Life Lately


All has been quiet on the blog front since Jake arrived in September, but life has been very much the opposite. Jake is now seven and a half months, and Gerald & Joan celebrated its third birthday in January. Both of my babies are thriving, and despite many changes, I'm excited to share that we (Jake and I) are taking on Gerald & Joan projects. 

Since June, the studio has been working with Common Table Health Alliance, a regional health and healthcare collaborative that serves the Memphis area, and I'm currently finishing up several large design projects for them. 

Another clients include Baptist Memorial Health Care Foundation and Laurel Markovich, a local author. I'm also serving as a committee volunteer for Habitat for Humanity of Greater Memphis' Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Work Project

Over the past three years, our focus has changed as we've grown and developed, but we've recently come full-circle. I'm channeling my ten years of work experience and currently only accepting nonprofit and small business clients. When I started Gerald & Joan, I desperately needed a break from nonprofit and small business work, but I've discovered that when I partner with the right clients, marketing and graphic design for nonprofits and small businesses are my true passions. I'm excited to see where this chapter takes us! 

Seven Simple Social Media Strategies for Nonprofits


I'm aging myself, but social media didn't exist until my senior year of college when MySpace and Facebook burst onto the scene. I remember being skeptical of both platforms at first, but less than two years later, I launched my first nonprofit Facebook page. Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest all followed.

Since those early days, I've learned some simple strategies that nonprofits can use for managing social media. The main issue with social media management is time -- it takes a lot of time and effort in order to see results. Nonprofits should practice a lot of patience as a social media plan is put into place, and the social media manager should be ready to tweak the plan on a quarterly or semi-annual basis. 

Here are seven simple strategies nonprofits can use to help ensure their social media is effective: 

1. Select key topics that can help generate interesting social media content. For example, a health and fitness nonprofit might choose the following topics – local/regional health and wellness news, healthy recipes, fitness tips, local fitness events, children’s health and wellness, senior health and wellness, etc. It’s important to be really creative with these topics. They should interest our various audiences (donors, volunteers and the community at large) and be worthy of sharing!

2. Generate a weekly or monthly calendar of social media posts. The key to social media is consistency. Donors and volunteers will see content if it’s posted on a consistent basis. If possible, we want to create a calendar that has at least one post each day. We recommend varying the post times to see which time of day is best for specific audiences.

3. Schedule posts using Hoot Suite or a similar service. By utilizing a service like Hoot Suite, we can set up multiple posts at a time.  It’s best to set a calendar reminder until this process becomes routine.

4. Drive social media posts back to the organization’s website on a regular basis. At the end of the day, we want to encourage our audiences to visit our website where they’ll learn more about our work, sign up to get involved as a volunteer or make a donation. In order to do this, we need to create inspiring posts that point back to our website. Ideally, most of our original content should originate from our website blog. For example, a nonprofit that builds homes for low-income families might share a first-person narrative from a homeowner or volunteer. When paired with some great photos, the story makes a great blog post, e-newsletter feature and social media share!

5. Communicate with audiences on a daily basis. We should put the “social” back in social media by taking time each day to connect with each of our social media channels. We can share community partners’ news and updates if they are relevant to our audience(s), interact with volunteers and donors, respond to questions and feedback in a timely manner, tag when possible and encourage reposting!

6. Monitor progress. It is very easy to set up a series of posts and move on to another project. Unfortunately, we don’t learn from that! By spending some time each week or month reviewing our analytics and creating a simple tracking spreadsheet, we are able to measure what works and what doesn’t work. We can track new fans/followers, popular posts/content, the best time of the day/week to post, etc. in a weekly or monthly spreadsheet, and then we can review it and tweak our process on a quarterly or semi-annually basis.

7. Put social media assets to work. Every nonprofit has social media savvy employees and volunteers, so why not encourage them to share our content with their respective networks? This is a great way to spread the word about our organizations and allow our most valuable assets to take pride in their work! Before getting started, we recommend setting up a clear social media policy about what’s appropriate to do/share during work hours. Also, a social media training session is a great way to ensure everyone is on the same page!

Know a nonprofit that needs help building their social media plan? Gerald & Joan can help!



Strategic Marketing Elements for Nonprofits, Part 2


As I mentioned in the first part of this series, I recently expanded my services at Gerald & Joan to include brand consulting because I love helping clients achieve clean design and tell their stories in an inspiring and efficient manner. I have also seen so many cases where the design and marketing falls to poor, overworked staff members who would be much better off using their talents elsewhere.

As these well-meaning folks don't have a clue where to start with marketing but know they need help, I wanted to highlight three additional elements of strategic marketing for nonprofits –website and social media content management, email marketing and public relations:

Website and Social Media Content Management: Websites are truly no-brainers in today’s world. Every brand must have one, and it should be updated on a regular basis. I prefer a simple, easy-to-navigate website that uses great graphics and images. For nonprofit websites, I like to see a current staff list with email and phone contact information, a calendar of upcoming events and ways donors/volunteers can get involved. A blog is also a great way to encourage visitors to check out the website on a regular basis, and it gives nonprofits content for social media. Social media goes hand-in-hand with website management, and it should be used to drive traffic to the website. Every brand should have social media because it’s a really easy way for potential partners to find out more about the nonprofit and stay engaged on a regular basis. For these reasons, each social media channel should have consistent branding (clean logos, a great cover photo, updated organizational information and some great photos) and regular posts that engage and excite the specific audience. If possible, a good percentage of the organization’s posts should drive the audience back to the organization’s website.

Email Marketing: In my career, I’ve send out tons of weekly and monthly email blasts. Both can achieve good open rates, but nonprofits (and for profits for that matter) must know their audiences and how often they want to receive news and updates. If they don’t have a good feel for this, they’ll lose subscribers. I recommend offering sign up options for subscribers – perhaps a weekly CEO update and a monthly volunteer newsletter. Emails should be short and to the point, and then they can link back to longer features on the organization’s website. E-blasts also serve as great content for social media!

Public Relations: My college degree has a PR emphasis, so I learned at the age of 22 that PR and nonprofits can work really well together. Journalists love a great story, and nonprofits can offer great stories. Unfortunately, nonprofit employees don’t always have PR backgrounds, and therefore they don’t know what to pitch (all nonprofit “news” is not worthy of a reporter’s time), when to pitch it (events can’t be pitched too early or too late), how to pitch (there are preferred methods to pitching) or who to pitch (there are tons of reporters at every news outlet). Journalists also appreciate well-written press releases and news advisories that make good use of AP Style and working with a single organizational contact that can set up interviews for them quickly and efficiently.

Readers, if you know a nonprofit that could benefit from any of these brand consulting services, please send them my way. I would love to put together a plan that meets the unique needs of their organization and helps them make great use of their marketing budget.

Click here to contact me!





Ten Marketing Pieces Every Nonprofit Needs


During my career in nonprofit communications, branding and marketing, I LOVED creating nonprofit marketing pieces. If I could have done that part of my job every day, I would have stayed in nonprofit communications and marketing forever. It was my JAM!

With all of those years of experience behind me, I have a really good grasp about what small and big nonprofits need in order to tell their stories to donors, volunteers and the general public. Today, in the next segment of our marketing for nonprofits series, I'll highlight the ten key marketing pieces that every nonprofit needs at their disposal:

1.     Organization one-sheet – The one-sheet is the more affordable version of the brochure, but it features the same key points – the mission/vision of the organization, where its located, who it serves, how long it has been around and what programs and services it offers. The one-sheet will always include a staff person’s contact information (phone, address and email), as well as website and social media.

2.     Program one-sheet – This piece goes hand-in-hand with the organization one-sheet. It can feature an individual program, or it can give summaries about all of the programs offered by the organization.

3.     Business cards – Even in our high-tech world, they are still a no-brainer. Bring them into the 21st century by including social media and your website. A QR code linking to an organizational video is a nice touch. P.S. Your email signature should always match your business card!

4.     Letterhead/envelopes – Letterhead and envelopes should feature a clean design that matches the rest of the organization’s brand.

5.     Donor remittance envelope – In a sea of matching black and white remittance envelopes, I like to see some personality. Photos and a thoughtful message get a donor’s attention and don’t change the printing cost!

6.     Thank you cards/envelopes – Like the letterhead and envelopes, thank you cards and envelopes should feature a clean design that matches the rest of the organization’s brand.

7.     Giveaways - T-shirts are best because everyone loves them, and they allow the wearer to become a walking billboard, but pens, cute key chains and travel cups/mugs are other inexpensive items that work well as giveaways. The key is to choose a giveaway that people will use and carry in public!

8.     Newsletters – Donors, volunteers and the community need to know what a nonprofit is doing. They need to feel the nonprofit is reaching its goals and establishing itself as an expert in its field. I like to see a mix of print and email newsletters used to reach a nonprofit’s audience. It’s always a great idea to ask the donors and volunteers how often they’d like to receive email/printed mail and always, always, always respect their wishes!

9.     Basic ad – Once the basic design has been created, a basic print/online ad can easily be resized for future needs. The key is to have the look and messaging designed so that it can be shared quickly. Ad deadlines always come up sooner than we expect!

10. Pocket folders – Pocket folders aren’t cheap, but they pull together a nonprofit’s branding package to ensure a professional image is conveyed to donors, funders and partners, and they double as a print media kit. I like pocket folders with two business card slots. 

Know a nonprofit who needs help with their branding, marketing and communications? I would love to help them! 

In addition to designing each of these pieces, I can also work with my printer vendors to ensure the best possible price and highest quality is achieved. Let me know how I can help.

Read the rest of our nonprofit marketing series here: