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ACCC announces industry-engagement plan to support job growth

January 23rd, 2014 | No Comments | Posted in Canada, Education

The Association of Canadian Community Colleges (ACCC) has announced that it is seeking closer alignment with Canada’s businesses and industry associations to support jobs and growth, bridge the country’s skills gap, and ensure students have the necessary knowledge to start a good career. The plans were made during ACCC’s National Skills Summit, at which presidents and CEOs from Canada’s colleges, institutes, and polytechnics came together to identify solutions for greater access to education, including for Indigenous learners, and to connect Canadians to the right skills for employment. To support the new engagement with industry, ACCC will re-establish an employer coalition, promote its work on pathways and transferability, leverage its membership on committees of other related organizations, and will name 3 new external directors to its Board of Directors.

The Association of Canadian Community Colleges has announced it is seeking closer alignment with the country’s business communities and industry sector associations to support jobs and growth. The move is part of efforts to bridge Canada’s very real skills gap and ensure students and parents have the complete picture of how to start a great career.

Presidents and CEOs from colleges, institutes, and polytechnics across Canada came together for a National Skills Summit to identify solutions for greater access to education, including Indigenous learners, and to connect Canadians to the right skills for employment. Despite recent suggestions the skills gap may be overstated, business leaders and senior executives attending the summit spoke of their realities and are keenly aware of the urgency around skills and training in Canada.

“About 90 percent of college grads find employment within six months of graduation, yet we continue to see people in the skilled trades not getting the respect they deserve,” said ACCC President, Denise Amyot. “We are strengthening ties with employers and industry so that students and their parents start to consider the lucrative careers available through college education.”

Federal Employment Minister, Jason Kenney, says colleges provide “relevant skills for the labour market of today and the future,” while the head of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce notes the role of colleges “has never been more vital.” The Canadian Council of Chief Executives and the Federation of Independent Business echo these sentiments and agree colleges can really contribute towards reducing the skills gap.

ACCC members will strengthen existing partnerships and seek new ones with industry and social organizations to support programs that continue to give students real-world job experience. To support this engagement the Association will re-establish an employer coalition; promote its work on pathways and transferability; leverage its membership on committees of other related organizations; and will name three new external directors to its Board of Directors.

“Whether it’s aerospace, construction, petroleum, forestry, tourism, manufacturing, exporting, or science and technology, each sector reports needing our members’ students, so we must all work together,” said Amyot. “It’s also crucial for parents, students, high school guidance counselors and others to recognize there are many options for post-secondary education and they’re all valid.”

ACCC is the national and international voice of Canada’s publicly funded colleges, institutes and polytechnics, with 1.5 million learners of all ages and backgrounds at campuses serving over 3,000 urban, rural and remote communities.

Flurry of social entrepreneurship initiatives at Canadian universities

January 21st, 2014 | No Comments | Posted in Canada, Crowdfunding, Education, Social Media, Website

Just three months after graduating this year from the University of Waterloo, Jonathan Rivard’s startup company had generated $130,000 in revenue.

No, the 28-year-old is not another high-tech hotshot from the university in Waterloo, Ont., known for its innovative graduates. He is among a new generation of social entrepreneurs who want to make the world a better place, and make money doing it.

Social entrepreneurship – whether as new or existing ventures, with an environmental or social-justice focus – is a hot topic on campus. Universities are adding courses and programs, establishing incubators to nurture ideas and offering mentoring and other support for those who see a career in this expanding sector.

“It is a generational zeitgeist, no doubt about it,” says Anita Nowak, integrating director of the Social Economy Initiative, at McGill University’s Desautels Faculty of Management in Montreal.

“This generation has inherited a whole series of global problems – climate change, income inequality – and they really get it. There is a critical mass of students who are enlightened and want to do something different,” she says. “For them it is not a matter of graduating and getting a job.”

New initiatives are popping up on campuses across the country.

This fall, the University of British Columbia in Burnaby, B.C., offered a new course, informally known as Entrepreneurship 101 and developed in collaboration with its Sauder School of Business, for students in second year or above from any faculty.

Last spring, Simon Fraser University’s Beedie School of Business, also in Vancouver, set up an interdisciplinary social innovation lab and venture incubator, for students across campus to develop and market “radical ideas, useful to society.”

Last year, Ms. Nowak’s Social Economy Initiative introduced an elective in social entrepreneurship and social innovation and has plans to add more undergraduate courses.

The University of Waterloo’s Conrad Business, Entrepreneurship and Technology Centre, part of the engineering faculty, offers a for-credit co-op option for students starting their own business in any field.

Mr. Rivard graduated from the centre this year with a master of business, entrepreneurship and technology, founding CANGO Consulting Inc. to provide management consulting services to philanthropic funders.

