Nonprofit Message Magic: Surprise

Shaping messages to be relevant to the people we want to to engage and spur to action is the most reliable path to productive marketing. Relevance rules!

But there’s more you can do, once you get to relevance. Over the last few months, my passion to find, analyze and guide you to the most effective messaging possible has uncovered a few additional secret ingredients that are absolute magic. Today, let’s talk surprise…


Nancy Schwartz on October 13, 2015 in Messaging | 0 comments
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Effective HeadlinesThe first line your reader sees means the difference between success and failure. Most leads are clever headlines that play on words. Many are cute, but most aren’t effective.

We can learn to do better from recently-deceased report  Vincent Musetto, who wrote this “most anatomically evocative headline in the history of American journalism. [see photo]

“What endured in public memory far longer than the crime was the headline, with its verbless audacity, arresting parallel adjectives and forceful trochaic slams. The corresponding headline in The New York Times that day proclaimed, genteelly, “Owner of a Bar Shot to Death; Suspect Is Held.” Headlessness was not mentioned until the third paragraph; toplessness not at all,” reports The New York Times.

You can do the same, even with far less sensationalism!


Nancy Schwartz on June 10, 2015 in Messaging | 0 comments
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Published in Ebony magazine, April 1967, Vol. 20 No. 6 “When the new antenna went live, you’d swear that Dizzy Gillespie was playing right next to you.”

I can easily visualize this scene, and hear it too. Can’t you?

In fact, this excerpt from WBGO’s (NYC’s premier jazz radio station) recent appeal made the listening-enriching value of the station’s new antenna crystal clear—by showing, not telling.

Compare it with another station’s intro of its new antenna:


Nancy Schwartz on June 3, 2015 in Messaging | 0 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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17-year-old Malala Yousafzai gave an unforgettable speech as she accepted her Nobel Peace Prize today. Despite her youth, Malala’s words show her insight and communications finesse! In fact, this core message from the speech is an unbeatable combo of passion, specificity and brevity.

Use this triad as a checklist for your organization’s messages. Less IS more—much harder to craft but totally worth it.

Nancy Schwartz on December 10, 2014 in Branding and Messages | 1 comment
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Keep Relationship CurrentI’m a huge fan of the charity clearinghouse GlobalGiving, and have donated through them several times to causes I wouldn’t have been able to connect with otherwise.

That’s GlobalGiving’s sweet spot—connecting donors like yours (and you, and me) with causes that we may not find, know of and/or be able to easily donate to. They do a fantastic job of it: Since 2002, GlobalGiving has raised $151,783,082 from 407,034 donors who have supported 10,812 projects.

So I was surprised to receive this could-be-better email from them, updating me on the work they’ve done with my donation 3 1/2 years ago to the Japan Earthquake and Tsunami Relief Fund.


Nancy Schwartz on November 5, 2014 in Branding and Messages | 1 comment
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web3Andy Robinson provides training and consulting for nonprofits in fundraising, board development, marketing, earned income, planning, leadership development, and facilitation.  Along with training people to raise money,

Andrea Kihlstedt writes, speaks and coaches about campaign campaign fundraising.

Do you dream of a board composed of wealthy people with wealthy friends, people who are fearless about asking those friends for big gifts?

Unless you’re very lucky (and these types of boards come with their own challenges), that’s not your board. So, looking beyond that fantasy, what’s your Plan B?

How about a board filled with committed people who give as much as they can, and who tell your story in a deeply personal and compelling way?


Nancy Schwartz on August 20, 2014 in All-Org Marketing Team | 0 comments
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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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MN United—Campaign Message

Go ahead. Call me a message geek! When I see a memorable message success story like this one, I get happy.

Minnesotans United for All Families (MN United) did a great job in putting Love is the Law front and center in its campaign for passage of the marriage equality bill last spring.

MN United lucked out on this one: Chan Poling—a passionate supporter of the Minnesota same-sex marriage campaign and former lead singer of 80s new wave band, The Suburbs—contacted MN United to offer up the song just as the campaign was heating up. But Poling wouldn’t have made the connection if he hadn’t first been touched by campaign outreach.


Nancy Schwartz on September 19, 2013 in Branding and Messages | 0 comments
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Blackbaud just released a must-read report—findings from its Next Generation of American Giving study on charitable giving trends and engagement behaviors and attitudes across Matures (68+), Boomers (49-67), Gen X (33-48) and Gen Y (18-32). I recommend you read the entire report and share out your top-ten findings and implications for your org with colleagues and your leadership. It’s too important to miss!

But there are two critical findings I want to share with you a.s.a.p.:


Nancy Schwartz on August 15, 2013 in Fundraising: Innovations & Research | 5 comments
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