Reactivate Your Email List (Case Study)

Since 1996, Karla Capers has been working for advocacy organizations, figuring out ways to use the internet to raise visibility for progressive issues, engage people in campaigns, and try to make the world a better place.

Note from Nancy: I came upon Karla’s terrific guidance for re-engaging folks on the Progressive Exchange list serv, and got her permission to repost here.

I’m Online Director at the Union of Concerned Scientists, and we were faced with a real challenge—how to re-engage the many folks who were not reading or acting on our emails.

Here’s our three-part reactivation method:

We Segmented Our Inactives
We defined “inactive” as anyone who’s never given the organization a donation (online or off) and hadn’t opened, clicked, or taken any action online in the last year.

Then, in February, we started to segment out the “inactive” people on our list and excluding them from all outgoing messages. That “inactive” segment turned out to be about 25% of our deliverable email file.

Then Sent Our Campaign
Next, we set up a three-part series of emails to try to re-engage those inactive people:

1. Initial email

  • Goes out when someone first falls into the “inactive” file.
  • Subject line: “We miss you [first name]”
  • Asks them to click on a link to let us know they still want to receive emails from UCS.
  • The landing page that click gets them to says something like “Thanks and welcome back….” and automatically adds them back into the “Active” file.

2. Second email (if recipient doesn’t click on first email)

  • Goes out one week later.
  • Subject line: “Science still needs you [firstname]”
  • Tries to re-engage people with an action alert, talks about recent attacks on science and asks the person to sign a generic pledge to “stand with science”.

3. Third email (if recipient doesn’t click on second email)

  • Goes out one week later.
  • Subject line: “thanks and goodbye”
  • Informs the person that since we haven’t heard from them in a long time we are going to unsubscribe them and offers one last chance to click to still receive emails from us.
  • The landing page is a survey where they can update their email subscriptions by issue topic and type of message and give us feedback on why they have been out of touch.

Our Results—Good But Want to Do Better
Since February, we have re-engaged almost 5% of our inactive file. That’s a value of about $13,000 if we were paying for those names so that seems worth it to me.

Of the three emails, the third email performed the best re-engaging 3.17% of the inactive file. Email one re-engaged 1.56% and email two only 0.88%.

Next Steps—Before Inaction
One thing I would like to do is add another email to the series to try to re-engage people *before* they fall into the inactive pool–so maybe when they haven’t clicked or acted on anything in 3 months or 6 months. I think if we tried to reconnect with them sooner we might pull even more people back into the active file.

How do you reengage inactive supporters, whether those on your email list who don’t respond or lapsed donors?

Nonprofit Facebook ROI—Yay or Nay? (w/John Haydon)

Get ready for a roaring point vs. counterpoint, thanks to Facebook for Nonprofits expert John Haydon, who shares his Yay below.

I’ll be following up with mini case studies and links to research supporting my recommendation. Please share your Facebook plan (or plan not to use) and why here, and/or tell us what it does (or doesn’t do) for your organization.

NAY, IN MOST CASES
You’ve probably noticed the raging discussion about the value (or not) of Facebook for all organizations (profiteers too)—it even made the most mainstream ever Time magazine.

There are two main reasons Facebook use is in question:

  1. Long-time ugh: Facebook constantly changes its algorithm (a.k.a. formula) for what’s fed to your org page “likers” on their own pages and its page design, without advance notice or how-tos. That means for those of us with limited resources, it’s an enormous expenditure of time (and the related ) to learn how to adapt, and to do it.
  2. Most recent ugh: Pay to play with a huge decline in organic reach of your content. Now the frequency with which your posts are placed on “likers'” own pages relates to the level of Facebook ad buy by your organization.

What’s clear is that Facebook isn’t free— plan to pay to have your messages delivered.

