E-mail EQ: Tips to Tap the Emotional Brain

Presenters:

  • Cary Lenore Walski, Technology Education and Outreach Coordinator, MAP for Nonprofits
  • Kevin Watson, Communications Coordinator, Alumni Relations, Hamline University

Location:

MCN’s 25th Annual Conference
Great Expectations: Our Communities, Our Future

by Minnesota Council of Nonprofits
October 6, 2011

Slides & Resources:

Press & Reviews:

Description:

Just in time for the holiday campaign season, we will examine how to craft donation appeals that tap into the “emotional” brain of donors. Recently published psychological research has yielded surprising results about what does, and does not motivate people to give when they receive an e-mail from a nonprofit. Attendees will learn simple strategies to optimize both the look and language of e-campaigns to leverage the unintuitive insights yielded by research on how people think and behave online. There will also be time for Q&A to discuss more technical questions and concerns the audience has about e-mail marketing.

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It Matters How We Communicate: Choosing Between Paper, Electronic and Social Media to Connect with Congregants

Presenters:

  • Kathy Brutinel — First UU Church, Rochester, Minnesota
  • Kevin Watson — First Unitarian Society, Minneapolis, Minnesota
  • Chris White — UU Fellowship, Ames, Iowa
  • Ben Stallings — Prairie Star District staff

Location:

It Matters What We Believe
Annual Conference 2011

Des Moines, Iowa
by Prairie Star District

April 8-10, 2011

Resources:

Description:

This workshop will be a panel discussion about how churches have engaged their congregations through newsletters, orders of service, websites, electronic mailings, Twitter and Facebook. What options did they consider? What works and what is problematic? How much volunteer and staff time is involved? Come and hear how other churches are dealing with how to communicate cheaply and effectively.

It Matters How We Communicate

Post 22 of 40 of the Humanist Lent Writing Project

This weekend is the Prairie Star District of the Unitarian Universalist Association’s Annual Conference in Ames, IA. I will be part of a panel called It Matters How We Communicate and speaking about my experience as a Communications Coordinator for a large UU church.

I’m excited to hear the questions and have some conversations about how to do communications in a rapidly changing environment. The information I plan to share goes beyond churches, I tend to focus on nonprofit organizations in my freelance life through www.AidanWebServices.com and I feel these tips work well for smaller organizations or businesses.

Website Advice:

  • Make it easily updated and don’t invest in a design for a lifetime, invest with a plan that it will need to be done again in 3-5 years (closer to 3 if you want to stay current).
  • I strongly recommend using WordPress.com or WordPress.org. This platform allows you to get a site up quickly, has a professional look and feel, and is easily updated by people without knowledge of html or programming languages. WordPress.com is easier to do, WordPress.org gives you more options and control.
  • Use Google Analytics (more on this below).

Social Media:

  • Facebook first, then the rest. If you are going to do social media and don’t know where to start, Facebook has the largest audience and the most functionality. It will change at the whim of Facebook but it will change for everyone.
  • Make a Page, not a Group.
  • Get a short URL for your Page (i.e. facebook.com/yourorgname). You can’t change it, so think about it first.
  • Once you start it, keep content going up there at least weekly.

Digital Communications:

  • Less is more. In  both design and content, I tend towards as simple as possible. If you need to have lots of text in a digital newsletter, try having a lead sentence or two and a link to the whole story on your website or blog.
  • Email Newsletters: www.constantcontact.com or www.mailchimp.com. They are simple to use, affordable, and you get a nice end product with the ability to track open rates and clicks.
  • DON’T BCC your email list to send out your newsletter. This leads to your organization being labeled as spammers and is difficult to fix (I know, it happened to an org I worked with once).

Print Communications:

  • Less is more, less is more, less is more. Sunday Bulletins, Print Newsletters, Brochures. All of these should be a concise as possible. Just a bit about a select few programs happening, stories of success, and then how to find out more online. Or better yet, how to get in touch with a real person to have a conversation.

Office IT:

  • Google Apps (www.google.com/apps). You can have email set up to @yoursite.org, along with google’s powerful suite of tools (docs, calendar, chat, and more) for free. Your whole organization can be running them anywhere they have an internet connect.
  • Cloud File Storage. If at all possible ditch the office file server for www.dropbox.com or www.box.net. This is an easy way to keep your files backed up, shareable with colleagues, AND accessible form multiple and computer with internet access. Also copies of the files stay on your computer as well so if you don’t have internet access you can make changes and they will sync when you get online again.
  • Analytics. Track what is happening with your communications. With your email newsletters and facebook page you can easily track how many people open, click, or “like” your organization.
  • Google Analytics. Also free, a GREAT product for accurately tracking visits and activity on your website.

These are my starting points, I also plan to talk about Branding and why I think it is important even for small nonprofits and I’m sure individual questions will take me in other directions as well.

Other ideas? Feel free to add on in the comments!

What is Vocation Anyway?

Post 13 of 40 of the Humanist Lent Writing Project

vo·ca·tion [voh-key-shuhn]
–noun

  1. a particular occupation, business, or profession; calling.
  2. a strong impulse or inclination to follow a particular activity or career.
  3. a divine call to God’s service or to the Christian life.
  4. a function or station in life to which one is called by god: the religious vocation; the vocation of marriage.

Source: dictionary.com

The word “vocation” comes from the Latin vocare(verb to call). Often the call comes from a divine source or the community for one to walk a particular path in their life. The most common form of this is the call to the vocation of ministry, clergy, or religious leader or even for an individual to become deeply involved in a particular religious path. So why is this something of interest to a twenty something non-profit professional whose experience resides mostly in marketing? Because I disagree with the source of “the call.” Instead, I agree with Parker J. Palmer and his amazing book where he illuminates the Quaker saying: “Let Your Life Speak.” The call isn’t something you find outside of yourself and it doesn’t tell you what to become. Rather, it is about being aware of yourself, deeply aware, and taking note of all that you have already done in your life. Your own life and experiences are the real guideposts. The next step is not to change into something else; it is to take off all the roles you have assumed and ideas you have absorbed about what you should be and work on the hard task of figuring out what you truly are, what you always have been, and what you could grow into by being yourself. “Be yourself” may sound simplistic, but in a world that constantly pushes you to be something you are not, it takes a lifetime of unlearning and uncovering to find the core of your actual identity.

I do admit that when I decided to think about vocation, I went to a religious source. I began meeting with a spiritual adviser, spent time thinking about what I have done, and what I want to do with my life. I also became more involved in a religious community. Upon personal reflection, I reached out to ministers to find resources to read about vocation. I continue to read on the topic and have spent considerable time thinking about the term and about my life to this point. The biggest step forward on my current vocational path has been to spend time reflecting on my accomplishments. The experiences, moments, and readings that energize me are those of which I take particular note and try to see where several are pointing. This reminds me of high school math classes where it took several points to create a trend; one or two random dots didn’t really amount to something but 5-10 really started to make a pattern. The core question (paraphrasing from “Let Your Life Speak”) is not “What should I do with my life?” It is “Who am I?”

Here is what I have discovered about who I am:

My passion is connecting people to what they need. This could be connecting people to people, people to resources, or people to a community. Reflecting on snapshots throughout my life, the most significant themes I have found so far are:

  • I love to learn, especially about how people work and how they come together
    • Examples: College Degree, Majors: Anthropology, Criminal Justice, Forensic Science Minors: Biology and Psychology
    • All of these study how people think, function physically, or come together in society (both in positive and negative ways)
  • I enjoy building a sense of community and connecting people to resources and concepts larger than themselves
    • Examples: Involvement in non-profit community organizations, Working within religious communities, Being involved in projects to disseminate information
    • Facilitating the connections between individuals and making contributions to my community have been some of the most rewarding volunteer and career moments of my life.

While these are merely cursory examples, other experiences in my life have also pointed to an inherent fascination and sense of energy around the way people join together to do more than any single person could on their own, be that through a religious community, community organizing, or self-constructed families. I have always enjoyed the D.I.Y. or Build Your Own approach to careers, spirituality, and families. Nothing prepackaged seems to do it for me. By my own means, I discover lessons in theology, philosophy, or amazing human beings to add to my personal worldview, social circle, and my created family. I work on multiple projects, in multiple volunteer capacities, and on many freelance gigs outside of my full-time job to create a career that is multi-faceted and with a depth that encompass a community I love. Mine is a career about forging connections—sometimes through marketing, tabling at conferences, networking events, one-on-one conversations, online social media, or my religious community. Each conversation I engage in is first a connection between myself and the other person, and at any point the connection can grow to more people.

This blog is not just for others; driving my involvement is an agenda very personal in nature. Through writing, reflection, discovery, and sharing pieces of my answer I hope to not only help others find what they are looking for but to continue the path of discovering that for myself.

So what is vocation anyway? Frederick Buechner might say it is “the place where your deep gladness meets the world’s deep need.” I really think it is finding that place of energy and sense of purpose within each of us, and then centering all the ways we engage our world on this powerful place. So my personal understanding of vocation is the point when I can align all of my unique gifts and my entire self to what I do in the world. Not a simple goal, but one worth taking the time to get it right.

P.S. those of you that know me might recognize this post from another project. I was going to tackle a more extensive rewrite but was surprised that this article still sums up my feelings on this topic and I’ve seen a significant amount of progress in the ten months since I originally worked through this article.

Why I’m a Lifelong Nonprofiteer

The American Academy of Forensic Sciences Annual Conference in Texas

Post 9 of 40 of the Humanist Lent Writing Project

A while back now a good friend of mine Cary Walski presented at the 2010 Minnesota Council of Nonprofits Technology and Communications Conference. She spoke about Metrics that Matter. In the presentation I was interviewed about my work at my former job (First Universalist Church of Minneapolis) and the amazing Laura Matanah was interviewed about Rainbow Rumpus: the online magazine for youth with LGBT parent (of which I am a board member).

This got me thinking about how people tie together different communities and work in the nonprofit sector. I give, volunteer, or work for nonprofit organizations that cover: unitarain universalist communities, jewish communities, LGBT communities, humanist communities, atheist communities, higher education, and more.

Many of these organizations don’t work together in any real way but they are all advancing things that matter to me. At their core I see these and many more nonprofits advancing the ability to make choices for yourself and to make connections to people that might otherwise be hard to find. I see a parallel here to the debate going on at the federal level in defunding public broadcasting. I know myself and other liberal friends of mine have been thinking about do we want things like NPR funded because we like them or because they really should? A friend posted something about this that I hadn’t thought of coming from Minneapolis, home of Minnesota Public Radio — for smaller communities public broadcasting is sometimes the only source for news. I have many ways to get to information in my life but others do not. When it comes down to it, that is why I love being in the nonprofit sector, the organizations I give my time, treasure, and talent to are creating opportunities for people learn, grow, and build community where they couldn’t before.

The only thing more expensive than education is ignorance. – Benjamin Franklin

How to Develop for Your Next Job, Within Your Current

NOTE: This is a post from a previous blog-venture — FromOurPerspective.com — It was posted October 27, 2010 and since then I have heeded my own advice and used the extra experience I gained to move into a new position with a new organization.

So you like your current job, but don’t see yourself there in five years? No problem. The thing you need to think about is what you WANT to be doing in five years. Look online for job descriptions that you want and focus on the Experience/Qualifications Sections of the jobs. If the position doesn’t exist in your current organization you can create it. The biggest thing you need to do is demonstrate why the position is worth while to have in your current organization. The biggest roadblock will be money, your organization likely won’t be able to promote your or change your position from what you were hired for and make your dream job.

The way to do it is to take on more. I know, in non-profits that is always what happens. The “other duties as assigned” or ODA is really a second or third position when it comes down to it. What I am advocating is embracing the ODA but adding these other duties to your job description. Create categories in your job description. Each annual review propose an updated job description. The things you add should start to look like the job you want in a few years. Of course, at each review advocate for pay increases based on these increased responsibilities but the other goal here is to increase your proficiencies in a paid position. You may already have these skills or be developing them on the job. You may volunteer for organizations and do these things which are great, but there is a world of difference to employers between the “volunteer” and “work experience” sections of your resume. (Side note: if you CAN’T work what you want to do into your current paid position/positions, having it in your volunteer section is a great step in the right direction).

Another thing to advocate for after increased pay and updated job descriptions is a new title. Even if you don’t get that raise, you can get a “promotion” and this looks great to future employers. If you go from Publication Assistant to Communications Coordinator to Director of Outreach and Marketing for the same organization in a number of years and don’t make a cent more this is bad for you, but worse for your employer. The next job you apply for shouldn’t be an assistant position, it should be a director. Your raise may not happen within the place you learned and developed the skills, your raise happens with the next interview process. Think of the current job as a job/paid internship. You are being paid for the level you came into the organization and while you may be frustrated at the lack of “corporate ladder” movement, you can focus on the next job which will be a big jump.

Finally, develop those leadership and management skills. The easiest way to do this within an entry level position is to manage volunteers. Even if you position doesn’t currently do so, you can find some way to involve volunteers in your position. If you do front office work, try to organize front desk volunteers. If you manage mailings, start a mailing group to help collate, organize, and do the various steps to get the mailing ready. If you are involved in development organize the group that does calls or door knocking. Anything to show that you can manage people, help lead a group to success, and show that you would be able to do so with paid employees that would manage in a higher up position in the next organization you are employed by.

So the steps:

  1. Find your dream job and list the qualifications.
  2. Take on the tasks in your current organization that will give you said qualifications.
  3. Move these new skills from other duties as assigned to documented parts of your job.
  4. Advocate for increased pay based on these new proficiencies, updates to your job description, and a new title.

Once you have the skills, the title, the job description as close to what you want to be doing, apply for your dream/next step job. One last thing I would do is before you transition out of the organization try to have the demonstrated new position created within your current work environment. Some organizations might see the added value and want you focusing on that full-time. If your current employer can’t make that happen it is okay, be thankful for the chance to develop the skills and move on. The reality is that Millennials/Gen-Yers are showing increase job shifts than previous generations. We also want our jobs to be not only profitable and pay our bills but meaningful and “going somewhere.” The idea of having the same static position for five, ten, or even longer is not what the up and coming workforce is looking for. Embrace this and still be loyal and open about your process. If your applications result in a job offer this can be discussed with your manager. You can always show that you have a competing offer, explain that you love the place you work, and if they can meet it that is awesome. If they can’t you’ve got your dream job, and can start to think about where you want to be in the NEXT five years.