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4 Kinds of Corporate Giving Every Non-Profit Needs to Know About

January 17th, 2013 | No Comments | Posted in How Not For Profits

Are you taking full advantage of the corporate giving programs that are out there?

Every day, more and more companies are realizing that philanthropy is good for business. In 2011 alone, corporations donated over $14 billion dollars to nonprofits.

Many of these companies are encouraging their employees to make an impact in the communities that they serve. Companies like IBM, Con Edison, and Pepsi have incredible corporate giving programs to do just that.

Over 65% of Fortune 500 companies offer matching programs. Unfortunately, many nonprofits are missing out simply because employees are unaware that these programs exist.

So what are these corporate giving programs, and how can you connect your donors with them?

Four Kinds of Corporate Giving Programs

#4 Get a Monetary Boost from your Volunteers

Employees of many companies can raise money for a nonprofit of their choice simply by volunteering their hours.

Donations from individuals can easily dry up in tough economic times as families cut back on non-essential spending. Volunteer grants provide the amazing opportunity for individuals to raise money for their favorite organization without spending a penny of their own.

Not only are volunteer grants a great way to raise revenue (many companies offer a range of 10-15 dollars an hour for volunteering) but they help encourage individuals to volunteer their time to your organization. Individuals looking to make a difference can be satisfied knowing that donating their time also yields a monetary benefit for a cause they care about.

You can read more about volunteer grants and how to get them here.

#3 Fund Projects That Impact Your Community

Companies are eager to make a positive impact on the communities they serve.  Finding funding for new projects can often be difficult and stressful, but connecting to existing community grant programs can make a world of difference.

In 2012, Walmart gave $25,000 dollars to the YWCA to expand women’s access to healthcare in Washington State and gave $60,000Walmart's VIP Porgram to the USO to feed military families throughout the Northwest. Walmart’s total donations to projects in Washington State alone totaled $750,000.

Sometimes being eligible for these grants is as simple as operating in the same geographic area as a company that offers community grants.

#2 Receive Essential Goods and Services For Free

Getting a service for free can be a lot more valuable than a monetary donation. Many companies are willing to volunteer their expertise or goods to organizations that are trying to make a difference.

Tech giant IBM will triple its donation to nonprofits if they opt to receive IBM products instead of money. That means that the money you save from upgrading your computer systems, for instance, could free up capitol for any number of other projects.

These programs aren’t limited to giant corporations either. Sometimes it is as simple as partnering with local businesses that have a commitment to change. Restaurants can help cater a fundraising events, a local marketing firm could help you promote it. The possibilities are endless.

#1 Double the Donation!Double the Donation Increases Matching Gifts

Donors could be doubling or even tripling their cash donation to an organization and often not even realize it. Many major corporations are encouraging employee philanthropy with their own money matching programs. And there’s no shortage of funds. Microsoftmatched $48.9 million dollars in 2011 alone!

The biggest problem with corporate matching programs is that donors often do not realize they exist. Receiving these matching funds is often as easy as filling out a form. Unfortunately, information about an employer’s matching program is often lost in a mess of other employee-orientation material or HR files.

Double the Donation

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The New Underclass

January 17th, 2013 | No Comments | Posted in In The Spotlight

Melanie Cullins is no pipe dreamer. She chose a vocation that, by unanimous opinion, represented a path to steady employment—teaching English as a second language to the thousands of immigrants pouring into B.C., a good many of whom, the experts predicted, would be making their way to Victoria, where she grew up and wished to make a home. That was back in the early 2000s, when opportunities for the young and industrious appeared unlimited. A rewarding career seemed within reach for all.

Cullins’s degree in applied linguistics was the gold standard of ESL qualifications. But she graduated in the thick of the 2008 financial meltdown, and the entry-level position she imagined would launch her career never materialized. Governments cut back on language transition programs. Resumés piled up in recruitment offices. Her calls to program directors went unanswered. “For me, that was a huge blow,” she says. “I had almost perfect performance reviews from my practicums, but I couldn’t even get an interview. You start to wonder: what’s wrong with me?”

She took temporary work to support herself—waitressing, schlepping lattés, baking cupcakes in a family friend’s café. She volunteered in an ESL classroom in order to beef up her C.V. Yet the weeks slipped by with nary a callback, and when she got pregnant 2½ years ago, her dreams took a back seat to necessity. She took another stab at finding work in her field when her son Liam was old enough for day care. But by then, incredibly, the job market had worsened. Now, with her husband, Benjamin, doing contract work for the B.C. forest ministry, the 28-year-old wonders whether she’ll ever attain a comfortable, middle-class life—a house, college funds for the kids, money left over for retirement. “I have no pension plan. My husband has no pension or benefit plan,” she says. “We’re renters in one of the country’s most expensive cities, and we’d like to someday own a home. Once you have kids, these things really start to worry you. You’re always thinking, ‘Will I ever get ahead?’ ”

Many in Cullins’s age bracket are asking themselves the same question. In Canada, as in the U.S. and Europe, workers in their 20s increasingly find themselves wandering the perimeters of their chosen careers. Youth unemployment in this country reached 15.2 per cent during the recent downturn, the highest level in two decades. Yet the top-line number fails to capture the depth of the problem. It turns out that most young people areworking—typically in jobs well below their levels of qualification, and often outside their fields. Those lucky enough to get a toehold in their chosen professions have a hard time getting enough hours or pay to support themselves, statistics show. Yet they forge on, from unpaid internship to dead-end contract, giving the lie to depictions of a shiftless generation addled by an overdeveloped sense of entitlement.

