business strategy

build nonprofit momentum
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6 Questions To Build Your Nonprofit’s Momentum

We ask ourselves questions almost every moment of the day. Every decision we make is an answer to a question. Every goal we set is fueled by questions.

The right questions move us closer while the wrong questions distract us.

I ask myself the following six questions at the beginning of the year to make sure I’m intentional about the direction I’m heading.

They’ve really helped me and my business so I wanted to share them with you. Set aside an hour to go through them and really figure out what you want to accomplish this year.

  1. What were my biggest successes in the past year?
  2. Why were these things successful? What did I do that worked that I can replicate?
  3. What mistakes did I make this past year and what can I learn from them?
  4. What will it take to make next year a success? In other words, write down what it will take for you to look back this same time next year and be happy with what you’ve accomplished.
  5. What projects and processes need to be put into place to make these goals happen?
  6. What mindset shifts do I need to change to make these goals happen? What do I need to approach or think about differently? What is holding me back?

Remember you don’t have to start from scratch; you can learn a lot from what you did during the last year. Build on what’s working and change what isn’t. Be brutally honest with yourself and share your answers with your team!

What Taco Bell Can Teach You About Increasing Your Newsletter’s Impact

Photo by Mike Mozart

Taco Bell has a little secret.

In fact, most fast food joints are in on this secret, and you probably haven’t event noticed.

What’s Taco Bell been keeping under wraps? Just take a look at their menu. The majority of the 40+ item menu is made up of only 3 core ingredients: meat, cheese and tortillas. The ingredients by themselves aren’t impressive (probably the opposite), but the way they repurpose the ingredients in a million different combinations keeps people coming back. And it’s a strategy worth noticing.

Now, take a look at your nonprofit. Specifically, your newsletter.

Newsletters have been around forever. They started out on paper delivered to your business or home, now they’ve moved to email and can be delivered with the click of your mouse. They’re an effective tool to keep in touch with your audience — but there’s a catch.

They’re missing one BIG thing.

Newsletters aren’t timeless. You send out the email, your audience opens and reads it once, and then it’s either buried in their inbox or sent to die in their deleted items folder. The shelf life of a newsletter is only a few minutes.

Your audience can’t bookmark a newsletter like they would an article online. The articles aren’t indexed on your site, so they can’t be found by people searching on that topic. And new subscribers have no way to catch up on past issues.

The best fix for this is creative repurposing. It’s time to ask yourself, What content from my email or print newsletters could benefit my audience on my website?

Here are a few ideas:

  • If your newsletter contains news and events, create a “Community” section or “News” tab on your website to include that information.
  • If your newsletter contains industry articles or trends, post them to your blog or “Resources” tab on your website.  This gives your audience a simple way to find the information long after you’ve sent the newsletter.
  • If your newsletter contains new information about your nonprofit’s work, add the content to your “About” pages for additional, and more permanent, reading.

Not every part of your newsletter needs to be repurposed on your website. It’s a great strategy to have exclusive content to keep your audience interested and attract new subscribers. But one rule remains unchanged: Your content needs to be good.

Really good.

When you start repurposing content, you’re not just writing for your audience anymore. Anyone searching online could stumble onto your material. Take each audience member into consideration when using newsletter content on your website.

Start by repurposing your best content. Listen to the feedback you get from core follower’s comments and see what content gets shared by your followers. Use those insights to continually improve your content and watch your audience grow from the names on your email list to anyone searching for your website!

 

How To Connect Your Non Profit with Influencers

Connect Non Profit with Influencers

If you could connect your nonprofit with any influencer in your industry, who would it be? Forget about the limitations for a second. What influential person shares your audience and has the same values as your nonprofit?

An influencer could be anyone who’s gained a large following from the content they share. For example, Michael Hyatt is an influencer in the leadership space. Dan Miller is an influencer in the entrepreneurial and career space. And our own Brian Lord is an upcoming influencer in the nonprofit space! 🙂

Over the last few years, I’ve had the opportunity to connect with hundreds of incredible influencers. In this post I’m going to give you a few strategies to help you do the same.

Why is it important to connect with influencers?

Your nonprofit does not exist in a vacuum. I believe in surrounding yourself with people who constantly help you grow, challenge you and hold you responsible to your goals.

It’s easy to get distracted, though. When we get too busy, proximity often beats quality of people, and we lose sight of expanding our circles. But you can use proximity to your advantage. Start by discovering influencers right where you are. These are influential people who live near you and automatically have something common with you. This gives you an excuse to reach out to them and a great way to start the conversation.

Another reason to reach out to influencers is to ask for help in promoting your nonprofit with a blog post or interview. I use this strategy when working with authors during their book launch. We help them identify blogs that share their target audience and would benefit from a guest post that’s related to the person’s blog, NOT about the author’s book.

