Case Studies

The final draft of my friend Kivi Leroux Miller’s new book on nonprofit content marketing is due to her publisher on February 28.  And she needs your help to round out the guide with several more examples, stories, case studies, and/or anecdotes from nonprofits just like yours.

Can you share your experiences and guidance (if any) in these situations and topics? This won’t take more than 5 minutes of your time (a paragraph or two), and will be a great help to your peers in the field!.

Please use this Google form if you have something to share, or if you aren’t sure and have a question, feel free to email her at

Kivi is looking for these examples (below). Please share any or all. Thank you! READ MORE

Nancy Schwartz in Case Studies | 0 comments
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Yesterday was International Women’s Day (IWD), an occasion to celebrate the accomplishments of women worldwide. I was thrilled (and, frankly, amazed) to see the creativity and diversity of nonprofit campaigns linked to IWD this year, from IRC’s Wake Up campaign to Doctors Without Borders’ four-part IWD video series.

But today, I want to share with you the particularly compelling, creative and all-inclusive campaign launched by Oxfam America(OA) around its International Women’s Day 2012 Award.

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See below for a creative, engaging and mission-driven use of an email auto-responder (what you set up in your email program when you’re away or otherwise unable to reply in a timely manner) as a strategic marketing tactic. Kudos to Molly Thompson, Development and Communications Coordinator with Pillsbury United Communities, for turning what’s usually plain vanilla on its ear!

Thank you for your email. On Sunday, May 22, 2011, an EF1 tornado ripped through the streets of north Minneapolis, damaging homes and businesses. Many of our neighbors were directly impacted by the storm, as was Pillsbury United Communities.

We have responded to this crisis as we always have with time, energy, resources, ingenuity, and community support. Recovering from this tragedy will take both time and effort. For more information on how to help or to make a tax-deductible donation to assist in the recovery efforts, please visit

What can you do with your org’s auto-responders? That’s a lot of email you could be putting to work!

P.S. Here’s how to use your email signature to engage your network.

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Joe-WatersYou know that cause marketing is a partnership between a for-profit and a nonprofit. Each partner has something to offer the other.

Cause marketing is certainly a potentially significant strategy in your overall nonprofit marketing plan. And some of you have a cause marketing program in place already. But for those of you who don’t (and that’s most nonprofits), how do you know when cause marketing is right for your nonprofit? Can it ever work for small or medium nonprofits, or is it just for the big guys? And if you decide to go forward, how do you bring the program to life?

Here’s expert guidance on these core cause marketing issues by cause marketer Joe Waters, Director, Cause & Event Marketing at Boston Medical Center.  Please add your suggestions and questions to the discussion.

P.S. Vote now to build your messaging skills and learn how to strengthen your own organization’s taglines by selecting the best in class in the 2010 Taggies — the third annual Nonprofit Tagline Award Competition. It’s a fun project that will help nonprofits in all fields discover what works, and why. Voting closes in a week so do it now!

Nancy Schwartz in Case Studies, Cause Marketing | 0 comments
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Placido Domingo just resigned as the director of the Washington National Opera (WNO). That’s trouble for this cultural organization in flux and making it right has to go way beyond updating its logo.

Understandably, the WNO has relied heavily on Domingo — a universal opera favorite with memorable voice, bearing and personality — to build its brand.  The Opera has grown exponentially in the past decade and few think of the WNO without thinking of Domingo. He is, for all effective purposes, the Opera’s face…the symbol of its power, beauty and, seemingly, its success.

However, even Domingo couldn’t protect the opera from cuts in arts funding that have plagued cultural organizations in the last few years. And evidently there are bigger issues than that:  According to a recent article in the Washington Post, Domingo was an inattentive leader on both the creative and administrative sides, and the WNO is now in a real hole.

That’s branding gone bad on two fronts:

  • Think hard before putting an individual at the helm of your organization’s brand. Your brand should convey your organization’s value for the communities you serve. That’s how it  connects you and them. Although an individual may epitomize that connection in the short term, people move on and that will leave you with nothing.
  • Your brand has to be authentic. If there’s nothing behind it, it will be found out and your organization’s credibility is shattered. WNO’s Domingo brand was all about vigor, which seems to be noticeably absent from the organization. WNO is likely to find it more difficult than ever to recruit board members and other donors at this point.

Any ideas for WNO’s marketing team? I’m sure they’re looking for all the help they can get! Please share your thoughts below.

