To succeed as a nonprofit today, either in fundraising or advocacy terms, Seth Godin says you need to be "fashionable."

What he means by that, as explained in this audio presentation well worth a listen, is that your organization needs to be worth talking about, at least to some critical mass of true believers. Your "tribe" as he would term them.

Then the communications trick, as he sees it, is to give the megaphone — using the viral tools of the internet — to your most committed supporters and empower them to deliver your message. This will be more effective than trying to jam as many messages as possible in front of your supporters and prospects, interrupting them via emails and direct mail from headquarters. His point: interruption will no longer work in today’s cluttered marketplace … give up on interruption … it’s an outdated strategy.

So, your task is: 1) put an edge on your organization and its mission (the enemy is boring and bland … no matter how well meaning); 2) give your core supporters compelling stories to tell; and 3) inspire them and give them the tools to share those stories.

For all his exhortation on handing the megaphone to your supporters, which is all well and good, your nonprofit does need to prime the pump. No organization, even the ones that Seth believes have great stories to tell, like Habitat for Humanity, can sit back and wait for spontaneous combustion to occur.

I agree that the emphasis needs to be on the quality of your outbound messaging, not simply its frequency. When you construct your messages, give yourself the goal of making them so powerful that your followers will want to pass them along, not just respond themselves.

Seth does ask a marvelous question: If you stopped sending emails to your house file today, how long would it be before many of your members contacted you to query or complain?! In other words, how long would it be before they missed you?!




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