Archives For January 2012

Here’s an excerpt from a press release I sent out today for a project I’m working on right now — The Adoption Journey Project (

There’s two factors of this example I’d like to highlight.  .  .

But first, here’s the content about the campaign first:

This year’s football fans gathering at various watch parties will have access to one Super Bowl coach’s personal thoughts during halftime. A free downloadable video kit is available to local game watching party organizers which features Super Bowl winning coach Tony Dungy and his wife Lauren.

The video message includes a personal appeal to Americans on the subject of the current orphan crisis and adoption. Dungy is involved with The Adoption Journey Project ( to help influence more couples to consider adoption.

“The big win on Super Sunday would be to raise awareness about the millions of children who need a family. I would love to see thousands of local community groups and circles of friends gathering together to stop and consider how they can help,” said Dungy, the winning head coach of the 2007 Super Bowl Champion Indianapolis Colts.

“With more than 100,000 children in need of a stable and loving family in the US, if just a fraction of groups gathering to watch the Big Game influence just one family to adopt, we would make a huge dent in this social crisis,” said Marc Andreas, Vice President of Marketing at Bethany Christian Services, the largest adoption agency in the country.



Basically, we’re asking anyone that’s hosting a Super Bowl watch party to play 3 minute Tony Dungy video message sometime during the halftime.  Dungy is the Super Bowl winning coach of the 2007 Indianapolis Colts team.  PLUS, the 2012 Super Bowl is being hosted in Indianapolis this year.  And Tony & Lauren Dungy are also Christians as well as adoptive parents.

The downloadable video file is available at — along with instructions to burn it to DVD or stream it to TV set-top boxes like AppleTV, Tivo or WD Live devices.  Hosts can also download a printable conversation guide with some suggestions on how to set it up and spark some discussion.

So what are the two factors I wanted to highlight about this campaign?

(1) The usage of press releases and a resource-filled landing page is a tool most non-profits and ministries really should be considering.  The release is being sent out over PR Newswire and Christian Newswire.  We’ll see for sure over the next week or so if utilizing these outlets will gain us positive coverage and exposure.  But in general, using a tier-1 wire service can really help the cause.

Once the release is published it will also help us in approaching bloggers and other influential leaders by pointing to a media resource page with some or all of the following:

  • clean full text copies of the published press release — both as text on the page as well as a downloadable PDF.  For example, you can find the PDF of the full press release on the Halftime video campaign landing page
  • listings of early media hits for the story to give social proof
  • downloadable and embedable video clips that relate to the story
  • static images / photos that help tell the story — with captions
  • background on your organization, sometimes called “boilerplate” ABOUT US type info
  • FAQ’s that anticipate the basic questions a writer will have about the story
  • contact information so media can reach out to you to coordinate interviews and quotes

(2) See how this campaign takes advantage of timing around another public event — with this example, it is a national event that is brings with it a lot of pre-existing top-of-mind and awareness related to the advocate talking about the cause.

Over 100 Million people will be gathering around TV’s to watch the Big Game on Feb 5th, so it is a rare opportunity to reach tons of local groups huddled around the TV set on a single day.  If just a tiny portion of a percentage of game watching parties actually showed the video, having the Dungy give this appeal to Americans about the orphan crisis could make for a huge win for adoption initiatives.

Keeping tabs on current and upcoming trends will help you jump on the bandwagon and take advantage of topics that have built-in enthusiasm from the media community.  If you build your story properly, you’ll be able to get your message played in front of the audience others are already building for you.


If you still aren’t sure about press releases in general, I’ve written before about why I think press releases are a good tactic to use in your communications mix.

QUESTION: How can you start using press releases to draw supporters, participants and simply more awareness to your programming efforts?  Leave your brainstorming comments below.


Your church marketing worked.

New people that have never been to your church before walk through the doors.  So what do you do?  

Do you accost them and demand they fill out the “visitor card” so you can stalk them or nag them like a telemarketer?  Do you have a committee that instantly has a dozen people “friend” them on Facebook out of the blue?  Do you ask them to stand-up in front of everyone during service and make them stand out literally like a sore thumb with the intention of making them feel “welcome”?

