How we work better

Hello friends! Are you ready for some well-deserved rest? Regardless of how or what you celebrate, we hope this weekend is full of peace, joy, great people, good books/movies/music, cozy blankets, muted notifications, yummy snacks, and extra-long naps.  

Team S+G is preparing for some much-needed calm after a busy Q4 storm—and to close out the year, we wanted to say THANK YOU. All of our work is possible because of people like you—our clients, friends, and subscribers! We love getting to be in your inbox each week, and we cannot wait for another year of learning and fun in 2024! 

As we wrap up another year, we’re looking back on a few of the things that made our work better over the past 12 months…

  • BasecampDid you know our team doesn’t email each other? We manage and write everything in Basecamp so that everyone can see the back-and-forth and nothing falls through the cracks or gets trapped in one person’s inbox. 
  • Being smart with meetingsIt’s simple: only have a meeting if you actually NEED a meeting. Most of the time, a few minutes of thoughtful reflection and a written note will do the trick. 
  • Team lunchEvery Wednesday, our team has lunch together online. The only rule? No talking about work. It’s the best, and we highly recommend you implement it in 2024! 
  • Airtable. We built a comprehensive content calendar in Airtable (inclusive of EVERYTHING team S+G is pushing out for clients), and not to overstate it, but it has revolutionized our content team’s workflow. 
  • Motion. Our team leaned into time boxing this year—and Motion became our new best friend. It turns your to-do list into calendar items and basically schedules your whole work day. Life-changing. 
  • Paper notebooks. Despite our work as digital marketers, the majority of team S+G still loves a good paper notebook to jot things down. And we have STRONG opinions on which notebooks are best. (To be fair, not everyone on our team is on the paper notes train. Oh well.) 
  • Otter. If you’ve ever been in a meeting with us, you’ve met Otter—our virtual assistant! Otter transcribes and records all of our calls, making it super easy to go back and review comments, share key points with team members, and focus on the conversation instead of scrambling to take notes.
  • MAPs. Every month, we review what is working, what we want to learn, and what we could do better. It’s a constant review process that makes us stronger all year long. 

What about you? What has made your work better this year? And what are you excited to implement in the new year? Leave a comment to let us know!

You got this.

Is anyone else already feeling the pressure of Q4? Ready or not, we’re here—in a nonprofit marketer’s busiest time of the year. 

First things first—you got this. Yes, it’s going to be busy. Yes, you may have some late nights or early mornings. And yes, there will be moments where you feel like you just cannot build one. more. email. 

But you will make it. Because you always do. 

As you prep for a big end-of-year push, we’ve compiled a few of our favorite resources for a successful Q4. Have something to add to the list? Email us and let us know! 

Q4 is here. Let’s do this, team! 

Five Lessons Learned at NIO Summit 2023

Last month, I attended the Nonprofit Innovation & Optimization Summit (NIO) to learn about all things nonprofit marketing, fundraising, and generosity. It was an awesome two days packed with information … which means that today’s email is also packed with information and advice for YOU. 

Keep reading for a selection of the very best strategies I gleaned from the experts at NIO, plus action steps to help you implement them. 

Authenticity has to be at the core of what we do.

Carlos Whitaker talked about the power of harnessing a community around the common good. His advice can be distilled into two steps.

  1. Be human
  2. See humans

Our humanity is the foundation of our connection, and it has to be felt in interactions with donors—from in-person conversations to emails to donation forms. 

Action step: Take your donor journeys. Do you feel seen as a human? Where can you inject authenticity into the process?

AI is changing everything.

There is no avoiding this technology. Mike Kaput, Chief Content Officer at the Marketing AI Institute, reminded attendees that right now is the least impressive AI you will use in your lifetime. It will only get more refined and more ubiquitous. 

AI can be used to save time, cut costs, and accelerate revenue—allowing you to focus on the moments and work a human needs to do.

Action step: AI is especially useful for tasks that are data-driven, repetitive, predictable, or generative. Do you have tasks that could be streamlined by one of the myriad AI services out there? Take the time right now to identify them, find an AI solution, and save your future self time and energy!

Email is still powerful.

Here at Swell + Good, we love email (especially newsletters!), so I was especially excited for Ann Handley’s talk on everything she’s learned writing her popular newsletter, Total Annarchy. 

She focused on building an audience’s trust through every step of their journey. How does she do it? First, she makes sure emails come from a real person (and never from a do-not-reply@ email address), then she envisions a reader and writes to them. This helps ensure a warm, friendly voice. 

Finally, do not underestimate the power of a welcome email. This is where you set the tone and their expectations for email frequency and content. 

Action step: Are you asking for attention or earning trust? How can you optimize your email journey from start to finish to provide value and earn the trust of your audience?

Remember, you are a human.

Asking for money and meeting fundraising goals is a hard job, and it can lead to anxiety and burnout in fundraisers. Mallory Erickson opened NIO with concrete ways to combat burnout, regulate the nervous system, and work through anxiety—all to free up more energy and space for true connection with donors. 

She encouraged fundraisers to pay attention to their feelings and validate them, then try to get curious about donor motivation, instead of anxious. Finally, tracking progress that isn’t just dollars raised can help you or your team feel a sense of accomplishment and healthy motivation. 

Action step: Find a small, regular win you can celebrate with your team to encourage action and bring joy to your work.

Reaching Millennial and Gen Z donors is critical for your nonprofit’s success.

Jon Lee gave a powerful talk centered around being responsive to Millennial and Gen Z donors, who make up 40% of the US population. These donors have low levels of institutional trust, but they are searching for something to believe in. Jon’s tips for connecting with these donors include:

  • Help them feel powerful enough to fix one thing. Really paint a picture of the difference their action makes.
  • Create opportunities for true community and connection.
  • Be transparent about your wins and your losses. 

Action step: As you plan your next campaign, focus on the difference each individual donor will make. Show them exactly how they can create change—big or small.