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Dalhousie University’s Killam Library starts texting complaint system

June 30th, 2015 | No Comments | Posted in Canada

Library staff equipped with communal cellphone that receives the noise complaints.

Staff at Dalhousie University’s Killam Library are hoping a new texting campaign will help students get some peace and quiet a little quicker.

The SHH Text campaign launched last week and allows students to text a noise complaint in real time to the library’s staff. Students can describe the location of the noise, as well as the person or group disrupting the quiet areas.

Elaine MacInnis, the head of the Killam Library, says the program was implemented to keep track of all the complaints.

“We received noise complaints in many different ways, through the information desk or through emails to myself after the fact which, of course, are hard to address,” she said.

Staff at the library’s service point are now equipped with a communal cellphone that receives the noise complaints. The phone number can be found on the library’s website.

Once a staff member receives a noise complaint via text, they will go to the source of the noise and investigate, said MacInnis. Security will get involved in the noise persists.

The service is available whenever the library is open, until midnight.

‘Students are usually very respectful’

While students are currently given warnings if there is a noise complaint, MacInnis says staff plan to implement a “drop card” system this fall.

The physical warning card will be given to those making too much noise. MacInnis says it’s a more official communication of the complaint to the person or people being noisy.

Although the program was introduced last week, the library’s service point has yet to receive any text complaints. MacInnis believes this is because of exam season.

“Student are usually very respectful during exam season, you can almost feel the silence,” she said.

“The real test for the campaign will be in the fall semester when students arrive back on campus and classes are in session.”

By Katie Thompson, CBC News
Apr 23, 2015 6:15 AM AT

Survey finds employers feel PSE is not preparing graduates for required roles

June 29th, 2015 | No Comments | Posted in Education

For all of the celebrations around graduation season, it can also be a stressful time for college seniors, as many prepare to enter the workforce for the very first time. While this year’s class will have ample job prospects, many may find a tougher transition to the working world than others.

According to a new survey from, 62 per cent of companies plan to hire recent college graduates this year; however, only 1 in 5 employers (19 per cent) believe academic institutions are adequately preparing students for roles needed within their organizations. The majority of employers say colleges are preparing students for “some roles, but not all,” and 16 per cent do not believe they are preparing them adequately at all.

“Though 3 in 5 companies plan to hire recent graduates, the vast majority of companies do not feel students are adequately prepared for the work force,” says Mark Bania, Managing Director of CareerBuilder Canada. “This finding underscores the need for companies to work with educational institutions to provide the training necessary for growing business needs.”

The national survey was conducted online on behalf of of more than 400 employers.

Are new graduates ready?

When asked where academic institutions fall short in preparing students for the workforce, employers cited the following concerns:

  • Too much emphasis on book learning instead of real world learning: 61 per cent
  • I need workers with a blend of technical skills and soft skills gained from liberal arts: 38 per cent
  • Not enough emphasis on internships: 25 per cent
  • Entry-level roles within my organization are more complex today: 22 per cent
  • Technology is changing too quickly for academics to keep up: 18 per cent
  • Not enough students are graduating with the degrees my company needs: 13 per cent

When asked to name which skills they think recent college graduates lack for the workplace, most of these employers cited interpersonal or problem-solving skills:

  • Interpersonal or people skills: 51 per cent
  • Problem-solving skills: 45 per cent
  • Teamwork: 41 per cent
  • Oral communication: 40 per cent
  • Creative thinking: 38 per cent
  • Written communication: 35 per cent
  • Leadership: 34 per cent
  • Project management: 19 per cent
  • Research and analysis: 15 per cent
  • Maths: 13 per cent
  • Computer and Technical: 8 per cent

Which degrees are most in demand?

When it comes to which degrees will lead to the most job prospects, business degrees top the list, with 31 per cent of employers naming it the most in-demand degree at their firms. Computer and information sciences degrees are also in high demand (20 per cent), followed by health professions and related clinical sciences (12 per cent) and engineering (12 per cent).

Where are the opportunities?

Customer service (33 per cent) and information technology jobs (30 percent) top the list of position types employers are primarily looking toward new graduates to fill. Opportunities also abound in finance/accounting (24 per cent) and business development (23 per cent). Sales, marketing and public relations (17 per cent each) round out the top five job types.

What will these jobs pay?

More than one third of employers (35 per cent) who plan to hire recent college graduates will offer higher starting salaries than they did last year. The majority of employers (57 per cent) expect salaries to stay the same, and 8 per cent expect to offer lower starting salaries.

