The Nonprofit Advantage

The Nonprofit Advantage


Pulling the Heart Strings

By Deborah York Geiger, APR

They don’t call them “heart strings” for nothing, and when it comes to Social Media, nonprofits have a significant advantage and I will tell you why.

Social Media is a tricky medium. It doesn’t always generate immediate actions that result in sales. The promotions that are successful take investment not only in Facebook advertising, but a significant investment in time, creativity and budget to create an artfully designed campaign. Some things never change. Just as in the past, the promotions that work, take forethought and planning.

Many businesses have become disappointed in their social media results. The big success stories have led them to believe that all they had to do was post and sales would come! People are finicky, though, when it comes to their social time, we have to make it interesting to have an impact. They will not seek out a company that is just pushing out ad messages, they simply won’t. We have to pull at the heart strings or elicit a powerful emotion to get their attention.

One of the best articles I have read on this topic is by Eric Jaffe. He sums it up like this:

“Recent research suggests that emotions hold the secret to viral web content. Articles, posts, or videos that evoke positive emotions have greater viral potential than something that evokes negative feelings, but both do a better job recruiting clicks than neutral content.”

This where nonprofits have a significant advantage! My advice to nonprofits is to take your powerful stories, past and present, and package them in a digital manner. Make a powerful presentation with your quotes, success stories and images using free services like or . Build a photo collage or an infographic using free tools: or

Once you have the fresh content developed, announce it at a board meeting or your next public gathering. Provide it to your volunteers, staff and board members via e-mail or your social networks. Encourage everyone to tune in for the latest “sharable content.” Give them something ready to share with their own friends and followers. This strategy works best when repeated often!

Need help? I have a softspot in my heart for nonprofits, having spent eight years of my career working the heart strings. I would be happy to provide a free consultation.

Avoid Rookie Business Mistakes on Facebook

Avoid Rookie Business Mistakes on Facebook

Facebook for Businesses

Top 3 Musts for a Productive, Successful Business Facebook Page

For those of you who may have missed my recent seminar on Facebook for Business, I shared some helpful pointers that everyone should know when optimizing their Facebook business page. In my small group seminars, I answer specific questions of attendees to customize the information presented so you may want to consider attending an upcoming class, but here are the basics.


1. Make sure it Makes Sense for your business

Not all businesses NEED to be on Facebook. Although many do, if you consider that recent statistics show that “one out of three people in the United States – more than 128 million – visit Facebook every day.” [Source: (Reuters article, By Jennifer Saba, Tue Aug 13, 2013 6:52pm EDT)

That is a pretty astonishing figure. Facebook has not yet released regional data for us to know how many folks from the Alabama Gulf Coast are using the network, but there is one easy way to find out: ASK. It’s the best way to know if your customers would happen to look for or would interact with your business on Facebook. One free, e-mail survey tool I have used successfully is SurveyMonkey. Or, you can see how closely the “average” Facebook user compares to your demographic. In an April 2013 article from Social Media Today, their analysis of Facebook reported the following:

  • For Facebook North American active users numbers are declining
  • The average age of Facebook users has risen from 38 to 41 years old
  • The number of Moms getting on Facebook is rising sharply
  • Teens are increasingly going mobile and Facebook is not their favorite app (new apps like Kik Messenger, WhatsApp and SnapChat that are grabbing the attention of teenagers)

2. Use images wisely. Let your Cover speak!

Facebook grid tool

Recent updates on Facebook have made images larger and more visible on the News Feed in both desktop and mobile versions. Your Cover Image should be sized correctly to 851 pixels by 315 pixels. Keep in mind this is a very horizontal image and nearly panoramic in appearance. Facebook shares guidelines in their help section. Think of your cover image as that billboard you always wanted to post on I-65 — now is your chance! Just avoid the rookie mistake that could take your page down! Facebook limits the text on cover images and news feed images to only 20% of the total image size. Never fear, they have a handy grid measurement tool that allows you to upload your image and test it!

3. Take time to understand Facebook’s EdgeRank. 

If you have spent anytime at all on your Facebook page’s Insights section, you may have noticed that very few of your posts are actually being seen by your fans. The statistics are quite shocking and show that only 17% of your fans even see those posts you have spent so much time developing. It pays to understand the Facebook algorithm. In short, the EdgeRank formula includes these three elements:

  • Affinity: a measurement of the relationship between the fan and the creator of the story. The closer the relationship the higher the score.
  • Weight: the type of posts (photos, videos, status updates, links, etc.) are each given a score based on the interaction and engagement from your fans.
  • Time Decay: As a post ages it continually loses value. The best way to manage this is to post often. So you can see, fresh content is a critical component for your Facebook page in addition to your website! This is definitely something I can help you with.

