Non profits

Fun-Learning-Me! CAUSE CAMP 3/26-27

Listen! I’m booked to speak at Cause Camp 2018 and I’d love you to join me.  There are still some seats left for this intimate, lively, and FUN learning experience coming up March 26-27.  So please.. Register today, for either the in-person (in Lincoln, NE) or online conference. Use the promo code NANCY for $50 off!

Here’s why I’m speaking at Cause Camp this year. Dig in—I think you’ll see why you should join me there:

  • Heard how great CC is from so many colleagues and client organizations. These recommendations are solid as most of these folks participate in a lot of nonprofit learning opportunities and have years of expertise in the field. A.K.A., they know what they’re talking about!
  • They say Cause Camp’s:
    • Intimate learning opportunity is unequaled. You get to know co-participants over the course of the gathering and leave with a slew of powerful brainstorming relationships.
    • Unique single-track-design (all participants go through the conference sessions together, as a single group) ensures you get to learn from EVERY best-of-the-best session and benefit from the cross-pollination of points of view across functions, from EDs, to grant managers, program staff, and fundraisers..
    • Modest registration fees (under $100 for online participation, and under $300 for in-person, with meals, and entertainment included; even less with the $50 off NANCY promo code) makes the conference community super inclusive. As a result, you’ll meet many more folks (and learn from their varied perspectives and experiences) than at a “traditional” conference.
    • Sassy, innovative, all-about-the-participants spirit means lots of super fun together time. You’ll return to work rejuvenated, refueled, and full of doable, make-a-difference tactics that you CAN start putting into action that same day to generate real results. 

Register for Cause Camp today; in-person or online, it’s up to you!
Use the promo code NANCY for $50 off!

Take a look at this recent participant’s feedback:

  • Cause Camp is an introvert’s dream. There aren’t thousands of participants running around, nor multiple tracks to choose from every hour. You’re in a single comfortable room, with 300 of your closest nonprofit friends, face-to-face with the best speakers in Nonprofit Management. And you can even <gulp> talk with the speakers throughout the conference!

    The curriculum itself covers topics more deeply and more practically than any webinar or article you’ll find online. Come for the relaxed and engaging vibe, and stay for the superb knowledge sharing and relationship building!” — Carrie Rice, Membership Director, Congregation Sherith Israel

And this glowing review from the 2018 Best Nonprofit Conferences Calendar

Cause Camp isn’t just another nonprofit conference …it’s an experience. The Cause Camp equation is simple and foolproof: It’s designed to spark inspiration and learning from some of the biggest names in the nonprofit and for-profit sectors, enabling participants to…truly change the sector and evolve the way they organization run. Attendees will leave with more than just field notes; they’ll leave the relationships and tools needed to create change – immediately.

It’s now or never.  Register for Cause Camp today; for the in-person or online experience! You’ll make my day.
Use the promo code NANCY for $50 off!

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Categories: Non profits

Last-Minute Valentines: Still time!

From soulful to silly, heartfelt to heavy, no matter the approach, organizations like yours are using Valentine’s Day to get attention and motivate the actions they need this week and beyond. You still have time to leverage Valentine’s Day TODAY if you act now.

The secret sauce here is piggybacking on what’s top of mind. Your people are already thinking about this stuff, so are far more likely to connect with your Valentine’s mini-campaign right now. They’ve been helping their kids write out cards for the entire class, buying that last-minute box of chocolates for their partner, or grabbing a bunch of roses on the way home from work. 

They couldn’t forget Valentine’s Day even if they wanted to. So use St. Valentine as a springboard to engagement. That’s Relevance Rules Messaging! Here’s how:

1) Find your cause’s genuine connection to love. It’s crystal clear for causes/issues like heart health, blood and organ donation and human services. The link may be less evident for other causes but is often findable with a bit of probing. Brainstorm with your colleagues over coffee asap.

CAUTION: If you can’t find a natural-ish connection, or just don’t have the time to dig deep, skip Valentine’s Day based-messaging this year. Otherwise, you’ll risk losing credibility and distracting your people from what’s important to them (and to you).

2) Make your Valentine’s campaign (both graphic and narrative elements) short, punchy, and to the point, without minimizing your cause and community. This is a minor holiday; not a solemn day of remembrance or a religious marker. It’s a launchpad for your message, nothing else.
See below (#3).

3) Go micro this year via Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or maybe a super short email. That’s all you have time for at this point. Sharing donor love is a perennial winner. Here are three other inspirations I’ve seen this week:

Cupid or Stupid? This Valentine’s Day, designate a sober driver.  #DriveSober

— (@WRAP_org) February 13, 2018


A cheeky reminder to our supporters that Valentine’s Day is around the corner and @project.meow is one of the charities you can choose for #AmazonSmile! Click and Amazon donates to Project Meow.

Categories: Non profits

How to Spot & Gather Strong Stories

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

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

Whether you see this disconnect in your org or not, you’ll get better stories (and more of them) when you make it easy for story gatherers to identify, collect, and share them. Here’s how:

1) Clarify Who Does What

There are five steps in the nonprofit storytelling process. Make sure you define who does what in your organization, so each step gets done.

The first order of business is to figure out the single person who “owns” organizational storytelling; the “story boss.” Typically that person is part of the fundraising or communications team, and figures out who can best handle these responsibilities:

  • Identify stories that will bring audiences close and motivate them to take the actions you need (typically the story boss works on this, solo or with colleagues)
  • Collect your stories. Some story bosses ask collectors for essential data then follow up to build out the facts and graphics themselves. Others ask colleagues to gather most of the story (a rough draft), following up themselves to fill in as necessary. Vital but often overlooked step: Permission from the subjects of your stories and photos!
  • Develop your stories. Whether starting from an outline or a rough draft, someone has to build out and polish stories, then add a memorable photo or graphic. The difference between flat delivery of information and a well-crafted story is enormous! Clear guidelines, well-communicated, go far in reducing the story revision workload.
  • Catalog and store your stories. The story boss usually sets up a story bank to make stories accessible to all organizational storytellers (think broad here). Tag each story with topic or program, collector, date, subject’s name, and place gathered to make it easily accessible.
    NOTE: You may want to make your story bank available to the public, as Mom’s Rising does here.
  • Share stories. Stories are worthless until they’re shared. The story boss typically spearheads asking, training, and supporting colleagues, donors, volunteers, and other supporters to be confident and effective storytellers.

2) Ask, Guide, and Remind Colleagues to Gather the Right Stories

As much as story gathering and telling may be top of your mind, most of your colleagues have other priorities. Make it easier for them to source the best stories with these three tactics:

  • Email your story collectors a single prompt weekly or twice monthly help them identify strong stories. Here are a few examples:
    • Your volunteer brigade gave a huge assist to the Green Team project last month. Is there a volunteer or two who stepped forward in a significant role for the first time? If so, what did she do and what drives her passion?
    • I heard that several clients in the young adults with autism program graduated last week. Is there one new graduate who stands out as entering the program facing significant challenges and making incredible progress in surprising ways?
    • Tell me about a long-term donor you had a great conversation or email exchange with this week. What drew them initially to our organization, and what keeps them giving and loyal?
  • Share stories you’re using now to kickoff all-staff or team meetings on a weekly or monthly basis. Highlight why these stories are so compelling. Better yet, ask your colleagues who sourced the stories to do so.
  • Let folks know what key messages you need to highlight in right-now marketing and fundraising campaigns. Then show them examples of existing stories that illustrate each one, and ask them for more like those.

3) Make It Simple to Log and Submit Stories

Simplify the way your story gatherers log stories and submit details, and the more good stories you’ll get. Try this:

  • Create a brief form for gatherers to complete. Here’s a great example from storytelling guru Vanessa Chase.
  • The form can be either hard copy (best if most gatherers aren’t on computers or tablets when they capture story details) or a Google form.
  • If gatherers can log story data online, it’s far easier for your story boss to check them in, then develop and share.

Get this story collection process into place now to start reaping the benefits. To meaningful, memorable stories!

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Categories: Non profits

Turn Colleagues into Powerful 2018 Fundraisers

We’re springboarding into 2018 fundraising with all of its challenges. Tax bill, anyone?

Joking aside, it may seem like your team’s hard work and limited resources aren’t enough. You know how much you could bring in, if only…

Good news! There is a way to move past this seemingly insurmountable barrier—Launch a team of messengers to drive your 2018 campaigns to a strong finish. Enlist your colleagues and board members to boost your nonprofit’s reach and relationships for little or no cost. The best part? They’re already motivated to help you reach your goals.

Take these three steps to identify, inspire, and launch your giving ambassadors:

1) Focus messengers on a particular campaign element
When it comes to messages, less is more. Define a clear and narrow goal for your team of messengers—It could be talking up your current campaign to friends and family over coffee or Kahlua, or urging their peeps to give the moment a leading gift comes in the door.

A super-specific focus makes it easier for you to train your messengers, and more likely they’ll feel confident and competent in spreading the word to their personal networks.

2) Select your messengers with care
Identify a small group of folks most likely to succeed as your first team of messengers. I recommend you start in-house with selected colleagues for your first time out (it’s a learning opportunity for all of you—add in board members and other supporters down the line). Select colleagues with a public-facing staff role, robust network (social media network, in-person relationships, or both), and/or the personality to be an effective messenger. You can mix and match these traits to recruit a powerhouse team of fundraisers, but passion has to be a common denominator.

3) Ask for their help and tell them what they’ll get in return
When you ask your people to be messengers, explain how they’ll make a real difference in driving donations this year and beyond. Then, give them a step-by-step description of what you want them to do.

Most importantly, stress the WIIFM (what’s in it for me or what they’re going to get out of it personally). WIIFM may be the opportunity to do something outside of their till-now job descriptions, honing their speaking and fundraising skills, or doing everything they can to ensure you move your mission forward.

These first messengers are your “guinea pigs.” Be straight about that, thanking them in advance for joining you in productive experimentation. Keep the total number manageable—far better to succeed on a small scale now and build from there.

Take these three steps NOW to build your in-house team of fundraising ambassadors. They’ll boost your reach and results. Trust me; it’s going to be a productive 2018!

More tips and techniques for launching your team of ambassadors:

  • Extend Reach & Results w/Your All-Org Team of Messengers
  • Let Your People Do the Talking 
  • Stop the Communications-Program Tug of War

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Categories: Non profits

Photos to Ignite Year-End & Protect Privacy

Flickr: Martha Coakley

Dear Nancy: I saw how stories about our clients—powered by a photo or two—fueled our last two year-end campaigns. They were highly successful and I planned to feature the same kind of profiles this year.

That plan changed radically last month when our social workers urged us to put our clients’ privacy first and stop using client photos. Our staff has agreed to respect their expertise and honor their request.

What are some practical alternatives I can put to work in these last few weeks? And how do I move forward with client photos in the future, as our stories aren’t as strong without them?

Answer: You’re facing a tough situation, but you can still mobilize stories and photos in your year-end campaign.

You’re 100% right to rely on stories as a quick and reliable emotional hook. Photos help bring your stories (and your people) to life. They make it quick and easy for prospects and donors to feel like they’re “meeting” your protagonist. The more real your protagonists, the more supporters will relate to them personally, e.g., this could be my friend, my family, or even me.

When you connect the dots between your organization’s impact and what supporters already know and care about (such as their family’s and friends’ well-being), you’ll do better at building build trust and rapport with them.

There’s more—Your stories about individuals who have benefited from your donors’ gifts show supporters the impact of their donations, which brings them closer. In turn, they’re more likely to donate again now and in the future, and to share your organization’s stories and successes with friends and family.

How to Handle this Year’s Year-End Campaign

Time is short. You’re probably nearing the finish line on this year’s campaign although digital platforms enable last-minute revisions (blessing and curse, right?) Take these three steps to fine-tune this year’s campaign to ignite the greatest giving possible given your unexpected constrictions:

1) DON’T use client photos as is for this year-end campaign.

Trust your social workers’ understanding of what is best for your organization’s beneficiaries. Despite the unfortunate timing of their request, your mission comes first. Respect their expertise.

2) DO feature client stories and testimonials with any or all of these adjustments as guided by your social worker colleagues:

  • Change client names
  • Revise story details to make protagonists unrecognizable
  • Create a composite story based on a few individuals to illustrate a fuller picture of your program or service.

3) DO use any or all of the following to illustrate your beneficiary stories:

  • Photos of staff members or volunteers (for example, a staff nurse giving a flu shot to a client whose back is turned to the camera or a volunteer team packing bags of food for Thanksgiving distribution)
  • Use edited client photos with faces obscured, individuals positioned, or shots cropped so that the individuals won’t be recognized. You should have releases from subjects even if they can’t be identified, and clear this approach with your social workers.
    • We have experimented with non-identifying photos of the child and photos of volunteers and parents. To our surprise, some of these photos have proven to be even more powerful than the kids’ expressions of excitement,” says Angela Crist, executive director of Findlay Hope House.
  • Feature photos of elements central to your client’s story such as the set of keys and drivers license pictured below.
  • Stock photos.

Here are two creative examples of memorable photos that protect client privacy.

Advocates Inc. Facebook Cover Photo

From the Findlay Hope House Facebook Page:

We are so excited to share that Isaiah, recent Getting Ahead Grad, passed his driving test and is now a licensed driver! So many future successes depend on having a driver’s license, so this was one of his top goals during Getting Ahead.

Isaiah says: “Back when I did my classes a few months ago, I set one of my goals to get my license. As of 10:50 this morning I’m proud to announce that for the first time in my life (turned 33 in September) I am an officially-licensed driver!”

Congrats to Isaiah! We are certain this is his first big accomplishment of many!

CAVEAT: If you use stock photos, change story details or client names, or create composite stories, say so!

Here’s a model disclaimer from fundraising copywriter Lisa Sargent: “At [org name] we respect everyone who comes to us for help – and many are working toward a fresh start in life. So while their stories are true, client names and images may have been changed to protect their privacy. Thank you for understanding.”

Watch for a follow-up post! Photos are too valuable a fundraising tool to forego. I’ll guide you on partnering with your program team and other colleagues to shape a photo policy satisfactory to all.

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Categories: Non profits