Expected starting salaries for recent graduates break down as follows*:

  • Approximately $25,000 or less – 19 per cent
  • Approximately $25,000 to $40,000 – 38 per cent
  • Approximately $40,000 to $50,000 – 30 per cent
  • Approximately $50,000 or higher – 17 per cent

These numbers, however, are not set in stone: The majority of employers (68 per cent) say they are willing to negotiate salary when extending job offers to recent graduates.

Where do benefits come in?

The majority of employers (84 per cent) who plan to hire new college graduates are willing to negotiate or provide new graduates with various perks. After salary, the most popular perks employers say they will negotiate are the following:

  • Flexible schedules: 45 per cent
  • Bonuses: 30 per cent
  • Reimbursement for additional schooling: 29 per cent
  • Paying for mobile phone: 27 per cent
  • Relocation expenses: 17 per cent
  • Reimbursement for commuting expenses: 17 per cent
  • More holiday days: 17 per cent
  • Telecommuting options: 16 per cent

*Percentages may add up to more than 100 due to rounding.

The survey was conducted among 402 employers in Canada. The interviews were conducted online by Redshift Research in January & February 2015 using an email invitation and an online survey. Results of any sample are subject to sampling variation. The magnitude of the variation is measurable and is affected by the number of interviews and the level of the percentages expressing the results. In this particular study, the chances are 95 in 100 that a survey result does not vary, plus or minus, by more than 4.4 percentage points from the result that would be obtained if interviews had been conducted with all persons in the universe represented by the sample.

Mary Lorenz
April 23, 2015


Nipawin Bible College converts to solar power

June 26th, 2015 | No Comments | Posted in Canada

Small college becomes Canada’s first to use solar power for all energy needs, installs 399 panels.

Nipawin Bible College in east-central Saskatchewan expects to cut its current $17,000 yearly electrical bill down to zero, thanks to 399 new solar panels.

Wes Fehr, the school’s outgoing president, said that after 23 years with the college, it is great to have achieved this project just in time for retirement. He said the college is the first in Canada to provide solar energy for all of the energy needs on its campus facilities.

“We are not aware of anything of this scale,” Fehr said. “It’s a bit surprising to people.”

The campus’ large 100-kilowatt solar array went online in December 2014.

According to Fehr, the hundreds of solar panels span 7,150 square feet, which ties the energy structure for the largest solar array in Saskatchewan. Fehr noted it is also one of the largest solar arrays in Western Canada.

“It’s a big structure,” he said. “Very visible from the highway.”

Fehr said help from Ryan Jansen, an alumnus and board member of the college with Good Steward Solutions, made the project’s development possible.

Jansen founded the green energy company with a partner in 2008 and it specializes in solar energy.

The solar installation in Nipawin, Sask. connects to the electrical service in each major campus facility. It is expected to produce approximately 150,000 kWh per year.

Fehr said the unit cost the school $170,000 to build. However, with the college’s annual average electric utility cost at $17,000, he said the project will pay for itself in 10 years, which is good news for the small college.

“Education is costly and anywhere where you can save that kind of money annually, [then] it can go to other important needs,” he said.

Nipawin Bible College held a grand opening for the solar project on Saturday. On average, about 55 students attend the school each year.

CBC News Posted: Apr 18, 2015 5:32 PM CT

Students should attend university when they are ready, not out of obligation

June 25th, 2015 | No Comments | Posted in Education

Sometimes, delaying the university experience is the best move.

There is a myth in our society that everyone completing Grade 12 should aspire to attend university, as soon as possible. It’s not true.

The risk of students attending university in a habitual manner, solely according to this myth, is that they will waste their time, money (or someone else’s money) and their potential for living fully. They will also waste the time and life energy of fellow students, staff and faculty.

Universities cannot afford to be pedantically pedagogical at a time when society deserves our best analysis and synthesis and energetic conversations that awaken faculty and students. Society is most effectively served when those of us in the academy not only pursue knowledge but question current paradigms and stretch to gain understanding and wisdom, pertaining to our disciplines.

University can be a wonderful experience for students who choose to explore based on their curiosity. It can also be an opportunity to meet people who are curious about similar issues. However, university is only one of many options for high school grads, including a victory lap of extra high school courses, community college, a job, volunteering, traveling, or joining groups like Canada World Youth or Katimavik.

Colleagues and I have observed that students are happier and learn more, as they engage in university courses, at a stage of life when they want to be here. That stage may be a few years after graduating from high school. The other organizations, affected as young people choose alternatives to attending universities, will also function more effectively with people who choose to be there.

