OmniStudio was honored to host the Life Skills Center’s Paint + Paper Art Show and Sale this week. The Life Skills Center, Omni’s 2013 ReachOut Partner, offers an amazing and unique service to an underserved community, providing a warm and friendly homelike atmosphere where people with severe disabilities learn job skills, create art, and enjoy supportive daytime activities.
At Wednesday’s art show, dozens of pieces crafted by the Center’s participants were on display and for sale. Converting the Studio into a gallery and event space included the presentation of the artists’ works and photography shot at the Center displayed on monitors throughout the studio.
Omni worked across all levels of event planning to ensure success. From the redesign of the Center’s visual identity to event promotion strategy, to donation collection using digital solutions like PayPal Here and Square apps, Omni’s staff developed a strong partnership with the Center’s leadership.
“Omni’s work has remade us,” said Carlye Christianson, Interim Executive Director at the Center. “Omni truly took us under their wing. In all my experience working with non-profits, I have never encountered an entire organization that has had such a positive response to clients on all matters,” she said.
The event even sparked an idea for a simple e-commerce platform for selling artwork on their new website under development at Omni now. “I wish I could continue to shop, or browse new pieces from these artists as they are completed,” one guest said.
In addition to the sale of art pieces, which raised funds for the Center, the art show rallied community support for the Center’s programs, a core goal of Omni’s partnership with Life Skills. “By every measure the evening was a tremendous success and served as a fitting and robust re-launch of our art program, as well as our first foray into the world of special events fundraising,” said Joan Caivano, President of the Board of the Life Skills Center. “We expanded our community of friends and supporters. The proceeds and expanded community will provide crucial funding for Life Skills’ programs and activities well into the future.”
The art program has served as a core offering for over 20 years, providing participants with opportunities for creative expression in a variety of media. Artistic expression enables participants to share intellectual and emotional concepts, and the artwork that emerges is simply beautiful.
Drawing on the history and significance of the art program, founder and long-time supporter Virginia Schofield remembered an artist’s quote about Life Skills in the Washington Post several years ago. Schofield recalled, “the exhibition allowed others to see what individuals who had no preconceived notions of what art could actually do were capable of presenting. That idea still holds true, and the show at OmniStudio confirmed once again the truth of that insight.”
Omni is thrilled to offer solutions for fundraising challenges like this one. It’s a part of what makes us passionate to communicate the missions of our clients every day.
I was struck this weekend by a beautiful metro car ad featuring the Partners in Preservation campaign to support 24 historical places in the DC metro area. My interest was naturally piqued by the combination of historic sites (I love history, worked for a museum) and social media engagement (I may or may not be completely in love with Twitter). This campaign has it all for me, the user.
According to the sign and responsively designed website (perfect for my mobile viewing as I continued to my metro station destination), I can engage via social media, on the website, and by visiting the sites and submitting photos of them in order to help my favorite site compete for and win preservation grants. Oh, and there’s a sweepstakes in it for me, the user, as well. Brilliant!
Here’s what I love about this campaign:
1. Marketing – Historic sites are supported when visitors engage with them and about them on social media. While the user is motivated by this competition, you are also doing excellent work helping to spread the word about these great historic sites. Your act of digital advocacy just told all your followers about a great space in the DC metro area, and now a few more people know about it and will visit, compared with before the campaign launched. Historic sites have chronically small budgets and few staff, so they really appreciate the free marketing you provide for them. Plus it’s User Generated Content coming from you, the visitor, so people are more likely to trust it.
2. Fundraising – And if the free advertising wasn’t good enough for these sites, how fantastic is it that there are some preservation grants waiting for the winners? This funding opportunity incentivizes the sites and staff to get engaged on social media, while incentivizing those of us highly competitive people to vote for and engage with their favorite sites. You as a user are doing a philanthropic deed and it’s not even costing you anything. Great, right?