Labour-market experts refer to this as underemployment—a gross mismatch between people’s skills and the jobs employers wish to fill. Even as young workers scramble for work, they note, companies are complaining about a shortage of engineers, technicians and other skilled tradespeople to fill positions in industries ranging from health care to mining. The problem is poorly understood because it arises from a constellation of forces: the decline of central Canada’s manufacturing sector and the union jobs it sustained; relentless cost-cutting by corporations; the demographic bulge of older workers occupying high-skilled, well-paying positions; parents who pressed their kids into university, hoping they’d get prestigious, white-collar jobs; and universities and colleges who indulged that urge despite the changing demands of the labour market. “We’ve injected more human capacity into the system,” says Rock Lefebvre, the vice-president of research and standards with the Certified General Accountants Association of Canada, “without a growth in opportunity for them to respond to.”

The result is a growing pool of well-educated twentysomethings scrapping it out for a limited number of prized positions—a cohort one might describe as history’s most cultivated underclass. Yesterday’s stereotypical B.A. bussing tables now has a law degree. Or a B.Comm. in finance. And while he’s not exactly roughing it—fully 42 per cent of Canadians between 20 and 29 are living with their parents—frustration is clearly setting in. “People talk about the entitlement of the millennial generation,” says Diana Bailey, a 24-year-old advertising student at Toronto’s Humber College, who has found nothing better than an unpaid internship to sustain her after she graduates this spring. “But in most cases, the only option that’s being offered to us is indentured servitude.”

The warning signs were there for anyone who cared to look. At last count, in 2006, nearly one in four young workers with a university education was toiling in a job that didn’t require a degree (the proportion is believed to be higher now, following the recession). Some 6.4 per cent of Canada’s total workforce—1.2 million people—now consists of part-time workers under 30 who wish they could work full time.

Equally troubling, university-educated Canadians experienced a relative increase in unemployment between 1997 and 2005 and a corresponding dip in relative wages, according to a federal government study. By contrast, those with a college, or even a high school education, managed to improve (or at least maintain) their outlook, relative to other workers. In fact, the only group that experienced a similar relative increase in unemployment during the period were those Canadians without even a high school diploma.

It all goes against the narrative that’s been drilled into young Canadians over the past few decades: a university education is the ticket to a good job and a comfortable existence. While many have dutifully followed that advice (university enrolment has more than doubled since the early 1980s), even those lucky enough to land a decent job can’t afford the rising entry fee to the middle class. Saddled with student debt, they face a world where buying a house seems like an improbable dream—the average selling price of a detached home in Toronto was $722,393 and $904,200 in Vancouver in December—and employers increasingly expect workers to pay for their own retirements. That’s not easy when you don’t have money. A survey by the Bank of Montreal found that only about 10 per cent of Canadians aged 18 to 34 had given any thought to retirement planning.

Bailey says it’s as though the promise of a comfortable life was held out before her, then jerked away at the last second. “My generation is told not to expect the stuff our parents had, that there’ll be no job security or benefits,” says the 24-year-old, who left English studies at the University of Toronto because she thought Humber’s four-year advertising degree offered a surer route to employment. “Intellectually, I can understand that might be true. But I can’t imagine what it looks like.”

She contrasts her plight to that of her dad’s parents, blue-collar workers who nevertheless lived in an era of optimism. “They had families and a nice, comfortable life with nine-to-five jobs and vacations in Bermuda,” says Bailey. So did her parents, who had fulfilling careers with the City of Toronto. Bailey herself has found nothing better in her field than an unpaid, 14-week internship, which she can’t take because she needs to pay her rent. “I don’t know if I’ll ever own a house,” she says ruefully.

It wasn’t always so bleak for Canada’s youth. Wayne Lewchuk, a professor of labour studies at Hamilton’s McMaster University, grew up in Windsor, Ont., and recalls that many of his university buddies took assembly-plant jobs with Chrysler and Ford after graduating in the mid-1970s. The work wasn’t great, but it paid well and the benefits were good. “If you’re measuring life purely by your material standard of living, then they’ve had a much better life than I’ve had,” says Lewchuk, who instead went back to school to pursue two more degrees. “They started working 10 years before I even got my first paycheque.”

Of course, most of those automotive jobs are long gone. So are many other relatively high-paying factory jobs in Ontario and Quebec. They are casualties of globalization and Canada’s subsequent shift toward a “knowledge-based economy”—one that’s built on providing services instead of forging things out of plastic and steel. At the same time, the global commodity boom that began around 2003 refocused attention on Canada’s vast resources, particularly oil and gas. But despite the billions poured into Alberta’s oil sands, there’s mounting evidence to suggest that Canadian workers, collectively, are no better off. The CGA study, for example, suggested the proportion of workers employed in industries with above-average earnings declined between 1991 and 2011, despite strong overall growth in the economy.

Wages are only part of the picture. Unions, once the guarantor of a comfortable middle-class lifestyle, have shrivelled as employers cut back on pension and health care benefits in a bid to better compete in a globalized market. Indeed, the very concept of a gold-plated, defined-benefit corporate pension plan (which guarantees a certain level of retirement income) has all but disappeared. A recent study by the debt-rating agency, Dominion Bond Rating Service, found that as many as two-thirds of North American defined-benefit plans are underfunded. Many companies are pushing new employees over to less costly and less comprehensive defined-contribution plans.