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

Nancy Schwartz in Branding and Messages, Case Studies | 4 comments
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Right Place Right Time Nonprofit Marketing

Nothing is more important than communicating the right message to your target audience at the right place and time!

Bonus: The immediacy of this suicide prevention poster at our local train station motivates those not on the brink to consider the issue, even though it’s something we’d all rather avoid considering. Suicide becomes extremely tangible because the message is positioned where the act frequently takes place.

Here’s another effective example of right place, right time marketing.

P.S. Vote now to build your messaging skills by selecting the best in class in the 2010 Taggies — the third annual Getting Attention Nonprofit Tagline Awards competition. It’s a fun project that will help nonprofits in all fields discover what works, and why.

Nancy Schwartz in Case Studies, planning | 0 comments

NJ Library ChampionsAs a Jersey Girl , I was thrilled to hear that the New Jersey State Library was recently honored for outstanding marketing of its Tell Us Your Story advocacy campaign with a 2010 John Cotton Dana Award.

Here’s how the campaign worked:

  • Campaign organizers mobilized staff members in 240 libraries across the state to ask their  communities to Tell Us Your Story.
  • Countless Jersey-ites who rely on public libraries for computers to aid in job searches, free summer programs for kids, books, DVDs and films stepped up to share their stories here.
  • The organizers used these terrific stories (you can read some of them here) locally and in a statewide media campaign.

There’s lots to learn from the way the Library designed and marketed this campaign. Here are the campaign’s main success factors:

1. Mobilizing and training first-line messengers – library staff – as campaign advocates

This fantastic campaign harnessed on-the-ground staff to solicit patron stories. But organizers didn’t just expect that library staff would know what to do or would spend the time to figure it out.

Instead the organizers trained library staff (a.k.a. messengers) via a marketing toolkit supplemented by a  library communication network linking more than 500 users.

2. Motivating the second-line messengers – Library users to library champions

Campaign organizers knew that NJ library users had a lot of good stories to tell. And that their favorite library staffers could motivate to do it.

But they made involvement more compelling by naming it. Become a Library Champion is a far more powerful invitation than Share Your Story. It tells library users that their story will help sustain the library and gives them a name easy to remember and repeat.

3. Putting the stories to work in an all-state media campaign

The campaign generated powerful stories on how libraries have helped users in areas as varied as job searches to providing audio and braille books for blind users. But it didn’t stop there.

It used NJ library users’ stories as the core of a strategic media campaign that reached millions of people, including elected officials, through stories, commercials, outreach and the website.

4. Building a core of citizen advocates – From sharing a story to fighting for library funding

It’s likely that many of those who shared their stories would never have stood up to fight for library funding if asked directly. But sharing their stories engaged them.

And now, the Library has compiled a database of library champions (you can become one here) to update them on urgent legislative issues as they arise.

Due, at least in part to this campaign, the 2011 cut in library funding was reduced to 42% of the 2010 budget, from the 74% slashing initially proposed.

NJ State Library’s campaign design and process of engagement is a definite success, and a fantastic model for your organization. Of course the celebrity champions didn’t hurt – but they alone wouldn’t have had the same impact.

What are you doing to mobilize your colleagues and base as messengers? Please share your story here.

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

Nancy Schwartz in Advocacy, Case Studies | 1 comment

Subject:  Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Visits HealthRight in Vietnam



I was thrilled last Thursday to receive this timely e-news alert from HealthRight International.  It’s nonprofit marketing at it’s finest.

This scrappy organization doing fantastic grassroots public health work worldwide had learned just a week prior that it had a fantastic marketing opportunity on its hands: Hillary Clinton had selected its Smile of the Sun center in Hanoi (a model for providing support and advocacy services for children and families living with HIV) as the stage for her signing of a five- year agreement with the Vietnamese government to fight HIV/AIDS.

Healthright’s executive director Mila Rosenthal (in photo in white shirt) is a close friend who happened to be visiting us a few days before Clinton’s visit. She couldn’t leave her  Blackberry alone for a minute – not like her – and when I asked why, she shared the news as she continued to work on visa issues.

Mila knew that:

  1. Nothing’s more powerful than connecting your nonprofit with a major news event. Clinton had already done that. It was HRI’s job to make the most of it.
  2. Clinton’s visit was the biggest media/marketing opportunity HRI had ever had, especially since her team had vetted many programs before selecting HRI’s program as the “set.”
  3. This was a priceless moment for HRI to a) build awareness of its work and impact with existing supporters, and to b) engage many others as supporters, or at least pique their interest.
  4. Mila better be there, on the scene, herself.