Content Fresh Marketing Consulting Small Business Beds and BlindsWant more tips? I welcome engagement on my Facebook page, of course! I would also like to invite you to attend my upcoming 3-hour hands-on seminar Facebook for Business held in Daphne, Alabama on October 15 at 8:30 a.m.


Statewide Recognition Earned for Social Media Campaign

Statewide Recognition Earned for Social Media Campaign


More about this award from AL.COM

[July 17, 2013 – Foley, Alabama] The Baldwin County Education Coalition is pleased to announce that its board members and volunteers were recognized by the Public Relations Council of Alabama for their efforts in the 2012 Invest In Progress Campaign for Baldwin County Schools.

Baldwin County Education Coalition volunteers submitted two entries into the 2013 Medallion Award competition, of which there were a total of 48 entries representing organizations from across the state of Alabama. The entries were evaluated by a panel of judges from the North Florida PRSA chapter which was comprised of a variety of PR professionals, including several practitioners with national accreditation (APR).

The campaign efforts were awarded three honors including:


1) Medallion Award for Invest In Progress Overall Public Relations Program, led by Denise D’Oliveira and Mary Mullins.

2) Medallion Award for Invest In Progress Social Media Campaign, led by Deborah York Geiger

3) Best In

Show award for the Invest In Progress Overall Public Relations Program


“The independent panel of judges who awarded these projects noted the creativity and value of refining the core campaign messages to five simple themes and using simple e-mail postcards to easily share these messages throughout the social media network,” explains Terry Burkle, executive director of the Baldwin County Education Coalition. “The past work of the seven partner foundations that brought people all over the county together in one place for the “community conversations” was instrumental in allowing the task force to develop key messages that would strike a chord with voters.”
Members of the Invest In Progress Task Force included: Denise D’Oliveira, Mary Mullins, Dr. Alan Lee, Matthew McDonald, Meredith Foster, Sandra Bostrom, Sheren LeBlanc, Deborah York Geiger, Suellen Brazil, Terry Burkle, John Hudson, Lisa Way, Miranda Shrubbe, David Tarwater, Terry C. Wilhite, Tina Covington, Angie Swiger, Beth Dotson and Yolanda Johnson.

Invest In Progress 2012 Political Campaign for Penny Sales Tax

In 2012, the Baldwin County Public Schools went to the public to request an additional penny sales tax to help meet budget shortfalls. The item was placed on the ballot in November 2012 as part of the national presidential election. Volunteer efforts toward school improvement and funding are led by leaders in seven local education foundations representing towns and cities throughout the county.

Research included an extensive public engagement initiative (known as Yes We Can Baldwin) in which over 1,400 Baldwin County citizens met with foundation leaders in 85 different Community Conversations. The goal of seeking “adequate, stable funding” emerged as the public’s top priority.

The main objective of this public affairs program was to secure a minimum fifty-one percent (51%) margin of support for the renewal of a one-cent sales tax for the Baldwin County Public Schools (i.e., Baldwin County Amendment #2 on the November 6, 2012.

The social media aspect of the campaign became an important part of communicating the five core messages and specifically addressing contentious issues by publicly announcing common questions, concerns, and misconceptions with factual answers in short, shareable formats. The results of the campaign were astonishing. In all but one precinct, the voters responded with an overwhelming 63% in favor of the renewal of a one-cent sales tax for the Baldwin County Public Schools.


About the Public Relations Council of Alabama:

The Public Relations Council of Alabama (PRCA) is the state’s longest operating and largest group of public relations practitioners. The organization exists to further the professional and networking interests of today’s public relations and communication professionals in private, public and nonprofit businesses and organizations. Its annual awards program was held in April 2013. For more information on the awards presented, visit this link:

About the Baldwin County Education Coalition:

The Baldwin County Education Coalition is an independent, non-profit, nonpartisan organization of public school advocates. We work together for systemic improvements and through seven local education foundations that serve communities across Baldwin’s 1600+ square miles. Our strength is in the value we bring to our individual communities and our shared vision for creating world-class schools. For more information, visit

BELOW: The Baldwin County Education Coalition’€™s board members and volunteers were recognized by the Public Relations Council of Alabama recently for their efforts in the 2012 Invest In Progress Campaign for Baldwin County schools. Coalition members shown, front row, from left, are Deborah York Geiger, Denise D’Oliveira, Terry Burkle; middle row, Pete Pederson, Lolly Holk, Beth Dotson, John Hudson; and, back row, Baldwin County Public Schools Superintendent Alan Lee, Norm Moore, Tracy Dickerson, Karen Glover, Durk Johnson, Bob Higgins, Michelle Nelson, and Crysti Varden. (Photo courtesy Baldwin County Education Coalition)