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PSE students should focus on transferrable skills on day one

November 30th, 2015 | No Comments | Posted in Canada, Education

As you begin your college or university studies, you’re probably focused on earning your diploma or degree. But in order to be career ready upon graduation, you’ll also need to develop a host of “21st century” or “transferable” skills in demand by employers, including creative, critical and analytical thinking skills.

Post-secondary institutions are finding helpful and innovative ways to help students develop both the knowledge and skills needed to eventually launch successful careers.

Queen’s University in Kingston, for instance, has developed “major maps” tailored specifically to each undergraduate program. “The maps have sections about the kinds of skills students can develop that are complimentary to their degree through things like volunteering, engaging with their community and doing international experiences,” says career counsellor Christine Fader.

A “co-curricular opportunities directory” allows students to search extracurricular opportunities by learning outcomes. Students who want to develop leadership skills, for instance, may choose to volunteer as a peer learning assistant or university issues committee member. Those eager to develop a global perspective can become an Engineers without Borders club member.

Meanwhile, a skills workshop helps students identify the skills they’ve developed — often unwittingly — and how to communicate those skills to prospective employers, says Fader.

But the pressure to develop transferable skills can be overwhelming. Queen’s launched a campaign called “It all adds up” to help students make informed decisions about how best to spend their time. “A lot of students are already doing a lot,” says Fader. “It’s about helping them understand that what they’re doing means something.”

George Brown College’s school of design also recognizes the importance of helping its students develop hard and soft skills, such as the ability to use social media to promote their work and connect with clients in a meaningful way, how to manage a design project and how to deal with conflict with clients, says special projects co-ordinator Lori Endes.

The school recently launched a gallery-style store called IN that offers students real-world experience. “We have a small line of products developed by students and geared towards students. We focused initially on getting graphic designers to think three-dimensionally about their graphics in an entrepreneurial way,” Endes says.

“For example, a pattern-making workshop was applied to wallets. We get students to pitch ideas about the kinds of products they’d like to see in the store.” The school hopes to eventually work with other departments, including fashion and jewelry. “The goal of the IN store is to find the brightest and best student designers out there; incubate them with extra skills and get their work into the world.”

Meanwhile, George Brown’s office of research and innovation launched a digital badging program last year that will acknowledge students who participate in applied research. Students are rewarded for skills including problem-solving, team-building and the ability to find innovative solutions to industry problems and can display their digital badges in places visible to prospective employers, such as on their LinkedIn or Facebook profiles.

Employability skills 2000+

The Conference Board of Canada says the following “employability skills 2000+” are needed to enter, stay in and progress in the world of work:

  • Fundamental skills: Communicate, use numbers, manage information, think and solve problems
  • Personal management skills: Demonstrate positive attitudes and behaviours, be responsible, be adaptable, learn continuously, work safely
  • Teamwork skills: Work with others, participate in projects and tasks

— Source:

By Linda White
Thursday, September 24, 2015
Toronto Sun

Gmail’s New ‘Block,’ ‘Unsubscribe’ Buttons

November 27th, 2015 | No Comments | Posted in Email, Marketing, Social Media

Email marketers trying to reach the coveted Gmail inbox are going to have to work a little harder and a lot smarter. On Tuesday, Gmail debuted “block” buttons and this week Android users will see the “unsubscribe” option available in their apps for unwanted email.

“Sometimes you get mail from someone who’s really disruptive,” writes Sri Harsha Somanchi, product manager, in a Tuesday post on the Official Gmail Blog. “Hopefully it doesn’t happen often — but when it does, you should be able to say, ‘Never see messages from this person again.’ That’s why you can now block specific email addresses in Gmail — starting today on the Web, and over the next week on Android. Future mail will go to the spam folder (and you can always unblock in Settings).”

By Thursday, Jess Nelson published five tips on MediaPost for marketers who need to become more Gmail-friendly. “Marketing Tips: Avoiding Gmail’s New Block Button” says marketers can:

  • Provide Relevant Content. Marketing thought leaders have been beating this drum for awhile, but now it’s — ahem — more relevant to them to be clear and concise for recipients.
  • Communicate Only to Recipients Who Have Requested It. Opt-in lists sound good, no?
  • Make the Unsubscribe Process Easy. Make this button easy to find—not buried at the bottom of the message. [Editor’s note: In a seemingly useless metric to many direct marketers, Nelson’s piece says an unsubscribe in a marketer’s message also counts as a click. Well, yes, but … perhaps it’s better to think of it as not being reported as spam. A deliverability and reputation enhancement, rather than a click.]
  • Reputation Matters. This is where Nelson says spam complaints can ruin a sender’s reputation.
  • Study, Learn and Grow. Studying “block” and “unsubscribe” statistics can also help marketers understand which content resonates with recipients and which content ends up being what Somanchi terms “disruptive.”
By Heather Fletcher

Universities must not pick and choose which groups deserve defending, writes National Post contributor

November 25th, 2015 | No Comments | Posted in Canada, Education

As the pages of the National Post and newspapers across Canada can attest, our universities continue to act as microcosms of our wider society. Nowhere does this axiom play out more acutely than in the realm of human rights.

Upon resuming classes this fall, Canadian students were confronted with propaganda posters promoting a “White Students Union” — a loaded phrase if ever there was one. Toronto universities clearly understood this tactic as an offensive and inappropriate ploy suggestive of white supremacy movements, and correctly pulled the posters down.

As a human rights advocacy organization, the Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies (FSWC) disagrees with divisive propaganda on Canadian campuses. We do support free speech, but with limitations on spreading hate and intolerance — particularly when it is directed toward one particular group of people. Unfortunately, many Canadian universities maintain a remarkable level of hypocrisy in deciding which groups are entitled to the level of empathy and understanding that lead to the tearing down of the above-mentioned posters; and nowhere is this hypocrisy worse than at York University in Toronto.

In York’s Student Center hangs a pro-Palestinian poster, which promotes the use of violence against Israel and has been sanctioned by the university and the student union. Despite complaints by scores of Jewish students who feel victimized each time they see this poster, and requests to tear it down because it promotes violence and reinforces anti-Semitic attitudes already rampant at the university, Jewish students on campus continue to be subjected to the hatred implicit in this poster. On behalf of students concerned that their voices were not being heard, FSWC lodged the following (summarized) complaint:

“The subject of this complaint is the mural entitled ‘Palestinian Roots’ that is currently displayed in the York University Student Centre. The mural depicts a young man staring off at a bulldozer that is facing an olive tree. The scarf that hangs over his shoulder displays a Palestinian flag next to a borderless map of Israel. The man is seen holding rocks in his hands behind his back. The artist’s explanation states that the images represent the ‘defenceless, the antagonist and the other.’

“The symbolism and meaning behind these images is indisputable. To Jewish students and supporters of Israel, the mural represents a form of intimidation and warfare extending from the highly anti-Israel and anti-Semitic climate on campus. It serves as justification for the violent rock-throwing that occurs daily in Israel against the Jewish community, and as support for the delegitimization of the State of Israel as indicated by the image of the map on the man’s scarf. When viewed in context, (in the student centre of a university already overflowing with tension and hate related to the Israel-Palestine conflict, and where physically and emotionally violent incidents against Jewish and pro-Israel students have occurred), this mural is hardly innocuous.”

As of this past weekend, there have been at least 23 rock-throwing or Molotov-cocktail attacks against Israelis by Palestinians throughout the country; one large rock landed in a car right next to a baby in its car seat. Had its trajectory been slightly different, the baby would have been killed. This poster is more than a mere piece of art — it is propaganda, and a clear call to murder.

