NLEAFCF Launch – Just in Time for the Holidays!

Thanksgiving is a time for giving “Thanks” and that is exactly what our newest client has been doing since September 11th, 2001. The National Law Enforcement and Firefighters Children’s Foundation (NLEAFCF) offers grant and scholarship programs to children of law enforcement officers and firefighters who have been lost or permanently disabled in the line of duty.

NLEAFCF approached us to help them create a new online presence that reflected their passion and commitment to offering grant and scholarship programs to children of law enforcement officers and firefighters who have been lost or permanently disabled in the line of duty.

The Process

We started by focusing on the design aesthetic – making it reflect the kind of work NLEAFCF does to help the children of our heroes. Built on WordPress, the website also provides NLEAFCF staff with an easy interface to upload their photos from their events as well as manage their grant and scholarship programs. From the start of the process we went through:

[toggle title=”Discovery Phase”] We start by getting to know NLEAFCF as an organization – discovering their goals, strengths, weaknesses, triumphs, and failures. In this stage we defined the major objectives for the project and took a close look at the audience they’re targeting. We found out what sites nleafcf liked  such as,, etc. We also found out what colors and textures they would like to used on the website.[/toggle]

[toggle title=”Design Phase”] We then provided NLEAFCF with three design comps. They had the opportunity to give feedback and changes. One thing that Mark & Phil prides themselves on is that we don’t track the numbers of revisions on design. We feel its important for the client to get the exact site they have in their head. With NLEAFCF we “nail it” on the third revision. [/toggle]

[toggle title=”Development Phase”] Next we focused on bringing the idea we designed in the previous phase to fruition.[/toggle]

[toggle title=”Launch Phase”] Lastly, we focused on executing the final deliverables and measuring their success. Deployment include launching a completed website, invitations for the Annual Heroes Award Gala, etc.[/toggle]

We integrated PayPal for donations and Network for Good. On  all sites with Mark & Phil we incorporate a sticky nav that stays at the top of the website to show exactly where you are and where you can go next on the site.

Mark & Phil launched NLEAFCF’s new website in September just in time for their first annual hero awards gala honoring  John T. Chambers, Chairman & CEO of Cisco Systems with the Corporate Hero Award and The Honorable Rudolph Giuliani with the Public Service Hero Award and to raise funds for the grant and scholarship programs. It was a huge success and raise over $500,000 for the grants and scholarship programs.

NLEAFCF Thanksgiving

NLEAFCF is gearing up for their 13th annual Thanksgiving Breakfast that will be held November 28, 2013 in beautiful Bryant Park. In cooperation with the NYPD, the FDNY and the Port Authority police of N.Y. and N.J., the NLEAFCF hosts an average of 1,300 children and relatives of fallen law enforcement officers and firefighters for a very special Thanksgiving breakfast.

The event is free to the invited kids and families and features great food, camaraderie and an up-close view of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Each year new families look forward to this significant event for a chance to gather, celebrate and ease a sorrow that can be particularly difficult during the holiday season. Sponsors underwrite the costs of the event so the children and their families can attend for free.

Ad Only Shows Up For Kids Eyes

ANAR Foundation manages hotline in Europe to help at risk children and teenagers from abuse and neglect. On this hotline they can find the help they need in a totally anonymous and confidential manner. But they struggled with figuring out a way to get children to know the number even exists. How could they get their message out to a child abuse victim, even when they might be accompanied by their aggressor?

Knowing the average height for adults and children under 10, GREY Spain has created two different messages. Using an outdoor lenticular print they show adults an awareness message, while children see an additional message that offers them help and the number for the hotline.

I love how ingenious the use of technology and design has become in this campaign to solve a real problem this foundation was having reaching out to their target audience. Hopefully we’ll see more adaptations like this to come from them and other similar groups.

via Gizmodo

What Nonprofits Can Learn From Amtrak

I recently took a train ride from our offices in Poughkeepsie to Toronto – a cool 12 hour trip! I genuinely prefer train travel if I can do it so I don’t mind sitting in a train for that long because I know I am helping the environment and its a hell of a lot less stressful than flying!

One thing I noticed this last time I was traveling on the train was that Amtrak does a terrific job of identifying their customers enthusiasm for their service. You see, there are two types of train riders: Tourists and Commuters. Now when I say tourists I mean that these folks only go on the train every now and then, maybe once or twice a year. Commuters on the other hand try to take the train whenever they can. I’ve got about 325 hours logged on Amtrak travel this year because I choose to use it rather than flying or driving.

So to identify with its Commuters, Amtrak does many little things around the experience of their service to keep us coming back. I’ll talk more about this in a later post, but the thing I wanted to point out is that no touchpoint is too small for them. Here is a picture of a cup holder that tells the customer how good of a deed they are doing by taking the train. Love It!


Imagine what that would mean if you did the same thing for your organization? What if you had small touchpoints places where you come into contact with your supporters? Could it improve their overall giving experience? You betcha!

Image courtesy of amtrak_russ on Flickr.

Get A Free Flickr Pro Account For Your Cause

As the new year approaches is a good idea to start thinking about how you’re going to be handling your marketing for 2012. One thing we think should be on every causes radar is making sure you have a one-stop place for pictures and graphics to be used with your organization. Our best recommendation for this is Flickr and now they’ve teamed up with Tech Soup to create Flickr for Good, offering 10,000 1-year Flickr Pro accounts. Pretty Awesome if you ask us!

Not sure what you can do with a Flickr account? Well check out our client Catskill Animal Sanctuary’s Flickr. They do a terrific job of updating it regularly with new pictures of their animals, supporters, and staff. By doing this they provide a personal side to whom they are as an organization and make them very approachable for donations and support in the future.

To apply just click on the corresponding link of the country your cause is in:


For organizations based in the United States or Canada, apply directly to TechSoup.

DonorTec provides technology information services to NGOs throughout Australia and is operated by Community Information Strategies Australia.

TechDonation provides social welfare services in Hong Kong and is operated by The Hong Kong Council of Social Services (HKCSS), an umbrella organization for 340+ agency members.

Charity Technology Exchange
CTX is a program of the Charity Technology Trust (CTT), an NGO that empowers British charities through the effective use of technology services and consulting.

Photo courtesy of bradleypjohnson on Flickr

5 Advantages of Outsourced Marketing

In the non-profit world, “outsourcing” is sometimes regarded as a dirty word, but that has nothing to do with outsourcing your marketing, which is actually a very smart move for your organization.  With tight budgets and a lingering recession, now is the time to make the most of your resources, whether talent or money.  But that’s not the only reason to outsource marketing functions.

With an explosion of new media and social marketing opportunities, now is the time to take advantage of these exciting technologies or risk being left behind.  In a sense, your cause is at a crossroads, and seizing all of the new marketing tools can propel you to the top of your niche.  But the only way to do so is by having experts in the field guiding your marketing strategy, rather than struggling to understand and implement the technology yourself.

  1. Even tech-savvy firms or personnel with diverse backgrounds can use outside expertise.  Outsourcing marketing functions will allow you to take advantage of the skills and experience of professional advertising and brand management specialists. These individuals are immersed in the world of marketing every day and can use successful techniques from other campaigns to benefit your organization.
  2. Additionally, outsourcing your marketing to a professional firm can help you gain a broader perspective and identify any potential blind spots or biases in your marketing.
  3. Another important advantage of outsourcing marketing functions is the insight and data that professional marketing firms possess.  Marketing firms have a wealth of research at their disposal and have the resources to perform evaluative analysis on target markets and the effectiveness of outreach techniques.
  4. Experience and specialized knowledge aren’t the only ways in which outsourcing your marketing can benefit your organization, though.  Leaving marketing functions to the experts gives you and your employees the freedom to concentrate on what you do best.  Without the distraction of trying to tackle marketing, your organization will instantly be more focused on running your cause, not promoting it.  Because of this, you can pay more attention to your core competencies and put your resources into internal improvements, rather than worrying about your image.  This will give you a chance to streamline your operations, which in turn will give your marketing firm another thing to share with your audience.
  5. In addition to freeing up your personnel, you can free up more money by reducing overhead.  Outsourcing marketing functions means you don’t have to worry about recruiting and training new employees or finding workspace to put together complex projects.  Marketing can be quite expensive, and there are a lot of fixed costs – between graphic design programs and subscriptions to research databases, the cost required to run one successful campaign on your own can reverberate for many quarters to come. Also, advertising and promotion professionals and “creative” minds often expect higher salaries, so outsourcing marketing can cut down on your costs as well.

In this new age of communications, the importance of marketing can’t be ignored.  With so many new methods for reaching supporters, a mass marketing campaign just isn’t effective any more.  Audiences are diverse and there are an astonishing number of channels of communication to consider.  Instead of diverting valuable resources to such a complicated area, why not reap the benefits of outsourcing marketing functions?

