Communication Starts with Trust

“They won’t trust that the information that we’re providing is useful to them if they don’t see themselves in it, and that’s the attitude that we’ve always taken about our English language, but we really only thought about it through the lens of the issue that we’re focusing on, which is breast cancer.” — Janine Guglielmino, Living Beyond Breast Cancer

Breast cancer. Cáncer de mama. Cancer du sein. This week on Driving Participation, Beth is joined by Janine Guglielmino from Living Beyond Breast Cancer (LBBC) and  Myriam Siftar, President/CEO of MTM LinguaSoft, a language services company that creates compelling and culturally relevant multilingual content to reach audiences across languages and cultures. They talk about a recent project they completed in which LBBC materials about stage 4 breast cancer were translated into five other languages to better serve their audience and those who needed the information most. They created brochures as tools for health care professionals to be able to have some of those types of conversations with their patients. Guglielmino notes that this allows people to see themselves represented, which builds trust. They explore:

  • Creating and following communication and branding guidelines
  • How they are getting the message out about this project in different ways
  • Why a neutral message is not feasible
  • The difference between a regular translation project and doing a cultural assessment
  • How visuals and colors translate to other languages in ways you would not expect
  • How they conveyed this project in a way that made funders value it as something to fund


Living Beyond Breast Cancer website

Living Beyond Breast Cancer Twitter

Janine’s Twitter

Email Janine:

Myriam’s Twitter

Myriam’s LinkedIn

Tips for Healthcare Communication with Asian-American Audiences

5 Tips for Healthcare Marketing to Hispanic Audiences

Why do you need pre-translation cultural consulting?


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The Magnificent Manifesto—And What It Can Do For You!

The magnificent manifesto—and what it can do for you!

Last month, FilmRise studio released a new indie film featuring two-time Academy Award winner Cate Blanchett—Manifesto.

Have you seen it? We haven’t either.

That’s because in May, we were busy helping the Delaware Art Alliance create their own manifesto.


Why write a manifesto for a nonprofit?

Because if you can’t inspire your members to care about your work, you’ll flounder.

It will show up in members reporting that they give because it’s their civic duty or because their parents did — not because they feel inspired and valued.

In retention rates that meet the “norm” of 47% but have you struggling to hang on to half of all the people you bring in.

In days where you stare at a blank page wondering what to write.

In redesigning your logo or invitations to build awareness when that’s not the root of the problem.

A manifesto is valuable resource in the branding toolkit that builds the bridge between mission and vision. It helps you share “why” your work matters as opposed to “what” and “how”.


What is a manifesto?

First to dust off some of that high school social studies vocabulary, a manifesto is a written public declaration of what you believe or what you intend to do.

Throughout history, manifestos have been used to rally support for different movements and political groups—from the America’s Declaration of Independence to the Communist Manifesto.

A nonprofit manifesto takes your mission, vision, and values—which are really written for your internal audience to guide your strategy and decision-making—and frames them in a way that rallies your audience members and calls them to action.


A manifesto helps you rally your true team.

To rally your people, you need to really know who they are. You need to know who you are. And you need to connect with the goals you share.

But here’s the catch. If you want to be branded, you have to be willing to be perfect for some at the expense of being totally wrong for others. When you do that, you’re going to lose some people along the way.

And that’s not just ok, it’s great. Believe it or not, a smaller, deeply engaged audience typically generates more revenue than a large disconnected one.


Get started.

So how do you go about writing a manifesto to fire up your staff and supporters?

The format we like to use prompts “why” thinking with completing the phrases: “We value,” “We believe,” and “We are committed to.” Then closes with an action statement: “We invite you to…”

Last month we facilitated a workshop with the Delaware Arts Alliance to guide a group of staff, members, media and government through a manifesto exercise. The participants challenged assumptions and each other to reveal the things that were critically important to them. They made some tough—but very strategic—decisions that we’re certain will pay dividends in a strong, thriving organization! We’re excited for them as they refine their role and put a stake in the sand.

If your organization is feeling stuck or scattered, we can help. Let’s talk about getting your brand into focus or creating your own manifesto.

Give us a call at 267-468-7949 or drop us a line at!

