Archive for September, 2010

4 Reasons to Keep Email in the Non-Profit Marketing Mix

Wednesday, September 29th, 2010

volunteer screening, background screening for volunteersGood marketing can really help your nonprofit organization (NPO) stand out from the crowd. And standing out can mean the difference between bringing in donations and struggling.

Over the past year or so, many charity organizations have found new supporters, reached out to their communities, and signed up volunteers through social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. These are two fantastic ways to create a sense of community around your NPO, and to spread the word about events, accomplishments and needs.

But while Twitter and Facebook can reach far and wide, they are not the only ways NPO marketers should be engaging with their supporters and fans. Email is still a great communication tool that perhaps has been put aside in favor of the quick and easy updates on Facebook and Twitter.

4 Reasons to Keep Email in the Non-Profit Marketing Mix

  1. Email is more personal. When a supporter or volunteer receives a well-crafted email message, they pay attention. It’s important to find ways to create that one-on-one connection with your target audience. Email is also perceived as more professional than Facebook postings or Tweets.
  2. Email lasts. When a professionally-produced email message, like a newsletter or update, is your means of communication, it can easily be reproduced or archived on your website. A tweet is not forever. And some email recipients will keep your message around for awhile—you can’t say that about the fast-moving information stream of Facebook and Twitter.
  3. Email fosters two-way conversation. When a supporter opens the email and has a question, they can hit “reply” and start typing. They can keep their communication off the internet and private. Many of your volunteers and fans will appreciate such privacy.
  4. Email allows you to use and grow a valuable asset—your NPO’s email list. Why develop connections with people if you’re not going to leverage them? When people give you permission to send email by signing up on a list at an event, it’s because they actually want to hear from your nonprofit organization through email!

World Habitat Day is October 4

Wednesday, September 22nd, 2010

Each year since 1985, the United Nations has designated the first Monday in October as World Habitat Day. This year, that means October 4. The purpose of the day is to increase awareness about the great need for adequate housing for all.

A focus on grassroots action and uniting people toward a single goal—to eradicate poverty housing—makes World Habitat Day an important day of learning and doing. Habitat for Humanity helps organizations and individuals plan events focused on education, advocacy and fundraising.

World Habitat Day events will be held in six cities in the U.S. during the week of October 3 – 8. Volunteers, including former President Carter and Mrs. Carter and other celebrities, will join Habitat for Humanity families in building and rehabilitating homes in Washington, D.C., Baltimore and Annapolis, MD, Minneapolis and St. Paul, MN, and Birmingham, AL.

Why is adequate shelter important?
Substandard dwellings leave people vulnerable to disease, malnutrition, crime and natural disasters. All human beings have the right to adequate shelter.

How many people live in unacceptable conditions?
Worldwide, one billion people live in slums and shantytowns. By 2030, that number is expected to double to two billion.

What can we do?
Anyone can participate in local events to bring hope to the 1.6 billion people worldwide who lack adequate shelter.

Plan your own event: Hold a concert, a dance, a yard sale or a home rehab project in your town.
Publicize the issue: Talk about ways to raise awareness and increase involvement in this issue. Write a letter, speak to a group, or just tell a friend about the need for housing in the world today.

Post a photo: The World Habitat Day Photo Wall features pictures of people holding signs that answer the question: “What would you build?”

Ask our elected officials to help: Send an email or make a phone call to voice support for increasing the focus of foreign aid on expanding access to basic shelter and affordable housing at home and around the world.

Good housing for all is good for everyone. It improves the health of children, decreases the crime rate, lengthens the average life span and helps kids stay in school—which improves their chances for full employment as adults. And homeowners are more likely to work toward improving their communities by volunteering and voting.

It’s easy to make a difference in the world on World Habitat Day. Small efforts add up to big changes for impoverished people everywhere.

Non Profits: How to Stay Relevant to Your Supporters

Thursday, September 16th, 2010

volunteer screening, background check, volunteer credit checkWhen budgets are still cut to the bone, and donor dollars are more precious than ever, how can non profit managers produce a good return for their marketing efforts? Whether you use social marketing, email marketing or direct mail marketing, the first thing to remember is that your mission and message must be relevant to your audience.

Don’t assume that the same message delivered the same way will always work for your audience. For one thing, it is changing: supporters will shed their loyalty to a non profit organization (NPO) quickly under the influence of others. Consumers today want to know they’re part of something bigger before committing to parting with their money. That can mean checking the online reviews of a hotel before making a reservation, or supporting a charity because all their Facebook friends are. If other people approve of something, they’re more likely to make a commitment.

Relevance is providing consistent messaging that strikes a chord with the reader. It’s about delivering a message in a pre-approved manner. It’s about being where your supporters are.

Relevance means knowing what your supporters need and developing a message that addresses those needs:

  • Supporter #1 needs to feel like they’re making a difference in their community. Your job is to provide the true stories of how your organization is doing it.
  • Supporter # 2 needs to know that when they donating money to your nonprofit, most of the dollars go to programs, not overhead. A simple statement on your website, mailer or email message will fill the need.
  • Supporter #3 is unable to give money, but would love to volunteer—you should meet that need with information that welcomes them to give their time to your NPO.
  • Supporter #4 needs to be able to trust your organization. Provide facts that communicate longevity, program success, awards and honors won, and real accomplishments.
  • Supporter #5 needs authenticity. If times are dire at your NPO, say so. Don’t make things sound rosy one month, and horrible the next. Consistent, honest communication will go a long way to building trust.

When your supporters are taking more time than ever to decide how to spend their charity dollars, remember that remaining relevant is one of the most important things you can do.

Featured Corporate Volunteer Program: Wells Fargo

Friday, September 10th, 2010

volunteerscreeningblog, screening volunteers, corporate giving programWells Fargo is one of America’s largest financial institutions, one of its biggest employers, with 275,000 team members, and one of the largest contributors to non profits supporting education, community development, human services, the arts and the environment.

Wells Fargo’s commitment to social and community responsibility is revealed in some very impressive numbers:

  • Average daily awards to nonprofits: $554,235
  • Number of employee volunteer hours in 2009: 1.23 million
  • Number of employees volunteering in 2009: 32,000
  • Total invested in 2009: $202 million
  • Number of nonprofits receiving awards: 18,000

Working through their local financial centers, the company learns what a community’s needs are, then provides the resources—financial, social or human—that will help the most.
Wells Fargo employees, or team members, are very involved in their communities. They serve on 10,000 nonprofit boards and raised $41.9 million during the 2009 United Way campaign—the largest employee campaign in the U.S. That figure is an impressive 21 percent increase over 2008 (even when combining Wells Fargo and Wachovia’s separate 2008 campaigns).

Team members also give time to teach money management skills, build homes, mentor youth and raise funds for nonprofits in their communities. The company helps out by matching team members’ financial contributions to schools dollar-for-dollar, up to $5,000 per person. Last year that added up to $14.4 million in donations!

Wells Fargo gives directly to the organizations their employees support, through Volunteer Service Awards. These grants reward team members who volunteer in their communities by contributing cash to the nonprofit or school. The top award in 2009 was $50,000 to Project Night Night, an organization that provides blankets, books and stuffed animals to homeless children to help them get a better night’s sleep. A Wells Fargo team member is involved with the nonprofit and will use the funds to provide Night Night packages to 20,000 more homeless children.

Finally, Wells Fargo offers a valuable service that few other big companies do: they give team member time off with pay and benefits to work with a nonprofit that matters to them to help build long-term sustainability. In 2007, 20 team members took advantage for the program. The company allows up to four months’ leave for team members who are accomplishing great things, like establishing orphanages in Nigeria.

Why Screen Volunteers?

Wednesday, September 1st, 2010

volunteerscreeningblog.comVolunteers are just like any other staff member that comes into your nonprofit organization. They are usually unknown, unpredictable and will do the unexpected while working for your NPO. It’s important to know as much as you can about each volunteer before they can cause harm and it’s vital to the safety and strength of the organization to use the same background screening procedures you use for employees.

Why is it Important to Screen Volunteers?
To Protect the People You Serve
: This is the most important reason to screen volunteers—to keep dangerous people away from your clients. Adults who work with kids or teens, elderly caregivers and home visitation volunteers should always undergo background screening.

To Limit Liability: If your NPO serves the public, the entire organization is at risk whenever and wherever a volunteer is placed—especially with at-risk populations such as children or the elderly. If harm is done to a member of the public, the NPO could be held liable for a volunteer’s behavior. Thorough background screening will weed out volunteers with arrests or other criminal activities in their pasts.

Because it Could be Mandatory: Nonprofits that depend on federal and state funding are usually required to perform background screening on employees and volunteers.

To Protect the Organization’s Reputation: Volunteer screening allows a nonprofit to enjoy a good reputation in the community, which can lead to more support. Having a “loosey-goosey” approach to placing volunteers can harm an NPO’s standing in the community.

To Discourage Predators: Often, just knowing your organization conducts background screening will be enough to keep away volunteers who might be seeking inappropriate contact with children. Conversely, a no-screening policy could look like an open invitation to offenders and predators to come right in and start working with vulnerable populations.
Volunteer managers and nonprofit organizations are vulnerable to financial loss and inappropriate or dangerous behavior of volunteers. Criminal background screening on all volunteers can protect your organization, staff, and clientele from harm.