Job security is also increasingly scarce. Stung by the 2009 recession, employers in industries ranging from retail sales to information technology are preoccupied with building a flexible workforce that can be upsized or downsized to match the peaks and troughs of the economic cycle. A recent survey by consulting firm McKinsey & Co. found that 65 per cent of U.S. corporations cut jobs since the last recession, and that nearly half planned to use more part-time or temporary workers as business returned. Canada has experienced a similar rise in temporary and contract work over the past 15 years, according to Statistics Canada.

Lewchuk describes the cumulative impact of the changes as a “hollowing out of the middle” of the Canadian job market. “There’s been growth at the top—there’s more good, white-collar jobs than there used to be—but we have fewer middle jobs, and more bad jobs,” he says. “So the problem now is if you get one of those bad jobs, even out of university, there’s no middle rung for you to go to. The next step up is a good job—being a lawyer or software engineer.” Needless to say, the leap from sales clerk to a triple-digit salary isn’t a short one. “I think that’s what some of these kids are experiencing when they come out of university,” says Lewchuk. “They’re stuck in that bottom tier and they’re just not seeing a path to a better job—ever.”

A cruel irony for frustrated young job seekers is that Canada is actually in the grips of a massive labour shortage. A recent survey of employers by recruiting firm Randstad Canada found that nearly two-thirds were having trouble finding highly qualified people. Why, then, aren’t young, educated Canadians being courted by employers at every turn? Mainly because they don’t have the skills corporate Canada is looking for. The culprit, according to business leaders, is three decades of parents and teachers extolling the virtues of a university degree, encouraging youth to become doctors, lawyers or teachers. Meanwhile, the economy has been busy stamping out new jobs in all sorts of other industries. “There’s a big gap between what people like to study in school and what the market demands,” says Jan Hein Bax, Randstad Canada’s president. He points to the high demand for engineers in the oil sands and other resource sectors: “While we’re seeing more people with university degrees, they don’t necessarily have that sort of background.”

The problem is particularly acute in the skilled trades. A recent report by the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce suggested that industries like health care, advanced manufacturing, mining and business services are all facing shortages of skilled workers. Taken together, those industries represent a full fifth of all Canadian jobs. The proof is in the numbers. Unemployment in those industries stands at just over one per cent, compared to 7.2 per cent for the workforce as a whole, according the report. Wages paid to workers in those sectors are rising at an annual rate of 3.9 per cent, while employees in other industries are seeing no wage growth at all.

In an effort to close the gap, the federal government is planning to bring in as many as 3,000 foreign skilled workers this year by de-emphasizing the university-educated and focusing instead on welders and electricians. But a longer-term solution would ideally involve Canadians filling some of those vacant jobs. Sarah Anson-Cartwright, the director of skills policy for the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, says a first step is to combat the stigma still attached to skilled trades. She suggests promoting college and apprenticeship programs more actively in high schools. “Because of the demand for these jobs, people who discover them go on to earn really decent incomes,” she says.

It will be easier said than done. Young people aren’t blindly enrolling in university because guidance counsellors told them to. They’re taking a calculated risk. With employment becoming more temporary and offering fewer long-term benefits, many are, quite rationally, opting for a similarly flexible approach to the job market. “The risk of these trade jobs is that technical change comes along and wipes your trade out,” Lewchuk says. “That doesn’t happen to lawyers, doctors and academics.” The risks are further compounded by the fact that few companies are willing to pay for retraining, or, increasingly, any training at all. A study last year by the Conference Board of Canada found that investment in employee training among Canadian companies has fallen nearly 40 per cent since 1993. “We’ve done things to ourselves that perpetuate this problem,” argues Lewchuk, pointing at Ottawa’s revamped foreign skilled workers program. “This has an impact on employers who are saying, ‘Why should I incur the cost of training someone when I can plead poverty and get someone from Mexico or Brazil to come and do the job at a lower wage?’”

Economists say the market will eventually sort itself out. Wages and benefits in the trades should become more attractive as desperate employers try to woo new workers. Universities will be compelled to overhaul programs to ensure more graduates find work—a key statistic that helps keep enrolment up. In the meantime, young people who are currently unemployed or stuck in go-nowhere jobs may have to rethink their approach. Those who are willing to relocate and build on their degrees—either by attending college or completing an apprenticeship—will find plenty of attractive opportunities in a range of growing fields, says Anson-Cartwright. “There’s a real need for continuous learning. There won’t be lifetime jobs for young people. We’re all going to have to come to grips with that.”

Tom Pinnington counts among those unwilling to sit on his hands. After graduating from the University of Toronto in 2011, the 23-year-old from Ottawa quickly realized the value of his degree in history and political science—or lack thereof. More useful, he says, were the interpersonal skills he’d honed waiting tables at high-end Toronto restaurants while going to school. “That’s always been my strength,” he says. “Now I’ve just got to find a way to use it in a way that’s conducive to success.” To that end, he’s working two jobs—at an Ottawa bistro and an outdoor-wear store—until he has enough money to start his own restaurant.

“Do I wish that I could be in a job that allowed me to research history and make a good living? Absolutely,” says Pinnington. “But when have people been able to get into a job that is directly pertinent to what they studied?” To him, a middle-class lifestyle is something one goes and gets, and he’s not worried by the prospect of never having a pension plan or never owning a house. “So far, I’ve been able to take care of myself,” he says. “I hope to be able to do so in the future.”

