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  • The Connector Award Event: Meet Rue Mapp! Meet Rue Mapp, founder of Outdoor Afro and our 2011 Connector Award Event keynote speaker.Join us Wednesday, November 9 as we award our very first Groundwire Connector Award for Engagement Leadership to Washington Trails Association.
    We are honored to welcome Rue Mapp of Outdoor Afro as our keynote speaker. This amazing conservation leader is on the National Parks Advisory Committee, she participated in both the White House Conference on America's Great Outdoors and the national Let's Move! campaign and she started Outdoor Afro to help reconnect African-Americans with natural spaces through all the fun of camping, hiking, biking, fishing, gardening – you name it!

    We recently caught up with Rue to learn more:
    GW: Hey Rue! You sound busy. We hear you were recently named to the National Parks Service Advisory Committee on Relevancy. What do you hope to accomplish in this role?
    Rue: I was grateful to be appointed to such an important effort led by committee chair Professor Carolyn Finney, PhD. (UC Berkeley) as part of a larger vision to help the National Parks become more relevant for underserved communities.

    We all know from data and personal experience that National Park visitation is low among African Americans, and many other minority groups. I hope I can share what I have learned through Outdoor Afro to help the park imagine itself as a community builder and friend to groups who might not otherwise recognize our parks as an important and shared resource for all Americans.
    GW: What was your path to becoming an outdoor enthusiast?
    I grew up with a love for nature inspired by my parents who had a working ranch in the country 100 miles north of Oakland, California, where we lived. As a child, I was free to roam on my bike along country roads, explore the land and watersheds, and participate in harvesting acres of vegetables and fruits. I also developed a deep appreciation for wildlife. We had cows and pigs we raised for food, and my dad was an avid hunter and fisher -- he shared through these activities the importance of respect and preservation of local species, and an appreciation for food systems.

    At home in Oakland, I was a Girl Scout, and participated in a wide range of activities through my local rec center. As a young adult, I was able to build on these experiences and explore back-country activities where I came to understand clearly the ways nature provided a powerful platform to learn about ourselves and our human potential.
    As a mother, I have continued the tradition of outdoor engagement with my own family, and am proud of the ways my children embrace and love nature as I do.
    GW: Tell us more about participating in both the White House Conference on America’s Great Outdoors and Mrs. Obama’s Let’s Move campaign. Sounds exciting!
    It was! I still remember the excitement (and disbelief!) while reading the invitation realizing, “Wow, I am going to the White House!” When I arrived in DC, I was honored to be among important environmental leaders from around the country who came together to witness President Obama’s historic signing of a memorandum to connect more Americans to the outdoors. It was a magical moment. I felt then, as I do now, very privileged to have been a part of something that is transforming and strengthening our relationship to natural spaces.

    Later that same year, I was grateful to return to the White House as part of a think-tank to inform the launch of the Let’s Move campaign. In both visits, I met inspiring, passionate leaders, many of whom I now consider as friends and allies in my work to connect more diverse audiences to the outdoors.
    GW: How did Outdoor Afro come to life?

    I founded Outdoor Afro in 2009 after some soul-searching to reveal what I really cared about. There have been a few constants in my life: love of nature, a devotion to family, a desire to connect people with meaningful resources, and technology. When I was eleven, I had a Commodore 64, and was an early adopter of internet and web platforms that I used in the early 90s to locate and participate in local outdoor interest groups. Later I studied Art History at UC Berkeley, which helped me to understand the power and accessibility of visual representation to tell stories. So I feel that Outdoor Afro came to me, as a gift, and a rolled-up expression of who I am. But I quickly found that its message resonated with many other African Americans from around the country who, like me, wanted to be visible and recognized for their passion for nature and outdoor recreation.
    GW: How has the digital world of the last few years helped you in creating community?
    Outdoor Afro was born in social media, and through my participation in Tweetups, WordCamps, and other social media events and networks back in 2009, I was able to apply the emerging best practices, platforms, and audience measurement tools to intentionally build a national community around a cause.

    Without social media, there is no way I would have been able to meaningfully connect and share with so many people in such a focused way. From the beginning, I sought ways to use Outdoor Afro as a forum to amplify the experiences and work of others who shared a passion for nature. As a result, followers of the site feel a deep sense of ownership and investment in its content and messaging.
    GW: Both Outdoor Afro and our Connector Award recipient, Washington Trails Association, are very good at creating online community that goes offline into the natural world. What are some tips for creating community both online and offline?
    Since my work is about the outdoors, it is critical to convert the digital conversation into action. In addition to the site, I also make it a point to be visible at events and outdoor activities because I get a chance to meet and connect with people I might not otherwise online. It also excites me that Outdoor Afro is used as a vehicle for people to connect locally, and it thrills me to see community members create interest groups, come together in person then share back their experiences on the website and on Facebook with their photos and blogs!

    The best tip I can offer is to always remember the ‘social’ part of social media. It simply cannot be a one-way broadcast. It is critical to know your audience, interact with them frequently, and provide information and opportunities they might find most relevant to their own lives. Like any relationship, inspiring people to interact with you takes time and commitment -- there are no short cuts!

    Spend an evening with Rue on November 9th at our Connector Award Event at Benaroya Hall. VIP reception and general program tickets on sale now!

    No publisherSara FreedmanConnector AwardEngagement StrategyEmail & Social Media2011-10-17T20:15:00ZBlog Entry
    GW Engagement Benchmarking Survey: Intro and Section One Intro to our DIY Engagement Benchmarking Survey and section one of

    Ever wondered exactly what it takes to be an engaging organization? Or wish someone would come into your organization, give you the once-over, and tell you in layman's terms where you're excelling and where you need work? 

