Lessons learned honoring First Lady Nancy Reagan

Honoring First Lady Nancy Reagan - photo credit Reis Birdwhistell

Lessons Learned honoring First Lady Nancy Reagan – photo credit Reis Birdwhistell

I had the news on in the background while I was reading. My pups Kiwi and Keno were asleep on the sofa.

Then I heard a news report about First Lady Nancy Reagan’s links to Atlanta. Ms. Reagan was honored at a PRIDE (National Parents’ Resource Institute for Drug Education) conference.

I sat straight up and yelled “Wow, that was my event!”

The conference had programs for young people and adults. Highlights included workshops with internationally recognized drug abuse experts, community leaders and law enforcement officers. Celebrity participants included wives of world leaders and well-known actors committed to Nancy Reagan’s ‘Just Say No project.’

Included within the 2-day conference was a fundraising luncheon featuring Mrs. Reagan hosted by then Coca-Cola CEO Roberto Goizueta. How fortunate I was to learn how to manage the luncheon from Ms. Be Haas, a founding partner, Haas, Cox, Alexander.

I want to share event management lessons learned from honoring First Lady Nancy Reagan:

Event management is like a high wire act without a net!

Plan ahead:

  1. Start with robust brainstormingBring your board members, volunteers and new voices to the table.
  2. Set clear objectivesYou’ll know what is important during the event and you’ll be prepared to gauge your effectiveness.
  3. Create a timeline A comprehensive timeline will guide you from start to finish!

Promote, promote, promote. Although there are a lot more channels to use to create buzz, the fundamentals of matching your choices with your target audience preferences and goals still stands. Now you want to create a Digital Ripple to promote your event.

Brand Your event – Special event branding creates an experience and/or memory that participants will not forget. And, done properly, the event will carry the brand promise of an organization and add to the public knowledge of its mission, vision and values.

Don’t forget to evaluate your event – Evaluation is critical to your success.

Protocol is of utmost importance! – The lessons I learned working with First Lady Nancy Reagan and the wives of world leaders continue to position my success when managing special events.

Most importantly, I always learn as much as I can about an honoree or guest speaker, from their favorite foods to their favorite color.

I discovered Nancy Regean’s favorite color was red.

Can you see the red streaks in my hair?!

Do you have any event management tips you’d like to share?

As always would love to hear from you!

Add Twitter to your Nonprofit MarComm Toolbox!

Add #Twitter to your #NPO MarComm Toolbox!

Add #Twitter to your #NPO MarComm Toolbox!

“Of all the social channels, for a nonprofit, Twitter may be the most effective in terms of the biggest return for limited time and resources. Through consistent tweets that inspire and inform you reinforce your mission to your network of followers. The bonus is if you get it right your followers will share to their followers’, amplifying and extending your work.”  Toby Bloomberg @TobyDiva

Add Twitter to your Nonprofit MarComm Toolbox! Twitter is a must have tool for listening and monitoring. It successfully engages others in your stories, inspires action and builds effective awareness and fundraising campaigns.

Here’re my favorite ways to add Twitter to your Nonprofit MarComm Toolbox:

  • Fundraising via Twitter:

Fundraising Coach Marc A. Pitman @marcapitman suggests Twitter is an amazing way to engage donors and potential donors. Maintaining relationships is one of the hardest things that a fundraiser must do. And, Twitter helps us do that!

  1. You get to meet people all over the world that might be interested in your cause.
  2. You get to hear what people are really thinking about a wide variety of issues.
  3. You can follow other fundraisers and get great real-time advice.
  4. You can even promote traffic to your website or those of your friends.
  • Twitter and #GivingTuesday:

New York’s 92 Street Y (@92Y) in partnerships including the United Nations Foundation (@unfoundation) incorporated Twitter into its 2013 #GivingTuesday (@GivingTues). The Dec. 13th event produced a 90% increase in online giving compared to 2012. There were 269,000 Tweets with the #GivingTuesday hashtag on December 3, an average of 186 times per minute!

  • Matching Fund Drive with Promoted Tweets:

The Red Cross (@RedCross) partnered with Craigslist founder Craig Newmark (@craignewmark) to launch a Promoted Tweets matching fund drive for the holiday season. Both organizations used Promoted Tweets to ask Twitter users to respond with their idea of the “perfect gift,” & used the hashtag #PerfectGift with a link to the donation website. Newmark matched each @reply or Retweet with a $1 donation, up to $10,000.

  • Micro-funding via Twitter:

Janet Fouts (@jfouts) saw a post on Twitter that drew her to click on the link and then follow through with a donation almost immediately. It was from Small Can be Big, a group which works with local shelters to identify people in need and then posts their stories on-line seeking donations to help. The Tweet was a day old and by the time she got to the site they had raised the needed capital. She browsed around to learn more and made a couple of small donations right then and there.

  • Crisis Management with Twitter:

The power of Twitter’s real-time platform to inform and connect is never more evident than in the face of a natural disaster or humanitarian crisis. Over the past few years, organizations, government agencies, news outlets and individuals use Twitter to provide information and relief in times of need.

  1. On the ground
  2. Be an eyewitness
  3. Be a lifeline
  4. Become a conduit for critical information
  • Twitter and Media Relations

According to the 2015 Cision Social Journalism Study only 6% of PR pros only post press releases on the wires.

Journalists are very active on Twitter. Most journalists see Twitter as an extension of their own reporting these days and 75% say that they use Twitter to build their own brand. So Twitter is a marvelous opportunity to connect and discover what they’re writing about or looking for. How do journalists use twitter?

  1. Story Creation
  2. Finding Sources
  3. Self promotion

 Add Twitter to your nonprofit MarComm toolbox extra resources:

  1. 10 Twitter Tips for Nonprofits
  2. 6 Creative Ways to Use Twitter for your nonprofit marketing campaigns 
  3. How to get more people to your events with social media
  4. 10 Twitter Best Practices for Nonprofits 
  5. Top 10 nonprofit hastags to spark social good 
  6. Best Twitter Practices for Media
  7.  Twitter Nonprofits (@Nonprofits) highlights great uses of Twitter in the nonprofit community.
  8. Create a Digital Ripple to Promote Your Special Events

We’d love to hear from you! Do you have any Twitter favorites to add to your nonprofit MarComm toolbox?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

P2P fundraising empowers others to ask on your behalf!

The peer-to-peer family tree breaks down the different kinds of P2P fundraising and shows how big the P2P family is becoming.

The P2P family tree breaks down the different kinds of P2P fundraising and shows how big the P2P family is becoming.

P2P fundraising empowers others to ask on your behalf! Also known as Peer-to-peer fundraising, P2P uses the power of your constituents to engage their friends and family.

It’s one of the major driving forces in successful nonprofit fundraising. The peer-to-peer family tree breaks down the different kinds of P2P fundraising and shows how big the P2P family is becoming.

So imagine my delight when Tate Handy at Digital Third Coast  asked if I would be interested in sharing the P2P family tree developed with Plenty Consulting.

Then Tate offered an introduction by Plenty Consulting CEO Jeff Shuck. I was thrilled!

I’ve been a big fan of Jeff Shuck since 2007 when I first learned of his new paradigm incorporating special events to the classic development pyramid. For me it was a gateway to P2P fundraising and empowering others to ask on your behalf!

Jeff Shuck introduction to the P2P family tree:

  • Did you buy Girl Scout cookies this year?
  • Did you participate in a Tough Mudder as a fundraiser for the Wounded Warrior Project?
  • Did you attend Penn State’s annual Dance Marathon, or purchase lemonade from one of Alex’s Lemonade Stand?

If you did any one of these things, I’ve got news for you- you were participating in an act of peer-to-peer fundraising, whether or not you knew it at the time.

Peer-to-peer fundraising, also known as P2P, is one of the most thrilling nonprofit fundraising channels being used today, and it’s growing at a fast pace. Yet despite its growing fan base, many people aren’t quite sure how to explain P2P to others. Here’s what you need to know.

First of all, in traditional fundraising, organizations reach out to their network to donate. In P2P, meanwhile, organizations ask their constituents to reach out to people connected to them on behalf of your cause. Instead of only having access to their donors, organizations can connect with their constituents plus their constituents’ networks, creating an unending collection of potential new donors. Your audience expands exponentially, and with it, so does your ability to do more to fulfill your mission.

Abundance is out there and peer-to-peer fundraising helps you unlock that abundance to be distributed to those who need it. What can your network do for your cause?

Deborah’s Comments –

P2P fundraising empowers others to ask on your behalf! P2P engages your network in a number of ways:

  1. Ensures successful events
  2. Integral part of cause marketing initiatives
  3. Fuels the engine for digital campaigns

We’d love to hear examples of how your nonprofit engages and empowers your network by involving constituents in P2P initiatives.

Create a Digital Ripple to Promote your Special Event

 

 

Creating a Digital Ripple

Creating a Digital Ripple

 

“Hey,” my friend Bobby said. “We’re honoring Ambassador Stuart Eizenstat with a special performance by Broadway Diva Tovah Feldshuh. Are you interested in spearheading the marketing?”

“Silly question, I’d love to!”

My commitment to special events is well known. I encourage all nonprofits to integrate special events into their development plans. Seen this way events are part of a holistic development effort that integrates into everything you do as an organization to raise money. And, it is strategic – the events are focused on the mission. At each level of your giving paradigm you will find distinct events for distinct goals.

Promoting Stu, Long Overdue: A Salute to Ambassador Stuart Eizenstat

Stu, Long Overdue was an exciting yet challenging event to promote. Ambassador Eizenstat has a long active relationship with the presenting organization, Ahavath Achim Synagogue. The Eizenstat Family Memorial Lecture is a gift to the synagogue and the community at large, and features high profile speakers from the United States and Israel.

Members of the congregation were the primary marketing target for this special event fundraiser. On the other hand, Tovah Feldshuh, a well-known Broadway star opened opportunities to outreach to the whole community, especially those interested in seeing a special performance of her award winning one-woman cabaret Tovah: Out of Her Mind!

To start we developed a press release, fact sheet and visuals that integrated messages for those interested in attending the event to honor Eizenstat and people who would attend to see Tovah Feldshuh up front and personal.

We identified the paths to promote the event, which included traditional and new media elements.

This included:

  • Stu, Long Overdue page on the synagogue’s website. The website did not have enough bandwidth to create a Press Center. The print quality JPEG files and documents were housed off-site.
  • Foundation press release, fact sheet, flyers and posters, which we housed in the Press Center.
  • Personalized direct mail
  • Email blasts
  • Placements on all the relevant event calendars within the metro area
  • Identified organizational partners to help distribute html email and flyers to their constituents
  • Geographically our target market was in metro Atlanta. We chose the Atlanta Daybook. I love using the Atlanta Daybook for local news releases. They have direct reach into the newsrooms, corporate headquarters and nonprofits in my target market.
  • Personal outreach through twitter and email to press and bloggers
  • Creation of Stu, Long Overdue Facebook page
  • Event hashtag #Stulongoverdue

The Daybook helped create the event’s digital ripple through their distribution channels.  A digital ripple provides actionable insights into how campaign strategies and tactics worked.

Insights from Stu Long Overdue, A Salute to Ambassador Stuart Eizenstat Story Traction Report:

  • The total digital impressions from each placement ranged from 8,385 to 17,593, which was the last placement 4 days before the event.
  • Total campaign digital impressions – 54,176 
  • Average time on the page ranged from 3:34 to 8:51
  • Twitter Daybook Followers – 7,724. When a placement had just 2 re-tweets, the reach increased to 8,965
  • Facebook – 528
  • Google+ – 299

We saw increased activity on the event website including donations and ticket purchases related to Daybook placements, blog posts and off and on-line articles.

Why else are these metrics important?

We live in an age of metrics. These benchmarks are necessary to ensure that the nonprofit is spending its resources properly and that they are accountable and transparent.

