Have you ever found yourself at your organization’s <insert big event> where you 1) find yourself with a camera in hand and 2) hoping that you didn’t miss that perfect photo opp of your mission in action? For the large majority of non-photographers that work or volunteer for a nonprofit - me included - I'm guessing it happens quite often.
Walt Disney said it best “Of all of our inventions for mass communication, pictures still speak the most universally understood language.” This is especially true for your organizations where pictures of your mission are an incredibly valuable asset. There's no better way to show your organization's impact than through a compelling photograph. But, the best part is you don’t have to be an expert or have professional-grade equipment to capture a special moment with a camera.
Let the non-photographers unite and pledge to make out-of-focus, chopped-off heads and poorly lit photo faux pas come to an end! Here’s some simple tips on to get nice shots with a digital point and shoot camera
I'd love to hear more tips from pros and beginners alike, so please leave me comments!
Mobile is a growing trend that just won't quit. Is your organization ready?
If you follow the news about smartphones, then you might have noticed that in 2011, shipments of smartphones outpaced shipments of PCs. And that in 2012, sales of smartphones are poised to outpace sales of PCs. Now, normally I only follow this kind of news when I'm listening to Marketplace or Morning Edition, but that's pretty much every day lately. (Side note - anyone else in GenX feel like our transformation into our parents is almost complete?)
And I'm not even mentioning tablets like the iPad, Kindle Fire, and other smaller-than-PC-but-larger-than-phone devices out there. The presidential candidates are accepting contributions via phone (a credit card swiper, that is), and the Girl Scouts are too for cookies!
I was not an early adopter of a mobile device. I carried an old-fashioned flip phone for so long that some of my friends at the Convio Summit 2010 made fun of me. I branched out with an iPod touch, and that was my gateway into the smartphone world. And I've never looked back.
I take my phone everywhere. I mean EVERYWHERE. Yes, sometimes even to the bathroom (but no, I don't answer it when it rings, although based on my experience there are plenty of people who do). It's my email, my camera, my book, my photo album, my Facebook account, my bank, the way I order pizza, and sometimes I even use it to make calls. I used to lug around my laptop everywhere, but that led to sore shoulders and a lot of missed opportunity to keep in touch.
But there are certain things that I prefer to do using a computer with a bigger keyboard. Sometimes it's because I'm doing something complicated, but more often it's simply just a bad user interface.
For example, if I'm motivated to make a donation to an organization because of current events, and I'm not near a computer, then I'll try to use my phone. But if the main webpage (where most everyone will go to find the DONATE button) isn't mobile optimized, then I'll give up. Same thing if the donation form itself is hard to navigate. I'll intend to do it later, and sometimes I will and sometimes I won't. And that's a missed opportunity.
A mobile-optimized homepage and a mobile-optimized donation form are the tip of the icebergs, but are also one of the most important pieces to get right. You won't get a second chance for a while. So even if you're behind the curve on mobile, don't try to boil the ocean - just start with those two simple steps. Homepage and donation form.
And you kids get offa my lawn.
Champagne, flowers, jewelry, fancy dinner out, maybe even a new dress, all potential parts of a really fantastic Valentine’s Day. But we all know that you can’t build a relationship on one day of hearts and roses. You have to put in the work all year round if you and your honey are going to live the good life.
The same is true for donors. So I’ve tapped the Casanovas of Convio for a whole array of ideas for sweeping your donors off their collective feet.
The greatest gift we can give our donor is the gift of being known by us. Make them feel special. No, you don’t have to send two clowns and a wizard to their house on their birthday but if you read and article about a topic you know they are passionate about, share it with them and get their thoughts. Honor and remember the milestones they’ve shared with you, a graduation, a birthday. Know their business and their hobbies and share and celebrate their successes in both. Nominate them for awards. Surprise them and recognize or thank them in a way that’s personally meaningful.
–Rachel Muir, Manager of Go! Program
Using their own personal milestones as an opportunity to thank them, i.e., birthdays: “we’re so glad you were born”, weddings: “finding your soul mate is a once in a lifetime thing, just like curing cancer”, birth of a child: “congratulations on your new little miracle—thank you for letting us make more”…you get the idea…
–Sara Spivey, Chief Marketing Officer
Recognize them! Run appreciation events, give awards or simply start a “shout-out” campaign via social media. Applies to volunteers, advocates and donors (although there might be some privacy issues to understand).
–Jill Ward, Client Marketing Manager
Recognize your donors while engaging your board with a pressure free activity. Hold a telephone thank-a-thon at your office. Find a Board member that will champion the activity and challenge other members to participate. Provide dinner (pizza works), a call sheet, a suggested script and a telephone. I think you’ll be amazed at the results- not only the positive reaction from donors, but the enthusiasm from your Board when they see how easy it is and hear from the donors.
