Carnival of Nonprofit Consultants

This week’s Carnival of Nonprofit Consultants is brought to you by the letters M and F: M for marketing and F for fundraising. They are two sides of the same coin, using similar tools to reach different goals.

Jeff Brooks at Donor Power Blog says we need to give the people what they want, by creating high expectations of what the giving experience should be and meeting those expectations.

Alexandra Rampy at SocialButterfly ponders the question of whether ‘nonprofit’ is a brand or merely the description of an organization’s tax status.

Paul Jones at Cause-Related Marketing thinks it doesn’t matter whether corporations feel the love when they give, as long as they give.

Beth Dunn at Small Dots makes the case that interactive marketing is recession-proof and therefore ideal for nonprofits, who often face tough times financially, recession or no recession.

Joshua Karlin at Marketing & Fundraising Ideas suggests that the way to get major gifts for your nonprofit is to ask for them. Pretty basic, but not easy.

Jason Dick at A Small Change notes that the way to find those potential donors to ask is to listen to them through research.

Jim Logan at Accelerate Business Group provides insight on how to build loyalty and generate repeat customers, which is definitely applicable to nonprofits though written for a more general audience.

Next week the Carnival will be at Giving in a Digital World, with the theme of “Creating and developing online supporter communities through Web 2.0.” If you would like to participate in the Carnival, submit your related blog post by next Sunday (2/17) via the BlogCarnival form.

Charity Television

Imagine my surprise as I followed a link from my ego feed and found that my blog is featured on a “TV show.” The International Charity Association Network (iCAN), an organization that serves as an umbrella for Canadian nonprofits providing food and education, creates video programming on its Charity Television website.

The current program highlights five blogs that discuss nonprofit and philanthropy-related issues. Besides mine, the program talks about Have Fun * Do Good, the DC Goodwill Fashionista Blog, Cause-Related Marketing, and Katya’s Nonprofit Marketing Blog. Though the quick-change editing and camera angles are somewhat disconcerting, and the sexy hostess lady seems more suited to Firebrand TV, it was interesting to see one nonprofit’s take on online video programming. (Though two strikes against her, pronouncing both my first and last names wrong!)

Speaking of Firebrand, if you haven’t seen it yet, it’s an interesting bit of niche programming. It’s all commercials, all the time, with MTV-like “commercial jockeys” or CJs (including, yes, a sexy hostess lady) that pop up from time to time in between the ads. The site is strangely compelling, and they have definitely compiled some of the most clever and artistic spots here. It’s a great place to learn what makes a TV commercial watchable. The site is a brandseeker’s paradise, but there are examples of social advertising mixed in, such as spots from PSI, the American Lung Association, the Ad Council, Know AIDS/HIV, and others. It would be great if they added more social marketing ads and grouped them together in one category. The question is whether anyone but ad industry people are watching.

On the far other end of the programming spectrum is the Starfish Television Network, currently found on the Dish Network and streaming online. This time it’s all nonprofits, all the time. Organizations can submit their video material to appear in the programming, which runs anywhere from about two minutes to an hour long. If you’re a nonprofit with video you want to broadcast, take a look at the guidelines to submit your spots and get some free exposure.

Looking at today’s programs, for example, the broad mix includes things like the High Five Challenge (a TV game show that “recognizes and rewards today’s good kids, making smart choices”), a 5-minute spot about the 2007 Hollywood Arts Gift of Light fundraising event, short pieces on various scout values (e.g., bravery, kindness, etc.), a music video inspired by children with autism, a video called The Go-Getter that is “the story of one man’s refusal to give up even when faced with overwhelming obstacles,” 7 minutes about the Boys & Girls Clubs of Chicago, and a 20-minute show about the medical team from Operation Smile traveling to India to provide free cleft palate surgeries for children. I’m sure sure some of this programming is wonderful and watchable, but I’m just as sure that there are some incredibly boring videos that nobody but the organizations’ staff want to see. So, the question again is whether anyone is watching this channel but nonprofit industry people. I would love to know. I have heard that professional producers will be creating programming specifically for the Starfish Network, so hopefully that will help.

When it comes down to it, as much as people might care about a particular cause, they are not going to sit through a boring video when they could be doing something more entertaining. For social marketers who are considering creating a video for distribution online, Ad Age just ran a great article about ten lessons for creating a viral video (which the author, top YouTube producer Kevin Nalts, aptly points out is not a viral video if nobody wants to share it).

Nonprofits should be exploiting this medium for all it’s worth, given that it costs relatively little to hire some of the most-watched Youtubers to produce a piece for you, and expectations for production values (read: budgets) are much lower than for broadcast television. In the end, though, it all boils down to whether you have something that people enjoy watching — though it may have a message embedded, the top three criteria for viral success are: entertainment, entertainment, entertainment.

UPDATE: I just came across this story from the Agitator highlighting an excellent report on nonprofits’ use of online video from the Chronicle of Philanthropy with several great examples of nonprofits that are doing just what I was talking about!

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Carnival of Nonprofit Consultants – 10/22/07

The Carnival of Nonprofit Consultants is in full-swing. Come on into the tent and peep at the best posts of the week related to social marketing and nonprofits.

Craig Lefebvre of On Social Marketing and Social Change addresses the recent New York Times article ripping social marketing efforts selling bed nets for malaria control. He does a thorough job of explaining the many problems with the objections, and even follows up with a summary of the responses to the article. My favorite Senator, Tom Coburn, shows again what an advocate of public health he is with the line in the NYT article, “We knew social marketing doesn’t work.”

Britt Bravo of Have Fun * Do Good offers four steps to start using the social web for social change: consume, join, participate and create. She has great lists of examples and resources for each step.

Beth Kanter of Beth’s Blog demonstrates yet again how effective social media can be for personal fundraising, raising $1,000 in 24 hours to send a young Cambodian woman to college and (as of this writing) at least half more of that to sponsor a young man as well. There’s still time for you to donate!

Paul Jones of Cause-Related Marketing makes the interesting observation that the pink ribbon for breast cancer awareness has become the equivalent of an open-source charity icon. This is a double-edged sword, as not only can breast cancer-related nonprofits use the symbol, but so can for-profit entities (who may not be as protective of its charitable meaning).

Sandy Beckwith of Build Buzz gives her take on how Ellen DeGeneres’ dog adoption story should have played out differently, from a marketing point of view. (And her follow-up on what animal rescue organizations should do to take advantage of this publicity opportunity.)

Nancy Schwartz of Getting Attention makes the case for making search engine optimization part of your marketing strategy. It’s really not that scary.

Katya Andresen of Katya’s Non-Profit Marketing Blog lays out ten steps to finding and winning a corporate partner for your outreach efforts. As an added bonus, Joe Waters of Selfish Giving offers his own riffs on Katya’s points.

And for the host post, I’ll share the beginning of my case study about using a Facebook Group for building a grassroots advocacy campaign for suicide prevention-related legislation. We’re up to 82 members, and if you’re on Facebook, I hope you’ll join us.

Next week the Carnival will be at Donor Power Blog. If you would like to participate, go to to submit your post using the form there or send an email to npc.carnival AT yahoo DOT com with your name, your blog’s name and the URL of the post (not your blog homepage). The deadline is Friday, 8:00 p.m. ET.

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Passing Off the Costs?

Sony, the Ad Council and the National Crime Prevention Council are running a contest to create a television PSA on the awareness and prevention of cyberbullying. The grand prize winners — an individual and a school group — will receive thousands of dollars worth of video production equipment. Consumer-generated marketing — great, right? Yes, until you look at all the requirements and restrictions they put on the entries.

The contest submissions must be broadcast quality — that can cost serious money. They specify tiny details like the required PMS colors and proportions of each organization’s logo. Entrants have to get talent releases from everyone involved and location releases.

And each person involved in the production has to confirm that “neither he/she nor anyone else has engaged or taken part in (or induced or encouraged anyone else to do so) in any activity or conduct that may or is likely to harm or create a risk of harm, physical or mental injury, emotional distress, death, disability, disfigurement, or physical or mental illness to any person, other living thing or any property.” Does this mean that kids who have been involved with cyberbullying (or other types of bullying) in the past cannot be involved in this project as a part of their rehabilitation?

So, essentially, the contest sponsors are asking for someone else to invest the time, money and creative energy in creating a finished spot for them, in exchange for the production equipment they would already need to own in order to create the spot. Perhaps this is the kind of thing a school-based video production class or semi-professional producer could pull off. But it also excludes an awful lot of people who might otherwise want to enter the contest. And those who do enter the contest but don’t win get nothing for their efforts — no opportunity to show off what they created or share it in other venues.

If Sony, the Ad Council and NCPC wanted to get more youth participating and engaging with this issue, why not solicit a broader range of videos with fewer restrictions, select the most creative and persuasive entries, and then cover the production costs to turn those ideas into a professionally created PSA? They could do it on YouTube or MySpace so that everyone can see all the entries and comment on them. This approach would seem a lot fairer to me, and potentially much more effective in ultimately affecting the issue of cyberbullying among youth.

I’m not sure whether this contest was underthought (in terms of the implications of the rules) or overthought (by the lawyers), but I have to hope that it’s not just all about passing off the costs.

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China’s Olympic Rings or Olympic Handcuffs?

When Beijing was selected as the venue for the 2008 Olympics, my esteem for the institution went way down. What should the Olympics stand for, if not the freedom to follow your dreams and be the best you can be? Giving China — one of the worst international human rights offenders — the opportunity to grandstand in front of the world as if it were just another global good citizen evokes shades of the 1936 Berlin Olympics.

It’s not as though China’s abuses are minor or in dispute. Beijing’s victims include hundreds of thousands of Tibetans who have died as a result of China’s invasion of their country, thousands of dissidents and prisoners of conscience who have disappeared into prisons, organ harvesting from political prisoners, and the 400,000 Darfurians who have been killed in Sudan’s genocidal campaign backed by Beijing’s oil profits. China wants so much to control its population’s every potentially nonconforming thought and action that it has even banned Buddhist monks in Tibet from reincarnating without government permission.

The Chinese government is also implementing a human rights crackdown in preparation for the Olympics, ironically to clean up its image prior to the games. According to Wikipedia:

The Beijing municipal authority has declared that more than 70 local laws and decrees would be made before the 2008 Summer Olympics which would banish local people who don’t have hukou (residency permits) of Beijing. It would also banish vagrants, beggars, and people with mental illness from the city. The Municipal authority also made it clear that it would strengthen border control, call for a “special holiday”, or forcible shutout, to make Beijing citizens stay at home during the Olympics. It also seeks to strengthen controls over Chinese and foreign NGOs and forbid any protests during the games. The government has also strengthened its laws relating to prosecution of those deemed to be disseminating material not beneficial to the state.

The Geneva-based group, Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions has claimed that 1.5 million Beijing residents will be displaced from their homes for the Olympics event. Beijing’s Olympic organizing committee and China’s Foreign Ministry have put the number at 6,037. As of May 2005, 300,000 residents have been evicted in preparation for the games. Police in Beijing placed many people under arrest for protesting against the evictions.

Just today, the news came out that China arrested activist Yang Chunlin, who gathered 10,000 signatures for an open letter calling for human rights and opposing the Olympics. Clearly the government is nervous about efforts to link the Olympics and human rights — as well it should be. Human rights groups have dubbed these the “Genocide Olympics,” with a number of advocates starting the Olympic Dream for Darfur campaign and others addressing China’s role in issues like freedom of speech, religious freedom, Tibet, child labor, and the environment.

So, should we boycott the Olympics? Some are calling for this, but I think this is not the most effective path. We tried this with the 1980 Moscow Olympics and didn’t make much difference. It would only punish the athletes who have been working so hard and had no say in the decision where the games would be held. Better, I think, to get in China’s face and make sure the world knows what is going on there. We need to focus attention on their human rights abuses and not let them escape the glare of the world looking beyond the glittering facade to the bodies of the 1.3 billion people that the Chinese government steps on as it holds up the Olympic torch. We need to make Beijing squirm, and this event offers the opportunity to create a PR nightmare for the regime. When the world unites to denounce China’s repression, that will truly be an Olympic victory.

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What a Thank You!

My favorite Israeli blogger Jameel shared a letter and certificate that his young daughter received after cutting off her long hair and donating it to an organization called Zichron Menachem – The Israeli Association for the Support and Assistance of Children with Cancer and their Families. The organization provides wigs to children undergoing chemotherapy who have lost their hair (similar to Locks of Love here in the US).

Soon after she sent in her donation, she received this letter back (translated from the Hebrew):

Dear [name],

Yes, yes, I mean you. You, who faithfully grew your hair for a long time and then cut it short (and sometimes, even shorter than you would have liked), just so your hair would meet the criteria of Zichron Menachem, just so you could donate it to sick children. You just wanted to aid children that were in a bad way.

When their hair started to fall out, in a bad way.

That is the first actual sign which proves to them that they are sick — with the terrible disease known as cancer, and breaks them emotionally.

And not only that, but when they suddenly see large faces looking back at them in the mirror. Too large. Missing too much. And at that critical moment, what is missing has a tremendous impact.

That is the point where they meet your hair. Your noble act returns their faces to them. Their self respect. Their self-confidence that everything “will be ok” and “I’m still myself despite everything.”

Your valiance is noble!

I want to thank you for your partnership with Zichron Menachem — for helping make a very difficult time, a bit easier. And I want you to know that how successful your effort is, every time I see a bashful smile from those mirrors, trying to love what they see. And they succeed.

There are other ways to contribute to Zichron Menachem. Visit our internet site:


Efrat Luxenberg
Public Relations

What kid (or adult, for that matter) wouldn’t be beaming after reading that letter? Who wouldn’t be pulling out the ruler to see how long it might be until her hair grew enough to send in another donation?

The letter is so effective for several reasons. It lets donors emotionally experience the impact of their donation with vivid details and a compelling story. It shows that the organization understands the sacrifice the donor made with their investment of time and effort in growing the hair, and then the potentially traumatic step of cutting it off. And a little flattery will get you pretty far, when it is sincere and well-deserved.

Kudos to Zichron Menachem for its marketing savvy, and yasher koach (loosely translated as “more power to you” or “way to go!”) to Jameel’s daughter for deciding on her own to participate in this worthy program.

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