The phone is ringing and a friend is excited to tell me there’s a discussion about frogs right now on WNYC radio. Robin Moore, the author and photographer of “In Search of Lost Frogs,” is being interviewed on the Leonard Lopate Show (The Conservation Efforts Trying to Keep Frogs From Going Extinct). At the same moment, a Jersey City colleague is emailing me about the same thing and writes that she’s left a comment about Frogs Are Green and our kids frog art project on WNYC’s website.
During the interview they discuss many of the issues that frogs face today, including the deadly Chytrid Fungus and climate change. One caller asks about the drought situation in California and its toll on frogs. They also talk about how many frog species have gone extinct in the wild and at the same time new species are being discovered, as close as New York. They also talk about how important the medical research is as they test the poisonous skin of dart frogs.
Almost every day, Facebook friends post on my timeline or the Frogs Are Green page, or Tweet at us about frogs and/or the environment.
I’m sharing this because it was six years ago this May that I founded Frogs Are Green, and so many people laughed at this cause. They’d say, “Frogs? … Who’s going to care about frogs?”
I’m happy to tell you that in six years we have reached over a million people. Each month we have 13,000 visitors who look at more than 32,000 pages, which gives us an amazing bounce rate of 1.8 %. Yes, that is not a misprint, we have a 1.8% bounce rate. These stats have been holding steady for years and are again on the rise.
We didn’t used to post on Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn (groups) and Twitter every day, but in 2014 we made a commitment to do so and reach more people than ever.
As the above story shows, our mission is working. Awareness really begins to catch fire when others know you so well that they support and advance your campaign goals without hesitation.
It all comes from zeroing in on a niche and being consistent by sharing every day. By being “top of mind” on a particular thing that’s so different, so unique, they just see frogs and think of Frogs Are Green.
10 Tips for building your nonprofit’s awareness and following
- Make sure that your website (the nucleus of your online presence) is 100% on target in expressing your mission and goals. On your homepage be brief and entice, don’t overwhelm with too many calls to action. Make sure your brand and mission are crystal clear. Be sure you are blogging and/or adding new, valuable content consistently.
- Be sure when you blog, post, or tweet, you are adding an appropriate and eye-catching photo that will prompt others to share it, not just “like” it.
- Be sure you are using #hashtags but don’t go crazy with them, lest no one will see or read your post… (I see this a lot on Instagram; so many hashtags I can’t find the message!)
- Don’t try to sell all the time with posts/tweets about buying products, classes or donating to your cause. Once in a while is all right, but you will really build your audience by sharing significant information. As they move around your website reading articles they will come to respect your efforts and just may click that donate button on their own.
- Your “competition” organization is your friend. Remember, you are both trying to help others, save wildlife and the environment, and so those that follow those other organizations may follow you too! Be kind and retweet.
- If you are planning to boost or advertise, make sure you are being selective about the information and target audience. Do your homework and know where your target is, both online or offline.
- Remember that your target audience can be in many different places. Be sure to review your Google Analytics each week and identify if what you are doing is working. For example, if you are spending most of your social media time on Facebook but when you look at your stats you have more people visiting your site from Twitter, you should tweet more often than you are!
- People consume content in many different ways, so be sure you are creating video for YouTube, audio for Podcasting, Powerpoint (for Slideshare or LinkedIn), photo galleries on Flickr, Pinterest and Facebook, blog posts that can embed these other media files, graphic images, and more… (and then share across social sites).
- When you have new media to share, don’t post on every social site at the same time and then not post for a week until the next post. Schedule different places each day so your content is circulating all the time.
- Be sure to alert the local media about events and other important news so that they can write about you. If you don’t tell them yourself, how do you expect them to know? Publicity helps awareness and begets more publicity.
Frogs Are Green was fortunate to interview Robin Moore on a podcast also. Listen here >> Robin Moore
Yesterday, in class with the Cloud Institute and Sustainable Jersey (NJ Learns), each student got to briefly share their project, so I was describing the Frogs Are Green mission and projects on the agenda for 2015.
My teacher Jaimie P. Cloud, challenged me with this question. “Much of what Frogs Are Green is about is bringing awareness to the public, but is there a change I want in the public’s behavior?”
It made me think about one specific area that we can focus on which would help frogs and amphibians as well as other wildlife and humans, and that is water quality.
We know that there are many issues, such as, pollution and oil spills, pesticides and other toxins, pharmaceuticals, and these aren’t just affecting wildlife, but us as well. It’s humans that are creating many of these problems, so it’s obvious that we must be the ones to correct it.
I did a search on Google for Frogs and Water Quality and was surprised to learn there is currently no standard for water quality as it applies to frogs and amphibians:
“The factors thought to be contributing to declines in frog populations include habitat loss, introduction of exotic species, overexploitation, disease, climate change, and decreasing water quality. With respect to water quality, agroecosystems use 80-90% of the water resources in the western United States, frequently resulting in highly eutrophic conditions. Recent investigations suggest that these eutrophic conditions (elevated pH, water temperature, and un-ionized ammonia) may be associated with frog embryo mortality or malformations. However, water quality criteria for frogs and other amphibians do not currently exist. Here, we briefly review data that support the need to develop water quality parameters for frogs in agroecosystems and other habitats.”
(from this website: PMC1519110/http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1519110/)
What this tells me is that currently the water quality is tested to make sure it’s safe for humans, but there are no regulations in place for it to be safe for wildlife? Doesn’t it matter that it’s healthy for all life?
I’ll be reading much more on this issue and would like to invite you to share your thoughts or links to additional documentation you may have found.
Here’s a video I’d like to share because it shows just how important it is to educate the young with hands-on education from Marie Hartford, Science, 5th Grade Teacher and her students in Redmond, WA on the Teaching Channel about “Measuring the pH as it Relates to Water Quality.”
This video is so important, we needed to share it on our site too. We have collaborated in the past with Save the Frogs on their campaign to Ban Atrazine.
http://www.democracynow.org – We speak with a University of California scientist Tyrone Hayes, who discovered a widely used herbicide may have harmful effects on the endocrine system. But when he tried to publish the results, the chemical’s manufacturer launched a campaign to discredit his work. Hayes was first hired in 1997 by a company, which later became agribusiness giant Syngenta, to study their product, Atrazine, a pesticide that is applied to more than half the corn crops in the United States, and widely used on golf courses and Christmas tree farms. When Hayes found results Syngenta did not expect — that Atrazine causes sexual abnormalities in frogs, and could cause the same problems for humans — it refused to allow him to publish his findings. A new article in The New Yorker magazine uses court documents from a class-action lawsuit against Syngenta to show how it sought to smear Hayes’ reputation and prevent the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency from banning the profitable chemical, which is already banned by the European Union.
Democracy Now!, is an independent global news hour that airs weekdays on 1,200+ TV and radio stations Monday through Friday. Watch our livestream 8-9am ET at http://www.democracynow.org.
We recently came across a fascinating article in Nature News, “Frogs and Humans Are Kissing Cousins.” You might be surprised to learn that you have a whole lot more in common with frogs than you thought—at a genetic level, anyway. The gene order of the Western Clawed Frog (Xenopus tropicalis) shows surprising similarity to that of mammals. This frog joins a list of sequenced model organisms, including the mouse, zebrafish, nematode, and fruit fly. This amphibian’s genome closely resembles that of the mouse and the human, with large sections of frog DNA on several chromosomes having genes arranged in the same order as in that in mammals. Yet this close genomic relationship doesn’t hold true for some other vertebrates.
Because of this similarity in genome sequence, the frog can be used as a human disease model. Within conserved sequences in the Western Clawed Frog, the researchers found genes that are similar to 80% of human genes known to be associated with diseases. As quoted in the article, Frank Conlon, a geneticist at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, said,”It’s going to make genetic screens in Xenopus immediately more useful.”
As reported recently in an article, “Frogs Help Scientists Combat Childhood Heart Disease,” in the Yale Daily News, for example, a study by Yale cardiology researchers has found a number of genes that can be used to diagnose and treat children who have a birth defect called heterotaxy, which causes the heart to be severely malformed. Their findings, published in late January, suggest that certain genes that affect human embryonic development can cause abnormalities leading to congenital heart disease.
One percent of all newborns develop congenital heart disease, and most patients need surgery to survive. But even with a procedure, outcomes can often be poor and patients may require constant medical supervision over the years.
In children who have heterotaxy, the body cannot properly place the organs on the left or right sides, which causes problems because normal human hearts sit on the left side of our bodies. The left and right side of the heart also perform very different functions: the right side pumps blood to lungs, while the left pumps blood to the body, so correct placement of the heart in the body is extremely important.
But this study will help scientists better understand what causes congenital heart disease and will give researchers some idea of which genes lead to better or worse outcomes. As quoted in the article, Mustafa Khohka, assistant professor of pediatrics and genetics at Yale, and a co-author of the paper, said, “We also hope to improve our understanding of the genes that affect left-right [axis] development and the mechanisms involved in determining your left side from your right side.”
Frogs make a good model for studying heterotaxy in human embryos, he explained, because the left-right axis develops the same way in both humans and frogs. By examining the number of genetic copy variations in frogs, the scientists were able to identify genes that cause left-right axis mutations. Unfortunately, the findings may not benefit children with heterotaxy for some time.
“Patients with heterotaxy defects include some of the most severely affected individuals we see,” said Dr. Anne M. Murphy, professor of pediatric cardiology at Johns Hopkins University, as quoted in the article. “While discovery of the root causes of the disorder will not immediately translate into better care, there are already emerging examples in our field where understanding the molecular pathways of disease affecting the heart could offer new therapies.”
The researchers were recently awarded a grant by the National Institutes of Health which will fund their studies for the next five years. The group plans to identify more patients with congenital heart disease and the mutations that may have caused it.
We think this study is just one more reason to kiss a frog today!