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7 Tips for Quick Fundraising Response During a Time of Need

November 15th, 2012 | No Comments | Posted in How Not For Profits

The first days following a disaster or other emergencies — like Hurricane Sandy that hit the East Coast this week — can be crucial for organizations as they reach out to supporters and request help. At a time when many organizations may not have the time to outline a formal strategy, here are seven tips that can help any organization make the greatest impact during this time of need.

1. Hijack your homepage to make the emergency the focus. Use clear calls to action to donate and share through social media or tell-a-friend capabilities.

2. Include a clear description in news articles and relevant forms of your organization’s role in the relief effort.

3. Make it clear what people are donating to. Avoid sending people to a general donation form. With general forms, savvy donors question where the money is going and other donors assume it is going to relief efforts for the emergency. Remember, though, that your systems must be set up to clearly designate where the money is going, or your organization will not be able to fulfill the donor intent, which can also lead to problems. Make it clear if donations will go to the specific relief effort. Monitor how much you are raising, and make sure the funds are designated to that effort — they cannot be repurposed elsewhere unless you make it clear that once the need is met, additional funds will go to preparedness for another need.

4. Be careful how you solicit sustaining gifts. If you choose to use a form designated to a specific emergency, you may limit the ability you have to use those funds. Although, if your organization has a long-term relief effort, offering sustaining giving as an option in follow-ups to emergency donors can be a compelling and relevant ask.

5. Pay attention to form design. Make sure forms are short and display any third-party verifications of your effectiveness or legitimacy in the effort, such as including VeriSignCharity Navigator ratingsCharity Watch ratings or Better Business Bureau status.

6. If you have a social-media effort, put it to use. Retweet or post links to news articles that provide value to your friends and followers.

7. Plan to send follow-up e-mail messages, including information educating donors about your broader mission and offering them the opportunity to become regular members or monthly donors.

Molly Brooksbank is a product marketing manager at BlackbaudOpens in a new window.

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Canada’s jobless youth are getting a fair shake

November 15th, 2012 | No Comments | Posted in News and Updates

The Certified General Accountants Association of Canada (CGA-Canada) today released a report on youth unemployment in Canada arguing that the situation is not as dire as commonly perceived. Despite the challenges experienced by unemployed youth in Canada, hardship caused by joblessness during the most recent recession and recovery was more moderate compared to that of the recessions in the early 80s and 90s.

“Conventional thinking seems to be that the jobless situation for youth has never been so bad. It’s challenging, that’s for sure. But it has been worse,” says Anthony Ariganello, president and CEO of CGA-Canada. “The situation today is not dire and so we need to reinforce the message to youth to not despair.”

The highest level of youth unemployment during the recent recession was15.2 per cent – evidently below that experienced in the previous recessions. Youth unemployment swelled to 19.2 per cent in 1983 and 17.2 per centin 1992.

And youth are finding a job quicker than any other age group. In 2011, nearly half (46.8 per cent) of unemployed youth were able to find a job within 1 to 4 weeks and the average duration of unemployment experienced by youth did not exceed 11 weeks. Long-term unemployment was not common among youth either: only a small proportion (5.4 per cent) of youth remained without a job for more than one year. Instead, youth is most often unemployed while transitioning from school to the labour market and only a fraction of them are jobless due to layoffs.

Despite the positive trends, the big issue is underemployment.

“Underemployment is a big issue not only for youth, but for people of all ages,” says Rock Lefebvre, co-author of the report and vice-president of Research & Standards at CGA-Canada. “And while we know how harmful underemployment is for individuals as well as to the economy, we know far less about what causes it.”

To improve the understanding of the causes of youth underemployment,CGA-Canada recommends launching a research initiative focused on the issue. Advancing the Canadian economy towards a greater reliance on higher-skilled, higher-wage jobs is also crucial. For that, CGA-Canada encourages businesses to improve competitiveness by investing in machinery and equipment and resource and development (R&D), innovation, and aggressively expanding in foreign markets. Greater use of school-employer partnerships may help to improve the match between employers’ needs and workers’ skills as well as help youth make informed decisions about their field of study.

Note to editors:

Definition of age groups:
Youth –15 to 24 years
Young workers –25 to 29 years
Mature workers – 30 to 54 years
Older workers – 55 years and over

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Hurricane Sandy Reminds Us How To Speak To Customers During A Crisis (Or Not)

November 14th, 2012 | No Comments | Posted in How Not For Profits

Major events — political, natural, or economic — create a lot of eyeballs on a select set of media and stories. But as friends chimed in on Facebook, Twitter, and texts, they shared stories of who stood by them during the crisis. My colleague David Cooperstein and I were discussing what marketers did and should do during a crisis. Do your customers need to hear from you during Hurricane Sandy? We’ve seen a few best practices from companies that are handling communications in a helpful and dignified way. We hope they are useful to our readers in charge of customer communications, both this week and in general.

