Change the World by Working in a Virtual One: Interview with Evonne Heyning

first_imgHow does your organization use Second Life?Amoration is a nonprofit studio developing ManorMeta, a futuristic TV/DVD series and interactive online network for families around the globe. ManorMeta’s growing architecture has quickly taken over our free time. ManorMeta premiered in early 2006 and quickly became a destination for world-changers and innovators in design, education, sustainability, artificial intelligence, and the arts. Our goal has been to produce a family media series built on a very fantastic new technological age.ManorTV is kid-friendly edutainment now in early production. Our virtual home has six foster kids, three adults, numerous animal and computer-generated characters, and is filled with music, humor, and technological magic. (Think: next-generation “Sesame Street.”)Amoration, our 501(c)3 organization, has produced media and developed new concepts for programming in the virtual world since December 2005. We have provided support on nonprofit projects such as Camp Darfur, producing crossover print and video machinima from our builds to compliment real world awareness events. The ZeroOne art show (a festival of art and digital culture that took place in San Jose, California in August 2006) increased demand for our rare designs and we opened two ManorMeta Mineral Matrix education shops to build a growing business in the virtual world.Why did you decide to do something in Second Life? After a fun job interview in the virtual world in the Summer of 2005 and encouragement from Sue Stonebender and friends from the Omidyar Network (a mission-based investment group committed to fostering individual self-empowerment on a global scale), I gave Second Life a test run in January of 2006. With the pilot for the ManorMeta series nearly finished, we needed a dynamic, collaborative building space that would help us develop our ideas on interactivity in real and virtual spaces. Second Life became a tremendous tool for set and character development and storyboarding – now, story ideas emerge from our Second dramas! We’ve successfully turned our early-adopter audience into active participants by starting our process in the virtual world.How was the project planned? What expertise was needed? We have had mostly positive results in presentations with potential partners, Amoration Advisors, and volunteers. The world is intriguing enough to gather interest, but few find they have enough juice and bandwidth to sign up for Second Life and join us in the virtual world on a regular basis. Those who meet us there and play often get very involved in like-minded projects! Some who cannot join us in Second Life still spread the meme through the Web; we provide them with a natural spotlight space with links and interactive content at no cost.Our first development award came from a key Linden partner so we did not worry that our investment in the platform would be considered wasteful. We found our virtual world meeting enhanced our work with Omidyar Network and other leaders from many different disciplines. We host some advisor meetings in-world (in Second Life) as a way to stay connected and integrated with our virtual space.The learning curve has been steep and it has taken us every bit of nine months to learn building, scripting, event hosting, and media production in-world. We have tried to do this without investing extra money into Second Life; instead of hiring scriptwriters and machinima producers, we learned how to do it ourselves.How did the project unfold? What were some of the challenges? What worked well? As a development platform, Second Life is an excellent tool. It works well for archiving drawings, ideas, storyboards, and movement directions. Of course, if you write about hackers and digital access, you’re bound to get hacked and “griefed” (the Second Life term for virtual harassment). As a networking device, it is clever and very sticky; it has tremendous potential as our computers and bandwidth catch up with the technology. Some of our primary mentors and advisors are unable to run Second Life smoothly on their primary work computers due to software and hardware restrictions, so we are not yet able to integrate them with our virtual-development process.How much time and money did you spend? To date we have spent less than $20 in Second Life. Our goal is to keep this project as sustainable as possible while providing financial stipends for the volunteer artists who have been working on this project for the last year. Amoration is a young 501(c)3 sponsored by the International Humanities Center; our staff has been working as volunteers for our arts education endeavors since 2004. We have approximately two dozen AMO Advisors who have given time and talent to help this project grow.How did you explain the project to organizational leaders or constituents? As an independent studio, we hold true to our organizational mission. We seek partners and projects that enhance a better world vision and we have made many new friends through the ManorMeta experiments.What are the benefits to your organization? The largest benefit to our organization is the interactivity, feedback, collaboration, and creative capital that we have exchanged in fun and captivating ways. There is so much potential as we build and bridge these new frontiers for kids around the world.What advice would you give to other nonprofits who might be interested? Write to us now at We have found many tremendous pieces in this puzzle and we’d like to hear how you think they should fit together. If you have helpful leads for product and production partners for AMO Studio, please drop a line or introduce yourself in-world to In Kenzo, Common Cure, or any avatar from the ManorMeta group. We’ve been meeting tons of actors, stunt leads, musicians, and other talent and our team for this project is growing every week. We consider this to be a family and we invite people who want to create a culture of conscious compassion to tell us what you love to do.Copyright: CompuMentorSource: read more

Make it Easy for Online Readers to Spread the Word

first_imgCalvin College’s release on its Sushi Theatre is a great example. Note the prompt to Share the Story, and the easy-to-use links to do so. Also, as higher ed marketing guru Bob Johnson points out, “the topic of the press release, ‘Sushi Theatre’ is included in the title tag for the page, making it more likely that a search engine ‘spyders’ will find and index it. The keyword in the title tag is then repeated in the major text heading (the headline in this case) on the page, and again early in the text itself.”Source: the AuthorNancy E. Schwartz helps nonprofits succeed through effective marketing and communications. As President of Nancy Schwartz & Company (, Nancy and her team provide marketing planning and implementation services to organizations as varied as the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Center for Asian American Media, and Wake County (NC) Health Services.Subscribe to her free e-newsletter “Getting Attention”, ( and read her blog at for more insights, ideas and great tips on attracting the attention your organization deserves.NOTE: You’re welcome to “reprint” this article online as long as it remains complete and unaltered (including the copyright and “about the author” info at the end), and you send a copy of your reprint. Nothing’s more powerful than having your audiences spread the word about your program, organization or new leadership. Such “viral marketing” is far more powerful than your organization telling its own story as friends tend to listen to friends, and believe what they say. To encourage viral marketing, make it as easy as possible for your audiences to spread the word. Here are two great ways to do so:1. Include a ‘forward to a friend’ link in your e-news and advocacy campaigns.2. Enable your audiences to spread the word more broadly, via social networking tools. Here’s how:Crafted to double as direct communications with your target audiences. They have to be engaging, succinct and formatted for easy digestion (lots of bullets, white space and short paragraphs).Integrate key tools to link to spokesperson bio and contact info, related resources and more. They’ll make a world of difference.Feature the single keyword for the release in the page title tag, the primary content heading (in your list of releases, or in your site) and the text at the top of the release (ideally in the first sentence of the first paragraph).One-click buttons to Share the Story (more engaging than Forward to a Friend):Add the site to reader’s bookmarks via DeliciousRate the site via DIGG.last_img read more

Review of Recent Online Communications Benchmarks Studies

first_imgAs more and more organizations turn to the Internet to enhance and expand their fundraising, advocacy and communications work, a number of key questions have arisen, including:How does our online program compare to other programs?What are reasonable goals for list growth, response rates, churn rates, etc?How can we measure the success of our online work?Until very recently, little data existed with which to answer these questions. However, in the past year, several studies have aimed to establish the benchmarks needed to evaluate the performance of nonprofits’ online communications, advocacy, fundraising, and email messaging programs.We recently reviewed these studies: the eNonprofit Benchmarks Study, the Online Marketing (eCRM) Nonprofit Benchmark Index TM Study, and the donorCentricsTM Internet Giving Benchmarking Analysis, and we have provided a brief summary below of the main findings on which all three studies agree.SHARED FINDINGS The three recent benchmarks studies capture online program metrics from a variety of nonprofits that focus on a multitude of issue areas. Though the data differs somewhat among the studies, one point is perfectly clear: the Internet is the place for nonprofits to invest! 1. Online Giving Is On The Rise All three studies found that the amount of money raised online per organization is rapidly increasing. Though the statistics vary fairly widely, the studies reflect the general trend of growth in nonprofit online fundraising programs.The Online Marketing (eCRM) Nonprofit Benchmark IndexTM reports a growth rate of 27 % in median dollars raised from 2005 to 2006.The eNonprofit Benchmarks Study reports a 40 % growth in average amount raised from the year 2003-2004 to the year 2004-2005.The donorCentrics Analysis reports that the median cumulative growth in online donors amongst its study participants has been 101% over the past three years.2. Rapid Response Pays Both the eNonprofit Benchmarks Study and the donorCentrics Analysis note significant spikes in online donations due to giving after the Asian tsunami and Hurricane Katrina. All three studies emphasize the importance of nonprofits’ quick response to a natural disaster or other breaking news.3. Email Lists Are Growing The eNonprofit Benchmarks Study and the eCRM Nonprofit Benchmarks IndexTM both report growth in email list sizes. The former reports an average growth of 73% across the 15 study partners from September 2004 to September of 2005. The latter reports a median growth rate of 47% from July 2005 to June 2006. In addition, the Index Study reports that organizations with smaller lists (under 50,000) grew twice as fast as those with larger lists.4. Bigger Lists = More Money & More Actions The eNonprofit Benchmarks Study illustrates that email list size is directly proportional to the number of advocacy actions and letters generated. Simply put, the bigger the email list, the larger the number of advocacy actions generated.Likewise, the eCRM Nonprofit Benchmarks IndexTM split funds raised online by email list size to show the difference in amount raised by various file sizes and the trend of larger email lists raising more money holds true.5. Fundraising Messaging Metrics Holding Steady Both the eNonprofit Benchmarks Study and the eCRM Nonprofit Benchmark IndexTM calculated open, click through, response, and conversion rates on fundraising messaging from their data. These metrics have stayed consistent over the last two years.ADDITIONAL INTERESTING FINDINGS 1. Online Donors Versus Offline Donors The 2006 donorCentricsTM Internet Giving Benchmarking Analysis by DonorDigital and Target Analysis Group reviewed data from 12 nonprofit organizations to compare online giving with offline giving. The key takeaways include:Online donors tend to be much younger and to have higher incomes than direct mail donors.The distribution of online donors is more evenly spread over age ranges while direct mail donors are heavily concentrated in the 65-and-older age group.Online donors tend to join at higher giving levels, give larger gifts, and have higher lifetime giving than offline donors.Only 4% of newly acquired online donors also gave direct mail gifts in their first year on the list, but 46% of them gave direct mail gifts in their renewal year.Multiple-channel donors have higher revenue per donor and higher retention rates than single-channel donors.Revenue for donors who gave online was 28% higher ($114 compared to $82) than donors who only gave offline.Donors acquired online tend to lapse at higher rates than donors acquired by mail. Some of this turnover may be attributed differences in cultivation strategies.2. Website Traffic and Site Visitor Registration Convio’s Online Marketing (eCRM) Nonprofit Benchmark IndexTM Study looked at website traffic and visitor registration across 16 client websites. The key points the study found include:The websites received an average of roughly 26,000 unique visitors per month.The groups had a median growth rate of 30 % in unique web visitors in the year studied.Groups with e-newsletters and member center registration had a median registration rate of 2.8 % per month.Recommendations for improving website sign up rates included consistently providing compelling content and incentives to register, optimizing the registration process, and providing multiple engagement opportunities.Source: read more

The Wired Fundraiser: A Study on Technology and Online Fundraising

first_imgNetwork for Good, which specializes in online fundraising for charities, has authored this White Paper to examine Wired Fundraisers and the effect they are having on the charitable sector. It’s important to highlight the emergence of Wired Fundraisers, because they have tremendous potential to contribute to the social good.In this paper, we will share three main findings from our work with Wired Fundraisers and then discuss implications for fundraisers of all kinds – from a mom who discovers she has MS to the head of development at a major aid agency.The hope is to do three things: help inspire yet more people to join the ranks of Wired Fundraisers; show charities how to support these remarkable individuals; and generate more donations for charities’ vital missions.Be sure to view the other Network for Good studies, listed in the related articles, as well as the 5 tips taken from this paper.Download the Wired Fundraiser >>last_img read more

Why Bother With “Membership” In The Future?

first_imgI had a fascinating conversation the other day with the director of a UK nonprofit organization that has about a thousand individuals and organizations paying annual fees for online services, newsletters, events and all the other stuff that goes with association membership.As a pretty entrepreneurial outfit the organization also has dozens of projects on the go with scores of public, private and nonprofit partners. Then there’s the host of other people who just want to keep in touch, all making a great cloud of contacts and relationships that are more or less active at any time.It costs the organization a lot to maintain these relationships. It costs the members quite a bit in annual fees. We talked about the ways that things could be improved – but the core question we ended up with was: “What’s the nature of association membership? What’s the point of it these days?”It used to be that you joined associations because it was a way of meeting like-minded people and getting help, facilities, information and other things difficult or costly to organize for yourself. These days it is much easier to find people and resources online, and to mix and match these assets into project teams, communities of practice, and informal networks.In addition, the best ideas often come from crossing professional and interest boundaries. That means you have to pay quite a lot of membership fees if you feel conventional associations are the way to get these contacts. Or you join social networking sites like ecademy and LinkedIn as well as building your own networks, perhaps using new applications like the People Aggregator.I recommend looking at a blog and forthcoming book appropriately entitled “We Have Always Done it That Way” which offers 101 ideas for associations in the future. It won’t offer off-the-shelf solutions to my questioning director friend, because it is based on US experience and does assume fairly high tech competence among association members. The non-tech ideas require some translation into the UK culture, and our legal and funding regimes. I think those translations will be made, and have recently bumped into a few people from the social software and knowledge management fields lucky enough to have nonprofit clients waking up to the challenge.Meanwhile I’m happy to spend a fair bit on membership of the distinctly upmarket Institute of Directors (as well as other lower-cost nonprofits) even if I don’t agree with their political line most of the time. Why? Well, there’s the free meeting facilities in different cities, excellent seminars, legal and other services, and the generally excellent level of service. I feel looked after … and you get half a case of fine wines if you recruit a new member. Anyone want to sign up and split that?Source: read more

Your Nonprofit and Email: A Perfect Match

first_imgOh, email! For many individuals and organizations, email has transformed both the quantity and quality of human communication. Simultaneously intimate and public, email is a daily symbol of the potential and danger that technology promises. To some, email is a simple and sublime medium to communicate in the modern world. To others – and often the same people- it is a reviled and bottomless pit of unwanted spam that infuriates and frustrates.Nonprofit organizations of all sizes and budgets are exploring how to integrate email into a comprehensive communications and fundraising strategy. Some are far along the road of doing so; others are just starting out. This article provides an overview of why and how to use email in your fundraising program.The Benefits of EmailEmail is a flexible and easy-to-use medium for both the sender and the receiver. Email is important precisely because it’s regular, constant, and often the way most people engage with the Internet. It’s fast, cheap, easy to use, and informal. There’s also that quality of its being “viral” – that is, email is content that’s easy for your readers to pass on by forwarding. As many organizations can attest, this can exponentially expand your network and reach.Email brings immediate response, allowing us to gauge how well we’re reaching our constituencies. The benefits of that immediacy go both ways: now your community can have more access to you and provide the gold of any good relationship: a dynamic feedback loop.Email can also provide content in its own right. The voice, style, presentation and format are all critical to your success. Email is fast, but that doesn’t mean that you can jot off emails without foresight and the help of an editor.On the other hand, the same virtues of email also highlight its limitations. While it’s fast and easy, it’s also rather “disposable,” as it’s easy to delete. The very quality of immediacy can negate its power and impact. When sending email, we are dealing with the dreaded domain of unwanted email or “spam,” a sensitive issue for many email users.That “send” button warrants perhaps more caution and respect before we use it. From a communications point of view, it’s important to be sensitive to when it’s appropriate to use email, and when the phone or regular post mail is better.Email is about Cultivating RelationshipsUsing email for fundraising is much more than literally soliciting for support. It’s about cultivating relationships, keeping the feedback loops intact, and thereby ensuring a stronger base of support. Email is a versatile tool that can be leveraged to greatly enhance – and complement – all aspects of donor and member relations.The range of how email can be linked to your overall fundraising efforts is wonderfully broad: from collecting email addresses on your website to a carefully executed online fundraising campaign that uses email as its central vehicle. As a core component of a broad stakeholder communications strategy, email can be the glue to hold your donor relations together and create traction in your communications to yield wonderful results.Finally, email is not intended to be a substitute for “live” relationships – meeting with your donors and other supporters, whether one-on-one or in group settings. What email does is add another method to be in touch with people. So be careful not to start depending solely on email as an all-purpose fundraising communication vehicle.This article was originally published in the Jan/Feb 2004 edition of the Grassroots Fundraising Journal.Source: Groundspring ITS Topic 12last_img read more

Start 2008 With $50,000 for Your Nonprofit

first_imgI’m excited to share the following news:PARADE and The Case Foundation today announced the America’s Giving Challenge to award $500,000 to charities in the U.S. and overseas. The program aims to show how anyone and everyone can have greater impact in their community and bring more support to the charities and causes they care about. Participants can choose to use a simple and fun Web 2.0 tool called a “charity badge” to promote their cause and help their charity get $50,000. Or they can simply give to a cause to help it qualify for a $1,000 award. The America’s Giving Challenge runs from 3:00 p.m. EST on December 13, 2007 through 3:00 p.m. EST on January 31, 2008. Go here to participate. There are two easy ways to participate:CHAMPION A CAUSE: Using fun and simple charity badges, individuals can get $50,000 for the cause they support. Eight Champions will be named based on the number of unique donations they have gathered for their charity through the Challenge. GIVE TO A CAUSE: Simply donate to a favorite charity through the Challenge donation partners — Network for Good’s Six Degrees site and GlobalGiving — and that charity could get $1,000. One hundred charities will each be awarded $1,000 based on the number of donations they receive through the Challenge. Who Can Participate?To “champion a cause,” you must be 13 years of age or older and a legal resident of the United States.To “give to a cause,” all you need is the means to process a donation through one of the Challenge’s two donation partners — Network for Good, typically for those giving to U.S.-based charities, or GlobalGiving, typically for those giving to international causes. Thanks to the Case Foundation and Parade for this wonderful support to charities – and to Wired Fundraisers.last_img read more

5 Tips for Making the Dive into Social Networking

first_imgIf you’re sitting at your computer hugging your organization’s mission statement, branding guide and/or special event brochure (the one that was approved by everyone in your office, your board, your babysitter, etc. etc.), it’s time to take a deep breath–this idea might scare you.It’s time to turn your message over to your constituents.That’s right: let your fundraisers spread the word for you, outside of your direct reach. People are most likely to donate to a cause if asked by someone they know. Unless you personally know everyone in your town, city, state, country, etc., you need to call in the big guns: your wired fundraisers.Wired fundraisers come in two varieties: passionate fundraisers who happen to use social networking (also known as Web 2.0) tools and people who use these tools who have turned into fundraisers. In order to take full advantage of social networking opportunities, you need to develop a plan to find your wired fundraisers (and capture their email addresses), empower them with your message and let them use their social networking tools to fly solo.Here are a few steps to get you started:Pick one social networking channel in which to get involved. Try, Facebook or MySpace. Or set up a blog. But most importantly, don’t try to tackle everything that’s out there. It’s better to have a strong presence in one network than to spread your organization too thin across Web 2.0.Search for potential supporters. Search the network, Facebook Causes or MySpace pages for a nonprofit with a similar mission as yours. See who their “friends” are and invite them to your cause once you’re up and running. Here are some examples: TransFair USA on, Grassroots International on MySpace, and Campaign for Cancer Prevention on Facebook.Make it easy for supporters to find you. As proactive as you’ll want to be in terms of reigning in new supporters, they’re going to look for you-make it easy for them to do so! Name your social networking page exactly as your organization is named. Again, have a strong presence in one channel rather than all of them. (Better a potential volunteer or donor can find your blog than miss your pages scattered across many networks.)Build your house file. Once supporters of your cause have found you, make sure you give them a strong call to action to supply their email address to you so you can contact them later.Encourage your new supporters to do your work for you (you know what I mean). Having Facebook friends isn’t enough. Now that you’ve started to cultivate relationships with these Internet superstars, empower them to share your charity with others: ask them to recruit friends to volunteer for you, create a charity badge and invite them to post it on their own blogs and social networking sites.Check out more information about social networking.last_img read more

5 Tips for Diving into Social Networking

first_imgToday at Network for Good’s Six Degrees site, we wrapped up our part of America’s Giving Challenge, a campaign by Parade and the Case Foundation. We saw amazing performances by our wired fundraisers, and though the results aren’t yet final we can say they were incredible – many individuals raised tens of thousands of dollars for their causes.To celebrate their achievements, I want to share this week’s tips from Network for Good on this topic, authored by my talented colleague Rebecca Ruby. Here’s what she says:If you’re sitting at your computer hugging your organization’s mission statement, branding guide and/or special event brochure (the one that was approved by everyone in your office, your board, your babysitter, etc. etc.), it’s time to take a deep breath-this idea might scare you. It’s time to turn your message over to your constituents. That’s right: let your fundraisers spread the word for you, outside of your direct reach. People are most likely to donate to a cause if asked by someone they know. Unless you personally know everyone in your town, city, state, country, etc., you need to call in the big guns: your wired fundraisers. Wired fundraisers come in two varieties: passionate fundraisers who happen to use social networking (also known as Web 2.0) tools and people who use these tools who have turned into fundraisers. In order to take full advantage of social networking opportunities, you need to develop a plan to find your wired fundraisers (and capture their email addresses), empower them with your message and let them use their social networking tools to fly solo. Here are a few steps to get you started: Pick one social networking channel in which to get involved. Try, Facebook or MySpace. Or set up a blog. But most importantly, don’t try to tackle everything that’s out there. It’s better to have a strong presence in one network than to spread your organization too thin across Web 2.0.Search for potential supporters. Search the network, Facebook Causes or MySpace pages for a nonprofit with a similar mission as yours. See who their “friends” are and invite them to your cause once you’re up and running. Here are some examples: TransFair USA on Change.orgGrassroots International on MySpace Campaign for Cancer Prevention on FacebookMake it easy for supporters to find you. As proactive as you’ll want to be in terms of reigning in new supporters, they’re going to look for you-make it easy for them to do so! Name your social networking page exactly as your organization is named. Again, have a strong presence in one channel rather than all of them. (Better a potential volunteer or donor can find your blog than miss your pages scattered across many networks.) Build your house file. Once supporters of your cause have found you, make sure you give them a strong call to action to supply their email address to you so you can contact them later. Encourage your new supporters to do your work for you (you know what I mean). Having Facebook friends isn’t enough. Now that you’ve started to cultivate relationships with these Internet superstars, empower them to share your charity with others: ask them to recruit friends to volunteer for you, create a charity badge and invite them to post it on their own blogs and social networking sites. Learn more about wired fundraisers by reading Network for Good’s white paper The Wired Fundraiser: How Technology is Making Fundraising “Good to Go.”For more information about social networking, check out transcripts from the two Nonprofit 911 conference calls on Network for Good’s Learning Center – many of these tips come from them!last_img read more

