Tag: digital media

For-profit marketers keep saying video is key to a compelling digital campaign, but for so many nonprofits it seems out of reach It seems too expensive, labor-intensive, and requires equipment and skills that nonprofit marketing teams don’t have. But a new suite of tools are helping nonprofits tell their stories in incredible new ways, through the voices of their constituents. Enter: user-generated video, nonprofit style.

The Sierra Club, a national environmental nonprofit, relied on user-generated videos for its Backyard Day campaign, which encouraged participants to sign up for a virtual 5k or 10k activity, right in their own “backyard” – a park, beach or other outdoor space that they love. We talked with the Sierra Club’s Video Content Producer Nick Jones.

Q: What were some organizational challenges you have around video production?

For Sierra Club, our top challenge with video is trying to fill the needs of all of our initiatives and campaigns. Here’s the thing about video: everybody wants it. That extends to your followers, and even further, to potential followers, but it starts right here at home. I’m lucky to work with dozens of passionate people on countless campaigns, but when each one of those important campaigns has their own video requests and needs, it can be tough to meet the demand.

Q: How are you using a tool to get user-generated content?

We’re using the app Gather Voices for a variety of purposes. The tool allows us to reach members and supporters across the U.S., which means that when we tackle local issues, we’re able to raise up the voices of actual locals — without needing to send a video crew. This adds a lot of credibility to our messaging. Furthermore, the application is built so that we’re able to guide participants in formatting their submissions in a way that’s conducive to editing (reminding them to use part of the question in their answer, for instance, so that each request has context.)

Q: What does video do for your organization that other formats can’t do?

Video is an incredible way to generate awareness and build interest in a cause. Given the way social algorithms are currently configured across various platforms, video often has a better reach for a lower cost, allowing organizations to reach more people for less. I think there’s also a level of relatability that comes with video — people like to connect with something real, and there’s something tangible about video that people latch on to.

Q: What’s next for your video strategy?

As I mentioned earlier, the biggest challenge we face with video is having the supply meet demand. In line with that, the next step for our video strategy involves empowering our other staff with the tools and guidance they need to start making their own contributions to our video output. User-generated video will play a big part in democratizing our production process, and I’m excited to see where the developers take it in the coming year.

Watch the Sierra Club’s Backyard Day video:

If you work in a communications role at a nonprofit, you probably have news and social media alerts set up for keywords relating to your organization’s work – for example, a housing nonprofit might have an alert for terms like “homeless,” “couch surfing,” or “sleeping rough.” But what if the people you’re trying to reach don’t use those words? What if they don’t use words at all?

I’ve been running some experiments in emoji search, both individual and in groups that give added meaning.

Sophia Guevara NTEN author quote about nonprofits adopting their own emojiThe first search I conducted on Twitter was using a “handshake” 🤝. I was able to find posts of users who had tweeted using the same emoji. I decided to complicate the search by adding two and then three emoji together. The second search was a “handshake” and a “briefcase”. There were still a lot of results until I added the third emoji, a graduation cap. One result: a tweet about a diversity event.

Searching emoji on Facebook was less fruitful. Searching for “trophy” 🏆, I came up with three video results that had made use of that emoji in their description. Using the “fries” emoji 🍟 produced a nacho fries recipe. On YouTube, a search for the “donut” emoji 🍩 resulted in a video of donut economics.

Is your nonprofit optimizing for emoji search?

Online marketing consultant Jayson DeMers wrote in an article for Forbes last year that searching for emoji in a search engine would bring up posts that used that emoji, but also posts relating to the topic that emoji represented.

Right now, with emojis usually used as an embellishment for written text, it seems frivolous to think about emoji search or its impact on SEO, but linguists predict that emoji communication will only get more popular and perhaps may even become a language of its own.

After learning more about emoji searching on social media channels, I wondered how one could propose a new emoji or associate an emoji with their own brand. The Unicode Consortium has developed a formal process to do so.

The Oakland As found success adopting the baseball emoji. Is there an emoji that your nonprofit should use?


There are trees, and there is forest. There are anecdotes, and there is data. There are the pinprick pixels of our individual experiences, and there is the vast picture they paint together of the world we share.

The M+R Benchmarks Study is our annual attempt to bridge that divide. This year, we have collected an extensive array of data points from 154 nonprofit participants. Each of them marks a single digital interaction with a supporter: an email opened, a donation made, a petition signed, a website visited, an ad clicked, a Facebook post liked, or tweet retweeted. All told, these add up to 4,699,299,330 email messages, 527,754,635 web visits, and 11,958,385 donations.

NTEN is proud to partner with M+R once again for the latest Benchmarks report. Explore or download it here.


It took me three months into my social media dream job to realize why the word “online” was part of my job title. It was 2010, and I had finally found a job that had social media marketing at its heart, at a small AIDS nonprofit that planned to use Facebook, Twitter and dating apps to connect with people living with and at risk for HIV.

Even before my first day, I’d had a run-in with our horrible, outdated and very difficult website, but I knew there was a web developer on retainer and I figured it was his problem. Or maybe it was the Executive Director’s problem. Or perhaps the office administrator. I don’t suppose there was someone on the board who could help? A volunteer? Bueller?

As anyone who works in digital marketing or fundraising knows, your organization’s website is at the crux of how people relate to your organization and its work. When something is wrong, it hurts your ability to attract, engage, and convert the people you need to make your work a success. As it turned out, our website was my problem, and to solve it, we needed to build a working digital strategy.

What is a digital strategy?

For many nonprofits, technology adoption isn’t hard. We’re smart people, and we’re perfectly capable of finding the tools we need to help us perform particular tasks. But what often happens is that an organization will accrue a slew of tools, all of which maybe do what they should perfectly, but still aren’t getting the results that you need them to. Perhaps your content strategy is bringing scores of people to your website but you aren’t capturing them in your email list for fundraising campaigns, or you’re gaining lots of Instagram followers but none of them know about your online forum. A good digital strategy will knit your tools and aspirations together into a cohesive plan to meet your goals.

We’re here to help. NTEN is producing two conferences this fall—in New Mexico and Oregon—and both are designed to help you develop and refresh your digital strategy. The program includes case studies, workshops, panels, presentations, and tactical sessions, to help you formulate the best strategy for your organization, and show you how other nonprofits have done it.

That seems like a big task. Where do I even start?

I am a people person and NTEN relies on members to survive, so I like to start with personas. What are the groups of people that want to engage with your organization, how did they find you, what do they want to know, how do they want to engage, and what do you most want them to do? Plot their journey from an unconnected community member to engaged part of your inner circle, donor or member. What’s their ideal journey? What roadblocks are in the way right now? How can you clear them?

Identify the top handful of actions you really want your constituents to take—for example, donate, advocate, join or inform others—and consider the technologies they need to do that easily. Find data that can tell you how you successfully moved them to that action (or “converted” them, in marketing-speak). How many touch-points do you need? What’s the story to tell them, and where and how is it best told? Which are the channels that net you the most success, and why do you think that is?

Like me, when I finally realized the website monster was mine to tame, you will have a lot of questions. But it’s only through considering the (sometimes difficult) questions that you can build a digital strategy, pulling together your organization’s disparate parts and making them work better, for you and the communities you represent.

Best of luck! We hope to see you in the fall.

The 2017 Digital Outlook Report is here, and it may surprise you or reaffirm your strategic decisions and investments this year. Data from hundreds of organizations across the globe has guided the findings — see how you compare!

In the 2017 Digital Outlook Report, research and report partners Care2, hjc, NTEN, and Resource Alliance have provided trends and strategies, highlighting best practices and expert insights along the way.

This year’s report has ideas for every organization, no matter how advanced your digital fundraising program is.

Do you lack a digital staff altogether? No problem, we’ll help you craft your organization’s first digital strategy! Are you experimenting with cutting-edge technologies like 360 video? We have some ideas to help you advance even further.

