Insides

Toolkit

 

How to Ask a Great Question at a Town Hall Meeting

by Alex Adrianson

Some advice to put into practice from Generation Opportunity’s “Training Guide: How to Be Effective at a Town Hall Meeting”: Pick the Issue of Greatest Concern to You. After you have done your research, narrow down the question you want to ask to a single question – and then have …


Using Innovative Activism to Change the Local Political Culture

by Glen Morgan

IT SOUNDS LIKE A STORY President Obama might tell: Donna Baker, a disabled and retired state worker, lost her home in the face of mounting medical bills. Yet the culprit was not “substandard” insurance but a callous, out-of-control local government. Washington State’s Thurston County officials decided protecting a gopher species …


Hold Politicians’ Feet to the Fire: A Citizen’s Checklist for Assessing Government Actions

by Malia Hill

FEW PEOPLE STOP TO THINK about the importance of the first three words of the U.S. Constitution: “We the people.” That simple phrase is the heart of a revolution in the history of governance and the key to American exceptionalism. We, the people, grant rights to the government. Rights are …


Get Your Action Activated

by Alex Adrianson

Your 501(c)(3) nonprofit might want to set up a 501(c)(4) so it can lobby or organize a grass roots campaign on legislation. That way, you can have an affiliated organization do the lobbying while still preserving your tax exempt status for your non-lobbying activities. But there’s a way to do …


Twittivism: Using Twitter to Effectively Get Your Message Out to the World

by American Majority

Communication can be a powerful force when used effectively. One of the greatest advances in modern communication can be found in social web startups like Twitter. Activists and candidates can utilize this powerful tool to bypass mainstream media outlets, talking directly to fans, members and voters. With American Majority’s Twittivism Guide, …


The Patriot’s Guide: What You Can Do for Your Country

by The Heritage Foundation

Get Involved ● Practice the Virtues of Self Governance: 1) Be a responsible citizen; 2) Care for your family; 3) Practice your faith and defend your religious liberty; 4) Join organizations and volunteer in your local community; 5) Start a business and invest in America. ● Voice Your Opinion: 1) …


My Adventure in Self-Publishing: How You Can Take Advantage of Today’s On-Demand Publishing Tools, Too

by John J. Miller

THE ORIGINAL PLAN for my novel The First Assassin involved a high-stakes bidding war among major publishers, a million-copy laydown during the autumn book-buying season, a lavish promotional tour, a record-breaking movie rights deal, and a theme park ride in Florida. It didn’t work out that way. For a while, …


Followers & Friends: You Can Build a Social Media Presence

by Mark Kelly

I AM NOT UNDER THE AGE OF 30. I cannot write enough code to create a single page of a Web site. And two years ago when I was hired by The Heritage Foundation, social media was nowhere in my job description. Today I have over 630 friends on Facebook …


How to Form a State or Local Taxpayer Group

by Kristina Rasmussen and Pete Sepp

CHANCES ARE YOU’VE GOTTEN STEAMED over taxes at some point in your life. Probably many times. After all, this is America. Tax revolts run in our national DNA. However, taxpayers are too often forced to pour water frantically on tax hike flare-ups. Last-minute calls-to-action are sometimes sufficient, but the limited-government …


Celebrate the Constitution with the Bill of Rights Institute

by Victoria Hughes

SEPTEMBER 17 IS CONSTITUTION DAY. For every citizen who honors and upholds that document’s principles, this is a great day to celebrate and a great opportunity to educate our fellow citizens about what it means to be an American. A last-minute provision to the “Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2005” transformed …


3 Votes, 2 Years, 1 Cause: How Georgia Exploded on the School Choice Scene

by Jamie Self

THREE YEARS AGO, THE ONLY CHOICE Georgia students seemingly had was whether they wanted a rectangular pizza or to pack their own lunch. But in the span of one legislative term (two years), the state has emerged as an unlikely school choice pioneer with two major pieces of private school …


To Petition or Not to Petition

by Isabel Santa

PAUL JACOB IS A FATHER OF THREE who has worked tirelessly to advance liberty over the past several decades. His radio program, “Common Sense,” runs on 150 radio stations in 48 states. He has been called a “rising star in politics” by Campaigns & Elections magazine and dubbed one of …


How to Get Involved in the Policy Debates

There are a number of ways you can make your voice heard in Washington or at any level of government.  Anyone can become a grassroots activist on an issue or issues about which they feel passionate.  There are three essential aspects to an effective grassroots campaign.  First, you must become a …


Pounding the Pavement: How You Can Turn Abstract Ideas into Concrete Policy

by Marsha Richards

ANOTHER ELECTION DAY HAS COME and gone and the statistics show that it was the highest voter turnout since 1968 — 60.7 percent of registered voters (122 million people) voted in the November election. The flip side: more than 78 million Americans who were eligible to vote stayed home on …


Fight for People, not Against Things

by Arthur C. Brooks

I have known former House Speaker Newt Gingrich for many years. He is unfailingly quirky and interesting, and many of his ideas have proved visionary. Newt came to national prominence as the architect of the “Republican Revolution” of 1994, the midterm election when House Republicans won a majority for the …


3 Ways to Talk About Conservatism With a Liberal

by Beverly Hallberg

There is no faster way to kill a conversation than to categorize your perspective like it’s a to-do list. When talking about any issue, you have to connect with the other person’s interests. And that starts by being a good listener.


Sometimes a Question Is Better than an Answer

by John Stonestreet

Last week, at a gathering of strategists on some tough cultural issues, a very good point was made: Sometimes the right question at the right time is the best way to have a conversation with someone with whom you fundamentally disagree. I couldn’t agree more, especially when the topic is …


13 Most Common Mistakes People Make When Giving a Speech

by Jacquelyn Smith

Glossophobia–the fear of public speaking–is one of the most common phobias among Americans today. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, a whopping 74% of people suffer from speech anxiety. And, as most people know, when we’re nervous or anxious, our minds and bodies tend to doweird things that we can’t …


Give the Answer You Want, Not the One They Want: Use Block and Bridge (B2) to Make the Most of Your Interviews

by Beverly Hallberg

IT’S NO SECRET that many dread the unknown of reporters’ questions. The reason? Even the friendliest reporters are doing their job when they play devil’s advocate. But the true horror lies in hostile reporters trying to trip up their “guests” with the sole goal of shaming them in a never-to-forget …


Make Your Story a Good One

by Alex Adrianson

By now most of you probably know that think tanks need to tell stories to communicate their ideas. Some ways of telling stories, however, are better than others. And how do you do it within the confines of social media? Here are two ideas from Kimberly Grimms: Do it subtly, but …


How to Make Your Point on a Call-in Radio Show

by Alex Adrianson

If you’ve ever thought about calling in to a radio show to speak your mind, check out Generation Opportunity’s tips on how to make the most of your time on the air. Here are three guidelines to follow: Cut to the chase. The first rule of call-in radio is to …


How to Look Good in Interviews from Your Computer

by Alex Adrianson

Do you do live interviews over your computer? Ron Nehring has eight tips for how to make them look good; here are the first three: Ditch the headphones, this isn’t the subway. Those white Apple headphones with built in microphone might make you look cool, but on television they look …


People Don’t Buy What, They Buy Why

by Alex Adrianson

Is your messaging talking to the part of the brain that really controls behavior? According to Simon Sinek, most messaging puts the wrong information first: We talk about what and how instead of why. But if you start by talking about your purpose, then you will attract employees and colleagues …


Storytelling 101

by Alex Adrianson

So you want to tell a story as part of a presentation. Great, but some ways of telling a story are better than others. JD Schramm has a few ideas on how to do it right: Parachute in, don’t preamble. The best storytellers draw us immediately into the action. They …


Tips on Prepping for Media Interviews

by Amy Payne

Ask the media outlet before the interview: • What kind of interview is it – radio, television, or print? Will it be live or recorded? • How many interviewers will there be? • How long will the interview be? • How many topics will be covered? Set parameters on your …


Getting Government Records: How to File a Successful Freedom of Information Act Request

by Lisette Garcia

THE FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT (FOIA) (5 U.S.C. § 552) permits anyone, anywhere to obtain, upon request, an existing federal record used in executive branch business that is not already publicly available on a government website. Agencies must notify requesters within 20 days (excluding weekends and federal holidays) whether they …


Use the Freedom of Information Act

by Alex Adrianson

To really keep your government accountable, sometimes you have to get inside the belly of the beast and use the Freedom of Information Act to obtain government records. Here are a few things to know about how to make Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests: The federal Freedom of Information …


Don’t Ignore the Heart in the Battle for Minds

by Alex Adrianson

So you’ve got all the facts to demonstrate that more liberty is the solution for policy problem X. Why don’t more people agree with your prescription? Yes, the facts are important, but maybe you need to develop the ability to appeal to other people’s values. Fred Smith explains: Few people …


Hold Politicians’ Feet to the Fire: A Citizen’s Checklist for Assessing Government Actions

by Malia Hill

FEW PEOPLE STOP TO THINK about the importance of the first three words of the U.S. Constitution: “We the people.” That simple phrase is the heart of a revolution in the history of governance and the key to American exceptionalism. We, the people, grant rights to the government. Rights are …


YouTube Tips

by Alex Adrianson

Last weekend at RightOnline, Ed Frank gave a talk on how to produce effective YouTube videos. We were there and took notes: Why YouTube is important: YouTube gets over 3 billion views per day. Every minute 48 hours of video is uploaded. Eighteen- to 29-year-olds visit YouTube for political informatin more …


Saving the Republic Starts in the Classroom—One Lesson at a Time: An Insider Interview with Bob Chitester and Candy Mead

TEACHING YOUNG STUDENTS to think critically about public policy issues is no easy task. Teaching it to adults isn’t always easy either. Bob Chitester knows a little bit about both. Back in 1980 he produced the “Free to Choose” television series with Milton Friedman. That series was revolutionary because it …


Make Your Point with Better Graphics

by John W. Fleming

IT’S NO STRETCH TO SUGGEST that practically every public policy analyst working today has, at one time or another, taken figures from a spreadsheet and tried to generate a chart. And why not? Computer programs are replete with charting or graphing capabilities, and think tanks have access to enormous amounts …


Show-Me Institute Shows ’Em How to Get the Facts

by Eric Dixon

JOURNALISTIC ACCURACY IS INVALUABLE—and its value is nonpartisan. Anybody who values truth, oversight, and accountability for those who hold the public’s trust is well-served by the presence of objective, data-driven reporting in the mainstream media, no matter their political leanings. The Heritage Foundation has been holding a series of Computer-Aided …


Publishing to Influence: Regnery and the Role of Books

by Marji Ross

DO BOOKS REFLECT a zeitgeist—or create one? People certainly like to talk about books. And authors, naturally, love to talk about books—mostly their own. (Publishers, too, I must admit.) In fact, there is an entire cable station devoted to books (C-Span’s Book-TV), where you can listen to people talking about …


