Web 2.0

Red Cross' Communications Innovation in Haiti Disaster Relief Effort -- Smart StuffBefore digging into American Red Cross’ stellar communications on the Haitian earthquake relief effort, I urge you to contribute to help the people of Haiti. Here’s a list of several organizations you can give to.

Please spread the word to colleagues, family and friends. Relief needs are huge.

At the moment of, I wanted to tip my hat to the American Red Cross for its immediate and creative communications strategy on the situation in Haiti and fundraising for relief efforts (through its International Response Fund). Their work is a great model for your organization when you’re responding to a crisis or simply handling everyday business.

Here’s how the Red Cross’ communication innovation is boosting the impact of disaster communications:

  1. Pushing out the latest from Haiti via the Disaster Online Newsroom, a blog that makes it easy for Red Cross staffers to get new info out a.s.a.p.
  2. Producing almost-real-time, short-form, easy-to-absorb video on the state of the devastation and the challenges faced by the relief effort. This video was “on the air” (via the blog) five hours after the earthquake struck.
  3. Sharing the Red Cross’ relief strategy as it evolves (via the video). The weak infrastructure in Haiti has resulted in the collapse of many entries into the damaged entries. The Red Cross outlines its preparation in surrounding countries for entering Haiti today.
  4. Making it incredibly easy to give via mobile phone.Text “HAITI” to 90999 to donate $10 to American Red Cross relief for Haiti.
  5. Mobilizing social media tools to spur awareness, giving and conversation in multiple communities. You can follow the Red Cross’ Haitian relief news via Twitter (@RedCross), the org blog and Facebook.

Overall, the Red Cross is doing a great job in utilizing a broad range of communications channels and capitalizing on each one’s strengths.

Other organization’s are also responding effectively. Oxfam has communicated its relief focus (public health, water and sanitation to prevent the spread of waterborne disease) which is very helpful in making giving decisions. Partners in Health, already on the ground in Haiti, is bringing medical assistance and supplies to hardest-hit areas.

P.S. Follow these key strategies to maintain the impact of your org’s communications in the shadow of a disaster like this one.

To learn more about social media and other key communications strategies, get the in-depth articles and case studies featured in the twice-monthly Getting Attention e-update. Subscribe today.

Nancy Schwartz in Case Studies, Nonprofit Communications, Social Media, Web 2.0 | 3 comments
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Birthday Wishes -- and Thanks a Million -- to Beth KanterDo you know Beth Kanter, dedicated teacher, experimenter, provocateur, mentor to organizations weaving their way through social media? If not, I suggest you dive into her blog a.s.a.p., because to know her is to learn from her.

Here’s what’s different about Beth – she’s relentless in her pursuit of understanding why and how social media build conversation and connection, and why not. And she shares everything she knows. More than any other single person, she’s leading nonprofits into smart and useful use of social media tools.

Beth even makes her 53rd birthday (today) into an opportunity to learn and to give back — by “friendraising” $530 to send 53 Cambodian children to school. You can give here to make that happen.

Happy birthday, Beth. I love your passion, admire your focus, am inspired by your creativity and benefit constantly from the insights and questions you share. Thank you.

P.S. To learn more about social media and other key communications strategies, get the in-depth articles and case studies featured in the twice-monthly Getting Attention e-update. Subscribe today.

Nancy Schwartz in Nonprofit Communications, Social Media, Web 2.0 | 0 comments
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How Joedy Isert's Listening Helps Heifer InternationalListening is all the rage right now and for good reason. With an ever-increasing number of communications channels, there’s much more to listen to and the ability to do so.

Most importantly, as I discussed a few weeks ago, what’s said about your organization, leaders, programs, or issues is information critical to your decision making. But, despite the fact that listening IS a must and quite feasible for nonprofits of all sizes to implement, far too many do a poor job of it or don’t do it at all.

Here’s someone to learn from: Joedy Isert (at left), director of branding and communication at Heifer International is a great listener. He emailed me just 15 minutes after I blogged on my vote for Heifer’s Holiday Catalog as the most powerful holiday fundraising campaign out there.

With just a quick but heartfelt email, Joedy thanked me for my post, emphasized how the organization values its donors and other supporters, and shared how he and his Heifer colleagues are similarly touched in “rereading the powerful stories of the lives that have been changed by the simple gift of a cow or goat.”

Joedy made a connection between us in mentioning the Heifer team’s rereading of the catalog’s stories, and in his closing wish for a good holiday wishes for me and my family. So now, although I’ve never spoken to Joedy, I feel I have a connection at Heifer International should I want to develop another Heifer story for the Getting Attention blog or e-newsletter. He’s succeeded in generating one of the greatest benefits of good listening — helping your organization’s story to travel.

Thanks Joedy, for your note and for sharing your story! Keep those ears to the ground.

P.S. Learn how to craft a compelling story for your org in 8 words or less. Download the free Nonprofit Tagline Report, filled with must-dos, don’t dos, case studies and 2,500+ nonprofit tagline examples!

Nancy Schwartz in Case Studies, Nonprofit Communications, Web 2.0 | 1 comment
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The Why Behind the Disconnect -- Supporters Embrace Orgs Online, but Don't Give There

A new research report just released by cause branding pros at Cone shows that 79% of those online are behind orgs harnessing email, Web sites and social media to build awareness, grow giving and motivate action. Better yet, 60% of this group has engaged with one or more cause — from forwarding an email to a friend to purchasing a cause-branded product.

That’s all rosy, but here’s the disconnect. Despite this high level of interest and awareness of causes online, action lags far behind. Only 18% of users have donated via online media and/or done more to help the cause in another way.

Evidently, it’s fear that’s keeping them from giving online. That’s what the research tells us. But I think the disconnect is much greater than that.

My take is that online media (especially via social media tools like Facebook and Twitter) is more about friendraising than fundraising at this point. Dollar and gift counts are low now but are growing and will continue to do.

If you buy my take, then focus on building communities, not dollars. If you hit too hard on giving, you’ll alientate some of your org’s friends, and they are hot prospects for future giving. You don’t want to lose them.

Nancy Schwartz in Fundraising: Innovations & Research, Nonprofit Communications, Social Media, Web 2.0 | 10 comments
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3 Proven Ways to Make an Impact When Message Control Is Out of Your HandsDog-days-of-summer reminder ==> Effective communications has shifted radically from the megaphone model. These few weeks, when the work world is far quieter than normal, is a great time to begin shifting your org's communications model (if you haven't already). Do it now, so your org isn't left behind.

Here are three strategies to ensure your organization works this all-voices-have-equal-weight conversation to its advantage. For more insights and how-tos, read the full article here.

1. Start To Monitor All Channels, All the Time
Your nonprofit may have once counted on a clipping service to capture print and broadcast coverage of your organization. But what’s equally – if not more – and comments on your org – on websites, Twitter, Facebook, blogs and other channels.

2. Build Internal Support For User-Generated Content, Listening, and Active Participation
Once you start to scan, and find what’s out there on your nonprofit, you’ll have some proofs of the importance of nurturing this conversation (it’s going to happen anyway, so you might as well embrace it). It’s likely you’ll need to convince your boss or leadership why to support these conversations, and you have the data to do it.

3. Participate, Participate, Participate – After You Develop a “Conversation Policy”
You’ve got to participate in the online conversations that are important – to show you’re listening, to add your perspective and, sometimes, to set the record straight.

P.S. Here's more on how to listen to online conversation. Dive in!

Nancy Schwartz in Nonprofit Communications, Social Media, Web 2.0 | 0 comments
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Twitter Emerges as Best Rapid-Fire News Source in Post-Election Iran Media VacuumI've continued to ponder the value of tweeting — even as I do it — but see clearly its unique value in getting news out of Iran (and organized protest going on the scene) when the more traditional lines (Internet, phone have been shut down). Here's a partial list of folks tweeting out of Iran right now (thanks to Alison Fine).

Iranians appalled at what seems to be a blatantly fraudulent election are angry, and putting Twitter to work when there are few channels available. As dissent grew on the streets, media and Twitter reports said mobile phone communication in Iran was jammed and internet access was blocked or slow. It is also reported that electricity has been cut. But determined to get their message out, online protesters within Iran are constantly uploading information about open proxies which avoid the government filters to their twitter feeds.

