Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Killer Brownie Bites and Social Media: You Can't Just Eat One

Last week, I mentioned that I was being asked to do a social media presentation for the Dayton Children's Foundation Board and was given five minutes on the agenda. I decided to give the board just a delectable taste of what Dayton Children's is doing with social media, or as I liked to call it, the "Killer Brownie Bite" presentation.

Killer Brownie Bites are just about what they sound like -- a delicious, addicting nugget of a Dorothy Lane Market Killer Brownie.  These melt in your mouth leaving you wanting more.  It's impossible (really, I have tried) to eat just one Killer Brownie Bite.  The are sinfully rich, but you can't help yourself to at least having two of them.

Without trying to sound too cocky, my presentation had a similar effect.  I left the board wanting more. They were so intrigued by what we are doing that they asked exceptionally good questions. Our only problem was running out of time. Just like it's impossible to eat just one Killer Brownie Bite, it's impossible to do a five minute presentation without the audience wanting more.  And that's a very good thing (and way less fattening).

The feedback was very positive. The board, while not at all familiar with social media, is excited to see the exposure our efforts are bringing to the hospital.  They were particularly impressed that Dayton Children's had received national attention from our Twitter posts - @daytonchildren. Both our marketing  manager and I have been invited to do presentations, speak on panels, conduct webinars and consult with other nonprofits and hospitals about using social media. Dayton Children's has been featured on national blogs, most noticeably a blog article by Beth Kanter and compared to the Mayo Clinic in outstanding use of social media.
The big hit of the meeting was using Eric Qualman's  "Is Social Media a Fad" YouTube video to bring attention to how social media is revolutionizing how we communicate, branding and marketing efforts, fundraising, advocacy, and inter-connectedness. 

Following the meeting, the owner of the local Buffalo Wild Wings franchises, John Slaughenhaupt, came up to thank me for the presentation. He said our efforts inspired his own company's efforts to using social media. The Dayton Children's vice president of marketing and external relations, Vicki Giambrone, invited our social media team (Betsy Woods, Jessica Saunders and me) to do a similar presentation to the senior management and management team for the hospital. She felt is was important for the leaders of Dayton Children's to know how social media will play a role in our ongoing customer service efforts.  She also, very kindly, sent me a nice note commending me on the presentation and cc'd my direct supervisor...a very first classs thing to do.

The vice chairman of the board asked if I do personal tutorials on how to use social media. She said, "I'm petrified of learning it but definitely want to get over that fear."  This from a woman who teaches ski lessons all winter long in Colorado. Now, that is scary. This is not. I assured her that I would get her up and running and that she'd be hooked in no time.

This presentation was merely a snippet of what we do with social media but it served its purpose. It gave our Foundation board a taste for how we use social media and left them curious for wanting to learn more. Stay tuned when I serve up the full Killer Brownies!

As a very cool side note: when you shop at Dorothy Lane Market in Dayton and make a donation for the Haiti relief fund, they will match all donations for Oxfam International.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Where Hope for Haiti Now Failed: Blew It With Technology

Like millions of others, I watched the Hope for Haiti Now on Friday, January 22.  I was moved by the stories and the video clips from Haiti.  I was inspired to help, as I have been since this tragedy struck. I don't care where the earthquake struck.  Tragedy is tragedy.  Politics at a time like this does not matter.  I was pleased I had the resources to be able to do something. I believe this Telethon was a good thing.  It was a little depressing.  I would have loved to have seen some musicians carry forth a few more upbeat and optimistic songs that carried a message of hope, but nevertheless, the show was impressive.

Until you tried to make a donation. 

I would like to know just how many more millions of dollars could have been made last night had Hope for Haiti Now been better prepared for the volume of phone calls.  If tens of millions of people can successfully vote for American Idol contestants, why wasn't it easier to get through on the phone lines?

But it got worse. Did you try to make an online gift? Impossible.  Whoever designed this website should be banished from the technology world forever.  I bet the 16 year old boy that lives next to me could have a designed a better, and more importantly, a more functional website.  I tried for hours to make a donation online only to be greeted by a message to try making a gift online later.  What???  Are you kidding me?  Were they so unprepared as not to imagine the volume of people that would try to make an online gift?  That was the epitome of bad technology planning.

So, my next attempt to make a donation was to go to one of the featured charities.  My next surprise was that not one of the charities was linked to this site.  In the words of my favorite ESPN broadcasters before Monday Night Football, "Come on, man!"  That is Web Design 101.  Perhaps they didn't hot link these because they wanted people to make donations on the Hope for Haiti Now page.  But really, that's just more bad management.  I would presume other people besides me wanted to read up on what the charities were doing in the relief effort.  No, that was impossible unless you had to navigate away from the site to search for these charities.

And that is exactly what I did.  I navigated away from the Hope for Haiti Now webpage to seek out these charities and see what they were doing.  They had fascinating stories, live blog posts, twitter feeds from Haiti, video messages, and detailed information about how gifts were to be used.  I made my choice there to support one of the charities directly and made my gift to Oxfam America, as I was particularly impressed by their efforts to provide just the basic necessities of live: water, shelter, sanitation, and food. A pop up window comes up immediately when you go to the site to make a gift. It was a seamless way to make a gift and to feel like you were making a difference.  I felt good about making my donation.  I never needed to go back to the Hope for Haiti Now website.

Hope for Haiti Now: Good concept, ridiculously bad planning in regard to use of technology. And if you wanted to take it further, Hope for Haiti Now wasn't doing anything to promote the use of social media. No mention of where to follow the Telethon. No mention of which celebrities were tweeting. No mention of where to become a Facebook fan.  Plain and simple, this Telethon missed the technology boat.  The sin of that knowing that countless people probably didn't make a donation.  What could have been a technology home run turned out to be a shanked foul ball. 

Side note: I just checked on the Hope for Haiti Now website and it has markedly improved. The donation system works and there is information about the global conversation on Twitter about the relief efforts and a link to the Facebook Cause page to make a donation. There is still no hot link to any of the featured charities though. That's really a shame, as Hope for Haiti Now could have done a much better job promoting the extraordinary efforts of these organizations.

Here's what I hope: Those people moved to give did what I did.  They sought out a place to make an online gift and gave as generously as possible. Whether it was to the Red Cross, the Clinton/Bush Haiti Fund, Oxfam, Project Hope, Children's Miracle Network or dozens of other reputable charities doing God's work.  Giving was the right thing to do. I gave for the right reasons.  I just gave through an alternate route. I didn't give up.  And that's what I hope happens for the Haitian people -- that no one gives up.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Explaining Why Non-Profits Should Use Social Media in 5 Minutes: The Killer Brownie Bite

My boss came to me last week and asked me to do a social media presentation for our Foundation Board the following week.  I had been waiting for this opportunity, as I want our leadership team to understand why we are using social media and the positive results we are having.  Most, if not all of them, are unfamiliar with social media.  They have heard of Facebook or Twitter or LinkedIn but have never used them or taken the time to understand the value of being engaged in any kind of social media networking systems.  I was excited and had some amazing ideas of what I could share. Then I was told,

"You have five minutes."

A five minute presentation.  That's it.  That was all the time I was allocated.  There are day-long conferences on just using Twitter.  There are dozens of hour long webinars that only graze the subject of social media.  I've spoken at conferences and had the same hour long slot where you can only focus on one aspect of a particular platform.  Five minutes? 

There was no time to give a clinic on each form of social media that is out there.  There wasn't even time to given an overview of the most used forms we use at the hospital such as Facebook, Twitter or YouTube.  I did not want to lose this opportunity but I realized I needed to really focus in on some key reasons why we use social media and then show just an example of our pages.  There would be no time for statistics, demonstrations or much background information.  This was needing to be a snapshot...a nugget...a taste test...a Killer Brownie Bite.

For those of you not familiar with the Killer Brownies at the Dorothy Lane Market, these are without a doubt the most delicious, melt-in-your-mouth, leave you dying for more brownies.  One full brownie could put you over the edge. One bite is all you need so in the infinite wisdom of the Dorothy Lane Market bakery staff, they have sliced up the Killer Brownies to make "Killer Brownie Bites."  One bite is all you need to be hooked.  That's what I needed to do...give our board a bite.

I decided to focus primarily on why Dayton Children's uses social media.  The background of each network was not as important as the overall reasoning as to why our marketing and development offices decided to embark on using social media.  The concepts are simple and this would be something the board could grasp.

Why Use Social Media?
Reach target audience:  Our target audience is women, ages 18-49. The demographics for social media meet this head on.

Build supporters/constituents:  Our goal is to build relationships, especially in a participatory method
Two-way communication:  Social media gives our constituents, donors, families, supporters, etc. the opportunity to interact with us and tell their story. We can respond to their questions, comments, complaints, suggestions and most importantly, acknowledge that we have heard them.

Educate:  This spans the range from sharing health and safety tips, parenting suggestions, safety recalls, news from the hospital. 

Tell our story: Amazing stories and miracles happen here every day. We want to share that and let the public know that Dayton Children's is a wonderful place to take kids for health and healing.

Fundraise: We use Causes, viral campaigns, e-newsletters, special promotions and are constantly looking for creative ways to be generate new revenue to support the hospital.

Advocacy: There are few better ways to mobilize the community to be advocates for children's health. We have simple ways to allow friends and followers to send letters to legislators expressing their concerns.

