Tag Archives: support

Only One Day Left!

Only one more day until the story submission of the month is selected. Would anyone like to share a story and join Erik in the running for submission of the month? It can be any organization you are involved with or one that you simply want to help raise awareness of. More human and personal stories often help engage the reader. Can’t wait to hear what you all have to share.

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Bringing Your Cause Close to People’s Hearts

People tend to care about what is closest to their lives. I’ve shared this morning on the storytelling page about something close to my life. I have three wonderful little sisters who were adopted and one of them creates a direct link between me and the issues in India. For most people, this issue doesn’t touch them directly. Story is the way we connect people to the causes and issues we care about.

Case in point, two of the largest organizations who are working to end poverty, abuse and child trafficking raised a combined total of 2.54 million dollars in 2010. That sounds like a family large amount until we contrast it with the fact that a very visible cancer research charity raised approximately 400 million the same year. Does that mean that preventing cancer is more important than preventing child slavery? Of course it doesn’t.  It also doesn’t mean that donors hold that opinion. It means that cancer is closer to their lives. Most of us know someone who has been directly affected by the disease.

The lesson to learn is that charities with a cause that is close to donors need to tell that story and help them see the value of what they are doing. If your cause is not so close to their lives – something international or something that people don’t talk about – you need to tell human stories that help them realize that you are doing good for people very much like themselves.

(On a side note, $1.2 million was brought in by one of the largest organizations fighting against depression and suicide. This is a domestic issue but one that most people don’t like to talk about.)

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Storytelling Contest

Don’t forget to visit our Contest page, read the rules and contribute to our community with a story of your own. You don’t have to be an official non-profit, just a person with a story and a passion for a good cause. We need as many stories as we can get and the winner of the contest (December’s featured story) will be selected on December 10th. You can submit your story  in the comments section of the contest page.

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3.5 Reasons That Word of Mouth Can Spread Your Ideas Further than You Can

Word of mouth is one of the best ways to spread a message or idea. Here are three and a half reasons why it’s in your best interest to encourage word of mouth.

Market Research

Organizations spend hundreds of thousands of dollars trying to learn what is important to their prospects so they can properly present new products. Word of mouth puts the distribution of your new idea or proposal into the hands of people who already know this information. They know what their friends value and they will automatically share information in the most relevant way.


It takes a lot for companies to build credibility- like pretending that Tommy Lee Jones uses their financial products- but your current community already has it. Wouldn’t you trust the recommendation of a friend more than a group you don’t know? Let your current partners spread the ideas around for you.


Essentially, word of mouth is free. There is no commission rate, although a good referral program is appropriate for some organizations.


This is the recent addition and possibly the most powerful advantage of word of mouth. When you send out a mailer to potential partners, you are interrupting them. Since they aren’t currently a part of your cause, it’s probably unsolicited. Your current members, on the other hand, have full permission to bring up a good cause in conversation without being perceived as SPAM.

Stay tuned for more information on how to get your partners talking about you.

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Why Storytelling is the Perfect Delivery System

Stories have been used for thousands of years to pass things from person to person and generation to generation. The reason they have been used so widely is because of what they convey. A good story can communicate information, create empathy and connectedness and relay emotions and feelings to the listener. When you share an idea in the form of a story you are delivering the total, intact package to the recipient rather than leaving it up to them to decide how to put it together.

A story is a little like a Christmas card. You can send information on the latest changes with a picture of what everyone looks like this year and the whole bundle comes with built in feelings and emotions. Remember, communication is never about the speaker. If the listener isn’t receiving the complete message, it’s being sent in the wrong way.

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5 Keys to Making Your Non-Profit Not Suck

These five important rules will help keep you from falling into the advertising trap. Advertising sucks! You can love it or hate it…but we all hate it. The reason that people hate advertising is because it’s disruptive, unsolicited and designed to take advantage of us. Traditional methods of advertising – bus benches and TV commercials – are created to show us a product over and over until we start to think that we want it. They also show us happy, sexy people until I imagine that dish soap really has the power to make me both happy and sexy.

Advertising is pervasive too. Companies spend money on taller and taller billboards so we have to look at their product. State and city codes finally had to set limits on the height of billboards to ensure that we could continue to see the sun. Marketing is an art form and many marketers are brilliant, but it boils down to coercion. Do you see how this could be a poor way to spread your cause?

Unfortunately, there are many organizations who are using the advertisers play book to get their message in front of people. (When will we learn that it’s not safe to put things in front of people when they’re driving?) Below you will find five tips to avoiding an abrasive style that could alienate your potential partners.

Don’t Shame People

Ads do this by trying to make you feel bad for not having the newest and coolest. Non-Profits can do this by implying that people are less than human if they don’t donate. This may elicit one time donations but it will never build a community. Donors like these will avoid you in the future to avoid feeling guilty.

Don’t Interrupt

Dumping your message in front of uninterested people very rarely creates interested people. It will work from time to time but not nearly enough to justify the cost and effort that should have been spent on people who already care about what you have to say. How do you get a community in the first place, you ask? We’ll call it putting on the sheets before the blanket. If you are going to “blanket” by  sending out mailers, emails and cold calls, make sure you start with a very light, thin sheet. Allow people to express an interest in your cause before you layer them with the whole story. If someone opts out of receiving more info, please leave them be. Don’t spend your energy on people who have gone to the trouble of telling you they don’t care about the same things you do.

Do Be Transparent

When you show people one thing to sell them something else, it makes them (at least the wise ones) wonder what’s wrong with the real product. Since many people are already leery of charities, it’s absolutely critical that you be totally transparent. Make your budget and cause known to the public and mention that transparency before you ever ask for money. Who knows, you may just get some to visit your website just to check your math and win them over with your refreshing honesty.

Don’t Tell People They Need You

We all know that we need certain dating sites to find true love and a particular lemon-lime soda to quench our thirst. Ads have told us that we need them. Please don’t make this mistake with your partners. Now is not the time to build a weird, co-dependent  relationship with your donors. Make it perfectly clear that YOU need THEM and you’ll be building a community that’s more than happy to be the ones making a difference

Do Tell Stories

This is where you really have the potential to reach people. The key is to remember that people are people. We want to be human and relate and connect. Offering data and about a percentage or number of people that your cause is effecting is good but not nearly as moving as telling the story of one or two of those people. Stories are human. Your partners will be able to relate and gain a deeper understanding of how their support is impacting the lives of real people just like them.

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