loaned executive” programs. Many business schools have begun paying off the loans of students who choose lower-paying nonprofit careers. To link students early with nonprofits, the Wharton School launched the Wharton Non-Profit Board Leadership Program, which places M.B.A. students on local nonprofit boards. Late last year, La Salle University pulled together students, professors and seasoned executives by acquiring the Executive Service Corps of Delaware Valley.

These innovations help nonprofits, but in the end, more M.B.A. students must be willing to forgo profits earlier in their careers, and more nonprofits need to pay enough to compete with private-sector salaries.

Expertise is the backbone of organizational success; and expertise has a price. Somehow, somewhere, nonprofit organizations need to be able to pay it.

I’d love to see Kerlin’s quad — of MBA administrators and students, nonprofits and corporate citizens — come together to make his vision a reality. The timing couldn’t be more perfect as this year’s MBAs-to-be enters the gates of learning.

PS I have an MBA myself, so I know that although it’s not the be-all-and-end-all of personal development, it is a course of study that prepares one in a broad range of organizationally-crucial disciplines.

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Nancy Schwartz on August 21, 2007 in Nonprofit Communications, Philanthropy, Trends | 2 comments

How to Communicate to Men Who Scan, Women Who Probe -- Findings from the Pew Internet and American Life SurveyThe most recent Pew Internet and American Life survey shows men are more “intense” Internet users than women, but women talk more online. The Pew report notes, “Women are more likely to see the vast array of online information as a “glut” and to penetrate deeper into areas where they have the greatest interest, including health and religion. Women tend to treat information gathering online as a more textured and interactive process – one that includes gathering and exchanging information through support groups and personal email exchanges.

In short, women are social networkers online as well as offline, but the context in which we have these interactions is even more important online. And these findings have clear implications for your nonprofit communications:

  • Recognize women as prospects (for giving, volunteering, etc.) distinct from their husbands.
  • Give women the opportunity to participate when possible. It’s a must to engage them, especially in the online environment. If your nonprofit doesn’t engage them, others will.
  • Write and design communications with the understanding that women are more likely to have many things competing for their attention as they juggle multiple tasks and thoughts.
  • Since this demographic group trusts experts the most for information, tapping into experts will lend credibility to media reports, campaigns and messages.

Storytelling is a particularly effective way to reach women who respond well to people tales. Learn how to Put Persuasive Storytelling to Work.

How does your organization succeed at engaging women? Let me know and I’ll share your tips with Getting Attention readers.

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Nancy Schwartz on August 8, 2007 in Branding and Messages, Nonprofit Communications, Trends | 0 comments

Are Your Target Audiences Omnivores, Connectors, Mobile Centrics orThese are a few of the categories the Pew Internet and American Life Project uses to group users of technology communications tools, going way beyond the "traditional" categories of early adopters (geeks), followers (most of us); and luddites (still without cell phones). 

For you communicators, understanding where your audiences fit is critical to choosing the right online channels, and using them most powerfully. Pew reports that "85% of American adults use the internet or cell phones – and most
use both… Yet the proportion of adults who exploit the
connectivity, the capacity for self expression and the interactivity
of modern information technology is a modest 8%."

Your takeaway — think twice before jumping into a presence in Second Life for your nonprofit, and don’t give up the print 100%.

The research defines three groups: 31% are elite technology users, 20% are moderate users and the remainder has little or no use of the Internet or cellphones. But Americans are further divided within each group. The high-tech-ers, for instance, are almost evenly split four ways into:

  • Omnivores (8%, mostly men) are heavy tech users who communicate creatively via blogs or Web pages
  • Connectors (7%) view the Internet and cellphones as communications tools (mostly women in their 30s)
  • Productivity enhancers (8%) see technology as a strategy to stay on top of their jobs and personal lives
  • Lackluster veterans (8%) use technology tools quite a bit but mostly because they have to. The thrill is gone for these folks.

According to Pew, moderate users are split into:

  • Mobile centrics (10%) — rely on cellphones for talking, texting and games; and
  • Connected but hassled (10%) — who use tech tools but feel burdened by them,and probably like to disconnect once in a while.

Then there are the 49% who are technology lite (or technology non-existent).

I swallowed hard when I read that 60% of adult Americans don’t read blogs; but know that a significant percentage of Getting Attention’s target audience does so. But how do I reach the others, beyond the Getting Attention e-newsletter?

Dig into Pew’s complete analysis to understand where your target audiences fit in. And take this quiz to see where you live.

Pew’s paradigm becomes one more angle for your to analyze your audience segments, and one more facet of your audience personas. Remember, the more you know them, the better they’ll know you.

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Nancy Schwartz on May 14, 2007 in Audience Research, Nonprofit Communications, Recommended Resources, Trends | 0 comments

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