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The thing I tell people in my Board Development, Fundraising, Budgeting, and Marketing and Social Media workshops,  all of them, is,
“If you think you are running this show, you may as shut your organization down now.”  What runs your nonprofit are market conditions, changing needs of your clientele, changing board dynamics, how well your organization is moving toward your long term vision, or not.

The Founder or Executive Director often thinks, they are running the show.  They are not.  If they maintain that course, they are going to make a lot of people, ie. staff, donors, community, clientele, board members, very unhappy over time.

Beth Kanter’s latest social media blog post speaks to how to use social media to stop doing it all yourself.   As she so astutely points out, if you don’t think you have time to explore social media, you may be creating quite a crisis for yourself down the road.   And, why would you think YOU have to create your social media structure and campaign structure yourself anyway?  You’re not even qualified.

Get resourceful.  Create a task force.  Create an entire committee and give them a goal.  A great goal to give them would be a “We want to raise $25,000 via social media in the next (whatever time frame).   Get on it.”  goal.   And of course, you’d want to enroll and enlist people to that task force that would love playing that game.   Not you, the founder, who thinks social media is something your grandchild does when he should be, well, whatever you think he should be doing.   I mean how long does it take to create a good committee.  Well if you go to your existing board and lazily expect them to reorganize themselves into a new function, well, you’ll never get a social media program going.  If you give the matter just half an ounce of thought, you’ll realize,  we can create this committee and recruit some spectacular local talent, they get to know us, we get to know them.  Our board is educated as well left unburdened.  We have fresh dynamic energy flowing the the top layer of our organization for the duration of the project, win, win, win, win, win!  Don’t burden your board with yet another task.  Bring them a present and don’t let them turn the present down.   Think for a minute on what you want social networking to do for your organization and assign a team of fresh people to get it done.

Beth’s articles are always on the leading edge, relevant, related and implementable.  http://www.bethkanter.org/simplicity-netnon/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+bethblog+%28Beth%27s+Blog%29 Enjoy.

Using Social Media To Accomplish More With Less

I don’t have time for social media

Join me on Tuesday, July 14 at 1 PM EST/1o am PST for a webinar hosted by Networked for Good “Using Social Media to Accomplish More with Less.”    It’s free and three lucky participants will win a copy of the book.  I’ll be talking about some of themes in the book and sharing some tips for streamlining your social media use.

One of the most common questions I hear is when I do workshops is, “How much time does it take to do social media?”.  It is usually followed by an observation that the organization is so resourced and time strapped that they can’t invest time doing anything that doesn’t provide an immediate and maximized return.   So, they don’t go further with their social media.  A common mistake.

One of the thing that Networked Nonprofits have in common is simplicity.   It clarifies organizations and forces them to focus their energy on what they do best, while leveraging resources of their networks for the rest.   Simplicity powers more informal connections between people, blurs boundaries, and enables nonprofits to scale efforts better than a single organization could.

Embracing simplicity helps nonprofits move from scarcity lens to that of abundance and allows them to leverage their networks through social media.  Here’s a couple of examples:

The SFSPCA has connected with social media savvy volunteers that now create content and manage some of their social media channels such as the Litter Did You Know blog and YouTube Channel.

Los Angeles Universal Preschool Parent Ambassadors on Facebook

Los Angeles Universal Preschool mission is to make voluntary, high-quality preschool available to every 4-year-old in Los Angeles County, regardless of their family’s income.  They have a group of parent ambassadors who work on land to spread the word about high quality preschool.  This group also has a Facebook Fan Page where they provide the same role online.

Preschool California uses Twitter to connect with journalists.  They discovered that Tweets are more informal, less time consuming than email so journalists may be more likely to read.   Despite only having a few interactions with reporters, Preschool California still retweeted and commented on a number of articles, garnering responses from other advocates and interested Twitter users, which helped increase their issue exposure to a larger audience that focus on early childhood education and are using Twitter.

Using social media can help nonprofits find people and other organizations with good ideas an interest in working together.  This is the leverage that they need to stop doing everything alone while ensure that a lot is getting done in their networks.     These organizations and people are right there, in the network, on Facebook or Twitter, waiting to connect with and support your organization’s efforts.

How are you using social media to accomplish more with less?  Have a story?   Leave it in the comments below and win a free copy of the book or this nifty Networked Nonprofit t-shirt created by NTEN.

Fundraisers don’t ask for money, we offer opportunities. – Doug Lawson

This is one thing heartfelt cause-driven nonprofits often leave out of their thinking.   Asking for money is really not about what you can get.  It’s about what you are offering your donor, in the way of a social engagement, an opportunity to make a tangible or direct difference for someone, an opportunity to engage in a community they would otherwise not have access to, all kinds of opportunities the list is endless.   Instead, amateur fundraisers still give out their need-based cry of  “HELP US!”  and the donors all say… “Again?”

