Tag Archives: Blogging

Arts Day of Giving: Where to Go from Here?

Is that all there is?

Yesterday was almost as good as Christmas morning when I was a kid: I woke up to see that more than $400,000 was donated to local arts-related nonprofits (more about Arts Day of Giving here). And just like a kid, my next question was, “Is there more?”

I think there is. If Give Local Now is successful, they will radically change the culture of giving in our community. I’ve always thought of Sacramento as involved; the amazing contributions of service clubs like Active 20-30 #1, Junior League of Sacramento, Rotary and others have made this a great place to live. But do Sacramentans give? Not at the same level of other communities our size, according to the Sacramento Generosity Project. I can make a difference but I can’t do what a well-run nonprofit can: make a real impact on a problem that is too big to be solved by a few well-intentioned people.

Technology-enabled charitable giving is a great way to attract new donors to the party.

What could that mean for Sacramento nonprofits? With a sector-wide giving day, we should be able to generate millions for nonprofits — but even more importantly, expose thousands of people to the experience of giving charitably. Fortunately, such a sector-wide giving day is in the planning stages for next May.

Here are my suggestions of things to do and not do as online giving events get rolling in Sacramento. Some of these are directed to the organizers of Arts Day of Giving, but others are directed to the nonprofits who participated.


1.  Close the feedback loop. Now that new donors have said “hello” by stopping by to donate, what can nonprofits do to make them feel really great about what they did? Thank you is always nice, but according to previous research by Giving USA, one reason that people don’t give is that they don’t know what happened as a result of their donation. I don’t know what access nonprofits have to donors who gave during Arts Day of Giving (presuming that the donors did not ask to remain anonymous), but ideally the nonprofits would be able to send a personalized email explaining how the new donations will be put to work. [Author’s update: This just in! My first thank you note just came through from Capitol Public Radio. Looks like they matched my email to donor info since the email came through thanking “Mr. and Mrs…” See ***below.]

2.  Learn more about the giver/nonprofit experience and build on it. The Case Foundation/Razoo report about Washington DC’s experience with its Give2Max campaign included results from post-event surveys of donors and nonprofits: “A whopping 96 percent of donors said they were likely to give more money to their selected nonprofits as a result of their participation in Give to the Max Day,” according to the report. This finding was also encouraging: “Fifty-eight percent of nonprofits recruited new donors, and 56 percent said they increased public awareness of their organizations among people in the region.” If there’s no funding to support a follow-up survey with this go-round, it would be great to build quick post-interaction survey technology into the website for the planned May 2014 event.

3.  Start getting nonprofits “socially” ready now for the May 2014 event. Looking at the websites for several of the established and successful one-day, sector-wide giving events, they appear to have secured the involvement of more media partners and more outreach partners (also known as “activators”). If April 29’s top-earners were more effective on Twitter (as I suspect), then it’s important to start building that capability now among nonprofits who are interested in the May 2014 event. It takes time to build connections.

I know what leaders of nonprofits are thinking. Twitter, ugh, who has the time? It’s a hate-love relationship at best. Until now, nonprofits haven’t had much evidence that there is a linkage between social media and donations. Online events like this one have the potential to change that dynamic.

4. Start now building relationships with more activators. I know the Arts Day of Giving folks had an event for people with the potential to be ambassadors and influencers for the event. And that tweets sent by @SacRegcf and @GiveLocalNow were re-tweeted by friends like @3FoldComm. But almost certainly more could be done to tap into Twitter users who create lists and use hashtags to “share the love” about causes and organizations that fit with their interests. Another great under-utilized communications resources in town is bloggers. Right here in River City there are political bloggers who write about causes; food bloggers who care about hunger, food literacy, health and nutrition; Mommy bloggers who write about things that affect children and the future of our community; fashion and thrift bloggers. Power Twitter users and bloggers could have even more impact that traditional news media for the one-day giving event; people who see their posts or tweets are already online and can most easily click to donate.

Give to the Max MN screen shot5.  Cultivate more media partners. In Minneapolis, for example, their Give to the Max Day (which raised $16+ million from over 53,000 donors) really pushed hard to for outreach partners and media partners.

Please don’t!

I fret about a few things when I ponder the future of online giving events here in Sacramento:

1.  Save us from contests, and don’t over-saturate us with Day of Giving events! I agree with this Forbes article that contests (“help us get the most votes to win $1,000!”) have largely worn out their welcome. As I was sniffing around the Internet, I noted that some communities, having proved the success of sector-wide giving events, are now planning multiple events per year. At that point, I think it could cannibalize donor sources of nonprofits or cause people ignore such events.

2.  What will happen to the user experience when hundreds of nonprofits are listed? The online tool set up for Arts Day of Giving was dead easy to navigate in part because there were only 80 organizations, and they were sliced into sub-categories like Visual Arts and Arts Education. It’s hard to imagine how easy it will be to surf and scan when potentially 10 times that many nonprofits are listed. I do know that some will exclude themselves by not getting around to creating profiles. But there are lots of nonprofits in Sacramento!

3.  The risks of cannibalization – or losing donors to other organizations. As more people “get” what these online giving days are about, and nonprofits adopt social media more, there are some downside risks. More people may donate through this channel rather than to the nonprofit directly, with slightly higher administrative costs. (Razoo.com, which supports many of the online fundraising events around the country, is nearly doubling its admin fees — from 2.9% to 4.9%, noting that great technology costs money to keep current.) However, we know that as many as half of the donors coming in through giving events are new to the charities AND that Sacramento lags national averages for giving. For a long while to come, all boats should rise with collaborative online giving events.

Give2Max tweet on home page4. Think twice or thrice before allowing individuals to fundraise. Razoo allows nonprofits or individuals to fundraise via their platform leading to tweets like the one at right. Razoo is a for-profit company (not that there’s anything wrong with that) that benefits from anything that increases contributions through its sites. I doubt that the Give Local Now folks would allow such individual appeals but I hope they continue to wave the banner of transparency for nonprofits. Raising awareness and promoting the integrity of nonprofits is just as important to this effort as is the actual money raised.

***As just added in “Do’s” #1, I did receive an electronic thank you with this bit at the bottom: P.S. “Your official donation acknowledgement/reciept from Capital Public Radio will be arriving by U.S. Postal Mail.”

Capitol Public Radio Thanks

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How to make a blog for nonprofits

Choosing what tool to deploy next can feel like this/gsbrown99 under CC

The virtual shopping aisle of digital communication tools is worse than a visit to Best Buy.  Where do you begin when you don’t understand half the features they’re talking about?  Redo your website?  Start with a Facebook page?  Begin with Twitter?  What about that new “plus” thing Google just launched (Google+)?

Each organization is going to have to consider its communications objectives, strategy and resources and then figure out how to begin chipping away.  A blog is a great communications utility to have in the mix (maybe not as fantastic as a universal remote, but worthy of investment).

Why blog?

1.  Blogging is good way to attract traffic to a website. As I’ve mentioned before, websites are still the best place to tell your story and convert the interested into the active.  If you incorporate keywords that people use to search, you have the potential to attract new visitors to your website.  (Click here for SEOmoz’s good beginner’s guide to Search Engine Optimization, the technique for identifying and building on keywords – hat tip Mashable.)  Blogs can be embedded right into a website.  Every time you publish a fresh story, voila!  Your website page is updated, too.  (It doesn’t even have to be your blog you embed if it’s relevant to your cause.  All it takes is an RSS feed.)

2.  Blogging is a great way to capture content, especially stories.  It’s best, of course, if community members share their stories directly, but that doesn’t usually happen right off the bat.  So you’re going to need to listen for and then relate stories.  And content is what you need to feed the every growing appetite of social media.

3.  Shortened blog links make great attachments to Facebook and Twitter posts.  If your message is interesting enough, you’ll get new people to look at what you have to say.  The “sharing” norm of Facebook and Twitter rapidly multiplies the people who are exposed to what you have to say.

How to get started blogging

A blog is dead easy to start, and free if you don’t count staff time.  You can set up a blog in 2-4 hours.  (It’s maintaining the habit that’s hard.)

1.  Choose your platform.  The biggies are WordPress and Blogspot.  Here’s one of the many debates out there about which is better.  Philanthrophile runs on WordPress, as do two other blogs I write.  In the fashionista community, there’s a general belief that Blogspot, because it’s a Google product, is preferred in Google searches.  I recently helped my son set up a blog on Blogspot (not published yet) and found that I preferred WordPress.  But maybe that’s because I’m used to it.

2.  Choose keywords.  In your Internet search bar, type “Google Adwords Tool.”  You may have to create a Google account if you don’t already have one, but this is a free tool you can use without signing up for Adwords.  Think of some phrases you might consider and input them, one per line.  Do NOT click the box “only show ideas closely related to my search terms.”  (The good stuff is the stuff you don’t think of.)  The tool will serve  up 100 results.  Pay attention to the “local monthly searches” column if you’re locally focused.  P.S. the original title of this post was “How – and why – to start a blog.”  I took my own medicine, did a quick Adwords search, and used the phrase “make a blog,” which would not be natural phrasing for me.  See the top 10 results from my Adwords search at the bottom.  P.S. key words are now critical for ANY form of communication that is shared digitally – from tweets, to website posts, to press releases.

3.  Set it up with one of the dozens of handy template options.  It’s easy.  Really.  It’s time for me to update the style of this one – maybe I’ll take my own medicine on that soon (the photo is one I took of clovers in Ireland – kind of a luck o’ the Irish talisman).  Take the time to enable widgets with a click – especially those that relate to sharing and subscribing.  In WordPress, they’re under the menu item “Appearance.”   I enabled the tools for email subscription (which almost no one does these days), RSS feed and social sharing.  It’s now easy to set up your blog to auto-publish to Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. Also take a minute to look at the tools for ipad and mobile.  I love the way my blog about my Dad looks on ipad (http://thehenrychronicles.com/)!

4.  Choose an idea, write a strong lead, and develop it.  Keep it short – less than 500 words.  (This one’s over 1,000 because it’s a tutorial.) Think what journalists do: give people a reason for continuing in the first 2-3 sentences.  Everyone has A.D.D. these days.  I chose to get into today’s topics with questions, for the same reasons that questions tend to provoke more engagement on Facebook.

5.  Add a photo at the top, which adds interest.  The photo does not have to be yours.  You can search for photos on flickr that are licensed for general use under a Creative Commons license (used the advance search feature to see only these).  They’ve made it a little trickier to find and use the URL, but it’s there under the “share” buttons (grab the link… you may have to fiddle a little.)

6.  Tag it.  Take full advantage of features like the ability to customize your own excerpt and tag your post with key words so that others may find it through organic search.  (I use categories, too, which are like file drawers, whereas tags are like file folder labels or cross-referencing labels.)

7.  Preview it, seriously.  If you don’t have someone to read your posts, then use the gift of time.  Save the draft and come back to it in an hour or two.  Review it with the preview feature before you press “publish.”

8.  Keep blogging.  Don’t think that you have to write the Constitution.  Some of my posts have been very short – literally 5-6 sentences introducing something I found interesting.  Just get in the habit.  Try it, maybe you’ll like it.

If you lose interest for a while, don’t drop it. It’s amazing to me that I haven’t killed my blog when I’ve ignored it for up to six months at a time.  If you’re writing good stuff, people will start to find it and link to it.  External links bring you followers even when you’re ignoring them.  Not that I recommend the practice… I’m just saying don’t give up!

And links to your own earlier blog posts can help your page ranking a little, meaning that you’ll come up higher when someone searches for topics you’ve tagged.

WordPress apparently understands that the interest of new bloggers may flag (even old bloggers like me).  When I published a post about my Dad this morning, up popped the screen below. Thanks, WordPress, but I don’t think I’ll be writing a post about what I’d do with a magic wand anytime soon… but then again…

Keyword Local Monthly Searches
blogging 368,000
free blog 301,000
how to make a blog 246,000
make a blog 246,000
make blog 246,000
how to do a blog 201,000
how to design a blog 135,000
how to get a blog 135,000
start blog 110,000
how do i start a blog 110,000

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Mirror, mirror: here’s how I use social media

Whats in your mirror?  Courtesy:  Lamerie/Flickr

What's in your mirror? Courtesy: Lamerie/Flickr

(A blog post in which I ask and answer the new-age questions about why I use social media the way I do, and why my teenage son uses it the way he does.)

If I had one of those now unemployed Ernst & Young business process consultants sitting next to me, watching how I use social media, here’s what they’d observe:

  • I receive frequent Facebook status updates by email, which are cryptic enough to make me go on the page and try to figure out what they were in reference to, e.g. “I know what you mean!  LOL!”  I noticed about two weeks ago that I STOPPED getting updates from my son.  Yup, he de-friended me.  Fortunately, one of his friends invited me to be her friend, so maybe I can vicariously keep a finger on the pulse that way.  (My son writes a lot of songs that he posts on Facebook, which I really miss seeing.  But he took the advice of a friend that maybe it isn’t such a hot idea to give your mother complete visibility on your life during your senior year in high school.)
  • LinkedIn status updates, which come every few days, are generally boring.  I really don’t care who people are connecting to.  I swear, there’s one former colleague who connects to four or five people a day.  In my head, I hear his voice in an echo chamber, exclaiming like Jafar in Disney’s Aladdin, “I’m the most powerful genie in the WORLD!”  I like to use LinkedIn for purely professional contacts, and I like having access to info about what my professional friends are doing these days.
  • Because I have been crazy busy the past few weeks, I turned off my mobile tweets that used to come through every few SECONDS (dial 40404 and then type ‘off’).  I plunge in every few days, always find good stuff right away, do a few tweets and jump back out of the Twitter ocean.  I also get the occasional DM (direct message), like one from @sacramentopress asking me if I could take some pics of the wild chickens in my neighborhood.  One of my son’s friends follows me on Twitter, although to be honest, I’m not sure she knows it’s me since I tweet as @philanthrophile.
  • I haven’t logged back in to my Google Reader yet, which makes me re-log in every two weeks.  I know if I start reading posts, I’ll want to blog and I haven’t had time this week.
  • And, obviously, I haven’t blogged for about two weeks.  I don’t let myself blog until after I’ve done the important project stuff.  It’s my treat to myself.  Really.  Silent running, of course, has had a predictably negative effect on traffic.  My blog traffic climbed to 1,640 views per month in July.  Strangely, traffic was up early this week but it’s in the dumper again after being silent for so long.
  • My number one tool for communication?  Email.  I am a monster on email.  For me, it is social.  I’m not a big fan of talking on the phone although I text a lot.

The same E&Y process consultant would observe the following re: my son:

  • His phone is an appendage, but not so much for talking.  It buzzes with new texts almost constantly.  During dinner last night, one friend – the same friend – texted him in three minute intervals.  “Okay,” I said finally, “you can respond to Glenn!”  When he answers a ring (the ring tone changes every few days – last night it was Rocky Horror picture show), the greeting is always the same, “Hey, what’s up?”  The conversation is always less than two minutes.  It is usually followed by a succession of other short calls or text messages to coordinate whatever’s happening.  He has moved past the grunting stage of teen communication but doesn’t really enjoy the phone.  Especially Skype calls.  Just ask his sister.
  • His next best electronic friend is Facebook.  It beats out his ipod and gaming.  If he goes to a concert, he posts photos within an hour.  He literally cannot go to bed without doing this.  He is almost immediately embraced by friends who ‘like’ his photo or make comments.  He uses Facebook to coordinate group activities.  Tuesday has become drive-in movie night this summer, so he uses his status update to find out who’s in.
  • He thinks it’s a little strange that I have adopted Twitter, when he hasn’t.  (We parents are not supposed to lead when it comes to electronic adoption.)  But then, only one of his friends is on Twitter, and I’m not sure he even knows that.
  • He checks email only under duress.  Seriously, he hates it.  He has a teacher that communicates that way and he knows colleges use it, but it’s like taking out the garbage – you have to be reminded.

This week, Mashable (the central repository for all things social media) has been talking about why teenagers don’t tweet, in response to Neilson data that teens represent only about a quarter of Twitter traffic (although it doesn’t count those doing it on mobile, so it under-represents them).  So I’ve been turning an anthropologist’s mirror on my own social media usage and that of my 17-year-old son’s, thinking about why we have the patterns that we do.  I don’t think it’s that complicated:

Facebook is really, really satisfying.  He was pulled into Facebook by his college-aged sister, but quickly preferred the cleaner interface and smaller amount of junk.  He doesn’t have to think about a 140 character limit.  The status bar is long enough to accomodate whatever he usually wants to say.

His Facebook traffic is limited to his friends (which do not include me as of two weeks ago).  You can be followed by anyone on Twitter.  Sure, you can actively block people – I block the X-rated types that regularly offer me naughty videos – but that takes effort.  He would rather more actively friend people or accept a friend invitation (or not).

Additional groups – via fan pages – are easy to engage with.  Friends send you a status report that they’re a member of, say, their high school’s fan group.  All you have to do is press connect and it’s linked to your Facebook page.  Your causes and fan pages become a part of your identity on Facebook.  That’s less true with Twitter twibes and LinkedIn groups, plus there are an irritating number of people in those groups who are essentially advertising themselves or their services.

Facebook handles media uploads really easily.  My son recorded a song in memory of our dog’s unexpected death via Facebook.  He didn’t even Flip video record it or record it on Garage Band, his built-in Mac Book tool.

Facebook turns him on to stuff on the Internet, like youtube videos.  He doesn’t spend much time surfing on the Internet.  I don’t know of any sites he checks regularly, other than, perhaps, Fandango.  But friends find stuff and post links as part of a status update.  Voila!  Internet finds thanks to Facebook.

Facebook is so much a part of his life he can’t imagine going on vacation without it.  I know how Michelle Obama feels.

Bottomline:  Facebook is a great product for his needs.  Until something better comes along, AND his friends migrate, he’s not going anywhere.

Unlike my son, I do not like to be electronically tethered when I’m on vaca  (see?  it feels like a tether to me and a lifeline to him… hmm…) … so don’t expect to see a post until on or about August 20th!  Off to meet my daughter in Europe!

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What I’ve learned about blogging in 9 months and 100 posts

My WordPress dashboard for the first 27 weeks of this year

My WordPress dashboard for the first 27 weeks of this year

Though I am slightly stunned from attending the midnight premiere of the new Harry Potter movie last night, I don’t want to fail to mark this little milestone:  my 100th post.  In my work helping small non-profits to build marketing capability, I found myself proselytizing about the importance of things like websites and the value of blogs.  Problem was, I’d never blogged.  But, as a surgeon once told me, “Brain surgery isn’t that hard.  See one, do one.”

It took me about 4 hours to set up a template on WordPress, and I wrote my first post last October.  While I know this blog meets my personal goals, I’d consider it fairly successful as an example of a professional blog that isn’t actively promoted or optimized for key search terms.  In this post, allow me to share the stats, the stupidest things I did, what’s worked best, and what I could do better.  I’ll also share a link to my personal favorite post and a link to the most searched-for post.

First, the numbers going in to today:

  • 99 posts (beginning in October 2008)
  • Lowest views/day:  in the teens
  • Busiest day:  246 views
  • Busiest week:  609 views
  • Comments:  57
  • Number of tags I’ve used:  236
  • Average frequency:  3 times a week
  • Sources of traffic:  tweets/re-tweets of links; links from other people’s blogs; occasional link on Mashable; searches – primarily for “communications plan template”

Without hesitation, the stupidest thing I’ve done (so far anyway) was to go completely silent for the month of June.  It was especially stupid because I’d had something of a breakthrough just a month before.  I joined Twitter and joined the active tweetstream at Nonprofit Technology Education Network conference in late April (which was a gas).  When I shared links to blog posts about sessions I attended, traffic on my blog shot up and stayed up.  I didn’t plan to go silent.  I just got overwhelmed with real-life stuff.  One day led to the next, and it got harder and harder to get back to blogging.  I poked fun at myself when I finally resurfaced.

What’s worked best is exchanging information across the range of social media.  I can’t believe how synergistic and intertwined social media are.  Topping the list is Twitter.  I am constantly turned on to great information thanks to tweets.  Quite a few people have stumbled across my posts that way — some through tweets generated by me, and some by others.  I love the fact that the LinkedIn WordPress app automatically posts thumbnails of my posts on my LinkedIn profile, and that I can use SlideShare to share content across platforms.  I use Facebook primarily for personal relationships, but occasionally it makes sense to mention a post there – and the post-a-link function makes it incredibly easy.  It’s easy, free and fun.  That’s a hell of a value equation.  (Drive with strategy and you’ve got a home run.)

I also think I’ve found a more comfortable voice, and a focus on topics of interest to beginners.  Lots of my peers are in my shoes — deep marketing experience but relative newcomers to social media.  I define everything when I write.  I assume that the non-profits who find my posts of interests are beginners and are trying to figure out their first steps.

I started to write a long list of what I could do better, but one of my self-criticisms is that I don’t ask for input enough.  What do YOU think I could do better?  What would you like to see me write more about, or less?

OK, I’ll work on that write-shorter-posts-thing next time (right about when I start using fewer parentheses).  I’m gonna close out with two links:

One of the things I’ve learned from reading other blogs (and there are some bloggers who are real heroes to me) is that most bloggers write because they like to do so.  Something about the experience of learning and thinking out loud is appealing to them.  That is certainly true of me.  Writing is a labor of love as is working with non-profits and causes.  Philanthrophile lets me think out loud about opportunities to have greater impact on the community – especially here in Sacramento, my home town.  Thanks for playing!


Filed under Blogging

Blogs: not close to extinction yet (what I want is “Friend Suck”)

Steve Rubel's Future of Blogging Mind Map

Steve Rubel's Future of Blogging Mind Map

Steve Rubel of Edelman Digital has taken a shot at describing possible evolutionary futures of blogging in the following mind map.  His prognostication, expanded in his Mashable post:  “One possibility is that blogs remain the primary social hub for many of us on the web but turn into lifestream sites that syndicate our content to and/or aggregate it from anywhere.”

Now, to be honest, that was a bit of a “huh?” for me.  Especially “lifestream sites.”  (I betcha Edelman has service marked that one already.)  But let me ‘splain what I think he means with this example.  Right now, I have several tools that I use to support my relationships in various spheres of my life including Facebook for friends and family, and LinkedIn for professional relationships.  LinkedIn is my professional hub.  I installed their wordpress tool so that this blog shows up in snippet form on my public LinkedIn profile.  I joined a couple of LinkedIn groups, such as the Social Media Caffe.  Highlights from that group show up on my LinkedIn page, as do publications and recommendations that are posted by people in my network.  I’ve found some of these updates and recommendations to be useful, although there’s a bunch that I consider to be SPAM.

I’d love it if there was a way to see all of my social media at once.  Thus far, I haven’t seen anything that, in one screen, gives me windows into the various social media places I hang out.  I’ve seen people experimenting with their own RSS feeds/displays (kind of like Mashable, but personalized).   Tools like TweetDeck are nibbling around the edges by allowing you to see real-time status updates from Facebook (it shows up in an added column), but you can’t feed LinkedIn updates that way.  And, of course, TweetDeck wants you to love Twitter best and just bring other social media as second fiddle.  Amplify and Friend Feed let you share stuff you’ve read and liked across social media platforms, but they don’t work in reverse.  I guess what I need is a social media vacuum, but something called “Friend Suck” just doesn’t sound right.

In foreseeing the possible demise of blogs, Steve ignores the important role they play in Search Engine Optimization.  Blogs keep website content fresh, and have a big effect on natural search results, at least the way that the Google algorithm works right now.  Blogs as we know and love them aren’t going away any time soon.  But I can hardly wait for “Friend Suck” to deliver my favorite blogs and social media status updates in one place.

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Searching for Mr. Right Now: my top 5 tips for non-profits

Read this!  (Image thanks to 427 via Flickr, Creative Commons license)

Read this! (Image thanks to "427" via Flickr, Creative Commons license)

There’s Mr. Right, and there’s Mr. Right Now.  The blogosphere is rife with opinions about the very-most-important tools and tactics for non-profits.  When working with small, local non-profits, it can take six months (or more) to implement the very most basic of basics.  While I think that Facebook in particular is an important part of the marketing mix, it’s a “Mr. Right” but not necessarily a “Mr. Right Now.”

Here are my top five nominations for “Mr. Right Now” when it comes to non-profit tactics:

  • Website – All roads lead to the website, or they should.  Whether people stumble across you through search, or are looking for your website to respond to something, you need to make sure your website is prepared with the right content to inform people, the right look and feel to move people, and the right navigation to help people.  Websites are digital brick and mortar.
  • Email/e-newsletter – Even if Facebook traffic now rivals emails, many of the constituents who will give to your mission still prefer email.  Email and enewsletters are also superior for their ability to target both cultivation and appeal messages.
  • Blogging – In my experience, this is the hardest sell.  Misconceptions abound: blogs are full of snark, blogs are a waste of time, blogs will send forth droves of creepy stalkers after me or my staff.  Blogs are a great, immediate way to collect and share stories about the work your non-profit is doing.  They are also one of the very best ways to keep websites fresh and attract search traffic.
  • Media relations – This now incorporates both traditional media and online media.  It’s hard to beat the boost in credibility that comes with a feature story.  I’ve written a lot about how non-profits need to begin to identify who blogs about their issues locally, given that most traditional news outlets have had to make radical cuts in staff.  Online newspapers, like Sacramento Press here, are also gaining steam.
  • Messaging – OK this doesn’t fall into the tactical bucket; it’s strategic.  Many bootstrap non-profits have poor names and rely on their mission statements to communicate their value.  Short of name-changing, it’s vital to have a brief – like seven words brief – tagline or statement that informs and inspires.  No wonder America’s Second Harvest changed their name to Feeding America.  It’s also important to put appeals in a context by “campaignizing” them.  How much do you need now, by when, and why?  In today’s turmoil, people need a really good reason to part with their dough or get involved.

I blogged back in April about John Kenyon’s perspective on chicken-or-egg dilemmas when it comes to non-profit marketing.  John’s a strong believer in website and emails being top priority.  Yesterday, Beth Kanter published a guest post from Jordan Viator who interviewed David Neff of American Cancer Society’s High Plains division for the Connection Cafe.  David’s top five includes website and email, but he also puts Facebook, videos and file sharing on his list.  About Facebook, he says, “If you concentrate on one social networking tool that’s out there, I would say get on Facebook and make sure you make your presence known.”  You’ll find David’s tips explained best in the video embedded in Jordan’s post.

I’m recommending Facebook, too, but often in the second six-month period of a plan, after the very-most-important pieces are in place.

What’s in your top five?

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Chicken or egg dilemma for nonprofits – what’s first: website, email, Facebook, Twitter?


Kathy Gill tweets - what's first?

Kathy Gill tweets - what's first?

I listen when the universe sends me the same message twice in one day.  Yesterday morning, I saw the Twitter post (pictured) from Kathy Gill, University of Washington’s social media senior lecturer.  Attending NTEN’s “Effective Online Communications,” John Kenyon, consultant, asked (and answered) the same question about which online communications component should come first.

Here’s what he said:  “Your website and email are the foundation of your online strategy.”

Here’s what I had tweeted back to Kathy earlier in the day:  “For commercial co, optimize website 1st, then blog and newsletter.”

Came across a summary of a new study (hat tip:  Mack Collier) that suggests blogs are going to play an even bigger role for commercial enterprises going forward.

For a nonprofit, I agree with John.  Make the website sing, and build off of that!  (Kathy, if you happen to see this post I want to know what answers you received from your Twitter followers!)


Filed under Strategy, Websites

On the hunt for hyper-local online news outlets (and content generators)

Last month in my March 15 and 17th posts, I put some thought into the collapse of traditional news media and what it means for organizations that still need to spread the word about their causes.  I said it would become more important to find purveyors of local news — some of whom would be connected individuals who blog and twitter, and some of which would be online news-gathering/reporting sites that purport to focus on communities and neighborhoods.  In my last blog post, I reported on outside.in and concluded that it just isn’t there yet as a source of local news.

As for the present state, I couldn’t agree more with the conclusions of Esther Thorson and Margaret Duffy of the Missouri School of Journalism, who recently reported their research finding that “despite ongoing reports of financial troubles and cutbacks, legacy media are more comprehensive and more technologically advanced than citizen media and bloggers.”  Duffy, faculty chair in strategic communications of the Journalism School, noted that “topic coverage on blogs and citizen new sites is generally narrow and the sourcing is light.”

I am, however, hopeful, that local alternatives will emerge to shore up shrinking traditional news resources.  Here is my progress report on two sites that are trying to become portals for local news (“hyper-local”) created by locals (“user generated content”):

Newsvine.com says it is “updated continuously by citizens like you…an instant reflection of what the world is talking about at any given moment.”  Newsvine consists of links to articles “seeded” by individuals in the community.  Here in Sacramento, those stories come primarily from the Sacramento Bee and Associated Press.  Only one of the “top seeds” comes from a blog, one devoted to music, Two Songbirds Press.  The columnists are a little more interesting – although not necessarily in a good way.  Here’s a verbatim excerpt from Ms. V’s column (she writes with that alias and no photo thumbnail), writing about “Working Under CPS Rules“:

I am a licsenced home daycare provider iam writing the article so the outside could look in.
I’ve been licencsed since 2006. During that time until now i’ve been lie to lied on ducoments have been falsefied to cover others behind.

(Another aside:  I actually stumbled across Newsvine by noticing the widget on Sutter Medical Center’s website (www.checksutterfirst.org).  I find it curious that Sutter picked this site – even more curious that they posted a widget for reddit.com, which is outright foul about half the time.)

Patch.com, in beta testing, is a platform that can be used to create “comprehensive and trusted local coverage for towns and communities.”  I heard Jon Brod, their CEO and founder, on NPR.  It’s promising – but it’s not here in Sacramento yet.  I do like what they’re doing in towns like Maplewood, but I really, really hope they include more info about opportunities to get involved in local non-profit causes! (“Volunteer” and “Essential Maplewood” might include these opportunities but I’m not sure these category labels would jump off the page for someone who is enthusiastic about making a difference locally; instead they may turn to portals like volunteermatch.org, or charity navigator.)

Until better local portals develop, my strategy is to actively scan for locals who use social media to comment on opportunities to get involved or support causes.  I’d love to find some who are gathering a following.  To find them, I’m using:

Twitter, which has a search function that allows you to identify Twitterers who say they Twitter about where you live.

WordPress‘ tag surfing function, which can deliver blog posts where Sacramento has been tagged.

Got great local sources re: Sacramento?  Philanthrophile wants to know!

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Filed under public relations, Sacramento

Get out there and get messy!

Ms. Frizzle of Magic School Bus has always been one of my heroes, especially for her encouragement to “get out there and get messy” – her way of encouraging kids to explore science by messin’ around.  As media collapses, it’s more important for non-profits to take Ms. Frizzle’s advice by participating online where people already are — on Facebook, on news websites, on Twitter, etc. (More here about collapse of media and consequences/strategies for non-profitsand here.)

When you comment, you are often asked to identify yourself, to complete a profile, or to list a URL where more information may be found about you.  We’re all hinky about privacy issues, but as a representative or advocate of a non-profit cause or organization, you want people to get to know you, at least a little.  So that means you should have a URL where you list a profile.  I usually use my blog URL, but I also have a profile on LinkedIn and I’ve also created one on the Sacramento Bee site since I’ve commented on the editor’s forum there.  I also created one on NTEN Connect, an interactive site set up to complement a conference I’m attending.

David Meerman Scott of Web Ink Now reminds us that you can create a basic profile on GoogleFollow this link for more info and to get started.

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Filed under Social media

Philanthrophile’s been tweeted about!

Was adding a subscription into my RSS feeder and noticed that you could just use the name of the blog and Google Reader would fetch up matches – easier than looking up the URL.  Furthermore it told me how many people Reader counts as subscribing to that blog.  Hmm… I wondered… could I find Philanthrophile?   I did, and in the search results, I saw that impactmax had sent out the following tweet on March 17th:

Fab Philanthrophile post on 5 emerging opportunities for nonprofits from changes in mass media

And sure enough, the link took me to my post.  Oh, pshaw!  It’s my first “fab” notice!  Had to share.  Moment of fame now over…

Impactmax, by the way, has more than 200 followers on Twitter.  It – she – is a Minneapolis-based communications consultant.

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Filed under Uncategorized