Tag Archives: communications

Tips on how to name (frame) your case for support.

What’s in a name? If it is the name of your case for support, there should be a lot in it. It’s a frame and a sign that sits on the most valuable real estate of a document, the cover. And it’s a frame and a sign of your most valuable document, your case for support. You want to use it strategically.nameing / framing your case for support

A sign, like a traffic sign, gives specific information about what to expect: Watch out for falling rocks, and it points to something: This way to Naramata. Like a sign, a name or title of a case should give specific information about what to expect and point the reader to a destination, i.e. their role in helping realize a vision or the promise embedded in a mission.

We can also think about a case title as a frame that puts boundaries and applies focus around specific content. It shows us what to look at. What’s in, what’s out, what’s important. The name of a case for support tells a reader about the content and helps them know what to look at and look for. And like a frame around a work of art, it enhances–decorates–the content.

A case name, then, is specific, direction setting and content enhancing. That sounds clinical. Let’s breathe life into this by trying on a few case titles. Continue reading

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Are you committing this taboo with your appeals?

Every six weeks or so I get a nasty piece of mail, my visa bill. I don’t like it. Who does? But if the charges on the bill are mine, then they are mine. If my neighbour asked me to pay his visa bill, I’d shake my head in disbelief. I didn’t ring up his charges.

Direct mail appeal

Yet, ‘pay our visa bill’ is a common undertone in direct-mail, fundraising appeals. I received such an appeal recently. A foundation had made a commitment to fund X, Y and Z and would I kindly make a gift toward the project. They have committed. I am asked to pick up the bill. The idea of positioning the donor as a bank bothers me, both as a donor and as a communicator. Continue reading

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How to make your campaign message work harder.

Election campaigns Screen shot 2013-05-22 at 3.57.58 PMare much like fundraising campaigns. Just over a week ago, British Columbians went to the polls, and I was reminded of the power of the message. For those of you who don’t follow BC politics, six weeks before to the election, the NDP (New Democratic Party) commanded such a significant lead pundits and pollsters said it would be next to impossible for the governing Liberal Party to close the gap. We were expecting an easy NDP majority and an utterly obliterated Liberal Party. The results: a Liberal majority. What happened? Continue reading

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A tip for a better case for support

Take few steps into the National Steinbeck Centre in Salinas, California, and you will come across this quote: “If the story is not about the hearer, he will not listen.” It is from Steinbeck’s classic novel East of Eden. As I read Steinbeck’s work, I often pause and marvel at how succinctly he captures a complex idea and presents it in a few unpretentious words. The quote above is an excellent example. If the story is not about the hearer, he will not listen. The takeaway for the nonprofit sector is this: Continue reading

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A reliable theory for predicting success.

This week I turned 51. I tend to reminisce on my birthday, and this week I found myself back at the beginning. I entered the world in Falun, Sweden. As a child I could never have imagined the path my life has taken. The notion of change is fascinating. What precisely has brought me to this place in life? Why did I make certain decisions and not others? Why do some changes succeed and others fail?

That's  me in the middle.

That’s me in the middle.

In the nonprofit sector we are certainly in the business of change. I think of the case for support as a change agent. It articulates an argument for the change we want to see in the world. The change may be for better access to local healthcare, enhanced literacy, housing for all, access to education, better care for the dying, sustainable communities at home and in faraway places.

Our nonprofits work to bring about important changes in society, and as we do we hear about campaigns that exceed target while still in the quiet phase, and others–with similar mandates and in equally affluent communities–struggle. Why?

While in grad school I did some research into change. I came across a theory Continue reading

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How does an idea go from zero to a movement in six years?

Today is Pink Shirt Day. It used to be Pink Shirt Day in Vancouver. Now, six years in, people across Canada are taking a stand against bullying. I first heard about the anti-bullying initiative in 2008  on Vancouver-based radio station CKNW. (If you haven’t seen this year’s TV commercial, invest the 30 seconds. It’s brilliant. The link above will take you to it.)

My pink shirt.

My pink shirt.

How does an idea go from zero to this in six years? Some organizations work for multiple decades and achieve less awareness. Here are some observations about Pink Shirt Day’s communication strategy:

  1. It’s relevant and timely.Leading up to the first Pink Shirt Day, bullying incidents had been covered significantly in the news. One story in particular provided impetus for the day. A Nova Scotia youth arrived for his first day of high school, wearing a pink polo shirt. He was mocked, but two grade 12 students, stunningly, sprung into action. (Follow the link above for more on the story.) This incident became a flash point. Clear across the country, in Vancouver, CKNW stepped up to draw attention to the issue and bring about change. 
  2. It has a single focus and a clear goal. The folks behind the day applied the tested-and-true Keep It Simple formula. (Notice they are not trying to raise funds and awareness.) Continue reading
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