Tag Archives: nonprofit communication

Too Much Information

Three aspects of the digital age: It’s very easy to find information, and it’s ridiculously easy to disseminate information, but it’s no easier to assimilate information than it was a hundred years ago.

Think about it. With one push of the button, you can send a picture or article to 30 or 300 or 3,000 Facebook friends. You can do the same thing through dozens of other social media sites. I am sending a link to this blog post to a few hundred of my followers, and I am pushing it out, as well, on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. Of course, as I go through this exercise in digital dissemination, so do millions of other people and causes. And hundreds of these links, blasts, and tweets end up in your lap – or at least on your laptop – every day. (By comparison, when I was a young executive director nearly thirty years ago, over the course of the day I might have received a total of 15 phone calls or letters.) Continue reading

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Less is More

Half a lifetime ago, I found myself the newly appointed 27-year-old Executive Director of a small nonprofit. I had lots of energy and woefully little experience. I was particularly ignorant about fundraising, though my board chair expressed confidence that I could pick it up as I went along. She also made it clear that, given the organization’s financial straits, I had better do that picking-up rather quickly.

I knew enough to know that, well, I didn’t know very much. So I called up a friend of a friend who for twenty years had run the successful development office at an elite prep school. Richard, a man then in his fifties, proved to be very welcoming, and he took some pity on the skinny, bushy-haired, earnest kid before him. We spent an hour or so talking about how to engage donors, in person and on paper.

I asked him if he would mind reviewing my first-ever solicitation letter.

Richard read my letter. He smiled and said, “Really, it’s very good. Now just take out half the adjectives.” Continue reading

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