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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.

Add your thoughts here… (optional)

Nonprofit Tech 2.0 Blog :: A Social Media Guide for Nonprofits

Most nonprofits approach social media with the strategy of increasing awareness for their cause by posting and sharing content on their profiles and then when time permits, engaging their fans and followers as they respond to the content posted and shared by the nonprofits. That’s what social media marketing is and the premise upon which all social media strategies are conceived, launched, and maintained.

However, the most popular social media sites on the Social Web today have built in micro-engagement mechanisms that very few nonprofits ever use. Most nonprofits simply post, share and respond, but very few like, +1, favorite, list, repin, or reblog. It’s grunt work which many nonprofit’s do not have the time for or the endurance to maintain, but every time your nonprofit does one of the six actions listed below, your nonprofit’s avatar get increased exposure on the Social Web – and as a result more fans…

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Infographic: Why People Use Social Media

(From Care2’s Nonprofit Marketing Blog)

NM Incite, a Nielsen McKinsey company surveyed 1,865 adult (18+) social media users about what motivates them to friend people on social networks, and what causes them to dump their friends. As nonprofits invest more time into cultivating people on Facebook and followers on Twitter, this is helpful data to review. According to NM Incite’s research, the majority of social media users (82%) friend someone because they know them in real life – meaning real life friendships drive online relationships. I would not be surprised to see if this correlated similarly to social media users who friend organizations that they feel connected to and are active donors or activists. Why do people unfriend or unfollow? 55% said that they dump Facebook friends because of offensive comments. 20% remove friends due to lack of interactions, so be sure you update your Facebook page regularly with engaging content and that you spend time interacting with your members on Facebook. Don’t just use it to post items and then walk away and not engage in conversation. Another 14% says that they remove friends due to political content.

Another set of survey questions had to do with what people are using social media for. While there was not a category related to getting involved with charitable organizations, it was interesting to note that 60% of people use social media to learn more about consumer products and over 60% read consumer feedback. 54% use social media to provide positive feedback and 51% use it to provide negative feedback.

How do people who follow your nonprofit on social media use it for commentary? Are you getting an equal amount of positive and negative commentary or is the majority positive?

Other interesting data of social media activity includes:

Why do facebook users add friends?

Social Media Tools for Nonprofits

November 9, 2011 1 comment

By Miranda Leonard

Reposted from Presidio Graduate School

Does social media engagement translate to greater success for nonprofit organizations? Craig Newmark, founder of Craigslist and craigconnects.org, recently profiled the highest grossing nonprofits and their use of social media. Newmark found that of the top 50 nonprofits, 92 percent link to at least one social media presence from their homepage (Facebook). Additionally, 90 percent link to their Twitter account, and 70 percent connect to YouTube.

Craigconnects.org presents: How the top 50 nonprofits do social media.

Do the most successful organizations have the most engagement on social media?  Not necessarily. Within in the top ten earners, the American Red Cross, number five on the list, is hands down the top contender in terms of Facebook fans and Twitter followers. However, some successful nonprofits, such as Catholic Charities USA, Catholic Medical Mission Board, and Mental Health America barely have a social media presence to speak of.

More nonprofits today are getting on the social media bandwagon to advance their mission and connect to stakeholders. It can be useful (and doable) if you have a strategy. Here are some quick tips if your organization needs a nudge to start using social media, or just wants to take it to the next level.

  • Have clear goals for your social media campaigns. What do you want to accomplish? Create SMART objectives (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely), and track the payoff from your efforts by using this return on investment calculator.
  • Make sure you have staff and/or volunteers familiar with social media available to help your organization provide a steady stream of on-topic, engaging messaging. If you’re concerned about giving up control, consider creating a social media policy to provide training and support, such as the one Mayo Clinic provides to its employees.
  • Identify the social media platforms that are the best fit for your organization. What are you already doing? What are similar nonprofits to yours doing? Ask your existing supporters and volunteers which social media platforms they use.  What do they think would be most effective?
  • Invest in your profile. A profile that is professional and engaging will pay off. For tips and tricks, visit nonprofit social media guru Beth Kanter’s blog.
  • Have a conversation with your fans and followers. Keep your questions and content varied to keep things interesting and get more feedback. Post dynamic content that your followers will want to repost. Comment on their responses. Retweet content from those you follow as well as from your followers.
  • Provide opportunities for your network to get involved offline. Post events and donation requests. Follow up and let the community know the results.

Newmark and his team offered this advice: “It’s about fostering conversations and interactions, not money. These are the keys to keeping up in the fast-paced arena of social networks.”

Amy Sample Ward, community development manager at Tech Soup Global, notes that “most research shows that if you have two hours total in a week, you can be successful in social media…Ask your constituents what they want, create a strategy and spend a half-hour, four days a week making sure the content is there for them. It’s not that much to commit to and it doesn’t have to drive you crazy.”

In today’s society, organizations are sized up by their social media presence. With a defined strategy and targeted resources, nonprofits can make social media work for them. I hope these pointers provide some useful tools for your organization to expand its network and deepen engagement with stakeholders through social media. If you have questions or need more information, contact your trusted social media guru, or me.

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Miranda Leonard is an MBA candidate in Sustainable Management at Presidio Graduate School. She has years of experience producing marketing campaigns for nonprofits that endeavor to make the most of limited resources. Miranda can be reached at miranda dot leonard at presidioedu dot org

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The Cure for the Not-for-Profit Crisis

 

by Paul Leinwand and Cesare Mainardi via Harvard Business Review

There is a crisis in the not-for-profit sector. Since the great recession began, donations to the largest charities in the U.S. have dropped by billions — down 11% in 2010 alone, according to a recent report from the Chronicle of Philanthropy. This was the worst decline since the Chroniclebegan ranking its “Philanthropy 400” list of America’s largest fund-raising charities in 1990. Leaders of philanthropic and other non-profit organizations naturally blame the economy for this problem; and many expect things to get worse as the economic malaise drags on.

 

But the financial meltdown has not affected all charities and not-for-profits equally. It is the more versatile, general-purpose charities — including such well-known, diverse institutions as The United Way Worldwide and the Salvation Army — that are faring the worst. For more tightly focused not-for-profits, such as the Cleveland Clinic and the network of Food Banks around the country, the decline is not nearly as sharp.

 

Why the disparity? Our own research on organizational strategy and leadership more broadly suggests a reason. Since 2010, we’ve been conducting an ongoing survey of managers’ attitudes about the strategies of their organizations (click here to take the not-for-profit version of the profiler). More than 65% of the respondents from the non-profit sector said it was a significant challenge to bring day-to-day decisions in line with their organization’s overall strategy. When asked about their frustration factors, 76% (the largest group by far, and a larger percentage than their for-profit counterparts) named “too many conflicting priorities.” When asked about their organization’s core capabilities — distinctive things their association could do better than anyone else — only 29% said these supported their organization’s strategy, and almost 80% said that their association’s efforts to grow had led to waste.

 

All of these results suggest that, while the hit to fundraising has hurt many not-for-profits, the more fundamental core problem is strategic. These institutions lack a strategy for connecting their mission with their ability to deliver. In short, this is a crisis of coherence.

Read the rest of the article: The Cure for the Not-for-Profit Crisis – Paul Leinwand and Cesare Mainardi – Harvard Business Review.

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.

How a Double-Dip Recession Could Affect Giving

By Lisa Chiu

As economic experts begin to raise the possibility that America will face a double-dip recession, fund-raisers are looking to the past to learn what might be ahead.

No recession in recent history has been as bad as the one that just wrapped up. Indiana University’s Center on Philanthropy, which produces “Giving USA,” noted in June that giving dropped by 7 percent in 2008 and 6.2 percent in 2009, declines that were larger than anything since the study was first conducted in 1956.

Patrick Rooney, the center’s director, says that “if we had a double-dip recession, it would be disastrous for philanthropy and charities.” But he encourages charities to resist the urge to let the worries about the downturn get in the way of fund-raising. “If I were running a charity, ” he says, “I would continue to invest in fund-raising and steward gifts well. Giving may go down overall, but if you keep fund-raising, it is more likely to stay the same or go up if you stay in the game.”

Read more 

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