Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Time to Talk

Even in the midst of the holiday fundraising season, the second half of December should be a time to slow down, to gather data and complete year-end reports, and use that information to create a strategy for the coming year. This less hectic workday offers the perfect opportunity to make a few friendly phone calls to donors.

These aren't "ask" phone calls. These are "team" phone calls. Focus on your biggest donors, and those in the middle who seem likely to move up the pyramid of giving soon. Do not begin by thanking them. Let's be realistic- when an organization calls and leads the conversation with "thank you for your support," you know they are going to follow it with "please give again." Instead, start with something like "I'm calling to share with you the difference you've made this year." Tie their donations to real, tangible work that the organization has done. Press the point that this is their charitable impact and they should feel good about it.

This is also a great opportunity to ask what your donors need more of in the coming year. Do they want more updates on the organization's work? Would they like to be invited to the office occasionally? Do they yearn for volunteer opportunities? We serve our donors as much as we serve the people who receive our services. It's important to meet donors' needs as well.

End the phone call with something like "Have a wonderful holiday, I look forward to working with you in the
new year." No financial ask, but a subtle way of indicating that the donor is part of the work you do, and you hope they will continue to be.

It's fun to call donors and not ask for anything! You might find that these phone calls are the best part of your day.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Get Your Story Straight

Matt and Chris Vanderlinden are the demiurgic minds behind Detonator, a creative firm specializing in helping organizations tell their stories in ways that ignite passion for the mission. They join us to offer helpful tips on figuring out just exactly what your nonprofit story is-- and how to tell it.  

Marketing is a tough gig. Technology continues to change the way people communicate. We're all bombarded by a constant stream of information, and it's incredibly difficult to cut through the noise to deliver your message. But the good news is, there’s a simple trick to help you stand out from the crowd. Ready?

Be real, and tell your story well.

That might seem obvious, but it’s amazing how many organizations struggle with it. The key is to talk relentlessly about WHY your organization does what it does. People will connect with WHY you do what you do (your purpose) more easily and deeply than with WHAT you do. WHY speaks to them on a more emotional level. If you talk about your purpose, and you live up to it in your day-to-day interactions with people, it creates the foundation for an authentic relationship with your audience. Today authenticity is everything. No relationship, business or otherwise, will last if it’s not authentic.

As a nonprofit, you’re in a better position than some to speak emotionally about your purpose. So how, exactly, can your organization get better at cutting through the noise with emotionally engaging messaging that creates authentic relationships?

1.    Start with Why - Read Simon Sinek’s fantastic book, Start with Why, to learn how to zero in on your organization’s purpose. Get a preview by watching Simon’s TED TALK.
2.    Craft Your Story - Once you’ve articulated your WHY, craft your organization’s story in emotional terms. Explain WHY your organization exists simply and powerfully. Keep refining the story until it’s as clear, direct, and emotionally powerful as possible.
3.    Get Everyone on the Same Page - Make sure everyone in your organization understands your WHY, and can tell your story well.
4.    Relentlessly Share Your Story - It should be part of your pitch, on your website, in your presentations and brochures, a backbone of your social media strategy, everywhere. It’s what makes you unique, and it’s what your audience will care about more than anything else.

It’s hard work to articulate your WHY, and then translate it into an emotionally engaging story. But the payoff can be huge in terms of providing a unique and authentic brand position for your nonprofit that builds lasting relationships with your community.

So what are you waiting for? Time to get your story straight.

Detonator is a creative firm that helps organizations define, craft, and communicate explosive stories, leveraging the power of storytelling to build an emotional connection between organizations and the communities they serve. Learn more and connect with them at detonatorbrand.com.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Falling For Philanthropy, A Tale of Two Charitable Superheroes

You may have seen the videos of HuTerra's own Al Zeise preparing for the Mr. Habitat of Greater Green Bay contest. Those videos were effective- not only did Al win People's Choice Mr. Habitat, but the videos helped raise awareness for the importance of creating decent, affordable housing and the work that Habitat for Humanity does.

This week's Charitable Superheroes are Matt and Chris Vanderlinden, brothers who donated the videos through Detonator, their creative firm. Matt and Chris specialize in storytelling-- something that becomes apparent immediately upon meeting them. The introductions are barely through when these two creative minds go into overdrive, learning about the organization and creating engaging, compelling ways to express what makes the organization unique.
"The first thing is listening and learning; understanding the organization and your supporters. Learn what your authentic differentiation is. Generally where we can be really helpful is taking that information and turning it into a strategic approach that makes it all more emotionally engaging. We help you define your story, and craft your story in an emotionally relevant and engaging way."
According to Matt,
"There's real joy in helping nonprofits get people there so they can hear the whole story, and do something valuable, and really engage. That’s how people become lifelong supporters of causes."
 They point out that the storytelling is really as much for the people inside the organization as their supporters,
"Finding that passion ignites everybody -- staff, volunteers, donors -- to work hard to make an impact. When we create something that gets people to reignite around what they do, the whole organization is stronger."

Their love of philanthropy extends beyond the work they do at Detonator. They held a charity event in New Orleans (pre-Katrina) that raised $14,000 for Covenant House, an organization that addresses youth homelessness. Later, they held a similar event in Houston, and raised $43,000 that was split between Covenant House Houston and Covenant House New Orleans. These days, they each support their own causes through their communities.

While Chris and Matt spend their energy helping others find their authenticity, it's obvious that these two are truly authentic themselves. With good humor and great heart, they are on a mission, both personally and professionally, to use their talents to create greater good in the world.

Check out what Detonator can do to reignite passion for nonprofit by visiting DetonatorBrand.com 

Thursday, December 5, 2013

What a Year! Special Thanks to Our Habitat for Humanity Partners!

One of our most successful partnerships this year has been with Habitat for Humanity State Support Organizations (SSOs), affiliates, and ReStores. With nearly fifty Habitats now taking advantage of HuTerra's website application for nonprofits, the HuTerra Foundation will save Habitat organizations a total of $150,000 next year, just for our current participants. That's a lot of roofs on homes; a lot more safe neighborhoods, a lot more "goodnights".

We even gained two employees whose Habitat VISTA programs were ending. Thank you, Habitat for Humanity!

We wanted a way to REALLY say "Thank You" to all the members of Habitat for Humanity. So, we created the Holiday Campaign In-a-Box. It's a ready-to-go holiday 'ask' campaign, complete with email templates, social media posts, and a schedule to keep your holiday donor drive on task. It's a gift: free to download, no strings attached. Our Christmas gift to you.

Happy Holidays to our Habitat for Humanity partners. Here's to another year of creating more laughter, more family dinners, more affordable housing!

Click here to download your gift, a complete Holiday Campaign In-a-Box.