As Information Week's Michael Hickins reminds us, it's Iranians — not the Twitter tool — who have generated the just-announced vote investigation. Iranian citizens are participating, and Twitter is simply their means of doing so, as Andrew Sullivan comments:

The key force behind this is the next generation, the Millennials, who elected Obama in America and may oust Ahmadinejad in Iran. They want freedom; they are sick of lies; they enjoy life and know hope.

What better tool for doing those wishing to control their own lives, and experiences, than short and sweet Twitter? As Hickins says:

Twitter is what people make of it; this is perhaps the single greatest distinguishing feature of Web 2.0 as a whole, and the biggest single gift we bequeath to the Millenials — as users, we control our own experience. We follow or block whom we want, and we join or leave groups at will. Twitter doesn't make us better people (nor does it make us worse).

The messenger, not the network or tool, is the message! Take that, Marshall McLuhan.

Flickr: John McNab

Nancy Schwartz in Nonprofit Communications, Web 2.0 | 1 comment
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Where's Your Org's Social Media PolicySocial media is a free-flowing, wide-open phenomenon that needs to be handled and handled well. So frame its use for your staff, volunteers and base.

The clearer you are, the more likely it is that your org will make an impact with these tools  — whether you're just monitoring conversation about your org via Google Alerts, have a two-pronged approach with Facebook fan and cause pages or are experimenting on several fronts.

Core issues to cover include:

  • What's the personal/professional split, if there needs to be a split?
  • Any approvals necessary, at any point?
  • Who responds to conversation about your organization and how?
  • Who else needs to hear about that conversation?
  • How do you protect your brand?
  • Can anyone on staff who wants to be a spokesperson?
  • Which platforms do you get active on, and how?
  • What social media-ing is ok to do at work, and what's not ok?

Here's what your policy will do for your organization:

  • The policy creation process itself makes you think through issues too easy to ignore, but far too important to.  It will also increase your organizational understanding of how use of these tools intersects with existing operating processes, and what may have to change.
  • Makes people feel at ease because they know what to do and what to expect.
  • Ensures your team is in sync with each other, rather than working (usually unknowingly) at cross purposes.
  • Leads to a consistent, recognized voice online — via your Web site, e-news and social media presence(s). That's the only voice that your base will recognize, in a snap, where ever they are. Make it easy for them to do so.

Nonprofits-and-social-media guru Beth Kanter offers several guidelines for shaping your org's social media policy here, along with links to sample social media policies.

P.S. A powerful tagline is a critical success factor in bringing your organization's messages to life.  Download the free Nonprofit Tagline Report for must-dos, don't dos, case studies and 1,000+ nonprofit tagline examples!

Nancy Schwartz in Nonprofit Communications, Recommended Resources, Social Media, Web 2.0 | 4 comments
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Social Media Crash Course in 25 Minutes Podcast -- Now wDownload Link

The podcast will load automatically when you open this post. If you don’t frequently listen to online audio files, you may be prompted to download the player — go ahead and do so.Once the podcast is loaded, click the arrow at the left end of the player below to listen now. Or download here (right click, click “save target as” to save on your hard drive or mp3 player) for later listening.


If the player doesn’t load for you, you can listen here.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Dave Evans, author of Social Media Marketing: An Hour a Day, for a social media intensive I taught recently at the Academy for Nonprofit Excellence.

Dave is a social media maven and well-practiced at breaking down what often seems like a mass of confusion into clear, logical steps. Add that to Dave’s experience in working with nonprofit clients and we have our ideal guide to social media.

What’s great is that Dave gave me a gift that I want to share with you: His pithy, punchy 25-minute crash course in social media for nonprofits. Listen to this interview on your run, as you ride the subway, as you cook dinner or right now to learn:

  1. Why social media tools are important for nonprofit organizations — the value of conversation (think free, ongoing audience research and that’s just the beginning)
  2. Where to start (experimenting, a brief plan and listening), and what it’s going to take
  3. How your use of photos and video can engage donors and motivate them to keep giving by showing them what you are doing with their gifts
  4. Accessible, relevant case studies from two orgs that are doing it right, including integrating their social media campaigns with the other ways they touch their bases (via marketing and programs) — the Brooklyn Museum and Prostate.Net.

I have to tell you that Dave is different from most folks who talk about social media. He’s clear, focused and practical. So take these 25 minutes and run with them. You’ll get far.

P.S. This is the first Getting Attention podcast I’ve released and it’s been a lot of fun. It’s been my own crash course, but a gratifying one!

P.S. The right messaging is critical to the success of every nonprofit campaign — whether its social media based, door-to-door or… Download the free Nonprofit Tagline Report for must-dos, don’t dos, case studies and 1,000+ nonprofit tagline examples!

Nancy Schwartz in Nonprofit Communications, Professional Development, Social Media, Web 2.0 | 1 comment
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Q:  I'm a long-time reader of your e-news and blog, and have a question for you about LinkedIn. Since it’s personal in nature, I will appreciate your discretion.  (NOTE: Names have been changed to protect the innocent.)

I recognize the value of getting on LinkedIn but have a dilemma. I am employed full-time as Marketing Director with a nonprofit agency. The job is a great fit for now, but it is not what I want to do in the long-term.

In addition, I do freelance work AND am working on a masters degree in a field that IS what I want to do in the long term (i.e. global health promotion and social marketing).

What is the best way to present myself on LinkedIn? I do not want to disrespect my full-time employer but to complicate matters, my employer and freelance clients do not necessarily know that the other exists — they just know I do my work well and on time!  

I've been struggling with this for a few months, and would appreciate any thoughts and advice you may have for me.Thanks in advance for your help.

K.P., Marketing Director, .org Serving Children and Families, Chicago, IL


A:  Frankly, I’d include it all on your LinkedIn profile, Kelly. Authenticity is the name of the 2.0 game.

It'll undermine your hopes and dreams, as well as your current job and freelance work, if a client finds out another way (vs. you putting it out there) that you have a FT job, or vice versa with your employer.

Be up front and be proud!

All the Best,

P.S. Authentic branding is critical to the success of every nonprofit Web site! Download the free Nonprofit Tagline Report for must-dos, don't dos, case studies and 1,000+ nonprofit tagline examples!

Nancy Schwartz in Nonprofit Communications, Professional Development, Social Media, Web 2.0 | 3 comments
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Ask Experts, Share Issues, Get Inspired -- Join Getting Attention Discussion Group on LinkedIn
Looking for marketing answers? Stuck and need inspiration? Surprised at something that's worked great and want to spread the word?
Please join me and (already) 400 fellow nonprofit communicators in the Getting Attention (GA) Group on LinkedIn.

Here's the deal. For years, folks have been sending me queries on nonprofit marketing dilemmas (Ask Nancy). I do respond via the GA blog or e-update when possible, but…

  1. I just can't respond to the volume anymore, and more importantly…
  2. You'd get a lot more from hearing from your peers, as well as from me. They're the ones out in the field, testing, testing testing. 

So I'm shifting discussion to the Getting Attention LinkedIn Group (we'll have a Facebook group soon). Already have 400 nonprofit communicators there, including several in every issue arena, org size and budget, etc.We already have lots of topics in play and through those discussions, I've been getting tons of new ideas and "meeting" new colleagues.

And, if you're not yet on LinkedIn, it's the perfect motivation for you to spend 10 minutes putting up a profile — great networking, discussion groups from all perspectives (I put queries out and get great responses).

Here's how to join now, in 10 minutes or less:

  • If you're already on LinkedIn, sign up here today. And welcome, in advance.
  • If you're not on LinkedIn yet, sign up here (see Not a User yet line at bottom of page), then join the Getting Attention group. You're going to love being on linkedIn, and part of the group.

Once you're in, ask a question, tell a story, get involved. Like anything else, the more conversation, the richer the experience. Welcome one and all!

Nancy Schwartz in Networking Op, Nonprofit Communications, Nonprofit Marketing News, People, Professional Development, Special Opportunities, Web 2.0 | 0 comments
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