Speaking the Same Language

Speaking the Same Language

A friend of SCC forwarded along an article that captures the creatures you meet in both the average and important meetings for your organization.

The characters, or creatures, in this blog post resonated with us because we can see ourselves in one or more of the archetypes described (to be honest – I’m a mix of a Sally and a Larry, but a self-aware Larry who wishes others would realize I was one).

But on top of the creatures, what this article truly captures is the lack of communication that can derail even the best meetings and intentions. It can be easy to be stuck within ruts and roles, where each person in that meeting isn’t communicating their own needs. But just as importantly, in falling into these traps and roles, your team isn’t effectively communicating the best interests of the organization.

These meetings break down because of a key reason – no one is speaking the same language. Larry is subtlety trying to indicate that they aren’t needed in the current discussion by working throughout. Chatty Patty is likely overcompensating for a lack of preparedness for the conversation by talking to no end. Two of the characters identified as crucial are literally people who translate and synthesize information so that others can understand – so that everyone in the meeting can speak the same language.

The downside of hosting meetings with key stakeholders that are speaking different languages isn’t just inefficiency. Whether these meetings involve staff, volunteers, fundraisers, or a board of directors, you run the risk of alienating your cast of characters by not identifying their individual perspectives. It is not enough just to be able to identify these creatures – it is necessary to also take advantage of the skills and knowledge of people in the room to more effectively help the organization, even if that means they get kicked out of the meeting.

Larry might not be the most useful in the meeting you are hosting, but he/she might be crucial in solving a crisis elsewhere in the organization. Patty may be taking up so much time in your meeting, but likely can build relationships with other stakeholders by his/her ability to hold court for long periods of time. The key is identifying strengths rather than weaknesses, and determining how that role fits within your organizational goals. To understand if your meeting needs these voices, and how best to appreciate and cultivate their perspectives within the decisions you need to make. To put each participant in the best situation to communicate their perspective in a way to improve the organization.

Why is each person in the room? Why is the meeting being held? Meetings should never be a one way conversation. Decisions should not be made without consultation of important parties. But understanding the value of inputs, and your own understanding of cultivating these perspectives, is crucial not only to meeting efficacy, but to organization morale and functionality. When hosting an important meeting, everyone in the room needs to not only be on the same proverbial page, but at the very least needs to be speaking the same language. And it is up to you to manage this process.

  1. Mary Mazzoni of Triple Pundit highlights the Adobe’s efforts to support creativity in youth and the education system.
  2. Recruiting a sponsor is just the first step. Chris Baylis of the Sponsorship Collective discusses the importance of planning for sponsorship activation.
  3. Shafaq Hasan of NPQ outlines how nonprofit Khan Academy is working with the College Board to offer a completely free interactive online SAT practice program.
  4. In need of advice on your Board of Directors? Liz Ragland of Network for Good interviewed Rachel Muir, vice president of training at Pursuant about how to motivate your Board and engage them as fundraisers.
The Wrong Way to SWOT

The Wrong Way to SWOT

The SWOT analysis is an effective and invaluable tool when considering strategic opportunities, regardless of business type or intention. For those uninitiated, SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. The analysis is typically organized in a grid, with Strengths and Weaknesses representing internal dynamics, and Opportunities and Threats analyzing outside elements.

We often deploy a SWOT analysis when starting a new project with a client – it provides us an opportunity, as outsiders, to get a better sense of where the organization feels they lie within the landscape. This tool has allowed us to best understand what objectives are most attainable as we launch new communications, data, or web based initiatives.

But too often, organizations deploy a SWOT analysis with a confirmation bias, rather than as an objective device to truly assess potential direction. That is, they use the SWOT to help confirm a decision they are already in the process of implementing, rather than using it to analyze what direction to move in.

The flaw in using it as confirmation of a process, vs. as an assessment of potential direction, lies in the subjective nature of completing the SWOT grid. If you already know what you want the outcome of your analysis to be, you can fill up your weaknesses and threats with items that validate your decision, instead of as their intended purpose of showing you areas of concern or opportunities to change strategy.

Successful strategy is reliant on taking an objective approach to your organization’s strengths and needs – by taking a tool designed to help define direction and repurpose it to confirm steps already taking place, you run the risk of continuing to move in the wrong direction.

Take the opportunity to catch up on reading for the week with these links:

  1. How important is your organization’s anniversary to your supporters? Jeff Brooks from Future Fundraising Now investigates this question.
  2. Two weeks ago we wrote about the need to change the narrative about overhead. In a thoughtful and related piece, Rachel Hutchisson of NPEngage discusses the issue and how to begin talking about “overhead”.
  3. Melonie Dodaro of Top Dog Social Media shares favorite social media tips from eight experts
  4. Your long-form read of the week is courtesy of John H. Vogel Jr. and Curtis R. Welling from NPQ, who write about a survey and potential approaches to nonprofit leadership transition.
The Immunity to Change Model

The Immunity to Change Model

Change is hard. Not exactly a revolutionary statement, but one that is important to consider as you try to embark on a new challenge or program. Both personally and professionally, changing behaviors and seeking new outcomes is inherently difficult. But why is it so difficult? And in what ways do we each contribute to slowing down this progress?

The Immunity to Change Model, pioneered by Robert Keegan and Lisa Lahey, attempts to help define these issues. In assessing the behaviors you commit that run counter to your goals, identifying areas where you may be unconsciously fighting against (like your immune system) your efforts, and analyzing the assumptions that you bring with you that stall your progress, they provide a basis for attempting to better understand the change process.

The model breaks down your improvement needs into the following steps through their Immunity Map:

Identify Your Goal

What have you been striving to accomplish that you just can’t seem to get off the ground? From a personal perspective, an easy analogy is the New Years’ Resolution. For an organization, these goals can include being more proactive on social media, updating your website, or finding a new revenue stream for fundraising.

Behaviors That Work Against Your Goal

Eating that bag of chips instead of a salad is a quick way to break your resolution to eat better. Similarly, relying on volunteers to continue to run your social media can be hindering your ability to be more proactive. Delaying progress on a new website because of resource limitations counts as a behavior counter to your goal as well, as does not attending a networking event or hesitating in making the ask to a donor when considering your longterm fundraising goals.

Hidden Competing Commitments

By far the most difficult area to identify in the model are your hidden competing commitments – the word hidden is used very deliberately here. What they mean by hidden commitments are the obligations and ideas that you may not realize are affecting your ability to change. Maybe you grabbed that bag of chips because the salad place had a long line, and you hate being late to meetings for fear of disappointing others. The fear of disappointing others is your hidden commitment – the main factor (while not obviously so) that is affecting your ability to carry out your improvement goal.

Organizationally, this can be even harder to identify, as numerous individuals may have reasons to delay or obfuscate new ideas or approaches. Using our previous examples, you may continue to rely on volunteers for social media because of the fear of seeming reckless of donor dollars if you invest in an area that’s value is not easily understood by most. Perhaps you keep delaying the new website because of a fear that the time necessary to complete this project will keep you from launching that new program initiative that you know more obviously relates to your work. And finally, in not sending that email to a new donor, you might be afraid of the rejection that might come, and a fear of the disappointment that person or your leaders might have in your failure.

This is where you can have an a-ha moment – that can tie into multiple areas of your life and work outside of the goal you are assessing. Another way of thinking about the hidden commitments is – if you were to do the opposite of your current behavior (grab a salad and show up late), then what are you most concerned about happening? Why is that?

Big Assumptions

Once you have identified your hidden competing competencies, you then need to identify the “big assumptions.” These are the ideas and opinions you bring with you that are derailing your progress.

To wrap up our resolution example, the assumption you may hold is that the opinion you have of your timeliness is more important than your individual health. For our organizational examples, you might be assuming that donors won’t understand the importance of investing in new resources outside of direct services; that the website isn’t affecting the success of your other programming; or that in failing to secure the donor you are approaching now, you aren’t possibly opening up another opportunity with that person or with their network.

If you’d like to learn more about this model and possible use cases, check out their EdX Course that should be starting up again soon.

The Immunity to Change Model won’t decide a course of action for you or your organization, but it is a tool to help discover why you aren’t hitting your goals. Why you aren’t being more effective at new initiatives or outreach. And at SCC, we sure do loving thinking about the “why.”

Here’s a simple goal for you to accomplish this week – read our links to stay up to date on important topics – you should definitely assume they will help you be a more effective leader:

  1. We’ve run across this many times – when can we use images we find on the internet on our own social media or blog posts?
  2. Fellow UCLA and Dance Marathon alumni Jaemin Yi discusses the 3 mistakes to avoid when writing a nonprofit video script.
  3. Elizabeth Chung dispenses her 3 important parts of a strong donation page.
  4. Expect a decrease in likes on your Facebook page – Greg Kumparak from Techcrunch explains why.
  5. John Haydon outlines 3 strategies to increase website traffic from Facebook.
  6. Real life examples of relevancy – Shana Masterson shares a few examples of email communication sent on Valentine’s Day.
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.
Best Practices to Moderate Conversation on Digital Platforms

Best Practices to Moderate Conversation on Digital Platforms

Content creation and curation can be incredibly time consuming for small and mid-sized nonprofit organizations. In a work environment with time constraints, it can be challenging to carve out time to manage the ensuing conversation once you click publish.

Who is commenting on your blog or social media posts? What is their intent? Is it aligned with your communication goals? When should you delete comments? These are all questions that community managers encounter when monitoring responses to outgoing content.

Deleting Comments

There are challenges with deleting comments – depending on the person/comment it may only exacerbate the issue. Holding an internal discussion about what will prompt your organization to delete a comment and publically stating that on your platform is important to maintaining a cohesive and supportive community.

Any comments that are clearly spam and trying to get your readers to click on their link, which is not related to the blog piece or social media post can be deleted. This helps ensure that your readers don’t accidentally download a virus and get caught in a phishing scam.

There are also subtler forms of spam that can be challenging to determine if they’re legitimate or not. We are challenged with this issue on our own blog. At times people may post a comment that seems related to our content but is actually driving readers to a link that is potentially harmful. These may need to be decided on a case-by-case basis. If you delete something that a legitimate commenter wrote and they contact you, often a simple explanation of why you thought it was spam could help defuse hostility they may be feeling.

Open hostility is something that you can face from other commenters. It’s important to determine what is acceptable and what will be automatically deleted. Any comments that are offensive, bigoted, or contain inappropriate language should be deleted by your moderator.

Negative but non-offensive comments or individuals attempting to “troll” your organization is harder to combat. Deleting these comments can often make an issue worse. It is important to use these conversations to create a healthy dialogue about the issue and attempt to fix it. If a reader seems to be purposefully antagonizing the writer or organization, sometimes your community will step in and attempt to deal with the trolling behavior.

It is critical to always remain positive and optimistic in your communication. While responding with an amusing insult or quip is very tempting – it will almost always make the situation worse. You are responsible for maintain civility even in the wake of overwhelming negativity.

Rewarding Good Behavior

A great way to encourage your community to develop is to reward positive comments or communication. The following are ways in which you can reward the readers who took the time to support your content:

Facebook – Like their comment. While this can set up a dangerous precedent, as you have to decide if any comments are not worthy of being liked, it an extremely positive way to reward the people that leave positive comments on your Facebook Posts.

Twitter – Favorite and/or ReTweet. Retweeting is the best way to highlight someone’s positive response to something you shared on Twitter. If you’re concerned that the number of tweets that you’re producing is too high than you can just favorite their tweet. The new Twitter design gives favorited tweets a more prominent place when looking at an individual or organization’s Twitter account.

Blog – Respond to comments. If someone asks a question or provides a thoughtful comment to a blog post, be sure to reply to the comment. It helps your community understand that you support this discussion and subtly encourages people to take a more active role in commenting on your blog.

