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President of Korean Center Guilty of N.Y. Charges

November 26th, 2014 | No Comments | Posted in News and Updates

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Authorities say the president of the nonprofit Korean Social Service Center has pleaded guilty to grand larceny, fraud and tax fraud charges in a scheme to prey on elderly Korean-Americans by taking money and falsely promising placements in preferred housing.

Ock Chul Ha of Fort Lee, New Jersey, faces one to three years in state prison under the plea agreement. Sentencing is in March.

According to Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, the Korean Social Service Center in Manhattan will be shuttered, and victims who cooperated with the investigation have received restitution judgments.

An investigation showed that over three years, the 37-year-old Ha fraudulently took money from dozens clients seeking advice about Medicare and Social Security, promising placement in New York City’s affordable-housing program.

Ock Chul Ha of Fort Lee, N.J., pleaded guilty to charges of grand larceny, fraud, and tax fraud and faces one to three years in prison under an agreement with state authorities. Sentencing is scheduled for March. In a criminal complaint filed last May, state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said Mr. Ha, 37, fraudulently collected $780,000 from dozens of clients of the Korean Social Service Center, which will be shut down.

Republicans’ Senate Wins Boost Prospects of Tax Changes for Nonprofits

November 26th, 2014 | No Comments | Posted in Fundraising

With Republicans poised to take control of the Senate following November 4th’s elections, it is likely that lawmakers will dig deep into the tax code soon after a new Congress is sworn in next year. While that means added scrutiny on the charitable deduction and the tax treatment of nonprofits, charity leaders are confident a solidly Republican Congress will keep their cherished provisions intact.

Before the current Congress wraps up its business, however, charity officials expect lawmakers to consider certain items in the tax code, including moving the deadline for claiming the charitable deduction from the end of the year until April 15 as well as a set of tax preferences that are usually renewed each year.

Also, Congress has yet to take action this year on the “tax extenders,” expiring provisions of the tax code that include benefits for land conservation, donations to food banks, and contributions to charity made from certain retirement accounts.

Republicans strengthened their hold on the House of Representatives, and will hold at least 52 seats in the Senate. Michelle Nunn, a nonprofit executive who ran for the Senate in Georgia, was among the candidates Democrats were counting on to help them keep control of that chamber, but she was defeated handily by Republican David Perdue.

Next year, when Republicans control the Senate and operate with an even stronger hand in the House, they are likely to consider a much more comprehensive tax overhaul. While the chances of enacting the first major changes to the tax code since 1986 are slim, some say, any legislative action during the next session of Congress will set the stage for future tax debates during the 2016 presidential campaign.

“I don’t know if a Republican-controlled congress can present to the president a bill he could sign,” says Sue Santa, senior vice president for public policy at the Council on Foundations. “Nevertheless it will be a very important marker for what’s ahead with tax reform.”

Less Oversight

Ms. Santa and other nonprofit leaders expressed confidence that Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), who is expected to take over as chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, would push for a tax overhaul that protects provisions like the charitable tax deduction that are designed to encourage more giving. Sen. Hatch, unlike the last Republican chairman of the committee, Iowa’s Charles Grassley, is unlikely to focus as heavily on nonprofit oversight.

“He doesn’t appear to have the same appetite to go after the charitable sector for alleged misdeeds,” says Diana Aviv, president of Independent Sector, a membership organization of foundations, nonprofits, and corporate-giving programs.

A major tax rewrite isn’t out of the question, Ms. Aviv says, but “there are a lot of ‘ifs’ ” that make completing legislation difficult.

There is a “fair chance” that a tax bill will be completed, according to Steve Taylor, senior vice president for public policy at the United Way.

“Sen. Hatch told the United Way point blank that if the Republicans took over the Senate, Republicans would enact tax reform in 2015,” he says.

If that’s the case, merging a Senate bill with House legislation will become an easier task.

“When it comes down to negotiating with Republicans in the House, Sen. Hatch won’t be talking with the Ways and Means chairman from a partisan perspective,” Mr. Taylor says.

It’s unclear who will be chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, the tax-writing panel on the House side. Republican Reps. Paul Ryan (Wisc.) and Kevin Brady (Texas) are the top contenders.

