Stories From Smaller Nonprofits: Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative


Stars This December the winds blew colder than usual and for many their winter wonderland turned life into a world of isolation. For nonprofits, who depend on the kindness of strangers, this year especially, with the challenges of the economy it seemed to feel as thought they were fighting the battle for their cause alone.

During this month Diva Marketing is shining the light on a few smaller nonprofits. It is our hope that stories you read will inspire you to help in ways that fit with your life .. be it a donation, an hour of volunteer time, a Facebook status update or an extra tweet.

The Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative is as unique and personal as its name. Alzheimer's can impact the lives of its victims and their families in much the same way as the winter blizzards can wrap you in isolation and fear. However, through the works created by Ami Simms and a group of gifted quilters there is hope and warmth.

The story of the Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative is told by it's founder Ami Simms.

I am a quilter. I founded Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative in the midst of my mother's 7-year struggle with Alzheimer's disease because I had to do something. I don't know how to cure disease, but I do know how
Mom&Ami to quilt.  I have a voice in the quilting community and I thought this was the time to open my mouth. Photo of Ami and her Mom. 

More than 5 million Americans have Alzheimer's, a neurodegenerative disease that destroys brain cells. With cell death come memory loss and cognitive decline. Alzheimer's isn't forgetting where you went on vacation in 1997, it’s the gradual loss of every memory you ever had, every skill you ever learned, and every relationship you ever held dear. You lose yourself, bit by bit. So far, there are no survivors.

The Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative (AAQI) is a grassroots, Internet-based effort to raise awareness and fund research through art. We sponsor a nationally touring exhibit of quilts about Alzheimer's called Alzheimer's Illustrated: From Heartbreak to Hope. Fifty-three small format art quilts explore the disease from a variety of perspectives. They are shown with 182 "Name Quilts," each a 6-inch by 7-foot quilted panel of names of people who have/had Alzheimer's or a related dementia. There are more than 10,000 names in all, written by family members and friends.

The AAQI sells and auctions donated quilts, more than 6,100 so far. The Priority: Alzheimer's Quilt project offers a way for quilters to grieve the loss of a loved one with needle and thread. Those who can't thread a needle can open their wallets to honor their efforts and fund research. (See our Quilts For Sale page.) 

Since 2006, our all-volunteer charity has raised nearly $500,000 for Alzheimer's research, one quilt at a time. The Alzheimer’s Art Quilt Initiative auctions small quilts the first 10 days of every month. Please visit us to see the quilts in the January auction and to participate in the online auction. AGI _ umbrella of hope  

Social Media Does Social Good

The Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative does not maintain a traditional "donor list" of names and street addresses. Instead, we rely on virtual "word of mouth."

1. Every donated quilt gets its own web page that includes a photograph of the quilt, information about the quilt, and a place for a dedication if the artist wishes. Donors are encouraged to email, blog, facebook, and tweet when their quilt is up for auction or available on our web site to purchase. We facebook and tweet the number of every quilt sold.

2. All news about the Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative is disseminated via email, facebook, and/or RSS feed to our AAQIUpdate blog. Donations are accepted through our website and through 3,000-member facebook causes page. We are listed and reviewed in 

3. Supporters help us by placing our logo (linked back to our home page) on their blogs and web pages. 

The Alzheimer’s Art Quilt Initiative auctions small quilts the first 10 days of every month. Please visit us to see the quilts in the January auction and to participate in the online auction.  

AQI Logo Learn More About Alzeheimer's Art Quilt Initiative

Blog  Facebook Twitter Website Auction


Read more smaller nonprofit stories.

Friday Fun: For the Heart, Head & Soul


Friday Fun is Diva Marketing's virtual happy hour from cosmos to Jack to lemonade. A waiting for the weekend 'playground' time to be sophisticated-silly. Or sometimes just plain silly.

Too many wonderful things happening in the virtual world not to pass along from fun contests to help non profit causes to quirky ways to grow your business.

NonProfit - For The Heart

Alex brown_2 Alex Brown is no stranger to social media. In 2005, he created one the first higher ed blogs, Wharton MBA Admissions Blog, He was one of the first to incorporate student blogs as a support tactic when he taught marketing at University of Delaware. But it was his beyond successful blog for Barbaro the 2006 Kentucky Derby winner who was put to rest too soon. One could say that blog changed Alex's life and let to a mission to create awareness about the slaughter horse issue.

Alex Brown Racing is sponsoring a YouTube contest. Videos will be accepted from Tuesday, February 10 to Noon Friday April 10. The grand prize is $1,000 to be donated to the horse rescue organization of choice of the winning entry. Even if you don't enter, stop by and view the entries .. some wonderful videos have been submitted.

The Animal Rescue Site is challenged to sustain its click campaign. A click will help provide food and care to sick pets.  And then because you're feeling so good to have done good go to PawFun and design a t-shirt to show off your own pet. If you hurry you can save 30%!

Small Business Success - For The Head

Ideablob is one of the most innovative uses of combining social media with small business. There are two parts. One:  Within the public forum entrepreneurs ask the business community at-large for advice. Two: The community votes on the best business concept. The $10,000 prize is no small accomplishment to win with stiff competion. The current contest closes on 3-31-09. I had the honor of being one of the featured guest advisors. The site is sponsored, very discreetly, by Advanta.

When if comes to helping small business owners Heidi Richards Mooney is one of the champions. Her online publication and community WE magazine for women, has influenced thousands of women (and men) with its rich content, online conferences and networking support. Heidi recently released the eBook Quirky Marketing Calendar 2009 as a resouce for ways to create fun, innovativemarketing  strategies.

So you've got an idea for a light web-based business and didn't win the $10K Ideablob contest. My pal Dave Williams is involved in a new angel fund venture that might be right for you if you are a small business owners in the Atlanta area. Want to learn more? Shotput Ventures is holding an open house 3-3-9.  If nothing else their Facebook invite page sure looks like it will be good networking!

Looking for a couple more social media and marketing tips ? Check my guest post, in Tsufit's Step Into The Spotlight series.

In today’s world where clutter is the norm and marketing managers are scrambling to get their brands noticed stepping to the side of the lime light just might be the way to get into the spot light. By that I mean before you take center stage understand the basics:

1. Who are your customers and prospects?

2. What makes your brand unique to your customers?

3. Where do your customers hang out?

The answers, to what may first appear as simple questions, become the cornerstone of your successful marketing strategy. Traditionally organizations discovered those elusive secrets through marketing research studies or mining internal data sources. However, social media research or listening to the raw conversations of your customers provides marketers with an additional resource.  Read more at - Step into the Spotlight post

The Arts - For The Soul

The arts are recognizing that social media is a wonderful way to engage and build an audience. By letting patrons glimpse a view from behind the curtain they can but buts in the seats. Broadway is catching on too! Sure have come a long way from when Elisa Camahort, the fonder of BlogHer, launch the blog for 42nd Street Moon (Theatre) in 2004. Jane Fonda is sharing her backstage and onstage experiences on her blog and in tweets. The Alliance Theatre in Atlanta often runs contests on their blogs. Ford's Theatre is on YouTube, Facebook, Flickr and Twitter!

Sl shakespeare twelfth night When it comes to theatre and innovation the (Second Life) SL Shakespeare Company must win the Virtual Tony for innovation. The mission of this troupe of professional actors is to make Shakespeare cool again! The performances take place "in-world" at SL Globe Theatre wich is a virtual reconstruction of the Original Globe Theatre.

The SL Shakespeare Company’s long-awaited open-ended run premiers Sunday, March 1 at 1 PM PST, and will continue indefinitely every Sunday at 1 PM PST and every Tuesday at 6 PM PST at the SL Globe Theatre. Read more at the SL Shakespeare blog.

.. and so we'll let Shakespeare have the final word.

No profit grows where no pleasure is ta'en;
In brief, sir, study what you most affect.

William Shakespeare The Taming of the Shrew

Friday Fun: Three For Three For The Arts


Friday Fun is Diva Marketing's virtual happy hour from cosmos to Jack to lemonade. A waiting for the weekend 'playground' time to be sophisticated-silly. Or sometimes just plain silly.

Give my regards to Broadway! Today's Friday Fun is applause .. applause .. applause for the arts in Hot'Lanta.

One - It's increasingly expensive to tell the gang at 42nd Street that the curtain will be going up. So when my friend Sue Chappell, Executive Director of the Conyers Rockdale Council for the Arts, sent me an email link to an Access Atlanta article about an important grant the Council had won I immediately clicked to read.  The mention was not only a nice acknowledgment of the funding but a bit of promotion for the excellent performing arts programs that Sue has worked hard to bring to the community.

Sue_chappel_access_atlanta_5_07However, when I clicked into the article, what I found was rather tacky. A key word, that appeared it would link to the Council's website, linked to an ad. The link has since been deleted. But I can't help but wonder how many people were confused and then annoyed. In all fairness, I think those ads are random but still .. how tacky!

Sidebar: Conyers Rockdale Council for the Arts a multi disciplnary community arts organization that is NOT a part of government, but supported in its efforts by the community being served.

Two - Congrats!to my friends at the Alliance Theatre who you just might Tonymedallion03185find singing and dancing down Peachtree street. The Alliance Theatre is the Recipient of the 2007 Regional Theatre Tony Award for outstanding regional theater. AJC article. Wonder if their blog put it over the top?

Three - Last night my friend Carol invited me to join her at Symphony. It was a  Atlanta_symphony__encore_2great performance and letting the music wash over me was wonderful and much needed. Flipping through the program I found one of the most creative ads I've seen in a long time. In fact at first glance I thought .. hmm where do I sign up for this?

Divas and Divos let's bring this one home to you ... support the arts in your community.

Astrology business astrology for fun -
from The Astro Divas Paula Dare & Donna Page

Conversations - especially ones on the phone - are bountiful as the Sun enters Gemini Mon. 5/21/07. Although take care not to run off at the mouth. It may be helpful to outline what you want to say and set a timer. You want a productive conversation. Save the idle chitchat for a social occasion. You probably have more than one business call to tend

Avoid the “water cooler” as gossip tends to be plentiful at this time. That’s all you need to slow down productivity. The rumor mill can spread like wild fire.

Energies have a tendency to become very scattered in Gemini. Try to stay focused on the task at hand or you just may find yourself chasing your tail.

Neptune turns retrograde on Thurs. 5/24/07 which may add to any confusion. Take time to go within and talk to yourself instead of trying to get everyone else’s input. Ideas may be more abstract than concrete at this time. Having faith in yourself is key.

Guggenheim Cobrands With Google


NEA arts funding and budgets cuts make strange bedfellows. The famed and much loved Guggenheim Musem in New York City and the worlds largest search engine Google have joined forces.So what's a little co-branding between friends?

Googleheim .. has a kinda web 2.0 ring to it .. dontcha think?


Heard it  from: Natural Search Blog

42nd Street Moon Blog: 42nd Street Moon (Theatre)


Biz Blog Profile is a behind the scene look at how corporations, non profits and higher education institutions are using blogs to support their marketing goals. As of this post, the Biz Blog Profile Series will be including arts organizations.

Blogging for arts groups is a natural fit. At its heart, art is about an emotional connection between artist and audience. At their best, blogs are about creating a connection between author and reader. Both strive to open the doors of self just a little wider and provide an experience that makes a difference. Be that difference a new awakening of the soul or a new understanding of a company.

42nd Street Moon is a regional theatre group based in San Francisco that stages "lost" or "forgotten musicals." The name is derived from the bright lights and the home of American musical theatre at 42nd Street & Broadway in, of course, Manhattan. The theatre has an interesting blog story to tell; not the least is that they've hired a blog copy writer, Elisa Camahort, to pen their posts. (Who just happens to be a Diva Marketing blog buddy and one great blogger.) Thanks to Elisa for providing the back-story.

Come along and listen to the lullaby of broadway ... in San Francisco at the 42nd Street Moon!

42nd_street_moon_logoBiz Blog Profile: 42nd Street Moon Blog

About 42nd Street Moon

42nd Street Moon celebrates and preserves the art and spirit of the American Musical Theatre. They contribute to its evolution and continuing vitality by presenting staged concert performances of classic and rarely performed musical works.

Worker Bee's Involvement

I (Elisa Camahort) acted professionally with the 42nd St. Moon, appearing in about a half a dozen productions during the course of four years. Although I hadn't performed with them since 1998, I still knew the folks involved with the theatre and their PR firm's president. When I began working with theatres (on marketing projects) it was natural for me to approach the theatres which I had existing relationships.

I didn't pitch them solely on a blog; I pitched them on an online marketing program that included search engine marketing, online community outreach and yes, a blog. I was able to make the blog pitch based on work results from another theatre I was working with; I could also speak to the culture of the theatre and the nature of its audience in language they could relate to.

The Artist Director happens to be a great writer, but is also very busy. He wanted the freedom to contribute sometimes, but not be responsible. Because they knew me, knew I knew the theatre, they were confident that I could write engagingly about their theatre and the world of theatre in-general.

Why 42nd Street Moon is Blogging

Live theatre audiences love the gossip, the inside scoop. And live theatre audiences are often motivated by knowing someone involved with a production, or something about the piece itself. Since 42nd Moon focuses on rarely-performed gems, they've built more of a following around their actors and artistic staff. By blogging they could increase even further how close the audience felt to those people. Plus blogging could help the audience develop some familiarity for the material that was being produced.

Theatres often struggle to get single-ticket buyers to come back and maybe even subscribe the next year. The blog was a way to make audience members feel more invested in the company's personnel and its success. And yes, they hoped it would broaden their audience and bring in a more youthful demographic.

I believe that one of the reasons that this theatre, in particular, has an affinity for blogging is their own work in reviving and restoring classic, but rarely-performed works. There is a great deal of archival work in what they do, and I think they like having their daily life chronicled for posterity. This has never been a stated goal, but I sense that it is nonetheless, one of the qualities they appreciate about having a theatre blog.

How Blogs Fit Into 42nd Street Moon's Marketing or Community Outreach Strategies

Some productions show a bigger pop in sales than others, but what the Managing Director most often passes along my way is when an audience or Board member mentions how much they enjoy the blog to her. It's very literally word-of-mouth response that seems to carry the most weight with the theatre.

How 42nd Street Moon is Marketing/Promoting Its Blog

The blog was featured prominently in the 2005/2006 Season brochure that went out, and link is featured on every page of their traditional website. I also send a weekly email to an opt-in group to tell them what stories were featured on the blog the previous week. In addition, we do one email blast per production to the theatre's entire database, telling them about the show, the blog and the blog reader's discount.

The blog reader's discount consists of a promotion code (and associated discount) created just for online promotions. But the theatre actually limits the availability, particularly on shows that they expect to sell well. (The house is quite small) They mostly seem to provide the discount because I insist that blog readers have to have something that's exclusively theirs. They (the theatre) seem remarkably unconcerned with calculating a quantitative ROI. Which is a little disconcerning for me, the marketer, although nice for me the writer.

Reactions From Artists, Patrons & Staff

99.99% positive. Some actors get much more into it than others, but every production finds me getting at least a couple of actors who really get into participating. The Artistic Director actually seems to love it when he can correct me on some bit of theatre trivia or lore :-)  As I mentioned, the Managing Director passes along info about feedback she's gotten more often than she passes along ticket sales information.

Selling-in To Management

It was started as a short-term experiment. We were going to do it for last year's fall season and see how it went. And we have been continuing ever since...over a year now. The biggest challenge is balancing content when the theatre is dark. I talk about Broadway; I talk about other local theatres; I talk about what Moonies (our affectionate name for regular 42nd St. Moon performers) are doing in the world. Being a blog I feel it has to stay pretty active, but when the theatre's dark there isn't always as much going on to talk about. They don't mind my doing that, bu they prefer that a 42nd Street Moon post is always "top of blog", sort of traditional website thinking. So I plan my posting to accommodate that request.

Blog Strategies Gaining Acceptance With Arts Organizations

I think blogs will catch on with arts groups. I noticed that California Shakespeare Festival had a few of their actors blog this summer, and a couple of other theatres have made some attempts. The problem is you need consistency and commitment...and theatres often run so short-handed, and so over-loaded.

Most groups will either have to invest in someone on the development or business side who can commit to the consistency and ferret out stories that feed the creative side of the blog (which is basically what I do) or they'll have to find someone on the creative side of the business who is so passionate about sharing with the audience and will adhere to a schedule. It's like any other tactic: if it is given priority, and the group is willing to spend either the dollars or the time required, they will make it happen.

Lessons Learned

It is very important to decide ahead of time what you want from doing any marketing outreach. I have one theatre client who most definitely wants ticket sales, and we pay very close attention to that that. 42nd Street Moon seems more interested in creating word-of-mouth among its patrons. So we collect those stories.

The only "failed" theatre client I had, had an unstated strategy but didn't enable tactics to support that strategy. How do I mean? Well, they didn't give a promotion to blog readers. No promotion means no trackable code. No trackable code means no sure-fire way to measure quantifiably the results of the program.

Second, they didn't want to give me access to much inside, backstage info to me to write about ... meaning it was very hard to make the blog engaging content-wise. And therefore, tough to build readership. They enjoyed the content within their own team, but felt disappointed they weren't getting "their money's worth."

There was no point arguing that they had done almost nothing to support even knowing what they were getting, let alone having it be substantial. This was early on, even before I was working with 42nd Street Moon. The Lesson Learned was substantial. When I work with clients today I'm much more blunt about what they need to do to be able to measure, let alone get them! If they don't seem committed or prepared to participate (or give me access) then I may still work with them but I'm very clear about what they can expect.

Future Directions

So far I've been blogging and posting photos, but it seems like audio and video are the next steps. It's a little tough when there are professional actors involved. I would love to have guest bloggers. I often do get blog posts via email from guests, and I post them as is. But so far no one has authorship rights directly.

Elisa Camahort's Take On Blogs

Artists seek to communicate and connect with their audiences. As do bloggers. Blogging lets artists continue the communication, the connection, the conversation even after patrons have left the four walls of the theatre. In a way blogging is a marketing tool that is uniquely suited to promoting the arts because at its best, blogging is an art.


A Blog Kinda Week


Walkoffamemainstarwhite2_1Welcome visitors from wonderful Wonder Branding! It's a thrill to be highlighted by Michele Miller during Wonder Women Week. Even more so it's an honor to be included in a community of smart, savvy  women. All I can say is WoW and thanks Michele!. Girlfriend, you sure made my day ... I feel like a Hollywood Star.

While I'm thanking talented women of the blogopshere a huge pink boa throw to Yvonne DiVita for her very kind and generous words on Lip-Sticking. I'm turning this one into a holiday card.   

The blog world is not without its divos. Earlier this week I had the pleasure of meeting up with Josh Hallett, hyku, at a Starbucks of course.  Josh shared some great blog stories with me. He's doing some interesting work in this space.

When my friend the brilliant marketer,Ken Bernhardt, asked if I would conduct a workshop on blogs for the Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau's art council members it took all 2.5 seconds to say Yes! In another lifetime (we all have many of those!) I was a theatre major. As you might imagine developing this program was a labor of love.
Sidebar: This divo needs to blog!

Blogging seems made for the arts ... cheap, easy, not a lot of resources, creative and all that good marketing stuff. I sure was surprised to find that not a lot of arts groups have taken up blogging. Here are a few: 

- St. Louis Symphony Orchestra
- 42nd Moon - theatre
Sidebar: Thanks to Elisa Camahort Worker Bees Blog
- Katzen Arts Center
- Moxie Theatre
- Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center

Stay tuned for a few Marketing Diva Biz Blog Profiles on the arts blogs...coming soon!

Arts Blogging


Into blogging? Into the visual arts? Head up to Montreal and check out the Art Blogging Conference - 22-24 Sept 2005. Now that's pretty cool!

Heard it from: Zeke's Gallery

Sidebar: Zeke's Gallery post on 18 September has links, to count em Girlfriend, 397 art blog!

Friday Fun: Creating New Art Forms


Full_radius_dance A bare stage. Lights go up. Dancers' movements take focus. Wheelchairs blurr into the background. The first performance of Full Radius Dance begins.

Jay Tribby, the ED of VSA arts of Georgia, kindly invited me to Friday night's holiday performance of Full Radius Dance. Full Radius Dance is a unique company that weaves dancers on foot with dancers in wheelchairs to create technically demanding, visually exciting choreography works. Inspiring. Powerful. Elegant. And surprising. "Wheelchairs don't dance, says director Douglas Scott. "It's people that dance." These talented artists danced their with hearts and souls.

Divas, it's a wild crazed world and holidays add to the madness. It's important to make the time to find some Friday Fun that will inspire and feed your soul. Sometimes you find magic in unexpected places. Thank you Jay for an lovely surprise!

Sidebar: VSA arts of Georgia provides access to the arts for people with disabilities and those who are economically disadvantaged. And as Jay says, "We're creating new art forms."