Info For Nonprofits

Are Memes Really Just Slacktivism?

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New memes get started everyday. Some stick and go “viral” while others just get shared with a small community of friends, and some go nowhere. Remember the Facebook meme challenge that asked women to post what color bra they were wearing that day? Many thought the meme was connected to raising breast cancer awareness, but that was not the intention behind it. After some research, it turns out that this meme was started in December of 2009 in Canada. Here’s the original meme:

“Right girls let’s have some fun. Write the color of the bra you’re wearing right now as your status on fb and don’t tell the boys. They will be wondering what all the girls are doing with colors as their status. Forward this to all the girls online”

By 2011 the meme evolved a couple of times.

“We are playing a game…… silly, but fun! Write the color of your bra as your status, just the color & texture, nothing else!! Copy this and pass it on to all girls/Females …… NO MEN!! This will be fun to see how it spreads, and we are leaving the men wondering why all females just have a color as their status!! Let’s have fun!! Pass this on LADIES”

“List the color of your bra in your FB status, just the color, nothing more. Then send this mssg to your girlfriends’ inboxes, too … no men. The point is to see how far we can spread breast cancer awareness … and make the men wonder what’s up :) "

The meme then spread to France and the US, and was picked up by media such as Mashable, Huffington Post, MSNBC, ABC, etc. On January 8, 2011 the meme ranked number 11 on Google Trends search queries and the Susan G Komen Foundation said that their Facebook page grew by over 100K “likes” in 24 hours. 

Can You Build a Base of Supporters with Memes?

This begs the question - should a breast cancer organization have been the one to have thought of a meme like this as part of a larger campaign to raise awareness about breast cancer? Could they have leveraged this opportunity to build their email list, and raise money? Should they have taken that new list of supporters (whether it was on Facebook, email, or Twitter) and focused on a ladder of engagement plan to build real relationships these new people? Yes! At the very least, breast cancer nonprofits could have quickly jumped in and leveraged this opportunity.

What’s a Facebook “Like” Worth?

Some nonprofits may look at the Komen data and say "Wow, we should do a meme too, so it can go viral and we can get over 100K FB likes."  Wrong! First, most memes don’t go viral. Second, don’t place too much value in Facebook “likes.” Just because a breast cancer organization like Komen received over 100K “likes” in 24 hours does not mean they leveraged this meme in a meaningful way. “Likes” are the equivalent of thumbs up. It’s a vanity metric – not a metric that is connected to furthering your advocacy goals.

ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

Fast-forward to one of the latest viral memes – the ice bucket challenge to raise money for ALS, a disease that most American’s aren’t very familiar with. 5,600 new people in the U.S. are diagnosed with ALS (also known as "Lou Gehrig's Disease”) yearly. “The incidence of ALS is two per 100,000 people, and it is estimated that as many as 30,000 Americans may have the disease at any given time,” according to the ALS Association. 

As nonprofit strategist Ted Fickes said on a nonprofit listserv, “the ice bucket challenge has been going on for a while now among golfers and many others donating to the charity of their choice, law enforcement groups raising money for police charities, etc.”

But the ice bucket challenge did not really spread until Pete Frates, the former captain of Boston College’s baseball team, repurposed the meme by challenging Steve Gleason to throw a bucket of ice over his head to raise awareness for ALS, according to The Times Picayune. You may remember Steve Gleason from his former Saints days. In 2011 he was diagnosed with ALS. He started Team Gleason, the ALS foundation after he was diagnosed.

Challenge Accepted

The duo then asked other friends, including major sports superstars, to join the challenge. Check out Gleason’s touching video here. 

 

It’s an impressive campaign that has not only raised awareness about a disease most American’s did not know much about, but it has also raised over $7 million versus $1.4 million from last year for Team Gleason, said Paul Varsico, the Executive Director of Team Gleason. Facebook reported yesterday that 1.2 million unique videos related to the ice bucket challenge have been posted on Facebook.

Now What?

ALS organizations have seen a surge in email sign ups, Facebook “likes”, and donations, but now comes the hard part. Since most of these new donors are brand new to the ALS community and are learning about the disease for the first time, ALS organizations will need to quickly come up with an engagement plan. They are going to need to go beyond the traditional welcome series. And they cannot simply just fold these new people into their regular email and direct mail communications. They will need to develop distinct messaging that shows people how ALS could impact them and their families. For example, finding a cure to ALS could unlock the cure to Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and more. ALS organizations will need to test and experiment with different messages, campaigns, and ways to get people involved.

Many national organizations that have experienced this type of viral success admit that this is a tough road because the majority of people who participate or donate at these times do it to be part of a viral movement. Once that moment fades, it’s difficult to grab these people’s attention again and mobilize them.

Four Things to Consider When Choosing a Learning Management System

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Aaron Winters Director of Technology and Operations Peer Health Exchange If your mission includes an educational aspect, a learning management system could be your cup of tea, but which flavor is right for you?

With the rise in popularity of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), online learning technologies and practices have moved into the mainstream; nonprofits are building e-learning sites to expand service reach, improve service quality, and reduce training costs. Building an e-learning site entails pulling several systems and tools together to deliver a smooth online experience for learners. At the heart of an e-learning site is a learning management system, or LMS.

How to Pick the Best Tools for Your Organization: A case study

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Grace Andrews Co-Founder, Director of Business Development GraphAlchemist With so many shiny tools to choose from, how can your organization choose which is/are best for you? Here are some questions to get you started.

When it comes to a term as broad as “tools,” understanding what an organization or individual’s goals are vital to identifying what to use. As a member of the tech community, I find that there are a tremendous amount of resources that people are not using in their toolkit. There is an array of affordable — and sometimes free — technical tools that can be leveraged for success. 

8 Ways Nonprofits Can Add Engaging Images to Their Social Media

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8 Ways Nonprofits Can Add Engaging Images to Their Social Media: There is no doubt that visual marketing is driving online, and especially social media, content. People are visual animals – what we see helps us process information more quickly than what we read or what we hear. Wishpond found that 90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual, and there is a reason – visuals are processed 60 thousand times faster than text!

Case study update: NTEN's site re-launch

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It’s summer here in the States, but we aren’t taking any vacations from our website relaunch project! We’ve been working away at this for a few months now and figured it was about time to send you a postcard.

Here’s a quick status update from our content team—inspired by the three daily scrum standup questions used in Agile development—about how things have been going and what’s next.

Progress made over the past six weeks:

  • Card sorting exercise at staff retreat. It was good for everyone to do this exercise in order to see and analyze the results, but also to refine the list of cards and approach when opening the exercise to the general community.
  • Community card sorting exercise. We are wrapping up the community card sorting exercise in August and will use the results to refine and inform the new information architecture of the site.
  • Content audit: We have started a content audit and have begun to feel overwhelmed by the amount of content currently available on the site. Not coincidentally, we have discovered a need for a content expiration strategy.
  • Dreamt: It’s not all a tired slog – we’ve been dreaming up some great features! Our IT Director Karl says he's most excited about "a streamlined profile creation and management process, clear engagement paths for site visitors, and a consistent and mobile friendly feel across our entire web presence."
  • Built our team: We hired a content strategist, Gwydion Suilebhan, to help us work through our many, many issues. And Philip Krayna, our long-time partner in design, will be aided in the graphic redesign by the brilliant design minds at Cornershop Creative. We're very excited to have their help!

What we plan to do by mid-September:

  • Finish content audit and have our plan for archiving/migrating
  • Send our proposed site architecture to designers for use in wireframing/usability validation

Possible roadblocks:

  • With over 8,000 pieces of content, the biggest challenge we're staring down right now is how to manage that content audit.

While this has been happening, our community feedback team has invested lots of time in surveys and interviews. We'll have an update from them soon. In the meantime, thank you to everyone who responded to our RFP and participated in the card sorting exercise and survey. We can’t wait to launch this and appreciate your interest in this process. Happy August!

Multiple Platform Social Media Strategies: Recap from #StateandMain14

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Last week I got to attend the National Alliance for Media and Culture (NAMAC) and Alliance for Community Media (ACM)'s first-ever joint National Conference: State and Main 2014 (#StateMain14) in Philadelphia, PA. The beautiful murals you'll find throughout the streets of Philadelphia provided a perfect backdrop for this gathering of nonprofit arts professionals.

I took part in the panel: Multiple Platform Social Media Strategies, which explored ways nonprofits can use social media more effectively, and sought to answer the proverbial question: "If a tree falls in the social media forest, how can you make sure anyone hears it?"

NTEN Member and Social Media Strategist, Lyndal Cairns, moderated the panel, and helped put together this blog post. In addition, we were joined by fellow panelists, Felicia Pride, Pride Collaborative, and Nickey Robare, St. Paul Neighborhood Network.

Each panelist explained how they used social media to further their mission and then shared their experience with finding and telling their organizations' stories, goal-setting, and developing strategies for engagement. We explained the differences between networks and the communities that reside there, how to develop your organizations' "voice," and how to turn social media interest into ticket sales and donations.

The best part was the input we received from attendees about tools to help social media managers get organized and develop content without straying from their mission. Some of the tools highlighted include:

Content curation

  • Feedly: a news aggregation app that pulls feeds from news sites and social media.
  • Evernote: a note-taking app and program that helps you "remember" and categorize links and notes.
  • FlipBoard: a content curator that brings you content based on your interests with a newspaper look and feel.
  • Storify: a content curation tool that allows you to create a timeline of social media posts, video, slide decks, and other online media.
  • NTEN Member, Beth Kanter, has a primer on content curation that's a useful guide for getting started.

Community engagement

  • Attentive.ly: a social relationship manager, which links with a constituent relationship manager (CRM) to track and target messages to social media "champions" and prospective donors.
  • Sprout Social: a social media management software that gives high-end monitoring and reporting services, as well as incorporating some CRM features so managers can identify and write notes on social media engagers and assign project management tasks.
  • Mobile Commons: a platform that helps nonprofits reach their communities through text message.
  • If This, Then That: a task management tool to automate program processes like sending social media posts, creating lists, and staying on top of tasks.

Policies

And it wouldn't be a social media panel without social media from the social media panel (how very meta)! Check out the Storify from Lyndal highlighting the social posts from our session.

Do you have tools to recommend? Add them to this list by posting in the comments!

Also, if you're a NAMAC or AMC member, don't forget to take advantage of your NTEN benefits! Learn more on the NAMAC or ACM partner page. 

How to Avoid Choosing the Wrong Board Portal

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Adam Roth CEO StreamLink Software Find your portal to better Board engagement.

Inefficient nonprofit boards lead to disengaged board members. Combine that with the weighty responsibilities of board members—which include rallying community support, spearheading fundraising efforts, and bringing invaluable strategic consult to the table—and low board engagement can put your organization’s future in jeopardy. Many nonprofits are turning to board portals to remedy low board engagement. 

10 Extra Scholarships Available for 14LCS in San Francisco

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Just when you thought you missed the boat, here's your second chance!

Thanks to the generous sponsorship of Event360, we now have 10 extra scholarships available for individuals interested in attending the 2014 Leading Change Summit this September 3-6.

The deadline to apply is next Friday, August 22, but scholarship applications will be reviewed and awarded on a rolling basis, so apply as soon as possible. Note: These scholarships cover the the cost of LCS registration, but excludes travel and lodging.

 

Eligibility Requirements
The eligibility requirements are a bit different from the 10 scholarships provided by TechSoup Global, so please review before applying. 

  1. Applicants must be an employee of a 501(c)(3) organization in North America.
  2. Applicants must be able to describe a technology project or strategic goal related to technology that they plan to design and develop further at LCS and implement in their organization.
  3. Following the LCS, applicants must be willing to be featured in an NTEN case study on how organizations are using technology to improve their work.

To apply, visit the LCS Scholarships page on the 14LCS website. 

And while you're at it, Tweet your thanks to Event360 and TechSoup Global on Twitter: @Event360 & @TechSoup.

How to Make Your Meetings Happy and Productive—3 Questions You Can Ask

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Guest blogger, Dennis Fischman left a senior management position at a nonprofit organization to found Communicate! Consulting.

We love talking with friends.  We hate going to meetings.  Why?

Too often at meetings and conferences, we’re listening to people we don’t know, talking about an agenda that doesn’t matter to us.

With friends, we can share not only thoughts and plans, but hopes and dreams–the things that make us get out of bed in the morning–the things that make us human.

If only we could invite people to bring their whole humanity to the conference room. But how?  Ask these three questions.

1. How You Got Here

“What is the winding path of your life, that has brought you to the work you do?” Hildy Gottlieb of Creating the Future asks this question at the beginning of every event.

Every time I begin a training or facilitation or even sometimes a keynote address, I ask people to turn to their neighbor and spend a few moments asking and answering those two questions. Every time, the room comes alive with chatter and laughter and gesticulating hands.

Try asking this question at the start of your next Board meeting.  See how happy and productive the rest of the meeting becomes!

2. The Awesome Thing that Happened

Marc Pitman, The Fundraising Coach LLC, begins training sessions with the question “What is something amazing that happened to you this week?”  Hildy Gottlieb asks the same question at the beginning of every Board meeting.  Why?  She quotes Hank Green:

There are two ways to make the world a better place. You can decrease the suck, and you can increase the awesome… And I do not want to live in a world where we only focus on suck and never think about awesome.

If your meetings feel like a great big time suck, start them with awesome.

3. What You Will Remember

You’ve come to the end of your panel, or conference, or meeting, and it was grand.  Really.  But you have phone and email messages and a long to-do list awaiting you.  How do you remember what you learned, and carry the experience into your daily work?

Hildy Gottlieb suggests giving yourself the rare pleasure of reflection.  At Creating the Future:

We ask folks to look over the notes they may have jotted down during the meeting, and to share what in particular stood out for them about the meeting.   It is again very grounding to learn about each other in this way. And it is also a great segue to ongoing email conversations that can carry us through to the next board meeting.

Talking about what matters to you will help you remember.  Listening to what other people care about will help you pull together as a group.  Knowing that you will make time to do both will make your meetings happier and more productive.

Try it and see!  How do you make your meetings productive?  Share your strategies here.

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

Mobile Fundraising: Why aren’t we there yet?

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Richard McPherson Fundraising Consultant McPherson Advisor If mobile devices are becoming consumers’ Swiss Army Knife, why aren’t we raising more money with them?

Your mobile phone is probably within arm’s reach right now. And it’s probably on. Like everyone else on the planet, you probably use your phone to go online, make reservations, listen to music, take pictures, refer to maps, access social networks, text, and occasionally even make a phone call. Mobile devices are fast becoming our all-purpose, constant companions. So why isn’t money pouring into nonprofits through mobile phones?

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