Top Nonprofit Issues

Nonprofit organizations are watching legislation and executive action on the following issues:

  • Internal Revenue Service rules governing 501c(4) social-welfare organizations. The IRS is considering what constitutes political activity by these groups and whether their donors can remain anonymous.
  • Foundation excise taxes. The House has passed a measure to simplify and lower this tax to 1 percent.
  • A proposal to require donor-advised funds to pay out at least 5 percent of their assets each year.
  • The provision of federal support for social-impact bonds that fund “pay for success” efforts at the state and local levels.
  • Pending rules that limit how to conduct federated campaigns. The United Way hopes a Republican Congress will remove recently added federal regulations.

Tax Extenders

Congress is likely to take action on the tax-extender package during the lame-duck session between now and the new year.

“It’s not out of the question that individual provisions or packages of individual provisions could move,” says Ms. Santa of the Council on Foundations.

A bill passed by the House, the “American Gives More Act,” would make the charitable tax provisions permanent and give people until April 15 to claim a tax deduction on charitable gifts made the previous year.

The best chance for passage of those items is during the final two months of the current Congress, according to David Thompson, vice president for public policy at the National Council of Nonprofits.

“We want to resolve our issues now while we still can,” he says.

Others, including Independent Sector’s Ms. Aviv and Sandra Swirski, executive director of the Alliance for Charitable Reform, say it is unlikely Congress will pass all of the provisions in the act this year.

Some nonprofit tax experts, including Eugene Steuerle, senior fellow at the Urban Institute, have argued that an April deadline would prompt more charitable giving.

While Ms. Swirski supports the plan, she says the estimated cost to the U.S. Treasury of $2-billion scared off some Senate Finance Committee members.

But she predicts members of the House Ways and Means Committee, which is “chock-full of businesspeople” would keep the measure alive next year.

Change in Attitude

Those House members, Ms. Swirski says, believe that taxpayers, particularly small-business owners, are in a better position to give to charity after the completion of the first quarter, after they close the books on the previous year.

“They know that it’s not until the dust has settled that they really have an idea of their profits.”

Making such a change would be difficult, especially for organizations that rely on end-of-the-year fundraising campaigns for a big chunk of their revenue, says Andrew Watt, president of the Association of Fundraising Professionals.

Mr. Watt said he is “generally supportive” of moving the deadline, but he cautions that large organizations need to buy in to the change. While allowing people until April 15 to claim deductions could ultimately attract more gifts, the end of the year is prime fundraising time, he says.

“Fundraising is predicated on emotion and engagement,” he says. “The holiday season tends to be an emotional and, one hopes, spiritual high point.”

By Alex Daniels
November 5, 2014
The Chronicle of Philanthropy

Send an e-mail to Alex Daniels.

Giving Tuesday: I’ve Changed My Mind

November 25th, 2014 | No Comments | Posted in Annual Giving, Fundraising

I think I ruffled some feathers last year with my post about Giving Tuesday, “Is Giving Tuesday Really Successful? (Don’t Hate Me For Asking!).”

This year I’ve changed my mind but perhaps not in the way you might imagine. There are certainly good stats on the last few years. Thanks to the folks over at MobileCause and their Giving Tuesday Infographic, we know the numbers obviously were better in 2013 than in 2012.

In 2012 Giving Tuesday raised $10 million with an average donation size of $101; in 2013 Giving Tuesday raised $19 million with an average donation size of $142. Clearly if the goal was to raise more money, it worked. I still have all the same questions about the type of donors that are being raised — do they retain, are they mission-specific, etc.? But I’ve changed my mind about one thing. I’m not sure it really matters that I have questions about the money and the donors.

With all the nonprofits in the U.S., raising $19 million seems small, but in my opinion the benefit is what is happening on that day around the dinner tables and in personal conversations. Our goal as an industry should be to continue to push the conversation to a broader level. I think we all saw the power of social media earlier this year with the Ice Bucket Challenge. Whether people actually donated every time they talked about it on social media or not, the fact that it was dominating the social conversation for a few weeks was the benefit. Social media and all digital channels should be leveraged to raise awareness of the continued need for giving to all generations around Giving Tuesday.

I’m not going to give away all the thoughts in the great MobileCause infographic, but it also provides eight ideas for how NPOs can strengthen fundraising on Giving Tuesday. The key here seems to be to raise awareness and money. In other words, ask your donors to also do things that are not just giving a credit card or writing a check. Ask them to talk to their friends and post photos of themselves and how they are getting involved in Giving Tuesday.

Remember, “giving” can also mean giving your time, or accessing your personal and social networks to get involved in something that is important to you, etc.

When all the money is counted for 2014, will it be fantastic if we have another 40 percent increase in revenue from last year? Yes!!!! But, perhaps the other metrics we need to be tracking to define success are around nonfinancial impact. How many tweets? How many photos associated with #GivingTuesday, etc.? As the infographic states, these numbers are small right now, but any growth means the message is getting out broader and broader.

While the data nerd in me really wants to know how many new donors are generated to a charity because of Giving Tuesday and how they retain, I’ve decided to not worry about that anymore and watch how the buzz continues to grow each year. Of course, now the goal is to measure all the buzz … stay tuned!

By Angie Moore | Posted on October 21, 2014
Fundraising Success Magazine

NAIT partners with Edmonton school boards on “first of its kind” collegiate

November 21st, 2014 | No Comments | Posted in Education

A planned Edmonton high school that is reportedly the first of its kind in North America will allow students to fast-track their PSE education. The new collegiate, the result of a partnership between the Edmonton Catholic and public school boards, the provincial government, and the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology, will focus on students interested in STEM courses, with students being able to earn PSE credits as early as grade 11. The school will be built on land just east of NAIT, allowing students to have access to the institution’s labs. “These children will be taking the Alberta curriculum from [grades] 9-12 but it will be enhanced by what NAIT offers us. NAIT’s partnership will allow them to not only use world-class facilities but also get credits in Grade 11 and get exposure to what it would be like to be in whatever particular science, technology, engineering, mathematics career they are looking at,” said Debbie Engel, a spokesperson for the Edmonton Catholic School Board.

A new high school being developed in Edmonton will be the first of its kind in North America by allowing students to fast-track their post-secondary education.

According to a spokesperson for the Edmonton Catholic School Board, the Grade 9-12 collegiate is a partnership between the government, NAIT and both Catholic and public schools.

“It will cater to students who have strong interests in working with their hands and an aptitude for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics,” Debbie Engel explained.

File photo

“It will be like a seamless entry into NAIT or the U of A because they will start it in Grade 9 and by Grade 11 they will earn postsecondary credits, which will accelerate their entry into the workforce.”

Engel said that will in turn strengthen Alberta’s economy.

The school will be built on the land east of the boundary of NAIT and allow students to study the subjects in-depth and have access to NAIT labs, she explained.

“These children will still be taking the Alberta curriculum from nine-12 but it will be enhanced by what NAIT offers us.

“NAIT’s partnership will allow them to not only use world-class facilities but also get credits in Grade 11 and get exposure to what it would be like to be in whatever particular science, technology, engineering, mathematics career they are looking at.”

The possibility appeals to Grade 6 student Ethan Robinson who said he plans on a career in science.

“I learn better if I do something and learn from that and I look at that and I take that knowledge and then I put it down to paper. I find copying is just a little too blanch for me.”

Although there is no completion date set yet, Engel said the publically-funded facility may be open as early as 2016.

“I think there will be a really, really, really strong movement to get this collegiate going.”

By Chandra Lye, CTV Edmonton
Published Sunday, October 26, 2014 2:04PM MDT

How to Ensure You Are CASL Compliant

November 20th, 2014 | No Comments | Posted in Email, Marketing

On July 1, 2014, the Canada Anti-Spam Legislation of 2014 (“CASL”) came into effect. If you are sending marketing emails or other electronic messages to people in Canada, you need to be aware of the new rules to avoid potentially substantial penalties.

Under CASL, it is illegal to send to or from a Canadian computer a “commercial electronic message” unless the recipient has consented to receiving the message. CASL also requires that all commercial electronic messages include an unsubscribe mechanism.

What Communications Are Affected?
A commercial electronic message is any message sent in electronic format to an electronic address that encourages the recipient to take part in some commercial activity, including the promotion of products or services. Email is clearly covered by CASL, and so is certain social media messaging. For example, a Facebook wall post would not be covered by CASL, but a message sent directly to social media users using Facebook messaging or LinkedIn messaging could be deemed a commercial electronic message.

How Do You Obtain the Consent of the Recipient?
A recipient’s consent can be either “express” or “implied.” A request for express consent must include:

  • The sender’s contact information;
  • The purpose of the consent; and
  • The fact that the recipient can revoke consent at any time.

Express consent requires the recipient to actively “opt-in.” A message informing the recipient that they will receive commercial electronic messages unless they check or uncheck a box or click a button to opt-out is NOT sufficient. Further, a “commercial electronic message” cannot be used to obtain express consent, so a separate communication must be used to obtain consent prior to sending a commercial electronic message.

Express consent that was obtained prior to the effective date of CASL will remain as valid consent until withdrawn by the consenting person.

Consent can be implied in the following circumstances:

  • The recipient has an “existing business relationship” with the sender, which includes circumstances in which the recipient has, in the two years prior to the commercial electronic message, purchased a product or service from the sender or accepted a business, investment or gaming opportunity from the sender;
  • If the sender is a registered charity or political party or candidate, the recipient has an “existing non-business relationship” with the sender, which includes circumstances in which the recipient has made a donation or gift to the sender or performed volunteer work for the sender in the two years prior to the commercial electronic message;
  • If the sender is a club, association or volunteer organization, the recipient has been a member of such organization in the two years prior to the commercial electronic message; and
  • The recipient’s electronic address was sent by the recipient to the sender or conspicuously published by the recipient in each case without any restriction on the receipt of commercial electronic messages IF the commercial electronic message is relevant to the recipient’s business, role, function or duties in a business or official capacity.

Identification of Sender and Unsubscribe Procedure

In addition to obtaining consent, commercial electronic messages must contain 1) the identity of the sender and anyone on whose behalf the message is being sent, 2) the sender’s contact information and 3) a free, simple, quick and easy mechanism that allows the recipient to unsubscribe from future commercial electronic messages. The sender must give effect to an unsubscribe request within 10 business days of the request being sent.


Penalties for violations of CASL can be as high as $1 million for individuals and $10 million for businesses per violation. Further, individual directors, officers and agents of a company may be personally liable for violations they have authorized or in which they have participated.

If you are currently sending marketing or promotional materials to or from Canadian computers, you should review your contact database to determine if you have either implied or express consent from the recipients in your database. If not, steps should be taken to obtain consent before further commercial electronic messages are sent. Also, all commercial electronic messages should be reviewed to confirm they include the required sender identification and method for unsubscribing.

Moving forward, businesses should consider adopting compliance policies and procedures to ensure that data is collected and used in a manner that complies with CASL and other anti-spam laws and regulations.

By Philip Schroeder
September 10, 2014
Target Marketing Magazine

5 Back-to-Work Supplies for Fundraisers

November 19th, 2014 | No Comments | Posted in Fundraising

By now, most students are back in school, college football has begun and the leaves are beginning to turn in a few places, no doubt. Adults are putting away the lawn chairs, coolers and summer clothes (or is it now OK to wear white shoes after Labor Day?!) and thinking about the approach of winter (however that plays out in your corner of the globe).

And fundraisers are (or should be) thinking about Dec. 31. After all, it’s about 16 weeks to the end of 2014 and the close of what is generally the most important season of the fundraising calendar.

A well-supplied fundraiser heads back to the office this month with the right tools to make the most of these remaining weeks and ensure a healthy finish to the year in terms of fundraising programs. Here’s what’s in my backpack, so to speak, as I look ahead to the end of 2014.

1. Books
Yes, just about everything you need to know now is online (as long as we are careful to choose sources that are writing from experience, not hearsay). But taking a longer look at a topic than you will get in an article can help you incorporate the learnings, not just say, “Wow, that’s good — I should do that sometime.”

I admit I am guilty of buying books and not always reading them right away. But I select a book that I feel will fill a gap in my knowledge or add to my experience when I see it, even if I set it aside to read on the next weekend trip or quiet afternoon. Right now, “Retention FundraisingOpens in a new window” by Roger CraverOpens in a new window is on my desk, waiting to be consumed.

But there are also old standbys that I wouldn’t be without. A favorite reference book that I consult at least twice a week was recommended to me years ago by Tim KerstenOpens in a new window of RobbinsKersten DirectOpens in a new window: “Dictionary of Problem Words and ExpressionsOpens in a new window” by Harry ShawOpens in a new window. You can still get a used copy on AmazonOpens in a new window; I know because I bought one for a colleague just last week. It’s a great source when you can’t remember the difference between emigrant and immigrant, or whether that will affect or effect anything in the long run.

2. A Rolodex, literal or electronic
The person you met at a conference, the former colleague who has moved on or even the person you cold-called a year ago when you had a question may be a great source of information when you face a new situation or a troubling trend. My experience is that fundraisers are among the world’s most generous people in terms of sharing their time and knowledge. Yes, we all “compete” for the same pot of discretionary money, but we also know that we need each other — and the world needs all the other causes as well as ours.

When you need to bounce an idea off someone, pick up the phone and call. (You could send an email, but a call is a nice touch, in my opinion.) Explain what you’re after, following some pleasant conversation to reconnect, of course. (That’s why I like a call; you can build rapport before you leap into your request.) You may get lucky and find out just the information, the example, the referral or whatever you need.

And be ready to get a call on occasion, as well, from someone seeking your advice. It’s a great feeling to know that you may have saved someone from making the same mistake that you are still smarting from.

3. An idea file
Whether you get a regular supply of mail and email appeals because you are an active donor to multiple causes or you subscribe to Who’s Mailing What!Opens in a new window, you need a source of inspiration.

When you just can’t figure out how to write an invitation to yet another event, looking at those from other nonprofits can trigger an idea that was buried in the back of your mind somewhere. Reading other appeal letters about fiscal year-end drives or annual campaigns can generate a new way of looking at the same old idea.

Set aside a corner somewhere to store your idea file; it’s like James TaylorOpens in a new window reminds us, “When you’re down and troubled and you need a helping hand, and nothing, nothing is going right … you’ve got a friend” — your idea file!

4. A fundraising friend
Speaking of friends, you need one. I’m not talking about the person who works with you or the person who knows nothing about fundraising. Yes, you definitely need those. But you also need a friend who is “in the business of fundraising” but doesn’t work at your organization.

Why? This person is a great resource when you have an idea that sounded just great at 2 in the morning, but by 10 a.m. you are wondering if it is more likely an “undigested bit of beef, a blot of mustard, a crumb of cheese, a fragment of underdone potato,” as Charles Dickens memorably wroteOpens in a new window.

Last week, I had not one, but two “great” ideas. I emailed my friend and asked her opinion. Her input was excellent in helping me decide if I should move forward.

5. A report card
OK, not literally, but you need a file or an envelope or even a shoebox where you put things you did that you are most proud of. I’ve said it before, and it’s still true — nonprofits often don’t take the time to give credit to people who deserve it. Yes, I know “there’s no ‘I’ in team,” and it’s a group effort, but occasionally, it was your great idea that started the process that led to the ultimate success.

Save it — whatever “it” is. And when you are feeling unappreciated at best and useless at worst, take out your “report card” and look over your past accomplishments. You’ve made a difference. No, you may not have hit a home run yesterday, but you have consistently contributed to the overall success of the organization.

This old dog knows that being your own cheerleader can sometimes be all that makes you keep going after a lousy meeting, a failed project or just the total lack of recognition for a job very well done. Don’t be afraid to take a few minutes to look back at your own successes and remember what made them happen.

Then it’s time to get back to work and find the next success, because our job is never-ending but always worth our very best effort.

By Pamela Barden | Posted on September 04, 2014
Old Dog Fundraising
Fundraising Success Magazine

OPINION – One more time: it costs money to raise money

November 18th, 2014 | No Comments | Posted in Canada, Fundraising

Are you just a little tired of having to justify your charity, and charities in general, in the face of common but uninformed perceptions about fundraising costs? Here are some facts from fundraising expert and author George Stanois that will help you stand your ground. They’re taken from an interview he gave to the CBC in response to its investigative report on external telemarketing firms that was widely criticized as biased and incomplete.

  • There are over 85,000 registered charitable organizations in Canada.
  • The Canada Revenue Agency states that charities cannot have fundraising costs over 35% of their revenues. In other words, it recognizes that fundraising isn’t free.
  • If between 2004 and 2008, $762 million was spent on external fundraisers, particularly for telemarketing services as the CBC claimed, that represents only 2% of $35 billion in revenue that Canadian charities generated during that period;
  • Only 200 out of 85,000 organizations, or 0.2% of charitable organizations had fundraising costs that exceeded 50% of their revenues – and these organizations warrant an automatic review by the Canada Revenue Agency, which has the power to address the abuses and revoke the organization’s charitable status;

“Most charitable organizations generate substantial fundraising activity that cannot be supported solely by volunteers, and must include paid professionals to accomplish their mission,” George points out. “If our organizations warrant sound management, then the professionals who work for them warrant competitive salaries – based on their competencies and experience – like in any other sector.”

Charitable organizations must develop their philanthropic market using a mix of available methods, he continues. Some fundraising strategies such as direct mail, telemarketing, and special events, can be fairly expensive. The key is to also implement lower-cost initiatives such as in-person solicitation, annual campaigns, major gifts and planned giving.

Diversifying its fundraising methods allows a charity to acquire new donors, retain existing supporters, develop new fundraising programs and raise awareness of the organization, all within the 35% CRA guideline. But charities that rely solely on the most costly methods of fundraising may be at risk of surpassing that norm. Like a healthy investment portfolio, the key is diversification.


By Janet Gadeski
publication date: Sep 3, 2014

US colleges learning from student-developed apps

November 17th, 2014 | No Comments | Posted in Education

Many universities and colleges have released apps to help students navigate available resources and services. But in some places, students are identifying unmet needs and creating their own apps to fill the gap. The New York Times profiles a number of students who created apps that perform tasks such as query their university’s registration system for open spots in courses or help students identify good electives. Other programs help students sort through course catalogues to find classes that meet scheduling needs, or identify when friends have free periods. Colleges and universities are learning from these unofficial tools. Student-created apps not only help demonstrate what students really want, but expose inefficiencies and weaknesses in school systems. Some schools are working to collaborate with enterprising students by giving them jobs rather than punishing them for crashing IT systems. “It turns out if you give students the power they’ll do some pretty great things with it,” said Alexey Komissarouk, who founded a student group called PennApps at the University of Pennsylvania.

Student-Built Apps Teach Colleges a Thing or Two


Vaibhav Verma was frustrated that he could not get into the most popular courses at Rutgers University, so he decided to try a new approach.

He didn’t sleep outside classrooms to be first in line when the door opened, or send professors a solicitous note. Instead, he built a web-based application that could repeatedly query the New Jersey university’s registration system. As soon as anyone dropped the class, Mr. Verma’s tool would send him a message, and he would grab the open spot.

“I built it just because I was a little bit bored,” he said.

By the next semester, 8,000 people had used it.

At Brown University, Jonah Kagan had a clever idea of his own: Get his fellow students to name their three favorite courses, and use the results as a guide for people seeking great, unusual electives. Building the website was easy, but he could not persuade Brown to give him enrollment figures, which would have allowed him to control for differences in class size. So the survey died.

Experiences like those two are becoming common at campuses around the country, as students are showing up the universities that trained them by producing faster, easier-to-navigate, more informative and generally just better versions of the information systems at the heart of undergraduate life.

Students now arriving for fall semester may find course catalogs that they can instantly sort and re-sort according to every imaginable search criteria. Scheduling programs that allow someone to find the 47 different classes that meet Thursdays at 8:30 p.m., then narrow them down to those that have no prerequisites, then narrow again to those that count toward requirements in two majors. Or apps that allow you to see what courses your friends are considering, or figure out who has the same free periods that you do, or plot the quickest route between two far-flung classrooms.

But this culture of innovation has accelerated debates about the flow of information on campus, and forced colleges to reckon with some unexpected results of the programming skills they are imparting.

Last year 19 students at Baruch College in Manhattan used a computer script to check for openings in crowded courses — at such high frequency that they nearly took down not just Baruch’s computer system but also that of the entire City University of New York. That earned them a stern talking-to. On the other hand, the scheduling app that two University of California, Berkeley, students devised worked so well that administrators decided to adapt it for official use.

These encounters have proved to be educational, though not always in the way the colleges intend.

“What I really learned,” Mr. Kagan said of his negotiations with Brown, “is how hard it is to get the data you need out of these old legacy school information systems.”

To some extent, the tension reflects a basic difference in worldview.

“Students are always more entrepreneurial and understand needs better than bureaucracies can,” said Harry R. Lewis, the director of undergraduate studies for Harvard’s computer science department, “since bureaucracies tend to have messages they want to spin, and priorities they have to set, and students just want stuff that is useful. I know this well, since students were talking to me about moving the Harvard face books online seven years before Zuckerberg just went and did it without asking permission.”

Zach Hall saw that up close when, as a student at Furman University, he developed a course-selection website that included a wide array of useful functions. “ beat the socks off the course listings that the university was putting out there,” recalled Brad Barron, the registrar at the South Carolina institution. But, worried that it might harm the university’s computer system, Mr. Hall recalled, “the I.T. department kind of freaked out.”

Eventually, however, they proposed a compromise: Internet technology officials would make it easier for him to get the data he required if he would remove the links to rate-your-professor sites (which never go over well with the professors being rated). He took the deal.

To help their fellow student-developers, 10 students and newly graduated seniors from colleges around the country converged on a lodge at Lake Tahoe last summer for what they called a Campus Data Summit. They have since published a guidebook for dealing with recalcitrant university administrations, including advice like “be proactive about their fears,” “make friends with faculty” and, perhaps most crucially, ask for “forgiveness, not permission.”

Amy Quispe, a summit-meeting organizer who was finishing her studies at Carnegie Mellon University, said struggles over campus data were so bad in some cases that “in a lot of ways students’ creativity was being stifled.”

Campus software developers say they see evidence that some colleges are becoming more comfortable with these collaborations, though as with any learning process, the path is not always a straight one.

Alex Sydell and William Li collaborated on a website, Ninja Courses, that made it easy for fellow students at Berkeley, and later at four more U.C. campuses, to compare every aspect of different courses as they built their schedule for the semester. Berkeley saw the website’s value and went so far as to pay them for their innovation. (“For students, the offer they gave us was very generous,” is all Mr. Li will say about the amount.)

But when their point person moved onto another job, Mr. Sydell says, they got a cease-and-desist letter accusing them, among other things, of violating U.C. copyrights by using the colleges’ names.

Those concerns appear to have been assuaged; Ninja Courses now has over 50,000 registered users.

Yale University, which initially shut down a website that the twin brothers Harry Yu and Peter Xu built to make the course catalog easier to navigate, later admitted that it did not really understand the processes it was trying to regulate. “Questions of who owns data are evolving before our very eyes,” Mary Miller, the dean of Yale College, said at the time. “What we now see is that we need to review our policies and practices.”

Some universities are bringing student software developers directly into the fold. Stanford administrators liked Kevin Conley’s idea for an app with information about the campus bus service, so they gave him a job building it. It is now available free at the iTunes app store.

At Brwn, where Mr. Kagan had trouble getting enrollment figures, Ravi Pendse, the university’s new chief information officer, said that when it came to sharing data, schools “tend to be risk averse, and with good reason” — starting with laws that require them to protect students’ privacy. “The easiest answer is to say no.”

He has taken a different approach, however, starting what he calls “a student software hub for collaboration and innovation,” designed to support students with ideas about how to connect campus information systems. “I wish Jonah Kagan would come back, and we’ll work with him,” he said.

Many campus developers say the next frontier is for more colleges to get comfortable releasing their information not case by case, but in uniform formats known as A.P.I.s (for application programming interfaces). That would make it possible, they say, to create tools that work at Florida State University as well as they do at Alaska Bible College. Students at disparate schools could spend time building on one another’s efforts instead of just replicating them.

“It turns out if you give students that power they’ll do some pretty great things with it.” said Alexey Komissarouk, who started a student group called PennApps while at the University of Pennsylvania.

It has done some pretty great things for the students, too. Ms. Quispe now works at Google. Mr. Kagan works at Clever, an educational start-up that assembles student data from K-12 schools around the country. Mr. Li is still running Ninja Courses. And Mr. Sydell works at DropBox. He said he could not be sure how much Ninja Courses helped him get the job, but added, “I’d guess that it scored some bonus points.”


AUG. 27, 2014
The New York Times

INNOVATION – GivingTuesday gears up for December 2

November 17th, 2014 | No Comments | Posted in Canada, Fundraising

GivingTuesday, now less than two weeks away, is set to help kick off the 2014 giving season on December 2. The founding collaboration of 15 organizations, including GIV3CanadaHelps and the Association of Fundraising Professionals, says the day “is bringing together a network of generous and creative people who want to remind Canada that we can do more with our wallets than just shop. The collective impact of their donations, voices, volunteer hours, and resources will help increase and enhance giving in places and ways where it is needed most this holiday season.”

Widespread enthusiasm greeted the initiative. More than 550 organizations – local nonprofits, national charities and multinational corporations – have registered and begun mobilizing their communities to make positive change happen.

Creative GivingTuesday actions abound

In Canada, nonprofits, businesses and other organizations are encouraged to register for free partnership – but it’s not just about signing up. GivingTuesday makes it easy for partners to take action, with tips on how to plan their own campaign, a helpful toolkitlogosvideos and other resources.

Here are just a few examples of this year’s partner projects.

Now is the perfect time to get involved. GivingTuesday encourages everyone to create positive change in their communities, in whatever ways are possible for them. Visit to become a partner and receive materials that will help with organizing their campaigns, holiday gift drives, volunteer days, and other activities.

More about GivingTuesday

Coming on the heels of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, GivingTuesday is the perfect antidote to the culture of consumption that seems to take over at this time of year. This new movement encourages everybody to get involved in giving, and helps charities to find creative new ways to raise funds and volunteers.

The message for 2014 is clear: every action counts, every dollar matters, and when these things come together, they make a powerful statement about who we are as a society. This year, GivingTuesday activities are planned in the US (where the movement was born in 2012), Australia, Mexico, Chile, Singapore and Latin America.

GivingTuesday is a movement to celebrate giving and provide incentives to give. It culminates with a global day of giving on December 3. It harnesses the collective power of all participants – charities, businesses, schools, families and individuals – to transform how people think about, talk about and participate in the giving season.

GivingTuesday was started in the US in 2012 by the UN Foundation, the 92nd Street Y and several other charities and companies. To learn more about GivingTuesday participants and activities or to join the celebration of giving, please visit:; Facebook:; Twitter:

Boost solicitation success

November 16th, 2014 | No Comments | Posted in Fundraising

3 Tips to Increase Solicitation Success

Charitable giving is on the rise. According to the latest Giving USA Report, charitable giving increased 3%; totaling $335.17 billion in 2013.


Americans are opening their hearts and wallets. Now is the time to open your mouth and “ask”. Chances are you know “how”. Most likely you are acquainted with identification, research, strategy, cultivation, solicitation, negotiation & stewardship. Unfortunately, comprehension of this seven-step fundraising process doesn’t make you an exceptional charitable fundraiser.

In order to secure a slice of the billions you need more than a systemic procedure wrapped in best practices. You need something less centered on an extraneous approach and more focused on those intrinsic feelings of discomfort. These three simple tips will activate your confidence and help your charity of choice capitalize on the reported growth in charitable giving.

Achieve a Thorough Understanding of what Matters

Before you schedule a meeting with a prospective, current or past donor prepare yourself for the “ask”. Not the “ask” you plan to make, but the “asks” that will come your way. People have natural curiosities and inquiring minds—you aren’t the only one coming to the table with a question. Prepare yourself by meeting with internal stakeholders prior to scheduling a donor appointment. Mission matters most. Meet with & shadow the programmatic team to truly grasp activities, functionality and implementation. Ask questions. Reflect upon what you experience and create a personal explanation of services. Use your voice to describe programmatic impact. Don’t memorize content from the website or regurgitate the annual report. Step away from your desk to witness mission in motion. Rely on your senses when recounting and sharing the mission with a prospective donor. Craft a vivid and genuine testimony.

Donors also have a vested and literal interest in the allocation of resources. Study your Form 990 and other publicly available financials. Understand the classification, performance and justification for all sources of revenue and expenditures. Keep in mind, you may also receive questions concerning other organizational matters—be prepared to address personnel changes, board resignations, facility closures, pending litigation, reduction of services, recent press coverage, etc.

Become a Conversational Donor

Make a charitable contribution to the organization and then talk about it. Better yet, ask people to join you. When conversing with prospective donors share your motivation for giving. Don’t be shy. Share the length of time you’ve given, the reason you renew your gift, the rational for increasing the gift and here’s the icing….don’t neglect to explain why you enjoy encouraging asking others to join you on the donor roll.

Control Your Thought Process

No matter the pitch, make it plain. Exceptional charitable fundraisers master the trait of introversion. Introverts exercise analytical thinking before speaking. Don’t speak aloud in hopes you will find your way. Listen. Think. Speak. Remember you are engaged in a dialogue. Be prepared to respond, redirect and reaffirm. Don’t panic. You have the power to privately control your thought process–embrace the silence and confidently ask, “Will you join me and make a charitable contribution to this important charity?”

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