Category Archives: non-profit & small businesses

Bootstrap All The Livelong Day: Fundraising for Tiny Teams, Part 1 (The Basics)

bootstrap nonprofit fundraising

Just like within organizational leadership:

You will have the most success by focusing your efforts on making it easier for your community to support your organization or cause.

There is no silver bullet:

“There is no single development, in either technology or management technique, which by itself promises even one order of magnitude [tenfold] improvement within a decade in productivity, in reliability, in simplicity.”

So, forget about tackling one or two monumental projects to raise funds on your own and focus on the many ways your constituents can come together and help keep your programs funded. Grants, large events and major projects do have a lot of value. But, when you have a small team, empowering your external tribe will help build a scalable and sustainable foundation of support. Be a change agent and implement these quick and simple tools to fast track your growth.

The Basics

If you do nothing else, do these things and you’re solid:

(1) Have a clear (and positive) message (example)

What is your mission (one sentence)? How will you achieve that (one sentence)? We often struggle with clarity when we’re passionate about something. Get outside help, even if it’s just from a smart friend who will listen and then parrot back your message.

(2) Have a clean website (example)

Think about your FAQs. Consider what people need from you. Leave the rest at home.

(3) Get good photos (example)

Content is important. Photos are part of your content. They grab attention, provoke emotional responses and enable you to capitalize on opportunities with media.

(4) Make sure you’re setup on PayPal and FirstGiving

Even if you do not choose to use these platforms for fundraising, other people will. If someone would like to run a road race on your behalf, make it easy for them to raise funds through their own FirstGiving page.

(5) Keep your constituents in the loop regarding updates

People will eventually tune out too much negativity. You don’t need to hide the problems that you a struggling with, but you should focus on the solutions you are offering (which inherently acknowledge the challenges). If your challenge is complicated, definitely give people the opportunity to learn more. Forget content for the sake of content, transparency IS king. Creating content without transparency and clarity is just going to make your job much harder.

Negative vs. positive messaging is definitely something that is up for debate. Negative messaging will often get some immediate and viral responses, but examples tend to show that positive messaging is more sustainable.

Upcoming Posts

  • The Tools
  • The Strategies

Image from Beat Kung.

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what NOT to say when you miss work

This is a bit outside of my usual topics, but seriously people. You are too much as a party? Sometimes it’s bes to day nothing, nothing at all. 15 of the weirdest excuses used when calling in sick.

careerbuilder infograph

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A new relationship between artists and fans – Adam Duritz at #Pivotcon

Session: The Audience Imperative: A New Relationship Between Artists and Fans

Description: No longer must musicians rely upon record companies and rapacious promoters to get their songs into the market and themselves in front of fans. Top selling Counting Crows has long been a leader in using Social to alter the artist-audience dynamic. Here’s the first thing Adam Duritz had to say:

If the video isn’t displaying, use this link. P.S. I love that his notes are had written!

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My favorite part of #Pivotcon: Digiquette

Session: Millennials, Decoded: Inside the Digital Mind of the Connected Generation
Speaker: Britta Schell, Director, Digital Strategic Insights, MTV
Role: Responsible for understanding Millennial digital behavior and insights.

Description: “Millennials are the arrow tip of Social Consumers. They pierced the armor of traditional marketing and trampled long-held conventions about how audiences are supposed to behave. But, up close and personal, what do the online lives of millennials look like? Are they really as wild and uninhibited as they seem? MTV reveals its massive study of the rising adult generation.”

Synopsis: Britta delivered!

Why millennials? If this generation isn’t part of your current market, they will be (and should be) or they’re definitely influencing your customers today! Plus, millennials are experiencing the greatest convergence of digital and real life. They ARE the early adopters, provoking unique triggers for anxiety, feelings of overexposure as well as perceptions of efficiency and empowerment. Understanding what consumers feel will help any company (big or small) understand what they need and the best ways to meet that need.

The average millennial:
…grew up fully exposed.
…understands “celebrity culture” and the need for savvy personal branding.
…was raised with constant feedback loops from (helicopter) parents, coaches, teachers, etc…
…is always aware of how people are responding to them and gains confidence from feedback they expect.
…is setting the cultural norms.

Who Are the Millennials?
Flowtown – Social Media Marketing Application

MTV is attempting to understand the implications of this convergence through classic intimacy variance:

  • Label = Curate Me | representation = ME
  • Label = Publicly Intimate | representation =  Intimates
  • Labe  = Like-a-Holic | representation = Friends
  • Label = Digiquette | representation = World

Brands can effectively use millennial Digiquette (“the rules”) as a roadmap to virtual engagement :

Rule #1 Learn the Rules

Sounds like fight club, right? The first rule of Fight Club is: you do not talk about Fight Club. Well, this one IS a little different. First rule about managing your online life is the learn-the-rules. Millennials are exploring multiple platforms and observing. Many understand and embrace the idea that one platform may be good for only one thing. Not unlike real life, knowing what is appropriate is the first rule to engaging within digital platforms and community.

  • 93% posted veiled language online that few connections in their public space would understand (example: LYRICS)
  • 78% know someone who has been in trouble with a parent, school, etc… for something they posted on social media

Rule #2 Pace Yourself

Britta summed up this rule as “James Dean nonchalantness 24hrs a day,” like the three-day rule of dating. By the way, I love James Dean. Got my attention. Millennials clearly exhibit some sensitivity around the perception that their digital lives are completely converged with real life by delaying the gratification of response (or feedback) and demonstrating that a separation of “real” and “virtual” does still exist…for now.

  • 48% believe that if you respond too quickly it will seem like you have nothing better to do
  • 25% feel alone if they do not receive a response/feedback to public postings

Rule #3 Avoid Controversy

Millennials are cultivating proxy opinions – by association – which they believe is adding value and helping them gaining social currency. But it’s also important to pace these posts just like delaying the gratification of response to avoid flooding social media feeds and exile to “social Siberia” as friends and connections start tuning you out. On a side note: A diner down the street from the conference was referring to a specific section of tables as “Siberia” the next morning. Conspiracy?

  • 54% post a video or article they agree with instead of a personal opinion

Rule #4 Guard Your Future

Even the “party guy” thinks you “might as well be remembered in good (meaning positive) terms”. Millennials are using tools like Picnik to edit photos, filtering content about themselves to show an authentic but BEST side of themselves, a side that is associated with the lifestyle template that they have chosen.

  • 30% have modified photos before posting
  • 75% try not to make mistakes in digital space because they understand the permanence
  • 90% are using Facebook as a conduit to personal branding

Bonus: My favorite quote from the millennials in this study was “even if it’s an e-mail it’s like someone is trying to communicate with you”. BAM! E-mail is NOT dead.

For more reading check out Litmus: Digital Millennials and Virtue Live Blog.

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how can social media empower artists and designers?

How can you move ahead of the crowd? The videos say it all… Seriously, listen to what Raul has to say (video #2 & #3). You could be just one tweet away.

Genius and the Age of Enlightenment: Part #1

Genius and the Age of Enlightenment: Part #2

Genius and the Age of Enlightenment: Part #3


  • Hope Frank, CMO, Webtrends
  • Even Grenne, CMO, Grammy Awards
  • Raul Penaranda, Fashion Designer
  • Jeanniey Mullen, CMO, Zino (wearing Raul Penaranda!)
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“You can’t save the world.”

Has anyone ever told you that you can’t save the world? Sometimes this phrase is offered with the intention of comfort. A parent may be trying to prevent disappointment for a child. A colleague may attempt to reshape your expectations following a tumultuous event. Or, a friend may be comforting oneself when failing to truly foster the ideals you share.

However, these words rarely deliver comfort (for me, at least) or ease stress when it’s nearly impossible to remain idle without a suggestion, an idea, a new perspective when sensing a problem. The statement merely invokes a sense of muffled helplessness. A feeling that my actions are not appreciated or worthwhile. Why is that?

I do not believe that everyone should constantly strive for such a lofty goal. After all, the fruits of your labor may never truly manifest during your own lifetime. But most goals do relate to changing something and change is a difficult thing to inspire or manage.

So, I’m not surprised that I often sense a tone of discouragement within the phrase “you can’t save the world.” And sadly, this seems like such a common response from parents, colleagues and friends.

The world is changing and not on it’s own, but because of people. How people are interacting. What people are creating. How everyone is coping. Why discourage any individual from choosing to influence that change, especially in a positive way? Think about it. Is there anything positive or useful about telling someone that they “can’t save the world” in any context?

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Concerns about Social Media for Social Change

As a marketer with a distinct interest in progressive movements, I commend ( and sometimes envy) the work of Social Media for Social Change. However, as a budding non-profit professional, I’m still skeptical about the power of the peer-to-peer trust networks developing throughout the internet. When considering the real-time ( and potential knee jerk) interactions these networks often cultivate, this skeptisim feels ominous.

There’s a lot of positive energy around social media, as there should be. It’s an engaging concept that empowers every person and organization to grow through relationship building and authentic content generation. But, the only skepticism I’ve heard sounds something like “does it really work?” (concerns about word of mouth ROI) and “what are the risks for me?” (concerns about personal and brand reputation) rather than general concern for the greater good.

While recently attending Boston’s Social Media Breakfast (#SMB11) in Cambridge, I was transfixed on this notion of trust that supports the concept of social media for social change. One attendee had broached the subject of fraud with presenters, but I wasn’t satisfied with the consecutive discussion. Nobody seemed interested in exploring this issue. Perhaps because we’re affraid to encourage “bad” behavior. Or, maybe nobody wants to kill the buzz. We are all social media evangelists, after all.

But what if social media and transparency are actually sometimes juxtaposed, not by definition, but by implementation and purpose? One of the biggest concerns I have within the non-profit world is informing a donor, not about a cause, but about the use of funds.

Several #SMB11 attendees were soliciting support (financial and WOM) for non-profits they believed in, but I knew nothing about the actual causes and administrations. This may lead hesitation when I barely know a person, but not if I trust that person. Not if I follow that person on Twitter or friend that person on Facebook. Recently, we’ve seen some serious twitter hacking to top things off.

Some examples are not as prone to the twitter-like fraud as others, but this all seems worth a little more discussion and concern.

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