Dear Nancy: Our last two year-end campaigns were centered around client stories, each powered by a photo or two. We got fantastic feedback on these stories and I planned to feature similar profiles this year.

That plan changed radically last month when our social workers urged us to put our clients’ privacy first and stop using client photos. Our staff has agreed to respect their expertise and honor their request.

What are some practical alternatives I can put to work in these last few weeks? And how do I move forward with client photos in the future, as our stories are far less memorable without them?

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Nancy Schwartz in storytelling | 0 comments
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We all have an incredible marketing and fundraising resource right in front of us—our colleague, board member, and loyal volunteer ambassadors. But most of us look right past them!

You STILL HAVE TIME to launch your team of messengers to advance your year-end campaigns. They’re already fans, so many of them will be eager and effective fundraisers. So that’s all good. However, your ambassadors’ reach, engagement, and ultimate impact on donations is directly related to saying the right thing at the right time. And it can’t be a script, repeated from everyone to everyone. Spamming robots just don’t work. But…

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Nancy Schwartz in All-Org Marketing Team | 0 comments
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There’s no better gift than learning from a friend. And what a treat I had recently, learning self-care at work techniques from Beth Kanter, a fellow speaker at the JCamp 180 conference.

We all know how pressured year-end is, especially on the fundraising side. That makes it an ideal time to jumpstart Beth’s approach (developed with Aliza Sherman, her co-author of  The Happy Healthy Nonprofit: Strategies for Impact Without Burnout). Here’s Beth’s 4-step ladder to well-being— and doing your best work—year round:

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Nancy Schwartz in Staff and Consultants | 0 comments
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Sometimes we have so many strong stories available that it’s hard to select the best ones to feature in a specific campaign. At other times, it seems impossible to source the right story or find a fitting one to harvest from the story bank. I’ve been there.

Luckily, there’s a proven, two-step solution to both problems:

  1. Pinpoint what your people need to understand about your organization’s focus (problem or cause), and about your solutions and impact.
  2. Select or find a story that provides those answers.

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Nancy Schwartz in storytelling | 0 comments
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Every election season is a barrier to connection, with people overwhelmed by 24/7 messages from multiple campaigns via multiple channels. But connecting this fall—through the noise of so many contentious midterm races—is particularly tough. That’s a real concern as we plunge into Giving Tuesday and Year-End.

Pile on the chaos we face on so many fronts—from the mass murder at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life Synagogue to constitutional threats and the refugee crisis—and it’s almost impossible to get attention, much less motivate action. We can’t fight it, nor can we sit it out.

Here’s how to get (and stay) close to your people right now:

1) Show your people you get them. The fast-moving shifting of norms we face is unnerving. People are feeling vulnerable, and the candidates’ fear mongering fuels our anxiety and sense of powerlessness.

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Nancy Schwartz in Strategy | 0 comments
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Does the protagonist of your story know what she’s getting into—how you’ll use her story, and the risks are of sharing it? Probably not, if you’re like most communicators. Let’s change that.

Organizations like ours—that share stories regularly to activate our people—wield power and influence. When a protagonist lends us her story to share, she opens herself up to curiosity, criticism, misunderstanding, and sometimes even physical harm. It is our responsibility to respect those whose stories we share, ensuring they 1) are comfortable with the way we use their stories and 2) stay safe.

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Nancy Schwartz in storytelling | 2 comments
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Audience Research 4 nonprofitsThere’s a proven way for your organization to start and strengthen vital relationships with the people whose support, loyalty, and actions you want—donors, volunteers, and even staff (too often overlooked here).

This approach is easy to learn and execute. And it’s something you do on a personal level all the time: Getting to know and understand others with whom you want to build a friendship—learning what’s important to them and how their days go. These insights enable you to focus in on what’s important or interesting to both of you, and how best to keep in touch via a commonly-used channel (social, mobile, text, mail) at the time that your folks will be most receptive.

Here are four proven methods of harvesting these priceless insights:

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Nancy Schwartz in Audience Research | 0 comments
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So many organizations I follow or work with have become strong and savvy communicators. It’s thrilling to see nonprofits like yours put communications to work effectively despite time, talent, and budget constraints.  

However, there’s one communications method that remains poorly utilized by most organizations—media relations. That’s a significant gap because organizations that do work skillfully with reporters, editors, and opinion makers are more visible, advocate for their missions more effectively, and raise more money to support their work.

Now—thanks to the practical guidance in Modern Media Relations for Nonprofits—you can close this gap. Authors Peter Panepento and Antionette Kerr, both former journalists, provide a set of concrete, doable steps for media relations success based on this clear definition of today’s broad-ranging media landscape

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Nancy Schwartz in Media Relations and Press | 0 comments
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Best Buddies International

Like many of you, I’ve been working with storytelling for more than a decade now. And, like many of you, I know we need to do it better.

We use too many over-simplified stories—black-and-white stories that don’t ring true. Stories that are all about us, don’t have relevance to our supporters, or don’t map to our organizational identity. Stories that leave the reader or listener thinking “so what.”

That’s a real waste of our supporters’ and prospects’ time and attention. In fact, it’s alienating. Telling one-offs or weak stories like these makes your people feel you don’t understand or care about them. That means they’re less likely to stay engaged and provide the help you need. There’s a better way.

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Nancy Schwartz in storytelling | 3 comments
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Flickr: Robyn Anderson

The opportunity you have in front of you today is SO big, that it’ can seem overwhelming. …
You’ve decided to take another look at your engagement practices (Yea, yea, yea!), rather than just doing it. Breathe deep—the changes you make will have a huge impact on results.

What are YOU going to change? What will stay the same? PRIORITY NOW is the proven path forward.

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Nancy Schwartz in Right-Things Right-Now Marketing | 0 comments
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