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Seniors triple their social network use

August 31st, 2013 | No Comments | Posted in Social Media

The number of adults who use social networks is up to 72 percent in 2013, according to data from Pew Research Center. This is up 5 percent from last year and 64 percent since 2005 when Pew first started studying social adoption.

Social networking site use by age group 2005-2012

“Although younger adults continue to be the most likely social media users, one of the more striking stories about the social networking population has been the growth among older internet users in recent years,” Pew said in a report. “Those ages 65 and older have roughly tripled their presence on social networking sites in the last four years—from 13 percent in the spring of 2009 to 43% now.”

However, the demographics of social networkers show similarities across education level, economic background, geographic location and more. The following chart illustrates who, according to Pew research, is using social media.

Who uses social networking sites

Of the social networks, when it comes to Twitter, the data shows a larger gap in both usage and demographics:

Who uses Twitter

Of all the ages using Twitter, the majority is aged 18 to 29. Social media usage in this group has more than doubled to 30 percent in 2013 from less than 15 percent in 2010.

Twitter use by age group over time

While other age groups using Twitter have also seen usage grow by more than half, the 65 and older crowd is slow going at 5 percent in 2013, up just 1 percent since 2010.

  |  August 6, 2013

68% of CEOs have ‘no presence’ on any social media (but they like LinkedIn)

August 30th, 2013 | No Comments | Posted in Social Media


Of the 500 leaders of the biggest companies in America, just 28 are on Twitter. A few more, 38, are on Facebook. And five lonely CEOs frequent the circles on Google+. But 140 are on LinkedIn.

Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, Warren Buffet joked after he sent his very first tweet in May 2013. Since then he’s gained 541,905 followers with just two lonely little tweets.

Which begs the question: Why aren’t more superstar CEOs taking advantage of the big platform social media offers?

A slim 32 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs have at least one account on a social network, according to a new study by But a massive 68 percent of the grey-haired men and women we call boss have no social presence whatsoever.

Nada. Zilch. Zippo.

ceos on social media

In fact, of the 500 leaders of the biggest companies in America, Just 28 are on Twitter. A few more, 38, are on Facebook. And five lonely CEOs frequent the circles on Google+.

There is one exception, however, to the apparent unwritten no-social rule for top executives: LinkedIn.

“LinkedIn remains the one social media platform that is actually more popular with CEOs than the general public,” the study says.

fake twitter followersThis year, almost a third of Fortune 500 CEOs have a LinkedIn account. 27.9 percent of them — 140 in total — have posted a profile on LinkedIn, up from 25.9 percent last year. That’s higher than Americans in general, about 20 percent of whom are active on the career-focused social site. In all, 140 of the top CEOs in America are on LinkedIn, and 25 of them have more than 500 connections.

It’s a little surprising that more CEOs don’t establish social profiles. While Warren Buffet’s astonishing acquired-followers-per-tweet rate is a ridiculous 270,000+ and won’t be duplicated soon, Fortune 500 CEOs gain followers almost 20 times faster than average Twitter users — over 200 times faster if you include Buffet’s massive stats. That kind of following and that kind of attention can have a significant positive impact on a company.

Most CEOs, however, save it for LinkedIn.

ceos on linkedin

HP CEO Meg Whitman has almost 220,000 followers on the site. GE chief executive Jeff Immelt has 40,000, and Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan Chase, has almost 130,000. That means that CEOs are among the most powerful influencers on LinkedIn.

As far as Facebook goes, there’s one CEO who stands out, and it’s no surprise.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is the runaway winner with 16,742,263 followers. Like Google CEO Larry Page, who is in 6,363,808 circles on Google+, Zuckerberg rules his own nest. But CEO participation on Facebook is stagnant, up to just 7.6 percent this year from 7 percent last year.

August 7, 2013 7:32 AM   John Koetsier

75% of students don’t buy required textbooks

August 29th, 2013 | No Comments | Posted in Education, Information

This summer, E-textbook publisher conducted a survey of college students in the United States, the UK, the Netherlands, Germany, and Denmark. In total, nearly 10,000 students completed a questionnaire found in the Bookboon student newsletter and on Facebook, consisting of eleven questions regarding the use of textbooks. And the results can’t be good news for traditional textbook publishers.

In the United States, over 75% of students decide not to buy the textbooks their classes require, in large part because students find textbooks too expensive and are discouraged by the simple fact that quite often, only a few chapters from the books are needed for study.

On average, US students spend $655 per year on required textbooks. But according to the survey, more than nine out of ten students find textbooks too expensive, resulting in the 76.6% of US students who make the decision not to purchase the required books. (In the UK, the numbers are even more startling, with 83.3% of students not always buying required textbooks.)

So instead, according to the survey, students are constantly on the lookout for cheaper options, including copying the needed chapters, finding online alternatives, or, in the case of 60% of those surveyed, buying their textbooks second hand. Indeed, only 25% of students buy their textbooks new, despite the recommendation of their professors to purchase the latest editions. (The remaining 16% of students find other alternatives, including borrowing or renting the required textbooks.)

Given this, it may not be surprising to learn that 58% of college students in the US prefer digital textbooks: students find them easier to carry, to read from, and believe they are cheaper.  But on the other hand, the survey results were very different in Europe. Bookboon’s COO Thomas Buus Madsen wrote, “American students are at least a couple of years ahead of their European counterparts. In countries such as German, the UK, and the Netherlands, only 30-40% of the students prefer digital textbooks.  Most European students stick to paper. This is partly because eReaders and e-textbooks are less available. Additionally, publishers, professors and universities in Europe are less active in promoting and adopting the use of e-textbooks compared to the USA.”

Of course to put the $655 yearly price tag for textbooks into perspective, consider this: a 2011 study done by the Student Health Service of the University of Pennsylvania showed that students in the US also spend roughly $900 a year on alcohol.  Perhaps, in part, to drown out their sorrow at spending $655 on textbooks.

Read the entire survey here.

Read more by Edward Nawotka
September 11, 2012

Three Ways You Can Use Stories to Develop Your Non-Profit’s Online Communities

August 28th, 2013 | No Comments | Posted in Fundraising, Marketing, Social Media

Storytelling in the non-profit context has many benefits including fostering online communities. In an increasingly digital world, it’s important to humanize your online presence. Today I’m share my top three tips for using stories to develop loyal supporters online.

With the rise of social media and online platforms, non-profits are starting to intentionally develop online communities. Online communities are basically a virtual gathering place for people with similar interests – in this case your non-profit’s cause. Most often, online communities are facilitated through a social media platform, but some organization have created “hubs” on their website. Having a pre-qualified audience at your disposal is a great thing to leverage to create awareness about your cause, engage people in a more meaningful way, and yes, grow your fundraising.

If you have an online community already or are looking to develop one, you’ll need to think about ways to continuously engage your community. One way to do this is through storytelling.

Why Stories Make Engaging Content

You’ve probably heard me say this before, but stories really are the best content non-profits can produce. Stories focus on emotions, and emotions allow you audience to empathize with what your story’s subject experienced.

Chances are very high that your audience and your story subject (a client, for instance) are not the same person. They probably come from different walks of life. Your audience may never really fully understand what it’s like to walk a mile in your client’s shoes. But they can understand the emotions that person experienced along the way. Emotions are the thread that connects us all.

When you share stories with your online communities, highlight those emotions. Although you don’t want to be too overt, the emotions are what will get someone to click on a link, read more or leave a comment. It is the hook of your content.

3 Ways to Foster Your Online Community Through Storytelling

There are numerous ways to use storytelling in your online community, but the best ways invite audience participation. For these examples, I’ll focus on social media communities.

  1. Ask people to submit a story about their experience with your cause. This will get them thinking about why they care and why it matters to them. Again, this pulls up an emotional connection. You could even set up a landing page on your website that shares a montage of these.
  2. Tell a story of impact. Chances are that some of the people in your online communities will also be donors to your organization. Make it a point to share stories that highlight the impact of a program or service. Donors want to hear about the tangible outcomes they’ve been a part of.
  3. Tell a story in a series. Rather than reveal the whole enchilada in one go, release it over a week or two. This will give people a reason to visit the site again and give them something to look forward to.

Does your non-profit manage online communities?

August 5, 2013

by Vanessa Chase, Copywriter & Storyteller | Fundraising Consultant | Speaker & Trainer to Non-Profits

Happy Birthday To Me!

August 27th, 2013 | No Comments | Posted in Email, Fundraising, Marketing


It came by email at least five times over the last week.  An urgent appeal from major political activists close to the President. They needed me  to take immediate action.

It was time to sign his birthday card!


For the last few years, I have been receiving this kind of message in early August.  Every time it is with greater urgency.  And every year I’ve signed the card.  It’s a nice thing to do, after all.


But this year, enough was enough.


After all, my birthday was within a few days of the the President’s. We are close to the same age.  I had been signing his card every year.  But I had never received a card from the White House on my big day.


This might sound selfish of me.  After all, he’s the President.  And I’m just me.  But as one of the notes read, “You make change possible.”  So, if I am so important, why was I being forgotten so consistently?


Good fundraisers know that this isn’t silly at all.  It’s really important that we not make the relationship about the needs of the organization or its principals but rather those of the donor.


The people who authored these letters clearly understand this at some level.


One note began, “Everyone likes getting birthday cards…”  Very true, I thought!


Another included this passage: “One thing I admire about the President is that he’s never taken for granted the people who are fighting alongside him.”  Perhaps not.  But his staff apparently does!


This post is not about politics.  It’s about stewardship.  And the lessons we draw from “successful” fundraising efforts.


Over the last eight months, Americans have heard unceasingly about the brilliance of contemporary political fundraising campaigns.  We are told that they have extraordinary data on their donors and that they use that data for effective modeling and microtargeting. This simply isn’t true.


What the campaigns, and particularly the Obama 2012 campaign, did best was to fearlessly and relentlessly ask for money.  Their simple, brief, attractive and appealing messages were sent almost daily. Each one contained an “ask” or a link to one. This is something many nonprofits have feared to do.  It is clear that it worked very, very well.


On the other hand, the campaigns did not distinguish between donors by their demographics at all.  High dollar and low dollar donors, donors or different ages, volunteers and non-volunteers, were all treated roughly the same. They were all asked equally and ignored equally.  This is not the example for the rest of us.


For decades now, nonprofit organizations have been collecting information on their donors.  At our best we use this information to better understand our supporters and engage with them.


Sometimes this means segmentation to ask for different amounts at different times of the year.  Other times it allows us to reach out for specific projects, with volunteer opportunities, to invite them to events of interest or to empower them to raise money for the cause.  It can even give us the tool to wish each and every one a happy birthday.


Each of these examples is consistent with a donorcentric philosophy of fundraising.  The idea is to find out what interests and motivates the donor and to focus on that as the core of the relationship.


This is both the nice thing to do and the smart thing to do.


While a political campaign is thinking only about the short term need, nonprofits recognize that maximum revenue is achieved by establishing and fostering long term relationships. A small percentage of these lead to major gifts.  And estate gifts, too.  It all funds the mission.


So, how are you celebrating your supporters and the milestones in their lives?


July 31, 2013

by Jay Frost

The Ultimate Guide to Pinterest for Every Brand

August 26th, 2013 | No Comments | Posted in Marketing, Social Media


Pinterest has captured our visual fancy like no other network before it.

The image-driven network’s meteoric rise in only a few years shows the site is more than just a pretty community for people interested in fashion and lifestyle: Marketers are all over Pinterest’s lead-generation aspects, and online hits on products from the site have proved a marketing sensation. According to a study by Shareaholic, the site drives more referral traffic than Google+, YouTube, and LinkedIn combined.

But marketers still struggle to define what makes for a successful Pinterest content strategy–and what does not. Based on my experience with Pinterest analytics and with the support of Pinterest-savvy folks at ShareRoot, I have come up with a list of metrics that marketers should pay attention to when it comes to this social network. Below, you’ll find a helpful infographic that lays all the data out.

First, let’s start with the definitions.


Pinterest helps people organize the things they love through the use of pins. A pin can consist of an image or video of a gift, recipe, destination, or quote. In order to populate your brand’s Pinterest profile, your team will need to collect and pin individual pins to boards on your brand’s profile.


Your brand’s Pinterest profile is made up of boards, with pins on each board. A board is an opportunity for your brand to showcase various themes/interests/passions of your brand. You can create as many boards as you like, but you want to make sure that each board has a purpose and strategy behind it. Pinterest users can follow individual boards, or entire Pinterest profiles.


In order to turn a piece of content into a pin on Pinterest, a Pinterest user needs to take the first act of pinning the item. In order to pin a piece of content your brand owns, you can click on “upload a pin” to pin an image or video that lives offline, and “add from a website” to pin an image from online.


A follower is any Pinterest user who has chosen to “follow” your brand. Once a user has become your follower, each pin/repin made by your brand appears in that user’s Pinterest newsfeed.


If you follow a brand or a Pinterest user, you are their follower. Once your brand becomes a follower of a brand on Pinterest or a Pinterest user, anytime that user or brand makes a pin or a repin, it will show up in your newsfeed.


Once a pin exists on Pinterest, users are free to repin that pin. Each time one of your brand’s pins gets repinned, that pin will show up in the newsfeeds of all of the Pinterest users following the user who repinned your pin.


There are three newsfeeds on Pinterest: your brand’s newsfeed, another Pinterest user’s newsfeed, and the Pinterest category newsfeed. The newsfeeds are the most active locations for content discovery on Pinterest. The most engaged pins across Pinterest within a given category show up in the categorical newsfeeds.


Similar to Facebook, Pinterest users are able to like pins. The difference between liking a pin and repinning it is that with liking, the user is not prompted to pin that pin to their profile and it does not show up in the newsfeed of their followers.


Below the content of each pin is an open text box where users can make “comments.” Although comments are not used too often by Pinterest users, there are some interesting ways to weave comments into a Pinterest contest execution. That being said, similar to a “like,” a comment does not push that pin into the commenter’s follower’s newsfeeds.

And now, let’s turn to…



Based on your brand’s previous engagement history, average repins per pin defines the average repins your brand has received each time it has made a pin or a repin.


Based on your brand’s previous engagement history, average likes per pin defines the average likes your brand has received each time it has made a pin or a repin.


Based on your brand’s previous engagement history, average comments per pin defines the average comments your brand has received each time it has made a pin or a repin.


Average 2nd degree followers shows your brand how connected your follower base is. Specifically the average number of followers each of your brand’s followers has.


Follower engagement percentage shows your brand what percentage of your follower base you can expect to engage with each of your pins/repins.


A current/recent snaphshot of follower engagement. Your short-term follower engagement will fluctuate rapidly in comparison to follower engagement, and is best used to measure the effectiveness of a recent modification to your brand’s Pinterest strategy.


Reach shows your brand the number of unique newsfeed impressions you can expect each time you make a pin or repin.


Current average number of pins/repins your brand makes per week. This metric is a great tool for testing out the ideal amount of pins/repins your brand should be pinning per week. If you modify the velocity and keep it steady at a modified rate, you can use the “short-term follower engagement” metric to determine whether the change in velocity produced better engagement results for your brand.


The number of times pins from your brand’s website were seen each day on Pinterest.


(Pinterest’s metric–specific to the relationship between your website and Pinterest): The number of people on Pinterest who saw a pin from your brand’s website each day on Pinterest.


The number of clicks pins from your brand’s website received each day.


This pin feed shows you the most recent pins that originated from your brand’s website.


This pin feed shows you the most repinned pins that originated from your brand’s website.


This pin feed shows you the most clicked on pins that originated from your brand’s website.


A list of the most influential and most connected Pinterest users following your brand.


Pins originating from your brand’s website with the most engagement.


Total Pinterest interactions with all of the pins originating from content on your brand’s website.

There are various tools available in the market that allow you to track some or all of these metrics, including ShareRootCuralate, and PinReach. But as a brand marketer it’s up to you to identify what service makes sense to you and what metrics are more important based on your marketing objectives. Here I wanted to provide a complete guide to help you make that decision. Happy pinning!

August 5, 2013 | 6:00 AM


Tech trends PSE can’t afford to ignore

August 25th, 2013 | No Comments | Posted in Education

Higher education faces an onslaught of disruptive forces right now—and no one should be suprised to hear that news. Burgeoning technologies such asMOOCs and mobile devices are disrupting institutional structures from the classroom and across entire campuses. As tech transforms these learning environments, universities must decide whether to resist the change or get out in front of it. To choose the latter option, however, we need to envision what universities of the future will look like—if they exist at all.

Lev Gonick, the VP for information technology services and CIO at Case Western Reserve University and CEO of OneCommunity, isn’t afraid of gazing into the proverbial crystal ball.

In his keynote address Tuesday at the Campus Technology 2013 conference in Boston, Mass., Gonick laid out his vision for the future higher ed and campus IT.

“The challenge I’m going to present to you, as the revolutionaries out there, is that it’s not anymore—or perhaps never was—simply sufficient to say that we were there at the beginning,” Gonick said during his opening remarks. “What really needs to be considered here is, what are the challenges that we face and how can we remain engaged in that vanguard role while, at the same time, figuring out what we want to hold onto from the past. Not only in terms of technology, but also in terms of the core services that our institutions provide to the broader initiatives in society, because, as these mutations unfold, there are certain things we want preserved and we have to be very clear about what the value [is] of the things we want to preserve along the way.”

[Editor's Note: If you are interested in debating the vision he’s laid out, get in touch with Gonick on Twitter @levgonick.]

Gonick’s speech spotlighted the key trends he believes will drastically alter the higher education landscape. Here are the 10 trends that will transform the space:


“It’s OK to say the PC era is dead. And yet […] the cost of our institutional support, for the PC and desk-side support, […] is $4 billion, I would estimate conservatively. […] It’s hard to change. And it turns out even as we can see these inevitable declines of a platform technology, people fall in love with the technology platform like the PC and then we scaffold it with institutional and organizational realities that actually stem the wave of mutations, even though in the secular world, the world of technology, there is this incessant destruction, this incessant reinvention going on […]and our organizations are very, very slow, by their very nature, to make the move.”


“We are still struggling on many of our campuses  on whether or not we should be PC or Mac, our organizations are still fighting that day in and day in, and there are conversations about whether […] local IT should be able to support BYOD […] these conversations are fascinating for the moment in time, but really [they] are of no consequence because the young people, who are currently in our university [and] college systems and who are coming to our college and university systems, have moved on. Check your own surveys of what technologies people are coming to campus with and you will see that their worlds have, in an amazingly fast transformation, moved from PC and laptops to smartpads, tablet devices and the like.

Only three years ago, when I gave a similar presentation, I noted that there were more notebooks shipping than PCs. That was a big deal! Look what’s happened in three years! The tablet industry, which had lots of early false starts, is really taking off in a huge way this year, will ship more than all PCs and  next year will be shipping much more than all of our notebooks as well. And let’s not forget that the smartphone, worldwide, dwarfs all of that! How many of our campuses, how many of you on campus, the revolutionaries, are really feeling like you’re on top of the ability to introduce tablet and smartphone-based educational solutions? If you’re like me, I spend a huge amount of my time on campus trying to provoke, trying to insist, trying to cajole the campus to leave behind the PC and go mobile.

Over 20 years, [I see] the end of the laptop, the evolution of the tablet and the absolute requirement, if we’re going to remain relevant as technology leaders, that we need to be developing—not simply consuming—applications and services that run on the preferences of our students today and tomorrow.”

“The other great religious war we have on campus: should we or should we not outsource email? It’s of no consequence! Should we or should we not […] figure out how to engage students with instant messaging? It’s irrelevant! To our current student body and to our incoming student body that is out there. And that is because both email and instant messaging are on a precipitous decline of use for the 15-24 year old crowds that are there.

The explosion that is underway is with the social networking technologies. […] but we on our campus are significantly mired in conversations that are arcane to our students and , in the future, put us in peril  in terms of spending precious institutional resources on things that truly, truly at this point have been commoditized and students are more and more simply ignoring. No, not every student, to be fair, and not in every geography.

[This slide here] basically shows the social networking explosion that’s underway, especially in terms of young people, is simply a global [phenomenon] that’s taking place and it’s fascinating to see how, all over the world, social networking has eclipsed all other modes of communication. Again, it doesn’t mean that email or instant messaging have fallen away; it’s simply suggesting that the ways in which we have built our institutional capacity to be engaging with our learners is something that needs to be moved to a completely different gear [and] needs to be put on steroids. Otherwise, we will be washed over in terms of the revolutionary impact of creative destruction and we will moan for, we will [wax] nostalgic for the days of yesteryear when we were ‘in control.’ We are not in control and let’s celebrate it! The question is: how can we remain relevant?”

“When I came to Case Western Reserve University, and certainly when I was in California and Canada before that, we were talking about being able to get broadband that […] could you get 10 megabits off the campus? That was it. If you’re not old enough to remember that, you’re already part of a very important generation that simply takes [that] for granted. And that’s ok. We need to understand that that is exactly what is going on. We now have a global network in the research and education community which is simply the envy of the world. We need to find a way to maintain that edge in a networking environment.

Let me share with you a few insights about the future of networking on our college campuses that are on the way and share with you the vision that the NSF has begun on 100 campuses, perhaps not yours just yet, called GENI, which is really focusing in on what could actually happen if we actually built a next generation network that was more open than the Internet—that allows for the possibility of end-to-end experimentations, end-to-end uses of channels on the network? […] not simply as a virtual private networks (VPNs) […] Just like we went from the mainframe to some form of a personal computing world we take for granted, we are still in the mainframe era of the network. It’s all one network; it’s all one, big, mainframe-like network and now we are poised towards a very personal networking reality. There will be, in the next 20 years,  a revolution unfolding in the network environment and it affords us enormous opportunity to engage in experimentation and to maintain that leading edge across our campuses and between our campuses and the communities around us.”

“Certainly, five or six years ago, there was a big debate about whether the cloud was ready for primetime. We can continue to debate that but today I want to share with you another prognostication in terms of the future […]. We have learned some things about the cloud, especially in the last year and, if you want to be more precise, the last couple of months, which are giving a lot of us on our campuses, certainly our faculty, cause for concern. And it does not have to do with the reliability of the service. It has to do with the privacy of the service. The NSA activities that of course exploded in the press in the last month give us all cause for some reflection on how to balance the opportunity to scale associated with the cloud, the robustness of that solution, with, obviously, our concerns for our equally important set of values which involve privacy. To that end, in the next 20 years, I think that you will see a personal cloud infrastructure unfold.

Personal cloud infrastructure, in my view, will unfold in some ways as a peer-to-peer encrypted solution environment. Rather than it being only a cloud that is available in the Pacific Northwest by very large corporate interests, who are all, with very good reason, committed to do no harm, there is no way to avoid the challenge that it presents to all kinds of folks from naïve to nefarious when it comes to being able to tap into those environments. And, clearly, big government is worried about that too. A lot of privacy advocates, and many of you may already know this, are beginning to advocate for a new architecture on private clouds, where you are basically clicking and saving your end-point infrastructure, whether it’s your tablet, smartphone or whatever device it is, to peer-to-peer environments where  the only questions that remains to be figured out—and it will be—is really the keys to the initial encryption exercise.”

“One of our biggest challenges to work out here is how do we have the conversations on campus about what is in fact a unique contribution that we can offer on campus that, in fact, these X-as-a-services are either at some risk of being unable to fill a void, at least for the time being, or that we actually want to get in front of.  We actually want to get in front of, for example, the opportunity to take advantage of infrastructure as a service and not get in front the research computing cluster, but maybe give it Amazon as a service and get the front-end so that it has a campus experience associated with it. And if there are compliance and regulatory issues that we have to work on, [we need to be] making sure […] where our value-add is in that.”

“It seems to me that we all acknowledge that Big Data is upon us and I think at the same time it’s fair to say that we realize that we don’t have a compass to navigate how we in the technology and leadership community are going to navigate the tsunami of data available from the learning environment to the research environment. I want to suggest to you that zettabyte-scale research activity is absolutely on the cusp of happening. […]With zettabyte-scale transformational research, [we’re going to have] discoveries from the cures to cancer, Alzheimer’s and the like, these are all combinations of bench science with data science going on. […] There’s just enormous opportunity in front of us and what’s [important] today is our challenge about attending to the scale required to actually support zettabyte-scale research.

No one campus—in fact, no set of anything fewer than probably 25 or 30 of our largest campuses working together—can actually provide for a research platform that will support zettabyte-scale activities that are going on out there. It behooves us as leaders to do something that perhaps we have reluctantly begun to agree to in the world of the PC and email and some of those earlier trends, and that is to concede that we are ready to give up control. Not the architecture, not the service support, not the analytical support. But to acknowledge that it’s about finding data centers large enough on our campuses, whether they’re urban or rural, to actually build up the facilities and support the ongoing operational costs presented by [zettabyte-scale research]. We want to hug the trees of our data centers [...] at our own peril.

[...] At least on my campus, well over 60% of the network traffics video. Today that’s Netflix. That’s YouTube. That’s Hulu. But the zettabyte-scale research activity, we ought not to clamp down, we ought not to make excuses about how we have to figure out how to [limit] access to video because video is also the imaging technology that is going to transform American inner cities, rural economic futures and the like. [It’s] incumbent upon us to realize our role in that kind of environment.”

“Not everyone is a Salman Khan who can figure out how to create a market condition for flipping your learning environments. One of the things we have to acknowledge […] is to figure out if we’re committed to the idea of experimenting with flipped classroom […]. How are you going to double and triple—that’s my experience—the size of the talent pool required to basically move from this idea of flipping the classroom […] to realizing that it takes a village to really flip a classroom. And that village is really the talent set that the university will look to us for, and then we will go, we don’t have the incremental dollars to do it. We need producers and more instructional designers because Salman Kahn is, perhaps, right now one-of-a-kind. Those faculty champions who are […] the vanguard, they alone have the passion and the altruism to try to do things that are essentially superhuman.”

“There’s been a traditional conversation about change in lecture halls in [terms of] more interactive and active learning environments and those are all to be applauded, all those initiatives are enormously important. […] But the real opportunities seem to be the ones that will evolve over the next 5-10 years [which] are, essentially, life-size, wall-size, interactive, multi-touch experiences […] that actually beg you to come up and touch the learning, that encourage you to have an opportunity to engage and share, not only at the front of the room, but from anywhere in the room as part of the experience. [This is] the leading edge of the [learning] experience and who but us in the education community to take up the leadership role. If this is a corporate boardroom or a corporate training environment, this is, I would say, a very minor league use of this enormously powerful technology. Think about the opportunities to transform medical education so that experts around the world can interact not over video conference experience but, essentially, immersively through holographic technology.”

“In the next 10 years, the conversation about online learning will have shifted away from this first generation of hysteria to a much more profound question, and that is the value of […] the degree. That is what’s at play, that’s the big bet. That’s why this year there will be $1 billion in venture capital spent on disrupting higher education.

At least 20% of it is focused in on the true challenge which is disturbing our core, last monopoly that we have and that is the certificate called the degree. We might say that’s just fine; in fact, we may want to engage and get in front of it rather than letting it be done to us. But I have no doubt that in the next 10 years, there will be valuable alternatives to the certification that we are currently holding onto as if it were the last vestiges of the core value that we represent. That is creative destruction at play, whether we choose to be resistant to it or whether we actually get in front of it. That is a choice that all of our institutions and organizations need to grapple with.”

“Our college campuses, for 800 years, to varying degrees, were very much viewed as castles with the highest walls possible keeping us from the barbarians, which oftentimes were our neighbors in our own towns. That’s very much the legacy and most of it has been by choice. In the next five years, I think you will see dramatic transformations as we try to extend the amazing treasure of technologies, science, service learning and other activities that are all about creating experience for young people who find their way inside the walls of the castle. […]

A group of 47 universities created an organization called GigU that actually extends our amazing network services to the immediate neighborhoods around us. If you’ve been watching this, you know the University of Chicago, you know the University of Washington, Case Western Reserve University […] in Alabama and several other major city-university partnerships are underway to develop this next generation network infrastructure, to bind us to the communities around us that historically have had walls around them, to actually create the kind of interdependency that we believe in in our mission statements, but we’ve built walls in which the backs of our campuses face the neighborhoods around us. That great cities and their campuses are actually synergistically connected one to the other. If we build these networks, what will we do with them that is consequential and meaningful to the communities around us?

This gives me a moment to talk about my venture that I’ve been working on called OneCommunity, an organization that began 10 years ago at Case Western Reserve University in which saw the opportunity to leverage what the university does best, which is, among the country and therefore the world, the best network organization in the world. We got out in front of it and chose to give it a wing for our community. Which is to say we became the architects of an urban and now 24-county broadband architecture that connects our schools, our museums, libraries, governments and hospitals over what is the world’s largest and fastest community-owned 501(c)(3) broadband network provider. Breaking out the shell that began as a bit of a tough love message to those of us who grew up in the R&E network. Our mission is not alone to serve the insular castle of the research community and school. Our mission is to transform the human condition and that now means extending our networks to extend our engagement with the community in much more significant ways.”

“If one community is the model, in the next ten years, the city becomes an operating system. The city becomes an experimental Internet of Things. The Internet of Things will certainly find value in our campuses in a lab setting for creating experiments, but think of the opportunities for creating experiential learning by letting students and faculty write proposals, write PhDs and NSF grants that actually attend to thinking about the city itself as an intelligent system that in fact teaches us more about sensors and polemetry, that teaches us about air quality particulates, that teaches us the ways people use technology that will make things like Google now seem like minor child’s play. It’s only, it seems to me, if we can tie our commitments to our curriculum in which this will really make sense. There is an opportunity for us to be the architects of the urban operating system of the future. It is already filled with ideas and software tools that our own students or recent graduates have created, but so far it is divorced from our actual campus curriculum.

We could think about our future as remaining committed to the plumbing role that we have played on our campuses. But I hope today that I provoke in a number of you to think about the alternatives as enormously exciting, as enormously generative and indeed not without risk. […] But if we choose to remain plumbers, we do so at our own peril, realizing that we will likely be washed over in the tsunami of change that is happening around us. [...]

The enormous opportunity for us is not to think about the end of the university. Our universities and colleges will be here for the next 500 years. The question is whether or not they will be relevant. And remember that the revolution will not be televised; that is what we are all here to do. ”

July 31, 2013


How well do you thank your donors?

August 24th, 2013 | No Comments | Posted in Fundraising

Stewardship is such an important part of the donor relationship. That’s why I’m so pleased that nonprofits (including some of our clients) are paying closer attention to donor stewardship and accountability.

Appropriately acknowledging a gift includes thanking donors promptly for their generosity, and reporting back on how their dollars were spent. You can go about acknowledging gifts in a thoughtful way by developing an appropriate stewardship calendar.

If you already have one, I’d like to suggest that you take a few minutes over the summer to review your existing calendar, and look for opportunities to refine your stewardship process.

First and foremost: the thank-you letter

Consider sending all of your donors a personalized thank-you letter that speaks directly to them about the specific area they’ve supported. If you don’t have the resources, or if preparing a personalized letter will keep you from sending the tax receipt within 48 hours, a standard thank-you letter will do the trick. It’s even better if you can add a live signature and handwritten note!

For new donors, it’s important that you acknowledge their first gift and make them feel welcome. Ensure you include a name and contact phone number in case they have any questions. You should also include additional information about your organization, such as an impact report or newsletter that highlights the work being done, thanks to donor support. A donor preference survey would be a great addition as well.

Call for a lasting impression

In my past life, calling donors just to say thank you was part of my work. I can’t tell you how often donors were left completely and pleasantly surprised when they received a call thanking them for their gift, and nothing more!  I used to refer to this as “deer caught in the headlights” because you could just hear them waiting with bated breath for the segue into a donation request. Look for opportunities to engage your volunteers and board members and coordinate a “thank-a-thon.” I guarantee your donors will love it!

Include your business card

It’s important for your donors to know that they can reach out you (a live person!) if ever they have any questions about your work or the organization, or if they misplace their tax receipt.

Include other opportunities

Donors want to play an active role in the charities and causes they support. Some donors may be willing to volunteer their time or skills, while some may choose to become a monthly donor or make a gift in their will. A brief insert that promotes one or both of these options will invite your donors to increase their commitment and help keep these giving options top of mind.

Include a business reply envelope

Encourage two-way communication by including a pre-paid return envelope. You may even get a surprise gift!

Any ideas of your own you’d like to share?


publication date: Jul 29, 2013
author/source: Heather Brown


Video screen tests increasingly required for MBA admissions

August 23rd, 2013 | No Comments | Posted in Education

When Robert’s image pops up on a screen on the wall, all eyes in the room are transfixed on the handsome 30-year-old Brit who is applying to the MBA program at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management.

The eyes belong to the seven members of the school’s MBA admissions committee who sit, like film or television critics, to judge the candidate’s video performance. Robert is in a dark suit, with a blue shirt and red tie. He comes across confident and articulate, doing nothing at least to put him in the reject pile.

“Hello there,” he says in a clipped British accent. “So how do I like my colleagues to see me? First of all, I’d like them to see me as somebody who is fun and outgoing, who is good to work with and can actually introduce some fun into stressful working environments. I think some of the most valuable activity I’ve done has evolved around when we were able to break down some of the social barriers between inter-department teams to enable us to work more effectively together.”

Welcome to the brave new world of MBA admissions, where video screen tests are now becoming popular to test the poise and presence of business school applicants.


Rotman, which required applicants to answer two pre-recorded questions on video last year as a trial pilot, is now introducing them as a graded screening tool for admissions. Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management yesterday (July 29) said it would also require a video component to its MBA application this year. Kellogg joins Yale University’s School of Management, which also is going to the videotape for this upcoming MBA application season.

This year’s Yale applicants will be expected to answer three questions on video. After each question is posed, a candidate will be given 10 to 20 seconds to think about a response, and another minute to provide an answer. The pre-recorded questions, chosen randomly from a list, are expected to include a behavioral question about a past experience; a thought question requiring a response to a declarative statement and, finally, a question that deals with the interpretation of data. Yale ran pilot tests of video in the past two years before making it a required part of the MBA application this coming year.

Other B-schools also are dabbling in video, but most still offer alternatives to camera-shy candidates. The University of Texas’ McCombs School of Business and NYU’s Stern School of Business both accept video responses to questions that allow candidates to choose from several different answer formats, including the more traditional essay. UCLA’s Anderson School of Management offered a video option last year, but scrapped it when some students didn’t have access to the necessary technology. Most recently, the admissions team at Europe’s INSEAD has also hinted that the school may introduce video interviews in their upcoming application cycle.

Some admission officials hope that requiring applicants to answer unexpected questions on video is a way to see candidates unscripted and unrehearsed. That’s become increasingly difficult at a time when greater numbers of applicants are hiring MBA admission consultants to sharpen their resumes, polish their essays, and coach recommenders in saying what is needed to get into a top-ranked business school.


Yet already some consultants are responding to the change by offering coaching to help applicants with the video prompts. Chicago-based The MBA Exchange says it is adding a “video specialist” to its consulting team to provide guidance and feedback to applicants as they plan for video-based interaction with their targeted schools. “His academic and professional credentials span theatre, psychology and multimedia communication, enabling us to advise clients on both content development and authentic delivery,” says Dan Bauer, CEO and founder of The MBA Exchange, which plans to offer the video coaching at no extra charge to clients who pay for the firm’s “comprehensive” consulting package.

Yet another admission firm, Stacy Blackman Consulting, is advertising a $650 video prep package to help applicants “appear calm and polished.” According to Blackman, the video platform allows clients “to rehearse as much as they wish, respond online to a random pool of hundreds of questions, personally view their recordings and select videos for review and feedback.  As part of the video platform service, consultants provide feedback on dress, tone, volume and content, and the unlimited opportunity to practice and review builds confidence.”

For a business school’s admissions staff, the use of video also can save time—because it’s often used as a replacement for written essays which take longer to read and grade. “It is easier and it provides a little bit more variety than just sitting down with a static application,” says Niki da Silva, director of MBA recruitment and admissions at the Rotman School in Toronto.

“We found it incredibly helpful,” she adds. “It really allowed the admissions committee to bring more objectivity to the process.” Usually, only one member of the committee will have interviewed a candidate when he or she is presented in committee. With video, every member of the panel can see the applicant in action. “It’s been helpful to identify superstars and to make some of the tough decisions.”

At Kellogg, MBA candidates will have several minutes to answer a spontaneous, randomized question on a Skype-like screen. “We felt like this was a great opportunity to meet our applicants from wherever they might be in the world,” says Kate Smith, Kellogg’s assistant dean of admissions and financial aid. ”We felt that we were past the tipping point in terms of video technology and comfort with it – most applicants would have used Skype or FaceTime.”

Kellogg’s applicants will have the luxury of three tries to record a compelling answer. If they bomb the first question, they can discard it and request another one – they’ll receive a different question each time. While it sounds stressful, the admissions team hopes it will lead to more authentic interactions with the more than 5,000 people who apply to Kellogg each year.


”The spirit of the questions is to get to know our candidates on a more personal level in a spontaneous format,” Smith says. “They’re designed to bring to life the person we’ve learned about on paper in the application, including their passions, interests and ideas.”

The video component will not replace Kellogg’s personal interviews – a mainstay of the B-school’s rigorous application process. Instead, it’s hoped the taped responses will give the admissions committee a chance to meet the candidate in a video format, Smith says. Currently, second-year students and alumni conduct many of the in-person interviews.

Kellogg’s decision to go with a video requirement got a welcome response from some admissions consultants. “Schools should be taking advantage of technology to get closer to students,” says Betsy Massar, founder ofMaster Admissions. “It’s just what’s going on these days, pretty much everywhere so it doesn’t surprise me. It’s just another way of communication. I hope that Kellogg makes clear and students remember that the best videos will be the most honest ones, not the fanciest or the trendiest.”

Kellogg, says da Silva, consulted with Rotman a few months ago before deciding to launch the video test for its more than 5,000 annual applicants. Rotman claims that even jittery applicants have generally given the new video test a thumbs up. “They thought it was a little daunting but they liked it because they knew that at least they would be able to get in front of the admissions committee virtually,” she says. “It gave them the chance to tell their story, although it was a little intimidating.”

But it was more often than not revealing to the admissions folks. One of the questions used to remotely quiz Rotman candidates last year was, Who inspires you? “Some will go down this path about the mother who raised them alone and sacrificed everything to do it,” says da Silva. “Something like that might never come up in another part of the paper application. More than just screening for communication skills, it gives us a more authentic picture of the candidate.”

During its pilot year, Rotman didn’t grade the videos. But now it intends to do so. “About 10% to 15% were just not very strong,” estimates da Silva. “Then there was a small percentage, about 20%, that really stood out, largely because of the content and not just delivery. The rest were fine.”


Rotman is making some adjustments. During the pilot, a standard question was asked of all applicants and then a second question was randomly chosen from a bank of some 25 queries. Each question required a response no longer than one and one-half minutes.

But the element of surprise was sometimes lost when applicants anonymously began posting the questions on message boards. So this year, the standard question has been tossed and the list of questions has been expanded to slightly more than 100—half of them involving values and the remaining half on experiences and interests. “You need a lot of content because it certainly gets out in the virtual world,” says da Silva. “Answers to the standard question came off like an over-prepared interview.”

On a recent day, da Silva spent an entire morning in a room, a camera pointed at her, recording the more than 100 questions, one by one. The result: this year’s crop of  Rotman candidates will see and hear her ask the two questions on their computer screen. “If you’re a potential student from Portugal, where we don’t recruit or interview on the ground, this would be their first interaction with us before a Skype interview,” she reasons. “We want them to see a person, a face that can be an introduction to the program.”

What about the possibility that an admissions person could be overly charmed by an attractive, articulate applicant who may be relatively empty? Da Silva says the fact that the entire admissions committee can go to the video tape makes a person’s mere appearance less impactful than when only one person saw the candidate. “By insuring that our whole admissions committee sees this and not just a candidate’s reviewer is the way to keep this as objective as possible,” she insists. “We are staying focused on someone’s presence and professionalism.”

As for Robert, he easily passed his screen test. While not a storyteller, the candidate went on to say that he was proud of the fact that he could get things done in an organization. ”I’d like to be perceived as somebody who questions norms—not for the sake of it but someone who doesn’t take situations at face value,” he explained. “I ask why we are doing what we are doing and try to understand the real reason behind the work and the effort we’re putting in.”

The admissions committee at Rotman thought Robert, not his real name, showed himself to be a true professional on tape, though it had questions about other aspects of his application, including the fact that he was currently unemployed. So even his stellar on-tape performance didn’t completely sway the admissions staff.

5 Clues Your Fundraising Is Headed Downhill

August 22nd, 2013 | No Comments | Posted in Fundraising

Don’t we all want fundraising that provides reliable, consistent, revenue?

Money we can count on year after year?

But that kind of reliable success doesn’t just happen. It takes serious work and commitment.

And many organizations have a hard time getting it right.

As I travel around the country and work with so many boards, fundraising staff and ED’s, I frequently see frustration, worry and disappointment about fundraising.

We all got an eye-opener when the “Underdeveloped” Report came out a few months ago and caused massive discussion in our field. (Have you read it??)

Underdeveloped: A National Study of Challenges Facing Nonprofit Fundraising”

It pointed out that many organizations just were not developing the skills, systems and culture that would support effective fundraising over time.

So let’s look at the big picture today: You need to know the warning signs of trouble ahead.

I want to be sure your fundraising can consistently produce reliable results.

Here are 5 clues that your fundraising program is going to disappoint you:

1.  Revolving Door in the Development Office

There is an amazing amount of turnover of development directors in our business.

And when staff leaves, the offices are empty too long - many months and sometimes years.

What’s worse: Over 50% of development directors in the survey said they were planning to leave in 2 years or less.

So what happens when the job is empty?

  • Nobody is nurturing your donors or your fundraising infrastructure.
  • We all should understand that consistency is everything in fundraising.

You nurture donors by constant cheerful communications with them.

What happens when there is a long silence from you? Your donors drift away.

Leaving the development director position open for a long time is like shooting yourself in the foot.

Don’t do it.

Better yet – try to hang on to and support your current development director!

2. Laying All the Fundraising on One Person.

Wow, I could rant on this all day.

Too many board members and nonprofit staffers (including ED’s!) still think that fundraising is “dirty.”

They want to go out and do all the good work of helping people. But they dang well don’t want to get involved with donors, philanthropy, or “asking for money.” (They really don’t understand fundraising!)

So they saddle the poor development director with everything. Then they walk away – with relief that they don’t have to get their hands dirty.

Then when the poor development director asks for help, they throw up their hands and say “we can’t do THAT stuff!”

  • Fundraising can’t be a priority for just one individual.
  • It has to be a priority, and a shared responsibility, for the board, the executive director and the staff alike.

Your development director can’t bring in major bucks by herself.

She needs help in lots of areas: identifying prospects, opening the door, cultivating and involving them, asking them, and calling donors to thank them.

3. Changing Fundraising Strategy Too Often

Have you ever tried a new fundraising strategy and it didn’t work?

And were you disappointed?

Did you and your leaders throw in the towel on the strategy because it didn’t work THE FIRST TIME you tried it?

  • This happens with direct mail appeals. “We sent out an appeal and we only made a little bit of money from it. Why bother?”
  • It happens when organizations try to start a monthly giving program. “We had this big hoopla and nothing really happened. Why bother?”

Well – guess what. It takes repeated, cheerful, consistent attention – over and over in front of your donors, friends, volunteers and supporters  – to get their attention.

Starting and stopping a strategy is like shooting yourself in the foot again.

Successful fundraising requires a long term outlook. It requires  a commitment to investing and supporting fundraising over time.

THAT”S what yields success!

4. Lacking An Internal Culture of Philanthropy

Here’s how the Underdeveloped Report defines a culture of philanthropy:

A set of practices that nurture and support fundraising in your organization.

  • Most people in the organization across positions act as ambassadors and engage in relationship building.
  • Everyone promotes philanthropy and can articulate a case for giving.
  • Fund development is viewed and valued as a mission-aligned program of the organization.
  • Organizational systems are established to support donors.
  • The Executive Director is committed and personally involved in fundraising.


So where are YOU in developing this culture?

How can YOU engage your leaders in considering how to strengthen your culture?????

5. Not Investing in Fundraising Infrastructure

Wonderful, well-meaning organizations want to spend every penny helping people and saving the world.

And they absolutely don’t want to spend money on the staff, systems, and data that create successful fundraising. Because that is not productive. Some consider it “wasted” if it doesn’t go to programming.

What happens when you starve your fundraising efforts?

Well, when you keep resources out of fundraising, then your dollar totals will NEVER GROW. And your organization will not grow any bigger, right?

  • When salaries are really low, your staff will leave for greener pastures.
  • When no one is consistently working on communications with donors, your donors will leave.
  • When no one is consistently keeping your data base cleaned up, your donors will interpret it as sloppiness and they will leave.

Then where are you?

You, my friend, are you a fundraising treadmill. You are caught in the “vicious cycle.”

And your results will not improve.

So let’s look at the bright side:

  • Isn’t it wonderful that we have this report to take to our leaders and engage them in discussions?
  • Isn’t it wonderful that we have a neutral outside study to help us ask for more help?
  • Isn’t it helpful for someone else to point out difficult issues so we don’t have to?

07/12/2013 by Gail Perry