Nonprofit Communications

Follow up. It’s vital but so tough to do right.

Either we don’t know what to say, fear “bugging” the very folks we want something from, or both. So we don’t follow up enough or well, which undermines engagement and results—no matter how compelling our campaigns may be!

Follow up shows we care
It also signals realism and camaraderie; conveying our understanding that (just like us) our folks get asked for a lot of things by a lot of people; are busy and need reminders; and that changing habits or behavior is hard. When we follow up consistently, with thought and evident effort, we’re building the ongoing relationships likely to foster long, loyal relationships with our people. Priceless.
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Nancy Schwartz on June 8, 2017 in Strategy | 0 comments
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Volunteer MessengersYou face an uphill battle to recruit volunteers and retain them at ever higher and more effective levels of engagement. For those of you with small or all-volunteer organizations, there’s absolutely nothing more important. And, as time and budgets get tighter, and reliance on volunteers increases, it’s harder than ever.

There’s a proven yet seldom-used method to boost success in both dimensions AND extend your organization’s reach and impact without adding budget or hires: Building your team of passionate volunteer messengers.

The value of launching your volunteer messengers is huge; a real win-win doable with limited time and expense. Take these seven steps to launch your team of passionate volunteer messengers. I’ll follow up with posts on each step, starting with the most productive pilot program I know:
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Nancy Schwartz on June 1, 2017 in All-Org Marketing Team | 1 comment
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Personal is ProfessionalDo you bring yourself—with your passions, personal history, and personality—to work, or do you check “the real you” at the front door?

Here’s hoping you bring “all of you” to work. It’s the only way to feel fully at ease in your job, to nurture the relationships you need for success and satisfaction (for you and your organization), and to bring the greatest value to your role and responsibilities.

Take James Porter, director of communications at The End Fund. James recently asked me (via email from his personal address) to donate to the END Fund in support of his participation in a marathon this June. He describes the race, and the cause, then links his passion for his work (and participation in the race) with his experience of being marginalized as a gay boy growing up. His story is moving, memorable, and forges a quick and strong connection with readers. For James, the personal is professional:

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Nancy Schwartz on May 24, 2017 in Professional Development | 0 comments
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Hack-Proof Your Life Now!Yes, this has to matter to you. Maybe you dodged the bullet of the most recent global cyber attack.  But the next one or the ones after that could wreck your communications impact and a lot more. If or when your organization gets hacked, it’ll bring all activity—including communications and fundraising—to an absolute standstill. Even worse, it will require an enormous investment of time and budget to repair and get back up and going; even with that, critical donor data, program stats, and email lists may be lost or corrupted.

So do something about it, even if your ED or IT staff or consultant is standing still.
My husband, Sean M. Bailey, happens to be an expert on cybersecurity and the recent author of Hack-Proof Your Life NowWhat’s great about Sean’s advice is that it’s efficient and doable. He advises you take three steps asap to protect yourself and your organization:
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Nancy Schwartz on May 15, 2017 in Strategy | 1 comment
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Liz Polay-Wettengel is National Director of Marketing and Communications for InterfaithFamily, a Jewish non-profit based in Newton, MA.

For three years in a row, my colleagues from InterfaithFamily and I have participated in the annual Nonprofit Tech Conference (from NTEN). It is, by far, the conference that we learn the most from. Every year, we have come back with new ideas, fresh perspectives, and tools to do what we do better.

This year was no different. Held in Washington DC, the 3,000 attendees at the 2017 conference brainstormed on topics far beyond the “traditional” definition of technology—nonprofit marketing, development, leadership, and organizational infrastructure.

Key takeaways from my deep-dive into NTC learning include:

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Nancy Schwartz on April 13, 2017 in Trends | 0 comments
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Guest blogger Karen Petersen is Director of Annual and Planned Giving at the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology in Huntsville, Ala.

In my previous life, I was a TV reporter. My favorite part of the job was interviewing people and weaving their words together with mine to construct a compelling story. Little has changed since I changed careers.

In fundraising, we are all storytellers!

To tell the best stories, we need to find convincing characters who can provide passionate and powerful quotes. As Nancy has said in previous posts, “testimonials provide credibility.

You may automatically reach out to external donors for your organization’s testimonials. However, you may be surprised by the storytellers you can find in the cube, office or even lab next door.

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Guest Blogger on March 21, 2017 in Branding and Messages | 0 comments
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Call to ActionRemember when you were a teen and your mom told you to clean up your room, call your grandmother, and set the table all within the same five minutes.

Remember how frustrating that was. How even if you wanted to do what your mom wished—not every teen’s desire, for sure—you couldn’t do three things at once. So instead, most of the time, you did nothing!

I was thrown back there this morning when I uncovered this card I had picked up at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (the Met). Just count the calls to action featured on this small postcard:

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Nancy Schwartz on March 8, 2017 in Branding and Messages | 0 comments
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Set Your Marketing Goals

This practical, doable marketing plan template takes you from goals to benchmarks, work plan, action, and impact! 

Eeesh! Those New Year’s resolutions—including the ones we set for marketing and fundraising work—are so hard to keep.

That’s because most resolutions are action items, rather than goals (the real “what we want to get to”). When things in our work worlds change—making those actions irrelevant or too difficult, or throwing them into question or making them too difficult— there’s no clear framework for assessment and adaptation. So the resolutions fade out, leaving you disappointed.

INSTEAD…

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Nancy Schwartz on January 10, 2017 in Planning and Evaluation | 0 comments
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Happy Healthy Nonprofit Book CoverGuest bloggers Beth Kanter & Aliza Sherman wrote The Happy, Healthy Nonprofit, a must read for communicators & fundraisers.

If there is one thing we can agree on, it is that that last quarter of 2016 was especially stressful. Not just the usual hectic workload of year-end campaigns, but a difficult election season—a combination that has left many nonprofit communications professional feeling overwhelmed and

For many of us, the holiday vacation time probably did not come fast enough. We all probably enjoyed a nice reprieve from deadlines, tasks, and deliverables. And, after taking a break, it is hard to get back into the swing of things.

One thing we do know for sure, 2017 will be the year that we will absolutely have to exercise our resilience muscles in order to do our best work and not get slowed down. In our book, The Happy Healthy Nonprofit: Strategies for Impact Without Burnout, we discuss ways that nonprofit professionals can use at work and avoid the stress of competing priorities. Here are three techniques to put to work right now:

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Guest Blogger on January 4, 2017 in Professional Development | 0 comments
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Consistent MessagesWhether you’re all in on year-end fundraising or working in some 2017 prep, I bet you have some pretty ambitious goals to meet. You wouldn’t be reading this otherwise.

Here’s a proven but frequently overlooked method to help you get there: consistent communications. Consistency enables your people and prospects to recognize your organization’s communications in a flash. Time and time again, I’ve seen consistency across channels, programs and services, and audiences help nonprofits like yours motivate the actions they need. Those are the same messages likely to be remembered and repeated. Here’s how to get there:

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Nancy Schwartz on December 14, 2016 in Branding and Messages | 1 comment
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