When you gather compelling stories—about beneficiaries, donors, or volunteers, or other players—to share in campaigns, thanks, and other communications, you gain a powerful complement to your data and anecdotal understanding of the people you want to engage. Together, these insights forge a shortcut to engaging hearts, minds, and wallets.

But it can be tough to source the right stories. Stories Worth Telling, a useful guide from the Meyer Foundation, reveals a damaging disconnect in the way organizations collect stories. Almost universally, organizations rely on program staff knowledge and relationships to gather stories, though the department overseeing the storytelling process is typically fundraising (54%) or communications (42%). Yikes!


Nancy Schwartz in storytelling | 1 comment
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Punxsutawney Phil predicted an early spring this morning, and I’m thrilled we’re not going to get stuck in the snow. In fact, it’s melting fast in the 50-degree sun right outside my New Jersey window.

Your marketing doesn’t have to stay stuck either. Instead, turn to comic genius Bill Murray for guidance on breaking out of your same old, same old marketing approach. He’ll help you take the rest of the year by storm.


Nancy Schwartz in Branding and Messages | 0 comments
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Guest blogger Joe Waters writes on cause marketing and social media at, and is the co-author of Cause Marketing For Dummies

I’m all about the food truck right now. We have a number of food trucks here in Boston, and I just finished watching The Great Food Truck Race on The Food Network. I’m fascinated by the phenomenon and impressed by how food trucks market themselves via social media and other creative approaches.

Nonprofits can learn a lot from these mobile eateries that have a nose for where the business is and know how to keep fans coming back. I challenge you to try these relationship-building strategies to up your fundraising and marketing results:

Guest Blogger in Strategy | 1 comment
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Make Sure Your Communications Aren't Like Groundhog Day -- Same Old, Same OldNot the one where Punxsutawney Phil climbs out of his hole to predict when spring will arrive (saw his shadow today, so keep the fire going), but the movie — in which reporter Phil Connors (my fav Bill Murray) gets stuck in a small town and wakes up to the same day again and again. Same old, same old which soon becomes nightmarishly boring.

Ultimately, the endless repetition works out well for Phil Connors, but it won’t for your organization. Make sure your messages intersect directly with what’s important to your network right now. The same old, same old will generate closed eyes and ears, which are hard to open up again.

Last night’s Super Bowl ads drove this point home to me big time. The ads, which have become a focal point in their own right, were nothing more than recycled hash from previous years. They didn’t touch what’s important to people now — protecting their families in the economic crisis, family, traditions, hope, innovation, faith…

Here’s the thing: The bigger the gap between what’s vital to your base, and your messages, the more you’ll alienate them. Because you just don’t know (or care) who they are. Kind of like a bad marriage.

If you’re sensing a gap between your org and your base, then start reaching out to discover what is vital to them, so you can ID where your org can meet those interests and needs. Do it now, before the marriage is over.

P.S. Yes We Can! When a powerful tagline is joined to a compelling mission…nothing is impossible! Download the free Nonprofit Tagline Report for must-dos, don’t dos, case studies and 1,000+ nonprofit tagline examples!


Nancy Schwartz in Audience Research, Branding and Messages, Nonprofit Communications | 0 comments
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