The Top Reasons to Contact an Influencer/Blogger

  • Guest Posting on their blog
  • Invite them to guest post on your blog
  • Build Relationships
  • Strategic Partnerships
  • Permission to use content
  • Interviews

There is a right way and a wrong way to go about this, and it’s all in the execution and intent. Enter into every guest posting opportunity looking for a win-win-win outcome. A win for you to make it worth the effort, a win for the blogger to make it worth their time, and a win for their audience to find value in the post.

How can make sure it’s a win for everyone? Start by personalizing your outreach email (or any other type of communication.) Make sure the influencer knows the message was written specifically for them. Also, be sure to have a goal in mind before you start. Don’t reach out “just because” or you’ll be wasting valuable time.

How do you find influencers online?

Here’s my secret: The most interesting people often aren’t the most popular people.

Just because someone has a huge following doesn’t mean the quality of the audience is there. Many times, a bigger audience just means they are less targeted. I’d rather have 100 super targeted and engaged readers who take action after reading, rather than 500 un-targeted readers on a blog that specializes in five different things.

One way to quickly find influential people in any industry is to let others do the work for you. Here’s what I mean. Head over to Google and type in “top + your industry/location + blogs” For example, “Top nonprofit blogs” or “top nonprofit bloggers Nashville”.

Someone else has already done the work to scour Google for great blogs in almost every industry. Why not start with them? Use the results to start making a list of influencers to contact.

Questions to Ask Before Reaching Out

Now that you’re finding more bloggers than you know what to do with, how do you qualify them? Which ones are good quality and which ones aren’t a good fit for your nonprofit? Ask these questions:

  • Does the influencer have a history of guest posts? If not, they might be less open to a guest post.
  • What is the consistency of their monthly traffic?
  • Do they engage with their audience through comments and social media?
  • Are they active on other social channels?
  • Do they provide a way to contact them? Do they even want to be contacted?

If you have a positive answer to those questions, you’re ready to start connecting with influential bloggers in your industry. Remember, increase your chances of a positive response by personalizing your outreach email and have a specific goal you’d like to accomplish.

What questions do you have about reaching out to influencers? Let me know in the comments!

9 Simple Goal-Based Marketing Metrics To Keep Your Nonprofit On Track

nonprofit marketing goals

It’s difficult enough to keep up with your nonprofit’s marketing before even considering how to make sense of it all. But measuring the ROI of your online marketing is the only thing that’s going to save your time, money, and sanity in the long run.

By carefully measuring your marketing ROI, you can apply the Pareto (80/20) principle and determine which 20% of your marketing efforts are producing 80% of the results.

I’ve outlined a few examples of nonprofit marketing goals below and the metrics to measure each one. Use the sample goals as a reference to measure against what you’re currently tracking. It’s a quick and simple way to find holes you need to fill or see if you’re on the right track!

Read More

How to Stay Focused on Your Nonprofit’s Goals

What did you do last week that moved your nonprofit forward?

I mean something big, something you can truly measure.

It’s funny, but those huge accomplishments usually start with something very small. The difficult part is knowing what to concentrate on and having laser-like focus to get it done.

I’ve found the best way to complete these goals is to measure what I do each week that moves me closer to them. How do I do this? I track my time.

In this post I’ll give you three reasons to start tracking your time, even if just for a week. I’ve also included a video at the end of the post that will make it even easier for you to get started. It shows you exactly how to start tracking your time in just five minutes.

Here are 3 BIG benefits of tracking your time:

1. You Can Set Boundaries for Yourself (And Others)

Tracking your time can help you set beneficial boundaries for yourself and others. By tracking in real time you can start identifying patterns in your day and determine what restraints to put on yourself and others.

Pay attention to interruptions that happen throughout the day and the reasons for them. Could you have prevented some of the interruptions with a quick conversation, outlining when you needed uninterrupted time?

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3 Smart Ways to Grow Your Nonprofit’s Email List

NBB 3 smart ways email listThere’s no question that email has become the primary communication channel for nonprofits. And if that’s true, each of your marketing efforts should lead back to building your email list.

Here are my favorite ways to quickly and effectively build your email list and the reasons why it’s so important.

Why is Growing Your List Important?

If we don’t know why we are building our email list, there’s zero motivation to do it. There needs to be a strategy in place to see results.

Most people don’t understand the real benefits of an email list. They simply see it as a way to send out a monthly newsletter. A newsletter is one benefit, but here are several other reasons for building a quality email list for your nonprofit.

Keep Donors Up-to-Date

Email provides an inexpensive way to keep donors up-to-date. For example, you can create specific email lists for different types of donors, and send them updates based on what type of news interests them.

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How To Free Up Time to Think “Big Picture” for Your Nonprofit

Time managementWhen you work in a nonprofit, you know what it’s like to have a mission that drives you to work harder than you thought possible. It’s incredible what the power of a clear, compelling mission can do.

But it can also be dangerous if you don’t take time to step back and look at the bigger picture.

When was the last time you truly stepped away from your day to day tasks and took time to think about your nonprofit’s big picture? Have you made sure you are headed down the right path?

Proactive vs. Reactive Tasks

“If you don’t prioritize your life, someone else will.”
-Greg McKeown

It’s easy to do one ‘big picture’ planning session. But doing it consistently is much more difficult.  To think about the big picture consistently, take a step back and look at your day.

Do you know how much of your day is run by you and how much of it is run by others? If more than 50% is reacting to others, it doesn’t matter if you’re the boss, because other people are controlling your day.

This week, take time to record how much time you spend responding to others requests. No matter how important the request is, it’s still reactive time. This includes answering phone calls and emails, people stopping by unexpectedly, requests for help etc. Basically, anything that you didn’t plan for.

Here’s why it’s important: Taking time to think big isn’t just a problem of finding the time. It’s a priority shift.

You will never ‘have’ the time to grow your non-profit if you are always putting other people’s needs -no matter how urgent- ahead of your organization.

A Practical Approach to Planning Your Time

Before you can choose a strategy, you need to believe you can do it, and make it a priority. Planning your time starts with your mindset, before ever choosing the way to go about it.

My advice is to start small –  maybe just 15 or 30 minutes a day or a week. Decide on a time right now. Schedule that in your calendar, and guard it with your life! I like to schedule time at the beginning of the day because I know having that clarity will energize me the rest of the day.

Another helpful thing to do is keep a journal of your thoughts so you know exactly where you left off. But no matter how you go about it, if you don’t schedule the time, it won’t happen. And if you don’t make it a priority, something else will take its place.

Set Yourself Up for Success

It’s tempting to check your email or phone during your 30 minute “thinking big sessions”. But that first buzz or notification could derail all the progress you’ve made so far. Don’t let it!

Instead, do yourself a favor. Turn off your phone and put it in the other room. Turn off your wifi or better yet, close your computer and stick to good ol’ pen and paper to organize your thoughts.

Then you can transfer them onto the computer, if needed.

If you aren’t comfortable with disappearing for 30 minutes during the day, tell the most important people what you’re doing. Let them know that you’ll be doing this every week, at this time, and ask them to help you by making sure you aren’t interrupted.

Take the Challenge

Try taking 30 minutes for yourself just twice this week, to think big picture. Are you up for it? Let me know in the comments!

Guidelines For Writing NBB Blogs

Screen shot 2014-06-17 at 12.19.03 PMWe’ve assembled some great writers and thinkers, like Joel Widmer, Shannon Litton, and Daniel White as our regular contributors, with some great part-time writers and guest-posters as well. As we officially launch this NBB site, I like to make the guidelines and suggestions known for what we’re looking for and trying to accomplish for each blog.

Dear blogger: Here’s what you need to know when writing for NonBoardBoard (NBB)

1) It’s OK to mention Jesus in your post. Most of the focus of NBB is on the business side of running a non profit. However, that shouldn’t make us forget the ‘why’ of what we’re doing.  Some guy 2,000 years ago worked hard to make sandals that helped the disciples walk farther and longer to reach more people with the gospel.  Even though he didn’t have a glamorous job, he was still very important at helping the disciples do what they do better.  The same goes for us.  We share our ‘non-glamorous’ expertise in skills like social media, accounting, efficiency, strategic planning, networking, etc, so that these leaders and their nonprofits can go out and preach the gospel, serve the widows and the orphans, heal the sick, rescue the slaves, and make an impact on the world.

2) It’s OK to mention mistakes in your post.  One of the driving goals of NBB is to remind leaders it’s OK for them not to know everything, and part of that is admitting mistakes.  In the ‘about’ section, I admit one of my mistakes that almost stopped NonBoardBoard before it really got started.  The important thing is that if you do make a mistake, you fix it, you improve, and you go on to make an even bigger impact. Read More

May 16- Creating A Culture of Gratitude- Beth Torres

Screen shot 2013-08-07 at 5.31.52 PMIs “Gratitude” a legitimate non-profit business concept? How can Gratitude positively drive business strategy, board management, staff management, and community engagement?

Beth Torres will reveal the truth that the power of Gratitude is something  all nonprofits can use to create a point of difference.  For location, time and details, click here.

Beth Torres has been the President and CEO of Make A Wish Middle Tennessee for the past two years.  Prior to that, she was the Vice President of Event Funding and Development for Junior Achievement.  She is a fan of the best sports conference in America, and likely the world, The Big Ten.  You can follow her on twitter here: @_beth_torres


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