–Danielle Johnson Vermenton, Interactive Consultant, Go! Team
Take the Girly Movie Approach – There is no better hook than video that pulls at the emotional heartstrings of your constituents. Be sure to include a link to your donation form at the end of your video.
Circle Yes or No – Take a peer-to-peer approach by asking your grassroots fundraisers to deliver the love note on behalf of your organization.
Make it personal – Include value propositions next to the giving levels on your donation form. If I was planning on giving $50, then was presented with the information that a $60 gift would buys a month worth of food for a child in Haiti, I’d be happy to give that extra $10.
–Robyn Mendez, TeamRaiser Product Marketing Manager
One donor cultivation tactic that proved successful in my last job was to put together an interoffice raffle basket of items contributed by local merchants and by co-workers. Employees could then buy individual raffle tickets at $1 or a dozen for $10, with all ticket sales going to fund local research into cardiovascular disease prevention. With results of tax credits, name recognition, and most importantly, funds for the nonprofit, the raffle was a win-win for everyone. Bottom line: it was a fun additional touch point with many donors in a short period of time!
–Dan Helfman, Services Bureau Analyst
Seth Godin has written that we find an instant connection with someone (anyone) when we see a reflection of ourselves in their eyes. It is exactly that kind of connection that we need to make with our donors – a connection where they see themselves when they see us. They have a role to fill and they see it clearly. What motivates individuals to give? Is it an invitation to join the fun? Is it the promise of a shiny incentive? Is it this? Is it that? There are so many ways we can think to try and flirt with our donors, pass them the signs, have our friends go and talk to them, send them a secret valentine – but how do we finally get their attention so that we can romance them? They have a hunger to make a connection – they have a hunger to make a connection with you. We need to help them see a reflection of themselves, when they see us. Because when that connection happens… they are looking us in the eye… and they are smiling, and they are donating… They are waving to us. They are waving to themselves.
–Adam Lemmon, Go! Team Lead Consultant
Things nonprofits do that make me feel known & loved by them
Now get out there and fundraise, Romeo!
When I’ve volunteered for charities before, especially when I am raising money – it has been striking how important it is to get the right support from the charity itself. With a small local charity you might get lucky (as I did) and have someone from the charity show up when you’re drumming up sponsorship or at the event itself, but when things get to a larger scale, it’s difficult to keep that level of support high, especially when the people giving that support may well be volunteers themselves.
Reflecting back on my own experience, I’d take away the following to anyone who’s thinking of planning or for that matter improving a fundraising event:
For an example of this done really well? Check out the Cancer Research UK “Relay for Life” website which brings together the cause, and tools and the practical help and guidance needed for both individual fundraisers and for the volunteer team that supports and co-ordinate them. Behind the scenes – the joined-up platform provided by Convio TeamRaiser means that the fundraising, volunteer management and reporting tasks are all completed online within the tool, giving a huge amount of practical help to those who are giving up their time to the charity. For me this really sets the standard in what I look for in terms of support and practical help in getting great results for the charity.
(This post was collaboratively written with Jonathan Weldon ...using a shared folder in....Evernote!)
In case you've never heard of Evernote this blog post is written from the perspective of a couple Inbox Zero & GTD geeks who are just as likely to be discussing the latest keyboard shortcut or productivity trick as we are where the next happy hour is. While we like to think of ourselves as early adopters, Evernote was recently named Company of the Year by Inc. Magazine and with more than 20 million users, it’s pretty mainstream. While Convio is not affiliated with or a partner of Evernote in any way, both of us are passionate about nonprofits and technology and thought we’d share a few ideas about how this application can help nonprofit professionals.
Why is Evernote Important?
A key aspect of any nonprofit’s operations is storing and sharing information related to their mission, programs, outreach, and funding. You are probably all too aware that tracking this information is becoming increasingly complex. Convio has developed tools to help organizations track and act on information related to constituents’ relationships (CRM) and online engagement. There is another type of information and memory management that relates to the everyday memories and knowledge management of your staff, volunteers, and other supporters.
Visit Evernote’s website and you will be greeted with a simple statement: “Remember Everything.” A few key features of the tool include: syncing across devices, handwriting and text recognition, version tracking, photo and audio notes. There are too many amazing highlights to try to describe here, but this 2 min video gives a great overview!
The following ideas are just a few of the ways that we thought different teams in an organization could use Evernote as a tool to support their roles. If you have other use cases, we'd love to hear about them in the comments.
Volunteer & Event Management
Mission & Marketing
Fundraising and Development
Ultimately, Evernote gets more useful the more information you put in it, so hopefully you found this post helpful and will consider giving Evernote a try. To reiterate, Convio is not partnered with Evernote, we are just a couple of avid users and wanted to take this opportunity to share our ideas on how your organizations could utilize this fantastic tool in your day-to-day business. We are sure there are many more awesome, and even obvious, ways of how Evernote could be used by nonprofit organizations, so please use the comments to let us know how you're currently using Evernote or perhaps how you could put Evernote to work for you.
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