Blog Archives

Your non-profit can learn from Hillary Clinton’s email mess

hillaryIt has been called a crisis, scandal, controversy, and problem by journalists. If you are remotely plugged into the world around you, then you’ve probably heard or read something about Hillary Clinton’s decision to use a private server located in her private residence which stored tons of personal and governmental emails during the time she was Secretary of State. This news story is layered and smells as bad an onion, but there is a silver lining to this story, which is:

You and your non-profit organization can learn a valuable lesson from Hillary’s “situation”

I was in Hillary’s shoes (kinda)

It was April 1, 2006, and it was my last day as the executive director of my local Boys & Girls Club. I was packing up my office and trying to get out-of-the-way of the interim executive director, who the board had hired to keep the organization stable durning the executive search process and impending transition.

As I was taping up my last box, I realized that I had an email situation that needed to be dealt with.

Over my six years as executive director, I had:

  • never deleted any of my sent or received emails
  • blurred the lines between my personal and business email accounts

hillary7None of this was malicious. It was always done out of a frantic sense of convenience and lack of time (or so I told myself).

So, I spent my final hours pouring over emails and deleting everything I didn’t consider a business-related correspondence. Ugh . . . and the things I found in those emails:

  • There were all sorts of emails to my mother and sister pertaining to family gatherings
  • There were emails to my then-partner and current spouse regarding social plans
  • There were correspondence to people in my Rotary Club

Frankly, I was surprised at how many non-business related emails existed. None of it was inappropriate, but so much of it was garbage. In the moment, I had the following questions running through my head:

  • Why wasn’t I more careful about segmenting my email by using my personal email account for personal things and my business account for business things?
  • Why didn’t I clean out my email inbox every day?
  • Who owned these emails? Am I allowed to delete all of these emails on my last day?

The reality is that my non-profit organization didn’t have any policies in place to help me answer these questions. Unlike Hillary Clinton, I didn’t have to deal with:

  • government transparency issues balanced against state secrets and delicate diplomacy discussions
  • executive orders and regulations from the President of the United States
  • congressional legislation (e.g. Freedom of Information Act)

The silly thing is that we’re just talking about email, and the tech challenges to your non-profit organization are so much bigger.

Since my last day on the job at my local Boys & Girls Club in 2006, our technological world has only gotten more complicated. Right? It isn’t just email anymore. Now there are social media questions that government agencies, for-profit businesses and non-profit organization must grapple with.

So what lessons can be learned?

Establish clear policies on technology usage

hillary2Most non-profit organizations are stretched too thin. I know, I know. But this is something you need to make time for because it is important.

It is a great opportunity to engage technology volunteers in a meaningful project that can benefit and protect your organization. It is also an important project that can help manage your organization’s legal risks and public exposure.

The following are just a few questions your policies should address:

  • What is appropriate vs. inappropriate content?
  • Can employees use organizational email for personal communications?
  • When is it appropriate for an employee delete email? What should be saved? How should all of this be archived?
  • In a social media environment, what is inappropriate and what will the organization do if the employee is caught violating the policy? (e.g. should an employee be Facebook friends with clients or supervisors or board volunteers? what if an employee is vocalize a political view on a social media site that adversely impacts how donors view the organization?)
  • Should every organizational email possess a “legal disclaimer” as part of the signature block?
  • Is it OK for employees to create and store documents of a personal nature on your organization’s server?

The following are a few resources you might want to check out to help you with this project:

hillary3Create separation and segment your life

I’m a member of the GenX generation, and separating my personal and work lives is difficult. Much has been written about my generation’s blurring of these boundaries, and I have to admit that I resemble those remarks.

But segmenting email communication shouldn’t be horribly difficult. Right?

When I think about my email situation, I have four different accounts (and many people have multiple email accounts):

  • My account is what I use for eCommerce and junk. (this is the account I give companies because I know they are going to spam me)
  • My account is what I use for personal emails (this is the account I use with my friends and family and for all things non-business related)
  • My account is what I use for business communication (I try to limit to only communicate with my clients using this account)
  • My account is only used to communicate with capital campaign clients with whom I work as a subcontractor to American City Bureau to provide service

Do I goof up and accidentally blur the lines between these accounts? Of course! To err is human, right?

But that shouldn’t be an excuse not to try.

Moreover, you can now segment your email accounts on your smart phone. I have different buttons on my phone for each of my different email accounts.

I recognize this doesn’t come naturally to some people, but our changing world demands that we change our systems and practices or risk being left behind (or risk looking like Hillary Clinton does right now).

A side not about Hillary’s “crisis-scandal-controversy-situation-etc

hillary6It hasn’t been talked about much, but the Hillary Clinton email story is a “Non-Profit Story“. Think about it for a minute.

Hillary blended her emails. She likely had emails in her blended account pertaining to:

  • State Department business
  • Chelsea’s wedding
  • Funeral arrangements for Hillary’s mother
  • Personal stuff (e.g. yoga class)
  • The Clinton Foundation and the Clinton Global Initiative

The Clinton Foundation is a non-profit organization.

In fact, The Clinton Foundation is a nonprofit organization that politicians and news media outlets continue to question about overseas donors and if/how those contributions influence family members who still operate in the public sector (e.g. Hillary’s time as Secretary of State and her alleged desire to be our next President).

This email story raises all sorts of non-profit questions including:

  • What level of privacy should donors expect when electronically communicating with your organization?
  • What legal impact can a donor’s email have on their charitable gift or pledge (e.g. restricted vs. unrestricted donations)
  • If your non-profit organization accepts large quantities of government funding, are your records governed by transparency laws like the Freedom of Information Act?

Does your organization have an email policy? Tech policy? Social media policy? What resources did you find useful when developing these policies? Do you find enforcing these policies difficult? If so, how? Please scroll down and use the space below 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!/eanderson847

What “peepholes” exist for donors to see your non-profit organization?

For the remainder of 2015 on the first Thursday of each month, I plan on featuring a fundraising video snippet from Henry Freeman.  Why? Because I’ve come to see Henry as one of our country’s more talented and accomplished fundraising professionals. I just love his teachable point of view on most resource development topics. In this first installment of “Hangin’ with Henry,” he talks about how donors see your non-profit organization and how they extrapolate many things from those periodic “peephole” views.

I’ve embedded a YouTube video of Henry talking about “Small Windows into Life: How We Experience the World Around Us.” Before clicking through to view the video, you may want to download the discussion guide first. It will save you time from taking notes and includes thought-provoking questions to help you make this video experience more actionable for your organization.

(Note: If your email subscription doesn’t show the embedded video clip, please click the aforementioned hyperlink.)

So, what did you think? What views of your organization are you providing your donors through those “peepholes“? What can you do to improve what they are seeing? What role will technology and social media play in creating “peepholes“? What old-school, non-tech “peepholes” are you using to introduce donors to the “real you“? Please scroll down and share your thoughts and experiences in the comment box below. We can all learn from each other!

If you want to purchase a complete set of videos or other fundraising resources from Henry Freeman, you can do so by visiting the online store at H. Freeman Associates LLC. You can also sign-up for quarterly emails with a FREE online video and discussion guide by clicking here.

Here’s to your health!

Erik Anderson
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC!/eanderson847

Thanksgiving, donor stewardship and social media

gravy1Thanksgiving is a time when many non-profit organizations give thanks to their donors who support their mission with their time and money. Over the years, I’ve received Thanksgiving cards, thank-a-thon phone calls, and even a small little gift of gratitude from my favorite charities. However, the ALS #IceBucketChallenge has changed everything and set the bar higher for all resource development activities. So, I’ve spent days (if not weeks) thinking about how to use social media to steward donors during this time of the year. This morning I think I had my best idea yet. Let’s see what you think.

Let me first set the scene . . .

It is Thanksgiving Day and I’m sitting around my parent’s table with my siblings and their children. There is turkey, stuffing, green bean casserole, and more food than you can imagine. The table conversation is thick with things for which we are all thankful:

  • Mom is thankful for perfect children
  • Dad is thankful that Mom is happy
  • My sister is thankful that her kids are now all in school full-time
  • My brother is thankful that his second hip replacement surgery was successful


My teenage nephew whips out his smart phone and turns his video recorder on me. I unexpectedly stand up, grab the gravy boat, dump it over my head, and tell everyone why I’m so thankful for my favorite charity and all of my friends who I’ve solicited in the last year to support that agency. I end my testimonial by challenging by name my friends and family to take the #GravyBoatStewardshipChallenge. The video is posted to Facebook, goes viral and a new ePhilanthropy trend sweeps the nation, and this time it isn’t a solicitation phenomenon. It is instead focused on the ever-important stewardship function of your resource development program.

So, whatcha think?

Yeah, yeah, yeah . . . the gravy sounds hot and sticky and not as fun as ice water. OK, you’re probably right. I should go back to the drawing board and get a little more sleep tonight. (And to those of you who think I’ve lost my mind, let me assure you that my tongue is firmly planted in my cheek and I’m just trying to be funny.)

Even though my brainstorming might have come up a little short, this shouldn’t stop your organization from looking at social media as a stewardship opportunity this Thanksgiving season. Here are just a few other (and less sticky) ideas on how to use social media to give thanks to your donors:

  • Record short video snippets of staff, board and clients giving thanks for what your agency has accomplished in 2014 and express gratitude to the donors whose support made it all possible. Then post it to Facebook.
  • Twitpic a picture of something awesome happening at your agency and give it a stewardship caption.
  • Start work on a digital version of your annual report that you will upload to your website.
  • Create a YouTube video version of your annual report and send it to donors.
  • Commit to writing a monthly feature story focused on your biggest supporters, upload to your website and point all of your social media friends to where it is located online.

gravy2If there is one thing all of us should’ve learned from the ALS #IceBucketChallenge, it is that social media is a powerful tool in our resource development toolbox. While we’re all still learning how to use this tool, those who innovate and try new things will surely reap the rewards.

So, why not use social media this Thanksgiving season to steward your donors? Are you already doing something? If so, what is it? Do you have a crazy idea, but are too afraid to try it? What is it? We can all learn and support each other. Please scroll down and share your thoughts and ideas in the comment box below.

Here’s to your health!

Erik Anderson
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC!/eanderson847

Your non-profit reputation and the internet

whats in your walletI woke up this morning with the words of Samuel Jackson echoing through my head. While this actor has played a number of different roles in Hollywood, the words in my head were from his Capital One credit card commercials . . . “What’s in  your wallet?” As I shuffled around my hotel room trying to wake up, I started reviewing all of the possible reasons why I woke up with this popular commercial on my mind. After a little thinking, I’ve decided that my subconscious mind is still wrestling with an email I received yesterday morning from a non-profit organization asking me not to delete any reference to them in a blog I posted last week.

Here is what the email said (of course, I’ve removed names to protect the innocent):

“We noticed that you referenced ABC Agency in a blog post and linked to a 2005 memo written by our former Director of Development. As the information is old, and the director is no longer with our organization, we kindly request that you remove the reference from your blog post.”

Let me start by saying . . . of course, I honored their request. I’m a nice guy, and my professional goal in life is to help non-profit organizations and not become a thorn in their side.

However . . . something is obviously bothering me about this email. After thinking it through, I figured it out.

I found this document with a simple Google search. So, this agency (or someone associated with the agency at one time) uploaded this document to the internet. Once you do that, it is likely “out there” for the entire world to see and use. Forever! Once something is put into the public domain, it is almost impossible to take it back.

whats in your wallet2I think there are a number of “lessons learned” associated with this situation. Here are the one’s I can identify:

  • Be careful about what you post to your organization’s website, social media, blogs, etc. Consider putting policies and procedures in place to guide what employees can and can’t share about your organization online.
  • If your agency has decided to have an online presence, adopt the wise words found in the Serenity Prayer when it comes to things you can and cannot change. In the long run, it will likely save you from “Maalox Moments“.
  • In order to protect your brand’s reputation, monitor your organization’s good name. Periodically Google your agency name. Set-up a Google Alert and let Google tell you when someone is saying something about you.
  • When something is posted about your organization that you don’t like, a polite email with your request to remove the comment, reference or document can be appropriate (however I refer you to what I said earlier about the Serenity Prayer). More important, be careful about what you say in the email because you have no idea who will read it, who it will be forwarded to, or where it will end up. (Please note that I shared the agency in question’s email with the world on my blog. Enough said?)

If you are looking for a few resources on this subject, this is what I found:

What is your wallet? LOL Seriously, how has your non-profit organization decided to tackle the question of appropriate online content? Please use the comment box below to share your thoughts and experiences? Why? Because we can all learn from each other.

Here’s to your health!

Erik Anderson
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC!/eanderson847

Ice Bucket Challenge: You know you’ve gone viral when . . .

going viralJeff Foxworthy has made a career out of answering a simple question: “You know you’re a redneck when . . .”  This morning I thought I’d do something similar with: “You know you’re fundraising campaign has gone viral when . . .” by describing how last week unfolded for me as it relates to the ALS #IceBucketChallenge.

Monday, August 18th

I am getting ready for bed and the local news is on my television. Before cutting away to commercial, the news anchor teases an upcoming segment. The video footage shows someone dumping a bucket of cold water over their head.

I turn the TV off and think to myself “What kind of stupid person dumps ice water on themselves, and how in the heck is that newsworthy?

Tuesday, August 19th
I’m in Rockford, Illinois having lunch with a non-profit executive director. Towards the end of the meal, he starts to lament about how he wishes his national office had the foresight to innovate something as creative as the “Ice Bucket Challenge.”

I must have looked stupefied because his next question to me was: “You’ve heard about this fundraising campaign, right?

When I told him that I had no idea what he was talking about, he proceeded to fill me in on the details.

Wednesday, August 20th

lightning in a bottleFellow blogger and fundraising genius — Jeff Brooks — publishes a blog post titled “What a weasel is going to tell you about the Ice Bucket Challenge“.

I forward it along to the executive director in Rockford with whom I just had lunch along with a few other fundraising friends with an “Amen” and” Hallelujah” because Jeff does a nice job of hitting the nail on the head when he says:

“The problem is the Lightning Factor. ‘Lightning’ has to strike for a campaign to go viral. And nobody has control over the lightning.”

On a side note, I’m beginning to see my Facebook feed fill with friends who are all dumping buckets of ice over their heads, making a charitable contribution to ALS, and challenging others to do the same.

I also saw on Google+ that my friend, Marissa Garza, had written a blog post titled “Haters Gonna Hate: Ice Bucket Challenge Edition.”

This is then first time I remember thinking “Uh-Oh . . . I wonder if someone is going to challenge me since fundraising and non-profit consulting is my line of work?

Thursday, August 21st

ALS icebucketchallenge1The day is winding down. The television is on, we’re into what will likely be the last show of the evening before going to bed, and my phone starts to blow-up. Needless to say, one of my former Boys & Girls Club of Elgin board presidents and good friend, Tim Williams, just completed the ALS #IceBucketChallenge, and I was one of three people he challenged.

My first reaction was: “I should’ve seen this coming sooner.

My second reaction was: “Yippee! I get to do something fun for charity and gain my 15 minutes of online fame by joining my friends in doing something crazy and for a good cause.”

My third reaction was: “What if I do this thing wrong? I don’t want the world to laugh at me. I better do some research. What will I say? Who will I challenge? How much should I donate?

I immediately go to Google+, dig up Marissa Garza’s blog post on “Haters Gonna Hate: Ice Bucket Challenge Edition,” and start my research.

Friday, August 22nd

I get it all figured out, and I take the challenge on my deck in the backyard. I dedicate my challenge to one of my very best friends — Jim Chambers — whose father lost his battle with ALS a number of years ago. I immediately come inside to my computer and donate $100  to ALS using their online donation page.

I bask for hours in the warm glow of philanthropy because the entire exercise from dumping ice water on my head to making the contribution felt really awesome and fulfilling.

Click here to check out my ALS #IceBucketChallenge video:

Later that evening, we attended a Kane County Cougars game with a friend and his children. His 10-year-old son, Mitch, was buzzing with excitement about getting called out by a friend to do the ALS #IceBucketChallenge.

I made the mistake of assuming that Mitch was just being a 10-year-old and getting all excited about the act of dumping ice water on himself and mugging for the camera. I quickly learned how wrong I really was, when I asked Mitch if he planned on making a small donation from his piggy bank to the ALS Foundation. The following response warmed my heart:

“No, I have a bank account and I’m trying to decide whether to donate $50 or $100.”

It was at that moment I realized the complexity of ALS #IceBucketChallenge. All of the following things seem to be going on simply as a result of a bucket of ice:

  • The ALS Foundation is raising a ton of money . . . last story I saw indicated this campaign has crested $110 million
  • There is a flood of new donors surging into the ALS Foundation’s donor database systems . . . it will be interesting to see what resource development strategies they employ to steward and retain these donors.
  • Millions of people are self-educating themselves about ALS.
  • The non-profit sector has another successful online fundraising campaign to evaluate as a case study.

My takeaways

I find myself marveling at how I experienced something so viral. I literally went from knowing nothing about this online fundraising campaign early last week to participating in it at the end of the week. If I had to describe what I felt, I would simply use the words “tidal wave” to describe the experience.

To Marissa Garza’s point, I am not a hater. I am intrigued by what is happening, and I am excited to see so many people get into philanthropy (especially when it comes to teaching kids about the power of philanthropy).

However, I totally agree with Jeff Brooks when talks about how non-profits are better served in focusing on fundraising basics rather than trying to catch lightning in a bottle by trying to duplicate the ALS #IceBucketChallenge.

What is your agency doing when it comes to resource development in the wake of this online campaign? Are you trying replicate it? Are you ignoring it and focusing on other fundraising basics and best practices? Or are you trying to find the next wave to ride? Please scroll down and share your thoughts in the comment box below because we can all learn from each other.

Here’s to your health!

Erik Anderson
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC!/eanderson847

A quick recap of our Social Media Bible posts

It is halftime for our “Social Media Bible” blog series

By Rose Reinert
Guest blogger

rose1Just over three months ago, I was excited to join the DonorDreams community as a guest blogger. For those that have seen the movie Julia & Julia, Julie Powell takes on the challenge of cooking every recipe in Julia Child’s first cookbook and blogs about it. In the spirit of that movie, I agreed to take on the challenge of reading “The Social Media Bible: Tactics, Tools & Strategies for Business Success,” by Lon Safko and blog about the things that I find.

As we hit the half way point of the book, I thought I would take this time to revisit our journey.

Non-profit social media strategy? Quality not quantity!

In the first chapter, we began with very fundamental questions about how often an organization should post to social media and proposed a paradigm shift in regards to how we think about marketing through social media.

Are your non-profit agency’s social media posts relevant?

It was in the second chapter that I uncovered focuses on the bittersweet fact that social media is a two-way street of communication. Despite how terrifying that is, there are opportunities to learn more about how to better engage donors, volunteers and supporters.

Does your agency use email effectively as a marketing tool?

The third chapter tackles utilizing e-news, and proposed the biggest question of how to avoid the trash can before even getting your message across. Ultimately, the message focuses on ensuring that your content grabs and engages your reader.

Is your non-profit’s website changing with the times?

Chapter four dives into websites, and how they can either draw people in or turn them off. Taking a look at how user-friendly, and mobile friendly, your website is can greatly impact how you share your mission and message.

Pre-blog technology might be helpful to your agency’s fundraising program

Internet forums are highlighted in Chapter 5, and we looked at how to engage donors through these forums. Also, we discovered that there are several forums currently that could offer benefit.

Why your non-profit agency should be blogging

This next chapter looked at blogging, and we considered the potential benefits of writing a blog. We also looked at the potential for reading various blogs that could build professional development.

Non-profits are engaging and collaborating using wiki

Here we unwrapped the tool — Wiki. This was a difficult read for me as I tried to wrap my head around what Wiki was and how it could benefit non-profits. I did find some great ways, however to utilize wiki!

Your non-profit needs to learn how to say “Cheese!”

Chapter eight highlighted the impact of utilizing pictures! There is no doubt that pictures can share so much more than words many times, and beyond this, we highlighted statistics that indeed supported utilizing pictures in posts to catch your donor, volunteer or prospects’ eye.

Coming next week we will continue to explore diverse ways to engage donors, volunteers and potential supporters. Here are a few additional articles from previous weeks that I didn’t summarize in today’s post. Enjoy!

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Engaging others with webinars and online radio

Trainings, virtual meetings, advocacy!

