Engagement Training & Development

A Special Anniversary Worth Sharing

I’m excited to “share” that 10 years ago this summer my book, Share of Mind, Share of Heart: Marketing Tools of Engagement for Nonprofits, was published.

[Note: this was the second – and last – business book I wrote, disappointing my son and husband who pushed for a trilogy. Sorry, guys!]

I was encouraged by my nonprofit colleagues to write Share of Mind, Share of Heart given the favorable response to my first book on workplace engagement. The new book’s content was based on three foundational nonprofit principles I learned through extensive experience both personally (as a frontline volunteer, board member, and board chair) and professionally (as a marketing & organizational advisor, workshop instructor, and facilitator):

  • Mission matters – it provides organizational focus and intention.
  • The people behind the mission also matter – the employees and volunteers who impact the brand.
  • People’s passion for the mission should not be taken for granted – it does not ensure their continued commitment.

In an easy-to-read format, the book shares the insight and practical tools needed to engage employees and volunteers. This short actionable guide also includes thought-provoking questions and worksheets readers can use to apply the concepts in their organizations.

Share of Mind, Share of Heart was introduced on my blog (It’s Here! Help for Engaging Nonprofits’ Most Powerful Assets) in July 2012 and was later recognized as a Winner of the 2013 Small Business Book Awards.

Even post-pandemic, this book’s evergreen content is a valuable guide for nonprofit staff and volunteer leaders who want to strengthen their organization’s engagement from the inside-out.

Consider it an affordable investment and inspiring gift you can share with the nonprofits you care about. Limited print copies are still available through Firefly Bookstore.

“A book is a gift you can open again and again.” Garrison Keillor

[Photo by Toby Bloomberg of her beloved dog, Max, reading Share of Mind, Share of Heart: Marketing Tools of Engagement for Nonprofits. Such a smart dog!]




Think Beyond “Giving Tuesday”

I have mixed feelings about Giving Tuesday. It’s timely in reaching consumers and making it convenient for them to engage in the “spirit of giving” at the beginning of the holiday spending season. It also adds to consumer frustration with increased solicitations through direct mail, special events, and online requests (e.g., GoFundMe campaigns, Facebook birthday requests, etc.).

I know fundraising professionals who aren’t excited about Giving Tuesday, yet feel compelled to participate for fear of missing out.

Beyond the Tuesday after Thanksgiving as a designated day for giving, every day presents an opportunity to recognize the value of all who give their money, time, and talent.

Why donors give …

“No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another.” Charles Dickens

“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” Winston Churchill

“Life is a gift, and it offers us the privilege, opportunity and responsibility to give something back by becoming more.” Anthony Robbins

“A little consideration, a little thought for others, makes all the difference.” Winnie-the-Pooh

What makes donors special …

“Donors want to make a difference in the world.” Simone Joyaux, nonprofit consultant & author

“A donor is a special type of person … who is willing to share their usually hard-earned resources to help others in need or to support a cause that is near to their heart … to improve the quality of life for others.” Michael Wilson, Lehigh Valley Community Foundation

“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.” Anne Frank

For all these reasons:

“Each donor, large and small, should be treated as a precious jewel.” Lona Farr, ACFRE

[Special thanks to Lona Farr, Robin Flemming, Debra Khateeb, Bernie Story, and Sarah Yunusov for contributing these quotes.]

Customer service Marketing

How Careful are You with Your Brand?

Your brand is conveyed in everything you do to communicate and deliver your product/service offerings; i.e., what and how people think about your brand is based on the experiences they have with your business.

This story illustrates how a business manager formed her impression of a company’s brand when seeking a new payroll processing firm.

“I created a short list of companies and decided to do a bit of research before contacting any of them. My research was to simply visit each applicable website.

Turns out one of them had so many typos I immediately deleted them from the shortlist. Perhaps I should have contacted someone to tell them about the numerous errors, but I suspected they probably wouldn’t care. After all, if they cared there wouldn’t have been any typos, especially on their home page.

My thought process was this: if their website is so grammatically messed up, what will they do with our payroll?”

