Spring Cleaning: Brochure

Time to talk about your brochure. A brochure is easy to forget. You design it once, create lots of copies and then hand them out at events or send them to prospects. But right now I want you to pick up that brochure and really look at it.

Here are some questions to answer:

1.How old is it?
2. Is the information still relevant?
3. Is the information still fresh?
4. Should anything be changed?

If your brochure is older than a year, I would definitely recommend changing it. Why? Because even with a brochure you want to keep the content fresh.

Here's an example: Let's say you are at an event. Prospect #1 visits your booth and takes a brochure. Maybe he looks at your display and chats you up for a bit and then leaves. He takes the brochure with him, reads it but puts it aside and ends up not donating.

Year two of the event rolls around and Prospect #1 visits again, only to be handed the exact same information. With different information, perhaps he would have turned into a donor. With the same information, he will likely get bored and move on.

You can still keep your old brochures. They make excellent supplement materials. But change it up every once in a while.

Tips For Improving Your Brochure

  • Keep everything as timeless as possible. Don't make your brochure go out of date in a month.
  • Be clear and concise. Don't try to cram all your info onto that tiny brochure. Instead, pick the one or two main points you are trying to make and focus on those.
  • Use bullet points to break up the formatting.
  • Use quotes from clients, board members, staff and donors.
  • Include a call to action on the donation form. There isn't usually alot of room, but try to make it work.

What about you? How often do you update your brochure? Answer the poll here: http://twtpoll.com/7vfxl4 or below.

Spring Cleaning: Newsletters

Your newsletter is a great communications tool for your organization. But is it really making an impact? How can you be sure that people aren't just throwing it away without reading it? And how can you make it better?

1. Ask the Donors
This is the time to survey your donors. Make it short and simple, but ask them what they think of the newsletter. Don't be vague with your questions, but instead ask very precise, direct questions that will garner a good response.

2. Change it Up
Sometimes people have a format and a style of a newsletter and they keep it that way for years. Consider changing it around, both from a design perspective and a content perspective. Do you always write about the same things? Do you always write in the same way? (ie. technical, colloquial, etc). Mix it up and see if that sparks interest.

2. Add Stories
If your newsletter doesn't have stories from your clients, please add them! They are a great way to make that connection between donor and client and encourage donors to give a bit more.

3. Add Interviews
Interview your board and staff and share those interviews in the newsletter. People give to people, not to organizations and this is your chance to showcase that!

4. Give Donors a Voice
Consider including a survey or a comment card that would allow donors to express what they are feeling, whether it's about this particular issue of the newsletter or your organization in general.

5. Fix Formatting
Don't try to squeeze as much content as you can into the pages. This makes it very hard to read and bulky. Instead, adjust your story lengths to fit the page. If you have a story that is just too good but you can't fit it, put the full story up on your website and tell people to read more there.

6. Be Critical
Don't just glance at your newsletter once and say it's fine. Take the time to look at it from the donor's perspective and see what needs to be changed or updated. If you make it fresh, the donors will be more engaged and interested.

7. Get Outside Opinions
You may pass it around to everyone if your office who can look at it and think it's fine, but someone with no connection to your organization may have a different view. Getting an outside opinion will give you a new perspective. So grab that friend who doesn't know that much about your organization and give her the newsletter.

Have fun Spring Cleaning and good luck!

Stay tuned tomorrow: Spring Cleaning your Brochure

Spring Cleaning

This week is going to feature a series of posts on spring cleaning your content, from newsletters, and brochures to websites and direct mail. It's time to throw out your stale content and create something new that will spark your donor's interest and keep them coming back for more!

So how do you start with spring cleaning?

1. Assess

In order to create something new, you need to look at your current materials. Determine what is useable and what you want to create from scratch. Don't reinvent the wheel if you don't have to, but at the same time don't rest on your laurels.

2. Determine Goals

Write down your goals for this communication piece. If it's a brochure, what do you want it to do? Setting out your goals from the beginning will help you shape the piece the way you want it. It will be clear and concise, rather than all over the place.

3. Develop Voice

Every nonprofit has a voice. What is your voice? Are you fun, serious, caring, warm, all of the above? Whatever the answer, make sure you know before you begin, This will help you when it comes to rewriting the piece.

4. Create Main Message

What is your main message? Look at your goals and develop one message that is the same through out every communication piece. Consistency only drives home your message more.

What makes a spring cleaning successful?

  • Being critical

  • Hearing from others

  • Brainstorming

  • Thinking outside the box

So dust off your brochure, re-examine your website and and get cleaning!

*Need a little guidance with your spring cleaning? Take the Communications Checkup today!

How to Have a Rewarding Conversation With A Donor

Do you want to have a conversation with a donor that's more then just a pitch? Donors want to feel as if they mean something to your organization. Take time out of your busy schedule and try giving a donor a call. Not to pitch them but rather to get to know them better.

1. Small Talk
The power of small talk is great. You can glean little bits of information from the conversation which you can use as lead-ins later. Plus, it's a great way to make both of you comfortable.

2. Learn
Learn about their interests outside of the organization. What do they like to do? Also, determine their type of personality. Are they serious or fun? Do they want to talk or they can't be bothered?

3. Why They Belong
You may choose during your conversation to suss out why they belong to your organization. Don't make it a pitch, but rather be geniunely interested in why they donate. Maybe they have a personal connection to the organization that you didn't know about.

4. Take Notes
The information you receive is important so try to take as many notes as you can. If you can't concentrate on the conversation while taking notes, then immediately after jot down what you remember.

5. Keep It Short
It's important to gauge how you think the conversation is going and whether the donor doesn't have time for you. If there's time, include all of the elements listed. If note, even a brief hello and a 'have a good day' can do wonders.

6. Follow Up
Follow up in ways that are personal to the donor. If they said they liked movies and you happen to know there's a movie festival this weekend, drop them a quick email. If you know of a event in your organization that would be perfect for them to attend, give them another call.

Personal attention lets your donors become more involved in the organization. It also puts a voice to the organization and makes it more personal.

Facebook: A Prospect Research Tool?

I haven't seen that many discussions on Facebook being used as a prospect research tool. Facebook is a great way to seek out new prospects from not only your Friends but theirs as well.

1. There is no 'No".
When you ask someone if they know anyone who is able to donate to your cause, the knee jerk reaction is to say no. Even when racking their brain, it can become difficult to think of someone who might want to donate. With Facebook, this is easier. The average Facebook user has 150 to 200 friends. It's quite likely that someone in there would be interested in donating to your cause.

2. You can learn valuable information.
Facebook is a great way to learn about donors and prospects. Seeing photos, quiz results and status updates lend an idea of the type of person they are. Even if it seems superficial, this information can be useful in striking up a conversation with a prospect.

3. You can stay connected easily.
One of the things that is great about Facebook is the ability to stay connected with someone even if you don't talk to them as often as you'd like. This provides an in the next time you are interested in striking up a prospect relationship with them.

So try using Facebook not only for donating money but as a prospect research tool as well and see how many new donors you can achieve.

Dealing with Negative Comments

Social media such as Twitter, Facebook, blogs and more are great tools for nonprofits to use to connect with donors. The great thing about social media is that you really put yourself out there. But with this openness, problems can occur. But how do you deal with negative feedback?

  • Create A Policy-Before you start having comments available whether it's through a blog or a Twitter conversation, make sure you clearly outline the organization's policy on commenting. I know it sounds excessive, but having some guidelines in place will ensure that you won't be caught off guard.

  • Don't Lash Out-It's easy to respond quickly when someone makes you mad. The best thing to do however is keep your cool, no matter what the situation. You will come off as the better person for it.

  • Respond Publicly-If someone makes a negative comment, respond publicly to let others know how you've handled the situation. Maybe others were wondering the same thing, but didn't want to ask. Being able to handle the situation shows that you (and the organization) is in control.

  • Respond Privately-This may seem the opposite to the point above, but let me explain. While some situations require a public response, others do not. If you are being harrassed, you may not want the situation to play out over the blog. Also, if a negative situation is going back and forth many times, you should move that to a private conversation as to not interfere with your other posts/comments.

  • Respond in a Timely Manner-If you take too long to reply, people may think that silence is your answer. Try to respond as quickly as you can, even if just to say that you will be able to provide an answer/opinion shortly. That way people know that you are involved.

  • Be Clear and Concise-Nobody's going to read a response that's many paragraphs long. Keep your answers clear and concise and you will get your point across.

Follow these guidelines and you should be able to handle negative situations. Remember that every situation is different so it's important to adapt and handle it in the best way possible.

Five Things To Do With Your Nonprofit Blog

With the advent of Twitter, Facebook and all these other fun and shiny new social media tools, sometimes it's easy to forget about the blog. After all, the blog takes up much more time. However, a blog can be a useful tool for a nonprofit. It lets you share information in a more involved way then Twitter and Facebook.

If you decide to start a nonprofit blog, what can you really do with it?

1. Share News
Yes, you can share news on Twitter and Facebook. But on your blog you can be much more indepth. Perhaps you decide to share the news on your website and write a companion piece on your blog. That way the news is getting double exposure.

2. Showcase Staff
The staff are what makes a nonprofit organization work. Use your blog to highlight their sucesses within your organization. After all, people give to people, not to organizations. If they can feel a connection with the staff, then they might be encouraged to be more involved.

3. Tell Client Stories
Your blog can be intimate in a way that your website may not be. Share client stories that are personal and touching. The comments section allows donors to make a connection with that client.

4. Inform About Mailings
If you've got a mailing coming up, blog about it! Your donors will know it's coming and be less likely to bypass it. You can also use this chance to share the many ways they can give and provide links to your online giving.

5. Ask Opinions
What's a great way to get your donors involved in your organization? Ask their opinion. You can use the blog to get a feel for how your donors feel about certain campaigns, how they are being asked to give and more.

Your nonprofit blog can go a long way to ensuring a greater connection with donors and perhaps increase your donations as well.

How to Have A Good Brainstorming Session

If there's one thing I love to do, it's brainstorm. I think sharing ideas and thoughts always cull more great ideas. But brainstorming sessions can get way out of hand. So how do you make sure you get everything you need?

1. Set a Goal
If your goal is to develop new content for a website, don't let the brainstorming veer off into what colours the site should be. Keep everyone on track.

2. Be Strategic
Don't brainstorm with just anybody. Select people who have diverging opinions from you but can stay on task. Look for a mix of big picture people versus detail-oriented ones.

3. Create an Agenda
Brainstorming doesn't necessarily mean a free for all. Creating an outline will keep you on task and help you focus on specific sections.

4. Develop Questions
A bad brainstorming session starts like this: We are developing new content for the website. Got any ideas? Instead, creat leading questions that tackle each section. One of my favourites is asking people to describe the current content in three words or less. Then that gives you an idea of where you want to head.

5. Encourage Chatter from Everyone
It's likely that you will encounter people who are not so apt to speak up as others. Draw them into the conversation, ask them to share their opinions and ensure that everyone has an equal shot at getting their voice heard.

6. Determine Data Collection
Are you writing everything down on a flip chart? Are people taking their own notes? However you decide, ensure that there is an easy way for the information to be gathered.

7. Set a Time Limit
Brainstorming sessions can go on for hours but eventually the well will run dry and the same idea will keep recycling themselves. I would suggest no more than one to two hours.

A brainstorming session can revitilize a project, inspire new ideas and get you excited about what you are working on.
Good luck and Happy Brainstorming!

Follow Friday

Happy Friday to All!

I hope everyone is enjoying the nice weather!

Follow Friday is something on Twitter that happens every Friday. People list the names of people they follow that they enjoy so others may enjoy them as well.

I always love to converse with as many nonprofits as I can and I feel that building a solid online community only helps us. So list your website/blog/twitter below so that everyone will have the opportunity to learn from each other.

Here's mine: @lindseypatten

And here's who I would recommend: @canadahelps

Now it's your turn! Share below!

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