All platforms –Thank your supporters. Thank often. If a Facebook post generates a lot of positive comments, likes, and shares than post a comment that thanks everyone for their thoughts and shares. Some nonprofits thank their followers that retweet content with a special message at the end of the day/week. People like to be thanked and it always helps to ensure that users know you’re paying attention to the conversation.

These are some of the ways to handle the negative and positive aspects of managing your community. This seems like an excellent time to thank all of readers who comment in our blog and share our content on social media platforms. We greatly enjoy our work and being supported by our friends, colleagues, and even strangers has been an amazing and rewarding experience.

If you’re looking for a further reading, we recommend these links:

  1. NTEN interviewed Allyson Kapin, Co-founder of Rad Campaign, about their recent survey assessing online harassment of adults.
  2. Patrick Sullivan of the Nonprofit Times discusses the recent publishing of the 2015 Digital Outlook Report from Care2, NTEN and hjc. An increased focus in video and images is anticipated in 2015.
  3. What can nonprofits learn from Phish? Apparently a lot! Suzy Greenberg of M+R shares four lessons from Phish including a mention of of our friends at Giving Comfort.
  4. Ariana Eunjung Cha of the Washington Post interviews Laura Arrillaga-Andreessen and chat about philanthropy in Silicon Valley.
  5. Can a petition change Facebook’s algorythem for nonprofits? Ernie Smith of Associations Now details the issue and criticism of Facebook.
A First Hand Account of Fundraising on Social Media

A First Hand Account of Fundraising on Social Media

Last year, I started a Fantasy Football league with several of my female friends in an effort to get them more involved in an interest I was passionate about. I sent weekly emails with tips and advice, as well as wrote brief manager spotlights that included fun information about each person. It was, to be candid, a roaring success.

This year I wanted to host the league again, but unfortunately it just wasn’t that easy. Because of the recent legal rumblings around the NFL, it was challenging for me to essentially endorse a sport that was having such issues involving violence and women. Which is when I started a fundraiser on Crowdrise for the National Domestic Violence Hotline (NDVH), based out of Austin, TX.

Nonprofits are always on the lookout for new revenue streams, and online fundraising, specifically peer-to-peer campaigns, have been a request we hear time and time again from our partners.

But what does this mean for the people you are reaching out to? What are some of the challenges they face when fundraising on behalf of your organization?

This fundraiser has been an educational journey, even for someone with years of experience working in fundraising from an organizational perspective. Here are some of the main takeaways I learned.

Posting to Facebook isn’t as effective as it used to be


I definitely noticed that my exposure on Facebook was smaller the more I posted to the platform, very likely due to Facebook’s algorithm. While we have long known that fundraising asks coming directly from organizations struggle with reach on social media, it is discouraging that individuals also now have issues connecting with their full network when attempting to fundraise on behalf of organizations.

Direct, personal appeals still work best


Speaking directly to friends and family about why I was participating, either through email or in person, was far and away the most effective way to get donations. This is something nonprofit professionals have known for a long time – personal appeals work best. But it is important for organizations to remember, when reminding fundraisers about the importance of personal appeals, that there are times when the fundraiser may feel reticent to ask their network yet again for more money for the cause. This is where you can help.

Personal appeals from the organization have a real impact


Despite how amazingly busy NDVH must have been during this time period, they sent individual thank you emails to all my donors, with personal touches about the fundraiser I was hosting. This was beyond what many would think to do – but it really had an impact. I had several donors mention to me how impressed they were that the organization took the time to thank them personally.

Sometimes life gets in the way


Even with my experience in fundraising, and my knowledge of how important it is to continue to communicate with my network for fundraising success, life still can derail even your best fundraising efforts. From work, to family, to other responsibilities, fundraising appeals can quickly go to the back burner. As an organization, you need to do your best to be understanding of the many commitments your fundraisers may have, and try not to be too pushy. Yes, you have fundraising goals and expectations – but a fundraiser is going to be much more likely to support you and your cause if you are empathetic to their work, as opposed to pressuring them to do more.

It is worth mention again – the National Domestic Violence Hotline has been incredibly encouraging and positive throughout, sending me multiple thank you’s for my efforts. Considering how busy they have been over these last few weeks, it is truly inspiring to be working with them in this capacity.

Below are links from the last two weeks that you may enjoy.

  1. Issie Lapowsky of Wired provides an in-depth look at Heifer International.
  2. #GivingTuesday is quickly approaching! Jaime McDonald of Network for Good shares tips on creating a successful campaign.
  3. Allyson Kapin of FrogLoop highlights some of the key data from a recent Online Fundraising Scorecard released by Dunham and Company.
  4. Want to learn from top email designers? Observations & Answers interviewed five email designers about their tips and best practices.
  5. Rick Cohen of NPQ writes a thoughtful piece on a recent study of millennial giving. A great quote from his article – “Making judgments about the behavior and interests of millennials compared to boomers is fraught with the danger of oversimplification”.
  6. Personalization of content and segmenting of communication is a key step to increase engagement and fundraising. Erin Hogg of Marketing Sherpa pens a white paper on the incredible growth the Portland Trail Blazers had after instituting dynamic ticket pricing.
  7. Michelle L. Chaplin publishes an article through NTEN on why failure needs to be an important part of nonprofit culture.
  8. Due to algorithm changes, Facebook has become more challenging for nonprofits without a budget for social media. Inside Facebook explains why it is important to still try to acquire fans.


Reflections on the Ice Bucket Challenge and “Viral” Fundraisers

Reflections on the Ice Bucket Challenge and “Viral” Fundraisers

The Ice Bucket Challenge. In case you haven’t followed nonprofit or social media news over the last two weeks, individuals are pouring buckets of ice water on themselves. This action has primarily been to support the ALS Association and it has gained immense popularity as celebrities, athletes, and company executives have taken part. It reached a tipping point when ALS Association’s Massachusetts Chapter volunteer Pete Frates, who has ALS, shared a family member’s ice bucket challenge on Facebook and Twitter.

Since the challenge has taken off, a number of articles critical of Ice Bucket Challenge have been published. Ben Kosinski wrote an article on Huffington Post that related the #IceBucketChallenge to slacktivism. Kosinski writes,

We’re using the #IceBucketChallenge to show off our summer bodies. We’re using it to tag old friends. We’re using it to show people we care. We’re using it to feel a part of something bigger than ourselves. We’re using it to promote ourselves, in one way or another.

Jacob Davidson of Time, whose father passed away from ALS, discusses concern of the overall impact the challenge is having and how campaigns like this can be better developed,

In an age where hashtag activism and information-free awareness campaigns are becoming more and more common, we should be very conscious of how to make viral trends as useful as possible.

As the news cycle evolves, there are also articles criticizing those that are critical of the challenge. Some of this is due to clickbaiting headlines like Kosinski ‘s “#IceBucketChallenge: Why You’re Not Really Helping”. While this has lead to an angry comments section, the greater thesis in Kosinski and Davidson’s articles are valid. Some of the people participating in this challenge for not doing it for charity or ALS. That is the nature of a “viral” fundraiser or awareness campaign.

In November 2009, Medline Industries and Providence St. Vincent Medical Center partnered to create a“Pink Glove Dance” video to raise awareness of breast cancer. The video became popular and groups of people recorded similar videos. If you search, “Pink Glove Dance” on YouTube, you will find a lot of people dancing with pink gloves on. Some videos are connected to fundraisers for breast cancer awareness. Some videos are just people dancing with pink gloves on. Any “viral” campaign is going to attract individuals who are unaware of the original purpose of the video or are participating for self-serving reasons.

The existence of these individuals, does not detract from some the positives of the Ice Bucket Challenge:

  • The ALS Association reports that over a two week period they have raised $7.6 million in donations – that compares with $1.4 million raised during the same two-week period last year
  • Google searches for ALS have increased significantly
  • While we haven’t found this confirmed from the ALS Association, it is likely that page views on mission-focused webpages like, “What is ALS” and “Symptoms of ALS”, have increased
  • The ALS Association has 145,918 new donors over the last two weeks– this new donor base can be utilized for a number of different engagements

What does this mean for nonprofits and the staff and volunteers that support them?

The most immediate byproduct of the Ice Bucket Challenge’s success is that every nonprofit staff person involved in communications or income development will inevitably hear an executive or leadership volunteer say, “We need to create our own Ice Bucket Challenge”.

You will see more organizations and individual fundraisers developing challenge-based peer-to-peer fundraising. If your organization is interested in developing a similar challenge there are four key points to keep in mind.

Make it Simple

A challenge is usually a difficult task. It’s critical that over-ambitious fundraisers don’t create something that is too challenging and unsafe. Create something that is safe and simple. Everyone should have access to whatever they need to perform the challenge.

Make it Personal

This challenge was extremely personal to Frates and his family. Frates is very active with fundraising for the ALS Association and shares his story often. While Frates learned about the idea from other ALS supporters who had participated in the challenge, the concept itself didn’t start with ALS. A “viral” cold-water challenge has existed for months and wasn’t initially connected with any sort of fundraising campaign.

Some articles that are critical of the Ice Bucket Challenge have used Matt Lauer and Martha Stewart as examples of celebrities that have taken part in the challenge but haven’t mentioned ALS. Matt Lauer’s ice water bath took place on July 15 and he challenged Stewart on that day. Frates shared his video on July 29.

While the Wall Street Journal reports that the ice bucket dumping started on the golf circuit, many attribute the first connection from the cold-water challenge to charity was in June by Arizona women’s basketball coach Niya Butts. Several NCAA women’s basketball programs began participating to raise funds and awareness for the Kay Yow Cancer Fund. Their hashtag was #Chillin4Charity and an article on their website describes how Butts created it.

Another reason these campaigns went “viral” is that it was individual people asking for help via social media, and not the organization directly. Social media is a much better platform for fundraising when your participants or volunteers doing the asking, instead of the organization directly.

All of this information highlights that anyone can participate in a challenge. But, if individuals share the reason they’re passionate about the cause they’re supporting – like Frates and Butts did – your campaign will greatly increase the potential for success.

Provide Instructions

Those that are critical of the challenge, especially Davidson’s article, mention the need for a stronger connection to the cause. This is very important to ensuring the long-term success of your challenge-based peer-to-peer fundraising.

Ask your initial fundraisers to specifically mention the organization, why it’s important to them, and link to your donate page.

Using Mark Zuckerberg’s challenge as an example – the positives are that he links to the ALS website and clearly connects the challenge to the cause. Unfortunately, he doesn’t mention that he plans to donate and refers to the ALS Association as the “ALS foundation”.

You won’t have control over what people write and say. But you can do your best to ensure they have suggestions on what to include.

Have Realistic Expectations

Your fundraising challenge will not end up on the Tonight Show. That is the reality from which you need to operate. Setting high expectations and ambitious goals is a great motivation for work, but your expectations also need to be connected to reality. Develop goals for the number of participants, new donors, and measurable social media impact. This particular challenge reached a its tipping point due to Frates’s connection in the sports world as a former professional baseball player.

These tips will help you think about how to implement similar challenge-based peer-to-peer fundraising campaign. If you’re looking for other articles and tips to inspire you, I suggest our Tumblr. Below are a few links from the week.

  1. Tom Watson, Forbes contributor, discusses the advantages and challenges of fitting #GivingTuesday into your year-end planning.
  2. In an amusing and strange experiment Mat Honan of Wired liked every Facebook post he saw for two days. His article describes how his feed evolved and the affect it had on his friends’ feed.
  3. Rick Cohen of NPQ shares five ways to get your unsolicited grant proposals read.
  4. Does your nonprofit have a retail fundraiser? Your campaign may entirely depend on the retailers cashiers. Jennifer Askjaer and Sally George provide seven tips that encourage employees to be ambassadors for your retail fundraiser.
  5. Do you need sample matching gift letters? First Giving has you covered.
  6. What is your biggest phobia? The Canadian Cancer Society has created a crowdfunded fundraising program that allows fundraisers the opportunity to confront their fears. Gabriel Beltrone of Adweek highlights the program.
Six Tips to Strengthen Your Post-Event Communication

Six Tips to Strengthen Your Post-Event Communication

Post-event communication planning is critical to the long-term success of an event. Whether you’re implementing a fundraiser, conference, symposium, or advocacy-related action, building on the momentum of your activity will help sustain volunteer or donor engagement.

This is an area that can be unintentionally neglected by event staff. Any reader that has planned a major event knows that post-event exhaustion will be detrimental to sustaining communication. You’re exhausted, have to unload boxes, process registration forms, and battle a post-event cold. Soon you realize it’s been two weeks and you haven’t thanked your participants or sent a post-event survey. These tips will help you plan before the event starts.

Create a calendar

Calendars spur action. They help you think about specific dates that you want to send communication. How long after the event do you want to get a note to participants? When do you want to follow-up after that? When do you need specific thank you calls or notes mailed? Creating a calendar helps to ensure that you’re on track and helps to prevent lapses in communication that result from event exhaustion.

Start early

If possible, start your post-event planning 60-90 days before your event. Often you won’t have the time to spare in the weeks leading into the activity. Carve out time in advance of your event to write thank you emails and draft your post-event survey. These can be edited with specific content as you get closer to the event.

Vary your social media

There is a tendency after a major event to provide social media updates that just relate to the recent activity. Be sure to mix in content that will appeal to attendees and those followers that were unable to make it. Ensuring that some messages speak to larger organization messaging will ensure that you don’t alienate your audience with just event photos.

Thanking sponsors

When do you need to thank your sponsors? What is included in their sponsorship package? Mapping out the best way to highlight and thank your sponsors is important to sustaining their sizable contribution. If you haven’t recently read your sponsorship package, revisit it. Ensure you’ve met your agreed upon needs and if possible exceed them.

Thanking volunteers

Most small and and mid-sized nonprofits rely on volunteer support to help implement their events. Don’t forget to thank them with a segmented message. It’s easy to lump their email into the general thank you message, but volunteers have a unique investment in the success of the event. Structuring a message with the intended audience of just day-of volunteers is important to their long-term engagement. Building a specific post-event survey to assess their experience is also helpful to ensuring you’re getting the best information from your event.

Hand-written notes and calls

These make a huge difference for all event supporters. Prior to the event make a list of the people you anticipate will need special recognition and start writing notes or making calls as soon as you can. One event staff we worked with left voicemails for colleagues who volunteered while she drove home from her fundraising event. While these calls were often loopy due to her fatigue, knowing that their support meant so much to her kept them coming back in future years.

These suggestions will help you begin your post-event communication planning. As we were without a blog post last week (due to an event), we’ve provided a double dose of links for the last two weeks. For a more steady diet of content, please follow our Tumblr.

  1. Facebook’s algorithm can cause headaches for many social media managers. shares advice on how to live with their changes. Mashable chronicles how Nestle handles the challenges that the algorithm can present.
  2. On the subject of Facebook, they’re rolling out a save function. Fast Company provides the details.
  3. Fundraising platform StayClassy has had two helpful blog posts over the last week – tips on effective volunteer-driven fundraising videos and best practices in communicating with donors.
  4. If your organization use Google’s products, than this post about how to integrate their tools into your website design may be helpful.
  5. Here is a list of free and discounted tech services available to nonprofits.
  6. Repetition is often necessary for nonprofit fundraising. Repetition is often necessary for nonprofit fundraising.
  7. Our friends at M+R walked readers through how Planned Parenthood Action Fund moved so quickly with engaging and thoughtful in light of the Hobby Lobby decision. M+R also highlighted some of their favorite mistakes from emails (and showed that they have similar taste in tv shows).
  8. Calling volunteers and donors is hard. Peer to Peer Nation explains why they may be avoiding your calls.
Five Tips for Maximizing the New Facebook Profile

Five Tips for Maximizing the New Facebook Profile

Facebook recently changed the profile page for businesses and nonprofit organizations. While the structure is similar there are a few changes to highlights to ensure that your organization is maximizing the platform.

Update your About

The “About” section for nonprofits is in a new location on the profile page and is more prominently displayed. This is an opportunity to ensure that your “About” statement accurately reflects your organization and the information that you want to share on your profile page.

Posts to your page

Anyone who posts to your page is displayed in the left hand side of the screen unless you turn this function off. Depending on the focus of your work and the number of posts you get on the page, you may consider turning this functionality off. If you get a high rate of posts that are not relevant to your work or that you don’t want your followers to see, you can remove this from your profile page. Click Settings, then click on “Post Visibility”. From here you can select “Allow posts by other people on my Page timeline” or “ Hide posts by other people on my Page timeline”.

Photos and videos

Photos and videos are prominently displayed in the left-hand column on your profile page. This means that visitors to your page can easily access your recent photos independently of the post itself. It’s important to include a description in the photo even if it’s repetitive to your post. This allows people who may just be viewing your photos to have greater context and the appropriate call-to-action.

Commenting/liking as yourself

Many staff and volunteers who help to manage social media accounts struggle with commenting or liking on posts as themselves instead of the organization. The new design makes this even easier for individuals who want to take personal action on an organization post. At the top of your page, you’ll see text that reads, “You are posting, commenting, and liking as <Organization Name> — Change to <Your Name>”. The “Change to <Your Name>” is a link that allows you to quickly switch to your personal profile so that you can comment or like your organization’s posts.


The Insights section is new and improved. You can more easily view information about new likes, messages to your page, and post performance. And as you may expect, there is an increased information about the opportunity to boost posts. You’ll also see Pages to Watch and Suggested Pages to Watch so that you can compare your organization’s performance to peers.


For more social media and other nonprofit-related insights, visit our Tumblr. Below are a few links from the week.

  1. On the subject of Facebook, Mashable shares eight tips startup founders to combat the Facebook’s Algorithm and NPR reports that Facebook will be using more of user data to drive advertisements.
  2. Epaminondas Farmakis discusses three key benefits for building greater transparency.
  3. Michael Chu pens a thoughtful piece on SSIR on how commercial platforms can influence broad systemic change.
  4. Social Media Today compiles 14 Twitter tips to help your engagement on that platform.
Call-to-actions in Nonprofit Communication

Call-to-actions in Nonprofit Communication

Who is your intended audience? You should ask yourself this question each time you write social media content or a bulk emailfor your nonprofit organization. Who are you writing to? What do you want their action to be?

The tone and call-to-action in the email will vary based on the intended audience. Are they previous donors or supporters of your work? Are they individuals who are familiar with your work/issue but are not active supporters? Or is this message simply going to everyone in your database? It is important to remember that the different platforms and audiences heavily influence what your call-to-action should be. Do you want to drive people to a website, simply remind them of your work, or get their feedback on a key issue?

Knowing and judging the anticipated level of engagement can be challenging. Relationships are built through conversations, not messages. Email and social media can be an avenue to have these conversations but only when your audience feels comfortable having them. Building a call-to-action for people to provide their thoughts in comments can be a powerful community-building tool, but can also deflate your communication if no one replies.

Ensuring your call-to-action matches your platform and audience will help you achieve more thoughtful communication.

We try to be thoughtful on the Social Change Consulting Tumblr and encourage you to check to visit.

  1. #Fundchat’s weekly Twitter chat asked questions about the impact that millennials can have in philanthropy. For those using Tumblr, #Fundchat also just launched their Tumblr account.
  2. GetResponse uncovers strategies to create the perfect call-to-action for your website.
  3. Are you or your board members fearful of the ask? Simone Joyaux shares tips and techniques on making the ask in this NPQ blog post.
  4. The PhilanTopic blog looks at how taxonomy and philanthropy interact.
  5. When was the last time you checked your we? Mary Cahalane discusses the different between “we” and “you” in nonprofit communication.
  6. Fidelity Charitable reports that gifts from donor advised funds happened more frequently and were larger in 2013.
  7. The Silicon Valley Social Media for Nonprofits and Nonprofit Boot Camp are next week. It’s not too late to buy tickets!