Archives for December 2009

Dec 17

Where Do You Stand on Social Media?

Paul Massey

At Thanksgiving last month, my 92-year-old grandfather and I had a great conversation about Twitter.  That’s right, in between catching up and eating, we talked about social media and the latest ways that people are connecting, sharing information and building and strengthening relationships.  He knows it’s a topic that I’m interested in – particularly how nonprofits and foundations are innovating and experimenting with social media. 

Around the same time, the fine people at the Bulldog Reporter asked if I would write a piece on a recent survey we launched with KRC Research on the value and benefits of social media for nonprofits and foundations.  And, well, I thought the only fair place to begin the piece was the conversation I had with my grandfather. 


The piece posted this morning.  It talks about what we learned in our survey, some social media success stories from the Case Foundation, CARE and Do Something, and what implications the evolving social web has for strategic communications professionals.   I hope you’ll check it out in between your end-of-year projects at work and finishing your holiday gift shopping.


Dec 12

‘Tis The Season… For Year-End Online Fundraising Tips

Adrienne Caruso

It’s the holiday season, whether we’re ready or not. Along with jam-packed shopping centers, the return of my favorite seasonal coffee flavors and the inevitable panicky drivers during the first D.C. snow, it’s also the peak giving season.  I’m not talking gifts for family and friends, but charitable giving – doing some good in the world for those in need.

A study released last week by Convio tells us that online giving will exceed $4 billion this year. The study also showed that more and more people are giving to charities online – 63 percent of U.S. consumers surveyed plan to do so this year, compared to last year’s 51 percent.  As I read these findings (online, of course) I thought about the best ways to offer strategy to nonprofit clients who are going through this critical time of year.

To gain further insight into the year-end fundraising frenzy faced by nonprofits, I joined a webinar hosted by Network for Good entitled “The 2009 Procrastinator’s Guide to Year-End Fundraising.” Yes, I suppose that by December this is something that most organizations have probably already planned in detail, but I was surprised to learn that there are a number of things organizations can do in this critical period to impact their year-end fundraising. (Check out the webinar’s speakers and download the presentation here).

We’ve discussed online fundraising here before, but I want to share the following insights that will make a difference in the next few critical weeks. Things that may seem obvious, but can filter to the bottom of priority lists as the busy season ramps up.

•    Inspire your donors. In addition to multiple fundraising asks this month , share inspirational stories, build passion and connect your donors to the great work you do. (Check out our former client AmeriCares take on inspiring donors for the holiday season – “Send Your Mother-In-Law To Darfur!”)

•    Optimize your donation forms. Make the online donation process as easy as possible – keep forms short, only gather necessary information from donors, and have a good error handling system.

•    “Why Donate?”  On your Web site, make a case to your donors about why they should give. Give credentials here (Charity Navigator ratings come to mind), share success stories, and clearly link to the donation form.

•    Thank your donors. Seems simple, right? But thanking your donors – more than once – can go a long way. Tell them how much money they’re helping you raise, ask them for feedback, and send new donors a welcome email. Creating a two-way relationship with your donor base will make them feel invested in the work you do.

These are all things that can be put into place easily within the next few weeks. I know I’ll be paying closer attention to the email solicitation I get from organizations I’ve given to, but also feel armed and ready to answer questions and offer insight to a number of nonprofits that we work with as they power through the next few critical weeks of fundraising.

Dec 3

Creating a Flare for the Dramatic in Young People


As a young kid, I was a bit of a talker. By the time I was in first grade, my classroom outbursts led me to be labeled a behavior problem.

Luckily for me, my second grade teacher Mrs. Watson realized that my “creative energy” wasn’t being channeled in the right way. She helped me use my flare for the dramatic as an advantage — not an impairment — by casting me as the female leading role in our class play. I have her to thank for providing me with the right start at a very early age.

But since not all young kids have a Mrs. Watson, we must lean heavily on the many organizations that give children the resources and tools to succeed in life and stay in school. Organizations like…

  • iMentor, which uses its iMentor 2.0 YouTube channel to showcase stories about real mentors and the students’ lives they improve. It helps connect audiences to the true-life stories of mentors and mentees from across the country.
  • Boys & Girls Clubs of America, which used Facebook and Twitter to drive traffic to their Day for Kids online pledge. By leveraging these active social media networks, they’re increased awareness about a core element of their campaign to establish stronger relationships between adults and youth. 

Increasingly, nonprofits that invest in the futures of our children are finding that communications channels like blogs, vlogs (video blogs), Twitter and Facebook are helping them spread the word faster. And we need the word to spread like wildfire.

I recently read the National Governors Association’s “Achieving Graduation For All” and learned that dropouts cost the U.S. more than $300 billion annually in lost wages and increased public-sector expenses. And that the U.S. ranks 20 out of 28 among industrialized democracies on high school graduation rates. In the wise words of  America’s Promise Alliance Chair Alma Powell, “The well-being of our children has a direct bearing on their success in school and beyond. It shapes their futures. And the kind of future children enjoy determines the future of nations.”

The role of communications isn’t only to raise awareness about the individual successes of an organization, but it can help elevate the urgency of the dropout crisis, highlight viable solutions and show how caring adults and others can help.


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