Nonprofits & Technology

Twitter Sources for Keeping up with Nonprofit News

Twitter Sources for Keeping up with Nonprofit News

Keeping up with the news in our industry can be time-consuming. I utilize Twitter to keep up to date on nonprofit and technology news, recent trends, and interesting reads. This week, Erin Feldman of Giving Local American compiled a list of 100 Giving Influencers on Twitter. The list is an interesting and comprehensive collection of individuals who would be great to follow on Twitter.

When I’m looking to catch up on news or in need of quality links for the blog, I look to these twelve individuals and organizations on Twitter:

Allison Fine – @Afine – Is also on the Giving Local list. Allison is a writer, podcast host, and thought leader. I really enjoy her podcasts!

Amy Sample Ward – @amyrsward – Amy is the CEO of NTEN and consistently shares interesting content related to technology and nonprofits.

Andre Blackman – @mindofandre – Andre is a recent follow for me and I’m enjoying his tweets. He posts great content about digital communication and healthcare.

Heidi Garland – @GuildWest – I know Heidi through my work at the American Cancer Society, but we only recently connected on Twitter. I’ve been missing out! Heidi is a marketing and social media expert. She shares excellent and insightful content.

Mary Cahalane – @mcahalane – Someone who also made the Giving Local list, Mary is a fundraiser and consultant. Her blog posts are often included in our link round-ups!

Michael Chae – @mchae – A friend and former supervisor, Michael’s tweets are always interesting and uplifting. Michael’s Twitter engagement is what I strive for.

Paulette Bleam – @paulettebleam – A community engagement expert and director of social media at Sumazi. Paulette shares well-rounded and fascinating links. And makes me want to travel more often!

Shana Masterson – @npshana – Shana is a former colleague whose Twitter feed is perfectly aligned with what I find interesting. Fun fact – when I’m in a pinch and needs links for the weekly blog post, Shana is the first twitter account that I look at!

Steve MacLaughlin – @SMacLaughlin – A product manager at Blackbaud, Steve always has quality links related to fundraising and analytics.

The Nonprofit Quarterly – @npquarterly – A consistent source for news about nonprofits, governance, management, trends, and fundraising.

Yesenia Sotelo – @silverbell – A nonprofit technology consultant who provides excellent insight on social media, websites, and all nonprofit tech.

#Fundchat – @fundchat – In addition to their weekly chat, they are a great source for fundraising news and trends.

If you’re interested in diving into more news, check out the following links. And not surprisingly, many of these were found in @npshana’s Twitter feed.

  1. A new study shows that photos had the lowest organic reach on Facebook posts. Martin Beck from Marketing Land outlines the data.
  2. Alex Daniels and Maria Di Mento from the Chronicle of Philanthropy highlights the changing dynamics of the Philanthropy 50 and the giving patterns of major donors from the technology industry.
  3. Subject lines are something that I struggle with. These tips from Steve Aedy at Socialfish are helpful!
  4. Aaron Hurst, CEO of Imperative, discusses the science of creating a mission statement and shares the tool that Imperative created
  5. Do you have multiple users managing the same Twitter account? Tweetdeck now has functionality for users to share accounts without having to share passwords. Sadly, it’s not available on the Mac app yet. Greg Kumparak from Techcrunch provides step-by-step setup.
Planning for Future Technology and Communication Needs

Planning for Future Technology and Communication Needs

We’ve been working with a client on strengthening how they use Salesforce. During this process, I’ve realized that their Bucket set-up is no longer the best option for their organization. A one-to-one model makes more sense. If you’re curious about the difference click here. When the organization set up their Salesforce account, a bucket model made more sense. After ten years, their audience and data needs have changed.

How do you balance short-term ease and long-term flexibility? What may be the easiest and most cost-effective solution may cause issues in the future. Strategic plans can (sometimes) be beneficial, but for technology and communications planning, it’s impossible to plan five years in the future. For small nonprofits, this is a critical challenge. How can you justify investing in a more comprehensive online fundraising platform if you’re concerned about keeping the lights on.

As you’re thinking about the future, there are a few trends to consider for planning. Below we highlight a few questions to consider for each area.

Text Messages

Do you see any possibility of utilizing text messaging to communicate with your supporters? If so, what could that program look like? Who is your target audience? What segmentation would you want to create?

Mapping out these ideas is important to do before looking for vendors to help with this issue. Balancing strategy and technological capability can be tricky. You want to find the technology to meet your needs, instead of developing your strategy based off of the limitations of the product you signed a contract for.

Mobile App Development

Our industry is fraught with people claiming to have the silver bullet to solve your fundraising or visibility problems. Social media will not single-handedly create a new donor base. A “viral” video will not make your cause an overnight sensation. A major gifts officer cannot bring their robust rolodex and create a major gifts program overnight.

Some nonprofits have developed mobile applications to support their work. The successful apps are solving an issue and providing a convenience for the user. While mobile applications can have value, they won’t succeed without a purpose. Who is your target audience? Why should they download this? What solution, convenience, or entertainment are you providing for the user? How does this tie into your mission?  These questions are critical to consider as you think about app development.

Database Management

This can be one of the most challenging areas to project. Your audience and communication channels will change. Your pipeline for programming or donations will evolve.

There are many questions to consider when thinking about your database in the future. Do you project your audience groups changing? How do you plan on connecting your database to outbound communication? At what rate has your database been growing? Do you foresee any reasons that growth may increase or decrease? Do you think that the relationship management of your constituents will change?

These questions are a starting point for your organization to begin discussions around how you plan for your changing technology and communication needs in the future.

Below are a few links from the last week that we enjoyed:

  1. When accidentally sent a text message intended for 4,000 people to their 2.1million list, they had to react quickly to avoid a fall-out. The Chronicle of Philanthropy provides the details on their response.
  2. January is critical to donor retention. Allison Gauss of Stay Classy shares the reasons why.
  3. Carolyn Stein of Network For Good updates year end online giving numbers.
  4. Someone who I recently followed on Twitter and highly recommend is Sheena Greer. I enjoyed her playdate concept and the need for creating safe spaces for nonprofit professionals.
  5. And the recommended longer read of the week is from Steve Boland of NPQ who details advantages, challenges, and data with different giving day structures.

Assessing How You’re Allocating Your Time

Assessing How You’re Allocating Your Time

The change in calendar year, is a great time to evaluate your nonprofit’s goals and how you spent your time. Many organizations allocate time in January to evaluate the prior year, cementing strategy for the new year, and outline goals.

If you’re in the midst of this process, it’s time to ask – what program, tool, or strategy absorbs more of your time and energy than you want it to? Do you struggle to keep up with your Instagram account? Do you spend far more time writing blog posts than you want to? Is there an event with net income that may not be worth the amount of staff and volunteer time used? Are you investing a lot of communication resources on a message that isn’t resonating with your audience?

When assessing your communication and fundraising strategies, you will look at what the outcomes and goals will be. It’s important to also consider the opportunity cost. If you were to stop implementing an event or social media tool and invested that time in another area, would it lead to a healthier and more successful organization? This is an opportune time of the year to review how you’re spending your week.

Below are a few links from the last few weeks that we thought you might enjoy. Many are making 2015 prognostications.

  1. Cindy King of Social Media Examiner discusses 28 social media marketing predictions for 2015.
  2. Amber Leigh Turner of TNW outlines the web design trends for 2015.
  3. Our friends at M&R Consulting predict what they expect to see in 2015.
  4. Robin Strohmaier of R&R Web Design shares social media trends for 2015.
  5. Mark Hager and Elizabeth Searing of NPQ offer a sarcastic and thoughtful list of ten ways to kill your nonprofit.
  6. Research from the Kellogg School of Management tackles the question – what do donors need to hear to open their wallets?


Cross-Channel Promotion and #GivingTuesday

Cross-Channel Promotion and #GivingTuesday

In honor of the short holiday week, we bring you a short blog post!
As your organization makes final preparations for #GivingTuesday and end of year fundraising, be sure to consider all of the channels you use when communicating with your constituents from now until January 1st. These can include, but by no means are limited, to the following:


  1. Social Media Updates
  2. Email
  3. Website Content
  4. Blog
  5. Direct Mail
  6. Holiday Cards
  7. Videos
  8. Personal Emails & Signatures
  9. Out of Office Messages
  10. Voicemails
  11. Holiday Parties
These are all potential opportunities for you to make your fundraising pitch. All places to bring your finely crafted fundraising messaging to the masses. All potential touch points with individuals who otherwise may not have interacted with your organization by donating.
We’ve offered advice in the past about how to stand outwhat to do without data, and focusing on the why of your nonprofit. But considering all your communication opportunities, beyond the ones strictly in your communication plan, can also help reach a broader number of potential donors.
Looking for everything we have to say on fundraising? Check out our “Fundraising” category here on our site. And finally, a few links to enjoy over the long weekend.


  1. Chris Taylor of Reuters explores consumer’s frustration of point-of-purchase retail fundraising.
  2. Dev Battles shares seven website design trends you’ll be seeing more of 2015.
  3. What happens when data goes wrong? John Brothers of NPQ describes some of the issues from a United Way of Rutherford and Cannon Counties report that describes them as “more efficient than other nonprofits”. Unfortunately, the data used was wrong.
Finding Better Stock Photography

Finding Better Stock Photography

As websites and mobile devices become more visuals friendly, nonprofits and businesses alike are in need of more and more images. But finding hi-resolution, high quality images can seem like a daunting task, especially for those with a limited budget.

Luckily, services exist to provide stock photography, for lack of a better phrase, that doesn’t suck. Sites like Little Visuals and Death to the Stock Photo are services that email you pictures on a pre-determined basis, providing you fresh content throughout the year. Other services update directly to their site. Here are a few of our favorites:


A joint project between the Bells Design creative studio and artist Ryan McGuire, these photos are free to use for the general public.

New Old Stock

Vintage photos found in public archives, these images are great for blog posts.


Bright, colorful images that capture people, places, and things, essential during any website redesign.


Beautiful images of mostly scenes or scenic environments, all the photos on this site are under a public domain license, meaning you can use them without attribution.

Want the picture perfect way to end your week? Check out some links below. As always, follow us on Tumblr for updates throughout the week.

  1. Lucy Bernholz writes a thoughtful and reasonable blog post what nonprofits are for and the current disputes that have arisen from lawsuits and tax code changes.
  2. In an equally contemplative piece, Sean Chisholm from StayClassy discusses the challenges that stem from data that shows that some suggested fundraising best practices cause nonprofits to reinforce negative stereotype.
  3. Two links this week address the relationship between corporate and nonprofit communities. Entrepreneur highlights four reasons that startups dedicated to social responsibility succeed more often than those that don’t. While Mark Malinowski shares how corporate and nonprofits can act in a more activist role.
  4. MailChimp analyzed the emails sent through their system and provides suggestions on time/day of the week to optimize your email. You can even learn the best time to email Norwegian bartenders.
  5. examines ex data that nonprofits with an annual fund are much more successful at reaching their financial goals.
Nonprofit Websites and Broken Links

Nonprofit Websites and Broken Links

Your organization’s website is one of the most important communication tools that you have at your disposal. But too often, nonprofits neglect this vital tool. Below, we capture the three main pages to monitor as you manage your organization’s website.

Donation Pages

Far too often in our work thus far, we have found nonprofits that have broken links related to their donation platform. The importance of your donation page is obvious – taking the time to make sure that your website directs to the correct platform (and that your account is still live) is critical for maintaining ongoing online fundraising.


Many nonprofits host resources on their website – either of their own creation or links to other websites. If linking to other websites, you must periodically check to ensure that your link is directing to the proper location. Because other websites might reformat or rename their pages and documents, links and URL’s that once worked may no longer be valid. For one of our clients, a link that was meant to go to a wonderful resource of another nonprofit now directed to an inappropriate website. Periodically review your resources page, click on the links available, and verify that you are directing your visitors to the proper pages.

Contact Information

Lastly, as new employees and volunteers are onboarded within your organization, it is important to monitor your contact information page. Even if you change the text that appears on the page (for example, from to – the redirect to that email address may be incorrect unless you also changed the HTML code. Click on all the email addresses listed on your contact information to ensure that anyone trying to contact your organization is being sent to the correct, live email address or phone number.

Don’t have the time to review each page of your website individually? Check out this online broken link checker to see if there are areas of your website that need some updating.

Looking for more updates? Follow us on Tumblr.

  1. Interested in having a free organization strategy review? University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business Professor Michael Lenox is taking requests from businesses and nonprofits to be reviewed by his summer students. Click here for more information.
  2. Want to have an effective brainstorming meeting? Try opening up the floor before you step into the room.
  3. Twitter now supports .gifs! Mashable shares the news. Gif fans are excited.
  4. NPQ provides a long-form analysis of data from the Giving USA 2014: The Annual Report on Philanthropy for the Year 2013.
  5. A lawsuit is trying to force the IRS to convert nonprofit 990s to digital form instead of pdfs. PND has the latest details.
  6. This week’s #Fundchat tackled strategies for wooing new donors.
  7. Two of the smartest folks in the nonprofit/technology world – Allison Fine and Amy Sample Ward – have a very thoughtful conversation about net neutrality and the impact on nonprofits in Fine’s podcast, Social Good.


Nonprofit Summer Reading

Nonprofit Summer Reading

As summer approaches NTEN began a discussion on their message board that discusses the best nonprofit summer reading. While some folks escape work with their summer reading selections, we tend to relax with the non-fiction variety. We’ve provided a few books for your perusal as you build your summer reading list.


Made to Stick – Chip & Dan Heath – We’ve captured the main points of this book in a previous blog post about simplifying your complex narrative, but we wanted to include it here again. This book simply and directly captures that elements that make some stories more memorable and effective than others.

Start with Why – Simon Sinek – Broken down simply, Simon Sinek details that people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it. In studying the leaders who have had the greatest influence in the world, the book captures that they all think, act, and communicate in similar fashions. People like Martin Luther King Jr., Steve Jobs, and the Wright Brothers might have little in common, but they all started with why. I frequently return to this book and its passages when stuck on a problem; his direct way of reminding you that the why is of the utmost importance has gotten me to see the bigger picture of problems, and be able to be more effective because of it.


Moneyball – Michael Lewis – Most of you have likely read this book or watched the movie. While it can be a divisive subject for sports fan, it was published a few years after I started my nonprofit career and greatly influenced my work. For small and mid-sized nonprofits to survive they need to look for market inefficiencies, take calculated risks, and properly evaluate staff and volunteer talent. I re-read this book every 4-5 years and this summer is a great time for you to revisit it.

The Powers to Lead – Joseph S. Nye Jr. – The book focuses on evaluating leadership attributes. It leans heavily on history, research, and case studies which I find more compelling than anecdotal stories.

The Nerdist Way – Chris Hardwick – This is definitely an out-of-the-box selection. Hardwick’s book is a mix of self-help and biography. This book covers a lot of different areas but the sections on time management and seizing your inner monologue have been very helpful for me.


If you’re looking for some interesting reading in electronic form, check out our Tumblr. For further reading, here are a few highlights from last week. This will be our only blog post this week. We’ll be returning the week of May 26.

  1. Karen Anderson from LYDIA Urban Academy shares five ways to fundraise more effectively in the education sector.
  2. Social Media Today discusses where social media should fit in your organization.
  3. Twitter announced a mute button is coming! Digital Trends has the details.
  4. The Chronicle of Philanthropy hosted an online chat that discussed opportunities to increase fundraising based on donor data.
  5. The Atlantic published an article this week that led to a bit of debate. If you haven’t read it yet, it focuses on the reasons that criticism is vital for philanthropy.
  6. Finally, in a bit of crossover from our personal and professional lives – Network for Good highlights four things that nonprofits can learn from the NBA playoffs.
Weekly Roundup for April 25

Weekly Roundup for April 25

Meetings, deadlines, and computer issues, oh my! A busy week for Social Change Consulting culminates with our favorite activity – the sharing of links.

Follow our Tumblr for links throughout the week. Here were a few of our favorites:

  1. Business 2 Community discusses the tangible cost of saying ““We Can’t Afford Fundraising Software.”
  2. Do you struggle to write evergreen content for your blog? Kevan Lee shares a great guide for evergreen content ideas.
  3. SmartCause Digital tackles seven SEO tips to help your nonprofit’s website.
  4. One of our favorites, Dan Pallotta, discusses the benefits walking can have for your productivity.
  5. Socially responsible shopping is continuing to grow and Fast Company details the current trends compared to traditional giving.
  6. And to end your week on an adorable note, Mashable highlights a photo campaign created in support of
Nonprofits and Password Protection

Nonprofits and Password Protection

Following the fallout from the HeartBleed bug over the last couple of weeks, it is apparent that many folks, both within and outside the nonprofit community, need to update passwords on compromised sites.

