#OurWork: NYU Faculty Against the Sexton Plan Marketing Campaign

Social Marketing and Media Relations Campaign

Working under the aegis of the Nonprofit Marketing 360 collaborative, MKCREATIVE and LCG Communications embarked on an ambitious campaign to promote an online silent auction for a client. We used a combination of PR (LCG Communications) and social marketing (MKC). Our client, NYU Faculty Against the Sexton Plan, sought to raise funds to continue its fight in preventing New York University from embarking on a multi-billion dollar plan to redevelop parts of Greenwich Village in New York City.

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Love the Video, But What Does It Do For Us?

BC 251 - Video Production 2012
Photo credit: wcn247

Into Focus, the first-ever benchmark study of how nonprofits use video, was released in June by video producer See 3, the Edelman public relations firm, and the YouTube Nonprofits Program. Bottom line:

  • 80% of nonprofit respondents think video is important to their organization today
  • 91% believe it will be even more important tomorrow.
  • But nearly two-thirds expect no budget increases for video production
  • and 76% don’t measure the impact of video, except anecdotally.

Budget and metrics are closely related. It’s hard to justify more money for a project when you can’t prove whether it works. And you can’t prove whether it works if you haven’t set goals to measure against. Fortunately, the study shows how to work through this conundrum with excellent case studies and suggestions.

With video accounting for more than half of all Internet content, and YouTube viewers watching 4 billion hours every month, it’s hard to argue that video is not an essential communications tool.

Trickle-Down Lives On at Nonprofits

Curing the Charitable Curse
Dan Pallotta’s viral video  (Photo credit: jurvetson)


If you haven’t yet seen Dan Pallotta’s 18-minute TED talk, the viral video of the month with more than 1.2 million views, here’s your chance.  Pallotta, who founded AIDS Ride and raised $581 million for AIDS and breast cancer research over nine years, argues that philanthropy is being undermined by our beliefs about it – in particular, the belief that low overhead is worthy of praise.  He contends that overhead – including investments in fundraising and marketing capacity – is the only way to grow nonprofits large enough in scale to tackle society’s most intractable problems. What makes more sense, he asks: 94% of a small pie, or 60% of a pie 100 times larger?*

Palotta argues that in a capitalist economy, nonprofits are restricted from playing by the same rules as every other type of organization. While others feast, nonprofits compete against one another for the crumbs – for four decades, a consistent 2% of Gross National Product. Or, it seems to me, nonprofits may be the last Americans who act as though they still believe in the Trickle-Down Theory.

*For the math-impaired: 94% of $1 million = $940,000; 60% of $100 million=$60 million.


#DEVELOPMENT: How Much Cash Is Required To Land A Donation?

Woman charts customer relationships
What does it cost?

How often do nonprofits reach out to donors potential and actual online, yet have no real sense of how successful the outreach was? Did the time and money spent developing a program or launching a campaign prove to be worth the support? Dan Norris, founder of the online-analytics service Informly offers a tool to help you make that call. He also recently posted his somewhat-scientific results on using his ‘Cost Per Acquisition‘ (CPA) calculator to see what kinds of costs he was incurring to get people engaged with his for-profit business. Let’s see how the costs to acquire customers or donors can prove strikingly steep.

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#COMMUNICATIONS: Postal Service Rates To Rise on 27 January

US Postal Service Stamp
Forever stamps still good after the 27th.

We have managed to put off the so-called ‘fiscal cliff’ for a couple of months, but we can’t avoid the changes in postal rates coming in a couple of weeks. Thanks to our fine business partners at Ecoprint in Silver Spring, Maryland, for the heads-up! The US Postal Service (USPS) has been on hard times over the last 5-7 years due to the overwhelming presence of email, social networks, and e-fax services. Moreover, the semi-private/ public service is carrying a striking burden of compensation packages for its executives that, frankly, seem to outweigh the performance of the venerable institution. Be that as it may, be prepared for upticks to many of the services. What’s coming at the end of the month?

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#SOCIALNETWORKS: Can Niche Online Networks Outperform Your Nonprofit’s Facebook Page?

Focus on niche social networks
Have you defined your organization’s niche?

Our participation in online social networks seems well beyond the status of a ‘fad.’ In some parts of the world, people risk censure − if not their lives − to post important information on such platforms as Facebook and Twitter. These social networks are the current heavy hitters, of course. But what about developing people’s interests in your nonprofit’s causes? Or engaging a peer group already predisposed to support your charity’s fund drive? The hard fact is, the best-known social platforms might just be too big for that kind of conversation. And we might just be witnessing the start of a tidal shift away from the bigger-is-better mantra of social outreach toward niche conversations among like minds. Could these more concentrated communities really be worth the effort of building a presence on yet another social network?

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#SOCIALNETWORKS: NTEN 2012 Report Shows Real ROI Growth Over Past Year

Survey results of NTEN's questionnaire for nonprofits
Click to go to the report

Okay, so you have been developing your nonprofit’s presence on the staples of social media new for a couple of years. Facebook page? Check. Twitter account? Sure. But how much time do you want to put into keeping up with those outlets? Has your organization seen any growth in volunteers or donors thanks to the outreach on social media?

The 2012 Nonprofit Social Benchmark Report from NTEN is the fourth in this annual series, which means the surveyors have enough materials to start identifying longer-term trends and to offer meaningful statistics as to how social networks are changing communications and fundraising for nonprofits and charities. Spoiler Alert: Nonprofit use of social networks is growing, and with that use most nonprofits are enjoying significant returns on investment (ROI). Still not sure you want to commit resources to it? Please read on…

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#INTERVIEW: Chris Forbes, Co-Author of Guerrilla Marketing for Nonprofits, Offers Great Advice to Groups

Chris Forbes Guerilla Marketing PhotoChris Forbes is the co-author of Guerrilla Marketing for Nonprofits and a certified guerrilla-marketing coach. His varied background in marketing includes experience in the faith sector and work on five continents, and he has pioneered several media initiatives in public relations, television, radio and the Internet. The interview was conducted by Don Akchin, a principal of Nonprofit Marketing 360 and a frequent contributor to the MKCREATIVE blog.

NPM360: What drew you to the marketing field?

CHRIS: I grew up in a marketing family. My mom had a product-administration service and worked with grocery stores and established networks with, say, free samples of food. When I was 14, she wanted me to dress up as Twinkie the Kid in a big foam-rubber costume to pass out Twinkies. When I was 15, she wanted me to dress up as Freddy the Fresh Guy from Wonder Bread. Then at 16, she asked me to be the Planter’s Peanut guy, but you have to wear leotards for that costume. I drew the line there.

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#SM4NP: Kony 2012 Will Get A Sequel & More Context Today

Invisible Children announce a sequel of Kony 2012
Today is the day. Probably.

As any Hollywood mogul will confirm, when your movie is watched by 100 million people, you need to make a sequel. That market is just too big to pass up. And the renown viral video Kony 2012 has been viewed well over 100 million times. Nevertheless, the reasons the San Diego based firm ‘Invisible Children’ will be releasing a sequel to their 30-minute wunderkind seem not really about tapping a market so much as explaining the phenomenon. It has not been released as of this posting, but one can’t help but wonder if we need the prequel/context-setter any more than we needed Star Wars: The Phantom Menace.

What do we know about a movie that has not yet appeared?

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#ENVIRO: CBS/EcoMedia Partnership Expands To Bring Revenues To Green Nonprofits

The alliance between CBS/EcoMedia began just last year in an effort to bring advertising dollars directly to nonprofits, and the success of the program is beyond doubt as five more nationally recognized environmental nonprofits have recently joined the ranks. The effort of the partnership is allow corporate sponsors who buy advertising through the CBS conglomerate to direct some of that money toward the nonprofits themselves. According to the EcoMedia mission statement, “We’ve developed partnerships with cities across America, all of which have environmental projects in need of funding. When companies advertise with us, dollars go directly into these projects, thereby turning traditional television commercials, radio spots, online advertising, and outdoor billboards into EcoAds.” − as this advertisement demonstrates:

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#SM4NP: ROI From Social Media May Be Elusive, But It’s Not Impossible

Twitter is not expensive, so returns can be highIf you search for information about how to measure returns on investment in social media, you will be quickly reminded about just how new social media is in the business and nonprofit economies. Mathematicians are still searching out formulae and quality-control gurus want to talk about the developments of relationships that will bring customers and donors a bit later down the road. One of the underlying themes, though, is that no one doubts the value of social media writ large, even as we try to quantify that value and/or make it predictive of our outreach.

Perhaps success can be measured in hard, but not precise, numbers. Moreover, we should also consider social media as a ‘value added’ component to the core vocation of our nonprofit or charity, rather than as a fundamental element. How might we do both?

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#SM4NP: Automate Your Google Searches To Follow Important Issues

Google Alerts is one of many services offered for freeSearching on Google is perhaps the single experience of the internet we all share. In the fine and flexible tradition of the English language, we turned the noun into a verb: to google (someone or something). The behemoth that is Google Inc. began over a decade ago (hint: Sarah McLachlan and Elton John won big Grammys that year) as a way to search for key terms on the net. Now it owns YouTube, has built its own social network, and created a smartphone operating system to rival the iPhone.

One of its underused developments, though, is the ability to automate and monitor specific terms or events or institutions on the internet for you. In a few simple steps, you can get an alert whenever your charity is mentioned or your plan-of-action praised.

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#SM4NP: Beware Not Of SM But Of SM Snake Oil & Silver Bullets

Getting hyped by the social media juggernaut
Should you? Must you?

If we aren’t careful, we might be entranced to believe social-media networking platforms have been around for quite a while. I mean, if Facebook is valued at $5 billion in its Initial Public Auction, then surely it’s a tried-and-true company that still has room to grow. Right?

Before you jump over to your E*Trade account, you might ask yourself “What has Facebook (or Twitter, for that matter) done for me?” That query, if you are a nonprofit or a small business, can be tricky to answer, unless you started with a plan and with some measurable goals that can be stood next to what you have in fact done. And sometimes, what you want done can get a nice push from social media but social media won’t necessarily do the heavy hauling. And that’s ok!

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#TECH: Facebook Timeline Rolled Out-Nonprofits Roll In

Facebook's latest feature tells a storyLast week a much-anticipated feature was released by Facebook’s developers. No, not the stock IPO (Initial Public Offer), but the Timeline feature/app that can turn one’s activities online into, well, a timeline. In one sense, one’s posts and posts of one’s friends (including organizations) created a proto-timeline. What the new feature offers is the opportunity for one’s activities outside Facebook to be brought into one’s Timeline, a development of what the folks at FB call ‘The Open Graph’.

The paradigm, and the opportunity to develop applications to link your nonprofit/business/media conglomerate/reading circle/music application…, was first presented in mid-January and now some 80+ such organizations have developed apps (the numbers shift periodically as more organizations make such apps, but some are blocked after being reviewed by Facebook). The numbers of nonprofits taking advantage of Timeline are not yet huge, but many are discussing how they might in the near future.

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#Communications: Postal Rates Raised Last Week – Not For Nonprofits

The US Postal Service is fenced in by long-term imposed costsThe United States Postal Service has been struggling financially for the last few years. The Bush Administration saddled the service with pre-paying its future retiree benefits for a decade (2006-2016), a demand uniquely imposed on the USPS. Bush’s policy meant the service went from profits in the $1.4 billion range in 2005 to one that has laid off thousands of works, closed numerous branches, and still needs to raise postal rates in an effort just to stay open. So what he did to the postal service he did to the country.

This past Monday many postal rates changed. For example, first-class mail went up by a penny and its guaranteed one-day delivery (depending on distance) was removed. Or perhaps you didn’t notice?

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#Development: Listening To Social Networks An Important Investment Too

Ray built the ballpark only because he listened to 'the voice'
The field got built only after Ray listened

Yesterday we talked about creating content on your business’s or nonprofit’s website that will bring new readers to your site, deepen the loyalty of those already in contact with it, and turn more of them into customers, volunteers, and donors. The creation of such content requires some investment. Staff – at least some staff hours – have to be dedicated to research and writing. The technological side of blogging is not like programming anymore, thanks to all the great platforms (think: WordPress, Blogger, Tumblr, TypePad…), but it takes some time to get comfortable with the features and quirks of your chosen platform. When your blog reaches out to those beyond your office, you need to budget for unscheduled delays or time to allow your subject to review the interview.

But then what? If you build it, will they come? No. [Read more…]

#Development: Make The Nonprofit Video – Don’t Sweat The ‘Viral’

Happy New Year to our much-appreciated readers! May your 2012 be notably donor-rich and Mayan-free. In case we are not here in 360 days, let’s get right to work.

CauseVox's book: Nonprofit Video StorytellingWe turned our attentions toward video outreach last December, and we begin this year’s posts with a story expressly about a business that turned an internal demonstration into a massive video campaign. The takeaway of the ‘Will It Blend?’ series, though, is to make your video brief, friendly, perhaps a bit off-kilter, and don’t worry about whether the video goes viral. Consultation and strategy are the foundation – Your organization must be invested not in polished production, but in long-term outreach.

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#SocialNetworks: Does Your Nonprofit Still Doubt There’s an ROI For Social Media?

The opportunity to develop a following online has been a part of our business and communications landscape for a decade now, yet many organizations remain shy about using social media as part of a broad strategy of outreach, conversation, and client/donor-development. The time to pay employees and consultants to develop a presence on social networks seems rather too daunting – especially in the current economic climate, as we all hunker down to known knowns. Social networking can seem too much like a known unknown (Oh, Rummy, what you have done to our language and nation…).

To ensure our followers who still might be considering the move, we link you to this short video that demonstrates the statistical opportunities that social media presents:

So how can be sure we connect with those who are out there waiting to get engaged with our work?

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#Finance: Postage Rates For Nonprofits Realigned. Do Yours Go Down Or Up?

