#10ntc

NTEN‘s 10th Nonprofit Technology Conference (a.k.a. #10NTC). And let me assure you the conference is about much more than technology as the IT folks think of it. That perspective is there too but the 1,500 participants are an unusual amalgam of nonprofit communicators, fundraisers, program staff, some foundation folks and yes, the tech specialists.

The common theme is use of technology tools to do the work more effectively, and efficiently. What’s unique is how the richness of cross-functional participation enables nonprofit communicators to strengthen understanding of other critical points of view within their orgs and better engage colleagues as participants in communications success.

These are some of the most compelling points I heard in NTC sessions, drawn from session leaders as well as participants. When possible I’ve credited the thought, but couldn’t catch many of the sources.

1. Marketing Strategy

  • You have to eat your vegetables before you can have dessert — John Kenyon reaffirming my insistence that you have to define goals, key audiences and best ways to meet them before “just doing it.” In our session on integrating social media strategy with communications strategy.
  • When approaching communications–think strategically, act tactfully. — Co-panelist,  Demetrio Maguigad, Community Media Workshop
  • Focus on what you do best, network the rest. — Allison Fine and Beth Kanter
    • What can your org give up?
    • One small step to becoming a networked communicator: Ask your Facebook fans to post your message as their status update. It works!

2. Messaging & Marketing Content

  • Don’t convince supporters of the value of your cause; show them that your cause relates to their wants and values. (From the Marketing/Fundraising meet and greet. Read tweets from this session #10NTC.mktg here.)
  • Online writing needs to be conversational, direct, informal and skimmable. Users read only the 1st sentence then move on.

3. Storytelling

  • Stories (on one person or family) and images make a much stronger immediate impression than stats. The “power of one” (one subject, rather than 500 people) engages and will motivate your network to act.
  • But real storytelling is about your base (those who volunteer with you, you provide services to and others), not about your organization.
  • It’s not the “About Us” content on your website. Keep your org in the background.
  • Good stories are becoming a real differentiator for prospective donors and other supporters: Your website has less than one minute to engage your users.
  • A few good stories are more valuable than many so-so stories.
  • Make sure stories are integrated throughout your communications channels, not just in “stories” section on site. Work well to illustrate value of your programs and services, more so than your description.

4. Email Outreach

  • 11am Tuesday, in recipient’s respective time zones, is THE optimal time to send email campaigns. Make sure your ESP (email service provider) enables you to capture zip codes and sort sends by time zone. — Jordan Dossett, Antharia
  • You have just 8 seconds to capture a recipient’s attention before he clicks away. Here’s how to strengthen your emails.

5. Social Media

  • Trying to control the internet (and its social media content) is like putting a
    wire fence around water
  • 50% of nonprofits plan to increase staff commitment to social media. But only 40% have external budget for this. Disconnect (but not as much as I anticipated).
  • 60% of orgs are now on Twitter, up from 38% from 2009. You should be there personally, to learn the medium, even if not for your org.
  • Your social media policy in one tweet (140 characters): Be professional, kind, discreet, authentic, and represent us well. — Beth Kanter
  • Shorter videos work for new donors, longer format for existing donors who are invested. Repurposing is king!

6. Online Fundraising

  • The hard truth: 1% response rate is typical.
  • Social Survey Results-only 3.5% of organizations have raised 10K or more on Facebook.

More #10NTC “notable quotables” here.

P.S. I hope you can join me next year for #11NTC in Washington, DC, March 17-19, 2011. Subscribe to NTEN’s e-news to ensure you get registration info in the fall. There’s a great early-bird discount.

Photo: Geoff Livingston

Nancy Schwartz on April 15, 2010 in Nonprofit Communications | 2 comments
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andrewsullivanI blogged this practical but fresh perspective from Andrew Sullivan’s keynote talk at NTC (NTEN‘s annual conference). Sullivan, top blogger at The Atlantic‘s Daily Dish, shared his take on the potential value of blogging (and other online channels) for orgs and what it takes to realize that value to strengthen relationships.

Author, provocateur and early (since 2000) blogger Sullivan covered what’s different about online communications and community, and what that means for your nonprofit:

  • Blogging (and other online content and conversations, I’d say) is about relationships, not content.
  • Online readers, even when alone, are not really alone. Immediately, without waiting for the news or the paper, they enter in a relationship with the writer.
    • Readers interact w/content in a personal setting–at their computers, which are personal–where they do their work, keep photos, etc–so you are speaking directly to each one in a way you can’t via print, even if they don’t participate actively in online conversation.
    • So online reading and conversation becomes more part of your audience’s lives. It’s a great opportunity.
  • But, for that to work, online content has to be ever-changing.  If it’s not (like a static brochure site, as so many orgs have), it’ll fail to engage your network. And likely to alienate them.
    • When you have this relationship with your network, you already have their permission. So your organization can move quickly to introduce them to a campaign.
    • The speed is critical since our focus shifts very quickly.

Online communications is unequaled for relationship building, but is reinforced through direct mail, phone outreach and in-person gatherings.

But your organization’s online communications success may not come easily. Here are some of the common challenges cited by Sullivan:

  • The lack of control inherent in social media (such as enabling readers to comment on your blog, which I suggest you do) is terrifying, especially for those with something to hide. That’s everyone, and every  organization.
  • As a blogger or site producer, your role changes from expert to conduit of thought for your network.  Most organizations fear this shift, thinking it signals a decrease in their significance.
  • A personal face and voice (or a few of them) for your organization online is a must. You don’t develop a relationship with an institution, you do so with an individual.

What do you have to add to the list of benefits, or deterrents? Please comment below.

P.S. Get more in-depth articles, case studies and guides to nonprofit marketing success — all featured in the twice-monthly Getting Attention e-update. Subscribe today.

Photo: Flickr Lydia Mann

Nancy Schwartz on April 13, 2010 in Blogging for Nonprofits | 7 comments
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I’ll be leaving for NTC 2010 crack of dawn on Wednesday and I can’t wait!  Here’s why NTC is such a learning machine for nonprofit communicators.

Hope to see you there. If you are going, please say hello. Just tweet or DM me at @NancySchwartz to set up a meeting spot.

P.S. Here’s a learning machine that comes to you — the in-depth articles, case studies and guides to nonprofit marketing success featured in the twice-monthly Getting Attention e-update. Subscribe today.

Nancy Schwartz on April 5, 2010 in Professional Development | 0 comments
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Two Don't-Miss Tools for More Effective Nonprofit EventsIn a time when we rely more and more on virtual interaction, face-to-face gatherings are more important than ever.

Don’t get me wrong–I’m a big believer in building relationships, and community online. But face-to-face can’t be replaced. So often, face-to-face gatherings can bring a movement or a campaign to the next level, further engaging your base.

Here are two tools I’ve discovered that will help you take your organization’s events to the next level.

1. Event-management service Eventbrite has just introduced Eventbrite for Causes, a discounted program (no fee for free events) are  designed for nonprofit needs. This new program that makes it easier for
orgs to leverage tech tools and best practices to manage,
promote and raise money through successful events. In talking to colleagues about Eventbrite, I’ve found several fans of its capabilities such as the once-click opportunity for attendees to share event info with their Twitter and Facebook networks.

Current org users include The Craigslist Foundation, Full Circle Fund, Citizen Effect and NTEN. You can see how it works with this dinner invite for 2010 NTC (NTEN’s annual conference) attendees.

2. Analyze This, just released by Event 360 is 18 pages packed with practical guide on event analytics. You’ll learn how to pinpoint what’s working best so you can do more of it in the future, and what’s not working well, so they can avoid it down the line. Traditionally, event managers have used this data to review events once they’re over; it’s even more valuable to shape those coming up.

The featured case study on the Komen Global Race for the Cure is particularly useful, as it highlights how analytics showed the way to transform a popular event into a fundraising phenomenon.

P.S. More effective messaging is a priority for all organizations, campaigns and events. Learn how to craft the most essential message — your tagline. Download the free 2009 Nonprofit Tagline Report, filled with must-dos, don’t dos, case studies and 2,500+ nonprofit tagline examples!

Photo: OneWoman

Nancy Schwartz on March 15, 2010 in Events | 3 comments
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Did your org create a video in 2009? If so, enter your nonprofit’s video today in the 4th Annual DoGooder Nonprofit Video Awards. Awards will go to organizations of all sizes, including a special award for Best Innovation in Video.

Now is your chance to get your nonprofit video featured on the YouTube homepage, receive a grant from the Case Foundation, get great prizes from Flip Video and the Nonprofit Technology Network (NTEN), and have
your work showcased at a screening in Washington DC.

The deadline for entries is March 19, at which point me and a great set of other nonprofit and media professionals (including superstars Guy Kawasaki, Gary Vaynerchuk and Beth Kanter) will select 16 finalists to compete in a public vote. Winners will be announced on April 10 at the Nonprofit Technology Conference (NTC) in Atlanta.

Don’t be shy. Entering your video is a great way to test the waters, even if you’re not confident that your video is a winner. Whatever the outcome, reaction to your video will give you some useful feedback for your next production!

P.S. Learn more about the 9 steps to online video success. It’ll help you in the 2010 awards. Promise!

Nancy Schwartz on March 2, 2010 in Video | 0 comments
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