I’m excited about the momentum building for Companies for Causes!
Today, Tom Raffa, Raffa PC, led a meeting that brought together non-profit leaders, CEOs and public officials in the very hip VisArts center in Rockville.
Isiah Leggett, Montgomery County Executive, inspired the audience with the story of his childhood. I didn’t know that he was one of 13 kids and grew up in a 3-room house in Louisiana. He said he struggled to get into college and earned his way by cutting grass and other chores. He encouraged businesses to get involved in their communities. The work we do might help a young person reach their dreams, as he himself experienced.
As a founding partner of Companies for Causes, I talked about thinking long and hard about this commitment. It’s a serious responsibility, especially during tough economic times. But, it’s one I could not pass up for many reasons. I’m inspired by the determination of our fellow CEOs, their passion for helping others, and by the learning experience we’ll share as we collaborate to create programs that help solve challenging problems in our region.
Companies for Causes’ first endeavor will be focused on education in Washington DC. The District has one of the highest dropout rates in the country, and there are extreme differences among schools in their students’ reading and math levels. In the next few months we’ll be meeting with educators, students, non-profits and other business leaders to craft a plan that will have a measurable impact in at least one school.
I hope other CEOs who, as one CEO says ”have philanthropy in their DNA” will join in. We are eager to welcome business owners who want to roll up their sleeves, brainstorm, and contribute their time and resources to make long lasting change for the Washington Metro community.
(An aside: I grew up in Rockville, and had not been to the Town Center in about 5 years. Wow…it’s an entirely different experience now, with shops that house residences above—almost a shiny mini version of Capitol Hill where I live now. Finally planners are getting it! Many people love living where they can walk to dinner, shop and enjoy entertainment.)
For most organizations these days, having a presence on various social networks is a necessity, but a common issue is the limitations of how an organization can display its logo on these sites.
Most social networks constrain the proportions of an avatar/profile picture to small, often square-shaped spaces. This can present a problem if your logo is set up in a more horizontal presentation (a fairly common setup when designing for print materials and website headers). This forces you to either severely reduce the size of your logo to fit into the small space, rendering it microscopic and illegible, or select a portion of the logo that fits into the limited space, which often means cutting out parts of the logo.
How do you get around this issue? Here are a few suggestions:
- Make sure that any imagery used in your logo can be used on its own, without any accompanying typography in the logo. This allows you to pull out the image from the logo (assuming it’s more square-shape friendly) and use it for your avatars and profile pictures without having to include text that will inevitably have to be shrunk down to unreadable size.
- Request the logo design be suitable for a square shape from the outset. This will allow the designer to develop a concept that works for all materials, including social media sites.
You want people to recognize that your Facebook, YouTube and Flickr pages belong to you, so make sure your logo represents your organization the way you want it to be seen, rather than a miniaturized/cropped shell of the logo that once was.
LinkedIn may be the most overlooked, but arguably one of the more valuable, social media channels available to you and your nonprofit. In this post we’ll give you some more tips on leveraging the power of LinkedIn for your organization.
Learn from an expert in your organization’s area of interest or become one
LinkedIn’s Questions and Answers section is a hub of knowledge and insight about nonprofits and social causes. Post a question to learn from professionals in the LinkedIn community, or become an “expert” by answering questions related to your organization’s cause. If you answer a question, and enough people vote for yours as the best answer, you become an “expert” and appear on the LinkedIn homepage, drawing more attention to you and your organization. Being active in LinkedIn groups can also help gain you unofficial expertise points by proving you’re engaged in the conversation about your cause.
Keep your connections in the loop
Cross-post your tweets and Facebook updates to your LinkedIn profile to keep your connections aware of what you’re talking about across the social Web. The more you have to share (as long as it’s of good quality), the more present and engaged with the cause you’ll appear to your networks. Creating a group for an event or a specific campaign is another good way to keep your connections informed and involved.
What other ways has your nonprofit used LinkedIn? Comment below with your insights.
LinkedIn may be the most overlooked, but arguably one of the more valuable, social media channels available to you and your nonprofit. In the next few posts we’ll give you some tips on leveraging the power of LinkedIn for your organization.
Use your connections’ profiles to find out about their job titles and personal interests, which you can use to determine their likelihood of donating to your nonprofit. Someone who is an unpaid intern or in an admin-level position is less likely to be financially capable of offering support than is a CEO or vice president of a company. If you’ve determined interest and ability, you can reach out to these individuals on an individual basis to ask for donations.
Find board members and volunteers
LinkedIn Groups are great places to find people interested in your organization’s cause. There’s a group for everything imaginable, but if a search of existing groups doesn’t yield one related to your cause, then start your own. Once you’re in a group, start a discussion announcing that your organization is seeking volunteers, or look for people who may be interested in joining your nonprofit’s board.
Promote your blog and website
Automatically sync your blog with your LinkedIn profile using the Blog Link or WordPress applications. When you update your blog, these apps integrate it into your LinkedIn profile so your connections can see your content even if they don’t usually visit your blog. Interested readers will visit your blog to see what else you’ve written about, driving traffic to the blog and website and raising awareness of your organization.
Check back next week for more tips on How Nonprofits Can Use the Power of LinkedIn.
Videos are the one of the most powerful mediums through which to engage customers with an organization across social media channels.
By their very nature, videos tell a story. Think about it: you usually leave a movie feeling moved in some way by what you’ve seen—compassion for a character’s triumphs and defeats, or inspired by their perseverance in the face of adversity. Short videos optimized for the Web can have the same effect on viewers, and nonprofits can use this to their advantage.
Seeing a video can help a viewer connect with an issue or a story on a deeper, more personal level, strike a chord with their own experiences or aspirations, and compel them to act. It’s one thing to spout off facts and figures about education, or explain the impact of climate change on our environment. But if a person sees video telling the story of a child who was the first in his family to go to have formal schooling, or how a polar bear population is dwindling because their habitat is melting from warming global temperatures, they’re more likely to feel something for those affected, which makes them more likely to want to get involved.
And in today’s world of social media, if one person sees and shares a video on their social channels, their networks will also see it, spreading the story, and also your organization’s mission, virally across the social web.
It’s easy to create a video, using anything from an expensive professional camera to a small Flip camera that you can purchase for about $150, and working with a program like iMovie or Windows Movie Maker to edit your footage.