I’m back from the Nonprofit Technology Conference. At one of my sessions, I talked about the importance of taking the vast problems we seek to address and the critical importance of translating them into a scale that is:1.) Relatable2.) Addressable and3) InspiringWhen we fail to do this, we overwhelm people and create the impression their support won’t make a dent in our social problem.Here are examples of making this translation. At the conference, See3, YouTube, NTEN and Cisco announced these videos were among the winners of the 2013 DoGooder Video Awards. They take big, faraway issues and make them immediate to the kinds of people who are likely to take action for that cause. They stake a point of view with a clear audience. And they inspire action in a funny way. Enjoy.
Follow these steps to strengthen your relationship with donors and increase retention rates. In my next post on this topic, I’ll share some key strategies for creating email newsletters that won’t immediately see the delete button.With refreshing practicality, Nancy Schwartz rolls up her sleeves to help nonprofits develop and implement strategies to build the strong relationships that inspire key supporters to action. She shares her deep nonprofit marketing insights—and passion—through consulting, speaking, and her popular blog and e-news at GettingAttention.org. You’ve seen it happen: When we stop putting energy into relationships with family and friends—relying on past interactions to hold us together—those relationships tend to fall apart. Like your college roommate or that work friend from your first job.Relationships with organization’s donors require the same kind of focus and energy for the duration—if you want to keep them happy, involved, and giving.Unfortunately, recent research suggests that most fundraisers are doing a poor job of maintaining connections, with donor retention rates at an all-time low of 39%. That means your organization could be cut from the give-to list at any point.But there is a proven approach to stopping this fatal attrition—placing hyperfocus on relationships with existing donors to keep them close. That’s mammoth potential, and your donor newsletter is a vital tool for bringing it to life.Here’s how to put your newsletter into play:1. Share, don’t ask.The primary goal of both print and e-newsletters is to reshape your donor relationships from transactional to one that’s more personal, productive, and long term—the big three of donor retention.The only way to get there is to get beyond the ask. After your prompt thanks to a donor for her first gift, you want to invite her further into your organization. Make her feel acknowledged, appreciated, and right at home, just as you would the first time you invite a new friend into your home.In much the same way, your newsletter invites donors in to experience your organization’s (and community’s) personality, promises, and values in a rich, close way.2. Connect your content and your people.Think of your newsletters as opportunities to visit with a donor. Your print newsletter (vital if your donor base skews heavily toward older supporters) is like a rich, immersive visit where you have the opportunity to get into deep conversation. (In many cases, an occasional print newsletter can actually help your organization stand out.) On the other hand, your e-news is more like a quick drop-in.Stories form the core of your newsletter. Prioritize the elements donors focus on most: photos, headlines, photo captions, and articles. Here’s where you show what your donors’ gifts have accomplished and tell how much you appreciate them.Send this version of yournewsletter in both formats only to active and recent donors so your voice stays clear and focused.3. Keep it all about donors—with an imaginary editorial board.It’s tough to remember that your organization is just one small part of your donors’ lives, especially when you live your job. But consider your personal donations—how often do you think about the organizations you support?Keep your donors front and center with an imaginary editorial board composed of personas (aka profiles: how-tos here) representing up to nine of your most important donor segments.Then, get to know your editorial board members by surrounding your desk with these profiles, and keep them in front of you while you write. It sounds hokey, but it works!4. Make it easy to recognize and remember.Using a different mix of written and graphic content, and sometimes even different layouts, for every issue is the most common error in print newsletter production. Ugh!Although this “use whatever we’ve got” or “let’s keep it from getting boring” approach might make it easier for you to get the newsletter out the door, you’re making it tough for donors to recognize it at a glance (that’s all the time you get) and absorb it.Instead, create a content formula or mix based on your donor personas’ wants and interests. Consistently following this formula makes it easier for you to find and craft the content you need and for readers to recognize your newsletter at a glance—increasing the odds that they’ll read it.
In the recently released Individual Donor Benchmark Report, the folks at Third Space Studio and BC/DC Ideas looked at fundraising data for organizations with budgets under $2 million. The report contains a wealth of information—including insight on donor communication, recurring giving programs, and technology use—that can help small and medium nonprofits understand how to best reach potential donors. The research also observed data practices of small nonprofits. Not surprisingly, these organizations often struggle to collect and use their own data to optimize their fundraising approach. Since this information can make a huge difference in the success of a campaign, how can fundraisers make the time to dig into their data to identify new opportunities and communicate more effectively with donors? Consider these three tips on getting started from Third Space Studio’s Heather Yandow: 1. Start small.It can be overwhelming to think about all of the types of data you could be collecting. If you’re just starting out, focus on tracking just a few key metrics like number of donors, number of new donors, and average gift. Also consider the reports built into your database and fundraising tools. 2. Get the most bang for your buck.Understand which metrics have the most impact on your fundraising program and start there. Are you struggling with keeping donors year after year? Take a closer look at your retention rate by type of donors (volunteers, activists, major donors) or by channel (online, direct mail, events). Are you considering moving from direct mail to online only? Try an experiment with a subset of your donors and track the results. (Try this simple worksheet to design and track your experiments.)3. Make it easy for Future You.Keep a record of how you define your metrics and how you measure them. A year from now, you may not remember if lapsed members meant someone hadn’t given in one year or two – or if you counted people who bought tickets to your special event as donors. Be sure to capture those distinctions, including how you tricked your database into giving you the data you wanted, in a safe place so that Future You can calculate the data in the same way next time around.How are you using your fundraising and marketing data to shape your approach with potential and existing donors? Share your tips and challenges in the comments below!
An organization’s ability to accomplish its mission is only as strong as the organization’s infrastructure. As you fight to make the world a better place, how do you make sure you’re providing a nonprofit workplace that fosters fairness and complies with the necessary rules and regulations? I recently had a chance to catch up with the Aina Gutierrez, author of Walking the Walk: A Values Centered Approach to Building a Strong Non-Profitand Deputy Director of Interfaith Worker Justice. Her new book is an easily digestible, yet comprehensive, practical guide to organizing and improving internal operations and finances.NFG: What drove you to write this handbook? Aina Gutierrez: The national nonprofit I work for, Interfaith Worker Justice, has a network of more than 40 affiliates that are small organizations with less than 10 staff. Part of my job in the last twelve years has been to train these groups on the subjects outlined in the book (office administration, fundraising, financial management, board development and human resources). There were two trends I saw in talking to these groups and other small nonprofits I’ve been involved with. The first is that most small groups struggle with these “back office” issues because there were few training resources and materials for those that juggle multiple roles and don’t have the time (nor passion!) around building systems and procedures. And yet, many of them were really struggling with personnel issues and managing their budgets. It caused many staff and board leaders stress and burnout.The second is that many of the policies and procedures of small nonprofits don’t seem to reflect the values that the organizations espouse in their programmatic work. A number of staff work for low pay and few benefits. Most small organizations don’t have access to constructive feedback or support. I felt strongly about the need to reflect the organization’s values in the way it operates, and that a written resource might be the best way to do that.NFG: The book is geared toward small nonprofits with fewer than 10 employees. We work with many organizations who also have volunteer “staff” or staff members who are running their nonprofits on the side? Can you share some advice for those situations? AG: Sure. It’s pretty amazing, but the smallest nonprofit isn’t that much less complicated to run than a more established organization. Both have boards, raise money, file government forms and have policies. This can be tricky for groups without paid staff, or with part-time staff. There’s never enough money or time to accomplish everything.NFG: Can you share some advice for those situations?AG: So I would recommend that your readers do a quick assessment of each area outlined in the book and highlight parts that seem important to the organization that are missing. The book has chapters on staff, board, office systems