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Joanne Fritz

New Year's Insight: Sometimes Ignore the Rules

By January 9, 2013

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Doggie under the weather.

I came back from my holiday travels almost a week ago full of great intentions and renewed energy, only to be felled by some version of the flu.

Yep, before I was off the plane, I could barely talk and a persistent cough became my bed partner. All my grand plans ground to a halt.

I'm recovering but gave up on my grand list of resolutions. Instead, I'm sharing my insight of the day, spurred by my inbox this morning.

When in doubt, feel free to ignore the rules.

This idea came to me when I was drawn to the email newsletter from my local Audubon Society.

Snapshot from the Tucson Audubon Society's New Year's Newsletter

Now, I'm not even a bird watcher, but I guess I have a desire to be one, because I am almost always drawn to this organization's communications.

The snappy subject line did intrigue me ("Learn to Count"), but the newsletter is not a paragon of graphic design (e.g., charity:water), and one could argue that they cram too much information into it. The newsletter is not personalized and (gasp) it begins with a note from the executive director (see rules 6 and 7 here).

But, strangely, these faults become the newsletter's strengths. The ED note is really a summary of the high points of the newsletter, preparing the reader to move on with some direction, the "dear friend" salutation felt right because I do feel like a friend to this organization, and the content, although long, is a preview of almost the entire year, with activities suited to any level of bird interest.

It's the sort of thing I would put up on my fridge or bulletin board with my own brightly colored highlights to remind me of the things I might want to do.

I've included a snippet from the newsletter and you can see the entire thing here.

After reading all the myriad advice from people like me, how have you successfully ignored the rules? Let me know!

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January 11, 2013 at 10:45 am
(1) wernerl@unitedwaytwincities.org says:

Thank you for this observation Joanne – I think it’s great advice. Working in nonprofit communications it seems like every day there’s a new set of “best practices” about how to communicate with your e-audience. Some nonprofit teams treat these rules as absolute and so rather than guidelines the rules become cages.

This post was a nice reminder that sometimes it’s OK to create outside the “best practice” box and still keep your audience engaged, informed, and passionate about your cause.

January 11, 2013 at 5:43 pm
(2) nonprofit says:

So glad you liked it! I really do think that nonprofits know their own supporters and have to take all the advice with a grain of salt.

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