On August 15th, Todd and Tammy Rimer of element212 joined us for a webinar entitled “Building and Communicating Your Nonprofit Brand.” They explained that how you present and communicate your brand can make all the difference in how successful you are at pursuing in your mission and gaining support. In case you missed it, you can watch a replay here:

Full Transcript:

Steven: Well, good afternoon. Thanks to everyone who’s joined us for
today’s webinar. And good morning if you’re on the West Coast, of course.
Thanks for being here for today’s webinar entitled ‘Building and
Communicating Your Non-Profit Brand.’

My name is Steven Shattuck, and I’m the VP of Marketing here at
Bloomerang. And I’ll be moderating today’s discussion. And with me,
actually at the Bloomerang office here in studio are two experts in non-
profit branding, marketing, and communications. I’m very pleased to
introduce Tammy and Todd Rimer. They’re of Element212.

Hey there. Good afternoon to both of you.

Tammy: Thank you. We’re happy to be here.

Todd: Good afternoon.

Steven: Yeah. It’s great for you to be here. For those of you who
aren’t familiar with Element212, they’re just a really great agency here in
Indianapolis. They’re a neighbor of ours here at Bloomerang. Todd and Tammy
are both the founders. They’ve been working the last few years to help
position their clients in the marketplace by developing and executing
branding and creative strategies. And it’s just a real treat to have them
here today to share all of their expertise. I’ve actually had a chance to
look at their slides, and I’m really excited about what they’re going to be
talking about.

For those of you who have attended Bloomerang webinars in the past,
we’re going to do something a little bit different today. Tammy is going to
run through her presentation, and she’s going to share all of her expertise
with you about non-profit branding and some of the things that her agency
is involved with. And we’d like this presentation to be a little bit more
interactive than maybe what you’re used to experiencing from Bloomerang.
So, if you have a question, or if you’d like something maybe expanded on or
explained a little bit further, please feel free to send questions through
via the chat screen on the webinar interface there on your computer. And
I’ll see those, and Tammy will also see those. And we’ll actually stop and
answer them rather than waiting towards the end for more of a formal Q&A

So, don’t be shy. Send any questions over and we’ll try to field
those as best we can. And we’ll try to have you out of here by the two
o’clock Eastern hour for sure – maybe even finish a little bit early. As
always, I will be sending out the slides and the recording of the
presentation later this afternoon, so maybe if you’ve miss something or
want to look over it a little bit later, you can certainly do that.

So, without any further ado, I’m going to hand it off to Tammy, and
she’s going to get our discussion started. So, Tammy, take it away.

Tammy: All right. Well, thank you all for being here this morning, and
we’re going to jump right in. Our main focus for today with the brief we
have together is we really want to be able to help you guys better
articulate your brand’s story and your communications with your donors and
volunteers in the community at large. What Todd and I have found in working
with a lot of non-profits is that many companies and organizations, they
don’t understand really what branding is. And so, I really first off just
wanted to break it down to a small concise statement of this: Your brand is
the representation of a relationship.

Now, I always use Wal-Mart as the example of this, because there are
people who love Wal-Mart, and there are people who hate Wal-Mart. But we
all know Wal-Mart has a brand. They have a good brand. Good in terms of
noticeable and out there. But for some people, their brand is bad, and it’s
because the relationship that people have with them is poor, whether Wal-
Mart has missed expectations, or just if people don’t feel like they’re a
good company. They don’t have a good relationship with them.

So, the point of today’s webinar is to really help you guys put
together good tools to build better relationships with your community. So,
the four key things we’re going to talk about are why your company exists.
We’re going to talk about engagement with your community. We’re going to
talk about why you. Why your organization? And then, why me, the donor, the
volunteer, or the community. Why am I involved with you? So, these are the
four topics that we’re going to go through today.

So, we’re going to jump right in with setting the first expectation
of building a relationship with your community, which is why you exist. So,
how did you community learn about your organization? Most companies and
organizations have a website. They have brochures. People set up social
media. But with non-profits, there’s a really key component to building a
relationship with your community, and that is through your people, through
your donors, through your volunteers. Non-Profits, they’re very relational,
and people are often the first and most impactful way that others are going
to learn about your organization.

So, where I’d like to start is, with your organization, how often
does your organization talk with your volunteers and educate them on your
brand story? Do you guys even know what your brand story really is? So,
what I want to challenge today and some points that we’re going to go
through is looking at your whole organization top down. Everyone involved –
your staff, your executives, the president, the CEO, your volunteers.
Everyone needs to understand and get behind why you exist.

Todd: Let me interject if I could.

Tammy: Sure.

Todd: One of the reasons that Tammy and I started having an affinity
towards the non profit is just what you talked about. Non profits all have
great stories. Even if you’re doing something similar to another non
profit, everyone’s story is unique. And what we’ve found is, we just
assumed that everyone was telling their story well, because the story is so
strong and so personable and so emotional for a lot of these organizations.
And what we found is that people’s stories really were not being told. And
when you talk to people, when you talk to an employee or you talk to a
volunteer or you talk to someone who maybe supports them through annual
gifts or planned gifts, the story that they tell is very different. Now,
everyone would have their own personal reason, deep-down reason for being
associated with a non-profit, but you want that story to be as consistent
as it possibly can so that people are hearing the right story and the right
places at the right time.

So, just to give you a little background into that. That’s where our
interests and our affinity for helping non profits came about. We want
people to be able to tell their story as best as they possibly can, because
it’s probably the most powerful tool.

