Archive for December, 2011

Visual Storytelling for Nonprofits

Posted on December 29, 2011. Filed under: Analytics |

This article by Christy Wiles highlights the importance of visual material and demonstrates that content which communicates the core message of your organization and encourages your audience to engage emotionally can have a monumental impact. I will take this idea one step further and add that video is an even more powerful medium to convey your story.

The technology required to broadcast your own content online is now accessible to anyone, and the costs associated with online streaming are now no longer prohibitive for organisations constrained by a limited budget. In addition, the ability to monetize your content enables nonprofit organisations to open a new source of untied funds through supporters viewing the content.

Kathie van 

Visual Storytelling for Nonprofits

A single photograph has the power to shift public policy, alter the course of wars, and engage civil society. In a time when photographs circulate around the globe at an unprecedented scale and speed, and revolutions are propelled by viral images, it has become more important than ever for mission-driven organizations to create impactful visual media that can drive action and fuel awareness. Most successful organizations have excellent and well-crafted visual media at the center of their communications strategies because the capacity of visual images to incite action is unparalleled.

Photographs and videos create options for supporters to share your message with their networks, exponentially building your audience. With a successful photo-essay or multimedia piece, organizations can attract partners, appeal to donors and grantmakers, influence policymakers, and perhaps most importantly, drive a movement. In an increasingly image-driven world, it is necessary for nonprofit organizations to capitalize on the undeniable power of visual storytelling to support their mission.

Nonprofits often believe they can’t afford excellent visual content, that it isn’t worth the effort, but there are many photographers and media producers looking to collaborate with nonprofits. Visual material that communicates the core message of an organization and encourages its audience to engage emotionally with the subject can have a monumental impact on advocacy and organizational success – not only in getting the word out, but in securing funding.

Here’s how the Bhopal Medical Appeal and the World Wildlife Fund did just that:

Bhopal Medical Appeal

The Bhopal Medical Appeal collaborated with photographer Alex Masi to capture the eyes and hearts of key media outlets around the globe and to expand the organization’s audience by leaps and bounds. Masi’s images of The Bhopal Medical Appeal were featured on the New York Times Lens Blog and TIME Photos. The visual story of the Bhopal Medical Appeal was subsequently awarded a Getty Grant for Good in 2011 after winning the 2011 Focus for Humanity NGO Assignment Fellowship. Without Masi’s powerful images and well-crafted visual essay, the story of The Bhopal Medical Appeal would not have reached the millions of people that it did.

The Bhopal Medical Appeal

Photo by Alex Masi on behalf of The Bhopal Medical Appeal

World Wildlife Fund

The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) worked with photographer James Morgan to produce images that not only tell a story, but also draw viewers in and drive them to learn more about the organization. WWF has used Morgan’s visual imagery in their marketing collateral, their online gallery, and on their website. As a result of Morgan’s capacity for visual narrative, the organization has garnered attention from major international news sources including the Guardian, BBC News, and the New York Times.

World Wildlife Foundation

Photo by James Morgan on behalf of the World Wildlife Foundation

Of course, great photographs or a great video are only the first step to garnering support for an organization or driving a movement. After creating a stunning visual story, nonprofits must take the step of getting their images seen by as wide an audience as possible, integrating the images into all communications materials, from social media outlets to printed materials.

Christy WilesAuthor: Christy Wiles holds an MA degree in Theory of Contemporary Art from the San Francisco Art Institute (SFAI) and a BA in Spanish and Latin American Literature from Reed College. At SFAI, Christy wrote her MA Thesis on Alfredo Jaar’s The Rwanda Project, looking specifically at the impact of photographic representations of Africa in the American media. Christy helped found the San Francisco-based digital photography publication, Once Magazine. Before relocating to San Francisco, she worked in New York with the Aperture Foundation, the International Center of Photography, and UnionDocs. Christy is thrilled to be working with PhotoPhilanthropy on marketing and exhibitions. Visit PhotoPhilanthropy for resources, to connect with photographers, learn tips for effective storytelling, or just to be inspired!

[Ed note: since the photos are being so well received, here’s a bonus shot.]

World Wildlife Foundation

Photo by James Morgan on behalf of the World Wildlife Foundation

Source: Visual Storytelling for Nonprofits –
Author: Christy Wiles, Marketing Manager, PhotoPhilanthropy

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Content Curation Primer

Posted on December 27, 2011. Filed under: Creating Content | Tags: , |

This article of Beth’s provides a very thorough explination of what content curation is, how to do it effectively and what tools are out there to help.

Thanks for the information Beth, it’s very helpful!

Content Curation PrimerContent Curation Primer

What is Content Curation?

Content curation is the process of sorting through the vast amounts of content on the web and presenting it in a meaningful and organized way around a specific theme. The work involves sifting, sorting, arranging, and publishing information. A content curator cherry picks the best content that is important and relevant to share with their community. It isn’t unlike what a museum curator does to produce an exhibition: They identify the theme, they provide the context, they decide which paintings to hang on the wall, how they should be annotated, and how they should be displayed for the public.

Content curation is not about collecting links or being an information pack rat, it is more about putting them into a context with organization, annotation, and presentation. Content curators provide a customized, vetted selection of the best and most relevant resources on a very specific topic or theme. As Rohit Bhargava points out in this post via Robin Good, a content curator continually seeks, makes sense of, and shares the best and most relevant content on a particular topic online. Content curators have integrated this skill into their daily routine.

Why is Content Curation Valuable?

People and organizations are now making and sharing media and content all over the social web. For example, on Facebook the average user creates 90 pieces of content each month. If you multiply that by the 800 million Facebook users, it isn’t surprising that data or content on the Internet is measured in exabytes, or billions of gigabytes. Simply put, we are living an era of content abundance. A content curator offers high value to anyone looking for quality content because finding that information (and making sense of it) requires more and more time, attention, and focus.

Content Curation Provides Value from the Inside Out

What does that mean for nonprofits and the people who work for them? I think there are many benefits for both individuals as well as the organization.

For some staff members, content curation can be professional of learning. Professional development used to be about getting trained or acquiring a specific skill. But, with so much information available and coming at us from many sources, we often don’t know if it’s the right information or if it’s current. And depending on our field, it can get out of date quickly. In today’s world of content abundance, the skill of how to find, make sense, and share content that we need to be effective in our work is critical. Simply put, being a content curator is a method to help you stay informed about your field and be more effective at your job.

The biggest challenge to becoming a content curator is getting past the feeling of “content fried” or so much good content and so little time to digest it. There are techniques that we can use to minimize feeling distracted and with some discipline make it of our work flow.

For organizations and brands, content curation can help establish the organization’s thought leadership and capture attention in today’s information cluttered world. Content curation can help your organization become the go-to authority on an issue or topic area. It can be done as simply as writing a blog post with links or sharing annotated links on Twitter around your topic. Take for example, how Bruce Lesley from First Focus uses Twitter to establish authority as a content curator on children welfare issues.

The key principles of content content creation for a brand are outlined in this article “Become A Content Curation King” – what is most important for nonprofits that want to get started is consistency, knowing your audience, and identifying your topical niche. It is also important to understand that content curation is NOT just about information, it is about feeding and tuning your network as Howard Rheingold notes.
Seek, Sense, Share
The Three S’s of Content Curation: Seek, Sense, Share

Content curation is a three-part process: Seek, Sense, and Share. Finding the information or “seeking” is only one third of the task as Mari Smith points out in this video about why curation is important and some tools for doing it. Making sense of the information is just as important. Sense making can be a simple as how you annotate the links your share, the presentation, or what you’ve left out. Sense making can be writing a blog post using the links (like this post) or summarizing the key points in a presentation. However you create meaning, but it has to support your organization’s communications objectives or your professional learning goals. Finally, the sharing – is about giving the best nuggets of content to your audience in a format that they can easily digest and apply it.

Putting content curation into practice is part art form, part science, but mostly about daily practice. You don’t need to do it for hours, but a little bit everyday will help you develop and hone the skills. It is best to do the seeking part in small bursts to avoid feeling overwhelmed. One way to be effective is to find the best curators your topic and follow them. It is like sipping fine wine. You have to be organized and know your sources. And you have to scan your sources regularly and thank them.

It is also good to learn from experienced curators and how they hone their craft. Netsquared recently published this summary of tips from nonprofit content curators. You can also learn a lot by looking at the work flow of “master curators” like Robin Good, Howard Rheingold, and Robert Scoble.
Content Curation Step by Step
Getting Started

Use this questionnaire to help you think through a plan for content curation before you dive into the curation tools. There has been an explosion of tools and you can distracted by useless features. Even better, perhaps focus on the skills with the tools you know how to use already. You might want to integrate the process of content curation into a channel you’re already using. Next, you might want to expand to using a couple of the new tools that are specifically designed for content curation.Here’s a few curation tools that are easy to get started.

Storyfy – Storify is a way to tell stories using social media such as Tweets, photos and videos. You search multiple social networks from one place, and then drag individual elements into your story. You can re-order the elements and also add text to give context to your readers. I use storify if I want to capture conference sessions. Here’s an example from Zan McColloch Lussier using storify to capture the conversation from a panel “Good Grantmaking: What’s Social Media Have To Do With It?” A quick tutorial on how to use it.

Scoop.It – (beta, invite-only) — is a terrific tool for discovering those super nichey, hidden gems relevant to specific topic. Use the dashboard to manage an unlimited amount of sources (websites, RSS feeds, specific social media accounts, etc.) and plug in relevant keywords and date parameters. does the rest and delivers you a constant feed of exactly the type of content you’re looking for. Here’s my lists as well as the lists by some of my favorite curators there. Amy Sample Ward has a review of here.

BagTheWeb — BagTheWeb helps users curate Web content. For any topic, you can create a “bag” to collect, publish, and share any content from the Web. Beyond most curation tools’ capability, BagTheWeb enables users to build networks of bags. This way bags can be linked together to provide rich and complete information about any topic. Susan Kistler has an example with evaluation resources.

Pearltrees — An extremely powerful tool that aids discovery of new, relevant content by presenting it in a very visual way. The interface builds a hub-and-spoke style tree diagram of content that you search for, discover and collect. Hover over new “pearls” to see at-a-glance previews of the content which you can then “pick”, comment upon, and share. Susan Kistler has curated this list on Evaluation.

Source: Beth’s Blog – Content Curation Primer
Author: Beth Kanter
Photo by Stuck in Customs

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Empower Others to Help

Posted on December 22, 2011. Filed under: Social Media Marketing, Storytelling | Tags: , , , , , |

Geoff Livingston’s article will resonate with clients who use video to tell their stories because one of the key concerns is ensuring the content is viewed by as many people as possible to increase awareness of the cause. By empowering others to assist the network is expanded beyond the organisation’s own membership and supporter base.

Take Geoff’s advice, empower your ambassadors and see how your level of awareness begins to spread!

Kathie van

Empower Others to HelpEmpower Others to Help

One of the biggest mistakes nonprofits and fundraisers make is going at it alone. Part of building effective communities in networked media is letting other people become a part of your effort and helping out. But to do that, you and/or your organization have to empower them.

Will another person be as effective as you or your development director? Maybe, but unlikely.

Will other persons collectively be more effective than you in social media-based fundraising? If you cultivate and empower your online ambassadors, this outcome is a real possibility.

To play off of Spock, the power of the many outweighs the power of few (or the one). Team-based fundraising can significantly extend an organization’s reach well beyond the house file. For the individual fundraiser, friend networks also go beyond your electronic address book.

How much work does it take? There’s no question that this is real relationship development and cultivation. But in comparison, the networks of 150 people are much more powerful than a single person’s large social media account–if they act on your behalf.

Cultivate Your Influencers

If you have core supporters and friends who are as passionate about your cause as you are, why wouldn’t you want them to advocate on your behalf.

These influencers aren’t usually the people with biggest blog or Twitter account. Rather, they are the people with the most passion and willingness to advocate for you. This is the heart of true word of mouth and grassroots marketing.

The work here becomes about providing the means, and making it easy for them. Provide easy access to logos, stories, updates, widgets and messages.

It’s about giving them the latitude to be them as they fundraise, and not over-controlling their outreach. They know best how to interact with their friends.

And it comes down to quid pro quo. People want to be recognized for their efforts. Acknowledge them. Give them shout outs. Help them out when it’s their turn. Let them know how their efforts are positively impacting your ability to fundraise. Even have friendly competitions among your ambassadors to make it fun, and reward them.

