Thursday, June 2, 2011

Put Your Small Nonprofit In the Picture

Fieldhaven's FB Wall

Do you use photographs in your social communications? If you aren’t, you’re missing a good thing.

In my last post, I said that your communications should almost always support your social media strategy and photos are a good and easy way to do that.

Example: FieldHaven Feline Rescue

Take a look at the photo I’m using to illustrate this post. This is taken from the FB wall of FieldHaven Feline Rescue, a small nonprofit working to rescue cats and kittens in the Lincoln, California area. I know this nonprofit pretty well because co-founder Joy Smith and I used to be co-workers in Santa Cruz back when Joy’s rescues were eleven cats housed next to her laundry room. Now Fieldhaven has just finished moving from a mobile home set up on the Smith’s horse ranch to its own just-completed building on the property, where a team of volunteers works to find homes for domestic cats and ferals homed as rat-catching barn cats.

The photos used originate from lots of places, but often from Joy. In the example, she’s uploaded six photos taken while she was doing chores around the ranch. Above that is the picture of one of the cats who recently found a forever home.

People at Fieldhaven could talk – or write – all day about the work they do there, but seeing the photos of their successes says more. Even better is the glimpse of daily life at Fieldhaven through the pictures taken as Joy and husband Preston went about their work. It gives you the feeling of knowing the ranch and feeling a part of what goes on there.

Danger: Watch for Slick Road

What makes the pictures from Fieldhaven different from many that you’ll see from other nonprofits is the lack of artifice. There’s no niggling voice at the back of your head saying, “she’s just trying to tug on my heartstrings.” Instead, you get a sense that she is just showing you her world as she sees it – and that’s what draws you in. Sure there are pictures of the cats for adoption and the barn cats, but there are also pictures of flowers, the fountain, the horses that Joy and Preston love. You see how their mission is part of their lives, not separate from them, and that sincerity makes the mission that much more attractive. Slickness has no place here.

Don’t Let the Pictures Speak for Themselves

Comments are optional when uploading photos on FB, but you should never treat them as such. Whenever you put a photo out, whether on FB or anyplace else, it should have a caption and that caption should emphasize what you want the photo to say.

The old saying, “a picture is worth a thousand words” isn’t quite as true as it once was, but a picture with a few well-chosen words could be worth a lot in terms of your small nonprofit’s social communication.

Update: Great minds and all that, it seems. Big Duck just posted on how to improve your picture-taking. Read the comments, too!

Tool of the Week: Google Docs Templates

Although it's been around for a couple of years, most people don't know about this helper for Google Docs, so when I was reminded, I thought it wouldn't hurt to remind you as well. 

The number of templates now found here has exploded dramatically. If you're using Google Docs, there's no reason to re-invent the wheel when it comes to budgets, calendars or even scrapbooks, since someone has probably created a template for it already.

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