Spring Into Action with Communications Goal Setting

There is something about spring that makes us want to do some organizing and get things in order. Whether it’s cleaning out your closet to make room for those new spring clothes at home or upping your organization’s social media presence at work, planning is the first step. Before you start to think about strategies you first need to decide what your goals are. What is it that you or your cause wants to accomplish? Once you decide on some goals, the next step is to see if you can make them SMART goals:

S – Specific Outcome

M – Measurable/Quantifiable

A – Accountable/Achievable

R – Results-Oriented/Realistic

T – Time-Dated

For example, you might have a goal of saving money for the future – but if you had to make this a SMART goal you might decide you want to save $100 per month for the next 12 months. Because you took the time to properly define your goal and you have something specific to measure you will be able to better track your progress. The same thinking can be applied to your cause. Maybe you have a goal of bringing more volunteers into your organization (great idea!). The SMART version of this goal may be to increase your volunteer pool by 10% in the next six months. Now you have a concrete goal to work towards.

Not only does making your goals SMART help you to better measure your progress it also makes it easier to decide which strategies are best to achieve your goal. A strategy is what you will do to achieve your goal. If you want to reach more volunteers for example, one strategy may be to ask each of your current volunteers to spread the word that you are looking for new volunteers. Another strategy could be to share more stories about the great work the volunteers are doing. And because you set a timeframe for your goal, you can also determine how aggressive you need to be and how many resources you may need to devote to these strategies.

So take some time this spring to either dust off any of the goals you set for your cause last year and evaluate them with fresh eyes, or brainstorm some new goals for 2017 and beyond. And don’t forget to make them SMART!

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Celebrating Enterprising Women

When I founded Hershey Cause Communications in 1977 I didn’t see it as an act of personal bravery; I saw it as an act of necessity. I had worked at a few places where it seemed my opportunities were limited. I saw men rise much faster than their female peers, and while I could never prove it, I always had the inkling that these male peers were also making more money than my female coworkers and me. The glass ceiling in existing agencies seemed impenetrable at the time, so ultimately, I decided my best shot was to start my own agency.

When I opened my own shop, women started only 1.9 million businesses in the U.S. (By comparison, today there are nearly five times as many, over 9.4 million companies started by female entrepreneurs.) Back then I remember needing multiple co-signors on a business loan because as a woman I couldn’t get credit on my own. Although we’ve made progress, to this day we are still fielding calls at the office for Mr. Hershey, when people just assume the founder of a communications agency is a man.

1977, the year I started Hershey Cause Communications, was also the year that the first National Women’s Conference was held. This conference was the first meeting of its kind in the United States since the 1848 Women’s Rights Convention in Seneca Falls, New York. Recently, while looking back at the platform that was debated at the National Women’s Conference, I was disheartened to see that many of the issues that women are fighting for today are the same ones we were fighting for 40 years ago.

We have a long way to go to reach full equality of the sexes, but I have hope. I am proud of the agency I started and want to make the road a little smoother for those who have come after me. That’s why I became a Los Angeles County Small Business Commissioner. I have the pleasure of advocating for greater opportunity for women in business. A big part of that advocacy involves sharing what works.

I have found that there are several traits that most women in business have that will help vastly improve many of the societal issues we are struggling with today.

In my experience, most woman-owned businesses have these characteristics in common:

  • Values driven — We understand we need to measure more than dollars – that people, profit and planet all matter.
  • Play well with others — We network, connect and advocate. We recognize that different organizations provide different values to our business and us.
  • Celebrate diversity — Most successful women business owners create organizations that are characterized by inclusiveness and diversity, team orientation, consultation, coaching and individual development, and inspire others to move toward a goal. We know diversity makes us stronger.
  • Greater than themselves — Many women business owners understand we live in a “global village” on a fragile planet, that all of us need to think ahead.

This year Hershey Cause Communications celebrates its 40th anniversary, and this month in particular is a time for reflection on the past and the progress women in business have made. It is equally important that we look to the future – and make sure that women in every field are thriving and being recognized or the impact they are making in the world.

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Why We’re Working on A Day Without A Woman

Today is personal for us here at Hershey Cause Communications. In addition to being International Women’s Day, March 8th has been designated as A Day Without a Woman by the organizers of the historic Women’s March that took place in dozens of cities across the country in January. Today is meant to build on that momentum and recognize the value of all women from all backgrounds.

We have the rare privilege of working at a woman-owned business that has a majority female staff. For nearly 40 years Hershey Cause has been breaking glass ceilings and fighting on the front lines for pay equity, gender equality and LGBTQ rights. But we know that not everyone is as lucky.

The beauty of A Day Without A Woman is it gives us the choice to express ourselves and our desire for equality in our own unique ways. There is a wide spectrum of ways to observe – from refraining from work, refusal to do unpaid labor (dishes, laundry, cooking – historically “women’s work” at home) to supporting woman-owned businesses to wearing red. Not everyone is in a position to take a day off of work but we can all do our part to send the message that women deserve equal pay and adequate family leave. The spectrum of expression is as wide and diverse as the women the make up the U.S.

Businesses and nonprofits can get in on the action too. Even more important than the symbol of standing with women, organizations and corporations should take today to assess their own employment policies. Does your company ensure equal pay for equal work? Do you pay your employees living wages? Does your office provide paid family leave? Ensuring that your organization has equitable employment policies cements your long-term commitment to economic justice and equality.

At Hershey Cause we’re supporting the day by choosing to continue the work we do everyday to advance issues ranging from social justice, racial equality, health care, domestic abuse prevention, LGBT rights and immigration reform. We are also wearing red, and supporting other local woman-owned businesses. We stand in solidarity with those across the county who are demanding justice and equality for women.

The rich history behind International Women’s Day and the exciting momentum of A Day Without A Woman makes today the perfect day to make a statement.  Let us know what you are doing to mark the day – we’d love to hear from you.

 

 

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This is What Democracy Looks Like

It’s hard to miss, and hard not to celebrate, the levels of energy and engagement in our participatory democracy we’re seeing today. People aren’t just taking to social media to make their voices heard; they’re joining their neighbors and going to marches and meetings and rallies in cities and towns across the country. Folks who’d never thought about running for political office are thinking about it now.

It’s thrilling, and encouraging, to see due attention paid to responsible and responsive government. But engagement – and impact on people’s lives – doesn’t, of course, stop at government. Civil society, the non-governmental organizations and institutions that also drive the will of citizens and residents, responds to communities’ needs on the ground and helps people every day in every corner of the nation, in a way government often cannot.

As an agency that is both a nonprofit devoted to capacity building in the social sector, and as a business whose mission is to amplify nonprofits’ and foundations’ impact, we know that the role of civil society in preserving rights and in building more just, inclusive and healthy communities is more important than it has ever been. That’s why we do what we do, and it’s why we so deeply admire and respect what you do, as a member of this utterly indispensable “third sector.” Every day we share your indispensable work defending the vulnerable and advancing principles like fairness, inclusivity and prosperity for all.

Indeed, as many are saying at events across the country, this is what democracy looks like.

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Laws of Attraction: Bringing New Donors to Your Cause

Valentine’s Day: love it or hate it, this time of year sparks conversations about how to attract that special someone. The same can be said for nonprofits all year round – how do you attract the right supporters and, most importantly, donors to your cause? Our Cause Clarity video “How to Attract New Donors” is a great place to start. Here are a few highlights.

As with any successful long-term relationship, often finding the right partner and acquiring new donors both take time. With so many causes and so much clutter in today’s fast paced world, it takes discipline and creativity to reach new people so they can hear about, become interested in and donate to your cause. An important first step for your nonprofit is to identity the types of donors you want to reach. After all, if you don’t know who you are looking for, it’s hard to find them. Once you can organize your ideal prospective donors into your top two to three priority groups, make a list of the characteristics or interests they share. The more you can understand what they care about and what motivates them, the easier it will be to figure out the best strategies to reach them in an authentic and meaningful way.

While attracting new donors to your cause is always a priority, it’s also important to maintain the relationships you have carefully developed with your current donors. With many worthwhile causes out there to compete with, and new ones popping up every day, you need to consistently connect with your current donors to keep them engaged. Just like a healthy and thriving personal relationship, you need to work at it to keep it going. Carve out standing times to touch base with your donors. Update them with relevant stories about the impact of the work they are supporting.

When reaching out, tailor your communications to the preferences of each of your donor groups (not everyone likes roses and chocolate). Regular email updates can be very effective, and including photos and video can make a powerful statement. Social media posts are a fast way to reach people. Mailed letters may also be appropriate for some of your donors who may not always be online. And don’t forget to invite your donors to any in-person events so they can see the work up-close and personal.

Ever been set up by a friend? Don’t be afraid to tap into your professional networks for a little assistance expanding your donor base. From a simple “like” or “share” to making an introduction, think about ways to equip your board, supporters and even current donors to be ambassadors of your great work.

And with any important relationship, don’t forget to say thank you. Acknowledging partners and supporters is always a crucial step in ensuring healthy, long-lasting relationships. And that’s something everyone can love this time of year.

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