Despite visa delays, Mila did make the signing.  Then she and the HRI team capitalized on it. They:

  1. Captured as many photos as possible, with Mila included when possible (the visual connection between Mila and Hillary is worth a million dollars).
  2. Distributed two press releases, one each the day before and the day of the visit, including one featuring the photos.
  3. Sent out this e-news immediately.
  4. Featuring the story on the HealthRight’s homepage

The only additional suggestion I have for HealthRight is that they continue the story across online and offline channels, including the blog (nothing there yet on Clinton’s visit).

Remember that engagement is fleeting: Once your organization does engage a new or re-engage an existing audience, make sure to keep in close touch with related content (in this case, more about the trip, the center and HealthRight’s work in Vietnam and other countries.  It’s much harder to re-engage them, than to keep the conversation going.

Please share your stories – in the comments box – of connecting your organization’s work and impact with a major news story. Don’t forget to mention the results. Thanks!

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

Nancy Schwartz in Case Studies, Strategy | 0 comments
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nonprofit tagline reportQ: Can we use both a tagline and slogan for our nonprofit?

Our organization uses a three-word slogan (Access. Acquire. Empower.) and a tagline (Using Technology to Narrow Societal Gaps). And I have two questions for you.

1. Is it overkill to use a slogan and a tagline? Is that a nonprofit marketing don’t?

  • The slogan is important for our mission statement, which is based on those three words.
  • The tagline gives a better idea of what we do.

2. What’s the solution?

  • We’ve been toying with the idea of getting rid of one or the other, or making a “mish-mash” of the two:  Access to technology. Acquire knowledge/skills. Empower people.
  • We know this isn’t very powerful.

–Ephraim Geffen, Machshava Tova, Israel


A: Dear Ephraim, using two taglines is confusing. Stop!

Your instinct that something is off with your nonprofit messaging approach is correct.


There’s really no difference between a slogan and a tagline.  So your nonprofit is currently using two taglines, which is incredibly confusing to your target audience. It’s tops the list of nonprofit marketing don’ts.

The last thing any nonprofit communicator wants to do is to confuse his audience. Because confusion makes people want to flee; the absolute opposite of engagement.

Instead, take the time to develop a single, clear tagline — eight words or less–they conveys the essence of your organization’s value. I don’t know the meaning of your organizational name, but if the name doesn’t say what you do, the tagline should include some description.

It is NOT important that your tagline mirrors the words in your mission statement (which is internally oriented).  What you can do to convey those ideas is to integrate the language and concepts into your positioning statement — the one to three sentences you use to convey your organization’s focus, impact and unique value to the communities you serve.

But start with your tagline. You’ll find all the guidance you need to shape a powerful one in the Getting Attention Nonprofit Tagline Report (download link below).

P.S. Messages that connect are a priority for all organizations and the prerequisite for motivating your base to act. Learn how to craft the most essential message — your tagline. Download the Nonprofit Tagline Report, filled with must-dos, don’t dos, case studies and 2,500+ nonprofit tagline examples!

Nancy Schwartz in Branding and Messages, Case Studies, Taglines | 0 comments
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Call for Input--Your Stories on Two Key Nonprofit Marketing TopicsI’d like to ask for your help. I’m putting together a presentation and an article, on two different topics, and want to highlight my guidance with real-life stories of nonprofit marketing in action. Here’s what I’m looking for:

1) Are you using a keyword strategy as the first (or only) step to search engine optimization (SEO)?

  • I’m writing an e-update article that guides organizations on how to identify the right keywords for SEO (the first step to getting your org’s online content as far up in search engine results as you can, ideally in the first 10).
  • Seeking mini-case studies of organization’s who are doing this.
  • Please share your story here. It will take 5 minutes, at most! Thanks.

2) Are you integrating your social media outreach into your overall communications strategy?

  • I’m speaking at NTC on this crucial topic, and need some case studies from small or medium organizations to share.
  • Please share your story here. Won’t take more than a few minutes.

If you can’t answer yes to either question, but you know a colleague at another organization who can, please forward this request.

Many thanks!

Nancy Schwartz in Case Studies, Nonprofit Communications, Social Media | 1 comment
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