By Rose Reinert
Guest blogger

So, in the first 13 chapters of Lon Safko’s book — The Social Media Bible — he establishes that social media is about so much more than just Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.  Safko continues expanding our understanding in chapter 14 when he writes about webinars and online radio.

Of course, webinars are seminars and trainings conducted over the internet; whereas, online radio is an audio program (or music) transmitted over the internet.

One of the pillars of a good board development / board governance plan is a training program. Unfortunately, this is a lot easier said than done.

When I was an executive director, I tried really hard to get board members to attend conferences. I brought trainers to town, and I even tried to integrate small training nuggets into our board meetings. The reality is that board volunteers are busy people and breaking away is always difficult.

Thanks to the magic of social media (and specifically webinars and online radio), non-profit professionals now have additional tools in their toolbox to engage board volunteers and other stakeholder groups.


webinarAt my previous agency, their national office made tremendous investments in webinars (aka distance learning). The following are just a few of the training titles I saw them offering:

  • Creating a Committee Work Plan
  • Holiday Mailings
  • Implementing a Resource Development Plan
  • Managing Donor Relationships: Using a Donor Database
  • Board Development 101
  • How to Create a Board Development Plan

If you really wanted, there is nothing stopping you from designing your own trainings and using webinar services to facilitate those distance learning events.

In addition to trainings, I also see some agencies use tools like GoToMeeting and Adobe Connect combined with conference call technology to host virtual meetings.

In my experience, there are some important things to keep in mind when it comes to webinars:

  1. Participants have many distractions from the home and office (e.g. email, phone calls, interruptions), and it is easy to lose your audience if your presentation isn’t highly interactive with lots of questions, polls and surveys. Ask questions of participants in advance of the webinar and answer them during the webinar.
  2. Distance learning is not the same as in-person trainings and meetings. Keep these sessions short and sweet (e.g. 30 to 45 minutes).
  3. Participants need to be reminded to show up because (for whatever reason) these virtual events are easier to not show up for compared to real-time events.

If you are looking for FREE webinars or pre-recorded webinars to use with your board members and fundraising volunteers, check out some of these resources:

Online radio

online radioMany people have discovered Slacker radio, but online radio isn’t just about streaming music while you workout.

Many decades ago, radio was a mainstay in our grandparent’s living rooms (before the advent of television). Once television squeezed radios out of the picture, many of us just listened in our cars as we drove from place-to-place.

Online radio has liberated radio from our cars and enables music and talk shows to be heard on our work and home computers. This, of course, opens up lots of possibilities for non-profit organizations.

The most obvious possibility was already cover by Erik Anderson on October 21, 2013 right here on the DonorDreams blog in a post titled “Have you discovered non-profit radio yet?“. In that post, Erik introduced us to the Tony Martignetti Nonprofit Radio.

If you haven’t checked out Tony’s online radio show about the non-profit sector yet, it is definitely worth it.

Of course, your non-profit organization can start its own online radio station. Why? Because it is another opportunity to get your message out there. It is marketing. It is prospect cultivation. It is donor stewardship. It can even be something you integrate into your agency’s programming with clients.

If you want to learn more, I suggest you go pick-up a copy of Lon Safko’s book — The Social Media Bible.

The Houston Chronicle also published an online article with a number of excellent links relevant to this topic. Click here to check it out.

How is your agency using webinars and online radio? Please share your thoughts and experiences in the comment box below.
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Your non-profit needs to learn how to say “Cheese!”

Online pics are worth a thousand words!

By Rose Reinert
Guest blogger

rose1We have all heard the saying, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” Well, that is the basis of Lon Safko’s eighth chapter, which he titled “A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words (Photo Sharing)”. In this chapter, he discusses the impact of utilizing images in social media.

Safko illustrates the impact of utilizing photos in social media through an example. I will utilize the same concept, but place it in terms of donors.

Put yourself in the shoes of a donor. You have been engaged by an organization, and you want to learn more about them. When you go onto their website you find pictures of events depicting a wide array of supporters. You also see pictures of the agency’s leadership (e.g. board of directors) and see their mission in motion on Facebook through pictures with client activities and events.

While this seems like it might not make a big difference in regards to whether or not the prospect ultimate engages, consider the alternative.

You begin researching an organization and find very few images on their webpage or social media sites. There are no pictures of leadership, events or even of their facilities. What questions would that leave in your mind?

Still not convinced, consider these statistics provided by MBooth:

  • Photos are liked two times more than text updates
  • Videos are shared 12-times more than links and text posts combined
  • Facebook reached 100 million users in 4 years, but Instagram is on pace to beat it
  • 42% of all posts on Facebook are photos

Is there any doubt? Adding images enhances the users experience, and it is lots of fun!

Where should you start? Simply begin to think about your posts and experiences through images. I started to look around at some well known organizations to see which ones stood out to me.

Girl Scouts of America

bullyingI just loved their Facebook page that was filled with various images. What I loved was how they branded each message with their colors and their logo.

They also included pictures of Girl Scouts from throughout the nation doing various projects and activities.

St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital

st judeThis group really understands how images can impact and catch the viewer’s eye. With every post on Facebook, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital included an image.

This really pulled me and engaged me in their stories!

There were stories of success, struggle and impact both from those benefiting from St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital as well as those supporting the organization.

World Wildlife Fund

wwfOf course, when I looked at WWF’s Face book page I expected to see tons of pictures of animals. I was surprised, however, to see even more.

This group also does a great job posting a photo or a video with each story. The posts were not just highlight various animals, but also provided daily things each of us could do to help.

What about your agency?

So, now it’s your turn! It is pretty easy, and very fun. Start spicing up your posts and see how people respond. I would love to hear more about your experience.

How have you used images to tell your story? What responses have you see to your usage of images? What struggles have you had with sharing images?
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Are your non-profit agency’s social media posts relevant?

Use social media to talk about your agency’s needs in a relevant way

By Rose Reinert
Guest blogger

rose1Last week I began this blog series by providing an overview of “What is Social Media” from the book “The Social Media Bible” by Lon Safko. In chapter 2, Safko starts to unfold terminology, tools and tactics for utilizing various social media tools.  So the big question remains . . . “What is in it for my organization?

Yes, we understand that Social Media is a strong tool. It is a free tool we could use to engage current and prospective donors, clients, and community members. But how impactful is it really?

Think about how many commercials, brochures, ads, and other marketing you see each day. Better yet, how many different marketing pieces and messages does your own organization have? How many other non-profit organizations have similar messaging as yours? When was the last time you were asked to make a donation to a very worthy non-profit when checking out at an area store?

We are undoubtedly overwhelmed with messages that ultimately turn into noise.

Safko challenges a transformation of engagement through the following excerpt of “Sales Manifesto” by James Burnes:

“We need to transform the way we touch our clients, and integrate ourselves into the very fabric of what they do every day. . . . We need to tell our story in a way that doesn’t just interrupt our clients, but engages them and gives them a reason to pass it along. . . . We’re going to build a culture where communicating, engaging and embracing the feedback, positive and negative, make us a better organization.”

How inspiring!

feedbackI read this and imagine my organization with engaged donors engaged in open communication, positive feedback, while building a better organization. Ahhhh, nirvana, but wait . . . did he say negative feedback, too?

Ahhh yes. There is always a catch.

The thought of having someone post a negative comment or negative feedback on your organization’s social media page can be scary. However, Safko challenges us to push through that initial reaction and think of it as an “opportunity” when he says:

“We need to take advantage of a new approach to selling where we are problem solvers and the “go to” team for our prospects whenever a project arises that we contribute to. Everyone sells [product]. We have to be bigger than our [product]. We have to solve our client’s pain points.”

Although this seems more relative to for-profit businesses, it proposes several opportunities.

  1. Every non-profit “has needs.  One of my mentors — Fred Paulke, who is the Vice President of Organizational & Executive Development  Services for Boys & Girls Clubs of America for the Midwest region — taught me much of what I know about resource development. For example, when talking about building an effective case for support, he would emphatically talk about how every non-profit has needs and needs money. For every need you have, there are a dozen other organizations that could line up with similar worthy needs. He would argue, the key is to demonstrate how you are meeting needs in the community. So, my question to you is “How are you demonstrating this to your prospective and current supporters via social media?
  2. Being relevant matters.  Last week, I talked about how social media is like entering a networking event. You first find a group of people and begin listening to the conversation and then provide relevant input. With this in mind, we need to ask ourselves how can you use social media tools to be strategic about being relevant? If you work for a youth service agency, design your posts around topics like childhood obesity or education. If your organization is a health organization post healthy recipes, address changes to health care or exercise tips.

Safko recommends you keep your page 85% informative and resourceful for “Like”-ers and 15% about your business. This sounds like a good rule of thumb to me!

What are some ways you engage your “Like”-ers on Facebook? What are some connections you have made through strategic posts that relate to your mission? What breakdown does your organization’s page reflect in regards to information and posts about your business?

Please use the comment box below to answer some of these questions.
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Non-profit social media strategy? Quality not quantity!

Social Media Madness

By Rose Reinert
Guest blogger

rose1For those that have seen the movie Julia & Julia, Julie Powell takes on the challenge of cooking every recipe in Julia Child’s first cookbook and blogs about it. I too will take on a challenge to read, “The Social Media Bible: Tactics, Tools & Strategies for Business Success,” by Lon Safko and blog about the things that I find.

With the challenge in mind, I cracked Safko’s book opened to chapter 1, “What is Social Media?”

Safko quickly defines Social Media by splitting out the two words:

“The first part of the terminology, social, refers to the instinctual needs we humans have to connect with other humans. . . . The second part of that term refers to the media we use with which we make those connections with other humans.”

Well how logical, I thought. But was I using that logic when I was posting Facebook posts for my non-profit? Other questions started whirling in my head.

  • When I make a post, am I trying to engage my audience?
  • Do I know the people that have “Liked” our page?
  • Are they clicking through on to our website?
  • Am I just trying to get posts in without being strategic about message?

I realize that each of these questions seem to haunt many of us.

I was excited to recently attend a local celebration for Philanthropy Day coordinated by the Fox West Philanthropic Network. During this wonderful event, I attended a roundtable focused on Social Media.

One of the first questions the facilitator asked was what types of social media we took part in for our non-profits.

We went around and rattled them off — Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc, etc, etc. Without a doubt, there was a sense of burden in each person’s voice.

Yes, burden!

I could identify it because I too have felt it.

With the laundry list of things on our to-do list along with countless other projects, how could we focus on keeping relevant posts going up on Facebook, or ensure we are on LinkedIn?

As the conversation continued, the questions for the expert facilitator began about the most popular social media site that we all used, which of course is Facebook.

  • How often should we be on Facebook?
  • What day and time of day is best to post?
  • How much staff time should we spend with Facebook?
  • What should we be posting?

The facilitator summed it all up with the following simple piece of advice:

Quality not Quantity

Safko also uses a very logical analogy to make a similar point and makes a distinction between conventional marketing approaches and the new marketing approach being used on social networks.

rose2Safko explains that social media marketing is like going to a networking event, a party, a trade show, church, or anywhere large groups of people gather.

Using a conventional marketing approach, you walk into the group, interrupt everyone, and start announcing your name, and telling everyone what you do for a living, what you sell and that they should buy it from you!

In real life, what do you suppose would happen if you did that?

Now consider the new marketing approach. You enter the room, choose a group, walk up to them and say nothing. You listen first. You understand what has already been said; you consider how you could add value to the conversation, wait for a break and politely share your ideas. You now become part of the group, the network, and you have credibility and trust.

In this simple analogy, it is clear that there is so much more I could be doing to maximize my agency’s Facebook and social media presence. By focusing on quality of posts, not quantity, I am able to think strategically at how to engage those that have trusted us enough to “Like” us.

What does this analogy stir in your experience?

Are you currently scrambling to post quantity in your social media outlets?

Share your approach to social media marketing using the comment box below.

Oh yeah, you can also visit Lon Safko’s website to learn more about social media.

Stay tuned. Next Monday I’ll read a little more of The Social Media Bible, try it out and let you know what I learned from a non-profit perspective.

(Disclaimer: I am not getting paid by anyone to promote this book, and I am not profiting from these blog posts. I encourage everyone to buy a copy of this book and start the hard work of improving your agency’s social media presence.)
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