Insights From The 2016 Nonprofit Communications Trends Report

It’s 2016 and our friends at the Nonprofit Marketing Guide have published the updated 2016 Nonprofit Communications Trends Report below. It’s packed with interesting insights into how nonprofits communicate.

Here are a few of the most interesting insights we found:

  • Social media came in second place for most important communication channel, ranking higher than email.
  • 72% of nonprofits expect their communications staff to stay the same, and only 20% expect their staff to grow.
  • The priorities of different nonprofit roles varied greatly, but everyone agreed on one thing: The communication channel that’s likely to produce the most conflict about its importance is the website.




2015 Nonprofit Communication Trends Report [Infographic]

Recently the team from NonprofitMarketingGuide published the 2015 Nonprofit Communication Trends Report, and it’s packed with some really interesting insights!

  • This is the first year that community engagement and donor retention have surpassed priority in acquiring new donors.
  • Nonprofit websites and email marketing are still the most important communication channels which hasn’t changed in the last year.
  • The biggest challenges are not enough time to create quality content and a lack of budget.

Check out the rest of the infographic below for insights on how to help your nonprofit’s communication in 2015!

nonprofit communication trends


Joel Widmer is the Founder and President of Fluxe Digital Marketing.


Burnout by Rob Fitzpatrick

How To Evaluate Nonprofit Marketing Opportunities by Joel Widmer

nonprofit marketing opportunities

How To Evaluate Nonprofit Marketing Opportunities

“An opportunity that doesn’t align with your goals is a distraction, no matter how lucrative it is.”

I wrote down that piece of advice for my future self a few years back after I took advantage of a few “opportunities” only to find I was even further from my goals after pursuing them.

I love a good opportunity, but sometimes, in the moment, it’s hard to evaluate how valuable it will be. I’ve found I can’t trust myself to distinguish between an opportunity that will truly move move me closer to my goals and the blind justification that comes with being ecstatic about a new idea.

So how can you keep a level head when you’re about to say YES to a marketing opportunity that could be a game-changer for your nonprofit — but could potentially derail it as well?

Of course, surrounding yourself with wise people helps immensely, but I’ve found that these few questions are great to ask yourself and your team when faced with a new opportunity. Whether you’re starting a new social media strategy, an Adwords campaign, or a strategic partnership, these questions will help you evaluate any marketing opportunity that comes your way.

Who is my target audience for this opportunity?

Before pursuing a marketing opportunity, you should know two things: Who is your exact target audience? And are you using the best channels to reach that particular audience?

Resist the temptation of saying “everybody” is your target audience. Create a customer persona for the audience you’re going after. Look at your past marketing campaigns for any data that might help with the target audience. If you haven’t targeted this audience before, there is absolutely nothing wrong with experimenting. Just be sure to measure and evaluate whether they’re worth pursuing.

Will this opportunity move me closer to my goals?

What are your goals for this marketing project? Make sure you clearly outline what a win looks like for the project and what you’re willing to do to reach those goals. In the days of Don Draper, all clients had to do was approve sketches and new ads. Today, effective marketing takes more involvement and resources from the client.

What resources will it take to execute this opportunity and is this the best place to focus those resources?

If your team is executing this campaign internally, make sure you know what resources will be required. If an outside marketing company is working on the project your team won’t be tied up, so it just depends on what’s best for your situation. Look at the timeline of the project and everything else you have going on and decide whether to keep the project in-house or hire an outside company.

Are there other ways to get more out of your goal?

Now that you have your end goal in mind, how can you get even more out of it? If you look at the pieces of the marketing campaign, you may find you can get even more out of your individual marketing assets.

For example, if your goal is to write 3 e-books to use for educating prospects and building your email list, you have two choices. You could simply write those e-books, or you could use your blog to share excerpts of them and get people interested in the subjects, while also stretching your content much further.

How can we predict the outcome of this opportunity?

Find companies who have done similar marketing campaigns and do your homework. Research what their audience’s reaction was to the campaign, how much of an impact it had, and any mistakes they made that you can avoid. If they aren’t a competitor, it’s even worth giving them a call to ask them directly.

How does this opportunity fit into the rest of my marketing strategy? 

Does it compliment or compete with it? Your new marketing opportunity should complement, and even enhance, your current marketing. It should also fit in with the other stages in your marketing. For example, if you see that most of your marketing falls in the early stage and this is an early-stage opportunity, you may want to hold off until you balance it out with middle and late stage marketing.

Use these questions as a guide to quickly evaluate each new marketing opportunity. Your answers will tell you whether each opportunity that comes along is worth your time and investment.

free images for nonoprofits

Where To Find Great Free Pictures For Your Nonprofit Blog

Here’s my secret stash of completely free photos for the taking. They don’t have any copyrights so you don’t have to worry about anyone coming after you. Just download and use them on your blog, email, website, marketing collateral or anywhere else!

Each site is updated with new photos daily : ) – Searches multiple free stock photo sites – Also aggregates multiple free photo sites – You have to register but all photos are free to use and great selection – Free photo aggregator site. Hundreds of new photos added daily! – Variety of different photos sorted by tags, which makes it easy to find them!

One last tip! Most of these photos are high resolution and therefore very large. If you want to reduce the size of the image so it does not take up so much space on your website, use this free compressor tool that will reduce it to a fraction of the size without compromising quality:

by Joel Widmer

The Seinfeld Elevator Pitch Method For Nonprofits


Screen shot 2015-02-09 at 2.25.39 PMHave you ever wanted the ability to get someone to emotionally connect with your nonprofit in just seconds?  A few years ago we stumbled across a method to do so, and it’s been a huge help to our nonprofit leaders ever since.  

And it all started with a show about nothing.

The genius of Seinfeld was how quickly he brought you into his world.  During the early seasons, he’d lead into the show with clips of his stand-up starting with, “Have you ever noticed the guy who…” and then he’d mention some funny characteristic.  Watching at home, you’d immediately think of a friend with that same characteristic. 

Invariably, the trait Seinfeld mentioned would lead you into the quirky, crazy over-the-top world in which only Jerry, Kramer, Elaine and George lived.  With one sentence, he connected with you emotionally, kept you hooked, and brought you into his world.

Develop your own “Seinfeld Elevator Pitch”

Read these two sentences and see which one connects with you more:

  1. “I’m with a nonprofit and we help people who’ve been addicted to drugs, come out of prison, or who’ve been in an abusive relationship.”
  2. “Have you ever known someone with a tough background who had trouble getting back on their feet?”

When you read the first one, what popped into your mind?  Was it someone you didn’t know going to help someone else you didn’t know?  Or possibly that it seemed like a well-intentioned list?

But when you read the second sentence, maybe the first thing that popped into your mind was an actual person, a friend or a loved one.  Someone who’d had a tough life and just couldn’t seem to break the cycle.  Once that person is in your mind, everything else you hear will have an emotional anchor.

STEP 1: Write your “Seinfeld” question.

Choose a question that helps your listener put an actual person in mind, and will lead to what you actually do.  

When our leaders started doing this, they saw big results. The elevator pitch stopped being about them and their nonprofit, and it started being about the person hearing the pitch.  It also helped them crystalize what the pitch should be about — connecting people, not about listing facts.

Emotional connection trumps listing facts every time for memory recall.

Why The Pitch Order Matters – The Old-Timey Newspaper Method

Remember newspapers?  Unlike their online progeny, space for an article wasn’t unlimited.  The most important information was first, then the second most important, and so on.  That allowed editors to cut out the end of your article if a more important story came along, but the readers still had the most important information.

The same goes for your elevator pitch.  After your engaging question, put the most important thing someone should know first, then the second, and so on.  Time becomes less of a factor.  If you’re only going from the third to the first floor at least you’re able to get in the three most important sentences.  If you’re going from the first floor to the top of the Chrysler building, too bad for them!

STEP 2: Write down the single most important fact someone should know about your organization.  Then the second, and third.

This is difficult, but you need to write down the single most important thing someone should know about your organization.  Then you need to shorten that.  Then you need to figure out the second, and so on.  The more intentional you are about this, the better your pitch will be.

Call To Action

Whether you’ve had time for three sentences or thirty, your last sentence should be a call to action in the form of a question.  It can be anything from “Will you pray for us?” to “Would you like to be on our mailing list?” or “Would you like to donate to our cause?”

Then wait.  Quietly. Do not say another word until the other person says something.  I’m serious.  See how I’m writing short sentences without commas for emphasis.

This is shocking, but some people actually think before they speak!  And this thinking takes time.  If we ask a question and then answer that question for a person, or don’t give them time to think, we’re being disrespectful.  It’s hard, but get used to five seconds of silence.

Communication is a two-way street, so you need to close with some sort of call to action. If you’re just talking at someone and it appears there’s no reason, you’re just blowing hot air.  The call to action gives what you’ve been saying a purpose. 

STEP 3: Create a closing call to action question.

I always consider an elevator pitch a work in progress, but here is the current NonBoardBoard elevator pitch:

“Have you ever been in a position as a leader where you were expected to know everything, but didn’t? (pause)  NonBoardBoard is a Christian nonprofit that helps leaders fill in those blanks of knowledge so they can be even more effective in serving others.  (short pause) We do this through a monthly speaker series, online resources like, networking and consulting. For almost five years we’ve helped leaders who help others on 5 continents and 16 countries.  Would you like to attend a NonBoardBoard meeting? (wait for response)”

Every time I’ve asked the “Seinfeld” question to a leader, I get a “yes!”  The next sentence tells what we do.  The following sentence tells how we do it.  Then there’s a little bragging, but it helps people to know we’ve been doing this a while and there’s some reach.  Finally, there is a call to action.  

Even if I had to drop the ‘how we do it’ sentence and ‘brag’ sentence, a person would still get the idea based on the lead-in question and what we do.

BONUS STEP: Customize your elevator pitches.

Your elevator pitch should change depending on who you’re talking to.  The one above is for a nonprofit leader who we want to come to an NBB event.  Here is one to an ‘influencer’, or a person who might know nonprofit leaders we want to reach.

“Have you ever known a nonprofit leader with a huge heart but who didn’t quite have all the business skills to match? (pause) NonBoardBoard is a Christian nonprofit that helps leaders fill in those blanks of knowledge so they can be even more effective in serving others.  (short pause) We do this through a monthly speaker series, online resources like, networking and consulting. For almost five years we’ve helped leaders who help others on 5 continents and 16 countries.  Would you be willing to refer (that person) to us? (wait for response)”

You’ll notice that the body stays the same, but the Seinfeld question and call to action change.

Here’s the version for someone we’re interested in having speak or write for NonBoardBoard.

“Have you ever wanted to give back to several nonprofits at once, but without a long term commitment? (pause) NonBoardBoard is a Christian nonprofit that helps leaders who don’t have all the business skill fill in those blanks of knowledge so they can be even more effective in serving others.  (short pause) We do this through a monthly speaker series, online resources like, networking and consulting. For almost five years we’ve helped leaders who help others on 5 continents and 16 countries.  Would you like to speak at a NonBoardBoard event, or write an article for (wait for response)”

Again, it’s really just the questions that change.  NonBoardBoard always does the same thing, but how people engage with us changes, and this is reflected in the emotionally-connected question and the call to action.

Here are the three steps in review:

STEP 1: Write a “Seinfeld” question that helps your listener put an actual person in mind, and will also lead to what you actually do.  

STEP 2: Write down the single most important thing someone should know about your organization.  Then the second, and third, in descending order.

STEP 3: Write a closing call to action question.

BONUS STEP: Customize your elevator pitch for different audiences.

I would love to see your “Seinfeld” pitches in action!  Can you record your “Seinfeld” elevator pitch, post it online, and share the link with us by posting below?  Thanks so much!

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!


4 Ways Your Nonprofit Should Respond to Facebook’s News Feed Changes

4 Ways Facebook Changes Ries Bar StoolIn January, Facebook will begin limiting the number of promotional posts people see

in their feed from Pages. This won’t reduce the number of ads people see; just what

Facebook deems as overly promotional posts – that aren’t paid posts.

“The idea is to increase the relevance and quality of the overall stories — including

Page posts — people see in their News Feeds,” said Facebook on their blog.

Facebook defines promotional content as:

1. Posts that solely push people to buy a product or install an app

2. Posts that push people to enter promotions and sweepstakes with no real


3. Posts that reuse the exact same content from ads

This comes on the heels of several Facebook news feed changes that may are

pointing to the demise of organic reach on Facebook. How does this change my

nonprofit’s Facebook strategy? What tactics can I use to respond to these changes? Read More