Lesson 12: How will you socialize your message?

This is the final installment in our series introducing you to Claxon University, where smart nonprofits go to learn how to use better words to create a better world.

Claxon University’s first course is Words on a Mission. Each of the twelve lessons in the course asks a fundamental question a nonprofit needs to answer in order to develop high-impact messaging. In each post in this series, I’ve shared what the question was, along with a snippet from the video lecture.

If your interest has been piqued by these videos…check out Claxon University’s Vimeo channel where video snippets abound! And also learn more about the Claxon University community. It’s a pretty awesome community for dedicated, hard-working nonprofit professionals who want to do everything in their power to make the world a better place.

Lesson 12: How will you socialize your message?

Lesson 12: Overcoming Common Fears from Claxon University on Vimeo.

Lesson 11: How will you tell your story?

This is part of a series introducing you to Claxon University, where smart nonprofits go to learn how to use better words to create a better world.

Claxon University’s first course is Words on a Mission. Each of the twelve lessons in the course asks a fundamental question a nonprofit needs to answer in order to develop high-impact messaging. In each post in this series, I’ll share what the question is, along with a snippet from the video lecture.

Lesson 11: How will you tell your story?

Lesson 11: Story of self, us & now from Claxon University on Vimeo.

Videos: from ho-hum to mee-wow!

There’s no doubt that cat videos are all the rage online. There’s even an Internet Cat Video Film Festival. This feline obsession is for reals.

There’s something about cats that effectively mirrors the human experience. Obsession, surprise, melancholy.  The cats, they know how you feel.

In this clip from the Social Good Summit, Jessica Mason from YouTube for Good explains 3 lessons non-profits can learn from cat videos:

  • Tell universal stories
  • Engage regularly
  • Be surprising (yes, folks, this might require taking some risks and getting a little outside your comfort zone)

Taking a few lessons from cat vids might be the purrfect way to add a little mee-wow to your message.

Two quick apologies:
1. To the dog people: dogs are cool too. Totally cool.
2. Those of you who, like me, are totally allergic to cats and, therefore, get itchy just watching these vids. All in the name of making the world a better place, right?

(Photo credit: mashable)

Is overhead hijacking your impact?

Dan Pallotta

Man on a mission to get us over overhead.

Phil Buchanan, President of the Center for Effective Philanthropy, issued a rather scathing review of Dan Pallotta’s new book, Charity Case.

This is the latest in what is an ongoing debate about overhead.

What is overhead anyway? We throw this term around but are we clear on what it means?

According to Wikipedia, the “term overhead is usually used when grouping expenses that are necessary to the continued functioning of the business but cannot be immediately associated with the products or services being offered (e.g., do not directly generate profits)…Overhead expenses include accounting fees, advertisingdepreciation,insuranceinterest, legal fees, rent, repairs, supplies, taxes, telephone bills, travel expenditures, and utilities.”

You can see why donors really want you to make the case for contributing to boring stuff like insurance and supplies. Who wants their donation going to yawners like that?

We can educate donors until we’re blue in the face about why the lights, staples and post-it notes are all necessary parts of meeting our mission. But why not spend that time talking about impact instead of expenses? Tell a story of impact and then connect that impact back to the light switches, hosting fees, and telephones. Not the other way around.

Overhead is important. It’s necessary. We can’t operate without it. But don’t let it hijack your story. 

Your story is about impact. Not your income statement.

 

 

Taking Columbus out of Columbus Day?

Christopher Columbus, Native American Day, Columbus Day, history

Christopher Columbus: explorer or exploiter?

The second Monday in October is Columbus Day in the U.S., except in South Dakota, where it is officially Native American Day.

The choice of what to call this day is interesting. Is it about Columbus, the guy who sailed the ocean blue, or the Native Americans (and the Tainos, to be specific), who had discovered this land long before Columbus was tall enough to hoist a sail.

In their book, Rethinking Columbus, Bill Bigelow and Bob Peterson encourage us to revisit our assumptions about history. They are on a mission to write “a true people’s history”. Both the characters in the history and the ones telling the history matter. The tales they tell and the words they use to tell those tales will differ. At times drastically.

Columbus Day. Native American Day. Explorations Day. All refer to the same day. Each offers a different version of history.

Which version of history do your words tell? (Hint: This matters to organizational and personal histories, not just history as it relates to the second Monday in October.)