During times of crisis, we’re reminded of the importance of connectedness. Sticking together can create a common sense of purpose and confidence in one’s ability to face uncertainties that lie ahead.
Embracing connectedness can benefit organizations, too. Nonprofits often face helping the most vulnerable communities during crises, working hard to ensure no one falls through the cracks.
When providing or advocating for public goods, streamlining efforts during a crisis can simplify the implementation of services in the short-term. It can also become a moment of revisioning, or a checkpoint that clarifies strategic priorities to strengthen future work in the long-term.
However, the transition from *many* to *one* can be difficult. Existing duplicities in public services provided to a community can cause tension between organizations with similar missions.
Consider an example I experienced first hand, one involving two organizations that we’ll call Center A and Center B.
Historically, both viewed one another strictly as competitors, taking clients from one another, rather than potential partners fighting for the same clients and mission.
This tension was well known externally among the local political and social justice scene. I was aware of this uncomfortable dynamic, too, prior to accepting a role at Center A, but in light of my connection to leadership at Center B and having been a client of both organizations, I sought to end this hostility.
In 2018, Centers A and B faced a law that would jeopardize a key service and the licensing of staff who perform it. Amid talks with state-level legal partners to file a lawsuit, a Center A board member reached out to me saying legal counsel for Center B expressed interest in filing, too. I contacted the executive director at Center B to schedule a meeting with her, the Center A CEO, and myself. We all agreed joining forces as co-plaintiffs was the right thing to do.
Fast forward a year later: the judge declared the law unconstitutional. This partnership between Centers A and B continues to this day on an array of lawsuits.
This example demonstrates the power of partnership and having strength in numbers. Nonprofits with similar missions can be stronger together and ensure no one falls through the cracks.
On the cusp of closure, Howard Brown Health Center rallied its supporters around what it does best: serving Chicago’s LGBTQIA+ community by providing comprehensive and nonjudgmental health care. Check out the case study below for analysis and best practices on building and executing an effective emergency fundraising campaign.
The following is a case study analysis I conducted in graduate school for the Digital Strategic Communications course in the University of Iowa's Master of Arts (M.A.) in Strategic Communication program.
The International House of Pancakes (IHOP), a family restaurant chain known for pancakes and breakfast dishes, flipped the script last summer when it made a dramatic name chain to promote a new line of burgers on its menu. In June 2018, IHOP announced the reversal of the final letter in its name: “IHOb” – “b” standing for “burgers.”[i] (Figure 1)
IHOb’s menu of seven new burgers attempted to challenge fast food classics like McDonald’s Big Mac with its own “Mega Monster” burger. “Everyone knows that IHOP makes world-famous pancakes, so we felt like the best way to convince them that we are as serious about our new line of Ultimate Steakburgers as we are about our pancakes was to change our name to IHOb,” said Brad Haley, chief marketing officer for IHOb restaurants.i
The announcement set the Internet on fire. IHOP President Darren Rebelez said the company garnered “32.3 billion earned media impressions, 20,000 news articles,” and made them the “number two trending topic globally for Twitter, just behind the North Korea summit.”[ii]
Fast food chains weighed in on Twitter. Wendy’s, a national burger joint notorious for its aggressive tone on social media, tweeted the day of the announcement, “Not really afraid of the burgers from a place that decided pancakes were too hard” and “Remember when you were like 7 and thought changing your name to Thunder BearSword would be super cool? Like that, but our cheeseburgers are still better.”[iii] Waffle House, a breakfast food chain, said in a tweet accompanying a copy of its burger menu, “Even though we serve delicious burgers... we know our roots.”[iv] Burger King, another fast food competitor, temporarily changed its name to “Pancake King” on Twitter.[v]
One month later, the company revealed the name change was simply a publicity stunt.[vi] (Figure 2) The name change followed IHOP’s 1.9 percent decline for same-restaurant sales in fiscal year 2017. Founded in 1958[vii], International House of Pancakes, LLC is a subsidiary of Dine Brands Global (NYSE: DIN), which is also the parent company Applebee's Neighborhood Grill & Bar®.[viii] Although IHOb has been retired, the stunt netted unprecedented social media engagement for the 60th birthday of this pancake chain. IHOP’s pancake commitment has never been stronger and the burger menu will be sticking around, too.
Consider the following pros and cons of virtual channels:
As for original intent, the distribution phase appears to be made easier by virtual channels to access wider audiences. Maintaining original intent is a more difficult task to attain due to the feedback loop of two-way social media interaction.
With this in mind, the following objective is a solid framing to make the most of virtual channels. Not the following organization is fictional:
To grow Bluebird Innovations (BBI) Twitter following to more than 5,000 followers by end of 2019 calendar year.
For those wanting to take action and financially support patients and Planned Parenthood in the states who’ve faced recent extreme abortion legislation (Georgia, Alabama, and Missouri), this post provides clarification about how your contributions can make the greatest impact locally.
Planned Parenthood does incredible advocacy work nationally in the form of a “federation.” However, it is state and regional-level affiliates like Planned Parenthood of the Heartland whose funds and staff provide the important on-the-ground medical care and sex education in your community and around the country. This was a misconception noted during the 6-week abortion ban passed in Iowa during the 2018 Legislative Session.
In other words, if you want your donations to directly support patients, health services staff, educators, and all who keep Planned Parenthood’s doors open, please consider contributing to state and regional affiliates. For instance, to support patients and staff in Iowa, donate to the affiliate located in Iowa: Planned Parenthood of the Heartland.
Outlined below are the Planned Parenthood affiliates who do this important work in Georgia, Alabama, and Missouri:
Thanks for supporting women, families, and LGBTQIA+ folks, all!
Forbes’ 15-member Communications Council provides 15 tips on preparing successful strategies for your business or organization’s top-dollar events. Suggestions include curating interactive opportunities for guests when they arrive as well as establishing procedures for responding to social media criticism. See the snippets here:
Storytelling is central to cultivating a culture of community between a nonprofit organization, the population(s) it serves, and the volunteers and donors needed to assist in its mission-driven work.
As a development director, storytelling is one of the most important tools I use to inspire donors and volunteers to support Planned Parenthood of the Heartland.
In fact, this tool is used affiliate-wide at PPHeartland. Mission Moments (MMs) are paragraph-long statements that aim to set an inspirational and mission-driven tone at the start of all internal and external meetings. These MMs cover an array of meaningful interactions with donors, volunteers, and patients.
Whether in a one-on-one donor conversation or event planning committee meeting, I always have a printed MM in my bag ready to go.
MMs can invoke a sense of ownership and influence in donors and volunteers, helping to demonstrate impact of their philanthropic work. This in turn can increase the likelihood of them making a monthly, annual, or even transformational gift.
So how does PPHeartland come up with these MMs? Well, Ann Handley in Everybody Writes describes a process nearly matches ours.
While Handley explains this process from the for-profit perspective, below are key questions that she raises with my insertion of nonprofit language:
Handley lists the following must-have characteristics for stories. Please note some overlap between these points:
Alicia Johnson | SproutSocial
SproutSocial’s Alicia Johnson maps a strategic guide to social media for nonprofits, providing the following tips below:
Laura Forer | MarketingProfs
The people have spoken. In MarketingProfs’ “2018 Digital Advertising Trends: Which Predictions Came True,” author Laura Forer outlines the year’s winners and losers in advertising tactics and methods based on a study conducted by programmatic advertising provider Choozle. The infographic (linked above) reports trends on the following topics:
Although this study is focused on standard advertising from a for-profit perspective, it should not be forgotten that nonprofit organizations, too, advertise and seek to better spread their message and mission online. My employer is currently exploring digital storytelling methods to better inform others about health center locations, legislative updates, and donation opportunities. Below are key takeaways I found to be most relevant to nonprofit organizations and their mission-driven audiences: