Browse > Home / Archive: April 2014

| Subscribe via RSS

Analysts show how US universities would fare in proposed rankings system

April 30th, 2014 | No Comments | Posted in Education

Following a proposal by US President Barack Obama to tie federal PSE funding to university rankings, Awilda Rodriguez and Andrew P. Kelly of the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) have analysed data on US universities to come up with how the institutions would fare in the rankings’ 3 measures: affordability, quality, and access for low-income students. The analysts say “very few institutions are terrible on all 3 marks, but very few appear to have broken the ‘iron triangle’” (the idea that changes in any of the 3 measures would impact the others). The data reveal that only 19 4-year universities perform well across all 3 of the measures. Rodriguez and Kelly conclude that the results show “just how rare this kind of well-rounded success is in American higher education,” and that Obama’s rankings plan may be difficult to implement.

February 6, 2014

Analysts Map Some of the Challenges a College-Ratings System Would Face

By Goldie Blumenstyk


In anticipation of the debate over a proposed new federal ratings system for colleges, two analysts with the American Enterprise Institute have crunched the data to highlight what can be measured today about colleges’ success in achieving the ratings’ goals of improving affordability, quality, and access to students from the lowest socioeconomic classes, all at the same time.

Their conclusion: “Very few institutions are terrible on all three marks,” but very few appear to have broken the “iron triangle”—the concept that any change in one of the goals will have an impact on the others. In fact, according to their analysis, only 19 four-year colleges have managed to perform well across all three of the measures. (Four are campuses of the California State University system, and three are part of the City University of New York.)

The two analysts—Awilda Rodriguez and Andrew P. Kelly, of AEI’s Center on Higher Education Reform—write that this “lack of exemplars shows just how rare this kind of well-rounded success is in American higher education” and demonstrates the difficulties ahead for the ratings plan, proposed by President Obama.

“Presumedly, this status quo is what the president hopes to improve on” by linking some federal student aid to how campuses fare in the ratings, they write. “The analysis here suggests it will not be easy.”

report describing their analysis, complete with scatterplots, is being released on Thursday, the same day the U.S. Department of Education will convene a cadre of experts to discuss issues related to the ratings.

How They Crunched the Data

For their analysis, Ms. Rodriguez, a research fellow, and Mr. Kelly, the center’s director, looked at data on the number of Pell Grant recipients enrolled, graduation rates, and net price at more than 1,700 four-year colleges.

They then plotted those results on a graph and found four categories of colleges: a group with high access and low graduation rates, which they call “You Can Get in, but You Can’t Get Out”; a group with middling results in all categories, which accounts for about a third of the sample and which they call the “Muddle in the Middle”; a group with below-average affordability, average rates of access, and above-average completion rates, which they call “Pretty Good but Pretty Expensive”; and a group whose access and affordability are low but completion rates are high, which they classify as places with “Great Outcomes but Restricted Access.”

They also note that basing incentives for colleges on student success could end up rewarding institutions for whom they admit rather than for how well they educate their students, and that punishing institutions for enrolling low rates of Pell-eligible students may make them even less likely, or less able, to admit more of them.

Many college leaders have said a poorly designed system could haveunintended and unwanted effects on colleges. The authors echo that warning, but with no small hint that their critique is meant to ultimately bolster, not scuttle, a ratings system. An ill-conceived system that does more harm than good, they say, will give critics “the ammunition they need to roll back future efforts to hold colleges accountable.”

Access, affordability, and success: How do America’s colleges fare, and what could it mean for the president’s ratings plan?


Click on the image for an interactive look at how America’s universities rank according to access, affordability, and completion

Last fall, President Obama unveiled a plan to promote college affordability by changing the way the federal government distributes student financial aid. The proposal calls for a federal college ratings system that appraises colleges on measures of access, affordability, and student success. These ratings would then govern the allocation of federal student aid dollars, with schools that perform well receiving larger Pell Grants and more generous student loans. Schools that lag behind would get less.

The proposal is a dramatic departure from the government’s traditional approach to aid policy, under which loan and grant monies flow to any accredited college that enrolls students, so long as the institution passes minimal standards of financial health and student loan default rates. The new plan would challenge colleges to perform on all three sides of higher education’s “iron triangle”: access, affordability, and quality. According to a 2008 report by Public Agenda, most college presidents believe the three sides of the triangle are “linked in an unbreakable reciprocal relationship, such that any change in one will inevitably impact the others.”1 Through this lens, enrolling more disadvantaged students is a worthwhile goal, but it will likely lead to a drop in completion rates. Similarly, reducing costs will boost affordability and encourage access, but it could compromise the quality of the education provided. Meanwhile, spending more and raising tuition prices has historically helped colleges rise in the rankings and attract better students, but doing so limits access. Never before has a reform targeted all three sides of the iron triangle at the same time.

Since the ratings plan was announced, college leaders, advocacy groups, and researchers have asked whether these three dimensions can be measured accurately and whether existing databases could collect the necessary data. Accepted measures of “quality” are notoriously absent, and capturing affordability and access is not straightforward either. Others have voiced concerns about the consequences the ratings may have for particular groups of institutions like open-access and for-profit colleges, where completion rates are usually low.

But while it’s easy to hypothesize about which institutions and students would win and lose under the new ratings scheme, an informed debate requires an empirical look at how America’s colleges and universities currently fare on the three sides of the triangle. Is the iron triangle an iron law? Or are there colleges hitting high marks on all three sides? How many colleges might be in trouble under a new ratings scheme? And how are students distributed across the different levels of performance?

This policy brief provides such a snapshot. The precise measures and methods that will govern the ratings system are not yet known—indeed the Department of Education will convene a panel of experts this week to discuss these issues. However, using details from the White House’s description of the proposal and data from the federal Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), we can take a look at the pre-ratings status quo. Admittedly, existing measures of access, affordability, and student success are imperfect at best. But even so, they can help us better understand the implications of the proposed ratings scheme.

Access, affordability, and success: How do America’s colleges fare and what could it mean for the president… by American Enterprise Institute

Texas PSE institutions offering “affordable baccalaureate” option

April 29th, 2014 | No Comments | Posted in Education

Two years after Gov. Rick Perry of Texas called on the state’s colleges to offer bachelor’s degrees that would cost students no more than $10,000 each, two institutions rolled out a joint bachelor-of-applied-science program last month that they say can be completed in three years for not much more than the governor’s target amount.

The initiative, called the Texas Affordable Baccalaureate Program, is being offered jointly by South Texas College and Texas A&M University at Commerce, and was assembled under the auspices of the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. The effort is supported by the College for All Texans Foundation and by a two-year, $1-million grant from the education-technology organization Educause and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Students can earn the first 90 credit hours required for the degree through online modules, the coordinating board said, with the last 30 credit hours “offered in both a face-to-face and online format.” The degree emphasizes organizational leadership, the board said, adding that the program “will culminate with a digital-capstone experience where students will apply their knowledge and skills to real-world business problems.”

Students who begin with no college credits should be able to complete the program in three years for $13,000 to $15,000, the board said, while those who have already earned some college credits will pay less. About a dozen students are in the program’s initial cohort, with new groups scheduled to start every seven weeks. The coordinating board “plans to significantly increase enrollment with each new cohort,” said Van L. Davis, the board’s director of innovations in higher education.

The coordinating board said that the new offering was “a faculty-driven initiative, developed by community-college and university faculty,” but “we also listened to what national and regional employers are saying they really want: graduates with critical-thinking skills who are quantitatively literate, can evaluate knowledge sources, understand diversity, and benefit from a strong liberal-arts and sciences background.”

Shirley A. Reed, South Texas College’s president, said in a statement that the new degree “is a transition from colleges measuring student competencies based on time in a seat to now allowing students to demonstrate competencies they have acquired in previous employment, life experiences, or personal talents.”

“It is an opportunity for students to earn an affordable bachelor’s degree with the cost as low as $750 per term,” she said, “and allows students to complete as many competencies and courses as possible in that term.”

The Chronicle of Higher Education
Wired Campus

Poll says Nova Scotia middle-income earners would pay higher taxes for lowered tuition

April 28th, 2014 | No Comments | Posted in Canada, Education

A survey by the Nova Scotia Post-Secondary Education Coalition says that 71% of Nova Scotians who make between $40,000 and $70,000 a year would pay higher taxes if they knew the money went towards lowering university and college tuition. The poll, which surveyed 800 people in December, also reveals that more Nova Scotians say they were concerned about PSE and health care (at 65%) than taxation (64%) or crime (39%). According to Metro News, the coalition—which is comprised of NS student, faculty and public employee associations—plans to meet with Advanced Education Minister Kelly Regan to advocate for a 15% tuition decrease at NS universities and colleges. The poll has a margin of error of 3%, 19 times out of 20.

More middle-income Nova Scotians are concerned with rising tuition costs than ever before, according to a new poll from the Nova Scotia Post-Secondary Education Coalition.

The results show nearly 71 per cent of people who make between $40,000 and $70,000 a year would pay higher taxes if they knew it would go towards making local universities or colleges more affordable.

“It’s no longer an issue of how we ensure that low-income Nova Scotians can attend university,” said David Etherington of the Canadian Federation of Students-Nova Scotia on Tuesday.

Etherington said this is the first year the poll has shown middle-income residents as the most supportive of a tax hike, but that’s not surprising.

He said a recent report shows tuition rising above the $6,000 mark will “start pushing middle-income students out of university.”

The poll surveyed 800 people and stated 29 per cent of Nova Scotians say they’ve had someone in their family choose not to attend college or university in the last year because they couldn’t shoulder the debt.

More Nova Scotians say they were concerned about post-secondary education and health care at 65 per cent, than taxation (64 per cent) or crime (39 per cent).

The coalition is hoping these numbers prove to the new Liberal government that the majority of Nova Scotians support post-secondary education, and plan to meet with Advanced Education Minister Kelly Regan about a 15 per cent tuition decrease.

Dr. Chris Ferns, president of the Association of Nova Scotia University Teachers, said the opportunities of a free or very low-cost education compared with what students encounter nowadays is “staggering.”

“It’s one of the things my generation should be most ashamed of, that we had access to affordable education and we’re not providing it for our children,” Ferns said.

The coalition says the poll took place from Dec. 9 to 16 and has a margin of error of plus or minus three per cent, 19 times out of 20.

February 4, 2014 Updated: February 5, 2014 | 1:38 pm
By Haley Ryan

Poll shows many Nova Scotians did not pursue secondary education because of cost


A poll commissioned by a coalition of faculty, students and staff finds significant support among Nova Scotians for increased funding, lower tuition fees, and replacing student loans with non-repayable grants.  Photo Robert Devet
A poll commissioned by a coalition of faculty, students and staff finds significant support among Nova Scotians for increased funding, lower tuition fees, and replacing student loans with non-repayable grants. Photo Robert Devet

K’JIPUKTUK (Halifax) -  Most Nova Scotians believe the affordability of post-secondary education should be a priority for the provincial government. In fact, as an issue it is right up there with unemployment, healthcare and taxes.

That is one of the findings of a pollcommissioned by the Nova Scotia Post-Secondary Education Coalition, a group comprised of the Canadian Federation of Students – Nova Scotia (CFS-NS), the Nova Scotia Government and General Employees Union, and theAssociation of Nova Scotia University Teachers (ANSUT).

At a press conference held at Province House today the coalition used the poll findings to argue that governments and university administrations have been out of sync with the expectations of Nova Scotians and that it is time for a very different approach.

The poll shows that Nova Scotians are very worried about the high costs of secondary education, and related issues such as rising student debts and out-migration.

85 percent of Nova Scotians believe that tuition fees for universities and colleges are too high and should be reduced. Average tuition fees for undergraduate students are close to $6200.

“We are asking the government to listen to students, their families, and citizens across our province, and reduce tuition fees,” Anna Dubinski , Chairperson of CFS-NS, said at the press conference.

High tuition fees and crushing student debt together present a real obstacle to pursuing a post-secondary education for many young Nova Scotians, the poll revealed.

Almost a third of the people who were surveyed claimed that they themselves or someone in their family did not attend college or university because it would mean taking on too much debt.

Since the late seventies the share of funding that universities receive from government has decreased from about 80 percent to less than 50 percent, the coalition says. This in turn has driven tuition fees upwards.

60 percent of Nova Scotians believe government should reverse this trend and increase funding of universities and colleges. 32 percent believe government funding should stay at the current level.

What’s more, Nova Scotians are willing to put their money where their mouth is.

60 percent of Nova Scotians would be willing to pay a small increase in income taxes if they knew it would go to improving the affordability of the university or college in their area.

“We are constantly being told that Nova Scotia is in a crisis and that Nova Scotians are overtaxed, but what the poll revealed is that nearly two thirds of Nova Scotians would actually prefer to pay more tax if it would make post-secondary education more affordable,” said ANSUT President Dr. Chris Ferns.

The coalition also argues that universities are not necessarily spending their money wisely.

“Over the last years we have seen serious financial crises at a number of Nova Scotia universities, and that is largely because of a lack of adequate controls on expenditures, Ferns said. “On several campuses there have been enormous outlays on buildings, despite there having been insufficient funds raised to pay for them.”

Ferns also points to the increase in numbers of senior administrators while the number of full time faculty has actually declined. Ferns considers this a clear example of ill-conceived priorities among university management.

Nova Scotians surveyed overwhelmingly believe that students, faculty and staff should play a major role in decision-making. Both Ferns and Dubinski said that their opinions are typically ignored by university administrators.

But students are paying attention and have ways of making themselves heard, said CFS-NS organizer David Etherington.

“With the Dalhousie Student Union and the Kings College Student Union we have seen massive mobilizations through petition writing, class talks and information distribution to protest the Dalhousie Board’s attempt to cut the budget for the Killam Library,” Etherington said. “These issues are on top of students minds.”

In his closing words Dr. Fern reiterated the case for free post-secondary education, which is one of the coalition’s long term objectives.

“Lots of people think that the elimination of tuition fees is some ludicrous utopian goal. I was educated in England and I had the benefit of a free education,” said Ferns.

“That is one the things my generation should be most ashamed of, that we had access to affordable education but are not providing it for our children.”


What 5 Fundraising Mistakes Are You Making?

April 27th, 2014 | No Comments | Posted in Fundraising


I pity the fool that made me facepalm.


1. Thinking your major donors want to hear less from you.

Don’t make this mistake!

Your major donors (unless they’ve told you otherwise) want to hear more from you. Call them up! Email them. Text them. Ask them to coffee.

When someone gives you a major gift, it’s part of a good relationship you have built. Now you have so many ways to thank them. Don’t thank them by getting silent and weird about it! Don’t go assuming that they don’t want to hear from you! They do. So show them you care. Get to know them.

2. Not calling foundations to find if there’s a match before submitting your proposal or LOI

Okay, who HASN’T done this? Show of hands? This is the classic rookie mistake. You need to start figuring out your connection to a foundation, and if you haven’t got a connection, could you start one by calling and asking if there’s a fit? This can save you so much time. And if there’s not a fit, ask if they know if there’s another foundation you should connect with. A good place to start finding these natural connections? Your local community foundation.

3. Putting off your e-newsletter because no one is making you get it out every month

I used to do this! At one of my old nonprofit jobs, I had no one telling me to get the newsletter out. Consequently, it didn’t go out very much. But it should have, because every time we communicated, it was another chance to build a relationship with a donor.

Even when I started my business in 2009, I was not good at getting my newsletter out. Consequently my list grew very slowly, and I didn’t even really understand the significance of building a list or having an engaged list.

Now I email my list once a week like clockwork. Why? Because consistency shows potential donors (or community members) that you can be trusted. You’re there, every week, looking to help them. Maybe you’ll make them laugh. Give them a good recipe. Maybe you’ll tell them a surprising piece of information that they’ll share with someone else. Whatever you share, make it memorable. Play with it.

4. Not starting your spring appeal in February because hey, you’ve got two months, right?

Oh snap! You think you’ve got time? No you jolly well don’t! Why? Because the post office will take 10 days to 2 weeks to send your appeal if you send it bulk mail rate. Yeah, and the envelope stuffers-may not be reliable! They’re volunteers, right? You’ve got to coordinate them. And recruit them. That’s going to take some time. PLUS! You have to make sure you have enough envelopes! letterhead! stamps! Strapping! and that your printer works! Enough money in your nonprofit mail account at the post office! Or make sure that your mailing service has enough room in their schedule for your spring mailing. Not to mention actually writing the damn thing, and fighting with people internally to get them NOT to make it 10 point font and 1 page long.  This will take two months. So plan ahead. Start now.

5. Being afraid to ask questions (you don’t have to pretend to know everything!)

Because so many of us fall into fundraising, we pretend to know everything. We’re afraid of being found out that we don’t know something, and then someone’s going to come up to us and take our jobs away! You don’t know planned giving? Major Gifts? Capital campaigns? How to find grants? How to write an appeal letter? It’s OKAY! Nobody starts their careers knowing these things. But the only way you’re going to get less ignorant is by reading and asking questions. You MUST do this. If it’s not safe to ask questions at work, ask them in our community! Ask them from your local fundraising association. But you must ask. You’ll never rise in your field if you don’t.

Here are some more mistakes I made on my fundraising journey:

  1. I was mistaken in thinking that just because I raised a lot of money for a nonprofit, working around the clock with a smile, that the boss would want to keep me around.
  2. Early in my career, I worked for $10 an hour, because I felt like I needed any job. Working for such a low wage drained me and made me totally unmotivated. This was a big mistake.
  3. When I first started fundraising, I made the mistake of thinking that fundraising was mainly getting grants.
  4. Another mistake: buying a mailing list without asking the right questions of the list owner, and none of those names became donors.
  5. Writing direct mail that didn’t focus on the word YOU or have lots of pictures or headlines to break up the text.
  6. Thinking that a free network for good salesforce database would work for our organization, when what we really needed was a database with customer support so we could all get trained on the system, which meant paying for a database.
  7. Trying to buy lots of nice clothes on credit, because my boss told me that I needed to get nicer clothes to do my work. He was picking on my fashion because I was a woman, not because I wasn’t doing a good enough job, or because I didn’t have nice enough clothes.
  8. Creating my first annual report and not looking at other people’s annual reports first to see what was possible. I ended up using stamps as design elements. It was horrendous and hilarious.
  9. When I was first becoming a nonprofit consultant, thinking I could just snap my fingers and get grants for one of my clients. Yeah… that didn’t work.
  10. Not doing donor stewardship calls every chance I could.
  11. Not insisting on monthly “check-ins” with my bosses, when they didn’t want to meet with me. I should have created my own monthly report and sent it to them and to the board.
  12. Not creating an “achievement plan” with my bosses, to show how I could move up in the organization, and what my metrics would be in the first year and in the second year working for them.
  13. Not having the “how do you like to communicate” conversation with my boss, which led to frustration because I didn’t want text messages and he didn’t want to answer his phone, read his email, or look at me when I came to see him.
  14. Confiding in board members about my issues with my boss, as they did not care and did nothing to help solve the issues, even after my boss was found stealing several times.
  15. Not insisting on a budget for my fundraising and marketing of the organizations I worked for from day one.
  16. Not starting an email list for my blog from day one, and not sending emails every month for previous nonprofits that I worked at.
  17. Thinking that time spent on social media was as good as fundraising and business development.
  18. Working so hard that I got sick with bronchitis and pneumonia.
  19. Not making sure that taking care of myself & my time with family and friends was my first priority.
  20. Not asking questions more of my peers and mentors in fundraising and in other fields.
  21. Thinking that I could really do it all in a fundraising shop, with 3 people’s jobs, when I ended up doing 10 things badly, when I could have done one or two things well.
  22. Thinking I didn’t have to visit the program site to get stories for our fundraising.
  23. Thinking I could motivate the board with my development reports, when what they really needed was for me to ask them what would make a better board experience for them.

I have made so many mistakes. And these are JUST some of my fundraising mistakes. Want to see some of my business mistakes? Hoo Boy. I have tons of those too!

What did I learn from these mistakes?

I think that’s another post. But remember another important Wilde quote: “Our ambition should be to rule ourselves, the true kingdom for each one of us; and true progress is to know more, and be more, and to do more.”

3 February 2013
Mazarine Treyz

Content Marketing is the Alchemy of Intent

April 26th, 2014 | No Comments | Posted in Fundraising, Marketing

If we accept as fact — as many, including myself, do — that buyers engage with sales later and later in their decision journey, a concept initially framed by CEB that Aberdeen calls the “Hidden Sales Cycle,” then we must rethink the role of marketing in the buyer’s journey (as many are). Aberdeen’s 2012 “Marketing Lead Management: From the Top of the Funnel to the Top Line” report noted that, on average, prospects receive 10 marketing touches through the course of a successful buyer’s journey (one that ends in “closed-won”). This means that the part of the mission that used to belong almost exclusively to sales is now shared between marketing and sales, with more and more of the responsibility shifted to marketing. That mission is to shape the buyer’s vision.   Beyond the intuitively clear sense of what a buyer’s vision is, it’s created by a set of assumptions about both the challenge the prospect is trying to solve and the critical capabilities that are necessary to solve that challenge. There are sales methodologies built around shaping the buyer’s journey. But if the bulk of the decision journey doesn’t happen with sales, then sales has a narrower than ever window in which to do this hard work. It stands to reason then that companies who can successfully shape a buyer’s vision earlier in this process will have a better time of it and probably win more business in the process.   This is largely what content marketing is all about — vision shaping through information. It’s for this reason that I call content marketing “the alchemy of intent”. A big part of vision shaping is framing the challenge or even identifying a challenge the prospect didn’t know they had, a “latent need” in the vernacular. Content marketing is about using various media to turn both latent and blatant need into an intent to buy, transforming it into a sellable need.

by  · June 17, 2013


Not Enough New Donors? Give Donors 10 Chances and Build the Need

April 25th, 2014 | No Comments | Posted in Fundraising

Maybe You Need 10 Touches and More ‘Story’

There’s been a lot of data through the years that talks about how long it takes for someone to really make a decision and how many impressions it takes before someone remembers an ad, etc. Trip Kucera, senior research analyst at the Aberdeen Group, where he leads the Marketing Effectiveness & Strategy practice, has taken this a step further and documented the number.

This is an excerpt from an article I read recently:  “… we must rethink the role of marketing in the buyer’s journey (as many are). Aberdeen’s 2012 ‘Marketing Lead Management: From the Top of the Funnel to the Top Line‘ report noted that, on average, prospects receive 10 marketing touches through the course of a successful buyer’s journey (one that ends in ‘closed-won’). This means that the part of the mission that used to belong almost exclusively to sales is now shared between marketing and sales, with more and more of the responsibility shifted to marketing. That mission is to shape the buyer’s vision.”

This is not the first time we’ve heard about the buyer’s journey and certainly not a new idea to actually apply this to the nonprofit donor giving journey. However, I bet it would be difficult to find a nonprofit that has any data that literally tracks an acquisition list over 10 touches by constituent to see if there is some truth about the number of touches it takes to actually move someone to a “give” step. Granted, because many nonprofits continue to actually mail the same lists over and over to acquire new donors, it might be difficult to pinpoint a “starting” point for the journey of shaping the future donor’s vision.

But it could be done on the back end, right? I think?? (This is when the data scientists in my team want to kick me under the table.) Couldn’t we look backward? Couldn’t we take a group of people who donated to a specific acquisition appeal in 2013 (and were not lapsed donors) and then determine how many times they received an acquisition promotion over the prior years?

Right about now this analysis might fall into the “nice to have” but “juice may not be worth the squeeze” category. But if we don’t want to prove this through a data project, then we either must dismiss it or accept it. I am not comfortable dismissing it because I have heard and seen enough study data to say that there must be some truth to it.

So, if we believe there is truth to this, then as marketers and fundraisers we better make sure our “content” is actually working to raise awareness and, perhaps most importantly, build upon the prior communication.

This is where I get concerned. Most nonprofits have one acquisition control. In other words, even if someone got three acquisition appeals per year for three years in a row — but they all say the same thing — is that really “shaping the future donor’s vision”? Shouldn’t we be building a story? Shouldn’t we be building our credibility, the sense of need, the urgency of our missions along the way versus just communicating the same thing over and over? My gut tells me that repetition is not what we really want to be doing as we try to acquire new donors into our organizations and missions.

Kucera references in some of his work that shaping vision is a process. In the sales cycle, he refers to the role of content marketing. “This is largely what content marketing is all about — vision shaping through information. It’s for this reason that I call content marketing ‘the alchemy of intent.’ A big part of vision shaping is framing the challenge or even identifying a challenge the prospect didn’t know they had, a ‘latent need’ in the vernacular. Content marketing is about using various media to turn both latent and blatant need into an intent to buy, transforming it into a sellable need.”

For us as nonprofits, how we apply this is the process of educating prospective donors about something that perhaps they didn’t even know was a true need in our world. In my opinion, we are not doing enough. We must continue to transform that initial education (i.e., the first touch) into deeper awareness and even work at making a connection to that prospect’s personal life space. We constantly talk about motivating people to give to our causes, but are we really building that motivation along the way as we try to acquire new donors?

Next steps for all of us:

  1. Think through this.
  2. Get out all your prospecting communications (across your multiple channels) and determine if you are “building and shaping” the vision of your organization and a prospect’s critical role — or are you just “repeating” the same thing over and over?
  3. Remember the famous quote about how doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results is the definition of insanity.

By Angie Moore | Posted on February 04, 2014

6 Strategies to Sending Mobile-Friendly Emails

April 24th, 2014 | No Comments | Posted in Email, Fundraising

The move to mobile is no longer an unavoidable, upcoming trend. It is officially upon us.

A bevy of new web users are browsing, scrolling and clicking through the endless corridors of the internet using their mobile devices every day.

And with every twist and turn, your nonprofit must contort to meet new challenges contemporary society throws at you.

Simply put, over 50% of all emails will be opened via a mobile devices in 2014. Here are 6 strategies to help your nonprofit cater to this sweeping landscape, according to Mike Snusz of npENGAGE.

    1. Decrease Email Width

      Different devices handle resizing of emails differently. iPhone will compress your email message, while android devices will often just cutoff the right part of your email completely. Keep your email narrow enough so your constituents do not have to scroll from side to side while trying to read your message.


    1. Increase text size

      Most standard web users use 12pt font across the board. However, with so many people reading emails on the go now, turning the dial up to 13 or 14 is not a bad idea. People are reading while the walk, on trains, and the less they have to zoom in, the better chance you have of communicating your message.


    1. Keep emails below 102KB

      Many mailboxes, like Gmail, will only display the first 102KB of an email. This forces your constituents to download the remainder of the message. An immediate turnoff for many readers.


    1. Use short engaging subjects

      This may seem obvious, but it’s an important step for a lot of reasons. Individuals receiving your message will see less of a subject line in their mobile device’s inbox. Therefore, if your title is too long they may not fully understand who the sender is or what you’re trying to communicate. Additionally, the longer the title the more space it takes occupies at the top of the screen. This means the meat of your content is now being pushed further and further down the screen, almost out of sight because of your title’s length.


    1. Short paragraphs keep attention

      Like it or not, people are going to be reading your emails while walking, jogging, using public transportation and in the passenger seats of cars. They are distracted and not likely to open your email again. Combat their desire to close your email with short, engaging sentences that get right to point. The more direct, the better the sentence.


    1. Understand what your emails look like

      Too often nonprofit organizations will simply tap out an email, or a series of emails, and send it off into space without fully understanding with it looks like. There could be undetected formatting problems, or it could violate one or more of the rules spelled out above.

      The most important thing for you to understand when typing up emails in 2014 is to understand how it will appear on mobile devices before sending it out to your mailing list.


Posted: February 3, 2014
By Mike Snusz
If you’re interested in reading more you can check out the original article by Mike Snusz of npENGAGE.



Monthly Donors: Small Is Beautiful! (Monthly Giving Myths Debunked)

April 23rd, 2014 | No Comments | Posted in Annual Giving, Fundraising

Monthly Giving is probably the one fundraising program surrounded by the highest number of myths. All of these myths are used as reasons NOT to start…

Well, if the many recent discussions about retention are any indication, you have every reason to RUN, not walk to get started with monthly giving. Simply because the IMPACT ON RETENTION is HUGE!

Did you know that those nonprofits that started years ago are now seeing between 90 and 98% of their monthly donors still with them, now 5 years later. What’s not to like about that retention rate improvement?

Of course, you’ll never be able to convert every single annual fund donor to a recurring donor. That’s just not realistic, but as a fervent monthly donor advocate, who has seen the positive impact of monthly donors on an organization’s bottom line and the long term sustainability, it behooves every good fundraiser to debunk some of these monthly giving myths and get started with their own monthly giving program, before it’s too late!

Myth: Monthly Donors are able to write big checks.pyramid

Au contraire, my fundraising friend! Typically, those donors who are interested in supporting a monthly giving program are NOT able to write the big checks. In fact, most monthly donors are able to give small amounts a month, (typically ranging between $10 and $35, depending upon the type of organization they’re supporting), thus generating more than some of the mid level donors you may have in your donor base.

Those donors, who are able to write $100 and $250 checks, should be upgraded to write $250 and $500 and even higher checks. These big check writers should be considered midlevel donors and require a different approach. Now, having said that, yes, you may see some donors who are willing to give you $100 or perhaps even $250 a month, but those are few and far between.

I have seen several organizations who complained and told me: “We tried monthly giving and it did not work”. When I asked them who they targeted, they told me they only focused their monthly giving ask on their bigger donors, those who made a one-time gift of $50+. And they totally forgot asking their smaller donors. Once they started testing into the $5-$49.99, they were amazed at the number of donors joining their monthly giving program. So, start LOW and go up from there.

Myth: You can test a program once and then stop.

Forget about it! You do need to COMMIT to the program. It takes time to grow it, but it will! In fact, the more committed you are to starting and growing your monthly giving program, the more likely you are to be successful! If you’re able to put more resources into it, try more approaches, test it in different media, the more likely you’ll be able to grow it faster.

I have seen organizations who truly committed to it to the point where monthly giving was their number one way of giving. It was literally everywhere! On their home page, online donation page, in their direct mail appeals, in their phone calls. Well, these organizations reap the benefits as they now have close to 60% of their members on a monthly giving program.

Just think what it would mean for your organization to have some 1,000 donors giving $10 a month. That’s 1,000 donors giving you $120 a year at virtually no cost to maintain them. That’s $120,000 a year of funding you can count on. What could your organization do with that? How could your organization make a difference to the animals or people you serve?

Erica Waasdorp, President of A Direct Solution and Author of Monthly Giving. The Sleeping Giant
Erica Waasdorp has helped the nonprofits she works with raise millions of dollars through monthly giving programs. She has over 30 years of experience in nonprofits and direct response. She lives on Cape Cod, Massachusetts.

Is your charity prepared for Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation?

April 22nd, 2014 | No Comments | Posted in Canada, Email, Fundraising

The government announced before the start of the New Year that Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL) will come into effect on July 1, 2014. As such, charities and nonprofits will have just a few months to comply before the implementation date. Below is a summary of items to review that will assist organizations in preparing for CASL.

What happens on July 1, 2014?

The new legislation will regulate the sending of a commercial electronic message (CEM). A CEM encourages participation in a commercial activity, i.e., offering to sell a product, or providing a business or gaming opportunity. CASL prohibits the sending of a CEM unless the sender has consent from the receiver and the CEM includes certain prescribed information.

When CASL comes into force, existing implied consents through business or non-business relationships (described below) will continue for a three-year period unless the recipient indicates they no longer wish to receive CEMs from the sender. CEMs, though, will still need to comply with the form requirements under CASL, even if there is implied consent.

Are there any exemptions?

The regulations under CASL exempt a CEM “that is sent by or on behalf of a registered charity as defined in subsection 248(1) of the Income Tax Act and the message has as its primary purpose raising funds for the charity” (emphasis added). This exemption will provide significant relief for registered charities, although it is not clear to what extent a CEM may include commercial purposes before it will no longer have a ‘primary purpose’ of raising funds. It is hoped that guidance will be forthcoming from the CRTC concerning how ‘primary purpose’ is to be interpreted in order to provide best practices for charities.

What if I had consent under PIPEDA?

Many charities and nonprofits will have already obtained consent for the purposes of compliance with Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA), due to overlapping privacy laws across Canada. In most cases, such consent will not be sufficient for CASL because they were often obtained through an opt-out mechanism. CASL, however, requires the receiver of a CEM to have expressly consented to its receipt (unless there is implied consent).

How do I obtain consent?

Consent may be implied through an existing non-business relationship. CASL defines a non-business relationship as:

  • The receiver has made a donation in the immediate two-year period the day before the CEM was sent and the sender is a registered charity.
  • The receiver has volunteered in the immediate two-year period the day before the CEM was sent and the sender is a registered charity.
  • The receiver was a member in the immediate two-year period the day before the CEM was sent and the sender is a club, association, or voluntary organization.

To obtain express consent, the charity or nonprofit must explain the purpose or purposes for which the consent is being sought, i.e., that consent is being sought to send a CEM. Consent may be obtained orally or in writing for the purposes of CASL. The CRTC has published guidance on how consent can be obtained. The guidance notes that requests for consent must not be bundled with requests for consent in general terms and conditions. As such, charities and nonprofits that seek to obtain express consent online or through a physical form should use a separate box or action item for obtaining consent.

What needs to be in a CEM?

CASL requires that the CEM include the name by which the sender carries on business, or the name of the sender, the address, and either a telephone number, email, or web address. If the CEM is sent on behalf of another person, then the name of the sender and a statement indicating on whose behalf it is being sent will be required. The CEM must also include an unsubscribe mechanism. Regulations under CASL require that the unsubscribe mechanism be readily available, which the CRTC states as being a “link in an email that takes the user to a web page where he or she can unsubscribe from receiving all or some types of CEMs from the sender.” Lastly, the request to unsubscribe must go into effect within 10 days of the request being received.

Organizations and their boards may want to update any privacy or communication policies in order to address potential liability and demonstrate due diligence with regards to CASL. Third-parties that work with charities and nonprofits to distribute messaging will also need to take steps to ensure compliance. With the final regulations published and the implementation date now set, it is clear that charities and nonprofits will need to become familiar with CASL and their own communication practices to avoid running afoul of the new legislation.

Mar 18, 2014
Ryan Prendergast

Association of Canadian Community Colleges (ACCC) launches coalition to address skills challenges

April 22nd, 2014 | No Comments | Posted in Canada, Education

National industry associations join with Canada’s colleges to address employment and innovation challenges.

Ottawa, ON, January 30, 2014 – The Association of Canadian Community Colleges (ACCC) has launched a coalition of leading industry and labour organizations to identify solutions to Canada’s current skills challenges. Co-chaired by ACCC President and CEO, Denise Amyot, and by Paul Charette, ACCC Board member and Board Chair of Bird Construction Company Ltd., the coalition seeks to enhance collaborations between colleges, institutes and industry sectors.

“Business and research partnerships with public colleges and institutes lead to economic growth and employment opportunities across Canada every day,” said Amyot. “Our economy and the members of our coalition partners depend on Canadians with advanced skills to innovate and grow their businesses.”

This new college-industry initiative will assist in identifying common skills needs across a wide array of Canada’s economic and social sectors. The coalition will seek to increase access to relevant cross-sector labour market information; domestic and international engagement to ensure relevance and quality of college programs and services; and recommendations that provide a basis on which to build a roadmap to even greater industry, college and student success.

“We had a great first meeting with many wonderful ideas and there was a real desire around the table to work together,” said Charette. “By working with colleges, Canada’s industry associations and employers can coordinate efforts to promote college educations in sectors with available job opportunities.”

This coalition is coming together as follow-up from ACCC’s recent National Skills Summit. We will share best practices and explore possible cross-sector initiatives to accomplish at the national level. Industry representatives want to ensure that high school students, their parents and experienced employees in need of new skills are aware of all the education options available to them.

“Our member companies in the residential construction industry are facing real challenges in finding the skilled workers we need  – a problem projected to get worse,” stated Kevin Lee, CEO of the Canadian Home Builders’ Association.  “We are therefore very pleased to be helping to form this coalition between colleges and industry, across sectors, to ensure we have the workers we need for Canada’s skilled jobs of today and tomorrow.”

This initial meeting helped explore mutual priorities and areas of common interest. ACCC and its industry partners recognize the importance of expanding coalition membership from all sectors, with a priority on the inclusion of aboriginal business organizations.

ACCC is the national and international voice of Canada’s publicly funded colleges and institutes, working with industry and social sectors to train 1.5 million learners of all ages and backgrounds at campuses serving over 3,000 urban, rural and remote communities from coast to coast to coast.


Organizations supporting ACCC’s industry-college coalition include:

Aerospace Industries Association of Canada
Association of Canadian Community Colleges
Automotive Industries Association of Canada
Canada’s Technology for Food
Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers
Canadian Chamber of Commerce
Canadian Construction Association
Canadian Council of Chief Executives
Canadian Defence Academy*
Canadian Gas Association
Canadian Healthcare Association*
Canadian Home Builders’ Association
Canadian Labour Congress*
Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association*
Engineers Canada
Forest Products Association of Canada
Mining Association of Canada*
Railway Association of Canada
Retail Council of Canada*
Technology Professionals Canada

* Indicates supportive organizations unable to join the initial meeting.

For more information:

Shawn Dearn
Director of Communications, ACCC
613-746-2222 Ext. 3123
Twitter: @ACCC_Comms

- See more at: