Marketing & Communications

getting attention 2010 Nonprofit Tagline Awards logoAre you proud of your organization’s tagline?  Does it summarize your mission in a quick and memorable little bundle?

Strut your stuff at the 2010 Nonprofit Tagline Awards.  Nancy Schwartz’s Getting Attention blog annually highlights the best collections of a few well-chosen words that organizations use to help people understand and remember their mission.  While your mission statement guides internal decision-making and provides depth of meaning to those who have decided to work or volunteer with you, a tagline helps you communicate with those who have just encountered you for the first time.

You can submit taglines in several categories – for the agency, for a program or for a fundraising or marketing campaign.n Everyone who submits a tagline gets the report when it gets published.   You can learn from the winners and maybe get inspired to overhaul your tagline.

Bring home the trophy!

[Note: There is no trophy.]

You can submit taglines in several categories – for the agency, for a program or for a fundraising or marketing campaign.

flickr photo: David Michael Morris - Lecturn view

Editor’s note: I posted this quote moments after it came to my mind.  It haunted me some through the day, so I workshopped it.  I think I like this version better:

The successful presenter worries as much about what he knows the audience to want as about what he wants the audience to know.

A few months back, I reviewed Garr Reynolds very helpful book Presentation Zen.  Imagine my delight when I discovered that there’s a DVD version.

It’s good.  The book doesn’t take that long to read, but the DVD can be digested in just 50 minutes.   What’s more, it solves a tricky problem with sharing Reynolds’s material: his examples of slides that are broken and then fixed are so perfect in the book that you’ll wish you had them in PowerPoint as a teaching tool.  The DVD provides you with a terrific visual tool that contains the before and after solutions Reynolds proposes.  The chapter menu helpfully breaks the DVD down into sections on preparation, design and delivery.  That way, each section can be shared and discussed on its own if 50 minutes is too much time to block out.

I’d still recommend getting the book, but the movie is, as always, a decent shortcut.  Most offices have microwave popcorn somewhere.

Here’s a link to the trailer:

Raise your hand if you remember dial-up Internet access.  For those of us who got online early in the game before broadband was affordable and readily available, you’ll remember it well.  Dialing up (waaah, dee do dee do dee, hissss), and then going to get a cup of coffee while waiting for pages to load.  Forget doing anything fancy, like watching videos or even viewing pages with a lot of photos.  Thank goodness social networking sites like Facebook and YouTube weren’t around back then – almost nobody would have been able to use them.

If you have broadband (cable, DSL, etc.) Internet access at work or home, I bet you take it for granted.  Broadband is available everywhere in the U.S. these days, right?

Wrong.  Broadband Internet access is still lacking in many rural parts of the United States, even right here in Pennsylvania.  Even in places you’d expect it to be.

For example, consider the case of a Beaver County nonprofit called the Independence Conservancy.  Victoria Michaels, executive director of this all-volunteer organization, works from her home office located about 6 miles from downtown Beaver.  She spent many years using dial-up, half-jokingly referring to it as her “tin-can-on-a-string” Internet access.  She has spoken to all of the neighbors who live on her road – everyone wants and is willing to pay for broadband access.  Unfortunately, no company will run the line down their road, Verizon, Comcast or otherwise.  She and a few neighbors have recently settled for obtaining a satellite dish for access, but she says it is almost as slow as the dial-up.  She still cannot view videos and multimedia or participate easily on social media sites.

Vicky Michaels goofing on her "Tin-Can-on-a-String" Internet access.

Vicky Michaels goofing on her "Tin-Can-on-a-String" Internet access.

Here are some considerations for nonprofits serving rural populations:

  1. Is your website usable for all constituents in your target audience?  Have you optimized it so that people with dial-up and slower Internet access can easily view it?  Or, is it attractive (lots of pics and interactivity) but takes forever to load.  If you serve rural populations, consider the implications involved.  You cannot assume everyone can access your site or that they can access all components of your site.
  2. Social media still excludes many people in rural areas because they do not have enough bandwidth to get the various tools like Facebook or YouTube to operate efficiently (if at all).
  3. Emails with large file attachments (PDF newsletters, photos, etc.) can be nearly impossible for people with dial-up to download.

Until broadband has truly become available everywhere, your organization will need to consider its rural constituents and continue to provide alternative ways for those people to access your agency’s information and to participate.

For statistics on Internet access in rural Pennsylvania, check out this fact sheet from the Center for Rural Pennsylvania:

Here’s some good news on this front – vice president Biden recently announced rural PA broadband funding:

That was then, this is now.

I just finished reading a fascinating, revelatory book by Clay Shirky called Here Comes Everybody.   shirkyIt’s about the radical changes in this brave new world we’re inhabiting when it comes to things like communications, organizing, publication…

We all know it’s going on.  From texting to blogging to Facebook to tweeting, everything’s different from the way it was last century, last year, heck, almost last week.

For old folks like me, we know Web 2.0 is out there, we may even use some of the tools, but we don’t really “get it.”  In fact, to some extent, we never will.  For example, at my house we have grad students living next door to us.  My wife and I have been stunned by how unfriendly they are when we pass in our back yards.  But our son explained to us that they’re not being rude, they just don’t interact with people that way – the way that we do.  They do it through technology.  Our son understands this because he’s 21.  And, at 21, he already feels a gap between himself and high school students!

The world is a very different place.  Mass amateurization and collective wisdom (notice that the link I inserted above for explaining Web 2.0 goes to Wikipedia, a poster child for these changes) are replacing dedicated, authoritative (also, sometimes, authoritarian) sources for news.  We are relying on the self-correcting collaboration of the masses for the dissemination of knowledge.  And the centuries-old model of filter (e.g., evaluate for accuracy, relevancy, etc.) first and then publish has been turned on its head as the Web has become a medium in which we publish first then let external forces filter the information after the fact.

But back to Twitter.  Who cares that you just left the coffee shop, or you’re going to get a haircut this afternoon, or you’re telling a snarky little in-joke that I don’t understand?  I certainly don’t.  But that’s just the point.  I’m not supposed to.  Those of us who don’t “get it” see all this as public communication.  But it’s not.  It’s just chatter among friends, across cyberspace instead of across a table, but not intended for those outside the small circle.  And once you understand that – once you realize that even though this overwhelming barrage of messages is out there for all the world to see, they’re only meant for an infinitesimal, carefully selected group of people to actually look at – this whole thing starts to make sense as a way for a new generation to communicate.  Those of us from the old school have been confused by thinking the medium is the message, but it’s not.  The message is the message.

And this is just the insignificant beginning.  Twitter is saving people who are unjustly imprisoned.  Twitter is leading to election protests that stress entire governments.  Twitter and the new organizing and communications power of Web 2.0 are changing the very framework of how society functions.

bandwagon Don’t underestimate this, and don’t forget it.  If you want your nonprofit to be meaningful in the future, Web 2.0 is one bandwagon (remember those? – I don’t!) you’d better figure out how to get on.

My grand-dog, the only Corgi named after a hiphop artist, Busta Outon!
My grand-dog, the only Corgi named after a hiphop artist, Busta Outon!

Everywhere you look, someone is offering advice about how to fundraise in tough times…stay close to your donors…ask for many small gifts…re-create a lay-away plan for contributions…don’t ask for capital…don’t ask for new…be afraid, be very afraid!  I ponder the question of effective fundraising techniques frequently myself.  The Bayer Center has always raised 50% of its operating budget and the current economic times have hit us where we live…

I love many things in life and one of them is Pembroke Welsh Corgis.  The AKC breed standard to describe a proper Corgi personality is “Bold yet kindly”…an intriguing set of characteristics for any living creature.  This  combination produces absolutely wonderful dogs – three of whom are in my immediate family.
So as I ponder how we or one of my clients should frame their case for support in these trying times, I find myself thinking about the BOLD YET KINDLY injunction…For times like these call for organizations to retain their optimism, their aspirations for a better world, their intention to change and improve people’s lives – BE BOLD, yet they also call for a measured, evidence-based, tempered approach in their fundraising techniques, strategies that are appreciative of the times – YET KINDLY or better perhaps, WISE…
Corgis have other qualities that are characteristic of good fundraisers.  They are persistent and tenacious when they believe something valuable (a peanut butter filled Kong is particularly desireable…) is in the offering.  They are charming and interested in all kinds of people, believing them to be worthy of their regard.  Their world is joy-filled and full of possibility.
I think these are qualities that draw people to organizations and motivate a spirit of generosity and connection.  So may we all be BOLD YET WISE in our on-going work of securing the necessary resources for our organizations…may we all love life like a corgi and love our people with many kisses and an unbounding enthusiasm for new adventures, believing the world is waiting for us and ready to play.
I’d love to hear where you find your inspiration and courage to keep working even when the world around you says NO…so fundraise like a Corgi and may  you each be very successful!

Congrats to Mary Ann from Greater Pittsburgh Literacy Council, the final winner of our blog comments contest and of a 1 GB USB drive.  Look for fun, future Bayer Center blog contests to come!  (If you have a great idea for a blog contest, we’d love to hear your ideas!)

We’re hearing more and more about online meetings.  Travel can become the first budget casualty in budgets hit by the economic downturn, and conference calls and webinars can bring us together on the cheap.

Thanks to Andy Goodman, who helped us understand why do-gooder presentations so often bore in Why Bad Presentations Happen to Good Causes, we’re learning about social sector teleconferences and web conferences.  Although the full survey report has not yet been published [Editor’s note: the full report is now published here], Andy sneak previews the results with some alarming statistics in his May Free Range Thinking newsletter.

A disappointing pair of statistics combines the high prevalence of these meeting formats with a low rate of training on effective remote meetings.  In short, more than half of us participate in phone conferences; half of us think their use is going to grow in our work; and three quarters of us have had no training on how to make this kind of meeting work well.


The numbers are similar for web conferences and video conferences, although only 8% of Goodman’s respondents report attending a video conference frequently.  On the other hand, a quarter of people have attended a webinar, and a larger number of people see webinars increasing than phone conferences.  The training rate is similarly, low, though, at 72%.


Of course, training on effective meetings is rare in general.  It’s become clear, though, that there are some ways to make these new meeting forms better than dreadful.  Goodman, for one, runs a great webinar.  One of his small secrets: put up a picture of the person speaking on the screen.  It’s a small human touch that makes a big difference to the audience’s attention and participation.

Have a webinar or conference call horror story to share?  Have a tip that has helped your remote conferences work?  Share it in the comments.

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