  • USAA’s mobile app reduces angst. The USAA Mobile App allows customers to report a property or auto claim, submit photos, and view claims status. Storm-related tweets featured a link to the app so that customers knew how to find it and submit a claim. One friend of mine was able to submit a claim, including photos, in about 2 minutes, allowing him to focus on cleaning up the debris. Its relative ubiquity — available for the iPad, iPhone, Android, Windows Phone 7, and BlackBerry — means that any USAA customer with a smartphone can take advantage of these game-changing and life-managing services.
  • Citi Cards and American Express send emails to offer personal assistance. In a service message to customers today, Citi Card anticipates their needs and offers relevant services like access to cash, fee waivers, and general instructions for getting help. Similarly, American Express offered affected customers help with emergency financial, travel, or medical services. The message from both is targeted, helpful, and intentionally brief — creating the right tone and value in the middle of a crisis.
  • Wall Street Journal and New York Times suspend paywalls to keep people informed. These New York-based papers put aside their business needs to open their content to all visitors to the site during the storm. Readers have unfettered access to news and updates until the emergency is over. It’s the perfect example of knowing when public good trumps business as usual, and quickly executing to make it happen.

But don’t feel like you have to speak. Ham-fisted tweets like the Gap’s “All impacted by Sandy, stay safe! We’ll be doing lots of shopping today. How about you?” always invite scathing responses like “Drowning in cotton Gap hoodie. Send help.”  If you’re a business whose customers or operations are not directly supported by these quirky or self-promoting zingers, then you’ll say it best when you say nothing at all, or focus on business as usual for the rest of the audience.

Christine Overby

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What Is a Story and Why You Need To Tell Them

November 13th, 2012 | No Comments | Posted in How Not For Profits, Information

In the last few weeks I’ve talked a lot about stories and storytelling as a tool for non-profit communications. But  in doing so, I realized I may have skipped over some of the basics. As I mentioned in STORYTELLING: demystified, I often encounter professionals who get so flustered and discouraged just hearing the term “storytelling.” It has been blown out of proportion a bit and now seems like this grandiose activity.

What is a story?

According to, there are few definitions of a story.
> A narrative, either true or fictitious, in prose or verse, designed to interest, amuse, or instruct the hearer or reader; tale.
> A fictitious tale, shorter and less elaborate than a novel.
> The plot or succession of incidents of a novel, poem, drama, etc.
> A narration of an incident or a series of events or an example of these that is or may be narrated, as an anecdote, joke, etc.

It’s fair to say that not all of these definitions are applicable to the kind of storytelling non-profits are doing (ie. we are likely not telling fictitious tales). But combining a couple of definitions, I think we will get a satisfactory working definition of a story.

A narration of an incident or a series of events or an example of these that is or may be narrated, and is designed to interest, amuse, or instruct the reader or hearer.

There you have it! At its very core that is what a story is.

What is storytelling?

Now, this is where the waters tend to get a bit muddied. The concept of storytelling is rarely explained in alignment with what a story is. Let’s explore a possible definition.

> Storytelling is the conveying of events in words, images and sounds; sometimes embellished.

How is that different from the definition of a story? It’s very simple actually. A story is a noun. Storytelling is a verb. Their grammatical roots clearly outline their differences. Let’s incorporate that difference into a working definition of storytelling.

Storytelling is the process by which you tell a story. This could be through different mediums such as words, images or sounds.

Why are stories and storytelling necessary and important tools?

Stories are a universal and innate way that we communicate with each other in our daily lives. When we tell a story, we are providing context that allows others to interpret our unique experiences. This allows them to relate to our unique experience and creates empathy between the two people.

As organizations, we are now appropriating this tactic, and with good reason.

Much of the work that non-profits are doing is not necessarily relatable to the average community member or supporter. To counter act this, we share the stories of the people we serve, the people who support us and the people who help us in the hopes that others will identify with some piece of that story and feel a connection to the organization (ie. creating empathy).

Think about this. Not using storytelling means that you are likely telling people a laundry list of services/programs your non-profit provides. Some of which they may or may not understand, and they definitely won’t be able to gather the impact of those services. But by telling a story, you can not only communicate the services/programs you provide, you can also articulate their impact. That is how someone truly understands what your non-profit is all about.

You can read more about the dramatic effects of good storytelling in a post from last week.

Stay tuned for Thursday’s post – I’ll be sharing an untold story and why not sharing it is hindering the community from rallying around the cause.

Vanessa Chase

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Innovative Solutions To Ensure Postal Service Remains Competitive

November 12th, 2012 | No Comments | Posted in News and Updates

In his Oct. 23 op-ed column, “Wait a minute, Mr. Postman,” Charles Lane mischaracterized an agreement between the U.S. Postal Service and Valassis Direct Mail. Major advertisers have expressed great interest in this new service as another channel to complement, not compete with, current media to reach potential customers.

This is one example of how the Postal Service is pursuing innovations to increase the value of mail and to retain our business customers. The agreement with Valassis could generate up to $107 million in new revenue for the Postal Service over the next three years. This agreement does not include the carriage of advertising from regional and local advertisers.

While the pricing of this product is specific to Valassis for this agreement, the Postal Service is willing to explore similar opportunities with other mailers. The circumstances and factors that might lead to additional agreements will be assessed on a case-by-case basis.

