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.