    If this has ever been a dream of yours, we've got some good news for you. Several years ago, we developed the Groundwire Engagement Benchmarking Survey tool to help the organizations we work with determine where they should be investing their (limited) resources. We've used it enough to believe that it actually provides useful, actionable diagnostic information, and decided to make a DIY version that anyone could use. You, maybe.

    There are ten questions in our survey. Over the next ten months, we'll present one section of our survey and related resources to help you improve your engagement foundation. You can take the survey now (or anytime in the future), and get a printable report that you can share with your team, board, partners, etc. The survey is 100% anonymous, but you will get an invitation to join an online community of practice around engagement. Which will be awesome -- but if you're not interested, feel free to skip the invitation. You can still download your survey results as a PDF or printed copy.

    We'll be publishing and posting resources every month related to a specific question, so once you take the survey (or even if you don't), you can look forward to additional support and advice over the next year. Served up in digestible chunks.

    Take Groundwire's DIY Engagement Benchmarking Survey.

    DIY Engagement Benchmarking Survey, Section One: Theory of Change

    To start off, we're tackling the most basic, most important question for social change organizations -- What is your theory of change?  All of the ways that you work to engage your supporters are a big waste of time if what you're asking them to do doesn't actually have a strong chance of resulting in the outcome that you all want.  Interested in learning more? Here are the theory of change basics:

    What is it?
    A theory of change is a roadmap, or logic model, which outlines a chain of events starting with your campaign activities or program work that leads, plausibly, to your desired goal.

    It has to be believable.

    It has to be achievable.

    It has to be testable.

    Why do you need one?
    A theory of change helps you to most efficiently use your resources -- money, staff, political capital, etc. -- to reach your goal. 

    It allows you to evaluate your assumptions and related strategies and tactics, so you can shift away from what’s not working and focus on or expand what is working. 

    It ensures that staff and campaign/program partners are on the same page about what you’re trying to accomplish and how.

    What are the risks of working without a theory of change?
    Without a theory of change you can actually do harm to your cause. It’s like traveling somewhere without a map.  Even though you know where you want to end up, if you don’t know the path and end up pointed in the wrong direction, going faster only puts you further from your goal. 

    When you spend your limited social and political capital asking supporters to fund or work on the wrong tactics, you not only waste their money and time, you waste their passion and you lose credibility. You may never get another shot at the resources you’ve misspent.

    Resources: Section One

    No publisherKaren UffelmanContent is KingEngagement StrategyRelationship BuildingEmail & Social Media2011-09-22T23:40:00ZBlog Entry
    Understanding Email Sender Reputation Learn about what sender reputation is and how it affects your mass email deliverability.Email sender reputation is a numeric score that ISPs assign to a sending IP address to gauge how "spammy" it may or may not be. Think of it like a credit score for email. If it's low, your email will probably be blocked or blacklisted. If it's high, you can enjoy consistent delivery of your email.

    So What's My Reputation?

    Pretty much all Email Service Providers (ESPs) handle reputation management for you. There are pros and cons to this. The pros are that you don’t have to setup feedback loops, manage blacklisting or other arcane technical things. The cons are that most providers group several clients together to share a pool of sending IP addresses. If you happen to be in the pool with spammers, your sending reputation might suffer for it. You’re also at the mercy of the provider to remove the IP address from blacklists, should that occur. Finally, if you send a lot of email and need to be assured that your emails go out at 9am and not 2pm you might get disappointed. The rate at which emails can go out depends on the overall traffic in your IP pool, so if it’s year-end giving time everyone is sending lots of email!

    How Do I Improve It?

    All that said most providers are very good at policing spammers and are very good at maintaining reputation for all their IP addresses. All you need to do is make sure you're following these basic guidelines:

    • Ask for permission to send email first. Use an email opt-in form and be sure to tell donors, event attendees, etc that they'll be added to your list. Don't surprise people!
    • Offer a way to unsubscribe. Most ESPs already do this for you but you should make sure an unsubscribe link is always available.
    • Publish relevant content. This may seem like a no-brainer but if your subscribers are leaving your list and marking your email as spam, you're not providing what they actually want.

    Now if you happen to be a very high volume sender (50,000 emails per month or more), need to be assured of timely delivery and wish to manage your own sending reputation you’ll need to get what’s called a private IP address. Not all ESPs offer this but there are some that do. When you have a private IP address you’ll need someone on staff or contract to help manage it. 

    What Else Can I Do?

    In some cases, try as you might, you’ll run into deliverability problems. There are services out there which can help enhance your deliverability for a fee. The industry leader right now is an organization called ReturnPath. If you meet certain standards around how you run your email program you can qualify for their Certification program which is like an elite club of email marketers. The benefit is that you get a really high sending reputation and should see significant improvement around deliverability. Another organization which offers similar services is called PivotalVeracity.

    No publishersamkEmail & Social Media2011-09-21T20:35:00ZBlog Entry
    5 things you can learn from Lil Wayne's Facebook Fan Manager Five things you can learn from 21-year-old Mazy Kazerooni, Lil Wayne’s Facebook fan manager and the man behind the Guinness World Record for the most "Likes" on a post in 24 hours.Rapper Lil Wayne's Facebook page is up to 30 million fans. Here are five things you can learn from 21-year-old Mazy Kazerooni, Lil Wayne’s Facebook fan manager and the man behind the Guinness World Record for the most "Likes" on a post in 24 hours.

    1. The ol’ cross channel approach: Kazerooni strategically re-posts Lil Wayne's Twitter commentary, as well as announcements about the rapper's whereabouts, to Lil Wayne’s Facebook Fan Page.

