CategoryNon-Profits

Effecting Change in Your Nonprofit is Like Rebuilding a Highway

Change management is fun, right?

As the leader of a nonprofit organization you’re well aware that failure to modernize is a major risk factor.

Managing change might seem slightly easier in the nonprofit world if you think of it in terms of building a highway. This analogy comes easily to me, as a communications consultant to nonprofits, as well as major highway projects.

Whether it’s a highway or a nonprofit organization, wouldn’t it be much easier to rebuild if you could just  send your calls to voice mail and all the traffic to an alternate route?

But you can’t really do that. It’s essential to keep providing service even as you re-examine and fix everything. Impossible?

Keep the traffic flowing

In the nonprofit environment, organizational change closely resembles a highway reconstruction project. As users of the system, we hate the traffic jams but love the smooth highway that results.

Let’s look at the elements of a huge highway reconstruction project, keeping in mind how these elements are analogous to development and implementation of your new strategic plan.

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Using Twitter and Facebook in Adverse Event Situations

Twitter in crisis communications

Put Twitter in your crisis communications plan.

Dear Mr. Communicator: We’re a large nonprofit organization with a crisis communications plan written in the pre-Twitter era. How can we incorporate Twitter into our handling of adverse events?  a cautious PR exec

Dear Cautious:

You have an alert, well-trained staff and a detailed crisis communications plan. Here are some suggested tweaks about tweets.

In the examples below, I’m using ORG and Organization as the hypothetical name of your group.

Preparing to use social media a communications crisis

Ensure that key staff members and your leadership have their own Twitter accounts. These don’t need to be actual personal accounts, but they could have usernames like ORG_communications and ORG_advocacy, etc.

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Facebook – the Ultimate Word-of-Mouth Tool

In a recent survey on synagogue marketing that I conducted, Jewish leaders said word-of-mouth is their most effective marketing technique. In the same survey, they admitted that while they have Facebook pages, they mostly can’t say whether Mark Zuckerberg’s brainchild is worth their effort.

Word-of-mouth is successful because it’s a marketing message from the most trusted source: someone you know. (Admittedly, not everyone I know carries the same amount of trust.)

Facebook, with its extensive friend networks and ability to communicate personally and honestly, ought to be the ultimate word-of-mouth tool.

If you’re a synagogue executive director or a leader of any non-profit, some of these ideas might help you get more out of Facebook. (Feel free to ask me for help!)

Make Facebook more effective in a synagogue, membership organization or non-profit
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Marketing the Shul: What’s Working and What Needs to Work

Presented to The Future of Jewish Non-Profits Summit, July 11, 2011, Chicago, Ill.

When it comes to synagogue marketing (and very possibly marketing churches, too), technology is trumped by the old stand-by: personal contact. Paid newspaper advertising doesn’t seem to work well, and the jury’s still out on the effectiveness of social media.

As a lifelong professional communicator, and former president of Beth Hillel Congregation Bnai Emunah in Wilmette, Ill., I constructed an informal survey (using Google Docs) which I sent to Chicago-area synagogue executive directors and randomly selected rabbis, as well as Conservative synagogue presidents on a national listserve.

Facing competition from the Internet, iPads, the golf course and other non-religious distractions synagogue leaders are eager to find marketing techniques that will engage current members and attract new people, without draining the temple’s resources.

What’s working and what isn’t

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