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How to Communicate In The Midst Of Tragedy: 9-Step Checklist

by Nancy Schwartz from Getting Attention!

Like you, my heart and head are heavy in the wake of yesterday’s bombings in Boston. Especially since I feel so helpless.

I had a completely different post planned today, but wanted to respond a.s.a.p. to the questions, worries and just totally-wrong communications I’ve seen going out since the bombings yesterday afternoon.

Most of this outreach was harmless, but simply a mismatch with what’s on our minds right now. Because most of us are feeling horror, sadness, fear, uncertainly and a sense of helplessness and vulnerability.

Here are my right-now recommendations for your organization’s response.

Please share your strategies, and add your questions and feedback here.
We are much smarter together.

 1. Get Off Auto-Pilot

Given our collective state of mind, some of the nonprofit outreach I saw yesterday was absolutely inappropriate—like the e-invite I received at 7:19 PM yesterday fromSave the Children via Harris Interactive, asking me to respond to its survey.

This email came in as the details of deaths and serious injuries continued to flow, including the death of an 8-year-old boy and the critical status of his mom and sister.

Let’s put aside the fact that Harris told me the survey would take 25 minutes of my time (won’t ever happen) and focus on the horrendous oversight here—this campaign was clearly auto-scheduled and on auto-pilot.

As a result, this ask missed the mark by 1,000 miles, coming across as a huge “who cares” by Save the Children. If I was in charge of this survey, I’d put it on ice for now.

Our state of mind doesn’t get more ungrounded than it is right now. So be ultra-sensitive.

 2. But Don’t Just Go Dark Either

Your cause and work is vital to making this a better world.

And although it may seem easiest to go dark right now, please don’t. Your network counts on your work to carry our world to a better place.

Proceed slowly and strategically, but do proceed. The last thing we need is staying stuck right here.

 3. Use Your Relevancy Lens—Relevance Rules More Than Ever Post-Tragedy

What’s top of mind for your network is the only lens that matters, now more than ever. Put yourself in the shoes of your prospects and supporters. What are they focused on now?

It’s likely to be fear, horror, sadness, empathy, helplessness and/or anger. That’s your cue.

Your own agenda must fall behind for the balance of the week, at the very least, unless there’s a real, organic link to bombing-related issues.

It’s never productive to communicate into that environment at the moment of. You’re not missing an opportunity if you push on, and you risk alienating your network if you blindly push on with plans.

4. Right Now—Show You Care

Show your support for the Boston/Marathon community and empathize with the shock and sadness your supporters are likely to feel via Twitter or a brief Facebook post.

Social media is an ideal way to let your supporters know you’re with them right now, and to share words of comfort. That’s the kind of response that puts a human face on your organization.

Here’s a good this-morning model from the Community Foundation of Sarasota County.

Post-Boston1

5. Right Now—Hold Scheduled Outreach Till You Review

Immediately unschedule what you have lined up to release today and for the balance of the week. You’ll reschedule what’s in line with your base’s state of mind after a brief review.

Automating outreach is a lifesaver, but also a potential snafu at times of crisis. It’s auto-schedule, not auto-pilot.

I saw so many pre-scheduled tweets, Facebook posts and emails go out yesterday afternoon, in the hours following the bombings when we were in the spell of first shock. As a result, I received these “business as usual” communications, at a time when nothing was usual, which caused a huge disconnect.

Stay real, and stay respectful. That will ensure your relevance in good times and bad.

6. A.S.A.P Today—Review Your Marketing & Fundraising Plans For Next 10 Days

Link your message to the bombing only if there is an organic link (e.g. children’s health and well-being, violence prevention, gun safety, public safety, anti-terrorism.)
Otherwise, avoid trying to capitalize on a tragedy. You’ll fail, miserably.

If your organization isn’t working to help the Boston/Marathon community or related issues, consider taking a couple of days off from your asks.
Those in support of your issue are already making contributions and circulating petitions. But it’s too raw  today to start persuading others, or even showing them how they can help avert future disasters like this one.

Depending on our mood and focus over the course of the week, pick the right time to dive back in with a moving forward focus. That may be Thursday, but may be next week.

Instead, craft your outreach for later in the week so you’ll organize most powerfully,  galvanizing disheartened supporters to join you in action for a better future. The exception, of course, is if you’re helping the affected community directly.

Change any metaphors or analogies you use that feature bombs, explosion and the like in not-yet-published content for the next two weeks.
These are some of the most-used references, usually used in a positive way (but there is no positive now). Think exploding with daffodils (from a Facebook post this morning from one of my favorite botanical gardens) or the fact that the star’s first Broadway show absolutely bombed (in the e-newsletter scheduled to drop tomorrow from one of my performing arts clients).

Such references can’t be used gratuitously for the immediate future. Comb your coming content carefully.

Get speed input on your revised approach today with colleagues on the ground and members of your marketing advisory group

These are the folks who are in touch with your base (and are your network members), and you need their insights.

If you don’t have a marketing advisory group already in place, reach out to a few current supporters in each of your segments, asking for five minutes of their time for a quick call.

7. Share Your Revised Approach With Your Colleagues & Ask Them To Share What They Hear

Even though your colleagues’ may not have been aware of your plan for your marketing and fundraising outreach in the next ten days, update them on what’s changed and why.

Here’s why:

  • It’s just basic respect, and you should do this on an ongoing basis.
  • Many of these folks are in close contact with your target audiences in their daily work, and have the opportunity to focus those conversations appropriately—but only if you share your approach!
  • They’re also most likely to get the feedback that shows you you’re taking the right path, or have to recalculate. Ask, train and support them in doing so. It helps all of you!

8. Next 10 Days—Move Forward With Your Ear Close to the Ground

It’s still early in this tragedy, and events are yet to unfold. So stay close to what’s top of mind for your network (and the rest of us) through this week and next.

Go ahead and schedule coming campaigns across channels, but review what’s scheduled on a daily basis.

9. By End of April—Craft a Crisis Communications Plan That Includes Shared Tragedies Like This One

I recommend placing review of queued-up communications at the top of your crisis communications checklist, whether it’s a crisis within your org or outside of it. In many cases, crises outside of your organization impact your network of supporters and partners equally, if not more than, crises that effect your nonprofit.

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Four Unexpected Ways to be More Influential

by Katya Andresen

COO and CSO at Network for Good

According to Gerald Zaltman and a slew of neuroscientists, 95% of human thought, emotion and learning happens without our conscious awareness. Yet we spend a lot of time trying to persuade people by focusing on the 5% rational brain with statistics, rational arguments and feature lists. Neuromarketing experts like Roger Dooley (author of the book Brainfluence) want to change all that. They have studied how to appeal to the massive subconscious mind, and there are some interesting and sometimes bizarre takeaways. Here are my favorite four.

