Getting Attention

Q: Dear Ms. Schwartz,

I work for Jobs for Maine's Graduates (JMG), a terrific nonprofit with powerful documented outcomes. We help at-risk youth graduate from high school prepared for success in college and the workforce. 

I have been “courting” a multi-multi-multi-millionaire whom is an acquaintance. I want to speak with him on investing (read that, funding) in our organization. He says he will take me out to lunch, “but maybe nothing else”.

He’s gruff but seems to like me. Even so, I am stuck at this “ call me in 2 weeks and I’ll take you out”     plateau. He could make an amazing difference to our organization, especially as we are expanding to serve more youth and would like to start an endowment.

Clearly, I have to change my strategy. Any ideas?

Lisa Gardner, Communications Manager

A: Dear Lisa,

Thanks so much for raising this vital question. Believe me, it's one shared by many fundraisers and  communicators with all kinds of goals.

The real issue here is connection (or lack of connection, in this case). It's totally out of your power, Lisa, to improve this gentleman's manners or stop his game playing. But what you can do is learn everything about him, because you need to connect before you convince. (Hat tip to Sam Horn for this powerful concept).

Once you know what his passions are, where he volunteers and/or gives, what his family members do for a living, where he went to school and college, you'll have much more to work with. Your next step is to figure out the connections between his passions and preferences and JMG's work. Perhaps some of your program's graduates work in the field in which your prospect made his living. Or attended his alma mater.

After you've pinpointed a few strong connections, invite him out for a site visit or lunch with a graduate that reinforces that connection. Far more effective to let him make and feel that connection, rather than trying to convince him of it.

Lastly, Lisa, if he refuses a few invites, move on!

P.P.S. More effective messaging is a priority for all organizations, and a key to convincing (when you get there). Learn how to craft the most essential message — your tagline. Download the free 2009 Nonprofit Tagline Report, filled with must-dos, don't dos, case studies and 2,500+ nonprofit tagline examples!

Nancy Schwartz in Fundraising: Innovations & Research | 4 comments
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Online video, which has become a wildly popular communications channel in the past few years, is one of the best ways there is to tell your nonprofit’s story.

Video, when done right, can forge powerful connections between your organization’s work and your base that drive viewer action (to donate, join or volunteer). But, that’s possible only when your video stands out from the competition, in two minutes or less.

We were thrilled to finally have the chance to produce our first Getting Attention video, and learned that while it’s not as easy as it looks, it’s worth overcoming the natural challenges such a project presents.

Read the full article to learn from our mistakes so you can produce a video that drives the action that your organization needs!

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

Nancy Schwartz in Video | 2 comments
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Nothing Raises Awareness like In-Your-Face AdvocacyI was vacationing last week, doing some winter unwinding in warmer climes. In that relaxed state, it was particularly startling to walk by this graphic banner outlining the foie gras production process.

These multiple graphic images of force-feeding geese helped me understand how foie gras is produced, in a few seconds. Those dining in the restaurant these protesters were targeting didn’t stop eating, but I know they learned something too.

What worked here was:

  • Relevance: The protesters made their case on site, right in front of a restaurant serving foie gras.
  • Strength of messaging: Messaging was mainly graphic here. These strong, unforgettable images told the story. More than you wanted to know.
  • Call to action, with a clear, doable act outlined: The brochure distributed a card from the Humane Society stapled to it, ready to be detached to give to the waiter or owner of a restaurant serving foie gras. Easy.

But here’s what could work even better:

  • When I asked the protesters what organization they were with, they couldn’t answer. One said they were just individuals, not an organization. Another handed me a brochure from In Defense of Animals.
  • That was confusing, and raised a question of credibility for me. Have your story straight, and be consistent in sharing it.

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

Nancy Schwartz in Advocacy | 2 comments
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Did your org create a video in 2009? If so, enter your nonprofit’s video today in the 4th Annual DoGooder Nonprofit Video Awards. Awards will go to organizations of all sizes, including a special award for Best Innovation in Video.

Now is your chance to get your nonprofit video featured on the YouTube homepage, receive a grant from the Case Foundation, get great prizes from Flip Video and the Nonprofit Technology Network (NTEN), and have
your work showcased at a screening in Washington DC.

The deadline for entries is March 19, at which point me and a great set of other nonprofit and media professionals (including superstars Guy Kawasaki, Gary Vaynerchuk and Beth Kanter) will select 16 finalists to compete in a public vote. Winners will be announced on April 10 at the Nonprofit Technology Conference (NTC) in Atlanta.

Don’t be shy. Entering your video is a great way to test the waters, even if you’re not confident that your video is a winner. Whatever the outcome, reaction to your video will give you some useful feedback for your next production!

P.S. Learn more about the 9 steps to online video success. It’ll help you in the 2010 awards. Promise!

Nancy Schwartz in Video | 0 comments
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Lift Your Head and Collaborate to Power Up Your Nonprofit's MarketingLet me introduce you to David J. Neff, nonprofit marketer extraordinary, who kicks off a periodic series of posts from guest bloggers.

I believe strongly in the value of multiple perspectives and weaving in guest writers into the Getting Attention blog and e-update is the best way to do it. Welcome, David…

“Hello! Today I want to introduce you to the #1 focus for nonprofits in 2010, getting to know other organizations and collaborating with them.

So what does that mean? Am I talking about the “kids who need coats” organization teaming up with the “kids who need bikes” non profit so that kids can ride bikes when it’s cold? Not exactly (although that would be nice).

What I am talking about is stopping your daily grind from time to time to lift your head. For you to climb out of your silo to have coffee with the communications director of the organization down the street who has no idea what your organization does; to discuss how you can co-promote, share mailing lists or plan a joint event. Or to schedule a call with the marketing consultant for that organization so much like yours but serving a different county.

Unsure where to start? Take 10 minutes a create an online survey and ask your email list what organizations you should be talking to (asking where else they give or volunteer is a great way to generate ideas). Or post a blog entry or Facebook page request. I think you’ll be amazed by the direction you get.

As the co-founder of the nonprofit Lights. Camera. Help., I know I was thrilled with the feedback we got from our network. They named film festivals all over the country that we’re now sharing ideas and experiences with.

At the very least, get to know colleague organizations in your region. Explore local meetups, 501 Tech Club, video camp or tech camp. Or simply google local “nonprofit meetings.” I can almost guarantee something is going on in your area and urge you to get there.

So press pause on that campaign and look around for a chance to say “hello”. Doing so is a wonderful source of enrichment and inspiration. Enjoy it.”

About David: David works with nonprofit organizations via Ridgewood Communications and Lights.Camera.Help. As long-time director of Web and interactive strategies at the American Cancer Society, he was named as 2009 Nonprofit Social Media Marketer by the American Marketing Association.

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

Guest Blogger in Nonprofit Communications, Unique Approaches | 3 comments
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When Kivi Leroux Miller, nonprofit communications expert, launched her second annual fundraising experiment she hoped for better results than she had received last year.

No Thanks to Donors Shame on YouKivi made $20 gifts to ten organizations to see what response she would receive. Of course she wanted to fund good work as well.

She conducted the first experiment in 2008 and received thank you correspondence from three of 12 recipient organizations (25%). This year’s results were a touch improved at 30% (3 of 10). But a 25% vs. 30% connection rate isn’t the point. Here’s what is…

70% of organizations gifted didn’t take the brief time it takes to send a thank you note. That’s crazy, as retaining donors is much more difficult than cultivating a first-timer and doing requires minimal budget and time.

Shame on you, but so easy to fix. Do it now!

Here’s more about Kivi’s experiment.

P. S. For more guidance on getting nonprofit marketing and fundraising right, subscribe to the twice-monthly Getting Attention e-update. Subscribe today.

Photo: miracc

Nancy Schwartz in Fundraising: Innovations & Research | 3 comments
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How to Generate Buzz via Social Media Real Life Dos and Don'tsHas this happened to your organization: You experimented with social media tools and found that nothing happened at all?