      Nonprofit spin: It’s pretty obvious, but not always done. Re-post individual staff members' interesting tweets, re-post legislators' interesting tweets, tweets from leaders in your community, tweets from leaders in the nonprofit community at large, etc. This takes some time. Put it on your calendar and do it for an hour, three days a week, for one month and measure the results.
    2. The ol’ give-them-ownership approach: Kazerooni built buzz by pursuing posts from all kinds of celebrities, from bloggers to musicians.

      Nonprofit spin: How many times has someone suggested to you to get some guest bloggers? It’s on every blog strategy plan I’ve ever seen, yet to actually do this is a big deal. You have to find somebody who fits into your publishing schedule and their publishing schedule, you have to trust that their content will be worthy of your blog, you have to possibly re-write and edit, etc., and you have to give up a little bit of control. But, it’s worth it. Bringing these experts into your community is a win-win-win.
    3. The ol’ first-person account approach: Kazerooni posted the actual responses from Lil Wayne to his fans who wrote him in prison. “We just kept everyone engaged throughout the whole process," he says.

      Nonprofit spin: Hmm, well, if you personally work with Darryl Hannah or Bill McKibben, you may be able to get some thoughts from jail, but the point of this tactic is hearing personally from Lil Wayne. Commission your canvassers to write from the field, have a volunteer write in first person from a fundraising event, have an activist report from the front lines, or ask your staff to personally share what they are working on /thinking about/ inspired by and so on. Connecting and sharing personally with your audience is the lesson here.
    4. The ol’ good-with-the-bad approach: The active engagement on the Lil Wayne Fan page means dollar signs to management. "I do everything the management needs to make sure we're selling his products without bothering the fans," Kazerooni says.

      Nonprofit spin: Make sure you provide a lot of value on your page and not just a lot of asks. Lauren Braden from the Washington Trails Association says she makes sure she has some "candy" in her organization's news feed. People don't usually go to Facebook because they're dying to read about your public policy analysis or be hit up for a donation. That stuff needs to be interspersed with interesting questions, helpful advice, entertaining links, etc. All work and no play makes a dull Fan Page.
    5. The ol’ brown nose: Kazeronni makes sure each city on the tour gets a lot of love. A shout-out, for example, to Atlanta, can inspire some 7,000 comments.

      Nonprofit spin: Well, it is nice to be recognized. Think about your community and the shout-outs you could do. What about your volunteers? Your champion elected officials? The community where you just completed a project? By neighborhoods, by voting districts, by professions, by associations, hobbies or sports groups – maybe you could shout out all the groups of people you know are reading your website, sharing your content, volunteering on behalf of your mission and showing your organization the love. Never hurts to say thanks.


    No publisherSara FreedmanrappersEmail & Social Media2011-08-31T01:10:00ZBlog Entry
    One Organization. One System for Donor Information. Keeping all your donor information in one place is essential to good relationship building and good fundraising.I recently listened in on a webinar about blending offline and online fundraising. The webinar was led by some really smart people in the field and for almost the whole hour I listened carefully and nodded along at the great advice. But then came the final question about how to best integrate information about online and offline donors.

    The answer? “Ideally you have a single CRM system that lets you keep track of one donor as one donor—regardless of how they came to your organization or how they give. But that’s not often possible. So just be really meticulous in keeping track of your data in your different systems.”

    It was a listen-only webinar so the bellowing “Nooooooo!” that escaped me was heard only by my coworkers, and not by other webinar participants.

    As far as I’m concerned, keeping all your donor information in one place is essential to good relationship building and good fundraising. If the donor management system you have doesn’t allow you to do that, get a new system. Period.

    If the email provider you use doesn’t integrate with your donor management system, get one that does. Period.

    With the array of email providers out there (check out our latest report if you don’t know your options), most of which integrate with at least one of the major CRM systems in use for nonprofits, there’s no reason to maintain two or three separate data sources.

    Your donors are the people who make your work possible—never mind paying your salary—and to keep your relationship with them healthy, you need to know who they are and keep good records about their relationship with your organization. To do this you need to:
    • Have a good tool for tracking all the information about all of your constituents (at Groundwire we are partial to Salesforce)
    • Use that tool—and only that tool—consistently
    • Commit staff time to keeping that information accurate and up to date
    • Make sure you know how to get information out of the database as well as put it in—I find that a lot of the resistance to using a new system is that people don’t understand how to easily access the lists and reports they need. So they start keeping a separate list that they do understand.

    Your event planner may balk at giving up her table captain spreadsheet and your volunteer coordinator may not want to mix his volunteers (kept in his Outlook contact list) in with your donors (usually because of mistaken ideas about asking volunteers to give donations. But that’s a different subject). Your major gifts officer may want to build a wall between his donors and the rest of the database.

    Don’t let them do it.

    It’s painful, but not as painful as explaining to Mrs. Major Donor Former Board Member why your major gifts officer called to update her on a campaign for which she was a key volunteer, or why she got three invitations to one event and two of them were addressed to her and one was addressed to her and that guy she divorced 18 months ago.

    No publisherTiffany DevoyEmail & Social MediaFundraisingDatabase2011-08-17T21:55:00ZBlog Entry
    Social Media Content for Nonprofits: Video! Video and wrap-up from Social Media Content for Nonprofits Knowledge Share.Earlier this month we hosted a knowledge share on writing social media content for nonprofits.

    Cynthia Hartwig and Emily Warn from Two Pens led 65 participants from Seattle-area nonprofits through a mini-version of a class they offer on social media content.

    Finding your voice

    So often, we read and hear: “Write good content!”  and then it’s back to strategies and tactics on conquering the next great social network.

    During this knowledge share, we actually took a step back to think about what we are writing and how that is reinforcing our brand. Don’t have a brand? We talked about that too.

    To start off, we introduced ourselves or our organizations in 120 characters. Who are you? What is your persona or brand?

    Click here to watch introduction and for writing exercise #1.

    How can you be heard in cyberspace? 

    Twitter is up to 1 billion tweets per week, there are over 1.3 million blogs, at least 500 million Facebook users, and there are more than 70 million LinkedIn users. And, here comes Google +.

    What’s most important for nonprofits, says Warn, is to create an online community. This allows you to stay engaged with your community, listen to them, and for the walls of your organization to become permeable. It also lets you share resources and knowledge openly and quickly.

    Start with branding

    We have to start with the concept of branding to be successful in social media, says Hartwig. This is where people often fall down in the nonprofit arena. Organizations are struggling with the concepts of who they are and how they should portray the organization with a strong human personality that people can really connect with.

    What’s your organization’s personality? Is your organization a little snarky yet smart, or do you want your organizational personality to be kind and generous? Whatever you are, Branding 101 says you say it over and over and over again. Transmit that personality in social media using words, images, and video.

    Take a look at three really strong branded properties in the nonprofit world for inspiration: Washington Trails Association Signpost Blog, Grist, and Bus Chick.

    Listen to Emily and Cynthia talk about creating a personality.

    Identifying your personality

    To help us think about our own organization and what personality we want to convey, Hartwig walked us through a couple of writing assignments to get ideas flowing.

    Writing Exercise #2: Make a Mind Map of words that describes your brand. Have you ever taken a moment and thought about what you want to convey about your organization on a regular basis?

    Click here for The Real Thing writing exercise to walk you through it.

    Writing Exercise #3: Write from the heart.

    Using compete sentences, take two minutes and answer this question with full sentences: The Real Thing about my organization’s social media personality is:

    Click here for this writing exercise.

    Need some inspiration? Listen to what other nonprofit staff members had to say.

    Point of view

    Now that we have a better idea of what we are about, who are some personalities that could represent your organization in a new and different way?

    Writing Exercise #4: Write a list of 10–15 people within your organization – personalities – who could be the personality in a blog post / facebook post/ tweet.

    Click here for writing exercise #4.

    What makes a good blog post

    At this point, we have thought about our brand, our personality, and even possible people (fictitious or real) who could write a blog post for us. Now, Warn walks us through the features of a good blog post.

    Click here for a list of tips and writing exercise # 5 to get your started on a blog post.

    Plan and write you own blog post

    And two more writing exercises to help us plan out our blog post:

    How to Write A Good Blog Post: writing exercise #6: (quick planning write) What is the personality I want to project in this blog post?

    How to Write A Good Blog Post: writing exercise #7: (quick planning write) Every good blog post has an intersection between what we want to say as an organization and what readers want to hear. Write about that intersection.

    Want to hear what other nonprofit staff members are writing about? Click here for some awesome and hilarious blog post ideas from the audience.

    Armed with our planning notes and some inspiration, we spent the next half hour writing a draft blog post for our organization, then work-shopping what we had written in small groups.

    Three great blog posts

    Starting with the simple question of "who you are," followed by brainstorming and mind mapping and free writing, followed by work-shopping and sharing, many participants were starting to see a blog post take form.

    Click here to hear from three participants who shared their blog posts with the group. Some really great stuff here.

    Inspired to learn more?

    This fall, Two Pens is focusing on nonprofits. Writing classes include Super Star Blogging, Grant Writing, SEO Content Strategies and much more.

    Go to the Two Pens website for a complete listing of classes.


    Every Two Pens class has one free place reserved for people who work for causes we believe in. Email and make the case for why your organization needs a place at our writing table.

    Special thanks to Emily and Cynthia for a wonderful knowledge share.

    No publisherSara FreedmanKnowledge Share EventContent is KingEmail & Social Media2011-08-17T19:55:00ZBlog Entry
    Groundwire Knowledge Share: Social Media Content for Nonprofits We have a very exciting knowledge share coming up in August. Groundwire Board Member Emily Warn leads writing workshops with her Two Pens co-founder Cynthia Hartwig and they have graciously offered to present a social media content workshop free of charge to the Groundwire community.Content people! We have a very exciting knowledge share coming in August.

    Groundwire Board Member Emily Warn leads writing workshops with her Two Pens co-founder Cynthia Hartwig and they have graciously offered to present a social media content workshop free of charge to the Groundwire community.

    Building a useful social network requires more than just putting up a Facebook page, opening a Twitter account, or even designing a great strategy. Every strategy succeeds or fails based on whether other people share your content across blogs, Twitter, and Facebook.

    Emily and Cynthia will spend time teaching you how to tailor content for social media so you can reach an ever-widening audience. They'll provide writing exercises that build your credibility and grow a fan base.

    We’re going to break up into small groups, so space is limited to 75 attendees.

    Date: Wednesday, August 3
    Place: Groundwire's Seattle Office
    Time: 5:30-7:30pm
    Food and Drink: You bet.
    Cost: Free, but space is limited so register early.

    Please note this is a live event at our Seattle office. Check back on our blog for video of the event.

    No publisherSara FreedmanKnowledge Share EventContent is KingEmail & Social Media2011-07-08T21:05:00ZBlog Entry
    G+: So much harder to stalk Google’s new social media space, Google +, is getting a test drive with a limited launch, but will soon be up and ready for everyone to start socializing. But will it take over Facebook?Oh my gawd!

    Google’s new social media space, Google +, is getting a test drive right now with a limited launch, stirring up the usual frenzy.

