Thursday, August 25, 2011

The 10 Commandments Of Nonprofit Communication

It's pretty incredible how much can change in a decade.  Back in 1999, the Internet was still a new phenomenon; people still didn't know what to make of it.  In 2011, the thought of doing anything without the it seems absurd.  The rise of social media and mobile technology has allowed us to be plugged in at all times, for better or for worse.  This has made the world of nonprofit communication much simpler, but it's also made it more convoluted.  That's why Herschell Gordon Lewis, author of Hot Appeals or Burnt Offerings and frequent contributor to The NonProfit Times, wrote a new column which we just published on our site.  He outlines "10 Commandments" that all nonprofits should follow if they want to survive in this new era of technology.  Let's take a look at some of them:

The First Commandment: Thou shalt make response simple.


We’re deep in the Internet Era, in which attention spans have shrunk to minuscule size. Don’t ask for more information than you need until you have the prospect at least comfortably secured in your own web. And, avoid the nasty and too-common word “Submit.” Right now, before facing “Submit” head-on, start thinking about a substitute.


The Second Commandment: Thou shalt stay in character.


A peculiar development is what some veteran fundraisers call “The Facebook Effect.” The projected mood bobs, weaves, and shifts as the appeal thinks it progresses but actually generates confusion for what should be the most probable donors.


The Third Commandment: Thou shalt not steal, except from noncompetitive sources.


Yes, yes, all nonprofit appeals are competitive with all other nonprofit appeals. But if you’re a hospital in Albuquerque and see a usable bright idea in an appeal by a college in Pittsburgh (you should be decoying every nonprofit mailing and email you can find), grab it and run with it.


The Fourth Commandment: Thou shalt not fall for fads.


This is back to Facebook and Twitter. If with dollars spent, against dollars returned, these media work for you, stay with them. But if you’re there because you subscribe to the dangerous dictum “That which represents a change automatically represents a profitable change,” be more than observant. Be critically comparative.


The Fifth Commandment: Thou shalt never again start a fundraising letter with the ancient clich√©, “Dear Friend.”


If this Commandment puzzles you, you’re in trouble.

Don't stop here, there's still 10 more commandments to go!  Read the rest of them over at The NonProfit Times.

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