I feel it is particularly important when it comes to special events and promotional initiatives since both are always under attack for not having and/or meeting measurable goals.

And, the story lives! The digital ripple created by this event will continue to raise awareness, inspire to purchase tickets to other events and even foster donations. It also established the organization as a knowledge center.

Three interesting posts that discuss ways to incorporate social media in your special events:

  1. 15 Ways to Bring Social Media to Events
  2. 18 Ways to Use Social Media for Events 
  3. Special Events Social Media

If you’re interested in a more thorough post on the importance of metrics for nonprofits, please let me know!

 

 

A tribute to a great event chair

Event co-Chairs celebrate Eizenstat Lecture with President Clinton

I was saddened to learn that Marshall Solomon had died. Our paths crossed when he chaired two Eizenstat Family Memorial Lectures.

To say that Marshall was the consummate event chair is an understatement.

I learned a lot from working with Marshall, especially on the lecture featuring President Bill Clinton. As the event consultant I came to rely on Marshall’s sage advice and willingness to keep the committee and ultimately the event on point.

In honor of Marshall I share some of the lessons I learned:

  • A committed event Chair is key to success.
  • Work with the Chair to hold a brainstorming session when you begin the planning.
  • A personal invitation from the event chair to serve on and/or chair a committee goes a long way.
  • A Chair cannot oversee the event- at- large if not updated in ‘real time’.
  • If you make a mistake be sure your Chair is informed so he/she can be part of the solution.
  • Know what personal mark the Chair wants to make and help him/her achieve it.
  • The Chair means having to make big decisions. Respect the decision.
  • Never forget that being Chair is a volunteer position & most have other responsibilities to family & work.
  • The only compensation is acknowledgement of a job well done and a thank you.
  • You can’t recognize and thank your event Chair enough.
  • No matter how organized and experienced the Chair and committee Chairs are, something will go wrong. So be prepared to deal with it.
  • An event Chair with an understanding of budgets and the backbone to keep the event on-budget is worth his/her weight in gold.
  • An event is a team effort. An event Chair is the quarterback and cheerleader.

Marshall and I had different interests. But, when it came to working together on an event we had a single focus.

Thank you Marshall.

 

Keeping your story alive after your event

 

 

My friend Stacy sent me a link to a press release about an upcoming event – Dawgs for Mito presents Carson’s ClassicStacy’s son Carson has mitochondrial disease, which causes developmental issues.

A family babysitter, Hannah Bossie, was so taken by Carson, that she decided to hold an inaugural golf tournament to raise awareness about Carson’s condition. Hannah and a team of students at UGA launched the first collegiate chapter of UMDF, a nonprofit dedicated to finding a cure for mitochondrial disorders and to provide support to affected individuals and families.

Now the chapter is holding its first event, a golf classic named in Carson’s honor.

Stacy asked if I could make some suggestions on how to get the word out about Carson’s Classic and help keep Carson’s story alive.

No question that events are a great way to create and engage a community to support your cause.  I set the stage for converting event donors to program donors in my last blog post.

Social media is key for making your event a success and keeping your story alive.

Here are some details on using social media to keep the conversation going:

Event website

  • Your event website serves as the hub for your event and after-event activities
  • Post awards
  • Post photographs and a link to download and/or purchase
  • Embed YouTube presentations
  • Provide easy to find links to your social media sites.

Facebook

  • Launch a Facebook page for your event.
  • Start building your community by inviting people to Like your page
  • Feature your sponsors & post their comments on their event participation
  • Provide event recaps in photos and videos
  • Thank participants, sponsors, volunteers
  • Quote participants about their experiences on your event page
  • Post a recap e-newsletter
  • After the event turn your friends into activists for your cause. Make sure you focus on opportunities to be engaged.
  • Link to YouTube presentations from the event
  • Share your successes

Twitter

  • Create a Twitter hashtag for your event
  • Share relevant information/content about your organization
  • Put links to your event in your tweets
  • Build engaged community before and during your event
  • Invite people to retweet information on your cause
  • Say thank you to people who retweet your post
  • Set up twitter to post tweets directly onto your Facebook page
  • Tweet links to event videos, & testimonials
  • Keep up your presence with meaningful information on your cause
  • Continue to build an interested community
  • Link to YouTube presentations from the event

LinkedIn

  • Create a group for your organization.
  • Post information about your events in your group.
  • At the same time, foster robust discussion groups and encourage members of your group to join the discussion
  • Link to YouTube presentations from the event
  • Share your successes

Your  social media initiatives should live on, extending the life of your events. Social media makes it easier for you to reach out to attendees, volunteers and sponsors and keep them engaged.

Need help with your social media initiatives for your next event? Please contact me at deborah@creative-si.com.

 

 

 

 

Are you converting your event donors to program donors?

Your nonprofit just completed a successful event. Whether it was a black-tie dinner or fun run, you now have a great opportunity to engage the participants and acquire new donors and/or sponsors.

Create a conversion campaign. Add post-event action steps into your event planning. Here are some simple, but powerful ideas:

  • Post-event surveys
  • Invitations to sign up for e-newsletter
  • Updates on programs
  • Announcements of volunteer opportunities at future events and programs
  • Invitation to hold a third party event (see earlier post The Lure of Independent Fundraising Events)
  • Other ways to stay in touch
  • Add information about your programs and the people you touch in your auto-responder
  • Use Social Media to encourage and sustain conversations
  • Add information to your website and e-newsletter on what you are doing as a result of the fundraising event.
  • Schedule ways to stay in contact
  • Hold a brain storming session with your leadership to identify prospects.
  • Develop an email conversion strategy to educate and encourage a lasting relationship.

You need to be realistic. You need to analyze the reasons people came to your event. Then tailor your outreach to your prospects:

  • Were they asked by a friend? If so, you might be able to engage them to hold an independent fundraising event.
  • Do they support your mission? Invitations to on-site visits and lectures with leading authorities in your field will be appealing.
  • Are family members touched by the issues you tackle? In this case a compelling  appeal focused on a specific program that will help ensure quality of life might lead to a new donation.

Regardless of the pathway, be sure to say thank you and stay in touch. In today’s world, you can launch a conversion campaign through your electronic fundraising provider. Speak with your website designer to ensure that your landing page is up-to-date and makes it easy to contact you and make a donation.

Do you have any examples of successful conversion programs? Need any help?

Please contact me at deborah@creative-si.com

 

 

The lure of independent fundraising events

In a recent blog post Fundraising without special events? No Way! I review the importance of integrating special events into development, which I learned in 2007 from Jeff Shuck, President & CEO Event360.

Giving hierarchy integrated with special events

Today’s post focuses on Independent Fundraising Events (IFE). These are activities designed and run by non-staff volunteers to raise money on behalf of a specific nonprofit. They are conducted locally with minimal support from the beneficiary.

The types of activities that these local supporters conduct are quite literally endless. They can range from a bake or garage sale to a wine tasting or gallery opening.

One of the major advantages of IFE is that the costs are covered by the independent event organizers.

Other benefits of IFE –

  • An effective addition to any organization’s development portfolio.
  • Independent fundraisers are more likely to have a much stronger and direct emotional connection to the organization.
  • Great way to give these highly dedicated individuals the opportunity to match their passion without the limitations of traditional fundraising events.

How can your nonprofit support Independent Fundraisers?

Develop a secure website with useable tools:

  • Media Kit and publicity guide
  • Approved logos, graphics, banners, stickers
  • Informational pieces
  • Personal fundraising page for online donations
  • Printable donation forms
  • Registration materials
  • Staff support

Of course, there are IFE Challenges. As described by Zach Anderson, at the Canadian Internet Summit, these include:

  • Budgeting Revenue from events
  • Justification of Costs
  • Connecting with IFE donors
  • Providing supplies and giveaways
  • Reputation/Brand Risk
  • Shortage of staff support
  • Unavailability of board members to participate

Two organizations standout to me as providing great support to independent fundraising events. These are:

Alex’s Lemonade Stand – Fighting Childhood Cancer One Cup at a Time

 

Team Fox – Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research

What better way to augment your special events than with independent fundraising events?

Are you aware of donor-advised funds?

Last week I was invited to an interesting presentation by Schwab Charitable .

I was intrigued that the event occurred during Women’s Empowerment Month, an important focus for me.

In full transparency I want my readers to know that I am a Charles Schwab client. But, I had never heard of Schwab Charitable.

Kim Laughton, president, Schwab Charitable, provided some interesting information on giving trends in the US.

Do you know where most giving comes from?

  • Corporations/corporate foundations
  • Trusts and estates
  • Private Foundations
  • Living Individuals

According to USA Giving, 2011, living individuals contribute 73% of the approximately $300 Billion in gifts a year.

The evening’s discussion focused on Donor Advised Funds. According to Forbes, Donor-advised funds–funds held within, and managed by, a public charity–are fast becoming the most popular vehicle for charitable giving in the U.S.

The National Philanthropic Trust’s 2011 report showed that, overall, donor advised funds saw an increase of more than 10% in charitable assets in 2011, and a 20% increase in contributions to donor-advised fund programs. There was a modest increase (1.3%) in the total amount of dollars granted.

Don’t forget, donor advised funds are another vehicle through which individuals give to your organization. This means that you need to continue to ‘blow your horn’ and ensure that people are aware of how you touch the lives of your clients and enrich your community.

BTW, during the evening presentation I learned of three local nonprofits that support and empower women. So, I learned a lot about an intriguing donor vehicle and some meaningful nonprofits in Atlanta.

I know this post is a departure from my usual focus on events and corporate sponsorships. But, I feel it is important to bring other donation vehicles to the forefront, especially one that has such benefits to the owners of the funds as well as the organizations they choose to support.

The information from Schwab Charitable was used with permission. Schwab CharitableTMis the name used for the combined programs and services of Schwab Charitable Fund, an independent nonprofit organization, and Schwab Charitable Trust Services, a limited liability company owned by Schwab Charitable Fund. The Fund has entered into service agreements with certain affiliates of The Charles Schwab Corporation.

Fundraising without special events? No Way!

Do special events really make sense throughout the classic giving hierarchy?

You bet!

That was the message of my recent teleseminar Fundraising without special events? No Way!

Actually I can’t imagine a development plan that does not integrate special events at every level.

I first learned about integrating special events into development in 2007 from Jeff Shuck, President & CEO Event360.

This is a different way to focus on events. Seen this way events are part of a holistic development effort that integrates into everything you do as an organization to raise money. And, it is strategic – the events are focused on the mission. At each level of your giving paradigm you will find distinct events for distinct goals.

Giving hierarchy integrated with special events

 

  • Annual campaigns have three key elements: direct mail, special events & personal solicitations. Be sure and use all three! These volume events can cultivate annual and major gift prospects. Sample volume events include charity walks, runs & bike-a-thons.
  • Major gifts come from individuals, corporations & foundations. Successful major gifts campaigns are all about stewardship and cultivating relationships with current donors and prospects. Targeted events should be part of your cultivation toolkit. Targeted events include a variety of specialty parties from black-tie galas & tribute dinners, to wine tastings, private museum events and themed parties. Guests who attend these events often engage in live and/or silent auctions, and enjoy entertainment and/or dancing. The common denominator is that most honor a member of the community who supports your cause.
  • Capital campaigns are generally considered to be fundraising efforts for major capital purposes. The goal is usually millions of dollars and at times more. 60 -80% of money is raised during the quiet phase. This phase ends with the launch, the public rollout of the campaign. Launch events are a great way to create enthusiasm about your campaign and to get media attention.
  • Until recently no one did events to recognize people who had made bequests to their organization. But, it is so meaningful to hold smaller more intimate events to thank and recognize these donors and to reaffirm the impact their testamentary donations will make. It brings these donors closer to the organization and helps ensure their commitments.

Remember, special events at every phase of your campaign provide that experiential experience in which an emotional connection can be made.

Please let me hear from you with questions about special events and fundraising. You can reach me at deborah@creative-si.com.