The typical trajectory after business school of joining a large firm at the entry level held no interest.

“It didn’t seem appealing to me and I don’t think it is appealing to a lot of people,” he says. Instead, with one full-time colleague and several more on contract, Mr. Rivard’s Waterloo-based company works with donors such as the United Way of Kitchener-Waterloo to improve the performance of non-profit agencies.

“It is incredibly exciting,” he says of his startup. “I’m 28, still in my prime and fresh out of my master’s program,” he says. “This is my career and what I get to do for the rest of my life. It is exactly what I want to be doing and I couldn’t be happier.” His outlook resonates with David Dunne, a senior fellow at SFU’s Beedie and chairman of RADIUS, the social innovation lab and new venture incubator set up earlier this year.

“What I see with younger colleagues and with students is that there is a real sense they are not prepared to buy in to the business agenda as they see it out there,” he says.

“What they want to do is reshape business on their own terms.”

Prof. Dunne says RADIUS (short for radical ideas, useful to society) was established to solve what he calls “wicked problems” – critical, chronic problems in society and business with no clear start or end point.

This fall, 60 students from business, environmental studies and design are to work in teams at the lab using new analytical methodologies, such as problem-framing and ethnography, to solve real-world social problems.

As at Simon Fraser, UBC’s new Entrepreneurship 101 course is open to students across campus.

In one measure of interest, students from 14 faculties signed up for the semester-long course that had to be opened up for three sections of class, not one.

By design, the course has no prerequisites.

“The premise is that you don’t know what you don’t know,” says Sauder marketing and social media professor Paul Cubbon, who helped to develop the course. “If you get an opportunity to be exposed to things, often it can shape your decision for other courses and studies.”

Students will learn the essentials of entrepreneurship, for profit and not for profit, with access to new venture experts in Vancouver.

“We are a startup city and it’s one of our best-kept secrets,” he says. “Local students are starting to realize that.”

Student business competitions are also raising the profile of social entrepreneurship. Three years ago, the Dobson Centre for Entrepreneurial Studies at McGill’s Desautels Faculty of Management included social ventures in its annual startup competition.

The Dobson Cup is structured so that students present their ideas to a panel of experts over several months and successive rounds, competing for cash prizes and mentoring advice.

In 2012, the first prize winner in the not-for-profit category was Montreal-based Hearing Express for its plan to distribute affordable hearing aids for children in developing countries.

“As a social entrepreneur, winning the Dobson Cup was a confirmation for us that we were on the right track in aiming to provide high quality, affordable hearing aids to the hundreds of millions of people who suffer from hearing loss in developing countries,” said Audra Renyi, executive director of World Wide Hearing Foundation International (Hearing Express), in an e-mail.

As important as winning $7,000 in seed funding, she adds, was feedback and contacts provided by the judges.

The venture later won a grant of $113,000 from the federal government’s Grand Challenges Canada program, which supports high-impact projects in global health, to set up a pilot project in Jordan.

Raising the profile of entrepreneurship (for profit and not for profit) is now part of branding efforts by some universities.

This fall, Waterloo named Conrad founding director Howard Armitage to the new post of special adviser to the president on entrepreneurship.

“There is a very strong desire [by young people] to give back and feel part of a larger solution, recognizing that profit and performance metrics are important but are not the only thing,” Prof. Armitage says.

Since the 2008 global financial meltdown, he has seen increased interest by students at the centre to start new ventures with a societal focus.

“They would like to make a contribution in the social entrepreneurship arena and would love to make some money on it if possible,” he says.

Waterloo social entrepreneur incubator

A greenhouse program at the University of Waterloo aims to give startup skills to students who could potentially run their own ventures.

At 20, pursuing studies in international development, environment and resources at the University of Waterloo, Lexi Salt has a lot of self-described “passions” – water quality, sanitation and gender equality among them.

A career in the non-profit sector has always been on her radar, but she had never thought of starting her own venture. Then she heard about a new incubator for social entrepreneurs that opened its doors on campus this fall.

Greenhouse, based at St. Paul’s University College (one of the university’s four colleges in Waterloo, ont.), is a residence-based program for students in second year or higher who have an idea for environmental or social justice change. Students work with each other, and mentors, over a period of four to eight months, to take their idea to the next step.

“To have your own organization and to know that you started it from nothing, that is so phenomenal,” says Ms. Salt, who credits Greenhouse with opening her eyes to the potential of social entrepreneurship.

“I hope to gain the necessary skills that could prepare me to create my own NGO [non-governmental organization] in the future,” she says, including leadership, entrepreneurial, brainstorming and networking experience.

Tapping the energy and passion of youth to tackle environmental and social justice issues is the mission of Greenhouse, says director Tania Del Matto, a co-founder of My Sustainable Canada, a national not-for-profit organization that promotes environmentally conscious choices. “For those students who want to make a difference and are passionate about issues and are looking to come up with solutions to a challenge, Greenhouse provides the space.”

The not-for-credit program is patterned on Waterloo’s successful velocity program, a residence-based setting for entrepreneurial-minded students with a computer and technology background.

For its inaugural class, Greenhouse selected 12 students, including Ms. Salt. over time, Ms. Del Matto hopes to expand the program to to 30 to 35 students.

While at St. Paul’s, students will work in teams to identify a project, refine the pitch and get advice from mentors. By December, they present their idea at a public event.

Rhea Daniels, a third-year student in environmental and resource studies, plans to use her time at Greenhouse to develop an interactive website for city residents to learn about local food production.

“It is important for people to see the processes that food goes through before it arrives at the table,” says Ms. Daniels, who worked on an organic farm in Flamborough, Ont., this past summer, occasionally blogging about what she learned. “Hopefully it [her project] will encourage them to support local food or at least take the time out of their schedule to visit a farmer.”

Student startups doing social good

Social entrepreneurs have ambitions to ‘do good’ for society and make money. Here are three student startups in progress

SANITRU

Troubled by reports of drug-administration errors in hospitals, two McGill University students decided to look for a solution. This year, fourth-year honours students Jassi Pannu (biology) and Jessica Wang (psychology and international development) developed an idea for special packaging for nurses and doctors to recognize pharmaceutical containers with high-risk ingredients. Eventually, the McGill students hope to sell the packaging to hospitals and other health-care facilities.

They entered their venture in a startup competition organized by the Dobson Centre for entrepreneurial studies at McGill’s Desautels Faculty of Management. The students shared first prize in the social-enterprise category, winning $10,000 and mentoring advice. They are developing a website and preparing a patent application.

The win changed their career plans. “I do now plan to become a social entrepreneur,” says Ms. Wang, 20. “Whether this project is the first of many or becomes a long-term career, only time will tell.”

This fall, they are reducing their academic course load to make time to bring their idea to market. “This is our baby from now on and we are really committed to it,” says Ms. Pannu, 21.

FUSION KITCHEN

With personal family experience of newcomers cracking the Canadian job market, Simon Fraser University students Chantelle Buffie, 23, and Sonam Swarup, 22, put their love of food and a desire to help others into Fusion Kitchen (thefusionkitchen.com).

The social venture offers cooking classes led by immigrant women who share their ethnic dishes and, in the process, gain confidence and transferable jobs skills for the Canadian market. Participants pay $60 to $80 for one cooking lesson, with the women earning a fee for their expertise. Fusion Kitchen takes a small percentage for providing the venue for classes.

What began as a class project in 2011 was later nurtured in SFU’s social entrepreneurship accelerator, a six-week incubator program developed by Shawn Smith, a professor at the Beedie School of Business.

After almost two years of operation, Ms. Buffie says she and her business partner “are looking for ways to make it [Fusion Kitchen] more scalable and sustainable.

“Social impact is at the heart of the operation, but you still need to think about the business side,” she says.

PURSU.IT

Norex, a Halifax-based Web design company, allows employees to contribute 20 per cent of their time for innovative projects with an inspirational twist.

Norex co-owners Leah Skerry and Julia Rivard thought up a venture in 2012 to help amateur athletes finance their dreams.

Ms. Skerry, a former gymnast, and Ms. Rivard, a former Olympic paddler, recognize the funding gap for athletes training to compete in the Olympics and other world competitions. They set up Pursu.it as a crowdfunding website for athletes to tell their story, generate funds and connect with their supporters.

For example, alpine skier Larisa Yurkiw raised more than $22,000 by hand-kitting tuques for $250 each.

To date, athletes have raised more than $128,000 through Pursu.it. Its co-founders volunteer their time and receive 10 per cent of the proceeds to maintain the micro-funding platform.

“We never want an athlete to have to choose not to do their sport because of funding,” Ms. Skerry says.

An unexpected result of the success of Pursu.it has been a higher profile of Norex, Ms. Rivard says, with organizations seeking their for-profit expertise in building crowdfunding platforms.

Queen’s student develops app to promote peer-to-peer learning

January 21st, 2014 | No Comments | Posted in Canada, Education

A new app being developed at Queen’s University will help improve communication between students and their professors. NPulse allows students to ask live questions, hold in-class discussions, record lectures and rate their classroom experience in real time.

 

“This idea started back in February 2013 at the Queen’s Startup Summit,” says Amin Nikdel, a fourth year student in the School of Computing. “Myself and my colleagues had an idea to allow users to rate their professors in real-time. However, as we started working on this and doing a great deal of research, we saw how much more we could add and how useful a product like this could become.”

NPulse is a tool for both students and faculty. It allows students to engage in class by asking questions and giving real-time feedback on the course material. Instructors can analyze where they lost students and pinpoint which course material they didn’t understand. Students can use the app to connected with each other in class to promote peer to peer learning and encourages class discussion.

“This new app brings a lot of new ideas and new things to the table,” says Scott Whetstone, a learning technology analyst at Queen’s. “When I first saw the app, I was very intrigued. It goes far beyond anything that is currently out there. And they are students developing this for other students, which is a big plus.”

The new app is currently in trial and Mr. Nikdel explains a few Queen’s professors are experimenting with NPulse to allow the creators an opportunity to improve it. The development team is also working on cost strategies to make it affordable for students. One of the current strategies is to provide a certain amount of free space with a fee to upgrade the account.

Mr. Nikdel is developing the app with Sanee Iqbal (University of Waterloo) and Tejas Mehta (University of Toronto).

2013-10-24

Queen’s University

86% of students admit to texting in class

January 20th, 2014 | No Comments | Posted in Education

If you are leading a class and imagine that students seem more distracted than ever by their digital devices, it’s not your imagination. And they aren’t just checking their e-mail a single time.

A new study has found that more than 90 percent of students admit to using their devices for non-class activities during class times. Less than 8 percent said that they never do so.

The study is based on a survey of 777 students at six colleges and universities. Barney McCoy, associate professor of broadcasting at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, conducted the study and The Journal of Media Education has just published the results. Most of the students were undergraduates, and graduate students were less likely to use their devices for non-class purposes. Undergraduates reporting using their devices for non-class purposes 11 times a day, on average, compared to 4 times a day for graduate students.

Here is the study’s breakdown on the proportion of students admitting to different levels of in-class device use:

Frequency of Student Device Use in Class for Non-Class Purposes, Per Day

Never 8%
1-3 times 35%
4-10 times 27%
11-30 times 16%
More than 30 times 15%

Asked why they were using their devices in class, the top answer was texting (86 percent), followed by checking the time (79 percent). e-mail (68 percent), social networking (66 percent), web surfing (38 percent) and games (8 percent).

While students admitted to being somewhat distracted by their own devices and those of others, they reported advantages to using the devices in class. The top advantages they cited were staying connected (70 percent), avoiding boredom (55 percent) and doing related classwork (49 percent).

Texting in class is a source of constant frustration to professors, but about 30 percent of students reported that their instructors did not have a policy on the subject. (Of course there is a chance some of those students didn’t read the syllabus.)

Given how attached students are to their devices, it is perhaps not surprising that only 9 percent favor a ban on having them in classrooms. However, 54 percent said that they thought it reasonable to have a policy. They just don’t want those policies too strictly enforced. More than 65 percent said that they believed first offenses should be dealt with only with warnings.

McCoy writes in the paper that the widespread use of digital devices in class makes it important for academics to get a better understanding of just how and why students feel the need to be online for non-academic reasons. “When college students multi-task with digital devices in classrooms, research indicates it may hamper their ability to pay attention,” he writes. “This behavior, research suggests, has become more habitual, automatic and distracting.”

October 21, 2013

 

Facebook privacy options now allow teens to post publicly

January 19th, 2014 | No Comments | Posted in Social Media

Choice lets teens ‘share more broadly, just like on other social media services’

Facebook is now allowing teenagers to share their posts on the social network with anyone on the internet, raising the risks of minors leaving a digital trail that could lead to trouble.

The change announced Wednesday affects Facebook users who list their ages as 13 to 17.

Until now, Facebook users falling within that age group had been limited to sharing information and photos only with their own friends or friends of those friends.

The new policy will give teens the choice of switching their settings so their posts can be accessible to the general public. That option already has been available to adults, including users who are 18 or 19.

Automatic warnings

As a protective measure, Facebook will warn minors opting to be more open that they are exposing themselves to a broader audience. The caution will repeat before every post, as long as the settings remain on “public.”

The initial privacy settings of teens under 18 will automatically be set so posts are seen only by friends. That’s more restrictive than the previous default setting that allowed teens to distribute their posts to friends of their friends in the network.

In a blog post, Facebook said it decided to revise its privacy rules to make its service more enjoyable for teens and to provide them with a more powerful megaphone when they believe they have an important point to make or a cause to support.

“Teens are among the savviest people using social media, and whether it comes to civic engagement, activism, or their thoughts on a new movie, they want to be heard,” Facebook wrote.

It added that the new feature lets them share more broadly “just like on other social media services.”

Twitter and Google Plus already let teens post publicly, although Google Plus automatically provides extra warnings to teenagers that are not offered to adults.

The question remains whether teens understand how sharing their thoughts or pictures of their activities can come back to haunt them, said Kathryn Montgomery, an American University professor of communications who has written a book about how the Internet affects children.

“On the one hand, you want to encourage kids to participate in the digital world, but they are not always very wise about how they do it,” she said. “Teens tend to take more risks and don’t always understand the consequences of their behaviour.”

The relaxed standards also may spur teens to spend more time on Facebook instead of other services, such as Snapchat, that are becoming more popular hangouts among younger people. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, though, says that the company’s internal data shows its social network remains a magnet for teens.

Sharing ‘at the heart of Facebook’s business model’

Giving people more reasons to habitually visit its social network is important to Facebook because a larger audience helps sell more of the ads that generate most of the Menlo Park, California, company’s revenue.

“What this is really about is maximizing the kind of sharing at the heart of Facebook’s business model,” Montgomery said. She worries that unleashing teens to share more about themselves to a general audience will enable advertisers to collect more personal data about minors “who aren’t aware that their movements and interests are under a digital microscope.”

Facebook hasn’t disclosed how many of its nearly 1.2 billion users are teens. The social network was initially limited to college students when Zuckerberg started it in 2004, but he opened the service to a broader audience within a few years.

The teen audience is large enough to give Facebook periodic headaches. As its social network has steadily expanded, Facebook has had to combat sexual predators and bullies who prey upon children.

Facebook doesn’t allow children under 13 to set up accounts on its service but doesn’t have a reliable way to verify users’ ages.

The Associated Press Posted: Oct 17, 2013 10:31 AM ET

Facebook News Release

Income gaps affect how soon students enroll in PSE

January 18th, 2014 | No Comments | Posted in Education

Students from higher income schools are more likely to enroll in college sooner and to enroll in four-year schools

The number of high school seniors who begin college within one year of graduating and persist through college varies greatly by family income levels, according to a new report from the National Student Clearinghouse.

The first-of-its-kind report examined the effects that factors such as income, race and ethnicity, and school setting had on how soon students begin college and whether they graduate. Although there were variations based on schools’ concentration of minority students, the largest gap existed between low-income and high-income schools in all settings.

[READ: High School Graduates Still Struggle With College Readiness]

Daniel Domenech, executive director of the American Association of School Administrators, said that disparity is a reflection of how poverty can affect a student’s ability to learn.

“When you have children coming to school that haven’t had breakfast, that are sick, that are coming from families where there’s nobody there taking care of them – teaching them to read is a real problem,” Domenech said at a panel discussion upon the report’s release Tuesday. “Because those kids are not ready to learn.”

“The reality is that poverty is a factor that affects achievement, and we cannot continue to ignore it,” Domenech added.

Half of seniors who graduated from low-income, rural schools in 2012, for example, began college the first fall after graduating, compared with 65 percent of those from higher income, rural schools.

Overall, about 10 percent more high school seniors started college the fall immediately following graduation if they came from higher income schools. (National Student Clearinghouse Research Center)

“Disaggregating data by race and ethnicity continues to show persistent attainment gaps for students and really is a call to action for us to continue not only to look at big pictures but to really hone in on which students need our support and what the data tells us about that,” said Kim Cook, executive director of the National College Access Network.

Still, even in the best case scenario, Cook said, the outcomes are “below what many schools believe happens to their seniors.”

Typically, high schools rely on seniors’ exit interviews to gather information about which students transition to college after graduating, and what types of colleges they attend, Cook said. But sometimes, what students say they intend to do in those interviews does not line up with reality, due to a phenomenon known as the “summer melt.” Under this scenario, many low-income high school graduates reconsider where, and even whether, to attend college in the months following graduation.

[ALSO: High School Students Have Made No Progress in 40 Years, Report Says]

The report’s findings perhaps point to that shift, as a larger share of low-income students often enroll in more affordable two-year colleges, while those from higher incomes are more likely to attend four-year institutions.

Only about 30 percent of 2012 high school seniors from low-income schools enrolled in four-year colleges the first fall after graduation, compared with 38 percent to 48 percent of those from higher income schools. The situation was almost flipped for enrollment at two-year colleges: at least 44 percent of graduating seniors from low-income schools enrolled there, while between 30 percent and 37 percent of higher income students did so.

Additionally, a larger share of students from low-income schools do not enroll in college during the fall immediately following high school graduation, but do so within the first year.

The results of the report highlight a need to better understand poverty and how it affects student success in postsecondary education, according to Dallas Dance, superintendent of the Baltimore County Public Schools.

Dance said educators also need to focus on other critical transition points in students’ lives, such as the transition from elementary to middle school and from middle to high school.High school graduates from higher income schools were more likely to enroll in four-year colleges the first fall after graduation. (National Student Clearinghouse Research Center)

“I would always say students mentally drop out in middle school but physically drop out in high school because they think they’re physically grown at that particular point,” Dance said in the panel discussion. “We start to realize that in many cases, we’re not preparing our students well enough to be successful in college, but we’re also not giving them the access and awareness to it.”

[MORE: Most States Spend Less Per Student Now Then Before the Recession]

Providing more opportunities throughout a student’s K-12 education, such as greater access to advanced placement and college preparatory classes, and financial assistance for preparation programs can help improve student outcomes, Dance said. But to do so, schools need to gather the funding and resources to increase access for students.

“This is the most frustrating part, if you’re in the education business. We don’t need anybody to tell us what to do to make education better. We know what has to be done,” Domenech said. “The problem is we that we can’t do it because the support isn’t there, the resources aren’t there to allow us to do all of these things.”

By 

October 16, 2013

14 Ways to Motivate Your Prospect

January 17th, 2014 | No Comments | Posted in Fundraising, Marketing

How do you motivate a procrastinator? You can kick start response in any channel by adding urgency to your marketing message. Building urgency is an effective response-driver when it’s used appropriately and provides real value.

Here are some urgency-building tips for writers of email, direct mail, landing pages, websites and mobile advertising:

1. Create a window of opportunity.
Establish a hard deadline.  Specifics are always more convincing. Examples: Monday, November 25, 2013 orMidnight 11/25/13.

2. Promote it. 
Put your deadline in the subject line or make it part of your outer envelope teaser: 3 days ’til Thanksgiving — SAVE 35% NOW! Don’t be shy about where you place it or how many times you repeat it. You never know where a scanner’s eye will land first.

3. Include a benefit. 
Build credibility and customer satisfaction by providing a benefit for taking action. Example: FREE SHIPPING when you order by midnight or ORDER NOW & SAVE — prices increase January 1, 2014. 

4. Give it a name. 
“Early Bird” deadlines reward those who act quickly with discounts or premiums. Pre-release deals do the same. In both cases, you are providing fence-sitters with a reason to get off the fence and act now instead of waiting until later.

5. Test how you say it. 
Because a deadline is so powerful, it pays to test how you package it:

  • Respond in 10 days
  • First 50 to respond receive a free ________
  • Please respond by next Thursday
  • Act now – respond by November 25, 2013
  • Offer ends 11/25/13
  • Preferred Customer discount good thru December 31, 2013.
  • Time-Sensitive: Please reply by 11/25/13

6. What have I got to lose? 
Link your deadline to an appealing free bonus: Respond by November 1st — receive a Surprise FREE Gift ($10 value). 

7. Increase demand, promote scarcity. 
Create urgency with limited offers: limited time, limited edition, limited seating, limited quantities. This technique has been used to sell everything from Honeybell fruit to airline seating, sterling silver jewelry, reproduction art, and more.

8. Capitalize on email’s in-the-moment urgency. 
Here’s a classic email example [I used the gigantic repository of email campaignsOpens in a new window, at Who's Mailing What!Opens in a new window, and simply used the search terms, "3 hours only"] with singular focus from Banana RepublicOpens in a new window.

Subject line: Take a power lunch: 3 hours only: 30% off online only. 

Or how about the Banana Republic email I found waiting in my IN box at 6:30 this morning. It was sent at 2:23 AM with the subject line: Save 40% now until the break of dawn.

Opened, the email revealed: 40% off your purchase now until 9 AM – After 9 AM, Save 35%. Exclusively Online. Today Only, 10/15. No Code Needed.

9. Call it a close-out. 
Are you closing out a store, department or product line? A close-out sale implies the ultimate in urgency. When inventory is gone, it’s gone for good.

10. Some deadlines are inherent … 
Take holidays, for example. Check your marketing calendar and create offers punctuated by appropriate holidays.

11. Issue an ultimatum. 
Catalogers have long used the LAST CHANCE mantra to encourage inactive customers to buy now or forever lose their right to receive another catalog. A word of caution — never tell a reader this is his or her last chance unless you really mean it.

12. Offer words of encouragement.
Build momentum and encourage action by using words and phrases such as hurry, don’t wait, act now, don’t delay, please respond promptly, today is the final day, this offer can’t be repeated … you get the idea.

13. Create faux urgency.
It’s no surprise that it’s best to provide genuine reasons for your reader to take prompt action. As with any relationship, your customers don’t like to feel fooled.

14. Tell ‘em it’s “Sold out!” 
MYHABIT.comOpens in a new window is a master at creating urgency by placing the two words SOLD OUT over items no longer available. SOLD OUT reinforces that others are actively shopping the MYHABIT sales event and if you see something you like, you’d better buy it now. I speak from experience.

by Pat Friesen

October 17, 2013

HAVE YOU KILLED YOUR ANNUAL APPEAL YET?

January 16th, 2014 | No Comments | Posted in Annual Giving, Fundraising

Ask!

I just emailed a letter, response form and list to the mail house. Our base tends to be generous at this time of year. (Yours probably is, too.) There’s a lot riding on this appeal, and I’ve spent a many hours on my offer, my story, my response piece… every detail I can think of. Now I nervously await the returns.

At my (new to me) organization, this particular mailing has long been known as the “annual appeal”. No more. I call it the “fall appeal”, because I plan to give it a lot of company.

Asking once a year is not nearly enough. If you want to succeed, you need to build a schedule of asking throughout your year.

“But”, you may say, “I don’t have the [money, time, staff] to do this over and over again through the year! The annual appeal is our one big push. Then I can focus on the gala and corporate sponsorships.”

Well, you don’t need to do giant mailings to everyone on your list every time. In fact, you should take a good look at your list and start segmenting it. Ask the people who’ve already said yes often or recently more. Ask the people who gave once a few years back less.

Remember to build genuine, sincere thanks into this schedule. Don’t ask again until you’ve thanked those who’ve given! (But since you’re doing that right away, that shouldn’t be a problem, right?)

Then ask. And ask again.

There are a few reasons why:

First – people give because they’re asked to give. It’s rare to have money showered on your organization out of the blue. And I’ll bet that even with those out of the blue gifts, at some point, someone asked.

Second – don’t make the mistake of assuming you’ll get read. You’re playing percentages here – hoping if you send lots of appeals out, you’ll get enough people to open the envelope. Though it’s painful to think about, much of your hard work will end up in the recycle bin. Once the envelope is opened, you have to hope it gets read. Most people will skim, not read. Another batch in the bin. A few people will read your appeal, or will put the response piece aside after skimming it. Those are the few you’re really asking.

Last – you can’t know if your timing is right. Even if that letter of yours successfully runs the gamut above, even if your reader is moved to help – it might not be the right time. The hot water heater just broke, and there’s nothing left over right now to send. Or the government shutdown is making your reader nervous. Or she just made a big gift to another charity. These are not things you can control. But you should take them into consideration when you fear asking too much.

When you step up your schedule, you might hear from a person or two with a complaint. They might request you only ask once a year. They might tell you they gave just last spring, and that’s it for a while. Use the opportunity to connect with them. Mark their record accordingly. And follow their request. But don’t make the mistake of thinking they’re a representative sample!

I know I’ve been pushing out appeals since I arrived at this new job. And I have a pretty busy schedule of solicitations lined up through the end of the year. Some people will be asked often. Some will be asked a few times. Most will receive a combination of mail and email appeals. These will all be mixed with opportunities to just say thanks.

Of course, I can’t be sure my plan will succeed. I’ll use what I learn this go-round to adjust for next time. But there’s one thing I’m sure of: next time will not be a year from now!

High school graduates say rankings influence their PSE application decisions

January 15th, 2014 | No Comments | Posted in Education

66% of PSE applicants report university rankings influence their application decisions, according to a survey of 846 PSE-bound high school seniors in the US. Students with the highest SAT scores –1300 and above — were more likely to have considered the rankings in their application decisions (85%) than students with SAT scores of less than 1300. The study also showed that students were most influenced by the US News and World Report rankings at 58%, followed by the Princeton Review at 21%.

For the last several decades, there has been spirited and at times acrimonious debate about the influence of national college rankings on students’ college application and enrollment decisions.For some time, these rankings sources, dominated by US News & World Report, have been the bête noire of many presidents, troubled by the very idea of rankings and the mockery they make of the complicated process of college choice. We have been among the strongest critics of rankings and the questionable metrics that drive them (rankings largely correlate with institutional wealth). And we’ve taken some comfort in previousstudentPOLL studies that have demonstrated that the rankings may have had less impact on student choice than conventional wisdom suggested at the time.

No longer is this the case. The findings from our latest issue on the college rankings from an online survey conducted with 846 college-bound high school seniors revealed that a significant proportion of students today are paying attention to college rankings. Yet we would advise caution in reading too much into this finding. In sophisticated studies for a wide array of individual colleges and universities nationwide, we have found that the actual impact of the rankings varies widely. Other factors typically have greater influence on students’ decisions where to apply and to enroll, at times much greater than the rankings.

By way of background, here’s a quick history of studentPOLL’s studies on the influence of the national rankings on college choice. In 1995, whenstudentPOLL first published research on the influence of the rankings in college choice, the findings revealed that while a little more than half of the students interviewed used the rankings as they decided where to apply and enroll, the rankings had little impact on college choice compared to other sources of information and advice. In our second cycle of research conducted in 2002, studentPOLL found that for most prospective college students the rankings mattered little. Only one-fifth of these students reported having “read any articles or reports that ranked colleges” as they considered where to apply and enroll. A majority reported not looking at the rankings, and about a quarter couldn’t remember (an indication that they didn’t have much impact).

Our latest studentPOLL study conducted in November and December 2012 reveals that the college rankings are having an influence on many students’ college decisions. Among the key findings of the study:

  • Two-thirds of students surveyed indicated that they had taken college rankings into account in their college application decisions.
  • Students with the highest SAT scores — 1300 and above — were more likely to have considered the rankings in their application decisions (85%) than students with SAT scores of less than 1300.
  • US News & World Report is the predominant source of college rankings used by students to help make judgments about colleges.
  • Nearly two-thirds of students surveyed “strongly agree” or “somewhat agree” that the rankings are “very important in trying to sort out the differences between colleges.”
  • About two-thirds, respectively, somewhat or strongly disagreedthat the rankings “don’t matter” and that they “don’t matter to me, but they matter to my parents.”

Perhaps these findings should be expected. At the time I wrote this publisher’s note, the US News & World Report rankings had just been released. In a quick Google search, countless search engine listings popped up with links to news articles from colleges or local media reporting a rise in a particular college’s ranking or, in the case of others publicly backed in a corner, defending why an institution dropped several places in the standings.

Certainly all the media hype about the rankings, higher education’s own pandering to them, and the intense competitive landscape of college admissions, have led students to place greater value on the rankings in their college decision making. Still, data from our own studies, as previously noted, suggest that the influence of the rankings on decisions where to apply and enroll varies widely depending on the institution, its markets, competitive landscape, and appeal. We often find that qualities related to a college or university’s academic program, campus community, and other distinctions factor into students’ college decisions more than its rankings do.

Indeed, students report not infrequently that substantive and atmospheric insights and information from the campus visit, interactions with parents, information on the web and in print materials, and more personal forms of contact with prospective students (including the counsel provided by admissions representatives and even high school guidance counselors) can have a greater influence than rankings. This can even be true of higher-ability and higher-income students who tend to pay the most attention to the rankings.

So despite the fact that college rankings appear to have grown in influence in students’ college search, we would argue against spending too much institutional time, money, and energy on hand wringing over rank per se and on attempts to improve it. For most institutions, it would be far better to focus on planning strategy that strengthens an institution’s competitive position on a substantive basis: differentiation based on educational approach, student experience, innovative teaching, and the like. In short, for most, trying to game the ranking numbers is a fool’s errand.

Recent media attention given to institutions caught falsifying the data they reported to US News & World Report makes the point. The risks some will take in the hopes of maintaining and elevating their standing further calls into question the reliability of the rankings themselves as well as the integrity of institutions that feel forced to go to any lengths to climb the rankings ladder.

Richard A. Hesel
Principal
Art & Science Group, LLC

Late-Day Email Promotions Produce Better Online Conversion Rates

January 14th, 2014 | No Comments | Posted in Email, Marketing

Timing is everything. Hitting the target means knowing the perfect time to reach the consumer with the most relevant message. I’ll get email promotions and read them first thing in the morning before starting work, but I take no action. By the end of my day, I’ve completely forgotten about the sale. Apparently others follow the same path to purchase, according to recent stats.

Santa Monica, Calif.-based Retention Science will release a study Thursday that suggests marketers should send promotional offers to consumers later in the day, rather than in the morning, because 65% of consumers shop online in the afternoon and at night. And instead of sending email campaigns Sundays and Mondays, marketers should send them on Tuesdays and Fridays.

Tuesdays are the best days to send email offers, while Saturdays are the worst, per the study. Tuesday typically produced a 28% conversion rate; Friday, 27%. Weekend conversion rates remain considerably lower, at 3% for Saturday and 6% for Sunday.

SwayChic, a women’s fashion retailer with six physical stores, switched to Tuesday evening promotional emails three months ago and experienced a 300% rise in revenue.

Free shipping offers convert at rates between .22% and 1.9%, making them twice as effective as price reduction offers, which covert at rates between .1% and .8%.

The study suggests that 89% of conversions based on subscription email newsletters occurs during the first 14 days of the subscription period. The first and third days of subscription deliver the highest conversion rates, with 23% and 11%, respectively.

The data was based on more than 100 million transactions, 20 million user profiles and 100 email campaigns.

Paula Lynn

October 16, 2013 at 2:51 p.m