Issue 9 - May-Jun 2010
Spitfire Strategies was founded on the belief that all organizations - regardless of their size or budget - should have the skills and tools needed to effectively cut through the clutter and make their voices heard on the issues that matter most. As we celebrate eight years of helping nonprofits and foundations make real impacts toward their social change goals, we're proud to have had the opportunity to team up with some of the sharpest organizations out there to create big wins.
Since 2003, we've worked with The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, The David and Lucile Packard Foundation, First Focus, Georgetown Center for Children and Families, American Red Cross, League of Women Voters, National Environmental Education Foundation, Ocean Conservancy, The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, United States Environmental Protection Agency, Joint Ocean Commission Initiative, Breast Cancer Fund, Greenpeace, ONE Campaign, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, Open Society Institute, Physicians for Human Rights, the Ford Foundation and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation - just to name a very few.
We've enjoyed seeing clients succeed in securing health coverage for millions of children and families, safeguarding our oceans and environment with sound policies, teaching students about the rules of war and the importance of preserving our environment, protecting consumers from credit card fraud and keeping America's children safe from toxic toys.
Our sincere thanks goes out to each and every organization we've been privileged to work with during the past eight years. And we're just getting started!
The Spitfire Team
Great Minds - Ideas to Make You Think
Giving Advocacy a Voice and a Vision
by Ed Walz - Vice President
An unclear sense among funders and partner organizations about what advocacy is and what advocates do creates a distinct challenge for advocacy organizations. Kansas Action for Children took this challenge head on with its
ArtCreative Design and Custom coding
30th Anniversary Video. In just two minutes, the KAC video leaves no question about the impact of advocacy efforts. KAC does this without listing a lot of statistics about the number of meetings held, bills passed, regulations reformed or funds appropriated. Instead, KAC uses terms funders and partners can relate to: feeding hungry children; keeping them safe and healthy; strengthening education and helping kids succeed in school.The KAC video is a great example of how to communicate about the significance of advocacy work in a concrete, concise and compelling manner. Reach Out & Influence Someone - Tips to Spread Your Message.
Lessons from the Salon: Making Change
by Kristen Grimm - President
The key to creating social change is navigating the change part. You may have loads of data showing people will whole-heartedly embrace the change you want to make. You may conduct rounds and rounds of focus groups and hear people talking passionately about why change is needed. Yet, when it comes time to actually change, your audience may surprise you by doing something unexpected - or doing nothing at all.
To have a lasting impact, messaging must take people's reluctance to change into account. Consider this example.
"I need a change," you announce, and you make an appointment for a haircut. You have stated change is a good thing.
"Do what you think is best. I want something different," you tell your trusted, long-time hairdresser as you plop yourself in the chair. At this point, you remain emphatically ready for a change.
But the moment your hairdresser shares his vision for the new you, you begin to waiver.
"Do you really think a Jackie Kennedy circa 1960s hairdo is right for me?"
Details weaken resolve.
Now you are susceptible to criticism from others. A complete stranger one chair over questions whether the cut will make your face look too wide. The owner of the salon chimes in, assuring you, "It will be brilliant. Heads will turn." In the mirror, you catch the eye of another customer who simply shrugs.
Change no longer seems exciting. Instead, it feels risky. You decide to go for it, but your initial gusto has given way to mixed emotions.
Once you pay and exit the salon, you anxiously wait for approval. If the change is not immediately reinforced with positive feedback from the next person you see, your support for this change will continue to weaken.
This example may seem silly, but try running health care reform through the same model. To have an impact, your messaging must account for all of the stages described. First, you need messages that get your audience excited and cause them to embrace the change. Then, the messaging must keep them excited and help them hold their resolve, even as more details come into play. As you move forward with your efforts, you must continuously remind your audience why change is a good thing. And most importantly, once you reach your goals, your messaging needs to continue to reinforce that your audience did the right thing - minutes, weeks and even months after it happens. Creating lasting change requires strong communications throughout all stages - particularly the last one.
After all, hair can grow back.
Coming Soon - Opportunities of Note
Spitfire Webinar: Policymaker Outreach
by Adam Rankin - Junior Account Executive
Ready to build strong relationships with policymakers that will yield big returns? As federal and state legislatures get set for summer recess, now is the perfect time to brush up on your skills for smart policymaker engagement.
On Tuesday, July 13, Spitfire's own Ed Walz will offer practical, smart strategies for turning an initial call into a lasting relationship during his Policymaker Outreach 101 webinar. With fewer distractions and greater opportunities for public events, summer offers a plethora of opportunities to connect with your policy targets. To learn more about how to leverage those opportunities, register for the session.
Web 2.What? - Cracking the Code on the Latest Trends and Tools
Back to Basics with Blogs
by Maura Zehr - Junior Account Executive
The new social media tools regularly popping up on the scene can make blogs seem downright old school. It's true that blogs were one of the first tools used to share information on the Web in a creative way - but that doesn't mean they should now be overlooked as obsolete. Whether your organization is always looking for the latest thing or has yet to dip its toes into the social media pool, blogs can be an easy, cost-effective way for nonprofits to advance their key issues and promote discussion with their target audiences.
Here are a few tips for maintaining and promoting an effective blog.
Be a reliable resource. Blogs provide new information - in the form of links, articles and commentary - on a regular basis. The more frequently a blog is updated, the more useful it becomes to donors, potential members, policymakers and others. Defenders of Wildlife, along with other environmental organizations, has used its blog as a daily resource for updates about the Gulf of Mexico oil spill and the organization's efforts in the clean up. This post features a video of a staffer in Louisiana discussing the spill's impact on wildlife.
Be personable. Blogs provide an opportunity for audiences to get to know an organization on a more personal level. This is helpful for any organization - especially those that focus on policy issues, which can create a challenge when trying to connect to and relate with audiences. The Georgetown University Center for Children and Families blog, Say Ahhh! features informal posts from CCF staff. The blog reads: "Here's the real scoop on our bloggers. If you want their stuffy bios, please visit our website. What you really need to know about us is that we all care so deeply about helping uninsured children and families, that we have dedicated our professional lives to fixing the health care system."
Expand your reach. In addition to linking to and posting on other blogs, nonprofits can expand their blog's reach through creative partnerships. Recently, the Capital Area Food Bank of Texas partnered with a dozen food bloggers in Austin for a week-long hunger awareness challenge, where the food bank gave the bloggers a list of the items it distributed at one of its pantries and the bloggers could only cook and eat food on the list. The bloggers wrote about the challenge each day on their blogs and the food bank also posted them. The bloggers helped expand the reach of the food bank's blog through their networks, which then furthered the organization's message of addressing hunger in the local community.
Ready to start blogging? Check out this article on Beth Kanter's blog by guest writer Frank Barry as a first step. Then, head over to Beth's new site to keep up to date with the latest and greatest social media insights.