Source: Inspiring Gereosity – Empower Others to Help
Author: Geoff Livingston
Image: Mavik2007

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Rock Stars of Nonprofit Thank You Notes

Posted on December 20, 2011. Filed under: Online Communications, Tips and Ideas | Tags: , , |

Kivi itemizes the key elements that make a great thank you note, and using this example of a real note is a brilliant way to show how these elements come together.

Thanks again for your insights, Kivi!

Rock Stars of Nonprofit Thank You Notes

I’m a nonprofit marketing geek, so I get really, super excited about things like awesome nonprofit thank you emails. That’s why you are here, right?

This week I received a thank you email from Stacey Monk of Epic Change. You may know Stacey and her organization as one of the shining examples of using Twitter for fundraising via campaigns like Tweetsgiving/Epic Thanks and To Mama with Love.

But you may not know her as an awesome nonprofit thank you note writer. Now you do.
Rock Stars of Nonprofit Thank You Notes
Stacey hits all the high notes in this email:

  • Personable
  • Positive
  • Results
  • Taking Us There
  • Credit to Donors
  • Building Anticipation for More Goodness to Come
  • A Great Photo
  • Reminder about Our Connection
  • Integration with Website and Social Media

. . . and does so in a short, very readable email.

Because I was so thrilled with this email, I asked Stacey to share a few thoughts on the results it produced.

She says the open rate was average, about 20% (which is solid, if you aren’t familiar with these metrics).

She reports that it also produced 100 Facebook likes on the linked blog post, which is “way north of normal – more than double, actually” and that “only 9 of those are from people with whom I personally am friends on Facebook” so it spread far from Stacey’s personal circle.

Stacey also received an email from someone who’d been forwarded the email from someone else who wrote:

“Hello Stacey,[Friend’s name] forwarded me the Epic Change email about Shepherds Junior 7th grade graduation. I loved it. Can you include me in on any emails re: Shepherds Junior? Thanks so much!”

She also got kudos for the email on Twitter, and here I am blogging about it.

Wonderful job, Stacey, and thanks for sharing such a great example!

Source: Kivi’s Nonprofit Communications Blog – Rock Stars of Nonprofit Thank You Notes

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Making Facebook Groups Rock for Nonprofits

Posted on December 16, 2011. Filed under: Social Media Marketing | Tags: , , |

This article by Miriam Brosseau gives some fantastic ideas on how to invigorate your Facebook Group Page to get the group members to feel part of the group and contribute to the group.

Making Facebook Groups Rock for NonprofitsMaking Facebook Groups Rock for Nonprofits

Facebook groups have changed a lot in the past year or so, and they’re more powerful than ever. Here are some helpful hints to make your Facebook group a truly vibrant platform:

Maximizing group features for networking and engagement:

Tagging individuals in posts. This is an excellent means of publicly introducing two (or more) folks within your group. Include bragging rights – what makes these members unique? Give them a question to explore together, and encourage the dialogue. This means you have to know your group – who they are, what they’re up to, what they need, etc. Think:

How can I encourage others to use the group in the same way, not just as a means for marketing/broadcasting information?

How do I go from network weaver to empowering others to weave one another?

The power of pictures. Facebook is a “picture economy” (whereas Twitter is a “link economy”); pics are the most engaged content, the most in-demand. Pictures are great conversation starters. Tagging folks in pictures and asking them to tag themselves also increases engagement, puts a face to a name, and humanizes the process by bridging online and on-land worlds.

Questions and polling. Thoughtful, simple, directed questions can be a powerful engagement mechanism. Think about allowing others to add their own options to the poll – when is it appropriate, and when is it unnecessary or confusing. Expect to get answers both in the poll itself and in the comments, and run with both!

Group chat. Facebook groups mostly function asynchronously, but a synchronous activity now and again can really rally the troops. (Note: this feature does not function with groups of 250 members or more.) Consider the following:

  • What are the deeper conversations your group seems inclined to have?
  • Can you assign someone to host that conversation and empower them to lead the charge?

Docs. Docs are like super-simple wikis, and probably the most truly collaborative aspect of a Facebook group. Because they are collaboratively editable, they are great for anything that requires a teasing out a group voice – agendas, statements or announcements, etc.

  • Docs live in a designated place within your group and are therefore not as subject to the news feed, which is more timely. Docs are great for posting information that you plan to come back to again and again.
  • Conversations will naturally spring up in the comments section of your document. It’s important to manage the flow between what is being written in the doc and what’s happening in the comments.

