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March 13, 2011

Responding to the Japan Earthquake and Tsunami

Amazon.com is one of a growing number of companies that are partnering with nonprofits and associations to help raise funds via their websites for disaster relief agencies such as Save the Children, Architecture for Humanity, Doctors Without Borders, and the American Red Cross in response to the record 8.9-magnitude earthquake and resulting tsunami that hit March 11. The Japanese Red Cross has been assessing damage, activating volunteers, and communicating with emergency response organizations overseas that have hundreds of volunteer professionals on standby.

Charity Navigator has issued a tipsheet to help donors avoid charity scams related to the disaster, as well as a list of organizations already involved in relief efforts.

You'll also find a serendipitous article in the February issue of Associations Now titled "How Your Organization Can Help with Disaster Relief" that talks about the process four associations went through to be ready with member volunteers, a crisis communications plan, and other resources that may be urgently needed anytime worldwide.

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December 16, 2010

Making Thank-you's Meaningful

'Tis the season of "thank you," the time of year when our organizations not only receive the greatest number of donations but also express our gratitude for members' support and money. We read a lot about the importance of thanking people in ways that are meaningful to them, and I'm hearing some positive stories from organizations that have been trying to experiment with ways to do that.

Meals on Wheels, for instance, just launched an online radio station whose inaugural program, "Wheels in Motion," featured President and CEO Enid Borden and one of her affiliate leaders talking specifically about what they were most grateful for as they continue their fight to end hunger among senior citizens. They know that many elderly people--both their clients and volunteers--still listen regularly to their radios for news and entertainment, while younger people listen online and will be comfortable setting up RSS feeds and downloading the ongoing program from iTunes.

Another organization called my house the other night to thank me and celebrate my "five-year anniversary as a donor." The donation is a no brainer for me--the group works hard to stretch my money and doesn't inundate us with excessive appeals. Still, it was nice to have someone call to let me know that they appreciated my loyalty as much as my money. I'll be aiming to celebrate 10 years with that organization, for sure.

And here's one of those great stories you wish would happen to every one of your favorite charities: A member had given a nonprofit a $1,000 donation recently. Although they don't usually call donors, a staffer gave a ring and thanked him personally, developing such a rapport (and not making another ask) that the man immediately sent a check for $10,000 more! If we could all be so fortunate....

And finally, this is my own chance to say thank you to the many ASAE members and other association/nonprofit and business professionals who willingly give up their time and wisdom to me so that I can share their experiences, advice, and ideas with others for the greater good. You are what make this blog, our magazine and other publications, our website, and our education sessions and events relevant and helpful to thousands of your peers and partners.

Thank you, thank you, thank you!

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February 13, 2010

Winter Olympics Organizers Offer Free Toolkit on Creating Sustainable Events

In anticipation of the next weeks’ of avid TV watching of the Winter Olympics in Canada, I visited the official website in search of potential tools, ideas, and takeaways for association event and meeting planners.

I’m pleased to find that groups involved in sporting events and fundraisers (think golf tournaments, walk- and bike-a-thons, team-building field days, etc.) can download a free Sustainable Sport and Event Toolkit (http://www.aists.org/sset) created by the Vancouver Organising Committee for the 2010 Olympics and Paralympic Winter Games (VANOC) in partnership with the Switzerland-based International Academy of Sports Science and Technology. Topics covered include community and supply chain involvement, transportation, and venue management.

The nine-piece how-to toolkit—aimed at organizers/sponsors of both large and small events--is one of the many social legacy projects completed or underway by organizers and attendees of this month’s Olympics, which kicked off in grand style February 12.

Organizers have spent seven years developing and executing actions and policies aimed at lightening the event’s wide environmental footprint, ensuring an ethical and inclusive competition, and leaving behind a positive social legacy. You’ll find highlights at http://www.vancouver2010.com/olympic-news/n/news/francophone-performers_272022Kq.html.

