CLICK HERE if you are having a problem viewing the photos on a mobile deviceThe Warriors lost their preseason game against the Lakers 104-98 Monday. Don’t worry, they’ll get two more opportunities this week to exact revenge. Yes, the preseason schedule is ridiculous.In a game where Draymond Green and D’Angelo Russell and pretty much anyone making more than the minimum for the Lakers did not play, here’s what we learned, other than LeBron James isn’t interested in losing any of that money he …
Here are six great, easy steps to improving your email outreach that Anne Holland presented at Marketing Sherpa’s Email Summit:Opt-ins – Make it easy for people to sign up to hear from your nonprofit right on your home page. Don’t make them have to hunt long and hard to find how to sign up, or go to through many steps and pages to do it.Welcome messages – Only half of folks Marketing Sherpa surveyed welcomed new sign-ups within 72 hours. You can stand out just by saying hi and starting a conversation once people do opt-in to hear from you.Transactional emails – People open them at much higher rates than anything else. Of course – they want their receipt or to track their stuff if they’ve bought something. So when you receipt (and I hope, thank) donors, you might consider putting in a bit of nice additional content. I wouldn’t ask for more money right then because donors are tired of that, though.Reputation – from AOL to Earthlink to Yahoo!, providers are sorting spam by the reputation of the organization sending the mail. Even though you’re a nice nonprofit, you might get blocked if you’ve had too many bounces or unsubscribes from your emails. So think about slashing your list so it’s just made up of people who really want to hear from you, and consider being more careful about sharing it with people who might spam your supporters.Design and rendering – Did you know half of all folks 25-54 have images blocked on email by default? Wow. And a high number of folks read all their email in preview panes. MAKE SURE your emails appear right. It turns out when people get an email with a funky layout or blocked images, many think it’s spam. Second, make sure that if your images are blocked, there is something interesting to read so you don’t lose people. Third, put what’s interesting at the top and at the left so people can see it in preview.Landing pages – Sherpa says they give you the best bang for your buck. So don’t just write great emails. If people click through, make sure the place they go is very compelling.
Katya’s note: The name of a white paper recently caught my eye – it promised 15 rules to good email subject lines. My marketing colleague Rebecca Ruby here at Network for Good was interested too — and lucky for us, she read it and summarizes it here for us. Thanks Rebecca!By Rebecca Ruby, marketing maven at Network for GoodLyris HQ has a great a white paper “Email Subject Lines: 15 Rules to Write Them Right,” which highlights the make-or-break importance of subject lines. It’s well worth taking a few moments to go through their registration and obtain your own copy, but here my favorite highlights:•Test! Test subject lines. Write them early (not at the last minute). Test again, measure results, and use those analytics to drive future content.•Structure and content are both important. You need to be cognizant of where the key info goes, as well as how strong your call-to-action is.•Subject lines play into trust-building. The subject line can include a branding element or another device to tie to the “from” address. A quick way to kill that positive messaging? Stretching the truth about what’s inside the message.Here’s a breakdown of their entire list:1. Read the newspaper. Newspaper headlines highlight a story’s most important fact in a limited space—which is coincidentally exactly what marketing email subject lines should do.2. There is no sure-fire formula. Subject lines are non-recyclable and not necessarily the same when sending different types of campaigns.3. Test, test, test. According to rule 2, there’s not a surefire winner, so be sure to allow time for testing.4. Support the “from” line. The “from” tells recipients who sent the message, and the subject line sells that recipient on whether to open it. You don’t need to repeat your company name in the subject, but do consider some subject-line branding (ex: the name of the newsletter).5. List key info first. Put the key information in the first 50 characters. Not sure where the subject line will be cut off? Send it to yourself to test and check!6. Open rates don’t always measure subject-line success. Your end goal is not necessarily high open rate, but to have subscribers take a specific action. Focus on those results instead of open-rate numbers.7. Personalize. Personalize subject lines based on your recipients’ content preferences and/or interests, and then be sure to make it easy for readers to find and update this information upon receiving your message.8. Urgency drives action. Set deadlines for action, and consider using a series: “Only five days left until–!” followed up later in the week with, “Just 24 hours left until–”9. Watch those spam filters. Run your copy through a content checker to identify spam-like words, phrases and construction. A couple of big no-no’s: all capital letters and excessive use of exclamation points.10. “Free” is not evil. As a follow-up to number 9, avoid putting the word “free” first, but you needn’t leave it out entirely.11. Lead, but don’t mislead. Subject lines are not the place to overpromise. Be truthful about whatever the text claims to avoid distrust.12. Write and test early and often. Flip your thinking: Craft and test your subject line prior to composing the rest of your message. (Remember rule 3?)13. Review subject-line performance over your last several campaigns or newsletters. Not only will this type of data-mining shed light on your subject-line successes (highest conversation rates, click-through rate, etc.), it will drive future content strategies.14. Continue the conversation. Sending campaigns more frequently than once per month or quarter helps create a back-and-forth with readers, and also allows for content follow-up if something from a previous campaign has news.15. Can you pass the must-open/must-read test? Must-read means this: If a subscriber doesn’t open the email, they will feel like they are out of the loop and may have missed an offer they will regret not taking advantage of. Also, be sure to check out whether your message is going to the bulk-folder (see rule 9).
