Category Archives: For Non-Profits

Tips on Corporate Fundraising

5 things to think about…
1) Always look to past donors first. They know you best and you most likely have a person inside the organization you know and who will answer your calls or emails. If you don’t you are in for a long haul. Emails to people who don’t know you, or cold letters or phone calls, are rarely answered. So don’t waste your time.

2) Access means everything when you are seeking any type of corporate gift; outright, program specific, sponsorship, gifts in kind. If you do not have a connection already, look to your board for peer connections. Your proposal stands little chance among the thousands submitted each year to the company if you do not have access to corporate decision makers.

3) Granted, many companies have taken to the on-line application process to handle the deluge of requests. But if you can call the office and speak to someone, you are one step ahead. If your proposal has short window, ask if it can be fast tracked. Call to make sure the company has all the documents it needs. Get the person’s name and direct number for future reference. Establish a personal connection. You will be amazed at what administrative assistants can do.

4) Don’t believe it when the company website says “unsolicited proposals not accepted.” If you have a good fit, try anyway. You might just find a sympathetic ear.

5) Read the Wall Street Journal regularly – for news about your corporate prospects. Have they merged or acquired another company, changed their name, have a new product or success, new marketing strategy, new leaders, etc. Anything that can give your approach, be it a letter, phone call or targeted proposal more relevance to what matters to them.

Finally, start well ahead for a decision in NEXT year’s budget. Certainly before the fourth quarter of the year. And once your get a gift, keep the company informed of outcomes and let them know well in advance when the next big event will take place. Asking for a renewed gift now that you are on their radar is much easier than seeking a gift from a “cold’ company.
Good luck.

Posted by Michael Brodie, Managing Partner

An Efficient Social Media Campaign – How much time should you spend tweeting, posting, and blogging?

If the year 2011 proved anything in the world of media and communications, it’s that contrary to popular belief, “The Revolution Will Be Tweeted.”

The emergence of Social Media as a global source of influence and news sharing among everyday citizens has every organization, business and, might we even say, revolution, jumping onboard these new, yet powerful channels of communication. A recent article posted by Fundly, one of the largest strategy platforms dedicated to online social giving, says it best –

“Through social media you can get your name out faster and with less financial investment than any other resource out there.”

While larger organizations are beefing up their Social Media presence with dedicated staff or third party vendors, smaller businesses and nonprofits just don’t have the manpower. This leaves many wondering how much time should really be spent investing in social media.  Luckily, there are plenty of resources, ready at the click of a button, that showcase how any entity can successfully leverage the power of social media

In its 2011 Annual Social Media Marketing Industry Report, the Social Media Examiner analyzed marketing data from over 3,000 organizations, with surprising results. Small businesses and organizations are seeing the greatest results from investing in social media marketing! The important factor they have in common – remembering that Time Investment Pays Dividends.  The 2011 study proved that time is a key success factor for social media marketers, no matter the type of organization. The old ideal of “work smarter, not harder” applies, no matter the scope or social network you utilize. Spend more time (wisely, of course) and you’re likely to see greater results.

So the question remains, how much time is required? This can be answered in three ways: 

1.) The power of endurance – those entities with 3 or more years of experience in social media marketing are the ones seeing the greatest results. For example, only 25% of those just getting started in social media saw new partnerships form, as compared to 80% or more of those with 3 or more years of experience. So marketers shouldn’t make snap judgments on the value of social media after only a few months. Give it some time!

2.) It doesn’t have to be all-consuming. It may not take as much time as you fear. In fact, 75% of those spending as little as 6 hours per week on social media marketing saw increased traffic.

Likewise, those who spend at least 6 hours per week are almost twice as likely to see leads generated as those who spend 5 or fewer hours. While the study didn’t draw any firm conclusions on how much time marketers should spend, there’s clear evidence that those who commit at least 6 hours per week will see significant rewards for their investment.

This is especially true for content development. According to data analysis by Fundly, the speed of social media is remarkably fast. You can post or tweet a comment in the morning and by afternoon, you could scroll down four pages before you come across it again. The average lifespan of a tweet is 2.8 hours and of a Facebook post is 3.2 hours. With such a fast paced medium, the best way to use this resource is in short bursts. Don’t spend hours constructing and reading messages that are just a flash in the pan. Create a well constructed updated announcement, post it, and move on.

3.) Last – remember, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Valuable time spent on social media marketing should also be allocated to the most effective tools. Social media is a rapid, ever-evolving industry, so it’s easy for marketers to become enamored by the newest tools.  However, the industry study showed that almost all marketers have four tools in their toolkit: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and blogs. Smaller organizations should stick with tried and true forms of social media, allowing other organizations to test the weight and worth of newer mediums.


More information can be found at the following:


The #1 Reason Why Your Nonprofit NEEDS to be on Facebook

Nielsen, the company we most often associate with the ratings for our favorite TV shows, also does some fantastic research in other types of media. Case in point is their latest blockbuster release: “State of the Media: The Social Media Report.” In it are some fascinating facts and statistics including:

  • 53% of social network users follow brands (which includes nonprofits)
  • Social network users are more likely than other online consumers to be found at political rallies
  • Women watch more videos, men watch longer videos
  • Social media and blogs continue to dominate our online time as consumers, on our computers AND phones

Add to those statistics, Pew’s recent research:

  • 65% of adult internet users now say they use a social networking site daily

And you have the numbers that should make you assess and then re-assess your social media strategies.


Step 1: Do you have a social media presence? On which platforms?

Step 2: Do you have social media policies in place?

Step 3: Do you have a social media strategy? How detailed is it? (i.e. ‘have I tweeted today?’ vs. ‘What message is our organization working on today?’)

However the most important takeaway from Nielsen’s data is this graph here:

That 140,336 is for a single month alone in 2011 (specifically, May of 2011); and 140,336 is actually short for 140,336,000. That’s 140 million unique visitors for the month of May.

So if 65% of the adult population goes online everyday, and 140 million of them are checking their Facebook pages, it would probably be a good idea to make sure that your nonprofit has:

  1. a presence on Facebook
  2. a social media strategy in mind
  3. interesting content to keep your fan count growing and to make sure your followers keep coming back.


What do you think? Are you finding Facebook a helpful tool for your organization?

Are there other tools that you prefer to use in addition or instead?


For more information on how your nonprofit should use new media, contact us at 301-664-9000

3 Tips to Get Your Nonprofit into New Media

Over the past few weeks, I’ve had the wonderful opportunity of being asked to speak at two separate events.

The first was at Columbia University‘s School of Continuing Education, where I spoke to students in the masters track of the Fundraising Management Program, and the other was a national conference known as the South Asian Summit, organized by and the Washington College of Law at American University, which encompassed working to achieve social justice via policy analysis and advocacy.

As both events focused on the not-for-profit community, my topic focused on new media & nonprofits.

Questions at both events, and with my work with clients, always circle around

the same issues: resources. Continue reading

Communications Planning in Chewable Chunks – By: Carrie Collins

I just learned that only 51% of nonprofits have a written marketing or communications plan for 2011, and 34% have just notes for a plan.   These stats are from a report just released, “2011 Nonprofit Communications Trends Report….and What It All Means for Your Good Cause.”

I’m not all that surprised because it takes time and effort which none of us has, but I’m discouraged nonetheless.   We communicators and marketers believe, after all, that the world revolves around us.  Right?

Or said another way… organization is much less effective in meeting its goals without a plan that pushes out messages in a coordinated way, to key audiences, through vehicles that leverage one another for maximum impact.

So how can we advance the ball without becoming intimidated, bogged down, or overwhelmed by the planning process?
I’m a big believer in tackling chewable chunks in the strategy developing process – especially when time is so tight.

Think of a communications strategy in threes:

1.  Goals – what are the organization’s top three programmatic goals this year and what are the top three communications goals to support each of those? (all measurable and achievable!)
2.  Audiences – what three groups do you most need to achieve these communications goals?
3. Actions – what are the three most important steps you need to take to reach these groups and move them to action?

Then make assignments; who’s going to do what.  Put a timeline together and set deadlines.
As soon as each deadline passes, ask the question of your team, did you achieve your goal; what worked and what didn’t?

I’m not suggesting there aren’t other elements and other layers to a comprehensive communications strategy.  For example, it’s optimal to produce a communications plan for each individual project or program of the organization and develop specific messages to specific audiences.   But the above approach is a good start – chewable chunks.  Put something in place.  With so many communications vehicles now at our fingertips, we’re doing ourselves and our organization a disservice if we don’t put  some strategic thinking behind the best way to use them.  Then once you realize the process doesn’t have to be a cumbersome beast, you can factor it into your schedule much more easily and build from there.

A communications plan helps keep the organization focused and moving forward as a cohesive whole. When resources are limited (and they always are to one degree or another), this is essential for mission-driven organizations.

Carrie Collins draws on twenty-eight years of experience in public relations, the media, and public affairs to direct the firm’s branding and marketing initiatives for its non-profit clients. Carrie works with groups’ stakeholders to guide them through a messaging process that defines the core identity of their brand and creates a unique position for that brand in their audiences’ minds.  Her plans employ multi-channeled, highly leveraged tools and tactics, including the media, which energize both donors and supporters.

For more about Carrie, click here.