Non-Profits: Why Not Try Humor to Share Your Message?


Sure it’s a world where great causes are often difficult, and deal with horrible issues like poverty, homelessness, or drug abuse.  As a result, most efforts at sharing the message of non-profits are deadly serious.  But more and more creative non-profit organizations are mining the virtues of humor in messaging, and it’s working.  Variety Magazine covered a “mockumentary” called “The Majestic Plastic Bag” produced for the Heal the Bay environmental group.  It’s fabulous.  Narrated by Jeremy Irons, it’s been a huge success with more than 100,000 views just in the first 5 days on YouTube.  To date, it’s been seen by nearly 2 million viewers.  Obviously we shouldn’t trivialize serious issues, but

How to Stage a Memorable Banquet

Banquet Table

I know, I know. I write on media, faith, and culture, but this time I have to speak out on a topic close to my heart (and stomach). If I have to attend one more poorly planned rubber chicken event for an organization’s fundraising, anniversary, or award, I’ll slice my wrists. Come on people, banquets can actually be fun, not the torture sessions we usually sit through. So if you have to plan an event in the near future, here’s some tips to keep in mind (if you don’t want me leaving early):

Non-Profits: Cut Out Your Media, and You Bleed to Death

Rupert Mad Chef iStock

Churches, ministries, and nonprofits:  Never forget that outside God of course, your congregation and/or donors are your source – and your media platforms and outreaches are your lifeline to that source.  A few years ago a couple of national media ministries cut as many as 1/3 of their TV stations to save money – without realizing they were cutting 1/3 of their donor contact.  Now, years later, they still have yet to recover.  It’s important to constantly evaluate results, make changes, and tweak, but be very careful about drastic media changes just to save money.  Your most vital links to your donors are

Ten Ways to Cultivate Donors For Your Nonprofit Organization


I haven’t been posting regularly this week, since I’ve been speaking at the African Christian Broadcasting Conference in South Africa.  So I asked Mary Hutchinson from donor development firm Inspired Direct to submit a guest post on a topic that would make a difference for our readers.  After reading my recent post on How to be a Better Communications or Media Director, she began to consider how ministry staff on the “other side” of communications could be more effective. It’s great to have a brilliant and effective program, podcast, and website, but what can you do to keep those people engaged?  Here’s Mary’s top ten suggestions:

What I Love and Hate About Financial Donors


Kathleen and I were teaching recently at a media conference in Madrid, Spain. During the trip we visited the legendary Prado Museum in downtown Madrid. Walking through the galleries we stumbled upon a remarkable painting from 1640 called “The Crucified Christ with a Donor,” by Francisco de Zurbarán. It was such a glaring and humorous example of how financial donors have been so great and also so terrible for artistic, nonprofit, and humanitarian work over the centuries.

While some donors simply want to help make

Is Your Brand Enriching Someone’s Life?


Looking out over the horizon, the hottest and fastest growing brands bring value to people’s lives. That’s why there’s a huge opportunity right now for brands that make a difference. Back in 2006, advertising legend Bob Greenberg said, “The real opportunity for brands now lives in finding ways to enrich lives.”  What about your product? It might be a

Advertising Isn’t Just About a Message Anymore


In today’s cluttered and distracted world, it takes more than a great message to get noticed.  Some researchers believe we’re being bombarded with as many as 5,000 media messages per day, so cutting through that massive clutter has become just as important as the message you’re trying to deliver.  As a result, advertising isn’t just about the message anymore.  It’s about

First Impressions Count

Your mom told you that “First impressions count.”  In the digital age, mom’s advice matters more than ever.  With today’s technology – email, instant messaging, Twitter, mobile phones, texts, and more, word travels fast, and first impressions matter.  In fact – and this is what I want you to remember – when it comes to fundraising and donor development, the way you first connect with a TV viewer, radio listener, supporter, or donor is the way they’ll expect you to connect from that point on.  In other words – reach them through email first, and they’ll expect that to continue.  Reach them through direct mail, the expectations are the same.  So give a lot of thought to how you want to start the conversation with potential donors, because they get used to it. 

How Should Churches, Ministries, and Non-Profits Respond to the Current Financial Dilemma?


Reading the newspaper or listening to the TV news makes it hard not to wonder about the economy. Some say it’s getting stronger, while others protest it’s in a serious crisis. It takes up the majority of the presidential candidates speech time, and it’s pretty much 24/7 on the cable news channels. Whatever is going on, it’s important that non-profits understand the connections between the economy and giving. There’s little empirical data out there on the issue, but experience is a good teacher, and you need some tools to work with as your consider your strategy for the coming months. Here are my thoughts on the current economic situation and how it could impact your organization. I would encourage you to meet with your team and make sure they understand these important principles: