Thanks for highlighting this Brett – I agree that the message was confused and convoluted – in fact I am not sure what the message was! Great that you highlight NFPs must be even sharper, more succinct and focussed as we dont always have the budgets or the opportuntiies to convey our message. Kepp up the analysis – and we’ll keep sharpening our act!
Anti-abortion messages are always heavy.Meant to induce guilt, they are directed exclusively at women at their most vulnerable. So, whatever the ethnic background of their targets, it is an attack.
Now to something more jolly: in the ’80’s in Melbourne there were some fun billboards obviously directed at the numerous citizens of Greek heritage. The boards proclaimed the virtues of a certain ouzo if I remember rightly, by saying that it was the favourite tipple of “Every Kon, Nick and Ari”. Clever and fun!
It’s such a shame when NFPs can’t articulate or even think to clearly communicate all the good work they do. Many are very inwards-looking and breed staff who speak to external stakeholders using acronyms and terms only used internally. It’s so frustrating.
I find these messages as distasteful and low as many of you would. However after the anger comes response – and that’s when this type of scaremongering really comes into its own because what’s the flipside? the response?
every 21 seconds our next possible drug dealer is aborted
the most dangerous place for an african american is in the womb – because they don’t understand the basic tennants of nutrition
then i thought about it some more – the message is not as simple though – choice never is.
every 21 seconds a woman makes a choice that with better support services, she might not have to
every 21 seconds a woman makes a choice that’s none of your business
every 21 seconds a woman is lucky to have a safe, clean choice in America – why does American aid take this choice away from women worldwide?
Not so much as a campaign to collect email but to raise awareness and clog a politians inbox. The RSPCA brand is well recognised regardless and having a few extra database entries does not mean you will convert them into $$ for themselves via future donations. Giving the audience the power to complain direct is powerful in itself. This is just good karma for the RSPCA. They will see the benefits in other ways
I see your point Shaun, but think that if they’d collected email addresses as part of the campaign design they’d not only increase their database (show me a charity that doesn’t want that) they’d also be able to keep people who have specifically indicated their interest updated on the progress of this issue.
That’s no small thing.
Punters don’t want to think their email has gone into the ether, they want to feel like part of a collective effort that is making change happen.
Totally agree with your comments, silly marketing dept at rspca. Lack of good web strategy. BUT you’re post in confusing, it caused me to have a furrowed brow….”Look closely……asking readers to send an email. You don’t send the email via the RSPCA website.” What you mean to say is “THEY SHOULD HAVE SENT an email through the RSPCA website”… I’m being picky I know…
would have been cheaper and more effective to send it to facebook or twitter. Create a global campaign. that would have really clogged the mailboxes. On another note, when is the Million Paws Walk, Im a donor of the RSPCA and i havnt recieved Diddly boo about it
The NFP I was employed at for many years didn’t communicate well at all. So much time and effort and messages were lost through the use of acronyms, jargon and ‘in- words’ – which kept on changing as did the department titles and groupings that most of the staff were confused with what to call the departments they worked in – let alone inform the thousands of volunteers working for the organisation.
There was a department for producing information into accessible formats for individuals with difficulties reading words and information like diagrams eg English as a second language, vision impairment, dyslexia for example. Two of the formats included “plain English” or “Easy English”. Many government and non- government organisations use this now to communicate more efficiently and acurately with a majority of people, to not use jargon etc. Many in Management and Marketing were incredibly behind the times and would not listen to their lesser ranking colleages or the feedback collected in regards to communications.The result ultimately is missinformation, lack of trust, lack of empathy, alienating the public and loss of donors.
Why do so called “media trained” people not know how to communicate with ‘real’ people? Many are so far removed from the real business of the organisation that the information can almost be pointless. Why do people equate this type of ‘communication’ with being clever, ahead of others??
You might gather I find this incredibly frustrating, but my view and many others didn’t matter.
Enjoying these tips, looking at it from an organisational marketing perspective. Keep it up.
Be interested in more comment about the conditions under which “everything you post does *not* appear in all your fans’ newsfeeds. If you can wave your wand and give some case studies / tips on going viral, that would be pretty good too. Have a nice day but, hey, no pressure.
We’ve been putting out some media releases lately on the Yarra Council proposal. You’re never going to get the general public empathising with injecting drug users but you can get them to identify community benefits. To me, one of the most powerful arguments for the Sydney centre is the strength of support for it within the local community (residents and business operators).
What has been striking about the discussion of the Yarra proposal is the apparently overwhelming support for it by local residents. That’s what we should be focussing on.
Of course, it’s a fine line between addressing mainstream concerns and further marginalising a pretty vulnerable group of people.
Another very good article Hootville. You alsways have a way of putting things into perspecrive.
Like the great perspective you’ve brought to this issue. Thinking of trying a new tactic; under stating audience of media opps by 90%!
As somebody who has been on both sides of the media fence (as a newspaper journalist and now a comms manager) I can guarantee that every word of this is 100% true. Getting it through to the organisation is the trick.
A disclosure of financial interest is perhaps required here on the part of Hootville. Volunteers and voluntary groups do not hire Hootville to do their communications; only corporatised NGOS have the money to do this. The NGO field is a big industry now, and lots of companies live off it.
I guess our whole website, Twitter, Facebook and eNewsletter act as a ‘disclosure’ that we are indeed a private buisiness. Oh – throw in our 11 year history, magazine articles and presentations at conferences too numerous to mention. And by the way – you are wrong when you presume that no voluntary groups hire us. Bollocks. We’ve worked for dozens of teeny tiny organisations – many with none or one staff member. You’re on the wrong tram Liz – we simply put this story up as fodder for our subscribers – not as part of some agenda. And by the way – what do you make of all the paid staff working at non profits? Are they too “living off” the new corporatised NFP field? Or are they simply professionals making a living in a positive way?
Agree with this Brett but with one improviser – the MC has to be totally on the ball and allow space for “weaker” or quieter speakers (with tons to contribute) to actually speak. I’ve been at conferences where some speakers on a panel hog the panel partly due to personality, and perhaps partly due to their relationship with the MC (they seem to know them quiet well).This can means weaker and less confident speakers stay quiet. In the end the audience lack the ability to actually hear all the speakers equally.