If so, you’re not alone. One of the most frequent complaints from organizations trying social media out is that after taking the plunge–whether tweeting, blogging or launching a Facebook fan page–nothing happens.

Now there’s help: I partnered with NTEN ED Holly Ross to share guidelines and case studies on using social media tools to build buzz (and reach) via this webinar for the Communications Network. And now the video recording and slide deck are available to you, at no cost.

Our presentation covers the nuts and bolts of social media success, the readiness required to put them to work and a laundry list of dos and don’ts. Although the case studies are about grantmakers, the examples and findings are equally relevant to nonprofit organizations.

I recommend you take an hour out to make sure your social media buzz building is all it can be. Here’s what one participant had to say (and another, just in).

P.S. More effective messaging is a priority for all organizations. Learn how to craft the most essential message — your tagline. Download the free 2009 Nonprofit Tagline Report, filled with must-dos, don’t dos, case studies and 2,500+ nonprofit tagline examples!

Nancy Schwartz in Nonprofit Communications, Professional Development, Recommended Resources, Social Media | 1 comment
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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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There’s nothing like online communications for getting “of the moment” word out to your organization’s networks.

I was delighted to see these three orgs reaching out via facebook and Twitter, inviting those of us in blizzard conditions to learn and be entertained (in person or online).

This is smart communications–seeing a key point of connection (stuck at home, bored perhaps, a bit more time than on the typical work day) and communicating around it at the moment of. Gear up so your organization is ready to do it next snowstorm (or legislative storm).

The Power of Timely Outreach -- 3 Snowy Day Campaigns 1
The Power of Timely Outreach -- 3 Snowy Day Campaigns 2

The Power of Timely Outreach -- 3 Snowy Day Campaigns 3

Nancy Schwartz in Nonprofit Communications | 2 comments
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5 Ways to Charge Up Your Marketing Skills -- Reach Beyond Your NicheIt’s typical for most of us humans to focus on keeping up within our fields. That’s more than enough — There’s no way I can keep up with even 60% of “general” marketing and nonprofit communications content (not issue-, field- or audience-specific).

But rather than putting all my energies there, I cherry pick what’s highest value and go elsewhere for learning and inspiration. Digesting other types of content enables me to:

  • Get a clearer perspective, outside the nonprofit communications headspace.
    It’s crucial but challenging to do so if that’s what you focus on. But remember, most folks your organization is  reaching out to aren’t in that space.
  • Harvest strategies from those working in other industries and functions.
  • Refresh your mind and your creativity.

Here is some of my favorite brain candy:

  1. Water Words that Work is written by a communicator in the environmental field for his peers. OK, this is communications but it’s so specialized that I learn strategies that I’ve never thought of before.
  2. Boomers gives me insights I need to know to help organizations motivate this generation so crucial to org impact.
  3. Serious Eats, the world’s most delicious cooking blog, provides a wealth of delicious writing. I’m frequently inspired by the fluent language and tone of these food writers (and have made many of the recipes as well, all superb to date). Food isn’t everyone’s thing but if it’s one of yours, it’s hard to beat a memorable phrase like “the crisper whisperer.”
  4. Zen Habits helps me keep focused and productive. Blogger Leo Babauta walks his talk and shares those experiences. No loosey goosey here — just strong, clear writing and useful insights into how humans work. BTW, Leo is a masterful headline crafter. Take a look at these blog post titles.
  5. Arts Marketing is one of those “I just found this but why didn’t I know about it before” discoveries. Like Water Words that work, this is a specialized blog (arts marketing is quite a difference beast due to the ticket sale element). Fantastic strong opinions, and lots of great ideas to integrate into your communications.

Please share your favorite brain candy with the Getting Attention community by commenting on this post. I’m always hungry for more!

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

Photo: EvatheWeaver

Nancy Schwartz in Nonprofit Communications, Professional Development, Recommended Resources | 1 comment
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