Organizations in all sectors — B2B, B2C, and nonprofits — need to be vigilant with their brands. In a study of mobile customers, 55% agreed with the statement “A frustrating experience on a website hurts my opinion of the brand overall.” That’s just one segment of customers, and it’s just one channel of brand communication.

Details, details, details …

While a brand is an intangible concept, its impact on the company’s bottom line is tangible. A spectrum of even minor product problems, customer service missteps, and communication errors can impact people’s perceptions of a company’s brand and its ultimate ability to attract or lose customers.

“The most successful people know that you either pay attention to the details now or you will absolutely pay the consequences later.” — Steve Keating, The Wisdom of Brown M&M’s

Can you afford to be careless with your brand?






Today’s Marketing: Less IS More

Signs of intelligent marketing at last! Lately I’ve seen more marketers respond to consumer sensitivity and backlash to promotional and informational overload – a major contributor to attention and intention deficit.

Here are two examples. The first is an excerpt from Penny Sansevieri’s Book Marketing Alert newsletter*:

I don’t know about you but I’m overwhelmed almost daily with all the stuff I need to get done and learn (because we always need to be learning, right?). And I hear this from authors all the time: I don’t have time OR I don’t know where to start.

Because at the end of the day, you’d rather be writing, right?

That’s why the AME team has decided to change up our newsletter. Less information = less overwhelming.

If you’re an information junkie you can still find tons of tips on our blog and social media all week long, but our newsletter will now focus on one or two action items and that’s it. Strategies you can manage that won’t send you into a tizzy of “I have no time for this!”*

The second is an email promoting AMA’s Marketing Workshops**:

18 Workshops | 2 Days | 0 Distractions

That webinar you wanted to check out just got pushed off your calendar. That new book you bought has taken a backseat to pressing emails for the third night in a row. And that idea you’ve been trying to find time to research for the past few weeks is now on life support somewhere in your subconscious.

With all the roles marketers play, it’s hard to find the time to hone our skills, develop our ideas and keep up with the fluid, tech-fueled landscape we call our careers. That’s why when you get an opportunity, you really have to make it count.

dontcalluswellcallyouAs a consumer and professional marketer, I’m tired of robo calls and junk email clogging my email inbox. I’m annoyed with financial service firms’ limited opt-out options that allow “related” businesses to continually promote their services to me. (No, I don’t need more credit cards or more insurance!) Ditto for nonprofits that sell my name to other donors’ lists.

I’m OK giving my email when I make a consumer purchase or request a white paper for business; it’s quid pro quo permission marketing. It’s the onslaught of frequent emails following afterward that make me crazy. Just because a retailer features frequent daily specials or a business offers a weekly webinar doesn’t mean I care to know about it. I know who you (as a retailer or vendor) are; presuming my experience was positive, I’ll be happy to call you when I need you or refer you when appropriate.

Bottom line: Respect the consumer/customer and they’ll respect your brand. Bombarding them with promotional messages results in brand alienation – not a good strategy for building customer relationships and retention.

Less IS more.

*Reprinted from Author Marketing Experts, a full service book marketing and publicity firm. Find out more at:]
**Disclosure: I’m one of AMA’s Workshop speakers.



What Your Fundraising Efforts Tell Donors

A donor can only take so much.

That’s why I asked certain nonprofits to stop fundraising. The situation improved somewhat … until now. So far this year I have received monthly solicitations from one nonprofit, along with other fundraising mailers from a similar organization who either purchased or shared that nonprofit’s donor list.

I understand and respect nonprofits need to raise money on an ongoing basis to support their work. But when their fundraising continues on auto-pilot, it shows a lack of respect for donors.

Your organization may craft different mission-focused messages in multiple fundraising requests, but here’s how your constant solicitation can be perceived by a donor:

  • I feel like my contribution isn’t valued when you keep asking me for money all the time.
  • Maybe you should spend more effort on doing good work instead of continuously soliciting me for donations.
  • You might be earning additional revenue by selling your donor list, but I’m getting fed up with receiving requests from similar organizations.
  • I was happy to support your organization until you started treating me like an ATM.

Take a step back and view your fundraising efforts from a donor’s perspective. What message(s) are you sending to them in your ongoing solicitation?






Engagement Marketing Training & Development

Best Job Ever! Reflecting on 2014

“To give your best is to receive the best … ” Raymond Holliwell

I’m fortunate to do work that I enjoy. This past year I had the opportunity to train managers how to strengthen employee engagement with internal marketing, facilitate planning retreats, and help marketing team members “get on the same page.” What’s most challenging is that each client presents a unique workplace culture and situation. The process of working with them to achieve positive outcomes in the context of their organizations is rewarding and a privilege I do not take lightly.

In addition to my client work, I met many fascinating folks at a variety of conferences. Highlights of this past year’s speaking engagements include:

  • Asomercadeo’s International Marketing Congress – I traveled to Medellin, Colombia, to share internal marketing practices with South American marketing colleagues.
  • BlogPaws – For the second time I participated in this special gathering of people who are passionate about animal welfare; my workshop there was designed to help rescue/shelter volunteers and staff better understand nonprofit marketing.
  • Volunteers in Medicine – I was truly inspired by this dedicated group of healthcare professionals and volunteers driven to improve health care access for the under-served and under-insured  in their local communities; in multiple sessions we discussed how to strengthen volunteer and board engagement.

Here’s to a new year of new opportunities and challenges and why it will be another successful year:

“The talent of success is nothing more than doing what you can do well, and doing well whatever you do.” Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Hope you find similar success in 2015!


Customer service Engagement

Good Signs of Customer Service

Irish restaurant welcome sign

  • Employees who smile and are genuinely happy to see you.
  • Employees who sincerely want to help you.
  • Managers who smile and are genuinely happy to see you.
  • Managers who sincerely want to help you or help their employees help you.
  • Happy customers.
    Copperhead Grill sign-3
Marketing Training & Development

Marketing Animal Rescues & Shelters – BlogPaws 2014

One of the reasons I love my work is that I get to meet dedicated nonprofit professionals and volunteers eager to share their stories. They’re also eager to learn how to further their respective organization’s mission in the marketing workshops I teach.

The volunteers and employees from a variety animal rescues and shelters who attended my recent BlogPaws 2014 Conference session, Fundamentals of Nonprofit Marketing: Building Share of Mind & Heart for Your Rescue/Shelter were no exception. These people involved in animal welfare are most passionate and inspiring. While rescues/shelters benefit from showcasing cute and appealing animal images in their marketing and social media outreach (i.e., the “aww … ” factor), they face intense competition from other rescue/shelter groups doing the same. They also run the risk of “wearing out people’s compassion.”

Animal Rescue/Shelter Marketing Challenges

In their efforts to save animals and find them “furever” homes, animal welfare volunteers and employees are challenged with service demands that often exceed their resources. Yet they manage to do what they can to:

  • educate the public about animal welfare, including raising awareness of animal abuse
  • advocate for spay and neutering
  • obtain the necessary support of volunteers, pet foster parents, donors, veterinary assistance, community sponsors and partners
  • communicate via social media to support their special events and the important work they do.

Intentional Marketing

Like many nonprofit organizations, animal rescues/shelters strive to maximize their mission with minimal resources. With this mode of operation, marketing is often a casualty — ” Marketing? Who’s got time to do marketing?!” But being a well-kept secret won’t sustain an organization. That’s why building and maintaining brand awareness through marketing needs to be intentional, and it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. It starts with understanding that each point of personal and/or media contact between the shelter, its stakeholders, and the market-at-large (e.g., every phone call, shelter visit, special event, email, letter, press release, Tweet, Facebook post, etc.) impacts the public’s perception of that shelter’s brand. Recognizing people’s individual and collective impact on the brand, intentional marketing then focuses on how best to ensure its brand contacts are as positive as possible.

Employees and volunteers who run animal rescues/shelters are already intentional in their commitment to help animals. By marketing intentionally as well, they’ll be able to continue their valuable work.

“Any glimpse into the life of an animal quickens our own and makes it so much the larger and better in every way.” —  John Muir


Marketing Training & Development

Is Your Recruiting Hurting Your Brand?

Talk about first impressions! Managers responsible for recruiting new employees have a significant impact on both the employer brand and their organization’s overall brand.

Here are two examples of how an ineffective recruiting experience – described by a potential candidate looking for work in the nonprofit sector – resulted in a negative brand impression. [Note: I’ve heard similar job applicant horror stories in the for-profit sector as well. ]

Example #1. “I had a telephone interview for a grant writer position in an arts-related organization. It was clear during the interview that the supervisor had no interviewing skills — she did not seem to know what she wanted to ask, nor could she process my responses. She was very busy concentrating on what to say next rather than evaluating my answers. Mid-way through the interview she sighed with exasperation and said she had no idea how to talk with me because I was not ‘part of the art world.’  At the conclusion of the interview the HR person asked if I would be available for an onsite interview, and I said yes. I never heard from them again.”

Example #2. “In my experience with another organization, the telephone interview was a fiasco. Three people on a speaker phone interviewed me; I could barely hear one of them and was never quite sure who was speaking.  The first question asked why I had applied for the position. My response addressed the unique combination of duties, appeal of the variety of work involved, etc. When I finished my response they told me they were no longer certain that the position would be structured as posted. They then asked a series of narrowly focused questions that indicated very clearly that they had not read my resume or that they were incapable of shaping the questions to elicit additional information. At the conclusion of the interview, the convener told me that additional interviews were being scheduled the following week and that he would be in touch ‘either way.’ Two months passed and I received an email from him saying they had decided to put the position on hold while they reviewed and possibly revised the position’s responsibilities.”

Bottom line brand impact

The job candidate had previously worked in HR. Here’s what she had to say about her experiences with the two organizations that interviewed her:

“As a former HR and management professional, I am appalled at the ridiculous turn the interview process has apparently taken. I am struck dumb by how little regard or understanding these folks have of their role as brand slayers. They seem completely unaware of the fact that an interview is not a one-way street.  While they are asking questions and making some attempt to assess the applicant, the applicant is gaining a great deal of insight into the nature of the organization and the people who inhabit it!  My respect for these organizations is diminished, my interest in supporting them in any way is erased, and my new and distinctly negative view of their capacity is going to be a topic of conversation for some time to come.”

Do the people who recruit and interview potential employees for your organization understand how their actions affect perceptions of your employer and external brand?


Engagement Marketing

No Time for a Strategic Marketing Plan? Think Again!

It’s a common lament among many marketers today – their work is more reactive than proactive. While they acknowledge the need for formal marketing planning, they’re overwhelmed and pressed for time dealing with customers, co-workers, information overload and other work demands.

So they wrestle with whatever marketing projections and data are needed to compile an annual plan and budget as required by those in the C-suite. Then it’s back to business-as-usual. For organizations that just keep on keeping on, how can they tell if they’re making any real progress?

“The truth is that in a time when we could change everything, we’re running without clarity of direction or vision.”Brian Solis

It’s a serious concern for marketers because our function is so visible and the people that deliver the brand promise – our employees – need to know where we’re headed in the marketplace. When employees don’t know and understand our marketing goals and what’s expected of them in achieving those goals, they’re more likely to disengage. (So much for nurturing employees as brand ambassadors!)

Not having the time to plan is just part of the excuse. The sad truth is the planning process is still perceived as a tedious one that many marketers don’t want to make time for. They understand the value of creating a plan, yet dread participating in the process.

But it doesn’t have to be that way! I’ve seen first-hand people actually enjoy the planning experience. What I’ve found that works is bringing marketing and other critical staff together for the sole purpose of exploring and developing marketing strategy in a limited time frame (ranging from a half to a full day). Whether the planning session is held in an on-site conference room or off-site venue, it’s important to create a sense of “safe space” where participants will respectfully listen to and share their ideas with each other. Food and beverages including, but not limited to, caffeine and sugar (i.e., fresh fruit and healthy snacks in addition to candy and/or cookies) are also needed to fuel the planning process.

Strategic marketing planning’s true value is in setting a clear direction and marshaling the required resources to get there. It also enables marketing and other key staff to step back from the daily grind to engage in strategic thinking for/about the organization — a process that  leaves them feeling re-focused and re-energized. A refreshing change from working reactively!

Note: I’ll share what’s needed for a successful marketing planning session in my next post.