  1. BABY, BABY, BABY: No, not Justin Bieber – real babies. Just 150 milliseconds after seeing an image of a baby, people’s medial orbitofrontal cortex – the part of the brain associated with emotion – becomes abuzz with activity. Pictures of grown-ups don’t prompt the same effect. An experiment in Scotland showed babies also make people more altruistic. Wallets were planted all over Edinburgh with one of four photos: a baby, a puppy, a happy family or an elderly couple – or no photo. Nearly 90% of the baby wallets were turned in, followed by 53% of puppies, 48% of families and 25% for the older couple. Only one in seven of the other wallets without photos were turned in by good Samaritans. Want to get people engaged? Baby, the answer is simple.
  2. GO HIGHER: Studies show a positive effect of height on generosity and cooperation. A University of North Carolina study found people were more helpful at the top rather than bottom of stairs and escalators. This effect can also be replicated with technology. People viewing videos shot from an airplane vs. a car were far more cooperative because they had viewed something from a higher position. You may not be able to locate your product or your cause in a penthouse, but you might want to test high-altitude imagery or perspectives in your electronic outreach.
  3. BE TRIBAL: Psychologist Henri Tajifel’s experiments led to the theory of social identity, which holds that people tend to categorize themselves into groups (Seth Godin would call them tribes) and base their identity in part on those associations. The implications for social networks are interesting. The organic groups that are created online are rife with opportunity for social identity around products and causes. Are you building identification with a group? You should be.
  4. THINK GOLDEN MEAN: Researchers at Carleton University say that visitors decide the attractiveness of a web page in one-twentieth of a second, and that first impression holds up over time and correlates to their ratings of the site. How do you look attractive that fast? Roger Dooley points to the golden mean, which is the width-to-height ratio of 1.618 that recurs in nature, the Parthenon and shells. Brain scans show people’s brains light up in the emotional areas when they see the mean. It may be worth using the proportion online.

Is this manipulation? I think not. Understanding how people think and connecting to their mental frameworks is how you build a relationship (and a customer). Insisting on your own world perspective as a more noble means of communication isn’t less manipulative – but it is less effective. I’d rather connect with someone else’s way of thinking than impose my own opinion. It works better that way.

Photo: Maria Pavlova/E+/Getty Images

10 Questions That Create Success

January 27, 2012 2 comments

Want help focusing on what really matters? Ask yourself these on a daily basis.

Thanks to Geoffrey James from @Sales_Source for a helpful article on success, and priorities.  

Think that success means making lots of money?  Think again.

Pictures of dead presidents have never made anybody happy. And how can you be successful if you’re not happy? And buying things with that all money isn’t much better. A new car, for instance, might tickle your fancy for a day or two–but pride of ownership is temporary.

Real success comes from the quality of your relationships and the emotions that you experience each day. That’s where these 10 questions come in.

Ask them at the end of each day and I absolutely guarantee that you’ll become more successful. Here they are:

1. Have I made certain that those I love feel loved?

2. Have I done something today that improved the world?

3. Have I conditioned my body to be more strong flexible and resilient?

4. Have I reviewed and honed my plans for the future?

5. Have I acted in private with the same integrity I exhibit in public?

6. Have I avoided unkind words and deeds?5. Have I acted in private with the same integrity I exhibit in public?

7. Have I accomplished something worthwhile?

8. Have I helped someone less fortunate?

9. Have I collected some wonderful memories?

10. Have I felt grateful for the incredible gift of being alive?9. Have I collected some wonderful memories?

Here’s the thing.  The questions you ask yourself on a daily basis determine your focus, and your focus determines your results.

These questions force you to focus on what’s really important. Take heed of them and rest of your life—especially your work—will quickly fall into place.

Tell Better People Stories: Use a Post Hole Digger

This article first appeared in Kivi’s Nonprofit Marketing Tips, a free weekly e-newsletter.

What ruins many a good story about a nonprofit client, volunteer, or donor is the broad brush. It produces profiles that are way too shallow and wide. You try to cover too much about the person in too little space, and we end up with an “overview” of this amazing individual, instead of a compelling story we can’t forget.

Post Hole DiggerHere’s my best tip for telling a story about a single person: put down your broad brush and pick up your post hole digger.

For those of you unfamiliar with this tool, post hole diggers dig a deep, but narrow hole that a fence post can sink down into. You want to do the same thing with your profile. Pick a fairly narrow aspect of this person’s personality or experience, and go deep into that one aspect of the person’s story.

Here are some examples, taking some typical broad brushes we see in nonprofit profiles and turning them into post holes.

Broad Brush: Talking about a volunteer’s family tree, e.g., Mary has been married for 36 years to Phil, and they have four children, and 15 grandchildren.

Post Hole: Ask Mary which one member of her family most shares her passion for your cause. Explore that single relationship in your article.

Read more here.

Ten Signs Your Nonprofit Writing Might Stink | Nonprofit Marketing Guide

By Kivi Leroux Miller, NonProfit Marketing Guide.Com

Your nonprofit does amazing work everyday. Unfortunately, you sometimes get so wrapped up in your work that you forget how to talk about it in ways that everyone else can understand! Sound familiar?

Here are 10 signs that your writing may have tipped over to the dark side. During Nonprofit Writing Stinks! Bring Your Writing Back to Life on August 9, I’ll show you how to bring it back into the warm, happy light.

1. You are cutting and pasting grant application text into your newsletters. This means you are probably using lots of lingo and jargon that people who work in your field get, but the rest of us won’t.

2. You can play Nonprofit Buzzword Bingo with yourself. If you can score a Bingo (or close) by using the words in your newsletter article or on one page of your website, editing that text should shoot to the top of your to-do list.

3. You find yourself skimming your own writing. If you don’t have the patience to actually read what you wrote, what makes you think the rest of us will?

Ten Signs Your Nonprofit Writing Might Stink | Nonprofit Marketing Guide

Read full article:

Categories: communications, Resources

How do you thank your donors?

This article appeared in the Nonprofit Quarterly. Simone P. Joyaux, ACFRE is recognized internationally as an expert in fund development, board and organizational development, strategic planning, and management. She is the founder and director of Joyaux Associates. Visit her website here.

You know how important “thank you” is.

First there’s the official letter from the office. On letterhead. Specifying the donor name(s) and indicating the gift amount. Including the requisite IRS language. Typically signed by the CEO or the board chair.

This official gift acknowledgement letter goes out within 48 hours of gift receipt. Why 48 hours? Because by the time the gift got to you and your acknowledgement letter got back to the donor… at least five days have passed, more likely seven days. Now five to seven days is beginning to be a rather long time before the donor receives that thank-you.

Sure, the official gift acknowledgement is standardized in your computer. But you can personalize it a bit. And your signer can write a personal P.S.

But mostly, make sure it’s a really great thank-you letter. Make me, the donor, feel special. Tell me why my gift matters. Explain how my investment makes a difference. With all that, I’ll understand that I matter…me the donor. Then I’ll suspect that my future investments will matter, too. And I’ll keep on giving.

Read more at How do you thank your donors?

Taping the Giving Power of Millennials

The typical description of a Millennial (AKA Generation Y, born in the early 80’s to the early 2000s) is someone who is highly adept with technology, civic-minded, and culturally liberal.

As Millennials move into the workforce, how will non-profits tap their giving and volunteering power?

According to the Center on Philanthropy at IU, Millennial donors are most likely to be motivated by a desire to make the world a better place. They give consistent with their income, education level, frequency of religious attendance and marital status.

As noted in a presentation DIGITAL MILLENNIALS Charitable Giving & Cause Marketing,
there are several unifying demands of Millennials:

–Tell me how my contribution matters: Millennials want to know the impact of
their donation. This is key for their satisfaction and future donations.

–Reason beyond marketing: Millennials are skeptical of brands taking up social
causes and will most often question the true intent of the sponsoring company.

— Similar to other consumer segments, Millennial are more connected when giving
to a charity to which they have a personal connection.

— Religion is viewed by Millennials as a charitable organization and can be a
powerful force when it comes to charitable giving.

So what are the best ways to encourage Millennials to give? The Philanthropy Journal reported on a study in April of this year that donors in the U.S. ages 20 to 35 prefer to give to organizations they trust, are motivated to give by a compelling mission or cause, and prefer to give online.

And those who donated the most also volunteered the most. Eighty-four percent of respondents said they are most likely to give when they fully trust an organization, and 90 percent said they would stop giving if they do not trust an organization.

What’s your experience in taping this generation’s giving to charitable causes?

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