Blog Archives

Is your non-profit agency using Twitter wrong?


twitter1A few months ago, I had a horrible experience with my favorite airline. Long story short . . . delay, delay, delay, delay, loaded on the plane, equipment malfunction, delay, delay and finally up-up-and-away. A whole day was lost. However, in that catastrophe, I was able to learn something about Twitter and the new age of customer service. In the last few weeks, I’ve been reminded of this experience when two bloggers talked about Twitter. So, I thought I’d we’d look Twitter a little more closely today, especially as it relates to non-profit organizations.

Tweet: Customer service

As I sat on that airplane for hours with cranky passengers and screaming babies, I remembered something I had read in The Social Media Bible about a similar experience that the author — Lon Safko — had on a Continental Airlines flight. In his example (found on page 8), his assistant used her smartphone and tweeted about her experience making sure to copy the airline on her tweet. No sooner had she taken her seat and a flight attendant was bringing her a glass of champagne with an apology.

With this story in mind, I whipped out my cell phone and started tweeting my displeasure.

Sure enough, the airline’s customer service representatives were paying attention and asked me about the situation. They checked into other flights. They tried to help, and when they couldn’t do anything, they apologized and compensated me with some rewards points.

The point of this story? Twitter is a TWO-WAY communication channel that for-profit companies are learning to master.

I recently read a blog post from Rachel Sprung at Social Media Examiner titled “4 Examples of Excellent Twitter Customer Service“. If you have some time this morning, I encourage you to click-through and read Rachel’s post. She shared additional good stories about Jet Blue, Nike, Seamless, and Comcast. It is worth the click!

Tweet: Donor communication

twitter2I am on Twitter every day. I’m not there very long. I’m not a Twitter expert. I’m sure that I am doing lots and lots wrong in the eyes of social media experts. However, I do see lots of content and most of those who I’m following are non-profit organizations.

I can honestly say that I’ve never seen a non-profit organization with a Twitter account engage in a discussion with a donor, client, or almost anyone. I’m sure it happens, but I’ve never seen it and I’m following 1,808 people/agencies.

I recently read a blog post from Steven Shattuck, who is the VP of Marketing at Bloomerang. The post was titled “11 Mistakes Nonprofits Make On Twitter And How To Avoid Them“.  And oh yeah . . . does he hit the nail on the head! Here are just a few of the mistakes he points out:

  • Broadcasting instead of engaging
  • Talking too much about yourself
  • Neglecting hashtags
  • Not tracking results

I won’t share all 11 mistakes, and I also won’t tell you how to avoid those mistakes. Why? Because you need to click-through and read Steven’s post. As with the previous post by Rachel which I mentioned in the previous section, Steven’s post is also definitely worth the click!

Tweet: How should your agency use Twitter?

twitter3This is a tough question to answer because I suspect it may vary slightly from agency-to-agency. However, some of the better non-profit organizations are tweeting the following:

  • picture of the day (demonstrating impact of their programming)
  • sharing stories about clients, donors, volunteers and board members
  • thanking followers for sharing content (e.g. “thanks for the RT” or “thanks for the MT”)

Back in the stone age before there was Twitter, I knew non-profit professionals who would dutifully read the newspaper every morning. When they saw an article or something about a volunteer, donor or board member, they would clip the article and send it to the person with a kind note.

What is stopping your agency from clicking through a few of your Twitter followers profiles and re-tweeting or mentioning something about their content/tweet? After all, it is akin to clipping something out of the newspaper, right? And it sends the message — loud and clear — that you care enough about them to read what they are tweeting. Just a thought!

If you want to read more about what other agencies are doing with Twitter, here are a few good online articles that I’ve found:

How is your agency using Twitter? What is working? What isn’t working? How are you using Twitter to engage board volunteers? Donors? Clients? Volunteers? Please use the comment box below and share your 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

Let’s talk about your organization’s LinkedIn group page


linkedin2I use LinkedIn. It is one the social media platforms I am on almost every day, which is probably the reason I was asked to manage the LinkedIn group page for a fundraising professionals organization where I’m a member. At first, I was happy to do it. After all, I’m on LinkedIn every day. Right? However, after a few months of being the volunteer community manager, I am left wondering: “What in the heck are we trying to accomplish with this group page?

Of course, this got me wondering how many non-profit organizations find themselves in the same situation? So, I logged into my LinkedIn account and surfed around to a handful of group pages of agencies I follow. What I found was similar to the page I manage . . . a handful of followers and very little activity.

So, I thought it might be helpful to share a few thoughts and suggestions based on my limited experience with this project. Hopefully, you will also weigh-in with your thoughts and experiences using the comment box below. Why? Because we can all learn from each other.  🙂

Target audience

linkedin1Your agency’s LinkedIn group page isn’t like your website. You shouldn’t treat it like a landing-place for all kinds of different stakeholder groups. The best group pages I’ve seen have an obvious target audience with whom they are speaking.

The Chronicle of Philanthropy has a page. It is “For Members Only,” which simply means that you need to ask to join and get approval from the person managing the page. I presume this decision was made because: 1) people like to “belong” to things and the more exclusive the better, 2) the Chronicle is probably trying to protect group members from businesses and spammers targeting fundraising professionals, and 3) they are deliberating focusing on developing a “target audience“.

The Boys & Girls Clubs of the Midlands’ LinkedIn page is simple. While I can’t be sure, it certainly seems like their target audience is their employees. I can see a number of reasons why a non-profit agency would want to create a virtual space for its employees including: 1) ease of communication, 2) sharing of work ideas and best practices, and 3) creating a sense of community and family.

Who is your target audience? This really needs to be the first question you answer because it will drive every other decision you make with regards to your agency’s LinkedIn page.

Content is KING

contentI don’t care if you are managing a blog, Facebook page, Twitter account or a LinkedIn group. Content is ALWAYS the key to success and engagement.

When it comes to your LinkedIn group, here are a few suggestions with regards to creating content (e.g. creating a purpose for people to belong to your group):

  1. Be Mike Myers on SNL’s Coffee Talk sketch. Post a weekly discussion topic or question of the week.
  2. Find blogs that might interest your members and post links to those sites.
  3. Identify subjects that will be interesting and create a poll.
  4. Use the group site to share information (e.g. webinars, meetings dates/times, etc)

Commit yourself to learning

linkedin3There is so much more to learn about managing a LinkedIn group (e.g. group policies, promotion, etc). It is impossible to cram everything into one blog post.

If you plan on undertaking the job of creating or managing your agency’s LinkedIn group, I suggest setting aside an hour per week where you can just click around and read more from others on best practices. While you’re reading, I urge you to jump into conversations and discussions on blogs by sharing your experiences and asking questions.

Here are a few places you may want to get started:

So, does your agency have a LinkedIn group page? Are you thinking about starting one? Please scroll down and use the comment box to share your thoughts, questions, best practices, strategies, ideas, etc.

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

Have you fallen in love with Michael Stelzner yet?


social media iconsNon-profit professionals all seem to be saying the same thing to me about technology and social media . . . “We’re tired. It is confusing. It evolves too quickly. We still haven’t figured out what works. We don’t have the time or money to invest in conferences, trainings, staff and resource manuals to figure all of this out.”

Yep! This is the plight of the modern, small, under-resourced non-profit organization. For some executive directors, fundraising professionals and program/ops staff, this becomes frustrating and even hopeless.

My best advice to everyone is to fight this feeling and fight it with every fiber of your being. The future is upon us, and the way non-profit agencies communicate with the outside world is changing rapidly. The consequences associated with falling too far behind the social media and technology curve can mean the difference between staying in business and becoming obsolete.