Very good point. I shall keep it in mind at my next panel. Unless I am on the panel in which case I will be a hog.
So,does it work to shamelessly “like” and comment on your *own* postings, to increase their ranking??
You are clearly devious Heather. Shame on you. And more to the point no it doesn’t work. It will only mean that your personal Facebook page receives everything you post on your organisation’s Facebook page.
Also – even if you were to post endless comments on the Hootville Facebook page it would only result in more of our content appearing on your Newsfeed. It woud not increase the percentage of your content that apears on our Newsfeed. It’s a pretty tough nut to crack. The only workaround is to have a core of hardcore supporters who alwats post pics, comments and likes. Then their friends will eventually be presented with your the content of yours with which they are interacting. That’s a slow process with little guarantee of success. Unfortunately FB is really skewing towards big brands with lots of friends.
What of the paid staff now making careers in the NFP world? They’re indistinguishable from paid staff in the public and private sectors – once there was a difference between the sectors in their culture, but now the boundaries between them have blurred beyond recognition. They’re all the same people now, moving from one job to another in government, NGOs, private sector, and back again, in a shared managerial culture that is the same wherever they go. There’s nothing wrong with this, so long as NGOs stop pretending they have a different set of values from the public sector or the corporate world, and stop pretending they are worthy of tax concessions because they are “charities”, A CEO in a NFP these days will look and smell the same as a senior bureaucrat and a CEO of a corporate.
this is great! Thanks for sharing
Great tips – cheers
Thanks for the info. LIke all good leaders, have sent info to someone else (why the IT guy, of course) to action.
Thank you – humorous and handy. Anymore words of wisdom?
Re: some of your suggestions – especially the “business card muster” – potentially get into the realm of unsolicited mail. If someone gave you their business card without their express permission to receive email marketing from you, that’s spam. Same goes for the “import contacts” option and harvesting databases – if there’s no permission, you shouldn’t add them to your email list.
I disagree Alex. So does the SPAM Act 2003 which says this about consent:
In Australia, commercial electronic messages sent to you must be sent with your consent. The Spam Act provides for two types of consent – express and inferred.
Express consent means you have deliberately and intentionally opted-in to receiving electronic messages from the message sender. Some examples include:
ticking the box next to a statement seeking permission to send you marketing messages
entering your mobile telephone number on a website to opt-in to receive regular ringtones and games on your phone, then replying to a subsequent SMS to complete the opt-in process
entering your email address on a competition entry form and ticking a box next to a statement that says you wish to receive regular updates on the activities of the business
contacting a business directly, in writing or on the phone to ask for information to be sent to you on an ongoing basis.
All of these examples demonstrate that you have been informed that providing your consent means you will receive electronic messages and have had the opportunity not to receive commercial electronic messages.
Inferred consent relies on a relationship you have with the message sender. The Spam Act provides that consent can be inferred from your conduct or relationship that a message sender has with you. The message sender may decide that because you have an existing relationship, you would be interested in receiving electronic messages about similar products and services. For example, if you subscribe to a magazine or newspaper, it could reasonably be inferred from your ongoing relationship with the publisher that you would be amenable to receiving electronic messages promoting other services the publisher may offer.
Clearly someone handing you their business card or emailing you entirely proves a relationship which provides inferred consent.
Also Alex – the SPAM act also states that all emails absolutely must offer an unsubscribe function. Does your email offer this?
Yep. The census tweets are great. Perfectly pitched.
Hi Brett – yes, my emails do have an unsubscribe function, which comes built in from MailChimp.
While the definition of spam in Australia has one meaning, my reference was to the commonly used best-practice standards from the email marketing industry.
Business cards that were collected with an understanding that the person would be receiving email is ok – such as saying “thanks, and I’ll add you to our email list.” Collecting the business cards lying around the office and adding them, in my view, is not ok.
The example given in inferred consent (buying something and being added to an email list as a result) is a much stronger inference than handing over your business card without any business actually taking place.
Choose writers who are capable of checking their work for typos and poor grammar.
Create or sponsor a community event. Invite a ‘celebrity’ either local or otherwise to either host it or take part in it. That would help attract media attention. If you combine your event with another community group then you may also have volunteers from the other group to help you run it. Years ago when working with unemployed youth in the country we organised a Youth Arts Festival to highlight the positive attributes of young people to counteract the notion that if you were young and unemployed you were just a dole bludger.
Do you have another date for your copy writing webinar ?
We do indeed. Just locked it – Thursday October 20 at 12.30pm. Book now Karin – book like the wind.
Please tell me the use of “illiteration” was deliberate (top pic).
Are you sober? I wrote alliteration. Really. Check it. Again. Since you brought it to my attention. Seriously.
Oh, my bad. (*coughgooglecachecough*)
That’s quite a cough you have there Caitlin.
Ahh what the hell, I suppose I could bear listening to you for an hour, but if I put one of our comms people on the phone they could pretend to be me!!
Agree with your critique on this Newstart story.We sourced 20 jobs in Laverton for young long term unemployed, so keen to work, yet no public transport to get there. Cant afford a car. Some were going to catch a bus with a bicycle, then a train, then ride a bike the rest of the way, just to get work. At least 19% of our welfare recipients are homeless in the north. They are hungry, cold, and trying hard to do what is asked of them and more. Need to put our very best cases up and leave no room for criticism that we know is our there.
I watched the ABC 7.30 Newstart story and couldn’t disagree with you more that Maria is not a good case study. The point here is why should a 62yr old women who’s just lost her husband after caring for him for the past 15years, and clearly has limited work skills, poor English, and a knee injury be forced onto the Newstart allowance and have to struggle to exist on just $35 a day? Even if we accept that she could be forced to take up English classes and training programs, even at her age, given her many years of contribution as a carer, I think it’s cruel in the extreme to expect her to have to work or be condemned to poverty. I think your analysis is insensitive and bordering on demeaning. And thank god for the ABC to be fair when covering such stories, one can only imagine how ACA or Today Tonight would’ve treated the same story. Maria doesn’t come across to me as your stereotypical dole bludger, her story does challenge the negative perception of people on income support and is a good barometer of just how hardline we’ve become, as emphasised by you unfortunate critique.
You must not have read the paragraph we write explaining that our post has nothing to do with our feeling twoards the issue or the case study as an individual. Here it is again:
Let us be clear – this is not a comment on Maria or her circumstances or the issue. This is a comment from a campaigner’s perspective on how smart a choice she was by the publicist behind the pitch. This is a judgement on how she serves the campaign as a whole.
Hey Jeff, I’m no publicity expert but the story was powerful and sure worked on me and obviously on a lot of people if it was such a ‘major national media hit’ as you say. Having worked in the NFP sector I’m not sure such a sophisticated or orchestrated publicity campaign effort to ‘push’ stories and case studies exists – nor as a journalist do I think experienced reporters like Stephen Long would take kindly to having case studies or stories thrust upon him as you seem to insinuate.By your analysis you did pass comment on Maria and her circumstances as well as people in her situation despite your qualifier to the contrary. I do agree there are many other case studies along the lines that you prospose, and perhaps you are better qualified to deem them more constructive or effective in this supposed nonprofit campaign. However it’s your rejection that Maria’s story is not a good case story to illustrate the idiocy of current government policies in the income support area that I take issue with. It is a good powerful real life case story, and it worked!
It’s Brett here. I’m glad you’ve contributed – Hootville is a reasonably democratic place which is why we encourage differing views. (Which is more than the 7.30 story did.) No doubt it was a great media hit but I want hits to be as persuasive as possible and I was empathising with people out there in TV land (even ABC) who don’t see things as you do. As someone who has made a living a pushing 200+ nonprofit stories a year for 12 years please rest assured that journos like Stephen Long and co all respond to pitches from nonprofits. They don’t say yes to everything but that’s how issues ‘come to their attention’. Anyhow – thanks for your contributions.
Do you recommend any particular web developers for NFP?
Yep – Hootville Communications.
Good morning. One of the most important things about any website is that it is accessible to everyone. Websites that are developed without due regard to accessibility and usability in accordance with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (current version 2.0) may not be accessible to people with disabilities. WCAG is the internationally recognised benchmark for measuring the accessibility of websites. Organisations that fail to make their web information and services accessible are liable for complaints and legal action under the Australian Disability Discrimination Act (1992) and the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with a Disability (2006). The Australian government ‘s Web Accessibility National Transition Strategy, released in June 2010, is available at http://www.webpublishing.agimo.gov.au/Accessibility.html. Vision Australia can assist organisations wishing to meet their obligations for making online communications accessible. Kind regards, Tricia Cooney
Aw shucks Brett! We made it to your website. We’ll send you one of our “environment’s legal team” T-shirts. Keep up the chutzpah.
Would love to hear what comes of any recommendations you get.
We use a customised, NFP version of Salesforce which integrates with our website. Although I have not explored it enough to find out if there are any cunning fundraising features, eg, social media integration!
Is opting for a custom system worthwhile?
Hi Brett, we used Online Giving for our marathon, and that worked quite well.
It has social media integration, but it’s a tiny bit clunky – I find it much easier to just copy paste the link to the page and put it into Facebook and Twitter etc yourself.
They charge on a commission basis – can’t remember what it is, but it’s reasonably low. For that, you get a weekly update on how much you’ve raised and who is raising it for you through what page.
We use givenow.com.au and have found they are a good way to have donations directed to us.
Hi, Stephen Long, ABC Economics Correspondent here. I was the reporter who did the story. Your analysis of the origins of the report are wrong. A non-profit did not “push”the story to me. On the contrary, I was struck by comments at the tax forum at Parliament House in Canbera by the free market economist Professor Judith Sloan on Newstart. It seemed to me to be newsworthy and interesting that Sloan, far from a bleeding heart and a leading champion of labour market deregulation, should be agreeing with the welfare lobby that the level of unemployment benefits was too low. We chased up with ACOSS for comment and hunted up the case study — not the other way around. I also disagree with your assessment that Maria was not a sympathetic character — I think her plight was very moving and the feedback I got was that it was appalling that a woman in her circumstances was being forced onto the dole, with a poverty level payment. We could have found other examples that may have illustrated the story better with more notice but it was a same day turnaround. I reiterate, this was not sourced from a “pitch by a publicist”. It emerged from genuine debate at a policy forum so your premise is false.
Thanks for the comment, which I will publish in full. Through whom did you source Maria? A nonprofit of some sort? If a nonprofit did recommend her I stand by my essential criticism of Maria as a case study.
Whether I found Maria sympathetic is unimportant but I do think she reinforced some sterotypes for less sympathetic viewers who may not have an inclination to support the unemployed. I got feedback in both directions on Maria. As a publicist I have campaigned for unemployed disabled people who are hungry to work but do not try to find employment because they fear losing their disability support pension benefit. This is similar to Maria not wanting to lose her Carer’s benefit. So when I see a story on national media featuring someone who is unemployed but doesn’t want to work I feel she lets down people with less ability to work but more desire. I hope I’ve explained myself reasonably clearly for this hour. Seriously, if you want to do a story on the mass of unemployed disabled people I could recommend a few great case studies…
Also – how regularly do you do a story after being pitched to? Honestly. You must have peak bodies and economic think tanks calling you day and night.
I enjoy your work Stephen and your slightly unusual manner of speaking – it is quite conspiratorial.
Brett de Hoedt
Agree with all of the above. Good advice.
How/where is this delivered? I’m interested! Melbourne based
Brett, Oh, I SO agree with what you say. Having worked in NGO and NFP sector but having come from a high flying corporate background, the NFP’s could do soooo much more with themselves if they just “got it”. Sounds a bit tawdry really, doesn’t it? But I meeean you really just cant survive it you don’t get your profile, PR and marketing right. Just ask me!
And I so love the way you write- its like well, this is how it is… ok. Makes you, or me really, sit up and listen.
As a disclaimer – I work in the social services sector (or the ‘welfare lobby’ if you prefer) in a PR and communications capacity but have also worked in other NFP environments also.
I have sourced many case studies (like Maria) in my time. This has usually been at the request of the media. In my experience it is less common that NFPs in this space will have a ‘packaged’ case study ready to go to ‘push out’ to a journo at any given time. This is due to the particular circumstances and vulnerabilities of these individuals and a understandable reluctance from case workers to offer up people lest they be ‘exploited’ or ‘misconstrued’. (This isn’t necessarily the case for NFPs outside of social services)
I also want to acknowledge that finding someone on short notice, who fits the brief all the while being sensitive to their vulnerabilities is a very difficult job! And then making sure they’re on message is a whole new challenge.
That said, Brett, I agree that the case study should have been more powerful – though I disagree that it is Maria’s personal circumstances that are the problem. Rather I think that her story wasn’t leveraged as well as it could have been, i.e. it didn’t emphasise the most relevant issue facing Maria – that having spent 15 years caring for someone has meant that she doesn’t necessarily have the skills to get back into the workforce, with age being another factor contributing to this. That combined with the ‘poverty level’ payment is challenging.
The issue isn’t so much that she is being ‘forced’ off the carer’s allowance as this story suggests (she is no longer a carer so this seems like a no-brainer) but that if there is an expectation to work she should be supported to do so.
In fact Maria would have fit the brief (most of what they discussed related to people over 45) but the case study wasn’t necessarily explored as it could have been.
I am interested in doing training with your organisation and would be grateful if you could email me training dates etc.
Desperately looking for social media training as early as possible in 2012. Either one on one or I can organise a group – but don’t just want an introduction – want to learn how to use youtube, facebook, foursquare, twitter effectively. Currently organising sustainability event with low social media knowledge. Look forward to hearing from you, Donna
While agreeing what you say Brett to a certain extent, I would also caution organisations on not setting up a ‘microsite’ for every single campaign that they create. If it’s a large complex organisation engaging in a lot of campaigns each year this can effectively mean a lot of websites needing ongoing management as well as maintenance. Brand dilution and brand competition needs to considered by the organisation.
LIkewise an exit strategy (what’s going to happen to the page after the ‘active’ campaign ceases) also needs considering from the outset.
Just a point of order on the RN update, especially the reduction of time for PM.
The full Hour (less 10 mins of News at the top of the clock) is still broadcast on ABC Local Radio, in every market in Australia. Summer Cricket coverage especially test cricket often supersedes PM’s broadcast on Local Radio, but otherwise the full length can be heard, and indeed is listened to by many more listeners who only tune to ABC Local radio, notwithstanding your exhortations to try RN!
Also, the show is podcast daily MON-FRI the full Monty (50 mins) accessible as an RSS feed here:- http://abc.net.au/pm/rss/pmrss.xml.
Great to hear you extolling the virtues of the medium I too adore, as I read your blog on Feb 13 World Radio Day.
Mark at MediaMARK Australia “making sense of media”
…and the time for PM on Local radio is 6PM Mon-Fri.
I hate these ads. And it isn’t clear that they are sponsored CSA’s. The blitz advertising is causing a backlash. I have heard many comments that if they waste that much on ads then they don’t need the sponsorship. Not a good look for a NFP. .
Glad to have you back Brett – the general consensus is that it wouldn’t be the same without you (we can support this through the near perfect feedback scores you wrangle from our delegates year after year…)
Check out Brett in action on the 8th and 9th of August .. follow the action on twitter via #DES2012
Whilst I agree that the Marshall’s article is both misleading and crass, it is important to note that members of FIA are members of a professional association that has codes and standards requiring members to use approppriate language when referring to donors and potential bequestors.
The blame for this media disaster for FIA must be at least in some part shared by those members of the profession who used inappropriate language when publicly discussing donors and supporters of charities.
Thank you Ted for pointing this out. FIA has developed standards of fundraising practice to provide guidance re ethics and delivery in most kinds of fundraising, including bequests. FIA members are required to comply with them as a condition of membership and it is critical that FIA members make sure they are familiar with them. They were developed to help FIA members, not restrict or limit them, and are based on solid principles supported by AFP, IoF and the Australian government.
Ted Flack says it all. Why make comments in public that have potential to be exploited. It didn’t need an undercover journalist, in these days of instant blogging and twitter-by-iphone it just needed a single delegate to say something out of context and the outcome might have been the same.
Nonprofits are not protected from attack by the media and they come under increasing scrutiny yet few executive teams have in place a strategy for working with media through a crisis. This can be compounded by a lack of understanding among many ageing executive teams as to the role and benefits of social media.
If nonprofits fear for the impact of this story then they need to get out there and use all available means to tell potential donors about all the good outcomes they have achieved.
Were 70,000 charitable organisations to spread one good news story in the next seven days then this journalists unbalanced version would be buried.
I used to be a public relations person for the police so know a bit about unfair bias and dealing with it generally as in this case ignore it however, I would as a matter of absolute priority remove your reference to Telegraph readers being idiots as that is now putting your organisation at risk and it won’t be for anything to do with the issue you are concerned about but because of your lack of respect for readers of the Telegraph I hate to break this to you but Ray Martin has endorsed that newspaper so it may not have the lack of respect you are giving it and you could find youselves taking on some big names and a powerful empire.
The public is going to make a decision itself about whether the charities they give to are ethical or not you just don’t want this issue staying in the spotlight for any longer and unfortunately the reality is that there are some dodgey charities out their so if they go hunting they will find them.
So let the charities decide individually if they are going to respond your sole responsibility is to protect your organisation from any fall out not take on being the advocate for an industry.
Hootville was not targetted nor even what it does so this is not your fight and you will loose a lot and not really help anyone by keeping it in the spotlight which any action you do will just cause to happen.
As said we all read it is up to us to deal with it.
They are hoping to get a bite better not give it to them.
“…so this is not your fight…”
I wager that all those disadvantaged people in our community who don’t have a voice or resources, and can’t take up the fight with government, circumstances or bullies are mightily pleased that those of us in the not-for-profit sector choose not to take on your world view, Rosemary, and instead regularly get involved in fights that ‘aren’t ours’.
Great article, Brett. There are many of us in the industry who are tired of working hard to get good stories published about the important and under-funded work we do only to see this sort of dog-whistle pfaff given ample column inches.
Come on Mr Marshall, we’re all VERY keen to hear your ethical, non-tricky approach to effective fundraising that doesn’t involve maintaining relationships (with those cynical and slick birthday cards…) and donor profiling (those poor billionaires, sitting on every charity’s mailing list, how do they cope?)…
If journalists are genuine about exposing dishonesty in the industry, how about they find the real fraudsters, the real illegal behaviour (where’s the follow up on the hospital that released the donor records?) and write about that? Demonising standard practice through tricky, tabloid-style writing is not in anyone’s interest, let alone the public interest, and just makes our job meeting the vast service gaps for people in need even harder.
Thank you, Hootville, for writing this article! The only people who will be hurt by Marshall’s article are the struggling kids, homeless people, marginalised, the sick, the animals, the environment. It was unfair, biased, subjective and deliberately misleading.
Ted, we all make comments in jest about our work, customers or supporters….however that doesn’t translate to what we believe or to something that is ‘on the record’.
For those who want to make their voices heard:
phone: 0412 086 703
I’ve had my say.
The offending article was such a major misrepresentation of the truth, it made for far better satire than journalism. Had it been written by The Onion, I’d have had a good laugh at the farcical wit.
What fundraising, ethics and codes of conduct policies do NFPs have in place? And what checks and controls are in place in terms of who you contract to do work using your organisation’s name? The stakes are getting higher in NFP transparency and accountability. The letter with the stupid 5 cent piece stuck to it keeps arriving at my home, each time with a different chartys special “individual “appeal to me. Just plain dumb. We’re not selling roof tiles, and our good name is everything. Charity muggers are a public nuisance and a swindle in they keep a very large chunk without disclosing to the public. Thanks for raising the issue Hootville.
I’d have to tackle this hairy subject from two sides.
1`. As a child of charity (Barnardos),
2. As a sometime donor.
For the first 16 years of my life, I was reliant on charity and the folk who went about raising funds for these organisations – specifically, Bernardo. Wind back the hands of time to the fifties and beyond and glance at the Sunday Papers – Tele, Mirror and Sun/Herald. Here I can only speak for NSW. Reading the back pages and society columns, I was always interested to see how Mr X or lady B – from Point Piper and similar affluent locales, did their bit for Charity X,Y, Z and were prominent on the X,Y,Z Committee. I thought to join the Barnardo Younger Set when I left school and went out into the big, wide world. WRONG.. Methought they were peers helping out poor old Barardos. They were not; but boy, oh, boy, wonderful junior high society trainees. I was dealing with the sons and daughters of prominent Sydney and some country society – GPS students and the like. Me, a wannabee copy boy stood no chance. “…but, my deah, you are Barnardos, we help unfortunates like you. Could you organise a charity ball, polo afternoon, and do you have the ear of Sydney’s A-list. I think not,”: gushed one young deb. .
Fast forward 56 years. Charity has come forward and now, thank goodness the practitioners are professional and staffed by folk such as a former radio colleague (no name, no pack drill) and her peers., I’m pleased about that. What does irk me, is the mercenary way some charities go about getting funds. Homes on The Coast, cars etc. Great! I’m not against that – but a $500k home and/or car would feed our own homeless and disadvantaged for a good while. There are some fantastic charities – Starlight, Legacy, St Vinnies et al who have great team members.. We Aussies are discerning enough to sort out the sheep from the spongers; but it took a maybe, a tongue-in-cheek article to bring it out. Right or wrong, the story did awaken us – but like all others, as news comes to the fore, the story will be soon forgotten. Enuff sed..
“The motivation is broadly idealistic?” Only if the end justifies the means, and these are dirty means for a doubtful end. It might surprise the Greenies to know that the demon of CO2 is a lot less frightening now after 15 years of no statistically significant increase in world temperatures, and that climate change is less scary since the drought ended, confirming that the Australian cycles of droughts followed by floods still exist today. So a campaign of lies and propaganda directed at the Coal industry cannot be described as idealistic: look at the dishonestry and manipulation involved in their 6 elements of Strategy:
1. Disrupt and delay building of infrastructure, expecially Ports and Rail. What do we call ecological terrorists? Ecoteurs?
2. Constrain the space: exclude mining from anywhere they can using “outrage over coal seam gas” – they aren’t interested in food security or clean water, except where that motivates the public to advance their agenda. They even have Alan Jones acting as their stalking horse lately.
3.Increase investor risk: the mining and Carbon taxes have already done that.
4. Increase costs: ditto.
5. Withdraw the social licence – In other words, demonise the the industry that brings us wealth, employment, taxes to fund social welfare, and cheap reliable electricity. You better have something – hydro, nuclear, geothermal – in place first, before you close the coal-fired plants, or there will be hell to pay. Our society is quite fragile and depends on electricity to run. If it fails there will be starvation in the cities within weeks.
6. Build a powerful movement. Done: the green equivalent of the IRA is Greenpeace, and the Green Party is their Sinn Fein Political Arm.
Their plans don’t just threaten Coal, they threaten all of our industrial base that keps us all fed, sheltered and warm.
I don’t think the political reaction to this evil plan has been anywhere near strong enough.
I would really urge Hootville to stay out of this because of its ability to have a greater effect in other areas and also that to keep the issue in the media spotlight will not do anyone any good.
As I said people will work it out for themselves they do not need to be told what to think and I truly doubt any real damage has been done to the NFP sector by this article. People will continue giving to their chosen charities because they believe in them and their cause they will have done any diligence they feel was required before making that decision and with the new goverment agency overseeing this sector it will soon be revealed by an independent third party how hard we all work and how we all scrutinise our spending and practicises etc.
The best thing you can do is let this article fade from people’s memory and the issue let it become yesterday’s fish n chips wrapper.
People will believe what they want to believe irrespective of what anyone says they will look for practical proof and not for people saying that it is not so.
Truly if I thought letter writing or advocacy would assist I would be the first to do so but I think we will only do further damage by keeping this issue in the spotlight rather than focusing on maintaining our good and ethical work so that becomes the irrefutable proof.
We seemed to be swamped with nonprofit organisations here in Australia and also overseas in the U.S of A. According to The Australian Centre for Co-operative Research and Development – there are 700,000 nonprofit organisations in Australia.
We seemed to be swamped with nonprofit organisations here in Australia and also overseas in the U.S of A. According to The Australian Centre for Co-operative Research and Development – there are 700,000 nonprofit organisations in Australia.
How do we sift out the good from the ‘just pretending’ – aka – let’s set this up for a few years ( ? $$ ) – then become bored – close the business ! Are some of them serial entrepreneurs crouching behind the couch?
How many more are popping up and which ones are a hit and others a miss? A little bit like the whack a mole game.
In a way isn’t being a non profit business similar to a micro business just starting out. Lack of funds, finding the funds from other sources? Surviving
Public can be confused as to which one, two or three maximum to choose to support. You have to really read the small print to see the true beliefs of the company, and research through the many media options we have at our fingertips today. People are sometimes fooled by the in your face amazing images matched with the NLP marketing ‘words’ and sometimes ‘music’ to match the emotion they want for you to feel.
If you’re really not sure about a nonprofit business and you have the time, join as a volunteer. This will provide the answer you have been looking for.
It may surprise the rest of the world, and probably a good number of Americans and Australians, but the USA doesn’t have the largest nonprofit sector in the world, Australia does, judged by number of nonprofit organisations per head of population.
In Australia there is around 600,000 nonprofit organisations, including education, health, and community organisations. Only about 60,000 of them are economically significant (FASES Report 2010). They are primarily service providers. The remainder are what we would refer to as community organisations, the local footy club or neighbour.hood quilting groups.
No one would suggest there is an excess of community groups. They rise and fall according to social patterns and demand. The 60000 economically significant nonprofits are another matter.
Size does matter in this instance. Yes it is possible a small regional based nonprofit provider may be better in touch with community needs, and it is certainly viewed as a ‘local organisation’ however there appears to be scant evidence of the ability of regional or local service providers being able to solve community issues any better than larger, nationally based organisations. I would suggest that as you split the funding pie into increasingly smaller slices you reduce the abilities and effectiveness of smaller organisations.
There is a solution. Smaller nonprofit providers can form collaborative partnerships with each other to provide an integrated solution, drawing upon the strengths of each partner. This does occur from time to time. It doesn’t occur as frequently as it might due to internal politics and people trying to protect their patch.
Are there too many nonprofit providers in Australia? Probably. The sector has become a bureaucracy of its own with constant cries for ‘more money’.
This is not to suggest nonprofit service providers fail to provide a necessary and quality service. They do and the demand for their services continues to grow. It also is not a suggestion the sector is adequately funded. It is not. There will never be enough money to address growing social problems while we fail to address the core causes of these problems.
At the same time increasing or maintaining the numbers of nonprofit social providers doesn’t create any better solutions.
I agree that there are too many community sector organisations. They suck valuable resources running back offices when they could be putting serious money into producing the outcomes we all want for our communities.
A great approachI heard about last year is results based accountability. Mark Friedman has written a great book on this subject, and collaborative partnerships, working together to solve problems ,is one of the seven key steps he recommends. It’s well worth a look..but be prepared to be intimidated!
Thanks again for the links Brett and Hootville. Hubspot is a great website and well worth a good read.
It is socially responsible for commercial or not-for-profit organisations to take on interns. It could also an investment – they might re-appear in the future and remember your organisation or your helpful people who gave them a start in life. Give interns decent assignments that they can write about when they return to university or school – they might have some great ideas. It is morally responsible to pay them at least a token sum to cover fares, lunches and other minor expenses. It is not free labour but recognition that you accept their efforts, even if it has cost you staff time providing guidance.
Do you provide formal training in SEO strategy and management
A correction for your piece – “deserves it poor reputation ” should be “deserves its poor reputation ”
(no need to publish my comment – mistakes in passion are excusable!)
Duly corrected. #responsive
How on earth does one silly post by a senior person at a small PR agency justify the conclusion that “There are a lot of inexperienced, over-confident, minimally-qualified people in surprisingly senior PR positions”?
One column doesn’t justify such a statement. That statement is my personal opinion based on my experiences over 18 or so years. It doesn’t mean that all PR professionals meet this description but many do. I may well have been one myself some time back.
Thanks Hootville, I’m listening to this interview right now. Like you, I find it a suprising example of best practice to cite a health care facility that won’t provide vasectomies or abortions (2012 yet?!).
I think that Stephen Judd had an interesting point about the importance of being clear in purpose and mission – but yes, it is not only charieties who do this.
There are also other important traits for non-profits and charities.
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It was a galling interview, with a very old-fashioned view of the NFP sector. Given the profound changes coming with the NDIS and Aged Care reforms, plus the new Charities Commission, I would have hoped for a slightly more sophisticated take on the sector.
The book may have some valid points but the interview failed to sell it to me, or anyone really.
Leading a secular NFP of 28 years standing, we are clear on our mission, values and raison d’etre. We are clear that we are independent of religion, are non-judemental and focus on harm reduction in an inclusive service model. A good example is the question of gay rights, where our support is unequivocal. We don’t struggle to justify homophobia while claiming to be inclusive and non-judgemental, like some religious charities. But the largest NFPs are owned by religious organisations, are generally held in good stead and work well with independent NFPS such as ours. I am, however, mystified by the massive funds going to school chaplaincy when existing models using qualified practitioners are starved of funding for youth mental health. Thanks for shedding light on this absurd view. It needs to be challenged. Oh and did anybody watch 4 Corners last night? Just sayin….
In Queensland, religious bodies are exempt from the Anti-Discrimination Act and can therefore legally discriminate against LGBT people. It frustrates me that this is still legally acceptable when LGBT tax dollars are funding their government grants.
Likewise in Victoria.
I wonder how Judd views charities which work on environmental and animal welfare issues? It seems they may not exist for him!
Surely that Op Ed wasn’t emailed without an agency Director having first signed off on it?
My interns have more insight and sensitivity than Tina has shown when it comes to the current plight of Journalists and the future of news in Australia. And they can write in plain-speak as opposed to agency jargon.
Thanks for the info. The NFP sector statistically could not be more different from those who made the top list, with budgets under$1 million and employing less than 20 people, if any. Yes, it seems we love a “household name” thousands of unsung heroes in the sector. But we know people love impact, so demonstrating our impact and difference will be vital. I think the corporate community are starting to look at NFPS where their support will be felt most, giving SMEs a look in at last. Hope so. Go on, sister up with Ronald.
OK, I’ll bite: what IS the difference between charities and NFPs?
Charities are not-for-profits. So are associations, political parties, sporting groups, the RACV/RACQ, foundations, etc. A not-for-profit is an organisation where profits are for a cause (whether that is a charitable purpose or creating a service for members, for example), as opposed to for-profits where profits are returned to the owners/shareholders.
Charities and not-for-profits are different. I see the purpose of a charity as fund seeking and running regular campaigns for such, this becomes as much a part of the organisation’s identity as the social service work it does. Not-for-profit organisations exisit to service the needs of the community regardless of the ability of the recipients ability to pay for the service. The services they provide form the essesntial identity and the core business of the organisation. The fund seeking they do is usually profiled less. Think arts and cultural organisations, education, culturally diverse, these are more often know for their core business.
The difference is found in the tax definition. A tiny number of NFPS are actually registered charities, public benevolent institutions or deductible gift recipients. Makes quite a difference. These are among the issues examined by the NFP reform agenda and the new regulator, ACNC, as to the definition and purposes that will be recognised for registration as a charity. Commercial NFPs, like peak bodies for commercial industry groups, don’t save the poor or heal the sick etc, the promote commercial gain.They are run as an NFP but would not gain DGR, PBI or charitable status.
Wow. I know being cheeky and irreverent is your thing but what a way to get EVERY photographer off-side, including the ones who provide in-kind and discounted services.
There are many times when a professionally taken image can not be replaced by a stock image.
Like all good suppliers, finding the right photographer who delivers a good product, within your timeline and budget is an investment and requires building a relationship.
I’m a little disappointed in your choice to slag off a whole industry, when instead you could have promoted the stock images alongside some tips on how to find or write a good brief for a photographer or photographic sponsorship.
Or, why not try calling your local university or TAFE photography course and get some recommendations for recent graduates who may be super-keen to build their portfolios and gain testimonials.
I have no problem with using stock images but not at the expense of supporting a creative industry that can be a very supportive one when it’s respected and worked with effectively.
Our priority isn’t photographers – it’s nonprofits and their comms people which often find photography expensive and problematic. That’s probably why the link was the most-clicked of today’s eNewsletter.
Of course there are times when only a photographer will do. We know – we have hired a dozen or so over the years and worked with a dozen more. We like some very much. Try Fred Kroh. We will hire some again in the future. I trust they will accept our business despite the post.
However too often we have seen photography slow down projects. Every nonprofit we’ve ever worked with obsesses over permissions – “Can we use the photos we already have?” “Is it ethical to show clients?” “Can we find someone to photograph for free?” Ad naseum. All of this threatens deadlines and blows budgets.
Nonprofits I know haven’t the time or will to build relationships, hunt around for a keen graduate or spend time and budget on trial and error. Photographers are like any other service from PR to printing – they work in a free and demanding market. Clearly photography is an industry that is under threat from technology.
Photo libraries allow anyone to get what you see at a fixed price, in an instant. That, for photographers and clients, is hard to beat.
We don’t feel any need to be particularly gentle with photographers. PR consultants certainly cop endless stick. That said we’ve altered some wording in the post to better express our nuanced view on the matter. We don’t aim to offend. Just to provoke a bit of thought. Thanks for yourt thoughts.
And thanks for your prompt response and consideration.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Emil in 2007 as a potential magazine profile subject. Still at uni, his resume was crammed with experience from charities he’d been involved with and one he’d set up. He impressed me as a young man with a huge heart. I’m so sorry to learn of his death. My thoughts are with his family, colleagues, friends and the many others whose lives he touched.
that’s sad Brett. So sorry to hear about Emil.
I had the pleasure of working with Emil at Hootville. He was smart, fun and an inspiration in the way he rallied others to care. His kindness and concern for others stood out. I was glad to know him.
My deepest sympathy to his family and friends.
Brett you’re on the money. Kate’s jab at the NDIS shows her misunderstanding of what actually works in media.
We hosted a disabiliTEA at the AVI office this week and it was a fine demonstration of why confronting images of people dragging their bodies up the steps of Parliament isn’t the best advocacy option for people living with a disability.
At our disabiliTEA a very witty address was given by a vision impairmed woman who spoke about the global context of people living with disabilities. Her pun on making a list of dot points for her talk; literally, was warmly received by a full house of engaged listeners. Grassroots movements like this may seem lame in comparison to bolshy protesting, but they are inclusive and positively represent the people who matter most. The talk was honest, friendly and the speaker very approachable. Better yet her story was one of thousands being shared across the country that day.
Cups of tea maybe old-fashioned but for the average Australian they are far more favourably swallowed than an outraged minority-group of disabled people; who’s image portrayal is at the mercy of the media.
Yes on the money Brett. We are trying to move away from a ‘charity’ model of disability support. People with disability dragging themselves up the steps of parliament feeds into that old model. The Every Australian Counts campaign is a much more respectful approach which considers that we all have rights, disability or not.
What really works in the media is the key … Not angry, cliched stunts. The ndis campaign has done more to empower people living with disability than every sob story i, or other journalists, have ever written. As an organiser of the hobart rally I was in awe of the energy of the 300 plus on the lawns of state parliament. Anger is not real power … It’s just anger.
Marketers critiquing the campaign need to get over themselves. Make It Possible speaks not only to the voting adult public but to the kids who will be voters and consumers tomorrow. They care what Hugh Sheridan thinks, they are moved by the positive piggie and they probably don’t yet need to witness the “gritty material” for which, I agree, Animals Australia is proudly and appropriately reknowned. This is a smart and emotive campaign that we should all support.
We don’t think anyone needs to “get over themselves” Lesley. The feedback is entirely fair and balanced.
In my opinion charities are growing very rapidly around the world and its very difficult to select one which really works for the people in need so before donating just check whether its worthy to donate or not.
Cheers Brett, always a pleasure working with you!
agree most media monitoring is a waste of time UNTIL an issue you need to respond too urgently pops up. Monitoring can be hard to value when you are onto an issue as it breaks rather than when it becomes a calamity.
also, it’s important for giving you an idea of who your competitors are in the market and how you are tracking against them…..
Wise words Tony. Wise words.
I use one of the big companies to monitor media and they’re too slow and miss too much. It’s no good for instant responses to talk back and the like as they come through too long after the fact and I know they miss a lot too.