As promised in yesterday’s post, Bryan at Collective Lens has been kind enough to provide these tips, as well as these stunning photos, generously shared by the talented Shehzad Noorani and Kathy Adams.copyright Shehzad NooraniSathi’s (8 years old) face is blacked with carbon dust from recycled batteries. Often she looks so black, that children in her neighborhood call her ghost. She works in battery recycling factory at Korar Ghat on the outskirts of Dhaka. She earns less than Taka 200 ($3.50 approx) per month.Kathy Adams, Empowerment InternationalLook Mom, I CAN count! Empowerment International works with not just students in Nicaragua but also their parents. Getting the parents involved and supportive of their child’s education is one key to success in completing at least primary school (in a nation where only 50% of the enrolled 1st graders complete 5th grade).– Use photos to tell a story. “A picture is worth 1000 words,” as they say. Imagery can go much further than written text to bring out the events and emotions of a particular cause or issue. One photo can describe a pressing situation, warm the heart of the viewer, or cause your audience to react and respond. Furthermore, with multiple photos organized into a photo essay, an entire story can be told from the big picture to the smallest details in an efficient and effective manner.– Use photos to grab the attention of the viewer. In today’s media-driven society, words alone can not compete for the attention of your desired audience. With television, movies, YouTube, texting, and millions of competing websites, your message must make an instantaneous impact. This is especially true if you are vying for the attention of today’s youth. If your message is text only, you should not expect most people to read more than five sentences. Lead with a powerful photo.– Use photos to create an emotional impact. Human faces attract the viewer’s eye faster than any other subject matter. Use this to your advantage, and display photos that showcase the human impact of an important issue and the work that your organization is doing around it.– Copyright issues are extremely important. If you see a photo on the web, you are most likely not allowed to use it. The photographer has full copyrights to the photo unless otherwise noted. However, it doesn’t hurt to ask for permission! Many photographers would be delighted to hear from you, especially if you’re using the photo for a good cause. Keep in mind that the production of good photography costs money and is a career for many people. Also, many websites such as Collective Lens and Flickr allow photographers to mark their photos with Creative Commons licenses, and then allow the public to search for photos marked with these licenses. These licenses allow others to freely use the photos, but only under certain conditions, and always with attribution. For example, a photo marked with a Creative Commons Non Commercial license (CC-BY-NC) can not be used for commercial or advertising purposes. However, it is permissible to use it in an editorial story. It is also important to note that the people in the photos have rights as well. If a photo is to be used for commercial purposes, then every identifiable person in the photo must sign a release. If a photographer does not have releases, then he or she should have marked the photo with a Creative Commons Non Commercial license. Sometimes copyright rules can get complicated, but don’t let that deter you from asking questions if you have doubts about a photo. If all else fails, email the photographer and ask for permission.
Below are the slides from the live training hosted August 28, 2008 in Silver Spring, MD by the Maryland Association of Nonprofits in partnership with Network for Good and Livingston Communications.
Article provided by PR Newswire’s Nonprofit Toolkit, an educational resource devoted to Non Profit public relations. Visit the Nonprofit Toolkit today and receive a waived annual membership ($195 value) and more than $2,000 in discounts and free services. Follow-up: SocializeUsing these tips can help ensure that your release will feature highly in search engine rankings (and links back to your media room or web site). That same release can now be shared beyond these borders using social media. The inclusion of social media elements in a news release is offered by some newswires, as is search engine optimization. But what makes your news worth sharing?Tags. There are more than 300 social bookmarking sites for Internet users out there, and inclusion comes down to presenting people with readily available tags, such as for digg, technorati or del.icio.us. The key, of course, is well-written news: an interesting perspective, an innovative product or a creative article.Include multimedia elements whenever possible. Engaging photos and videos enhance your message, making it more attractive and worthy of sharing with others. Including these elements also goes a long way toward gaining media coverage, as it increases journalists’ options in the ways that they can cover your news.Provide reliable, refreshed information. Whether you maintain a organizational media room or publish a blog, provide the media with one place to find content that is specific, reliable and useful. Develop a regular readership by providing consistent, interesting, reliably refreshed news and information.Use RSS feeds. Utilizing RSS distribution from your company web site and other online content distributors pushes your news automatically to interested parties. It also means that your site will be constantly spidered by search engines, which will in turn improve its ranking in search results. Visit the Nonprofit Toolkit today and receive a waived annual membership ($195 value) and more than $2,000 in discounts and free services. As communicators, our words are our greatest tools. They determine our success in building relationships and positive brand visibility. Nowhere is this more apparent than on the Internet. Online communication is still growing and developing, giving us more opportunities than ever to connect with our stakeholders. But our audience is becoming increasingly fragmented. News sites, search engines, blogs and web sites all vie for attention, making it much more difficult to control our message.So how do we effectively communicate our message to each segment of these many audiences? What line do we take? In the online space, are we spokespeople, publicists, marketers, or a little bit of each? Two audiences: Consumers and the mediaAs public relations professionals, our main responsibility is to provide positive branding for companies and organizations through media coverage and online visibility. The media remain the most important and wide-reaching platform for spreading our message. What has changed with the Internet is that we now have a chance not only to push the message out, but to pull customers and prospects in as well, creating a cycle of communication that links and feeds on itself.Companies on the cusp of the media revolution are taking Web 2.0 and changing internal processes to make the best use of its tools. In particular, marketing and PR departments are coming together to create better communication strategies to target these two audiences: consumers and the media. Tips and tools for optimizing a news releaseNews releases that are search-engine-optimized can establish an online avenue to draw qualified, interested people to information about your organization. Constructing a marketing- and media-friendly release does, however, require internal coordination and planning in order to best use your resources. Here are some tips:Style guides and key messaging. Maintaining messaging consistency across all levels of an organization is always important, but especially when it comes to ratcheting up your online branding. Search engines use specific words and phrases to categorize news and build a relationship between your organizations news releases and its web site. If your news releases reflect words people are using to find information related to your organization, your release will establish a channel leading interested readers to your web site. Develop style guides with your marketing and product teams to make sure your words are consistent.Choose your keywords carefully. Before you write your news release, determine its theme, a list of keywords to represent that theme, and finally two or three keywords or phrases to focus on. Use keyword research tools to determine how your audience searches for news about your industry. These may also indicate the sort of competition that exists in relation to your chosen words. Your marketing team has probably already conducted this research; synchronizing your efforts will save time and establish a uniform company voice. When crafting your release, though, remember to keep your wording natural, so that readers still connect with your message.Place your keywords up front. Specifically, work them into a short (80-character) headline, and repeat them in your lead paragraph. The inverted pyramid of news release writing lends itself well to search engine optimization. Search engines typically scan the title tag of a page, the headline, and the first paragraph of a release, so be sure to include all important information and relevant keywords at the beginning.Distribute your news online. Most newswires post your news releases directly to search engines and relevant industry web sites as a part of the media distribution your organization receives. Be sure to include links in your release that direct Internet users to your organizations site. Inbound links to your organizations website enhance its ranking on search engines, as search engines count each link to your website as a vote for its significance.Use anchor text. In addition to including your organizations URL in a release, use anchor text (terms that appear as hyperlinks leading to pages on your organizations site). Link important keywords to relevant web pages to create a pathway for your readers (and search engines) to easily find information. This drives trafficto your products, creates links back to your web site, and teaches search engines to associate the hyperlinked words with your organizations web site and news releases. All of these add to your site’s search rankings.Link coverage to your media page. This is when your news release stops being a collection of words and facts and becomes part of a larger, cohesive corporate message. For instance, if your organization has an upcoming product launch, start by researching key industry publications’ editorial calendars and develop a pitching timeline. Communicate in advance with your marketing/website team and make sure that when you receive media coverage, your site reflects that coverage. Make full use of your PR success-don’t keep it locked up in a clip book! Integrated communicationConsumersGiven the scope of online communication options available, it is possible to make it easy for the media to report on a company’s or organizations news while increasing visibility to consumers. But it takes internal cooperation. For communication, following up with information is as important as gaining initial interest.In terms of crossover from PR to marketing, consider how your organization handles online leads. Is your marketing department aware of the traffic that your news releases generate when you distribute them online? Do visitors to the organizations web site land on a page that engages them and invites them to learn more about or interact with the organization?The people who seek out your organizations website after reading the news release are highly qualified prospects. Ensuring that the information they find on the site is appealing is critical to converting these prospects, whether they are potential volunteers, donors, or journalists or bloggers looking for a story.The mediaOrganizations that develop visible, organized, easy-to-navigate and highly informative media rooms on their web sites ensure that members of the media are as well taken care of as the consumers who reach the sites.Yet it would be naïve to think that any member of the media relies solely on an organizations web site or media room for information. A recent study of journalists by Fusion PR found that the majority often consult blogs for information. It is increasingly apparent that we need to meet them in the online space of blogs, search engines and news aggregators as well as in the media room, and through traditional news release distribution.Dee Rambeau, product specialist for PR Newswire’s MediaRoom services and managing partner of The Fuel Team, a provider of web-based solutions for the marketing and PR professionals, says that based on their own analysis, clients who have used MediaRoom have “increased their media audience, improved the loyalty of that audience due to the ‘unsubscribe’ feature, increased the specificity of their media audience by offering ‘categories’ of news, and increased the usability of their MediaRoom content by offering multimedia galleries, podcasts, images and videos.”
Deborah Elizabeth Finn has a great new review of the book, Philanthropy Reconsidered by George McCully. She notes:George explains how our rhetoric (and perhaps therefore our thinking) has shifted, as we’ve moved from the industrial age to the information age in philanthropy. It’s no longer about grand patrons giving away their bounty to the deserving poor – it’s about all of us wanting to make a difference, working together, and investing in the change we want to see in the world.We tend to make use of terms such as “nonprofit” to describe our organizations, thus allowing the U.S. Internal Revenue Service to define not only our sector, but to define the taxonomy by which we understand our missions. In his book, George proposes an alternate taxonomy that he developed in the context of his work with the Catalogue For Philanthropy. He points out the need for terminology not based on postive rather than negative definitions (e.g., “nonprofit” or “nongovernmental”), and a taxonomy that orients us to philanthropy as an integral part of our human mission.I agree with that for sure.It reminds me of what our friends at For Impact like to say: We’re not not-for-profits at heart. We’re for impact. And we need as many people behind that as possible.
Fiscal sponsorship is a practice that has evolved as an effective and efficient means of starting new charitable initiatives, delivering public services, and seeding social movements. Fiscal sponsors are nonprofits that enable the movement of resources from funders and donors to projects, activities, ideas, and organizations that share the fiscal sponsor’s mission.One way to find a fiscal sponsor is through your current affiliations, such as theaters, libraries, community organizations, or professional societies that are familiar with your work. In addition, several websites have information on finding a fiscal sponsor, along with examples of policies, procedures, and guidelines for fiscal sponsorship agreements. Here are some reccomended resources:Guide to Fiscal Sponsorship from the Foundation Center Fiscal Sponsorship Resources from the Tides CenterGuide to Fiscal Sponsorship from Community Technical Assistance Center (CTAC)Fiscalsponsordirectory.org is a tool created by the San Francisco Study Center to help connect community projects with fiscal sponsors; it is also a forum for fostering understanding of that relationship and its impact on the nonprofit sector.Finally, below are tips for finding Fiscal Sponsorship from Kim Klein of Grassroots Fundraising:Dear Kim:I belong to a small “Women in Black” group that has been considering doing minimal fundraising for our organization for banners and signs, buttons, fliers, etc. for use at our vigils. We are all volunteer, we have no office and we use a PO Box. We are truly “grassroots.” Is there a way that we could find an organization that would be our “sponsor” so that we could do this kind of minimal fundraising without becoming a “non-profit corporation” ourselves? Are we too political for anyone to take us on?~Seeking small money and smaller hassleDear Seeking:The relationship you are looking for is called “fiscal sponsorship” and it should be relatively easy to find someone to do that for you. The fiscal sponsor handles donations and assumes fiduciary responsibility for you. They charge a fee, usually a percentage of the money you raise, for doing that work. Donors make their checks out to the name of the fiscal sponsor, which sometimes confuses people, but that is a minor problem. I don’t think you should have trouble finding a fiscal sponsor because Women in Black, if memory serves, does not engage in electoral politics, and mostly uses the witness of a silent vigil to do your important peacemaking work. To find a fiscal sponsor, you should contact your local community foundation or Volunteer Center. If you have a number of peace and justice groups in your area, ask them for leads to fiscal sponsors. Here in California, we are blessed to have the Agape Foundation which sponsors small peace groups, and probably is aware of other similar organizations in the rest of the United States. (www.agapefn.org)I don’t know all the reasons you want access to nonprofit status, but if it is so that you can allow donors to get a tax deduction for their donations to your organization, you may want to consider this: 70% of Americans file a short form and do not receive any tax benefits for their charitable giving. You could also set up a checking account as a “DBA” (Doing Business As) and not have formal tax status at all. Someone in your organization will need to provide the bank with her social security number and that person will be responsible for managing the finances and keeping track of income and expenses. You may need to file some forms with the city where you live, following the same laws as a small business. However, if you are simply raising small amounts of money, mostly in cash, from a broad cross section of donors, most of whom are not going to use their gift to you as a tax deduction, even having a fiscal sponsor may be more trouble than it’s worth. If you go this latter route, I would seek the advice of a small business accountant or even someone at your bank about how best to do it. I definitely do not recommend seeking your own nonprofit status.Good luck!~Kim Klein
That’s the 25 million dollar question, especially for an advocacy group like Amnesty International USA (AIUSA). We’re the nonprofit group that protects people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied. Talk about a broad mission.It’s no surprise then that when I first joined AIUSA as the Managing Director of Internet Communications, we were sending out 2, 3 or more emails PER DAY. Yes, we segmented, but trying to build suppressions, queries and code emails to send 2 to 3 emails per day was a nightmare and not always effective. The online team at that time was primarily seen as a group of glorified tech-monkeys who would take copy and email it to our list. The quality varied from downright embarrassing to just OK, but still really wonky and dry.I knew immediately a couple things needed to change: 1) the online team needed to be key decision makers on email; 2) our volume had to decrease; 3) the quality of the writing had to improve.Because we had the keys to the tool that actually sent the messages, I began acting like we had the authority to do things differently. The first thing I did was rewrite email copy sent to the online team, and I asked the other online staff to do the same. Programs didn’t like us rewriting their copy, but I was persistent, and told them that we knew how best to write emails meant to mobilize online supporters. Our writing at the time primarily focused on having great hooks that were timely, and focusing on individual stories that could humanize our issues. It probably took a year before other departments got comfortable with our expanded role.To address our email volume, I first measured how many emails our average subscribe received and compared it to other advocacy groups. We were at the very high end, sending most subscribers between 19 to 25 emails a month. Yikes!I used this comparison, along with some research from M+R that showed reduced email volume improved response rates. Admittedly, the research wasn’t so cut and dry, but it was enough to make a case.Then I put together a set of email guidelines that gave allotments out to the staff in charge of: fundraising (usually 2x a month), priority campaigns (up to 8x month), and non-priority programs (up to 4x a month). There were a few other emails that could get on the calendar (event invites, registrations) too.This approach forced the individual programs and campaigns teams to go lobby their supervisor, not the online team. I remember when we proposed the new structure for email communications, there were all sorts of predictions about how we’d no longer be able to do our work, that our campaigns would fail, and the world would probably end.A year into it, we found that most of the objections were exaggerated. However, there were some important emails that these guidelines didn’t allow, like sending super targeted actions to key targets during key moments, or thanking people after we achieved something. So we adjusted and loosened the guidelines to allows for these important types of emails.18 MONTHS LATER:Our first set of guidelines were probably more like a sledgehammer than a scalpel, but they were critical to changing the organization’s inaccurate view that high volume, low quality was an OK way to use this scarce resource. We’re now about to release our third iteration guidelines and these are much more strategic.Ben Brandzel, formerly with MoveOn, Avaaz and the Edwards campaign, conducted a 5 hour training with us on what makes a great email. The gist is that email really is only effective when you can clearly articulate a crisis, an opportunity (crisitunity), and a theory of change (how taking action now will resolve the crisitunity).Some examples of crisitunity and theory of change:Good crisitunity: Monks are being killed in Burma