Share video testimonials: If a picture tells a thousand words, a video must share a million. Our videos tell the stories of our patients. I dare you not to be moved by these kids.
Connect families, patients, friends, donors, employees: It's about building relationships with people who all care about the same thing--the health and well-being of children. Our community grows every day and our exposure nationally has developed in ways we never imagined. Dayton Children's is recognized nationally for the work that is done here and we attribute some of that new visibility to what we have accomplished by staying active with our use of social media.
My advice to our board will be to look, listen, and then jump in. I will lead them to the sources:

www.twitter.com/daytonchildrens or @daytonchildrens

It's a five minute presentation...just enough to give the board a Killer Brownie taste. I know they will be hooked. I bet they stay after to ask me more questions. It never fails.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

32+ Webinars for Nonprofits - January 2010

Professional courtesy and support is a beautiful thing.  I saw on Twitter a post from Rebecca Leaman (@rjleaman) introducing 32 free webinars for nonprofits.  It was posted at the Wild Apricot blog, a wonderful resource for nonprofits.  I posted a note and asked her if I could repost and here was here response, "Sure, Bethany, go ahead and post on your blog : the more nonprofits who have access to information about free webinars, the more nonprofits will benefit, right?" 


So here you go...a wonderful list of upcoming webinars:

Behind the Scenes: Scheduling in Performing Arts
Tuesday, 5 January 2010
11:00 a.m. (Mountain)

This free webinar from Dean Evans & Associates Inc. offers a quick, 15-minute introduction for Performing Arts facilities on what to look for in a scheduling solution, including reporting, capacity control, charging for space and resource scheduling.

Grantseeking Basics
Tuesday, 5 January 2010
3:00 p.m. (Eastern)

This introductory course provides an overview of the funding research process for those seeking grants from foundations, corporations, and grantmaking public charities. Also available in Spanish.

Grantseeking Basics for Individuals in the Arts
Wednesday, 6 January 2010
2:00 p.m. (Eastern)

This web-based course is geared towards individuals involved in the arts and looking to fund any type of arts-related project, but may be of interest to arts organizations in providing advice and guidance to their members.

Gifts In Kind International 101 Webinar
Wednesday, 6 January 2010
3:30 p.m. (Eastern)

This free webinar provides an overview of Gifts In Kind International's services for charitable organizations. Participation in this session is recommended for newly registered charities, those considering registration, employees new to Gifts In Kind's services or others who simply want to hear about its latest offerings.

Starting a Nonprofit
Tuesday, 12 January 2010
10:00 a.m. (Central)

Barry Silverberg of the Texas Association of Nonprofit Organizations explains how and why you should explore whether the creation of a nonprofit is the best way to achieve the goals or purposes you seek to achieve, and understand what it means to be a nonprofit legally and in management terms before you start the paperwork.

Thanks a Million: How to Thank Your Donors So They'll Come Back and Give More
Tuesday, 12 January 2010
1:00 p.m. (Eastern)

Are you maintaining and building your relationships with donors as well as you could be? Are you saying exactly what your supporters need to hear such that they'll become repeat donors? Network for Good's Katya Andresen and Care2's Jocelyn Harmon delve into effective donor cultivation and messaging in this free webinar, part of the NonProfit 911 training series on nonprofit marketing and online fundraising.

Researching on the Social Web
Tuesday, 12 January 2010
11:00 a.m. (Pacific)

Debra Askanase of Community Organizer 2.0 will discuss how your organization can gain relevant, tangible knowledge from online social media research. Attendance at this webinar is free or by donation, your choice.

What is Wild Apricot?
Tuesday, 12 January 2010
2:00 p.m. (Eastern)

This free webinar, led by Giuliano Valentino, introduces the Wild Apricot software for associations, nonprofits and other member-driven organizations, demonstrating its major features: membership management, web editing, event management, and fundraising.

Proposal Writing Basics
Tuesday, 12 January 2010
2:00 p.m. (Eastern)

In this free webinar from the Foundation Center you will learn the basics of writing a proposal for your nonprofit organization. This course is also offered in Spanish.

Jumpstart Your Job Search in 2010
Wednesday, 13 January 2010
12:00 p.m. (Eastern)

Hosted by NPAG’s Director of Candidate Services, Erin O’Connor Jones, this complimentary webinar from Idealist.org is aimed at nonprofit job seekers, encore careerists and sector switchers searching for their next, great nonprofit job in 2010.

The Power of Social Networking Sites for People with Disabilities
Wednesday, 13 January 2010
1:00 p.m. (Central)

This free webinar will examine what social networking is all about and how it can be leveraged successfully to enhance communication and to break down barriers to full participation by everyone in the digital age. Part of the ADA Accessible Technology On-line Seminar Series to increase awareness on technology accessibility for people with disabilities.

Effective Marketing Communications on a Shoestring
Wednesday, 13 January 2010
2:00 p.m. (Eastern)

Most nonprofit organizations have extremely limited marketing communication budgets, but that doesn’t mean you can’t create and execute effective marketing plans. This webinar from Synthesis Partnership, led by Michele Levy, aims to help nonprofit professionals do just that. Part of the "Wednesday Webinars" series of free one-hour sessions offered by experts in nonprofit management, aimed at providing professional development opportunities for senior staff and trustees of nonprofit organizations.

Your Board and Fundraising: An Introductory Class
Wednesday, 13 January 2010
2:00 p.m. (Eastern)

The purpose of this webinar from the Foundation Center is to help you think systematically through the process of getting your board actively involved with your nonprofit's fundraising efforts.

An Overview of Website Accessibility
Thursday, 14 January 2010
11:00 a.m. (Pacific)

The best practices for web accessibility dovetail with good overall usability, and are easy to implement. This session will cover topics such as understanding the difference between various accessibility guidelines, avoiding common accessibility errors, when and when not to rely on automatic accessibility checkers, and unexpected populations that benefit from accessible websites. Some knowledge of HTML coding would be beneficial to those attending this free webinar from TechSoup Talks.

Creating Energy That Lasts
Thursday, 14 January 2010
2:00 p.m. (Eastern)

Barbara Talisman of Talisman Associates suggests methods to create and maintain positive energy, to keep yourself and your staff motivated. Full participation in the free webinar is applicable for 1.0 points in Category 1.B Education of the CFRE International application for initial certification and/or recertification.

Introduction to Fundraising Planning
Thursday, 14 January 2010
3:00 p.m. (Eastern)

If your organization has never developed a fundraising plan or calendar, this session is for you. You'll learn how to conduct an assets inventory, develop a case statement, identify potential funding partners, and prepare a fundraising plan and calendar.

From Recovery to Prosperity: The Power of Vision and Leadership
Tuesday, 19 January 2010
9:00 a.m. (Pacific)

Designed specifically for existing and aspiring executive leaders, this two-part Webex webinar deals with creating a clear and inspiring vision as one of the most critical ongoing roles of a successful leader.

Engaging Pro Bono and Skilled Volunteers
Tuesday, 19 January 2010
11:00 a.m. (Pacific)

If you're thinking about adding skilled volunteers to your program, or if you've just started, this seminar from VolunteerMatch.org can help you make the experience successful for both the volunteer and the organization. Topics to be covered include navigating the introduction of the idea into your organization, developing projects, the art of delegating work to volunteers, and setting achievable outcomes.

Proposal Budgeting Basics
Tuesday, 19 January 2010
2:00 p.m. (Eastern)

This free webinar is geared towards the novice grantseeker. Prior attendance at the free Proposal Writing Basics webinar is recommended but not a prerequisite.

Finding the Perfect Social Media and Communication Blend: How to Break Down Walls and Strike a Balance Between All of Your Online Lives
Tuesday, 19 January 2010
3:00 p.m. (Eastern)

While not specifically directed at the nonprofit sector, this free public relations webinar sponsored by PRSA is an opportunity for marketing and communications professionals working with nonprofits to learn how to harmonize your personal and professional lives online; how different types of social media are looking more and more alike; the best practices for sharing content; how public relations, marketing and customer service can operate symbiotically on the social Web; and how to identify future trends.

Cultivating Stakeholders: A Strategy of Inclusion for Challenging Times
Wednesday, 20 January 2010
1:00 p.m. (Eastern)

Sam Frank of Synthesis Partnership leads this free one-hour session, part of the "Wednesday Webinars" series of professional development opportunities for nonprofit management professionals. Participants will gain an understanding of the basic structure of an effective planning process, ways of adapting it for individual organizations, the roles of various stakeholders and how to engage them, and some specific tools to use in planning.

Before You Seek a Grant: A Checklist for New Nonprofits
Wednesday, 20 January 2010
1:00 p.m. (Eastern)

This webinar will provide you with a step-by-step checklist approach to help increase your organization's readiness for foundation fundraising.

Successful Volunteer Interview Strategies
Wednesday, 20 January 2010
11:00 a.m. (Pacific)

VolunteerMatch.org introduces a variety of question types used in volunteer interviews and offers strategies for honing your interview skills. Materials will be provided to help you implement this process in your organization, as well as a training syllabus so you can learn how to recruit and train a volunteer staff to assist with prospective volunteer interviews.

Are There Alternatives to Starting a Nonprofit?
Wednesday, 20 January 2010
2:00 p.m. (Eastern)

Is setting up a nonprofit organization the only way to accomplish your charitable goals? In this free live Q & A session, attorney and Nonprofit Law Blog publisher Gene Takagi will share information and answer your questions about alternatives to starting a nonprofit organization.

Getting it Right! - Grant Research & Writing
Wednesday, 20 January 2010
2:00 p.m. (Eastern)

Successful grant writing requires great research, listening and writing skills, as well as time management. This interactive webcast by Barbara Talisman, President of Talisman Associates, will present best practices for writing successful grants and provide you with tools for great grant writing. Full participation in the free webinar is applicable for 1.0 points in Category 1.B Education of the CFRE International application for initial certification and/or recertification.

How to Approach a Foundation
Thursday, 21 January 2010
2:00 p.m. (Eastern)

This webinar from the Foundation Center covers strategies for effective communications with grantmakers, taking you through initial contact to what happens after you receive funding.

How Your School Can Utilize Social Media
22 January 2010
2:00 p.m. (Eastern)

In this free seminar from Blackbaud, Steve Morrill from Loyola Blakefield High School will share his school's success incorporating Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other social media networks into their marketing and communications strategy.

The New Volunteer Manager's Toolkit
Tuesday, 26 January 2010
11:00 a.m. (Pacific)

New to volunteer management? Looking for a refresher on the basics? This webinar from VolunteerMatch.org walks you through the three Rs of recruitment, retention and recognition. Topics for discussion include interviews, orientations, volunteer handbooks, etc., as well as the importance of managing risk for your program and your organization. All attendees will also receive a sample packet with examples and program assessment checklists to help you evaluate your existing program.

Introduction to Corporate Giviing
Tuesday, 26 January 2010
3:00 p.m. (Eastern)

This free webinar introduces the world of corporate support for nonprofits and the effective utilization of the Foundation Center's resources on corporate giving. Prior attendance at the Grantseeking Basics webinar (5 January) is strongly recommended.

How to Find Local Grant Funding in Your Area
Tuesday, 26 January 2010
9:00 p.m. (Eastern)

This free teleconference, hosted by the faith-based 501(c)3 organization Urban Awareness USA, is intended to teach urban church administrators how to locate and utilize local grant opportunities.

Grantseeking Basics
Wednesday, 27 January 2010
1:00 p.m. (Eastern)

This introductory course provides an overview of the funding research process for those seeking grants from foundations, corporations, and grantmaking public charities. Also available in Spanish.

The Science of Social Media Marketing
Thursday, 28 January 2010
10:00 a.m. (Pacific)

O'Reilly Media presents an hour-long free webinar with Dan Zarrella, author of The Social Media Marketing Book, including plenty of time for Q&A. Learn what drives people to share information and opinions online and learn scientifically proven best practices for spreading your content virally through social media.

Some additional webinars were added in the comments section so I wanted to include those as well:

Social Business: Taking 'social' to the core of your organization
Date: Thursday, 14 January 2010
Time: 10:00 a.m. (Pacific)
"Join leading thinkers Stowe Boyd, Peter Kim and Jeremiah Owyang in a discussion with Radar's Joshua-Michéle Ross on the concept of Social Business. We will cover:
   * What is the definition of Social Business?
   * Who are the best exemplars?
   * How does the concept of Social Business challenge larger institutions
This will be a fast-paced, structured conversation that will leave plenty of time for audience questions."
Read more about it or register (free) at http://post.oreilly.com/rd/9z1zomnu2pkl4567tfuqjkn4es925hjg19st6q8sosg

GuideStar Exchange: How to Give Donors and Funders the Information They Need and Want
Wednesday, 13 January 2010
1:00 p.m. Eastern
Register: https://www2.gotomeeting.com/register/715956323
Guest speaker is Karen Rayzor the Director of Nonprofit Relations at GuideStar. During this webinar Karen will provide an overview of the GuideStar Exchange and help nonprofits to understand the benefits of leveraging the GuideStar Exchange and how to get started. This webinar is presented by CharityHowTo.com.

Stay Ahead of the Eight Ball in 2010: Tips from the Experts
Wednesday, 20 January, 2010
1:00p.m. to 2:30 p.m. Eastern
Presenters: Katya Andresen, COO, Network for Good, and author of Robin Hood Marketing; Larry Checco, author of Branding for Success: A Roadmap for Raising the Visibility and Value of Your Nonprofit Organization; and Terry Axelrod, founder of Benevon Axelrod.
Register: https://guidestarusa.webex.com/guidestarusa/onstage/g.php?t=a&d=649289537

There are a myriad of excellent resources out there and if you learn of others, I encourage you to let Rebecca Leaman know via the Wild Apricot blog. I appreciate the time, energy and effort she put into compiling this list and her generosity in allowing me to repost the information.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Great News for Children's Memorial Hospital in Chicago

When I hear great news for charitable organizations, I like to share it.  Today I read that Children's Memorial Hospital in Chicago received a $16 million gift from the Kenneth and Anne Griffin Foundation to establish an emergency care center at its new facility, the Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago.  

Per the article that appeared on the Philanthropy News Digest:

The funds will be used to create the Kenneth and Anne Griffin Emergency Care Center, which will open on the campus of Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine in the summer of 2012. The new facility will include additional examination rooms, major trauma/resuscitation beds, and an expanded triage area to allow rapid assessment of arriving patients — substantially increasing the hospital's emergency care capacity and improving patient response times. The facility also will feature state-of-the-art technology, including dedicated diagnostic radiology suites and a CT scanner.

This is a good example of what passionate board members can do.  Anne Griffin has been a member of the Children's Memorial Medical Center and Children's Memorial Foundation board of directors since 2005.  She and her husband, both successful business people in Chicago, fully understand the value of a the pediatric emergency care provided to more than 65,000 children treated there annually.  There is additional detail about the gift in the Children's Memorial Hospital press release.

Congratulations to Children's Memorial Hospital, the city of Chicago and the thousands of children that will benefit from this family's exceptional generosity!

On a side note, this hospital has a great tagline that no doubt serves as a powerful daily reminder as to its mission: "Where kids comes first."  It reminds me of the excellent mission that is visible at every entrance at Primary Children's Medica Centerl in Salt Lake City: "The child first and always."  Both of these are excellent statements of the hospital's purpose and what drives everything from clinical care to customer service. They are simple, powerful, effective and leaves no question as to what the number one priority is for every person that comes through their doors. 

Thursday, January 7, 2010

13,000 Nonprofit Twitterers

Big or small, nonprofits are finding their place on Twitter.  Today, @nonprofitorgs reported that it was following 13,000 nonprofits. I've watched this account grow exponentially during the last few months and have been impressed with the number of nonprofits dipping their toe in the Twitter pool.  That's the way to do it...just get started.  Listen, follow others and put some tweets out there that are relevant and interesting and you are on your way.

I am frequently asked what we could possibly tweet about at The Children's Medical Center of Dayton.   My first response is always that someone should follow us @daytonchildrens and see for themselves.  But I'll share with you some of our key topics:
  • pediatric health information
  • health tips
  • H1NI or other health news
  • children's safety information (safety tips, product recalls, etc)
  • upcoming events at the hospital
  • hospital news (awards, recognitions, etc.)
  • physician news (awards, discoveries, accomplishments, etc.)
  • fundraising events
  • fundraising news/results
  • pediatric healthcare best practices
  • patient and family testimonials
  • links to the Dayton Children's blog 
  • safety checks (bike helmets, car seats, etc.)
  • healthy living tips
You get the idea...

But we are also listening to what others say that we find relevant. We RT (retweet) information relevant to the topics listed below along with social media tips, news in Dayton, news from our corporate sponsors, school information, interesting blog articles, news about other charitable organizations, news from other hospitals, fundraising success stories, and the list goes on and on.

Dayton Children's twitter account has nearly 1900 followers and the list grows daily. We use Twitter as a positive new way to build relationships. When @daytonchildrens launched, we didn't anticipate the national following we received but it has been a wonderful bonus. Fans from all over the country follow us because we put out content that is relevant and valuable to a variety of constituencies.  We strive to be an institution that earns the trust of our followers and one that anyone could contact for help about pediatric healthcare.  I hope those 13,000 nonprofits do the same.

What is our ROI?  We can measure the number of followers, those we follow, number of direct messages, number of retweets, how many times a particular message gets retweeted, etc. What isn't as measurable is the positive relationships that have been established, the trust that has been created, the information that has impacted someone's life, or the care and concern we can show our patients and families.  While there is no specific metric, you can be assured that is the most valuable return on investment we could ask for.

Is it of value for nonprofits to be on Twitter? Yes, of course. But don't take my word for it. Take a look for yourself. A great place to start is @nonprofitorgs.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

No Shortage of Americans Willing to Help

Have you ever been doing something and the TV is just on in the background.  You aren't really paying attention, it's just there in the background.  Then, suddenly, you hear something that just makes you stop, if only for a few seconds?  That happened to me yesterday.  I was writing my blog, checking Facebook and Twitter, responding to emails, and watching something mindless (may I remind you that The Bachelor premiered last night on ABC but clearly I was watching another channel).  There was some kind of ad promoting NBC Nightly News, I think.  I heard Brian Williams say, "There's no shortage of Americans willing to help."  I have no idea what this was in reference to but it made me pause and and think if this was true.

By and large, my answer, was "Yes, that's true."  I started thinking about the thousands of wonderful people in the Miami Valley that help Dayton Children's. We are blessed to have thousands of people make donations every year, whether that gift was $10 or $100,000, people care.  Tonight, I am meeting with members of our TWIG (Terrific Women in Giving) Auxiliary.  Here's 350+ dedicated women who raise money for the hospital because they truly care about this place and want the very best for the children we serve.  They have fun doing their fundraisers because they care. 

In just one day, I was contacted by the Infinity Day Spa wanting to arrange a day to give moms a free mini manicure and mini pedicure.  I'm sure our staff will be disappointed that it's not for them but rather for the weary mothers who spend countless hours waiting patiently for their kids to heal.  The Centerville Noon Optimist Club, which raises $8,000 every year for our Comprehensive Cancer Care Center, has the ball rolling for their July "Tee Off for Youth Golf Outing."  The coordinators for Nativity The Pop Opera dropped off a check for $4,500 for our Needy Patient Fund and a framed poster signed by their entire cast.  Our 36-member Women's Board is working diligently on its 2011 CHA-CHA event.  PlayStation2 games arrived from anonymous supporters for our patients. And four retired doctors came back to have lunch together and tour our Soin Pediatric Trauma and Emergency Center renovation project.  Every day, there's a new phone call, a new request to do a fundraiser, a special visit, a tour, a gift...only because Americans care.

My job inspires me.  There are days when I'm hopping from project to project because there is so much happening.  That certainly is not a complaint.  It happens because our community cares about Dayton Children's, our patients, and the families we serve.  I am fortunate to see the side of humanity that truly does care and I'm honored to work for an institution that makes a difference for the health and healing of little ones.  It's a good day because, as Brian Williams said, there is no shortage of people who care.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Is Social Media a Fad?

Do You Give a Tweet?

Nonprofit Tech 2.0 posted an interesting blog article today about "Three Reasons Why Nonprofits Should Give a Tweet."  Be sure to read that article so this blog post makes a lot more sense.  I'm not sure what the potential is for this but I spent some time checking it out the new "GiveATweet" feature.  I did a search for Dayton Children's and quickly found it and "claimed" it.  I have seemingly linked myself to it as my charity of choice and I received a very quick twitter message from @GiveaTweet saying the following:

(via @BethanyDeines) @DaytonChildrens You hv been #giveatweeted http://www.giveatweet.com/charities/c4d9c3954e1f63a3f7512d600bf9f49c752ed202.

Things get pretty cool from here. Or at least they should.  There still looks to be some glitches to work out.  Theoretically, I should be able to make a donation.  But when I tried that, I kept getting redirected back to an Invite Me page.  Businesses should be able to sign up to match donations, which is a good concept but also doesn't seem to be working yet. 

If this works out, there may be some potential for those charities with real evangelists out there to drive traffic to us GiveaTweet to make donations.  Some charities really lend themselves well to this kind of promotion.  I will likely play around with this feature to see how it benefits Dayton Children's but still believe we'll get better results by driving traffic to our website for an online donation.  At least for now...I'm always open to see how things change.  Different audiences will respond to different opportunities.  It's best to keep all options open!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Cool Blog Articles Today about Nonprofits Using Social Media

Just doing some browsing around and found some cool articles today about charitable giving that I think are worth sharing.

Beth Kanter posted on Twitter today a cool article from @Mashable"How to: Do Good on Twitter." There are some great suggestions here including following your favorite charities, participating in Twitter fund drives, and using Twollars.  Check out the article to learn what "Twollars" are.  It was new to me but will be something I'm going to explore in greater depth. I also want to see if there is some way Dayton Children's can participate in a Twestival this year. 

One of the most informative blogs out in the blogosphere is Nonprofit Tech 2.0: A Social Media Guide for Nonprofits.  There is always something informative here for nonprofits using social media to share their message.  Subscribe to this blog...it's worth the time.  Today I found an interesting article listing 11 TwtPoll Results Nonprofits Can Use to Plan Communication Strategies.  One interesting fact is that 73% of those polled said they would rather donate online than send in a check.  Now, given that those who responded to a TwtPoll are probably those very comportable with doing everything online, it does bring attention to the fact that there is an entire audience nonprofits need to reach that they may not be identifying if they are not using social media.  

Based on this TwtPoll, 25% of charities have a presence on Facebook and Twitter.  I know in 2010 this number will grow and the next thing we will want to know is which charities are using these social media networks most effectively to share their message and engage friends and followers.  Conversion may be the most important word for 2010.  Nonprofits may have launched themselves into the social media fray in 2009 but the winners will come out on top by converting friends and followers into loyal donors.  

Another excellent blog to follow is Jeff Bullas' Blog.  He always has concrete recommendations for using social media for nonprofits.  This is another one worth subscribing to and reviewing regularly.  He just posted an article about "7 Great Resources on Using Facebook for Nonprofits".  His recommendations are spot-on.  If you are just getting started with social media or even for those of you using it but looking for more creative ways to take things to the next step, check out this Blog.

I could probably do this all night but I'm starving so I'll take a break.  Stay tuned...there's some brilliant minds out there and I hope to introduce you to them. 

Saturday, January 2, 2010

NPR Commentary on Advice on Making the Most of Your Charitable Dollar

Here's an interesting commentary that played on NPR on December 29, 2009 about making the most of your charitable dollar.  One of the featured speakers is Daniel Borochoff, president of the American Institute of Philanthropy.  His organization is a watchdog group and he certainly puts a slam on Larry Jones' Feed the Children, a charity known to mislead their donors. Read their review here on this  being the "Most Outrageous Charity in America." 

There are some excellent suggestions on what to look for when making charitable donations. There is an excellent list of tips when considering charities.   They rate charities on an A-F scale.  Their suggestions are:

1. Know Your Charity -- Read the annual report and the literature. I would add that it never hurts to peruse a charity's 990.

2.  Find Out Where Your Dollars Go -- Be sure to know what percentage of your gift is used for the organizations programs versus what is used for administrative costs and fundraising expenses.

3.  Do Not Respond to Pressure -- Legitimate charities will give you time to consider a gift as well as send you additional information. Don't fall prey to the high pressure of telemarketers.

4.  Keep Records of  Your Donations -- Don't give cash; don't provide a credit card number over the phone to a charity you are unfamiliar with.  Direct from this site is advice on what to keep for tax records:
"For tax purposes, you will need to keep a record of all your contributions of any amount. For contributions under $250, records may be in the form of a bank record, cancelled check, or written communication from the charity. The written communication may be in the form of receipt or letter that must contain the charity's name and the amount and date of the contribution.

For all tax-deductible contributions of $250 or more, the IRS requires that you obtain a receipt from the charity (a cancelled check will not suffice)."

5.  Remember "Tax Exempt" Does Not Mean "Tax Deductible" -- Request a copy of the charity's tax exempt letter if you question whether they are a legitimate 501(c )(3) organization that allows you to deduct the gift from your taxes.

6. Do Not be Misled by a Charity's Familiar Name -- Some questionable organizations will use a name that closely resembles a more well-known charity.

7.  Do Not be Enticed by Emotional Appeals -- Know the facts by reviewing the literature about the organization.

8.  Ask if the Charity is Registered by Federal/State/Local Authorities --Non-church charities with more than $25,000 in income must file financial information with the IRS.

9.  Beware of Charities Offering Gifts -- Don't feel compelled to give because you receive address labels, calendars, greeting cards or other gifts.  Note that these gifts may increase the organization's fundraising expenses. 

10.  Consider Giving Generously --  If you are satisfied with the charity and determine it to be worthwhile, give generously. 

There are several other good suggestions listed.  I found this to be a solid resource, especially for anyone who continually gets approached by charities that you may have never heard of before.  Mr. Borochoff mentioned in the broadcast that there are a number of organizations claiming to benefit veterans.  Review this information carefully, as many of these are not ranked favorable and practice questionable fundraising procedures.

Friday, January 1, 2010

If I Had a Million Dollars

I love that song by the Bare Naked Ladies "If I Had a Million Dollars."  It always gets me to think about what I would do if I had a million dollars to give away. I can think of dozens of charities worthy of that kind of support.  I know which organizations I would support.  But my purpose here is to pose the question: Who would you support and why?  What charity drives your passion?  What would you want to transform with that kind of donation? 

I posed a similar question on the Tri Sigma Facebook page and within two minutes, there were dozens of responses as to what members would do if they could give $1 million to Tri Sigma.  I am impressed with the answers.  Our membership is far more aware of the pressing needs of the organization than our leadership realizes.  Now, the goal is to find those sisters who really could donate a sizable gift to benefit our Sorority.

As development professionals, we are constantly seeking donations that make a transformation to our organization.  We know what the needs are. We are not always as effective at sharing that message.  But how many of us stop to ask what a donor would do if they could give us a million bucks?  What inspires them? What would make them feel great about giving?  Do we offer them the options to fuel their passions? Do we spend the time listening to donors about what their interests are or how they desire to make a difference and then work hard to find a fit for them?

What if the donation were less than $1 million?  Shouldn't we give donors the opportunity to select what is most fulfilling to them, regardless of the dollar amount? Yes, we all have priorities and it is our responsibility to market those and share the need. We will find donors who believe in helping those.  But for those who are not supporting us, could it be that we aren't asking the right questions?  Shouldn't we ask more questions about what they want to help and why they want to help in a particular area?  I think we would be impressed with the answers and we may find more loyal, devoted donors who give in one area...but then realize how many other ways they step up.

If the experience of giving is personal, powerful, fulfilling, exciting, and allows the donor to feel like they are making a change in an area of great importance to them, won't they in turn remain more loyal contributors and continue to help in other areas?  I believe that answer is yes. It starts with asking the initial questions and then taking a step back to listen to their answers, not your own.