You’re reaction is probably something like . . . WHAT?!?!

social media word cloudI get that, but I really don’t think I am being a drama queen here. In the future (and I do mean the not-so-distant future), social media and technology will be how your non-profit does a lot of communicating with:

  • clients
  • board members
  • volunteers
  • staff
  • donors
  • prospective donors and the community-at-large

Don’t believe me?

Well, just the other day I was walking down the street while in Vancouver on vacation when I saw a homeless man sitting outside of a restaurant on the sidewalk. While it is impossible to know if he was homeless, he was at least someone who was obviously “down on his luck“. He was young and couldn’t have been older than 25-years-old. He was frantically pecking away on a smartphone and obviously stealing a WiFi signal from the restaurant. I couldn’t help but wonder if he was searching webpages or social media sites to see which soup kitchens, food pantries or shelters were open that day.

The future is upon us, friends! To give in now to those hopeless feelings you have about social media and technology would be a mistake. The solution is to push forward and embrace change.

I know, I know. There are no resources. It always comes down to this for non-profit organizations. Doesn’t it?

Well, this is where Michael Stelzner enters the picture!

What? You haven’t discovered Mike yet? In a nutshell, he is the CEO of Social Media Examiner. Here is an excerpt from his website describing his company:

The world’s largest online social media magazine, Social Media Examiner helps businesses discover how to best use social media, blogs and podcasts to connect with customers, drive traffic, generate more brand awareness and increase sales. Our mission is to help you navigate the constantly changing social media jungle.

Click here or on the YouTube video below for a fun little introduction:

He regularly publishes blogs and podcasts about a variety of social media topics. Here are just a few of his recent works:

Here is the bottom line. Dedicating yourself to the idea of becoming a “lifelong learner” will be the saving grace for your non-profit organization. People like Michael Stelzner are your salvation. He puts out good stuff, and it is FREE. All you need to do now is:

  • click-through and subscribe to his online magazine and podcasts,
  • prepare for the regular stream of emails containing his material, and
  • find time to read and listen to his stuff.

Oh right . . . time is a resource and something many of my non-profit friends tell me that don’t have enough of. OK, I suggest that you download Michael’s podcasts to your smartphone and listen to him on the treadmill in the morning or while driving between your daily meetings.

Nothing in life is as simple as clicking on a button. You will need to work at this and find the time to become a lifelong learner, but the viability of your non-profit organization is depending on you.

Please go check-out Michael Stelzner and his amazing online magazine. Click around his site. Listen to a few podcast. Circle back around to this blog post and share your thoughts 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

The changing face of philanthropy


online givingI often counsel my non-profit clients to invest in technology and social media. I tell them to experiment with ePhilanthropy strategies and tactics. However, I warn them to avoid living on the cutting edge and especially be aware of the “bleeding edge” of these types of efforts. In a nutshell, I advice them to invest and learn, but do so in a way that make sense from a “return on investment” perspective.

Of course, what I mean is that fundraising professionals should not forget that more than $300 billion is generated every year by charities from private sector sources (e.g individuals, corporations, and foundations). While the data is messy, it still appears that less than 10 percent of this funding results from online efforts by non-profit organizations.

Essentially, I’ve been telling clients that investing 90 percent of your time in something that accounts for just 10 percent of overall giving might not be a wise decision. So, my counsel has always been “slow and steady wins the race.”

This has been my advice for the last decade, and if there is one truism in life that I really subscribe to it is the old saying by Heraclitus that the only constant in life is change. With this in mind, I pay attention to the benchmark data from our online giving friends at Blackbaud, Network for Good and other such organizations. I do this because I know that one day we will hit that tipping point and my advice will need to change.

Before I go any farther, it is important to say:

  • I don’t believe direct mail is dead.
  • I don’t believe you should stop asking people face-to-face.
  • I don’t think you should ignore your Baby Boomer donors and double down on ePhilanthropy strategies focused on GenXers and Millennial donors.

However, we may be getting closer that “tipping point“. Have you seen some of the 2012 benchmark data for online giving? The Chronicle of Philanthropy did a nice job reporting on these trends on March 27, 2013. The following are just a few of the highlights from a report issued by M+R Strategic Services and Nonprofit Technology Network:

  • Revenue from online fundraising efforts increased by 21 percent.
  • Annual growth in Facebook fans of non-profit organization pages was 46 percent.
  • Annual growth in Twitter followers of non-profit organizations was 264 percent.

Click here to see an awesome infographic based on this benchmark study.

It is hard to get a handle on what the average size gift is from online efforts. I get different numbers when I look at different sources, but we are talking about average gifts in the $60, $70, and $80 ranges.

There is also interesting benchmark information about online monthly giving programs. This online fundraising strategy appears to bring in an average monthly gift of $19.

Lots of data and very little time to digest it all; however, this quotation caught my attention in another Chronicle of Philanthropy article on December 2, 2012:

Online giving, though, accounts for less than 10 percent of the dollars charities collect, experts say. But Steve Mac­Laughlin, director of Blackbaud’s IdeaLab, predicts that over the next five years, the total share of gifts raised online will grow to 15 percent of charities’ overall donations.”

All of this gets me wondering . . . where is that tipping point? When should non-profit organizations get more serious about investing in technology, social media and development of online giving strategies and tactics?

I think my advice might be evolving. Yes, slow and steady wins the race, but investments in benchmarking and planning are always wise.

What is your average size gift from one-time online gifts? Is it in line with national averages? Did your Facebook fan base grow by 46 percent? Did you Twitter following grow by an audacious 264 percent? If not, what are you planning to do in 2013 to adjust your efforts and prevent yourself from falling behind the curve? And how will you guard against the risk of over-investing and living on the cutting edge?

Please use the comment box below to share some of your thoughts. Why? Because 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

Using a multi-channel approach for fundraising? Don’t forget ‘old school’ strategies!


multichannel1Have you ever intended to do something, but “life happened” and you dropped the ball? Well, this is what happened to me last week when I intended to write a post for the March Nonprofit Blog Carnival weaving together social media, fundraising and a multi-channel approach. While I missed the submission deadline, I’m pressing forward with the post because I think we can all learn something from the Community Crisis Center and their 2009 “Crisis Overnight” campaign.

In my hometown of Elgin, Illinois, our domestic violence shelter was experiencing a crisis of its own in 2009 because the nearly bankrupt State of Illinois kept falling behind on its accounts payable to non-profit organizations that it had contracted with to provide services (e.g. running a domestic violence program). In 2009, it was so bad that Community Crisis Center was owed $400,000 and cash flow management was becoming a challenge.

Years earlier, a staff person had written an article for The Courier-News newspaper focused on providing readers with a 24 hour look at what happens at Community Crisis Center. Looking a mountain of red ink, the executive director, Gretchen Vapnar, decided that a similar approach was warranted in order to generate public awareness about the center’s situation.

multichannel2The only difference this time around was that it was a different world. Newspaper readership was down. Internet usage was exploding. It was a brave new world, and social media experts like Ruth Munson and Sarah Evans advised the center to take their concept online. Here is what this campaign end up looking like:

  • Sarah Evans spent an evening at the center. She witnessed the impact that the center makes in the lives of everyday people, and she blogged and tweeted about her experience. (e.g. #crisisovernight)
  • In addition to bearing witness, she communicated a powerful case for support using a number of different online and social media platforms (e.g. Twitter, blog, Facebook, and YouTube).
  • Other non-tech channels were used by the center. For example, volunteers set-up camp outside the center and donors were invited to “drive by” and drop off donations. Staff also attempted to integrate a pre-existing direct mail campaign into the “crisis overnight” campaign.
  • The initial goal was to raise $150,000 in three weeks. Unfortunately, they didn’t achieve this goal, but they kept plugging away to get the campaign to go viral.
  • While they didn’t achieve their original goal, they did raise $161,000 in six weeks.
  • In the end, there were 756 online donors and the average size gift was less than $100/donor. There also was one sizable $40,000 gift from a local foundation.

