Nonprofit Marketing News

How The United Negro College Fund Is Revitalizing Its Brand (Case Study) 1The United Negro College Fund (UNCF) has been on my mind lately, as the home of one of the world’s most effective taglines (A mind is a terrible thing to waste.) And you know taglines are all I’m thinking about right now, as the Getting Attention Tagline Survey draws to a close.

So UNCF’s announcement of its rebranding got my attention, particularly when I saw it covered in The New York Times. Of course, as a woman who does a lot of nonprofit branding, I was intrigued by the brand revision itself, but also by the unusual way UNCF introduced it. Here’s how it played out:

The Challenge
UNCF, the country’s largest private minority education assistance program recently re-focused on closing what President and CEO Dr. Michael Lomax calls, “the education attainment gap.” …
With this clearer direction in hand — brought to life in its scholarships, advocacy for minority education and 39 historically-black members colleges — UNCF realized it had to modernize its look and feel to engage the younger generations it needs to support it in the long run.

Learn about UNCF’s solution, and see if you agree with Getting Attention’s critique. You’ll find the full case study here:
http://www.nancyschwartz.com/new_uncf_brand.html

P.S. You may also be interested in this branding case study on a much smaller organization:
How a Small Nonprofit Shaped a Clear, Memorable Brand — Five Steps to Low-Budget Branding for Big Results

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Nancy Schwartz in Branding and Messages, Case Studies, Nonprofit Communications, Nonprofit Marketing News, Taglines | 0 comments
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Disconnect with Donors and Other Audiences Sets Stage for Dissapointment and Loss of Confidence, According to SSIRGoogle.Org SurveyGood news for your 2008 nonprofit marketing agenda– the writing is on the wall, the just-released findings of this new survey of over 8,000 donors who gave in 2006.

Here are the facts (as reported by the survey), why you should care, and what you should do about it (fix):

  • Fact: Most donors overestimate the percentage of their gifts groups that will go directly to help the needy.
    • There is a wide gulf between donors’ intended and actual giving.
    • The largest segment of respondents (47 percent) said that their primary reason for giving to charities was to assist the needy.
    • Yet in 2006, these donors dedicated only 6 percent of their giving to organizations that aim to meet people’s basic needs in the United States, and sent just 2 percent of their donations to organizations that aid people in other countries.
    • At the same time, they gave the bulk of their charitable contributions (60 percent) to religious causes.
  • Impact:
    • Wide
    • Donor disappointment, disengagement and anger. Lack of confidence cuts future gifting potential.
  • Fix:
    • Clearly articulate — through text, graphs and case studies — what your organization does, and how contributions are used.
    • When you do, you’ll avoid disappointing donors, volunteers and program participants and other key audiences.
    • As a result, you’ll strengthen existing relationships, and do better at building new ones.

Note: Survey implemented by the Stanford Social Innovation Review, and sponsored by Google.org.

More tips on clearly and accurately telling your nonprofit’s story:

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Nancy Schwartz in Fundraising: Innovations & Research, Nonprofit Communications, Nonprofit Marketing News, Trends | 1 comment
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Nonprofit's Online Gaffe Spurs Guidelines for Communicating OnlineThe ePhilanthropy Foundation is taking the lead in urging nonprofit’s to police their online communications practices and fix any problems immediately. Take this quick online test to see how your organization fares. This initiative is largely motivated by the recent online shenanigans of staff members of GiveWell (a nonprofit that, ironically enough, was establish to ensure the accountability and transparency of the nonprofit sector. Two GiveWell-ians participated in multiple online communities using aliases, hoping to boost the image of the organization. Blow up…as one would anticipate.

Jointly funded by Cisco Systems Foundation, W.K. Kellogg Foundation and Convio, Inc., the one-page code, which about 100 organizations have endorsed, requires groups to "employ practices on the Web site that exhibit integrity, honesty, and truthfulness and seek to safeguard the public trust."

According Bill Strathmann, president of Network for Good, as quoted in the Chronicle of Philanthropy (accessible by subscribers only), "if more charities consider adopting such policies, the GiveWell episode might have a silver lining."

In other words, don’t say what you do, do what you say.

But frankly, it’s a no brainer that every organization today, must have standards that cover online and offline communications and branding. Remember, the credibility your organization builds up over years could disappear in an instant via a misguided comment or blog post. And online communications always leave a trail. Make sure that trail leads to the right place so your image and your relationships remain strong.

Get your style guide/brand book 2008 into place today, and make sure it covers who, when and how to participate in online conversations, as well as where to place the logo and what typeface to use.

Start here to craft a basic style guide for your organization (you’ll have to add online communication guidelines):

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Nancy Schwartz in Case Studies, Nonprofit Communications, Nonprofit Marketing News | 1 comment
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Seems it’s all the rage for corporate media entities to go nonprofit. Last week YouTube, Google and MTV announced nonprofit initiatives.