Download the 2017 Digital Outlook Report.

The 2017 Digital Outlook Report is here, and it may surprise you or reaffirm your strategic decisions and investments this year. Data from hundreds of organizations across the globe has guided the findings — see how you compare!

In the 2017 Digital Outlook Report, research and report partners Care2, hjc, NTEN, and Resource Alliance have provided trends and strategies, highlighting best practices and expert insights along the way.

Download the report.


It’s awards season, which means this is your chance to celebrate your own wins and the amazing work of other nonprofit technology professionals.

The Care2 Impact Award recognizes a campaign or initiative in the nonprofit sector that has made an outstanding impact on the field of online advocacy, online fundraising, or both. The winning organization will receive a cash donation of $1,000 from Care2. The runners up will each receive the Care2 Innovation Award; Care2 will make a $200 donation to each of these organizations. The awards will be presented in March at the 2017 Nonprofit Technology Conference (NTC). Entries close midnight EST on Saturday, February 11. Enter now.

Entries are also open for the DoGooder Video Awards, which celebrates videos that have the power to move people and transform lives. NTEN is proud to partner on this award, and will show the winning videos from last year’s award at the NTC in March. They’re designed to help honor the best work from people or organizations who are using the medium to move the needle for their cause. Entries close Monday, February 13. Find out more.


The digital landscape is changing at a dizzying rate and sometimes it feels like the plans you made yesterday are obsolete by morning. But help is at hand!

For the third year, NTEN is proud to partner with Care2, hjc and Resource Alliance on a report that sets the standard for nonprofit digital planning. But we need your help. The 2017 Digital Outlook Report is powered by responses by nonprofit professionals just like you. The survey will take about 10-15 minutes to complete and you’ll be entered in the drawing for some great prizes.

Take the survey today and be the first to know when the findings are published later this year.


From advertising to social media, the 24-hour news cycle, video games, and beyond, we live in a media-heavy world where our advocates and supporters are constantly exposed to questionable content. In fact, the average teen now consumes around nine hours of entertainment media per day in the form of online videos, music, podcasts, games, advertising, social media, television, movies, and moreThe messages they receive through these media have become so normalized that they’re often not aware of the subtle ways in which those messages influence thinking and behavior. For example, a 2014 study found that teens’ neural responses to fast food advertising can predict future weight gain; and a more recent study from the U.K. found children increasingly turning to YouTube for “true and accurate” information about the world. Disturbingly, the same study also found that less than half of children between the ages of 12-15 years old knew that video bloggers were sometimes paid to advertise or endorse products.

At the New York City-based media literacy education nonprofit The LAMP, we believe that media producers need to be held accountable for their messages, and that media should reflect the diversity of our lives and stories. We provide opportunities for students to create and engage with media they’re already interested in, and the resulting videos can be used to spread our message and spark dialogue. By remixing music videos, commercials, TV shows, and other media with critical statements, students take control of the largely one-way dialogue between mass media and the public. In talking back to media with media itself, students are demanding more from the industries and producers responsible for the thousands of messages they see every day.

The content which the students proudly create to demonstrate their new skills also supports our mission to help people comprehend, create, and critique media and technology.

The truth, though, is that nonprofits serving just about any cause can use remix to engage supporters. Here’s how to get started.

Pick Your Cause’s Poison

It’s hard to come up with any aspect of life that media don’t shape. From what we eat to the opinions we hold to our attitudes towards other people, media have the power to impact nearly all of our thoughts, feelings and life experiences. As a nonprofit looking to wield the power of remix, your first job is to figure out how media are impacting your cause. This is how you know where to hit.

The Break the Super Bowl campaign is an example of this. Every year, millions of Americans tune in to watch commercials which are both outrageously expensive and (usually) offensive—the better to ensure their dominance over water coolers and social media sites long after the Super Bowl winner has been determined. We feel messages like these show why media literacy education is so important, and so every year we host events in which students ‘break’ (or remix) Super Bowl ads. Here’s one of the most popular breaks from recent years.

If you’re working for the environment, debunk someone’s talking points about how climate change is a hoax. If you’re fighting for women’s rights, challenge media that reinforce harmful stereotypes about women. It may even be that your remix opportunity doesn’t exist today, but in our 24-hour news cycle, you likely won’t need to wait too long until something comes around.

Follow the Rules

Every great remix illuminates instead of fabricates, and backs up its points with credible sources as needed (remember: there will always be people saying your source is bunk. They may even be right sometimes). For example, one student made a remix based on a report in some magazine which relies heavily on sources.

For more on fair use, we’ve made a couple of short and sweet animated video tutorials on fair use and critical commentary, plus a LAMPlit resource guide that goes into more depth. And if you still want more, we recommend checking out the Center for Media and Social Impact.

Choose Your Tools

The free MediaBreaker/Studios platform was designed to be simple to use for students and educators with little or no video editing experience. There’s nothing to download, and it works on Chrome browsers across both Macs and PCs. It also follows a closed environment framework, so the remixes you make aren’t open to the public unless you submit them to us for legal review. This gives you an added safeguard that our pro-bono legal team has looked over your remix for how well it would stand up if challenged for a copyright violation. Otherwise, you can still share the video privately with others in MediaBreaker/Studios.

If you’re confident in your video editing and fair use chops, then a more advanced tool like Final Cut or Adobe Premiere might be right for you. iMovie and Windows Media Maker are also options; they fall somewhere in between MediaBreaker and Final Cut in terms of difficulty, and come free with a desktop Mac or PC.

Remix is powerful. It’s a way to engage your supporters, create shareable media and draw more people to your cause on both an emotional and intellectual level. The amount of material produced by our constantly humming news cycle means endless opportunities for you to use remix videos to mobilize your base, discover new audiences, and get your message out to the world.

What is Trollbusters?
TrollBusters is a just-in-time rescue service for women writers and journalists who are experiencing online harassment. We send positive messaging and just-in-time education to keep targets safe online and off. See Pinterest boards for examples of visual memes we use, such as online protection tips and “I <3 Trollbusters” memes.

What was the genesis of this idea? Why and how did you get started?
TrollBusters was born at a hackathon in January 2015 for women news entrepreneurs. The idea was to counter the Gamergate-type attacks we were seeing on Twitter at the time. We also wanted to test whether positive messaging directed at the target would help these women stay online in the face of a persistent attack by trolls. I am also a target from my days as a newspaper columnist and was channeling my own experience to develop TrollBusters.

Why specifically women authors? Doesn’t everyone encounter trolls?
Anyone can be affected by online harassment. What we see are the most vile, consistent attacks on women journalists because of their gender or ethnicity—and because they have an opinion or a platform to publish. Women, Action, & the Media (WAM!) released Reporting, Reviewing, and Responding to Harassment on Twitter with some illuminating statistics about online harassment.

What kinds of incidents have been reported? What trends, if any, are you seeing?
We are seeing more women come forward and report these activities rather than just blocking the user(s). Users are frustrated that platforms like Twitter are not responsive to their needs. We also need better data to advocate for better policies and police education on how to handle these crimes.

What advice would you give to nonprofit organizations when they encounter negative online interactions? 
Strong moderation is always required when you have online platforms. When they encounter online harassment, the moderator needs to provide a warning to the offender that what they have done is against the terms and conditions. That means that there should be rules for posting on sites and consequences for those who violate the rules.

Do you feel managers of online media environments have any responsibility to moderate those environments for their communities? If so, what responsibilities?
Managers MUST take responsibility for the type of speech promoted on their platforms. You cannot abdicate responsibility for moderating a civil space to technology or to the platform provider. We as managers must be clear about the role of comments/dialogue and have specific strategies on how the site deals with violations.

What are next steps for Trollbusters?
TrollBusters is building out our monitoring system to be more proactive in finding targets and providing assistance to them. We are also continuing to test our basic premise that positive messaging helps women persist online in the face of these attacks.