Advice I gave to cancer nonprofits that works for everyone

Last week I had the great privilege to meet with seven different cancer organizations and discuss their communication strategies. The day of consulting was sponsored by Celgene, a company that helps support patient advocacy and research groups.

The participants in the back-to-back consulting sessions ranged from large organizations doing critical work like the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, to small organizations doing inspiring work like A Fresh Chapter. They send cancer survivors on volunteer experiences in the developing world. What a day!

Each of the seven organizations came to me with a different question, need or priority. Here's some advice I shared that you might find useful for your own nonprofit:

  • No one cares about your anniversary. Organization-centric communication is boring! Bragging about anything, including how many years you've been doing your work, is all about you and ego. Turn it around and talk about your organization’s donors. If you want to talk about 20 years of work, talk about the donors that have made that work possible. This was actually a funny story, and I just made a video to share it with you.

  • Stay focused. One of the nonprofits I worked with was considering launching a new line of merchandise. It was cool for sure. But it was also a heavy lift and time consuming for staff. Stay laser-focused on doing exactly what you need in order to achieve your organization’s goals. Maybe that includes awesome swag, but beware shiny objects!
  • Be authentic. One organization had an attractive website, but it was full of what were very clearly stock photos. People can smell marketing ploys a mile away. If you want engagement from real people, you have to show examples of your organization engaging with real people. Raise up the voices of your constituents -- they will surely have better stories than you could ever think up.

It was a fun and really interesting day and I must say, I love what I do.

Author: Michael Hoffman
  • nonprofit
  • Storytelling
  • consulting
  • Strategy
Jan 19
by Michael Hoffman
Jan 5
by Michael Hoffman