This blog is a project for a graduate course in digital marketing for nonprofits.
Laughter is a legal high. Not only is it fun, it also reduces stress. For my first nonprofit survival strategy, I’m going to explore nonprofit humor. So, let’s all take a look at the lighter side of saving the world, shall we?
There are so many nonprofits in the world and so many different missions, but there are a few things that we all have in common and they are a bit different than the for-profit work world.
Here are some common themes: Executive Directors (ED’s), boards, board committees, tight budgets, fundraising, friendraising, special events, development staff (professional fundraisers), volunteers, program directors, donors, major donors, mega donors, asks, grant applications, grant funders, foundations, mission statements, cases for support (a fancy ask).
Nonprofits have our own climate and culture and it comes with our own way of working, navigating, leveraging resources, jargon, highs and lows as well as our own humor.
I’m delighted to see that there are a few gifs, memes, videos and humorous blogs created about us. This gives the rest of the world a glimpse into what it’s like to work for a nonprofit: how the struggle is real but sometimes in a fun way. You don’t have to work at one to get the jokes, but it helps.
If you aren’t familiar with Buzzfeed’s “25 Situations Only Nonprofit People Will Understand”, then I encourage you to check it out. It’s a great example of what I’m talking about.
While Buzzfeed appears to be making these just for fun. There are consulting companies like Classy.org that are making them for marketing purposes. The reason I know this is because I tweeted a link to this one they made and a few days later, a very young sales guy cold calls me at work saying he “really appreciates what we do, and we’re doing an awesome job of serving the needs of our community. Would we be interested in engaging in some preliminary conversations with some of their staff that can suggest some digital marketing tools for an online campaign?” I asked where he was calling from, he said San Diego. I told him we had zero budget for online campaigns or social media consulting of any kind. I also told him that his marketing writers were doing a great job and they really hit the nail on the head right here, I especially love the Kanye one.
Then I thanked him for reaching out to us. I also appreciated the work they were doing to try to build capacity across the sector. He said it was the most pleasant cold call experience he’d had since he began working there a couple months ago. (Hey, I know what it’s like to be on the other side). Meanwhile, my assistant and I were doing a Snoopy dance while he was on speaker in our shared 6×9 office space, with no windows, located in the basement of our agency, because someone had actually noticed my tweet. Indeed, it was even retweeted by Classy.org. Ten months ago, I’d successfully convinced my reluctant Baby Boomer board that Twitter is actually legit and my assistant rocks our Instagram account.
I used to work at a soup kitchen and I’m married to an Economics professor who specializes in the economics of food, particularly the “hunger-poverty nexus”. Since we’re talking about humor, now is probably not the best time to read this, but my assignment dictates that I add four outside links in my blog posts. We are super proud of this because it’s an eye-opening study about poverty and hunger in our city and how food banks and soup kitchens are great, but they aren’t an effective way of providing a systemic or sustainable approach to fixing the hunger problem and because it was a herculean effort:
Segway to the Youtube. Youtube is a galaxy of billions and billions of videos and a few stars, like Adam from Adam Ruins Everything on TruTV. You can also use Youtube like social media if you like, comment or subscribe to someone who posts. Recently, my son (thanks Jake!) sent me this link about why canned food drives are an inefficient way of addressing food insecurity. Sometimes, adding humor can convey a message that can be difficult to talk about, especially with donors and volunteers in an attempt to correct misguided assumptions, archaic practices, or preconceived notions that have been ingrained into our approaches to provide services, especially to the poor.
There are several “Adam Ruins Everything” short videos and Youtube is a fantastic way to explore, share and reshare these and others like them.
Another great platform for nonprofit life experience-sharing is the blog “Nonprofit With Balls”
This is an obvious double entendre. During a podcast interview Joan Garry did with Vu Le, the gentleman who writes this blog, he said the idea for the name came to him because people are always asking him to juggle countless balls of details and responsibilities. It’s also a way of letting people know that there is a brave new world of nonprofit organizations and professionals who are creating a post-modern do-gooder mindset that agencies and programs cannot run on the work of fictional characters like magical helper elves and unicorns. Staff needs to be well compensated for their expertise, and that means providing living wages for nonprofit staff.
While Le, the Executive Director of a nonprofit in Seattle, admits that the subject of this blog post is serious and kind of dry, he keeps the humorous flow of the blog going by shamelessly inserting pictures of baby animals in order to keep his readers engaged.
In keeping with that spirit and since I also have to include two pictures in this blog post for credit. (The #fundraisingcycle one counts, right?)
Behold, a picture of #maudethepigdog when she was a puppy. Awwwwww!!!
My next blog post will be about friends and family. As well as a nonprofit love story for the ages.
#nonprofitlife #nonprofitproblems #nonprofithumor