One tactic that is widespread is the first time visitor bag. . . A goodie bag filled with marketing collateral that probably hardly gets read, along with some tchotchke or knicknacks that are are usually branded with your church logo or carries a cross or a dove or an icon of the bible.

Here’s some ideas to keep this tactic fresh:


What did you find in a first time gift big when you visited your currently minstry? Anything out of the ordinary”


This is the third in a series of guest posts by Howard Freeman – Founder and Principal of Zoey Creative Development, a charitable giving consultancy in NYC serving both organizations and also individual philanthropists.

He is also the author of the upcoming book on online giving called, ‘Making A Difference 2.0’ (Skyhorse Publishing, May 2012) and can be reached at



During the last two segments, we’ve looked at finding more money and raising more money.

This week, we look at tending to what we’ve found and been entrusted with.

Wise farmers, and smart geneticists who deal with environmental issues, know that over-farming or farming the wrong crops can all but permanently ruin a piece of land.

Those of us in ministry who ask our people to give need to consider them not as ATMs but as living, organic beings who are created in God’s image (Gen 1), are fearfully and wonderfully made (Ps 139) and in fact are God’s very handiwork (Eph 2:10).  If we truly took these truths to heart, we would fully engage in the top two tasks yet not fail to do the last.

Let the ground ‘lay fallow’ sometimes.

One of my favorite ministry leaders sends monthly letters that one might expect would ask for support but instead tell a story and relate one of God’s truths.  They bless me.  I look for them in the mail, and I have given to this organization simply because it refreshes me, in addition to the good work I believe it does.

Likewise, the national political campaigns that have raised the most money online since 2000 have been the ones that emphasize building community first and ask for money second.  (They want money, no doubt, but they know what must come first in donors’ minds.)  The most successful of these to date solicited one time for every nine news items or community messages.

Refresh your donors.

Thank them often.

And trust the sovereignty and goodness of God who—when you selflessly invest in the spiritual growth of your givers, whom he has made for a purpose—will provide for you to carry out your purpose as an organization.

This is the second in a series of guest posts by Howard Freeman – Founder and Principal of Zoey Creative Development, a charitable giving consultancy in NYC serving both organizations and also individual philanthropists.

He is also the author of the upcoming book on online giving called, ‘Making A Difference 2.0’ (Skyhorse Publishing, May 2012) and can be reached at



Last time we looked at how to find more money.

Christian organizations should avail themselves of select professional tools like prospect research, because fundraising and engaging donors in a vision is a profession and should be approached with professional standards and ethics.

This week we look at raising more money. Our recommendation is not exactly ‘orthodox’ by traditional fundraising standards. But it is biblical.

Most organizations try to employ increasing numbers of tactics to make people give larger gifts and more frequently.  Some of these techniques are certainly useful, such as one- or two-click online giving, multiple methods of giving, fundraising events, classes in budgeting (to reduce debt and free up income for giving), etc.

But the truly radical way to get people to give is to teach them what the Bible has to say about money, who Jesus is, and calling them to live a holistically generous life.

What makes it radical is to do it with no expectation of return.  (Try passing this by your church finance team!)

One group doing this very well and offering programs almost free to Christian organizations is Generous Giving.

Their ‘Journey of Generosity’ (JOG) events now have metrics to show that the transformation of attendees is not just deeper discipleship but—to make those finance teams happy—fuller coffers.  Of those surveyed:

  • 75% say that the JOG “changed their perspective or practice related to generosity.”
  • 43% say they have already made a new gift they would not have made before the JOG.
  • 76% say they plan to make a gift in the next 12 months they would not have made before the JOG.
  • 97% say they have talked about the impact with someone else.
  • 77% say they plan to attend another GG event in the next 12 months.

The key, though, is that it must be done for them, and not for your organizational budget.

While space doesn’t allow here, studies by George Barna and Brian Kluth show that regularly talking about the budget from the pulpit can increase giving marginally, but teaching on generosity can increase giving exponentially.

In the next and final post, we look at something—stewardship—that the best secular and faith-based organizations both do well.

And I use the metaphor of the world’s oldest profession.  (It’s not what you think…)