Branding Influence – 3 Easy Steps for Nonprofit Success

We have talked a lot about different social media tools and how they can be used by nonprofits with limited resources. But this post will take a step back and consider how to select tools which will provide the most impact for your organization.

A Harvard Business Review by David Edelman provides some excellent insights for consumer products that can be adapted to a nonprofit mission or specific project.      The steps include:

  • Understanding the Donor’s Decision Journey
    source: augestad.blogspot
  • Prioritizing Touch Points – Plan a Guest Experience
  • Allocation of Resources

The Decision Journey

Have you ever talked with donors to ask why they support the organization? Do people donate to your cause in general, or do they like to support specific projects? What keeps them making regular donations or do they? Do they talk about the cause or projects with their friends, coworkers or at a party? What are they saying about the organization? Talk with different groups – first a group of dedicated supporters, then the annual/ occasional supporters and finally some one-time donors. Ask how they found your group, what they like about it, what type of social media tools they use and what kind of updates would they like to see?

Plan A Guest Experience

Thinking of our supporters as guests is an important part of the next step; if you take the money and run you have missed this marketing concept which is so important to repeat donations. The organization’s mission is important; in many cases even life changing, let your supporters be part of this energy and excitement. Plan an experience, or series of experiences, that open the organization; creating a transparency, sharing successes and challenges faced, sharing your projects and their progress, allowing volunteer to help, open your finances and know which are important to donors. Use the on-line tools your guest are using and share the culture of the organization online and at every event.

Allocate Resources

The greatest challenge for many nonprofits is resources and the coordination of volunteer resources. There are thousands of social media tools out there, many “free”, so listening to what our guests or potential supporters are using is so important to avoid an echo in empty cyber space. Resources need to make connections to supporters for both time and funding; our guests need to feel a connection to what we are doing and feel like they make a difference. Have a champion for each online tool, encourage volunteer contribution but set up the guidelines, the Red Cross provides a great example for this. Be sure to coordinate among champions to ensure a common message.

Most important have fun serving a cause greater than one!

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Start A Virtual Community Today!

Nonprofits are good at stretching a dollar and knowing how to leverage resources and connections. So what better type of organization is there to start a Virtual Community?

In our last blog we talked about the United Nations Foundation who offer many examples of unbounded global communities focused on specific causes. The root of each of these communities is the specific cause that bring people together; whether that cause is assisting women, reducing hunger or managing relief in a disaster. In all of these causes social media has allowed a virtual community to make real impact without concern for geography. I dare to say today the global impact of many nonprofits is broader and faster than ever before in history, thanks to social media. New internet social tools can connect people together into virtual communities around a common cause, with ease.

In an earlier post we discussed nonprofits in Tanzania and a new virtual network called Kabissa focused on connecting people and organizations working in Africa; soon we hope to launch a network group focused on supporting children to help build future leaders and connect nonprofits working in Tanzania. Invitations are out to over 50 other organizations we hope will join us at Kabissa to share and support each other’s work in Tanzania. This network has already sparked a face to face visit later this summer between two organizations, who may compliment each other well. In the future we expect to have about 100 organizations as part of this new community which began as an idea in the woods of a small New Hampshire town, thousands of miles away.

To build a virtual community simply takes a cause – one that people can share and be moved to action. Nonprofits, in most cases do not share the territorial instincts of business, this allows for more open communities. Virtual communities can be used to link volunteers, donors and other nonprofits with similar missions in a common geography. Places to build virtual communities include networking sites such as Kabissa for Africa, LinkedIn Groups, Facebook and others that may existing within your nonprofit work area. These virtual communities can offer a faster response to a need, eliminate geographical boundaries and enable partnering to ensure optimization of every dollar. A virtual community can help people share progress, best practices and help avoid duplicated efforts.

Consider your own nonprofit; are there others with a similar vision and values in the area you work? Are there similar nonprofits in other locations? Can you help each other to broaden reach, share best practices and avoid pitfalls or duplication of efforts? If the answer is yes or even maybe to any of these questions – what are you waiting for, give it a try to start your own virtual learning experience!

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Driving Growth – 10 Social Media Lessons

Nonprofit organizations have excelled in using social media to grow.  This is just on success story, among many, of an organization that is just over a decade old and providing real financial support, about $200 million annually, to United Nation causes using social media communication tools.  You could say they once risked the entire organization on SM but it is paying off in a big way and they are still expanding on how social media can change the world. Just about every company can take away some key lesson on communication and growth, to put to use in your own communications plan.

The organization is the United Nations Foundation. What they do is to link the United Nation’s work with others around the world, mobilizing the energy and expertise of business and non-governmental organizations to help tackle issues including climate change, global health, peace and security, women’s empowerment, poverty education, energy access and US-UN relations. Foundation’s CEO Kathy Calvin refers to the birth of global citizens in  Forbes interview, she describes the power of social media; “We are moving beyond traditional philanthropy, where companies or individual provide only funds to deeper, carefully managed relationships that share personnel, expertise, and creativity.”      

There are many nonprofits that are also tackling one of these same issues, probably at a lower funding level, but also having a profound impact. So what can we learn from the UN Foundation? Here are 10 Key Lessons that many businesses can put to use in their own Social Media Program:

Lesson 1: Website Hub

The UN Foundation website is simple, clean and to the point, the page structure can be used by many organizations. The 9 key pages include: 1) Who we are, 2) What We Do, 3) How We Help, 4) Connections, 5) Blog, 6) Press, 7) Partners, 8) Video and 9) Campaign Spotlight. From a nonprofit every page has a Donation button. The top of each page has a revolving call to action set of topics centered on campaigns or projects with a button to “Learn More” or “Take Action”. The page footer is a scroll of all campaigns, just project names; you can click and learn more.

Lesson 2: Clear Mission with Specific Projects/ Campaigns

When you go to the UN Foundation’s website there is no question about what projects they are focused on, in other words what their product offering. You can select any project or campaign, as they call it, and see the purpose, the budget, progress and ways to help or get involved. This clear focus gives you the impression that this is a highly organized and efficient group who are doing great things and not wasting resources.  They are not afraid to share all their financial and about a 12% SG&A to prove it.

Lesson 3: Blogging around Projects/ Campaigns

The project or Campaign theme continues in the blog, you feel pulled into their world. The blog is set up with just 11 standard categories and has the ability to search. There are blog posts every 1-2 days by project leaders and sometimes by customers or those being helped. The blog is not a 1-man operation it is a community project, probably with a specific calendar for campaign leaders in the background.

Lesson 4: Let the People You Help Participate

Imagine a blog post, a Facebook share or a Tweet  coming from those you are helping or have literally saved their lives – this can be a powerful message. In the midst of disaster relief having people on the ground in the loop is critical. Aaron Sherinian, VP for Communication for the UN Foundation said in a Mashable interview “The power of social media for social good will be at the village level and the municipality level and connecting issues – everything from land tenure and mapping to access to health posts to governance and transparency.” This brings in a two-way conversation.

Lesson 5: Financial Transparency

Take a look and you will easily find financial records, including tax reports back to the first year of operation. The UN Foundation proudly shows 87.7% of funds go directly to services; 6.7% for management and 5.6% for fundraising. These are not only impressive statistics but probably some of the best. The records are out there, easy to find, as should be the case with any nonprofit.

Lesson 6: Connections

In addition to the main website blog the social media platforms in use include Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and a new Mobile App. The website is secure with direct donations. Across all platforms the campaigns or products are the central focus. In addition the UN Foundation has begun an annual conference, with many well known partners from the social media world, RIO + Social, which is a social network onto itself. Partners are prominently shared and recognized.

Lesson 7: Ask for Action

On every web page and in many posts there is a call to action or a way to learn more, engaging and pulling you into a campaign you have interest.

Lesson 8: Make Donating Easy

Everywhere, every page on the website, Facebook or the mobile app there is a button so  you could immediately make a donation if so moved, there was no guessing how.

Lesson 9: Partnerships

The UN Foundation does a great job of celebrating their partnerships as a natural part of their transparency. Partners are clear in campaigns, contribute to blogs and the annual conference. Partner’s names and ability to connect are all at your finger tips.

Lesson 10: When you are Ready Go Mobile

Although I do not recommend this until your website is in good shape as the mobile app should simply be a partial mirror image of the website, so it operates almost effortlessly. The UN Foundation has just launched their Mobile App this year and you can get it through the App Store or SM Market.

Take a look at the United Nations Foundation yourself to learn more. But at a minimum learn from how they revolve around their campaigns/ products, because after all that is what a nonprofit is there to do – so it must be central to the Social Media plan.

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Nonprofits Going Mobile

After my last blog on the status of 66 charities focused in Tanzania the last thing on my mind was finding a Mobile App. After all, many nonprofits seem to be struggling with maintaining a website and keeping news/ blogs regular. But here I am and what an exciting one I have found for you to take for a test drive!

I was reading How to Build a Mobile Website and looking at the top 30 mobile sites, my eyes were glassing over and I was thinking what nonprofit under a $10 million budget could ever consider this? Then I found a press release from Linxter  describing an April 2012 release for a new social network designed for nonprofits. 

The release is AllAware a new mobile private social network app designed for nonprofits. This app appears to be built simple for the overextended staff and volunteers of a nonprofit to build a private social media site. It features:

  • Profile of Organization
  • Events & Meetings: Yes a central calendar for your nonprofit! Plus you can set up people to see either events or meetings or both;
  • News: The news site can be set up as a link to your website or blog so there is no extra work and best of all it is free; future versious are also expected to allow pushing information from this app back to otheres such as a blog.
  • Chats: A place for members to do message posting with pictures and video;
  • Donations: An organization can accept on-line donations linked through Paypal, well this may not be free $10/ month to Linxter and a small percentage to Paypal. Future versions are also expected to handle reoccuring donation and event fees or tickets, showing that Linxter is committed to continued development of the app.
  • Members/ Contacts: The organization has the option to auto accept new members or set up for manual approval. A member directory is available within the social network of your nonprofit site, again photos and you can highlight staff and board for members to identify.
  • Administration: A table that allows you to link people only to what they are interested in: events, meetings, news, chats, donations, membership and administration and to also follow donation levels. An administrator can also send out e-mails or text messages directly to members for a small fee.

I was so interested I took a test drive, see options at the bottom of the linked page, the ride was great!

The App is a new one and I recommend starting slow with the free social sharing first so see how many of your following wants a mobile option. Let your supporters know about the App and see who joins, once you have it set up you can consider a campaign for expanding to a new group or just see what percent opt in from fundraising activities to stay in touch. The demonstration was great and the people of allAware are very helpful and easy to talk to so start there!

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Using Social Media to Help Tanzanian Children

This blog reviews the status of social media being used by nonprofits assisting children in Tanzania. In the last 5 years the number of child/ youth focused charities in Africa has increased significantly, in this sample set 58% are new charities, less than 5 years old. We can theorize that social media and the increase in safari tourism may have a part in prompting this increase in awareness for Tanzania’s youth and orphaned children which have helped increase assistance.

Figure 1: Tanzanian Feeding Program

The majority of youth assistance is focused on education to help build the future leaders of Tanzania, an East African country about the size of California, Oregon and Nevada combined.  This review looked at 66 nonprofits found by utilizing a Google search on “Tanzania and children”, plus a review of GuideStar and Charity Vault for Tanzania missions. All charities collect funds in the U.S. for use in Tanzania as a major part of their focus, many also had an avenue for U.S. volunteers to engage directly in Tanzania. The mix of 66 nonprofits all were U.S. nonprofits but many had partner NGO (non-government organizations) in Tanzania. The majority 61% were focused on providing education, which included kindergarten, primary and a few secondary schools. In Tanzania Kindergarten is required before entering school but is not government funded, which can isolate rural children from an education. Both primary and secondary education is government funded but uniforms are required and locations can be very far away. Many youth do not go past 8th grade due to secondary school access. Most of these nonprofits expressed the importance of education to changing Tanzania’s third world position. Next was helping to bring healthcare at 15% of the sample; in addition to basic health concerns Tanzania infant mortality is three time the world average (, HIV/Aid and malaria are also major concerns. Organizations focused on both education & health accounted for another 10%. Then there was a set of nonprofits we will call Villages – in this 11% of the sample the organizations purchased land and helped to build a village including, water, roads, housing, schools and medical clinics. Finally a couple focused on water supply. The distribution of these non-profits in the U.S. is shown in Figure 2. A detailed summary of the charities reviewed is available in excel by requesting it in a blog response or by e-mail ( ). I have learned that tables and blogs are not always friendly partners and decided the e-mail approach was easier for a list of 66. This summary is not a complete list of all U.S. based youth charities focused in Tanzania but the 66 nonprofits are a representative cross section of charities that came to the top of the search methods used and had a primary focus in Tanzania. In the details of this analysis it was interesting that there was no significant overlap in the physical locations or specific populations being served by the many nonprofits examined.Of this cross section most organizations had a website as their prime social media element and accepted on-line donations.  There were a few charities that either relied on a blog or video as their only social media outreach. Figure 3 shows the major social media applications found actively in use in April 2012.

The methods used for on-line donations included Paypal 51%, Networkforgood (NWFG)18%, Razoo 11% and a variety of secure web site applications 20%.

In evaluating blogs we gave organizations credit for activity in news and newsletters as long as there were more than 3 posts in a year. Figure 4 shows a breakdown of blog styles used.

In general we found many nonprofits were very open about projects and progress whether they used a formal blog post or newsletters and posts often had many pictures. The formal blogs were either web based blogs or organizations used the WordPress blog site and one used Blogspot. Videos were also popular either posted on Utube 67% of the time or on the website. In addition to the social media activities listed there were single uses each of Squidoo , , Stumbleupon and Google+ and 3 uses of Filckr .

The implementation quality of the various social media tools was not evaluated but did vary greatly. Developing a method to rate a nonprofit organization’s implementation may be useful to help improve overall effectiveness. Most of these organizations had great stories to tell and enjoyed sharing projects desired, in process and completed with many real pictures which were the most interesting component of many sites. For now the charity table (available upon request) offers nonprofits working in Tanzania the opportunity to evaluate how similar organizations are using social media, the table includes the organization name, website URL, state, which form of social media they use, their start year and area of focus. I have provided an example table of 5 selections of the more social media active nonprofits.  Also if you want to learn more financially about a nonprofit consider GuideStar and Charity Vault which are great sources for 501c nonprofit status and most recent tax filings. Both sites rate charities on their transparency and provide access to U.S. government registration, tax and annual reports. Several websites did show links to both GuideStar and Charity Vault to help new donors in their evaluation and to show transparency of financials.

Five Star Charity Table (partial list)

Name   (State) Donate F B L T G+ Video Other SM Start
Aid for Africa (MD) NWFG X Web X X Utube 2004
Asante Africa Foundation (CA) Paypal X WP X Utube Squidoo   Flicker 2006
Educate Tanzania (MN) Razoo X Web X Utube 2011
Indigenous Education Foundation of Tanzania (MA) Paypal X WP X 2007
Tanzania Development Support (IL) PayPal   & Ammado Web X X Flickr   Guidestar 2008

Table notes: F=Facebook; B=Blog; L=LinkedIn; T=Twitter; G+=Google Plus

I strongly recommend looking at some of the sites listed to compare websites, the use of social media and to find new ideas for fundraising. There is a fairly new organization for African charities to network called Kabissa , I have requested that they add a Group focused on Tanzania to share information on projects, local resources, and tips for communicating with local tribes and government to help nonprofits share their experiences. I am hopeful we can get some networking active with the many wonderful supporter of Tanzania’s development.

To learn more about Tanzania a couple of good references include the Tanzania government website and the CIA website . Poverty and Health are great issues for this East African country of over 43 million people with rural areas only having 45% drinking water within the home, an infant mortality rate 3 times the world average, 5.6% of the population with HIV/Aids and a 70% literacy rate with few people having more than a primary school education ( Tanzania is home to some of the world’s largest wildlife preserves and therefor a popular safari destination.

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Nonprofits – Getting a Start in Social Media

April 27, 2012

by Debra Breed

As a non-profit organization there is no doubt both time and money are considerations for any social media activity. For Socail Media the money side can likely be managed, as there are many free tools, but real consideration needs to be given to how much time you have to spend because you will find a sea of opportunities. First look at social media as a tool for marketing, for most non-profits this means spreading education or attracting donors and for most probably both.

Before beginning a social media activity identify your audience(s) – the people who can rescue you or those who care about your cause, these may be individuals or corporations, be as specific as possible in describing your audience. Think of yourself on a raft in the middle of the sea and no matter what tool you pick your life depends on attracting attention. On this venture consider yourself the voice of your non-profit and your website is your raft. So the goal is simple attract your audience to your voice and get them to the raft to rescue or talk to you. A rescue may mean funding or simply reaching people.

Let’s introduce a few basic tools to get you started and heard. We suggest just starting with only one or add one to what you may have. It is better to build on more tools as you understand your audience and resources, especially time and your ability to consistently deliver new content (text, pictures, video…) about the cause, events, success stories, impact, resource links or opportunities for involvement as an example.

1. Website

If your organization does not have a website this is step one. If you do have a website when was the last time it changed or does it look old and tired? The website an exciting destination, it should be the greatest source of information about your cause, use links to add content, and make it personal and easy for people to help at any level. If your cause is good you should not be afraid to ask for help – show ways people can get involved, how to donate time, resources or money – put a donation key on every page. Link your other social media activities to the website. Consider a newsletter or creating or linking a blog, think of a blog as one article at a time.

2. Blog  

Setting up a blog is a great way to talk about the cause, for a non-profit to grow people need to hear your voice. Explain why this is a great cause, why you personally are involved, be open to build trust, share why people volunteer and give and always share success stories. Look around, who else is talking about the excitement of this cause; link them to your blog. Allow people to provide feedback to your blog so you learn what they like. A blog, like a newsletter, takes time; plan to start with 1-2 posts a month and increase as you get comfortable. Remember, if you do not talk about the cause how will people hear you? Also listen to your audience what do they want more of, do not forget to ask for action, direct people to your website to learn more or to participate in the cause. Show blog posts on your website, maybe a crawl of titles with links. WordPress offers a free site to get you started.

3. Twitter

Think of twitter as a mini or micro blog. A tweet message is limited to 140 characters. It is a great way to keep your audience aware of activities and events and the great thing about Twitter is it is mobile, an app is available on just about any mobile platform. It is also a way to inform people of your recent blog post or an interesting article you came across relating to the cause. Your goal is to keep your cause and organization in front of people – you want to be the cause your audience talks about with friends. Another great thing about Twitter is that you can search for people who may want to be part of your audience and follow them, so that they may follow you back, building more connections and developing a broader group of engaged supporters.

4. LinkedIn

Why would anyone consider LinkedIn before Facebook you may ask? For a great cause the business connections can be just as important as individual donors and LinkedIn offers the individuals behind the corporations. Many companies support causes and getting a key executive excited can get you an inside track to both their company and to them as an individual donor. Remember companies like to support what their employees and customers are excited about or where they see impact, so the more people you engage the more likely people will mention your organization as their choice. Also, like Facebook, you can seek connections and once connected there is a sharing of a broader network of associates, who may also want to hear more. On LinkedIn you can also start a discussion group or join a group with similar causes to reach out and find more people who care.

These are just a few basics, please just start with one and do it consistantly well before you move on. Do not try everything at once your raft can not handle that kind of turbulence and we do not want you to drown in the social media sea. Remember the marketing goal is to build connections, to people – individuals and individuals in corporations, who care about the cause and are willing to support in sharing with others, with resources, by volunteering time or funding. Get started but remember this is all about being social and staying connected, when you are quiet it is easy for people to hear about other subjects or loose passion. Most important never be afraid to ask for help – your cause is a good one!

Debra is a marketing and general management professional who has severed on several non-profit boards to lend assistance with marketing and growth. Her goal is to help nonprofits to think like a business and use the same tools a for-profit organization would, including defining specific programs, measuring profit/ loss, market understanding and expansion planning.

My next post will be about nonprofit organizations supporting children in Tanzania, Africa and how these organizations are using social media. There are many great organization doing a lot of work. I hope this new post will get you thinking about why it is important to get your voice out there.

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Hello world!

Welcome to my blog nonprofitsmblog. My name is Debra Breed I am currently working on a Masters Certificate in Social Media at Southern New Hampshire University SNHU. Truth be told I have served as a senior executive in many organizations, specializing in acquisitions, turn-a-rounds and new product introductions, as I would consider my passion to be Product Management. After watching social media developing around me and feeling like an observer or “creeper” as my teenage boys like to call it I have finally decided to jump in with both feet. This is my first blog which I decided to focus on nonprofit education, I have also begun to use that Twitter accounct @dbbsoccer and have actually put my real profile out on LinkedIn and started making connections.

I appreciate any feedback you have, as I am most definitely in a learning phase!


Debra Breed



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