Logic would dictate that if the White Students Union posters must come down, so too should the Palestinian Roots poster. Standards for free speech should be applied in a consistent and non-discriminatory way. At York University, students feel there is a double standard employed both by student leaders and by the administration where Israel and Jewish students are concerned. At York and many other universities, tolerance for hate speech has actually increased — but only where Israel and the Jewish community are concerned.

I do not believe that university campuses should become bastions of hate propaganda of any kind. When one group feels assaulted year after year (as Jewish students on numerous university campuses do), it is symptomatic of rampant hate and discrimination, not free speech. When it comes to free speech, there should be an equal playing field for all — and university administrations must be held accountable if they promote inconsistent and discriminatory standards. York’s reputation is in a precarious position; its administration should take immediate steps to do the right thing and tear the poster down.

By Avi Benlolo, National Post | September 21, 2015
National Post


Houston Nonprofit Executives Among Highest-Paid in U.S.

November 24th, 2015 | No Comments | Posted in Uncategorized

In Houston, the median compensation for nonprofit CEOs and/or executive directors is $95,625, the highest of any city in Texas, and the eleventh-highest of large metro areas in the U.S. When put in terms of cost of living in the highest-paid city — Washington D.C., where nonprofit execs can earn $154,500 — Houston’s median compensation for executives of nonprofits jumps to second with an adjusted salary of $145,628, Guidestar’s Nonprofit Compensation Report shows.

But pay among Houston’s nonprofit sectors can vary wildly.

Factors that influence average and median executive pay include the focus of the nonprofit and the overall budget of the organization.


Each year, Guidestar, a nonprofit organization that collects, analyzes and organizes nonprofit data from the IRS, releases its Nonprofit Compensation Report, which examines executive-level compensation among nonprofit organizations around the country.

Guidestar’s study, which used data from each nonprofit’s 990 tax form filed for fiscal year 2013, included 810 CEOs and executive directors from nonprofits in the Houston area. More than 58 percent of those executives lead nonprofits in one of five categories: human services, education institutions and related activities, community improvement, arts and culture, and health services (excluding disease, disorders, medical disciplines and mental health organizations).

On average, executives in nonprofits within those industries and with budgets greater than $5 million are paid 630 percent more than their counterparts at nonprofits with budgets less than $500,000.



This difference is most dramatic among the health-related nonprofits, where average executive pay at large organizations is 1,648 percent more than average executive pay at small nonprofits in the same industry.

But it doesn’t always pay to be in health care. In nonprofits with budgets less than $500,000, health organization CEOs had the lowest average pay of the five major industries in Houston, and the second lowest of all nonprofit industry categories included in the study. In fact, health nonprofit CEOs and executive directors only had the highest average pay in large organizations with budgets of $5 million or greater.

By Madison Henry
Sep 22, 2015
Houston Business Journal 

How employee matching gifts can help your fundraising team succeed

November 23rd, 2015 | No Comments | Posted in Fundraising, Matching Gift

Many of you are gearing up for your year-end fundraising campaign. It’s never easy to raise money, but you may have overlooked a simple way to bring in more donations – Matching Gifts.

This guest post by Adam Weinger gives you some great tips to help you incorporate matching gifts into your fundraising.

Your nonprofit likely feels like it is doing all that it can to raise money to keep your organization’s engine running. While you may be bringing in a lot of money from your new and dedicated donors, did you know you could receive twice as many donations?

No, you don’t have to ask donors for money a second time. All you have to do is let your donors know about matching gift programs!

Matching gifts are donations that companies and businesses will make after an employee has made a contribution and submitted the relevant request forms. While companies have different deadlines and caps on these donations, your nonprofit can still take advantage of the opportunity to double the amount of contributions you receive.

The following three tips can help your nonprofit’s fundraising efforts go from good to great with an assist from matching gifts!

1. Incorporate matching gifts into your fundraising events.

Your organization probably holds amazing events that bring your donors together with each other and members of your team. But you can also use the opportunity at these events to let your donors know about matching gifts.

If your nonprofit hosts an annual gala or auction, have one of your presenters talk briefly about matching gifts during a speech. When your donors are aware that their donations can go twice as far with little effort on their part, they will be more likely to continue giving to your organization and have their employers match those donations.

2. Let donors know about matching gifts through multiple channels.

You already communicate with donors in different ways. Use those avenues to let donors know about matching gifts!

Make use of:

  • Social media: Keep posts short and to the point. Donors don’t want to see a novel on their news feeds. Include links to more information and incorporate graphics if you can.
  • Email newsletters: If you’re already using email newsletters to keep donors in the loop about projects and events, use the space to promote matching gifts. Just like on social media, incorporate links to more information as well as graphics.
  • Direct mail: Some donors prefer opening letters to opening their inbox. Keep these donors in mind when promoting matching gifts.
  • Your website: Donors who find their way to your website are obviously interested in learning more about your organization and may want to make a donation right then and there. Therefore, you should include information about matching gifts on your “Ways to Give” page and include matching gift options and information on donation screens.

While there are many other ways to interact with your donors, you can use your existing communication methods to promote matching gifts to them.

3. Keep in touch with donors.

After you’ve acquired a new donor and have received a matching gift from their employer, make sure that you say thanks and stay in touch.

Donors like to feel appreciated. Your nonprofit can show your gratitude by thanking individuals for their initial donation as well as their employer’s matched donation.

Sometimes, those matched contributions take weeks or even months to process before they make it into your nonprofit’s hands. When you thank donors for submitting their matching gift requests to their employers after you receive the matched donation, you not only show your gratitude, but you are also reminding donors that they can continue to have their future donations matched by their employers.

Many employers also have deadlines for submitting matching gift requests. Make sure your nonprofit is sending out prompt thank yous after a donation is made that encourage donors to have their donations doubled as soon as possible if they didn’t submit a request immediately after making the initial contribution.

Matching gifts can give your fundraising efforts a major boost. Whether you choose to promote matching gifts at an event, through your existing communication channels, or in your follow-up acknowledgements, your fundraising team can achieve matching gift success.

by Adam Weinger
November 4, 2015
Ann Green’s Nonprofit Blog


5 Reasons Why Social Media Buttons Hurt Nonprofit Websites

November 20th, 2015 | No Comments | Posted in Social Media, Website

That little row of social media buttons has become a ubiquitous feature of most websites. After all, it’s good to show off that you’re social, and that there are channels where you can interact directly with stakeholders.

But is your website header or sidebar the best place to show that off?

Here are five reasons why having social media buttons on your nonprofit’s website might do more harm than good:

1) They send visitors away from your website

Honestly, I could stop here.

Just think about this empirically for a moment: you spend a ton of time and money driving people to your website. They arrive on your homepage or a landing page, only to have multiple exit paths via a social media button. Is leaving your website really what you want them to do?

Yes, the buttons could be configured to open a new browser tab or window, but they’re still not looking at your website.

And yes, they could visit Facebook or Twitter and follow/like you, giving you the ability to communicate to them, but that’s quite a large leap to assume that conversion is going to happen, even if that is the conversion you want.

2) They distract visitors from where you really want them to go

Websites are built for one purpose: generate a conversion from the visitor. That’s it. For nonprofits, it could be a donation, an event RSVP or an email sign-up form.

Anything that distracts from that purpose is a bad thing. Think of your website as a funnel, with the homepage or landing page representing the top or opening. Every page element should move the visitor through the funnel toward your desired conversion. Social media buttons represent holes in your funnel.

That’s why some conversion rate optimization experts also recommend removing navigation options from pages with forms (like a donation page, for example). The less options you have to navigate away, the better. Having too many options can risk what Unbounce calls The Toothpaste Trance, where a website visitor is given so many options that they end up choosing something at random that will end up being meaningless to them (kind of like when you stare at all the options in the toothpaste aisle).


3) It’s hard to communicate a reason to click them

Look at these buttons:


What do they communicate?

Pretty much the only thing they communicate is that “we are on these networks.” They give no expectation of what kind of content will be found there, or why you should care about that content. They are completely passive calls-to-action.

4) They are non-native to the design of your website

If you have a custom-designed website, those little blocks with varying colors and letters can stick out like a sore thumb. Granted, you can customize them to adhere to the style of your website, but that’s one more thing that you need (to pay) a designer to do.

5) They could send visitors to dormant social media accounts

If your social media accounts aren’t updated regularly with unique and engaging content, they may send a negative signal to a website visitor who navigated away from your site only to see a Facebook page that hasn’t been posted to for a year. If you insist on including social media buttons prominently on your website, be sure to only include your most active networks.

Where you should put social media buttons

There are, of course, appropriate and useful locations for social media buttons on your website and beyond. Here are a few:

  • Website footer (where they won’t distract, ideal if you’re concerned that someone might visit your website for the sole purpose of identifying your social media channels)
  • Share buttons on content like blog posts (where users can share content that they just consumed)
  • Follow/Share buttons on donation confirmation pages (share their philanthropy)
  • Follow/Share buttons on donation confirmation email receipts (follow you elsewhere for future updates)

If you don’t have a dedicated donation confirmation page, you can easily add social media buttons to your donation confirmation message:


Notice that most of these examples are post-conversion. meaning the website visitor has already taken some action on your site. You’ve gotten what you want out of them; now give them the option to follow you elsewhere.


By |September 22nd, 2015|Social Media|Bloomerang

US students going abroad for more affordable college

November 19th, 2015 | No Comments | Posted in Education

As the annual costs of attending college in the US continue to rise, American students are turning to cheaper, comparable schools abroad for postsecondary education. According to Allan Goodman, President of the Institute of International Education, “many [European] degree programs have courses taught in English, many of them have very robust scholarships or are tuition-free, and the subjects are very relevant to the world in which we live.” The UK was the most popular destination for US students studying abroad, while Canada was the second most popular, garnering 20% of the PSE market share among Americans studying abroad in 2011–2012. However, the article warns about the possible drawbacks of studying abroad, as students might encounter unappealing teaching styles and fail to make the valuable career contacts available at US schools.

Wall Street Journal
By Andrew Blackman
Sept. 20, 2015

Rethinking the “hypersensitive” student

November 18th, 2015 | No Comments | Posted in Education

Hypersensitivity isn’t the only problem with today’s campuses 

“Something strange is happening at America’s colleges and universities,” reads The Atlantic’s latest feature, “The Coddling of the American Mind.” “A movement is arising … to scrub campuses clean of words, ideas, and subjects that might cause discomfort or give offense.”

It’s a sentiment that, as a student at the University of Toronto, immediately struck a chord with me. That’s because earlier this year, I did something that offended a lot of people.

I wrote an article for the campus newspaper against the use of trigger warnings – notices that a post contains information that some may find traumatizing – in academic settings. Specifically, I didn’t think they should be applied to course syllabi. It seems dangerous to label academic material in a way that means students can choose whether or not to engage with it, regardless of its merit.

The article received a strong negative response. One commenter wrote, “You are really lucky to have this point of view, because it means you have not experienced trauma in your life to such an extent that reminders of painful memories overcome you” – it was a view shared by several students over various social-media platforms.

In the aftermath, what was hard to take was not that there were those who disagreed with me, but the way in which they were choosing to do so – the strength of their opposition without seeming to engage with the nuances of what I had written, and the anger at my having spoken to something outside my “lived experience.”

It’s these sorts of incidents that have some writers drawing the conclusion that our campuses are becoming oversensitive. The cover of The Atlantic declares that the rise of the “new political correctness” is “ruining education.”

Such claims are, however, an oversimplification.

For almost every person who struck out against what I had written, there was one who agreed – advocates of “free speech,” who praised it as a stab against too-liberal “PC” students.

When I reflect on my experience, I don’t find myself looking at a campus dominated by the “overly sensitive” or the “politically correct,” though there are some to whom the label might apply – what I see is a mosaic of highly polarized groups.

Ideally, and perhaps naively, I had intended my article to prompt an open discussion on the merits of, and problems with, the use of the trigger warning in our classrooms. Instead, I found myself vilified by those who felt what I had written was attacking something I didn’t understand, or championed by those who saw me as putting the oversensitive in their place.

This reaction is, to my mind, reflective of the state of today’s campuses. Not, as some might suggest, full of hypersensitive students unable to deal with difficult or upsetting concepts. Instead, made up of disparate groups who, instead of engaging each other in conversation, exist in opposition to one another.

This is not a world of students who are scared of ideas – they attack them, consider themselves at war with them and, in doing so, one another. The admittedly idyllic concept of rational academic discussion is all too easily tossed aside in favour of fiercely held debates, where a person’s character is fair game.

It’s a world where moral aspersions are all too easy to make. With discussions about highly contentious issues taking place more and more frequently online, it doesn’t take much to make the leap from “I disagree with how you feel about that issue” to “I think less of you as a person for your opinion.” This is not a climate that encourages communication between differently minded students.

This is not a situation unique to university classrooms, but it is one with the ability to limit academic discussion. In such an environment, it seems inevitable that students will spend their time with those with whom they are already in agreement, and engage with those who disagree only through the medium of angry dissent.

It is a highly polarized academic universe, and one that seems to feature many echo chambers, but rarely a broader, far-reaching conversation.


The Globe and Mail



Fraud Alert: Criminals Test Stolen Credit-Card Numbers on Charity Websites

November 17th, 2015 | No Comments | Posted in Fundraising

Criminals are using poorly protected charity websites to test the validity of stolen credit-card numbers, cybersecurity experts said this week, costing some groups thousands of dollars. Simplified online donation pages make it easy for people to give — but also serve as prime testing ground for credit-card thieves.

“There’s a giant target painted on the industry’s back that is very advantageous for credit-card thieves,” said Kevin Conroy, chief product officer at GlobalGiving.

Although not a new problem, it is now “near universal,” said Matt Holford, chief technology officer at

Easy Target

Stolen credit-card numbers aren’t worth much on the underground market until verified, so thieves use online payment websites to test whether the numbers work. Some thieves pay criminal services groups to do the confirmation work using a bot, — a software application that rapidly enters the numbers into payment websites, said Don Jackson, director of threat intelligence at PhishLabs. If the payment goes through, the criminal-services group reports back to the thief that the credit-card number is valid and will work for making larger fraudulent purchases.

Fraudsters also use for-profit retailers to verify stolen numbers. But businesses are often well protected, requiring multiple steps to make purchases such as setting up an account and providing personal information linked to the credit card.

Many nonprofits forgo such requirements to reduce obstacles to making donations.

That simple design is ideal for a thief or a bot trying to test many numbers quickly.

“I think the reason charities and nonprofits are targeted is they want to set it up with as few bars to funding as possible,” Mr. Jackson said.

Nonprofits are also vulnerable because online donations are not tied to geography, Mr. Conroy said. If someone uses her credit card to buy coffee in her town of residence on the same day a thief uses her credit-card number to buy a television three states away, that may raise a red flag with the credit-card company. A small, fraudulent online donation is unlikely to trigger that detection system.

Costs Soar

The financial costs of these attacks on nonprofits can be significant. Credit-card companies categorize online donations as “card-not-present” transactions and place the burden for recouping fraudulent charges entirely on nonprofits.

That means nonprofits have to return fraudulent donations that people report to their credit-card companies. In May 2013, Irish charity the Jack and Jill Children’s Foundation announced that it received and refunded about $170,000 in donations made via stolen credit cards. Most of the donations were less than $7.

For each fraudulent charge, charities also have to pay credit-card companies “charge-back” fees, which can be as high as $25. When thieves targeted about three years ago, it had to pay $10 to $20 in charge-back fees for each of more than 100 fraudulent donations, said Jeana Takahashi, the nonprofit’s integrity assurance manager and technical writer.

And once a nonprofit has surpassed a certain charge-back rate threshold — often 1 percent of all transactions in a month — credit card companies may put it on probation and charge it several thousand dollars a month in fines. If the nonprofit can’t lower its charge-back rate, credit-card companies may shut off its merchant account, rendering it unable to accept any donations made with that card brand. Vendors may also temporarily block nonprofits’ ability to process transactions if fraud attempts spike, said Clam Lorenz, PayPal’s general manager of social innovation for North America.

Harder to measure but still significant are the costs to a nonprofit’s reputation when people discover that donations were made without their consent.

“When you start to have fraud activities associated with you, it damages the name of your charity,” Mr. Jackson said.

Tighter Controls

There’s only one way to stop this kind of fraud, Mr. Conroy said: monitoring all online donations.

Nonprofits should look out for small donations (some bots randomly generate donations that are not whole numbers, such as $1.32), or a burst of donation activity during a short period of time. They should also look for donations made on a device whose IP address is different from the cardholder’s billing address or is linked to multiple transactions from different cardholders.

To thwart thieves, nonprofits also need to improve online donation forms, said Steven Mac­Laughlin, director of analytics at Blackbaud. He recommends setting a minimum online donation amount of $15. Charities should only accept donations in set increments, ask for credit-card expiration dates and security codes, and turn on address-verification services. PhishLabs recommends requiring donors to provide an email address to which nonprofits mail a donation-verification message and using URLs for the transaction page that change every time someone makes a donation.

Both Mr. Conroy and Mr. MacLaughlin advise against installing Captcha programs — quizzes that require users to interpret a string of misshapen numbers and letters to thwart bots. It’s quick and easy for criminals to get through such screens manually or pay low-skilled workers to do it. As a result, Captcha tests can frustrate more real donors than fraudulent ones.

“It’s a speed bump on the way to robbing you,” Mr. MacLaughlin said.

Getting Help

Payment-processing vendors also have a role to play, and some vendors are more susceptible to fraud than others, Mr. Jackson said. He mentioned one that has a “relatively sizable share of the charitable-organization market” as being weak because it accepts credit cards from all over world and doesn’t examine payment velocity. He declined to name it.

Mr. Conroy recommends that nonprofits research how prospective vendors prevent and handle fraudulent activity before signing a contract.

“It would be unwise to go solely for the lowest cost option,” he said.

Mr. Lorenz advises nonprofits to familiarize themselves with the charge-back reports their payment-processing vendors send. He also says nonprofits should talk to their vendors about available anti-fraud tools and good ways to deter thieves.

Nonprofits may need to buy more sophisticated services from payment processors or hire fraud-detection firms, such as Sift Science, which use the same machine-learning principles as email spam filters, and ThreatMetrix, which uses identification fingerprinting technology. Both of these companies charge per transaction: Sift Science charges 3 to 7 cents for each, although discounts are available for nonprofits, while Donors­ now budgets about $20,000 a year to pay ThreatMetrix, Ms. Takahashi said.

There is one downside to the system, Ms. Takahashi said: the rate of “false positives,” legitimate donations flagged as potentially fraudulent, has risen. DonorsChoose now flags about 3 percent of transactions for extra screening.

But it’s not a big problem, Ms. Takahashi said, and she thinks the extra protection justifies the false-positive risk and the cost.

“We don’t want to make it easy for the bad guys out there,” she said.

Charities that have the resources and tech talent may be able to develop internal anti-fraud protections. GlobalGiving created a system to monitor donations as they come in and to assess them later. The system is largely automated, although one employee runs frequent audits, and catches dozens to hundreds of attempted fraudulent donations every week. The nonprofit proactively reverses donations it suspects to be fraudulent to avoid paying charge-back fees later and now makes fewer than 10 charge-back fees each month.

Mr. Conroy declined to share how the system works, calling the fight against fraudsters an “arms race.”

“We have to keep some secrets so we can still combat them,” he said.

Joining Forces

CTOs for Good, a group of chief technology officers at nonprofits that include DonorsChoose, GlobalGiving, Wikimedia Foundation, Mozilla, Charity: Water, VolunteerMatch, Crisis Text Line, and Global Poverty Project, will discuss this problem at its meeting in October and perhaps produce a paper to share with the public, Mr. Holford said.

“Developing a unified solution is tough because our stacks, payment flows, and payment processors are all different,” he said in an email. “But some member groups have come up with smart logic to apply and lessons learned.”

Experts agree that each nonprofit has a role to play in helping charities fight back against credit-card verification fraud.

“We should work together and share best practices, look at ways we can share code to do that, and share referrals to off-the-shelf systems that are available,” Mr. Conroy said. “We’re only as strong as our weakest link.”

By Rebecca Koenig
September 17, 2015
The Chronicle of Philanthropy

12 phrases that give your donor credit for helping

November 16th, 2015 | No Comments | Posted in Fundraising

“Sharing Your Progress” season is coming up fast.  That’s when you talk about the highlights and victories of your year, and thank donors for helping you make it happen. We usually see these communications start in mid-November, peaking around Thanksgiving, and then leading into year-end appeals.

Regardless of the format that your communications take, you’ll need to figure out a way to give your donors thanks for their role in making that progress possible.

Here are 12 phrases we’ve seen other nonprofits use (hat tips with each example), and we encourage you to make them your own! Just replace what we have in italics with your own information.

Here you go . . .

1.  You did it! Today we reached our $1.7 million goal for water projects in Rwanda. We couldn’t have done it without you. (charity: water)

2.  We can do so much more because of you. Every gift matters, especially yours, as we work every day to ensure a brighter future for our community. Thank you. Together, we’re able to do so much more. (YMCA of Greater Charlotte)

3.  We’re inspired each day by this amazing community of wildlife supporters. Enjoy this look back at major accomplishments this past year – we couldn’t do it without you. (National Wildlife Federation)

4.  Thank you for your unwavering commitment to helping animals in crisis  — we couldn’t have done it without you! (ASPCA)

5.  Wow! You made 2014 an incredible year for human rights. As a little thank you, here are 24 of your biggest moments . . . (Amnesty International)

6.  Thank you to everyone who made an investment in the future of the Appalachian Trail. (Appalachian Trail Conservancy)

7.  4,760: the number of meals we served over Easter weekend. Thank you to every donor, volunteer, and prayer warrior who played a part in making this happen. (Nashville Rescue Mission)

8.  You’ve taken a stand for millions of suffering animals. To them, and to us, you are a hero. (Humane Society of the United States)

9.  We hope you know that YOU are our hero! The effort you put into reaching children is amazing! (Kids Hope USA)

10.  Thanks to you and other steadfast wildlife lovers, we have some important victories to celebrate from the past year. (Defenders of Wildlife)

11.  Our work would not be possible without your help.  Because of you. . . (fill in accomplishment). Thanks to you . . . (fill in accomplishment). With your support . . .(fill in accomplishment).  (The Nature Conservancy)

12.  We are here FOR YOU  and BECAUSE of YOU. THANK YOU for making our work possible. (Virginia Breast Cancer Foundation)

By Kivi Leroux Miller
Sep 14, 2015
NonProfit Marketing Guide