Monthly Archives: July 2008

How is your tag line?

Nancy Schwartz of Getting Attention has just come out with an new Nonprofit Tagline Report that is awesome!

I’m still digesting the extensive report, but she does a great job of distilling a lot of research into taglines into easy-to-understand concepts and lists.

For example, her   include:

  • Must convey your nonprofit’s or program’s impact or value;
  • Must be eight words or less; and
  • Should clearly complement and/or clarify your organization’s name
    without duplicating it.

I’ve worked with a lot of groups that don’t have taglines. After all, in some ways Interfaith Council for Peace and Justice, Campaign for Labor Rights, and East Timor Action Network are almost taglines in themselves. They convey the essence of the organization.

But Nancy’s report does have me thinking that maybe a tagline would be useful to answer some of the next questions: Labor rights in the U.S. or globally? Why work for peace in an interfaith context? What action does East Timor need?

I’m sure after I read her report I’ll have plenty of ideas about how we can help people undertand what we do and why we’re unique.

You can’t win if you only work with people like yourself

"Be different" by Vermin Inc. on flickr.comI’ve just finished Bury the Chains, an excellent history of the British abolitionist movement-I highly recommend it.

One of the themes of the book was the odd alliance between two of the movement’s leaders: William Wilberforce and John Clarkson.

John Clarkson was an organizer, and agitator, and a bit of a radical. He was inspired by the French revolution. He was not satisfied with the inequality of British society, for Clarkson the institution of slavery was the most offensive of the injustices.

Wilberforce was very different. In most ways he was conservative. As a wealthy man himself, he thought that society worked well (except for the problem of slavery), and he was repulsed by the French revolution and other examples of popular unrest.

Despite their political differences, Wilberforce and Clarkson needed each other.

Wilberforce alone would have not been able to mobilize popular pressure and galvanize the public against slavery.

Clarkson alone would not have been able to maneuver the House of Lords and actually get legislation passed to ban the slave trade.

Who are you working with who seems totally different from you? How can you find new allies for social transformation?

Transformation happens one step at a time

As we discuss the importance of focusing on transformation, we need to remember that it happens one step at a time.

I was reminded of this listening to the Fundraising is Beautiful podcast. Jeff Brook and Steven Screen remind listeners to do one thing at a time.

They point out that many fundraising efforts fail when they try to accomplish too much at once. They try to educate, inspire grassroots lobbying, show impact, fundraise, raise awareness and more all in one communication. Jeff and Steven point out that when you try to do all that at once, you usually fail at everything.

Instead, they recommend doing one thing at a time. If it’s a fundraising letter, focus the letter on raising funds. Then you can follow up with showing impact or educating in the newsletter.

A key part of their argument is that you have a relationship with your members, so over time you can work on your laundry list of goals, but it has to happen one action at a time.

So while I’m championing the importance of transformation, likewise transformation happens one step at a time.

You can’t transform someone from a passive bystander to an uber-activist in one step; and you’ll probably scare them away if you try.

So plan each action with an eye toward transformation and recognize you’ll get there one step at a time.