Monthly Archives: March 2012

You probably have not heard of this StopKony thing but…

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StopKony twitter chart

Truly an overnight sensation.

Oh – you have? But we haven’t mentioned it. Who told you? Oh.

Well in any case this article from the New York Times details how the virus spread.

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Media training in Sydney with Bowls Australia

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Brett is off to Sydney to deliver media training to the Australian Lawn Bowls squad April 12 and 13. The posse of 20 will receive training in social media and media interviews care of Bowls Australia. The last national sports team Brett trained was the Australian Swim Team in the lead up to Athens Olympics in 2004. Libby Trickett (then Lenton) took part in the workshop. Eight years later she’s still swimming. She must be knackered.

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No asky, no getty – so asky already

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Whether it’s an email address or cold hard cash; if you don’t ask, you won’t receive. There’s increasing statistical evidence that the best time to ask for either is mid- transaction yet we know from bitter experience that most nonprofits feel it an inappropriate moment to put the hard word. Welcome to the worlds of online fundraising and database building.

online fundraising

Online fundraising at its savviest. OK - keep the change.

Fundraising: We were hugely impressed (and somewhat taken aback) when we were asked to donate in the middle of booking tickets for a team night out at The Arts Centre in Melbourne. (Bob Downe at the Spiegeltent if you must know.) Unannounced, mid-transaction we were propositioned with various options to dosh up for the Arts Centre Melbourne Foundation. Note the clever option offered for which we opted.  

Database building:  Now think of the last time you bought an airline ticket online – were you aksed for your email address? Of course you were. And have you been receiving stuff ever since? We guess that if the content they send is full of enticing bargains the answer is yes.

Here are some other times you may wish to ask for email addresses and permission to use it to forward marketing material.

emarketing advice

Strike while the iron is hot and the sucker willing.

  • When a punter books a place in your course.
  • When a job applicant submits an application.
  • When a professional makes a referral to you.
  • When anyone attends your event.
  • When a stranger emails you a general query for services, bequests, volunteering, membership. Turn queries into ongoing contact. 
  • When a purchase is made.
  • When some other service asks for a plug on your website.

Nonprofits spend time worrying about eNewsletter content. They should just as much time building the database. Asking for emails during transactions and interactions is a key way to build your lists. Remember – it takes no longer not costs any more to develop an eNewsletter for 30 people as it does for 3000 people.



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Facebook changes for nonprofits afoot

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We’re Facebook cynics. Longer term Citizens know that we feel Facebook’s EdgeRank system is an immovable object separating you from you fans / friends. (In fact we wrote five posts about Facebook last year, each one a gem.) Hootville gets it greatest response from email, then Twitter. Facebook is cooler than shouting out the window and about equally as effective. Social media is a funny bugger to deal with.

facebook for nonprofits

Of course, if you are a global force use Facebook and its new look design. For the rest of us...

Anyhoo Facebook is rolling out changes for its Pages format which is popular with many nonprofits and their corporate cousins. Have an ogle at these early adopting Facebook-lovin’ nonprofits.  

It’s easy to argue that the new look is more appealing visually. It’s a lot more like a Welcome Tab (a special landing tab for your Facebook visitors as opposed to immediately seeing your Wall) which we’ve been recommending as the best way to improve your Facebook Page performance.

Our tough love advice? Tweet and invest in a website that is updated very regularly and encourages comments and interaction. Use email and Twitter to drive traffic to it.  have you checked which channels drive traffic to your site? We have but we still use Facebook anyway. For now.

Do you get value from Facebook? Comments welcome.

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Greenpeace furore highlights ignorance

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If you didn’t catch it – everyone from Prime Minister Julia Gillard down has been reassuring both the coal lobby and Joe Public that coal has nothing to fear from the leaked draft document: “Stopping the Australian Coal Export Boom” which calls for $6 million a year to be raised to legally fight increased coal mines, ports and infrastructure.

nonprofit marketing drama

Greenpeace fighting coal? Who'd have thunk it?

Even more damning is The Australian’s take.

Trade Minister Dr Craig Emerson declared that the campaign would lead to world hunger. (We kid you not.) In short; the very thought of such a campaign was anathema to our leaders. More evidence that Australia has entered the lobbying age – the stakes have never been higher, the protagonists never better organised and individual voters never less important.

Putting aside our views on the coal industry here’s some food for thought, dear Citizen:

  • Clearly it surprises the public, media and politicians that nonprofits would seek to influence policy, challenge the status quo, plan accordingly and devise a budget. Not only is this surprising – it’s upsetting. Planning & campaigning = plotting even when the motivation is broadly idealistic.


  • Corporations and institutions are not seen to be plotting, even as they spend millions on representing their interests via lobbying and campaigning. And if they are – that’s seen as natural. Even when the motivation is primarily financial.


  • Campaigning to stopping the expansion of the coal industry has instantly been misinterpreted as seeking to close an industry.


  • The coal and mining lobby run this town.


  • Leaking a report is a dangerous thing to do. (We don’t know if the leak was intentional.) It is doubly dangerous when figures in the document are wrong. Wrong figures destroy credibility; it’s not enough to say – we’ll fix it in the final edition.


  • Clearly six million dollars (even when raised through voluntary donations) is seen as huge.


  • We think Greenpeace senior campaigner John Hepburn, a co-author of the draft plan performed well for media though he should lose lines like this:

”I think they [the coal industry] are worried about their declining social licence.”

We have been hearing “social licence” too often lately. It’s too posh.

typical australians

The Sullivans don't like communists or greenies but they do like farmers.

Push food security and water quality over bloody carbon emissions. The same middle-of-the-road proud Aussie who thinks Australia’s influence over world carbon emissions is neglible is deeply concerned over our ability to grow enough food and enjoy clean water.

Note to eco warriors – we know you know this so why do we keep hearing about emissions?

What’s easier to picture? Emissions or destroyed farmland?

Suggested campaign mantras: More coal = less food. Good for coal = bad for farmers.

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Reading list March 6, 2012

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The LA Times reports that 200 small nonprofits may have done their dough in the collapse of a private agency.

nonprofit marketing reading

These three links are the equivalent to this much off-line reading. Really.

The SMH reports that NSW is changing regulations around political donations. These changes may motivate non-political parties with political goals to spend and campaign directly as opposed to donating the money to parties.

That may sound very democratic but in the US this leads to campaigning without fear of backlash. Major political parties may hold on to some semblance of dignity but fleeting and well-funded campaigns are more likely to play the race, class and religious cards which we see less of here.

The Age claims that our public servants are costing taxpayers big dollars to be taught to write. $55,000? Hootville charges significantly less. It’s a shame we read this after being booked to deliver our second Copy Savvy 101  for the Australian Services Union in two months. 



Fundraising Institute of Australia faces major media melee – updated March 9 and 11

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Update: March 11: A relatively tame sequel was published by Jonathan Marshall. Brett remained unquoted despit na chat with the journalist in question – proof positive that good media training can equal gaining coverage – or avoiding it. The article does provide one lesson though – media loves conflict. A story with two differing opinions has double the chance of running. If JM had not found a dissenting voice it’s doubtful that there woud have been a story.

Update March 9: Since the original post, the reporter behind the story Jonathan Marshall contacted Brett de Hoedt for comment. Brett being Brett gave comment. We’ll see what results this Sunday. We thinks JM found more controversy in other speakers.

Original post:

99% of nonprofit CEOs we’ve met fear an unscrupulous, unfair, unexpected media hikacking. Only 1% ever experience such a thing. One such CEO is Fundraising Institute of Australia’s Rob Edwards.

Donors portrayed as victims, fundraisers as perps.

The organisation he leads was roundly and royally done over by Jonathan Marshall of the Sunday Telegraph whose work is deliberately misleading and hurts anyone who raises money in Australia. Marshall; shame on you for so willingly taking comments out of context to mislead and panic your readers.

Read this story if you fundraise, lead any nonprofit or industry group. Then read our thoughts.

What is particularly galling is that Marshall knows very well how people of any industry joke among themselves. Would his News Limited colleagues jokingly wish that flagging circulation be boosted by a terrorist attack? Yep. Do they really wish it? No. Would their comments look bad in writing? Yep. Would it fair to print them? No. He’s treating his readers like idiots. Of course many of them are.

If you feel like responding Jonathan Marshall, feel free. We may even present your comments unedited and in context.

Jonathan is clearly on a roll – this is his “special investigation” from two weeks ago into face to face fundraisers.  (Hootville has worked on preparing F2F fundraisers for this sort of coverage before.)

Some unsolicited advice to FIA and nonprofits on facing such a crisis:

Decision #1: how do we respond to our members?

Do we write something on our website? eNewsletter? Twitter? Yes – all of the above and fast. Drop everything and handle this. Your Sunday tweet was great – open and communicative.

These communications channels can’t be suddenly ramped up. If you haven’t spent time and energy building up followers, fans and visitors you will be less effective.

Tell members and sympathisers to directly contact Marshall and his boss – not for the FIA’s sake, but for theirs. Not just electronically – calls are much more effective. Anyone have his direct numbers? Distribute them.


Decision #2; do we seek media coverage to respond?

Yep – and fast – with mature, fair media outlets with which you have existing relationships. Place trained spokespeople alongside experienced fundraisers and offer them to media. We recommend highly sympathetic fundraisers challenge the string of broad misconceptions in the article more so than the FIA brass. Don’t offer the session presenter mentioned in the story – offer Australians who raise money for kids, dogs and scholarships for a living. Again, it’s very late to find FIA members willing to join the fray now. Case studies and media talent need to be sorted before crisis hits. Media relationships cannot be forged now.

Also – get some elderly and “vulnerable” bequestors to address the condescending tone of the article. And PLEASE don’t tell us that you can’t arrange one such person due to privacy reasons. 


Decision#3 do we go legal?

It’s not often we recommend legal action but we do here. Start by contacting the newspaper’s editor but don’t expect any joy. Get your facts straight and your story sorted and try Media Watch, then the Press Council. Create some headaches for Marshall. Consult a solicitor for more serious action. 


Other responses:

We generally detest jointly signed letters but imagine how many charities – household names among them – could sign such a public document organised by the FIA? It needs to be deftly written and hastily assembled. One page, unapologetic and confident. Don’t go vanilla.

The nonprofit sector can only expect more of this in future. Aparently it’s OK for corporations to seek your money through any means possible in exchange for a bet on a horse, a bottle of beer, an ineffective health supplement, yet it is an outrage to encourage donations to charity.

Here’s something we all have to consider: in this lobbying age if authorities don’t fear you, they don’t listen to you. That’s why mining and gambling lobbies get precedence over animal welfare and foster carers groups. 

Be sure to leave at least Jonathan Marshall in no doubt as to his conduct by the end of the week or he will continue to make copy from your industry. He is already planning his next angle. Believe us – journos know which issues are likely to create the most post-publication feedback / headaches and self-censor accordingly. Be feared.


Hootville has published several articles in the FIA magazine, spoken at a handful of FIA functions (all for $0) and did some very minor paid consulting to FIA at six years and two CEOs ago. We ain’t on their books. We didn’t speak to the FIA before posting this and we doubt that Rob Edwards even knows who we are.

We don’t back up nonprofits without some thought. Frankly we know many that deserve a kick in the pants and then some. Our anger is not inspired by the attack on the FIA but on the damage this lazy, schlocky journalism will do to charities.

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What can Donald Trump teach your boss?

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Yes, he is insufferable and appalling. Yes, he stands opposed to the values Hootville and its citizens hold dear but there is one thing the Donald can teach your boss – the use of video.

Short, sharp, opinionated videos from your boss – or anyone else you deem appropriate – will see the average time spent on your site expand, the repeat visitor percentage rise and the overall impact of your site increase.

The Trump in full flight.

It doesn’t take a grant from Screen Australia. It takes a $500 video camera from the local discount warehouse, natural light and a GOOD QUALITY microphone. You may have to spend a bit more to get a camera with a lapel microphone connection – spend the dosh. This beats a shotgun microphone. Others may feel satisfied with the quality gained by their tablet or phone which is even cheaper.

If you don’t already have the editing software you need lurking unused on your computer, go to and get yourself some. There’s free stuff and some cheap stuff.

DO NOT give over editing and uploading to the resident nerd. Doing everything yourself means you are the mercy of nobody.

Donald (or his handlers) have set up this shot nicely. Note the reasonably tight framing, and the slight angle to camera. He’s seated at his light-filled desk – good. Very boss like. After a speaker gains some confidence you can branch out on location. By then it’s time to find some additional speakers.

The content should be valuable, thought provoking and passionate. Don’t try to be perfect in the delivery – it’s OK for a speaker to have some cue cards in her hands – just try to keep it short, sharp and natural. 90 seconds is plenty. Edit with fast whiteouts as Donald does at 53 seconds. It’s a no-fuss look that doesn’t try to be perfect.

When you’ve recorded something worth showing, start a YouTube channel.

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