However, a summary of 12 of their major initiatives (http://www.vancouver2010.com/more-2010-information/sustainability/discover-sustainability) provides association meeting planners and

Continue reading "Winter Olympics Organizers Offer Free Toolkit on Creating Sustainable Events " »

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January 19, 2010

Earthquake Response Efforts Continue

To everyone who has been sending press releases and e-mails about what their organization is doing to respond to the Haiti earthquake disaster, I send you a big thank-you! To avoid weighing down Acronym with the latest updates, all responses are being posted in the commentary section of my earlier blog posts down below. I encourage you to continue emailing me news at kclarke@asaecenter.org. Thanks again for all you are doing!

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January 13, 2010

Associations, Nonprofits Begin Haitian Earthquake Response

As they have so many times in the past, associations and nonprofits around the world are moving rapidly to help the hard-hit communities in and near the Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince, after a severe earthquake measuring 7.0 quake apparently flattened much of the area late January 12.

With communications impaired, electricity out, and roads blocked by fallen debris from collapsed buildings and homes, organizations were struggling both to track down local staff and members, and to assess how best to assist the densely populated, impoverished region that appears devastated.

Here’s a round-up of some association and nonprofit efforts and news underway:

Within hours of the quake, local Haitian teams of the nonprofit Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières were reporting that damage to their Port-au-Prince medical center and other facilities is “significant” as are injuries to staff, patients, and incoming residents. Additional staff are being deployed immediately.

World Vision International, a nonprofit that helps the poor, said on its Web site that staff in Haiti are trying to assess the damage and configure a response plan, but some workers are struggling just to leave their building because of aftershocks and damage that continue to send walls and building materials into the streets.

The American Red Cross, World Vision International, Oxfam, numerous faith-based relief services, and myriad other disaster relief charities have already set up emergency funds—many of them linked to mobile phone text giving--and e-mailed urgent donation appeals to millions of supporters.

Save the Children’s Ian Rodgers, who was in Haiti at the time of the earthquake, quickly became the eyes and ears for many media around the globe stymied by the lack of working communication technology and lack of access to the area.

Social media is again playing a riveting role in revealing the extent of the disaster, as well as the types of real-time decision-making occuring onsite and in offices far afield by nonprofit staff and government officials. Twitter updates from charities, federal and international agencies, and others have been running throughout the night as news and photos have slowly leaked out. While no association-uploaded videos related to humanitarian efforts is on YouTube yet, several groups expressed hope they would soon have footage or videotaped interviews to post shortly.

Many professional and trade associations have created global disaster relief funds in the past 10 years and are likely to tap them now, saying they want first to see what primary needs emerge.

Expressing fears about safety, shifting needs, and inadequate information from the hit region, none of the aid charities are accepting outside volunteers at the moment while the groups try to get their own trained staff onsite. Indeed, some are trying to get staff and members out of the Port-au-Prince area while aftershocks remain so strong.

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December 1, 2009

Holiday giving trend info, Cyber Monday tie-ins

Many association board meetings are going on this month, and two frequent questions asked of staff are, “What are the end-of-year giving trends right now, and what donor behavior do you expect in the next year?” They also want more thorough details of how any proposed budgets are changing to reflect those expectations, especially in terms of first-quarter cash flow, when giving by individuals traditionally drops dramatically.

I’ve written before about giving trends and am happy to share the result of the latest survey out today by the American Red Cross. It finds that 90 percent of Americans plan to donate to charity this holiday season, with 62 percent planning to give more than $25, and 25 percent saying they’ll give more than $100, despite the economic downturn. In the really good news department, 40 percent are “talking with others about donating to charity instead of buying them a gift.”

“Eighty percent said that, if asked, they would be happy to make a donation to charity instead of buying a gift for someone,” reports the American Red Cross.

Nonprofits and associations have been extremely concerned about the expected diminishing of end-of-year donations, and I’ve been hearing both good and terrible numbers from a wide range of folks within our sectors. However, a Red Cross survey in November finds that although one-third of respondents said they are cutting back on gift spending, parties (31%), holiday décor (40%), and travel (44%), only 20 percent are sending out fewer charity checks, and 17 percent plan to spend more. This is impressive considering that the survey also revealed that one in four people had their salary or hours cut back, 14 percent were suffering a job layoff, and 41 percent had lost money in the stock market.

To help boost their fundraising opportunities, a number of nonprofits and associations leveraged yersterday’s “Cyber Monday” technology buying spree among bargain-hunting consumers to pitch online charitable giving. With online giving at an all-time high, association development staff appear to be shaping their virtual giving pitches to sync with a day when millions of Americans already have gift-giving on their minds. It would be interesting to learn whether these strategies have worked. Anyone willing to share their results is welcome to post here.

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November 3, 2009

Gearing Up for the Season of (Mobile) Giving

The Halloween candy hasn’t even been eaten yet, and I’m already seeing what I think will be a tidal wave of holiday-season community service outreach and philanthropic activities by a wide range of associations and nonprofits. In the spirit of the upcoming season and because everyone likes to know what their colleagues are up to, I’m going to make an effort to post occasional short lists with links to more details of some of the most creative or highest impact projects and partnerships.

For now, I’ll just share what one nonprofit is doing to address a fundraising issue that becomes especially crucial during the end-of-year giving cycle—enabling trusted, simple, and convenient donations directly from mobile phones. The Mobile Giving Foundation (MGF) has just announced a partnership with major mobile providers such as Verizon Wireless and AT&T to assist 350-plus charities with mobile giving campaigns. The program has generated more than $1 million in 18 months and is expected to grow rapidly, according to the foundation. A Canadian version of the initiative also has launched.

The foundation also has gone the next step: developing a broader partnership strategy to create a "mobile giving channel, whereby consumers can text a keyword that corresponds to a specific nonprofit or charitable cause to a designated short code. Afterward, a micro-donation of $5 or $10 is made and processed.” The wireless service companies tally donations via their regular monthly billing process and forward the funds to MGF, which passes 100% of them to the designated charities.

MGF has worked with almost every U.S. and Canadian wireless service provider to design “clear standards” that “provide a quality user experience and a trusted source of donor engagement for nonprofits." That experience includes offering donors various “information opt-in-based text alert packages … to help the donor maintain visibility to the causes they support.”

Thanks to a process redesign and technology innovations that dramatically accelerated campaign launch processes, the foundation now launches 20 campaigns per week and is currently supporting more than 400 campaigns with price points of either $5 or $10.

Response rates vary wildly from 1.5% to 63%, depending on “the cause, celebrity endorsement, co-branding affiliations, and related marketing efforts,” says the foundation.

Here’s a list of current charity partners and the Standards for Participation in case your organization would like to participate.

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October 13, 2009

Tough economy prompts nonprofit to try weird-but-wow raffle

Whoa—just when you think you’ve heard of almost every type of fundraiser in the world, something comes along that gives you pause. This time it’s by a youth service nonprofit called World Youth Empowerment, which has created what it calls a “Mega House Raffle.” Winner of its grand prize can select “any property for sale within the state of California up to a value of $3 million.” Oh, and it includes $200,000 in furnishings and a new Bentley Continental GT car.

“But what about gift taxes?” you might sigh. Nada. The prize is tax-free, resulting in a total prize package worth more than $4 million. No need for a West Coast home? Take $2 mil instead. Yeah, that’s what makes this raffle fundraiser the largest in America to date, according to WYE. And just to keep it more exciting, only 60,000 tickets at $150 each will be sold, starting October 15.

According to WYE Executive Director Charlie Smith, the poor economy with its deep funding cuts in the public sector and drop in private giving is forcing nonprofits to seek “non-traditional means of fundraising. We chose a charitable raffle, but needed to make it large, unique and exceptional to distinguish it from other raffles. With valuable assistance from our private benefactors, we created the Mega House Raffle that certainly qualifies in all respects." He hopes to raise $9 million from ticket sales.

The prize drawing is on March 22, 2010, but WYE is giving away hundreds of smaller prizes in 16 early-bird drawings. I’ll be interested to hear whether Smith meets his fundraising goal, but in the meantime, I’d also like to hear what other out-there types of fundraising is going on in the nonprofit community. Any original twists on long-time favorites such as auctions, raffles, cause marketing, events, whatever?

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September 25, 2009

Quick clicks: My favorite things

- Jeff Hurt shares his favorite "event planning things," to the tune of "My Favorite Things" from The Sound of Music. Click at your own risk--it's possible you'll end up with the tune stuck in your head for the rest of the day ...

- Rebecca Leaman at the SmartBlog Insights blog shares a cautionary tale of what can happen when your budget cuts make your members' and supporters' lives more difficult.

- In a somewhat related post, the NTEN blog talks about why online donors leave and how you can bring them back.

- The Plexus Consulting Group blog says that there's no such thing as a business or management objective that can't be measured. (This post particularly resonated with me today, as I'm struggling to determine what metrics can measure my department's objectives for the year.)

- During Hispanic Heritage Month, Rosetta Thurman is profiling Hispanic nonprofit leaders whose accomplishments she particularly admires (here's an introductory post, and the first profile).

- Judith Lindenau at the Off Stage blog is posting a series of seven steps to building an association online community (steps one, two, three, and four have been posted so far).

- Elisa Ortiz at the Onward and Upward blog lists 7 habits of highly annoying coworkers. (I'm sure no Acronym reader does any of these things!)

- Jamie Notter is thinking about complaining.

- Acronym blogger Brian Birch isn't the only person thinking about volunteers and creativity this week; the CMI Observations on Association Management blog has some insights.

- Aptify's CEO Blog discusses predictive analysis and how associations can use it to improve member retention.

- Stephanie Vance muses about whether success in advocacy can blunt future advocacy effectiveness.

- At The Forum Effect, Jackie Eder-Van Hook has advice for associations on how to work with their attorneys.

- Jeffrey Cufaude has a great list of ideas on how you can be a more "sustainable you."

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September 3, 2009

Nonprofits Unite for Census Accuracy

I’m reading a lot of anxious press releases and articles within the association/nonprofit communities about boosting participation in the U.S. 2010 census process, as fiscally stressed organizations unite to battle perception hurdles that could depress census tallies and lead to fewer federal funds for states and their social programs. Currently, the federal government distributes almost $400 billion annually to states and localities.

In Illinois, for instance, an alliance of 60 nonprofits and 10 state foundations has formed the nation’s largest response to date--a $1.2-million “Count Me In” campaign to improve participation in the tallies of often-missed populations, such as immigrants, minorities, and low-income residents. The coalition has determined that for each person not counted in Illinois, the state loses $12,000 during the next decade.

Organizers are using a wide variety of new and traditional engagement and education tools to convince people to complete their census document. Among them are celebrity text messages for Latino youth, door-knocking brigades to immigrant communities, social media strategies, special events, and outreach materials for churches, barber shops, and beauty salons in heavily African-American neighborhoods.

If you’re interested in learning more about or joining the efforts, go to the U.S. Census Bureau site for National Partners; you can also find a massive list of associations and nonprofits already signed up (PDF).

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August 24, 2009

Facebook fundraising: Feeding America shows good taste

Using social media for fundraising—it was a topic that sparked a lot of conversation among associations and nonprofits during last week’s Annual Meeting in Toronto, with everyone wanting to know which organizations have had luck, which have not and why, and which campaigns are underway as pilots.

A few first-adopter organizations always spring to mind when I hear someone ask the how-do-I-do-this question, including the nonprofit Feeding America (formerly Second Harvest), which has such a creative array of supporters that it is always on the forefront of innovative fundraising techniques and events.

Its latest endeavor is on Facebook and involves the unusual duo of Hellmann’s and Best Foods Mayonnaise with musician Billy Ray Cyrus in a “virtual Sandwich Swap ‘n Share” program to celebrate the upcoming new school year and “childhood rituals” like trading lunchbox munchies.

The fundraiser is fun and trendy. For each sandwich created on the company’s Facebook page, Hellmann's and Best Foods donates seven lunches to Feeding America and enters the participant in a sweepstakes for a $250 grocery gift certificate. And here’s the viral part: For every friend on Facebook that the participant shares a sandwich with, Hellmann's donates seven more lunches—up to 700,000 lunches total. Someone even wins a trip backstage at a Cyrus concert to officially swap sandwiches with the famous father-of-Miley.

swapnshare.jpg

Feeding America and Hellmann’s are quick to explain that seven lunches equals a dollar donation to the charity. But by using Facebook to engage customers and charitable supporters in a feel-good fundraiser that virtually uses its product (a fundraiser that doesn’t cost the customer a dime, by the way), the company and its brand gain much more buzz and recognition than they would by simply writing a $100,000 check to Feeding America, as does the charity.

Fundraising with social media tools takes a lot of thought and planning, but the results can further cement relationships with major donors, engrain your brand in new places, excite your supporters, and generate media interest. And if you raise some money in the process, well, hooray!

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July 29, 2009

Decline in Charitable Donations Continues

The latest survey of 2,279 nonprofits by GuideStar shows that charitable contributions between March and May 2009 continue to drop for 52% of respondents, with 8% noting that they may close because of financial problems. The results are similar to those of the same periods in 2008 and in October 2008 through February 2009.

Twenty-nine percent of nonprofits report that donations stayed level, while 18% say they received more donations during March to May 2009.

Bob Ottenhoff, GuideStar's president and CEO, calls the latest trends “both a ‘glass is half full’ and ‘glass is half empty’ scenario.” He is especially concerned that “participants' comments indicate that their organizations are stretched to the limit … and 58% report that demand for their services has increased."

You can download the free report here.

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March 30, 2009

Chapter websites and donors: Food for thought

When I started reading today's Alertbox column from Jakob Nielsen, I definitely wasn't expecting it to touch on component relations. (Nielsen, for those of you not familiar with his work, is a web usability expert and researcher; if you have any involvement with your organization's website or online presence, I highly recommend his columns.)

Today's Alertbox focuses on a study Nielsen's group did to discover how to design nonprofit websites to encourage donations ... pretty important for any organization that is partially or largely donor-supported. It didn't surprise me that Nielsen's research showed that many of the nonprofits studied had poor usability for donors--so many websites (not just nonprofits) have terrible usability issues. But I was fascinated by the study's implications for nonprofits and associations with chapters or components.

According to Nielsen, the subjects of this study indicated that, when making a decision to donate, the number 2 most important factor in their decision was the organization's presence in their own community. (Number 1 was the organization's mission, goals, objectives, and work, not surprisingly.)

However, the column says, "the worst user experience erosion in this study was caused by heinous integration of local chapters with the higher-level organization. As mentioned above, users wanted information about a non-profit's activities in their communities, but the experience of actually visiting local chapter websites was stunning. Typically, such sites looked completely different than the master sites ..."

In other words, the fact that the chapter websites looked nothing like the national website was causing visitors not to donate--because they weren't clear on whether the organization was really involved in their local community or not.

If you work for a chapter or component, does your website look like your national's website, or do they look different? Nationals, do your chapters have a continuity of look and feel among their websites and yours? How do you think such consistency or lack thereof impacts your donor or stakeholder community?


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October 24, 2008

Twitter as a Fundraising Tool

Although I recently posted about the increased popularity of personal giving through text messaging, I’d like to add a short update about Twitter, the hot microblogging social media tool that has captured the imaginations and texting fingers of primarily young professionals.

The New York Times has an article today about the Salvation Army’s efforts to expand its trademark “red kettle campaign” online, a move it started making three years ago with early texting donation drives and easy, click-on-the-bucket online giving at its Web site.

This year, the nonprofit is making an even greater virtual push, increasing its Facebook exposure, offering personal Web fundraising pages, and other interactive self-fundraising features, the article explains. Of particular interest, though, is the Salvation Army’s piloting of a Twitter-based campaign that provides brief, real-time updates on the progress of the red kettle campaign, again inviting folks to give on the spot via their cell phones.

I don’t know of any other associations using Twitter specifically for a fundraising campaign, but I’d like to hear from any who are experimenting with this vehicle. Please post here or email me at kclarke@asaecenter.org.

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October 17, 2008

Thanking Supporters in a Memorable Way

I just got an amazing e-mail from DonorsChoose.org that contains a smart sample we all could mimic—a thank-you to supporters and the link to an incredibly moving short YouTube video about how a new $500,00 grant will be spent.

The video spokesperson is the person who actually nominated the charity—not a professional staffer or media spokesperson. DonorsChoose.org came in second out of 1,190 nominees (an amazing 20,650 people voted for it) in the much-publicized American Express Members Project competition. Can you imagine having a supporter or member who speaks from the heart like this? How powerful.

And wouldn’t you know, the Alzheimer’s Association, which won FIRST place in the competition, did a similar thing.

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October 8, 2008

Raising Money in Weird Places

I’ve seen some pretty creative fundraising outlets being used effectively by nonprofits and associations lately. While in New York City for a day, I rode in three cabs that each had mini-TVs with programming that included short pieces about participating in the national RED campaign by the American Heart Association and in a local United Way fundraiser.

I saw AARP spots on community service and membership during the recent coverage of the Olympics and, oddly, the Tour de France, the latter of which also attracted regular spots from the Virginia Association of Realtors. Neither of these seems like obvious marketing tools, but they did catch my attention.

I even saw two associations advertising membership on the sides of the Verizon Center ice rink during a Capitols game in DC—one repeated its ad on the Jumbotron hanging over the rink. Those I did wonder about. Did they really garner enough money and/or members from hockey fans to make it worth the cost of advertising there? They weren’t even hockey related.

Read the article in today’s USA Today for other avenues that nonprofits/associations are turning to in their increasingly desperate effort to avoid a crash-and-burn end-of-year financial scenario.

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October 7, 2008

Getting Creative with Corporate Donors

In anticipation of expected decreased giving during the upcoming all-important end-of-year quarter, some nonprofit leaders are turning to their business partners and corporate donors for extra help—and surprisingly, many are getting it.

Some corporations are using the opportunity to come up with fresh ways to financially support community-based organizations while simultaneously generating new business value for themselves such as stronger branding and database building.

The latest example comes from three small community nonprofits--Big City Mountaineers, Continental Divide Trail Alliance, and the Outdoor Industries Women's Coalition. The trio are beneficiaries of a targeted new campaign called “Give a Warm Fuzzy, Get a Warm Fuzzy,” which includes a limited-run charity fundraising portal opened by the W.L. Gore & Associates corporation from October 1 to December 15, 2008.

The company, known for its GORE-TEX fabric innovations, has been concerned about the survivability of some of its favorite outdoor charities and wanted to go beyond a simple philanthropic gift to build a stronger giving base for the groups to tap long-term. It also wanted to engage its community-minded customers in a fun way to donate even in hard times. And, of course, it wanted to educate consumers about a new product line.

The answer came in the form of a fundraising portal that could “raise awareness and support for three respected outdoor charities that could suffer during the existing tough economic times, when charitable giving is likely to decrease.” The portal works somewhat differently than many others run for nonprofits.

Once visitors register on the site (there’s that database building benefit!), Gore donates on their behalf to one of the three charities. Visitors also can earn "points" for their preferred charity by “playing an educational game, inviting friends to join, and/or by donating $10, $20, or $25 directly.” The charity attracting the highest points will receive the largest percentage donation from Gore in December, and donors also can win free warm and fuzzy products.

The nonprofits are thrilled not only with the expected revenues but with the opportunity to expand the reach of their own message. "We appreciate being part of this new Gore initiative," says Josh Shusko, executive director of the Continental Trail Divide Alliance. "We love having the opportunity to showcase the quality work that results from the support of outdoor enthusiasts. Having a community dedicated to their passion for the outdoors keeps our mission alive on a daily basis.”

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February 26, 2008

Quick clicks: New blogs and words of wisdom

- Several more blogs have joined the association blogging world. Vinay’s Blog, starring Vinay Kumar; the CAE Blog, with Thomas Stefaniak, CAE; and Association Station, with Kevin Jerge.

- Rick Johnston wonders if association fundraisers can work together to develop the next great fundraising event idea.

- Cindy Butts has a great quote on her blog today: “Groups use whatever amount of time you give them to make a decision.”

- Sue Pelletier links to a list of deadly sins that associations would do well to avoid.

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December 13, 2007

The Power of a Dog-gone Good Story

Wells Jones, CEO of the much-lauded Guide Dog Foundation, is a great storyteller. That's not a label many nonprofit leaders work hard for, but Wells has found that stories can get you places that appeals letters and political allies cannot: into people's wallet, mind and heart.

I was interviewing him recently after our Key Philanthropic Organizations Committee (KPOC) meeting, having already talked to him once before about his foundation's successful revision of its governance practices. We had spent a good chunk of the KPOC meeting talking about leadership, organizational excellence and the differences and synergies between our Seven Measures of Success book and a new publication, Forces for Good: The Six Practices of High-Impact Nonprofits, by Leslie Crutchfield and Heather McLeod Grant.

We were all intrigued by the differences in data about leadership between these two books and even Good to Great's Jim Collins, who had been involved with both publications. One thing none of these books did, though, was explore in any real depth the types of communication techniques that great organizatonal leaders routinely find most effective: compelling storytelling.

So I asked Wells how he created the storytelling culture that is so apparent on his Web site and how his staff and volunteers collect and use those powerful anecdotes to show the real impact of the organization. You can read his responses in the profile department of ASAE & The Center's new philanthropic Web section, but in the meantime I wanted to share what he said was his favorite program-related story.

"This story relates to a Marine who lost both of his arms in Iraq above the elbow, so he wears two prosthetic arms," Wells said. "And he also has some balance issues. We trained one of our dogs to work with him to help provide balance, fetch items and do various tasks that the Marine needs to get done.

"So he’s outdoors with his dog one day, and they are having down time--he’s playing Frisbee with his dog--and when he throws the Frisbee, the dog brings it back, like all of our dogs do. But then one time when he throws the Frisbee, one of his arms goes with it. The dog goes over and looks at the Frisbee and then looks at the arm, looks at the Frisbee and looks at the arm. Finally, he makes up his mind and grabs the arm, which he takes back to the Marine. And the Marine is laughing really hard about this, thinking, 'What fun!' but then he realizes what the dog just did: The dog made a decision that his owner had to have the arm first before he could bring the Frisbee back. It’s a wonderful, wonderful story."

Now ask him to tell you the one about the two old-time war vets who have raised half a million bucks in just a few months....

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September 28, 2007

YouTube launches nonprofit program

The 501(c)(3)s out there might be interested in a new program offered by YouTube: a nonprofit channel that offers "premium rotation" and the ability to embed a "donate" button in connection with your organization's videos.

For folks pursuing video as a way to spread the word about their mission or cause (particularly those whose missions lend themselves well to visual expression), this could be worth checking out.

(Hat tip to Michele Martin and The Bamboo Project blog, where I originally came across this information.)

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January 27, 2007

TED

Do you dream of an annual event that sells out the following year before staging the current year’s program? Impossible? Not if that conference is TED.

Hatched by Ricky Saul Wurman in 1984, the architect who morphed into the first information architect, TED was an event that embodied the merger of technology, entertainment, design into a high tech, high touch experience—an idea we now take for granted.

And now, that unique cultural experience and gold standard of meetings, TED, is morphing into a membership organization. Rather than charge a $4,000 registration fee, participants will pay 50% more for a year-round experience. Owned by the 501( c)(3) Sapling Foundation, Donor Members paying $100,000 will qualify for an extraordinary collection of privileges. The membership options are tiered by the level of access to the people who are attached to TED.

Over the years, this extraordinary event expanded to include: “…scientists, philosophers, musicians, religious leaders, environmentalists and many others. Those who have spoken at TED include Bill Gates, Frank Gehry, Jane Goodall, Billy Graham, Herbie Hancock, Murray Gell-Mann, Larry Ellison. Yet often the real stars have been the unexpected: Li Lu, a key organizer of the Tiananmen Square student protest, Aimee Mullins, a Paralympics competitor who tried out a new pair of artificial legs on-stage, or Nathan Myrrhvold speaking not about Microsoft platforms, but about dinosaur sex.”

So, is your organization an association with an annual event or are you really an event with a year-round membership?

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