and management, government requirements, finance, and fund development. And just start working on it, bit by bit. Include a few tasks in the organization’s workplan, or find a board member or two that are willing to help. There’s a lot of information online and from allied organizations that can be easily adapted and used for small nonprofits. It’s really just being aware of the back office work that needs to be done and doing a little bit at a time.NFG: There’s an entire section on building and managing your board. We hear from many nonprofits who struggle with this relationship. Why do you think this is often such a difficult piece of the puzzle?AG: I think any institution made up of passionate people who bring with them varying ideas and perspectives will not be without its share of internal struggles. An organization’s board is no different. Managing the board can be very rewarding, but it can also be frustrating at times.. And, as staff, it can sometimes feel like its not worth the time and energy to build a strong board, so it falls by the wayside.But, it is worth it. The key is to continue to recruit and develop leaders that care about the organization and have something wonderful to contribute to its success. If someone doesn’t have a skill set or experience to help, or creates a lot of drama, or brings a different agenda to the table, or doesn’t want to do any work – that person shouldn’t be on the board. It can be time consuming to recruit and keep the right people for the job, but a small group of people that really connect and are willing to work can help build the organization in some really incredible ways.NFG: What are some of the challenges you’ve observed in nonprofits who don’t have strong administrative systems? AG: Oh goodness, there are so many stories. Every nonprofit I’ve worked with has at least one horrible story that cost a lot of time, energy and usually money to fix. I certainly have made plenty of own mistakes in this area!The biggest challenge with organizations that don’t have strong systems is that it’s not an efficient way to operate. Pulling together a 300 person mailing shouldn’t be an all day job. But if your database is disorganized, the printer jams the envelopes, and you have to run to the post office to buy stamps, it can take hours. It impacts the important work that the group should be doing. And its super frustrating for the staff!Having weak systems can also cost a lot of money. I’ve worked with a number of groups that miss government filing deadlines and have to pay late fees. Or groups that order office supplies last minute and pay expensive overnight shipping for a meeting. Or, groups that miss grant deadlines because there are not good tracking systems for applications or reports. These things all cost the organization a lot of money, and there often isn’t money to go around.NFG: What are the payoffs for getting it right?AG: One of the biggest rewards of those with good administrative systems is that they are able to engage more people in their work. Organizations that are able to efficiently communicate with their constituents and potential supporters via email or direct mail are more likely to receive more donations and support than those that don’t communicate. Donors that are assured the organization is run well will continue to give and often give more. Board members that are better connected or informed about the work will more likely be better engaged and provide more help.Having good administrative systems is really the backbone of any strong nonprofit organization. It has a direct impact on its programmatic work and financial viability.NFG: This book is obviously a great guide for emerging organizations, can established nonprofits learn a trick or two as well? Should these organizations re-assess their processes? How often?AG: Yes, definitely. I encourage readers of more established groups to first review the policies and practices outlined in the book and make sure they have similar structures in place. Second, take a look at their own policies through a values-centered lens and see if there are areas that don’t reflect the organization’s values. And third, consider if its time to update a few things. For example, my organization recently looked at our healthcare plan to see if we should try the state-based exchange through the Affordable Care Act. It didn’t make sense for us to change right now, but it is likely something that will impact our healthcare benefits in the future. Even long time organizations should try and keep up on policy changes that could benefit small nonprofits.All organizations should look at the administrative and financial progress made every year. Don’t look at everything, but when the organization is making its annual goals and objectives, it should include some work on internal policies and procedures. Incorporate this work incrementally into the organization’s board and staff and new things will be done every year. Progress is something to feel good about!Thanks to Aina for her insight and for providing a handy guide to policies and processes that can sometimes feel daunting. For more tips and insight, check out Walking the Walk: A Values Centered Approach to Building a Strong Non-Profit.
Summer is just different. Even though schooldays ended eons ago for most of us, our focus, attitudes, and readiness to act change as the weather warms.Over the years, I’ve heard from many of you that you feel the same, as do your supporters and prospects. And you’ve asked me how to connect in the context of sizzling summer distractions. This Book Could Change Your Life: Great Summer Reads for Fundraisers Here are three ways to up your summer communications game: Craft your asks to be short, sweet, and personal, like this creative appeal from Food for the Poor, suggests fundraiser Pamela Grow. Nothing is more important than crafting content that’s relevant to your readers. But it’s challenging when they’re distracted by the delights of ice cream, the beach, and after-dinner badminton. What summertime shifts do you make in your fundraising campaigns and communications? Please share in the comments section! Whatever summertime shifts you consider, it’s ideal to base them on what you know about your people, anecdotally and/or via data on last summer’s responses. If possible, measure before and after each shift, and make only one change at a time so you know what does or doesn’t work. Send less frequently. No Friday sends. More Summer Stuff Make your content more fun, light, active, and short attention span friendly, advises Kivi Leroux Miller from Nonprofit Marketing Guide. Be aware that you’re communicating to people who are on or just back from vacation, says John Haydon. That could mean sending an email twice (with a fresh subject line the second time), with round two going to those who didn’t open the first, and extending a campaign period into early fall. If you know your people are on email less and Facebook more, follow them where they are. This applies whatever the season. Here’s more summertime shift guidance from some of the best fundraisers and communicators I know: Reboot with These 6 Summer Camp Strategies Shift your topic, tone, and/or language to make it seasonally relevant and fun. Change timing and/or frequency. A quick poll of nonprofit communicators found this to be the most common summertime shift. With refreshing practicality, Nancy Schwartz rolls up her sleeves to help nonprofits develop and implement strategies to build strong relationships that inspire key supporters to action. She shares her deep nonprofit marketing insights—and passion—through consulting, speaking, and her popular blog and e-news at GettingAttention.org.
ShareEmailPrint To learn more, read: Posted on June 15, 2012June 16, 2017By: Gary Darmstadt and Wendy Prosser, Bill & Melinda Gates FoundationClick to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)This post was originally posted on Impatient Optimists.With almost 200 million people living in the state of Uttar Pradesh, India, a state more populous than the entire country of Brazil, the sheer breadth of exciting, new ways to improve maternal and child health is enormous. With all of those people and increased investments in health research and service delivery along with a growing economy, imagine how much information and knowledge can be shared when it comes to finding solutions for some of the most challenging women’s and children’s health issues. But also imagine how complicated it must be to find the right people with the right information to learn from to scale up these programs.I had the chance to talk to our partners at the Urban Health Initiative (UHI) in Uttar Pradesh last week. The Urban Health Initiative works to improve the health of the urban poor—particularly in enabling women to plan their families and access the contraceptives that they want—in this densely populated area. I asked their opinions about what we’re doing that works, what doesn’t work, what we should change—and what we are not doing that they would like us to do.They encouraged us to do more in the area of knowledge sharing, because they see the tremendous benefits of learning from other organizations, partners, the private sector, and global thought leaders. They see the synergies that can exist even between sectors, like family planning and HIV, and want to exploit those in the most beneficial ways.For example, foundation partners who work in the contraceptives arena know that, in Uttar Pradesh, 21 percent of women want to use some form of birth control but they don’t. Knowledge is understanding why those women don’t use birth control—for example, because the health center closest to her house has been out of stock of her preferred method for a couple of months, or because she is too embarrassed to get condoms from her neighborhood store—and then to act on that information to create lasting solutions.This conversation I had in Uttar Pradesh reminded me of the thoughts that were shared at the Achieving Lasting Impact at Scale convening at the end of last year. That convening brought practitioners, researchers, and global experts together to start the conversation on diffusion and dissemination, and of scaling up successful interventions for impact in maternal and child health—not just documentation of inputs or things done, but real impact in improving the health of women and children.The ideas from our partners at UHI are the catalyst to change the way we think and talk about the ways in which we provide women’s and children’s health care in developing countries. They specifically suggested the breakdown of “silos,” or separation between organizations and sectors working in different health arenas, by creating platforms to share learning and knowledge.We’re talking about much more than sharing information, data, trip summaries, or progress reports from activity implementation.Our partners in Uttar Pradesh are asking for inventive ways to share knowledge to scale successful interventions which have a positive, lasting impact on women’s and children’s health. And we’re working to address this need, given the tremendous potential to increase our collective ability for impact when it comes to maternal, newborn, and child health in India—and to disseminate this learning from India for benefit throughout the world.Share this:
Posted on December 5, 2012November 13, 2014Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)A new post, Above All, Do No Harm: The Sad State of Health Care Quality in Rural Madhya Pradesh, on the Center for Global Development Blog offers an informative summary of a recent publication, In Urban And Rural India, A Standardized Patient Study Showed Low Levels Of Provider Training And Huge Quality Gaps, in Health Affairs that explores major challenges with quality of care in public and private health facilities in India.From the blog post:The study finds serious deficits in quality. Interactions between patients and providers were short (3.6 minutes on average) and the emphasis in both sectors was to give several medications to the patient as quickly as possible.Across all cases, the correct treatment protocol was followed 30% of the time, while unnecessary or harmful treatment was prescribed or dispensed 42% of the time. Only one-third of providers articulated a diagnosis, correct or incorrect. When a diagnosis was issued, close to half were wrong, and only 12% were fully correct.What’s going on?Read the full post on the Center for Global Development Blog.Access the full publication in Health Affairs.Share this: ShareEmailPrint To learn more, read:
Posted on May 14, 2013March 8, 2017By: Kate Mitchell, Manager of the MHTF Knowledge Management System, Women and Health InitiativeClick to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)On May 12th, NPR ran a story, C-Sections Deliver Cachet For Wealthy Brazilian Women, that explores the extraordinary numbers of Cesarean deliveries occurring in Brazil. The author discusses various factors that might be contributing to the issue: To what extent are women demanding Cesarean births? Are doctors pressuring women to opt for surgery? Are Cesarean births becoming a “status” symbol? The author also examines the role of doulas, or birth coaches–and raises questions about how doulas, fairly uncommon in Brazil, might serve as a critical intervention in supporting women who would like to have a vaginal birth but are feeling pressured into a Cesarean delivery. Excerpt from the piece:There is a debate in Brazil as to why the rate here is so high. Doctors like Sasaoka say it’s due to the demand. But new mother Mariana — who doesn’t want her last name used for fear of offending her doctor — says often women feel bullied into it. She says she wanted to have a vaginal delivery. “My doctor said to me he’d have more control in a C-section than in a natural birth,” she says. He also told her he would also almost certainly have to do an episiotomy — a procedure where the vaginal opening gets cut to allow for delivery. She was terrified. She says her doctor kept telling her that C-sections were better, and that she felt pressure to have one.Read the full story. Listen to the audio version of the story. Learn about the Maternal Health Task Force’s work to better understand the under- and over-use of Cesarean births in low-income countries. Share this: ShareEmailPrint To learn more, read:
Posted on May 24, 2013March 8, 2017By: Sarah Blake, MHTF consultantClick to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)The MHTF is packing up and heading to Malaysia for the Women Deliver conference May 28-30. Women Deliver conferences always provides a unique forum for advocates, donors, researchers, programmers and policy makers to come together address a range of issues affecting women and girls.This year’s conference comes in the midst of a number of major developments for the global maternal health agenda. In the past year, the London Summit on Family Planning generated $4 billion in new investments in family planning, and launched the FP2020 campaign. This is big news for maternal health, since one third of maternal deaths could be prevented just by addressing the unmet need for family planning. And, the 1000 Day countdown to the 2015 MDG deadline began amid ongoing negotiations for the post-2015 global development agenda. In fact, in just the past week, the World Health Organization released the 2013 World Health Statistics report – which shows that maternal mortality continues to decline by around three percent annually – half of what is needed to reach MDG5 by 2015; the World Health Assembly began discussions of the recommendations of the UN Commission on Lifesaving Commodities for Women and Children; and the inaugural International Day to End Obstetric Fistula was marked.As we look ahead to the conference, we look forward to hearing:What will Melinda Gates say about the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s family planning strategy?What will UN leaders and grassroots advocates say about how maternal health and the post-2015 global development framework?What will this year’s Countdown to 2015 country profiles show about which countries are accelerating progress toward improving maternal health?How will UNFPA’s new initiatives on family planning and maternal health foster new partnerships and innovative technologies to expand access and quality of health services?What discussions, announcements and events are you looking forward to? Please join us in person and online next week:On Tuesday, May 28, Ana Langer, Director the Women and Health Initiative and Professor at the Harvard School of Public Health, will take part in the Presidential Session on Women’s Health on at 14:45 in the Plenary Hall.Throughout the conference, the MHTF will be at booth #201.Our colleagues at the Wilson Center will be blogging highlights from each day’s events.We will be sharing a special Women Deliver edition of the MH Buzz next week to highlight new research findings and other top news for the conference.Women Deliver will be webcasting videos of many sessions live, and will save videos as archives for viewing later. Plus, the Women Deliver website has links to tons of other ways that you can participate – even if you cannot make it to Malaysia. Check out their ongoing blog series on the 2013 conference, the conference agenda, and schedule of partner and side events.Whether you’re participating in the conference online or in person, please share your thoughts with us: the MHTF will be cross-posting blog posts and re-tweeting maternal health news throughout the conference. Follow us on Twitter @MHTF or email any blog posts that you would like us to consider for guest or cross-posting to Kate Mitchell: firstname.lastname@example.org or Sarah Blake: email@example.com.Share this: ShareEmailPrint To learn more, read:
Posted on July 10, 2013March 6, 2017By: Dr. Alice Self, Sandwell General Hospital, Lyndon, West Bromwich; Hannah Knight, Research Fellow, Health Informatics, Office for Research and Clinical Audit, Lindsay Stewart R&D Centre, Royal College of Obstetricians and GynaecologistsClick to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)It can be hard to imagine the challenges some women and their families face whilst trying to access timely and effective maternity care:“By the time they struggled to get her an admission card, by the time she was admitted, by the time her file was made up, by the time the midwife was called, by the time the midwife finished eating, by the time the midwife came, by the time the husband went and bought some gloves, by the time the midwife examined the woman, by the time the doctor could be found, by the time the husband went out to buy drugs, IV set, drip and bottle of ether, by the time the haematologist was called, by the time the haematologist came and took blood from the poor tired husband, by the time the day and night nurses changed duty, by the time the day and night doctors changed duty, by the time the t’s had been properly crossed and all the i’s dotted and the husband signed the consent form, the woman died.”Extract from a letter by F Tahzib, University of Sokoto, Nigeria (1989), cited in Thaddeus & Maine (1994)Although it was written almost 30 years ago, this powerful excerpt serves to illustrate some of the numerous and persistent barriers that still prevent many women from receiving effective and timely care, even once they reach a health facility.A group of researchers from the University of Oxford decided to examine the literature on this topic in order to better understand these facility-level (otherwise known as Phase III) delays. Previous studies had tended to focus on the challenges women face in reaching a hospital on time, rather than what happened once they arrived.PLOS has now published this systematic review in its MHTF-PLOS Maternal Health Collection. The review identifies 32 different barriers that can prevent women from receiving timely and appropriate obstetric care once they arrive at a medical facility, and classifies these into 6 categories: human resources; drugs and equipment; facility infrastructure; policy and guidelines; patient-related and referral-related.The most commonly cited barriers in the literature were:inadequate training/skills mixdrug procurement/logistics problemsstaff shortageslack of equipmentlow staff motivationTwo important conclusions emerge from this work and are worth highlighting:Although patient-side delays in the decision to seek care and in reaching a medical facility are responsible for a great number of maternal deaths, focusing only on these delays can mask the fact that many health facilities in the developing world are still chronically under-resourced and unable to cope effectively with serious obstetric complications. Providers and policy-makers must work together to address supply-side barriers alongside demand-side factors if further reductions in maternal mortality are to be achieved.Simple, replicable tools to assess facility-level barriers are badly needed to assist health managers in identifying facilities that deliver sub-optimal care, and in both making and monitoring the required improvements. No generally accepted methodology exists and this makes comparisons between countries very difficult. The authors call for the introduction of benchmark indicators that assess the content and quality of maternal care, rather than the rates of skilled attendance at birth alone.Read the systematic review. Take a look at the MHTF-PLOS Maternal Health Collection.Share this: ShareEmailPrint To learn more, read: