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The Takeaway: The How & Why of Nonprofit Communications

May 6, 2010

We had two workshops back-to-back this Wednesday, the first on “Tapping Technology Resources” for nonprofits and the second on the changing media landscape, presented by Thom Clark from the Community Media Workshop. The first workshop, which I hosted, included a wide range of web-based tools that organizations can use to become more efficient and increase their impact. The second highlighted how nonprofits can market themselves in this post-paper age. So this version of The Takeaway is a limited-edition double feature:

From me, Mike Ewing, Seven Steps to Tapping Technology Resources Online

1. Get Organized– Services like Doodle and Remember the Milk can help you work more efficiently with others and manage your own time better.

2. Listen– Set up a Google Reader account, and connect it with Google News search and Alerts to create the ultimate nonprofit listening dashboard. Services like Addictomatic can also generate one for you from a basic search term. This is essential for staying up-to-date with the latest resources and monitoring any mentions of your organization. (Feed My Inbox can also send these feeds to you via email).

3. Set Up Shop– Set up profiles with consistent information on the social media sites that audiences you are targeting use on a regular basis. Facebook pages and WordPress blogs are great options if your website is out of date. You should also update your profiles on the major “nonprofit portal pages,” like Charity Navigator and Guidestar.

4. Get Noticed– Tap into content that you’re already producing to promote yourself in the social realm. This includes: Flickr for photos, YouTube for videos, Scribd for PDFs, Delicious for bookmarks, and Slideshare for PowerPoints. Services like Posterous can make adding this content to social media a breeze because they are based on e-mail. E-mail newsletter services help you manage your contacts, publish content, and measure results; Mail Chimp and Constant Contact offer free services for nonprofits.

5. Connect– Use social media to connect with key audiences in spaces that they use on a regular basis. You can also link all of the content sharing services listed above to Facebook, Twitter, and many other social media sites.

6. Make the Ask– Many free fundraising tools are available online, and organizations can use these to both gain individual donations and encourage people to become fundraising advocates for them. Visa’s Givecard is one way people can integrate this into their daily lives, while services like JustGiving provide tools and templates for people to organize fundraising campaigns.

7. Measure– Services like SociafyQ help you measure the progress of your social media efforts. Link shorteners allow you to track click-throughs from across the media spectrum. E-mail marketing programs also let you monitor open rates and other valuable statistics.

There’s even more information and resources on a new, special Wiki page for the workshop.

From Thom Clark, 4 Myths and 4 Tips for Nonprofit Communicators

1. Myth: Communication is not part of what we do.

Reality: Effective communications will help you gain your goals.

2. Myth: We just do not have the time and resources to do communications.

Reality: A little bit of work here & there will move your agenda forward.

3. Myth: Spread the word about your good work as widely as possible.

Reality: Who is your audience? Go deep, not broad.

4. Myth: Give people the facts.

Reality: It’s not about the facts. It’s about the story.

For more on the importance of storytelling, check out Tom in this video:

Thom Clark on the Importance of Storytelling

The Takeaway is a series of blog posts with helpful tips and resources shared at the workshops presented by The Volunteer Center of Northwest Suburban Chicago. For more information on TVC’s workshops and trainings, including a schedule of upcoming events, visit our website.

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