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Make it Personal – Six Ways Non-Profits Can Connect with their Audience

One of the many strengths of the Santa Fe International Folk Art Market is that people get to meet the artists they’re helping with their donations and purchases of authentic folk art (such as Mireille Delismé from Haiti, shown above) . You can’t get much more personal than that, but there are ways to communicate this immediacy online and in print, too. Photo: David Moore.

Why one person’s story is better than all the pie charts in the world

I’ve worked with a range of non-profits on projects, and it would seem they have the perfect material for the content-rich, engaging type of web presence that really works.

But all too often, they can’t see the wood for the trees. How they explain what they do and its impact often sounds more like a briefing to market analysts than anything that will grab an audience and make them want to get involved.

Too often, it’s ‘We fund this many projects in this many countries, and every year we raise this much money to do it. Our average grant is this much, and this percentage of our donations goes directly to projects on the ground.’

This might be how to outline a rational case for why I should donate (along with PowerPoint slides containing some pie charts), and I certainly want your organization to be run on a rational basis, but reason alone isn’t going to make me want to help.

So how should non-profits articulate their purpose and results powerfully? You need emotion – harder to control, not quite so businesslike, but so much more effective. We support those causes we connect with emotionally.

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What medieval manuscripts can teach you about social media

Book of Deer (public domain, courtesy of wikipedia)

Back in the early 1990s I spent a lot of time studying medieval manuscripts, and what I learned has proved to be a valuable way of thinking about social media. Unlikely

My undergraduate degree was in Dark Age languages and history, and  I spent hours in the libraries of Cambridge poring over manuscripts written over a millennium ago with a quill pen in a freezing scriptorium on cow hide by monks writing in a language that wasn’t their own. Those illuminated texts were almost impossibly hard to produce, but they are beautiful works of art that changed lives at the time, and have since survived centuries of age and abuse.

Interestingly, the monks who copied these texts also wrote little notes about more day to day stuff in the margins of these beautiful books. These marginalia (often written in the monks’ vernacular languages, rather than the Latin of the main texts) commented on the weather, or complained about their colleagues. There were the social media posts of their time – ephemeral but personal and revealing.

So there was the long-form, well-produced and considered work, and the looser and shorter marginalia. We need both too, to present a rounded picture of our organizations.

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New Article and Photos for New Mexico Magazine

A piece I wrote and photographed for New Mexico Magazine has appeared in the December issue.

Back in March, I went up to Brazos Pass in northern New Mexico to talk to Stuart Penny, who teaches snowkiting – a fast-growing and exciting winter sport. I also photographed him in action.

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Cattle Drive article for New Mexico Magazine wins award

Sunset games

An article I wrote last year for New Mexico Magazine has just been awarded an Award of Merit for Travel Feature from the IRMA (International Regional Magazine Association).

The magazine asked me to go on a cattle drive at the Burnt Well Ranch near Roswell, NM comprar viagra generico. I hadn’t ridden a horse in 20 years, and had no idea about being a cowboy – which was why they sent me, I think.

There’s an excerpt from the piece here, and here are some of the photographs I took (in an amateur capacity on this occasion) while on the drive.