Most interestingly, YouTube announced Broadcast Your Cause, a way to make it even easier for people to find, watch and engage with nonprofit video content on the site. YouTube’s 2007/2008 Clinton Global Initiative commitment enables nonprofit organizations (501c3 tax filing status required for US orgs) that register for the program to receive a free nonprofit-specific YouTube channel where they can upload footage of their work, public service announcements, calls to action and more.

The channel will also allow you to collect donations with no processing costs using the newly-free Google Checkout for Non-Profits. YouTube’s global platform enables nonprofits to deliver their message, showcase their impact and needs, and encourage supporters to take action.

Meanwhile, the recent launch of ThinkMTV, MTV’s social activism social network (that’s a mouthful) has angered nonprofits planning or running social networks and turned down for funding by the same foundations (Case and Gates among others) who are funding this initiative. More from The New York Times here.

Obviously corporate media entities see that affiliation with nonprofits is of value to them. I see these initiatives as a complement to nonprofit-only networks if they partner with the right nonprofits on focus, strategy and communications. More is more. Reach audiences where they are. Yada yada yada.

Others are angered and/or threatened by these big boys stepping into the nonprofit world. Only time, and the nature of the partnerships these entities develop with nonprofit organizations, will tell how their involvement impacts nonprofit results. Stay tuned.

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Nancy Schwartz in Nonprofit Communications, Nonprofit Marketing News, Special Opportunities, Video | 0 comments
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I just heard the news that Anita Roddick, The Body Shop founder and human rights and environmental activist, passed away on Monday, September 10th.

Anita was the first to bring civic concerns to business practice and succeeded wildly, eventually selling the company for more than a billion dollars and introducing civic participation to millions of beauty consumers. She was the mother of today’s cause marketing; a creative and business genius with a huge heart and soul and a true inspiration.

Here are just a few of her innovations:

  • Cruelty-free testing for Body Shop product development, and environmentally-solid packaging (including a refund when customers bring in empties to refill)
  • Requiring franchisees to support an environmental or community cause
  • Spreading the word via Body Shop trucks with short, funny but meaningful slogans including Roddick’s favorite (according to the Washington Post), "If you think you’re too small to have an impact, go to bed with a mosquito."

Here’s to Anita Roddick.

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Nancy Schwartz in Cause Marketing, Nonprofit Communications, Nonprofit Marketing News | 1 comment
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Case Foundation Offers $35,000 for Great Ideas -- Asks Audiences Where Money Should GoGoing one step further than even the typical nonprofit or foundation-run contest, the Case Foundation (as in Steve Case, founder of AOL, and his wife Jean) is asking the public for guidance in making its grants with its new Make it Your Own Awards program.

As reported in yesterday’s New York Times, the foundation  is the first ever to share its grants decision-making with the public. The program is “a direct response to research showing that many people feel disconnected from public leaders and institutions and don’t believe they have the power to make a lasting difference in their community,” says a foundation spokesperson.

What’s unique here is that the Case Foundation is putting its research findings into practice, and reaching beyond its own staff and board to do so. Most importantly, its demonstrating a great deal of respect for grassroots ideas. Here’s how it works:

  • The foundation is asking individuals and small, community-based nonprofits to submit ideas for strengthening their communities.
  • A group of judges will select 100 finalists to query for a more formal proposal.
  • Another panel will review these proposals to select 20 finalists, who will receive $10,000 each.
  • In November, the public will vote to select the “final four” from these finalists, who will each receive an additional $25,000.

“We are excited about the potential for change when citizens are placed at the center of deciding what issues to address and how,” said Case Foundation CEO Jean Case. “As citizens, we need to ‘own’ the challenges and opportunities in our communities — not leave them for someone else to tackle.”

Of course, program success is dependent on strategic communications being put into play pronto. The broader community (and believe me, “individuals” are incredibly hard to reach as you have no idea where they are in terms of other communications channels through which you can reach them, or where they aren’t) has to know about this program, and be engaged enough to participate, to have it work.

The Case Foundation has made a great start with the communications agenda  —

  • Engaging audiences via broadcast communications — namely significant media coverage
  • Providing a thorough sub-site for the program, with comprehensive information on all its aspects
  • Soliciting contact information (emails) for those interested in keeping tabs on the program as it evolves via a Make it Your Own e-newsletter (promoted on every page in the mini-site)
  • Continuing to engage audiences via this e-newsletter as the program evolves over the balance of 2007.

Great idea, Case Foundation, and a strong model of strategic communications which is guaranteed to ensure program success.

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Nancy Schwartz in Nonprofit Communications, Nonprofit Marketing News, Philanthropy, Unique Approaches | 1 comment
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2007 Nonprofit Marketing Survey Findings Provoke Passionate Responses and Innovative RecommendationsResults from the 2007 Getting Attention Nonprofit Marketing Survey highlighted this striking gap – while more than 55% of nonprofits are frustrated by lack of resources and leadership support for marketing, only 37% do the tracking that generates increased budgets and confidence.

Or, as fundraiser/blogger Jeff Brooks, puts it "63% of nonprofits intend to fail."

My recommendation for your organization is to harvest the low-hanging fruit –- the tracking data that’s inexpensive and easy to get and understand. And that’s what’s called analytics for your Web site, blogs, e-newsletters and mobile phone campaigns.

You probably have these tools already, if you communicate via any of these channels. I’ll tell you how to put them to good use in posts to come.

But first, here are just a few of the many compelling responses to this challenge.

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Nancy Schwartz in Nonprofit Communications, Nonprofit Marketing News, Planning and Evaluation | 3 comments
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I'm NJ Governor Jon Corzine, and I Should Be DeadCorzine comes out strong for seat belts — not wearing one almost killed him — in this hard-hitting PSA released to launch Click It or Ticket campaigns across the country.

I’m so pleased Corzine’s making a good recovery, and thrilled that he’s using his dramatic experience (and nothing plays better than drama) to persuade others on the necessity of seat belts.

Here’s how he makes a huge peer-to-peer, daredevil-to-daredevil impact with this PSA for the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration:

  • Short but powerful
  • Makes it real with
    • Photos of the smashed suv he was riding in
    • Description of how a ventilator had to breathe for him in 8 days
    • Quantifies his injuries — lost half his blood, broke 15 bones in 18 places
  • Attributes living through the injuries to a great team of doctors and many miracles
  • Shares remorse, “I have to live with my mistake, but you don’t.”

Click it.

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Nancy Schwartz in Nonprofit Communications, Nonprofit Marketing News, Social Marketing | 0 comments
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Nonprofits Fail to Track Marketing Impact, Getting Attention Survey ShowsMore than 55% of nonprofits
are frustrated by lack of resources and leadership support for marketing, but only 37% do the tracking that generates increased budgets and confidence.

Full press release on findings here
(PDF file); please forward to your colleagues.

These just-released results provide a snapshot of key trends and benchmarks for nonprofit marketing and communications, drawn from communicators working in or with nearly 350 nonprofit organizations and foundations.  The 2007 Nonprofit Marketing Survey provides an across-the-board look at how well leading nonprofit marketing initiatives are performing.

Some key findings:

  • Only 37% of Nonprofits Track Marketing Impact, but without that Data You’re Driving Blind — implement a marketing evaluation plan today
  • Most 2007 Marketing Agendas Focus on 2 or more of 5 Key Opportunities –Over 50% of nonprofit communicators are placing their bets on these strategies
  • 2006 Marketing Successes Many and Varied — from surpassing fundraising goals and gaining leadership buy-in to consistent, pithy Messaging
  • Nonprofit Marketers Want to Hurdle these “Big 3” Barriers Faced in 2006 — Over 55% of your colleagues cite lack of resources and/or leadership support as their major challenge.

More on Survey Respondents

  • Survey respondents work in a variety of positions:
    • 47% — Marketing and Communications
    • 15% — Leadership
    • 15% — Fundraising
    • 6% — Board Members
    • 17% — Other
  • And in a broad range of organizations:
    • 29% — Human Services
    • 25% — Education
    • 20% — Civil Society (civil rights, community, advocacy, philanthropy)
    • 17% — Arts & Culture
    • 9%  — Other (international, spiritual, service

Take a look at the complete survey results now for a better understanding of ways to punch up your nonprofit marketing, and some inspiration from colleagues in the field.

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Nancy Schwartz in Nonprofit Communications, Nonprofit Marketing News, Surveys, Trends | 7 comments
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Over the past few years, I’ve closely followed NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund’s metamorphosis into Legal Momentum (LM), and been engaged enough by their excellent job of transitioning that I even wrote this case study on the name change. Read it for a brilliant model of a nonprofit name change that generated clearer understanding, increased support and broader reach.

What a great place for Legal Momentum’s new VP of Communications to jump off from. I just heard about the search today and urge experienced, strategic nonprofit marketers to read more about the job here, and to apply if the shoe fits.

Legal Momentum employs cutting edge legal, legislative and educational strategies to secure equality and justice for women. The successful candidate will have passion for the issues addressed by Legal Momentum and experience in message development and positioning, advocacy and a strong record of success across a range of media, including online communications.

The new VP will be responsible for initiating, organizing and executing all communications and marketing efforts, while maintaining the integrity, vision and voice of Legal Momentum’s brand. Working in close collaboration with LM leadership and program staff, s/he will manage a staff of three full time and one part time person in New York and Washington, DC, plus manage communications consultants.

If you’re smart, engaged, engaging, energetic, this is a great opportunity for you. Consider it.

BTW, this job overview is a great model of a job description for a communications leader — clear, detailed and thorough.

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Nancy Schwartz in Jobs and Hiring, Nonprofit Communications, Nonprofit Marketing News | 0 comments
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