As advertisers and mailers increasingly look to alternative delivery options, the Postal Service must continue to offer new products and pricing to remain competitive in this evolving marketplace.

Ronald A. Stroman, Washington

The writer is deputy postmaster general of the U.S. Postal Service. .

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7 Characteristics Of Brilliant People And How To Become One

November 8th, 2012 | No Comments | Posted in Information

Just the other day a friend of mine complimented me by saying I was “brilliant”. My knee-jerk reaction, was, “Why, thank you. Anything else you have to say?”

Then I thought, “I’m definitely NOT brilliant. Matter of fact, I’ve got to be the furthest apple from the brilliance tree.”

I kinda sucked on my SAT’s. I’m not really that creative or inventive. The only brilliance I possess has to do with the amount of food I can consume and still not be fat. And I digress…

“Brilliance” is a word reserved for 75 year old, wise men with white hair, or Seth Godin, or those who have a massive catalog of inventions.

What makes someone brilliant?

That got me thinking. What makes someone “brilliant?”

Can it be scientifically quantified or is it a vague generalization? Is it a high IQ score or inventing something or just wearing really thick glasses and refusing to comb your hair?

What is it about a person that makes them brilliant in our eyes?

I believe brilliance is attainable. Matter of fact, you can be brilliant.

Brilliant people have certain qualities; certain habits. You don’t need to be the smartest. You don’t need to ace your SAT. You don’t need to have white hair and thick glasses.

But you do need to do a few things.

1. Brilliant people solve problems

When you come up with a solution to something that others couldn’t figure out, you are seen as brilliant.

It doesn’t have to be on the scale of solving world hunger. It can be finding a new route that skips traffic or a better way to save money.

Brilliant people solve problems. They don’t just complain about the problems around them. They are solution-oriented. They recognize the problem and don’t speak until they’ve figured it out.

2. Brilliant people are helpful

Do you add value to people’s lives? When people spend time with you do they feel encouraged? If you want to be brilliant, start helping people.

Don’t just criticize and loft your opinion whenever you get the chance. Enhance the lives of others. Invest in people.

3. Brilliant people do the work

They put in the time. They show up consistently and fight laziness.

It’s not that they aren’t naturally lazy. They most likely are. But they fight it. They don’t give into what is easy. They work hard, show up every day, and make a difference.

4. Brilliant people are generous

They aren’t self absorbed. They live for a cause greater than themselves. They are making a difference beyond their own bank accounts.

They have a vision beyond themselves. They give and they give and they give. They recognize that life is more about what you give away than what you consume.

5. Brilliant people take risks

You could just stay put on the sidelines. You could just think about doing something great.

But if you want to be brilliant, you need to take the leap. Do what others only dream of. Step out and take risks. Brilliant people fail often because they don’t attempt what is safe. What sets them apart from the pack is that they keep going.

6. Brilliant people shine a light beyond themselves

By definition the word brilliant refers to a a striking, distinctive brightness. Brilliant people are those who stand for something larger than themselves.

They reflect the greatness and creativity of God.

7. Brilliant people don’t fit in a box

Truth is, brilliance is subjective. What’s brilliant to me may not be brilliant to you. What speaks to me may not speak to you.

That’s the beauty of art, the beauty of God’s creation. There is a place for your art, your creativity, and your unique perspective. While it may not be “brilliant” to everyone, it is brilliant to some.

And who wants to try and please everyone?

You can be brilliant. Start with a grand vision of your life and the world. You are here to make a difference, as cliche’d as that sounds. Stop watching, criticizing, complaining, wandering, and being lazy.

Apply these 7 characteristics. And go, do something brilliant today.

 David Santistevan

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Career centres at Ontario universities prepare students for the changing labour market

November 7th, 2012 | No Comments | Posted in News and Updates

Toronto, October 29, 2012

Preparing students for their future begins in the classroom and is continually enhanced by many university services, including those offered by university career centres, which are showcased in a report released today by the Council of Ontario Universities (COU) and announced by the Hon. Glen Murray, Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities.

The report, #MyCareer: How Ontario university career services prepare students for the future, includes colourful, real-world examples of the many ways in which career centres help students get ready for their careers or further education. University career centres ensure that students are equipped with the right tools for success, with such services as resume and interview critiques, post-graduate advising, networking opportunities, work-experience programs, work abroad support, mentoring programs, and many more.

“Labour market and employer needs are changing in Canada and throughout the world,” says Alastair Summerlee, Chair of COU and President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Guelph. “Universities understand this trend, which is why career centres are continually finding new ways of helping students thrive in today’s environment, and providing employers with career-ready graduates.”

Universities are also constantly innovating to meet the needs of the 21st century learner, by offering more access to online education, improving Ontario’s credit transfer system, advancing the definition and assessment of learning outcomes, sharing best practices in teaching and learning, and expanding opportunities for experiential learning.

“Robust career services that meet the needs of students are just one of the many ways Ontario universities are supporting student success,” says Bonnie M. Patterson, COU President and CEO. “Coupled with an enriching, valuable education experience, students are prepared to enter the workforce and job placement rates demonstrate that well.”

View the full report here.


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