12 Laws of Email Newsletters

What goes through your donor’s head when one of your emails hits the ol’ inbox?

09 Oct 20120 Comments

Book Review: The Story Factor

“People don’t want more information. They are up to their eyeballs in information. They want faith—faith in you, your goals, your success, in the story you tell.”

05 Mar 20120 Comments

Hosting Experiences, Not Events

Events are things that happen; experiences are things you take with you.

01 Mar 20120 Comments

Happy Birthday

Most people like to feel special, particularly on their birthdays. Here’s what one summer camp is doing to make its campers feel special.

10 Feb 20120 Comments

A Tale of Honey and Vinegar

I’ve tried being a jerk and refusing the make changes because “I’m the expert.” I’ve also tried completely caving and letting the client run the show, if only to demonstrate what a failure they would make in my shoes. Here’s what I’ve learned…

08 Feb 20121 Comment

Business Cards that People Will Actually Remember

Do you carry business cards? 90% of business cards get tossed in under a week. Here’s an inexpensive, non-gimmicky way to get your card noticed.

03 Feb 20120 Comments

More Bad Words (for PR)

Last week I posted about the word “support” being overused and abused after seeing it mentioned in a list of words to avoid. I’m fascinated by these lists, and each year they seem to grow. Last year, I saw a list that mentioned the phrase “at the end of the day.” As ...

09 Jan 20120 Comments

12 Lessons from Client Service

In my recent job change, I find myself in the first position where I’m not answering to clients. I’m not billable by the hour. It means fewer meetings and a very different kind of work. But I’ve also had an opportunity to reflect on the work I’m leaving behind. Working for...

15 Dec 20110 Comments

Facebook Engagement Trick: Blast from the Past

Over the last year, Camp Fire has been cleaning up its office and tossing old files. We found several shoe boxes of old photos – you know, the kind we all have in the attic, garage, or under our bed? We weren’t sure use they could be, but they were fading and we wanted to do somethin...

08 Oct 20110 Comments

3 Cases Where Social Media is Worth Your Time

Over at, I wrote a series of posts that revolved around a seemingly anti-social media sentiment. The crux is that it’s important to have a marketing strategy and that social media is just a tactic (among many others). At least a few of the comments that came back included que...

04 Oct 20110 Comments

How to Track if Your Billboard is Effective

This year, Camp Tannadoonah stepped up the marketing work. Not only are we using new tactics (billboards, for instance), we are being smarter about measuring them. These things aren’t cheap, and we want to make sure they’re working before we use them again. One way we’re measur...

15 Mar 20110 Comments

Steal This Marketing Plan

I’ve seen this online marketing approach used and re-used so many times, and with such success, that I figured I’d blow the cover off and give it away. If you’re selling something (e.g., your non-profit’s service or value proposition) then you need to: 1. Get the word out....

05 Oct 20100 Comments

1 Facebook Page, 2 Weeks, and 3 Realizations

About a year ago, I created a Camp Fire USA Facebook page for our council: a tiny non-profit with a lot of history and not a lot of resources. I threw our logo up there, I tossed in a quick event, and that’s pretty much it. No real content to speak of. I invited one or two people to be fans...

10 Mar 20100 Comments

Inefficient but Effective: Dartmouth

Sure, there’s a lot of demand for transparency in non-profits. Donor-investors expect you to run lean and clean, with as much efficiency as possible. But let’s face it: that’s not the goal of a non-profit. Your goal is your mission. Dartmouth’s development office produced ...

15 Jun 20090 Comments

To Print or Not to Print: the Annual Report

As we wrapped up design of our annual report today, it occurred to me that we could easily save our money and not print it out. What’s an annual report good for, anyway? Sure, you can hand it out to donors or use it to help inform new volunteers or staff members… but is there anything...

09 Feb 20091 Comment

Dissecting A Marketing Newsletter

I’m a fan of simple momentum. Getting started with any small task can be enough to build momentum and drive an entire organization toward success. So I’m very pleased that we were able to create and mail not just one, but two newsletters. After many months of wishing we had a newslet...

17 Jan 20090 Comments

BlawgTips: Does Blogging Matter?

Recently, my designer friend, Oak, asked me: what’s the point? He is starting out his blog at the bottom. He’s not “Internet famous” and doesn’t have a following. And there are millions of design blogs out there that are all competing for the same visitors. So the qu...

12 Jan 20090 Comments

The Ghost Town: A Social Media Story

It’s so easy to start a blog that nearly everyone does it. It only takes a couple of minutes to create a YouTube account and upload a video. Opening a Twitter account doesn’t cost money, so there are thousands of names taken each day. The same goes for Facebook causes, Ning social net...

24 Dec 20080 Comments

Mere Exposure leads to Big Returns?

Another business lesson from my psychologist wife: The mere exposure effect states that simply being exposed to an image or a name increases your attraction to that. So when you look at an array of photographs, you’re more likely to respond positively to the ones you’ve seen before. ...

19 Dec 20080 Comments

When NOT to do social media

On the heels of deciding To Blog or Not to Blog, I wanted to share a great post from Beth Kanter about whether social media is right for you. Don’t jump into social media before you’ve answered these questions: Are there pressing organizational issues to address? Are there effecti...

05 Nov 20080 Comments

To Blog or Not to Blog?

When I started my NpTech 101 series, I figured I could lay out some of the basics of how technology could help non-profits. I would create a bunch of tutorials on stuff that people like me (a hyper-connected technophile) take for granted. But there’s a line where you go from how do I do thi...

03 Nov 20080 Comments

Make the most when social media kicks In

This week, I marveled at the power of social media: I posted a blog article about Laws of Client Work that got some link love, resulting in some nice traffic, new subscribers, and great connections. On eduStyle I got feedback from other higher ed web folks about some of our recently launched...

31 Oct 20080 Comments

Should I Do Social Media?

In my first job, I worked with a big healthcare client. They had built a new building and spared no expense. We worked with them to create a unique, powerful online community for their patients to communicate with doctors, staff, and each other. They would maintain an online journal (before the ...

28 Oct 20080 Comments

Does Humor Work in Fundraising?

In Being human is overrated (but not when you are writing), Matthew Stibbe has some great suggestions for improving your writing. In the middle of the list: “Don’t be afraid of humour.” Donor Power Blog disagreed. The point was made that humor requires that someone else gets the...

12 Sep 20080 Comments

Customer Service via Twitter

Comcast is a company with a brand problem. It has a reputation, like many service providers, for having poor service. If you have a quick question, it’s best not to answer because you won’t get to talk to a person. Or you will and they won’t have any idea how to respond. It̵...

10 Sep 20080 Comments

Shut Up and Listen to the Internet

Marketing and communications are about dialogue. Dialogue is a multi-sided conversation. And when you’re not talking, you must listen (not just wait for the next chance to talk). Organizations needs to learn how to listen, especially in this socially-networked world made smaller by the web...

08 Sep 20084 Comments

Kivi's Public Relations 101

With little to no experience in public relations or pitching stories to reporters I’m loving the recent posts on Kivi’s Nonprofit Communications Blog. I look forward to more as the week continues. What Do I Say to a Reporter When Pitching a Story? How Far in Advance Do I Send an E...

04 Sep 20081 Comment

Lessons from Watching the Olympics

Victory means something. Watching Michael Phelps achieve eight victories was amazing. Fans – even those who normally wouldn’t be so invested – were elated and cheered him on. People flock to success. They want to be a part of it. Show your organization’s victories. Where...

20 Aug 20080 Comments

Do People Really Use Feeds?

I’ve long wondered just what the penetration of feeds (RSS or Atom) might be among different audiences. Especially among non-profits and in higher education. Do college students understand and use feeds? How about staff and faculty? Alumni? Non-profit workers? Donors? I’d love to do s...

08 Aug 20080 Comments

How to Charge for Service and Not Lose Customers

Your mission, as a not-for-profit organization, is something other than profits. But if you don’t have enough money coming in, you can’t keep sending money out. This means creating income streams to offset your costs. For most non-profits, that’s fundraising. But for many, fundr...

07 Aug 20080 Comments

A Mailbox isn't a Lonely Place

We don’t have a newsletter. We’ve done them in the past (several years ago), and we’ve talked about them for a about six months. But we haven’t actually sent one out. Marketing, like comedy and investing, is a lot more effective when you have good timing. What’s th...

05 Aug 20082 Comments

How to Tell a Story?

Here’s a story for you.

09 Jun 20080 Comments

An Alternative to Advertising

Ian McKee from “The Power of Influence” writes about how advertising can hurt your brand, specifically through the idea that “brands that have to rely on traditional advertising are not as good as ones that succeed through word of mouth.” This is a fascinating idea, and I...

11 May 20080 Comments

Fundraising from the Marketing Department

I believe that fundraising and marketing are really about the same things: telling a story and building a relationship. Having worked in a marketing world for my relatively short career, I volunteered to chair our new marketing committee at our Camp Fire council. This makes sense, as I’m fa...

01 Mar 20080 Comments

Non-Profit Marketing: Camp Fire USA

I recently posted a quote about non-profit marketing that got at least a few people thinking. It was really more about fundraising, but in a non-profit that relies on development work, fundraising is marketing. But because many (too many) non-profit workers have little or no marketing experience,...

14 Feb 20080 Comments