Unrelated but fabulous

“Hockey Moms! You Need A Makeover” by Simon Doonan, Creative Director for Barney’s New York, is possibly the best post I’ve read all week.

Now, I know I must pick up his book Eccentric Glamour.

Image courtesy of out.com

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Can flashy marketing hold a candle to candlelight marketing?

We're no longer cavemen, but still, "fire good!"

We're no cavemen, but still, "fire good!"

Yes; I made up the term “candlelight marketing.”

I needed something to represent marketing that, while enlightening and illuminating, avoids the newest bright and flashy gimmicks and trends. Jeff Brooks penned a post on the Donor Power Blog today highlighting some evidence that as individuals age, they’re less susceptible to trends and newfangled fancy-schmancies as the brain’s reward system is “dialed down.” The inspiration for Brook’s post comes from the Neuromarketing blog in the post “Marketing to the Senior Brain.” Brooks writes:

That’s why older people are less susceptible to fads and shiny new things — and instead tend to prefer trusted, well-known things. (Less gullible is another way to look at it.)

In the nonprofit industry, a significant portion – often the majority – of our donors are seniors. Understanding the psychology of this demographic is crucial to developing communication strategies that will have the most impact.  We should focus on integrity, honesty, and familiarity more than trendy designs or flashy displays. Not that we should be boring or stuck in a rut. Far from it! We ALL crave new experiences that escape the status quo.

How does this translate to events? For starters, you should probably cancel that order of LED-lighted ice cubes if your core group of attendees are any older than 30 – scratch that, let’s say older than 13. Put more effort into the story-telling and the quality of the experience. By all means, make use of helpful technology, like projecting a short documentary that brings your organization’s mission to life. But you don’t need to expend valuable resources to party like it’s 2050 when your guests might be just as happy partying like it’s 2008, or 1968, or 1948…

This is not to say you shouldn’t embrace new ideas and techniques, like using online social media and Web 2.0. Nor should you ignore the next generation and what attracts them. Like I said, it’s all about understanding your audience and communicating in a relevant way.

Moral of the story: invest in quality and don’t shirk traditional techniques just because they’re traditional. There’s a reason candlelight stuck around long after the invention of the lightbulb. We all like it!

Image courtesy of http://www.sxc.hu

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Event design tip: swap party themes

I found this great idea on today’s Hostess with the Mostess blog. It’s a wedding-themed Halloween party. I’m sure we’ve all heard of themed weddings (country western, anyone?) but in my opinion, it’s best to stick with a more traditional approach to such a memorable occasion. Nobody wants to look back on their wedding like that trendy tattoo you got one alcohol-fueled night in college – tacky, dated, and oh-so-irreversable. But that’s why this party theme is oh so fun! You can have a crazy wedding with none of the “this is the happiest, most important day of your ENTIRE LIFE” pressure.

In the nonprofit industry, I think there are plenty of opportunities to – taking this as inspiration – expand beyond the basic dinner & auction template. I wonder what other events you could swap around? For example, what about a “baby shower” to benefit a nonprofit working with young mothers? The key is finding something to make your event unique, memorable, and on-mission with the organization.

Does anyone have any experiences with theme-swaps like this? I’d be happy to hear about it!

Image courtesy of hostessblog.com

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7 do’s and don’ts of trade show exhibiting: Tips for fundraisers

These guys are refreshingly straightforward about what they're offering.

Make it obvious what you're offering, like these guys.

This week I attended my very first ISES (International Special Events Society) luncheon in Portland. The topic was “Killer ROI: Best Practices to Grow Your Business Through Trade Show Exhibiting.” The panel consisted of Michael O’Loughlin, Vice President of Blue Ocean Events; Tracy Martin, Trade Show Manager for Bravo Publications & Trade Shows; and Todd Sears, VP Sales & Marketing at Skyline Displays of Oregon. Collectively, this panel had a bevy of advice on and experience participating in, consulting on, and organizing trade shows.

Although there are significant differences between the for-profit business industry and the nonprofit industry, I listened in hopes of gleaning helpful information that can be applied to fundraising (vs. sales). I’ve seen nonprofit booths at street fairs, community festivals, and music concerts – not exactly trade shows, but close. After all, isn’t the goal (or maybe it should be) of the organization in both circumstances to reach new individuals in order to educate them, understand their needs, and give them an opportunity to fulfill both their needs and those of your organization? Whether it’s switching phone carriers or making a charitable donation, we have to think about how best to engage with people to accomplish our goals. Here’s a few tips I learned:

  • DO advertise BEFORE the show (or festival, fair, etc.). The majority of attendees have decided ahead of time (before a trade show) what they are looking for and who they want to visit. So promote your attendance at the event before it begins – reach out to existing supporters and new ones you think might be interested. This could be as simple as an E-blast to let people know you’ll be making a physical appearance.
  • DO have a clear goal before you set up shop. Be as specific as possible about what you hope to accomplish. For example, say “I want to sign up 10 people to volunteer with our organization each day of the event,” not “I want to tell people about our mission.” The more measurable, the better you can evaluate your results.
  • DON’T give away a bunch of stuff. When you give away promotional items, you don’t necessarily attract the RIGHT people to your booth. You may just be wasting money and time on people who don’t care about what you do but just want a freebie.
  • DO take advantage of physicality. Engage the 5 senses. Do what direct mail and the Internet can’t. Get creative with it, but make it relevant to your organization.
  • At the same time, DON’T dilute your message with too much going on, visually or otherwise. Keep your booth’s banner straightforward: say who you are, and what you do, in a nutshell. Keep it simple.
  • DO have conversations. Avoid asking yes-or-no questions. Instead, ask what interests a visitor about your organization, what they like or don’t like about something, etc. Don’t ask “Do you have any questions? Would you like some information?” etc. You’re much more likely to get short, disengaged answers.
  • DO follow up on your leads within 7 days, if not 2. After 2 days, a person will have forgotten 88% of what you said to them.

Does anyone have any experience working a booth at a fair or festival for your nonprofit organization? How did it go? Was it worth it? I’d love to hear about your experience!

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I’m Getting Over It…I’m Getting Back!

Oh blogosphere, I’ve missed you.

After graduation, I knew I couldn’t keep a “student” blog, and the longer I waited to update, the more intimidated I was by the task of getting caught up, reporting on life/career changes, and retooling the layout. Here is my compromise: I force myself to start posting, and have faith that the rest will follow.

A lot has happened for me in the few brief months I’ve been away:

  • I graduated, magna cum laude, from the University of Oregon School of Journalism & Communication and passed with honors on my thesis. Yippee!
  • I landed a job as a Development & Events Associate for a local arts nonprofit. Yippee!
  • I moved back to Portland. Yippee!
  • My mom moved to San Francisco to pursue her Masters in Divinity at SF Theological Seminary. We’re so proud of her, but we miss her! So it’s a bittersweet “Yippee!”
  • My honey of nearly 6 years asked me to marry him. I said “YES!” Yippee, of course!

So, naturally, you can understand why I’ve shyed away from the task of reporting all this. Nor could I simply omit it and ignore some of the most life/career impacting events of my young existence. So look for more thorough updates on those events.

I’ve already got a few ideas stashed away for upcoming posts on fundraising and development, and, naturally, wedding/event planning. I realize at this point my readership has probably diminished to almost nobody, but I determined to – even if I have to start all over from scratch – once again make this a spot for the exchange of ideas, advice, questions, and just plain fun stuff.

Image courtesy of www.sxc.hu

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Pardon my dust

I’m playing around with titles and graphics, so things might be screwy for a bit. Just trying to figure out what fits me, the content, etc. And WordPress’ dimensions and file type restrictions. 


Now would be a good time to be techno-savvy.

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HUGE changes in store

Dear Blogosphere,

Sorry I have been away so long. Between finishing the thesis, graduation, landing a fabulous job, moving, and starting work, I’ve been on hiatus from blogging for awhile.

And now that much of my “About Me” is outdated, I’m going to be doing some remodeling of this blog. Think major overhaul. New title, maybe graphics. Same content, except I’ll no longer be writing from a student perspective. I’ll actually be DOING it! Look forward to new commentary on development, donor relations, event planning, fund raising, entertaining, and whatever else catches my fancy that I can tie in.

Just hang tight until I get my Internet connected in my new apartment!


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