A couple of years ago I ran a comparison between the one we use and a couple of others & I found that they all missed about the same volume of mentions but all different ones so despite being unhappy with the current provider, there was no point switching.
All that said, I do believe there’s value in it for us so we persist. Of course an assessment of that value depends on individual organisation nuances.
It’s a smart campaign that strikes an emotional chord with the viewer – but the best thing about it is that the message is a positive call to action. Some of Animals Australia’s best work has been “gritty”, yes, but people get overwhelmed and fatigued by those sorts of messages from so many organisations. This strategy helps Animals Australia access a whole new audience – fabulous work.
Now I feel left out .. I gave and didn’t get one 🙁
Perhaps you needed to dig a little deeper to score the heartfelt thanks.
So true, Brett, we spent a lot of time researching all the media monitoring services a few years back for a not for profit and experienced some of their seriously hard sell techniques for what is a fantastically expensive service. And then you know what, we just turned on the ABC and set up the Google Alerts, saved them swathes of hard earned cash and got the job done no problems at all. Keep your wallets clamped shut and instead spend the time crafting all encompassing, real-time or at the time you schedule so you don’t get bombarded, Google Alerts. You’re the guru . . .
I agree with Sophie. We do our own media curation at http://www.scoop.it/t/alcohol-other-drug-issues-in-the-media, drawing on sector RSS feeds, Twitter and our own Google searches. It’s by no means exhaustive, but still better than the lists we see put out by organisations who pay for the service.
The added benefit of doing it yourself is the positioning as a leader in your sector (without having to spend big $ for the privilege). If you can spare an hour a day, you’ll do fine.
Amen. Perhaps we need some sort of Jobville.com.au but for media monitoring. Hmmm…
Thanks for the info and A simpler option to support can be to distribute income to your preferred charity either by salary sacrifice or via a family trust. These allow you to give this money to charity pre-tax which is a more efficient form of giving compared to donating post-tax and claiming a tax deduction on your next year’s income tax return.
Links to videos?
Now up – thanks for heads-up.
I’m the PR Manager for MS Australia – ACT/NSW/VIC and I’m interested in doing some social media training. Can you give me some dates and costs please? Is there any discount for a charity organisation.
I think the fixation on admin costs is dangerous and rarely a fair comparison. People want good management but frown upon the “admin cost” to make that possible, not to mention the costs of delivering risk management, quality assurance, etc etc. If you want to contribute to the impact or outcome of a charity, you have to contribute to the total cost of achieving it. NFP CEO salaries included. I’m all for transparency as long as we get real about the cost of delivering charitable services at a time when the regulatory standard is rising. More disclosure, more laws, but no funding to achieve it.
Off shopping now, shall I tell them I’ll pay for the dress minus the cost of the rent or wages please?
We agree Melanie. The public are remarkably naive about business in general and NFPs specifically. They are shocked that NFPs would pay outsiders for any sort of service. (Presumably they all clean their own home, grind their own wheat for self-baked bread and renovate their own homes). A CEO-wage to revenue ratio may be misleading early on in an NFP’s lifespan though it becomes more relevant when the organisation matures. This is just one of dozens of legitimate metrics one could use. We have to be blunt – there are an awful lot of small orgs out there running fragile, specific programs. Do we really need each to be scratching around for board members, donors, volunteers and smarter ways to do things? This is where we’d like to see evolution.
Most NFP industry peeps would suggest that Charity Navigator is the LAST thing we need here. The focus on overheads instead of results has already bred a dangerous giving culture in the states that is starting to replicate here…
I’d encourage you to check our Dan Palotta’s thoughts on the subject. May provide some further insights into your arguments, if you’ve not already seen it: http://blog.ted.com/2013/03/01/a-new-way-to-judge-nonprofits-dan-pallotta-at-ted2013/
I personally want the very best people working towards solving societies most desperate problems. Why shouldn’t charities pay for the best people, if the impact can be demonstrated to donors and supporters? Instead of letting the skilled people head off into commercial enterprise and sell anything and everything to our consumer driven lifestyles because charities cant afford to match salary in for-profit enterprise?
Thanks Gemma. We agree that NFPs should pay to attract the best people but we also suspect that a lack of public data means that underperforming CEOs and organisations can keep underperforming under the radar. We shall check out and share your link.
We also think that costs-to-revenue is just one aspect of measuring the effectiveness of NFPs. But it is an important one. Charity Navigator ranks many, many things beyond salaries.
Increased scrutiny always makes industries uneasy but consumers are reassured by it. The ACNC told us today they are (slowly) working towards tables of financial reporting comparing charities. The devil of course is in the execution – will we be able to compare apples with apples? Perhaps less-known charities will benefit from the reporting. Will the site be well designed and promoted?
Currently: How could any Australian donor easily find in one place, in a consumer-friendly format, a list of charities that are clearly fraudulent? Or ones that consistently take in but don’t give out? Or charities that are saddled with irresponsible debt. What’s currently stopping Hootville establishing a charity, meeting all legal and reporting obligations but essentially spending 90% of donations on itself? Hmmm…not a bad idea. Excuse us a moment…
Thanks, Brett, for another brilliant read. And the stats. Bless you for all that you do
Oh Sophie – you do go on. We here at Hootville are merely your humble servants.
This pretty much mirrors my experiences too. Email beats social media every day of the week. My social media is useless mantra is failing to get me a keynote gig.
I question the impact of social media on politicians. Sure it can work, but it’s very hit and miss. Nothing quite beats backing up a ute full of petitions to the local MP’s office.
I am probably part of the 0.01% of your audience that found this post via your RSS feed.
Right on the (click through?) button with this one. Personal experience is the best indicator for me, and i am definitely more likely to click through on an email than via social media.
They both have their place; it’s all about understanding where the relative strengths and weaknesses are; and being realistic about how you use them.
Thanks for clearing some of the fog away on this topic.
Our pleasure Keith. You are 100% correct – both have a place.
yep and the proof is in the fact that I only read this because Brett sent me an email. Dammit. Time to hit MailChimp again! Thanks for the reminder.
Email still rules supreme. And it tells me that it has been missing you Natalie. Make amends.
Hi Brett…the link to Merri website seems to be broken. Love the family violence website…brilliant. Geez you are clever.
Love hootville – great stuff!