Use Testimonials in Your Social Media Postings

((CARL: This is a reprint of Nancy’s article with her permission))

Testimonials Can Spur The Confidence and Actions You Want

By Nancy E. Schwartz

Publisher – / President – Nancy Schwartz & Company

Nancy E. Schwartz helps nonprofits succeed through effective marketing. Nancy and her team provide marketing planning and implementation services to nonprofit organizations and foundations nationwide. She is the publisher of the Getting Attention e-update and blog. For more nonprofit marketing guidance like this, subscribe to her e-update at

You tell me you’re always seeking more effective ways to build interest and action. Well, there’s no better way than letting your supporters and partners do the talking with testimonials.You’ve seen testimonials for every type of program, issue and organization imaginable. They’re brief quotes from a member of your nonprofit’s network—donor, volunteer, client, staffer, member or community stakeholder—that clearly and briefly express how your organization’s work has benefited her life or that of her family or community. But still, few of you use testimonials to full effect.

Today, I hope to motivate you to start putting testimonials to work via this easy-to-get-to success story from Help a Reporter Out (HARO).

HARO tweeted a request for testimonials, and got stellar results (in 140 characters or less) tweeted out. HARO then retweeted these mini-testimonials to its own 61,000 followers. Trustworthy referrals and exponential reach, at no cost, and little effort.

Look at these responses they received from satisfied customers, the first from an expert source and the second from a journalist who found the sources he needed.

Nonprofit Testimonials

Take a look at what could be…these powerful examples are drawn from nonprofit websites:

Volunteer: The hours that I spend volunteering for HOM are the best part of my week. I always look forward to coming into the office and seeing other volunteers and the delightful staff, and I especially cherish the times when I go visit patients. I feel that discovering Hospice has been one of the greatest events in my life.

Donor: I had the opportunity to witness the growth and development of children in need when I volunteered at Berea Children’s Home and Family Services while in college. The children had experienced so much hurt from the past. This season, our families just really wanted to make a difference…so we all made gifts to BCHFS. [We] could not be more satisfied and confident knowing that our gifts positively impact children’s lives.

Client: I came into the hospital a very nervous hip replacement patient. I left confident and relaxed, comfortable with my ability to care for myself and my family…You cared for me intensely when I needed care, and let me care for myself when I was ready. What more could a rehabilitation patient ask for?

Add a name, title and employer name and testimonials power up:
It is always wonderful to see what we accomplish during our projects. We really feel like we make a difference by improving the land and beautifying the urban wilds,” said Matt Lynde, a Boston Cares project leader who works with EarthWorks Projects to spruce up and landscape wildlife sanctuaries in Boston.

Add a headshot, and the testimonial comes to life at its strongest. 

Nothing you or your colleagues say is as strong as the words of your supporters’ peers, friends or family.

Why Testimonials Work

For prospective clients, donors, partners and others, there’s nothing more valuable than hearing from peers on what their experiences have been with your organization and its programs and services. Testimonials carry more credibility than anything you could say yourself.  And, others speaking about your nonprofit may have glowing comments about your work that you would be embarrassed to share yourself.

Your prospect expects you to go on and on about the impact of your nonprofit or the importance of your new program. However, when you have someone who has experienced that benefit first hand, their comments are much more convincing and accepted!

Keep this in mind though: The most powerful testimonials aren’t about your organization; they’re about how someone much like the prospect has benefited from involvement with your organization. So the more specific and genuine the testimonials, the more they’re likely to move your people.

How to Get Testimonials and Use Them for All They’re Worth

  1. Follow up regularly with clients, volunteers, donors and others, asking for feedback. Doing so via an online survey such as Survey Monkey can be effective, or mini-polls via Facebook and Twitter. Follow up as soon after your interaction with your audiences as possible, while the experience is still fresh.
  2. Ask for one or two sentences describing the value of the experience with your organization whether it be program participation, giving or use of your counseling service. Try to focus testimonials on an objection your prospects are likely to have, such as volunteering takes a lot but doesn’t give much back.
  3. Provide an example to make it easier for your supporters to craft a useful statement. You can even draft a testimonial to be OK-d or revised.
  4. Request permission to use the testimonials in your marketing and fundraising campaigns.
  5. Take the testimonial you get and shape it into a brief but powerful statement. Limit testimonial length to one or two brief sentences, with a photo whenever you can get it.
  6. To ensure credibility, include the name and title of the person contributing the testimonial and the name of their business or organization if relevant. In some cases, issues of confidentiality will make attribution impossible. If this is the case, create a profile to serve as an attribution, e.g. “Donny R., 30 years old, and WHR dental patient for over ten years.”
  7. Integrate testimonials in general and more targeted communications, both online and offline. I feel that spreading testimonials throughout your online and offline channels and campaigns has far greater impact than concentrating them on a single page. By spreading them out, prospects are more likely to see them even if they don’t read every page.
  8. Make sure to refresh your testimonials on an ongoing basis to reflect current programming and campaigns.

Start Your Testimonial Collection Campaign Today

Yes, get out there and start soliciting testimonials from audiences today. Remember to ask for testimonials whenever possible, and use them often and wisely!

In addition to great marketing content, you’ll be getting useful insights to strengthen the way your organization does business. Bonus!

How Do You Put Testimonials to Work?

Please share your take on gathering, shaping and sharing testimonials here.

Tagged as: nonprofit communicationsnonprofit marketingnonprofit storytellingnonprofit testimonial

Nancy Schwartz in Nonprofit Storytelling | 9 COMMENTS

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Non-Profits – Get your Message Out with Audio Podcasts

Ray Ortega Seminar Notes
DC Social Media Week
February 20, 2013

I am doing volunteer marketing work for two local DC area non-profits looking to improve their social media communications.  I began thinking of podcasts when I realized how much I listen to NPR radio shows such as MarketPlace and Fresh Air in their podcast format when I cook dinner or walk my dog.  Both shows present complex ideas  that I would not take the time to read in an email or blog in an audio format I will happily listen to while doing something else – a true 21st Century American.

What luck to find Ray’s seminar! Ray produces and assists people in learning to produce their own podcasts.  The following are his insights. You can find him at the above website or @podcasthelper.

Length: 20 to 30 minutes is the sweet spot as it is the average commute time that someone would listen into.

Frequency: Weekly episodes is realistic. Doing more will lower your quality, doing less will lose your audience engagement.

Format: Start with Audio only. It is easier for you to produce and your audience to access. Most video ends up watching “talking heads.” Which leads into content.

Content: People love listening to conversations over a long speech any day. Do  a Question & Answer with an expert , round table discussions on a topic of interest, etc. DO NOT SCRIPT. Just have an outline to make sure the important points are covered and not forgot.

Equipment: The ATR2100 USB microphone is less the $50 and will do all you need for indoor, small studio work.  You Ipod headset will let you check the audio as you record and the software is free. Either AUDACITY or GARAGEBAND will do.

Expect a 4:1 ratio of work time to show time. One hour of production and editing will get you 15 minutes of podcast showtime.

I believe  this will turnout to be a faster turnaround than writing a blog or email on the same content that will reach fewer people. Try both ways with a stop watch!

— Carl

Social Media Disrupting Non-Profit Fundraising in Unexpected Ways


The Permanent Disruption of  Social Media by Julie Dixon and Denise Keyes is an excellent article on how social media has not turned non-profit fundraising upside down, but has had an impact none the less. And in unexpected ways.  Social Media according to the authors  provides the means for organizations to leverage their supporters’ social networks in ways beneficial to the non-profit.

My volunteer work with non-profits through the Taproot Foundation is flooding me with overlapping donation requests, time wasting emails, tweets and FB postings – a total overload of communications to someone who wants to help and give.  This never happened in the old days. Back then the charities my wife and I supported  knew our donation level and types of volunteering activities. They limited contact accordingly. They had us pegged, or in today’s lingo “segmented”.

The article’s chart shows how today’s sophisticated non-profits look at supporters’ INVOLVEMENT and INFLUENCE as a grid.


The article suggests the largest social media opportunity for non-profits is   to identify supporters with large social networks of their own that the non-profit can then leverage.  The simplest example is  small donors can have big impact on a fundraising campaign just by forwarding the request to people in their own network.

Unfortunately the article missed the opportunity to relate this to current best practices in lead generation used by private industry, especially Eloqua’s approach to managing prospective buyers.


This are my notes of the Non-Profit Digital Strategies Seminar put on by the AMA DC Chapter on 12/18/12


Brendan Hurley/Chief Marketing Officer – Goodwill of Greater DC

Kerry Morgan/SVP Marketing Communications – United Way, DC

Craig Oldham/VP Marketing,-American Red Cross

Amy DeMaria/SVP Communications – Cystic Fibrosis Foundation

Panel comments sorted by who said what to make it easier to follow up contact a panelist. I spoke afterwards with Amy (CF) and Craig (Red Cross). They are all nice folk and easily approachable.

Amy/Cystic Fibrosis Foundation (National) 

  • Facebook is their core vehicle, NOT WEB but future depends on Zuckerberg
    • 150,000 Facebook followers
      • 77% Women-mothers with CF children
      • Want information on helping their kid’s life: nutrition, etc
      • 10% foreign
    • Post new content every 2 to 3 weeks
      • Check to see how viral each post spreads
      • Has 3 member staff creating professional content for web, tweets and Facebook. Too important for junior staff or younger writer.
      • Know your audience. Why they come to your Facebook page, build content to THEIR interest not yours. No need to be on all the latest sits such as Instagram, Pinterest. Go where you audience spends most time and do that well.
      • Copy write to people, don’t be an organization writing to donors
    • Monetizing Facebook page big problem for Cystic Fibrosis
      • Corporate sponsors want to be on CF page to promote themselves
      • CF believes this is conflict of interest. Will not link to sponsors or even mention their drugs.
    • CF puts Facebook and twitter URLs on all materials they send out, not their website!
    • HOWEVER, not all Facebook centric marketing programs worked for CF. They did major fundraising campaign focusing on the facebook friends of CF facebook Friends. TOTAL FLOP, because the “friends of friends” did not have CF children! Not emotional invested in same cause. (Goodwill did same thing with the fashionista facebook Friends of Friends and was huge hit – both groups where fashion conscious!)
    • Peer to Peer fundraising is growing via Facebook
  • Mobile is on rise – Quick to use, focused. Simple and clean content.

Kerry/United Way (DC area chapter)   

(It is very important to realize the United Way model is very different than the other attendees. Her comments reflect this)

  • Need to combine on and off line to create complete community.
  • Suggests using LIGHTBOX to create simple 2 field pop up for email and donations
  • Sees movement to multiple charities on the same page, the consumer choices which

one to donate to (remember she is United Way)

  • Was not emailing two years ago, now has 40,000  list. Must decide upfront if you are going to segment this audience and devote the resources to create and maintain programs for each of the segments. Otherwise, don’t do it.
    • 1st wave had major unsubscribe rate
    • Must ENGAGE recipients
      • Surveys of 3 to 5 short questions: What r biggest issues? do u think?
      • Advocacy: Call your congressman, do this, etc
  • These 40,000 donors segmented into 23 sub-segments which get unique sub-segment message emails every 6 weeks
  • Authorized Facebook and Twitter posters must go through ONE hour of training
  • Must have alignment within the organization as to what you want to accomplish and how you are going to do it on-line
    • Most United Way donations done via on-site corporation fundraising of employees. Should we ask for individual’s emails? Or rely on company?
    • 750 non profits under the United Way umbrella. Facebook is not helpful to United Way. Yet Twitter very good.
      • Tweets are fast, easy to use by small non profits
      • Don’t start something unless you can keep at it 1 to 2 years to build. That is how long it took to go from 160 to 2,000 twitter followers
  • Giving Tuesday is going to take off (You would expect United Way to think this)
    • $2million raised in 24 hours from 18,000 unique donors for the participating organizations.
    • June 6th next event

Brendan/Goodwill (DC area)

(He was great, sophisticated in use of Facebook to reach his audience and engage them)

  • In last two years more donations moving on-line as their giving population ages and is more digital minded. Need to lay ground work NOW for millennial and Gen X/Yers to comfortably donate
  • Less than 2% donations from traditional cash donors, 80% from store revenue
  • People come to Goodwill for two very different reasons, Retail and Mission:
    • Gen Y & X big store shoppers. Goodwill stores considered “vintage”.
      • Have separate Facebook for Goodwill “fashionistas” shoppers
      • Content focused on fashion and the young/hipster
      • Includes fashion bloggers and tweets
  • Second group appreciates Goodwill’s Mission, gets separate Facebook
    • Workforce Development messages
    • Donations
  • Quickly realized “90%” of Goodwill’s staff did not understand what Goodwill was doing on line and why.
    • Need to explain to own organization on-line mission and programs before you go public with them on-line so EVERYONE in your organization is giving the public the right message.
    • Train own staff on using social media and understanding it. There is lots of hype and smoke on how to make money thru social media. Reality is social media is a way to ENGAGE and SELL your organization to your audience. They will donate money later.
    • Recommended watching/reading Steven Cook material on brand building for example

  • Moving marketing focus from web to Facebook
    • Facebook content dynamic, constant new material easy to post and easy to update by assigned staff vs having to go through a web master.
      • Has English and Spanish versions of fashion blogs.
      • Post 250 to 500 word blogs FIVE DAYS each week
    • Expect a 1 to 2 year process to build up to what you will want.

Craig/Red Cross

(Very approachable, most sophisticated in number crunching preparing the organization for change. From Chicago).

  • Must segment your givers. Red Cross clearly defines those that give TO the Red Cross vs those giving THROUGH the Red Cross
    Example: Hurricane Sandy created lots of donations by people who wanted to do something for the victims of Sandy, not interested in supporting Red Cross itself.

 Mobile phone donors give to EVENTS

    • Not organizational supporters
    • Bimodal amounts: lots of $10/$25 donations then jumped to $2,000 even
      a $50,000gift. BUT these people did not want any contact or follow up from
      Red Cross. Even the $50k donor pushed back.
    • $TEXT donors had poor ROI, mostly episodic, high mobile carrier costs
  • Personal mythbusting Craig offered to audience
    • Non-profits should use non-profit tools. NO! Techniques used in for-profit commerce and commercial agencies work well.
    • Non-profit tools cheaper. NO! Red Cross uses the Ann Taylor website tools for their fundraising. For-profit tools have economy of scale and better tested by people whose jobs depend on their effectiveness, ease of use and cost.
    • Donors want non-profit experience. NO! People coming to Red Cross website, Facebook and tweets expect same experience as when they visited Amazon, Apple, etc.
  • Corporate Mythbusting is very important. As you get into the data generated by on-line programs you start to rethink what works and what doesn’t’
    • Red Cross made mistake of not addressing this upfront. Have your organization agree from the beginning that you as a group will collect information to find out in an unemotional, fact driven way what works and what doesn’t. Set the hurdles and the number requirements upfront, then do the research to see if a program meets those hurdles.
    • They found many of their “legacy” programs (supported by emotionally invested staff and board members) did not have factually supported returns on the resources invested in them in spite of everyone’s expectations to the contrary.
  • Tweets great for single event crisis response as shown again by Sandy
  • Peer giving and sharing as big and growing.
  • Crowd rise big (I have no idea what this is – they do the wave?)
  • Know your numbers. Track daily traffic
  • Authorized Facebook and Twitter posters must go through FOUR hours of training

Social Media Notes B2B Basecamp: Various Stuff

Microsoft, Friendship Heights
Jan 12, 2012 B2B Basecamp

RADIAN 6 Presentation very poor and disorganized
Engagements and Impressions are the most important social media metrics. Forget Follower count, etc. Must drive to be the most influential in your field. Be the LEADER/EXPERT.

“Life is hard; it’s harder if you’re stupid” – John Wayne

Cannot be talking about yourself on social media. Must talk to your audience. Take a “social community with a manager” position.

Use LinkedIn Navigator.
A LinkedIn connection is 4x more influential over a cold call

Susan Kuhn
Met Susan. She is “Social Media Manager, Small Business Marketing Expert, Socialmedia Pro, SEO, Content Manager, E-Mail Marketing”  with specific expertise in non-profits. Great resource.

Beth Kanter and
Susan Kuhn recommended I follow Beth Kanter for suggestions on non-profit social media. the blog and her web site are great. SHE EVEN POSTS HER PRESENTATIONS for you to pull content for promoting your own social cause. A true believer in Marcus’ Stevens open content rules.

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