But in addition to updating passwords, it is imperative that stronger systems for password creation and storage be used, regardless of your circumstances. In our work thus far, the number of times we’ve seen individuals, companies, and nonprofits alike use easy to crack passwords, or even the same password across multiple accounts, has been disconcerting.

With that in mind, we wanted to provide some simple steps to improving your password protection policies.

Don’t use the same password for all accounts


While using multiple passwords should be common sense, the fact remains that having more than one password can be difficult to remember in some circumstances. Add in the fact that most systems require capitalization, punctuation, numbers, and character minimums, and it can be extremely difficult to remember these passwords by memory alone.

Add in the fact that for nonprofits, many of these passwords need to be shared with multiple employees, staff members, and in some cases volunteers, and you have a system in place that makes it difficult to have meaningful variety in your security measures.

Regardless – the downsides of having one password still outweigh the positives. If your password is compromised, so is every account associated with those credentials. This could mean your social media accounts, email, and database could all be corrupted if just one account is compromised.

Create a system


Safeguarding your passwords doesn’t need to be complicated or expensive – it just needs to be more than what you are likely doing.

Sharing a Google doc or a shared file (using an internal network, Box, or Dropbox would work) is one way – that way you can capture usernames, websites, and passwords. Word of warning, though. If this document is lost or stolen, then all of your account information is gone with it.

A safer route is to use a service dedicated to protecting passwords. These services (including 1Password, LastPass, and PasswordBox) do all of the heavy lifting for you by storing your websites, passwords, and other login credentials. These services also provide password generators, meaning that for each site has its own truly randomized password. Both 1Password and LastPass are currently having a sale following the HeartBleed bug so that you can try out their services for less.

What happens if your account is breached


Even with these safety measures in place, accidents or deliberate breaches can happen. What is important is that you reset passwords immediately, inform anyone who may have received a message or notification of the problem, and to determine what safeguards may have failed. By being proactive, you will prevent these issues from happening in the future.

It is also important that if someone with access to important passwords or information leaves the organization, especially if under poor terms, you should immediately change these credentials so as to avoid any potential inappropriate access.

As the world continues to move more and more into the online space, it is important to be mindful of how this technology can both help and hurt you. Being diligent on password protections and policies is one step in having these new platforms work for you, instead of against you.

Don’t forget to check out Tumblr for more tips and tricks throughout the week. Onto other news:

  1. We’ve talked about executives on Twitter before – now, StayClassy captured some of the most inspiring posts of late from nonprofit leaders.
  2. Looking for a leadership opportunity? Stanford is currently accepting applications to their Executive Program for Nonprofit Leaders.
  3. There seem to be endless advice columns on the best way to manage your email inbox. But we think this one has some new insights.
Weekly Roundup for March 28

Weekly Roundup for March 28

Everyone gets busy from time to time – but no one should be too busy to check out some of our favorite articles from this past week.  Don’t forget to check out Tumblr for additional inspiration.

  1. Craigconnects presents an interesting infographic that attempts to crack the crowdfunding code. Beth Kanter provides great commentary and opinion on the infographic.
  2. Facebook’s algorithm continues to provide headaches for communication professionals. This week Social Media Explorer discusses how Facebook is blackmailing brands into paying for Ads. For those that are paying for ads, Mashable outlines three strategies for better performance.
  3. Exciting new for data nerds – Twitter is testing a way to show how many views a tweet has received underneath each post. Social News Daily provides the details.
  4. Millennials continue to be a hot topic. Two articles this week shared thoughts on potential millennial impact. The NonProfit Times comments on a recent poll by the Clinton Global Initiative University, while NPQ shares an article that outlines the impact this group can have.
  5. Is your newsletter struggling? Ragan shares 10 ways to freshen up your newsletters.
  6. Mashable wrote an in-depth review of Facebook’s Paper and the impact it might have. It’s a great read if you’re trying to learn more about the app.
  7. Finally, we like showing a few examples of successful events or campaigns in this space. Amplify Austin raised $5.7m in 24 hours. Community-based fundraising pushes can be challenging for some nonprofits as they absorb can a lot of energy with inconsistent results, so we’re happy to see the success of this campaign.