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Top 5 summer iPhone apps for the nonprofit communicator


I know… some of you might be saying… “iPhone apps? What about Android and Blackbery?” Well, here at the Workshop a majority of us are iPhone users. But, we would love to hear what apps you are using on other platforms. Add your comments below!

Here’s what we love using lately… Read the rest of this entry »

People to Pitch: CAN TV

Watch our latest video, and learn how CAN TV can help nonprofits tell their stories and raise awareness about their issues.

People To Pitch: Tiffany Bosely, CAN TV from Community Media Workshop.

Chicago nonprofit awesome holiday gift ideas

Shoot and Score, by Vron, from flickr

Shoot and Score, by V'ron, from flickr

I scoff at Christmas decorations in stores before Thanksgiving is over, but in the spirit of, if you can’t beat ’em join ’em & for those of us already thinking about spending our scant $$ for holiday gifts–it seemed like a good moment to list nonprofits that sell stuff — specifically, gifts for the holidays!

This post was inspired by lunch a week or 2 ago with Megy Karydes — writer, marketing/PR consultant and born and bred Chicagoan. So, full disclosure, a bunch of these are folks she works for.

I’ve looked through the sites though, and fell comfortable this is a solid list of great causes offering cool stuff.

Artisans 21 around the corner from my home in Hyde Park is one of the country’s oldest cooperative art galleries, I was there this morning, and saw some photos and demitasse cups for espresso that caught my eye (rather large for those who like me need their coffee strong and lots of it).

Bright Endeavors aims to break the cycle of poverty experienced by inner-city, homeless and at-risk young women 16–25 by teaching them skills to become self-sufficient, successful adults. They make Dreambean Candles as well as other products, like an $8 jar of bath sea salts to a $60 Tealightful Gift Box which includes candles, bath tea bags and fair trade, organic tea.

Greenheart, in Bucktown, carries fair trade and handmade items from more than a dozen developing countries as well as local organizations. Megy says the nonprofit ecofriendly and fair trade shop hosts a launch party Dec. 2 for a new line of copper and brass jewelry from South Africa.

If you would like to give a gift to charity in honor of a friend or family member, consider Hope for a Hurting World Catalog from Heartland Alliance, one of our region’s largest and most vital advocates for and providers of human services. Gifts range from $15-550 and include an infant care kit to healthy snacks for an after-school program. 

MayaWorks works with women in Guatemala to make gifts, home accents, jewelry and, most recently, introduced a baby collection. Baby booties for 6-12-month-olds are $15 a pair. Their best-selling item? yarmulkes.

Update! If you are more of a gift card kind of person — or you have to give a gift card kind of a gift — Oakbrook, Ill.-based nonprofit Opportunity International lets you buy a card whose recipient can designate the funds for a microloan to a woman enterpreneur in Kenya, Ghana, Colombia, Mexico or the Philippines. It looks pretty simple to do, check it out at OptInNow.

Update! Porchlight Counseling Services, an Evanston-based agency that offers counseling and other resources to survivors of college sexual assault, are selling “(k)no(w)more beads” this holiday season–beaded bracelets with an amethyst stone as a centerpiece: “(k)no(w)more beads represent empowerment, resistance, and community connectedness by insisting that the public know more about sexual assault and demanding that sexual assault be no more,” Stephanie Boehmer of Porchlight writes.

Reason to Give, the Firebelly Design-initiated campaign for supporting Humboldt Park families, plans a “holiday pop-up shop” with lots of artists and inexpensive art at Firebelly’s studio from 5 to 10 p.m. Friday, Dec. 4.

Sweet Beginnings markets Beeline, a line of honey-based personal care products which are handmade by individuals facing barriers to employment, particularly those with histories of criminal conviction.

I think of The Enterprising Kitchen, which helps women work toward self-sufficiency and economic independence by handcrafting soap and body care products out of its Ravenswood studio, as a grandma of Chicago’s social-enterprises. They offer products from $5 to $350 or will be happy to make up a custom order (baskets, anyone?) if you’d like.

WomanCraft is a nonprofit in North Lawndale whose green, handmade paper sheets are embedded with wildflower seeds including flax, cornflower, echinacea, coreopsis, larkspur, and black-eyed Susan seeds. A set of 10 cards is $13.

Need more inspiration? A few more posts featuring Chicago and some Midwest nonprofits’ gift ideas: from and the Reader’s great Holiday Shopping event calendar.

Buy, buy, buy! Who am I missing do you think? And/or, if I missed your organization and you would like me to add you, let me know here.

(You can also add your nonprofit to our brand-new nonprofit organization directory here).

New news, nonprofits, and social media

Survey Npcommunicators

I’ve been meaning to share this for a while. At the end of the summer, one of the more intriguing responses to our annual survey of nonprofit communicators was to the question, “How has the economic crisis affected the way your organization communicates?”

It was a bit of a good news/bad news response:

Remembering Studs

by Thom Clark
One year ago today, as we all awaited the final days of an historic election campaign, our mentor Studs Terkel passed away, his absentee ballot un-cast. The self described eclectic disk jockey, Pulitzer prize winning author and cheer leader for humanity would have railed against the media for it’s mis-coverage this past week of worker protests against bonus-buck bankers conferring in Chicago, just as I remembered him yelling at the tube’s cable talkers on a Sunday morning 54 weeks ago when I last visited him at his home. “Will Barack make it?” he wondered as the latest debate was being parsed. “What a mess the Cubs and Sox made of their seasons, again,” Studs moaned in the next moment. Then he moved onto our 2009 Terkel awardees (Scott Simon, David Jackson and Alden Loury). There was never a dull moment in Studs’ living room.Studs & Thom March 2007We miss ya Studs!

Managing Technology to Meet Your Mission…the book

In the end, if there had been more than the 18 or so people who turned out to hear Steve Heye of the Metro Chicago YMCA speak about his chapter of the new book Managing Technology to Meet Your Mission (produced by the Nonprofit Technology Network, published by Jossey-Bass) we probably might have had less good of a time, because Steve might have presented his prepared powerpoint, from the podium, in the theater, instead of opening in late-night pitchman style while we sat on the couches in the adjacent open space (see video).

The Secret to Managing Tech for Nonprofits… May Be To Buy This Book from Community Media Workshop on Vimeo.

(Apologies for the shaky wrist with the camera–it’s a first date with the flip camera for me).

After the pitchman-style intro, Steve delivered a thoughtful presentation outlining some of the issues the book takes up.

Working at a small organization, I tend not to think about or understand as much of the issues that the “IT department” has to deal with. It was kind of refreshing to talk about technology and not discuss social media–the focus was more on aligning IT with overall organizational operations and strategy (the subject of Steve’s chapter in the new work). Read the rest of this entry »

Taglines-Earnest Folks, Aren’t We?

New Yorker cartoon captions they are not.

Looking at nonprofits through the prism of our taglines–thanks to Nancy Schwartz’s new Nonprofit Tagline Report, which came out this week, I just have to say it: We are one earnest group of people.

If you’re at a nonprofit and online, chances are you know about this, but if not–Nancy, a New York-based marketing guru, solicited and received input from literally thousands of folks at nonprofits, including a final vote that produced 13 best taglines by popular acclaim: Read the rest of this entry »

Health Care Never Trends

Have you read the “Obama plan” for health care? I finally started this morning.

If you’re like me you’ve probably finally started to pay attention now that the debate has reached a crisis (I know, I’m not proud of my ignorance, but what can you say). Getting caught up to the headlines got me curious about how some longtime local health-care advocacy organizations have been dealing with the related issues of finding their issue in the spotlight and moving their work onto the Web, and next week I’ll share some case-study-type thoughts from a couple of local organizations, with a little about both their take on the debate and how they are handling the attention.

Meantime, I did some background research, and the first thing I found was the “Obama Plan,” more or less. It’s right here, with specifics and everything. I got there from but the page, “” is officially maintained by the Department of Health and Human Services. Read the rest of this entry »

Reaching new audiences in central Illinois

Elizabeth Simpson of Champaign's do Good Consulting and Pamela Salela of the Central Illinois Nonprofit Resource Center in Springfield were among attendees who put messages in balloons, tossed them around the room to others, then popped the balloons to reveal resources wanted or to share at the Downstate Illinois Nonprofit conference.

Elizabeth Simpson of Champaign's do Good Consulting and Pamela Salela of the Central Illinois Nonprofit Resource Center in Springfield were among attendees who put messages in balloons, tossed them around the room to others, then popped the balloons to reveal resources wanted or to share at the Downstate Illinois Nonprofit conference.

Frankly, I was a little nervous when I got to the Lumpkin Foundation-sponsored Downstate Illinois Nonprofit Conference in Champaign. Always a little nervewracking to go somewhere that you know in advance you probably will not know most of the people!

Anyway, during the afternoon table-talk conversation I had planned to go over to the social media or marketing/communications topic tables but somehow it seemed like an even better fit when I ended up at a table where the discussion centered on reaching out to new audiences. Read the rest of this entry »

Staff’s Elevator Pitch

One of the most popular custom workshops that organizations ask us to present to their staff is the Elevator Pitch, so we decided to see how our staff sees the Workshop itself.

We used a worksheet created by Sue O’Halloran, where you make your elevator pitch follow this format.

You know how… (problem)? Well what we do is… (feature). So that… (benefit). We’re kind of like the… (metaphor).

Here are the elevator pitches that the Community Media Workshop Staff came up with:

Thom Clark (President)

Hi, I’m Thom Clark of the Community Media Workshop at Columbia College.
You know how community groups complain about getting news coverage about their work?
Well, at the Community Media Workshop, we coach nonprofit communicators on how to get their story out, to the media, volunteers, donors and customers. Through three websites, an annual media guide and Newstips for reporters, we help journalists learn of these stories. We’re kinda like a little league coach, helping organizations get off the minor league bench and onto the front page of the New York Times.

Gordon Mayer (Vice-President)

Hi, my name is Gordon Mayer and I work at Community Media Workshop. You know how nonprofit volunteers and staff feel like if they could just tell more people about their work, it would help to make the world a better a place (and help them raise more money)? Well, what we do is provide communications coaching and training for nonprofit volunteer and staff communicators, and help journalists find sources in the nonprofit community. The benefit of our work is that nonprofit communicators can focus on the communications tasks they need to do, to leave time for and help support all the other stuff they have to get done as part of their jobs. We’re kind of like a voice coach, because even though we all know how to communicate, everyone can learn to really project so their voices can be heard more clearly by more people.

Demetrio Maguigad (New Media Manager)

You know how everyone is trying to make sense of “Social Media?” What we do is help nonprofits think more strategically about it to find out what it is they actually need – specific tools and how to use them, so they can focus on getting their message and story out! We’re kind of like a brita water filter – providing you with a more clear approach to your story telling.

Maggie Walker (Executive Assistant)

You know how nonprofits are doing all kinds of good work that know ones knows about?  Well we offer communications trainings and coaching to help them tell their stories in traditional and new media, so that they can spread the word about the work that they do.

Diana Pando (Senior Trainer)

You know how nonprofits have trouble telling their story to the media and other audiences? Well what we do is provide communication training and coaching to nonprofits. So that they can tell their story about the work their organization is doing to media, funders and supporters. We are kind of like a mega phone for nonprofits

Lovette Ajayi (Marketing Coordinator)

You know how nonprofits can have smaller resources and lack the know-how to market themselves effectively? Well, what we do is give nonprofit organizations communications coaching and training so that they can advance their missions and tell their stories better. We’re kind of like the people who teach nonprofits how to fish instead of having them pay for others to fish for them.

Jessica Rosenberg (Intern)

You know how it can be difficult getting your stories out to the media?  Well the Community Media Workshop offers communications trainings so that nonprofits can effectively communicate with journalists.  We’re like a bridge that links nonprofits to the news media.

dalila Renteria (Intern)

You know how everyone always has something to say, or at least think they do? Well, what we do is teach people how to get their voice to the public through any means of communication so that it stands apart from the herd and gets noticed. We’re kind of like a top notch communications education with out the student loans.

Naomi Kothbauer (Intern)

You know how nonprofits can easily struggle with communication in the ever-changing media landscape?  Well, what we do is enable nonprofits to share their stories by supplying them with a comprehensive, up-to-date media guide and trainings so that they can outreach a broader range of the public.  We’re sort of like a conveyor belt for nonprofits.

Eric Harvey (Intern)

You know how community is an abstract idea, so abstract that it can seem non-existent? Well, what we do is make community more tangible by providing news publications with the resources they need. By helping to foster a healthily diverse set of news publications throughout Chicago, we try to raise awareness of often-overlooked sub-communities. We’re kind of like a group of midwives for community.

Well there you have it, folks. Ever considered having your staff do an Elevator pitch about your organization?


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