Monday, September 28, 2009

Engaging Generation Y into the leadership of your NPO

In November, I will be addressing the national convention of the Canadian Society of Association Executives. Of the two subjects I will be addressing, none brings more frustration than comments I hear from non-profit executives regarding the sector's difficulties in recruiting Generation Y into their organizations. Many industries, especially those in the trades, quite rightly are concerned by the aging trends in their membership. Amongst associations, the concern exists that those most senior in leadership (staff and board) will be arriving near the end of their career. For charitable organizations, the need to adapt their fundraising and volunteer pitch to a new audience also means reviewing how they communicate to this demographic.

Known as Gen-Y or millennials, Generation-Y are individuals born between 1980 and 1995, at a volume of 80 million strong in the United States alone. Gen-Y has been raised on technology, so much so that their cell phones are extensions of their hands and text messaging, instant messaging and Facebooking are how they interact with others, even different generations. Older generations can learn a lot from these communities, to better understand who millennials are and what they’re about. One of the major concerns association and non-profit executives are facing these days is how to cope with Gen-Y, yet many of them don’t take the time to get to know them better.

This new paradigm means not only a thought shift is required but from a communicator's perspective, it means thoroughly different communications strategy. Social media is not just a "nifty" networking tool. It demands of associations and non-profits a complete strategy that integrates older and traditional communications strategies with online means of communication. Generation Y expects the ability to be able to use online forums and networking means to facilitate first contact and beyond.

Us "old geezers" have the challenge of showing them the value of face to face networking. By integrating old and new media based on solid strategy of why communication is taking place first off, I believe associations and non-profits will make the significant leap towards engaging Gen-Yers.

What do you think? Can integrating the two "magnify" the unappreciated value non-profits present before this demographic?
Mark Buzan is Principal and Chief Magnifier in Action Strategies, a full service Strategic Communications, Public Relations and Public Affairs Consultancy for non-profits and associations. Make sure to contact him for advice on reaching audiences you may or may not have yet considered in your marketing communications and PR campaigns. Drop him a line if you are looking for help in developing a public relations campaign. You can view his website at www.actionstrategies.ca.

Training in Social Media Marketing for Non-Profits

Over the course of the last few weeks, I can honestly say I have been surprised by a continuing trend I have seen from those in the association sector. That trend has been the request to learn more about how they can leverage this new and emerging communications vehicle called social media. I believe this is a positive trend because there is no indicator from our data that Social Media will go away, in fact the adoption rates of Generation Y, indicate this is a trend (I'll even be speaking to this issues at the CSAE's annual convention in November). The trouble with social media is that with everyone able to create content and share the details of their personal lives in detailed minutia, the problem of excessive content becomes an issue. Every 60 seconds, 13 hours of content are uploaded to YouTube (says YouTube employee), and millions of tweets are generated every day. With so much content being created, how will one filter out what’s important?

Through all this clutter, non-profits face three challenges:

1st challenge: What do I say?: Determining content that will drive followers and recruit support requires serious thought and strategy.
2nd challenge: How much time should I be spending Tweeting or on Facebook?: Once you start tweeting or facebooking you will find that there is a lot of content and it is easy to spend a lot of time going through the content. Non-profit executives need an understanding of how they can coordinate staff and time resources to be most effective online without compromising their day-to-day operations.
3rd challenge: Staying organized: As one follows more folks on Twitter, it is easy to forget who they are or why I decided to follow them.

In response to these challenges, Action Strategies is launching a training module we hope to have ready by mid October covering the following issues:
Here are just a few of the inside techniques you'll cover in this intensive one-day workshop:

  1. Learn how to monitor your reputation online, starting today

  2. Discover how to set up a measurable, accountable social media program

  3. Identify and track top blogs in your industry–––and decide the best time to join in the conversation

  4. Acquire the techniques for placing the right messages on leading social media outlets, like FaceBook, del.icio.us, Digg, and YouTube

  5. Harness the power of blogs and podcasts (including critical insight on who in your organization should blog and who should not )

  6. Start using the latest Search Engine Optimization techniques to supercharge the visibility of your website and press materials

  7. Find out the smartest (often ignored!) features of a social media newsroom

We are taking pre-registrations now for webinars and in-person seminars. Contact us today. I invite your team to book its training spot now!

Monday, September 21, 2009

New Legislative Monitoring Service for Non-Profits & Associations

Keeping track of legislation, regulations and committee movements on parliament hill and in various provincial capitals can be a wearying task for any organization. What's worse is the possibility of being caught off guard. To help our clients, Action Strategies is now offering a new service: Legislative monitoring and policy tracking. Action Strategies now delivers the information you need, when you need it, through automatic and personalized e-mail and handheld alerts.

Through real-time legislative, regulatory information and news, your issues are checked daily for committee action and process through the parliamentary/ legislature system. Hearing Alerts are sent to clients in advance of all published hearings. We monitor information from Ottawa, Queen's Park, and Quebec City ensuring it is filtered, tracked, compared, and archived. In summary, our new services provide the following:

  • Priority bill alerts are sent via email alerts to the client.

  • Bill summaries are written in-house and customized for each client based on a complete reading of the text.

  • Current bill text is attached to each bill report. Previous bill versions and amendments are also linked whenever available.

  • Extensive bill search capabilities

  • Complete committee schedules

  • There are many more service elements to share. We are also available to respond to client needs for additional information or assistance – at no additional charge. For only a few hundred dollars, your organization can be provided the piece of mind it needs to stay on top of the issues and avoid any unwanted surprises.

    Give us a call for more information!
    Mark Buzan is Principal of Action Strategies, a GR Consultancy for non-profits. If you have questions on how you feel your organization could benefit from legislative monitoring services. Subscribe now to his Lobbying tips newsletter at www.actionstrategies.ca

    The Case of NAIMA Canada & the benefit of legislative environmental scans

    NAIMA Canada is a trade association for North American fibre glass, rock wool and slag wool manufacturers in Canada. Founded in July 2004, NAIMA Canada represents the industry in Canada to promote the energy efficiency and environmental benefits of fibre glass, rock wool and slag wool insulation.

    Seeking to take its government relations efforts to each of Canada’s provinces, NAIMA Canada found itself short in terms of expertise and understanding of the process for effecting change in Quebec. It needed Action Strategies to counsel the association on identifying the appropriate contacts and channels to bring Quebec energy and construction policy in line with the organization’s needs.

    On numerous occasions, NAIMA Canada engaged us to identify policy makers in the political and legislative spheres as well as in regulatory sphere of the Quebec government. Primary to our representation, we found that the Agence de l'Efficiacite Energetique (AEE) and the Regi du Batiment (Building Code Agency) were where there was a great need to constantly monitor how these two organizations intended to regulate energy efficiency requirements in the building code. Each organization produces countless numbers of reports and convenes a number of different task forces. Without the benefit of a dedicated resource to monitor and report all of this back, NAIMA Canada would have undoubtedly missed some critical opportunities to advance their cause.

    In all, engaging Action Strategies meant the association had the counsel it needed on identifying the appropriate contacts and channels to bring Quebec energy and construction policy in line with the organization’s needs. Conducting an audit of the possibilities, Action Strategies delivered a full report on the where NAIMA Canada would have the most success.

    I would have to say that the experience was a positive one for both of us. What experiences or thoughts o you have on legislative monitoring?
    Mark Buzan is Principal of Action Strategies, a GR Consultancy for non-profits. If you have questions on how you feel your organization could benefit from legislative monitoring services. Subscribe now to his Lobbying tips newsletter at www.actionstrategies.ca

    Bill C-4, Non-Profit Reform Shows the Reason Associations Need Legislative Monitoring

    In June, Parliament enacted a major reform that will affect thousands of non-profits from across Canada. Those organizations who are federally incorporated will need to re-register their incorporation and follow new transparency guidelines. After reviewing the documentation over the course of the summer, I must admit that directly speaking, C-4 is not overly political. However, it will have very broad-based impact on numerous associations and charities across Canada. Using this bill, here's how in just one example, not having monitored the on-goings of Ottawa could potentially place an NPO in hot water:

    • The Bill requires all federally incorporated non-profits, associations, and charities to re-register their incorporation

    • It also imposes important new requirements to demonstrate transparency to members and donors: C-4 establishes new rights for members and donors to have more access to the proceedings of their organization. Equally interesting, NPOs will have to give consideration of new forms and classes of members/ supporters. Moreover, the new law will mean as well that NPOs will have to account for their members' new rights to be able to participate in decisions via electronic means....again emphasizing the need for more transparency.

    Not being aware of these factors could put an NPO board and executive in hot water! With such broad-based impact, Bill C-4 shows the value of legislative monitoring from a professional consultant. C-4 demonstrates this case from a wide-sweeping perspective. However, each organization I encounter has a number of its own issues and challenges. More often than not, NPOs don't always have the on-staff bandwidth to be aware of every possible piece of legislation or government regulation.

    However, engaging a consultant to assist in the process of monitoring, allows for identifying and prioritizing challenges and opportunities for the NPO. By doing so, organizations are given a hospitable environment to grow. Excellent information and perspective are at the heart of any successful state and local government affairs program. Anything less is a handicap.

    As part of a legislative monitoring system, consultants read each regulation, bill and amendment to identify relevant client issues, avoiding the critical errors that can plague services limited to keyword searches. These professionals perform bill tracking until final disposition, providing political perspective, or “outlook,” for each piece of proposed legislation.

    Generally, legislative monitoring involves identifying the:

    • Bill Sponsor (name and party affiliation)

    • Summary of Major Provisions (emphasizing provisions of interest to the client)

    • Status (report of past and upcoming actions)

    • Outlook (a political assessment)

    • Hyperlink to the full text of Bills/Amendments (when available)

    Other aspects can be identified as well depending on an organization's needs
    Mark Buzan is Principal of Action Strategies, a GR Consultancy for non-profits. If you have questions on how Bill C-4 impacts on your organization, please contact him. Equally, drop him a line if you feel your organization could benefit from legislative monitoring services. Subscribe now to his Lobbying tips newsletter at www.actionstrategies.ca