Nonprofits can learn from For-Profits

Someone I follow on Twitter is Michael Rosen who shares great insights into charity, philanthropy and non-profits in general.

His recent post “4 Valuable Lessons Nonprofits Can Learn from For-profits” – is one a real gem and I’m sure you’ll gain from reading it.

I believe that the nonprofit and for-profit sectors can learn a great deal from one another. Over the past several months, I’ve had some experiences that have confirmed this belief. I’d like to share two negative and two positive encounters I’ve had with the for-profit sector and reveal the lessons I learned that can help any nonprofit organization.

Under promise, and over deliver.
I ordered a roast-beef sandwich to go from Au Bon Pain. While I’m not a frequent Au Bon Pain customer, I’ve been one for many, many years. I was looking forward to my sandwich. When I got home, I unwrapped my lunch, and took a big bite. Something wasn’t right. I spit out the bite. There was a piece of paper. I opened my sandwich and found a sheet of deli paper!

Ok, if you make thousands of sandwiches, you’re bound to a make a mistake sooner or later. However, rather than just let the incident slide completely, I thought Au Bon Pain should know about the situation. I thought they might have a new sandwich guy who might benefit from some additional training. So, I called the “800” number on my receipt.

I was not looking for anything. I just wanted to inform the store about the incident so management could be aware and take any action they deemed appropriate.

Read in full here

Who’s the most generous – Twitter or Facebook users?

This maybe out of the UK, but it’s worth a read given that Twitter is like all other social media – global, maybe it’s too soon to know if this is the case in New Zealand, but it’s worth storing the information away ready for when you’re planning your next campaign.


Twitter users most generous charitable donors on social media Facebook users give to charity more often but Twitterers are more generous, new research suggests. 

Data compiled via charitable website JustGiving suggests that Tweeters give £30, YouTube viewers give £28 and people on Facebook £18.

LinkedIn users averaged £25 while users of the new Google+ social network currently donate an average of £17.77. 

JustGiving claim that “social giving, or donating to charity as a result of a call to action from social media, has increased exponentially over the past year, with Facebook the core driver”. Donations driven from Facebook make up over a quarter of all donations made on JustGiving in September 2011 – a rise of 130 per cent over the past year, while by comparison

Twitter currently drives less than 1 per cent. JustGiving estimates that by 2015, Facebook will be responsible for up to 50 per cent of all online donations.

Read the full story here


Not everything you see online is above board

After reading Sick Baby Photos On Facebook Could Be a Scam [WARNING] on Mashable, it made me wonder not only about how, and what we share, but about how what we say about ourselves, our organization that could be effected by people ‘questioning’ it’s authenticity.

When you tell your story don’t embellish, don’t exaggerate, don’t use too much ‘fluff’ – you want what you’re saying to be taken seriously and not put in the ‘is this true basket’.

If you haven’t already take a look at

Social Media and your Event

Some organizations have already discovered that social media is ideally suited to event promotion and fundraising, others are yet to cotton onto the ‘power’ social media can bring their organization.

We do it in real life, we ask our family and friends to help with the work being done to stage an event, to help sell tickets or to help find sponsors; we ask them to share flyers, put posters up in their business and to – spread the word. Why then are we not also asking them to share this same information through social media?

The use of social media is now so widespread that it brings so many opportunities for messages, information to be share – we just need to start doing it.

A few simple things that could be done to help with your next event could be: 


  • When you put information out on your Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or other platform – at the same time actively ask your friends, connections, followers to help spread the word – don’t be shy, some will – some won’t, but you will get added benefit, added awareness of your event no matter how many share the information.   
  • Some organizations email their supporters about the event, with a ‘footnote’ asking them to share information, pictures etc with thier online ‘friends’ – I see no problem with this – especially given that those being asked to do it already have some ‘connection’ with the organization so you’re not asking ‘just anybody’ to share it. 
  • Need help with equipment, a venue, product – then again, ask your online connections for help, you could be pleasantly surprised how successful this could be. Instead of spending hours on the phone calling around asking for ‘help’ – you can do the same, with a likely wider reach (and greater success) by asking people who already know what you’re all about doing the ‘asking’ for you.
  • Ask your friends to share other information about the event, there’s no harm asking the to share ‘post event’ information – when you talk about the event and what it achieved, go back to the people who shared, asked for help on your behalf – and let them know how it went, lent them know their support is appreciated – next time you might find you have people knocking on your door asking how they can help. Wouldn’t it be great if half the work toward your next event was already in-train before you even start?  


When is your next event – will you have a social media plan in place to help make it easier for you? 

Have you already used social media to help with an event? 

Please share your experiences.



We can’t talk about it

After a recent discussion with an organisation who is staging an event to raise funds for a community group I got to thinking about their silence in not talking about the event – their fear was that it’s a ‘private event’ and can’t have every Tom-Dick-or-Harry turning up.

Hello – you should talk about what you’re doing, what you’re able to do for others; you might get others knocking on your door asking you to help them.

Have you ever seen a company say  “we can’t promote ourselves, our products, we don’t want new customers”. So why would an organisation helping non-profits (charities) be in this mind-set? 

Perhaps they have their blinkers on and don’t realise that there could be others who would like to get involved – sponsors, donors, volunteers – the list could go on. 

If you’re an organisation organising a ‘closed door’ event you could be doing yourself a disservice by not letting the wider community know what you’re doing – others DO want to know what you’re doing and what you’re CAPABLE of doing. 

Don’t be so short-sighted in your thinking, maybe this event is limited to who can attend, but other events you hold may not be – and by shutting others out now what you’re doing could close the door on future opportunities. 

Talk about what you’re doing – put it on your website, your Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or other ‘outposts’ – blow your own trumpet. 

To only talk about it at the end will do you no justice, maybe if you talk about it before it happens you will gain media attention you may not have been able to gain before. It’s a win for you and the organisation you’re staging the event for. 

Talk about the event on Facebook, Twitter – talk about it – email your supporters, talk to media – get the message out there, don’t keep it under the radar. 

I want to hear from organisations who feel they can’t talk about their events for fear of getting too much attention, I want to know why – why are you afraid of gaining added support, added attention – anything you talk about your event and the extra attention it gains is surely a benefit, why would you shy away from this? 

Do you do events that are closed and you don’t want people other that participants knowing about – why?

Consistent Messages

No matter where you ‘share’ your adventures, activities or programme – it pays to have a consistent message, and Lu Esposito of the American Red Cross offers some great tips in  Consistent Messaging Across Channels: The Crawl, Walk, Run Method to Consolidated Marketing.

Let’s face it, most of us working in the non-profit sector in 2012 have a ton of competing priorities, and this mystery of ‘consolidated marketing’ can seem a bit daunting – just another thing to add to your gazillion to-do items.

Consolidating your marketing program does not have to be rocket science. You can take a simple, methodical approach, tailored to your organization and your available resources, to realize significant growth in awareness and donations. You can even manage it without adding another 50 items to your immediate to-do list.

You may be asking why you would need to consolidate your marketing program. It’s really simple:

Consistency + Repetition = Reach and Frequency = Return on Investment

I need your help – Child Cancer Foundation – Beads of Courage Day Street Appeal

Beads of Courage Day

Beads of Courage Day Logo

 Our Beads of Courage Collection day is coming up and we would love to have your help as a volunteer collector!


This year our Annual Appeal will run throughout the entire month of March so keep an eye out for our fantastic intiatives and events planned throughout the country.

Our collection day, “Beads of Courage Day” is on Friday 23rd March and we would love to have your help as a volunteer collector! A couple of hours of your time can make a real difference to children with cancer!


I’m be out on Karangahape Road (Auckland) on Friday (23rd) and am looking for some volunteers to team up with me throughout the day. If you have some time to spare and would like to rattle a bucket, please leave a note in the comments section, or email me

Thanks in advance.

For information about Child Cancer Foundation and their appeal month visit their website.


Why do businesses sponsor events

Why do people sponsor charitable events, are they doing it out of the goodness of their heart or is there more to it?

Surely sponsoring a charity event is a ‘business decision’ before being a philanthropic one – ask an accountant what they think about it, those I’ve spoken with have said – when clients talk about sponsoring events we ask them does it fit the business, does the opportunity to ‘invest’ show signs that there will be gains?’.

So I’m taking it that – yes, sponsorship is business first.

When you offer a sponsorship opportunity maybe you’re best talking as it being a ‘business investment’ might get you further. Perhaps talking about where their name will be seen, the reach your promotional campaign will have, will have more impact on them than simply talking about how their contribution to the event will be blah blah.

I’m not saying leave the ‘mush’ at the door, you need to give your story – what I’m saying is that when seeking sponsorship look it with a different set of eyes; use different language than you probably would in other ‘donor requests’.

Remember too, that sponsors become ‘partners’ in the event and, you need to take their wishes into consideration if you want to ‘win them over’; if they want XYZ above what you can offer them, look to see if there’s a way you can deliver or at least come to a compromise – it’s business after all, so expect to negotiate.

Every little bit helps

Why do people, charities insist on using the phrase “every little bit helps” when seeking support?

Each time I see this, I cringe. To some $2 is a lot of money – it’s not a little bit. To the little old lady down the road, that popped $5 in your bucket, it was her weekly bread money – to her it wasn’t a little bit.

Sure, when charities and the like use the phrase, they’re more likely thinking of the little bit – as effort, or what’s little to you and I, is BIG to those receiving it.

We all have different ways of thinking, it’s when we start thinking about our current and potential donors that we need to think about how they think, what makes them tick; and not just use words and phrases that tickle our fancy or are seen as the ‘norm.

If you don’t know what to say, spend some time looking at what others are saying; there’s no harm talking to some of your supporters to see what language they like.

One charity I did some work with held a focus meeting and invited three of their main supporters and three organisations they were hoping to get on board. The meeting was a great success with the current supporters doing all the work; all they had to do was explain why they were supporting – the others quickly pulled out their cheque books.

Perhaps organisations should look at doing this, it will help in more ways than one. You’ll learn first hand what current supporters think, and say about you, and it will help you see the language they use when talking about you. Some of this you’ll be able to craft to use in your ‘appeals’.

But, please think twice about using “every little bit helps” – it can come across as condescending and belittling.

Originally posted on AdageBusiness