Next week is a BIG week for non profit professionals as both AFP and NTEN are holding their annual conferences back to back. For those of us who exhibit and/or sponsor it’s a blessing and a curse. It’s one week of pure mayhem and exhaustion getting people and equipment to both venues seemingly simultaneously. But when it’s over we can breathe for a while as the “BIG” events are under our belts. This year’s conferences promise to bring the best and the brightest from the industry together for 3 (a total of 6 of you count both shows) days of innovation and excellence.
For the first time, AFP is holding their event outside the US in Vancouver, Canada, so everybody coming from the US needs a passport. And for the first time both of them are in the same time zone on the west coast so none of us will have jetlag. I am personally very enthusiastic about both of these developments.
Just for fun, I went to one of those “learn all about the similarities and differences between Canada and the US” websites to see if there were any interesting factoids about the two destinations. Here are a few fun tidbits:
The San Francisco metro area is almost 4 times larger than the Vancouver metro area (almost 7 million in population vs. Vancouver’s slightly over 2 million), so keep that in mind when hailing a cab. Also, despite those long winter nights and all that hockey, the US still outpaces Canada in alcohol consumption per capita, so vacant bar stools in Vancouver might be easier to spot than in San Francisco. Lastly, the US is embarrassingly higher than Canada on virtually every crime statistic, except for one: More people say they’ve been robbed in Canada than in the US (per capita), so you might want to keep your hand on your wallet.
Our good friend and business partner in Canada, Michael Johnston of HJC, also shared some interesting stats about the differences in the nonprofit landscape that I thought I’d pass along. Be on the lookout for the Convio 2012 Benchmark Study (coming soon!) that highlights some of these distinct differences—to whet your appetite here are just two that I found interesting:
Whichever conference you are attending, keep notes on what you notice that’s similar and different and get back to me. Love to hear your observations. And as they say in Vegas “Enjoy the Show!”
Another great success story! CHOICES - the Center Helping Obesity in Children End Successfully - is a grassroots organization whose mission is to fight against the deadly epidemic of childhood obesity. By promoting weight management and lifestyle changes through nutrition education, peer socialization, physical activity and community involvement, CHOICES hopes to significantly reduce the presence of childhood obesity in their communities.
When CHOICES found themselves struggling over excel spreadsheets, custom databases and playing hide-n-seek with constituent data, they decided they needed a better solution to the chaos - a solution that would help them focus on what really mattered to them - their mission. They searched for a system that could 1) consolidate all of their data into one, easy place, and 2) a system that was user friendly and wouldn't require extensive training for employees. That's when CHOICES turned to Convio Common Ground.
Here are just some of the results that CHOICES has experienced after implementing Common Ground:
"We see a difference in our fundraising numbers on a weekly basis, in comparison to previous campaigns before Common Ground. Every week there's someone donating and that never happened before. Thanks to Common Ground, our mission is getting out."
- Sedessia Spivey, Business Consultant
Read more about what CHOICES is doing and experiencing with Common Ground here.
When it’s time to develop the content for an email appeal, the subject line is typically the last thing to get written. Ironically, it’s the usually first thing your reader sees.
Give your subject lines the love and attention they deserve. Use these three tips to make your subject lines more interesting, relevant and effective.
For more pointers, download our Making Email Appeals More Effective tip sheet.
I am super excited to bring you a special podcast interview on the Connection Café this month. While my favorite thing about doing these audio interviews is getting to know Convio coworkers and let you meet some of our staff that you may not otherwise run into, I think most people familiar with Convio will know how important Vinay Bhagat is to our company and the nonprofit sector. Vinay founded Convio in 1999 and since then has established himself as an innovative researcher, thinker, and leader across our market. I personally credit him as being an inspiration for me to continue to focus my career on nonprofit technology and constituent engagement; I’m sure many others do as well.
I thought now would be perfect time to sit down with Vinay and reflect on this history of the company, the future of nonprofit communications, and learn a little more about Vinay’s personal interests and passions. You’ll hear us talk a little about his work style, approach for tackling challenges and data, and stories about how Convio got to be where it is today.
Connection Cafe Podcast 7 - Vinay Bhagat
Download audio file
Editor's Note: While this podcast has been on the editorial calendar for weeks, we're very pleased that it just happens to align with Vinay's nomination for Care2's Impact Prize. You can read more and vote for him on the NTEN website.
Why do we all do what we do every day? That seems like it should be easy to answer: depending on the mission of our organization, it might be because we care about animals, want to cure a certain disease, or depending on your role, maybe because you want to be the standard-bearer in the industry around social media, or fundraising, etc.
Often, it seems, however, we forget what we believe in as the minutia of what it takes to get things done every day takes over. We start to campaign for campaign's sakes. We worry about not meeting budgets because Boards will get upset. We think of donors in terms of when was the last time they gave us a gift, rather than WHY they gave it to us in the first place. And so the why we do what we do every day gets muddied.
I have been thinking about this since I watched an awesome TED talk by Simon Sinek about what he calls “the Golden Circle.” His premise is beautifully simple: companies, individuals, and organizations that succeed lead with what they believe in and why they do what they do, rather than selling products, chasing glory, etc. His examples are mostly commercial: why does Apple succeed over say, Dell or HP? Why did the Wright Brothers win the flight race when so many others were better positioned to take flight?
Simon's talk got me thinking about what we (the collective nonprofit space), do every day. We certainly give a lot of homage to mission, but how well are we communicating what we believe in a way that appeals to the WHY not the HOW? Donors and constituents may seem fickle. It's hard to tell what motivates them, so we like to throw the entire kitchen sink at them. How much we've invested in XYZ, how many people/animals we've helped, what our 5-10-15 year annual fund goal is…but how much of that do you, as a donor or constituent of your favorite organization, actually remember?
Compare this to the campaigns/causes that seem to come out of nowhere and explode, go viral, start a whole movement…and we all wonder: why? What is their secret sauce?
Listening to Simon's talk, it seemed to me that answer was clear. These campaigns communicate, with little effort and little need for explanation, what they believe in, and in a way that connects with those who believe in the same thing in a most fundamental way.
Think about some of the iconic or fastest spreading campaigns and causes of our industry:
Beat Cancer. Enough said right? We believe cancer can be beaten. (No note of how, where, what, just that it CAN be). How much more do you need to know (put your constituent hat, not your “behind the scenes marketer” hat on)?
The pink ribbon. Anyone wearing a pink ribbon communicates a simple message (regardless of which organization's pink ribbon they are wearing): Breast cancer is bad. I believe in curing it.
Charity: water. Why the success? Because the founder fundamentally believes in his ability to make a difference and his network believes in him.
This kind of “belief” messaging is even more important for social media: there are short attention spans, limited characters, competing media, and so much clamor. Communicating WHY you believe rather than what and how you are going to go about doing about it can be the key to capturing someone's attention.
So what do you believe? And, more importantly, how many times a day do you, your co-workers, your organization, say that out loud, post it in the office, start meetings with this in mind?
Subscribe to receive posts via email:
Get answers to product questions, join "Birds of a Feather" discussions and more. Join the Online Community
Alltop - Nonprofit
A Small Change
Bob Ottenhoff's Blog
Donor Power Blog
Future Leaders in Philanthropy
Katya's Nonprofit Marketing Blog
Kivi’s Nonprofit Communications Blog
Nonprofit Law Prof
Pamela’s Grant Blog
Sea Change Strategies
Zen and the Art of Nonprofit Technology