Parents tend to worry about their sons and daughters opting to delay their university programs. Perhaps they’ll be distracted or become involved in life without ever going to university. That may happen, and yet if students are not as happy and fulfilled in university as they can be in another life activity, should they still go? Some deliberately accept what is perceived as the short term pain of university for a long term gain of more meaningful life work. However, others may set a pattern of enduring university courses in order to earn more money in future jobs that are also endured. Is this healthy?

There are students who resist their trek to a university campus and then find themselves, unexpectedly, fascinated. These stories can become the basis of parents’ hopes as they pay fees and open campus doors for the next generation. A time limit on the wait for a surprised fascination may be appropriate.

With or without the modern challenges of climate change, nature deficit disorder, declining biodiversity, soil degradation and air and water pollution, society will need participants who live authentically and know who they are, in the world that really is. We do and we will require the smarts, business acumen, social justice lens and ecological awareness of young citizens. If university does not meet their authentic interests and life calling, then they might quite reasonably choose other options in line with their authentic potential.

When it is apparent in a person’s life that university can provide the exploratory environment, credible knowledge base and a process of discovering and rediscovering a personal world view, then that is the ideal time to engage in a university. To this end, it behooves universities to offer more accommodating ways to meet the needs of life-long learners with family and income earning responsibilities. For example, universities could offer courses sequentially, with a three-week period for one course rather than expecting all students to take five courses at the same time, over a term of 15 weeks including the exam period.

Peter Senge and co-authors in The Necessary Revolution (2008) state: “the question is not if the industrial age bubble will end. The question is, when and how. To create the future we need: i) a vision of the future, and ii) to understand present reality.” Why shouldn’t universities foster such visioning as well as an understanding of what is? This will have purchase to the extent that engaged scholars in universities collaborate with other sectors of society that also have engaged participants who have chosen to fulfill their lives where they are.

This article is an argument for the value of personal engagement. By propagating the myth that all grade 12 graduates should attend university, as soon as possible, the value of universities for students and society is diminished. The value of universities and all other organizations and work places is upheld when we encourage young people to contribute where they perceive they can best do so. The current structures of society are secondary to the opportunity to adjust, as we each find our special ways to serve the greater good.

By RALPH MARTIN | April 13, 2015

Dr. Martin is the Loblaw chair, sustainable food production and professor, Ontario Agricultural College, University of Guelph.

Have you tried these non-dues revenue strategies?

June 24th, 2015 | No Comments | Posted in Fundraising

It’s no mystery: associations today can no longer depend solely on membership dues to fund their operations. But when it comes to generating non-dues revenue, where do you even begin?

This recent blog article reveals six promising non-dues revenue sources that can help your organization cover costs more comfortably, add value to your membership, and attract and engage new members. You’ll see:

  • The advantages—and the potential pitfalls—of certain activities.
  • What you need to know to get the maximum return on each endeavor.
  • The key factors to consider before you pursue any alternative revenue source.

If you’re looking to boost your bottom line through non-dues revenue streams, the time to explore your options is now.


Boost Bottom Line and Member Value with Non-Dues Revenue

By    4.2.15

Non-dues revenue. It’s become sort of the Holy Grail of associations – valuable and much sought-after, but also a bit mythical.

What’s not mysterious, though, is the fact that associations can no longer simply rely on membership dues to cover costs, add member value, and sustain growth. So, if you’re not generating any revenue beyond member dues and annual meeting fees, the time to explore your options is NOW.

A cautionary word: Make sure your legal team is part of your decision-making process, as they can help you understand the effect non-dues revenue may have on your UBIT (Unrelated Business Income Tax) responsibility and how it could impact your nonprofit status.

We’ve compiled a list of eight potential non-dues revenue sources to consider …

  1. Affinity Programs

As an association, you can be compensated for licensing intellectual or intangible property based on your “affinity” with the vendor.

Besides boosting your income, affinity programs can give your members unique access to products and services such as credit cards, discount travel, and insurance; and can even enhance their reputation and spread brand awareness without requiring you to take any risks or spend money marketing and merchandising directly.

For an affinity program to be truly successful, it has to benefit both your members and your association. Even the most wonderful, valuable offering may cost you 10 times more to manage than you get back in compensation.

  1. Corporate Sponsorships  

A corporate sponsorship is basically an agreement between a business and an association to raise money for a particular cause. For example, corporate sponsors can fund scholarships or underwrite event costs.

Before you hit the pavement in search of potential sponsorships, you need to do some groundwork. First, determine what marketable assets you have that are most interesting to corporations. Then, package them properly to tell a compelling story about your association. Sponsorship packages will carry extra weight if they include testimonials from corporate executives about the value of your organization. Finally, make sure you communicate what sponsors will get in return, like communications to members and access opportunities. Assign a dollar value if at all possible.

  1. Credentialing

Professional credentials can give your members a strong competitive edge in the marketplace and it can give you recurring revenue with annual re-certifications.

However, some sectors have been overrun by very competitive sites offering cheap, and sometimes free, education opportunities. To compete, you need to offer your members more than just a piece of paper. Develop a meaningful program, and then heavily promote it in the marketplace, so members see your credentials as absolutely necessary to further their careers.

  1. Continuing Education

Offer a library of thought leadership materials, like industry-related books and whitepapers, for sale on your website, exclusively for members.

  1. Ad Sales

If you have an active online community, consider selling ad space on the platform. You’ll want to tread lightly with this one, though, because you don’t want your membership to feel taken advantage of.

  1. Rental Space

Don’t allow space in any of your properties go underutilized or unoccupied. Leasing office or warehouse space can be a great moneymaker.

  1. Parking Lot

If you regularly operate a parking lot for use by the general public in exchange for parking fees, these fees would not be treated as rent from real property and would likely be subject to UBIT. However, if you lease the lot to a vendor who operates it on your behalf, the lease payments would constitute rent on real property and would not be subject to UBIT. This is one of those instances where you legal team will need to be involved.

  1. Job Bank

Invite industry-related employers to post their jobs on your website or online community for a fee.

So what’s the best alternative revenue source? That’s a question you have to ask yourself, and your answer should be founded in your members’ greatest needs. Also, consider the financial risk and the investment in resources (including time) required. Make sure the new revenue source aligns with your strategic plan. And, ask yourself if your members will support a new endeavor.

Low-cost degree program in Texas to see first graduates

June 23rd, 2015 | No Comments | Posted in Education

In 2011, due to steadily increasing tuition rates for four-year college degrees former Texas Governor Rick Perry challenged higher education administrators to create a $10,000 degree.

It seemed tricky: the year before, the average cost per credit hour for a public university in Texas was $225. A low-cost degree had to provide the same rigorous academic standards while shaving costs.

“There were a number of articles that mocked the idea of this $10k baccalaureate degree, but I thought it was a good idea and that we needed to find a way to give people a low cost education,” Raymund Paredes, Commissioner of Higher Education for the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, says.

The Texas Affordable Baccalaureate Program (TABP), conceptualized by Paredes and his staff, aims to create the state’s first public competency-based baccalaureate degree, allowing its students to take courses online, in a traditional classroom setting at the program’s host colleges — or a hybrid of the two.

Since 2011, at least 13 colleges and universities in Texas have attempted to create cheaper four-year degree programs for students with a substantial number of transfer credits from other schools.

It’s a cheaper alternative to even public in-state tuition, which when coupled with room and board costs can reach about $19,000. A four-year private university could reach upwards of $42,000.

Next month, 17 students will be the first to graduate from the 102-student baccalaureate program, which was launched in January 2014 by Texas A&M University-Commerce, South Texas College, the College for All Texans Foundation and the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.

Dr. Mary Hendrix, Vice President of Student Access and Success at Texas A&M-Commerce, says the program targets “nontraditional students”  —  those who may have started a career early and never gotten a chance to complete their degrees, for example, or people who need a degree to advance their career opportunities.

“It’s a specific target group that for the most part higher education has ignored,” says Hendrix, who also teaches psychology courses through the program. “I would have loved to have had this program. I had children and was working full-time and it was very difficult to complete a degree.”

The program, which runs in seven-week terms costing $750, allows students to take classes and complete their degree at their own pace. But so far, Hendrix says, it’s only motivated them: the average number of credit hours completed after one year is 34, which is higher than the national average.

To pass a course, students have to score an 80 or above. Hendrix says the program’s grading system is meant to be more rigorous than traditional courses at the host colleges.

“This is an innovative program and we know when you do something different, everyone always calls into question the integrity and quality,” Hendrix says.

Paredes says the program was modeled after comparable programs at universities like Arizona State University, University of Phoenix and Western Governor’s University, which all have thriving online degree offerings.

While students can take dozens of credits online, Paredes says they have the option to access counselors, mentors and tutors in face-to-face meetings on campus.

“We do not consider this program to be one that is going to be adopted in every university in Texas or to work in every field, and we don’t expect it to be suitable or attractive to every student. But it’s part of a commitment in Texas to postsecondary education for young people who want it,” Paredes says.

By April 11, 2015 10:48 am
USA Today

Morgan Baskin is a student at George Washington University and a spring 2015 USA TODAY Collegiate Correspondent.


The Meaning of ‘No’

June 22nd, 2015 | No Comments | Posted in Fundraising

One of the most difficult words to hear is “no.” It cuts to the core of our being. It is immediately personal. It often feels bad.

When I was younger, the word “no” caused me a great deal of anxiety. Whenever it came my way it brought with it a deep sense of failure and inadequacy. “No” meant I was a loser.

Then I became a student of the word. I sought to understand its true meaning in all of the situations of my life. It started to dawn on me that “no” could actually be a positive and clarifying experience. It didn’t have to mean failure and losing.

“No” simply brings you closer to a “yes.” It is actually a wonderful and helpful thing. But you can’t get yourself into this kind of mentality unless you understand the meaning of the word “no”—because it is in the understanding of the word, and its application, that you can find clarity, comfort and a new sense of direction.

That is why I wanted to write about this topic. The work of a major gifts officer (MGO) is filled with “no’s.” That’s the nature of the job. And I find that hundreds of good MGOs are debilitated by the word, and it renders them ineffective and deflated.

In major gifts there are many different meanings to the word “no.” The ones we encounter most often are:

  1. Pure lack of interest. You may have thought the donor was tracking with you and really wanted to engage, but he doesn’t. Period. So he says “no,” and that means you must move on.
  2. A mismatch of interests. You present a program to the donor that she isn’t interested in. You either didn’t do your homework or you presumed that your offer would be more interesting than what the facts say about the donor’s interests.
  3. Your ask is not personalized to the donor. The donor knows that all you’ve done is taken a boiler plate proposal or direct mail letter and tossed in some personalization. It is really not about the donor and his interests, his journey with you, his style, his preferences, your knowledge of him—it’s not about any of that. It is simply about the money. And it doesn’t feel very good.
  4. You asked for too much. The donor fell out of her chair when you mentioned the amount you would like her to give.
  5. You asked for too little. The donor gets the sense that you really do not value his participation in the cause you represent.
  6. You ask before its time to ask. The donor feels disrespected and devalued. As a result of your sudden reach into her pocket, she now understands that, for you, it’s just about the money.
  7. You don’t ask at all. I just heard an amazing story where a MGO took six high-capacity couples overseas to visit projects they were interested in but then did not ask them for their financial involvement because “I thought it would be a little too intrusive.” This kind of thing really confuses donors, and they start to drift in the relationship and use the word “no” more often.
  8. There is a lack of understanding. You are not clear in your presentation about the need so the donor cannot understand the benefit of his involvement. This happens a lot in our work. The MGO is not prepared, leaves out critical facts about what the organization is trying to do, does not frame the ask properly and, as a result, gets a “no.”
  9. The donor doesn’t relate well to the MGO. You knew it all along, but you ignored the fact that this donor just does not connect with you. But rather than pass the donor to someone else, you keep trying. It doesn’t work. A “no” is in your future forever with this donor. Her “no,” quite frankly, means, “Would you please go away?”
  10. You didn’t include the significant other. And since you didn’t, you missed the fact that that person is the real decision maker. The net result is that the person you are relating to can only say “no.” “Yes” is not an option.
  11. You didn’t tell the donor his giving made a difference. Jeff and I have said this over and over again. If you don’t regularly tell the donor that his giving made a difference, you will be the disgruntled recipient of “no’s.” Please listen on this point. A donor cannot be satisfied in his relationship with you unless he knows his giving actually made a difference. It just will not happen.

So, that is our list of the most common meanings of “no” in our major gift work. When you look at the list it is not surprising that a MGO is getting a “no.” It is so logical and straightforward-so easy to understand.

Well, if that is true, then why doesn’t MGO behavior change to eliminate the “no’s” in their relationships? I am studying that question now. It is truly a mystery to me. It could, fundamentally, just be laziness. Or it could be a lack of respect and valuing of the donor. I don’t know; I am still thinking about it.

But here is one thing I do know with certainty. When you get a “no,” the only thing you should do is look at the situation with curiosity and a researcher’s mind. Try to figure out which of the “no” meanings are operating in your situation. Then take steps to correct it.

Do not take a “no” personally. Instead, take it as a signpost for a new direction that you must take with the donor.


By Richard Perry
April 13, 2015
NonProfit Pro