My recommendation: Use Facebook ONLY if

  1. You’ve selected Facebook as your social media channel of choice because your priority people ARE on Facebook, and you have a good way to drive them to your page and keep them there. Few organizations can effectively utilize more than one social media channel, at least to start.
  2. You use Facebook as a complementary channel to direct marketing (online and offline), your website and the other places where you have a track record of motivating the actions you want (giving, registering, etc.). Content and look and feel are consistent, tone varies depending on channel and the segment of folks you’re reaching out to in each channel and/or each campaign.
  3. You set concrete goals for whatever is measurable on your page (much isn’t) and try to link actions taken on other channels back to Facebook (and other influences)
  4. You are willing to invest a lot of time, expertise in your Facebook presence, AND a lot of cash for ad buys (your nonprofit will be competing against Zappos and Proctor & Gamble—what are your chances?).

Most organizations I know DON’T FIT THIS PROFILE. So for most of your organizations, Facebook is NOT worth the investment, even if your CEO or board chair is pushing it hard.

Please share your Facebook plan (or plan not to use) and why here, and/or tell us what it does (or doesn’t do) for your organization.

Now over to John…
YAY, IF DONE RIGHT (from John Haydon)

Nancy: What is the value in nurturing a brand page/community for orgs on Facebook?

John: Every marketing plan—whether it’s for a brand or a nonprofit—should include word of mouth elements. You want to create opportunities for your community to tell their friends about you.

The fact is, people talk with their friends on Facebook about what’s important to themmovies, weekend activities, family milestones, and causes.

Nurturing your community on Facebook increases the likelihood that they’ll talk about your nonprofit with their friends. In fact, according to one study, Facebook is the most powerful word-of-mouth social media channel.

Nancy: Are there a few criteria a nonprofit can assess to clarify if and/or they should invest (or continue to invest) in its Facebook brand page?

John: It isn’t reason enough for you to simply have a Facebook Page. If your nonprofit depends on fundraisers and volunteers to exist, Facebook should be an important communications channel. Most of the people in your database probably use Facebook already.

If you want to see how many people in your community use Facebook, you can upload your email list as a custom audience and see how many Facebook users are in your email list. Just follow the instructions in this video.

Nancy: What should orgs change strategy wise, with this new algorithm?

John: The purpose of the News Feed algorithm is to display the most interesting content to each Facebook. This way, they will continue to to use Facebook as an important way to connect with friends.

Because Facebook is a friend network, using your nonprofit’s “brand voice” will not work. For example, if all you talk about is your 50th anniversary fundraiser gala, you will bore people and therefore get zero visibility in the News Feed.

The solution is igniting your nonprofit’s “friend” voice (your community sharing your content with their friends).

Nonprofits can start with these questions:

  • What does out community get passionate about?
  • What’s truly useful and interesting to them?
  • What needs are not being met by competing organizations?
  • What are specific ways you can become indispensable in their lives?

– again, getting your current true fans talking about you with their friends on Facebook.

Nancy: How should nonprofit communicators start advertising on Facebook, if they fit the criteria I shared?

John: There are four things to keep in mind when using Facebook ads:

1. Have a plan. As with any type of ad investment, be really clear about why you are using ads in the first place. Do you want more website traffic? Do you want more engaged fans? Do you want more likes?

2. Target wisely. If a breast Cancer foundation targets all women in north America, they will be wasting money on Facebook ads.

For example, it’s better to target only women who have expressed an interest in breast cancer (liking breast cancer related Facebook pages). Additionally, use your Facebook page Insights to determine what demographic is most likely to like your page, and engage with your posts. Targeting Facebook adds wisely will not only save you money, it will increase conversion rates for those ads.

3. Only promote awesome. If you are using Facebook ads to promote page posts, make sure you’re only selecting posts that have performed well. This way when people do see the post as a result of an ad, they will be more likely to engage with it as others have done before.

4. Avoid smelly fish. Facebook ads are like relatives and fish – they go bad after about 5 days. Always make an effort to push fresh posts with ads, instead of letting an ad run for 30 days.

Nancy: What can we expect next from Facebook?

John: You can expect more competition in the newsfeed from brands, friends, and competing nonprofits. Your only solution is to become likable in the real world, not just on Facebook.