If you want to learn more about this campaign, you can do a Google search on “crisis overnight.” You can also click here to view a SlideShare presentation by Sarah Evans.

The most interesting thing to me about this entire campaign was what the executive director had to say more than three years later when looking back on the entire experience.

First, Gretchen marveled at how “everything always comes down to the same things.”  What she is referring to is how the keys to success for this online campaign are many of the same best practices that work for traditional fundraising activities. She gave the following three examples to illustrate her point:

  1. Donors need to connected. (e.g. your agency needs to be visible to the donor or your mission needs to touch/connect with them).
  2. The “who” is still key. The person asking for the donation correlates greatly to your campaign’s success.
  3. There is a “trust factor.” Donors need to trust the organization will follow through and do what they said they’d do with the donor’s investment. If they don’t know the agency well, then the volunteer solicitor is leveraging their relationship with the donor to create that level of trust.

Old fashion fundraising strategies and best practices
plus

Online tactics (e.g. website, email, social media, etc)

equals

Success

There was also one other interesting lesson that Gretchen shared with me. She said that sustained success requires that non-profit organizations put someone in charge of their ePhilanthropy strategy (e.g. hire an online community manager).

Has your agency tied to undertake similar online fundraising campaigns? If so, what were the results? What did you learn? Please share your experiences 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
www.thehealthynonprofit.com 
erik@thehealthynonprofit.com
http://twitter.com/#!/eanderson847
http://www.facebook.com/eanderson847
http://www.linkedin.com/in/erikanderson847

Setting attainable social media goals for your non-profit


social media plan1If there is one thing non-profits know about, it is goals. There are goals within the mission. There are fundraising goals. There are membership goals. Today, we are going to talk about setting goals for social media. If you want your organizations social media campaigns to be a success, setting attainable social media goals is key.

Start with a Baseline

Just like anything, you have to see where you are before setting goals for where you want to go.

Measuring success in social media can be a tricky thing. There are many tools to help you define metrics that can be good indicators of interaction. For example, Facebook gives you Insights, which can tell you which posts were successful and which ones were not based on how many people saw them, shared them or liked them. Google Analytics can tell you about how many people visit your website and how long they stay engaged on your site. This type of data is helpful when you’re setting a baseline.

I would also encourage you to look at things outside of traditional metrics to help you define success. For example, how many posts were made in a specific platform can help you form a more complete picture of where your organization currently stands.

Keep in mind, there may not be an easy way to get data for all of the social media networks you use and that’s okay. However, gathering a baseline of data can help you measure success as your organization’s social media plan grows.

Look at Your Data

social media plan2Take a look and see if you can spot any patterns. Here are a few questions you should ask yourself:

  • Are there posts that are super successful?
  • Are there posts that just seem to tank?
  • Do photos do better than text updates?
  • Do posts made at the beginning of the day tend to do better than those posted later in the day or vice versa?
  • Which social media networks are the most active?
  • Which social media networks are the most dormant?
  • Are posts containing a call to action more successful than those without?
  • Do posts with links tend to get users more engaged than those without?

The list could go on and on, but the point is to take a look and see what’s working and what’s not.

Looking at your data is important in the beginning stages of goal setting, during measuring a goal and once the goal timeline has passed. Getting in the habit of collecting and looking at data early, will help you out along the way.

Talk to Your Staff

Social media is a powerful tool for nonprofits. Due to its very low cost, it gives organizations a much louder voice to reach new members of the community and keep up-to-date with those who have been there since the beginning.

While there may be just one person in charge of posting things on social media networks, it is important to get the whole agency together when forming social media goals. Take the time to meet with your staff and talk about how social media can help them reach their own departmental goals. For example, the membership team might like to use social media to run a membership drive during the month of October.

Talking with staff early can help you plan out a specific campaign. Because you’ve taken the time to look at where your organization stands now, you’ll be better able to shape these conversations into what will be most successful for your agency.

Set Goals

social media plan3After establishing a baseline and taking the time to look at what works and what doesn’t, you are ready to take on social media goal setting. The following are a few tips for writing and monitoring goals:

  • When writing goals, make sure they are SMART (e.g. specific, measurable, action oriented, realistic/relevant, and time bound).
  • Make sure you have ways to capture data throughout the goal’s timeline.
  • Discuss and adjust your posts with your team along the way.
  • If a goal isn’t met, it doesn’t mean that it failed completely. Take the time to examine what barriers kept it from succeeding. Maybe the goal wasn’t a great goal in the first place. This can be a lesson to learn in and of itself.

What type of social media goals does your organization set? How to you keep track of your data? What challenges do you face when it comes to setting and meeting social media goals? Let us know in the comment section!
Marissa sig

Lessons to be learned from Applebee’s social media fiasco


applebees receiptThe news story might be a few weeks old, but the lessons to be learned from it are still valid. Let’s take a look at what non-profit organizations can learn from the Applebee’s Social Media Fiasco.

The story goes like this. A waitress waited on a table with a large party seated at it, and an 18% gratuity was automatically added to the bill. This is common practice when it comes to dining out at many restaurants. The patron, a pastor, wrote on the receipt, “I give God 10%, why should I give you 18%?” and scratched out the tip. The waitress’ friend found this insulting and comical. So, she took a photo and posted it to the social network, Reddit.

Her post, of course, received a lot of negative comments and took the internet by storm. As a result, the employee who posted the receipt to Reddit was fired.

The lesson comes in is how Applebee’s responded to the situation. Applebee’s decided to post the following on their Facebook page:

“We wish this situation hadn’t happened. Our Guests’ personal information – including their meal check – is private, and neither Applebee’s nor its franchisees have a right to share this information publicly. We value our Guests’ trust above all else. Our franchisee has apologized to the Guest and has taken disciplinary action with the Team Member for violating their Guest’s right to privacy.”

reactive_proactiveNowhere in this post, did Applebee’s address the concerns of the public that had been commenting on the post. Nowhere did they address the voices of numerous other customers who were taking sides with the server who attended to the pastor’s table. This post just added fuel to a fire that was already raging.

Furthermore, in an attempt to respond to each individual comment on Facebook, Applebee’s copy and pasted the same message over and over again. This again, did not help the situation. It just continued to make things worse.

Things happen, but in this day and age it is naïve to think that things happen without anyone watching.  This situation brings to light the need to:

  • have a person dedicated to watching what is said about your organization everywhere on the internet,
  • responding to things when they happen, and
  • realizing when a non-response is the best response.

People like to feel like they are being heard. While the message might be the same to each person who posts a comment, taking the time to individualize the message or change the wording a bit makes all the difference. Keep in mind, responding to everyone individually might not be the best move for your organization. Making one blanket, detailed statement that addresses the majority of concerns, might be all that is needed to stop bad word of mouth.

Non-profit agencies don’t always have the money or the time to have a person dedicated to being the social media eyes and ears of their organization. So, what can be done instead? At least set up a Google Alert that notifies you when your agency is mentioned on the internet. Then you can decide if a response is needed.

If you cannot afford to have a person dedicated to watching what is happening on the internet full time, someone in the PR department might be able to take on some social media responsibilities here and there. Remember, you do not have to be involved in all social media networks. Find the one that is right for you and control your message there. When things happen, think about your response in a strategic manner with your whole team before responding quickly just to respond.

It’s been said, that it’s not what happens that matters, it’s how you react to it. The same rings true in social media. When things happen, take into account how your response is going to be received and decide if it is needed at all.

Has your organization faced a social media fiasco? What did you learn? If you want to share your story, leave a comment below, we’d love to hear from you!
Marissa sig

State of the Nonprofit Sector: Remainder of 2013


Good morning, DonorDreams blog subscribers. I thought I’d give you a day off from my random non-profit and fundraising thoughts by offering you an awesome guest post by Ashley Halligan. She is a managing editor at Austin-based Software Advice and a very talented freelance features writer. Check out her book project on Facebook: facebook.com/contemporarypilgrim  Enjoy!

