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More People See Charities’ Emails After Groups Pare Address Lists

May 31st, 2014 | No Comments | Posted in Email, Fundraising

The Environmental Working Group was in the middle of an all-out push to raise money when it made a disconcerting discovery. The nonprofit realized that all the fundraising emails it sent to people who used Google’s Gmail service, one of the most popular email providers, were going straight into supporters’ spam folders, not their inboxes.

“We were really worried,” says Colleen Hutchings, director of online fundraising and engagement at the Environmental Working Group.

As big email service providers continue to wage war on spammers, nonprofits are getting caught in the crossfire. Organizations that send email to large numbers of people who never open the messages are tagged as suspicious mailers, and the companies route their messages to recipients’ spam folders.

Purging Addresses

The solution, as the Environmental Working Group found out, is a good old-fashioned email house cleaning.

The organization eliminated from its email list the address of every person who had not opened a message from the charity in six months. For Gmail users, the group was even stricter, culling every list member who hadn’t both opened an email and clicked on a link in six months. The purge reduced its list by about a third.

“We needed to get rid of people who were not engaging with us at all,” says Ms. Hutchings. “We didn’t see really big improvement in deliveries until we culled down to just the active people.”

The decision to delete supporters from a list is often a vexing one. Some nonprofits don’t want to give up on anyone who has ever indicated an interest in their causes, and they want to maximize every opportunity to make an appeal.

But that view is changing at many nonprofits. Aside from the delivery issues, small lists cost less to process. Emails also reach recipients faster, which can be crucial when a message is time-sensitive or connected to a certain event. And some groups fear angering donors with too many appeals.

Changes by Providers

Still, the biggest motivator comes from the changes email providers have made in the past year or two.

Big email service providers have ratcheted up their efforts to identify mailers whose messages aren’t being opened, says David Leichtman, a vice president at Salsa Labs, a company that helps charities send and track email messages.

He says companies like Yahoo—and especially Gmail—are monitoring how many people open organizations’ messages and rating them accordingly.

“Basically, if you are sending to a highly inactive list, you are going to have worse deliverability,” he says. “And the larger your list is, the worse your deliverability.”

The companies’ actions can translate into all or most of Gmail or Yahoo emails ending up in spam folders. That’s a big problem, says Mr. Leicht­man, noting that Gmail addresses account for 20 to 50 percent of some charities’ email lists.

Mr. Leichtman says Gmail also engages in something he calls the “gray-listing” of certain email senders. “It’s not that they will send emails to the spam folder; it’s just that they will deliver your emails whenever they feel like it,” he explains.

The big email providers, faced with managing billions of daily emails while staying a step ahead of malicious spammers, are less than forthcoming about their filtering processes.

“Gmail uses a number of signals to detect and filter out spam, but in order to ensure spammers don’t abuse our system, we aren’t able to discuss the specifics of those signals,” Andrea Freund, a Google spokeswoman wrote in an email. Yahoo issued a similar response to Chronicle requests for comments on the issue.

Lost in Spam Folders

Among the groups facing problems sending to people with Yahoo and Gmail accounts: the United States Fund for Unicef, which recently culled its email list to 750,000 addresses, down from 1.6 million.

At one point all of the nonprofit’s messages to people with Gmail accounts wound up in spam folders, and as much as 90 percent of emails to Yahoo users did as well. But since the charity removed inactive addresses, 95 percent of its emails reach its supporters’ inboxes.

Unicef developed a scoring system to rate the activity level of everyone on the group’s email list, says Sameer Singh, the charity’s assistant director of digital marketing.

“If you open an email, you get 10 points, and if you click on an email link, you get an additional five points,” he says. “We’ve just been suppressing those who have been on our list for 12 months or longer and have an engagement score of zero.”

Smaller charities, with email lists counted in the thousands rather than millions, seem to fly under the email providers’ radar when it comes to these sorts of deliverability issues, say experts.

The Ohio Environmental Council says its tracking service shows that it has never had problems with people not receiving its messages, even though the organization doesn’t regularly clean its email list.

In fact, the only reason the group ever trims its list is when it threatens to grow beyond 12,500 addresses, the point at which its email vendor charges more to send out messages.

“I don’t know why we would routinely eliminate people from receiving our emails,” says Jodi Segal, the charity’s senior director of advancement and operations. “I’m sure there are plenty of donors and legislators and activists and media folks who get an email from the Ohio Environment Council and see we are doing something. They might have a positive association with it even if they don’t read it.”

Roger Carver, a veteran fundraising consultant, takes a harder stand on the issue, and one not related to matters of deliverability. He says it’s a “foolish waste of time” to keep sending emails that never get read.

“It’s just a sloppy practice,” he says. “Like my grandmother used to say, ‘You shouldn’t try to make a pig sing. It wastes your time and annoys the pig.’ And that’s the effect of hammering people who no longer want to hear from you.”

From Spam Folder to Inbox: How Unicef Solved Its Big Email Problem

850,000: Number of inactive addresses the United States Fund for Unicef removed from its email list

Problem: All of Unicef’s emails to Gmail addresses and 90 percent to Yahoo addresses were landing in spam folders. The likely reason: Because so many people never opened the organization’s messages, the email providers’ algorithms identified the group as a possible spammer.

Solution: Unicef removed the addresses of people who hadn’t opened a message in the previous year, cutting the group’s list from 1.6 million to 750,000. Now 95 percent of emails are being delivered to supporters’ inboxes.

March 10, 2014
By Brennen Jensen

7 Tips for Keeping Donors Interested in Your Fundraising Communications

May 30th, 2014 | No Comments | Posted in Fundraising

Have you ever had a conversation with your television? You know, one where you are screaming at the actor to look behind them or trying to convince a contestant to pick door #2?

While not the most perfect example of talking at people, it does spotlight a problem that I see many nonprofits make when communicating with donors.

Fundraising communications is meant to be a conversation – not a one-way street.

I understand you have a lot to share with your peeps. But being all talking and no listening makes donors feel used, invisible and unheard. And that is NOT how we want our valuable supporters to feel after hearing from us.

So, here are a few tips for authentically engaging with your donors in your fundraising communications:

1. Connect with them more often. If you are only sending one newsletter a year, then you are cramming a lot of information into a few pages, which can be overwhelming. Try sending information more frequently and in a variety of mediums.

2. Provide more quality and less fluff. Keep your donors in mind and only send them info that they would truly care about reading.

3. Give them a chance to ask questions, provide feedback and be heard. Whether through a survey or just simply asking them outright, invite donors to speak out.

4. Consider a variety of communication methods. Some people love printed newsletters. Others prefer email newsletters. Find ways to spread your reach by incorporating variety to your communications mix – email, social media, print, video, phone calls, live events, …

5. Make it super easy to contact you. That means adding staff email addresses and phone numbers (with extensions). Just sharing the general contact info tells donors that you really don’t want to be bothered. Invite them to connect with you.

6. Show you are listening by including donor ideas and comments in your correspondence. Add quotes from your Facebook page to your newsletters or write blog posts around a donor question. Find ways to show your donors that you hear them and that what they have to say matters to your organization.

7. Use this rule of thumb: One call-to-action per communication. What does that mean? If you send an email, don’t ask them to sign a petition, register for a seminar, read a report and buy tickets to your gala. That is way too much activity. Keep it to one action item per outreach (two, max) to make it easier for people to know what exactly what you want them to do.

Use these communications tips to keep your donor’s best interest in mind, while keeping them interested in what your organization is doing.

February 25th, 2014 | Author: 

Study reveals cyberbullying prevalent on university campuses

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

Cyberbullies have grown up.

Research out of Simon Fraser University suggests that the online abuse that has been so prevalent on the teenage battlefield is carrying through to the arena of adults at Canadian universities.

Papers to be presented at a symposium in Vancouver on Wednesday say that undergraduate students are harassing their peers on social media, instructors are on the receiving end of student-led online smear campaigns, and faculty members are belittling their colleagues in emails.

“When you look at cyberbullying among younger kids, or kids in middle and high school, usually by age 15, it dies off,” said education Prof. Wanda Cassidy, who worked on the study with two others.

“What was surprising was the fact that it is happening in universities to the extent that it is.”

While many studies have been done on cyber abuse involving adolescents, research on the behaviour among adults is limited. Cassidy said she and her colleagues were curious to know whether teens who bully others online still do it after entering university.

The research team also wondered whether faculty staff are being targeted in cyberspace.

They surveyed over 2,000 people and interviewed 30 participants from four Canadian universities — two in British Columbia, one on the Prairies and one in Atlantic Canada.

Though some of the data from two universities are still trickling in, the available information so far indicates roughly one in five undergraduate students has been cyberbullied, mostly through Facebook, text messages and email, Cassidy said.

Some students said they were the target of crude slurs.

“Called me a `spoiled little rich bitch,’ mocked my bulimia in public messages to others on Facebook, messaged me multiple times telling me my boyfriend was cheating on me, that I was nothing more than `a clingy bitch, slut and loser,”‘ said one student who was interviewed in a focus group.

Faculty members — mostly women — also said they’ve been harassed online by students or colleagues.

In one interview, a professor said she was bombarded with emails and text messages from a student who called her lousy, incompetent and useless.

“I am reporting you a they will take away your licence, you are so stupid,” the professor recalled from one message.

In another school, an instructor found herself fighting a losing battle against a colleague who was convinced she was gossiping about her.

“She texted me 73 times in one day, and over a week it was about 180 messages. When I didn’t respond, it was worse,” the instructor said.

Cassidy said the emergence of cyberbullying in an older population comes with grown-up consequences, such as ruined professional relationships or reputations, anxiety, sleep deprivation and thoughts of suicide.

“There was a fair proportion of people — both faculty and students — who said it made them feel suicidal … which is quite frightening, particularly when you think of faculty members.

“There should be some element of security that they don’t have to worry about colleagues bullying them, but obviously they do feel like maybe there’s no way out, there’s no way getting around it.”

The sense of helplessness is not uncommon, Cassidy said. The anonymity granted to cyberbullies makes it difficult to go after perpetrators.

And as more communications occur online, it becomes harder to avoid the angst that comes with reading a potentially abusive email or comment, Cassidy said.

She added that the website Rate My Professor, which allows students to grade teachers anonymously and post comments, is particularly distressing for instructors.

“Insulting and lied about me,” said one professor, who claimed a student wrote defamatory remarks on the website.

“I did not really feel good about going to that class knowing that someone was hating me. I almost talked about it with the class, but decided not to. It was pretty depressing and unmotivating. It was also pretty mean.”

There are ways professors can combat negative comments, such as posting a video rebuttal, but for the most part, many feel there is little they can do, Cassidy said.

“You just have to forget about it and hope that it’s not affecting (whether students will) take your course, or other professors are looking at it and it’s your reputation.”

Just over half of the surveyed students and faculty said they tried to stop cyberbullying. But less than half of them reported success. Cassidy said that’s partly because few university policies specifically address online bullying.

The research team examined 465 policies from 75 universities between November 2011 and January 2012.

One of the researchers, Simon Fraser criminology professor emerita Margaret Jackson said that many of the universities seemed dubious that online harassment in higher education should be considered cyberbullying.

“The connotation seems more applicable to younger individuals,” Jackson said. “I think we’ve moved through that now, so there is an appreciation that if this isn’t cyberbullying, it might be cyber harassment.”

The study found most universities did have policies around student conduct, discrimination and harassment, but not all were specific to online venues.

Jackson said devising clear-cut policies is a good start, but universities should also put resources into counselling and prevention to reduce cyberbullying.

“I think there needs to be an appreciation on the part of faculty and students that there is an impact to their behaviour and they should be acting respectfully,” Jackson said.

One of the papers resulting from the study will be published in the Canadian Journal of Higher Education this year. Two other papers are being peer-reviewed.

Vivian Luk, The Canadian Press
Published Tuesday, March 11, 2014

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Survey suggests Indian businesses don’t see value of international graduates

May 28th, 2014 | No Comments | Posted in Education

A new survey from Sannam S4 has revealed that International Universities and Colleges looking to recruit students from India need to work harder to convince corporate India about the value of an international education.

The survey reveals that, contrary to received wisdom, Indian companies can be reluctant to hire candidates with overseas academic qualifications, rather than actively recruiting them – despite the fact that no Indian Universities are listed in the top 200 in the QS World Rankings 2013 as well as the Times Higher Education World University Rankings for 2013.

The result: Indian businesses are missing out on a huge talent pool with the skills to help businesses grow both domestically and internationally.

The Sannam S4 survey questioned 559 Indian graduates who returned to India after achieving academic qualifications from overseas; along with 71 prominent Indian companies from various sectors.

The survey details the perceptions of hiring managers in Indian companies and reviews the source of their prejudices in recruiting graduates with overseas qualifications. A number of interesting themes have emerged from the research, namely:

  • Companies in India are willing to pay a premium for candidates from premier domestic engineering and management institutes. However, they do not realise that no Indian University is listed in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2013.
  • Companies are generally unaware of the benefits of hiring international degree holders. There has been very little done to highlight the quality of international universities and the opportunities for corporate India. Other than the top few global brands, there is a general lack of awareness about overseas quality institutions.
  • Recruitment in large domestic and multi-national companies in India is still almost exclusively carried out at graduate fairs at Indian universities with overseas graduates not considered.
  • Indian companies believe that students with international degrees are largely on a par in terms of skills and knowledge with Indian degree holders. Concerns about higher remuneration and a lack of cultural fit were also given as reasons for resisting hiring.

In response, the report suggests that overseas institutions need to urgently boost the employability of their alumni through sustained campaigns in India about the advantages of hiring international degree holders.

In particular, there should be a focus on the business-specific skills like lateral thinking skills, domain expertise, superior communication skills, and a strong team ethic – all of which are accepted as strong attributes of international degree holders. For a free copy of the report, please click here.

2 March 2014

College offers better ROI than university in some jobs

May 27th, 2014 | No Comments | Posted in Education

A new study by University of Toronto’s Martin Prosperity Institute reveals that while a university education generally offers a higher return on investment (measured in increased earnings over those with only high school diplomas), there are certain occupations in which a college degree offers a better ROI. In healthcare, senior management and legal services, people with university degrees make about 40% more than those with no PSE credential, while those with college degrees make roughly 20% more. However, chefs and cooks, child-care workers, and sales people who have college credentials make about 20% more than those with only high school, while those with university degrees make roughly 5% to 10% more, according to the study. In the trades, including construction and transportation, college credentials offer a 20% premium over a high school diploma, while university adds only 5%.

Ever wondered whether an applied college degree or a traditional university degree will add more to your paycheque?

The answer depends on what industry you work in, according to a new study published by the Martin Prosperity Institute at the University of Toronto. While university degrees generally offer a higher rate of return (as measured by increased earnings over people with only high school diplomas), there are some jobs where the college degree is worth more.

Not surprisingly, university rules in health care, senior management and in the legal field. In those industries, workers with university degrees make about 40 per cent more than those with no post-secondary credential, while college degrees bring only about 20 per cent more earning power.

But chefs and cooks, child-care workers and sales people who have college credentials have a roughly 20 per cent advantage over those with only high school, while those with university better their pay by only five to 10 per cent.

And in the trades, including construction and transportation, college credentials offer roughly a 20 per cent premium over high school alone while university adds only about five per cent.

What’s not considered in the study is the fact that there may be an advantage to earning a university degree and then adding a college credential. To read more about The College Advantage, click here.

This was first published online on Sep. 23, 2011.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

More than 85% of new Canadian jobs created in Alberta

May 26th, 2014 | No Comments | Posted in Canada

When it comes to job creation in Canada, there’s Alberta and then there’s everybody else.

The latest employment data for February showed that the oil-rich western province created an impressive 18,800 jobs, largely in construction, mining and oil and gas, while in the rest of the country overall employment fell.

Economists warn against staking too much on any one-month data point, but the February result is no outlier.

As the Statistics Canada report issued Friday showed, Alberta is responsible for almost all the new net jobs generated in the past year — 82,300 of the 94,700 country-wide, or 87 per cent — as the province saw employment rise an impressive 3.8 per cent.

By comparison, provinces not called Alberta only gained about 12,000 which, for the purposes of the agency’s survey, constitutes a rounding error.

“I know this is not a new story but it’s becoming extreme,” said Doug Porter, the Bank of Montreal’s chief economist. “In the last 12 months, Alberta is the only province that’s seen meaningful growth. They’ve had job gains of nearly four per cent and meanwhile six provinces have seen declines and one’s been flat.”

The other provinces in the positive territory, although far below Alberta’s bounty, are Ontario with an overall pickup of 28,700, which given the large population base is only an increase of 0.4 per cent, and Saskatchewan, where employment rose a healthier 0.9 per cent by adding 5,200 net new jobs.

One way of looking at, says CIBC chief economist Avery Shenfeld, is that the labour market in Canada is working as it should. Canadians are moving to where the jobs are.

And the numbers do show that aside from creating jobs, the western province is steadily increasing its workforce, by 81,300 in the past 12 months alone.

But Shenfeld concedes it’s a serious problem for provincial governments that are on the losing end of worker migration, sapping their ability to raise revenue and pay for services. While most provinces remain in deficit, Alberta on Thursday reported it would post a surplus this year, although some quibbled with the province’s accounting practices.

A spokesperson from the Finance Department said the post-recession period, where over one million jobs have been created, does not show as dramatic a tilt toward Alberta, but added that in general the strong performance of the province’s economy since 2009 has been “a positive thing for Canada.”

Although the recent dramatic tilt may be exaggerated by cyclical factors, the direction of jobs flow has been apparent for some time.

With Canada’s manufacturing sector on its knees and home construction tapped out, two of the biggest industries operating in heavily-populated Central Canada have essentially produced no net jobs in the past year.

And another big employer — government — has shed more than 41,000 workers as Ottawa and other non-resource provinces focus on eliminating deficits.

“These figures illustrate the folly of imposing public-service cuts on a stagnant job market,” said Erin Weir, an economist with the United Steelworkers.

Canadian Labour Congress economist Angella MacEwen said there are essentially two labour markets in Canada, that one in Alberta and Saskatchewan, and the one in rest of Canada.

“The first thing to recognize is that there’s a problem,” she said, “because if we recognize what is happening, then the problem in Ontario, Quebec, the Atlantic provinces and B.C. looks much worse.”

She and other labour economists are calling for governments to become more involved in the economy by spending on infrastructure, the green economy and other measures that, in the long run, create the conditions for economic expansion and hiring, adding that she would like to see Ottawa establish a forum with business and unions to thrash out ideas.

That would help, agrees Porter, but doesn’t recommend governments going into deep debt to try and engineer a short-term fix. He notes the last federal budget did contain some measures that should help in the long term, including money for the Champlain Bridge in Quebec and the Windsor-Detroit bridge, along with money for the auto industry.

“If you treat it as something you try and accomplish in a short period of time, the results are only going to last a short period of time,” he said.

In a speech earlier in the week, Bank of Canada deputy governor John Murray expressed some confusion about the economy’s behaviour of late, acknowledging that it “has not been unfolding exactly as we had expected.”

At the heart of the problem is that non-commodity exports, mostly manufactured goods, have been unusually weak given the strengthening global growth, he said.

And business investment has been soft despite “healthy corporate balance sheets,” what former governor Mark Carney called the “dead money” problem.

The federal government has done its bit, Carney had observed, cutting corporate income taxes, but the bounty had not been put to work to expand and create jobs.

Carney’s observation is now several years old, but while current Bank of Canada governor Stephen Poloz continues to point to what he calls the “rotation” from housing-driven growth to exports and investment, that still has yet to materialize.

Shenfeld believes the weaker Canadian dollar, once the new level at about 90 cents US has had a chance to flow through the system, will help elevate exports and create more jobs in the manufacturing sector. A robust U.S. recovery is also critical, something that is out of the hands of Canadian policy-makers.

As well, he says that given that gross domestic product growth has been stronger in the second half of 2013 than job creation, he believes there might be some catch-up going forward.

But the underlying truth will remain, he says, that given the global demand for resources, “the West is best” theme will continue in Canada for some time.

Julian Beltrame, The Canadian Press
Published Sunday, March 9, 2014 9:20AM EDT
Last Updated Sunday, March 9, 2014 10:51AM EDT

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Canada’s top 3 universities slip in THE 2014 world rankings

May 25th, 2014 | No Comments | Posted in Canada, Education

The University of Toronto, McGill University, and the University of British Columbia have all ranked in the Top 50 universities in the Times Higher Education World Reputation Rankings 2014. The top Canadian universities slipped slightly from last year, with uToronto falling to number 20 from 16, and both McGill and UBC falling to number 33 from 31 in 2013. To come up with the rankings, THE used data from an invitation-only survey of 10,536 “experienced, published scholars” from 133 countries. THE Rankings Editor Phil Baty says the drop of all 3 universities is a warning. “Maybe it means Canada is punching below its weight,” says Baty. “It’s all about branding and how Canada is perceived in the world, and Canada is clearly in the shadow of the US.”


The Times Higher Education World Reputation Rankings 2014 employ the world’s largest invitation-only academic opinion survey to provide the definitive list of the top 100 most powerful global university brands. A spin-off of the annual Times Higher Education World University Rankings, the reputation league table is based on nothing more than subjective judgement – but it is the considered expert judgement of senior, published academics – the people best placed to know the most about excellence in our universities.

World Reputation Rankings 2014

Rank Institution Location Overall score
1 Harvard University United States
2 Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) United States
3 Stanford University United States
4 University of Cambridge United Kingdom
5 University of Oxford United Kingdom
6 University of California, Berkeley United States
7 Princeton University United States
8 Yale University United States
9 California Institute of Technology (Caltech) United States
10 University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) United States
11 The University of Tokyo Japan
12 Columbia University United States
13 Imperial College London United Kingdom
14 University of Chicago United States
15 University of Michigan United States
16 ETH Zürich – Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zürich Switzerland
17 Cornell University United States
18 Johns Hopkins University United States
19 Kyoto University Japan
20 University of Toronto Canada
21 National University of Singapore (NUS) Singapore
22 University of Pennsylvania United States
23 University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign United States
24 London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) United Kingdom
25 University College London (UCL) United Kingdom
26 Seoul National University Republic of Korea
27 New York University (NYU) United States
28 University of Wisconsin-Madison United States
29 Carnegie Mellon University United States
30 Duke University United States
31 University of Washington United States
32 University of California, San Francisco United States
33 University of British Columbia Canada
33 McGill University Canada
33 University of Texas at Austin United States
36 Tsinghua University China
37 Northwestern University United States
38 Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) United States
39 Pennsylvania State University United States
40 University of California, San Diego United States
41 Peking University China
42 Delft University of Technology Netherlands
43 The University of Hong Kong Hong Kong
43 King’s College London United Kingdom
43 University of Melbourne Australia
46 University of Edinburgh United Kingdom
46 Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München Germany
48 Purdue University United States
49 École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne Switzerland
50 Osaka University Japan

All three of Canada’s top universities slipped marginally in the 2014 World Reputation Rankings — a sign that the federal government’s pledge in February’s budget to invest $1.5 billion in new research funding may be just what the country’s universities need to bolster their sex appeal in a competitive world market.

Although the University of Toronto is still ranked higher than McGill University — and is the only Canadian university to crack the top 20 — the gap did narrow a bit between them.

U of T slipped to the 20th spot from 16th, while McGill and the University of British Columbia both dropped two places to 33rd.

The U.S.’s stable of elite universities remained solidly at the head of the pack, with the country’s universities only gaining strength and the U.S. being the undisputed superpower when it comes to university brands.

The Times Higher Education World Reputation Rankings, made public on Wednesday, is a list of the world’s 100 most prestigious universities. The 2014 results are based on 10,536 responses from published senior academics.


It is valued not just by students, who consult such lists and rankings when choosing schools, but institutional reputation has also been shown to be of paramount importance for international academics deciding on job offers.

Phil Baty, editor of THE Rankings, said in an interview from London, England that a drop by all three of Canada’s universities in the rankings is a warning.

“Maybe it means Canada is punching below its weight,” he said. “It’s all about branding and how Canada is perceived in the world, and Canada is clearly in the shadow of the U.S.”

He believes that three top institutions for a nation of Canada’s size doesn’t seem particularly healthy. Compare it with 46 for the U.S., 10 for the U.K. and six for Germany. Even the Netherlands, less than half the size of Canada, has more top 100 institutions (four).

“In a highly globalized higher education sector, where academic reputation is the key to attracting international talent, investment and collaborations, this should be cause for concern,” Baty said.

While he believes the three Canadian universities are fantastic universities and still well entrenched in the top 40, he notes that McGill, in particular, has had a tough time recently.

Its image has taken a hit, he believes, because of the university’s battles with finances, public funding and student protests.

“McGill’s image has been disproportionately hit,” he said.

But he believes the federal government’s pledge to boost research funding could be key in bringing in new talent — depending on how it is doled out and who get the lion’s share.

Canada’s egalitarian system could be holding it back, says Baty, and other countries — like the U.K. and Germany — are starting to have success with a more stratified approach that gives more money to leading research institutions to help them make further advancements.

“You can’t fund every university to be world class,” said Baty. “If you fund every institution equally they will sink to the level of mediocrity rather than any of them rising to the top.”

Canada’s universities have pushed in the last year for a strategic investment in excellence to position Canada as a world leader in research and innovation, and they welcomed the government’s initiative in boosting support to research. But Baty says the government has to buy into the idea that, to fuel the economy, you have to use resources to create powerhouses.

He believes that’s when Canada’s universities may start working their way up the reputation rankings again.

While none of the popular rankings that come out periodically throughout the year can be considered scientific, they are taken into consideration by many people around the world.

And, as Baty notes about the reputation rankings: “They have become a closely watched and vital indicator of the fortunes of global university brands.”

MARCH 5, 2014





Motivate Your Lapsed Donors

May 24th, 2014 | No Comments | Posted in Fundraising

You know all too well how many of your donors are lapsed. But your donors don’t think of themselves as ‘lapsed.’ They aren’t going around with heads hung in shame because they haven’t given in a while. In fact, most of them still think of themselves as donors. So all you have to do is remind them of that fact. Let them know how much you appreciated the last time they gave, and the last amount they gave. Tell them you miss their support.

Here are some things to keep in mind when communicating with your lapsed donors:

  • Not all lapsed donors are created equal. Make sure your plan for lapsed reactivation takes into account previous recency, frequency and giving performance levels. Your most loyal donors deserve more personalized attention, while others may belong in your acquisition program.
  • The best way to reach lapsed donors is at times of the year and with appeals they have responded to in the past. This will help you inspire them to recommit.
  • Of course, it’s always best if donors don’t lapse in the first place! Constantly identify those donors in danger of lapsing, especially donors who give every year, and target them with highly personalized treatment to increase retention.

By Vickie Smith and Jessica Carty
iFund News 

3 Ways to Stay On-Message for Maximum Response

May 23rd, 2014 | No Comments | Posted in Fundraising, Marketing

Veering off course in your appeals — even with the best of intentions — can dampen your fundraising effectiveness.

In the heat of the primary campaign in the last presidential election cycle, candidate Mitt Romney was on the hustings in Iowa giving a talk before a crowd of supporters, and that’s when it happened.

Just as he launched into his point about raising taxes on people, a heckler shouted, “Corporations!” To which Romney responded, “Corporations are people, my friend.” A testy exchange between candidate and heckler ensued, and just that fast, a skilled politician veered off-message, swerving down a perilous road.

Going off-message doesn’t happen only in politics. Truth is, it happens in fundraising more often than we’d like to admit. You can see it in appeals that send mixed messages, lack clear direction and never come together, seeming like collections of unrelated parts rather than a coherent whole with a single, compelling point.

It’s the inevitable result when the creative team strays from the most important part of any online or offline appeal — the offer. You’re in a brainstorming session with ideas bouncing around, and before you know it, your appeal ends up as a mishmash of contradictory elements, some supporting the offer, some undercutting it. What will donors think? You don’t have to guess. They’ll tell you loud and clear by not responding.

Here are three ways to make sure your appeal stays on-message for maximum impact and response.

1. Develop a strong offer

In order to stay on-message, you first need the right one. A strong offer is a clear statement about what your donor will do and what she’ll receive in return. It’s the deal, the transaction, the quid pro quo. But it’s something more, too. Your offer is the emotional link between your donor and your nonprofit’s mission. It’s an expression of your donor’s aspirations about being a good person and the validation of those aspirations, all put into action through the work your nonprofit does.

To be effective, your offer should do a number of things. It should present donors with a specific opportunity to do good. It should convey donor benefits, which can be tangible (like a premium) and intangible (like making a difference). It should tell your donor what to do and why. It should convey some sense of urgency, either implied or explicit (like a specific deadline to respond). And it should show your donor that she’s getting a good deal.

March 2014


“Fear and horror” becoming popular area of study

May 22nd, 2014 | No Comments | Posted in Education

Courses on zombie movies and television shows, and other “fear and horror-themed” courses, have become popular with students and scholars in the past several years. The last 5 years have seen 20 new scholarly books with “zombie” in the title or topic category, according to book distributor Baker & Taylor. The online archive JSTOR says journals have run 39 articles on zombie entertainment since 2005, versus 7 in the preceding 10 years. Zombie and other horror-based courses have become so popular with students that Texas’ Lone Star College decided to use “fear and horror” as the theme of its initiative aiming to encourage students to stay in PSE. The theme was so successful that students wearing “Fear and Horror” T-shirts that list the classes offered have coordinated community-service activities such as a blood drive and a food drive disguised as a game of capture the flag.

Students at Lone Star College, in Texas, are learning about sociology by preparing for a “zombie apocalypse,” a drama class is tackling stage fright, and biology students are studying what happens when organisms attack. The “fear and horror”-themed courses are one of the more colorful examples of the kind of out-of-the-box thinking that the League for Innovation in the Community College is showcasing this week at its annual meeting here.

The Lone Star initiative, which includes movies, community-service activities, and other events aimed at encouraging students to stick around, was hatched in 2011, when six faculty members at one of the community-college system’s campuses brainstormed over lunch about students’ lack of motivation and involvement at the college. The faculty members came up with the idea of creating a catchy theme they could all play around with.

“We decided on fear and horror, and some people recoiled and said, ‘Why couldn’t you choose peace and love?’” said Deirdre Hayes-Cootz, director of instructional support on the system’s Montgomery campus. “But it’s not for us; it’s about engaging students.”

The idea proved popular. “Two days later, we had 13 instructors with 16 different sections saying they wanted in,” said Jared D. Cootz, a professor of sociology on the Montgomery campus and Ms. Hayes-Cootz’s husband.

By this past fall, the group had grown to 26 instructors in 19 disciplines teaching more than 1,200 students. Among the course offerings, an English class studies fear and horror through the ages, and a business class examines “the horror of missed business opportunities.”

Students sporting “Fear and Horror” T-shirts that list the classes offered have coordinated community-service activities such as a blood drive and a food drive disguised as a game of capture the flag.

‘High-Impact Practices’

Engaging students in after-class activities and connecting learning to topics they’re interested in are both strategies that the Center for Community College Student Engagement identifies as “high-impact practices” thathelp community colleges succeed.

The center’s director, Kay M. McClenney, wrote in an email on Monday that the program “reflects ingenuity and imagination at Lone Star.”

The classes are offered on the system’s Montgomery campus as well as at its center in Conroe, where it helps to have a supportive dean. “She clears out all the clutter and says, ‘Here’s your space. Go create,’” Ms. Hayes-Cootz said.

The Conroe center’s director, Becky Duncan-Ramirez, said in-class tutoring and library support have been incorporated into some of the courses to allow students who score near the cutoff for placement in remedial courses to enroll directly in credit-bearing classes.

At the Montgomery campus, Mr. Cootz teaches sociology through the perspective of a zombie invasion, examining, for instance, how cultural attitudes about right and wrong may change during a crisis and what happens to groups when there are no rules.

“There’s more critical thinking and less rote learning and memorization,” he said. While they are having more fun, students who are used to knowing exactly what’s going to be on the test and how many pages they need to write for a paper often struggle with the less-predictable format.

Over all, students who participated in the themed classes performed better than those in regular versions of the classes. On the Montgomery campus, for instance, 87 percent of the students enrolled in the horror-infused introductory English class this fall passed it, compared with 78 percent of the students enrolled in the traditional version of the class systemwide.

Future themes include heroes and villains and pop culture.

March 4, 2014
By Katherine Mangan