    G + is focusing on individuals for now and working on profile pages for organizations and businesses to launch later, although of course nonprofits and businesses are already getting around this in the limited launch and setting up “Circles” with their supporters.

    G+ is basically a slicker and better integrated Facebook-type community, with a user experience featuring drag and drop ease, where uploading videos and photos is faster and simpler, where you can group text with your circle of friends on your phone (Huddle), video chat (Hangouts) and featuring a recommendation engine just for you (Sparks).

    But what people will probably find most intriguing is the way this social network is setup with Circles, which allows you to easily segregate your work friends, your school friends, your boyfriends, your family (mom!), etc.

    Which IMHO really sort of defeats the purpose of social media. One of the reasons Facebook is so popular is its passive-aggressive tendencies. If you really wanted to keep something private, you would send a private email, right? But by posting status updates for all to see, or liking something cool that shows up for all to see in your feed, or writing on someone’s wall for everyone to see (showing off your relationship with that person), we get to brag and show our interests and show off attractive photos of ourselves and drop hints to our work friends without looking like we are doing it on purpose.

    If we segregate into “Circles” on G +, we then have to purposely plan who gets to see which update and photo, etc. Part of the fun of Facebook is the overshare-to-everyone-default factor. How boring is it going to be if you get put in someone's biking group circle and only get biking photos with no access to your new biking friend's complete profile! So much harder to stalk. 

    And also, what if you put Friend A in your "Best Friends" circle and Friend B in your "Second-Tier Friends" circle and then you post a cool video for just "Best Friends" circle to see and then you are out to drinks with both friends and Friend A is like, "OMG I loved that video you posted on Goggle +!" and then Friend B is like,"What video?" and then figures out she is not in your favorite Google + Circle - this circle thing could really hurt some feelings. Don't get me started on Top Friends on Facebook.

    And as far as keeping your boss out of your world, LinkedIn is seeing a renaissance right now as people are looking for a completely separate social space for work altogether. Maybe Facebook and LinkedIn will be enough to keep the worlds separate without resorting to Google Circles?

    Okay, but enough about me and my personality problems. Why is this important to your nonprofit? Because you want to keep your eye on Google +, but remember a social media network is only successful if individuals are loving it up. People don't like change, they have social media fatigue, they don't want to build a whole new community and they don't really hate Facebook as much as they like to say they do. As Jumo can tell you, it’s almost impossible to get people to move over to a new social space when they are already deeply invested. Google has had trouble with this in the past (Wave, Buzz) but Google does have a cool factor people love (if you are still using Hotmail for your email you are immediately being judged, just know that).

    Here’s what Social Media for Nonprofits guru Beth Kanter has to say about the possibilities of Google +: “Many who work in health, education, social services and other sensitive areas have found it cumbersome and sometimes impossible to erect professional firewalls to keep patients, students and clients out. Google gives users more control on who can join.”

    Read what other people are saying about Google +:

    Security and Control: Early Thoughts on Google+, Amy Sample Ward

    What is your plan for Google+ experimentation and exploration? Beth Kanter

    Google +: First Impressions, Mashable

    Nonprofits Adopt Google + Social Network Early, Huff Po

    Google Rebrands Blogger and Picassa to make way for Google +, Read Write Web

    Five Fatal Flaws of Google +, Thomas Moradapour

    No publisherSara FreedmanRelationship BuildingEmail & Social Media2011-07-07T21:35:00ZBlog Entry
    Powerful, flexible tools for Alaska's Cook Inletkeeper How we helped Cook Inletkeeper do a more-than-skin-deep makeover on its website and CRM database.Alaska's Cook Inlet stretches 180 miles from the Gulf of Alaska up to Anchorage. Cook Inletkeeper, based in Homer, Alaska, works to protect Cook Inlet, its watershed and all of the life it sustains. There's a lot of life worth protecting: huge salmon runs, beluga whales, a vibrant fishing industry, hundreds of thousands of acres of unspoiled wilderness and communities of hardworking Alaskans. And, as you might expect, there are a lot of threats to Cook Inlet: reckless coal strip mining, the impacts of climate change, toxic waste from oil and gas drilling, and more.

    Cook Inletkeeper has been working hard to keep Cook Inlet safe and sustainable since 1995, and while we've known the Inletkeeper team for a long while, only recently have we had the opportunity to really dive in deep with them. But it was worth the wait. In the space of a few short months, we helped Cook Inletkeeper:

    • Design and build a gorgeous new website with a fantastic "Weather and Tides" engagement superpower.
    • Deploy a brand new Salesforce relationship management database to replace their aging homebrewed Access member database.
    • Streamline their membership and donor management processes to fit the new world of combined online and offline fundraising.
    • Launch a new online donation feature that seamlessly integrates between Cook Inletkeeper's website, a new credit card merchant account and Salesforce.
    • Start a new email newsletter/broadcasting program, seamlessly integrated with their Salesforce CRM.

    The net result: systems transformation. By helping Cook Inletkeeper think about its website, database, credit card processing and membership processes as connected elements in an integrated system, we were able to give them as set of powerful, flexible, fits-like-a-glove tools that meet all of their needs with headroom to grow.

    Here's a quick screencast of Cook Inletkeeper's innovative "Weather and Tides" feature.

    No publisherJon StahlWebsitesuccess-storiesEmail & Social MediaDatabase2011-06-12T23:20:00ZBlog Entry
    Nonprofit Writer's Block Good tips to help you with your daily nonprofit writing.Your nonprofit pretty much needs to be publishing all the time now to fully participate in the new social media internet.

    And writing all the time is hard, hard, hard. Doesn't matter who you are.

    Some good ideas from Kivi Leroux Miller to motivate you and get you thinking:

    7 Cures for Nonprofit Writer's Block

    I esp. love this:

    "Here are my top five favorite formats:

    •     How-to Article
    •     List (e.g. Top Ten)
    •     Fact Versus Fiction (or True or False)
    •     Advice (usually in response to a question)
    •     Roundup (group several smaller items together under a common theme)"

    A good list to come back to if you are feeling less than creative.

    No publisherSara FreedmanContent is KingEngagement TechnologiesEmail & Social Media2011-05-25T19:25:00ZBlog Entry
    Three Questions You Should Ask Before You Hire A Consultant Don't take our word for it. Ask the clients we work with.One of the reasons Groundwire is such a special place for our staff to work is because we have some of the best clients on the planet.

    That is not an accident. We are highly selective when choosing clients. And they are selective when choosing us. This is critical because of the high level of trust required for project success.

    I provide prospective clients with a list of recently completed or current client projects so they can talk to the organization's staff and have an honest conversation about our work together.

    Here are three questions I recommend they ask:

    1. Why and how did you choose Groundwire? (Follow-ups: Would you work with them again? Who else did you consider?)

      It's very helpful for someone who was in your shoes recently to answer your questions and inform your consideration. It is really hard to pick a consultant especially when you are considering a set of complex functionality that is beyond your current experience. Hindsight is 20/20 and clients who have completed a project with your potential consultant often offer the best advice.
    2. What was your experience working with Groundwire staff?

      You should enjoy working with a well-run consulting firm.  They should have a clear process, staff members you like working with and you should feel like they are your partners. You should also feel like they are constantly sharing new ideas and solutions and in many cases pushing you and your staff to be better in the online world. Certainly they should be leaders in strategy and the technology they are implementing. If you feel sure of this you will trust their advice and estimates for your work.
    3. What was the best part of working with Groundwire?  (Follow-up: Where could they have done better?)

      Don't take our word for it. Our clients should have substantial things to tell you about what we do best. This is also a good time to get advice from clients on how to maximize the consulting experience.

    Groundwire is very selective about the organizations and projects we work on and we want our clients to feel the same when they choose us as their partners. Selecting the right consultant for the job can be a daunting task, especially in the technology world, and talking to your peers is a great place to start the process.

    No publisherdavidaWebsiteDatabaseEngagement TechnologiesEmail & Social MediaNext Generation Organizing2011-05-23T21:25:00ZBlog Entry
    Build your Facebook fan base, increase online action In four weeks, ICL grew their total Facebook audience by nearly 67% and increased online actions through FB and Twitter.Idaho Conservation League is the go-to group for clean water, wild places and quality of life in Idaho. They’ve been doing some fantastic work with Facebook ads that we are excited to share with you. We think it’s a perfect example of a basic Facebook advertising strategy that nearly any environmental group can easily run to build up their social media audience and the base of their Engagement Pyramid.

    Before we dive in, here’s what you need to know about advertising on Facebook:

    1)  Facebook, like Google, makes it very easy to buy advertising in small amounts and with really precise targeting.

    2) In a Facebook ad, you can ask the user to “Like” your organization, RSVP for an event or simply click through to any URL.

    3) Liking is one of the easiest and best actions to offer, since it’s a single click that effectively adds the person to your Facebook audience, and lets them start receiving messages from you via Facebook. It’s pretty much the Facebook equivalent of someone adding themselves to your email newsletter list. 

    The Strategy

    ICL has an Engagement Pyramid that they built with Groundwire.  Level 1 of their Engagement Pyramid is “followers”--people who have raised their hands and said, “Yes, I’m interested in hearing more about ICL’s work!”  ICL has some pretty aggressive goals for building up this base level of its Engagement Pyramid, so it has a large enough pool of people that it can work to move up the pyramid toward deeper engagement.

    As Sara Arkle, ICL Communications Associate and Chief Facebook Ads Wrangler puts it, “We felt that there were folks out there in Idaho who share our values but we hadn’t yet spoken with. We wanted to let Idahoans interested in conservation values know that we exist and that we have a forum for them.”

    Is this by itself a killer social media strategy? Nope. But it’s low-cost, low-effort, low-hanging fruit that we think it makes a ton of sense to harvest. And, as a bonus, ICL has the opportunity to get some real data about which messages resonate best with the exact people they’re targeting.

    The Tactics

    ICL decided to take advantage of Facebook’s ad-targeting features to focus in on the people they most wanted to have: adults in Idaho whose Facebook interests intersect with ICL’s issue work. “We targeted Idahoans because we are a statewide organization in Idaho,” says Arkle.  “Beyond that, we were looking to reach the people who had self-identified with the issues we’re working on. To build our targeting profile, we tried to imagine our archetypal supporter and played trial-and-error with the available Facebook interest tags.”

    ICL also kept their ads focused on the Facebook friends of people who were already connected to ICL, under the assumption that people tend to be friends with people who have similar interests and values. In addition, when you target friends-of-friends, Facebook shows which of their friends are already connected with you, which adds a powerful “trusted endorsement” that Facebook believes can boost conversion rates.

    The precise criteria ICL wound up using were:

    • live in the United States
    • live in Idaho
    • age 18 and older
    • are not already connected to Idaho Conservation League
    • friends are already connected to Idaho Conservation League (e.g “friends of friends”)
    • like bicycling, conservation, cross country sking, energy efficiency, healthy living, hiking, politics, public health, snowshoeing, sustainability, water or wildlife

    According to Facebook’s targeting tool, this ad can reach a pool of nearly 15,000 people. That’s a pretty good-sized pool of extremely well-qualified prospects! 

    ICL decided to test two ad messages:

    1) A broad, values-focused message with the copy “Does Idaho make you smile? We work to protect you from toxins and to preserve the land you love. Love Idaho? "Like" us.”