We have now entered the Social Media era, which is experience driven, so, offering books, calendars, chachkis will only work on the over 60 crowd and I guess a couple of other people who like ‘stuff’.   But, for the rest of us we want to KNOW our dollars did SOMETHING.  So, include us in an experience, take us with you on a service run whether by video or by an authentic photo in our thank you letter.   Show us THE toothbrush you handed a homeless person and some smiles.   Let us choose the country we are going to provide assistance to.   This kind of donor care takes effort, but it can save you millions in postage in no response Direct Mail letters.

Your donors are worth attending to.  The average online gift is $83 dollars.   You can offer your donors a much higher level of participation by connecting to them online.   At the very least, establish a competent task force that begins to move your organization to creative, high level, on-line donor participation.  It will really provide a higher level of creative stewardship and donor appreciation in all of your fundraising programs.

In true social media form I’m stealing a post from Barbara Talisman, who borrowed her gems for her post from Author and Fundraising Veteran, Doug Lawson.  Enjoy and learn from two pinnacles of fundraising on The How of being a Great Fundraiser.  http://talismantol.wordpress.com/2010/07/08/great-fundraiser-2/

To Be a Great Fundraiser – Thanks Douglas Lawson

July 8, 2010 <!–Barbara Talisman–>

Continuing on my thoughts about being a great fundraiser, I have been inspired by a generous sharer Chris Brogan in the previous post and today by an icon in the nonprofit sector, Dr. Douglas M. Lawson, Founding Chairman of Lawson Associates, Inc.

I had the great, good fortune to hear Dr. Lawson speak about the art of being a great fundraiser. This is not the first time I heard Doug speak. I was fortunate to learn from him early in my fundraising career. I have a resource file and STILL have a copy of his article “The Artful Asker” published in Fund Raising Management, April 1996. It is one resource I have kept all these years because it stands the test of time. Doug writes about what makes a successful major gift fundraiser. And if you have not read his book, More Give to Live: How Giving Can Change Your Life, get it and read it now!

To follow up from my post on Nonprofit Fundraising = Confidence and Conviction – Doug shared his vast experience and inspired ideas about how and what it takes to be a great fundraiser. (Italics are my additions)

Doug shared what he thinks (and I agree!) are the skills needed to be a great fundraiser:

  • It’s helpful to have a humanities background
  • Some finance background is good – But can certainly be learned
  • Sales and marketing focus – We must be able to communicate our message effectively
  • Life of giving is necessary – This rule must start with us. How can we ask, train or empower others to give when we have not done so ourselves or can understand the power and feeling you get from making a gift that makes a difference?

Doug says GREAT fundraisers:

  • Listen more than they talk – It is ALL about donor interests and we need to find out what they are.
  • Participate in cultivation and solicitation process – As well as supporting, train and lead volunteers
  • Inspire and inform – Doug talks about offering opportunities – not about asking for a gift.
  • Experience the joy of giving – see above on a life of giving

Doug inspired and engaged me while he talked. He shared generously of his experiences, mistakes and successes. One of his many pearls of wisdom,

“Fundraisers don’t ask for money, we offer opportunities.”

It was like a lightning bolt – for many years I have said we (fundraisers) offer opportunities and education. NOW I remember, it was Doug Lawson who said the same thing at a session I attended when I was a new fundraiser many, many years ago. It stuck in my brain. At the time, I may not have fully comprehended what he was saying. Today, I know what it means, practice offering opportunity all the time and inspire volunteers, leaders and donors to do the same.

If you see Doug Lawson on a conference roster, hear about him speaking somewhere near you – run, do not walk, to learn from him! He is a great fundraiser and generous speaker. I have always been energized, excited and honored to be a fundraiser – Doug reminded me why.

Nonprofit News

Flickr

A retro photo from my era via Flickr

This week: Staffing

From The Chronicle of Philanthropy, Peter Panepento is hosting a LinkedIn discussion on staffing trends.  How do organizations retain their best talent and survive the remainder of this economic recovery?  Is that the real issue?  The Chronicle has posted a survey and would like to know how your organization is handling staffing concerns in the down economy.

Another discussion leads to a little fundraising tool that could be very effective for social savvy nonprofits.  The tool allows staff members and supporters to generate revenue for your cause with every web search they perform.  I used one of these for a charity recently and earned them a dollar in 24 hours.  I then updated my Firefox browser and the search tool disappeared.  I’m sure we’ll reconnect soon.

My new favorite nonprofit blog, Barbara Talisman’s Talisman Thinking Out Loud My favorite category on her blog is Engaging Volunteers. My favorite article, which may become increasingly important over the next 18 to 24 months, Interview Preparation, detailing best interview practices and practical considerations when interviewing with a nonprofit.

Follow Barbara Talisman @ BTalisman and at her website www.3talisman.com

Finally, a note from Jeff Bula’s Internet Marketing Blog: “Is Twitter Dysfunctional?”  I’ll  let you read his assessment for yourself.

Last week: Beth’s Blog

Beth’s Blog: How Nonprofits Can Effectively Use Twitter Hashtags – Leveraging Hashtags

So You Want to be a Philanthropy Consultant – 15 Things to Do Now & Considerations

Social Networking Tidbits

50 Ways to Get to Get Your Give On a blog article from Mashable published last year.   You could triple this list by now.  There is some good stuff here.

Facebook now has 200 Million ACTIVE users.  If you think that’s not a giving market ripe for the picking, I don’t know what to do for you.  Facebook, in true Millennium Values fashion, continues to add features and apps for charity fundraising.   People like to give and Facebook is adding ways to play.  New Charity Fundraising Apps from Facebook.

Featured Nonprofit Blog

An excerpt from Jeff’s latest post:

“The biggest roadblock to humanitarian work around the world is lack of local ownership. Throwing western aid at poor countries actually fosters that mentailty.

That’s why in our TCD model we don’t do ANYTHING in a village unless they have decided it needs done and have invested of themselves FIRST.”

This blog serves most obviously as an accountability record of the consistent and tangible progress this organization makes in restoring villages and communities that have been impacted by war, illness and famine.   This blog features stories from the field effectively keeping donors and volunteers educated, informed and up to date with program outcomes and upcoming projects.  It’s attractive and always accurate. Zero fluff here.

Tweaked My Heartstrings This Week

I fell in love with these and have to share them.  These just look like cookies you’d eat on a Summer afternoon.  Got to get that last little bit of summer in.   Banana Flip Cookies

Go Betty

There is a feeling in the nonprofit fundraising world that all the causes are looking for the same piece of funding pie, market share, volunteer pool.  The idea seems to be carrying into the online fundraising arena.  What is actually available, though, are new levels of engagement with people who you may never have had access to before and the opportunity to mobilize them on your behalf at unprecedented levels.

I stole this post from Beth’s Blog, the ‘go to’ resource for nonprofits using Social Media.   This copy below is a chunk from the original post.  It lists and describes the 5 stages of building a relationship with donors.  I wanted to share it.   It is edited for brevity, you can read the entire article here.


The Five Phases

Online movements are successful because they marry the right set of opportunities for engagement with a level of awareness and passion among the target audience.

Let’s review: Its not about the technology.

Strategic organizations must move through five phases of relationship building in order to establish a trusted relationship with a long term giver or supporter: 1) Listening, 2) Introduction, 3) Education, 4) Engagement, and finally 5) Mobilization

3199587450_539c5da185Listening: Before you launch any communications effort, it is necessary that the organization understand more thoroughly who the online audience is, what their interest and willingness to participate in your efforts might include and are driven by, and what will drive them to engage and take action around this issue.  The social rules now are continuously changing so stay plugged in.

Introduction: Organizations need to find ways to put issues in front of their target audience – to generate interest, prompt curiosity, and begin to build awareness.  Introduce key voices representing the organization and their work. Seed discussions about your issues by participating in existing  social networking and community conversations and sites where the target audience is likely to spend time.  Reach out to bloggers.   Encourage supporters to speak for your cause.  A strong introduction and increased attention fuel what follows.

134329985_d9259a07fdEducation: Cause administrators  often underestimate the complexity of their issues.  The result – low levels of participation and limited impact.  The solution – when issues are complex organizations need to spend significant time and energy educating. Engage your target audience, with response driven content, polls, public inquiries, live forums, interactive blog posts.  Regardless of  form, the results of target audience education and self education should be in place before any significant outreach effort has begun.  This allows, effective use of time and resources, invested audiences, accuracy of intent and participant ownership in the cause or endeavor.

Engagement: Engagement happens at the level of signing a petition or recruiting a friend  to empowered citizens creating and initiating new  actions to help grow and expand a campaign.  As awareness and understanding about the issue grows, it is possible to engage the audience more deeply, and to further expand the reach and impact of the campaign.  Until that happens, moving quickly to request action or financial commitment from your audience won’t work.   A single donation, particularly one resulting from a relationship to someone who is already part of your network, does not mean that your new supporter is interested in a relationship with your organization.  Organizations need to identify ways the target audience can engage and participate meaningfully and provide interactive tools and support to make that possible.

1795262311_0ba9429de1Mobilization: Finally, organizations will need to identify ways to activate and mobilize its audience,  beyond building a large list, sending emails to Congress, or signing a petition.   Those activities are not  sufficient to bring about the level of engagement that builds large sustainable action groups.   In fact, the very nature of Facebook Causes — and its ability to standardize and simplify the ways that audiences can get involved in issues online — now means that every group needs to find new and better ways to distinguish themselves and their work.

The challenge seems to be developing engaging strategies to  continuously engage and reengage those one time givers and clickers to come back for more.  Have participation centers, like blogs, microblogs, wikis, pages, and groups.  Offer subscribers and followers something in the way of video, education tools, events, tours, or benefit programs to keep donors participating.  Schedule your ask events as or at the culmination of a series of other events.   Make your cause their cause.   Your job is to empower your target market to actualize your policy and fundraising objectives.  They won’t do that if you’re not standing with them.  Get to know your audience and what is important to them so that they’ll know what’s important to you.