Cullins, too, excels at working with people. Yet after four years of underemployment, the Victoria native doesn’t share Pinnington’s optimism. Openings in her profession come up from time to time, she notes. But internal candidates get first dibs, and she worries about the growing gap on her resumé between her graduation and the present. She hasn’t given up. After having her second child last fall, Cullins is looking into a distance-education program in social work, so she can enhance her degree while chasing a job. “But I feel like I went through four years of education to get what I thought were very practical qualifications,” she laments. “I worked my butt off. Now it looks like it wasn’t enough.”

Charlie Gillis and Chris Sorensen

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Why Your Email Marketing Campaign Will Fail

January 15th, 2013 | No Comments | Posted in Email, Marketing

No way is email marketing dead. Sure, “only” 4.24% of people who click through to your website from email marketing will buy something, but that’s staggering compared to the fact that the figures for search engines and social media are 2.49% and 0.59%. That’s no typo—email is approximately 7.18 times more effective than social media. Too bad all the late Nigerian Princes with vast fortunes and wills that mention random Americans ruined it. You can make email work, but remember that your prospects are a little jaded. Here are 9 ways to ensure that your communications aren’t trustworthy:

1. Give the Impression of Spamming

Even if you’ve got a stellar sender score and you’re providing your contacts with invaluable information, if your emails give the impression of being a little creepy you might be perceived as a spammer:

  • Does Your Subject Line Appear Vague or Overly-Familiar?
  • Is Your Subject Line Typed in All-Caps?
  • Your Subject Line Has Way Too Many Exclamation Points!!!!!!!!

2. You’re Not Cleaning Your Email Lists

If your email marketing efforts result in any hard bounces, take the time to clean them off your contacts list immediately. Continuing to mail to full or closed accounts will give a pretty big hit to your sender score and result in you being blacklisted by many major email clients. It’s much easier to maintain a high sender score than try and repair a damaged score.

3. Fail at Personalization

Do all of your emails start with “Hi there”? Better yet, is the first name of your recipients in a conspicuously different font or color than the rest of your email? Personalization fails happen, and they’re pretty darn embarrassing:

4. Don’t Optimize Email for Mobile Phones

If you totally ignore the fact that 36% of emails are opened on a smartphone and don’t mobile-optimize, you could find that your email marketing metrics fall by over a third. Your images, content, and design need to be open-ready on phones.

5. Don’t Segment Your Email List

Ensuring your email marketing efforts are sent to all of your contacts, regardless of whether they’re long-term customers or new leads, decision-makers or money-savers, is one way to drive away customers and prospects. And if you email quarterly messages that are a really boring run-down of company updates, like your CEO’s vacation to Bora Bora, you’ll lose even more business. Nothing will drive your unsuscribe rate through the roof faster than incredibly irrelevant information.

6. Don’t Provide Value

There’s nothing worse than opening an email that sounds fantastic and finding it’s filled with 200 words of fluffy content. If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably felt pretty tricked in these instances. Strive to make your leads and clients feel like they’ve won the lottery if they open your emails and click through to your outstanding content offer.

7. Buy Email Lists From Disreputable List Companies

When it comes to buying email lists, just don’t. Trust us. Many sketchy list companies sell dirty lists, which are a recipe for tons of hard bounces, spam complaints and unsubscribe requests, which are a recipe for being blacklisted.

 8. Exclude Contact Information

Aside from the fact that excluding your physical address is against CAN-SPAM regulation (see No. 8 below), it is also a sure way to make your company look ultimately sketchy. No one wants to give their money to an organization that may or may not exist.

9. You Think CAN-SPAM is Protein

You can’t eat CAN-SPAM with rice, or at all. The act is a law that sets the requirements for commercial email. It gives your list members a right to stop receiving emails, and spells out punishments for businesses who neglect to follow the rules, which include the following:

  • Ensure Your Contact Info Is Accurate: Your “From,” “Reply to,” originating domain name, and email must all be accurate.
  • Don’t Be Deceptive: Don’t promise anyone a free kitten if all you’re offering is a link to an eBook about saving money on your water bill.
  • Don’t Hide the Fact You’re Advertising: There are a few ways you can approach the fact it’s a commercial message, but it needs to be disclosed.
  • Include Your Address: It can be a physical address or a U.S. Postal service P.O. box, but it needs to be included.
  • Include an Opt-Out Option: It needs to be clear and apparent how your contacts can leave your contacts list.
  • Remove Opt-Outs Quickly: You have 10 days to process an opt-out request, and you can’t charge or demand more contact information in exchange for processing requests.
  • You Are Ultimately Responsible: Even if you’re utilizing an inbound marketing agency or 3rd party to handle your email marketing, you are still responsible for messages with your brand name attached.

This list is by no means comprehensive, but it’s essential to dive into the Can-SPAM act yourself and make sure you aren’t inadvertently guilty of breaking any of the rules!

Jasmine Henry

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Real Time Charitable Giving

January 14th, 2013 | No Comments | Posted in Fundraising

Contributors to the “Text to Haiti” earthquake relief campaign were spur-of-the-moment donors who often induced friends and family to give, too, new research finds

 Report is first in-depth study of mobile giving

WASHINGTON, DC – Charitable donations from mobile phones have grown more common in recent years. Two thirds (64%) of American adults now use text messaging, and 9% have texted a charitable donation from their mobile phone.

And these text donors are emerging as a new cohort of charitable givers. The first-ever, in-depth  study on  mobile donors –which analyzed the “Text to Haiti” campaign after the 2010 earthquake—finds that these contributions were often spur-of-the-moment decisions that spread virally through friend networks. Three quarters of these donors (73%) contributed using their phones on the same day they heard about the campaign, and a similar number (76%) say that they typically make text message donations without conducting much in-depth research beforehand.

Yet while their initial contribution often involved little deliberation, 43% of these donors encouraged their friends or family members to give to the campaign as well. In addition, a majority of those surveyed (56%) have continued to give to more recent disaster relief efforts—such as the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan—using their mobile phones.

These are among the findings of a new a new study produced by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project and Harvard’s Berkman Center for the Internet & Society, in partnership with the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and the mGive Foundation.

“In contrast to other types of charitable contributions, which often involve some background research, or are directed towards organizations with which the donor has an existing relationship, mobile giving is often an ‘impulse purchase’ in response to a major event or call to action,” said Aaron Smith, senior research specialist at the Pew Internet Project and author of the report. “These donations come from people who are ready to give if they are moved by what they see and hear.”

Among the other key findings of this research:

  • A special, random survey of 863 donors to the “Text to Haiti” campaign finds that most of the text donors surveyed were introduced to mobile giving by the Haiti disaster, and did not donate in other ways to the reconstruction efforts. Three-quarters say that their donation to Haiti earthquake relief was the first time that they had texted a charitable donation, and 80% donated using only their mobile phone (and not through other means such as online or through the mail).
  • Charitable giving in the mobile age is a social activity that occurs primarily through offline channels. Of those who encouraged a friend or family member to donate, three quarters (75%) did so by talking with others in person—that’s twice the number who sent a text message encouraging others to donate (34% did this) and more than three times the number who did so by posting on a social networking site (21%).
  • Most of these Haiti-related donors have been only lightly engaged with the ongoing reconstruction efforts or with the organization to which they made their donation. Six in ten of these Haiti text donors have not followed the ongoing reconstruction efforts closely after making their donation, and just 3% say they have followed these efforts “very closely”. Additionally, a sizeable majority (80%) have not received additional follow-up communications from the organization that received their donation.
  • These donors utilize a range of methods to give money to the groups and causes that are important to them. When asked how they prefer to make charitable donations, these donors prefer text messaging (favored by 25%) and online forms (24%) only slightly to mail (22%) and in-person donations (19%). Voice calling stands out as the least preferred option, as just 6% of Haiti text donors prefer making donations over the phone.

“These findings have vast implications for non-profits, other cause-related charities, and even philanthropists,” noted Rob Faris, Research Director for the Berkman Center. “The age of mobile connectivity is creating a new class of networked donors who learn quickly about tragedies that occur anywhere on the planet and respond immediately.”

“The Red Cross campaign showed that innovation can have a transformational effect in crises,” said Amy Starlight Lawrence, Journalism and Media Innovation Program associate for Knight Foundation. “This survey, which details the story behind millions in donations, should help other non-profits develop powerful new tools to fund and execute their missions.”

The study also finds that these mobile givers are younger and more diverse compared with other charitable donors, and differ significantly from the overall population when it comes to their use of technology. They are especially likely to:

  • Own an e-reader (24% do so, compared with 9% of all US adults), laptop computer (82% vs. 57%) or tablet computer (23% vs. 10%).
  • Use Twitter (23% of the Haiti donors we surveyed who go online are Twitter users, compared with 12% of all online adults) or social networking sites (83% vs. 64%).
  • Use their phones for activities such as accessing the internet (74% do so, compared with 44% of all adult cell owners), taking pictures (96% vs. 73%) or recording video (67% vs. 34%).

Although they are unique demographically and in their technology habits, these donors differ little from the national average in terms of their overall civic engagement and group participation, as well as their tendency to keep up with national or international news events.

The results in this report are based on telephone interviews conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates among a sample of 863 individuals who contributed money to the Haiti earthquake efforts using the text messaging feature on their cell phones, and who consented to further communications at the telephone number they used to make their donation. The margin of sampling error is +/-3 percentage points based on Haiti text donors who consented to these additional communications.

Aaron Smith

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About the Pew Internet & American Life Project

The Pew Internet & American Life Project is an initiative of the Pew Research Center, a nonprofit “fact tank” that provides information on the issues, attitudes, and trends shaping America and the world. The Pew Internet Project explores the impact of the internet on children, families, communities, the work place, schools, health care and civic/political life.  The Project is nonpartisan and takes no position on policy issues. Support for the Project is provided by The Pew Charitable Trusts. More information is available

Beyond the Smartphone: Direct Mail Marketing to Young

January 10th, 2013 | No Comments | Posted in How Not For Profits, Marketing

When it comes to marketing to young people, especially savvy, connected young professionals, it’s easy to dismiss direct mail out of hand. After all, the best way to reach the under-35 set is online, right? While it’s true that you can’t ignore digital when marketing to young people, it’s a mistake to completely write off direct mail. Done right, direct mail can be a great way to connect with young people – and to get them to open their wallets.

Statistics from the Direct Marketing Association show that young people will respond to direct mail marketing, but that messages are more likely to grab their attention if they’re personalized and relevant. To achieve success in this area, you’ll need to invest the time in figuring out who your prospects are, and then take the time to develop customized messages for them.

What businesses should be targeting the younger consumer? Restaurants and bars are obvious candidates for direct mail campaigns aimed at this free-spending demographic, but many other businesses can succeed by targeting younger people. For example, people between the ages of 25 and 34 are more likely than others to be involved in starting a business, so they’re a prime target for all kinds of business services (and they’re less likely to have longstanding relationships with other service providers). The younger population is also highly mobile, creating an opening for moving companies, real estate agents, retailers of housewares and furniture, and storage companies. And they often have disposable income to spend on clothing, entertainment and personal care. The opportunities are endless!