Uncovering the Culture of Corruption: How Investigative Journalism Complements the Work of a Think Tank

by John Hood

IT ALL STARTED IN THE SUPERMARKET checkout line. It was the day after Christmas, 1996, and the place was packed. I knew I’d have quite a wait, so I picked up a copy of a community newspaper. To my surprise, I was greeted with a glowing story about two local …


Defending Free Enterprise from Agenda-Driven Attacks

by Eric Dezenhall

SINCE THE COLLAPSE of Enron and Worldcom, not to mention the broader avalanche of corporate scandals, it’s open season on free enterprise. Inevitably disguised as crusades for the public good, attacks on businesses and free market think tanks are, in fact, highly orchestrated programs by a well-funded “crisis creation” industry …


Mind-Changing Books

by Thomas Sowell

FROM TIME TO TIME, readers ask me what books have made the biggest difference in my life. I am not sure how to answer that question because the books that happened to set me off in a particular direction at a particular time may have no special message for others—and …


Tips for Successful Radio Interviews

by Rich Tucker

TELEVISION AND RADIO are very different. Television personalities, for example, usually wear suits and ties. Radio personalities often wear shorts and baseball caps. There are important similarities as well. They are both available 24 hours a day, and reach massive numbers of people. So, they are both great ways to …


Four Tips for Holding a Successful Press Conference

by Rich Tucker

IF A TREE FALLS in the forest and nobody hears it, did it make a sound? And if your organization hosts a press conference and nobody quotes from it, was it worth your time? The answer to the second question is clearly “no.” Fortunately, there are a few simple rules …


Five Tips for Doing Effective Interviews with Journalists

by Rich Tucker

A KEY TO ADVANCING your organization’s agenda is being an effective communicator in interviews with print and broadcast journalists. Here are some important things to remember: 1. Know what you want to say. Before going in for an interview, think about the one thing you want those who see or …


Getting Your Message Across

by Genevieve Wood

DOES THE NAME WINIFRED SKINNER sound familiar? If the name doesn’t, how about the pictures we saw on the nightly news during the 2000 presidential campaign of the grandmother in Illinois who had to go around picking up aluminum cans each day so she would have enough money to pay …


Thinking Through a Successful Think Tank

by Lawrence W. Reed

HOW MUCH THOUGHT SHOULD GO into starting and operating a successful free market think tank? Arguably, it requires at least as much thought as the ultimate product itself—the policy studies, commentaries and events that define the organization in the public mind. A poorly conceived or poorly run operation will not …


Selling Ideas in a Rationally Ignorant World

by Fred Smith

CONSERVATIVE INTELLECTUALS ARE INCREASINGLY frustrated at the policy impasse of the last five years. Weren’t we told that if we built a better mousetrap, the world would beat a path to our door? With a Republican Congress, shouldn’t we have expected more reform? We seem to be winning the War …


Even Great Communicators Need a Message

by Edwin J. Feulner Jr.

THE GREAT DUKE ELLINGTON offered sage advice to aspiring jazz musicians: “It don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that swing.” After their poor showing in the November elections, Republicans aspiring for office should heed a variant of that advice: “You won’t win a thing if you ain’t got …


The Education of a Fundraiser

by John Von Kannon

As we were getting this issue ready to go to print, our friend and colleague John Von Kannon passed away. John was not merely a good fundraiser for our causes. He was also a teacher for the entire conservative movement, training thousands of fundraisers in the art of connecting with …


How to Say Thank You to Donors

by Alex Adrianson

Is it ever OK to use email instead of direct mail to thank donors? What are the elements of a good thank you letter? What’s the right tone? These questions and more are answered in a new infographic on thank yous for nonprofits from ClassyBlog. [ClassyBlog, May 26]


What’s the Right Size for Your Development Team?

by Alex Adrianson

It depends on how much money you need to raise. According to Amanda Robey, start-up organizations will probably need to rely on consultants or one staff person to manage fundraising operations while leaving donor meetings and asks to the CEO. Growing organizations should have about one full-time development person for …


How to Increase Bequest Gifts to Your Organization

by Mark L. James

U.S. NON-PROFIT ORGANIZATIONS received over $23 billion in bequest gifts in 2012, according to Giving USA: The Annual Report on Philanthropy for the Year 2012. What makes this significant source of funding even more noteworthy is that less than 5 percent of all decedents over the age of 55 in …


Raising Transformational Gifts

by Alex Adrianson

Are you trying to figure out how to identify prospective givers of transformation gifts? Daniel Erspamer of the State Policy Network has written a brief outline of practices to follow. Here are the first three items: Build & Maintain a Priorities Plan: It should be updated in real time and …


Six Secrets of Direct Mail

by Alex Adrianson

Paraphrased from Shana Davidson’s article “Six Secrets of Direct Mail” from SPN News, September/October 2013: 1. Use the word “you” a lot in your letter. 2. Make your letter skimmable by using short paragraphs and underline key phrases. 3. Use a unique envelope size or color or put a photo …


What Not to Do When Seeking Foundation Grants

by Alex Adrianson

Here are three ideas for how to waste your time: Write one proposal and mail it to all foundation prospects, fail to follow up a negative response to learn more about a foundation’s interests, and fail to build a relationship with foundation officers over time. For more ideas on what …


Use Stories to Build Relationships with Donors

by Steve Kiel

DO YOUR DONORS KNOW YOUR organization’s history? Do they understand the impact of your work? Do they feel their donations are being used effectively? Communicating with stories is the best way to make sure your donors answer yes to these questions. Human beings are hardwired to better remember and comprehend …


Use Crowdfunding to Finance Your Projects

by Ryan Nichols

Crowdfunding is financing your project idea by posting a clear description of it online and spreading the word through social media to drive people to a website where they can give small donations toward the project. The explosion of social networking in the past decade enables people with creative project …