Is it Really Possible to Manufacture ‘Viral’ Growth?

Over the last five years, the expansive world of social media has made viral marketing a reality. The days of massive advertising budgets and endless organization appear to be nearing an end, replaced by a marketing world where anyone can generate thousands, hundreds-of-thousands, or potentially millions of page-views in a matter of days using YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook’s ‘like’ feature.

But alongside the truly huge potential for viral growth is a very familiar situation – despite there now being the networks and technology for marketing messages to rapidly spread, most generate little attention and end up ignored. Some have blamed technology for the failure of manufactured ‘viral’ marketing efforts, but more experienced marketers have human behavior to look towards.

There’s a reason most manufactured viral marketing campaigns fail: most just aren’t good. Growth in marketing, particularly in an uncontrolled online world, is incredibly difficult to create. With the power of rapid growth resting entirely in the hands of users, delivering a marketing message that people aren’t interested in hearing is an impossibility. Simply put, manufacturing ‘viralness’ is hard.

There are examples to the contrary – Old Spice’s incredibly successful YouTube message campaign being one of the most obvious. But they’ve been less the result of specialist marketing and more the end product of great content. Most people would share the Old Spice videos regardless of their commercial affiliation, while few people would opt to share a video designed to create leads.

For marketers, it’s important to realize that viral growth is largely random and almost completely uncontrollable. Rick Astley’s ongoing comeback tour can be attributed almost entirely to his video gaining cult status amongst internet users and randomly spreading. Could another artist engineer a similar phenomenon? Unlikely. There’s an element of randomness to viral growth that’s organic.

So should a viral marketing campaign fail to catch on, don’t fret. The only way to control a random phenomenon is to create as many opportunities as possible. Old Spice didn’t win over YouTube with a single video – they posted several similar videos before one finally hit the mark. Let the random nature of internet growth control your success, and don’t try to ‘create’ something that’s organic.

Image courtesy of Microbes on Think Geek

10 Ways to Fight Content Rot For the Busy Nonprofit Marketing Director

Our clients are busy folks and constantly on the go. Hey, we’re New Yorkers, we understand the importance of time! So one thing we’ve been doing a lot lately is guiding clients to a better process of keeping their websites updated with fresh content. For some folks they need to keep a blog actively updated, for others its about getting press releases shown on time for new event announcements or campaign launches, but everybody, its definitely a matter of making their time the most useful when they have it to give.

  1. Blog From Your Mobile Phone – Many clients we work with already have smart phones and didn’t even know that major blogging apps can run natively on their phone. With this capability they can log in to their WordPressBlogger, or Tumblr blog on their iPhone, Android, Blackberry, or PC phone and write a new post from virtually anywhere. This is a great time saver because finding an internet connection to post a press release is a thing of the past. Its also great because all of these apps will also let you work on drafts you’ve already created in the blogging system, so you can literally edit a little bit at a time if you want to. But don’t blame us for the pain it might put on your thumb and index finger when trying to write a 500 hundred word diatribe!
  2. Hire a Blogger – Several companies in the past few years have gotten some heat for not being translucent with who is behind the writing of their blogs. Perhaps their marketing campaigns would have gone much smoother if they had hired a professional blogger to write for them for the campaign and spelled up front what the exact relationship was between the blogger and the company. Specifically, we’re not condoning something like Ghost Writing, but we do think that having a blogger or net celebrity endorse your blog will make it easier to fight that content rot! Overall, getting someone to write on your behalf is fine, as long as the tone, the content, and the overall point of view remain intact to your brand’s true nature.
  3. Screen capture of post dating in Word PressPost to the Future – We’re still amazed by this one, and we’re not trying to make anyone feel bad, but most folks don’t realize that every blogging application on the market can save posts to be published at a later date. Taking this into consideration, one of the best things you could do is to take one day a week to work on the posts for your blog and post date them to be published throughout the week. This way, all of your marketing needs are done in one day and you can enjoy the extra time during the week to sip on a tasty Mojito or whatever it is that they do in your parts.
  4. Incite Public Participation – With the explosion of Wikis in the past few years, its only natural that maybe there could be some influence from them for online marketing as well. After all, these days when doing a search on Google you’re usually bound to find something cited from the most famous wiki of them all, Wikipedia. Here is a great slideshare presentation about nonprofits using Wikis – a nice basic overview with some more advanced info at the end.
  5. Make Impromptu Podcasts – Podcasts were all the rage about three years ago and they’ve recently died down in participation but we don’t believe they’ve died down in need. Supporters want to know and see everything they can about your organization, now more than ever before. So why not make a podcast and show them? if you make a regular podcast that is heartfelt and sincere, then your listeners will most likely appreciate it more than one that has been fine tuned and cleverly crafted in the confines of a production studio. Our client Catskill Animal Sanctuary has some great videos that do this well. Think about it this way, which would the average person want to see on TV, a reality show or a sitcom? They’d probably say a sitcom. Now, if we dropped in on their viewing habits, we’re willing to bet that they will actually watch the reality show. We’re human and we are voyueristic at heart, so why not use it to your advantage when it comes to marketing? It doesn’t have to be polished, it just has to be genuine!
  6. Use Visual Content – Humans are also extremely visual. Our brains react to the texture, color, shading, tone, and text used in an image. Couple this with the mobile phone capabilities we mentioned above and Voila! Now you’ve got yourself a marketing tool that can use imagery and be updated extremely quickly all by pressing the send button. Meatless MondayFirst Book, and Robin Hood NYC do a great job at this.
  7. Create an Advisory Team – In the sports world we’d classify an Advisory Team as the Athletes that endorse the clients product, but in the world of online marketing we can think of it as a team of industry professionals that want to share what they love. A very good example of this is Razoo’s Blog, a smathering of information on social media and fundraising tips for non-profits with well known non-profit authors John Haydon, Geoff Livingston, and Alexandra Bornkessel. Their authors aren’t only well known figures in the nonprofit world, but they also offer up articles, suggest contributing authors that Razoo should tap, and generally set the tone of the blog.
  8. Make it Informal – We’ve already hinted at it above, but sometimes it looks like the only thing getting in the way of many a causes online marketing initiative is their own need to craft and refine their message. Maybe if we took a more informal approach and got it out there in the first place, then we’d know what to refine to keep the message moving in the direction we want it to go. Without getting too far off topic, what we mean is that if you spent less time in the board room and more time on the web, then maybe fighting content rot wouldn’t be so difficult. After all, the web is about content, and if you aren’t creating then you’re lurking.
  9. Subscribe to Other RSS Feeds – What better way to give your websites viewers the content they want than showing them posts and news from other websites that they also probably enjoy. We haven’t seen anyone with the cajones to try this on yet (let us know if you’ve found an example) but we’re willing to bet that if you displayed relevant info from other sites with your supporters interests as little callouts on your site, that you visitors would appreciate it. We do that here on our site with the Google Reader box on the side bar.
  10. Use Your Other Social Media Profiles – With a little bit of muscle from your companies web developer/designer, you can usually integrate the profiles you use for the company on other social networks into your own website. If you are using something like Drupal or WordPress this is a relatively small task. For instance, on our blog we automagically bring in our feed to show links we’re interested in sharing with our visitors and on we also bring in our twitter feed to let folks know about small bits of news regarding our company.

A Great Cause Marketing Example: Planet Fitness Mother’s Day Sale

When it comes to cause marketing many brands and causes get it completely wrong by offering small percentages of sales or taking extreme advantage of the partnering non-profit. Essentially, these companies make millions of dollars and non-profits struggle for even making 3% or less on the profits of their products.

Well we were delighted to hear that Planet Fitness is giving 100% of the down payments for new clients that join the club to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation for their Mother’s Day Sale. How awesome is that!? Every $10 down payment collected will be donated to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation to support breast cancer research. Their tag line is “do it for you, do it for Mom, do it for all moms.”

We love it when corporations have the courage to do a real cause marketing campaign that has the ability to create a real impact. Its even cooler when we here that it really had an impact, Planet Fitness Sale Raises Over $370,000 for The Breast Cancer Research Foundation

We’re Nominated for Osocio’s Best Campaign of 2010

We’re ecstatic to here that Mark & Phil, along with our friends at Greener Media, have been nominated for Osocio’s Best Campaign of 2010. The nomination is for our work on Instant Oil Spill, which won the Best Campaign for June 2010 at Osocio. We’re up against some pretty awesome competition so we’re really not expecting to win but being nominated with all of these great campaigns is honor enough for us!

Cause Marketing: Make It Authentic

In the following video, BusinessWeek Magazine presents an interesting angle on how cause marketing worked for Weight  Watchers. Dr. Lucile Pilling identifies three specific things that the company did to really tap into their cause marketing campaign’s full potential without jeopardizing the causes authenticity. The main message is how “corporate social responsibility initiatives can win customers and attract new talent — when they stick to the company’s brand message”.