Let’s look at a few case studies: 

An upscale bar and restaurant located in the downtown area of a large city wanted to build a base of loyal customers. They decided to target young professionals by hosting networking events for people in different industries (marketing/advertising, finance, law, etc.). The marketing team went online to to purchase a list of people under age 35 working in certain target occupations. This allowed them to narrowly target their direct mail postcards promoting the events to those who were most likely to attend. QR codes printed on each postcard allowed attendees to easily go online to RSVP. Attendance at each even was great, and many people who came to the industry happy hours have stopped by on other nights as well.

Sarah, age 32, owns a boutique specializing in housewares and home furnishings. She’s already determined that most of her customers are relatively affluent and younger than age 35. To learn even more about her ideal customer, she worked with Click2Mail to use her existing customer list to generate a Look-Alike report. Sarah learned that her best customers tend to be young married couples, as well as young families with small children. Once she had that information in hand, she purchased a mailing list of individuals in her area with those characteristics.

Then, Sarah worked with Click2Mail to design an eye-catching 6 x 11 postcard inviting people to come to a special evening shopping event with wine, appetizers and live music. The personalized postcard invite got a great response. Sales were excellent during the event, and several attendees have dropped by the store to make additional purchases. Sarah has already planned several future events.

Jason is an accountant who specializes in working with people in the creative professions, typically young self-employed artists and entrepreneurs. He had generated most of his business through word-of-mouth referrals, but he wanted to use direct mail to connect with new prospects he might not otherwise touch. Jason got started by building a robust online presence, including profiles on Facebook and Twitter, as well as downloadable resources he used to generate leads. Then, once he had a list of prospects (which he supplemented by purchasing a mailing list from, he designed a reply letter introducing himself and inviting people to come in for a free consultation to discuss their taxes. Recipients could drop the card in the mail to request their meeting, or they could use a code in the mailer to go online and request a consultation (the code ensured that Jason only met with prospects he had pre-qualified).

The response to Jason’s mailer and offer was very positive. A number of people signed up for consultations, and several hired Jason to help them with their tax issues. Several others expressed strong interest in his services, and Jason will keep in touch with these individuals over the coming months (both digitally and with direct mail) with the goal of converting them into clients in the future.

You’ll find success when mailing to young people – if you understand who you’re targeting and have a targeted list and personalized mailers. By taking the time to design a multi-faceted campaign that will resonate with younger people, and then having a highly targeted list that allows you to personalize your offer, you’ll be on your way to a successful direct mail campaign.


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The Lost Art of Direct Mailing

January 10th, 2013 | No Comments | Posted in How Not For Profits, Marketing

Direct mail has been used for generations to advertise products and bring information from businesses to their loyal customers. In recent years the internet has become an increasingly popular tool for customer contact and in many ways has replaced direct mail completely.

However, there are still certain aspects of direct mailing that can’t be replaced by high-tech advertisements, and that many customers actually prefer to online marketing.

The Technological Age

Businesses are investing huge amounts of money into online marketing campaigns and advertising.  Email marketing and social media sites like Facebook and Google + have replaced “snail” mail as the main method of contact between businesses and their customers.

Though these may be useful tools for getting your message across to the largest amount of people at a given time, it is not necessarily the most effective method for successfully reaching out to every single one of your customers.

Benefits of Direct Mail

Direct mailing seems to be forgotten by most business, especially those who started and grew in the digital world. According to, 47% of U.S. households read catalogs, and only 19% discard them without reading. With stats like that, it’s worth taking a second look at your direct marketing opportunities. Consider the host of benefits this marketing tactic offers:

  • It’s more Personal- With direct mailing, it is easier to target your audience. Massive email blasts lacks in personalization, and by adopting direct mailing you can target your audience to specific regions and include personal information that is more likely to impact the customer. Your mail can be customized and headlines can be changed for different audiences, while maintaining the layout, pictures, and body content.
  • Make it easier to Stand Out- The amount of companies that invest in direct mailing has drastically decreased, making you one of the only pieces of direct mail your customer receives. Stand out from the crowd of online advertisers and contact your customers the old-fashioned way.
  • The Format is Familiar- It’s likely that your customers enjoy receiving mail more than they enjoy deleting spam from their increasingly over-crowded inbox.
  • Easy to Measure Results- The results of direct mailing can be measured without using complicated analytics of online marketing. It is simpler process to keep track of how much mail was sent out to customers versus how many replies or inquiries were received, or how many coupons were redeemed. Direct mailing is a good method for testing offers and potential audiences because you have complete control over who sees your advertisement.
  • Cost Effective- Creating flyers, postcards or brochures is relatively inexpensive for a business. Creating decent design for print is easier than online animation as well. Mass-mailing rates are also available for direct mailing campaigns to cut down on postage costs.
  • Supports Other Marketing Efforts- Direct mailing can also include access to your other marketing efforts. On your mail you can include your social media page information, company email, and phone numbers so that your customers can respond whichever way they feel most comfortable.

The amount of customers who trust direct mail over email has actually grown from 29% in 2008 to 36% in 2012. This may be because the internet is overflowing with false information making it hard to differentiate the good from the scammy. Mailing your customers directly helps to assure your customers that your company exists in the real world and consists of real people, not just automated robots.

Kate Webster writes for lead generation resource, She focuses on a variety of topics including email marketing campaigns.

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Study uses students’ ‘traditional’ social networks to predict grades

January 9th, 2013 | No Comments | Posted in News and Updates

New research out of an Israeli university suggests that an analysis of students’ social networks can predict how well they do in an academic course.

Scientists out of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev looked at interactions between students, such as questions emailed to one another, assignments completed in pairs, course forums and conversations in labs to predict a student’s grade before the final exam.

Researchers also tracked login time and computer usage for students who worked in groups.

“While most papers about social network analysis deal solely with information gathered online, this study draws some of the information from the real world — social interactions which were conducted off the grid,” said study co-author and PhD student Michael Fire.

Fire told on Friday that the study revealed a clear connection between students’ social networks and their final grade.

“In the past many studies demonstrated the existence of similar types of correlations,” Fire said via email from Israel, pointing to a 2008 study that suggested individuals who are surrounded by many happy people more likely to become happy in the future.

“One explanation for what we discovered is that your friends influence your grade in the course, so, if you pick your friends well, then you will get a higher grade,” he said.

“Alternatively, social networks in courses offer conditions whereby good students will pair with other good students, and similarly weaker ones will pair with weaker students.”

Fire said the research team successfully predicted final grades to within a mean average error of 9.979.

While there are no immediate plans to use the research in university courses, Fire said the study could be used to determine which students may need more help in a course and which ones should consider a career in the subject area.

Christina Commisso,

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Top 5 Creative Direct Mail Pieces of 2012

January 9th, 2013 | No Comments | Posted in How Not For Profits

It used to be a simple piece of paper. Then gradually, direct mail pieces evolved with better designs, more font choices and added creativity. And in today’s market, creativity reigns supreme for marketers that want to captivate their audience.

With each year direct mail pieces continue to get better and better—and 2012 was no exception.

That’s why we’ve compiled the top five direct mail pieces of this year. So go ahead and check out the top 5 creative direct mail pieces of 2012. You’ll gain more ideas to try out in 2013. Here’s our top five best of the best for 2012.


What’s an apothecary bag have to do with marketers? Nothing, but Infinity Direct managed to make their direct mail campaign(shaped like an apothecary bag) relevant. Victoria Wise, marketing director for Infinity Direct, said she knew the company needed to do something unique to capture the audience’s attention.

“We knew whatever we did had to be clever without being cheesy, and it had to be multidimensional both in the execution of the mailing piece but also in the depth of the program,” Wise said.

Not only is it 3D, but the company also added detailed touches like a raised spot UV varnish to provide lifelike texture. Once opened, the pop-up mailer had creative potions that aid ailments such as “Irritable Data Syndrome” and “Budgetary Constriction.” As a finishing touch to the well-crafted direct mail campaign, Infinity Direct effectively utilized PURLs (Personalized URLs). Just another way that Infinity Direct went above and beyond with their campaign.


Most mailers simply involve paper. But IBM took their mailer a step further. They included a sack of sand with their 2012 mailer. The act seems odd for a company that doesn’t offer any services or solutions that deal even remotely with sand. But when the company had an office opening up in Qatar, they took advantage of the environment by sending adirect mailer that had a hidden message. When recipients poured sand over the invisible gum attached to the paper, the sand stuck to IBM’s intended message.

“IBM Opens in Qatar,” the sand reveals. Also revealed was a website for the recipients to find out more information. IBM claims the number two spot because of their creativity. After all, if sand revealed a secret message, we would click the website link to find out more. Not only was the campaign creative, but it was also effective with a 40 percent response rate.


The Australian company Mariner Boating Holidays conducted a simple campaign with a big impression, created byKastner & Partners. Simple lettering adorns the front of the mailer. “To go sailing, you have to be able to tie a knot.”

As the recipient opens the card, two strings pull together to form a knot. At the top of the page in large letters read the words, “You’re qualified.” The simple message that anybody can take one of their vacations was conveyed in a creative way.

It’s a simple stray from a traditional mailer, but with a much bigger impact. It doesn’t cost much more to add two pieces of string to the folded paper, but that added flair captivates the audience’s attention. This mailer made the number three spot on our list because others can take note of the simple strategy that was both cost-effective and an attention-grabbing campaign.


As a hot trend over the years, QR codes have been working their way into direct mailers more frequently. And this past year nobody showed us better than Taco Bell. The fast food chain used what they had to come up with a simple concept and an intricate design.

Using both avocados and lemons, Taco Bell cut and laid out their own unique codes that recipients could scan to receive more information. While a normal QR code resembles television static with only black and white, the lemons and avocados add a more pleasing and captivating look while keeping up with current direct mail trends.

How can your company add a unique QR Code to its next mailer?


Normal direct mail campaigns engage two of the senses—sight and touch. But in 2012 we saw more and more companies moving away from tradition. One company that embodied the changes was a travel company located in Russia. While they could have decided to simply send out a mailer with a picture of a seashell, they instead brought the entire ocean.

The mailer featured a seashell that prompted recipients to hold the shell up to their ear. Once there, an audio device in the mailer activated with sounds of seagulls, ocean waves crashing and laughter at the recipients’ ears. While sight could show recipients a warm place, the sound transports the recipient from the generally cold location to a faraway beach.

From added senses to 3D pieces and more, 2012 brought exciting new direct mail pieces that are sure to continue evolving into 2013. These pieces and more are sure to inspire creative thought for what lies ahead with direct mail campaigns. What was the most creative direct mail piece you saw, received, or made in 2012?

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NY AG: Charities raise $400m for Sandy relief

January 8th, 2013 | No Comments | Posted in In The Spotlight

Charities in New York state have collectively raised more than $400 million for Hurricane Sandy relief efforts, the state’s attorney general said Thursday.

A survey of 88 nonprofit groups by Eric Schneiderman’s office found that as of mid-December, the fundraising for storm victims had been dominated by five charities, led by The American Red Cross, which had raised $188 million, the Robin Hood Foundation, which had taken in $67 million and The Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City, which collected $45 million.

The Empire State Relief Fund raised another $15.4 million and The Salvation Army’s eastern U.S. division raised $14.3 million.

Donors can log on to the attorney general’s website to see how those organizations and 83 others say they intend to spend that money.

Schneiderman said regulators will be following up with the groups to get more information about the services they have provided.

“The generosity of the public and the hard work of charities in response to Hurricane Sandy is inspiring. As we continue to monitor charitable activities related to Sandy relief, it is essential that nonprofit organizations operate in the most transparent way possible,” he said in a statement.

The list of groups that responded to the survey included small groups who recruit volunteers to gut damaged homes, food banks and agencies that distribute medication.

The Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation, named for a firefighter killed in the Sept. 11 attacks, said it had raised $4 million as of Dec. 5, and anticipated spending $2.5 million of that money giving home supply store gift cards to people with damaged homes.

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, which had been involved in rescuing animals from flooded neighborhoods, and then boarding hundreds of displaced animals, said donors had given it $1.3 million by the end of November.

Red Cross officials told the attorney general that as of Dec. 10, the organization had distributed more than 8.7 million meals and snacks in the disaster zone, provided 81,000 shelter stays and distributed $30 million in relief supplies. The Red Cross said it anticipated that it would have spent $110 million on the storm response by the end of December.

Associated Press

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Nonprofits Call Cliff Deal a Victory on Giving Incentives

January 7th, 2013 | No Comments | Posted in In The Spotlight, Information

Nonprofit officials declared a victory in their advocacy to preserve the charitable tax deduction after Tuesday’s Congression­al vote to avert the fiscal cliff. But they remain frustrated that Congress did not resolve the $55-billion in federal spending cuts that are expected to hit social-service nonprofits particularly hard.

While Congress passed some minor limits on itemized deductions that will affect the affluent, it didn’t take more potentially damaging actions affecting charitable giving that lawmakers and the White House had promoted in recent months.

Even so, nonprofits expect continued struggles because the deal approved this week included a promise that Congress would work on a serious tax-overhaul measure this year.

“We have won a battle, but we have not yet won the war,” said Diana Aviv, chief executive of Independent Sector, an association of nearly 600 nonprofits.

Limits on Deductions Avoided

The legislation that Congress passed Tuesday raises the top tax rate to 39.6 percent on incomes over $450,000. The deal did not include proposals to cap the tax savings that wealthy taxpayers get for itemized deductions, including those for charitable gifts, local taxes, and mortgage interest.

President Obama has long supported a 28-percent cap on the tax savings wealthy donors receive when they write off their charitable gifts and other items. Some Republicans had called for a dollar limit of up to $75,000 for all deductions.

Charities say both approaches would reduce the financial incentive for donors to give, but neither ever made it into the final legislation.

“The fact the charitable deduction was preserved is a huge victory for us,” said Sandra Swirski, executive director of the Alliance for Charitable Reform. “As tax reform unfolds [this] year, we will continue to fight hard to preserve the charitable deduction.”

Obama Wants Cap

The charitable deduction will continue to be tied to a donor’s tax rate under the legislation passed this week. That means that a charitable gift of $1,000 would provide a $396 tax savings for someone in the 39.6-percent tax bracket. Had a 28-percent cap been imposed, the savings would have fallen to $280.

President Obama, however, remains committed to pursuing a cap on the charitable deduction, according to a White House official who asked not to be named.

“We know the fight’s not over,” said Steve Taylor, vice president for public policy at United Way Worldwide.

Retirement-Plan Donations

The deal provided two other items of good news for nonprofits. It extended tax-free distributions from individual retirement plans for charitable purposes for people over age 70&frac;. And it extended a provision permitting businesses to claim a deduction for donating surplus food to charity.

But it also contained a minor limitation on itemized deductions that nonprofit groups such as the Alliance for Charitable Reform and Independent Sector had opposed because they fear it could reduce charitable giving.

Under the law, taxpayers who make $300,000 or more face small limits on the amount of deductions they can claim; the limits in essence amount to about a 1-percent tax increase for most people, tax experts say. A similar limit was in effect until 2010.

William Daroff, vice president for public policy at the Jewish Federations of North America, said the limitation will “have a minor impact on charitable donations.”

Spending Cuts

One major issue that Congress did not deal with in Tuesday’s vote was the $110-billion in federal spending cuts that were scheduled to take effect this week.

Instead, Congress delayed them for two months. Half of those cuts would be aimed at domestic social programs, many of which are administered by nonprofits or serve people who would turn to nonprofits if they lost their federal aid.

Mr. Daroff said the delay would help nonprofits make the case that cuts to social programs would hurt many communities. “It gives us another two months to fight,” he said.

Tim Delaney, chief executive of the National Council of Nonprofits, said the delay in cuts leaves nonprofits guessing about how to budget for 2013.

“If you’re running a nonprofit, you don’t know if you should be firing people, furloughing people, or hiring people. It’s fundamentally unfair for people who are trying to implement agreements that have been signed by governments,” Mr. Delaney said. “Bottom line: I still have my seat belt strapped on as we’re going up and down this wild, crazy, and unnecessary and harmful fiscal cliff exercise.”

Doug Donovan

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