Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Before You Go Social, Check Your Site

There is considerable pressure for nonprofits to engage with social media. Too often, however, the accounts gets opened, a flurry of activity ensues, and then atrophy sets in as the presence becomes anything but fresh. Rushing to be part of Web 2.0 without forethought can do more harm than good for your nonprofit.

Before you go social, get your Web in order. A prime benefit of social media is driving users to your Web site. If your current site has the oomph of a wet mop, spend time refining its content before talking it up on Twitter and LinkedIn. If you want in on Web 2.0, make sure your site is easy to use and gives people a reason to come back.

//Map Your Content
A well-planned information map that considers your audience is essential. Build the map for the future of your site, not just for today. It makes incorporating social media (and other whistles) easier down the road.

// Link Your Brand
The experience someone has at your site should reflect the connection you want them to have when they are thinking about giving of their time, talent and/or treasure. Carefully consider your colors, select your imagery and write your copy to motivate your visitor. And, be consistent.

// Analyze Your Visits
Get some treasured stats to help make your case, monitor your progress, tout your success and retool your approach over time. Consider incorporating Google Analytics to get started.

// Enlist Your Friends or Insider Constituents
Sometimes you're just too close to the project. Ask friends or others who know you well to take a spin through your site and tell you a few things they liked and would want to change about their experience.

A solid online presence is the platform from which your social media efforts can spring. Start with your Web, then explore your e-mail power and then make a plan for how you might branch out into other avenues, what you want to accomplish in each avenue and how many resources you're ready to put behind it. With a purpose and a plan, you're ready to grow.
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Friday, November 21, 2008

Innovation in politics ... for all sectors

Remember that there is nothing more disruptive, more revolutionary, or more innovative than an ideal, says Umair Haque, director of the Havas Media Lab strategic consultancy. Read the more in-depth article and find lessons for improving your position, your connection and your efforts.
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Thursday, November 20, 2008

Build Sponsors Into Your Story

"If you have the best real estate in town and you're still not making money, keep the real estate but change the concept." So shared Martin Lindstrom, as someone had once shared it with him. Lindstrom's research on neuromarketing offers insights for nonprofit leaders interested in increasing equity from events and partnerships. If you or your sponsors aren't getting the return you want from an event or a partnership, take a look at the messaging and the positioning. His research showed that "if a brand is part of a story line, our brains will accept the role of the brand and remember its presence. However, if a brand and its role don't support the story line, the opposite will happen: Our brains will simply erase it." Don't get erased. Take the time to help your sponsors connect with your story; think of telling your story in a way that better connects with your sponsors. You won't change your mission but you can consider thinking about how you define the purpose to connect the players in order to move beyond business as usual.
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Monday, November 17, 2008

Be Open for Innovation

These changing times with changing conditions put nonprofit leaders on the hot seat for finding ways to do more with less. Sparks of innovation can move nonprofits beyond business as usual with new ways to work smarter, not harder. Yet it isn't always easy. Perhaps Tim Brown's insights translate from the corporate world into the third sector: "The biggest barrier (to innovation) is needing to know the answer before you get started." He doesn't discount the need for a business case when seeking incremental innovation. But, he notes that if you're looking for the next iPod, you have to embrace both the convergent and divergent thinking involved. Articulate your purpose and then spark curiosity with new ways of thinking and different kinds of questions. Don't go straight for an answer, but be open to a more winding path. You just might open your mind and your organization to truly innovative solutions.
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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Good Managers Focus

Good advice from Harvard Business Review:

Just 10% of managers really move their organizations forward: They zero in on strategic goals and see them to completion; They fuel breakthrough innovations in products, services, and processes; And they tackle heavy workloads under tight time constraints.
What about the remaining 90%? Short on self-awareness, they don't ask themselves the hard questions required to examine--and improve--their leadership skills. Overcommitted, they succumb to the temptation to concentrate on short-term tasks when pressure mounts. Blurring their focus even further, many accumulate "monkeys" on their backs by taking on subordinates' problems.
How to ensure you're in the 10%--not the 90%? Regularly take stock of your effectiveness as a leader, rather than waiting for others to give you feedback. Rivet your attention on efforts that support your organization's long-term objectives. And throw off time-hungry monkeys. The payoff? You redirect your energy to where it exerts the biggest impact: your company's strategic priorities.
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Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Nonprofit Lessons from a Political Playbook

Whatever your persuasion or perspective, the analysis captured in The 'Obama Way' by Howard Fineman is worth a read. He lays it out as "a veritable play book for political success." Yet there are lessons to be learned for nonprofits as well amidst this disciplined approach. The threads of simplicity, decisiveness, consistency and brand may benefit nonprofit leaders greatly.

A David Plouffe quote to remember: "It's better to have one strategy and stick to it than to try ten in pursuit of the perfect answer. The point is that there is no perfect answer."

A branding insight to remember related to symbolism: "... the entire Obama family wore matching outfits, representing a unified familial front by smiling and rocking out with Bruce Springsteen to 'The Rising.'"
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Tuesday, November 04, 2008

The Raw Power

If you spent any time listening to the speeches of this evening, how can anyone doubt the power and the value of communication that seeks to persuade, inspire, inform and reward? What a glorious evening of action and hope. May each of us think back on this momentous evening in U.S. History and remember a word, a phrase, an emotion, a connection that was made that brings us back to the very core of our ideology and our identity.
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Gaberman's Guidelines for Non-Profit Leaders

Barry Gaberman, senior vice president emeritus of the Ford Foundation, kicked off the UW Center for Nonprofits' "Communiversity" with a lecture on November 3. Delivering a mainstream presentation on civil society, he offered five guidelines for nonprofit leaders for achieving in these times:
  1. Don't Panic. Be attentive to staff anxiety.
  2. Do Continengency Planning. Go through the paces.
  3. Think Strategically. Not only about what you do, but also about how you do it.
  4. Engage in High Touch. Connect with key stakeholders clearly and consistently.
  5. Be Vigilent About Mission. Reinforce it for funders seeking a 'true to the core' mentality.
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