Random Thoughts on Life and Work

January 8, 2016

The Effects of Giving

PBS Newshour had an interesting segment during the show on January 7. A University of British Columbia research team conducted a small study on the effects of giving in toddlers and then carried it beyond to college students and adults. In the study, they found that even young toddlers express happiness when giving something to others.

I suspect anyone in fund-raising/fund-development will tell you, “duh” to the concept that it is actually a pleasurable experience to give. One of the interesting (and again, not new) findings in the study is that people who have the opportunity to see and/or experience the impact of their giving are even happier than those who just gave to a general “fund”. However, how often do organizations get caught up in trying to raise funds so that “we can accomplish our mission.”?

You likely saw the UNICEF and/or ASPCA commercials during the holiday season. What struck me about those efforts was the fact that there was no impact of my gift. All I saw was a portrayal of a very negative situation with a statement – help us help them.  I have to confess, I was extremely turned off by the ads finding them very ineffective at telling me how either of these organizations do anything positive. Where were the impact/results pictures?

Watch the PBS segment and then consider your own communications. What are you telling your readers/listeners/site visitors? Are you telling them why they should support you? Or are you telling them that their gift has changed the life of Samuel who now has his own bed or Mary who can go to school because now there is clean water right in her village?

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October 26, 2007

The Wired Advocate – A Follow-up

Overcoming inertia in a nonprofit can be particularly difficult.  This stems from many sources but is most often expressed in the sentiment, “We’ve always done it this way.”  As a good friend of mine often says, “The definition of insanity is doing the same things over and over expecting different results.” 

Starting small with some test runs can be a great way to get past the initial ‘disbelief’ that making use of new tools will have value for the organization.  Here are some thoughts to consider:

  1. Recognize that you will likely make a mistake along the way.  The initial run may not be perfect.  That’s okay.  Learn from it, remember it, move on.
  2. At the same time, remember that quality is still important.  You can’t have a poor appearance and expect great results.
  3. Determine what you want to measure to determine success.  Dollars raised may not be the correct measurement.  Especially with your first few attempts.
  4. Remember, your audience is going to be different (probably) than your organizational website.  That’s why you are doing this.  Expanding your reach.
  5. Because of #5, don’t just repeat your website.  Provide something different, in a different tone, different appearance, etc.
  6. “Build it and they will come” is not necessarily true.  You will need to promote your applications.  Expand  your reach.  Think outside of the box.

Plan on building slowly.  Once you have established your metrics, go wider.  Determining who in the organization will be ‘responsible’ for the ongoing development and management of the interaction will come with experience.  Successful 2.0 applications will likely develop conversations with your constituency.  You need to be prepared to respond so somebody should be the designated communicator.

Hope that helps.

July 18, 2007

Who Is Telling Your Story?

Or maybe more accurately, who is telling stories about you?

I was recently doing some surfing to find web references to my employer and discovered some interesting things.  Not that this is particularly new to anyone reading this space or other blogs in the list to the right.  If you aren’t telling your story in as many places as possible, it is likely that somebody else will be telling stories about you.  And yes, there is a distinction. 

The information that you post on Wikipedia about your organization may be consistently different than information that is posted about you by someone else.  If you allow another individual to control your story, you may be sorry. 

And what about Facebook?  Same thing.  Allowing others to dictate the interaction may not be what you want.

Now, I am not saying that you bite the hand that feeds you.  Actually, what needs to be done is create a consistent, accurate access point to your organization.  And then let your donors and constituents make use of the information.

Do you have a FaceBook group created?  Maybe you should think about how you might make use of the space to inform, encourage, and motivate your donors.

Do you monitor Wikipedia to see what is being posted on your space.  It is, after all, an encyclopedia that provides information about your organization.  Has someone done a “dump and run” on your space?  Go clean it up.

Is someone posting your media files to places like YouTube, BrightCove or other hosting sites?  Plan a release strategy that beats them to the punch and grabs viewers back to your website.

Hopefully this helps to stimulate some thinking about making use of the spaces that are available to you.  Take the time to search various locations.  You might be surprised at what you find out about yourself.

June 1, 2007

Job Title Inflation

Filed under: Charities,Internet,Management,Marketing,Non-Profit,Promotion,Strategy — Darren Mullenix @ 10:20 am

One of the lessons I learned through our reorganization project recently was the power of words – especially when attached to job titles. 

In an article in the recent Knowledge@Wharton e-newsletter the author points to the value of how titles are created and the intrinsic message that is created as a result.  At the same time, there is recognition that “title inflation” may be the unintended result of the drive to create titles such as Chief Relationship Officer, Chief Development Officer, Chief Experience Officer, etc. 

However, I would hazard a guess that many of us have experienced roles that probably had a “normal” title but the work was more in the line of the new title trends.  I would suggest that we start considering a multi-level title.  The first is level is the “public” title that goes on the business card.  The second is the internal title that helps to explain what the employee actually does and may be placed as a sub-title on the business card.

Let me offer an example:

Many non-profits are starting to recognize the power of the internet and the brand/image that they project through their Web interactions.  And some, are taking that to the next level and actually assigning a staff person the duty of monitoring the traffic on the internet that relates to their organization.  This person may be a staff person on the Web team, a donor response person, a communications person, or some other “regular” role.  However, their sub-title might be Chief Web Experience Officer. 

Herein lies some danger though.  As we strive to encourage our staff and provide experiences to them that they find valuable, it is important to realize that placement and title-ing is only part of the story.  Support and resources become critical to enhancing the results.  It is not enough to provide a fancy title.  We must be prepared to allow the person to act within their role.

If you are working through job descriptions, organization charts, staffing needs, etc consider the words you use.  Not only in the titles but in the descriptions.  They may be more important than you think.

Some rambling thoughts for consideration.

February 21, 2007

Humanitarian Philanthropy

Filed under: Marketing,Philanthropy,Strategy — Darren Mullenix @ 4:15 pm

I recently ran across a company that makes solar powered flashlights.  SunNight Solar produces a well constructed flashlight that encompasses rechargable batteries powered by a solar panel.  The company produces the light and sells them under the BOGO Light name (Buy One, Give One).  The whole concept is to provide a source of light in areas of Africa that rely on non-renewable sources for light.  The company distributes the second light to partners that work in Africa.  Please take a moment to check them out.  It is a great story with one of the more unique delivery methods that I have ever seen.  Buy a light and designate the giveaway to one of the listed partners.

November 28, 2006

New Resource

Filed under: Internet,Management,Marketing,Marketing Communications,Non-Profit,nptech,Strategy — Darren Mullenix @ 9:00 am

Michele Martin, author of the Bamboo Project blog has created a new resource for non-profits who are still investigating all of this Web 2.0 stuff.  This new wiki will be helpful to those who are newer to web technologies and are still trying to figure out what it all means and what pieces of the social networking make sense for their organizations. 

“What’s a Wiki?” you ask.  Well . . .  

Wikis are fantastic tools to allow for collaborative writing. Every visitor to a wiki can edit any page on the wiki. Editing is done in a very simple text language that is much easier to learn and read than HTML.

Complete with definitions and interactive functions, I think you will find this wiki quite helpful.  Check it out.

November 13, 2006

What Is In Your Toolbox?

Over the last week or so, I have been wrestling with the question of what tools a non-profit might want to deploy on their website.  Here is a list that might be considered.  Obviously, the overall internet strategy must be considered and not all of these will necessarily apply to every website.  (more…)

November 1, 2006

Chief Experience Officer

Filed under: Charities,Charity,Management,Marketing,Non-Profit,nptech,Strategy — Darren Mullenix @ 12:15 pm

My friends at McConkey/Johnstonrecently used the term CXO to stand for Chief Experience Officer.  That started the juices flowing a little bit.  Then over on the Donor Power Blog, this post appeared.  Now I really begin to think something is germinating out there. (more…)

October 10, 2006

Email is Dead!

Filed under: Charities,Charity,Marketing,Marketing Communications,Non-Profit,nptech,Strategy — Darren Mullenix @ 8:39 am

Or at least dying.  Seems like a strange thing for me to be saying here but there are studies showing the dying use of e-mail, especially among teens.  And what does that mean for those of us in the development world? (more…)

September 28, 2006

Gifts Where You Can Get Them

Filed under: Charities,Charity,Donations,Marketing,Non-Profit,Promotion,Strategy — Darren Mullenix @ 7:50 am

We are now heavily into our Combined Federal Campaign season.  Hence the reason for somewhat sporadic postings over the next few weeks.  That and the fact that I may be facing surgery on my knee.  But that is another story.

The Combined Federal Campaign, for those of you not familiar with the process, is an opportunity for federal employees to meet representatives of non-profit organizations at various charity fairs around the country.  Federal offices such as the Pentagon and the Dept. of Transportation in Washington DC, the Bulk Mail facility in Michigan, and many, many more organize these fairs and encourage their staff to make contributions through payroll deduction.  It is all coordinated out of the Office of Personnel Management in DC.  (more…)

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