Info For Nonprofits

Stay (Mission) Focused: A Simple Tool to Help You Save Time and Speed Up Your Organization


Jesse Flores Founder Startup Lansing Here's a simple and elegant way to cut out the cut-and-paste parts of your work life.

Most of us are both time- and budget-strapped. We want to stay focused on our mission, but, try as we may, it seems there is always more to do than there is time to do it. Yet, the people we serve and the funders who underwrite our efforts expect us to produce results. So, what's a time- and cash-strapped nonprofit to do? Here’s an answer: Automate time-consuming, but necessary processes using modern technology.

Macmillan: We did not hijack #icebucketchallenge

AFP Blog -

Macmillan: We did not hijack #icebucketchallenge: Macmillan has hit back against accusations on social media that it has hijacked #icebucketchallenge, saying the craze has been raising money for cancer charities in New Zealand since July.

The challenge has peaked in publicity in the last week as celebrities in the US continue to nominate each other, while showing off their famous friends, to pour iced water over themselves and donate money to American charity ALS Association.

Why Your Nonprofit Should Invest in Video As Part Its Communications Strategy

Beth's Blog -

Photo Credit: Tristan Hanson

Why Your Nonprofit Should Invest in Video As Part Its Communications Strategy – Guest Post by Michael Hoffman, CEO of See3

It’s obvious to anyone who spends time online that video is taking over the internet. It is the dominant form of content we all engage with – on our desktops, our tablets and now our phones. And when video is paired with a continuous strategy and clear metrics for success, there is overwhelming evidence showing that it is a crucial, important investment for nonprofits.

And so it continues to surprise me that nonprofits invest far too little in video content, as if they are somehow exempt from this general trend.

In the Into Focus report, See3, YouTube and Edelman surveyed nonprofit staff and found that the clear majority recognizes the power of video. In fact,

  • 80% of respondents said video is important to their organization today,
  • 91% believe video will become more important in the next 3 years, and
  • 92% value the investment they have made in video.

So, you would think that budgets would be going up accordingly. Not so.

Fully two-thirds of respondents reported that their budgets for video would be flat or decline!

Finding the ROI

One reason for the disconnect between stated belief in video and video budgets has been the lack of hard data about the return on investment (ROI). Video is cool, but it is also expensive (in time and money). It’s no surprise that a tactic with a cost is high and unclear ROI gets minimal resources.

But we have reached an inflection point. There is enough data today to warrant a major investment in video.

Not A Video but a Video Strategy

From my conversations with organizational leaders, I have found that there is too much focus on one video, rather than a video strategy. If you spend a lot of time and money on one video, and that video has poor results, it is no wonder that you hesitate to do more.

When we say video works, we don’t mean every video works, any more than we mean every email works or every direct mail piece works. To know that your email works you have to be sending email regularly – and developing clear metrics for what success looks like. The same is true with video. To see the impact of video, you have to be using it as an ongoing means of communications, not a one-off project that carries all your hopes and dreams.

An ongoing investment in video starts with strategy. When we create video strategy we answer the questions like what has worked for you, what assets and resources do you have, and what stories are there to tell.

With the big picture in mind, lets look at the recent evidence for a video investment.

Video Stats: How Video Impacts Constituent Behavior

You can see how much video dominates YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. But the evidence that people are watching wasn’t enough to convince most organizational leaders to make significant investments. Now we have evidence that gets directly to the level of user behavior.

These stats were culled from many different reports, most meant for corporate marketers. You can use these stats with your leadership to secure some video resources.

  • When the word video is used in an email subject line, open rates double. (Experian Digital Marketing Report)
  • Click-through rates increase 2-3 times when a video is included in an email. (Digital Sherpa)
  • Companies using video require 37% fewer site visits before a person responds to a call to action. (Aberdeen Group and Brightcove)
  • People who watch video are 85% more likely to make a purchase than those who don’t. (Kiosked and Brightcove)
  • If you ever hope to reach a younger audience, you need to be using video. According to a 2013 ComScore study, 83% of 12-17 year olds and 91% of 18-24 year olds are watching online video on a regular basis.

Large companies like Zappos and have impressive case studies showing how video has helped them reach their goals. While nonprofit video case studies are harder to come by, the overwhelming direction of the evidence is that video works.

There aren’t excuses any more. Our nonprofit organizations may not be equipped with the talent or the mindset to use more video, but we have to change. We have to adapt and jump in, or the most valuable currency of all — attention — will be in short supply for the important work we do.

Michael Hoffman is the CEO of See3 Communications and an authority on developing video strategy for social good.




Ice-Bucket Torrent Reaches $8.6-Million in a Day and Douses Ex-President – Philanthropy Today - Blogs - The Chronicle of Philanthropy

AFP Blog -

Ice-Bucket Torrent Reaches $8.6-Million in a Day and Douses Ex-President – Philanthropy Today - Blogs - The Chronicle of Philanthropy: Ice-Bucket Torrent Reaches $8.6-Million in a Day and Douses Ex-President

The flood of “ice-bucket challenge” donations to fight Lou Gehrig’s disease reached a new crest Wednesday as the ALS Association reported taking in $8.6-million over a 24-hour period, Time writes.

How to Create an Ice Bucket-type Challenge for Your Nonprofit: A Formula for Success - Clairification

AFP Blog -

How to Create an Ice Bucket-type Challenge for Your Nonprofit: A Formula for Success - Clairification: re you wringing your hands because your boss or board wants you to come up with a viral social campaign to rival the “Ice Bucket Challenge?” Oy!

I was first introduced to this phenomenon one evening as I was watching the Jimmy Fallon show on t.v. Jimmy, some of his crew and his band all dumped buckets of ice water on their heads; then challenged the New York Jets to do so as well (Jimmy had been challenged by Justin Timberlake). I had no idea why they were doing it or what the “Ice Bucket Challenge” was about.

Raiders of the Lost Archives, or How I Made Volunteer Data Entry Fun


Lillian Karabaic Zine Librarian Independent Publishing Resource Center Is it possible to create an app that gets volunteers traveling across the country to enter data for a nonprofit?

The Independent Publishing Resource Center (IPRC) supports Portland’s arts and writing community and curates North America’s largest zine library, a circulating archive of self-published and otherwise underground and rare publications. Our collection is well-known, diverse, and spans seven decades and over 60 languages.

As glorious as the zine library is, we have developed an enviable problem of scale.

Ice Bucket Challenge Still Going Strong: $31.5 Million in Donations to The ALS Association - The ALS Association

AFP Blog -

Ice Bucket Challenge Still Going Strong: $31.5 Million in Donations to The ALS Association - The ALS Association: Ice Bucket Challenge Still Going Strong: $31.5 Million in Donations to The ALS Association

Washington, D.C. (August 20, 2014) — As of Wednesday, August 20, The ALS Association has received $31.5 million in donations compared to $1.9 million during the same time period last year (July 29 to August 20). These donations have come from existing donors and 637,527 new donors to The Association.

Everybody's Talking About the Ice-Bucket Challenge - News - The Chronicle of Philanthropy- Connecting the nonprofit world with news, jobs, and ideas

AFP Blog -

Everybody's Talking About the Ice-Bucket Challenge - News - The Chronicle of Philanthropy- Connecting the nonprofit world with news, jobs, and ideas: The ice-bucket challenge, which is raising big sums for the ALS Association, has been many things to many people: viral sensation, philanthropic case study, ego-driven frivolity, even an excuse to pillory Justin Bieber, who took the challenge but reportedly left out the ice.

A Drop In the Ice Bucket: Good for the Cause, Bad for the Drought

AFP Blog -

A Drop In the Ice Bucket: Good for the Cause, Bad for the Drought: o put the waste this campaign has caused into simple terms, let’s just assume everyone is using a five gallon bucket. Now multiply that number by the more than 1.2 million videos shared on Facebook since June 1. Based on that assumption (5 x 1,200,000), over 6 million gallons of water have been poured out in the name of Lou Gehrig’s Disease. The average American household uses 320 gallons per day, which means that based on this estimation, nearly 19,000 homes’ daily water usage has been wasted. And that’s not even taking into account that videos posted online often depict multiple people, sometimes even entire sororities or fraternities, taking part in the ice bucket challenge, often using more than one bucket per video.

Summer School: Test Drive: Using #GivingTuesday to Experiment with New Fundraising Strategies

Beth's Blog -


How many of you who work for nonprofits are getting asked to “come up with an icebucket challenge” for your annual fundraising campaign?  Or maybe it’s caught your attention and you are more realistically asking, “What can we learn from the icebucket challenge apply to our year-end giving and integrating social media in fundraising?”

Participating in a local or national giving day may help you work on that second question.   Most giving days also provide lots of toolkits, webinars, and other training – and it is free!   Take for example,  #GivingTuesday, a global day dedicated to giving back that will take place on Tuesday, December 2, 2014, a day for charities, families, businesses, community centers, and students around the world will come together for one common purpose: to celebrate generosity and to give.  GivingTuesday is offers a FREE  complete suite of tools and webinars on how to do online fundraising with social media effectively.

I’m participating in the GivingTuesday Summer School where you find an instructional video from me discussing how to use giving days like Giving Tuesday to experiment and improve your online fundraising with social media.   See you in Summer School!

Basic Facilitation Techniques for Nonprofits

Beth's Blog -

As a trainer and now adjunct professor,  I’m constantly working on and honing these skills sets: assessment, instructional design, curriculum/materials development, presenting, facilitation, and evaluation.    There is a lot of learn and refine in each of these areas.       And that’s why I love teaching and training because it is all about the learning for both you and the participants.  Over the last 25 years I’ve been doing training,  I’ve learned different and applied different methods from either being a “student”  in a training facilitated by someone using a method, being trained in the method, co-designing with others, and designing and facilitating my own sessions.

There are a lot different styles, philosophies, and techniques for facilitating groups of people.    Check out the International Association of Facilitator’s Method database which contains more than 500 entries. There are also nonprofit specific facilitation tool kits like this one for international development projects.    I like to avoid being stuck in the same techniques and am always interested in expanding my toolkit.  That’s why I love looking and testing different methods.

Here’s just a few:

Any many more .  Does it makes your eyes pop out?

One thing I have noticed when co-designing workshops or gatherings with other facilitators, is that some facilitators like to specialize and or have a preference for one method or philosophy.   For example, there are some approaches that lend themselves to having people think about their practice in an area as an individual or within their organization, while techniques encourage collaboration, cross-pollination, or more networked ways of being with each other.    There are facilitators who are steeped in the theoretical frameworks and research and others are experienced in the practical aspects.

No matter what flavor of facilitation you put into your toolkit, there are some facilitator fundamentals and skills that facilitators need.  These skills are useful in all group settings, whether it is a meeting, workshop, or conference.  There is no better resource than “The Facilitator’s Guide To Participatory Decision-Making” by Sam Kaner.   (They also offer workshops).   The book is an extremely practical resource whether you are working on improving your skills or teaching others.   Part 2 offers checklists and reminders for these basic skills.   This includes:

1.  Facilitated Listening Skills

Facilitated listening is made up of a number of techniques described in more detail in the book.   A few of these include.  I know in my own practice have made a conscious effort to go into any workshop with a goal practicing these.

-Paraphrasing: Repeating back in your own words what someone has said, often using phrasing such as “Let me see if I’m understanding you.”   This builds trust and establishes your objectivity.   You end your paraphrase with with “Did I get it?”

-Drawing People Out: After you listen and paraphrase, you ask open-ended questions to draw people out.  ”Tell me more …” is one of several identified in the book.  A simple hmm…. often works

-Mirroring: This is repeating back verbaitem what someone has said using their words.  It lets the speaker hear what they just said and can build trust.  It is used in brainstorming because it speeds up the discussion

-Stacking: This is often called directing traffic.  When more than one more person wants to speak, you acknowledge and give them a order to speak.

-Tracking: This is keeping track of the conversation themes and threads.   The facilitator indicates that they will summarize the discussion and names the themes in play and then invites moving the conversation onward with “any more comments?

-Encouraging: This is encouraging those who haven’t spoken to participate.  A simple “who else has an idea?”

-Intentional Silence: Leaving space for quiet, an essential facilitation skill.  It is basically a pause.  It helps people process complex thoughts.

2.  Scribing

Writing people’s ideas on a flip chart or white board helps with the group memory and knowledge capture.   There is a whole area of visual facilitation called “Graphic Facilitation” developed by David Sibet where the conversation is captured with drawings and words. (David Sibbet’s book, “Visual Meetings” is one of the best resources on techniques and they also offer training.)  In some facilitation methods, the participants do the documentation – for example the World Cafe where participants take notes of the conversation or Open Space Technology where knowledge capture is done by participants throughout.

If you are not using a design where participants do the scribing, you as a facilitator may lead a conversation AND be the chart writer.    Or you may have a co-facilitator where you can split the roles or invite a participant to play this role.   Each of these choices has pros/cons.  For example, if you invite a participant to scribe, they cannot fully participate in the activity.  If you facilitate and scribe, sometimes it can slow down the conversation and this can be problem if you are doing brainstorming.

The chart writer’s role is to captures the groups ideas.    Whenever possible, the chart writer writes down the speaker’s exact words.  Sometimes the person’s statement is too long and complex to be recorded verbatim, so the facilitator assists by paraphrasing or breaking it down so the scribe can write the condensed version.     A good scribe does not try to facilitate the discussion when another facilitator is already playing that role.     That can be hard to remember if you are used to doing both tasks.

3.  Small Group Design

Managing energy in the room is part of a facilitator’s job (and trainer too).    You have either help re-energize a sluggish room or help a hyper vibe in the room to slow down.   The book offers some tips on how to shift group behavior, but it also include a wonderful collection of ideas of how to organize smaller group discussions.  Some formats require everyone to speak, others do not.  Some formats are playful and incorporate informality, movement, and fun.   People can work alone, with a partner or small groups of three or five or larger.  Some formats help people develop deeper relationships and others help with cross pollination of ideas or build trust in the beginning of a workshop or meeting.

Many of the techniques and frameworks in the book can also be used effectively to facilitate productive meetings and used other organizational contexts as well.   I have found the ideas and skills described in the book to be invaluable to training and teaching and appreciate having this “recipe” book.

If you have to facilitate groups of people, what are you favorite resources or techniques?



The AFP Blog-The Icekbucketchalleng

AFP Blog -

The AFP Blog: Obviously, the campaign is a success, but at the same time let’s not make more of this than it is. We’re not seeing a fundamental change in the nature of fundraising—it’s a clever use of social media. The challenge is like sponsoring a friend—we do it because of the connection, not necessarily the cause.

I’ll Take My Fundraising Cannibalism On the Rocks | The Agitator - Fundraising, Direct Marketing and Advocacy Strategies for Nonprofits

AFP Blog -

I’ll Take My Fundraising Cannibalism On the Rocks | The Agitator - Fundraising, Direct Marketing and Advocacy Strategies for Nonprofits: s of yesterday, the high visibility ‘Ice Bucket Challenge’ had produced $15.6 million from existing donors, plus 307,598 new donors for The ALS Association.

The campaign designed to build awareness and support research for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), or Lou Gehrig’s Disease, goes like this: People make a video of themselves or a friend dumping a bucket of ice water on their heads, post it on Facebook, Instagram or other social media sites, and then challenge friends to do the same.

Smart wristbands aim to increase charity giving

AFP Blog -

Smart wristbands aim to increase charity giving: A new wristband that will enable people to make faster donations with just a tap of a smartphone, is being tested by several leading charities.

National learning disabilities charity Hft and premature baby charity Bliss have already employed the new fundraising technology, with more charities due to start using the bands in the coming months.

Ask and Train Your Board to be Powerful Messengers (Hands-On)

Getting Attention! -

Andy Robinson provides training and consulting for nonprofits in fundraising, board development, marketing, earned income, planning, leadership development, and facilitation.  Along with training people to raise money,

Andrea Kihlstedt writes, speaks and coaches about campaign campaign fundraising.

Do you dream of a board composed of wealthy people with wealthy friends, people who are fearless about asking those friends for big gifts?

Unless you’re very lucky (and these types of boards come with their own challenges), that’s not your board. So, looking beyond that fantasy, what’s your Plan B?

How about a board filled with committed people who give as much as they can, and who tell your story in a deeply personal and compelling way?

We believe that all board members, regardless of social class, can participate in fundraising – and serve as powerful ambassadors. As ambassadors, they can (if asked, trained and supported) proudly represent your organization within their social and professional circles, finding potential allies and donors.

Then, when your board members tell the shared story of your mission—complemented by their personal stories of how they connect with your work—they become powerful advocates for your cause.

How to Help Your Board Members Find Their Own Stories

Our new guide, Train Your Board (and Everyone Else) to Raise Money, features proven storytelling exercises designed specifically for board members.

One of our favorite exercises, “Why Do You Care?,” was contributed by our colleague Gail Perry. It takes about 15 minutes, so is easy to incorporate in one of your regular board meetings. Here’s how to organize it:

1. Hand out paper and pens to your board members and ask the following questions:

  • What do you say when someone asks why you serve on our board?
  • What moves you about our organization and its work? How do you talk about that?

Tell them they will soon share their responses with four other board members, then give them a few minutes to make notes.

2. Then describe the next step as follows. “When I say begin, please stand up and find a partner. If you don’t know the person well, introduce yourself. Then take about 30 seconds each to tell your stories. When I ring the bell, move on to another person. We will do this four times.”

After four rounds, ask everyone to be seated.

3. Debrief the exercise using some combination of the following questions:

  • What was the experience like?
  • What did you hear from your colleagues?
  • What new ideas for talking about us and your work with us did you learn from others?
  • Did your language change with each new partner? If so, how?
  • Were you surprised by anything you said? Or anything you heard?

This exercise offers a powerful alternative to the canned elevator pitch, which many trustees request but is often ineffective. Which do you think is more powerful: a board member reciting five bullet points from memory, or a passionate trustee telling her own story?

Your board may never be the money board of your dreams. But each of your trustees can be a great ambassador. All you have to do is to help them get comfortable and effective at telling their stories. This exercise is a great place to start.

How do you help your board become strong messengers? If you’ve had trouble with this, what’s getting in the way? Please share your tips and frustrations here.

P.S. Get more nonprofit marketing tools, templates, case studies & tips delivered directly to your inbox. Register here for Getting Attention blog & e-news!


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