The Nonprofit Times has a story we wanted to pass on to our readers about the adjustments to US Postal Rates that will have an impact on nonprofits and their mailing budgets. The news is important, but not dramatic. The story quotes Anthony Conway, Director of the Alliance for Nonprofit Mailers, who was rather sanguine about the rate adjustments:

The changes reflect the CPI for October, so the USPS has every right to increase mailing charges. Nonprofits are now prepared to deal with these increases as they can be predicted based on where the CPI is. This is not bad compared to other increases and at least they are not trying for an exigent increase again.

How will the changes affect your organization’s rates?

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#Tech: Cloud Computing Campaign Highlights Benefits To And Concerns For Nonprofits

In technology terms, ‘the cloud’ is the internet used as storage space (space traditionally taken up on a hard drive in a computer) and as software server (software traditionally installed on that hard drive to run applications). The internet is not new, but using it in this way is because storing gigabytes of information for millions of users was not practical before a majority of them had access to fast wireless connections (Wi-Fi).

In practical terms, the cloud offers great potentials for nonprofits. Costs can be reduced as files and spreadsheets are stored on a secured server online rather than within the office on a series of drives taking up space and eating up electricity. Moreover, any staff member of the nonprofit can gain access to those files and spreadsheets from any wi-fi device while at a meeting or on the way to a conference.

But so to are there concerns about security and reliability. To help navigate the pros and cons of cloud computing for the nonprofit community, TechSoup and TechSoup Global Partner Network are presenting their ‘Cloud Computing Campaign‘ through the month of October. It is an online forum, so you can still join the conversation and catch up with discussions over the last week.

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#Interview: Nedra Kline Weinreich, Social Marketer, Author, and Owner of the “Spare Change” Blog

Nedra Kline Weinreich PhotoNedra Kline Weinreich is a widely recognized expert on social marketing (not to be confused with social media marketing). Her book Hands-On Social Marketing: A Step-by-Step Guide is considered a classic, and she blogs about social marketing issues at the Spare Change blog. Her consulting clients include federal, state, local and international organizations. The interview was conducted by Don Akchin, a principal of Nonprofit Marketing 360 and a frequent contributor to the NPM360 blog.

NPM360: How do you define social marketing?

NEDRA: Basically it’s using the tools and techniques of commercial marketing and applying them to health and social issues. It’s focused on changing behavior. We’re not as interested in just raising awareness or changing attitudes, we have to stay focused on behavior change. That’s our ultimate goal, our bottom line.
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#Interview: Sarah Durham, Nonprofit Communications Strategist & Author of “Brandraising”

This interview series is produced with the generous support of the Nonprofit Marketing and Fundraising Zone.

Sarah Durham left the world of corporate communications and marketing in 1994 to launch Big Duck, an agency that works exclusively with nonprofit organizations to help them communicate effectively so they can fulfill their missions. She is the author of Brandraising: How Nonprofits Increase Visibility and Raise Money through Smart Communications (Jossey-Bass, 2010). The interview was conducted by Don Akchin, a principal of Nonprofit Marketing 360 and a frequent contributor to the MKCREATIVE blog.

MKC: First of all, as Chico Marx once asked, “Why a Duck?”

Sarah: I think the true answer is deep and Freudian and subliminal, but the conscious answer is, when I was starting Big Duck, I was leaving Disney Consumer Products, where I had worked on some of the branding issues around Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Daisy, Goofy and Pluto, and I think I had the mice, the ducks and the dogs in my head. I wanted to come up with something that had the personality I was going for – creative, playful and sort of open-ended and flexible. [Read more…]

We’re Going Mobile

More nonprofits are trying to raise funds using mobile technology, according to research from Kaptivate and the Associaton of Fundraising Professionals (AFP). (It’s still only 9% of nonprofits, but that’s doubled from a year ago.) But what seems to be most promising is not the text-to-give campaigns, which worked brilliantly for disaster relief, but the mobile web, and for several purposes besides fundraising. In an interview with Jocelyn Harmon, study author and Kaptivate CEO Ron Vassallo explains the advantages and drawbacks of text and web, and the start-up costs for each.

Then there’s the contrarian view: Consultant Ted Fickes makes the case that “the quickest and most cost-effective place to focus your mobile strategy is your email.”


#Social Networking: Netflix Losing Control of Social-Network Goodwill

This author is not a Netflix subscriber. The draw of the story about the media-streaming service raising its rates by over 60% earlier this week (a raise that will not have an impact on current subscribers until the fall) is how Netflix’s subscribers jumped all over the service via their social networks and Facebook. Netflix runs the risk of enduring a social-media backlash akin to that endured by BP during last year’s terrible oil-platform disaster and leak.

Of course, the repercussions of a rise in fees for subscribers are nothing compared to the environmental and economic travesties committed in the Gulf of Mexico – not to mention the deaths of eleven platform workers that BP/Halliburton/Transocean still have not had to redress. But parallels exist between their experiences because both companies first acted on the assumption that they could control the conversation/reaction, only to have the narrative pulled from them by the very people they thought they had mollified.

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