State of the Nonprofit Sector: Remainder of 2013
By: Ashley Halligan

state ofSix weeks into the new year and last year’s reports are coming to surface helping shape the expectations for the remainder of this year in the nonprofit sector.

With the beginning of President Obama’s second term, a recovering economy, and a fiscal cliff, nonprofits have – well – a lot to discuss and anticipate in 2013.

Several reports have been released in the past month that indicate 2012’s performance and trends, offering insight as to what to expect this year. Among those things are hiring trends, succession planning, adoption of mobile technology, social giving campaigns, and, most predictably, differing opinions on the impact of tax reform and proposals on the missions of nonprofits.

More Hiring & Succession Strategizing

The Improve Group and Nonprofit HR Solutions released a report that showed 44 percent of the nation’s nonprofits planned to create new positions this year. Positions in direct services in fundraising were at the forefront of organizations’ plans to hire.

According to the same study, 70 percent of nonprofits lacked a formal succession plan, though those who had implemented a strategy reported that it brought their organization peace of mind, developed talent, and retained staff. Experts expect focus in this area to become a primary area of focus this year.

Deploying More Technology & Social Giving Campaigns

Another main area experts and reports agree on is the increase of technology deployment in the nonprofit sector. In particular, a Blackbaud report shows that mobile technology will be significant this year with more than two-thirds of surveyed NPOs planning to utilize more mobile tech this year.

Additionally, more and more nonprofit technology companies are emerging giving organizations in this sector far more options, ranging from fully integrated suites to specialized programs for basic needs like fundraising or donor management.

This year a bigger emphasis is expected to be seen on social giving campaigns as well. The 2012 Nonprofit Social Network Benchmark Report says to expect three things:

  1. The monetization of Facebook
  2. More usage of Google+
  3. Increased fundraising efforts through Twitter

Some are Weary of Tax Uncertainties, Others See Promise

Tax promises and concerns, however, are still at the top of mind in the nonprofit sector. Till months pass and charitable giving trends can be analyzed, long-term impacts of the American Taxpayer Relief Act can’t be certain. Some think the act could positively impact giving by $3.3 billion, while others still fear proposed tax ceilings fearing a negative impact of the same amount.

This is a big year for nonprofits. A lot is yet to be determined. What is your take on the state of nonprofits for the remainder of 2013? Feel free to leave your comments below or reach out to us directly.

ashley sig

How Storify can help non-profits raise awareness


storifyIf there is one thing Social Media is about, it’s sharing — sharing information, photos, videos, statistics. If it can be displayed on a screen, it can be shared. Sometimes, it can be hard to keep track of all of the items being shared on a single topic. That’s where Storify comes in. Today, we are going to look at how your non-profit agency can use Storify to share social media updates with the world.

What Is It?

Storify defines itself as:

“Storify helps making sense of what people post on social media. Our users curate the most important voices and turn them into stories.”

I like to think of Storify as a personalized social media newspaper. Every now and again, I’ll see a Storify link in my twitter feed. I will click it to find a collection of status updates, tweets, photos, and articles on a topic that was important to the user. As the recipient of the Storify story, I find it brings attention to articles or updates that I may have missed on a specific subject.

Why Use It?

Storify can be a great way to share with your social media followers updates on a certain topic. For example, let’s say your mission has to do with cancer research. Once a week, it might be nice to collect stories about the advancements in cancer research, put them all together in an easy to read format, and share it with others.

What I like is that Storify gives you a way to provide context to the articles to which you are linking. Many times the hardest job a non-profit organization has is educating the public about their mission. Storify provides an easy format to do just that.

Additionally, Storify is a great search engine for finding content on different subjects. Even if you don’t use Storify to share articles and updates with others, it can be used as a powerful search engine to find what people are saying about your organization and its work.

