nonprofit marketing

Connect to convert: Nonprofit communications

Let’s be real: Your organization is one of the many that can’t use kitty or puppy photos to raise money or recruit volunteers.

In Part One of this mini-guide, I shared my take on why such emotional candy works so well to raise money or recruit volunteers. And cited a reliable litmus test for photo-story impact—1) If you’d share them with your family and friends; 2) would they “like” or share them.

But you can make emotional connections with your target audiences, even WITHOUT kittens and puppies.

In fact—if your organization is not an animal rescue or another organization directly related to puppies, kitties or babies—these alternatives are far more effective in helping your forge connections and motivate your audiences to give, register or volunteer. Most importantly, they are authentic, relevant messages, rather than manipulative click-bait.

Here are two tested methods, with examples:


Nancy Schwartz on November 3, 2015 in storytelling | 1 comment
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Part Two

Adorable! Few of us can resist photos like this one, which is why you see so many organizations communicating cute.

But if your organization doesn’t have piglet or puppy photos to share, what can you do? Assess what makes these photos so magnetic, then share some of that.


Nancy Schwartz on October 20, 2015 in storytelling | 0 comments
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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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Guy Arceneaux

Guest blogger Guy Arceneaux is Director of Marketing and Communications for Meals on Wheels of Central Maryland

Here’s my top takeaway from my first three months on the job at Meals on Wheels of Central Maryland: Smaller, more nimble nonprofits like ours typically know their audiences better—so are far more connected with them—than do most large, complex organizations.

That Was Then
In 2013, I was the Director of Marketing for an international humanitarian development nonprofit. The annual budget was nearly one billion dollars, with our $2.3 million marketing budget funding the work of three departments and 13 staff members. Sounds like a lot, right?


Guest Blogger on October 7, 2015 in Relationship Building | 2 comments
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FullSizeRenderI’ve rarely seen a bigger message fail than this one.

There’s clearly been some controversy on this nearby street about front lawn etiquette. Typically, there are lawn lovers, who water and fertilize their way through summer. Then there are the folks (my family among them) who focus on garden beds instead, and others who just cut the grass. Peaceful coexistence, till now!

When you demand your audiences take action, you’ll fail every time. What you will succeed in is pushing prospects and supporters away for good.


Nancy Schwartz on September 8, 2015 in Messaging | 0 comments
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Reboot Nonprofit MarketingOur daughter Charlotte is finishing up a blissful summer at a few different day and overnight camps. At the end of each and every day, her mind and creativity are stimulated, she’s made new friends, and she sleeps solidly with a smile on her face. She finishes the summer inspired, energized and smarter than ever.

I envy her greatly. But you and I are too old for summer camp (find me an adult camp, please!). Instead, I set out an a discovery mission—asking fellow nonprofit staffers and consultants how they reboot to tee up for a great fall and forward.

There’s still time for you to reboot. Dig into these inventive approaches a.s.a.p.:

1) Seek a different point of view: Gillian Ream Gainsley, who works in Communications and Development at the Ypsilanti District Library (MI), takes a unique approach:


Nancy Schwartz on August 11, 2015 in Professional Development | 6 comments
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Nonprofit Communications Jobs

This is my 202nd jobs posting, and the final one. There are so many dedicated nonprofit jobs sources, that this feature is no longer necessary.

I’m going to focus content 100% on what you’ve told me is most useful, and can’t find elsewhere—tips, tools, templates and case studies. Thanks for reading, and for your feedback!

Communications Coordinator Prevention Partners
(Chapel Hill, NC)

Communications & Grants Manager Urban Habitat
(Oakland, CA)

Communications Manager MLVE, Inc. (Springfield, VA)


Nancy Schwartz on July 20, 2015 in Jobs and Hiring | 0 comments
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Read Part One HereMark Dessauer

Guest blogger Mark Dessauer is Director of Communications at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation.

Frank: A gathering of communicators who work for the common good (or public interest). Here’s the final challenge we discussed, with core takeaways:

How do we shape our communications to engage audiences TO ACT for change?

  • Humor: The most reliable way to folks hearts and minds is through laughter:
    • Satire has played a critical role in bringing in Millennials into the news via the Daily Show, Colbert Report and similar programs.
    • If you want to make an impact, you have to change how people think. Engaging critical thinking via satire (and humor) is an effective way to start.


Nancy Schwartz on July 16, 2015 in Strategy | 1 comment
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Nonprofit Marketing JobsSubscribers, we’re working on getting you the ability to opt-in or -out of these listings vs. other posts. Hold on! 

Post YOUR comms job here—nonprofits, grantmakers, B Corps & vendors serving nonprofits.

Communications Expert and Editor Frameworks Institute (Washington, DC)

Communications Manager for Reproductive Rights ACLU (New York, NY)

Communications & Marketing Officer Shining Hope for Communities (New York, NY)

Communications & Marketing Specialist League of Women Voters (Twin Cities, MN)


Nancy Schwartz on July 14, 2015 in Jobs and Hiring | 1 comment
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Nonprofit Communications JobsSubscribers, we’re working on getting you the ability to opt-in or -out of these listings vs. other posts. Hold on! 

Post YOUR comms job here—nonprofits, grantmakers, B Corps & vendors serving nonprofits.

Chief Marketing and Communications Officer  Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (Twin Cities, MN)

Chief Marketing Officer Net Impact (San Francisco, CA)

Communications Assistant The Physicians’ Committee (Washington, DC)

Communications Associate – Online and Social Media St. Mary’s Academy (Portland, OR)


Nancy Schwartz on June 22, 2015 in Jobs and Hiring | 2 comments
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