THE GODDESS SPEAKS - YOU SHOULD LISTEN

  • Minerva’s holiday reading list

    Happy Holidays, everyone. At Minerva Strategies, we feel the need to kick-back, relax, and stockpile the resolve we will need to go on doing good in a difficult political environment.   We’re doing this the best way we know how – mining great stories for wisdom and inspiration. Here are three suggestions for good reads … Continued

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  • Repeat after me: Media relations is a tactic, not a strategy

      By Sara Veltkamp, Account Manager, Minerva Strategies —   We are a strategic communication consultancy and like other good groups who occupy this space, we believe that all clients, without exception, will be most effective if they follow these fundamental steps: 1. Outline communications goals that are informed by the overall organizational strategy; 2. … Continued

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  • How to play nice with nonprofits

    Working with nonprofits offers particular challenges and rewards. At Minerva Strategies, we specialize in collaborating with nonprofits and we partner with other like-minded communication experts who also want to serve the sector. We talked with John Chimmy, Partner and Director of Sales at one of our web development partners, Eat.Sleep.Work (ESW), to find out his … Continued

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  • The global development event of the year?

    By Joy Portella, President, Minerva Strategies — I attended DevEx World in Washington, DC this week, a conference with not-so-humbly billed itself “the global development event of the year.” That’s a bold claim, and the jury’s still out in my mind. For sure, DevEx World was radically different from other conferences of the global development … Continued

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  • International Day of Men’s Razor Burn

    By Sara Veltkamp, Minerva Strategies — The typical global health communicator’s editorial calendar is jammed with cause awareness days.  These are days that nonprofits around the world try to galvanize supporters around a cause that is meaningful to their organization. They can be a very effective tool to motivate people to take action – whether that means … Continued

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  • How journalists can compassionately cover the opioid epidemic

    By Sara Veltkamp, Minerva Strategies  ̶ I recently attended the Association for Healthcare Journalists Conference in Cleveland Ohio – #AHCJ16 if you want to see highlights from Twitter.  With the exception of the less than balmy conditions, the conference was excellent.  Panels dissected and analyzed wide ranging US health topics from obesity to maternal mortality rates … Continued

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  • It takes hard work to be CHAMPS

    By Roger Burks – I’m not a big fan of sports analogies, but I am a college basketball fanatic. And it’s March. Throw in the fact that my alma mater – the Kansas Jayhawks – are the #1 team in the land, and that’s got me considering similarities between what happens on the court and … Continued

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  • 5 keys to leading a big, bold decision

    By Rebecca Zanatta, President and Founder of RJZ Connections, Inc. and a Senior Consultant at The Ostara Group  ̶ Rebecca (Becca) is one of Minerva’s partners.  We team up with her for work with clients that need smart fundraising expertise on their team.  We love Becca because she understands the connections (and differences) between communications and development.  Plus, she knows … Continued

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  • Is data science the silver bullet of nonprofit efficiency?

    By Sara Veltkamp, Sr Associate, Minerva Strategies — On Tuesday, I attended the Stanford Social Innovation Review’s data science for social change, or “Data On Purpose” conference on Stanford’s campus. I loved it.  The energy of the speakers was what I’ve always wanted to hear from the social change sector – far from the safe, t-crossing … Continued

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  • Two New Year’s resolutions to help you do good work better in 2016

    By Sara Veltkamp, Sr. Associate, Minerva Strategies  ̶ I’m obsessed with articles that promise the ability to “do more with less.” From decorating tips for small spaces to maximizing time spent exercising, I read them all.  Ironically, most of the articles about saving time are a waste of time. So, as a gift to you … Continued

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  • Is “a letter to our daughter” any better than a press release?

    By Joy Portella, President, Minerva Strategies — In the week since Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan announced that they will give away 99 percent of their Facebook shares – about $45 billion – everybody in the world of philanthropy has opinions and questions. What causes will the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative champion? Will it engage in lobbying? … Continued

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  • Black Friday campaigns compared: “Thanksgetting” vs. “OptOutside”

    By Katy Penrod, Minerva Strategies ̶ The modern American Thanksgiving has become a celebration of consumption that is a far cry from the original pilgrim feast of giving thanks to God for simple things like not dying aboard the Mayflower, say, or to the Native American tribes for helping the settlers harvest enough corn to … Continued

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  • Why I am jazzed about NYT VR

    By Joy Portella, President, Minerva Strategies ̶ As a communicator who deals with global issues, I constantly struggle with how to convey the work of our clients to people who will never see that work firsthand. I’m not talking about trying to construct victims’ narratives. I want people to understand and respond to the plight … Continued

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  • Are infographics overrated?

    By Sara Veltkamp, Senior Associate, Minerva Strategies — Infographics, as in ‘informational graphics,’ have been around for a long time. Maps, for example, are infographics, and cartography was an up-and-coming career long before we had things like computers, or even the wheel. According to the crowd-sourced knowledge of Wikipedia, the earliest of map-like infographics were … Continued

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  • Trevor Noah and the key to capitalizing on change

    By Katy Penrod — Minerva Strategies On August 6, 2015, the world (or at least the world of comedy television) was irreparably altered. Jon Stewart, host of one of the best political commentary shows on television – satirical or otherwise – ended his tenure.  Stewart took the reins at The Daily Show from Craig Kilborn … Continued

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  • Speaking of change

    By Katy Penrod — Minerva Strategies Communications is often viewed as an afterthought in the field of philanthropy. Many are of the mind that communications falls outside the real “meat” of what an organization does. We know this to be untrue. Communications is an integral part of how organizations promote positive change, and a new … Continued

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  • You can’t spell slacktivism without activism

    Katy Penrod — Minerva Strategies Remember the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge? Unless you use social media very infrequently or not at all, you likely saw at least one video in the past year of a friend or acquaintance being doused in icy water for the sake of ALS – short for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, a … Continued

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  • Users are people too

    By Sara Veltkamp, Minerva Strategies — While we know that people use social media, we tend not to think of social media users as people. They are metrics; they are likes, shares, and sometimes, unfortunately, trolls.  However, it’s important to remember that each avatar connects to a person with a personality, private life, stressors, and all … Continued

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  • Community isn’t a dirty word

    By Joy Portella, President, Minerva Strategies — Community \kə-ˈmyü-nə-tē\: a group of people who live in the same area (such as a city, town, or neighborhood); a group of people who have the same interests, religion, race, etc. “Community” is one of the most overused words in the lexicon of nonprofits. It’s often employed as a … Continued

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  • 5 tips to boost your networking mojo

    By Rebecca Zanatta, President and Founder of RJZ Connections, Inc. and a Senior Consultant at The Ostara Group  ̶ Rebecca (Becca) is one of Minerva’s partners.  We team up with her for work with clients that need smart fundraising expertise on their team.  We love Becca because she understands the connections (and differences) between communications and development.  Plus, she … Continued

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  • Messaging for people who don’t read

    By Katy Penrod, Minerva Strategies — Today’s information-consumer has access to information anywhere, at any time. With an internet connection, one can check the weather forecast in Barcelona, watch the latest viral cat video, or read about the Iran-U.S. nuclear deal with just a click. This instantaneous and far-reaching access to information has changed the … Continued

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  • How nonprofits – large and small – can leverage the power of celebrity

    By Kini Schoop, Director of Media Relations for Change.org— Confession: I don’t read celebrity tabloids or watch Entertainment Tonight. I avoid most celeb-tainment as a rule. This was not always the case for me, as I spent many years working in communications for fundraising organizations that had tremendous support from the entertainment community. (I have recently … Continued

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  • Brian Williams and the Importance of Integrity in Communications

    By Katy Penrod, Minerva Strategies – In the past year, Brian Williams’s career as an NBC news anchor has fallen far, fast. This plummet is due to the fact that, over the past decade, Williams has been telling a continually-evolving story about his experience while reporting on the Iraq war in 2003. In its most … Continued

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  • In-country storytelling for out-of-country communicators

    By Sara Veltkamp, Minerva Strategies — Domestic is different Communicators for U.S.-based international development organizations are often put in a tough spot.  We’re in the U.S., busily drafting content for websites, brochures, and social media posts about how the work of our organization or our client’s organization is changing the world for the better. However, … Continued

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  • Communication missteps of the American Red Cross

    By Joy Portella, President, Minerva Strategies — This week NPR and ProPublica did a scathing story on The American Red Cross and how they spent the $500 million raised after the Haiti earthquake in 2010. I was the director of communications at a large international NGO for several years, including during the Haiti earthquake response, and … Continued

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  • Truths and mantras for storytelling

    Roger Burks, Online Communications Officer, World Bank— There is no template for nonprofit storytelling – but there are truths. I’ve seen and heard many examples of how storytelling has failed or fallen short at a variety of organizations, from big to small, local to international. Most of the time, it comes from a fundamental lack of … Continued

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  • 4 Quick Tips for Cooler Creative Collaboration

    By Roger Lloyd, freelance marketing and communications writer — Ok, everybody break off into groups! Collaboration is the magic dance of creative communication and is an essential element of what we do. It builds successful relationships, adds weight and buy in to our work, and gives ownership of ideas to all parties involved. When it works … Continued

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  • Spring Fundraiser Winning Moments

    It’s spring fundraising season in Seattle, which means that it’s time for gala events and auctions. Let’s face it, some of these events – even for the most heartwarming causes – can be snoozers. As a communication professional, I tend to be particularly critical; I have a very low tolerance for rubber chicken, wandering speeches, … Continued

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  • 4 things nonprofits can learn from political campaigns

    By Erin Gray, Senior Communications and Media Officer, HIV Scotland — I love election time. As a nonprofit communicator, there’s no better opportunity to see communication techniques in action on a grand scale. Political parties take risks that nonprofits can rarely afford to – experimenting with key messages in the face of hard-hitting interviews, reinventing … Continued

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  • Fresh Starts: Nonprofit Rebrands

    By Sara Veltkamp, Minerva Strategies – We all need a fresh start sometimes.  We move, take vacations, get rid of clutter, or streamline our lives in other ways to make it simpler, give perspective, reenergize, or become more focused. Nonprofits also need fresh starts.  Within the rapidly changing landscapes in which we work, maintaining perspective, … Continued

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  • I Want to Invest in Aid that Works

    By Joy Portella, President, Minerva Strategies – I’m that kind of aid skeptic. I scowl at the idea of child sponsorship. I wag my finger at people who want to send t-shirts or shoes or bicycles to kids in Africa. I yawn at sappy victim narratives that other people find heartwarming. But I am optimistic, … Continued

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  • Davos 2015: Where the world’s billionaires meet the poorest

    By Joy Portella, Minerva Strategies – This year’s annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) at Davos offered up much of its standard fare: private jets, top-tier corporate and political leaders, celebrities, heady speeches, and bold proclamations. But this year’s gathering had an undercurrent of anxiety. It wasn’t a 2009-style panic about global financial … Continued

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  • A Healthy Train of Events

    By Kayla Albrecht, MPH Candidate, University of Texas Health Science Center – School of Public Health, Austin Regional Campus- Chronic disease is king nowadays. With diabetes and heart disease on the rise, exercise and balanced nutrition are among the best medicines for securing a longer, healthier life. Yet our days are busier and workspaces more sedentary than ever … Continued

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  • Top 5 “alternative gifts” to give this holiday season

    By Maheen Mustafa – Trends in charitable giving have evolved in these past few years. Instead of giving a lump sum amount of money to a single, large nonprofit organization, people are now trying to make their gift-giving more personalized and meaningful. There are lots of choices but it is difficult sifting through the clutter, … Continued

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  • Pocketful of Stories

    By Sara Veltkamp, Minerva Strategies – Digital storytelling has become a large part of the nonprofit communicator’s world.  While I’m an avid story consumer and story writer, I had little experience with the process of creating digital stories.  To get my feet wet, the Minerva team decided that I would head to Berkeley, California to … Continued

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  • Why there are no heroes or villians in development

    Minerva Strategies’ President, Joy Portella, argues that we need better storytelling to capture the complexity of international development. Originally published in The Guardian on April 18, 2014. A despicable villain is a critical element of any successful narrative. Heroes are important, but where would Harry Potter be without Voldemort? Or Batman without the Joker? Heroes aren’t … Continued

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  • World Vision’s Flip-Flop on Hiring Married Gays Shows a Stunning Lack of Foresight

    Minerva Strategies’ President, Joy Portella, weighs in on the PR blunder behind World Vision’s rapid policy reversal on same-sex marriages.  What happened? How could it have been avoided?  What can other organizations learn from this mistake?  Published in the Chronicle of Philanthropy. Last week’s about-face by World Vision over the issue of same-sex marriage got attention around … Continued

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