Free is the future

first_imgChris Anderson of Long Tail fame now has authored a seminal article on increasing shift to business models predicated on giving away the product. It’s a must-read.The article starts with the example of razors with disposable blades – they were first successfully marketed by being given away. That created demand for blades. The model is alive and well today – you get a free cell phone but pay for the monthly plan. The printer is cheap but the ink or toner is expensive.This model is also becoming increasingly dramatic, posits Anderson. He says:It’s now clear that practically everything Web technology touches starts down the path to gratis, at least as far as we consumers are concerned. Storage now joins bandwidth (YouTube: free) and processing power (Google: free) in the race to the bottom. Basic economics tells us that in a competitive market, price falls to the marginal cost. There’s never been a more competitive market than the Internet, and every day the marginal cost of digital information comes closer to nothing. One of the old jokes from the late-’90s bubble was that there are only two numbers on the Internet: infinity and zero. The first, at least as it applied to stock market valuations, proved false. But the second is alive and well. The Web has become the land of the free.Accomplished blogger and great friend Jocelyn alerted me to this part of his thesis when she emailed me yesterday about the article:There is, presumably, a limited supply of reputation and attention in the world at any point in time. These are the new scarcities — and the world of free exists mostly to acquire these valuable assets for the sake of a business model to be identified later. Free shifts the economy from a focus on only that which can be quantified in dollars and cents to a more realistic accounting of all the things we truly value today.I experience this dynamic every day at my nonprofit, Network for Good. We give away every bit of expertise and information we can – we have free training calls, we have free fundraising tips sent via email, we have a completely free online Learning Center. We find people are more likely to choose us for their paid fundraising services as a result. It’s like the “gift economy” that Anderson describes.I think all nonprofits can make this model work. Are you the American Diabetes Association? Send out lots of free information on managing your diabetes. Are you a conservation group? Provide free tools for making your home or business more green. You’ll end up with more (financial) supporters because more people will know your value.How else do you think the free economy affects our sector?You can watch Chris talk about the concept on YouTube, but I could not embed his video here because his magazine Wired disabled the “free” embed feature. He’s brilliant but that’s ironic!last_img read more

Planned Giving 101: The Legacy a Donor Leaves Behind

first_imgEveryone wants to leave a mark on the world (or at least within their own communities). The Boston College’s Center on Wealth and Philanthropy found that mark is often charitable donations. Between 2007 and 2061, there will be a Great Wealth Transfer during which an estimated $59 trillion (yes, with a “t”) will be transferred from 93 million estates of which an estimated $20 trillion will be given as gifts to organizations like yours.These facts reinforce why it’s important for organizations to start thinking now about how they invite their donors to leave personal legacies through planned giving.It can seem daunting to integrate the complexities of planned giving into your fundraising activities. It can also feel awkward to have a meaningful (and sensitive) conversation with a donors about the end of their lives. But, if the experts at Boston College are right, organizations will be missing out big time if they don’t figure out how to encourage and accept gifts from their donors’ estates. Here are some things to keep in mind when you want to inspire donors to create a legacy with your organization:Planned Gifts Don’t Have to Be ComplicatedYes, planned giving can be complicated. Deferred gifts like charitable remainder trusts and charity lead trusts usually involve an attorney, a financial planning specialist, and a fundraiser with specific planned giving experience. That doesn’t mean all planned giving has to be complicated. Here are a couple of simple points you can easily incorporate into your fundraising efforts:Bequest: What better way for a donor to support you after they pass away than by naming you as a beneficiary in his or her will? Establish “Legacy Society” (or whatever you want to call it) and encourage donors to tell you if your organization’s named in their wills. Because bequests are revocable it’s not a good idea to include them in campaign or other fundraising totals. But in true donor-centered fundraising, you should celebrate the forward thinking of this very special group of donors!Life Insurance: These enable donors to make a larger financial commitment for a fraction of the cost and name your organization in a paid in full policy (key words being “paid in full”). They can be structured so that you are a beneficiary and will receive payment upon the donor’s death. If the donor wants to make an immediate gift using a life insurance policy, he or she can name the organization as both owner and beneficiary of the policy.At some point, you may want to add a planned giving specialist to your staff who can manage the more complicated giving vehicles. You can also work with a planned giving consultant who can provide valuable insight on this type of giving.What do you do with these planned gifts when you do receive them? It depends. I’ve seen many organizations restrict bequests to develop or grow an endowment since you can’t forecast them and in honor of the true spirit of giving in perpetuity. Be sure you communicate this gift designation with your donors.  Depending on the size of the potential bequest, that donor may wish to have it used for a different purpose. The point is to keep an open dialogue in understanding the donor’s and your needs.Planned Giving Donors Can Be AnybodyThere is no one type of planned giving donor. Of course, there are those who tell you they put your organization in their will. One of these individuals may be a great person to name a chair of the “Legacy Society.” He or she can set an example and help identify other potential planned giving donors.Then, you can reach out to your Board and other volunteers to be other founding members of the Legacy Society.Finally, many organizations assume that their planned giving donors are within their major gift prospect pool. In fact, your best planned giving prospects are often those donors who have been supporting you at lower amounts for a very long time, say over the last eight to 1- years.  They understand what it means to be in it for the long haul. While their giving levels may be lower now, their assets may enable them to make a larger financial commitment in the future.Market, Market, MarketMake planned giving promotion an integral part of donor communications activities. Put a simple note at the bottom of your appeal letters, as an insert in your next mailing, and in the signature of your staff’s emails that asks people to consider your organization in their estate plans.  Develop a Legacy Society page for your website that offers standard language to use in a will that names your organization as a beneficiary and includes a form the donors can send to notify you of their bequest intentions. Include an article in your newsletter that profiles a donor who made a bequest or other type of planned gift to your organization. With this consistent communication, you never know who will surprise you with a six or seven figure bequest.While we’re all focused on the here and now, remember that focusing on planned gifts is a wonderful opportunity for your organization’s to plan for its long-term sustainability.Read more on The Nonprofit Bloglast_img read more

Oral Contraceptive Use Not Associated With Increased Birth Defects Risk

first_img ShareEmailPrint To learn more, read: Posted on January 15, 2016August 4, 2016Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Oral contraceptives taken just before or during pregnancy do not increase the risk of birth defects, according to a new study by researchers from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and the Statens Serum Institut in Denmark. They found that the prevalence of major birth defects was consistent (about 25 per 1,000 live births) across all pregnant women in the study population regardless of contraceptive use.“Women who become pregnant either soon after stopping oral contraceptives, or even while taking them, should know that this exposure is unlikely to cause their fetus to develop a birth defect,” said first author Brittany Charlton, a researcher in the Harvard Chan School Department of Epidemiology and instructor at Harvard Medical School and Boston Children’s Hospital. “This should reassure women as well as their health care providers.”Watch a video of Charlton discussing the study.The study appeared online January 6, 2016 in BMJ.Even though oral contraceptives are more than 99% effective with perfect use, almost 10% of women become pregnant within their first year of use. Many more women will stop using oral contraceptives when planning a pregnancy and conceive within a few months. Little is known about the potential health effects to children from in utero exposure to the hormones in oral contraceptives.While previous studies have primarily relied on women recalling their past oral contraceptive use, Charlton and colleagues were able to tap into a wealth of data collected from multiple Danish health registries between 1997 and 2011 and linked by the unique personal identification number assigned to all Denmark residents. The researchers looked at 880,694 live-born infants, and the health of these children at one-year follow-up. Oral contraceptive use was estimated based on the date of the mother’s most recently filled prescription.Among the women in the study population, a fifth had never used oral contraceptives before becoming pregnant, and more than two-thirds had stopped using oral contraceptives at least three months before becoming pregnant. Eight percent had discontinued use within three months of becoming pregnant, and 1%, or well over 10,000 women, had used oral contraceptives after becoming pregnant.The prevalence of birth defects was consistent across each category of oral contraceptive use, and remained so when the researchers added in pregnancies that ended as stillbirths or induced abortions.Charlton was supported by funds from Harvard Chan School’s Maternal Health Task Force and Department of Epidemiology Rose Traveling Fellowship; the training grant T32HD060454 in reproductive, perinatal, and pediatric epidemiology and award number F32HD084000, both from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, National Institutes of Health; and the training program in cancer epidemiology under grant T32CA09001 from the National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health.“Maternal use of oral contraceptives and risk of birth defects: nationwide cohort in Denmark,” Brittany M. Charlton, Ditte Mølgaard-Nielsen, Henrik Svanström, Jan Wohlfahrt, Björn Pasternak, Mads Melbye, BMJ, online January 6, 2016, doi: 10.1136/bmj.h6712This post originally appeared in the news section of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.Share this:last_img read more

Nebraska Issues Update On QB Adrian Martinez

first_img BREAKING: @bmclaughlin4 reports that Adrian Martinez has ice on his knee and is probably done for the day.#Huskers— Husker Sports (@HuskerSports) October 5, 2019The Huskers went up 10-0 early, but Northwestern tied things up in the third quarter, and it has been a rock fight since.In the last eight drives, each team has punted three times, and each has a missed field goal. Northwestern missed its kick from just 34 yards away moments ago.Adrian Martinez was 13-for-20 for 145 yards, and had 26 yards on the ground before leaving the game. Vedral did not attempt a throw on his first drive, but does have 15 total yards on the ground so far.Nebraska has the ball with just over eight minutes to play. Adrian Martinez and the Nebraska Cornhuskers being greeted by fans.LINCOLN, NE – NOVEMBER 17: Quarterback Adrian Martinez #2 of the Nebraska Cornhuskers greets fans as the team arrives before the game against the Michigan State Spartans at Memorial Stadium on November 17, 2018 in Lincoln, Nebraska. (Photo by Steven Branscombe/Getty Images)Nebraska football is stuck in a 10-10 tie with Northwestern in the early fourth quarter. If the Huskers want to pull out a much-needed Big Ten West win, it may need to do so without star quarterback Adrian Martinez.On a play at the end of the third quarter, Martinez came up a yard short of picking up a conversion on a third down run. His leg appeared to get pulled on the play, and he went into the medical tent.Noah Vedral came on in relief on Nebraska’s next drive. Based on reports from Lincoln, it sounds like Martinez is done for the day.Husker Sports Network sideline reporter Ben McLaughlin says that Martinez is icing his knee, which isn’t a great indication for his potential to return.last_img read more

‘Eriksen should be sold before his contract expires’

first_imgChristian Eriksen’s contract expires at the end of the 2019-20 season, and former Tottenham goalkeeper Paul Robinson believes the club should sell now rather than risk losing him on a free transfer.Though the transfer window is closed in England, it remains open until September 2 for most clubs on the continent, providing Premier League sides with opportunities to sell if not buy.Eriksen has not indicated that he will sign a new deal, and Robinson thinks it is now time to consider a sale. Article continues below Editors’ Picks What is Manchester United’s ownership situation and how would Kevin Glazer’s sale of shares affect the club? Ox-rated! Dream night in Genk for Liverpool ace after injury nightmare Messi a man for all Champions League seasons – but will this really be Barcelona’s? Are Chelsea this season’s Ajax? Super-subs Batshuayi & Pulisic show Blues can dare to dream “The chairman has obviously put a price tag on his head [and] they have to get value for money,” Robinson told Sky Sports .“If he’s not going to sign a contract then they have to cash in.”The Dane was on the bench for the first game of the season at home to Aston Villa, and was substituted late on in last weekend’s 2-2 draw at Manchester City.He should have no shortage of takers, but the fact he is in the final year of his current deal means clubs will be looking to drive the price down.“I’d be surprised if they do keep hold of him due to the fact that he still hasn’t signed his contract that he has been offered,” said Robinson.”He’s made noises that he is ready for a new challenge. He’s been at the club now for six years now and the fact that he hasn’t signed a new contract going into his final year I think it does have an effect on the team.”I think it does have an effect on the players around him and I think genuinely if he did want to stay and his heart was there he would have signed it by now.”The 27-year-old scored 10 goals and racked up 16 assists last season in the Premier League and Champions League combined.“The problem you have got is that the player clearly wants a new challenge, and if the window closes and he’s still at your club, you have then got to motivate that player until his new challenge arrives either at the end of the season, or in January, or whenever that may be,” added Robinson.“As a manager, you’ve then got a player who didn’t want to be around, so you’ve got to motivate that player and get him back on board and buy into what you are doing for the next 12 months.”last_img read more

Barcelona open Johan Cruyff Stadium

first_imgBarcelona officially opened the new Johan Cruyff Stadium, which will host games for Barca B and their women’s teams, with a fitting Under-19 friendly clash between the Spanish giants and Dutch power Ajax.  The new 6,000-seater stadium – located at the club’s training ground in the suburbs of the city – pays tribute to the legendary Cruyff, who played for the Blaugrana between 1973 and 1978 before coaching them between 1988 and 1996. Cruyff died in 2016 and is widely credited with laying the foundations for the unprecedented success the club has enjoyed over the past 15 years.   Article continues below Editors’ Picks What is Manchester United’s ownership situation and how would Kevin Glazer’s sale of shares affect the club? Ox-rated! Dream night in Genk for Liverpool ace after injury nightmare Messi a man for all Champions League seasons – but will this really be Barcelona’s? Are Chelsea this season’s Ajax? Super-subs Batshuayi & Pulisic show Blues can dare to dream Lionel Messi, Gerard Pique and Sergio Busquets were among the Barca stars in attendance at the opening, which saw the two clubs Cruyff is widely associated with facing off at the youth level.  Club captain Messi, along with Busquets, Pique and Sergi Roberto, stood in the centre circle prior to Tuesday’s match as Cruyff’s son, Jordi, took a ceremonial kickoff to officially open the stadium.  Cruyff’s wife Danny and his daughter Susila were also in attendance as the club paid tribute to one of their legendary figures and his family.  The match saw 16-year-old Naci Unuvar of Ajax bag a clinical brace as the visitors claimed a 2-0 win.  The opening followed on from Monday’s unveiling of a Cruyff statue outside Camp Nou, with the event also seeing members of Cruyff’s family in attendance.  Messi, Busquets and Pique watch on from the centre circle as Jordi Cruyff takes a ‘ceremonial’ kick off to open the stadium named after his father — Samuel Marsden (@samuelmarsden) August 27, 2019 The stadium represents the first finished piece of the Espai Barca, a project aimed at transforming and integrating FC Barcelona facilities. The project will also see a redesign of Camp Nou, and the creation of a club campus, which will see the Spanish outfit remove architectural barriers and introduce measures to improve urban mobility around the stadium. The new stadium makes the former home ground of Barcelona B and the women’s team obsolete, with the ground the Miniestadi now sits on to be used as the home of the club’s new home for its indoor sports teams, which include basketball, handball, roller hockey and futsal.last_img read more

Saviour Sadio! Mane is Liverpool’s man for all seasons

first_imgThere are moments which can define a season, but you don’t expect them to arrive in October. As James Milner stood with his hands on his hips, Anfield held its collective breath. The ball was on the penalty spot, Kasper Schmeichel was stood tall, Liverpool hearts were in mouths. Cue bedlam. Article continues below Editors’ Picks Ox-rated! Dream night in Genk for Liverpool ace after injury nightmare Messi a man for all Champions League seasons – but will this really be Barcelona’s? Are Chelsea this season’s Ajax? Super-subs Batshuayi & Pulisic show Blues can dare to dream Time for another transfer? Giroud’s Chelsea spell set to end like his Arsenal career They crave 19 more than anything else round here, but for now the Reds can be content with 17.Their winning run continues. Leicester came to Anfield with form and confidence, Brendan Rodgers was greeted warmly. His team gave the league leaders an almighty scare, but eventually fell. Thanks for the game, lads, but don’t think you’re getting the points.The Reds’ victory, their 17th Premier League win in a row, was a narrow one but a precious one. Milner’s penalty hit the net in the fifth minute of stoppage time, after James Maddison’s 79th-minute equaliser looked to have ended the Reds’ perfect start to the league campaign.Close, but no cigar. Liverpool have cleared the season’s first block of games in style, they head into the second international break of the campaign with a record of eight straight league wins and, for now at least, an eight-point gap over Manchester City in second place.If Carlsberg did starts…”If winning eight games in a row was easy, a lot of teams would have done it,” Jurgen Klopp said afterwards. Good point. His side’s consistency remains staggering, even if their performance is not always fantastic.This was a tight one. Leicester came to play and have more quality than most sides who will come here this season. Rodgers is building a fine football team, one which should have its eye on a top-four finish.Liverpool used to be satisfied with that kind of ambition, of course, but not any more. Klopp’s team have their sights set on the big prize, the one which has eluded England’s most decorated club for close to three decades. With that in mind, this felt like a massive afternoon. James Milner LiverpoolWhere does this team find its reserves? Where does it pull these victories from? There was a moment, just a moment after Maddison’s equaliser, where Liverpool looked like they might just have run out of ideas. They wasted a free-kick, Trent Alexander-Arnold sent another cross into Schmeichel’s arms and the groans were audible.Roberto Firmino was off at that point, and so was Mo Salah, taken out by a crude challenge from Hamza Choudhury, the Leicester sub. Klopp was furious with that. “How can he do it?” he asked his post-match press conference. “He needs to calm down.”Sadio Mane was still there, though. And when Liverpool needed something, their man for all seasons delivered.Leicester will rue the hesitancy which led to the penalty, Schmeichel and his defenders getting in a tangle when one or the other should have cleared. In a flash, Mane was there. Marc Albrighton caught him. Penalty. Milner, after the cursory VAR check, did the rest.Mane had some afternoon. He’d given Liverpool the lead five minutes before the break, latching onto a sublime Milner pass to slot home his 50th Premier League goal for the Reds. They have arrived in just 100 appearances. He is playing as well now as he ever has. Moved to the right wing for this game, perhaps with an eye on Leicester’s marauding left-back Ben Chilwell, Mane was in the thick of the action throughout. He made more tackles than any Liverpool player – one in particular, on Chilwell, stood out in the first half – and contested more duels. He had as many shots on target as anyone, and ran further than any Red bar Milner and Fabinho.And there, in the 95th minute, he found the energy to be in the right place at the right time. Priceless, that’s what the Senegal star is. “The work rate of the team is just exceptional,” Klopp said. His celebrations at the end told their own story. He knew how big a win this was, not just for today but for the weeks ahead. Big tests lie in wait for Liverpool after the international pause – Manchester United are first up on October 20 – but they’re ready for them.They’ll need the two-week break to recover from this, you suspect! Subscribe to Goal’s Liverpool Correspondent Neil Jones’ weekly email bringing you the best Liverpool FC writing from around the weblast_img read more

Blazers take down Spurs for 2-0 season start

first_img Portland extended its lead to 47-38 on Al-Farouq Aminu’s 3-pointer. The Blazers led 59-50 at the break, led by Lillard with 14 points. DeRozan had 15 for the Spurs.McCollum’s 3-pointer put the Blazers up 73-60, their biggest lead of the game to that point. The team stretched the lead to as many as 18 points in the 38-point quarter.“They’re such a great half-court team,” said Spurs guard Patty Mills, who was drafted by the Blazers in 2009 and spent two seasons with the team. “Guys know their roles and they run their stuff really well. They’re a group that’s been together for quite some time now so they know their stuff.”The Blazers shot 53.6 percent from the floor for the game. The Spurs shot 42 percent.TIP INSSpurs: The two teams will meet four total times this season. The Spurs won last season’s series 2-1. … Chimezie Metu made his NBA debut. Metu was selected by the Spurs in the second round of the NBA Draft this past summer, after three seasons at USC. By ANNE M. PETERSON, Associated Press Receive latest stories and local news in your email: Share: Blazers take down Spurs for 2-0 season start Lillard, McCollum combine for 53 in 121-108 victory Follow Published: October 20, 2018, 11:11pm DeMar DeRozan had 28 points and nine rebounds in a second strong performance after coming to the Spurs in an offseason trade. He had 28 points in his San Antonio debut Wednesday in a 112-108 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves.DeRozan was traded from Toronto in July along with Jakob Poeltl in exchange for Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green. DeRozan wasn’t happy about the deal, especially in light of his close friendship with Toronto teammate Kyle Lowry, but he appears to have developed a nice chemistry with his new team.His arrival also signaled the end of the Big Three era in San Antonio. Tony Parker left the Spurs to sign with Charlotte in the offseason and Manu Ginobili joined Tim Duncan in retirement.“It’s coming along well but I’ve still got a lot of growth I will make,” he said. “We’re all a new group so we’re all trying to figure it out and get better every single day. We’re going to be all right.” Trail Blazers: Stauskas, acquired by the Blazers as a free agent in the offseason, grabbed the attention of fans with his performance in the opener and was treated with cheers when he came off the bench in the second quarter. … Jake Layman had a career-high six rebounds.LOTTA POINTSThrough their first two games, Portland has scored 249 points, second only to the 1984-85 season, when they had 250 in the two opening games.UP NEXTThe Blazers host the Washington Wizards on Monday. The Blazers opened the season with a 128-119 victory over the Lakers, spoiling LeBron James’ debut with the team. Lillard had 28 points and Nik Stauskas came off the bench to score 24 for Portland, which won its 18th straight home opener to extend an NBA record.“I have a lot of respect for the Spurs obviously, but the game didn’t have quite the feel of the Laker game,” coach Terry Stotts said. “It was still an important win for us.”Portland’s season has started on a somber note following the death of owner Paul Allen. The enigmatic co-founder of Microsoft died Monday in Seattle from complications of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. He was 65.Lillard’s first basket was that 3-pointer from well beyond the arc.The Spurs pulled ahead 29-28 on Bryn Forbes’ 3-pointer in the opening half, but Meyers Leonard put Portland back in front with an alley-oop dunk from Evan Turner. By signing up you are agreeing to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service. 4 Photos Portland Trail Blazers guard CJ McCollum, left, dribbles past San Antonio Spurs guard DeMar DeRozan during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Portland, Ore., Saturday, Oct. 20, 2018. (AP Photo/Craig Mitchelldyer) Photo Gallery Share: PORTLAND — After making a 33-footer, Damian Lillard was asked if there’s a limit on where he’ll attempt at 3-pointer.“I mean, I probably wouldn’t stop at half court and just shoot it,” he said. “But once I get past half-court, especially at the end of the shot clock like it was, I’ll shoot it from anywhere.”Lillard’s first basket was that long 3-pointer and he went on to finish with 29 points and nine assists, and the Portland Trail Blazers downed the San Antonio Spurs 121-108 on Saturday night.CJ McCollum added 24 points and Jusuf Nurkic had 12 for the Blazers, who have opened the season with a pair of home wins. They led the Spurs by as many as 20 points in the fourth quarter after a close first half. Follow The Columbian on Instagram GOlast_img read more

All Inclusive Resorts – Outlying Caribbean Islands

first_imgWritten By: Geoff Millar, Ultimate All Inclusive Vacations  Since we have covered the main islands of the Caribbean, this month, we are going to look at the outlying islands of the Caribbean where there is either no all-inclusive resort presence or very little all-inclusive resort presence. These islands would be Cayman Islands, Montserrat, Curacao, and Trinidad and Tobago.  While these are all beautiful islands they tend to be a little bit harder to get to and have very little all-inclusive resort presence. The first set of islands we will look at is the Cayman Islands, Grand Cayman, Little Cayman, and Cayman Brac. GRAND CAYMANGrand Cayman is the largest of the three islands. The whole Cayman area are some of the top islands in the Caribbean for water related activities, especially scuba diving.  It is rated the second or third best scuba diving location in the world depending on who you listen to. Grand Cayman is also home to 7 mile beach, one of the nicest and least crowed beaches in the Caribbean. Grand Cayman is also known for its famous stingray city where tourists can swim with and feed the stingrays. Visit Grand Caymans Botanical Gardens and visit the Blue Iguana colony, home of the rare blue iguanas. They really are blue. The island of Grand Cayman has around 50,000 residents and the island covers around 76 sq. miles.  The island is also known for its duty free high-end shopping as well as local artisans.  Many restaurants on the island provide wonderful fresh seafood dining. Grand Cayman has a number of festivals including Pirates week, a fun week with activities for the whole family. Scuba diving and snorkeling are some of the best in the world.  There is wreck diving, reef diving, and wall diving.  There are actually 159 dive sites around the area.  Grand Cayman is also known as the birthplace of scuba diving.  Some of the best reef diving can be done directly from the shore. You can dive with a number of dive companies and there are also a number of dive resorts that include scuba diving in their resort packages. As far as resorts, there are only 2 resorts that have an all-inclusive plan.  The Wyndham Reef resort is a resort that offers both EP plan and an optional All-Inclusive plan.  It is a small, 88 rooms, more boutique style resort located on the quieter end of the island and all their rooms are oceanfront. I would rank this resort 3.5 – 4 stars The second resort is the Grand Cayman Marriott Beach Resort.  This beautiful resort sits on the famous 7 mile beach.  It offers both an EP plan and an optional All-Inclusive plan. It sits in a more active area closer to the action of 7 mile beach and George Town, where the best shopping is located. You can participate in scuba diving activities through a number of dive shops in the area. I would rate this resort 4 stars. There are a wide variety of accommodations on Grand Cayman, everything from bed and breakfast, condo rentals, villa rentals to 3 – 5 star resorts like the Ritz Carlton, the Westin, the Marriott, the Wyndham, and the Holiday Inn. LITTLE CAYMANThe next Cayman Island we will look at is Little Cayman.  This island is devoted to primarily scuba diving.  You have to fly into Grand Cayman and then take a puddle jumper to Little Cayman.  Be warned that the puddle jumper only has one flight a day to and from little Cayman so be careful of the timing of your flights. The island is very small an ideal place for clients who want to get away or those that are really into scuba diving. The main resort on Little Cayman is the little Cayman Beach resort. This is a fantastic resort for scuba divers and those that want to relax.  The do include dive packages in their prices but you can also book without the dive packages included. This resort also has a spa for those that want to relax either instead of diving or after their dive. Remember that Little Cayman is about scuba diving and total relaxation. I would rate this resort 3.5 – 4 stars. The other resort on Little Cayman is a Villa Resort with 12 one bedroom villas. It is the Paradise Villas Resort. Here it is all about relaxing and scuba diving. The villas all sit oceanfront but are more of a rustic feel than a 5 star resort feel.  If you are looking for a comfortable more rustic experience that is quiet and caters to the scuba dive clientele this would be a great choice. Scuba dives are more about the experience than the accommodations. CAYMAN BRACCayman brac is the third of the Cayman Islands. It sits about 30 minute flying from Grand Cayman.  There are a number of flights so it makes a great day trip destination if you don’t want to stay on the island. Brac is the Gaelic word for Bluff and the bluff on Cayman Brock is the focal point of the island with its spectacular views.  Birdwatching is a huge draw for Cayman Brac.  They have over 200 species of birds on the island including rare Brac Parrot. For the hiker, there are hiking trails that cover the island and the beaches are pristine and uncrowded. Cayman Brac is a scuba diver’s paradise with shallow, Wreck, reef, and wall diving for all ages and experience levels. The island is small covering only 14 sq. miles. As far as accommodations, there is really only one place to stay on the island, the Cayman Brac Beach Resort. This resort caters to the person who wants to relax and to the scuba diving crowd. The resort has only 40 basic rooms and is at the moderate quality level.  This goes together with the fact that with scuba divers it is about the diving more than the accommodations. MONTSERRATLet’s move on to the next island, Montserrat. Montserrat landscape is made of startling contrasts.  Best known for the volcano the island is divided in the two part, the lush part of the island and the bare landscape of the volcano section. Montserrat is a British controlled island. The British work closely with the local Government. The Soufriere or the south side of the island is known as the exclusion zone.  This is the part of the island that was devastated by the last eruption of the volcano in 1995 and no one is allowed in this section without Government approval. There are two types of activities on the island, Soothing tranquility or Memorable adventure. With soothing tranquility, which takes place on the lush side of the island include activities such as hiking, diving, bird watching, and relaxing on the black sand beaches. On the more adventurous side you can explore the buried city that was devastated by the volcano of 1995, with a guide.  The city, Plymouth, was the capital of the island for more than 300 years. You can get a history of the city, the volcano, and tour a number of the buildings that are still standing. You can also take a guided tour to view the volcano up close and personal. This is kind of an educational tour and would be great for student groups that wanted to view the volcano, help the scientists measure the volcano and it’s activity and learn about volcanos. You can also take a guided tour of the island and view its wildlife, of which a number are endangered species. Accommodations on the islands consist of Bed and Breakfasts, villas, apartments, and small boutique style hotels.  There are no all-inclusive resorts on the island and accommodations are limited. This island is would cater to clients that want to relax in a less touristy area and those that are interested in the volcano, its history and current studies and situation.  I would not sell this destination as a typical Caribbean beach location. Really qualify your client before recommending Montserrat as a vacation destination. CURACAOThe next island we will look at is the island of Curacao.  One of the main selling points of Curacao is that it lies well outside of the hurricane zone only 35 miles from Venezuela. This island used to be a major commercial island of the Caribbean but now it is all about the sun and fun. It is a smaller island, only 38 miles long and 3 – 5 miles wide with a population of around 170,000 residents. An interesting fact is that children are taught Spanish, English, and Dutch from 3rd grade on and is a requirement.  The island has 38 different beaches to choose from, all with beautiful white sand. Even though Curacao has tended to be overlooked as a scuba diving destination with a 12 mile long reef that provides great diving for beginners or experienced divers. Fishing a fantastic activity with a huge variety of fish such as Marlin, Tuna, Sailfish, and Wahoo.  On the land, you can visit the wildlife preserve at the Christoffel Park, Curacao is also known for its great duty free shopping with some of the best bargains in the Caribbean. There is a wide variety of social activities from great restaurants, nightlife, and casinos. A fun fact is that one of the early Governors banned painting buildings white because it hurt his eyes so, to this day, the buildings are very colorful but none are white. There were a lot of fortresses built around the harbor to protect it from pirates, and also the English and French but most have been turned into restaurants and cocktail terraces.  Curacao is home to the largest floating pedestrian bridge in the world.  Land activities include, Golf, tennis, horseback riding, hiking, sailing, and windsurfing. Accommodations include everything from large hotels, small hotels and Guesthouses. There is one all-inclusive resort on Curacao is the AM resorts Sunscape family resort.  This used to be the Superclub’s Breezes Resort. It is a nice mid-level 3 star resort.  The beach is set in a cove created by a rock wall about 50 yards off shore but there is a large ocean beach next door. It has been redone when AM resorts purchased it and has a number of dining options and is close to town and the action of the bars, casinos, and nightclubs. Other accommodations range from the Marriott, the Hilton, and the Holiday Inn. TRINADAD & TABAGOThe last Islands we will look at in the Caribbean is Trinadad and Tobago. Trinadad and Tobago are twin islands that sit in the Southern Caribbean just 8 miles from Venezuela, again, one of the few islands that sit outside the hurricane zone. Trinadad is the more active island and Tobago is the more tranquil, laidback island. The islands boast 450 species of  birds including 17 species of hummingbirds. There is a lot to do on the islands, sailing, windsurfing, 40 spectacular scuba dive sites, biking, zip-lining, paddle boarding, hiking, bird watching, great beaches, 5 top notch surfing beaches.  The island of Trinadad is very lush with interior mountains. The people of the islands are very friendly and quick to help in any situation. The food on the islands is very good and a nice mix of fusions because of the diversity of the people.  Trinadad is the active island with nightclub and one of the largest festivals in the world, their 2 day carnival, where tourists are encouraged to participate. As far as accommodations there are about 5 hotels that are EP with an all-inclusive option.  Most of the accommodations consist of small hotels and apartments but there are a few large hotels like the Hilton, Hyatt regency, and Courtyard by Marriott. I found that the resorts with an all-inclusive plan, compared to others in the Caribbean, tend to be more in the mid or 3 star range.  They all have very good food but the reoccurring issue tends to be with service and a number of the resorts were showing their age and need of refurbishment.  A good client is someone who wants a unique destination and the destination is the principal factor.  Accommodations are decent but no 5 star resorts, a couple of 4 star with the majority being 3 star and under. Most of the more upscale accommodations tend to be on Trinadad with the accommodations on Tobago consisting of Villas, apts. for rent and Bed and Breakfasts.  These islands are great destinations in need for some updating. Next month we will begin looking at particular all-inclusive resort chains and resorts. Until then safe travels.last_img read more

Paul Gauguin Cruises Presents Its 2020 Voyages Brochure

first_imgBELLEVUE, WASH. – April 29, 2019 – Paul Gauguin Cruises (, operator of the highest-rated and longest continually sailing luxury cruise ship in the South Pacific, the m/s Paul Gauguin, debuts its new 2020 Voyagesbrochure featuring Tahiti, French Polynesia, Fiji, and South Pacific itineraries. The brochure presents sailings by The Gauguin, which offers an elegant yet casual ambiance, luxurious accommodations, gourmet dining, trademark Polynesian hospitality, and all-inclusive value. Cruise itineraries, The Gauguin experience, adventures by land and sea, private beach retreats, dining venues, the Moana Explorer program, special guests, deck plans, and the 2020 sailing schedule are also highlighted. To view the brochure online, please click here. The 2020 sailings feature popular favorites along with an exotic 16-night Fiji to Bali itinerary, and 12- and 13-night Fiji, Tonga, Cook & Society Islands sailings. The 16-night Fiji to Bali voyage departs April 11, 2020, from Lautoka, Fiji, and after a sea day visits Espiritu Santo, Vanuatu; At Sea; Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands; At Sea; Samarai Island, Papua New Guinea; Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea; At Sea; Thursday Island, Australia; At Sea (2 days); Dili, Timor-Leste; At Sea; Komodo Island, Indonesia; and Benoa, Bali, Indonesia. The 12-night and 13-night Fiji, Tonga, Cook & Society Islands voyages follow in the wake of explorers, encompassing the exquisite Society Islands, home waters of The Gauguin, and the Cook Islands with its unique culture and exquisite lagoons. Other highlights include sailing across the International Date Line, a rare visit to the Kingdom of Tonga, and the paradisiacal Fijian islands. Ports of call on the voyages are: Papeete, Tahiti; Moorea, Society Islands; Taha’a (Motu Mahana), Society Islands; Bora Bora, Society Islands; Aitutaki, Cook islands; Vava’u, Tonga; Savusavu, Vanua Levu, Fiji; Suva, Viti Levu, Fiji; Beqa Island, Fiji (13-night sailing only); and Lautoka, Viti Levu, Fiji. The 13-night voyage departs March 28, 2020, with cruise fares from $7,895 per person, and the 12-night sailing departs June 6, 2020, with cruise fares from $7,795 per person. The Gauguin will be showcasing its most sought-after itineraries in 2019: the 7-night Tahiti & the Society Islands, 7-night Society Islands & Tahiti Iti, 10-night Society Islands & Tuamotus, 11-night Cook Islands & Society Islands,and 14-night Marquesas, Tuamotus & Society Islands. Designed specifically to sail the pristine lagoons of these islands, The Gauguin provides an up-close, authentic experience of the South Seas. On all sailings, guests also receive complimentary access to Paul Gauguin Cruises’ two exclusive retreats. Off the coast of Taha’a lies the islet of Motu Mahana, where guests can enjoy a day of watersports, Polynesian activities, a sumptuous barbecue feast, and cocktails from full and floating bars. In Bora Bora, guests can relax on a private, white-sand beach and enjoy refreshments, a game of volleyball, and snorkeling and paddleboarding in crystal-clear waters. Paul Gauguin Cruises is offering savings of 50% off standard all-inclusive cruise fares on all 2020 voyages, plus included roundtrip airfare from Los Angeles or San Francisco based on availability in class of service.  For a brochure, rates, or moreinformation on Paul Gauguin Cruises, please contact a Travel Advisor, call 800-848-6172, or visit  About Paul Gauguin Cruises Owned by Pacific Beachcomber S.C., French Polynesia’s leading luxury hotel and cruise operator, Paul Gauguin Cruises operates the 5+-star cruise ship, the 332-guest m/s Paul Gauguin, providing a deluxe cruise experience tailored to the unparalleled wonders of Tahiti, French Polynesia, and the South Pacific. Paul Gauguin Cruises has been recognized by notable publications in travel and lifestyle and was voted “#2 Midsize-Ship Ocean Cruise Line” by readers in the Travel + LeisureWorld’s Best Awards 2018*. The line was also recognized as one of the “Top Small Cruise Lines” in the Condé Nast Traveler2018 Readers’ Choice Awards and is honored on the publication’s 2018 “Gold List.” Paul Gauguin Cruises was also selected as “Best Small-Ship Cruise Line” in Global Traveler’s Leisure Lifestyle Awards in 2016, 2017, and 2018, and received top honors as the “#1 Cruise Line for Honeymooners” in BRIDES Magazine’s 2017 Honeymoon Awards and was listed in the publication’s “Top All-Inclusives” in the 2018 Honeymoon Awards.last_img read more