Please share your Facebook plan (or plan not to use) and why here, and/or tell us what it does (or doesn’t do) for your organization.

Get More from Conference Participation

Guest blogger, Caroline Avakian is the founder & CEO of SourceRise, a social enterprise connecting journalists to nonprofit subject matter experts and sources, and managing partner of  Socialbrite, a social media for nonprofits consultancy and digital learning hub.


Conference season is ongoing these days. So I was particularly pleased when, at the recent, Harvard Social Enterprise Conference, keynote speaker and Echoing Green president, Cheryl Dorsey, shared some valuable hints to us attendees on conference participation best practices.

Here are the helpful tips I learned—all easy to manage but packing a big punch. Bet that you’’ll be glad you set these in motion when you return from your next conference.

1. Start with the end in mind

What are the top three things you want to get out of this conference? Whether it’s meeting a particular attendee or speaker or gaining a better understanding of how to create a social media strategy for your nonprofit, the more specific you are, the likelier you are to walk out of that conference feeling satisfied and accomplished.

Also, something that stood out to me as being really powerful was that Cheryl mentioned being conscious of not only meeting those who can help you, but those who you can help as well. They are equally important.

2. Use your business cards to their fullest potential

In the flurry of meet and greets, it is likely you get home and don’t remember half of who those cards are from. To remedy this, think of one actionable item for each person you meet. Then write it on their business card before you walk out of the room.

3. Lessons learned

Take a minute and write down the three things you learned after each conference session you attend. It will all seem like less of a blur once you get back home and you’ll be able to take action on the items that really stood out.

What are some of your favorite conference-going tips and tricks?

Empathy Map Your Way to Relevant Messages

Our newest guest blogger, Rob Wu is CEO of CauseVox, a nonprofit crowdfunding and peer-to-peer fundraising platform for nonprofits.

You know it, and I know it. Connecting with your audience is harder than ever. And that means more of your org’s messages than ever before are ignored or deleted.

So how do we cut through the noise? And how do we motivate donors to donate and supporters to take action? We have to make our messages relevant.

That’s right-things, right-now marketing and I’m thrilled to introduce you to our Empathy Map tool to help you get there!

Note from Nancy: This Empathy Mapping technique is the perfect complement to developing personas—learn how to do that here. Then put your results together and you’ll have a 360-dgree profile of the folks you want to engage. That’s right-things, right-now marketing, and that makes you a  5-star messenger!

empathymapThe  Empathy Map is a proven framework for strong connections with the folks you need to act—to give, to volunteer, to take whatever action you need to move your mission forward.

The Map highlights key elements of your supporters’ environment, behavior, concerns and aspirations, enabling you to hone your messages, tone and channels to what’s most important to them (and so most likely to be digested, and acted on). That’s relevance, and relevance rules.

Here’s how to Empathy Map to get to know the people you want to engage—it’s the only way to get relevant:

1: Identify Primary Folks You Want to Reach & Engage

Consider all groupings of prospects, supporters, staff, partners, etc. but select no more than three broad groups as your targets. More than that and you’ll be unable to make messages to any of them relevant.

2: Group Them by Common Characteristics

Consider all groupings of prospects, supporters, staff, partners, etc. your organization have. e possible segments of supporters that you have. . These characteristics can include age, geographic location, profession, social identity, etc. Prioritize the top three within each of your broader audiences groups. So three target audiences, and a max of three segments for each—that’s all any of us can engage.

3: Humanize Your People

Bring each of the (up to nine) segments to life by creating a representative supporter complete with fictitious name, and demographics such as age, income, and interests. This helps you get to know these folks. ds.

4: Empathize with Your People

Each segment requires its own Empathy Map. Note the segment name in the middle of your map. Then, with your team, jot down responses to these six questions as illustrated above:

  • What does this supporter think and feel?
  • What/Who does this supporter listen to?
  • What does this supporter see?
  • What does this supporter say and do?
  • What is the supporter’s pain?
  • What is the supporter’s gain?

