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Archive for September, 2010

Katya Andresen from Network For Good on Social Media

I had the good fortune to hear Ms. Andresen, COO at Network For Good, give one of four keynotes at the NH Center for Nonprofits Summit in Manchester September 24th. She delivered a great information-based talk with powerful slides on the value of digging in to social media.
I recommend that all my clients experiment with social media and builld communication networks of supporters for the nonprofit mission.
90% of Consumers of all stripes responding to a Nielsen 2009 survey say they trust recommendations from their acquaintances. Only 6% say they believe marketers’ claims. And that includes claims made by a large segment of nonprofit organizations. Katya calls this the trust factor: the old school taught us to trust marketers (doctors say, “smoke Camel cigarettes!”). Today’s consumers trust each other and use Facebook and other social media to learn what their friends like, check it out, and follow suit if it feels right.
Katya discussed Greg Verdino’s Micromarketing as a great source to learn some of the substance behind working small with social media.
There’s a personal sense of connection for many donors through the act of donation. We need to think about the exchange transaction taking place between donor and nonprofit; the relationship formation; understand and act on the connection, the nonprofit will build a donor base that will come back for more.
You can follow Katya on Twitter: @KatyaN4G.
Check out her blog: www.nonprofitmarketingblog.com.
I look forward to connecting with you and carrying on this conversation: s.p.99smith@gmail.com. 781-334-4915.

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Board Members: Engage Your Networks!

Financial resources scarce? Nonprofit organizations can engage an underutilized precious asset—their networks—to strengthen their capacity to deliver on their mission.
Energizing networks is a great way to prepare for growth as this recession lets up.
The goodwill, future financial support, and contacts that come from networking during this stormy financial period will be your silver lining when the clouds of recession lift.
Networking is the art of identifying, cultivating, and engaging friends of your organization. These friendships ultimately may yield monetary support, sources of non-financial support, and ambassadors who can, in turn, cultivate more friends. Now is the time to identify these potential friends, hone your messaging, and plan how to best deliver those messages. By getting your staff, board of directors, and other volunteers ready for brighter days, you’ll build your capacity to thrive when recovery comes.
The best place to start is at a meeting of the board of directors, who must stay mindful of their critical role as emissaries for the mission of your organization. They know the mission, they know the goals, they know the good that the organization brings to the community. How do they communicate this value? How do they spread the good news with people they work with, play with, pray with?
Start with a conversation. Take some time at a staff meeting and the next board meeting to talk about reaching out to friends to share your mission. There may be members who are doing this now. Identify them before the next meeting. Ask them to share their techniques with the group. Use their experiences to kick off the discussion. Listen for the ideas that have been most successful. Share a summary of the results with all who can benefit from these experiences.
Continue the conversation. Be sure to put the discussion on the agenda for subsequent meetings. Find out in advance who is trying the new techniques. Ask one or two of the new practitioners to report on what they’re doing.
Engage communications experts to share advice. Do you have a director of communications on your staff? If not, does one of your board members or volunteers have communication expertise? Strategize with this person about your approach to engaging networks. Incorporate messages that are consistent with your brand so your staff and volunteers are talking about your work in a unified and consistent way.
Twitter? Facebook? Blogs? Is someone on your team familiar with social media and willing to show others how to effectively use these tools? It’s likely that this person will be younger than most of the team. If so, this is an excellent opportunity to let an up-and-comer show his or her stuff. An effective plan for social media can engage people you otherwise might miss who will support your mission once they learn what the organization is about.
What’s your story? Nonprofit organizations have numerous stories about your clients’ great experience with your services. Incorporate telling of stories as part of “conversation time.” A program staff person or a volunteer probably has more than one such story to share. Let your group hear a story or two each time you meet, and encourage your board, staff, and volunteers to retell these stories when they are out engaging their networks.
There is a reservoir of good will out there, ready to hear about the good you do. And every day, your volunteers and staff talk with many people who will want to help bring the “good” you deliver to more people. Your organization’s job is to forge links through staff, board, and volunteer networks so you can grow the circle of friends and supporters. When you take time to apply creative approaches to communication through networks, you engage and energize people for your mission. It takes commitment and work. But it will put your organization in a stronger position when the economy inevitably begins to grow.

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The Power of “Thank You”

Do you stop to think how you thank? Thinking about thanking is time well spent. Talking it over with staff and your development committee helps get ideas on the table. Attending a session on “donor acknowledgment” at the next nonprofit conference you attend is time well spent. Learn what others are doing. Apply thanking techniques that feel right, that fit right for you and staff and volunteers who get the relationship part of fundraising.
Here are a few things to pause and reflect:
Thank all your donors.
“Tier” your thank you: post card for small gifts, letter for gifts $25+. Set tiers that make sense for your nonprofit.
Acknowledge online gifts with email.
Use appropriate stationery to acknowledge memorial gifts.
Use special thank you for special gifts from special givers. Organize a board “thankathon” (see Kay Sprinkel Grace in High Impact Philanthropy) for special/major gifts.
The important thing is to let the donor know that s/he is appreciated. That it’s more than the money. Confirm the relationship by letting the person know you remember something about him/her; how the gift will help those you serve in some specific way. Help make a link happen. Cement the bond.
I remember when I worked with the American Lung Association in New Hampshire, board members agreed to thank major donors to the Christmas Seal campaign. They called donors. The first year we did it, some donors thought we were calling for more money. Board members were coached to let donors know, “no, we just want to let you know how much we appreciate your recent gift of ___ to help fight lung disease. We are interested, if you care to share, in what inspires you to give. It helps us to know.” Well. Our donors were pleasantly surprised to get the personal touch and usually had something to tell us.
In this way, the “thank you” helps confirm the relationship.

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