Author Archive

Communications as a Core Strategy

By on November 12, 2013 under Marketing/Communications

communications-strategy-mapThis isn’t about typical strategic communications. Communications as a core strategy, which I first heard about from Amy Celep of Community Wealth Partners, is the idea of positioning communications as a core programmatic function of an organization. Amy says that communications is strategy specifically “for those working to create transformational change.”

As part of Greenlights’ strategic planning process this year (more on that here and here), we’ve identified that communications will rise in the ranks of key strategies to meet our bold goal (which is yet to be formalized and publicized).

But what does this mean? How do we better integrate communications to become a core organizational strategy as opposed to a support function? Here are three ways we’ve looked at addressing this for Greenlights. (continue reading…)

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How to get the most out of your vendors and partners

By on September 25, 2013 under Marketing/Communications, Strategy & Planning

Texas Nonprofit Summit videographer, Arts+Labor

© 2013 Stacey Harrell

Blessing or bane, outsourcing projects to vendors or partners is a necessary part of running a successful nonprofit. We can’t do everything alone, and shouldn’t, but how do you ensure success when calling in outside expertise?

In my role as Communications Director, I balance a variety of vendor relationships and projects, including website developers, printers, photographers, graphic designers, videographers, and those are just the major ones. After you’ve done your research, checked references and selected a vendor (don’t forget to consider Greenlights Business Partners), these tactics can help ensure that your projects end successfully.

1. Share project details in writing and get agreement.

Think through your project goals, deadlines and any other pertinent details, and share those in writing. This is by far the most important element to successful vendor relationships, so go above and beyond. The more you communicate up front, and get agreement on, the less likely you are to run into issues later. (continue reading…)

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Think You Know Your Audience? Yeah, So Did I…

By on July 02, 2013 under Marketing/Communications

audience personasEarlier this year, I would have told you that I know my audience well. Yes, we’re targeted, we survey them, capture data in our CRM, segment our lists, etc. And it’s not that it wasn’t true. Rather, we had no idea how much we were missing without audience personas.

Now, as a participant in Kivi’s Nonprofit Marketing Mentor Program, I’ve worked with my team to formalize our target audiences and develop personas that we can all refer to easily. The process and insight has had immediate impact in our work and the decisions we’re making, from simple messaging tweaks to event branding and tagline development. (continue reading…)

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How to Involve Staff in Nonprofit Branding

By on May 20, 2013 under Marketing/Communications

We can’t do it alone, especially when it comes to communications. But how do you involve staff in creative projects, like tagline development, in a way that’s structured and productive (and maybe even fun!)?

In a post on Kivi’s Nonprofit Communications blog, I share some ways to involve staff in creating and using audience personas. Now our communications team is working to develop an organizational elevator pitch and new tagline. Again, we want to involve staff to bring more creativity to the process and to build buy-in.

Here’s how we involved staff in a one-hour brainstorm session to identify common words and associations to incorporate in our brand messaging. (continue reading…)

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The Evolution of a Nonprofit E-newsletter

By on March 21, 2013 under Marketing/Communications

The good ol’ e-newsletter remains a very important communication tool for many (if not most) nonprofits. Though there’s debate on whether or not e-newsletters are effective, I sit firmly on the side of pro-e-newsletter. All three nonprofits I’ve worked at have distributed a regular e-newsletter, and all have been effective (to varying degrees) in keeping the organization connected with its audiences and driving action.

Greenlights newsletter has evolved quite a bit since I joined the team in 2009. If you’re subscribed to our email list, you know our newsletter as Greenlights2Go, but some of you really loyal Greenlights fans may remember an older version of our newsletter, Power Steering, the last of which was sent in 2009.

How we got from Power Steering to the Latest Greenlights2Go

In 2009, Power Steering was distributed every other month and consisted of 3-4 articles written both by Greenlights staff and guest authors. A theme for the articles was selected in advance and each article was about the length of a blog post, which were published on, but not on our blog! Preparing Power Steering was really intensive with hardly any ROI. Something (or several things) needed to change. (continue reading…)

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