    ICL Facebook Ad 1

    2) A message focused on ICL’s work in the state legislature with the copy: “Clean water, clean air, wildlife, wild places. ICL is your voice for conservation at the Idaho Statehouse.”

    ICL Facebook 2

    What was the rationale behind these two different messages?  “We wanted to find out whether people would respond more to our work in the state legislature or to a more general statement of shared identity,” says Arkle.

    ICL ran the ads for about four weeks, with a maximum spend of $50/day and a maximum bid of $0.88 per clickthrough. This was near the low end of Facebook’s recommended bid range of $0.77 - $1.12 per click.

    The Results

    ICL started the campaign with about 2100 Facebook Likes. In four weeks, ICL added nearly 1500 Facebook Likes, growing their total Facebook audience by nearly 67% to just under 3500 Likes. The campaign has cost them under $1200, so the total cost per new fan is well under a buck. 

    Increase in online actions spreading through FB and Twitter. “For the first time, we saw one of our online actions go viral on Twitter, “ reports Arkle.  “This resulted in almost twice the number of signatures we would have otherwise expected, spread out over a longer time.”

    The campaign also delivered about 4.6 million ad impressions. If we assume those impressions were distributed over an audience of about 271,000 (per Facebook), that means each person saw the ad an average of 17 times. While it’s hard to measure the bottom line results from this, we think there’s gotta be some value in building name recognition in your target audience at such a low price.

    Two weeks in, ICL found that their values-focused message was getting about twice the click-through rate as their statehouse/policy-focused message, so they dropped the latter and focused all of their resources on the former. They also found that their clickthrough rates were dropping down, and theorized that it was because they had actually reached the saturation point on their ultra-focused target audience of 15,000. So, they backed off the interest targeting and expanded the pool to about 271,000 Idahoans.


    We think this kind of low-cost Facebook advertising strategy is a very simple, cost-effective way to build your Facebook audience with highly relevant people. It could easily be adapted by almost any local or statewide environmental group. The vast majority of such groups we’ve looked at have Facebook fan bases that are much smaller than ICL’s so we think there’s considerable room to pick up these "low hanging fruit."

    Here’s how we think a typical environmental organization can put the power of Facebook ads to work:

    • Target appropriate states or cities, people over 18, and focus on friends of friends who are not already fans. Use Facebook’s estimated reach numbers to widen or narrow your reach if you are finding too many people or not enough.
    • Use interest targeting. Figure out what kinds of things your target audience members are likely to have “liked” or expressed as hobbies/interests.
    • Test out various messages. Expect that a general message that connects targeted interests with organizational values will work better than a wonky issue-specific message. Remember that Facebook Likes are about expressing interest and identity.
    • Avoid the temptation to modify the creative or targeting of a running ad; this will make it hard for you to tease out useful comparison data at the end of your ad run. Instead, copy the ad and modify it.
    • If you are in a small market, use interest targeting until you see your response rates dive toward zero, which indicates that you have saturated the current market, then back off and target all friends-of-friends in your target geography.
    • Budget in chunks of a few hundred dollars, run ads up to about $50/day.
    • Your initial goal should be just building your Facebook fanbase. This about building up the bottom of your engagement pyramid.
    No publisherJon StahlNext Generation Organizingsuccess-storiesEmail & Social Media2011-04-20T21:00:00ZBlog Entry
    Environmental Working Group: Building Online Community Environmental Working Group went from 6000 email subscribers to over 1 million in just four years. What you can learn from their success.Cell Phone Database

    When I purchased my first smart phone a couple of years ago, I wanted to find out how much radiation was going into my head so I went to the Environmental Working Group’s cell phone guide and actually printed the thing off and took it with me to the store. Using the guide, I ended up with one of the lowest emission phones available and left a copy of the guide on the counter for the next customer.

    To access the cell phone guide on EWG’s website, you are asked for a name and email address—but if you don’t feel like giving it up you don’t have to. I did, and promptly received a message from EWG President Ken Cook: thanking me for signing up, noting my interest in toxic-free products, welcoming me to EWG’s online community, and providing me with links to their other safe products databases and their Facebook and YouTube channels. Very simple, very straightforward, but all delivered in a friendly, accessible tone.

    EWG email

    Over 2010, I received about two emails per month from Ken (okay, probably not really Ken -- there are 1 million people on EWG’s email list -- but I always feel like he is writing me personally). All of them have the same friendly, inclusive tone, with some kind of benefit for me -- even when they are asking for money (click on images to zoom in):


    Holiday gift guides, bottled water scorecard, cosmetics database, sunscreen database, pesticides shopping list, a chance to help pick the design for their tote bag – these guys are doing everything right by making that emotional and valuable connection with their audience.


    In the last four years, EWG has grown their email list from 6,000 people to over 1 million. As more and more people became concerned over issues of public health and the environment, EWG responded by giving their audience what they we’re asking for.



    Just the other day I got an email from EWG announcing the birth of a staff member's son, Jack, along with tons of links to help me with gifts for the babies in my own life. I love these guys!


    So how does all of this relate to the work you do.

    1. You know where we’re going, the old Engagement Superpower talk again -- really thinking about what you can offer your community -- both online and off -- that will move your mission forward. You have a few more promotion channels than you did just two years ago, right? Can you create a list of the ten best hikes in your area for people to download? How about the best places for beginners to canoe, rent a canoe, kayak, rent a kayak, etc? Can you make a farmer's market guide to your area? Can you make your website one-stop shopping for public transportation options throughout your state? Can you provide a directory for green childcare, green shopping, green building supplies? Can you offer a crib sheet for parties where hard-core climate deniers will be in attendance? ( I want that, someone make that). Can you offer downloadable playing cards featuring the fauna of your region? Can you give away a free magazine, newsletter, recipes? Gather your program people, think about your Engagement Superpowers, and build some editorial content around it.
    2. Speaking of Editorial. Ken Cook’s always talking about cooking with his friends and babies and holidays and eating and sunscreen and whatever else. I want to be friends with this guy, right? If you haven’t read this article on writing content, read it, and this is a great line: “Content is perfectly appropriate for users when it makes them feel like geniuses on critically important missions, offering them precisely what they need, exactly when they need it, and in just the right form. All of this requires that you get pretty deeply into your users’ heads, if not their tailoring specifications.”
    3. And Speaking of the Editorial Calendar. Work backward from your editorial calendar if it’s easier to find something you can offer your audience. This is Water month, right? Not surprising, EWG sent out their Bottled Water Scorecard this week. When is your next online fundraiser? See if you can sandwich in a simple online freebie to your community before your next ask. EWG showed me a lot of benefit and value before they asked for a donation. Can you do the same?
    No publisherSara FreedmanContent is KingFundraisingEmail & Social Media2011-03-22T00:55:00ZBlog Entry
    50 Donors in 50 Days: KAHEA With a clear value proposition expressed to an audience already well-cultivated, a specific, transparent campaign goal, and best practices for their online appeal -- the Hawaiian-environmental alliance KAHEA raised 300% more in year-end giving from individual donors in 2010 than they did for the same appeal in 2009.I love Hawaii. Love. I love the weather, I love the culture, I love the natural environment. Which means I also love KAHEA, a small but mighty organization that works to protect Hawaii’s cultural and natural resources.

    KAHEA was started about ten years ago by a group of activists  concerned about Hawaii’s systematic loss of species, sensitive shorelines, and unique cultural sites, as well as increasing threats to public health, rights and access – and they called for change.

    The name KAHEA is an acronym for Ka (the) Hawaiian-Environmental Alliance, and the word Kāhea translates from Hawaiian as "the call.”  Which is cool. And makes me love them even more.

    Actually, lots of folks love KAHEA, which is grassroots-oriented and good at community mobilization. More than 10,000 people, spread across all of the Hawaiian Islands (and beyond) have signed up for KAHEA’s email list, taken action on their campaigns, or attended KAHEA events. Not that many of them are donors, however, because KAHEA has historically been funded by foundations and hasn’t spent much energy converting action supporters to financial supporters. But it has both opportunities and aspirations that exceed local foundation funding resources, and a strong desire to diversify its funding base.

    So, at the end of last year, staff members launched a campaign to convert some of their activist love to individual contributions. With a practically non-existent individual donor program, they decided to start with baby steps, and opted for a plan and theme that felt achievable to both staff and board. “50 Donors in 50 Days” was the name of their campaign challenge.

    KAHEA staff built on an annual tradition of sending Makahiki cards at the end of the year (which had historically contained contribution envelopes but a very passive ask) by adding a series of three email appeals, two from members of their board and the final one from Executive Director Miwa Tamanaha.

    The email appeals spoke to what a donor’s contribution would fund, what the organization had accomplished over the past year, and why each writer was personally passionate about KAHEA’s work. They were short and sweet and inspiring, starting with the subject line 50 Days…And Counting and ending with 48 Hours Left in the 50 Donors, 50 Days Challenge.

    There was no rocket science involved. No expensive viral videos or fancy apps. What they did have was a clear value proposition expressed to an audience that was already well-cultivated through KAHEA’s on-the-ground relationship-building practices. So when they incorporated a specific, transparent campaign goal, added an additional channel to their fundraising campaign and followed best practices for their online appeal, the results far exceeded their expectations. 190 donors, nearly four times their original goal, made contributions.  Even though many of their new donors gave smaller gifts than previous donors had, KAHEA raised 300% more in year-end giving from individual donors than they did for the same appeal the previous year.

    This success is encouraging KAHEA board and staff to increase investment in their individual donor and monthly giving programs, and they have smart cultivation and follow up planned for these first-time givers and ascenders of their engagement pyramid. Next time you visit the amazing Hawaiian Islands, take some time to appreciate the efforts of KAHEA  (visible everywhere, from Monk Seal protection to the Natural Area Reserves to supporting local food production), and – who knows – you might want to become donor 191. Aloha!

    No publisherKaren Uffelmansuccess-storiesRelationship BuildingFundraisingEmail & Social Media2011-03-22T00:30:00ZBlog Entry
    Recent Projects Our recent work with New Energy Cities, KAHEA, Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition, and North Cascades Institute.Recent Projects

    New Energy Cities (Seattle):  Strategy + Website

    A project of Climate Solutions, the New Energy Cities program aims to accelerate the transition to a clean, renewable, super-efficient energy system in our cities.

    KAHEA (Honolulu): Strategy + Website + Email Templates and Integration

    KAHEA is an acronym for Ka (the) Hawaiian-Environmental Alliance. Kāhea translates from Hawaiian as "the call",  the call for a healthy environment and thriving cultural traditions.

    Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition (Seattle): Strategy + Website

    WWRC is a nonprofit citizens group of farmers and fishermen, hunters and hikers, conservationists and businesses dedicated to supporting public funding for parks, habitat and working farms across the state.

    North Cascades Institute (Sedro-Woolley, WA): Database

    North Cascades Institute seeks to inspire close relationships with nature through direct experiences in the natural world.

    No publisherSara FreedmanWebsiteEmail & Social MediaEngagement TechnologiesDatabase2011-03-11T01:25:00ZBlog Entry