Note from Nancy: This Empathy Map technique is the perfect complement to developing personas—learn how to do that here. Then put your results together and you’ll have a 360-dgree profile of the folks you want to engage. That’s right-things, right-now marketing, and that makes you a  5-star messenger!

5: Validate Your Analysis

After crafting your Empathy Maps, test them to ensure they accurately represent the people you want to engage.

Interview a sample of trusted prospects and supporters to test your analysis and conclusions. Then adjust each Empathy Map as necessary.

Now you’re ready to use the Empathy Map to define messages, tone, content and distribution strategies for your nonprofit. And the value? Your communications will get more reads and shares because they are tailored to mirror what’s important to the people you want to engage.

Note: The Empathy Map was developed by XPLANE, an information design consultancy. We’ve adapted it for nonprofits so you can cut through the noise.

Nonprofit Websites that Work: Showcase Your Personality, Passion & Impact

So glad to welcome guest blogger Yesenia Sotelo! Yesenia founded Smart Cause Digital where she builds and grows smart websites.

A couple of months ago, I finally gave my business website the same love and attention that I bring to nonprofit clients’ sites. During this process, I learned several important lessons that will help you build a site that truly reflects your nonprofit and its goals.

Stop trying to hide

Originally, I tried to make SmartCause look more like an agency rather than just me. Why? Because I thought nonprofits wanted to work with an agency for their website.
Read more

Nonprofit Marketing Wisdom Guide (Access Page)

Here it is…
The Nonprofit Marketing Wisdom Guide
Nonprofit Marketing Wisdom Guide
219 nonprofit marketing lessons learned from your colleagues in the field. Use the wisdom in this Guide to achieve stronger results than ever before.
 
 
Access the report by clicking the link above (please wait a moment for download – the file is large), or save it to your computer by right-clicking the link above and selecting “Save Target As” (IE) or “Save Link As” (FireFox). Requires Adobe Reader.

You’ll also start receiving the twice-monthly Getting Attention e-newsletter with tools, templates and in-depth case studies and articles on key nonprofit marketing topics. If you already subscribe, you’ll continue to receive the e-news on the regular schedule.

 


 

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Nancy E. Schwartz
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Practice Makes Progress—Into Focus Nonprofit Video Guide

PracticeSee3 and friends have just released Into Focus, the first-ever benchmark guide to video in the nonprofit sector. It’s a good read based on solid research, with these key takeaways:

  1. Video is important and getting more so
  2. Nonprofit orgs want to make more video, but don’t have the skills, metrics or budget to do so.

The same can be said of social media, marketing planning and other marketing approaches that generate organizational resistance. BUT the data and models in Into Focus have crucial implications for the right-now actions you should take to:

  • Understand and articulate that content strategy (including video) is a must-do method of moving your cause forward
  • Educate and train colleagues to get it, invest in it and participate in it
  • Bring your content to life across channels and formats.

I recently asked See3 founder Michael Hoffman to share his recommendations for nonprofits that want to flee the common can’t-move-forward-due-to-no-resources-or-confidence trap. Here’s the 8-step escape route he suggests:

1) The goal (and challenge) is not just to learn how to use video effectively, but to integrate a new approach into your organization’s culture and operations.

2) The role of video in the content spectrum has changed. Shift your mindset from videos as one-offs or supporting specific projects or campaigns, to a continuous video story (composed of multiple videos.)

3) The time to do more and  better with video is now. The adoption cycle has speeded up big time. Plus video is a superstar format for mobile delivery.

4) Right now, most nonprofits simply sprinkle video into the communications mix. To be video-strong, take a more deliberate approach to building skills, metrics, comfort level and more.

5) The most reliable approach is to make video a regular practice, finding a way to integrate short, simple video into the work you’re already doing.

6) Start with a low-commitment project, focused on building skills, generating productive feedback and building organizational comfort with and understanding of the medium.

Quick-start examples include creating a video issue of your organization’s e-newsletter, thank-you videos for specific donors (post on YouTube then email the link to the donor) or interviewing a beneficiary, colleague or a volunteer on how they got to your org and why they care about your cause.

7) Post your videos on social media channels, framing them as experiments to build momentum and action around your cause in a new way. Share where you are with video, and where you hope to get to.

8) Your initial video projects will help you develop a video production habit, build confidence and create feedback and learning that will guide what’s next (and be strong fodder for your recommendations to your boss and colleagues).

Practice makes progress. Start your practice now, by reading Into Focus.

How have you helped shift your organization’s culture to embrace a new approach?

Five Reasons Why Facebook Marketing Seems So Impossible

john-haydon-headshotwebGuest blogger John Haydon  advises nonprofits on new media marketing strategy. John is the author of Facebook Marketing for Dummies, a contributor to the Huffington Post and an instructor for MarketingProfs University.

It seems that most brands and nonprofits are still trying to get their head around what works on Facebook. What content works best, what time to publish updates and how to use sponsored stories are just a few of the topics discussed among nonprofit marketers.

But these issues are just symptoms of bigger challenges that we all need to better understand.

Here are five reasons why Facebook marketing is presenting new and/or unusual challenges to you and your colleagues:

1. You’re still thinking push

You’d think that social media would have changed the mass-productive push mentality that’s been so pervasive since the Industrial Revolution. But it hasn’t.

Facebook, and most social media for that matter, are still viewed as a free email list to be “targeted” and marketing to. To amp things up on Facebook, you have to flip this mindset 180 degrees and instead think about creating a space for your supporters to share what matters to them.

Start asking:

  • What’s their agenda?
  • What are they already putting out there that’s in synch with your cause?
  • How can you capture that on your Facebook Page?

2. You need to understand people

Google tells you what people are searching for in in the form of words typed into a little search box. It’s literally spelled out for you. Not so with Facebook.

What makes Facebook users share, comment and like is still very much a mystery. Look for patterns in Facebook Insights and make inferences based on those patterns for insights into the emotional drivers of your people!

3. You’re competing with their friends

Think about the last time you opened up Facebook on your laptop or mobile device. Was it to find out what your favorite brands were sharing? Exactly.

It’s the same thing with your supporters. Every time you publish an update in their Newsfeed, you’re competing with birth announcements, political rants, vacation pictures and recommended bands! You’ll never trump someone’s friends, but the more you can come across with a friend-like voice, the better you’ll do.

4. You’re competing for attention

Facebook users are constantly distracted. They might have the best intentions to view an update they were notified about by email, but as soon as they open up Facebook, they see more notifications in the menu and in their friends lists.

They see a dog dressed up as little red riding hood. They also see ads that are also competing for their attention. Capturing and recapturing people’s attention will always be a challenge on Facebook.

5. You’re dealing with mobile devices

Every other challenge mentioned here happens in a much smaller dimensions on mobile devices. Did you know that each image you post on your Facebook Page takes up the entire screen on an iPhone? There are fewer elements to distract users there’s less space to play with.

Curiosity and Creativity are the key

Most of the challenges here are not insurmountable, but sometimes they feel that way. The best way forward is to have a solid understanding of how to best use Facebook for your organization. Write this plan down, and stay curious!

How to Communicate in the Midst of Tragedy: 9-Step Checklist

Update: How to Re-Assess and Re-Engage

Review these useful insights from nonprofit marketers and fundraisers like you. Please add your thoughts, experience, and questions.

Like you, my heart and head are heavy in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombing [or relate this guidance to the latest mass tragedy—there are so distressingly many of them]. Especially since I feel so helpless.

I had a completely different post planned for the morning after but wanted to respond a.s.a.p. to the questions, worries and just totally-wrong communications I’ve seen going out since the bombings and all the fear-inducing activities that have followed it already.

Most of this outreach was harmless, but simply a mismatch with what’s on our minds right now. Because most of us are feeling horror, sadness, fear, uncertainty, and a sense of helplessness and vulnerability.

Here are my right-now recommendations for your organization’s response to this crisis and to others that, unfortunately, we will face together. Already follow-ups are undermining our collective sense of safety and well-being.

Please share your strategies, and add your questions and feedback here. We are so much smarter together.

 1. Immediately—Get Off Auto-Pilot

Given our collective state of mind, some of the nonprofit outreach I saw post-Boston-Marathon bombing was off the mark—like the e-invite I received at 7:19 PM that day from Save the Children via Harris Interactive, asking me to respond to its survey.

This email came in as the details of deaths and serious injuries continued to flow, including the death of an 8-year-old boy and the critical status of his mom and sister. It was obviously auto-scheduled and on auto-pilot.

As a result, this ask missed the mark by 1,000 miles, coming across as a huge “who cares.” If I was in charge of this survey, I’d put it on ice for now.

Be aware that we could have all so easily made similar mistakes. I have. In fact, this was just one of many pre-scheduled tweets, Facebook posts and emails I saw in the hours following the bombings when we were in the spell of first shock.

These “business as usual” communications, at a time when nothing was usual, which caused a huge disconnect. And yes we’re all just trying out best at times like this, but slow down.

Our state of mind doesn’t get more ungrounded than it is right now. Be ultra-sensitive.

 2. Immediately—But Don’t Go Dark Either

Your cause and work is vital to making this a better world.  And although it may seem easiest to go dark right now, please don’t. Your network counts on your work to carry our world to a better place.

Proceed slowly and strategically, based on accurate and timely insights and thoughtful assessment, but do proceed. The last thing we need is staying stuck right here.

 3. Immediately—Activate Your Relevancy Lens

Relevance rules more than ever in the shadow of a crisis or tragedy like this one. What’s top of mind for your network is the only lens that matters, now more than ever.

Put yourself in the shoes of your prospects and supporters. What are they focused on now? It’s likely to be fear, horror, sadness, empathy, helplessness and/or anger. That’s your cue.

Your own agenda must fall behind for the first few days post-crisis—at the very least—unless there’s a real, organic link to bombing-related issues.

It’s never productive to communicate into that environment at the moment of. You’re not missing an opportunity if you pause to assess and re-tune, and you risk alienating your network if you blindly push on with plans.

4. Immediately—Show You Care & Offer Right-Now Help

Show your support for the affected community and empathize with the shock and sadness your supporters are likely to feel via Twitter or a brief Facebook post.

This is a same day or next two days approach in most cases; after that it’s not additive, and will seem like you’re jumping on the bandwagon. If you’ve missed that, fine. Just note for the next time.

Social media is an ideal way to let your supporters know you’re with them right now, and to share words of comfort. Plus any tangible help you can provide. That’s the kind of response that puts a human face on your organization.

Here’s a good model tweeted by the Community Foundation of Sarasota County.

Post-Boston1

5. Immediately—Pause Scheduled Outreach Till You Review

Immediately un-schedule what you have lined up to release the day of the crisis and for the balance of the week at the very least. You’ll reschedule what’s in line with your base’s state of mind after a brief review.

Stay real, and stay respectful. That will ensure your relevance in good times and bad.

6. A.S.A.P—Review Your Marketing & Fundraising Plans for the Next 10-14 Days

> Link your message to the bombing only if there is an organic link (e.g. children’s health and well-being, violence prevention, gun control, public safety, anti-terrorism.) Otherwise, avoid trying to capitalize on a tragedy. You’ll fail, miserably.

If your organization isn’t working to help the Boston/Marathon community or related issues, consider taking a couple of days off from your asks. Those in support of your issue are already making contributions and circulating petitions. But it’s too raw  today to start persuading others, or even showing them how they can help avert future disasters like this one.

> Depending on the mood and focus over the course of the week, pick the right time to dive back in with a moving forward focus. That may be in a few days, but may be more.

Instead, craft your outreach for down the line (that may be a few days, a week or even later—you’ll need to assess for your community and your organization) so you’ll organize most powerfully,  galvanizing disheartened supporters to join you in action for a better future. The exception, of course, is if you’re helping the affected community directly.

> Change any metaphors or analogies you use that feature bombs, explosion and the like in not-yet-published content for the next two weeks, at least.
T
hese are some of the most-used references, usually used in a positive way (but there is no positive now). Think exploding with daffodils (from a Facebook post morning after the bombing from one of my favorite botanical gardens) or the fact that the star’s first Broadway show absolutely bombed (in the e-newsletter scheduled to drop the day after the bombings from one of my performing arts clients).

Comb your content carefully. Over-caution is the way to go here.

> Get speedy input on your revised approach today with colleagues on the ground and members of your marketing advisory group

These are the folks who are in touch with your base (and are your network members), and you need their insights.

If you don’t have a marketing advisory group already in place, reach out to a few current supporters in each of your segments, asking for five minutes of their time for a quick call.

7. A.S.A.P.—Share Your Revised Approach With  Colleagues & Ask Them to Share What They Hear

Even though your colleagues’ may not have been aware of your plan for your marketing and fundraising outreach going forward, update them on what’s changed and why.

Here’s why:

  • It’s just basic respect, and you should do this on an ongoing basis.
  • Many of these folks are in close contact with your target audiences in their daily work, and have the opportunity to focus those conversations appropriately—but only if you share your approach!
  • They’re also most likely to get the feedback that shows you you’re taking the right path, or have to recalculate. Ask, train and support them in doing so. It helps all of you!

8. Next 10 to 14 Days—Move Forward With Your Ear Close to the Ground

It’s still early in this tragedy, and events are yet to unfold. So stay close to what’s top of mind for your network (and the rest of us) through this week and next.

Go ahead and schedule coming campaigns across channels, but review what’s scheduled on a daily basis. Engage at social listening at every point along the way.

9. By End of April—Craft a Crisis Communications Plan That Includes Shared Tragedies Like This One

I recommend placing review of queued-up communications at the top of your crisis communications checklist, whether it’s a crisis within your org or outside of it.

Crises like the Boston Marathon Bombings and the ensuing scares are shared crises. In many cases, crises outside of your organization impact your network of supporters and partners equally, if not more than, crises that effect your nonprofit.

What are you considering changing, or unsure about? Do you have guidance to share?  

The Biggest Mistake Nonprofits Make With Video

AnnieEscobarHeadshot-WordpressGuest blogger, Annie Escobar is co-founder of ListenIn Pictures which produces compelling video stories for nonprofits.

Creating engaging, sharable videos doesn’t seem to come naturally for most nonprofits and I think I know why.  Instead of highlighting naturally dynamic stories about people, nonprofits tend to create videos about programs.

I call this The Program Trap.

Your organization’s job is to run your programs well. That’s why you care about the details of how they are run. But your audience is hungry for meaning, belonging and purpose.  They want to be a part of something that matters.

The best use of video is not to inform and educate.  It’s to make your audience feel something and through that emotional response, create a connection to your work. As humans, we respond to stories.  Stories about people we can relate to. Stories that show what’s at stake in your work. Stories that inspire us to see ourselves as a part of your story.

It’s about the why, not the what. Showing, not telling.  Feeling, not facts.

Recently, I saw a nonprofit video that claimed to tell ‘the story of [this program].’ But in reality, it was just a list describing what their program does.

So how do you know if you are really telling a story in your video?

Stories have a beginning, middle and end.  They have a protagonist who wants something- that could be a mother wanting a better life for her kids or perhaps your founder who wanted to find a solution to an intractable problem.  They keep people curious by making them ask, “How is this person going to get what they want?” They have tension then resolution.   Not all stories you tell have to be about the people you serve, but I’ve found these to be the most effective and moving.

Whenever I ask employees of non-profits what drives them to keep doing their work, time and time again, they tell me that it’s the stories of people they’ve met through the organization.

That’s where your power to inspire lies.

In my next guest post, I’ll share what I’ve learned about how to translate programs into compelling stories for video.

Does this resonate with your organization’s struggles to represent what you do?  What have you learned about how to encourage your organization to move away from descriptions and towards stories?