Setting Goals for Fundraising

by Alex Adrianson

Anybody can be a fundraiser, but you have to set goals in order to do it. Heritage Vice President John Von Kannon gave a talk on just that topic last week at Resource Bank. Here are some snippets of his advice: The first goal for a fundraiser is to make …


Be Compelling to Prospective Donors: How to Write a Case for Support

by Ann C. Fitzgerald

WHEN FUNDRAISERS EMBARK on a campaign to raise money for a new building or a major project, they often start by writing a case for support. The case for support, or case statement, is a marketing and fundraising tool that explains in an urgent and compelling manner why someone should …


A Dozen Reasons the Wealthy Give

by Victoria Hughes

August has delivered mostly bad news for fundraisers. Stories about a possible double dip recession fueled by continuing high unemployment and sinking business confidence have dominated during the dog days of summer. Donor fears about the economy are causing delayed or reduced gifts or even unexpected declined requests from long-time …


The Vision Thing: What Makes Conservative Philanthropy Work

by William Schambra

WERE YOU TO BELIEVE THE COMMENTATORS, conservative philanthropy has been astonishingly effective, almost invincible. So it’s no surprise that it has given rise to a mi-nor industry in books on the topic. I suppose we should be flattered. But the books unhappily tend to bear titles like Justice for Sale; …


How to Embrace the Internet as a Sustainable Source of Revenue

by David All

IN THE LAST PRESIDENTIAL RACE, we saw Republican Ron Paul break single-day fundraising records by hauling in more than $6 million on December 17, 2007. That feat was termed a “money bomb.” Similarly impressive, Democratic candidate Barack Obama opted out of public financing because he could call on more than …


Making Direct Mail Work for You

by Ann C. Fitzgerald

HERE’s A CONVERSATION I’ve had many times with nonprofit organizations: Organization: We tried direct mail, and it didn’t work. Me: What did you do? Organization: We rented a list and mailed a letter. Me: Did you receive any responses? Organization: Yes, but we lost money. Me: That’s to be expected …


Fundraising: Helping Donors Find Solutions

by Kevin Gentry

ISN’T FUNDRAISING JUST ONE DEGREE of separation from selling used cars? Or would that be unfair to used car salesmen? Come on, now. You can and should be involved in fundraising for your favorite cause. Let’s say you’re already dedicating some portion of your life to advancing the free society …


Starting the New Year Right with Some Fundraising Resolutions

by Ann Klucsarits

WHETHER YOUR FISCAL YEAR begins in January or at a later date, that month is a good time to make some fundraising resolutions. As everyone who has ever tried to lose weight or start an exercise program knows, nothing changes overnight. It’s important to work steadily at establishing and achieving …


EU Expansion: What Does it Mean for European Think Tanks?

by Ugnius Trumpa

New member states of the European Union will soon celebrate half a year of their membership. For every leader of a think tank or any other person who is in charge of their operational or financial strategies, membership of the EU and its implications for changing opportunities of think tanks …


10 Steps to Persuasive Proposals

by Ann C. Klucsarits

A few years ago, The Heritage Foundation received a grant from a foundation, and the gift was much larger than we had expected. When we called to thank the program officer, we asked why the foundation had increased its support. It was not because our project was deemed more effective …


What Does it Take to Have a Successful Fundraising Program?

by John Von Kannon

1. Pay Attention Several years ago, a Heritage donor and I were having lunch and he said, “I like the Boy Scouts and I like the Red Cross, but I really like Heritage.” I asked him why. His response, “Because you pay attention to me.” Paying attention. Some call it …


Thinking Through a Successful Think Tank

by Lawrence W. Reed

HOW MUCH THOUGHT SHOULD GO into starting and operating a successful free market think tank? Arguably, it requires at least as much thought as the ultimate product itself—the policy studies, commentaries and events that define the organization in the public mind. A poorly conceived or poorly run operation will not …


Margaret Thatcher’s 10 Principles for Successful Conservative Leadership

by Nile Gardiner and Stephen Thompson

IN A SPEECH TO THE CONSERVATIVE WOMEN’S CONFERENCE in 1989, toward the end of her time as Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher took pride in declaring that “we in the Conservative Party are conviction politicians. We know what we believe. We hold fast to our beliefs. And when elected, we put …


What Makes a Movement? The Underappreciated Role of the First Follower

by Alex Adrianson

“The best way to make a movement, if you really care, is to courageously follow and show others how to follow. When you find a lone nut doing something great, have the guts to be the first person to stand up and join in.”


Teaching Young Conservatives: 4 Elements of a Great Intern Program

by Heather Sexton

EVERY YEAR, 150 OR MORE young minds come to The Heritage Foundation to learn first-hand the kind of work that a conservative think tank does. We like the New York Times description of our interns as “young and bright and ardently right.” Past Heritage interns have gone on to write …


Forces for Good: The Six Practices of High-Impact Nonprofits

by John Blundell

WHAT’S THE BEST BOOK you’ve ever read on nonprofit management? Having been with trade associations and educational charities for over 30 years now, I am often asked that question. Well I now have a brand new answer, namely Forces for Good: The Six Practices of High-Impact Nonprofits by Leslie R. …


Clear Lessons from a Cloudy Election

by Edwin J. Feulner

WITH ALL THE DEBATE OVER “CHADS,” butterfly ballots and sunlight tests, many Americans seem ready to dismiss the 2000 Election as a new low point in American politics. That’s too bad, because despite the division among voters, an astounding story unfolded in this election cycle, and many positive developments can …


