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Do You Know Brian Lacy?

June 25th, 2010 | No Comments | Posted in In The Spotlight

Brian Lacy Suit Photo (Seated reading)Brian Lacy, Editor of this E-Magazine, is also owner of Brian Lacy and Associates (BLA).  His career path through phonathons, direct mail appeals, email marketing, and leadership and major gift acquisition as well as other solicitation strategies was the strongest possible background for the launching of his own annual giving consultancy and data enhancement and digital marketing services.  For more than twenty years Brian Lacy has assisted hundreds of non-profits to significantly raise their annual fund raising results.  He has tremendous skills and vast experience and employees this thoughtfully even for his smallest client.

What keeps Brian Lacy excited about development after almost 25 years in the field?

I really enjoy helping deserving organizations raise the support they need to serve others through their missions.  I believe non-profits hold a very special position in our communities and it is an honor to help them to their work.  Personally, I try to engage in new initiatives annually to stay fresh and challenged.  This year and into the future, I will be assisting a small religious college and a Haitian college.  That college is reaching out that same student.  As you can image, it is delightful to work with this college and the people associated with it.

What makes Brian Lacy and Associates unique among data enhancement companies?

First of all, Brian Lacy and Associates is not just a data services firm.  We offer annual giving consulting including audits and ongoing program management, as well as digital marketing and solicitation solutions including text messaging, automated phone messaging, email and e-magazine delivery.  When approached about a project, we ask just a few questions to make sure that the results we deliver to our clients will be of utmost utility to them.  With our extensive fundraising experience, we develop packages of services for the lowest possible pricing.

Could your team members become Jacks of All Trades but a Masters of none?

I don’t think so.  Everyone in the company and all of our partners only work in areas where they are extremely proficient.  I don’t do programming – out IT professionals do that.  They don’t do annual giving consulting – I do that.  Because we attend as many as 15 conferences and fundraising training programs each year and we have done this for almost 10 years, we are more exposed to the tools and services that can most benefit our clients.  We partner with and bring to our clients the companies we know have the best products and services.

You work with fundraisers.  Do you work with any other professionals?

My team and I work most often with development professionals associated with fundraising, but we certainly work with many alumni relations and communications professionals, and even others in for-profit fields that can benefit from better data and strong digital marketing tools.  Of course we have used almost every marketing tool ever used in fundraising and actively participated in almost every conceivable type of fundraiser – so we feel non-profits are our sweet spot.

Any tips for fundraisers in what continues to be a difficult economy?

Focus on your existing donors and friends.  This is not the best time to invest in donor acquisition efforts unless you have generous budgets or a uniquely compelling case.  Improve fundraising results from traditionally strong development techniques like direct mail, phonathons and face-to-face solicitations with new tools.  Lift direct mail response with complimentary phone, email or text messaging.  Boost the return on invest in your phonathons with data mining, data modeling, and data cleansing.  Close more leadership and major gifts with face-to-face solicitation by utilizing effective prospect identification and data enhancement.

Anything else you would like to share?

Keep up the good work!  Non-profits make a difference in the lives of everyone.  If you would like to talk about whether or not Brian Lacy and Associates might be able to assist you – call (860-478-9291) – it is always free to talk.  Drop an email ( if you would just like information.  Enjoy the summer with family and friends.

Recorded Webinars on Fundraising

June 15th, 2010 | No Comments | Posted in Webinars and other Training

Previously Recorded Webinars

– Not Live — Complete with Video, Sound and Handouts.

Purchase any and download them to watch as often as you like.

Admissions and the Facebook API ($125)

Learn from the leading non-profit speaker on Facebook and its tools as he teaches how to use Facebook as an effective recruiting tool for companies.

Running Stellar Auctions ($125)

Valerie Minetos and her colleague will take you through a clear and exciting webinar certain to give you many ideas on ways to boost the revenue of your auction event.  All element of auction planning are included.

Maximizing the Impact of Your Phonathon ($125)

Learn how to dramatically improve your phonathon from someone who improved two of the best university phonathons in the country.  Through his consulting practice our presenter has also worked with all kinds of other fundraising phonathons.  Improve your donor acquisition, upgrading and retention.

Twitter Your Way to Contribution ($125)

Sometimes an idea or technology comes along that is so simple; no one understands the value or benefit of it.    For us, Twitter is one of those technologies.

Direct Mail – Get What You Ask For! ($125)

Learn how to dramatically improve your direct mail from someone with extensive experience.  Improve your donor acquisition, upgrading and retention.  Learn how to do things within budget, and how to isolate good candidates for direct mail appeals within your database.  Test, test, and test again.

Increase Registrations in Your Online Community ($125)

Anyone with an online community now recognizes it takes time and effort to grow their community. You have to use traditional and online marketing strategies to encourage graduates, young friends, boomers and retired constituents to register in your online community. It’s a fact of life for private online communities like yours!

Human Resource Manager, Hiring and Facebook ($125)

Learn from Don Philabaum, the leading non-profit speaker on Facebook and its tools as he teaches how to use Facebook as an effective recruiting tool for companies.  Most profits active use Facebook in hiring and with a little effort non-profits too can benefit from Facebook and its features.

Integrating Alumni and Annual Giving Messaging ($125)

Integrating Alumni and Annual Giving Messaging through Web, Mail and Phone Communication Tools, Magalogs, Catazines, Photoblogs and Tweets.  You can do more.  Our presenter will help you with great ideas and easy to follow plans.

Understanding Annual Giving’s Role as a Funnel for Major Gifts ($125)

The best Annual Giving programs provide immediate support for the ongoing needs of their institutions AND develop prospects to consider major gift appeals.  Learn from a professional who has solicited gifts at all levels including major gifts from prospects developed by annual giving professionals reporting to him.

College Students Have Less Empathy Then in the Past

June 15th, 2010 | 1 Comment | Posted in News and Updates, Offbeat News

Today’s college students are not as empathetic as college students of the 1980s and ’90s, a University of Michigan study shows.

The study, presented in Boston at the annual meeting of the Association for Psychological Science, analyzes data on empathy among almost 14,000 college students over the last 30 years.

“We found the biggest drop in empathy after the year 2000,” said Sara Konrath, a researcher at the U-M Institute for Social Research. “College kids today are about 40 percent lower in empathy than their counterparts of 20 or 30 years ago, as measured by standard tests of this personality trait.”

Konrath conducted the meta-analysis, combining the results of 72 different studies of American college students conducted between 1979 and 2009, with U-M graduate student Edward O’Brien and undergraduate student Courtney Hsing.

Compared to college students of the late 1970s, the study found, college students today are less likely to agree with statements such as “I sometimes try to understand my friends better by imagining how things look from their perspective” and “I often have tender, concerned feelings for people less fortunate than me.”

In a related but separate analysis, Konrath found that nationally representative samples of Americans see changes in other people’s kindness and helpfulness over a similar time period.

“Many people see the current group of college students—sometimes called ‘Generation Me’—as one of the most self-centered, narcissistic, competitive, confident and individualistic in recent history,” said Konrath, who is also affiliated with the University of Rochester Department of Psychiatry.

“It’s not surprising that this growing emphasis on the self is accompanied by a corresponding devaluation of others,” O’Brien said.

Why is empathy declining among young adults?

Konrath and O’Brien suggest there could be several reasons, which they hope to explore in future research.

“The increase in exposure to media during this time period could be one factor,” Konrath said. “Compared to 30 years ago, the average American now is exposed to three times as much nonwork-related information. In terms of media content, this generation of college students grew up with video games, and a growing body of research, including work done by my colleagues at Michigan, is establishing that exposure to violent media numbs people to the pain of others.”

The recent rise of social media may also play a role in the drop in empathy, suggests O’Brien.

“The ease of having ‘friends’ online might make people more likely to just tune out when they don’t feel like responding to others’ problems, a behavior that could carry over offline,” he said.

Add in the hypercompetitive atmosphere and inflated expectations of success, borne of celebrity “reality shows,” and you have a social environment that works against slowing down and listening to someone who needs a bit of sympathy, he says.

“College students today may be so busy worrying about themselves and their own issues that they don’t have time to spend empathizing with others, or at least perceive such time to be limited,” O’Brien said.

The American Association of University Women provided support for the analysis.

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Women’s Share of College Enrollment Continues to Increase

June 15th, 2010 | No Comments | Posted in News and Updates

ist2_6039317-graduation-female-graduate-199x300Women now account for a disproportionate share of the enrollments of higher-education institutions at every degree level and are likely to become an even more dominant presence on campuses over the coming decade, according to results of a study released today by the U.S. Education Department.

The report, a compendium of data published annually by the department’s National Center for Education Statistics, projects that by 2019 women will account for 59 percent of total undergraduate enrollment and 61 percent of total postbaccalaureate enrollment at the nation’s colleges and universities. Since the late 1990s, they have accounted for about three-fourths of the increase in the number of master’s degrees awarded in the United States and nearly all of the growth in the number of professional degrees earned, the report says.

Among other key findings, the report, “The Condition of Education 2010,” charts substantial increases in the number of people earning college degrees, how much money they are paying to do it, and the proportion of undergraduates who study abroad. It also documents that the for-profit sector of higher education continues to experience rapid growth, both in the number of for-profit colleges and in the share of students they serve.

The bad news the report contains is that, in the eyes of some national experts on higher education, the United States is not making nearly enough progress in moving more students through high schools and colleges to become more significantly competitive in the world economy.

“We are simply not on a trajectory to significantly ratchet up either access or educational attainment,” said Patrick M. Callan, president of the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education. “We cannot tweak our way to international competitiveness.”

Noting that a growing percentage of American children come from minority families, Mr. Callan said that if the nation fails to do more to close the educational gaps between races and ethnicities documented in the report, it may pay “not only a moral and civic price, but an economic price as well.”

Gains for Women

Between the 1997-98 and 2007-8 academic years, the number of women earning doctorates rose by 68 percent; first-time professional degrees, by nearly 35 percent; and master’s degrees, by 54 percent, the report says. As of the end of that period, women were accounting for 62 percent of all associate degrees, 57 percent of all bachelor’s degrees, 61 percent of all master’s, and 51 percent of all doctorates being awarded.

The gaps between women and men are especially stark in certain minority populations. Among black students, women earned 69 percent of associate, 66 percent of bachelor’s, 72 percent of master’s, and 66 percent of doctoral degrees in 2007-8.

The report also notes, however, that at every degree level, young adult males had higher median earnings in 2008 than young adult females with the same levels of education. William R. Doyle, an assistant professor of higher education at Vanderbilt University who has studied sex-based differences in educational attainment, said in an interview Wednesday that women’s lower earnings compared with those of equally educated men helps explain why women are progressing further through the education system.

“We have known for a long time that the amount of education people pursue is driven in some part by the labor market,” Mr. Doyle said. “For women, if you want to get a decent job and decent earnings, the state of the labor market is such that you are going to need to pursue a couple of extra years of education.”

Also helping to explain disparities between men and women in higher education, Mr. Doyle said, are gaps between the sexes in their high-school graduation rates, especially among people who are black, Hispanic, or Native American. The underrepresentation of men in higher education is partly the result of “a tremendous intake problem,” he said.

Despite their overall gains in higher education, women remain severely underrepresented in certain fields, the report shows. For example, as of 2007-8, they earned just 17 percent of all bachelor’s degrees awarded in engineering and engineering technologies. In computer and information sciences and support services, they earned 18 percent of bachelor’s degrees, down from 27 percent 10 years earlier.

Growth—and Growing Gaps

From 2000 to 2008, overall undergraduate enrollment at postsecondary institutions rose by 24 percent, to 16.4 million, the report says. Private institutions, which experienced a 44-percent increase in enrollments, accounted for a disproportionate share of growth.

The report says postbaccalaureate enrollment rose to 2.7 million in 2008—having increased every year since 1983—and appears destined to grow to 3.4 million in 2019. It projected that total enrollment in all of postsecondary education in the United States would rise by nearly an additional 16 percent, to 19 million.

Although all racial and ethnic groups have experienced substantial increases in their rates of bachelor’s-degree attainment since 1971, the gaps between whites and blacks or Hispanics in this area have actually grown.

One development that is very likely responsible for some achievement gaps is the growing share of the school-age population that is having to learn English for the first time. Between 1979 and 2008, the share of school-age children who spoke a language other than English at home rose from 9 percent to 21 percent, or from 3.8 million to 10.9 million. As of 2008, foreign-born Hispanic and Asian young adults were substantially more likely than their native-born counterparts to have dropped out of high school, while, among the nation’s white, black, and biracial or multiracial populations, the foreign-born actually were less likely than the native-born individuals to have dropped out.

Among the good news the report offers minority members is that, among young adults with at least a master’s degree, there was no significant gap between whites, blacks, and Hispanics in terms of median earnings as of 2008.

Low-income Americans of any race or ethnicity appear to have recently caught a break in that the net price they paid to attend a four-year private or public college, adjusting for inflation, did not increase from 2003-4 to 2007-8. Students whose families were better off financially, by contrast, experienced an increase in their net price of college attendance, which is calculated by subtracting the amount of non-loan financial aid students receive from all of their college expenses.

From 1999-2000 to 2007-8, the percentage of full-time undergraduates with federal grants increased from 31 percent to 33 percent, while the percentage with federal loans increased from 44 percent to 50 percent.

The share of students who enroll in college immediately upon completing high school has remained fairly flat during this decade, having risen fairly substantially from the early 1970s until the late 1990s.

Faculty Catch Up and Falter

For their part, full-time faculty members appear better off financially than they had been a few decades ago, according to the report. Adjusting for inflation, the average salary earned by full-time instructional faculty members with academic rank was 24 percent higher in the 2008-9 academic year than it was in 1979-80. The biggest gains over that time were made by instructors, whose average salary rose by 46 percent, followed by professors, whose average salary rose by 30 percent.

The report added, however, that much of the growth in faculty salaries since 1979 occurred in the earlier portion of the time span it charts. After growing by 14 percent during the 1980s, the average faculty salary climbed by 5 percent during the 1990s and about 4 percent from 2000 to 2009.

John W. Curtis, director of research and public policy for the American Association of University Professors, argued in an interview Wednesday that, even with such caveats, the report suggests faculty members are doing better than is actually the case. During the 1970s—prior to the span of time over which the report charts salary increases—inflation outpaced salary growth so badly, he said, that “faculty salaries did not again reach the levels from 1971-72 until the 1997-98 academic year.”

“A lot of what was happening in the 80s and 90s was essentially just recovering the losses from the 70s,” Mr. Curtis said.

When it comes to benefits, the picture for faculty members was brighter. Between the 1979-80 and 2008-9 academic years, the value of the average fringe benefits given to faculty members rose by 78 percent, causing their share of overall faculty compensation to rise from about 16 percent to about 22 percent.

The financial picture for faculty members varies significantly by sector. At private two-year colleges, for example, average faculty salaries were 4 percent lower in 2008-9 than they had been in 1999-2000. At private baccalaureate colleges, the average faculty salary rose by 9 percent during that time.

For-Profit Growth

The report says that, between 1997-98 and 2007-8, the number of for-private four-year colleges rose from 170 to 490, accounting for most of the overall increase in the number of four-year higher-education institutions. The number of for-profit two-year institutions rose from 480 to 550, while the overall number of two-year colleges actually decreased due to roughly a 5-percent decline in the number of public two-year colleges and a nearly a 49-percent decline in the number of private ones.

Partly as a result of such growth in the number of for-profit providers, the number of all types of degrees awarded by private for-profit institutions increased at a faster rate than the number awarded by nonprofit private and public colleges. From 1997-98 to 2007-8, the number of bachelor’s degrees awarded by nonprofit private and public colleges rose by 27 percent, from about 784,000 to about 996,000, while the number awarded by for-profits increased more than fivefold, from nearly 14,000 to nearly 76,000. The number of master’s degrees awarded by for-profit colleges increased eightfold, causing their share of all master’s degrees awarded to rise from 1 percent to 9 percent.

Of the 1.6 million bachelor’s degrees awarded by all of the nation’s colleges in 2007-8, 21 percent were in business, 11 percent in the social sciences and history, 7 percent each were in education or in the health professions and related clinical sciences, and 6 percent were in psychology. Of the approximately 625,000 master’s degrees awarded that year, 28 percent were in education and 25 percent were in business.

Over the 10-year period leading up to the 2007-8 academic year, the field with the fastest rate of growth in terms of the share of bachelor’s degrees awarded was parks, recreation, leisure, and fitness studies, followed by visual and performing arts and by communication and communication technology. Education was the only field to account for fewer bachelor’s-degree recipients at the end of that period than the beginning.

At the associate level, the field of social sciences and history experienced the greatest percentage growth in the share of degrees awarded over that time. Several fields, such as engineering and engineering technologies, experienced a decline in the number of associate degrees awarded.

At the master’s degree level, the field with the fastest rate of growth in terms of degrees awarded was security and protective services. Among professional degrees, the field of pharmacy saw the greatest increase in the number of degrees awarded.

International Perspective

As of 2007-8, about 262,000 American students were studying abroad, up from about 62,000 20 years earlier. About 15 percent of students in bachelor’s-degree programs were going abroad as undergraduates, compared with about 9 percent 10 years before and about 5 percent 20 years before. The largest share of undergraduates who studied abroad, 36 percent, were doing so as juniors.

The share who study in Europe had shrunk, from three-fourths to just over half, over the past 20 years, and the share studying in the Middle East had declined from about 5 percent to 1 percent, with a large share of the decrease occurring by the end of the 1990s. The share of American students studying in Africa, Asia, Latin America, Oceania, or at multiple foreign destinations had substantially increased.

Among college students who went abroad in 2007-8, the largest shares were specializing in the social sciences, business and management, or the humanities at their home institutions. Students who are majoring in foreign languages accounted for a much smaller share of those studying abroad than they did 20 years before.

As of 2006, the United States was spending about $25,100 per student at the postsecondary level, more than twice as much as the average of about $12,300 for all of the member nations of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development that reported data. The United States was spending 2.9 percent of its gross domestic product on postsecondary education, the highest share of any data-reporting OECD nation.

Changing Landscape

Among its other findings, the Education Department report says:

  • Educational attainment remains a key factor determining income. In 2008, among young adults ages 25-34 who worked full-time throughout the year, those with a bachelor’s degree earned 28 percent more than those with an associate degree, 53 percent more than those with just a high-school diploma, and 96 percent more than those who did not get through high school.
  • The types of elementary and high schools that college students have passed through are changing. As of 2007-8, a larger share of private-school students were attending nonsectarian schools or Conservative Christian schools than had done so in the mid-1990s. And from 1999-2000 to 2007-8 the number of charter schools in the United States had risen from 1,500 to 4,000, and the number of students enrolled at such schools more than tripled, from 340,000 to 1.3 million. The report projected that total enrollment in public schools would increase by 6 percent, to 52.3 million, between the 2007-8 and 2019-20 school years, with much of the growth expected to occur in the South.
  • In a special section on high-poverty schools in the United States, the report notes that teachers working in high-poverty schools are less likely to have a master’s degree than teachers working in schools with low poverty levels. Over all, full-time public school teachers have fewer years of teaching experience than they did at the beginning of the decade, but are more likely to have a degree higher than a bachelor’s degree than they were then.

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5 Essential Apps for Your Business’s Facebook Fan Page

June 15th, 2010 | No Comments | Posted in Fun Stuff, Social Media

If you’ve already searched for some Fan Page inspiration and undertaken the task of building a custom landing page for your business’s Facebook presence, you may now be in the market for some features that will further engage your fans.

A nice feature of the modern social web is that it’s modular. You can plug in and customize pre-made pieces of software (often created by other users or companies), and mix and match what works best for you without a lot of technical know-how. Facebook works the same way with apps.

Many Facebook apps are built for casual use, like the social games and quizzes you may see your friends using in their personal feeds. But there are quite a few apps that are ideal for a business Fan Page. These are useful for customizing your page with greater detail, showcasing your content from other social sites and getting more information from your customers. Here are five essential Facebook apps that your business may want to take for a spin.

1. Static FBML for Your Page Sidebar

We’ve already discussed how the Static FBML app can be used to make your Fan Page a unique destination. But this versatile plugin can also bring some interactivity to the column that appears on the left-hand side of your page.

Vertical, left-hand navigation is something users expect to find on most websites. They will be comfortable looking there for additional links, promotions and contact details. Moving a Static FBML box over to the left-hand column is a great way to exploit this valuable real estate. Here’s how to do it.

If you haven’t already done so, add the app to your Fan Page and make sure it’s functioning as a “Box” rather than a “Tab.” Add content to your box using standard HTML. Graphics cannot be uploaded to Facebook here, so you must reference them from a URL — likely one on your own hosted website or blog.

For a sidebar, think about adding some clean graphic buttons or icons that link out to other destinations your fans would be interested in, such as your company website, blog or Twitter (Twitter) account. This sidebar will be visible no matter what Fan Page tab your visitors are on, so consider using graphic elements that coincide with your existing logo and color scheme.

Facebook Wall Tab ImageOnce your content is added and saved, it will appear as a box on the “Boxes” tab. Head over there to ensure that your HTML has rendered properly. If so, click the “Pencil (Pencil)” in the top-right corner of the box and select “Move To Wall Tab.” This will display your content in the left-hand navigation of your page.

Facebook Wall Tab Image

2. Promotions

Promotions Facebook ImageContests and giveaways are a great way to engage people with your brand, especially on the social web. A chance at some free stuff is one of the top reasons people follow and friend brands in the first place. The Promotions app makes it easy to build and publish a contest on Facebook in a way that is inherently social and shareable.

Promotions is different from many Facebook apps in that the content you create for it lives on the developer’s website. This makes it a versatile tool, but you’ll have to sign up for a free account at

Once you create an account and connect the registered app to Facebook, the promotions you generate on WildFire will populate the tab on your Fan Page. Promotions are easily built through a step-by-step process. Provide the dates of the contest, the types of prizes, the fields for the entry form, specific parameters about contest entry and rules, and upload any additional artwork you want to include.

wildfire preview imageA nice advantage of having contest data centralized on WildFire is that it can be sourced out to other social networks, and even to your own company website. Any changes or additions you make to your promotions will dynamically update on all of the locations where your customers and fans find you on the web.

Note, the cost to publish a basic promotional campaign through Wildfire is $5, plus $.99 for each day the campaign is active. Additional packages with more customization and publishing options are available.

3. Social RSS

Social RSS App ImageIf you already have great content from your company’s blog or another social network that you’d like to bring to the fore of your Facebook presence, Social RSS is a smart tool.

You can configure this app to automatically pull in updates from any RSS or ATOM feed and display them as posts on your Fan Page, either on a dedicated tab, a wall tab (on the left side) or as part of your core news feed. It’s a useful way to automate your content and eliminate the need to republish things manually to your Facebook Page.

Take note, however, that fans on social networks are much more responsive to curated content. Especially on Facebook, where people connect to a smaller community of personal friends and family, an unfiltered pipeline of RSS content may not be welcome in all news feeds. If your core customers are already subscribed to your blog and other social accounts, a double-dose of the same exact content may trigger some to hide your updates or “un-fan” you. Consider relegating your Social RSS feed to a tab if this is the case.

Test where and how an app like Social RSS is best implemented on Facebook, and adjust as needed depending on the size and response of your audience.

4. Poll

Facebook Poll App

Sometimes you just need a little feedback. That’s what social engagement is all about, right?

On Facebook, it doesn’t get any simpler than the Poll app. There’s no account to sign up for. Once you connect it to your Page, all the setup and data lives right in your settings panel.

A poll can be a casual way to get a read from your fans about a new product, a new page design, or your business in general.

In the poll settings, simply name your burning question (What do you think of our new spicy burritos?), list your choices (Delicious (Delicious), Pretty Tasty, Needs Work, Offensive) and select your publishing options.

Polls can be published to your Page wall/feed, live on a custom tab or be popped into your left-hand navigation where visitors can click anytime they come to your Page. You can invite your friends to take a poll, and they can easily share it out as they would any other post or app. Both you and your visitors can see the poll results without leaving Facebook.

Publishing a weekly poll about new products or changes in your industry is a great way to keep fans coming back to your Page and talking about your brand.

5. YouTube for Pages

YouTube for Pages AppIf creating video content is part of your business’s social media strategy (and we recommend it should be) you can squeeze more views out of your productions by dedicating a Fan Page tab to your YouTube channel.

That’s exactly what the YouTube for Pages app does. To activate the app, you’ll have to set up a free account at the developer website involver. Once it’s connected to your Fan Page, simply input the YouTube channel you’d like to pull videos from (it could be your own or anyone else’s), pick a few more settings, and you’re all set.

The app “features” your most recent upload or favorite, and displays thumbnails for previous videos on a simple, clean interface. The videos play directly on Facebook of course, so fans can watch without ever leaving your Fan Page. Just be sure to add the tab in the app’s “Application Settings.”

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Despite Criticisms, Berkeley Keeps DNA Assignment

June 15th, 2010 | No Comments | Posted in News and Updates

berkeley_collegeThe University of California, Berkeley’s College of Letters and Science is not yielding to calls for it to drop its plan to ask incoming freshmen and transfers to submit a DNA sample to be analyzed for three genes that have to do with the metabolism of food and drinks. A Tuesday Inside Higher Ed news story opened the floodgates of media coverage by other national and local media outlets. Though Berkeley officials have said the assignment is completely optional and anonymous, the project has been a lightning rod for criticism.

Alix Schwartz, the college’s director of undergraduate academic planning, said she and her colleagues are “definitely not canceling the program” in response to the backlash. “Even the negative or ill-informed attention” brought to the plan would “add to the dialogue, and dialogue was what we hoped to generate,” she said. Some faculty have voiced concerns about genetic testing “but their response is not hysterical, and we are all talking and listening to one another.”

In a letter to Berkeley administrators — and to Mark Yudof, president of the University of California System — the Council for Responsible Genetics called the project “woefully naïve.” While seemingly harmless, the group’s president wrote, the test results have “the risk of increasingly being used out of context in ways that are contrary to the interests of the individual, perhaps even discriminatory, and privacy-invasive.” The Center for Genetics and Society, a nonprofit based in Berkeley that has no affiliation with the university, has also asked administrators to cancel the program.

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Emergent Philanthropists: America’s Evolving Ethnic Donor Groups

June 15th, 2010 | 1 Comment | Posted in Fundraising

KatherineSwank-largeHistoric philanthropy patterns of America’s affluent donors are giving way to a more complex and disparate population that represents our country’s patchwork communities. The systematic and predictable giving methods by the rich no longer dominate our donor bases. Diverse communities are emerging with new giving patterns and objectives.

Affluent African-Americans, Asian-Americans and those of Hispanic heritage are joining the donor ranks of many organizations. Their concepts of philanthropy encompass giving from all available resources including time, expertise, money and combined efforts. Nonprofit organizations will need to embrace fresh communication styles and adopt flexible stewardship, solicitation and recognition efforts to garner more involvement and support from these emergent philanthropists.

Giving in the U.S.
People living in the United States are more philanthropic than residents of any other country. The stats say it all:

  • 80 percent of American households donate annually; with 129 million households in the U.S., that’s more than 100 million making gifts to charitable organizations!
  • More than $300 billion was donated in each of the past few years.
  • More than eight of every 10 donations are given by individuals versus donations from corporate entities or large private foundations.
  • Charitable giving has increased nearly 3 percent on average every year over the past 40 years.
  • Average household giving is nearly $3,000 each year.
  • For households with annual incomes between $100,000 and $1 million, the average is just less than $5,000, and for households with $1 million or more in annual income, the average household gift jumps to nearly $60,000 each year.

It’s estimated that one in every five households in the U.S. is affluent — defined as having household income around $100,000 or higher.

Traditionally, the affluent have been middle-aged, white, married men whose wealth was inherited or self-made through business ventures. Today, an affluent household is just as likely to be headed by someone younger, more entrepreneurial, a minority, a woman or a combination of these.

Emerging affluence
Emerging into prominence on the philanthropic scene are three ethnic groups: African-Americans, Asian-heritage and Hispanic-heritage donors. They share the sense of obligation to help others, and much of their giving is linked to family and kinship, therefore more personal and informal. Religion plays a large role in these communities’ traditions of giving as well.

Since this article only begins to touch on the topic of emerging philanthropy from ethnic communities, generalization is necessary. But, by understanding even a cursory introduction to the commonalities and differences of each group, nonprofits can learn about and come to embrace new traditions of giving. Ultimately, we must create flexible, welcoming environments through which these generous donors can connect to accomplish their personal philanthropic goals.

African-American wealth
Around 2.5 million African-Americans live in households at the affluent level. Traditionally, wealth has been achieved through family business but recently has expanded to include certified professions, real estate holdings, entrepreneurial ventures, entertainment, media and professional sports. Even though affluent African-Americans donate up to 25 percent more of their discretionary income than Caucasians, few of them consider their giving as “philanthropic.” Helping those in need is simply a general obligation, and gifts of time and talent are sometimes more highly valued than cash donations.

Traditionally, religion, education, social and political organizations reaped the largest benefits of African-American giving. Lately, donations toward AIDS causes and genocide in Africa have been increasing. Patterns of charitable giving are similar to those of the general population, except these generous people often prefer to make donations privately and confidentially.

Communications should be informational and must provide a sense of accomplishment within the community. Because women tend to be the charitable-giving decision makers in many African-American homes, be certain to highlight gifts and involvement by their peers. The assurance of anonymity, if desired, always should be offered. Solicitations and payment choices that allow cumulative giving options mimic savings patterns employed by many African-Americans. Gifts of impact can be accomplished if structured over multiple years.

The affluent Hispanic-heritage community
The number of affluent Hispanic households has more than doubled in the past few decades, and Hispanics’ wealth is growing faster than the general public. Today, more than 3.7 million Hispanic households have incomes exceeding $100,000. Family-owned and small businesses account for much of this wealth, as well as inheritance. Nearly seven of every 10 Hispanic households donate to charitable causes. Their gifts go to help the poor. The Catholic Church, education, job training, youth and disaster-related organizations receive a large portion of their giving. Person-to-person assistance is more predominate in this community than any other. Millions of dollars are sent to relatives abroad or given to other family members before charitable contributions are considered. Because gifts are given when needed, extremely informal and unpredictable giving patterns tend to be the norm.

The Hispanic population in the U.S. is young; almost half are under the age of 40. This group tends to be fiscally conservative and has a strong propensity toward savings. As these donors are aging, their giving priorities are diversifying, and community needs, capital projects and some cultural organizations are finding interest among Hispanic donors. These emerging philanthropists rally behind their leaders and tend to support their causes as well.

Consider communications that are bilingual when appropriate. Examples of donors who have made a difference through their modest gifts may prompt others to consider engagement. Because many Hispanics have adopted mainstream investment strategies for their own savings, use language that provides the same sense of resource accumulation at your organization. Allow donors flexibility in the timing and level of their gifts. The concept of regular “annual gifts” has not yet taken root among many donors of Hispanic heritage. Large gift solicitation efforts may need to take on a sense of group giving versus individual giving.

Asian-American philanthropy
More than 12 million Asian-Americans live in the United States today. They are the largest source of immigrants in the past 20 years. With more than 60 percent of this group foreign-born, giving patterns are heavily tied to traditional ways. The wealthiest of the emerging ethnic communities, Asian-Americans’ average household income is higher than that of all other major racial groups. They are highly educated and have a higher rate of savings than the average household in the U.S. Wealth has been built through small business ventures including personal services, food and lodging. High-tech company startups and professional positions are also dominant in building wealth.

Philanthropy is part of the Asian culture, and these individuals give a higher percentage of their annual incomes to charitable causes than Caucasians. Many send money abroad to help family members or make gifts person to person. At home, informal loan associations are common, often to help others get started in business. Because of the private nature of these gifts, celebrations and recognition for charitable donations are neither common nor expected. This generous group gives money, skill and time to help organizations and efforts that enhance their communities; often they seek involvement in the projects or even leadership positions. In return, they expect a high degree of accountability and demand effective use of their funds. Be certain to show the results of mission funding in your communications before you seek larger or additional gifts.

Direct services, educational organizations and cultural centers receive a large portion of Asian-Americans’ funding. Nursing homes, health organizations, and services for the elderly and youth also fare well. Successive generations of Asian-heritage donors tend to diversify their giving interests even more.

Before soliciting large gifts, be certain to involve your prospect in the formative stages of the project. Consider providing more information about the funding details and results expected. Include information that shows your fiscal effectiveness and long-term plans. Major-gift giving is common among Asian-Americans and may represent a large life event as well. When celebrating these more public gifts, recognition is welcomed and provides community awareness as well as a desire to prompt others to make similar gifts.

The face of America’s philanthropist is changing. Nonprofit leaders who want to engage a fuller representation of their communities must begin to recognize and invite involvement from these emerging philanthropic ethnic groups. It’s well-known that people respond to people who are similar in look, economic status and values to themselves. Take time to assess the makeup of your leadership and staff; determine if your donor base would benefit from greater involvement with these generous donors; review the visual components of your organizational communications to find out if they represent your community’s changing demographics; and above all, be flexible and welcoming in your fundraising efforts. Be the changing force behind your organization’s open invitation to a new group of affluent emerging philanthropists.

Statistics have been collected from leading sources including GivingUSA Foundation, The Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University and the 2008 Mendelsohn Affluent Survey.

Katherine Swank is a consultant with Target Analytics, a Blackbaud company.

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Non-Profit Doomsday Passes

June 15th, 2010 | No Comments | Posted in Brian Lacy

BrianLacy Suit Photo (Upright Shot)Doomsday has passed for as many as 400,000 of the more than 1.5 million non-profit organizations in the US.  Most should have stopped issuing tax receipts on May 15, 2010.  Many likely still are.  If you work or volunteer at a small non-profit, or received a tax receipt from a very small non-profit recently, read on …

The Pension Protection Act of 2006 requires the IRS to revoke the federal tax exemption of any organization that has failed to file three consecutive annual returns (Form 990-N, 990-EZ, 990, or 990-PF).  Historically, only nonprofits with annual gross revenue in excess of $25,000 were required to file Form 990.  Now, all nonprofits are required to file.  There are no extensions.  Organizations that fail to meet the May 15 deadline this year will be required to re-apply for 501(c)3 status.

Brian Lacy

Measuring Email Campaign Success

June 15th, 2010 | No Comments | Posted in Email, Marketing

email_iconDoes it seem that you previously saw a greater return on your email marketing than you have recently? Most of us work very hard to develop our email marketing programs. Then, as we achieve success, they drop in priority and we turn our attention to the improvement of other marketing activities. However, as much as we might like them to, email campaigns aren’t capable of running on long-term auto-pilot. Factors such as an inundated inbox, customer trust, brand loyalty, purchase cycles, and buyer interest greatly impact your campaign’s performance. Developing an ongoing program to consistently evaluate your campaigns and assess their metrics will ensure success.

In this whitepaper we have included six critical factors in assessing your campaign performance. Use this information to see how your current email marketing efforts stack up.

Define Email Marketing Goals
What do you want to accomplish with your email marketing campaign? This is an essential question that must be answered prior to crafting your message, call to action, and imagery. If your group’s focus is lead generation as opposed to sales conversion, then the preferred tactics used in your campaign will differ greatly. By defining your goals, you are also better able to determine the metrics by which to gauge the campaign’s performance. In addition, you gain the ability to finely tune landing experiences that drive toward your specific goal.

Other email marketing goals include:
• Direct Selling
• Driving traffic to a Web site
• Driving traffic to an offline store or location
• Branding
• Brand Involvement
• Building Relationships

Assess Metrics to Benchmark
Once you’ve defined the goal of your campaign, you must identify the metrics that you will trend to evaluate performance. Are you currently tracking metrics? What are they? Are they actionable, i.e. metrics that offer you leverage in optimizing the campaign?

Metrics can include:
• Deliverability
• Spam Rate
• Acquisition Rate
• Open Rate
• Click Through Rate
• Unsubscribe Rate.

When we are benchmarking, there are two different approaches to use, both of which yield useful intelligence about our campaign performance. One is to benchmark performance against prior experience for this brand or marketing program. The other is to benchmark against industry norms. The first answers the question: “Are we doing better than we used to?” The second answers the question: “Are we doing as well as we should be?”

Most organizations begin by answering the first question because it is the information that is most easily obtainable. If you don’t have a history of tracking your performance metrics, there is no better time to start than the present. Then routinely evaluate your latest campaign against previous campaigns, especially those against similar lists or using similar tactics. By varying one aspect of the campaign at a time, you can build a valuable warehouse of marketing intelligence that will help you improve your campaigns on each iteration.

Industry statistics are harder to come by. But, if you can find statistics on your competitive set, that is most useful. Check with various marketing organizations that support your industry to see if they offer the information you need.

Delivery Rate
Deliverability is a metric that must be measured to determine whether or not your email is actually making its way to the intended recipient’s inbox. Optimization of this metric often includes monitoring for list fatigue as well as honoring the customer’s preferences.
In order to determine your deliverability, you should measure:
• Number of complaints
• Number of bounces
• Number of messages sent
• Size of the messages.

Spam Rate
Are you analyzing your campaign’s abuse report rate? This measurement gives valuable insight into the perception of your campaigns. Are your permission-based customers viewing messages as spam due to frequency or content? Do your opt-in recipients truly believe that they opted in to receive messages from you? Do they believe that they opted in for the type and frequency of messages you send them? Once you determine your campaign’s “spamminess,” try adjustments to message relevance, frequency, or call to action in order to reduce spam complaints. Ask your list members what they want and then honor those requests in your mailing activity.

Acquisition Rate
Whether qualifying an acquisition as a lead conversion or a purchase conversion, analyzing a campaign’s performance on cost per acquisition can be insightful. You may also wish to include a campaign’s conversion rate to aid in determining its effectiveness.

Open Rate
Are your messages being opened once delivered? Open rate is an important measure in determining the effectiveness of your subject line or the trust factor of your “from” address. Open rate is determined by the quantity of your email send versus those that open. Most email marketing providers trend this data for you.

Click-Through Rate
Your message has been opened, but are your customers responding to the content or call to action? By measuring your click through rate you can determine if the content is relevant to your customer and urges them to learn more. To establish your click through rate on a campaign, analyze the ratio of emails sent to the number of clicks.

Unsubscribe Rate
Are customers unsubscribing from your email campaigns at higher rates than previous historical trends? If the answer is yes, then it may be time to rethink your campaign’s frequency and relevancy. Measuring your unsubscribe rate is essential to keeping a “clean” list. Most providers monitor your unsubscribe rate to help you better understand your overall campaign performance. Determining your unsubscribe rate can be done at a campaign level or across all email marketing campaigns. To calculate your unsubscribe rate, measure the ration of sends to unsubscribes.

Ensure Deliverability
Legitimate email doesn’t always land in your customer’s inbox. 25% of business-to-consumer marketers say they’ve seen a significant increase in bounce rates. How do you ensure that your emails successfully reach your customer? Incorporating best practices into your email marketing will benefit your delivery. Monitoring your email campaign delivery rates, cleansing your data routinely, and requesting to be added to the customer’s address book are just a few ways to safeguard your email from landing in the spam filter. In addition, it’s critical to maintain a healthy relationship with the ISPs to which you are sending email. A trusted email marketing provider such as Monsoon Interactive takes care to constantly evaluate ISP relationships and address any issues that arise.

Spam is defined by Yahoo! Mail as “whatever consumers don’t want in their inbox”. Over time email marketing has evolved as less of a measurable definition of what spam is considered and more as a qualitative metric determined by the recipient. As an organization, you need to ensure that your email marketing focuses on your customers’ expectations including content preferences, relevancy, and frequency. If your customer finds no value in the email being delivered, regardless of opt-in, then it isn’t a good email. Are you viewing spam reports to determine if the messages you are delivering are the right message at the right time?

Test, Test, and Re-test
Testing is critical for email marketing success. Creating different landing experiences, offers, call to actions, imagery, and content allows you to optimize your campaign to its greatest potential. We’ve included two possible modes of testing:
• A/B testing: testing one element of a campaign against another. It may include varying the offer, call to action, look, or subject line of a message.
• Multivariate Testing: Testing multiple changes simultaneously in a live environment.

Delivering a message that doesn’t speak to the customer can disengage a valuable relationship. Email marketing has evolved from utilizing a one-off broadcast email campaign to employing a strategic program that targets the customer with a relevant message at the appropriate time. Consider this: according to Jupiter Research, “untargeted email campaigns have open rates of only 20%, a click through of only 9.5% and conversion rates of only about 1%. On the other hand, targeted email campaigns have a 33% open rate on average, a 14% click-through rate, and a conversion rate of 3.9%”. Engaging your audience with content and offers that are delivered strategically will uplift your message in an extremely competitive market. Creating a message that meets the needs of your customers enhances your relationship as well as reinforces your trust factor.

One of the most prevalent reasons for an email being ignored is irrelevant content. Segmentation ensures that your message is delivered at the right time, to the right person, with the right content. You can choose to segment your audience based on data such as behavior, preferences, or demographics. It’s important to collect the data through a list management tool so that it is easy to integrate segmentation within your campaign. Determine what segmentation meets the needs of your overall business objectives. Perhaps you choose to segment a campaign on the purchase value of a customer, or perhaps you believe a product-based segmentation will yield a higher return. Whatever your choice, make certain that the message and offer complement the segmentation.

Now that you’ve determined your metrics and addressed the deliverability and relevancy of your campaign, it is time for optimization. Analyze your metrics and determine where there is opportunity to increase performance and convert low hanging fruit.

Your initial strategies may change, which means that you will need to continually adjust your campaign. Or, perhaps, the end goal you were hoping to achieve doesn’t yield the response you had hoped. Don’t be hesitant to shift resources.

Increase Interest in Your Legacy Society

June 15th, 2010 | No Comments | Posted in Marketing

home-sales-increaseThe latest results are in from The Stelter Company’s ongoing research of donor behavior. This round, we found evidence to further reinforce our opinion on the role of recognition societies—the groups nonprofits use to steward and reward its most generous donors. In short, we believe recognition societies have a specific, but limited role—one that many nonprofits misunderstand. (More on that in a minute.)

First, some background: Aside from watching how many visitors click thru to planned giving articles on more than 1,200 nonprofit websites, The Stelter Company also monitors a complex array of online behavior. These efforts provide us an objective rating of how “useful” readers find each piece of content.

Lately, we’ve noticed that online visitors pay scant attention to articles about your heritage/legacy/recognition society. Those links compete for the lowest click-thru and usefulness ratings of any pieces of content we measure.

This leads us to conclude that pushing your recognition society as a way to encourage new planned gifts is, perhaps, a useless first step. While your current planned givers may honestly appreciate the stewardship and affiliation a recognition society provides, our online results (paired with our national public opinion polls) suggest that perks and privileges motivate few donors.

So, lately, we’ve been thinking that perhaps you shouldn’t bother using up too much precious real estate in your printed and online marketing materials to promote your recognition society to prospective donors. Save that for the folks who have actually completed a major or planned gift.

A Better Way to Raise Interest
For those of you who default to using boilerplate copy about your recognition society, we’d like to offer a more effective approach: Emphasize the story behind your society and its mission more than the perks and privileges of membership. Our research shows this approach can improve interest in the content by up to 50%.

Here are a couple of nonprofits whose recognition society descriptions rank high with online visitors. What can you learn from their work?

Foundations for Laity Renewal
Mary Holdsworth Butt Legacy Society

Cancer Research Institute
Helen Coley Nauts Society

Bev Hutney
Director of Innovation and Research
The Stelter Company