The Post-Donation Experience

“The number one step to establishing a fabulous post-gift communication with your donor is a warm and fuzzy ‘thank you’ that expresses joy and celebration on the part of the donor’s gift.” — Gail Perry, Fired-Up Fundraising

So a donor made a gift… Now what? Gail Perry from Fired-Up Fundraising joins in to talk about the post-donation experience. What kind of communication should you use for this donor? What should your message be? How do you invite the donor in and build an emotional connection? Gail answers these questions and more. She discusses different communications strategies, how to put the “fun” in fundraising events, why nonprofits shouldn’t be afraid of email and the benefits of a print newsletter. She explains why a “thank you” card to a donor can go a long way — as long as it’s done correctly. She and Beth explore:

  • Gail’s five steps to close a major gift
  • What should your goal be when you’re communicating with donors?
  • Why communication preferences matter
  • Why you shouldn’t be afraid to email more
  • What Gail recommends as a post-gift experience
  • How you can create an effective print newsletter


Fired-Up Fundraising and Gail’s website

Email Gail at

Making Money with Donor Newsletters by Tom Ahern on Amazon

The Agitator blog

Session 143: Think Small: Experiments in Personalization with the Drexel Fund team

Session 133: Developing Your Audience Focus with Jeff Miles


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Creating a Culture of Collaboration

“That’s what collaboration is really all about: it’s not about just working together and sharing office space. It’s having a relationship with an individual or one organization having a relationship with another organization.” — Hardy Smith

Create collaboration with consultant and speaker Hardy Smith as he joins in to share the best way to create not just a relationship, but a true collaboration. Real collaboration between people — or even between organizations — comes with many benefits. It helps vent out the issues at the root of a challenge and helps vent out the opportunities for creating solutions, he says. He shares where organizations go wrong with collaboration and the one element that makes a key difference. He and Beth explore:

  • The differences between internal and external collaboration
  • What are some of the keys for a successful long-term relationship?
  • The contrast between simply working together and collaborating
  • Why disagreements are sometimes a good thing
  • Creating a culture of leadership buy-in
  • Why the need to collaborate is probably greater now than ever before


Hardy’s website

Email Hardy:

Find Hardy on Twitter @HardySmith1

Read his Boardsource blogs

Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration by Ed Catmull on Amazon

Association of Fundraising Professionals

DP 112 with Greg Koch from Zoo Miami: Adapting Your Message to Your Audience


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April’s Slam Dunk and What It Can Teach Us.

April's Slam Dunk and What It Can Teach Us

Here at Iris Creative, last month could be summed up in one word: April.

No, we don’t mean the page of the calendar we were on. We’re talking about April THE GIRAFFE. And like many of her fans around the world, we obsessively followed her for weeks.

In case you missed it, on April 15 Animal Adventure Park in upstate New York hosted a live broadcast of their giraffe April giving birth to her calf for over 1 million YouTube viewers.

To date, their 39-minute YouTube archive clip has well over 14 million views. Fourteen million!

April even has her own official website— Folks contacting Animal Adventure Park with inquiries about giraffes are directed to a dedicated email address. And the Giraffe Cam even scored a sponsorship from none other than Toys“R”Us. (Remember their mascot Geoffrey?)

Needless to say, the event was a slam-dunk for a seasonal park in a county of just over 200,000 inhabitants.

From sharing slews of facts about giraffes and their conservation with millions of people to selling giraffe emojis, Animal Adventure Park orchestrated the awareness-building phenomenon many organizations dream of.

Or did they?


Building Awareness vs. Tapping Your Audience

Build awareness. It’s what everyone wants to do. But activities bent solely on building awareness can be costly—not only from a financial standpoint, but from a messaging standpoint as well.

Often, awareness-building initiatives result in a diluted message as you attempt to be everything to everyone in order to reach a broader audience. It’s so much harder to create a connection and differentiate yourself that way.

We’d much rather see organizations get a bigger bang for their buck—by creating a laser-focused connection with their ideal audience.

As it turns out, April’s Giraffe Cam didn’t start out with a vast audience in mind either—just her usual fans. And look where that focus got her!

Read on for our key takeaways from April’s blockbuster stream:


1. Listen to your audience.

According to a report by KENS5 Eyewitness News, the Giraffe Cam initiative started because the park—which is closed to visitors during the off-season—had been receiving inquiries about the status of April’s pregnancy from regular-season visitors.

The park listened.

They came up with the Giraffe Cam to keep interested folks informed.

And things snowballed from there.


2. Building momentum takes time.

The Giraffe Cam went live weeks before April’s calf was born, mostly, it seems, because the park simply didn’t know exactly when the big moment would arrive. Her tentative due date was mid-February.

The lead-up gave April’s viewership time to gain momentum—and secure a sponsor with appropriate tie-ins. The park even set up a text alert system so obsessed fans like us could get the latest updates.

(The Toys“R”Us logo switched to Babies“R”Us when the calf made his appearance. Talk about message alignment!)

None of this would have happened if they simply went live five minutes before the birth.


3. Follow up after an event. Invite participation. And add a little suspense!

After the live birth the morning of April 15th, the screen didn’t just go black. In addition to watching footage of the baby giraffe, people waited in suspense for the big gender reveal later that day. (Spoiler alert: It’s a boy!)

The park also encouraged fans—for a fee —to participate in two rounds of voting to help staff name the calf.

And you guessed it. They made an event of the name reveal, too. We’ll let you discover that one for yourself.


Do you see an opportunity to connect with your audience? Run with it!

Need some help getting off the ground? From engaging audiences to making the most of your events, creating connections is what we do best.

Give us a call at 267-468-7949 or drop us a line at!

(Live streams not included.)

Creating Communications Toolkits

“Everything is included in there. We include best practices and some additional tips and areas for consideration and it’s just all tied up very nicely into one folder for them to use, that they can forward to somebody who is going to do it for them or like I said, they can pick and choose or they can split it up between all of their staff members. However they want to use it.” — Theresa Miller, Girls on the Run International

Tune in to hear Theresa Miller, chief engagement officer for Girls on the Run International, join Beth to talk toolkits: how to create them and why they’re helpful. Providing toolkits complete with social media messages, graphics, fundraising appeals and more — plus a calendar to guide when to post — Theresa explains how the organization helps its state councils and supporters reach their audience in a way that works for them. She talks about how the fundraising teams and marketing and communications teams join together to engage different audiences and work as a unit, resulting in a fundraising increase on International Women’s Day by more than 300 percent! She and Beth explore:

  • How to create a toolkit that provides the right materials and still leave room for customization
  • How to decide what to put into a toolkit and ways to measure if it’s working
  • The importance of a “read first” document
  • How to create an effective survey
  • How you can use this model no matter what size your organization is


Girls on the Run International website

Nonprofit Toolkit


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Content Driven Attraction and Conversion

“The main thing to remember about content marketing…it’s always audience-centered. It’s always what do they need, what are they struggling with. So it’s all about identifying what would be helpful to them and then building content around that.” — Robert McGuire, McGuire Editorial Content Marketing Agency

What is the difference between content and content marketing? How do you differentiate between an interim metric and what Beth calls a terminal metric? What about the difference between content and social media? Robert McGuire of McGuire Editorial Content Marketing Agency joins in to answer these questions and more. He takes a deep dive into the world of content, particularly content-driven attraction and conversion. He and Beth explore micro conversions, lead magnets, and growth hacking among other terms and practices you can learn from to make your content strategy work. He and Beth discuss:

  • How to identify micro conversions
  • How content marketing has changed
  • Common types of lead magnets
  • How successful content planning can make a difference
  • The biggest difference between content and social media
  • What actually is a content strategy?
  • The difference between clickbait and clickbait and switch marketing


Get in touch with Robert:

McGuire Editorial Content Marketing Agency website

Content Strategy Template

Driving Participation episode 134 with Bill Skowronski


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Your Three-Step Spring Marketing Detox

In a 2015 study, 60% of working professionals report that their productivity suffers because they’re trying to tackle too many things at once.1

That’s a lot of over-busy people who are still disappointed by what they haven’t accomplished!

Are you one of them?

Is your to-do list never ending? Your desk overflowing? Are you weighed down by a heap of unfinished (or unstarted projects)?
From emails to appointments, an endless parade of time-sucking tasks have cluttered our lives and clouded our vision.

When you’re distracted by urgent needs and pending deadlines, you might never get to the high-payoff project that’s been waiting months — or even years — for you to address.

But right now it’s the perfect time to clean out and get focused!

Whether you draw your inspiration from the warm weather’s call to spring cleaning, the tradition of sweeping the chametz from your cabinets for Passover, or the idea of renewal every Easter, there’s something in the human spirit that craves a regular reset.

Here’s a three-step spring detox for your marketing to-do list:


1. Eliminate

First, take an honest look at your list and eliminate anything that really isn’t a priority, doesn’t have a worthwhile payoff, or has been on your list so long that it’s no longer relevant.

Just this week Beth led a social media training session for a group of nonprofits in New Jersey. When she told them they didn’t have to “Be Everywhere” the group let out a collective sigh of relief. And with the assurance that they didn’t have to do everything, they asked, “how do we know if what we are doing is worth the effort?”

Good question. So here are a few more you can ask to find out if it’s time to let it go:
• Are you reaching and holding the interest of your primary audience?
• Can you demonstrate that what you are doing is moving directly or indirectly toward a desirable action?
• Do you know which of your strategic goals that activity supports?

If you are not sure, it may be time to put that project on hold until you do.

Feeling lighter already? Great!

Now for the dreaded eight-letter word:


2. Delegate

Accept that you can’t do it all. If projects are stuck but can’t be eliminated, then you need to get help. A list of work backing up adds stress that can impact your ability to make progress on anything.

First decide what on your list can be handled by someone else. Accept that they won’t do it exactly the way you would and identify projects where done is more important than perfect. Indecision frequently causes more damage than a wrong decision.

In some cases, you might be able to delegate down (or across) to a subordinate, coworker, volunteer or intern. In others, (and this one’s trickier), the project might be languishing because it really needs to be delegated up the reporting chain.

If you’re finding it difficult to delegate down or delegate up, you might discover that you’re dealing with a project that you should delegate out.

Which leads us to our next step…


3. Evaluate

Do you lack someone on your team with the right skillset to complete the project? Are you short on the time or the expertise needed to manage the process?

It would be a ridiculous waste of resources to maintain a staff that encompasses every imaginable skillset your organization could ever need. But sometimes projects get delayed when the right person isn’t available to take it on.

It’s inevitable that at some point you’ll encounter projects that you’d be better off delegating out.

Going outside for help increases your capacity without increasing your overhead. Not to mention that a specialist will get the job done faster and better than anyone juggling multiple priorities.

Outside help can come in many forms. It might be developing an ambassador program to help spread the word. It could be collaboration with another organization that has resources you can share. Or it could mean hiring experts to handle the task.

What opportunities are passing by while your message isn’t supporting your new strategy, your website isn’t working the way you want or that campaign you imagine is still in your head?

If there is a project that is stuck, let’s talk. We can help you leap forward this spring.

1 Wrike 2015 Work Management Survey Report. Retrieved from

Creating Content with a Purpose

“Content is really an experience. It’s an experience that you direct towards your audience, you encourage your audience to have and that experience could be an article, it could be a video, it could be a podcast, but at the end of the day, it’s an experience that you want them to have.” — Sarah Gilman, Lupus Foundation of America

How can you create content that effectively drives your message home? Sarah Gilman, director of the National Resource Center on Lupus at the Lupus Foundation of America, joins in to talk all about content. From developing a consistent, recognizable voice to repurposing and repetition, she explores key ideas to keep in mind when it comes to creating content — especially health content. She emphasizes the importance of looking at the kind of content that will help you meet your organization’s strategic objectives. Content strategy isn’t a term necessarily used often when it comes to public health, but Sarah talks about its importance in her field and in the work she does. She and Beth explore:

  • Key differences between content strategy and content marketing
  • The importance of creating and implementing a consistent voice and tone
  • The benefits of creating a checklist and content guide
  • How to manage creating a content strategy and balance your workflow
  • How to effectively repurpose your content
  • Ways to keep document and keep track of all of your content


Lupus Foundation of America

National Resource Center on Lupus


The CDC Clear Communication Index (Index)

ExpressionEngine CMS

Craft CMS


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The Path to Participation: Five Shifts to Inspiring Action

“Your audience moves from engagement to participation when you help them take ACTION.” — Beth Brodovsky

This week, Beth is taking what she’s heard from podcast guests about the meaning of participation and turning it into concrete actions you can take. She outlines five shifts you can make on the path to participation. It’s clear that participation can mean different things to different organizations, she says, but what everyone has in common in the need to inspire people to take the important actions you need for your organization to thrive. From creating a survey to get to know your audience better to making the simple change of swapping “we” for “you,” Beth details ways you can get the right people to get involved. She explores:

  • How to identify the urgent and important need your organization tackles
  • Why it’s important to put your audience at the center of the action
  • The biggest mistake you can make when talking about your organization’s mission
  • How to save your energy and effort for where it’s likely to pay dividends
  • The best way to get to know your audience
  • How to “date” your audience


Google forms

Session 133: Developing Your Audience Focus with Jeff Miles

Session 143: Think Small: Experiments in Personalization with the Drexel Fund team

Email Beth at


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