Tammy: That’s exactly it. And so when your organization is growing
just like Bloomerang here. We were talking earlier today about the growth
that this company is experiencing. And just with your own organization, as
your organization grows and new volunteers come in, they’re your
storytellers. And they’re the ones that are out carrying your story to the
community. So, it’s very important to be sure that they really understand
the core of what your specific organization values, what your reasons are
for being part of a certain cause, and why they’re engaged with your

So, the first thing we really want to do is talk about this a little
bit more in detail and look at some key reasons or key information pieces
that you should look at in setting your brand story with volunteers. The
first thing here is who and what cause you serve. These are some key things
you want to make sure your volunteers, your donors know. What causes do you

The Salvation Army is a good example, because there are so many
different things that they do, so many different areas that they serve. And
when we did a presentation for the United Way a few months back, we did our
own fun little survey. We talked to about 40 different people to gain
feedback on what they knew about the Salvation Army, what they felt the
Salvation Army supported.

Now, we have a list here. They have summer camps. 0% of the people
knew about their summer camps. They have an after-school program. 0%
percent of the people knew about the afterschool program. Domestic violence
services: 0%.. Aid to at-risk kids – 3%. Supply Christmas presents 3%,
which is shocking with the red bell, because everybody knows about the bell
and the red bucket. But supplying Christmas presents was not a big known to
the people that were interviewed. Alcohol and drug rehab: 8%. And so, and I
won’t go through all of these, the biggest percentage of what people knew
about was providing food, clothing, and shelter for the needy.

And so that’s just a good example of making sure that your volunteers
and your donors know everything that you serve, because clearly, as these
people are out carrying the story of the Salvation Army, they are not
necessarily representing the brand to the fullest extent. So, again, just
make sure that they know what your causes are. How your organization
affects that cause.

And we’ll talk about this in more detail a little bit later, but the
younger generations, especially, they want to see change. They want to see
that there’s a purpose behind what they’re doing and why they’re giving
their time to your organization. So make sure that you’re educating your
volunteers on how you effect change. The key differences that you’ve made
in the cause, why people should care, and how people can get involved. Make
sure that your volunteers know how to share that when they’re out in the
community and how you can get involved, how others can get involved, and
where they should go to do that.

So, these are some of the key things that you want to consider when
you’re orienting new volunteers into your organization. And this will
really help build stronger brand recognition with your community. It’s
imperative that your volunteers and your donors all are sharing the same
story to build that brand equity.

Todd: I want to interject, too.

Tammy: Sure.

Todd: If you go back to that, what’s interesting is I think we all,
everyone on the call, we all think about one or two of these, but what
Tammy’s trying to emphasize and the reason she included all of these is all
six of these points are points that are important to be thinking about all
the time. All the time. It needs to be consistent. It needs to be part of
your daily thought process, your daily dedication. So, when you emphasize
all of these, you are then more equipped and focused to present the right

Steven: And these aren’t just things that a new non-profit would
identify for themselves. This is something that an existing organization
could do pretty regularly just to make sure they’re kind of where they want
to be.

Tammy: That’s exactly it, because you want to make sure, as new
volunteers come in, that they’re understanding everything about your
organization. And so I think having – and we’re going to talk about this a
little bit, as well – having regular communications with your volunteers,
orientations, places that they can go just to learn more about your
organization, instead of just, ‘Hey, great. We need a warm body. Go on out
and help serve.’ Or, ‘Go ring a bell.’ Or, go whatever, work in this food
pantry. We want to make sure when people are asking questions that they
really understand part of your organization. And we’ll actually go into
more detail about that in a little bit.

So, engagement is the second expectation that is important to set
with your donors and volunteers in helping to build your brand. Engagement
is interesting because this is where you’re touching your audience. Whether
you’re trying to attract donors or volunteers, or you’re impacting the
community. When you’re communicating, communication falls into engagement.
When you’re communicating with your audience, you want to be sure that
you’re doing it in a place that they are.

Some of the key things, and we’re going to go into a little survey
again with this, but I want to start with this. Some of the key things that
you want to look at with engagement is showcasing to your audience where
they can learn about your organization. Is it through the website? Where is
the information about your next event? Is it on Facebook that we should be
going? Is it your website? Is it a webinar? Is it at an orientation
meeting? You want to make sure that you’re reaching people and getting them
involved at places that they know where you are. What you really need from
them. A lot of organizations really struggle with being honest about, ‘This
is what we need from you. This is our real point of need.’ And we’re going
to talk about this in a minute, but if your community doesn’t really
understand what you need, then they’re not going to supply that for you.
So, make sure that in your engagements and your communications with people,
you’re really sharing honestly what you need from them.

How the money that you do receive – if it’s a monetary donation that
you’re looking for – how that money is being used. Being transparent. And I
know non-profits have to share their financial reports, but really
showcasing. There are a lot of organizations nowadays that will show how
much percentage goes towards overhead, just so people can really know,
‘Well, most of my money is going to overhead. I don’t want to donate to
them.’ But if most of the money that’s being donated is going to the cause,
people will be more likely to donate to your organization. Who your
supporters are. When you’re trying to bring in sponsors, people want to
know who else is sponsoring your organization. So, be transparent with
that. Let people know who your supporters are.

How your donors are thanked. That will make a difference with people
who want to volunteer and donate, too. They want to know, ‘How am I going
to be recognized?’ Some people. Not everyone, but some people do, and
that’s important. And we’re going to talk about this in the survey. But
that is important to people, that they be recognized for their support in
your organization. How they can expect to hear from you and how they can
communicate back to you, and we’re going to have a little segment on
communication being a two-way street. But really building up that

So, I want you to keep these things in mind as we go through this
next piece. But with all of these, when we move into the next piece, 53% of
donors leave due to organizations’ lack of communication, and we’re going
to talk about the key pieces of communication. This engagement piece is so
important. We’re going to spend more time on this than the others, because
53% of donors leave due to a lack of communication.

Todd: Let me interject something. I think this is important. It’s kind of
funny. A lot of times, people communicate by telling someone what something
is. Sometimes what’s even more powerful is what it isn’t. And I want to
step in here real quickly and emphasize what we have found. Whether you’re
a non-profit or a for-profit company, the majority of people don’t really
understand what branding is. And this is why we were excited about doing
this presentation, because the majority of people think that branding
really is the website, the logo, and the business core. So, they look at
branding purely from the visual side. With all the technology, with all the
social media, with all the different tools that are available, branding has
become way more than just that. What Tammy is trying to emphasize here
today is that we’re trying to help you guys rethink what branding is. We
want you to redefine what branding is for yourselves and for your
organization. Branding is so much more than just the look. Branding really
is, and what Tammy is really covering here, it’s everything.

Tammy: The relationship.

Todd: It’s the relationship. It’s like any relationship you have, whether
it’s business, organization, or personal, how you communicate within that
relationship. What you share, what you portray, what message you send out.
That’s a huge part of branding. So, as we’re going forward, I want you to
rethink, try to take what you think of branding and put that aside and
really try to ascertain this other side of branding which most people don’t
really consider.

Tammy: Yeah, and as you’re looking at these bullet points, look at
your organization, and say, ‘How do we communicate with our volunteers? How
do we communicate with our donors? How do we communicate and engage with
our community? Are there key things in here that we’re not doing that we
could implement very easily to help build that engagement and sell that
relationship.’ And moving from what Todd just said about really looking at
your brand as a relationship, and especially for non-profits, because you
guys survived off of the relationships that you have with your community is
this. This is a study that was actually part of a Bloomerang study I found
out. This is a study done by Adrian Sargent and Rockefeller Corporation.
And we found that these statistics were just pretty astounding. For me, it
was very eye-opening and pretty exciting to see. And I wanted to share this
with you. Hopefully you guys haven’t seen these before.

Todd: Let me interject really quickly. Nowhere in this are you going to
hear… There are no reasons why… Talk about attrition. I want to
correct. Jay Love didn’t do this study. Jay Love quoted this study, but
what’s interesting is, when you look at attrition – and that’s what
Bloomerang focuses on, this ties really nicely into it, because nowhere are
you going to hear people say, ‘I stopped donating or I stopped being
associated because I didn’t like their logo. I stopped going there because
I didn’t like how the website looked. I stopped going there because I
didn’t like their tagline.’ Literally, it has nothing to do with that. So,
Tammy will go into more this, but these are all about emotions and feelings
and impressions. So, go ahead.

Tammy: Exactly. 5%, these are reasons why – let me make sure I have
this. Let’s see. We found these statistics among setting core donor
expectations resulting in them ceasing to support. So, these statistics are
based on the reasons why donors stopped supporting an organization. So, 5%
thought the organization did not need them.

Now, when you go back and look at the bullets that we had earlier,
we’ve talked about letting your donors know what they really need, the
organization sharing what you really need from them. Well, 5% thought the
organization just didn’t need them. 8% no information was provided on how
their donations were used. And again, think back to those earlier bullets.
These are things that we covered. And I’ll just quickly jump back to these.
I want you guys to go back and look at these when you get a chance, because
this is exactly why some of these people left. 9% did not know they ever
even donated. Wow. A nice thank you letter after you receive a nice,
generous check from someone or even a small check, because it’s about
building that relationship. Remind even, ‘Hey, thanks for the donation.’
So, 9% clearly didn’t even get any follow-up, and so they just moved on to
the next non-profit probably. 13% never received a thank you note or
recognition for donating.

Okay. Now, this one, I’m sorry – there’s nothing you can do about
this – 16% died, but there is an opportunity to follow up with family. And
even letting the family know – ‘Thank you so much for your father’s
contributions. We really appreciated it over the years.’ You never know who
you can bring on as part of your organization even through these

Todd: That’s said, I want to interject on that, too. In fact, I just came
across it recently. There are articles being written right now about how
non-profits are trying to engage more with families, trying to create
legacies. So, instead of just focusing on the individual, other people
within the family. Can they create a family loyalty rather than individual
loyalty? Yeah, you can’t control it, but that relationship is still
important, because when it comes to money left behind or maybe the legacy
of their family, a lot of people you talk to, people in the family often
will have stories to tell of their own about ‘I support this, because they
helped my mother. They helped my father.’ Well, if you can build on that
legacy, you can really position yourself very nicely for getting that long-
term loyalty.

Tammy: Yes, definitely. 18% felt they received poor service or
communication. 36% out there were other, more deserving causes. And this is
something that we’re going to talk about in a little bit, but yeah, there
are multiple causes out there, multiple organizations serving the same
cause even. But what’s unique about your organization? What is something
special that you do that will keep your volunteers and your community
engaged with your brand? And we’re going to talk about that a little bit,
too. But 36% left, because they thought, ‘Someone else needs me more.
Someone else has a better cause.’ So, that’s something to really keep in

54% can simply no longer afford giving the money. Well, that’s fine,
but there is still time. And so if people come to you, and they say, ‘You
know what, I love your organization. I love what you stand for. We just
don’t have the money to be able to financially support you anymore,’ what
about asking them for an opportunity to volunteer their time. And so, just
keeping that in mind, too. It’s not all about the money, which I know you
guys know.

Steven: And that’s interesting you say that, Tammy, too, because a lot
of people only say so – and this is sometimes as portrayed, is a lot of
people have this misconception that the only thing that’s needed is money.
‘I need money.’ And a lot of times, that is the communication that is put
out through the brain. So, really, when you actually get in the heart, if
you serve on the board, and you really get to know the non-profits really
well, you see that, yes, they need money to keep things going, but the
time, the volunteer (?), that’s equally important. A lot of people lose
sight of that, and they don’t realize how valuable their time is. They only
think of the money. So, there is an opportunity there. I agree with you

Tammy: Yeah. So, when you look through these, this research, you see a
lot of it comes back down to communication. It comes to poor communication
with their audience, and a lot of these people who left. That could have
been avoided just based on building better communications with your
audience. So, I want to talk about communication a little bit more.
Communication going outbound from an organization is just as important as
communication coming in. Half of these organizations had maybe some more
opportunity for the communities and donors to share back with them. They
might have seen some of these miscommunications and issues. So, gaining
feedback from your donors and volunteers. People coming up and saying,
‘Hey, I don’t feel like you appreciated my donation. I want to talk about
this.’ Or whatever the case may be.

Steven: I think Bloomerang can help with that.

Tammy: Thanks again. Gaining feedback from your donors and volunteers
on the expectations that they even have of your organization is so
important. It’s so important. So, some outbound communications that could
be considered are the following: text alerts, and you guys probably do all
these things, but that was not planned, by the way, but text alerts for
upcoming events. There are so many pieces of software out there that’s
available for organizations now that people can use to just stay engaged
with the younger generations of people who are coming to events or
supporting or whatever the case may be. So, these are some things you might
want to consider. Text alerts. E-newsletters. Thank you letters, like
actual mail thank you letters that are coming back. And people really
appreciate getting snail mail again. News events posted on a webpage.
Blogging and webinars. These are all pieces of engagement communications
that your organization should consider in communicating with your audience.
But just as important, we want to look at some inbound
communications. And make sure that as you’re pushing out your information,
you’re also giving the option through your donors and volunteers to be able
to communicate back with you. A lot of organizations use social media,
because it’s free, it’s easy, and it’s a good way to get information out,
so I encourage you to make sure that you’re using social media, but use it
as a way for two-way communications. Don’t use it as a sales tool or only
just about your events, but engage your donors. Engage people to share
their own stories.

Todd: And social media is a great tool. I want to interject something here,
too. Social media, as we all know, it’s just like anything that’s invented.
It has its good sides and bad sides. It’s like anything, it’s how you use
it. Social media, actually, from a non-profit perspective, is just a
godsend. What we’re seeing the trends are is more and more young people,
through either – not just through financial, but more so like Tammy talked
about, through their time. The old generation’s going out. The new
generation’s coming in. And I’m telling you, these people are engaging
through social media. So, historically, you may not necessarily love or
embrace social media. You cannot afford to say, ‘I don’t believe in it. I
don’t like it. I don’t care for it.’ You have to embrace it, because the
new generation, the future of your organization, is on social media, and
you need to be on there, and you need to put all your effort into it. And
find out

[inaudible 27:39] a brand, it’s complicated, because there’s a lot
of social mediums. Find out where the majority of people are and be on
there, because if you’re not there, somebody else is. And you cannot have a
conversation, and you cannot engage and you cannot tell your story unless
you’re there. So, I’m not assuming anyone on this call is not embracing
social media, but it’s something you have to do. You have to make it an
important part of your daily routine, because that’s where the new
generation is going to, and if you’re not there, you’re missing out.

Tammy: Yeah, in a lot of organizations, too, some people fear social
media, because they don’t have control. Someone wants to come on and post
something bad about your organization or about the event or whatever, that
scares a lot of businesses and organizations. But I would say a negative
comment is a gift, because if they’re not telling you, and they don’t have
that outlet to tell you, they’re telling ten other people. I guarantee it.
And so it’s better for them to be able to tell you and be able to vent
that, and allow you to explain or come back and apologize and rectify the
situation. So, don’t be afraid of people sharing negative comments on your
social media, because it allows you to be able to have that honest
conversation, and maybe make you aware of something that you were unaware

Todd: Well, let me interject. There was another story that I can’t remember
if it was directly related. Tammy, when you shared the 5, 8, 9, 10, 13%,
all those ready to leave. Steven, I think I read somewhere, you can correct
me, not long after this came out, after Jay Love did this, I remember
seeing somewhere that 80% or 88% of people would have come back to that
organization if someone had reached out to them.

Steven: Yeah, absolutely.

Todd: People definitely. We live in a world right now, and you have to
understand this, too, is that people do things for good reasons. I mean, I
think people really do embrace certain non-profits, because it’s really in
their heart. But unfortunately, there are egos. People want to be
appreciated. People want to dedicate themselves to places where they’re
valued. It doesn’t mean that you have to give them a gift or pat them on
the back and tell them how great they are. They just want to be recognized.
That’s part of branding, it’s that communication. So, keep in mind that 88%
of people would come back if they had the opportunity, if they were
engaged. Imagine the loyalty you can gain if you avoid that stuff, so it’s
pretty powerful.

Tammy: So, moving on, just some other things that you probably read as
we talked here, so I won’t go into great detail, but having that comment
forum, open online surveys. And that’s something that’s very important, and
we encourage a lot of clients to do this as well. It’s just having a place
where volunteers, community, whatever, can go onto your website and just
share their feedback about an event or about a service or whatever. It
obviously depends on what your organization is, but it’s important to give
people that opportunity to just share back with you. And a community
service representative, that’s very important. If you have someone on staff
or a volunteer who is that community facing in person, let people know it.
Let people know that you have someone who’s out there and able to answer
questions for the community about what you guys do and how you serve.

And donor spotlight. In their own words, this is something that we
put together for a couple clients that I think was just so beneficial for
them. Letting your donors be able to get out there and talk about why they
serve, why they care about your organization in their own words. Peer
reviews are huge. I mean, I don’t rent a movie from Netflix without reading
at least 20 reviews, and I believe those reviews, and I don’t know any of
those people. So, peer reviews are very powerful, and so spotlighting your
donors and your volunteers, and letting them just share what they love
about your organization. If you’re able to do that, and social media is a
great way to do that. A blog is a great way to do that. And WordPress makes
it so easy now to be able to get out there and just share information. I
would highly encourage you guys to start spotlighting your donors and your
volunteers, even in e-newsletters. Get it out there.

Todd: You can do really cool things in newsletters. One of the things that
we’re doing, I’m on the board for a local non-profit, and the non-profit,
unfortunately, over the last couple of years due to the last leadership
caused some bad blood in the community. Now, this [inaudible 32:29] had a
really strong international brand, thank goodness, but locally – and as you
know, even if you’re an international brand or a national brand, the local
level is really very critical.

So, what we’re going to start doing is we’re going to create a
newsletter that we’re going to start sending out. And we’re going to have
things in the spotlight. We want the leader of the organization monthly to
have his editor’s note, if you will. We’re going to spotlight two donors,
and we’re going to spotlight two volunteers. So, the organization isn’t
going to just tell their story. We’re going to let the volunteers and
donors tell their story. So, the newsletter is just very critical. All of
these different ways, you can do it. But you can go a long way in building
equity within your community by telling your story and by communicating
with these people on a heartfelt, personal level. And sometimes these
volunteers and donors, their stories can go a lot further than even what
the organizations say about themselves.

So, that’s kind of what we’re going to do. So, I really agree with
the newsletters. Don’t make the newsletters just information-based about
your organization. ‘Well, this is what we do, and this is how we do it.’
All of those things Tammy said are important, but do all those things.
‘Here’s what our cause is. Here’s why we do what we do. But let me show you
through the words of the people we serve and that volunteer for us.’ Let
them tell their story. That goes such a far distance in telling them that.

Tammy: And also just keep in mind that as you have these open forums
and surveys where people can give feedback, make sure you read the
feedback. Because we have seen a lot of companies that do this, and then
they never act on it. And then what you end up having is a really
frustrated community or volunteer, whatever the case may be. So, make sure
that as you get feedback that you take that and you act on it, unless it’s
really poor feedback, and then I don’t know what you do. Let them know
that, ‘Hey, we heard you, but no.’

Todd: Thanks, anyway.

Tammy: Yeah, thanks anyway. But if you’re able to, make sure you act
on it.

Todd: If they say they don’t like the logo, [inaudible 34:33].

Tammy: We actually have had that with [inaudible 34:36]. It’s a whole
big debate right now.

Todd: I know.

Tammy: Okay. So, the third, and we have four of them that we’re going
through, so we’re almost there – but the third one is, why you. Why your
organization? This is where the meat of everything you have to offer really
comes to life. Your potential donor, they’ve learned about you. They’ve
been engaged maybe through social media, through people out there, but they
really want to understand who you are as an organization.

Most donors have limited funds, as we all know. It’s a very
competitive world out there for money right now. Not even just between non-
profits, but, ‘Do I donate to you or get that new fridge that I need?’ So,
with the job market the way it is, there are a lot of organizations that do
struggle financially. So, with the limited funds that are out there, it’s
so much more important to really get your story out there about why it’s so
important that you’re part of the community.

So, what I want to say here is, basically when you uncover the
heartbeat of your organization and you showcase that to your donors, that’s
what’s really going to bring your story to life. So, some key expectations
that your organization needs to consider in setting who you are, why you,
with your donor or the following here. Show how your organization is a
change agent in the cause that you serve. Don’t just say, ‘Hey, we help
cancer victims.’ Or, ‘We’re a fire rescue organization.’ What difference
are you making in the community? What’s changing in your community or in
the lives of the people you serve, because of what you’re doing? So, show
the change agent in your organization.

Todd: It’s important. One of the things that’s also coming out… Of all of
the stuff I’m bringing up or trends that I’m seeing, one of the biggest…
It used to be, back in the day, organizations, who they are and what they
stand for was enough. But nowadays, again, especially with the new
generation coming up, knowing social media, big. But literally, they want
to know what are you doing. How are you different? How do you make a
difference? What are the impacts? The impact is really the key to
everything. They want to see where your dollars are going, where your
energy is going, whose lives you’re touching, how you’re changing those
lives, what are the differences you’re making in the community. That’s
really what it’s all about. That’s what it’s all about in the new

Tammy: Yeah, it really is very important. So, showing that. Give
examples of real percentages, real numbers. Show case studies. Let people
see the real facts behind what you’re doing.

Todd: It’s okay to brag a little bit. It’s okay.

Tammy: Yeah.

Steven: Yeah.

Tammy: Showcase the true social impact that your organization makes
and show what is special about the way your organization provides this
service. Highlighting your differentiators. Highlighting what makes you
unique. Like Todd said, get away from the flock. Really be real with your
audience here. And what I’d also encourage during this time is talking to
your donors and finding out why they’re supporting you. Get their feedback
on what their impression of you as a change agent is. When you uncover the
heartbeat of your organization, through the eyes of your donors, you can
develop your story in messages to answer the questions of other donors.
When you’re trying to market to potential donors, volunteers, the
community, talk to the people who are already doing this so that you can
better position your organization for basically lead generation.

Todd: One of the things I want to say about this, too, and this pretty much
applies to this whole thing is, when you’re looking at branding from this
perspective, what you need to do, I encourage you, is forget about titles.
This is not something that the executive director is supposed to be doing
by his or herself. This is not something that just the marketing person is
supposed to do. This is not something that just business development is
supposed to be doing. When you’re looking at most or all this stuff we’re
talking about today, this really is a joint effort. So, forget about
titles. Make this an organization-wide. Because when you think about it,
the story’s being told. If you don’t all contribute to creating the story,
then the story is not going to be told collectively, as well.

So, don’t leave it to your CEO or your board or your marketing person
or your development. They all play crucial roles. We all know that. Those
are all crucial roles within the non-profit world. But don’t sit around and
wait for others to do it. I don’t care what your position is in your
organization. Bring this up. Make this important. Go to the leadership in
your organization and say, ‘Look, we need to make this a priority.’ Get
everyone excited about it and work on it collectively, because you should
all be contributing to what story you want to tell them. You should all be
contributing to getting that story out and making sure it’s being told
consistently. So, I just want to interject that all this stuff that Tammy’s
talking about – make it an organizational-wide effort, because you are all
important in telling that story.

Tammy: Yeah. And a lot of the fact of non-profit is the frontline
people are your volunteers. The people who are out serving the food or
separating the clothes or delivering the clothing or whatever the case may
be, it’s typically the volunteers. It’s not the CEO who is necessarily
always out there doing that. And so making sure that top down, which is
what I said in the very beginning, all the way down to the newest
volunteer, they need to know this information. Okay, did we have a

Steven: Yeah, we did. It pertained to the social media piece from the
earlier slide. And it was from Bertina [inaudible 40:43]. And her question
was set around buy-in. You and Todd are suggesting all these really great
things, and a lot of these ideas are kind of progressive. How do you
convince someone on the board or maybe an executive director, who is maybe
not necessarily older, but maybe who is a little set in their ways. Some of
these older and these other tactics. How do you get buy-in from those
people? How do you get them to give the okay?

Tammy: Sure. One thing that I would suggest is doing a little research
on other non-profit organizations that are utilizing social media and doing
it well. And I would bring case studies to your board of the success
stories of other organizations that are executing this. And showcasing the
engagement that they’re receiving through social media, that would be one

The other way would be maybe doing a small survey with your current
volunteers, asking them some key questions, but making sure that one of the
questions in there is, are they on social media? Are they engaging and
checking out organizations on social media? Let them do the convincing for
you, because if you come back, and 60, 70% of your volunteers and donors
are saying, ‘Yes, we are on social media, and we are engaging with brands
through social media,’ that may convince your board that this is a medium
that people are on, and they’re utilizing it for sharing stories and
receiving information. And so you don’t want to miss out on that. Sorry to
use this term, but that market share, you don’t want to miss out on that
audience. And even if you’re capturing 2% of where everyone else is, that’s
still 2% more that can go out and carry your brand to others.

So, those would be two suggestions that I would offer. Todd may have-

Todd: Well, I was going to say, Bertina. I feel for you, because
unfortunately, and I don’t know what your situation is, but I’m assuming
you’re asking this question because you thought about this. We understand
some people on this call may already get this. Some people are seeking.
Some people want just to reaffirm. Wherever you are, your question kind of
tells me that this is something you’ve already thought about doing. ‘I’ve
thought about approaching the leadership.’ I think what you may have to do
is, it might not necessarily be you. What Tammy is saying is good. But
every leader listens to somebody. The great leaders listen to almost
everybody. Like you say, old school maybe. I don’t know if that’s fair or
not, but there are some people that are set in their ways. I think what you
need to do is, in combination with Tammy is saying, and also trying to
align yourself and get buy-in from someone who maybe is a little bit closer
to that leader, that executive director, and get buy-in from them, so you
have a friend or an ally. That’s probably the more effective way to get it
done, because I don’t know what your position of power is, hate to use that
word, I don’t know what your influence is, but you may not have that green
light to go straight from you to the executive director. But find out who
does, and see if you can warm up to that person and see if you can get in
through that backdoor, if you will. I also saw a good question…

Steven: Yeah, from Leo.

Todd: Steve, what does Leo ask?

Steven: Yeah, it really ties into what you both said. Leo was wondering
if it’s okay to maybe get an outside perspective, maybe from a postgrad
student or another company to evaluate these ideas and maybe influence that
decision when you’re trying to get buy-in. It seems like it’s kind of what
you were saying. Getting someone outside to maybe help you sell it.

Todd: I’ll say something real fast, and Tammy, you can add on. The postgrad
outside company is fine. I’m going to give you one word of caution. Do not
make that decision exclusively. And what I mean by that is, don’t rely on a
student. I don’t care how smart they are. I don’t care where they went to
school. I don’t care what their expertise is. Unless they’re actually
working with you, really are immersed in your organization, know your
culture, and really know your story, don’t just hire anyone to come in and
put together some ‘creative.’ A lot of people are very good with their
words, and they can put together some really cool pieces for you that look
all snazzy and flashy and impressive, but is it going to really represent
what you’re really trying to say?

So, my word of caution is, yes, Leo, get a postgrad. There’s some
people out there that are dynamic with their ability to express a story in
words. There are great companies out there that are good at doing that, but
make sure – the big question mark is, do they come in and do it for you, or
do they come in and work in alignment and conjunction with you? Because if
you step aside, and let someone else create your story and do this for you,
it’s one thing to evaluate it and another thing to do it for you. So, I
would make it a joint effort. That would be my recommendation. And after
they’ve done their work, if it doesn’t feel right, then look at it again.
It has to really just speak volumes. And, ‘This postgrad really gets us.
This company really gets us.’ If you don’t feel all warm and fuzzy and
lovey-dovey when it’s all said and done, then go back to the drawing board
and try again.

Steven: Yeah, absolutely. It seems like the subject of social media
really sprang some people to life here in the chat room. Kate was wondering
if you guys have any experience with maybe using Facebook ads,
specifically. I’m sure your clients use Facebook. It seems like if your non-
profit has a presence on Facebook, and if the people you’re trying to reach
are Facebook users, then the ads would make sense. Do you agree?

Tammy: Yeah. Facebook ads, they can be effective. In fact, I did a
[inaudible 46:42] race based off a Facebook ad. I signed up for a race, a
5k, based on a Facebook ad. They can be effective. Again, I think it really
just depends on what you’re marketing. So, I don’t feel equipped to just
say, ‘Yes, that is something that you should be doing.’ Because it depends
on there. But if you’re trying to attract a specific audience or
generation, especially the younger, though now Facebook is pretty much
everyone. I mean, my parents in their 70s are on it. But I think it can be
effective. Just make sure that it’s lined up with the right attitude or
tone of what you’re promoting. If it’s something that’s maybe an emotional
or heartache kind of situation, you may not want to be doing that on
Facebook, but if you’re promoting a race or like the Merriam. I’m doing the
5K or 10k Merriam Race supporting adoption in September, and we’re
promoting that all over Facebook. And I think those kinds of things are

Todd: Let me add one thing to that, too. And I know this becomes really
complicated. It’s all about metric measuring. And it’s hard to do that
sometimes, but here’s the deal – this goes right back into what we were
talking about, again. Nothing works unless you’re telling the right
message. A lot of times, people will try something, and it fails. They
automatically say, ‘It must be the tool. It must be the medium. It must be
where I did it.’ Oftentimes, you were actually in the right place. You were
just saying the wrong thing. You could be on TV, but if your commercial
stinks, who cares? If you’re on the radio, and the message doesn’t
resonate, who cares? So, what’s really tough with this is we used to be
able to just back in the day, which wasn’t long ago, ‘I’ll just hire an
expensive agency, and they’ll tell me whether I should be on a billboard,
magazine, TV, or radio.’

Tammy: Don’t forget the phonebook.

Todd: And the phonebook. So, it’s very complicated. So, what you have to
look at, and this is kind of what we’re saying. It’s a great question.
Facebook ads is definitely something to look at, but if you’re going to
invest in that, again, make sure that when you invest in that… Okay. So,
let’s say Facebook ads is where your audience is. Also make sure that you
put equal amount of time and energy and thought and commitment into making
sure, ‘I’m going to invest in this method. I’d better make sure that when I
get this one chance to reach this person, my message and my story, which
ties in brilliantly to what we’re doing here, is right on target.’ Because
if you’re in the right place, but you’re saying the wrong thing, you’re

Tammy: Which is why it goes back to our earlier conversation about
engagement. That’s why it’s so important to communicate with your audience
and find out A) where they are. Are they on Facebook, are they looking at
the ads even. That can be a survey question. But finding out what they
really need from you and what messages are really resonating with them.
Because when you understand your audience, that’s when you can really
properly position your non-profit to engage them quicker. And we’re
actually going to talk about that a little bit here in the ‘Why me?’
Because this ‘Why me?’ is about your donor. And so, let me go into this,
just to make sure that we get through this so that people who do need to go
and don’t have questions can get through it.

Todd: [inaudible 50:20] questions.

Tammy: So, with the ‘Why me’ donors and volunteers, they give up their
resources and time, because they want to add value and be a change agent
along with your organization. So, I’m joining an non-profit, because I want
to make a difference. And like we talked about earlier, there’s ample
competition with non-profits, because there are a lot of non-profits
serving different causes, but there are also a lot of non-profits within
the same community serving the same cause. So, for the donor or the
volunteer and the community, it can get confusing. ‘Who should I serve? Who
should I volunteer with?’ So, what we want to do here is talk about just
some key expectations that you can set to shorten that cycle of trying to
bring in the volunteers to your organization, to get them to resonate with
your specific organization.

So, some of the things that you want in your messaging and your
communications is how the donor or volunteer is recognized in their
support. Your organization needs to make your volunteers and donors
understand that they are making a lasting impression on the community, but
they’re doing it through your organization. So, I’m saying this, but you
don’t want to make it about your organization on this part of engagement.
You want to make it about your donor. You want to make it about them, is
what I’m trying to say here in a very bad way.

So, how the donor and volunteer is recognized in their support is
really important, because basically what you can say here is, ‘Because of
Todd Rimer, our organization was able to ABC.’ Whatever the case may be.
Whether you’re doing that on Facebook or whatever, now Todd feels very
engaged and very appreciative. He feels very appreciated by your

Todd: You got me [inaudible 52:26]ABC would be ‘all but collapsed.’

Steven: No.

Tammy: So, just showcasing how the donor is recognized and really
recognizing them. As we talked about this earlier, spotlighting donors
through the year, showcasing specifically how their support provided aid to
your organization. So, call out your donors. Call them out by name. Get
personal with them. That’s what people want.

Providing a variety of ways a person can support – again, not just
financially. And we talked about that a little bit earlier, but also
highlighting the non-financial donors. So, Sally gave 8 hours of her day
folding clothes for Goodwill or whatever. Highlight Sally. Put her in your
newsletter. And make it about the community getting involved, not just
about the financial supporters, because you do see that a lot.

Showcase what percentage of the donations goes towards the cause
versus overhead expenses. Highlight the impact donations provide the
[inaudible 53:29 – 53:36] the change, like we mentioned earlier, the
change agent. Highlight what is different. But again, tying that back
through because of the donors, these changes were able to take place.
‘Because of the volunteers, these changes were able to take place.’

Show donor engagement in their own words, and we just talked about
that earlier, because that kind of tied in also with the other topic. But
really just letting your donors speak in their own words to the community
at large of why they’re serving. Allow a space where the donors can share
with the community. So, whether it’s a blog, comment area, Facebook –
allowing them to be able to share their own stories unsolicited.

Todd: I want to interject one thing here, too. In the beginning, I had
mentioned about trying to unthink the way you look at branding. Now, some
of you, I’m sure understood what branding is. And I mentioned that. But
here’s the thing. What Tammy is trying to emphasize through all of this,
and it goes back to the very beginning, it’s about a relationship. Brands
are now relational. It used to be that organizations and companies were who
they were, they did what they did, and for lack of a better word, they
shoved it down people’s throats, and then they waited.

Nowadays, the audience, the customer, the client, the person you
serve, whatever term you want to use, they are just as integral in your
brand. So, every organization has their office space. And you have your
titles and your offices and you’re all doing what you’re doing, but believe
it or not, the people who are not on your payroll are equally, and I do not
mean to hurt any egos, but we all, for profit or non-profit, we don’t exist
without ‘them.’ So, it’s so critical to rethink branding. Again, it’s not
just your website logo and your tagline. It’s how are you interacting with
all of the important people? What relationship are you building? Not just
when they come in and use a service, or at the time you’re looking to make
money, but we’re talking day in, day out, month and month out. It’s a
commitment. It’s a serious commitment, but it’s one that has to be made.

Tammy: Right. There’s a lot of feeling that the non-profit is out
there promoting, ‘Hey, we need your time. We need your money.’ And they’re
putting that out there. And then in other messages, they’re putting out,
‘Look what our organization is doing. Our organization is impacting this.’
So, what this piece is trying to tie in is really bridging that gap to say,
‘Yes, we do need your time. We do need your money. But it’s through you
that this organization is able to exist and able to impact whatever the
cause is.’ And so, it’s making sure that your donors feel that they’re also
making a difference in the community. It’s not just your organization –
that they’re part of it, that’s making this lasting impact.

So, what I’d hope that you guys are able to do with all of this today
is to go back to your office, digest, take some time today or tomorrow,
review the slides, and just go back and look at your marketing. Look at
your communications. Look at how you’re engaging with your volunteers, your
community, your donors, and just to evaluate some of these different pieces
of engagement, of areas of expectations that you’re setting, and areas that
you’re engaging with the community, and see if there’s some ways that you
can add or change, to basically just bridge that relationship gap. And
bringing it back to building your strong brand, again, it’s all about your
relationships. So, we hope that you guys are able to take some of this.

Todd: I want to add, too, Tammy did a great job of sharing all this, and I
hope you found this time invaluable. What I would encourage you to do, and
I want to personally invite you – you may have questions that will come up
in an hour, a day, a week, a month, as you go back, like Tammy is
encouraging you to do. My email address is todd@element212.com. Whether
it’s five minutes from now, a day from now, a month from now, if you have
any questions about what we covered today, any follow-up thoughts, if
there’s anything that you want to throw my way about how you can build off
what you’re already doing or what you learned here today, I encourage you
to reach out to me via email. I’d be more than honored and privileged to
respond to that.

Steven: Wow, that was just great. Thanks for both of you for being
here. I know I got a lot out of the presentation. I hope all of our
listeners did, too. And we are rubbing up against two o’clock hour, and I
want to be sensitive to people’s time. Todd, other than your email address,
you guys have a website that folks can check out, I assume. You’ve got a
blog that people can read. Where can people find out more about your

Tammy: They can go to www.element212.com. And our Facebook page is

Todd: We’re not afraid of social media.

Tammy: No. Same with Twitter. Yeah, we’d encourage you to go on our
Facebook page, like us, and share your comments about today’s webinar even.
But yeah, you can learn more about us there.

Todd: We definitely have an affinity for non-profit. I’m very sincere and
serious about it. Anytime that you want to just have a conversation with
me, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me via my email address. And then
if we create a relationship from that, then I’ll give you my phone number
and everything, and we can do it from there.

Steven: That’s great. I feel like the three of us could probably talk
about this for five more hours. We do have to end it there, unfortunately.
Thanks for everyone who listened. I will be sending out the slides and a
video recording of the presentation. I really appreciate all the folks who
were asking questions and making the session a little more interactive. And
I know Todd and Tammy do, as well.

Real quick, before we go, I just want people to be aware of our next
webinar. It’s actually not our next webinar, but it is one I wanted to
highlight. We’re going to be speaking with Tom Ahern, who is just the guru
of donor communications. And actually, Network for Good invited us to
participate in one of their webinars, and you can register for that. It’s
on September 24th. Just go to our website and go to our webinar page and
register for that. It’s absolutely free. That’s one that I don’t want
people to miss. It’s going to be a really great presentation.

So, since it’s about two o’clock, we’ll end it there. Final thanks to
Tammy and Todd. Really great to have you guys on here.

Tammy: Thank you, guys, for your time, too. Thanks for joining us.

Todd: Thanks for staying with us.

Steven: Yeah, really awesome presentation. Really great. And thanks to
all of you, the listeners, who took an hour out of your day. I really
appreciate it. And have a great rest of your afternoon. Bye now.

Tammy: Bye bye.


Kristen Hay

Kristen Hay

Marketing Manager at Bloomerang
Kristen Hay is the Marketing Manager at Bloomerang. From 2018 - 2020, she served as the Director of Communications for the Public Relations Society of America's local Hoosier chapter. Prior to that she served on several different committees and in committee chair roles.