Thursday, December 19, 2013

Things I've Learned

Things I've learned or re-learned this year:
  • If you need help and it's clear you are (as we used to say) 'for real', you will get all the help you need and then some.
  • There's no 'quick and easy way' to achieve presence in social media. You have to show up every day and interact or you get nowhere. Sometimes, as with blogging, you have to keep on going, even when positive comments, or any comments are not forthcoming.
  • To make real friends out of online friends is both simple and dangerous - you only have to reach beyond the context in which you know them - fellow chatter, blogger, etc. - touch on a more personal area and allow them to touch back.
  • If you really want to accomplish something, you'll find the time. If not, you'll find an excuse. (This is one thing I learn over and over and over again.)
  • You'll do something very right sometimes, and when you do, celebrate it the way you would if a friend had made the accomplishment. Believing in yourself starts with the acknowledgment that you are capable of very good things. 
  • If you're on a winning streak, don't get cocky - everything comes and goes. Enjoy it while you can and when things go pear-shaped again, just remember it won't last forever.
  • Set goals for yourself outside of work: family goals, personal growth goals. Stretch yourself or you'll find yourself floating. 
  • If you float for a while, forgive yourself; maybe you needed it. As soon as you can, though, get back to setting goals for yourself.
  • Try not to confuse being critical of an action with being critical of a person. Even smart and kind people make mistakes. Give them the benefit of the doubt and hope they'll do the same for you.

I'd love for you to share your own lessons in the comments.

See you next year.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Four Questions to Ask Yourself About Your Social Media Use

"Let me play you the song of my people!"
So Amy Poehler hates selfies and Tina Fey thinks social media is boring. Likely you don't completely agree with them, or you wouldn't be on a site about how to use social media. Are they right or wrong? Trick question. At the risk of sounding like some kind of platitude guru, I have to say there's no right or wrong, there's only right or wrong for you. And your small nonprofit.

Some studies say that Twitter is used for news gathering and reporting, other studies say 'not so much.' I personally use Twitter to share what I think is interesting news in several different areas, and to meet up with other writers and nonprofit folks for fast and furious discussions that often leave me energized and ready to get back to work.

Some people think Facebook is used out of a desire to belong and a need to present their real selves. I use FB for close friends and family only. And I didn't have an account until my far-flung family told me they wanted me to have one.

You will find information on who uses various platforms, how and why they use them (like these Pew Internet study results). But metrics only take you so far. The subset of people you, as a representative of your small NP, and you as an individual, communicate with on any platform may be very different. So use the data as a jumping off point for your efforts, but only time put into a network will tell you how valuable that platform is to your goals. And of course, you need to know what those goals are.

I've never understood the desire to put social communication, social media marketing, or whatever the current descriptor is, into a two-column world. Why does there have to be a two column world, anyway? Yes or No, White or Black, Good or Bad? You should be asking yourself instead:
  • Does it work for me (meets my goals)?
  • If not, why not?
  • If I know why not, can I somehow make adjustments, so it does work?
  • If it does work, how can I use it better?
There will always be something new and shiny. There will be lots more studies on who uses what and why. For me, the plan is to stay agile. I define that as keeping an eye on new and popular social media sites, how they evolve and who they appeal to. But as long as even one other writer wants to talk to me on Twitter about the craft of writing, I will be there.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Can Metta Be a Useful Social Media Tool for Your Small Nonprofit?

Here's a little something I created using a new tool called Metta (which I learned about through Take a look and then we'll talk more.

So, as you've no doubt figured out, Metta is a tool for taking visuals and putting them together to create a video. I only used still pictures and text, but you can also use video and music or record your own voiceover. You can also include a poll - the viewer has to answer before the next slide will display - and you can choose whether or not to display poll results.

It's free to use although it has advanced features that come with a premium account. And when finished, you can have the media show displayed only on their site, embed it on your site, and there's even a launch code for WordPress. Once the show is saved, you can tweet it or post it to Facebook from your profile page.

Upsides and Downsides

1. You can search for images, videos, quotes, and soundtracks
right from the site
  • They use YouTube, Yahoo image search, Twitter, and Soundgarden
  • You can drag in your own image, etc., or use a url
  • You can't change out a graphic once you've inserted it into a slide (which Metta calls a clip), you have to delete the slide and make a new one
  • You can position the graphic within the window, but you can't resize it
  • If you want to re-use a piece of media, you can select it from a ribbon on the right side of the screen
2. You can include a poll slide and choose to have the percentages calculated and displayed.

  • The free account only captures the first 10 responses.

3. It's not hard to learn, but it's clumsy.

  • Trimming the length of each clip can be kind of tricky unless you're used to working with video.
  • There's no fade-out, so using video or audio clips can result in abrupt cuts unless you let them run all the way. 
  • Some of the how-tos are not as helpful as they might be - the step-by-step is very short and not detailed, but there is a how-to guide, a forum, and a 'chat-like support'.

4. It's not expensive - with three tiers

  • Free  gets you .01GB storage and only the first ten poll responses are collected
  • $5/mo (paid annually) will get you 1GB of storage, viewing & poll statistics, private sharing, co-editing, and custom colors, 100 responses per poll
  • $7/mo (paid annually) will get you 10GB of storage, all of the other perks, and 10,000 responses per poll*
* Why the huge difference between $5 and $7 on poll responses, I don't know.

There are other applications out there that might suit your video/slideshow embedding needs better, but the option of having a poll makes Metta attractive, although not so much at the free level. If you've used this tool or will try it, drop me a comment and let me know what you think.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

This Blog Shut for Thanksgivukkah


For my Jewish friends - may each night bring you a new blessing.

For the friends who celebrate Thanksgiving - have a wonderful, warm holiday.

For the rest of us Taoists - pass the gravy and don't forget the wine.

Extra Credit:
If you have very conservative relatives, pour all the gravy onto your plate and tell them it will eventually trickle down to them!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Support Your Small Nonprofit's Social Media Supporters

NaNoWriMo provides a lot of support to those idiotic brave enough to try to write a 50,000 word novel in one month. You can get writing buddies, there are sprints, meet-ups, pep-talks, virtual get-togethers, and writing advice on all topics. And naturally, there's the goal-oriented support of helping you track the number of words you get done, including a graph that shows your improvement.

When your small nonprofit asks your supporters for help with a campaign or with information or with passing information along, how do you support their efforts?
Note: if you aren't asking your supporters for help, then what exactly are you using social media for besides broadcasting how nifty you are?
I'm starting to see a lot of articles/posts on the subject of companies abandoning ROI (Return on Investment) when dealing with social media, opting instead for measuring engagement. Without engagement, could your campaigns possibly succeed? Without engagement, would you have volunteers, be able to raise funds, or recruit new board members?

In social media, engagement is how you live and die. It's swell to have followers and likes, but without conversation and sharing to keep things moving along and growing, you are getting nowhere with blinding electronical speed.

As Brian Solis points out in his latest post, "people aren't seeking marketing copy, they're seeking the experiences of others to help humanize information and apply it to their state of mind, needs, and aspirations. Let that sink in because I'll wager it's not where a majority of your investments are allocated right now." 

But, as a small nonprofit, you invest in people and their needs daily - shouldn't you be a leg up on the businesses Brian is talking about? Here are a couple of ideas about how to support your social media supporters.

Talk Less About the Mission and Work to Bring the Mission to Life

Don't focus just on your nonprofit, the staff, the E.D., the board or even the hundreds you help. Narrow the focus to one person being helped, one volunteer and why she's doing the work, one board member and why he got involved. Widen the context by sharing news and ideas that don't have a direct tie to the nonprofit but highlight someone or something that's doing good. Being caring or observing about the things we have in common can be uplifting. Become known for sharing good news and you'll be surprised how often people will turn to you, forward your news, endorse you, embrace you.

Strive to Be Creative

It's easy and takes little time to say, 'We served 10,000 meals this month. Please RT.' Fine, but where's the creativity? Find a different perspective instead of choosing the obvious - see things from Dr. McCoy's point of view rather than Spock or Kirk's. Make it fun as well as philanthropic for people to share your news. 'Tess had 2 BIG helpings of beans and they made her dance' and include a pic or video (like the one at the top that's gone viral). Who wouldn't want to share that?

The whole point of social media is to share. You should ask your supporters to share your news. But you can support those efforts better with better content. Make what you're saying worth sharing and you won't have to ask.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

NaNoWriMo is Not a Social Media Tool for Your Small Nonprofit

Image via World Aventurers
Most everyone knows by now that I'm a professional writer. This year I decided to do NaNoWriMo, which I haven't done in years, which is why it was Friday before I realized I hadn't written a post for this blog this week. As they say in the anime I like to watch, gomen nasai. Or, sorry about that.

Recently, I've featured some guest posts on fundraising through video and how to choose a video producer. Rob Wu of dropped me a note and asked me to take a look at a couple of links.
NOTE: Causevox is an online fundraising/crowdsourcing platform vendor. I have no ties to them and this post is not an advertisement or endorsement for them.
One is for an ebook on getting started in video storytelling - you know, you give us your email and we give you an ebook and maybe we can have a relationship. The other link is for a guest post on their site by Canadian based copywriter and fundraising strategist Vanessa Chase. The information in her article is good and there are some nice example videos embedded.

You may be tired of hearing about video by now and there is a point where you just have to go for it, but if you're still exploring, you might take a look at this article and see if it jogs anything loose.

Yeah, I know - these links dropped into my mailbox and I feel like it's kinda cheating to use them, but I also think you might find some of the material interesting and if it helps even one person, I can feel as though I'm not a complete screw up for forgetting to post this week. Yuth - it's alllll about me, isn't it?

Next week, I'll talk more about NaNoWriMo and how their social media support system helps writers like me get through a crazy attempt to author a novel (or 50,000 words) in one month.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Five Questions to Help Your Small Nonprofit Choose a Professional Video Producer

The last post in our series of four on using video is by Madeleine Hammond. Madeleine is a marketing executive at Skeleton Productions - one of the UK's leading video production companies.

If producing a video is part of your nonprofit's marketing strategy, one of the first - and most important - decisions you will face is who to work with. Sure, you want a company with all the necessary credentials & experience, but that's not enough. With so much to consider, choosing the right production team can start to seem like a daunting task & a full time job. So here are a few things to ask yourself to help make sure you get the right production company for your project:
  • Do They Match Your NP's Style?
  • Do They Understand/Care About Nonprofits?
  • How's Their Production Quality?
  • Do They Have the Help You Need?
  • Can You Afford Them?

Pick a Company that Matches your Style

Working with a company that shares your style is crucial in creating content you can be proud of. They need to share your vision, and this needs to be clear across every step of your video journey. Ask yourself: Are these people you could hang out with? Do they share similar philosophies when it comes to doing business? If not, they may not be right for you. You can learn a lot about agencies and their values by reading their blog, reviewing their work, and by meeting them - in person, by phone or by video chat. Don't be afraid to ask them about their preferred styles to work on, either. The chances are, if they are passionate about your type of video, they will strive to create the best possible content.

Do they Care About My Nonprofit?

It is critical that you meet with the selected agencies before making a final decision. You will be able to get a pretty good idea of whether they care about your project or if it's simply about the numbers. If they really care, they will ask questions specific to your cause. Are they interested in your charity's work and aims? You want a company who are truly invested in your project and will do their best to make it a success.

What is their Production Quality Like?

Quite a broad question, but it goes without saying that you want your video to look as professional as possible. By reviewing videos in their portfolio, you can ask yourself; Does it look and sound professional? How is the lighting? How is the sound quality? How do the after-effects and graphics look? Are the animations fluid and creative? Fundamentally, you need to ask yourself if you and your team like their work. ALL decision makers need to be on board to make this project a success.

Can They Fill In Where We Need Help?

As well as being sold on the agency's strengths and weaknesses, you need to evaluate your own. What areas will you really need help with, and does your chosen company facilitate these needs? Do they have scriptwriters and storyboarders? Are you a marketing novice and in need of someone to head up your strategy? Don't be embarrassed to ask for help - it will ultimately help you build the strongest campaign possible.

Are they Within my Budget?

Unfortunately, finding this fantastic production company must all be done within a somewhat restricting budget, and for nonprofits this is doubly applicable. Video production can be expensive, but done right it can be invaluable to your campaign. Always explain to agencies your financial situation and shop around to find the best quality for the best price. If you can, try and get a breakdown of all the costs. You can get a better idea of where you are spending your money and - if necessary - where to make some cutbacks.


As a professional who has experience working with nonprofits, Madeleine has given us some great insight in what you should look for before signing a contract. Once you know the answers to these questions, you can be reasonably certain of a successful result. And I'll add one more thing: if possible, talk to your counterparts in other small nonprofits - if they have put out a video that you liked, ask them for the name of the production company. Ask for recommendations. This will make your short list that much shorter.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Take a Social Media Leaf From Vine Advice


Over at Digiday, Seth Weisfeld - a former Ad Agency creative who is now working for Vine - gives advice for how to make your Vine videos better. In list form, his advice* is:
  • Less is More
  • Tell a Story
  • Be Useful 
  • Experiment
When I read this article, it meshed up in my mind with a couple of examples of other social media posts and I realized that the advice applies just as much to any other kind of offering as it does to video.

Example No. 1: Staples

Staples is offering a grammar test. In terms of less is more, you get a very simple test (the trickiest part for many is who vs. whom). It tells a story in the sense that you know the interwebs is a hotbed of scary grammar and spelling and the test taker gets to learn - in an easy and fun way - how to improve their own writing. Each question tells you what percentage of people who have taken the test got the questions wrong and tells you why, making it a useful tool. And, although quizzes are not experimental on their own, it's kind of refreshing to see one on a site that sells business supplies. It's a slightly different approach because it doesn't reference Staples's business at all - no ads in the middle of the 16 questions, or cutesy references to specific products, and the quiz doesn't have a branded look, but a rather old-fashioned one that pokes a little fun at grammar sticklers. Still, while you're enjoying it, you're on Staples's website - might as well look around while you're there, right?

Example No. 2: Tide

These are Vine videos, but they could just as well be print ads, and they have proven quite, quite popular. They mesh pop culture horror references with the product to make us laugh. For example, a Tide bottle dressed up as the mother from Psycho with the tagline: #Mother gets a little #Psycho about dirty laundry. #Halloween #ScaredStainless With the tie-in to Halloween, this campaign is just about perfect in terms of Seth Weisfeld's advice. By using six seconds of video, they're definitely doing more with less. Each video tells a complete story by filling in the blanks with pop culture references. Each video is useful because it reminds you that candy-eating can be a dirty job requiring a stain remover, and it's obviously an experiment in video and humor that has gone very right.

What we can see is that your social media communications don't have to be elaborate, and experiments can pay off big. Still, whatever you choose to put out there, you should know who you're talking to so you can tell them a story they'll find interesting and highlight information they will consider useful. This isn't to say that a four-item list can make social communication easy - even simple can be complicated to put together - but with these points in mind, it might be easier to tell if you're on the right track, or rather, picking the right leaves.

*To learn how he fleshes out this list, read the article.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

It's Not Working - Mobile Apps and Your Small Nonprofit

Via WebMapSolutions
I've been known to encourage the integration of mobile into your social media communications strategy. I really believe this is becoming the future. You may always need a website, but more people will end up visiting it via their smartphone (or just plain 'phone', since eventually all phones will be smart) or tablet than any other way. But what's involved in setting up a mobile application? How do you go about getting what you want?

  • Define & Design
  • Test
  • Deploy

Define & Design

As a former software project manager, I see these as part of each other: Functional Requirements. What you want the app to do will affect the design and vice-versa. I am talking about the mechanics of the design - not the colours and typefaces (although that's part of it). What pieces of information are the most important? Where, on the screen, should they display? What's the logical progression of steps the user will walk through?

Be clear on what you want to accomplish. Why do you want the app? What will you get out of it? Next, be clear on how you want the app to reach that goal: what information must it get and what information must it return? In other words, what will its users expect of it?

Finally, what will it look like? Usually, you don't get a graphic designer and application builder in one person, but you can get a designer who has worked with mobile application builders and an application developer who has worked well with designers.

Try to start all of the thinking work way, way ahead of when you want the app. Having more time may result in a little of what we call 'scope creep' (you know, when stuff keeps getting added in), but that may be preferable to not having enough time to adequately design and test the product before it has to be deployed. As with any project, always build in time to deal with the inevitable mixups, mistakes, and miscommunications between you and your team.

Make sure you check in with each other on a regular basis - have milestones or deliverables to evaluate progress against. And, if possible, test each module.


Your contract with your application developer should include a section on who, how, and when the application should be tested. As far as I'm concerned, it's incumbent on the software developer to ensure his/her code works as expected, which means testing it. If their proposal or bid doesn't include this information, and you still want to work with them, you need to ask about it.

In addition, test it yourself. As both a project manager and a technical writer, I always tested the software. Quality Assurance had its test scripts and I had mine, which usually involved trying to break the application by doing things like entering alpha characters where numbers were expected or bizarre dates or clicking on the wrong button. These actions not only told me whether the software was working as expected, but what kind of error messages I got and how easy or hard it was to get back on track once I'd done something wrong. The developer may think it's idiot proof, but idiots like me will find a way to prove them wrong.

You'll likely have one app for iOS and one for Android; be sure to test them both.


If possible, close to the release date when everything looks like it's done, test that your deployment plan works. Try to download the app and install it, then use it. Have other people on other types of devices do it.

Have a backup plan.

What will you do if the app store is down? What if, despite all your work, the app doesn't work properly?

Have a contingency plan for dealing with these or other things that could possibly go wrong and share it with both your team and your nonprofit. Then you won't be caught having to think on your feet in a panic.

This may seem scarily involved and it can be - but it doesn't have to be. If you have a good set of Functional Requirements, have clear expectations and goals, stay on top of your communications with your designer and developer, and plan for contingencies, the road to your own mobile app may be a lot smoother than you think.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

How To Fund Your Nonprofit Video

We've had two of three articles on why your small nonprofit should invest in creating a video. This week, I'm sharing an article by another video production company which addresses how you go about funding that video. It's longer than I might usually post here, but there's a lot of ground to cover in funding a video production. 

Our guest blogger John Scaletta is the co-owner of Motion Source, a video production company based in Chicago. John has worked extensively with nonprofits throughout his long career to help create, produce and fund much needed video solutions.

There's no doubt that every nonprofit organization should be utilizing video as part of their marketing and outreach efforts. Video offers a host of benefits, not the least of which is educating interested parties, engaging the emotions of the audience, and inspiring an increase in donations to the organization. However, I understand entirely that non profits often do not possess the marketing spend requisite to have a powerfully effective video professionally produced.

Due to this, many organizations turn to their smartphones, or similar devices, in an earnest attempt to harness the power of video; but, this often results in a production so poorly produced that the end product is more of a detriment than an advantage: poorly produced video will, unequivocally, give the impression that your organization is unprofessional and lacks credibility.

Additionally, your expertise is not in video production, and every hard earned best practice, tip, trick, and technique that goes into creating an emotionally stirring piece. Just as you wouldn’t cut your own hair, you probably shouldn’t produce your own video. The difference between a bad video and a bad haircut is that, at least with a bad haircut, you can still wear a hat to hide the damage.

So with all of this being said, how do you pay for a professionally produced video when your nonprofit’s piggy bank is verging near empty?

Well, we’re going to give you a few ideas...


When you break the cost of a video down to reasonable, and affordable donations, the situation doesn’t seem so bleak.

In example, let’s say that the video is going to cost you $3,000; all you will need is 30 people to pledge $100 toward the project--a very reasonable number and rate. If this still seems daunting, then revise your terms: 60 people at $50 per pledge. These numbers are probably far smaller than you are used to dealing with in a fundraising push, and might just present an easier target. This is precisely the sort of task that a well-orchestrated social media campaign is perfectly suited to.

Now, let’s take this hypothetical one step further; let’s get a bit more creative. For instance, if the video you are seeking to produce will be used to further the mission of your animal rescue, why not let each donor send in a photo of their pet, which can then be included at the end of the video in a quick tribute to their kind contributions? People love seeing their dog or cat pictured, and when your video ends with a montage of furry family members with the words “this video brought to you by these four legged friends… and one cat with 3 legs,” they’ll wish they were a part of it too.

If, as another example, the video is seeking to inspire donations for cancer research, you could do something very similar at the conclusion whereby donors send in a picture of a loved one to be included: “this video was created in the memory of our family member and friend.” Heck, you might even discover that one specific contributor is willing to cover the expense of the entire video as a tribute to a well missed loved one.

Everyday people are looking for ways in which to do something positive in the name of someone they love, so why not give them the opportunity for this, while simultaneously making the world a better place as a whole? How many times have you walked down a path and noticed that each brick has a name inscribed on it? I love those walkways, and guess how much those paver bricks cost the landowner?


If you aren’t already familiar with the concept of crowd funding, it is the practice by which you gain support for your project from people all across the globe. Most of these people find out about what you are doing via dedicated crowd funding websites, and most likely have never come into contact with your organization in the past. This means you are not only receiving donations for the project at hand, but you are integrating a whole new set of interested individuals into your mission.

At the moment, the most well trafficked crowd funding site out there is Kickstarter. If you haven’t been there already, check it out at Kickstarter offers crowd funding opportunities to all sorts of inventors, artists, and organizations. And while, per Kickstarter’s guidelines, “Kickstarter cannot be used to raise money for causes, whether it's the Red Cross or a scholarship, or for "fund my life" projects, like tuition or bills,” this doesn't mean that it cannot be utilized to fund micro-documentary on who your organization is and what they do (translate as “a video”).

Additionally, many organizations set-up crowd funding projects just to gain exposure: even if the project isn’t funded, they now have hundreds of people that know who they are and what they do. Many of these people will become supporters of the nonprofit in some way, shape, or form, as their interest has now been captured. Therefore, funded or not, a crowd funding initiative can be very beneficial to a nonprofit.

One thing you will need to keep in mind is that when supporters fund your project, they must receive “incentives” in return. You will need to weigh the cost of supplying these incentives against the budget that you are seeking to reach, and commit to a dollar amount that can cater to both. However, while some of these incentives surely will entail a cost on your end (e.g. a shirt with the organization’s logo on it), there are others the expense of which is solely time and effort. An incentive at a low dollar amount could be a simple thank you in your newsletter; while a higher level could be the inclusion of a photograph of the supporter’s choice at the end of the video (refer “Ask And You Shall Receive” above for more info on this idea).

Crowd funding is changing the entire landscape of creatively driven innovation. We recently had a dear friend whose first feature film was funded almost entirely via donations on Kickstarter. For a particularly stunning example, check out the story of Studio Neat, whose entire rise is founded upon their initial offerings via the website. These sorts of successes highlight how truly valuable a crowd funding campaign can be to your mission.


Corporations are known to sponsor nonprofit fundraising events, such as golf outings. However, putting a sign up on the 9th hole, only allows them exposure for a single day to a limited audience.  Corporate sponsorship of your organization’s video can serve as valuable advertising for the company involved, as well as a moral boost for their professional image; and, these benefits are active for as long as the video is. Additionally, generally all that is required on the nonprofit’s end is that they include a thanks to the sponsor in question, as well as their logo, at the end of the video.

However, if you take some time to think outside of the box, you may be able to dream up ways to get prospective corporate sponsors further involved in ways that could serve to more successfully solidify their commitment. Perhaps you offer the prospective sponsor not only the inclusion of their name and logo, but an opportunity to plug who they are and what they do.

Take, for example, a video that we worked on for the Rush Hospital Woman’s Board. This video featured a prominent Chicago hair-stylist, and his Michigan Avenue location, for all of the ladies, and gentlemen, in attendance at the event to see. We were able to weave this segment into the video in a fun and creative way that did not take away from the overall message, but rather added a sense of greater community and professional involvement. Now the wheels are probably beginning to turn in your head as you consider all of the corporations, and even local businesses, that would want to take a supporting role in your video. Share the spotlight, and share the cost of the video for a win-win arrangement. As long as the videos meets your goals, and stays true to your mission, there is no shame in the involvement of business.


Professional auctioneers know how to work an audience and inspire donations. Many professional auctioneers will attest that a well produced, emotionally driven video can be their greatest ally in accomplishing this mission.

As the old adage goes you get what you pay for: when you hire a proven pro, and have a good size audience for that pro to engage with, there is an excellent chance that you are going to bring in some big bucks. And, any auctioneer worth their salt is going to direct you to have a professional video to assist them in raising money for your cause. But, here’s where the catch 22 kicks in: you know that you need a video to raise money, but you can’t afford having the video produced in the first place. What’s a nonprofit to do?

Why not ask the auctioneer himself to fund the video? At first blush this might sound absurd, but let’s take a deeper look at this proposition. Let’s say, for instance, that the auctioneer is agreed to take 20% of the proceeds of the auction for their payment; why not inquire as to whether or not they might be interested in taking 30%, while making a larger investment upfront: namely, funding the video. The auctioneer should be keenly aware that a powerful video is going to tug at the audience’s heartstrings, and, equally aware that this increased investment at the initial stages is going to yield a greater financial benefit for them at the end of the day.

If this sounds to you like you’re taking advantage of the donations raised, remember that every nonprofit has their expenses, and if these expenses are not tended to there is absolutely no way that the organization can continue to function with assisting those it serves. The reality is that only a percentage of all donations ever go to the non profit itself, because to secure these donations involves cost. And, the good news is that if you go down this road with having a professionally produced video, said video will last you 2-5 years before it needs to be updated. Think about how many other fundraising events will occur in that timeframe: each being an additional time that you can utilize the video without having to supply the auctioneer with more than the standard rate.


These are just a few ideas for a nonprofit to get a video funded when they don’t have the immediate budget for one. If you take some time to think about all of the organizations and individuals affiliated with your mission, there is an excellent chance that you will dream up a whole collection of additional avenues for funding. For example, if you supply donations to a specific hospital in funding cancer research, why not discuss with them the possibility of funding your video, especially considering that this small investment will yield a much more impressive return? The possibilities go on and on.

Have you ever used a method to fund a video that was not discussed in this article? If so, we would absolutely love to hear about it in the comments below!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Mobile Glitch Proves Nonprofit a Winner

Here in Santa Cruz, it's Open Studios Art Tour season. The first three weekends of every October are given over to the visual arts as about 300 artists open their studios and share their processes with the public.

Ann Griswold Osterman & OS Art Tour Signs
The OS Art Tour here is produced by the Arts Council of Santa Cruz County (a former employer of mine) and the Art Tour itself is managed by my best friend and all-around incredible organizer, Ann Griswold Ostermann. This is her 10th year of managing the Tour and something different always seems to come up. I'm hoping to get Ann to sit still long enough to let me do an interview with her about how the Art Tour has evolved in the last decade, with a particular emphasis on social media, but in this post I'll just describe a recent bump in the road.


The OS Art Tour is like a treasure-hunting adventure: you have a guide with pics of all participating artists' works and their addresses. And you have maps. Our county is small compared to others in California, but there's still a lot of ground to cover and the landscape varies between ocean and redwood covered mountains, farmland, and city.

This is only the second year that OS has made a mobile app available and only the first year that there is both an app for iPhones and one for Android. Plus, this is the first year that Ann worked with the developer for either app.

The big glitch became apparent the first day of the Tour - when an address was not found by Google Maps, a message was supposed to be sent to the developer so the coordinates could be gotten and the address mapped. For several addresses, this did not happen and Google Maps defaulted to the geographical center of the studio's zip code, which led at least one person on a wild goose chase, looking for an artist.

How Ann Handled It

As soon as she knew there was a problem, Ann came up with a solution: she put out the word that anyone who had bought an app would be given a hard copy Guide with maps simply by showing the app on their phone to the docents at the preview gallery. This offer was repeated on the website and in an email to the artists to make sure that everyone was aware of it. No other problems were reported for the opening weekend of the Tour.

For Next Year

The Arts Council of SC was lucky that few people had bought the app, but next year there will probably be an increase and I would be surprised if - in a few years - the sales of the app doesn't outpace that of the Guide.

Next year, Ann will make sure the contract between the Arts Council and the app developer includes Quality Assurance testing and how it will be carried out. They'll start the app process a month earlier and make sure the developer has a list of coordinates for each studio. After that, there will be a weekly check-in for progress and potential changes. She will also have a number to which texts about problems can be sent and again, the hard copy Guides will be available if, for whatever reason, the apps don't work.

The takeaway from the OS Art Tour app difficulty is that now, while your audience is still getting comfortable with using their smart phones for such applications as an art tour, is the time to start working at getting them right. And for coming up with workarounds for when they don't. In the future, small nonprofits, whose staff already fill multiple job needs, will have less time available for the inevitable tech crisis, while the number of persons using that mobile tech will only have increased.

The Open Studios Art Tour in Santa Cruz is coming up on its 30th year, but in terms of mobile technology and social media, it is still learning. And so are the rest of us.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

The 4 Best Examples of Non-Profit Video Storytelling - Guest Post

Here's the second of three guest posts on the subject of storytelling for your nonprofit through videos.
Guest blogger Madeleine Hammond is a Marketing Executive at Skeleton Productions, a UK based corporate video production company. 
An oldy but a goody - the storytelling arc is a proven staple to video marketing. When it comes to non-profits, it’s an impossibly effective medium for really conveying the message of your cause. Create a successful story that people can believe in and people will feel compelled to try and help. Here are some of the best examples of non-profit video storytelling…

1. TYO - Islam
A particularly moving story courtesy of Tomorrow's Youth Organization (TYO), an American nonprofit who work with children in the Middle East, enabling young people to realise their potential. This video focuses on the story of Islam. Islam is 8. He is from Askar Refugee Camp, one of the most populated camps in the West Bank. The political situation in this area has lead to a need in early childhood development. It’s a hauntingly real exploration of the situations children of the middle east are dealing with.

2. Rock Out For Equality - What Kind of Planet are we Living on?
LA based charity Rock for Equality is a national event to demand equal Social Security benefits for all LGBT Americans. As part of their 2010 event, they released this video in an attempt to raise awareness of the discrimination facing homosexual citizens. We are introduced to Rita the alien, who - following the death of her partner -  applies for Social Security benefits. Just as it looks like she's going to get help, Rita is denied after telling the administrator her partner was a woman. This is a regrettably accurate situation for many Americans and the use of an alien parody shines a light on the very real obstacles in LGBT equality. 

3. The Children’s Hospital Foundation - 
Thank You for Supporting Kids Like Me
Warning - this one’s a bit of a tearjerker! Those savvy video campaigners at The Children’s Hospital Foundation have gone all out to tug at every heartstring going in this video which documents the experiences of donors and child patients. It’s a well-produced video that appeal to supporters of the organization who want to do more than just hand money over - they want to see the kids they are helping. 

4. Invisible People - Telling the Stories of the Homeless
Video bloggers Invisible People have a collection of videos whereby real people are filmed telling their own very real stories - unedited, uncensored, and raw. Their mission: “to make the invisible visible.” They start at ground zero to teach about a problem, to build awareness, and win your empathy, so ordinary people who may have once turned away will see homelessness in a whole new light.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

When You Work at a Nonprofit - A Case Study

When you see the response to your proposed
use of a new social media tool:

This came into my mailbox and I think it is so cool. At this point, I've got nothing to add that I think would make it any better.

Read it.

Don’t Over-Think It: A Case Study For Testing Ideas, From “When You Work At A Nonprofit”

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Social Communication, Email Level - 6 Pitfalls to Avoid

Via Twenty Four Frames
Social communication is bigger than Facebook and as small as a Post-It . Lately, I've seen some gnashing of teeth on the subject of emails and memos. Whether you're writing to a board member, a volunteer, a staff member, or another kind of stakeholder, avoid miscommunication by avoiding these six communication pitfalls.

Too Long

According to The Hobbit, the road may go on forever, but your communication shouldn't. With all of the voicemails, emails, hard copy, etc. everyone has to deal with on a daily basis now, you need to get to the point. If background on a problem or question is needed, ask yourself what the minimum is and go with that. Take the time to edit because you don't want your communications delayed by people thinking, "Oh no, another long-winded email from him."

Too Vague

Almost as irritating is a communication that makes you guess what it's about. Don't be cagey or cute and sidle up to your subject. If you want to use an introduction, that's fine - just make sure that it actually introduces the subject.

Subject Line Missing

Always put something in the subject line and make it as pithy as possible. Don't make the subject line the communication itself. Subject lines are used by most people to narrow down the search for a communication later. They can't do this if the subject isn't clear or isn't there.

And while we're on the subject (uh-huh), don't change the subject in follow-ups. If you've been discussing a new idea and the conversation has been resolved, don't use 'reply' to start a new subject. This makes it nearly impossible for someone to find the correct thread later if they need to. Start a new email or memo.

Being Too Creative

This applies to both stationery and signatures in emails. Most people, even in a tiny nonprofit, will have branding that lends professionalism to your communications. But in email there are uncounted opportunities to indulge your inner artist. When Microsoft first brought out email stationery, I experimented with it, but I quickly realized that it was distracting. Further, the graphics added unneeded weight to the size of the emails I was sending. It just wasn't worth it.

You should definitely have a signature, including your email address and the website of your nonprofit. Just don't get carried away and include anything unnecessary like a summation of your philosophy through the quote of the day, jokes, emoticons, poetry or pictures. If your recipient has to scroll down some to see all of your signature, it's too long.


The rule on these is, spell it out the first time you use it and include the abbreviation in parenthesis. For example, Society for Technical Communication (STC). Thereafter, you can use the abbreviation. But don't use a lot of these or your communication will look like alphabet soup.

Attaching Files

It should go without saying that if you're sending an email, you should only attach files if they are necessary to the conversation. Even then, keep the files as small as possible. There are still download limitations in force in many email clients (like Outlook and Gmail) and attaching big files (over 1 Mg) can cause some peoples' email clients to lock up or lock up and then give them a message that the file was oversized and could not be received. Note: do I need to do a post on reducing files for sending? Let me know.

Communication Etiquette:

Last Responder:

Failing to respond. If you get a memo, voicemail, text, email, and you don't have time to get into the subject, at least respond that you received the communication, so the sender isn't out there, wondering.

Greetings and Closings:

This one is iffy for me. I tend to like to get right to the subject rather than spending time with, "Dear George" and "Yours truly", but some people are offended by a lack of salutation and closing. In this case, all I can say is, know who you're communicating with.

Forwarding Emails:

If you're forwarding something that has gone through several back and forths, take the time to manage the subject line so it doesn't look like: re: re: re: re: re: re: The Event. Also, remove all of the forwards within the body of the email so that there are no strange lines and people don't have to scroll way, way, way down the page to see the pertinent information. If you don't know how to do this, it's not difficult, just tiresome, so learn it. The good news is if you do it from the start, you're unlikely to ever get to the re: re: re: re: stage.

Blind Carbon Copies (BCC):

A lot of people may not know what this is these days, since carbon copies are relegated (like me) to the Pleistocene era. When sending an email to a long list of people, it's polite (and a good safety measure) to send it to yourself and include the list in the BCC field. When one of those on the list receives the email, it will show only your email address and none of the others. This will prevent you inadvertently sharing someone's address without their permission with others on the list, and with spammers possibly trolling for email addresses. As a bonus, it gives the email a cleaner look, without all of the email addresses bunched at the top.

Regardless of the form of the communication, Facebook post, Tweet, Pinterest picture, memo, email, or text, the best way to engage and be engageable is to be clear, concise, and organized.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Are They Ignoring Your Small Nonprofit on Facebook?

Via Hockenheim Slideshow on Trip Adviser
The great move of 10 miles continues. While I am finishing cleaning, sorting, disposing, and more cleaning, here are some thoughts for you to chew on.

Are They Ignoring Your Small Nonprofit on Facebook?

Then maybe you need better content. Here are some ideas from Social Media Today on how you can get more engagement. Some of these we have talked about before, but I find that when I'm trying to get something really learned, repetition doesn't hurt. The advice in this post is slanted towards businesses, but we don't mind that, because it's all grist for the mill, right? How To Get Your Fans to Stop Ignoring You on Facebook.

Sharing a Photo Album on Facebook

While we're on FB... How many times have you had an event and begged everyone who attended with a a camera to send you their photos so you could add them to your FB album? Wouldn't it be great if you could just share access to the album and get them uploaded directly? Well, MakeUseOf has the breakdown on Facebook's shared album feature: How To Make a Shared Photo Album on Facebook.

Another Way to Use Instagram Photos

I like scavenger hunts and social media is the perfect way to update them so anyone across the country can participate. Digiday shows us how Heineken created a promotional scavenger hunt using Instagram: Heineken Creates a New Kind of Scavenger Hunt.

I hope you read through last week's guest post on using video, and I'd love to see any examples of what it inspired you to film. As always, if you've got problems, questions, or suggestions on future posts, drop a line in the comments and we'll see what we can do. Problems are particularly welcome - crowdsourcing solutions is fun!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

4 Reasons Your Nonprofit Should be Using Video

From Wikimedia Commons
As promised, here is the first of three guest posts on using video for a small nonprofit. The next post will be in October.

Madeleine Hammond is a Marketing Executive at Skeleton Productions, a UK based corporate video production company. 

The role of the online video is becoming increasingly important to the marketing strategies non-profit organisations. From it’s potential reach to it’s affordability, the inclusion of video into your marketing efforts is changing from ‘nice to have’ extra, to intrinsic part of your campaign. Here, I will discuss the reasons your nonprofit should be jumping on the video bandwagon too.

 1. It’s Affordable
It goes without saying that when it comes to charities, the lower the cost the better, as the saved money can go into furthering your cause. Ergo video is an invaluable way of spreading your message in a cost-effective manner. Between ever-increasing technological advantages,  better equipment at cheaper prices and video sharing sites like YouTube being completely free, the distribution of your quality web video content has never been easier. These advances have helped to make advertising to a wider audience more affordable and simpler than ever.

2. Increased Conversion Rate
Video can connect with viewers in ways text & pictures cannot. Clothing site Zappos noticed a 6-30% increase in sales for products with videos and a study by Forrester Research showed that even email with video is opened 2-3x more than email without video.By embedding a video on a web-page next to interactive links the likelihood of that content being clicked improves greatly. 

3. Better Engagement Rates
When marketing your nonprofit in any format, the absolutely fundamental aim is to convey your message. This is where video is king. Research shows that site visitors stay an average of 2 minutes longer on sites with well-integrated video. According to Forbes, 59% of senior executives prefer navigating video-friendly sites as well. With it’s shareability and visually appealing nature, video is a great way of hooking viewers into your message. 

4. It’s Affordable...Again
Given that most nonprofits are on a tighter budget than businesses and are reliant on a sea of volunteers, the affordability of video really is a point worth making twice!  Not only is video relatively low-cost from a production side, but it is also time-effective. With the advent of video sharing sites like YouTube, you can schedule the uploading of your video to a time that suits you. There is also the advantage of video being incredibly share-worthy. If you have built up a good following on social media, you will already have a decent base to start your video campaign ball rolling, and hopefully people will be moved enough by your message, they will want to share it among themselves - completing part of your distribution strategy for you!

Note from Robyn:

If you've had success - or not such good luck - using video at your small nonprofit, share your story in the comments.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Is Your Small Nonprofit Responding to the Donor Instead of to the Ground?

Civilization II: Multiplayer Gold Edition by Eivind IV.
The good news is, I found a new place to live. The bad news is, I'm totally busy with packing up and stuff, so my own views on some of these subjects will have to wait to be shared. However, these articles are very worthwhile reading - and pondering.

Read and Think

In July, Peter Buffett, the Co-Chair of the NoVo Foundation, wrote about something he termed "Philanthropic Colonialism". Buffett's views have definitely caused conversation, which even spilled over to the Chronicle of Philanthropy. So Idealist thought an interview with him would be a great follow-up. I found the interview on Medium. They have a link to Buffett's original article in the NY Times, so you might want to start there.

Guest Posts Coming

Starting next month, SMBirdbrain will be pleased to publish the first of three posts on video and your small nonprofit. Our guest blogger is Maddie Hammond of Skeleton Productions in the UK, who has also guest-posted for Beth Kanter. I'll be posting one a month through November. Since I have not gotten into using video, I thought we could all learn from this.

Is It Nuts to Give Money To the Poor?

Some of you may know my degree is in Political Science and I really am interested in how politics affects doing good. Chris Blattman's article is related to this, specifically about how policy, poverty, and politics come together to affect developing countries. Does it really do any good to give cash to the poor? Chris looks at the ROI.


And here's a new tool I learned about through my NTEN newsletter. Thunderclap is a way to use crowdsourcing to lend power to something that might not otherwise get attention. From what I can see by exploring current campaigns, you can see not only whether or not each Thunderclap met (or exceeded) its goals, but how it is doing in terms of social reach.

Thanks for dropping by and sticking with me through this transition.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

When You Work At A Nonprofit

I think I may have found a place, which means I'll continue to be busy, but with packing and moving. In the meantime, please enjoy the latest Tumblr sensation: When You Work At A Nonprofit, which is well worth the subscription.

When You Work At A Nonprofit was created and is maintained by Leah Neaderthal and Leanne Pittsford who have worked in nonprofits and are the founders of Start Somewhere and Lean Impact.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Something Like a Vacation, But Not Really

I'm not exactly going on hiatus, but I'm having to find new living quarters and the search - in a highly desirable part of the world at a time of year where University students are looking for housing - is taking a lot of my time and energy.

I'll continue to post as I find the time and when I can't, I'll point you in the direction of information I think you might find worthwhile, like this article from Social Media Today on the traits of the World's Greatest Social Media Marketer. My favourite is #8 and I will follow up on that in a future post.  For now, enjoy the article and think about how social media outreach may - or may not - be evolving at your small nonprofit.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

What Your Small Nonprofit Can Learn From the Sharknado Twitter Storm

Did I jump on a meme bandwagon? Please - if that were the case, I'd be doing a post on the royal baby.

Nope; what we got here is a kind of failure to communicate. This wacky movie about sharks falling from the sky got so much Twitter press I heard even one U.S. Congressman hoped a vote wouldn't delay his being able to watch it.

So what was the end result of all this hype? I guess that depends on what you were hoping for, if you were Syfy.

Tornado o' Coverage

First off, let's stipulate that Sharknado got lots of Twitter coverage. Lots. As in thousands of posts. No doubt the name itself was a large part of its popularity. And who doesn't like a monster movie with low production values (I've been a fan since Creature From the Black Lagoon)? Some tweets panned the acting and some the rubber and some the CGI, but as Oscar Wilde once said, "The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about."

Did the Coverage Result in Increased Viewing?

No. That's the interesting part. Twitter was full of #sharknado tweets, but viewing for the movie itself was pretty low (by Hollywood's standards). On the other hand, lots of celebrities tweeted about it. One of the last communications by Glee's Cory Monteith was about Sharknado:

So what was the result? Yep; Syfy just ordered Sharknado 2.

What can we learn from this in terms of social media?
  • Lots of buzz doesn't necessarily mean you get what you wanted. Of course, I'm assuming that what Syfy wanted was eyeballs on the film.
  • Not getting what you wanted isn't necessarily bad. So they didn't get viewers. But they did get noticed. Maybe they'll get new fans for the channel and maybe they'll get new brands that want to advertise. For sure they connected with brands on Twitter.
  • You can get enhanced branding. Maybe it didn't trend on Twitter, but it did on Google as a Hot Search. And now it's probably got street cred as the cable channel you go to when you want creature features.
  • Not getting what you expected but getting something else is a situation you should jump on with both feet - when Syfy saw that #Sharknado was getting 5K tweets a minute (at its peak), they revised their website to showcase a link to a rebelmouse page on it.
And consider this - in the olden days (pre social media), a low viewership would probably have been the end of the road for Sharknado. But thanks to Twitter, the producers, writers, actors of the film will be getting another project and the film itself is being lauded as a new camp classic. You can't buy that kind of press.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Two Things About Social Media - Using It or Losing It

On the Subject of Losing It:

One of the more ambiguous terms used when trying to quantify effort in social communications is authenticity. What does it mean to be authentic in your posts and replies? I mean, just the fact that you're posting and the posting comes from your small nonprofit kinda makes them authentic, right? After all, who would post saying they're from your NP if they weren't?

Obviously, that's not what is meant, so let's go a little deeper.

There are actors who are always themselves, no matter what part they are playing. Sean Connery and John Wayne come to mind. When you see them, they may be saying things that only their character would say and yet, there's an overlap of the human being playing that character. Watching them, you get the sense that you know something of who they are outside of the film. In this way, you could say they are authentic, real, honest; revealing something of the person they are at core.

This is why you want someone handling social communications at your NP who is authentic; who uses a writing 'voice' that is theirs alone and a style that may recognizable. Furthermore, that person should believe in your mission and be able to talk about everything that touches it without being overbearing, preachy, or sounding like a used-car salesman. This person talks about taking her four-year-old to a park and seeing a sculpture and then relates that to your NP's arts education program in a natural, unaffected way. She talks to people outside of your Facebook page and looks at pictures outside of your Pinterest page. She shares in the concerns of others and by doing so, builds trust that your NP is what it says it is and is interested in people other than as donors.

What happens when there is no authenticity? Then you get something like this, which proves that just having a live person at the other end of the social media telephone line isn't enough to make you authentic.

On the Subject of Using It:

Nonprofit Tech for Good (formerly Nonprofit Tech 2.0) has a great post on using Facebook status changes. I was not aware that you could tweak your status posts like this and am delighted to learn it.

Why would you want to tweak your posts?

Link Title. Say you see a link between your mission and an event outside your community. You can choose to post about it, but change the Link Name to something that makes the connection more clear. Perhaps the link title is "[Celebrity] Tears Up" but that's not the point of the article and probably would not interest your followers. So you change it to something like "Pictures of Rescued Animals brings [Celebrity] to Tears".

Link Description. Maybe the description provided also doesn't fit the bill. You can change that as well from "[Celebrity] holds rescued puppy" to "One hundred puppies rescued from abusive puppy mill thanks to [Celebrity]"

Scheduling. This is awesome. You don't have to post that status immediately. Instead, you can schedule it so that your post hits your timeline at the time that it will have the most impact or so you can space between your posts instead of bombarding your community.

Hashtags. We've talked about this in another post. Help your community find your post in a way outside of searching your timeline by adding hashtags.

And don't think these tweaks are outside of the subject of authenticity. How you choose to title and describe your posts will reveal more than you know.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Four Things the For Profit World Could Learn From Nonprofits

In a couple of other posts I mentioned that it's become rather a fad to borrow from the for-profit side of things. I've even recently written a post on what nonprofits could learn from for-profits. When someone recently tweeted this link, a twitter friend-in-common (Shaun Dakin) said he'd like to see it the other way round - what could for-profits learn from NPs? So here's my take on that question.

The way I see it, there are four things small nonprofits do that a for-profit might find very useful:

  • Focus on Mission
  • Relationships
  • Flexibility
  • Teamwork

Focus on Mission

We've all heard about a business wanting to return to its core values. For a small nonprofit, the mission is its core value. Whatever else the NP does, it can't wander too far afield in its search for relevancy. If the mission is to provide kids with backpacks, then that's what it needs to focus on. Any time an NP starts thinking, "maybe we should add some pencils to those backpacks, or maybe we could get calculators," they've taken a step away from their mission. This doesn't mean you should toe the line strictly, but if you're expanding your reach temporarily, you need to be clear about what you're doing and why: you can't afford to have your social media contacts become confused about what is important to you. Confusion about your mission will muddy the waters and your brand - what the public sees you as standing for.


There is at least one cable service provider whose brand is tarnished by horror stories told by customers about the way their problems were resolved (or not). There are even whole websites devoted to nothing but customers venting about a particular company and what it is not doing right. This is not the kind of publicity anyone wants, whether for profit or nonprofit, but some companies seem to think they are too big to care and they don't respond to the Tweets, FB posts, or other social media chastisements.

A small nonprofit must pay attention, must monitor, must respond. While a business may consider social media communications a needless distraction, for an organization whose brand encompasses doing good, there's no substitute for a timely response or outreach on issues related to the mission. Good social communications help make and maintain good relationships. A business could do worse than emulate a nonprofit such as the Humane Society. With better social communications, that cable service provider might find fewer people willing to take a hammer to their cable boxes or satellite dishes. Note: social media response/interaction leads to referrals and endorsements - that's a fact.


In the tech world there's a software product called Agile and it's spawned methodologies like Agile Project Management. The whole idea is to promote a rapid response to change using collaboration and self-defined, cross-functional teams. Companies put millions of dollars into learning something a small nonprofit that wants to thrive already knows - to succeed, you have to be flexible.

Almost everyone in a small nonprofit wears more than one hat, which doesn't happen as often in business, unless it's a start-up. More than one person has to be empowered to deal with changing situations or a crisis could completely stall the whole enterprise. With respect to social communications, a stalled response could cause exponential damage to community perception - damage that can take a long, long time to recover from. An internal structure that anticipates and builds in flexibility will have a much greater chance of preventing social media damage before it starts or at least dealing with it quickly enough to minimize the problem.


I've worked in places - including nonprofits - where the prevailing definition of teamwork was everyone doing what the boss said. Again, because the staff of a small nonprofit must take on many different jobs, teamwork means pitching in to help your colleagues; understanding that helping them win is to support the mission and ensure the whole nonprofit wins. It also means collaborating on strategies, plans for carrying out tasks: each person is an asset with something to contribute and while the final decision may belong to the Executive Director, it doesn't mean that the opinions or experience of other staff are less important or useful.

There's probably plenty more a for-profit could learn from the work of a nonprofit, particularly a small one. If you had the opportunity to tell a business how a nonprofit does it, what tips would you share?