The Keys to a Successful Presidency

by Alvin S. Felzenberg

AMERICANS HAVE A GREAT STAKE in the transition of power from one President to the next. Even those who did not vote for the winning candidate should want the newly elected President of the United States to succeed in general. When the White House operates smoothly and the President is …


Thinking Through a Successful Think Tank

by Lawrence W. Reed

HOW MUCH THOUGHT SHOULD GO into starting and operating a successful free market think tank? Arguably, it requires at least as much thought as the ultimate product itself—the policy studies, commentaries and events that define the organization in the public mind. A poorly conceived or poorly run operation will not …


Does Your Brand Need Help?

by Alex Adrianson

Have you thought much about your brand? If not, you might want to seek out the services of Kevan Kjar and ArrowHead3 Consulting. Short of that, here are some notes from a talk Kjar gave at the State Policy Network Annual Meeting in Nashville: A brand is a reason to …


Three Quick Reasons Why You Should Be on LinkedIn

by Jamie Pham

While Linkedin may not be as popular as those other platforms, it is bigger than you may think. With 400 million total users, it is nothing compared to Facebook’s one billion plus users but you can expect people on LinkedIn to be more professional. LinkedIn is a true networking website …


You’ve Got Influence! Does Having a @aol.com Address Make You More Likely to Be an Influencer?

by Chaz Cirame

Last week USA Today’s Paul Signer wrote about an odd outlier that was discovered when the digital marketing firm Fluent conducted online campaign fundraising research. [See: “AOL.com’s Trump Card,” Fluent, January 19] “A January study by digital marketing firm Fluent concluded that only 4% of subscribers to political email lists …


Be a Pro on the Networking Tour

by Alex Adrianson

Networking might be the most important thing you do at conferences and other events. There are a number of dos and don’ts you should follow to be a champion networker, says Tamina Zaheri. These include “eat less, talk more”: “[I]f you’re going to eat dinner at a networking event, eat …


Figuring Out Your Digital Strategy

by Alex Adrianson

What capabilities does your digital team need? What should be its priorities? Structure? Size? The answers depends partly on whether you are a big national organization, a state-level organization, or a local group. Lincoln Labs has developed a blue print to help you sort it out: “Digital Campaign Guide: A …


Don’t Get Stuck in Your Booth

by Alex Adrianson

If you’re like us, you attend a few conferences every year; and when you do it usually involves manning a booth to promote your organization’s work. As Amy Armstrong points out, however, there are things you can do outside the booth space to promote your organization. Here is one idea: …


Tweet Well Without Sitting in Front of a Computer 24/7

by Alex Adrianson

Two suggestions for building your twitter followers, from Katerina Petropoulou Curate the best content Now that you know who your Twitter audience is, the goal is to tweet content they will find interesting enough to click on and share with their followers. A good content curation system can help you save tons of …


Four Tips for Responding on Social Media

by Alex Adrianson

Did someone say something about your organization on social media? Before you respond, think about these four points, which come from Spark Freedom’s “How to Protect Your Organization Online”: 1. Be Memorable. Find a unique way to say something, even if it’s just standard information or a factual point. By …


Does Your Nonprofit Need a Social Media Policy and How Do You Create One?

by Alex Adrianson

SparkFreedom had a webinar recently on what a social media policy is and why your non-profit might want to consider having one. Dave Buer of the Sutherland Institute and Sara Johnson of SparkFreedom discuss:


How to Build a Culture of Optimization for Your Online Communications

by Tim McGovern and Nathaniel Ward

THERE’S NO QUESTION THAT the Left has dominated conservatives online in recent years. The best example is the 2012 Obama campaign, which ran circles around Mitt Romney’s digital operation. The Obama campaign signed up millions of Americans for e-mails, coordinated get-out-the-vote efforts online, and raised a whopping $525 million via …


What Content Goes Viral?

by Alex Adrianson

People share content they find on the Internet when it “helps them to make a strong statement about who they are,” and when the content gives them a strong, positive emotional response, explains Jack Shepherd of Buzzfeed: [O]n today’s internet, your readers are your publishers – they are the people …


Using Innovative Activism to Change the Local Political Culture

by Glen Morgan

IT SOUNDS LIKE A STORY President Obama might tell: Donna Baker, a disabled and retired state worker, lost her home in the face of mounting medical bills. Yet the culprit was not “substandard” insurance but a callous, out-of-control local government. Washington State’s Thurston County officials decided protecting a gopher species …


Tell More Stories

by Alex Adrianson

Stories move people in a way that a plain recitation of the facts do not. Last week we attended a great session at RightOnline about how to use the principles of storytelling to engage your audiences. Patrick Reasonover, of Ozymandias Media, and Clay Broga, of FreeThink Media, led the session, …


The Hidden Secrets of 140 Characters

by Ericka Andersen

1. Use hashtags. Check trending topics nationally and locally. If it’s possible, find a way to make the hash tag relevant to the content of your tweet. Then, you will get the tweet into a stream of conversation that is being seen by multiple thousands of people. 2. Ask for …


Use Google+ Hangout to Get Personal with Your Audience

by Ericka Andersen

Google+ has a feature called Hangouts that lets you have real-time face-to-face conversations on the Web. Don’t overlook this platform as part of your Web marketing strategy. Here’s what to do: Get started: Begin by creating a Google+ profile for yourself if you don’t already have one. This can be …


Don’t Just Pile Your Literature on a Table—Use Your Exhibit Booth to Engage People!

by Ryan Nichols

Your organization can increase its outreach significantly by using best practices when exhibiting at conferences. The marketing company Marketech surveyed thousands of conference attendees to determine the most effective techniques at exhibit booths. Here are a few ideas: • Choose energetic outgoing people to run your booth. • Remove all …


Get Your Facebook Followers to Follow Your Main Web Site, Too

by Ericka Andersen

So you’ve enhanced your Facebook content and developed a following. Now, how do you entice your followers to make the trip over to your main Web site? Here are a few ideas: Be Visual: Big, bold, clear photographs and graphics are the key to attention on Facebook. Think about what …


Use LinkedIn to Get the Right Policy Job

by Ericka Andersen

The less exciting slice of the social media pie might be LinkedIn. However, it’s likely the most beneficial for someone using social networking to climb the career ladder. If the professional field is all about “who you know,” LinkedIn makes it possible to “know” a whole lot more people. A …


Get the Most out of Your Facebook Posts

by Ericka Andersen

Five things to remember: 1. Headlines. If you post a link on your profile page, you can easily click inside the headline and change it (same goes for the summary). Think about what would make someone want to click that link or “like” it immediately. Be a little sensational and …


Get Started on Tumblr

by Ericka Andersen

If you’ve discovered the weird and wonderful world of Tumblr, you’re likely looking for a few tips to get you started or just get into the groove of this ever-growing online community. Tumblr has been around for awhile but has recently gained a lot of attention since President Obama began …


Network Your Way to Success

by Ryan Nichols

In the public policy arena it’s critically important to expand and strengthen your network of professional acquaintances to be successful. The Institute of Humane Studies’ Career Guide includes a chapter on networking written by Nigel Ashford. You’ll find the advice helpful, whether you’re looking for a job, trying to get published, …


9 Ways to Improve Your E-Mail Marketing

by Keesha Bullock

GAINING ACCESS TO SOMEONE’s E-MAIL inbox is one of the most important things you can do to help achieve the goals of your organization. Whether it’s securing new donors, educating on a particular issue, or spreading the word about an upcoming event, e-mail can be an effective and low-cost way …


Is Google+ Really Worth Your Time?

by Todd Thurman

The long and the short of it is: maybe. Google+ is, in many ways, Google’s attempt to rival Facebook. With obvious successes in search, video, and a whole host of other ventures, it seemed logical that Google would strike gold with Google+. However, things have not gone quite as planned …


Enliven Your Facebook Page

by Ericka Andersen and Todd Thurman

Great, you’ve created a Facebook page for your organization. Now what? Here’s a few tips for building your online community: ● Make sure your status updates include a link back to your Web site. ● Have an enticing cover photo that draws people in visually. ● Create a clear and …


Pinterest Basics

by Ericka Andersen and Todd Thurman

Pinterest is blazing a trail in social media. The platform is evolving from a text-based environment to something more visually-based. It’s growing, and it’s growing rapidly. It also has more referral traffic than Google+, LinkedIn, and YouTube combined. For now, most of the users are women, but that will change. …


Twitter Basics

by Ericka Andersen and Todd Thurman

If you or someone in your organization is not using Twitter yet, you’re missing out on an opportunity to reach people. Twitter allows instantaneous news sharing to one’s followers. That news can spread very quickly when followers “retweet” the information you’ve shared. You might think Twitter’s potential is limited, since …


Get Found: How to Make Sure Your Think Tank’s Web Site Shows Up in Search Engine Results

by Isabel Ysidro

THE WEB IS AN IMPORTANT COMPONENT in the growth of any public policy organization today. It helps think tanks increase their visibility, circulate their research, and spread their messages. But just being on the Web is not enough. In order to get traffic, gain market share, and get your ideas …


Timing Matters in Social Networking

by Ryan Nichols

Yes, it’s possible to do Facebook too often and at the wrong times. When is the best day and time to reach your Facebook fans?  How many messages can you send before you start “spamming” them? Reaching fans at the right time with the right message maximizes your social networking …


Build Your Brand by Brandishing Your Best Brochures

by Ryan Nichols

An essential element of marketing your ideas is designing catchy brochures and other informational materials. Following the best-practices of brochure design gets your hard work read instead of being glanced at and then tossed into the nearest circular filing cabinet. Your brochure should be pithy, concise, focused on the benefits …


Social Media Might Get Mentioned in the Newspaper!

by Alex Adrianson

Just how important is social media for informing and mobilizing members of groups? Lee Rainie, with the Pew Internet & American Life Project, provides some recent data in this slide presentation: More presentations are available from the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project.


5 Tips for Optimizing Your Brand’s Facebook Presence

by Steve Coulson

So – you’ve set up a Facebook public profile for yourself, your brand or your company, and you’re starting to post content. Now what? If you’re like me – a tinkerer and tweaker – you might be interested in ways to fine-tune your profile for maximum affect.  So here are five …


Five SEO Secrets to Make Your Site More Visible

by James A. Martin

According to an oft-quoted study, 93 percent of Web users don’t look beyond the first page of search results. The study, by famed Web-usability expert Jakob Nielsen, first appeared in Prioritizing Web Usability (2006), a book that Nielsen coauthored. “Even though the specific percentages are a few years old,” Nielsen …


How to Create a Great Website

by Seth Godin

Here are principles I think you can’t avoid: 1. Fire the committee. No great website in history has been conceived of by more than three people. Not one. This is a dealbreaker. >>> Complete Article


Using Social Media to Advance Freedom

by Anja Hartleb-Parson

Okay, so your friends and family keep telling you to jump onto the social media bandwagon, but you have no idea what the fuzz is about. Here’s the deal: The Internet gives liberty-loving folk like us an opportunity we have never had before: to make the case for individual liberty, …


What Are the Metrics of Success for Your Online Community?

by Bob Cramer

In rolling out an online social networking community, your nonprofit’s objectives should be all about your organization’s constituents. Certainly, fundraising campaigns and dollars raised are the bottom line, but as part of that, building engagement and passion among supporters is crucial. However, actually measuring success around such themes can be …


7 Steps to Measuring Your Brand’s Social Media Health

by Maria Ogneva

Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should measure everything. Social media is very easily measured with various indicators like share of voice, reach, retweets, and comments. However, measuring without a clear objective in mind won’t bring you closer to success. Nowadays, its not enough to have and execute a …


Top Ten Technology and Social Media Resources for Nonprofits

by Becky Wiegand

Everyday, we find great resources on the different uses of technology and social media in the nonprofit sector. We bookmark them, note them, share them, tweet or retweet them, and sometimes, we even blog about them. So, in this post, we thought we’ll round up some of the most interesting …


Social Media Tips

by Alex Adrianson

Last weekend at RightOnline, Mark Meranta of the Institute for Justice provided some good ideas on using social media. We were there and took notes: Facebook ● Do cross-promotions with other like-minded groups. ● Lead updates with outrageous facts. ● Create conversations. Ask people to “like” and “share” your posts. …


YouTube Tips

by Alex Adrianson

Last weekend at RightOnline, Ed Frank gave a talk on how to produce effective YouTube videos. We were there and took notes: Why YouTube is important: YouTube gets over 3 billion views per day. Every minute 48 hours of video is uploaded. Eighteen- to 29-year-olds visit YouTube for political informatin more …


Connecting to Supporters with Facebook

by Facebook

If you are a non-profit organization or fundraiser, Facebook can help you connect with current supporters and grow your supporters quickly and easily. • Over 500 million people are active on Facebook every month • Over 50% of those people log on to Facebook during any given day • People …


Sharing the Conservative Message Online

by Rory Cooper

A SOCIAL MEDIA STRATEGY is essential for any organization or business in America. As recently as 2009, having a professional Facebook or Twitter account was a luxury and most were simply designed to broadcast a message or advertisement. That is no longer the case. In today’s entrepreneurial and connected world, …


Twittivism: Using Twitter to Effectively Get Your Message Out to the World

by American Majority

Communication can be a powerful force when used effectively. One of the greatest advances in modern communication can be found in social web startups like Twitter. Activists and candidates can utilize this powerful tool to bypass mainstream media outlets, talking directly to fans, members and voters. With American Majority’s Twittivism Guide, …


Facebook: A Beginner’s Guide

by American Majority

If Facebook was a country, it would be the 3rd largest in the world. Needless to say, Facebook is a dominant force in the new way we communicate. American Majority employees can often be seen sharing videos, comments, pictures, and links with friends and past trainees (instead of working). Facebook …


Press Release Template

by American Majority

It has become very apparent that many mainstream news sources will choose to overlook grassroots organizations like tea parties, 912 groups, and others fighting for limited government and free market principles. With advances in technology and increased, social web, activists can subvert these institutions and take their message directly to …


Open Source May Be the Solution for Your Web Site

by Cord Blomquist

YOU’VE HEARD THE SALES PITCH: a one-of-a-kind, custom Web site solution for your organization that will do everything you want it to do. A few months and tens of thousands of dollars later, you’re left with a Web site so custom, so tailor-made that it’s compatible with little else. To …


Coming to You Live: Radio Rows Provide Priceless Benefits to Conferences

by Amber Christian and Dave Mohel

POLITICAL CONFERENCES HAVE EVOLVED over the years and create unique opportunities for like-minded leaders to gather. While the experiences at such conferences may be unique, the event infrastructure is considered standard industry-wide. Logistics decisions such as speakers, schedules, attendees, and so on are the backbone of a successful conference. More …


10 Commandments of Twitter Etiquette

by Vadim Lavrusik

In a lot of ways, millions of users have found Twitter as a useful tool. Take journalists, for example. According to a recent survey, 37 percent of journalists said they are on Twitter. It’s no longer a small tech company that is troubled by servers being down (keeping fingers crossed). Now …


Five Secrets to Planning a Big Event

by Emily Kayrish

PLANNING A BIG EVENT, such as a multi-day conference, can be a daunting task. Below are five tips that will help you navigate smoothly through the planning process. 1. Paint the Big Picture. Before you start making any arrangements, take a time-out to develop a sound strategy for your event. …


7 Simple Steps to Improve Your Blog

by Robert B. Bluey

THERE’S NO MAGIC FORMULA that propels a blog from obscurity to popularity, but there are some basic steps you can take to improve your content, establish a community of readers, and even make some money. Here are seven simple steps to help you achieve those goals: 1. Quickly respond to …


My Adventure in Self-Publishing: How You Can Take Advantage of Today’s On-Demand Publishing Tools, Too

by John J. Miller

THE ORIGINAL PLAN for my novel The First Assassin involved a high-stakes bidding war among major publishers, a million-copy laydown during the autumn book-buying season, a lavish promotional tour, a record-breaking movie rights deal, and a theme park ride in Florida. It didn’t work out that way. For a while, …


Check Your Emailing and Your Meeting Calling

by Alex Adrianson

It probably won’t shock anybody to learn that emails and meetings can be a big source of wasted time. But did you know that new software can help employees identify whether they are sending too many emails or calling too many meetings? Sue Shellenbarger writes about the new applications, noting …


Are Your Leaders Playing the Right Roles?

by Alex Adrianson

How is your think tank’s organizational self-awareness? Are your leaders still playing the right roles to help the organization succeed? Assessing those questions can be a challenge, but it is necessary, says Jeffrey Cain: As an organization develops, its leaders often fail to understand how their roles need to change. …


Don’t Invite Strangers Into Your Home: How to Protect Your Think Tank’s Information Technology

by Mark Harris

THESE DAYS THINK TANKS are especially attractive targets for hacking, phishing, and other assorted cyber vandalism. Even foreign governments, according to the House Intelligence Committee, are busy trying to pry secrets out of think tanks through cyber espionage. I was talking the other day to a friend about the types …


Get Your Action Activated

by Alex Adrianson

Your 501(c)(3) nonprofit might want to set up a 501(c)(4) so it can lobby or organize a grass roots campaign on legislation. That way, you can have an affiliated organization do the lobbying while still preserving your tax exempt status for your non-lobbying activities. But there’s a way to do …


The Conservative Organizational Entrepreneur

by Morton Blackwell

In 1965, experienced conservative friends much older than I advised me there was no way to earn a living doing what I wanted to do, work full time for conservative principles. Though filled with good intentions, they were wrong. This presentation explains how you can do what I eventually did: …


Board Work: Five Ideas to Make Your Nonprofit’s Board Effective

by Charles William Golding and Craig W. Stewart

A BOARD IS A GROUP OF PEOPLE CHARGED with the ultimate responsibility for the health, preservation, and progress of an organization. It does not run anything. It works with the people who do. A board’s principal obligation is to serve the organization’s cause, its donors, and its recipients. To carry …


Forces for Good: The Six Practices of High-Impact Nonprofits

by John Blundell

WHAT’S THE BEST BOOK you’ve ever read on nonprofit management? Having been with trade associations and educational charities for over 30 years now, I am often asked that question. Well I now have a brand new answer, namely Forces for Good: The Six Practices of High-Impact Nonprofits by Leslie R. …


Keep Your Computer Running Smoothly

by Stuart Shepard

Every couple of days, I get a link via e-mail to a new online video from a pro-family group. It may be a promotional spot for an upcoming conference, it may be a constitutional attorney commenting in front of the U.S. Supreme Court, or it may be me, fumbling my …


Working Effectively with Boards of Directors

by Lawrence W. Reed

KEEP THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS (your governing board) small—preferably under 20. A large board is unwieldy and opens the door a variety of difficulties.  A large board can diminish the important role of being on your board.  It should be an honor that requires rare talents, abilities, and level of …


Thinking Through a Successful Think Tank

by Lawrence W. Reed

HOW MUCH THOUGHT SHOULD GO into starting and operating a successful free market think tank? Arguably, it requires at least as much thought as the ultimate product itself—the policy studies, commentaries and events that define the organization in the public mind. A poorly conceived or poorly run operation will not …


You’ve Got Influence! Does Having a @aol.com Address Make You More Likely to Be an Influencer?

by Chaz Cirame

Last week USA Today’s Paul Signer wrote about an odd outlier that was discovered when the digital marketing firm Fluent conducted online campaign fundraising research. [See: “AOL.com’s Trump Card,” Fluent, January 19] “A January study by digital marketing firm Fluent concluded that only 4% of subscribers to political email lists …


Teaching Young Conservatives: 4 Elements of a Great Intern Program

by Heather Sexton

EVERY YEAR, 150 OR MORE young minds come to The Heritage Foundation to learn first-hand the kind of work that a conservative think tank does. We like the New York Times description of our interns as “young and bright and ardently right.” Past Heritage interns have gone on to write …


3 Votes, 2 Years, 1 Cause: How Georgia Exploded on the School Choice Scene

by Jamie Self

THREE YEARS AGO, THE ONLY CHOICE Georgia students seemingly had was whether they wanted a rectangular pizza or to pack their own lunch. But in the span of one legislative term (two years), the state has emerged as an unlikely school choice pioneer with two major pieces of private school …


Changing Beliefs About Markets: The Role Of Property Rights

by Daniel K. Benjamin

CAN BELIEFS ABOUT FUNDAMENTAL SOCIAL INSTITUTIONS, such as the market system, change? If so, what can cause such changes? Even if one replies “yes” to the first question, discerning an answer to the second has been an elusive goal for social scientists. Recent research by Rafael Di Tella, Sebastian Galiani, …


Building the Center Right Coalition

by Grover G. Norquist

TWENTY YEARS AGO, Joe Sobran described the Left as “The Hive,” a seemingly seamless, frictionless structure that communicated to all members of the Left how to react to any threat or opportunity the way a beehive operates through instinct. Today it is the Left that glances longingly at the Right …


Developing Strategic Coalitions: Lessons from Milwaukee’s School Choice Coalition

by Susan Mitchell

DEFINING A STRATEGIC COALITION is simple. Building and maintaining a strategic coalition is far more difficult. Years of experience working with the Milwaukee school choice coalition demonstrate some fundamental principles. These principles are critical if one is serious about moving from a discussion of philosophical merit to successful political action. …


Thinking Through a Successful Think Tank

by Lawrence W. Reed

HOW MUCH THOUGHT SHOULD GO into starting and operating a successful free market think tank? Arguably, it requires at least as much thought as the ultimate product itself—the policy studies, commentaries and events that define the organization in the public mind. A poorly conceived or poorly run operation will not …


The Minnesota Policy Blueprint: A Case Study in State Policy Advocacy

by Kent Kaiser

IN THE SPRING OF 1997, the Minneapolis-based Center of the American Experiment began planning a comprehensive review of Minnesota’s executive branch of government. Over the next 18 months, and at a cost of about $320,000, the plan became a blueprint for restructuring state government. The Minnesota Policy Blueprint now stands …


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