Events. Creating a group event for actual in-person meetings makes a lot of sense, but there are other ways the events feature can be used – general publicity, announcements, calls to action, booking a time for a group chat, etc.

  • Events need not be restricted to members of the group. Use them when you want to introduce a broader audience to your group’s good work.
  • Bear in mind – events can be great, but tend to get lost in the new Facebook layout. Timing is key. Be conscious of who you are reminding of the event and how often. Remember you can also post the event’s unique link to the group or your personal profile page.
  • Finally, events, like docs, also have a comment stream attached. Monitor accordingly.

Other big ideas:

Have a goal for the group, or at least a project everyone can rally around. Give the group a sense of purpose.

No one person “owns” a Facebook group. It belongs equally to all the members and should be treated as such. (Think about using the Docs to build a group statement of values – decide as a community how you will use the group and treat one another while active in it.)

It’s easier to post than to reply. Engagement takes investment. Try setting aside a specific block of time every day or week to monitor and engage the group. Ask other members to do the same – spread the responsibility around and see what kind of ROE (return on engagement) you get.

No medium exists in a vacuum. Think about the relationships between what happens in the group, on Facebook in general, over email, on the phone, in person, at events, etc. To be truly effective, the online experience should be tied – topically, in culture, in voice, in attitude – to the experience(s) of the group in other spaces.

Groups don’t provide hard analytical data the way Pages do, so it’s up to you to gather both the qualitative and quantitative results. Consider asking:

  • Who’s posting most often? Who’s replying?
  • What topics are folks posting about? What topics are getting the most feedback and engagement?
  • What times of day are people posting?
  • Are members typically sharing links, photos, videos, event invitations?
  • What else can you learn about your members through their activity? What do they care about?

Source: Making Facebook Groups Rock for Nonprofits – Guest Post by Miriam Brosseau –

Photo by: Laughing Squid

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5 Google Analytics Reports That Will Help You Get More From Your Nonprofit’s Website

Posted on December 2, 2011. Filed under: Analytics | Tags: , , , |

Google Analytics is baked right in to CommsConsole, so you can measure and monitor the success of your online communications campaigns including the impact they have on traffic to your website.

It’s all very good and well to have access to these reports, but sometimes we just need a little help to understand what they’re all about…that’s where this article comes to the rescue. 

5 Google Analytics Reports That Will Help You Get More From Your Nonprofit’s Website5 Google Analytics Reports That Will Help You Get More From Your Nonprofit’s Website

Google Analytics is a free website analytics tool you can use to measure several things, including:

  • How people find your website
  • How long they stay
  • What they read
  • How many return

It will tell you how well your site converts donors and subscribers, and how you can optimize your to rank higher in SERPs.

Following are five reports that you can use to get more from your website:

1. Keywords Reports

Keywords Reports

This report will help you write better content using words that your visitors use! Use these top keywords to enhance your webpages so that they’ll rank even higher in search engines. Make sure you’ve included them in your title tags, your met descriptions, your first two paragraphs, and even your image alt text.

2. Referring Sites

Referring Sites

This report shows you where your visitors are coming from, so that you can develop strategies to get even more traffic from those sites. For example, if you notice that you’re getting a lot of returning visitors from a well-known blogger, you could develop that relationship into a partnership.

3. Top Content

Top Content

This report shows you the pages people view the most.

You should make sure these pages include a clear call to action, such as donate or join an email list. You could also add text links to strategically drive more traffic to other critical pages on your site.

4. Top Exit Pages

Top Exit Pages

This report shows you what pages people view before leaving your site. Look for any obvious reasons for people leaving on these pages, like bad design, external links, or slow page load times. You also want optimized to capture Facebook fans or email subscribers so you can at least keep in touch with them after they leave.

5. New Verses Returning

New Verses Returning

This report will show you what percent of your visitors return–essentially your fans.

If you’re losing fans, there could be a lot of reasons, but knowing the reasons is a first step to solving the problem. After viewing this, you could revisit your top exit pages to see if you can identify any trends. And as I mentioned before, the real money is in retaining fans and donors.

5 Google Analytics Reports That Will Help You Get More From Your Nonprofit’s Website –

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