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.

Guerilla Marketing Slides

We had the pleasure of presenting at the Opportunity Green conference this year about Guerilla Marketing. Given our stance and emphasis on making sure that all good causes don’t spend their time, energy, and budgets wastefully – we put together a pretty comprehensive workshop that defines Guerilla Marketing, outlines its ingredients, provides real-world examples.

We’ve provided the slide below and you can also download an example marketing plan if you would like.

Feel free to follow me (@schutzsmith) or Mark & Phil (@markandphil) or send me a quick email (daniel@markandphil.com) if you have any questions or would like us to present a workshop like this in detail for your organization. (We’re willing to do it for travel expenses and beer! Not kidding!)

[slideshare id=10124525&doc=workshop-111111160516-phpapp02&w=600&h=500]

StumbleUpon Launches Program to Help Nonprofits

Its pretty cool to see that Stumble Upon has launched the Stumbling for Good program to help nonprofits! StumbleUpon, a discovery engine that recommends web and mobile content for its more than 15 million users, will help nonprofits reach users most likely to respond to their messages and engage with them via its new Paid Discovery social media brand ad platform. The program was started in early 2011 in a closed beta but has now opened up the program to more organizations.

Their first campaign has been to help the World Food Programme. Here is what they have to say about it.

East Africa is experiencing its worst drought in 60 years. Over 440,000 desperate Somalis have flooded into the refugee camp in Dadaab, Kenya, making it the largest in the world. News coverage and donations for aid have been slow to trickle in, leading President Obama to urge for more public awareness.

When the disaster hit, the World Food Programme turned to StumbleUpon to help drive greater awareness of the situation and feed starving people in Dadaab. The WFP created a site that calls stumblers to either complete a quiz to feed a child or donate directly to feed people affected by this catastrophe.

StumbleUpon donated credit in our Paid Discovery marketing platform to the WFP that brought these donation sites directly to members of our community. By stumbling, sharing, and engaging with the WFP sites, you, our amazing Stumblers, helped feed over 5,000 starving people in urgent need of help.


If your nonprofit would like to be considered for the Stumbling for Good program then email good@stumbleupon.com.

Also, feel free to follow us on StumbleUpon!

Image courtesy of RigasPapas on DeviantArt.

Idea: Viral Wallpaper

I stumbled onto this great exhibit from the Brothers Mueller called Viral Wallpaper. Essentially its an interactive piece that invites the user to touch the display. The more people that touch the display the quicker it starts to show its true colors, a viral pattern.

Even though this is a terrific art peice by itself, I can not help also but think of how wonderful it would be as an actual tool in our guerilla marketing arsenal. Imagine doing something similar in a shopping mall or busy street to draw attention to STDs or AIDS? We could also imagine how something like this might be used in some variation for a green campaign, maybe growing grass or showing a field of flowers as more people participate and giving across the message like “you can help grow a better world”. Here’s a great video of what it looked like.


We also found a great company out of the UK called Curb Media that has done a similar concept for the movie Contagion. They put up a virus wall in Toronto and then generated buzz about the movie with it. I think the future of marketing for causes is deeply rooted in a combination of traditional tactics and new theories like these, to draw attention but also to provoke discussion. Brilliant!