Furthermore, once you publish a story on Storify, the service will notify the people quoted in your story to let them know they are being featured in your story. This can help you raise awareness about your issue faster and facilitate networking connections through social media.

Finally, Storify offers complete flexibility when it comes to how you share your curated stories with others. You can share it as a link to various social media networks or embed it right onto you website. Storify provides you with the code to do it, which makes it as simple as copy and paste.

How to Use It

Signing up for an account is simple. Just go to Storify.com to get started.

The whole interface is drag and drop so it makes deciding where things go very simple. Use Storify to share news about upcoming events, issues important to your mission, or collect when your organization is mentioned elsewhere on the web to share with members of your team.

See how The Weather Channel used Storify to collect stories about the latest winter storm.

I would just like to note that I was not compensated in way to write this post. I just think that Storify is a powerful tool that non-profits could use to raise awareness.

What do you think? Is Storify a tool for your non-profit? Do you already use Storify? If so, what do you believe to be most impactful when using the service? Share answers to any of these questions below in the comments section. I’d love to hear from you!
Marissa sig

Creating a Social Media Policy for Your Nonprofit


We live in an age where information can be shared in less than a blink of an eye. Social media has made it possible to share photos, videos, and updates from anywhere. While this can be an exciting time and social networking can be fun, it is social-media-policy-examplesimportant to make sure there are guidelines in place for your nonprofit when it comes to participation in social media. Today we are going to take a look at questions to ask yourself when forming your social media policy for your organization.

There are two parts to forming a social media policy:

  1. Managing your organization’s social media presence
  2. Guidelines for employees’ personal use of social media and its reflection on your agency

When it comes to writing the first part of your social media policy, keep in mind the following questions:

  • Who on your staff is allowed to update social networks on behalf of your organization? Is it just one person? Is it a team of people? What skills should the person/people responsible for social media updates have?
  • In which social networks should your organization participate? Every network might not be right for your organization. Take some time to do some research and find out which networks are the most important in which to be involved. If your agency is already established on certain social media sites already reflect on if the community is active on this site and if it is worth maintaining. If in your agency doesn’t participate in a site is important to claim a log in on the network to so that no one else claims your organization’s voice on that network.
  • What type of updates are allowed? Nonprofit information can be highly sensitive. Deciding what information can and cannot be shared is critical. This includes deciding who can be included in photos and videos.
  • When can information be shared? Beyond what information can be shared, when it can be shared is also important to think about as well. For example, when can you announce an upcoming special event? Or announce a staff change?
  • What email should be used to set up accounts? You may want to consider creating a social@yourorganziation.org type email address to use by staff when creating new social media profiles for your organizations. This will maintain consistency even if the staff responsible for updating the network changes.
    SMpolicylines1
  • Do updates need to be approved before posting? If so, creating a content calendar might be helpful to help plan out updates to get approved.

When creating a social media personal use policy for your organizations staff, keep these questions in mind:

  • If an employee is listed as working for your organization anywhere online are there certain things about your organization that this employee can or cannot say? It is important for the employee to understand that they are a reflection on the organization and if they are caught saying certain things will there be consequences?
  • Are your employees allowed to use their own personal social media profiles on behalf of the organization and interact with supporters? If so, are there guidelines?
  • Can employees share photos from events or from within the office on their personal social media sites? If so, are there any restrictions?

These are just a few questions to keep in mind when forming a social media policy. As you can imagine it can be quite a project to undertake, but once you have one in place, your nonprofit’s social media presence can thrive under the guidelines you put in place. It is important to note that policies like this might have to be approved by a Board of Directors or overseen by an attorney. Also as a disclaimer, I am not an attorney, so please just take my questions as suggestions and a starting point when forming a social media policy. If you are looking for examples of social media policies, you can check out this site.

Have you put together a social media policy for your organization? What were some best practices you can share with DonorDreams readers? We’d love to hear from you in the comment section below!

Marissa sig

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