Category Archives: marketing

Using house party events to advance your non-profit interests


I try to keep an eye open for opportunities to learn new things every day. Last week, I learned something about house party events that was so simple, but potentially game changing if you take it to heart. What I learned was . . .

House party events aren’t just a fundraising strategy.

house partyAs a young non-profit professional, who was just learning his craft, I was first introduced to the idea of a “house party” event format as a fundraising technique. The idea was simple. Ask someone to host a small party in their home. Work with them to identify a guest list of potential donors from their list of friends and colleagues. Make a group ask during the get together and collect pledge cards. My former employer used to call these “leadership circle” events.

Personally, I didn’t like the house party strategy for fundraising. Early experiences demonstrated to me that donors were very effective at hiding in group settings. For example, someone who had the willingness to support your organization and the capacity to do so with a substantial gift, usually ended up making a smaller contribution when asked as part of a group in contrast with a one-on-one in-person meeting.

Fast forward to much later in my career, when I was working as an internal consultant for a large national non-profit organization. I was re-introduced to house parties. Instead of using it as a solicitation vehicle, local affiliates where encouraged to use the strategy for new prospect identification and cultivation. At first, this tool was branded “House Party of Hope,” and later it was re-branded “A Party with a Purpose.

Again, house parties were still being used as a resource development activity. So, I never saw this strategy in any other light. That is until just last week when we hosted a house party in our basement.

The purpose of our house party was to introduce the newly hired CEO for a statewide organization to our circle of friends. The stated purposes of this get together were:

  1. Introduce the new CEO to his organization’s constituency
  2. Introduce the organization’s constituency to the new CEO
  3. Use a facilitated question/answer format with the group to collect stories to help the organization craft a shared vision, set goals, and develop a new strategic plan

engage2Last week’s experience helped me see house parties in a whole new light. No longer was this strategy simply a tool in a non-profit person’s resource development toolbox. The more I thought about it, the opportunities seemed to be endless. Here are just a few of my thoughts:

  • Host a house party to validate a final planning document with any number of stakeholder and constituency groups
  • Host a house party to engage potential collaborative partners in a discussion about what is possible
  • Host a house party to engage staff, build team dynamics, address workplace challenges, start a new program, etc
  • Host a house party to collect stories from clients/constituents to gauge your organization’s impact, develop a marketing campaign, identify additional needs, etc
  • Host a house party to educate the community and initiate a call to action focused on your organization’s public advocacy agenda (Note: I believe I once read the American Medical Association did this in the 1950s or 1960s to defeat national healthcare legislation moving its way through Congress)
  • Host a house party to identify new potential board volunteers as a precursor to the board development committee building prospect lists

I literally believe the sky is the limit with regard to how a house party strategy can be used to advance any non-profit organization’s agency.

If you are interested in learning more about house parties, click-through the following links for a treasure trove of resources and reading materials:

Has your organization ever used a house party strategy? What were your objectives? Were your objectives met? Please use the comment box to share your thoughts and experiences. We can all learn from each other.

Here’s to your health!

Erik Anderson
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC
www.thehealthynonprofit.com 
erik@thehealthynonprofit.com
http://twitter.com/#!/eanderson847
http://www.facebook.com/eanderson847
http://www.linkedin.com/in/erikanderson847

Advertisements

What should your non-profit learn from Great Britain’s Brexit vote?


brexitLast week, British voters stunned the world in a number of different ways. First, they voted in a non-binding referendum to invoke Article 50 of the Lisbon treaty, which triggers a process to disentangle Great Britain from the European Union (EU). Second,  global financial markets have reacted poorly to this news because it injected a large amount of uncertainty into all things financial (apparently there is now a projection by some economists that there is a 30% to 50% chance the United States will now enter into another recession because of this vote). Finally, and most importantly, many people were stunned by reporting in the days following the referendum that there appears to be a growing number of voters who felt misinformed and regretted their vote.

As I listened to last week’s news coverage, I couldn’t help but worry about what this all means for the American non-profit sector.

Of course, the risk of another recession obviously spells trouble for non-profit organizations who are still digging out from the 2008 economic crash. However, this isn’t really what concerns me the most.

The fact that voters felt misinformed and ignorant about what they were voting on is a chilling realization and one that should concern every non-profit professional.

If you stop and think about this phenomenon for a few minutes, it isn’t really surprising.

  • People are busy
  • Many people report feeling as if our world is getting faster and faster
  • Information pours into our lives at breakneck speed (e.g. network television, radio, Google, Facebook, Twitter, cable television, data reports in the workplace, email-email-email, etc)
  • There appears to be a blurring of the lines between opinions and facts in the media
  • There is a media outlet (and internet link) validating every point of view . . . so if you believe it, then you can reinforce it thus hardening your opinion and becoming less likely to hear opposing viewpoints

information overloadCommunications experts refer to this experience as “information overload.”

You may be asking yourself, “So what?

Well, there are consequences . . .

  • Anxiety
  • Decreased productivity
  • Tuning out and unplugging

I’m sure some of you have heard the old marketing adage that it takes at least seven times of someone hearing/seeing an advertisement before it actually breaks through the noise and registers with them. This is a concept called effective frequency.

OK, so now you might be asking yourself, “What does any of this have to do with my non-profit organization?

Let me attempt to answer this question with a few questions for you to consider:

  • What are the consequences of your donors not hearing your post-solicitation stewardship messaging?
  • What problems could result if your board members aren’t reading the reports and materials you send them prior to making decisions in the boardroom?
  • What could happen if staff aren’t processing and reacting appropriately to outcomes data, properly reading/implementing program curricula, or understanding the deliverables written into grant agreements?

If your answers were:

  • increased donor turnover
  • fewer dollars raised
  • bad decision-making
  • poor programming
  • decreased productivity and performance

. . . then you are likely on the same page with me.

Please don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying this is absolutely happening in your organization, but I am asking you to weigh the possibilities.

There are more theories and studies showing us the internet is rewiring our brains and changing: a) how we read and b) how we process information. (If you want to read more, click herehere . . . and here)

information-overloadSo, if you are still with me, you might be wondering what can be done to improve the likelihood that donors, board volunteers and staff are hearing (and understanding) what your organization needs them to know. While I am not a communications expert, here are a few thoughts:

  • Use more pictures and graphics
  • Tell more stories to convey your messages and contextualize your outcomes data
  • Segment your donors and do a better job at targeting your messaging
  • Use multiple communications channels (e.g. in-person, phone, mail, email, outdoor advertising, Facebook, Twitter, etc)  and stop over reliance on email and mail
  • Integrate infographics, dashboards and scorecards into your boardroom materials
  • Redesign your meetings (board and staff meetings) to be more interactive / participatory

How does your organization communicate with its stakeholders? How do you know if your key messages are being properly received and understood? Please use the comment box to share your thoughts and experiences. We can all learn from each other.

Here’s to your health!

Erik Anderson
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC
www.thehealthynonprofit.com 
erik@thehealthynonprofit.com
http://twitter.com/#!/eanderson847
http://www.facebook.com/eanderson847
http://www.linkedin.com/in/erikanderson847

Make your organizational data easy to digest


dataFor the last few decades, the non-profit sector has been focused on data in an effort to convince donors to continue their philanthropic support. I still remember being a new executive director sitting in my first United Way meeting and learning about constructing logic models and differentiating between inputs, outputs, outcomes and pre- and post-test survey tools. All of this was piled on top of a slew of other data metrics my national office was asking for such as:

  • overall organizational membership
  • average daily attendance
  • member demographics (e.g. gender, age, ethnicity, zip code, household income, etc)
  • employee turnover
  • how many members attended 52 days or more per year compared to 105 days
  • And on and on and on (seriously, the report was 35 pages long)

While I understood information was powerful, especially with regards to management and decision-making, it was mind-numbing to me the first time I heard someone advocate for total transparency by sharing all of this data with donors.

My immediate reaction was:

  1. Of course, donors have the right to see what their investment is producing!
  2. But seriously . . . isn’t a data dump via the annual report, website, newsletter, impact reports, etc. counterproductive and confusing for donors?

From that starting point in the Spring of 2000, I began my journey and life-long struggle with becoming a donor-centered fundraising professional.

I must confess this quest for the holy grail of perfect donor communications is ongoing.

For the last few days, I’ve been preparing for next week’s Boys & Girls Clubs of America National Conference in New Orleans. In addition to beautifying my exhibitor booth, I’m refreshing The Healthy Non-Profit‘s marketing materials. In the process of doing this, I decided to take a stab at producing a few infographics related to some of the services I am trying to highlight.

I recently got bit by the infographic bug because two of my capital campaign clients are really good at using these tools. I just love how easy they make it look. I also became a fan after I started researching why these communication tools are so effective.

Check out the following cute infographic that helps make the case (Source: CopyBlogger post titled “25 Ideas to Transform Ho-Hum Infographics into Something Extraordinary,” written by Barry Feldman):

information-overload

As I set out to create my first few infographic handouts for my conference booth, I must admit it wasn’t easy. However, I found a few great online resources that helped me get over those first few hurdles. In the spirit of collaboration, I thought I should share:

It has been a while since I’ve served on the front line of a non-profit organization. I’m sure online tools like these are now more common. What does your organization use to distill its data and information into easy-to-digest, bite-size donor communications pieces? Please scroll down to the comment box and share your thoughts and experiences. We can all learn from each other.

Oh wait . . . before you leave . . . it is important to note that there are some very smart fundraising professionals and bloggers who are NOT on the bus when it comes to sharing data with donors during the solicitation stage of the resource development process. While they typically agree on the importance of collecting data for data-driven decision-making, they stop short of sharing it with donors because philanthropy is an “emotional” act and not “logical.” I find these arguments compelling and lean towards storytelling as a fundraising tactic, but I still see infographics as powerful stewardship tools.

<sigh>

Heck, I tend to waffle on this issue. So, I’m interested to hear what you think.

Here’s to your health!

Erik Anderson
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC
www.thehealthynonprofit.com 
erik@thehealthynonprofit.com
http://twitter.com/#!/eanderson847
http://www.facebook.com/eanderson847
http://www.linkedin.com/in/erikanderson847

Your case for fundraising goal better match your messaging and need


zikaThis morning, I was in my car driving down the interstate when National Public Radio (NPR) ran a story about UNICEF’s goal to raise $9 million to fight against the Zika virus. If you want to learn more about this new, you can click here and read more about it in the Washington Post. However, this isn’t really what today’s blog post is about . . . this morning I want to share with you my response to this story and how it applies to your non-profit organization.

In the three seconds after listening to this NPR story, here are the thoughts that raced through my mind:

  • Ugh! Not another scary disease story (e.g. Swine flu, bird flu, SARS, Ebola, etc) to whip up public fear and motivate action on any number of fronts. Here we go again. 😦
  • Hmmmm, I wonder if little kids are still carrying UNICEF boxes collecting small change at Halloween? Is it possible for a simple “tin cup philanthropy” campaign to raise $9 million for this effort?
  • Barf . . . I think some of the U.S. Presidential candidates who lost last night’s Iowa Caucus could probably fund this $9 million UNICEF goal many times over. (If you doubt me, then you may want to click here and make sure you’re near a toilet for the post-article queasiness)

You’re probably wondering what any of this has to do with you and your non-profit organization?

Simply . . .

Make sure that your fundraising goal matches the size of your case for support!

If you are trying to do something BIG and you need your donors to understand how BIG it is as well as rise to the BIG occasion, then your fundraising goal better also be BIG. If you don’t live by this rule, then it is likely that your campaign will:

  • be seen as underwhelming
  • lack traction and volunteer support
  • attract fewer donors than anticipated
  • result in smaller average size gifts
  • run the risk of not meeting goal

I took a phone call the other day from a potential client wanting me to bid on a capital campaign. After asking a few questions, it was apparent they only wanted to set a six figure goal to do a little renovation. I encouraged them to go back to their boardroom, ask the following questions, and then we’ll talk again:

  • What other needs do your clients face in your community? How much money do you need to address those needs?
  • Are your physical plant issues perfect if you are successful with these small renovations? If not, then what more needs to occur and how much would that cost?
  • Is your endowment satisfactorily large enough to inspire confidence in your donors that you have the question of long-term sustainability addressed?
  • Look at this renovation campaign through the eyes of your donors. What do they see? What are their reactions?
  • Does your organization possess the internal organizational capacity to sustain what you’re building? If not, can that be built into this campaign? If so, what would that cost? (e.g. endowing staff positions, etc)

Please use the comment box to share your thoughts and experiences with goal setting and building a B-HAG (e.g. big, hairy audacious goal) type of campaign and case for support. Have you been in this position before? If so, what did you do and what did you learn? We can all learn from each other.

Here’s to your health!

Erik Anderson
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC
www.thehealthynonprofit.com 
erik@thehealthynonprofit.com
http://twitter.com/#!/eanderson847
http://www.facebook.com/eanderson847
http://www.linkedin.com/in/erikanderson847

Embrace storytelling as a catalyst for organizational change


storytellingLast month I sat down with an executive director and two board members to explore how I might be able to help their organization grow their organizational capacity. Over the course of an hour, we talked about all kinds of awesome things such as:

  • the capacity of their existing board volunteers to govern effectively and raise enough funding to operate
  • what average Joe & Jane on main street think their community’s biggest needs are and what the organization sees as the community’s greatest needs . . . and do those things align?
  • measuring the impact the organization is having with its programs.
  • what does “data-driven decision-making” look like and how does it impact board governance?

This laundry list of awesome topics actually could include another three or four topics. It really was shaping up to be a great meeting. I was starting to believe there might be a project or two this board might invite me to collaborate with them on undertaking.

So, when I injected a consensus building question into the conversation such as “So, where do you think I can help,” imagine how surprised I was when none of the things we had just discussed were presented as something they wanted my help with doing.

My jaw nearly hit the table when the board president looked me square in the eyes and said . . .

We can really use your help with developing our organization’s ‘stories’ and working with us on how to effectively tell those stories to the community. We recognize the value of data, but we think storytelling is of greater value.

I’d be lying if the voice inside my head was immediately skeptical. Luckily, I found the strength to keep mouth shut and simply agree to help them with what they asked of me.

In the days and weeks since that meeting, I am getting more and more excited about this project. I’m even starting to think the board president might be a genius. Here are just a few reasons for my ever increasing “glass-half-full” thoughts:

  • Let’s face it . . . data is worthless when shared with donors in a vacuum
  • Real-life stories bring data to life and provide context
  • Resource development activities such as cultivation, solicitation and stewardship are rooted in emotions which require stories coupled with a little bit of data
  • Using storytelling as a starting point could be an effective “organizational assessment lens for board members as they try to develop their own personal stories about the organization, its programs and its impact
  • The art of developing a board volunteer’s story can lead to increased engagement (e.g. visiting during operational hours, volunteers to work with clients, talking to those who have been impacted by the organization’s programs, etc)
  • This approach can spark an honest discussion between board and staff about what more needs to be done to generate more success stories (or conversely, why board volunteers are reluctant to share stories and ask for contributions from friends)

After marinading on this commitment for a few days, I got back to my home office and immediate visited the website of my “virtual friend” Chris Davenport at 501 Videos, surfed over to his virtual store and purchased a 10-pack of his back-pocket book “Nonprofit Storytelling for Board Members“. My plan is to return in a few weeks, distribute one of these booklets to each board volunteer, and start working with them on how to develop their own stories and share those stories with their friends.

I’m viewing this as an organic approach to organizational development. I am buckled up and prepared for wherever this exercise takes us. I’m already predicting that the possibilities are endless.

Are your board members out in the community actively telling their friends and your supporters (and prospective new donors) stories about your organization? If not not, why do you think that is? More importantly, what are you going to do about it?

I feel compelled to provide a FREE PLUG for the 2015 Nonprofit Storytelling Conference being hosted in Seattle, Washington on November 12 & 13. Only the first 300 people who register will be allowed to attend. (Disclaimer: I am not a conference organizer. I have never attended. I don’t gain anything from this shameless plug. I just thought some of you might be interested in learning about this opportunity, especially if you’re intrigued by today’s blog post)

Here’s to your health!

Erik Anderson
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC
www.thehealthynonprofit.com 
erik@thehealthynonprofit.com
http://twitter.com/#!/eanderson847
http://www.facebook.com/eanderson847
http://www.linkedin.com/in/erikanderson847

CRM? Donor Database? Your non-profit needs one


crmIn recent months, I’ve been reminded of the power of donor databases and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems. For-profit corporations grasped the importance of gathering customer data a long time ago, which is why they invested in these systems before many non-profit organizations started doing so. I will divide the remainder of this blog post up into sections and share a few personal stories about my experiences in recent months. At the end of this post, I’ll share a few resources to help you with your search.

What is the difference?

I suspect the difference between a traditional donor database and a CRM is getting smaller and smaller as time passes. However, I think the whitepaper at culturehive.co.ik titled “Do I need a CRM or a donor database?” written by Mags Rivett at Purple Vision did a nice job spelling out the technical differences.

Here is how Mags described a donor database:

“A donor database can be anything from an Excel spreadsheet or Access database through to a tool available on the open market or even built especially for you. The definition of a database is usually much more limited than that for CRM: ‘A database is a collection of information that is organized so that it can easily be accessed, managed, and updated.’ (Google Dictionary)”

Likewise, here is how a CRM was described:

“Today, CRM has assumed two meanings. It is both:  a) the approach of successfully managing customer and organisational relationships (be that for business, fundraising or service delivery) and b) the tool which we use to manage the relationships. We think of it as being the 360 degree view of our customers and the work of the organisation.”

Still don’t understand the difference? Don’t worry about it. Please trust me when I tell you:

  • you need a tool like this in order to make your private sector fundraising program run effectively in the 21st Century
  • you shouldn’t just purchase one and think that all of your problems are now solved
  • you need to connect and integrate your other systems with this tool
  • you need to build organizational capacity around this tool (e.g. written policies and procedures)
  • you need to put staffing around this tool

Does this sound like work? Of course it is! But it is worthwhile because this tool will help you build and deepen relationships with prospects and donors, which is what resource development is really all about. Right?

Welcome aboard, Mr Anderson!

IMG_20150414_215128628[1]My husband and I like to take cruises every other year and visit fun places. Over the years we’ve traveled to the Caribbean, Greek Islands, Scandinavian peninsula (and St. Petersburg, Russia), Alaska, and recently the Panama Canal (and Central America).

Over the last 10 years, we’ve only sailed on Princess Cruises, and they’ve collected an awful lot of data on us. For example, they know:

  • Our age
  • Our birthdays
  • Our dining preferences
  • Our entertainment preferences
  • Our drinking preferences (e.g. we’re oenophiles)
  • Our weakness for buying artwork
  • Our desire to purchase off-ship excursion packages

I am confident this information is stored in a CRM of some sort because I see signs of it from the moment I walk onto the cruise ship. The following is what is waiting for me in my cabin mailbox:

  • advertisements for the special wine club membership (for discounts on bottles of wine)
  • invitations to wine tastings
  • brochures for upcoming excursions
  • invitations to purchase tickets at the captains dining table
  • a handwritten card from the art director welcoming me back and inviting me to the first art show

IMG_20150414_191147999_HDR[1]While some people think this level of interaction is creepy, I believe the vast major of people (including myself) find this comforting and convenient. I prefer to think of it differently. I’m in a 10 year relationship with Princess Cruises, and they better know my preferences just like my husband better know my eye color.

Of course, relationship building goes beyond simply tracking my expenditures and targeting special events and offers at me. It includes more fundamental relationship building tactics like sending a bottle of champagne and a hand written note immediately following our purchase of artwork.

Non-profit organizations who use these types of systems are:

  • customizing how they communicate with their supporters (based on the donor’s interests and desires)
  • targeting donors with specific invitations, campaigns and appeals
  • celebrating specific milestones (e.g. birthdays, anniversaries, etc)
  • connecting supporters based on affinity groups and backgrounds
  • managing events and campaigns

I don’t know about you, but this all seems very convenient and helpful to me from a donor perspective. Dare I suggest . . . “very donor-centered“.

Welcome back, Mr. Anderson!

marriottWhen I returned from my cruise at the end of April, I immediately hit the road on a business trip. Whenever I visit this one particular client, I always stay at the same hotel — Marriott SpringHill Suites.

When I checked into the hotel, the front desk person:

  • greeted me by name
  • knew my room preferences
  • reminded me of things that we’ve talked about before

And this time, they asked if I had enjoyed my Panama Canal cruise. The catch is that I had never told that particular front desk person about my cruise. Hmmmmm? I smell the existence of a CRM.

As I said in the previous section, I’m sure there are people who find this kind of stuff scary. However, I find it comforting and reassuring. It is nice to connect with people on a more personal level. In my opinion, it is the essence of being human.

Choosing a system that is right for your non-profit

OK . . . these systems can be expensive, especially when you add in the costs associated with creating systems, hiring people and developing policies and procedures. So, my advice is simple . . .

Treat this decision like you might do so with a marriage proposal

  • Think through what you really need
  • Involve all stakeholders
  • Develop a budget
  • Try different systems on for size
  • Ask lots of questions

I once came across an awesome online workbook titled “Getting the Most from Your Decision: Four Steps to Selecting Donor Management Software” developed by NPower Seattle. I think this step-by-step workbook is awesome, and I suggest you click-through and use it if you are thinking about purchasing a donor database or CRM.

While I don’t endorse products at DonorDreams blog, I have had experiences with certain products that I feel are worthy of your investigation. The following is a short list you might want to look into:

There is no such thing as a perfect product, and you need to find what best fits you.

I strongly urge you NOT to pick-up the phone and start calling sales professionals for these companies. Sit down with the NPower Seattle workbook first and determine your needs and wants first.

Is your non-profit organization using a CRM or donor database? How is that going for you? Please scroll down and share your experiences in the comment box below. We can all learn from each other.

Here’s to your health!

Erik Anderson
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC
www.thehealthynonprofit.com 
erik@thehealthynonprofit.com
http://twitter.com/#!/eanderson847
http://www.facebook.com/eanderson847
http://www.linkedin.com/in/erikanderson847

Everyone is a Marketer: Building an Organization-wide Marketing Team


Hi everyone! I know Erik mentioned, I’d write about technology, but when I sat down to write this post, the topic of building a marketing team just would not leave me. I hope you enjoy it! I’ll see if I can convince Erik to let me guest blog again and I promise that post will be more focused along what I have written in the past, on Mondays with Marissa. Thanks for letting me blog-sit, DonorDreams readers! Erik is back on Thursday! 


A few weeks ago, Erik reflected on a quote by Warren Buffet, “The people own the brand.” That got me thinking; if the marketing-strategy-image-better-business-togetherpeople own the brand, then we as nonprofit staff, are all marketers. It doesn’t matter what position you hold in your organization. Every single staff member is a marketer or at the very least can be part of the marketing team.

As a member of the marketing department, it is my job to grow an audience of participants, supporters and influencers for our organization through various means of communication. This is a challenging job and one, in my opinion, should not rest solely on the shoulders of one department. It is not possible for me to know all of the programs that need to be promoted, see the impact we are making in the community, and attract new members all at the same time. I need help. So together with the other members of my department, we worked to create an organization-wide marketing team.

Here’s how we did it and how you can too:

  • Create a marketing strategy – It is the job of the marketing department (or person) to figure out which audiences are reached by which media channel. Perhaps your participants are all on Facebook, but you can reach all of your supporters via email. Take time and figure this out. Also, meet with each department to figure out what that department’s goals are. Put all of in this information down in one place. It can be as basic or as detailed as your time and resources allow and the format does not matter.
  • Identify key team members – Look at your entire organization. Who communicates with the marketing team (or person) the most? Are there members of other departments that want to develop marketing skills? These people will give the marketing team (or person) the information they need to execute their marketing goals. Nonprofits tend to become siloed because each department is focused on their own set of goals, it can help to have a person who is a bridge between their department and the marketing team. Also, other members of each department might feel more accountable to a member of their own team and as a result, marketing information might be more readily available.
  • Decide on a communication system – Email can get clunky, but if it is what works best for your organization, run with it. However, maybe you’ll find that project management software, like Trello, helps organize things and keeps communication fluid, and focused. Or perhaps, it could be a communication call where a representative from each department (ideally, a member of your team you figured out in the step above) shares what needs promotion in their area. Whatever it is, make sure there is a clear system on how communication will flow.
  • Test it out – Now that you have your strategy, team, and system in place, see how it works. It is important to keep an open mind; ask for feedback and make adjustments.
  • Be transparent – After testing out, let the rest of your organization know how the marketing team is now spread across all departments and explain the impact it is having. Where I work, we have seen that creating a team of promotion managers has allowed the marketing department to go from only being scheduled a week ahead of time, to being scheduled at least two weeks ahead and having promotion items on the calendar a full month ahead.

What I described above, is a step-by-step method for creating a structured marketing team that is spread throughout your organization. Maybe your organization needs something more flexible. In that case, the most important thing is to find a communication system that works best for your organization. This is the anchor for everything.

In many organizations the marketing team, is really only one person. It is important to lean on the entire staff to provide this person with information needed to create participants, supporters and influencers. In order for that to happen people need to know what to do with the information they are submitting to the marketing team and get feedback from the marketing team on how they are going to use it.don draper

On a recent episode of Mad Men, Donald Draper said, “Behind every great ad, is a great story.” Building an organization-wide marketing team can make it easier to find the stories needed to create that great ad/blog post/social media post – one that can grow the organization’s membership, donor base, and awareness.

Do you work in the marketing department of your organization? How do you manage internal communications to ensure you have the information you need to tell your story? Let us know in the comments!

MarissaGarza

You don’t own your non-profit brand


warrenThe other day, I was in my home office trying to wrap up some work before dinner. The television in the other room was tuned to PBS and Charlie Rose was interviewing Warren Buffet and a few other rich guys. They were talking about the late Coca-Cola President Don Keough who recently died. I was trying hard to ignore the background noise and distraction, but then the following five simple words floating into my office:

“The people own the brand.”

These words came from Warren Buffet’s mouth in response to a question Charlie Rose asked about the time when Coca-Cola removed its Classic Coke from the shelves and replaced it with a reformulated New Coke and the public appeared to backlash.

These five simple words got into my head and have rattled around for the last few weeks. They bothered me, but they certainly sounded wiser than I ever might be.

It got to the point where I actually typed these five words into a Google browser, which is when I found a post titled “You Don’t Own Your Brand Anymore, Your Customers Do” over at iYogi Blog written by Sairam K.

I love the iYogi Blog post, and it is certainly worth a click from you. It crystallized everything for me and got me thinking about the following questions for your non-profit brand:

  • When is the last time you talked to your donors, clients, staff, and volunteers about what the brand means to them?
  • What are your key messages (and I don’t mean your marketing tag line) and how do they align with what people think about your brand?
  • How do you monitor your brand and what people are saying about your brand (especially on social media)?
  • Have you thought through how and what your responses might look and sound like in the event your brand comes under attack in social media circles? And more importantly, have you thought about the damage you might do if your strategy is simply “deleting” posts on your Facebook page?

I think the reason Warren Buffet’s words rattled me so badly was because I thought the organization owned the brand, but in reality staff and volunteers simply care for and steward the brand. The people (aka donors, community leaders, staff, clients, the community at-large, etc) do indeed own the brand.

What does this mean for your organization and your marketing/communication efforts? Please scroll down and share your thoughts and experiences in the comment box below. We can all learn from each other.

 

Here’s to your health!

Erik Anderson
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC
www.thehealthynonprofit.com 
erik@thehealthynonprofit.com
http://twitter.com/#!/eanderson847
http://www.facebook.com/eanderson847
http://www.linkedin.com/in/erikanderson847

Marketing experts weigh-in on how your non-profit can break through the noise


Just the other day my spouse and I were sitting on the coach unwinding from another busy day when this Geico commercial came on television:

chicken

 

I blurted out, “Oh, I just love this commercial.” My partner’s response was “I don’t think I’ve ever seen this one.

Of course, this commercial has been airing for weeks, and it has taken a long time for it to break through the noise for my partner. It was this revelation that got me thinking about this month’s Nonprofit Blog Carnival theme “Breaking Through the Noise” being hosted by RAD Blog.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve scratched my head wondering what could I possibly add to this topic that smarter marketing professionals haven’t already said, which is when it hit me:

Go ask the experts!

Over the last year, I’ve had two amazing marketing professionals in my life. I decided to just ask them to say something wise about how non-profit organizations can break through the everyday noise and information overload that our donors, supporters, volunteers, and prospective supporters and donors experience.

This is what they very graciously shared . . .


Meet Noel Childs

noelI first met Noel more than a year ago when I signed a capacity building contract with Elgin Youth Symphony Orchestra focused on resource development and board development. He is a board volunteer who currently serves as the organization’s Vice President.

As I got to know Noel, I discovered he is one of those creative-types who understands how people communicate. He is the President & Founder of 9ine, and this is how he describes himself on his personal website:

Designer. Artist. Father. Founder.
Arsenal FC Gunner. Guild navigator.
Dirt farmer. Marten herder. Folk hero. Lover.
Fighter.

Did that break through the noise for you? Yeah, it did for me too, which is why I asked Noel to weigh-in on the question of how non-profit organizations can go about breaking through the noise with their communications strategies and efforts.

Here is what Noel had to say:

Stay true to your core mission

Progressive non-profits are realizing that with institutions dying and culture in flux they need to innovate more then every before when it comes to marketing and communications. Changing with the times is essential, but not at the cost of your mission. Find new tactical ways to engage your stakeholders, but all strategy must flow from your purpose — your “why you exist“.

Assess your digital ecology

Take a closer look at all of your online channels, websites, social media, mobile initiatives, digital marketing, and advertising to make sure it’s interconnected without barriers. Stakeholders (both existing and potential) expect to easily flow between channels and if you’re digital ecology has disconnects you’re missing opportunities.

Identify online communities

Online users behave differently from one another. Conduct research to understand their habits and desires and group them. Seek out the influencers that are at the hub of these groups. They are your key to a higher level of engagement. Create communications that will connect at a deep, sub-conscious level.

If you can’t measure it, don’t do it

Cut out the marketing and communications that don’t have some metric tied to it. With a lean budget, not being able to assess a communication’s ROI is like burning money.

Authentic storytelling cuts through the noise

Traditional advertising and marketing is outdated. People are skeptical of being sold to. Millennials completely ignore it. Show the real value of your non-profit though true stories that connect via content marketing.


Meet John Mitchell

john mitchellJohn is the other marketing guy who has been in my life for the last year.

I first met John during a capital campaign project with Boys & Girls Clubs of Bloomington. He is one of the busiest cats I know, and he graciously agreed to serve as the chair of the Club’s capital campaign Communications Task Force. He is the Owner & Executive Director (and self-described ping pong guru) of Monarch Media Studios.

John has a very strong and powerful point of view when it comes to cutting through the din that everyone now experiences while watching television, sitting at your computer, driving to work . . . in fact just living.

Like Noel, I consider John to be a communications genius which is why I asked him to weigh-in on how your non-profit organization can break through the noise and reach those with whom you need to speak.

Here is what John had to say:

There is a worsening marketing NOISE developing that is causing the process of messaging to become both more difficult and simpler at the same time….I’ll explain.

While you’re reading this, you’re probably receiving an email, a push notification, and a news alert about something that you will likely ignore while promising yourself that you will find a way to unsubscribe when you have time.

It has never been easier to get your message in front of your target audience, but it has never been harder to make them pay attention.  The most profound of messages will likely be lost in a sea of sports scores, political updates, cat videos, and free wal-mart gift card opportunities.

It sounds overwhelming, but the noise has actually provided an opportunity as well.

The opportunity is for a return to honest sentiment and simple truth. Whiteboard sessions that focus on semantics and tag lines can now be replaced with coffee house meetings over stories of real life change and passion.

Call me naive, but I believe the way to cut through the growing marketing noise is with simple, honest, clear, and real messaging.  It stands out in a sea of swooshes, sexy hamburgers, talking animals, and 3-D billboards.

In this way, not-for-profit messaging has never been at a bigger advantage, when it comes to getting the attention of potential donors.

If I’m selling a widget, I have to dig deep to find a profound, honest message that speaks through the noise.  This is why marketing has started to look more like visual gymnastics than like intentional messaging.  When an organization has a message that is driven by human story (i.e Boys and Girls Clubs stories), passion and compelling calls to action become the low hanging fruit.

So, my advice to non-profit organizations (as a marketing minion who has done more visual backflips than I care to admit), is to lean into your advantage in the midst of the noise.

  • Look for the human stories.  People make us care.  Stories make us move!
  • Find the common denominators in your stories.
  • Speak clearly and honestly to your audience.

Good news . . . you have the power to break through the NOISE.


So, what did you think? Did the advice of these two marketing pros resonate with you? What is your non-profit organization doing to break through the increasing noise of the world around us? Please use the comment box below to share your thoughts and experiences.

A special thanks to both Noel and John for taking time out of their incredibly busy and creative days to share their thoughts. Won’t you please do the same? We can all learn from each other.

Here’s to your health!

Erik Anderson
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC
www.thehealthynonprofit.com 
erik@thehealthynonprofit.com
http://twitter.com/#!/eanderson847
http://www.facebook.com/eanderson847
http://www.linkedin.com/in/erikanderson847

%d bloggers like this: