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Four reasons nonprofits should engage millennials

in Giving, Nonprofit, Volunteerism by Lauryn Rosinski Leave a comment

Lauryn Rosinski– Marketing and PR Account Coordinator

Let’s face it: In this day and age, millennials get a bad rap. I have personally heard the following statements about Generation Y from a variety of demographics:

“Millennials are selfish.”

“Millennials are lazy and unmotivated.”

“Millennials eat too much avocado toast.”

While I will admit that many of my friends and I have enjoyed large quantities of avocado toast, the other statements could not be further from the truth. In fact, research shows that millennials want to give back and change the world around them. Because of this, many industries can benefit from what millennials have to offer.

Nonprofits are among the sectors that can be positively impacted by “Generation Now.” Here are some reasons why millennials are the future of philanthropic donating – and why nonprofit organizations should reach out to them.

#1: Millennials donate time and money.

This might be shocking to some readers. After all, millennials are oftentimes using their money and resources in order to pay off student loans, find affordable housing and seek a well-paying job.

However, it is true. Millennials are volunteering and contributing to the nonprofits they care about – and they are making a big difference.

According to the most recent Millennial Impact Report, 52 percent of the millennials surveyed made a charitable donation within the month. The same report showed that millennials are more likely to increase their giving year-over-year compared with other age groups. Finally, 46 percent of millennials volunteered for a cause they cared about within the past month.

These statistics show that millennials are willingly giving to nonprofit organizations they care about. The report also reveals that, although millennials might not be able to initially contribute much financially, their contributions increase as time goes on. Therefore, nonprofits should take the opportunity and market to these audiences.

#2: Millennials use social media.

Social media has changed the way we communicate with one another. Channels such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram have made it possible for individuals and organizations to reach audiences they would not have been able to in the past. Nonprofits have reaped the benefits of increased social media usage by advertising events, encouraging donations and sharing stories.

They should also use it to market directly to millennials. According to the Pew Research Center, a whopping 90 percent of millennials use social media. And they use it for more than sharing memes and dog videos.

Millennials use their platforms to engage with friends and amplify their voices regarding social issues. According to the Millennial Impact Report, 51 percent of millennials use their social media accounts to take action when it comes to causes that they care about. By engaging with this generation, nonprofits have the opportunity to find audiences that care about their key messages.

Although it is important to reach out to millennials on social media, nonprofits cannot merely tweet, “Donate now” and expect results. Millennials crave human interest stories and depth behind content. In fact, 60 percent of millennials enjoy reading nonprofit’s successes and how they positively affect the individuals they serve.

An anonymous person once said, “The essence of social media is knowing your audiences and engaging them in something they love.” If nonprofits create the right content and direct it toward millennials, they would effectively tell their stories, share their call to actions and, therefore, be more successful in the online world.

#3: Millennials are the largest generation.

We have all heard the classic saying, “It takes a village to raise a child.” Members of nonprofit organizations understand this sentiment better than anyone. In order for a mission to be a successful, a nonprofit needs people on their side.

Well, the millennial generation is one big village. In fact, it is the biggest village.

According to the United States Census Bureau, there are approximately 83.1 million millennials in the U.S. In 2016, the number of millennials surpassed that of the Baby Boomers. The larger a generation is, the more influence it will have on society. Due to its sheer size, the millennial generation will completely change the country and the issues surrounding it.

This is good news for nonprofits.

#4: Millennials want to help others.

In order to determine if the “me generation” really is as self-centered as people say, the University of New South Wales conducted an experiment on millennials. Researchers put headsets on the participants, which studied their brainwave activities. The participants were then asked a series of “Would You Rather” questions, including:

“Would you rather take a selfie with an Instagram star and a quiche, or share a bit of your grandma’s famous quiche with your friends?”

“Would you rather be one of the first to have a blue algae latte with random people, or have tea and a meaningful chat with your mom?”

These questions encompassed a larger issue: Do millennials prefer activities and topics that relate to their own self-interests or do they prefer activities and topics that involve others?

The results of the experiment may shock you.

Yes, millennials would rather have a cup of tea with their mother than a trendy drink with strangers. The study also revealed that millennials would rather give food to someone in need, raise money for charity and volunteer at a soup kitchen than have a large number of social media followers, fame and selfies.

Now, you might be wondering: “How does this help nonprofits?”

This research study showed that millennials have a desire to help others and make a difference. Nonprofits are constantly in search of donors and volunteers with the drive and enthusiasm that millennials have. If nonprofits were to create relationships with this generation, both parties would mutually benefit.

In short, everybody wins.

 

Millennials are the future of this country, whether it is because there are so many of them or because they are influential both online and off. However, they are not just the future… they care about the future.

If nonprofits work with millennials, they will not just create donors and volunteers. They will create partners and brand ambassadors, who will use their time, energy and passion to influence change and inspire others through your nonprofit’s mission.

We promise that we will put down our avocado toast in order to do so.

Nine lessons learned from clients in 2017, and how we’re using them in 2018

in Communications, Leadership, Planning by Lauryn Rosinski Leave a comment

In our roles as fundraising and communications professionals at Dot Org Solutions, we educate and guide our clients so that they can raise the most money and awareness as possible for their organizations.

But we have a little secret; one we don’t often share. We learn a great deal from them as well, putting some of their best practices into use in our own company.

That’s because nonprofits have some unique qualities that those of us in the for-profit space should emulate. Yes. For-profit companies should emulate certain nonprofit qualities. There’s certainly a touch of irony in that statement given that boards and others in business often tell nonprofits that they need to run more like businesses. In some respects, I agree. But in terms of having passion for helping others and making the world a better place, most nonprofits can’t be beat.

So, at Dot Org we are taking nine lessons learned from working with our clients in 2017 and are putting them to use in our 2018 planning. We hope that by adopting and incorporating these best practices into our work, we will be an even better company in the future.

#1: Focus on the mission.

More than 95 percent of our clients are nonprofit organizations. It’s the core of what we do here at Dot Org. (Hence our name.)  When we help them plan, develop marketing messages, fundraising campaigns, write grants, etc., we are always highly focused on their mission. We decided to take the same approach and let our company mission drive everything we do. Our mission: to support nonprofits in their fundraising and marketing efforts so they can better serve their clients and build better communities.

#2: Find your niche – do what you do best.

We cannot be all things to all people. And we often tell our nonprofit clients to do what they do best and not develop a new program or service just to get additional funding. We’ve decided to focus on what we do best here at Dot Org – content, strategy, training, planning, branding/brand integration, marketing and fundraising campaigns. This focus will help us get even better in these core areas so we stay true to our mission.

#3: Collaborate.

I think the word nonprofit should be synonymous with collaboration. That’s because nonprofits often must work together to best meet the needs of the constituents they serve. We are seeking ways to collaborate with key partners as well in 2018 to better serve our clients. We already have some partnerships in the works and are looking forward to rolling them out throughout the year.

#4: Tell stories.

We’re great storytellers – for our clients. Sometimes it’s just hard to tell our own. But, we realize how important it is to share our own experiences and the great work of our clients with others. So, we’re going to focus on sharing more of what we do and why we do it. We will also be developing some training and education opportunities to help nonprofits perform better, which we will be rolling those out during the year.

#5: Have clean data.

Ok… This one sounds a little strange. But we spend quite a bit of time helping nonprofit clients set up and clean up their constituent database systems. We preach about the importance of pristine donor data and how it is critical to better communications and fundraising. So, when we implemented a new software system for ourselves this year to create internal efficiencies, we needed to get all of our customer, vendor and prospect data into one place. Wow. What a mess. Our data certainly isn’t pristine. We have much work to do. So, like we advise our clients, we vow to create better data entry processes and continue to clean up our data to save time and better communicate with our clients, vendors and prospects in the future.

#6: You don’t marry everyone you date.

Sometimes client and vendor relationships just don’t work out. It is important to know when the relationship isn’t working and make the choice to move on. That said, we also need to remember not to burn bridges. You never know when you may run into the ex at some point and want to remain amicable.

#7: Plan and set goals.

We spend lots of time working with clients on developing marketing and fundraising plans that align with their goals. We’ve certainly gotten better at this as our company has grown, but we’re making a conscious effort in 2018 to develop solid goals and objectives along with action plans to go along with them.

#8: Remember why you do what you do. What’s your end goal? 

This one ties back to the whole concept of mission. But sometimes it’s hard to focus on the end goal when we are busy, tired, frustrated or fatigued by the length or stress of a project. It’s also easy to lose sight of the “why” we are working on something. So, we’re taking some cues from our nonprofit friends when we get in this situation and asking ourselves “what did we do to make a difference today?” If we can answer that question, we get back to understanding the “why.”

#9: Slow down and savor the successes.

Actually, this bit of advice is something we all can benefit from. Whether it is the homeless program placing a family in a new home after a tragedy, a musical organization building confidence in its young singers, or a community health center providing healthcare to immigrants, nonprofits celebrate and savor successes every day. It is human nature to try to fix things and dwell on what isn’t going well. We’re going to make a conscious effort in 2018 to slow down, breathe and step back to enjoy what we have accomplished.

Whether they know it or not, our nonprofit clients (and thousands of other nonprofits like them), have a profound impact on all of us here at Dot Org Solutions. We thank them for all they do to make our communities great places to live and wish them much success in 2018.

What to do when communication misfires

in Communications, Uncategorized by Jeanine Black Leave a comment

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou

 

Effective business communications is an art form. Whether you are a professional communicator, like me, or an accountant or a plant manager, how you interact with employees, co-workers, colleagues and clients/customers is one of the most important keys to success. And with today’s ever-increasing digital world, non-verbal communication is almost non-existent leaving much of what we say up to interpretation, leading, so many times, to miscommunication.

It’s all in the delivery

We’ve heard this phrase a million times and we all know how true it is, yet somehow, we seem to keep missing the mark. Almost daily, if not more frequently, I receive or am copied on at least one email or text that has the ability to throw me off my game because of someone’s “tone” or because the message is vague and hard to understand.  Yes, there is email etiquette and best practices for communication, but how you handle that negative email, text, phone call or comment on social media will make all the difference in world.

Here are some things I’ve learned along the way that help me in communicating with others:

  • We are all human. We all have hopes, dreams and back stories. We’ve all felt happiness and we’ve all been hurt. Being empathetic to those around you will always give you an upper-hand in your communications. I’m willing to bet that nasty email you received had nothing to do with you. Someone is having a bad day, week or year and you happened to be on the receiving end. Not fair? Possibly…but we’ve all done it. Keep an open mind.
  • Some people just don’t get it. Your hackles go up when you see their name in your inbox or their number comes up on your phone. They are direct, blunt, mean, cold…call it what you will. But they will forever not understand the nuances that go into communicating effectively. It’s how you handle it that will determine where the relationship goes from there. Do you let it ruin your day? Do you shoot back an equally tone-deaf email? Hopefully not. Choose your words carefully and engage them directly. Chances are you will find out they are not upset at all and had no ill intentions – in fact, are very nice people! But they simply don’t know how to express themselves.
  • Digital communication breeds false bravado. We see it every day on Facebook, Twitter and in inter-personal communication. People hide behind the distance email can provide or the anonymity of social media. It’s easy to “speak your mind” when the person you’re addressing isn’t standing in front of you. So buck the trend. Pick up the phone, schedule a meeting or simply go talk to the sender. Bravado disappears when met face to face (notice I didn’t say confronted?) making it that much easier to tackle a difficult issue, situation or communication. And if you have to have a difficult conversation, take some time to evaluate whether email is the proper channel to use; most likely, it is not.
  • Do unto others. How do you feel when you receive a negative email or voicemail? Remember that the next time you’re the one doing the sending. Are you watching your tone? Are you being specific vs. vague? Are you keeping it concise? Are you making it easy for the receiver to figure out what you need so they can prioritize their day? If not, start over.

 

Patience, empathy and treating others how you would like to be treated can go a long way in communication and relationships, in life and career.

 

Five tips for fashion-forward communication and fundraising

in Communications, Giving by Amy Wong Leave a comment

In full disclosure, I am not a fashionista. In fact, I hate shopping for clothes. But that doesn’t mean I don’t have some knowledge of what is going on in fashion. I have a teenage daughter – need I say more?

However, I pay close attention to what is happening in marketing communications and fundraising. I spend a great deal of time reading, listening to experts in the field, fielding questions from clients, trying new things and making sense of it all. What I have found over time is that there are many similarities to fashion. So, as a nod to some of my favorite fashion designers (Coco Chanel, Donna Karan), I compile this list of Five Tips for Fashion-pearlsForward Marketing and Fundraising.

  1. Stick with tried and true– not trendy: Well-written content, proper grammar, attention to detail and forging strong relationships never go out of style. While industry trends come and go (QR codes and telethons anyone?), strong writing and relationship skills continue to be the basis of every successful campaign.
  2. Accessorize: If you stick with what is tried and true, adding trendy accessories is definitely acceptable, as long as they don’t take over the outfit! One of my colleagues says it well. “Social media is a tool not a strategy.” So use tools/accessories such as social media, to enhance your basic outfit (plan). But, don’t use them without some strong wardrobe basics.
  3. Stay classy: Just as a revealing outfit speaks volumes about the person wearing it, so does inappropriate communications and fundraising. I am amazed by people who forget their manners and resort to tactics that compromise their integrity and that of their organization. Yes, today’s society is much more accepting of poor language, revealing clothing, etc. But that doesn’t mean it should make its way into your communications and fundraising efforts. Stay classy. You never know who you may offend.
  4. Edit: Yes, there can be too much of a good thing. So, just as you take a look in the mirror before you head out the door, take a look close look at your campaign before you launch. If there is too much there, do some editing. Or if there is not enough, add some more.
  5. Change with the seasons. Just as you change up your wardrobe as the seasons change, consider making modifications to your materials and messages. They also get bored easily. So don’t be afraid to try new things and make changes to keep things fresh.

 

Take a minute and look at your fundraising and communications plans just as you would your wardrobe. Consider making necessary adjustments so you too can be fashion-forward in your efforts.