Monday, October 25, 2010

The Back Story: Great Taglines Promoting Good Causes

I just love the "Taggies."  That's Nancy Schwartz's awards program to recognize fabulous "taglines."  It's fun to read the entered taglines and to vote for your favorites.  And then, Nancy puts them all together in a report!  2010 Nonprofit Tagline Awards

It's well worth signing up to get the report to share it with your board.  And while taglines are not the final word on marketing your organization, they certainly go a long way toward making your organization or event memorable. 

Think for a moment.  What is your tagline?  Does it truly capture your relevance and the good work you are doing?  Is it time to tweak your tagline?  Do you even have a tagline?  Food for thought.  Bunnie

The Back Story: Great Taglines Promoting Good Causes

by Nancy Schwartz, Getting Attention

A nonprofit’s tagline is hands down the briefest, easiest and most effective way to communicate its identity and impact, or to lead its fundraising campaign, program marketing or special event promotion.

But this high-impact, low-cost marketing tactic is often overlooked or under-emphasized by nonprofits.’s 2008 survey of nonprofits showed that 7 in 10 nonprofits rated their tagline as poor or didn’t use one at all. The majority of nonprofits not using a tagline indicated that they had not thought about it or couldn’t come up with a good one.

The Nonprofit Tagline Awards program is designed to address this missed opportunity, and guide nonprofits to craft effective taglines.

This year, for this first time, voters selected program, fundraising and special event tagline award winners, in addition to the strongest organizational taglines. The addition of these three new tagline types gave more organizations a chance to showcase their best efforts to engage their target audiences.

The 17 winners, reviewed in this brief video, were selected by more than 6,100 voters from 70 finalists, identified by our expert panel of judges. The finalists were drawn from 2,700 nonprofit taglines entered in the 2010 program.

2010 Award Winners

Fundraising Tagline: Oregon Zoo Foundation: Capital campaign to fund lions' return after 10-year absence—Bring Back the Roar!

This memorable tagline plants a strong seed in one’s mind–You can hear and see that lion roaring. It’s fun, pithy, emotional and unique with a clear call to action (an absolute must for fundraising messaging).

Program Tagline: Massachusetts Dental Society (MDS): Awareness campaign to educate the public about the important relationship between oral health and overall health—Your Mouth Can Say A Lot About You

MDS’ tagline is strikingly personal. As a result, it provokes immediate interest (with a touch of emotion, my mouth?), generating an unavoidable urge to know more about the program.

Program Tagline: Youth Service America (YSA): Semester of Service—Serve a Semester. Change the World.

YSA engages hearts and minds in its passionate focus on improving the world. Its tagline opens a world of possibility to students, and invites them to act.

Special Event Tagline: Hirshberg Foundation for Pancreatic Cancer Research: Kids Can Cure Fun Run, LA Cancer Challenge—Little Feet. Big Strides.

This tagline is extremely engaging and visual. It fosters an emotional connection by declaring that small children can make a difference, while highlighting the direct impact that those who run it have on the cause.

Organizational Taglines

Arts & Culture: Coffee House Press—Where good books are brewing

Nonprofit literary publisher Coffee House Press prides itself on its measured acquisition and editorial process, and the active discussions percolated by its publications. Its clever mash-up of a tagline clearly and succinctly conveys both aspects of its unique way of doing business. The surprise of the mixed imagery (books, rather than coffee brewing) makes it easy to remember.

Association: Indiana State Council of the Emergency Nurses Association (ENA)—E.R. You Watch It... We Live It!

The Indiana ENA’s tagline draws a clear connection between its mission and its service delivery and is emotional, fun and highly memorable. The tagline’s reference to E.R.—the longest-running primetime medical drama (15 years)—has broad appeal as long as the show stays in reruns.

Civic Benefit: Drums Not Guns—Instruments of Mass Percussion

This tagline is a clever play on words (instruments of mass destruction), but remains clear and powerful. That's a delicate balance to strike, and this tagline does it well as it paints a crystal-clear picture in your mind of this organization’s focus.

Education: Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Clemson University—Because Curiosity Knows No Age Limit

The Osher Institute’s tagline is both poignant and emphatic. It is a definitive and positive statement on seniors’ characteristics and capabilities, likely to engage the very seniors who are prime prospects for participating in the Institute’s learning opportunities.

Employment & Workforce Development: Volunteer Blind Industries—Our Vision Does Not Require Sight

Volunteer Blind Industries’ tagline surprises with its play on the word “vision.” This tagline makes the organization’s focus clear in a concise and compelling way, with a touch of inspiration.

Environment & Animals: Save the Strays Animal Rescue—Finding good homes for great dogs

Working smoothly in concert with the organization’s name, this tagline conveys the essence of Save the Strays’ impact. Our judge for this tagline category called this tagline “emotional catnip for every dog lover.”

In fact, she was so moved by this tagline that she went to the organization’s website to learn more, and ended up making a donation. That’s tagline success.

Faith-Based & Spiritual Development: Religions for Peace—Different Faiths, Common Action.

This tagline’s impact is based in its clever use of contrast and comparison. It clarifies what Religions for Peace does, and how it works, in just four words. Powerful!

Grantmaking: Greater Menomonie Area Community Foundation—Connecting People Who Care...With Causes That Matter

The Community Foundation’s tagline emphasizes the value it adds to giving, while clearly educating those who don’t know it on its role in the region.

Although we’ve heard from a few other community foundations that use this same tagline, that fact alone doesn’t counteract its impact. One key criterion for a high-impact tagline is that it isn’t used by other organizations hoping to engage the same target audiences. Since community foundations serve specific regions, that criterion is met.

Health & Sciences: United Hospice of Rockland, Inc. (UHR)—When time matters most.

UHR’s powerful tagline is a heart-stirring message that’s hard to forget. This tagline works because it is so simple, yet profound.

Human Services: Canine Companions for Independence (CCI)—Help is a four-legged word

This tagline tells the story in a style that is honest, compassionate and smart. The play on words works here because it catches you a bit off guard and gets you thinking about what CCI actually does.

International, Foreign Affairs & National Security: Episcopal Relief & Development—Healing a hurting world

This brief tagline quickly highlights the way in which Episcopal Relief & Development approaches its work, as it motivates compassion and a desire to learn more. It’s straightforward but emotional, a proven combo for taglines that connect.

Library: Edmonton Public Library—Spread the words.

Edmonton Public Library’s tagline is another example of effective surprise as a familiar saying takes an unexpected turn. Who would have thought that one little “s” could make a tagline sing—and zing?

Other: Charity Navigator—Your Guide To Intelligent Giving

This tagline is unique and clear to its mission, and conveys an air of wisdom and refinement.

You immediately sense via the word “Guide” that the Charity Navigator service is an asset to you. The phrase “Intelligent Giving” feeds egos (who doesn’t want to be intelligent?) while it underscores the difficulty in wading through information to make an informed and wise giving choice.

Monday, October 11, 2010

7 Quick Steps for Writing Grants

I have to make a confession, grant writing is my least favorite thing to do.  So when I come across expert advice, like the tips below from Betsy Baker, I cheer.  The first one about not creating new programs so you can slam your organization into a grant is the best!  Creating a new program in order to get a grant may actually cost you money in the long run in terms of staff time, resources, etc.  Following guidelines is critical.  I hope these and the rest of Betsy's quick steps are useful to you.  Bunnie

7 Quick Steps for Writing Grants
by Betsy Baker, Your Grant Authority

Sometimes I get into some pretty deep stuff about what I’ve learned during my last 16 years in fund raising and the tricks and tips I’ve used to secure boatloads of grant money. But sometimes I delve so deep to give my clients “insider” information that I forget to start with the basics. So, here you go, what is elementary to me is not for the grant writer that at this time is just poised for success and I promise not to leave you behind:

1. The grants you write should directly support your mission – Don’t go chasing those grant dollars that don’t apply to you and don’t crank up a new program just to get the money. Believe me when I tell you that it’s not worth it.

2. Determine programs that you can get funding for – Some of your programs are going to be more attractive to funders than others. Determine the program that the funder likes and match your application to those preferences.

3. Identify potential funding – Research and homework are essential for success in this step. Carefully comb through the grant funder’s requirements and preferences before submitting an application that doesn’t fit their criteria.

4. Acquire guidelines from the grantor – Guidelines are there for a reason! Follow them carefully and submit your application according to their instructions.

5. Write the application in compliance with the guidelines – Duh! But do you know how many applications are rejected simply because the potential grantee didn’t know how to follow simple instructions? Be sure that yours isn’t in the “reject” pile for that reason.

6. Submit the application – Again, follow the directions given. If it states that the application must be in their hot, little hands by 5:00 p.m. on August 3rd, that doesn’t mean 5:05. I’ve heard horror stories from writers that have written their fingers to the nub only to not be able to get the application in on time. Bonus tip for you – start the application in plenty of time!

7. Administer the program well if funded – Once you find out that you’ve gotten the grant, start thinking about next year’s application. Give them no reason during the funding period not to fund you again. Spend the money exactly how you detailed in your budget and regularly report progress of your goals and objectives to the funder.

You can contact Betsy at

Friday, October 8, 2010

Top 10 Ways to Screw Up Your End of Year Fundraising Campaign

It's mid-October, I hope you all have thought about what your end of year fundraising campaign is going to look like.  Remember, here in the United States, tax-payers can take a deduction for charitable giving, and often send larger gifts in December in order to get those deductions.  Gail Perry offers excellent advice on what you need to avoid when sending end of year appeals.  My favorite?  Not including the return envelope!  I can't tell you how many organizations forget to do that!  You must make it as easy as possible to donate to your organization, so please, include the return envelope.  Bunnie

Top 10 Ways to Screw Up Your End of Year Fundraising Campaign
by Gail Perry, President of Gail Perry & Associates

There’s nothing more important this fall than your year-end fundraising effort. The next three months is the time when many charities receive most of their entire annual inflow of contributions.

And there is so much at stake right now. This year, more than ever, you’ve got to engage donors in your opportunity and ask them to join you – in a smart, effective and compelling way.

This article updates a list I created last fall. I’ve added more data and reminders for you here.

Please don’t make these mistakes!

Here’s my top 10 list of ways to sabotage your year-end fundraising effort.

1. Send a letter that’s hard to read, with ponderous sentences, long paragraphs and no white space. This fails the “easy to read” test, which is the first hurdle for your reader, who is skimming your prose for the highlights only. Check out my list of 115 Ways to Raise More Money by Mail for guidelines on writing an effective letter.

2. Send a letter much like last year’s with last year’s messaging, no visuals, no metaphors, no stories. Your reader is unlikely to keep reading if it is not interesting. You are not writing an academic treatise; instead you are writing marketing copy. Forget what you learned in your writing courses and instead copy a magazine’s writing style.

3. Bury The Ask deep inside a paragraph at the end of a sentence. Your reader must be able to easily find out how much you are asking for and for what purpose. Make it plainly clear what you are asking for – and ask cheerfully!

4. Don’t include a reply envelope. You’d be surprised how many organizations leave out this VITAL component – you have to make it easy for people to give. This really can be the kiss of death!

5. Don’t update your web site. Studies show that donors – even those who give by writing a check and sending it in the mail – will most often check out your web site to research you before they give. And your website MUST look professional and up-to-date! And it must convey credibility and legitimacy.

6. Only send out one appeal letter. This is disaster for many campaigns. Studies show that one letter will typically get a 15% response – NOT enough to make your year-end goal. Your donors are too busy and need repeated reminders. And no, it is not tacky to keep reminding them!

7. Don’t do phone followup. Studies show that a followup phone call can possibly double your results.

8. Don’t do an email push to non-donors the last two days of December. Studies show that a majority of on-line donors give in December and most of them are on the last two days of December. NOW is the time to get your online donation process working smoothly.

9. Don’t send a PROMPT, warm, personal thank you immediately to your donors. And “warm, personal” does not mean “on behalf of the board of directors we thank you for blah blah” – this impersonal bunk doesn’t warm your donor’s heart. A warm thank you uses the words “we” and “you” and is conversational in tone – not institutional. Penelope Burk’s all time favorite thank you letter begins like this: “You must have heard the cheers in our halls when we received your generous pledge.”

10. Don’t have your board members call donors to thank them within 24 hours of the gift’s receipt. Penelope Burk’s landmark studies showed that when board members made this type of followup call, then subsequent gifts from the donors rose by 39%!

Avoid at all costs, these mistakes. Create a dynamite year-end campaign that brings in the urgently needed resources you need!

Leave me a comment and tell me what you think!

To see more great tips from Gail Perry and to contact her, go to

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Conference Planning, Hotel Negotiations and Avoiding the Dreaded Penalty

businesses,businessmen,businesswomen,communications,conferences,females,males,meetings,men,people at work,persons,Photographs,women

by Bunnie Riedel, Host, Nonprofit Conversation

This year I’ve heard more stories about bad conference attendance, being hit with hotel or meeting space penalties and outright cancellations of conferences.  For nonprofits who count on conferences to bring in needed revenue, having a disappointing conference can not only be discouraging but can threaten the bottom line.
Nonprofits, businesses and government agencies are cutting back on travel or eliminating it altogether. A friend told me that even if he wanted to spend his own money to travel to a conference (and take vacation leave) he was discouraged from doing so because his government agency thought it would just “look bad.” I know of two regional conferences that were cancelled because of low registration due to travel bans. One of them was heavily penalized by the conference center because their contract guaranteed room rental and meal expenditures. I also know of two national organizations that received large penalties because they didn’t meet their room night obligation. In these instances, nonprofits who could little afford to pay the penalties were forced to do so because of contractual requirements.

Perhaps it is time for your organization to take a hard look at your conference tradition. While conferences and meetings can mean a lot to your organizational culture; bringing members together for networking and fun; is a conference absolutely necessary and what will it mean to your organization to skip next year’s conference? Are you afraid of disappointing members or losing momentum? Without a conference will you become less relevant? Will you lose members if you don’t host a conference? Do you count on a conference as a source of revenue? And right now, can you count on a conference as a source of revenue or will it become a liability?

Could you achieve some of the same goals without a conference? Many organizations are moving to online meetings and workshops. Others are beefing up their online resources or hosting chat boards to give members a sense of connection. I think your members will completely understand if you take a one or two year conference hiatus.

If you negotiate hotel contracts a few years in advance (which actually is my recommendation) you may not have a choice in whether you host a conference or not. Typically for medium to large conferences, the opt-out period is eighteen months prior to the conference. Which brings up a point for current negotiations, tighten the terms of the opt-out period to at least one year and attempt to negotiate penalties for a nine month and six month opt-out. It is better you pay a flat penalty if you opt-out at nine months than go forward with a conference that causes you to pay conference planners, trade show costs, advertising costs, audio-visual expenses, meal guarantees and room night penalties.

Additionally, be sure to include in the contract a clause that if the hotel advertises a lower rate to the general public than what you have negotiated, your room rate drops to that lower rate. The last thing you want is to have your room rate undercut by online booking sites such as Priceline or Orbitz. Conference attendees will want that lower rate and will book outside of your block and that could cause you to not meet your room night obligation.

As a final note, everything, absolutely everything is negotiable right now. From how much you pay for coffee to what items you will serve for dinner to how much you will pay for audio-visual set ups (usually the most expensive items for conference). The economy has taken its toll on hotels and conference centers in the same way it has affected everything else. Don’t settle for fixed menus; work with the hotels and caterers to design menus that will be appealing but less expensive. You are bringing them business they would not have otherwise, allow them to accommodate you.

Contact Bunnie Riedel at info at riedelcommunications dot com

Conference or meeting tip:  Don't buy tea, hardly anyone drinks it and you will be charged $65 to $85 just for hot water at every break set-up.