Posts Tagged ‘nonprofit marketing’

Vote for the “Best Nonprofit Taglines 2009”

September 2, 2009

The Getting Attention blog is geared up for this year’s quest to find the best nonprofit taglines of 2009 and according to blog author, Nancy E. Schwartz, you can help select the winners:

These 61 tagline finalists have been carefully culled from the more than 1,700 taglines in 13 categories submitted in response to our call for entries. So many of these taglines are effective, but they all can’t be the best.The organizations behind these taglines have done a fantastic job in putting well-selected words to build their brands. Now it’s your turn to select which are the best in class.

Vote today — I want to know what you think. It’ll take you 7 minutes or less; polls close at midnight Wednesday, September 30th.

I love this contest because I am occasionally called upon to write taglines and seeing the best of the best here inspires me and gets my creative juices going.  A couple of my favourites:

“When one is sick, two need help” – Well Spouse Association

“Early Education. Lifelong Success” – Early Learning Coalition of Miami-Dade/Monroe

Your turn. Go vote!


Can language transform your organization?

July 2, 2009

One of my favourite bloggers, Nancy E. Schwartz, recently referred to an outstanding presentation (free for download) by career fundraiser, Tom Suddes. The title, The Language of Change: 20 words and Phrases that Impact Attitudes, Actions and Funding, immediately had me clicking through to read the transcript. Tom’s message struck a chord with me as I’m a big believer that the language we use shapes how we perceive our world.

One of Tom’s first points characterizes the tone and content of his presentation:

The first big insight is the idea of being a not-for-profit. I mean, think about that just a little bit. Is there any reason at all for you to call yourself a not-for-profit, to define yourself in the negative? I believe no. I believe the answer to that is no. You or your staff, your board, nobody wakes up in the morning and shouts, “Yeehaw! We don’t get to make any money today!

So, I want to help change your mindset here. You’ve got to stop defining yourself in the negative. You’ve got to stop begging for money. You’re not a charity. People don’t give to you because you’re tax-exempt. It’s all about an impact – your vision, your message. And that’s where I’m hoping that you’re able to go with this.

We so often use “deficit” language emphasizing need that we overshadow the message of hope and success towards the goal of our cause. So, Tom advocates for cause organizations to move away from “mission statements” and towards communicating the essence of what the organization is all about. What is the impact of your organization and how can people become involved with that?

Other words/terms he takes on include “sustainability” “development officers” and even the word “appointments” when describing meeting with a potential “donor”—another term he urges us to change.

The change in language isn’t just for the purpose of the organization’s audience, it also changes the attitudes of board members, staff and volunteers.

Language evolves, so I don’t expect that organizations will instantly change the terms and words they use to describe their work. But even the act of examining why we use the terms/words we do and how that influences our approach and attitude is a worthwhile exercise.

Much of what Tom puts forth in this presentation challenges the entire culture and orientation of the nonprofit world. Well done!

Was this post helpful? If so, why not subscribe to this blog to get updates right to your email inbox?

Key to repeat event sponsors: Evaluation

June 18, 2009

Festival photoWinnipeg in the summer is a seemingly endless series of festivals and free concerts. The winters are cold but summers rock!  In addition to heavy hitters such as the Jazz Winnipeg Festival and Winnipeg Fringe Theatre Festival, there are also smaller events taking place across the province. These events grow as their sponsorship programs grow. Successful organizations carefully foster those corporate relations through accountability and the demonstration of results.

Corporate sponsorships, unlike charitable donations, are part of the company’s advertising strategy. I’ve written about this distinction as well as what corporations should look for in a sponsorship opportunity in a previous post.

As with any advertising, one of the things sponsors look for is ROI (return on investment). They want to know that they’ve invested their money wisely. Although the  sponsor has the ultimate responsibility for determining ROI, an event that wants to grow and maintain sponsors needs to help in this area.

An absolute must is a post-event evaluation report that includes the following:

  1. Number of attendees as well as demographic information – Get an accurate count of attendees so that the sponsors know how many people were exposed to their logos and messaging. Demographic information is helpful as well. What age group attends your event? Is it primarily families or young , single people? What is their educational background and  income level? Do a survey with attendees, if possible, to get this kind of  information. This helps sponsors target their advertising more precisely.
  2. Itemize where and when  sponsor logos or messaging appeared at the event – Take photos or video to include along with a narrative description in the report. Provide screen shots of the event’s website and include the number of hits and any other relevant numbers.
  3. Evaluate media coverage – Outline the media coverage obtained and include any available audience or readership numbers. Include news clippings and copies of advertisements—particularly where the sponsor’s logo or name has appeared.
  4. Include feedback from attendees and volunteers – Sponsors want to be part of successful events that people feel good about. Testimonials or survey feedback from attendees and volunteers can be part of demonstrating success as well as areas for improvement.
  5. Outline plans for next time – If it is a recurring event, demonstrate to your sponsors that you are interested in its improvement. Itemize what you plan to refine or change for next year for an even better event and/or larger audience.

Package the above information in a nicely designed report that demonstrates the professionalism of the event and your appreciation of sponsor participation. You can also use the info  in this post-event summary to position your event with new sponsors or for an increase in contribution for returning sponsors.

I know from organizing a number of charitable events that once the event is over, the tendency is to sigh with relief, roll up the banners and forget about it until it’s time to plan the next one.  But the event’s not over until you complete the evaluation. It’s not only crucial in terms of relationship-building with sponsors, it’s necessary for your own organization’s decision making as well.

Are you turning off supporters with a negative message?

March 4, 2009

tv-controlI’ve made the decision to stop watching my local evening news.  Examining the stories covered in the first fifteen minutes, I find that they mostly focus on crime and despair. I live in Winnipeg, which is a very safe, pretty positive community by North American standards. I forget this sometimes because of the news coverage. It’s mostly negative and perpetuates a culture of fear. I’ve decided to tune out. Something similar can happen for  cause-based nonprofits as well. If  you’re constantly telling the negative stories about why people need to care about your issue, you might be turning supporters off.

There is a general feeling of being overwhelmed and over burdened right now. People are feeling pinched economically and the global problems we face appear insurmountable. I need to hear positive stories. I need to hear about how organizations are making a difference. I need to see positive results. Something that doesn’t make me feel like giving up.

If your non-profit is gearing its communication too heavily on the needs of those you serve or benefit, perhaps it’s time to change the focus. Instead of endless statistics and examples of child poverty, obesity, homelessness, climate change, animal cruelty, addiction, sickness etc., focus on the ways you are successfully addressing the issue. Point to examples. Use financial or statistical forecasts to communicate the impact someone’s contribution can make.

A focus on outlining solutions has always been a part of good caused-based marketing but I think it’s even more important right now. People are going to be very careful with their money moving forward and they want to see solid results for their donation dollar. They want to feel that they have some control over a positive outcome.

I’ve used the micro loan organization Kiva as an example in other posts and I’m mentioning it again because its communications approach is overwhelmingly positive. The profiles of the entrepreneurs from developing countries emphasize their strengths, their small successes and how a loan will propel them further away from a life of poverty. It’s completely solution focused and it works.

The next time you’re faced with writing the annual appeal letter, or making a speech at the next donor appreciation event, try focussing more on what your organization is doing successfully to address your cause. The message about the need will come through in the telling.