SEEBA COMMUNICATIONS

Writing and editing for all your communications needs

REPORTS

Content that supports your process, themes and concepts

SUMMARIES

Key points distilled from your materials and geared to your audience

BLOGS & WEB

Fresh content for your website

COPY EDITING

A second set of eyes on your documents to maximize impact and clarity

FRENCH

English content from French source material and translation editing for accuracy

ARTICLES

Pieces on a range of topics based on research or interviews

ABOUT

Deanna Drake Seeba is a freelance writer with over ten years of experience. She specializes in collaborating with clients to create unique content that furthers their plans, strengthens their brand and serves their mission. Throughout her career, she has worked with a variety of foundations, organizations and individuals to realize their communication goals. From writing to contractor management and story collection, she is comfortable supporting communications teams on projects large and small. She received degrees in English and French from the University of California, Berkeley and studied French literature at the Université de Grenoble, France as part of a year abroad program.

Her career has centered largely on women-focused foundations working in Africa and she uses this depth of experience to create authentic and powerful content for her clients. Additionally, she has worked in the areas of public education, government, international development, creative writing and publishing.

WORK

PROTECTING HER HEALTH

This is a sample article for a nonprofit newsletter sent to donors and stakeholders.

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CHANGES IN FAMILY HEALTH & EDUCATION

This is an excerpt from a report written in close collaboration with the external relations team and based on an impact evaluation.

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DONOR RETENTION: 3 WAYS TO KEEP THEM COMING BACK!

This blog about donor retention strategies is aimed at fundraising professionals.

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IT’S ALL YOGA: WHY GUILT IS HURTING YOUR PRACTICE

This short article is an original yoga and lifestyle piece suitable for fitness, yoga, or parenting publications.

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CONTACT

To see additional work examples or for more information, send us a message!

CHANGES IN FAMILY HEALTH & EDUCATION (Excerpt)

In Casamance, rural women are traditionally responsible for their children’s school attendance. Their consistent effort to prioritize their children’s education has been a determining factor in the evolution of Casamance’s school enrollment rate which now surpasses the national average. Despite many obstacles and difficulties, the enrollment rate for children rose to 87% in 2009.1 This progress notwithstanding, the ability to maintain children in school is an ongoing challenge.

Of the 379 women who were surveyed by World Education Senegal, 73% said that they are now better able to cover the costs associated with educating their children, thanks to the additional income from activities supported by the community grants. These costs include tuition, school supplies and books, children’s clothes, and money to buy lunch at school.

In the same sample, 53% of the rural women surveyed stated that they are now able to keep children in school beyond the early years. Keeping children in school becomes much more difficult and expensive after the primary level. Those interviewed identified a number of specific strategies they adopted to support their older children to continue their education, including:

  • Purchasing bicycles to travel to and from school (many children must travel several kilometers each way). Paying for their children to eat at school rather than having to walk home at lunch. This allows their children to resume classes on time.
  • Putting money aside to pay for school fees.
  • Buying lamps for their homes so that their children can do their schoolwork in the evenings and avoid falling behind.
  • Establishing savings groups (tontines) with other rural women to help pay for tuition, transportation, pocket money, and school activities.
PARENTAL AUTHORITY

The increase in income for rural women benefitting from community grant activities has improved domestic relationships between men and women and given more parental authority to mothers. When rural women were able to contribute financially to household expenses such as health care or education, their husbands included them more readily in their decision making. Women’s influence over many aspects of their lives thereby increased and their concerns were more likely to be addressed.

In discussions with rural women reporters, members of women’s community organizations said that they were now consulted by their husbands on decisions in the following areas:

  • Their children’s education
  • The family budget (emergency unforeseen expenses, spending priorities, day-to-day needs, and opportunities) Child and parental health
  • Family marriages
  • Family ceremonies, religious celebrations, cultural ceremonies
  • Family safety
  • Important life events


IT’S ALL YOGA: WHY GUILT IS HURTING YOUR PRACTICE

It’s 11:00 p.m. and I’m completely exhausted. It’s been a full day of writing, caring for my child, cooking, cleaning, and catching up with friends. It feels like I haven’t stopped moving all day and yet I’m racked with guilt because I didn’t practice yoga. I pop one quick bedside down dog and try to allay my shame, but I have a hard time winding down knowing that the one thing I do for myself has been put off until tomorrow… again.

I know I’m not alone. I’ve talked to tons of people who rake themselves over the coals for “not sticking with it” or “falling off the wagon.” So I’m here to say, not just for them, but for myself, that this guilt trip action is all counterproductive nonsense.

My very first yoga teacher looked like Santa Claus in a Hawaiian shirt. He discovered yoga in his fifties and then decided to leave his career as a psychologist because he knew he could help more people by teaching. His favorite thing to say was “it’s all yoga.” At the time, I very much admired the sentiment but I most certainly did not buy the line. When I missed class my body ached and I was crabby. I didn’t sleep as well and I sorely regretted not getting off the couch to get to class. That movie and the pizza I ate while watching it were not yoga. My teacher was wrong.

Ten years later, I don’t skip yoga to laze around, but I have a million other ways to fill my time. I miss class because my daughter has gymnastics, or the kitchen needs to be cleaned, or I haven’t seen my husband all day and I want to spend some time with him. I was choosing these activities myself, but all the while I felt guilty for not doing the right thing and prioritizing yoga. I had read over and over about the importance of self-care and making sure I made time for myself. In my mind “self-care” became synonymous with yoga and I fought valiantly to carve out a few hours of week to be on my mat. But life would get in the way, and when I couldn’t find the time or energy, I wasn’t even proud of the yoga I did manage to do.

Then, only recently, I realized that I was missing the whole point. On a day I skipped yoga, I saw my little girl beam at me, I stepped back and felt accomplishment at my clean kitchen, and I hugged my husband and I knew that Yoga Santa was right. It is all yoga. Some days (or weeks!) we don’t have the luxury of a dedicated 90 minute practice. That’s life. And that’s fine, because just like yoga, what we’re really practicing is how to confront difficulty with patience and grace.

What if you approached the next hurdle in life like it was a tricky new arm balance? Would you forgive yourself for not getting it perfect the first time? Would you laugh at yourself if you messed up and fell? And when you conquered it, would you congratulate yourself as you would have on your mat? Applying this lens to my life has begun to change my mindset. There’s nothing more counterproductive than feeling shame for not taking care of ourselves. It compounds fatigue and stress and prevents us from recognizing the beauty of our daily routine.

So keep your breath strong and full. Try to find one moment of gratitude for each thing you choose to do with your day. And above all, don’t beat yourself up for not making it to yoga. Your mat will be there tomorrow and you’ll come to it with more energy and excitement than ever before.


PROTECTING HER HEALTH, PROTECTING HER FUTURE

The story is all too common. A woman takes out a small loan to improve her business, falls ill, and is unable to repay on time. At a bank, she could lose the few assets she has left. Escaping the cycle of poverty seems farther away than ever.

For our clients, the story ends differently. The woman has set aside some money with her savings group just for health. She is able to use these funds to see a doctor, purchase medicine, and cover her expenses until she can return to work. She does not default on her loan and her health and future are safeguarded. Thanks to our health initiative, millions of stories are ending like this one.

Launched in 2006, we are now helping over 1.9 million women in 10 countries to reduce the impact of health-related financial shocks, gain access to care, and live healthier lives. This innovative initiative works in four ways:

  • Provides health education during savings group meetings
  • Structures savings groups to provide health financing and savings accounts to pay for micro-insurance or care
  • Establishes links with mobile doctors who provide services in remote areas and other health providers who offer discounted primary care for rural clients
  • Improves access to basic health products through village entrepreneurs who make door-to-door visits

Eight years after the start of the initiative, clients and health providers are enthusiastic about the results. In Bolivia, 24% of the clients interviewed said that they had never seen a doctor before participating in the program. In India, the life-saving use of oral rehydration solution to treat children with diarrhea – the leading cause of death in local children – went from 60% to 88% in our program area. In the Philippines, 100% of clients interviewed would recommend the health micro-insurance product to others, and 88% said it had already helped them significantly.

We are committed to sharing our health initiative with other microfinance institutions around the world with the hope that it will inspire widespread replication and further innovation. In addition to circulating technical guides and education modules, we have established alliances with other organizations working on similar issues. Together we are promoting dialogue and encouraging further exploration of and support for approaches that integrate microfinance and health.

Please join us in ensuring that women working to improve their lives aren’t hindered by ill health. Together we can make sure that their stories end well.

DONOR RETENTION: 3 WAYS TO KEEP THEM COMING BACK!

As a professional fundraiser, you may think it’s just your organization that’s having trouble keeping donors, but donor retention is a problem across the nonprofit sector. As a nonprofit freelance copywriter, my clients often fret about donor retention, so I found two articles that highlight simple ways to keep more of your donors this year.

In a recent blog post entitled “The Top Nonprofit Fundraising Resolutions for 2016: Improve Donor Retention” for the Association of Fundraising Professionals, Darian Rodriguez Heyman, the celebrated author of great books such as Social Media for Nonprofits and Nonprofit Fundraising 101, talks about two ways to improve donor retention in 2016. First he emphasizes the importance of positioning your organization as a conduit, rather than an answer. This means focusing on the impact or change you’re making, rather than just the need. People want to contribute to a winning team, not a bottomless pit of despair. Never to be underestimated, his second main recommendation is classic but so crucial. Thank, thank, thank your donors with no requests attached. Genuine and frequent appreciation never hurt anyone's donor retention.

Kerri Karvetski, an Online Campaigns and Social Media Adviser has another view of how to improve donor retention: monthly giving. In her article “3 Reasons to Invest in Your Monthly Giving Program” on Kivi’s Nonprofit Communications Blog she asserts that it is far less expensive to encourage your donors to give monthly online than it is to lose them yearly and try to get them back through direct mail. Not only that, but monthly giving is a hot trend across nonprofit sectors, growing by 32% in 2014 compared to just 9% for one time giving. Probably her strongest argument is that monthly donors are far more loyal to your organization than sporadic donors with 63% of monthly givers returning compared to only 19% of other first time donors.

Based on Heyman and Karvetski’s advice and my experience working for many clients grappling with this issue, here are the three things you can implement today to start improving your donor retention:

  • Focus on Impact – Position your organization as a winner, one that's contributing to a solution.
  • Think Monthly – Encourage donors to give a small recurring donation monthly using a credit card rather than sending a check once a year.
  • Thank, Thank, Thank – You can never express too much genuine appreciation to your donors, it will keep them coming back!

I know it can be expensive to change course with your fundraising strategy, but integrating these three simple principles will definitely provide return on your investment.