Author Archive

It’s time to be audacious

By on July 07, 2015 under Culture

Proceed and Be Bold

“Proceed and Be Bold”
Cranky Pressman / photo from Flickr

Nonprofits take on daunting challenges, unite communities, lift up people in need, protect the things we hold dear, and create environments where everyone can thrive. Over our 14-year history, Greenlights has worked alongside many impressive Austin-area nonprofits that are boldly addressing our city’s most difficult, ingrained social issues. We believe that nonprofits are at the heart of solving community problems, which is why they are and always will be at the heart of our work at Greenlights.

Nonprofits are critical to creating thriving communities and lasting social change, because, as Joy Leisen explains, “nonprofits can take on important work that may not be sustainable in a for-profit format. Charitable work is not necessarily profitable, and so without nonprofits there may not be a successful business model to offer services, no matter how great the local need is.”

The nonprofit sector excels at building trust, bringing people together around a common mission, making the most of limited resources, being transparent and accountable. Our business models and carefully cultivated relationships often influence us to be cautious and conservative in our approach. But are those the right skill-sets and traits we need to succeed in solving community problems? In many ways, yes, but perhaps we’ve been overly cautious. (continue reading…)

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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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