3. Online Engagement – In addition to the above two points, I am simply thrilled to see this kind of online campaign. When funding partners and good causes can come together, connecting various places to support, online and outreach tools, and incentives, something beautiful can come of it. I look at this campaign as a model for other organizations to investigate. One voice may not be enough, but many voices with powerful allies can help your organization make an impact. This campaign is yet another indicator that advocacy, education, and fundraising will continue to shift to online platforms, so if you are not already on social media and considering digital outreach strategies, now is definitely the time.
Are you looking to organize a campaign like this but are not sure where to start? Are you still trying to build a following on social channels? Wherever you are in your digitization process, let us know. We can help.
I attend and present at conferences, workshops, and informal events often enough to know that while we all have the speech pattern, PowerPoint visual supplement, and branded schwag routines down, none of us are doing enough on social media to elevate the message of our content. Here I will briefly outline some simple tools and tips for integrating these plans into your conference presence.
Twitter. The single best thing you can do to engage while attending/presenting at a conference is to live-tweet your experience on Twitter. Use the conference hashtag (or make one if there isn’t one promoted) to collect your thoughts and track the ideas of others. Not only will you be able to virtually meet other session speakers and attendees, but you can use this tool to track and capture information and summaries from other sessions you missed.
If you are hosting a conference, make sure to pick a short hashtag (something that can fit in a tweet along with as much of someone’s thought as possible in 140 characters). If you’re organizing the NEA 2013 Convention, for example, your hashtag should not be NEA2013CONVO or anything longer – try NEA13. Ask presenters to post this or session-specific hashtags in their presentations and list them in the conference program along with the Twitter handles for as many presenters as possible.
Facebook. Friends and page fans love images of people doing things. Showing action, especially conference participation and social gatherings, brings a human face to your brand or cause. When posting photos, be sure to get other attendees to tag themselves or friend them and then tag them to expand your reach. Use Facebook Event Pages to collect photos from all attendees, and make sure you’re consolidating photos into properly labeled albums. Don’t forget to share textual content, too, so that your followers can learn along with you or read about what you’re doing. Re-posting blogs and articles is always useful here.
If you’re running the conference, encourage attendees to use Facebook to check in and post updates on schedule changes or “Happening Now” information to help guide folks to the proper room or space.
Finally, when a keynote session or a major presentation is about to begin, you probably have someone walk up on stage and ask everyone to turn off his or her mobile device. BEFORE you have them turn off their devices, take an extra 30 seconds and ask them to sign into Facebook and check into the event. Your conference will now show up in the news feeds of all those attendees, and no marketing budget was involved!
Instagram. Not only can Instagram save you money on hiring a photographer, but by crowdsourcing images you could get a ton of shots from a broader variety of perspectives. These photos may even show you something about the event you need to fix or realize was a good choice. Attendees will love sharing photos via a promoted hashtag (and good news—you can make it the same as the event Twitter hashtag) and they will get to see shots as well as take them.
Blog: Tumblr. Not everyone has the capacity to live blog events, but sometimes your followers or folks who couldn’t attend want a chance to catch up and read more about the topics than can fit into a single tweet. Tumblr actually works relatively well as a live blogging tool, and is incredible for sharing. Blogs can be short and tagged with the same hashtag as Twitter and Instagram (simple). They can also be shared, so your content or that of your attendees can easily be spread to others on Tumblr. Tumblr can hold links, videos, and photos too, making it an excellent outlet for all kinds of content.
QR Codes. Major corporate brands think QR Codes are no longer in vogue, but I believe QR codes are great! There is one simple rule for QR codes: you MUST send visitors to a mobile friendly web page. But with your responsive design site flexible enough to be viewed across a variety of devices, you’re all set. Now the paper products you hand out at the event can focus on design and engagement, and put more content behind the QR code.
The next time you attend an event, take stock in how the organizers successfully utilize some of these key social media tools. And if you’re hosting an event soon, please create and promote a hashtag at the very least.
We have come a long was from the first pages built and shared on the internet. Remember when you had to type in “Click Here” to guide users to clicking on a link if they wanted to open and read a report? Now everyone knows what underlined text means on a website.
Design for the web continues to evolve, which means that eventually in the cycle of every organization there comes a time when the website needs to be revisited. Don’t worry! We can help you with that!
You should first figure out what is and is not working on your current website, and not from the perspective of a dedicated Board Member, who, for example, has an affinity for a terrible shade of green, or navigation ideas that are not in sync with your audience.
Here’s what you need to do. First draft some questions like the user experience exercise below. You’ll want to run a few tests to make sure that the tasks you want site visitors to accomplish can be completed quickly and intuitively.
1. Look around this page and tell me what you make of it? Just think out loud a little.
2. Who do you think owns this site?
3. Who is the target audience for this site?
4. What do you think you can do on this site?
5. What do you think is the purpose of this website?
6. How would you donate to this organization? (go through the steps on the site to see how long it takes; mark down the time)
7. Where would you go to read this organization’s latest content?
8. How would you find information about a particular staff member?
9. Where would you go to take action on a campaign or read a recent report?
10. How would you RSVP to an upcoming event?
11. What social media channels is this organization operating on? How do you know?
Then, invite three to six volunteers to be your testers. Lure them with cookies, gift cards, gratitude, or donuts—all of the above work. These volunteers, either non-website staff members or entirely external volunteers (your mom, your best friend, your uncle) will take the brief test of your site while you observe them.
As you run through the questions with your volunteers, you’ll begin to see what may not be working for current site users. On top of that you have data to show your Board Member, helping her to see that people think the color green means you’re an environmental group, and that they didn’t know you had a Facebook page so they couldn’t RSVP for your annual fundraiser. Tons of potential donors missed teachers singing karaoke to help purchase new books for students (they didn’t even know you had events or lobbied Congress on education reform).
Armed with this information, you are ready to take the first step in redesigning your website, or you have learned that your website works really well for visitors and you have succeeded in your quest to communicate your mission online. Either way congrats, and let us know how you did!
Last month, OmniStudio announced the Life Skills Center as our 2013 ReachOut partner. For over 35 years, the Life Skills Center in northwest Washington has offered participants a daytime sanctuary; a place where they can learn emergency preparedness and computer skills, develop art projects, and much more. The Center’s work with adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities is critical to the community, and also inspiring.
We wanted to update everyone on the progress of this wonderful project. Our talented Art Director, Kathy Foltin (pictured to the right), developed three logo options for the Life Skills Center team to review. Here’s what she came up with, along with her thoughts.
Kathy notes, “The logo serves as an organization’s first impression. It conveys its personality and characteristics in a small, distilled symbol, and for that reason, is very powerful. I also wanted to convey a feeling of safety; that the participants’ caregivers and family also feel very comfortable knowing that their loved ones are in a safe place for the day.”
“The far left option makes me feel hopeful, and gives a sense of striving. It feels like the Life Skills Center is a place where someone can grow in skills and confidence and thrive,” Kathy said.
“The center option denotes a solid sense of place.”
Finally, “the far right logo indicates the Center provides a sense of comfort for participants; a home away from home and some safety.”
Kathy’s work has offered the Life Skills Center some great options from which to pick. Which would you select? Share with us why you picked it!
We will continue to update you on this project as we make progress, but in the meantime, please save the date of May 8, 2013, and stay tuned for more information about an exciting event.
This is the first in a series of blog posts about the tools offered by Google for nonprofits.
Google isn’t just the search engine giant most people know it to be, it’s also a facilitator of nonprofit fundraising and promotion through its Google for Nonprofits program. Its free, simple-to-use tools are easy to implement into your nonprofit’s fundraising, outreach and advocacy efforts.
In this post, I’ll be talking about Google+, Google’s social networking tool that allows organizations (as well as individuals and businesses) to connect with constituents in a unique way.
For explanation’s sake, I’ll compare it to Facebook, since most people are familiar with it. When an organization posts to their Facebook page, the post is broadcast to everyone who has “liked” the page, which can be problematic for many organizations that have different groups of constituents (i.e., volunteers, donors, members, advocates, etc.); there are times when you want to reach out to each group individually.
A main differentiating feature of Google+ is Circles, which allows organizations to segment their followers into groups for easier, more targeted and more effective communication.
Another advantage to having a Google+ profile is search engine rankings—Google ranks Google+ pages high in their search results, so just having a profile is likely to bring visitors to your page if they’re searching for your organization.
Google+ also features Hangouts—live video chats that your followers can join in on. Organizations can use Hangouts to hold discussions about the issues important to you and your audience, and use it as a platform to educate newcomers who may not be as familiar with your work.
To gain followers, you have to let people know you’re on Google+. To do this, you can integrate a +1 button on your website so people with a Google+ profile can share your website with their followers. Also, just as you would say “Follow us on Facebook” or include a Facebook button in a newsletter or mailing, you should add a “Follow us on Google+” message to get the word out there.
Most people today have a Google account, whether they use Gmail, YouTube, Blogger or another Google product, so if you’re on Google+, you may just be able to reach a large part of the population that didn’t know about your organization or hadn’t thought to join before!
Find more information about setting up a Google+ page for your nonprofit here.
With a user count growing larger than 10 million, there’s no question that Pinterest, is the newest thing in social sharing sites. Pinterest, offers a simple, visual way to share content on the web.
Nonprofits are taking advantage of the site’s growing popularity by creating their own pin boards, where they “pin” images that are relevant to their organization. For example, the National Wildlife Federation has several boards (which are basically just categories of content) such as “Nature Photography,” “Gardening for Wildlife” and “Squirrel Appreciation Day.” On these boards, NWF has pinned images from various sites that fit into these categories and give visitors a beautiful gallery of images to browse, “like” or share with others on their own pin boards.
Whereas other social sites are often used for marketing purposes, Pinterest is a nice departure, serving as a platform to simply share beautiful things with people who are interested in what you’re posting. Maybe simplicity is what people are craving in today’s information-overloaded world, so Pinterest might be a nice way to share content with your constituents without overwhelming them with information–that way you’re engaging with them and giving them something they enjoy without coming off like a salesman!
For some inspiration, here’s a great article highlighting how several nonprofits are using Pinterest: http://nonprofitorgs.wordpress.com/2012/02/13/11-must-follow-nonprofits-on-pinterest/
It’s a new year, so how will your nonprofit communicate to constituents? According to this infographic by nonprofitmarketingguide.com, most nonprofits believe their websites will be most important for their communication efforts in 2012, followed by e-mail newsletters. What does this mean? It’s clear that nonprofits still consider their websites to be the main form of communication with their constituents, so if you’re in the same boat, makes sure you keep your website content fresh, dynamic and interesting so that people want to come back to see what’s new. As I always preach, images, video and other visual elements are key to capturing and keeping interest. A blog is also a good way to keep content fresh — updating weekly will keep people coming back to see what insights you’re sharing about your nonprofit’s cause and the work your organization is doing.
According to a Mashable article, Facebook will be launching a “subscribe” button that will allow visitors to subscribe to a website’s Facebook updates right from the website (rather than having to go from the website to the Facebook page, then choosing to “Like” or “Subscribe” once on the fan page).
Organizations should considering adding this button to their websites to make it that much easier for constituents to engage with them and follow them for important updates.
Check out the Mashable article here: http://mashable.com/2011/12/07/facebook-subscribe-button-for-websites/
In these days of information overload, it’s nice to have one place to go to that filters through all the content out there and curates just the stuff you want to know about.
Since many people think of nonprofits as experts on a particular cause or issue, these organizations can act as the curators of relevant information to their cause, and encourage people to come back to their blog for that kind of information.
And despite limited time and resources that can lead to the dreaded un-updated blog, nonprofits can keep their blogs current, especially when they do not have time to create original content.
Instead, they’re just curating the content that’s already out there into one place (their blog), which keeps people coming back to their site as a source for the type of information that’s relevant to them.
This article has an informative video about just this kind of thing: