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 [email protected]mail.com 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: http://www.techsoup.org/learningcenter/internet/page5902.cfm?cg=searchterms&sg=second%20lifelast_img read more

Help! My Boss Hates Marketing!

first_img“Help! My boss hates marketing!” is one of the most common comments I get from people who speak to me after my presentations. Here are some quick answers to: “How do I get my boss/board/team to value/fund/stop hating marketing?”Simply stated, you don’t. Instead, you do the following six things.1. Stop calling it marketing. Call it something else.Instead of trying to convince your boss, board or team to love marketing, try showing them what THEY care about and how you can make that happen.2. Show how your “initiative” meets their agenda. Don’t position your agenda as a marketing campaign; frame it as your initiative to support your boss’s goals, in your boss’s language. Demonstrate how you are going to help make that fundraising goal, audience behavior change or front-page newspaper story happen.3. Make it about the audience.A good way to depersonalize different visions for “marketing” is to make it about your audience’s preferences rather than a philosophical tug of war between you and said boss. A little audience research is great fodder for advancing your agenda.4. Report every wee step of progress.Every single time anything good happens, be sure the boss knows it. Identify some early, likely wins toward your boss’s goals and report victories.5. Give your boss credit and put him or her in the spotlight. When good things happen, give credit to your boss. Create a dashboard that shows progress against your boss’s goals and let your boss show that progress to the board. Your boss will like you for it. If you pitched your organization’s story in a completely new, marketing-savvy way to reporters and that yielded your boss’s photo in the paper, all the better.6. Seek forgiveness, not permission. If all else fails, just do what you want to do anyway, quietly, and tell your boss about it when something good happens.last_img read more

How Crisis Compels Donors to Give Online: A Study on Disaster Giving

first_imgOnline giving is growing exponentially per year, from just over half a billion dollars in 2000 to more than $4.5 billion in 2005 (source: ePhilanthropy Foundation), however it still represents a relatively small percentage of total charitable giving.The notable exception is giving in response to humanitarian crises, when the Internet is becoming donors’ avenue of choice.The Chronicle of Philanthropy has noted that Internet donations for the 2004 South Asian tsunami relief accounted for more than one-third of the total raised – more than twice the proportion of online gifts in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.After Hurricane Katrina, half of relief giving was online, representing the largest outpouring of donations online in history.Marking the one-year anniversary of that disaster, Network for Good made this study of the recent, large-scale humanitarian emergencies that promoted massive online donations in order to analyze:Why donors give onlineHow donors give online: their giving behaviorsImplications for nonprofits seeking to fundraise onlineBe sure to view the other Network for Good studies listed in the related articles below for more in-depth research.last_img read more

Ten Things That Will Make or Break Your Web Site

first_imgWhether you’re building a Web site from scratch or simply revamping your existing site, it’s helpful to understand what to include, what to leave out, and how to organize the data you’re presenting. In this article, modified from a blog post on the AU Interactive blog, one technology strategist offers simple ways to think about your Web site.1. EASY is the most important feature of any Web site, Web application, or program. The web is about fulfilling needs. Create a site that lets people find what they need as easily as possible. This means prioritizing:Discoverability. Drive usage. Everything on your Web site should be easy to find; features should enhance content, not distract from it.Recoverability. Generate features that make it easy for others tell friends about your Web site or bookmark what they’ve found. Remove barriers to account signups. Encourage tagging. Make sure that these actions are readily available and free to the user.2. Visual design and copy are extremely important. How you communicate with visitors via text should complement how you communicate with your visitors visually. Remember: Your organization’s credibility is at stake with your Web site. Begin with the design, then the markup, then develop the back end. Remove distractions and simplify.3. Open up your data as much possible. The future is not in “owning” data, so share it with others. Expose every axis of your Web content for people to “mash up,” or reincorporate, into their Web sites.Offer an RSS feed for everything on your site. Use an application programming interface (API), which will allow requests to be handled automatically by computer program, although be sure to protect yourself from intentional or unintentional abuse (for example, a newbie programmer unwittingly making 100 server requests per second).4. Test, test, test. You can do your best to make educated guesses about what will work, but you will never know unless you create it and then test it. Create goals to be able to gauge and measure progress.5. Release features early and often. Always be aware of your end goals. Don’t offer “me too” features just to have them – stay true to your overall purpose. Small increments show visible progress: Start with a core set of features, then create plug-ins for additional functionality. Ideally, your development should be modular, incremental, and well-documented to mitigate future problems.Remember, too: If you stay personable and honest and set expectations, people will be a lot more receptive when things on your site break.6. Be special. Passion for what you are doing and creating is paramount. If you believe in it, do it. Don’t let anyone else tell you that it’s not possible or shouldn’t be done. Create purple cows. Challenge the status quo. Do it against the odds, and with little start up money. (Raising too much money can hurt you and make you lose focus.) Prove all your detractors wrong. Passion and a belief in yourself will get you through the rough times.7. Don’t be special. Don’t reinvent the wheel: Use common standards or open-source frameworks whenever possible. Also, try to share user databases, e-commerce systems, and other elements between your projects to prevent a “siloing” effect, whereby systems won’t interoperate.8. If you plan on developing a successful Web application, plan for scalability from the ground up. Anticipate growth and plan for problems ahead of time. Document everything. If you want a good real-world case study on scalability, check out Inside LiveJournal’s Backend (PDF). Find a top-notch hardware partner if you don’t want to deal with the nitty-gritty details yourself.9. Identify the tools you need. A few to watch, pay attention to, or implement right away:Microformats . This set of simple, open-data formats built upon existing and widely adopted standards will help open up your data easily and contextually.Adobe Apollo , a cross-OS runtime that allows developers to leverage their existing Web development skills (such as Flash, Flex, HTML, Ajax) to easily build and deploy desktop Rich Internet Applications (RIAs), Web applications that have the features and functionality of traditional desktop applications.Whobar , a tool that manages digital identity by allowing users to log in to a Web site using InfoCard, OpenID, or i-names.Akismet , which helps prevent comment and trackback spam.10. Keep abreast of user-generated content and social software trends. This is a bit of a catchall, but I’d like to list what has been working and not working regarding user-generated content.Not working:Requiring participation from everyone. Not all users need to participate to generate social value.Buying communities.Social networks for the sake of social networks.A Wikipedia-like consensus model, whereby many people contribute to a single idea for the greater good, is not a good model in general and probably cannot be duplicated outside of Wikipedia.Working:Giving users control; being open to different uses you did not anticipate.The Dunbar principle, which holds that there are a limited number of people with whom any one person can maintain stable relationships. Target segments of under 150 people.The Web site should provide value to the individual; the organization should derive aggregated value from all the individuals that use it.Social sites have and need different types of users; each should be motivated and rewarded equally.Many voices generate emergent order: You can get much value by tracking all of that user data.Copyright: AU InteractiveSource: http://www.techsoup.org/learningcenter/webbuilding/page6694.cfmlast_img read more

New Donor Bonding: The Amazing Value of Loyal Donors

first_imgAffirmation Letter This fully personalized affirmation letter mails to new donors as soon as their first gift is received. It’s mailed first class. There is no gift ask or reply envelope. The single purpose of the letter is to affirm the new donor and welcome them to the community of “caring people working to end hunger in our country.”Official Gift Acknowledgment/Receipt Package The America’s Second Harvest official gift receipt package contains strong donor affirmation content that focuses on the core mission to fight hunger in America. The outer envelope carries this message as does every piece inside.Note how the gift receipt reinforces the core message “Official receipt to help end hunger in America.” Even the bounce-back coupon carries this vital message.Personal Guidebook As the final step in the new donor bonding effort, this package presents a positive solution to hunger in America. The package components include:A personal guidebook packed with the history, mission, and methods of America’s Second Harvest.A lift note from former Secretary of Agriculture Dan Glickman.A communications preference card giving donors the opportunity to express their opinion about how they want to be communicated with, thereby giving them control and choice in their relationship with America’s Second Harvest.A gift response coupon. New donor acquisition is the life blood of your organization.In order to grow, and reap the benefit of increased revenue, you must acquire more new donors each year than you lose plus more to fuel growth. The most successful nonprofit organizations have ongoing acquisition programs that generate a steady stream of new donors.But, even the most successful acquisition programs can fail if the newly acquired donors do not continue their support beyond their first gift. That’s why new donor bonding efforts are so vitally important.This Merkle|Domain white paper shares how America’s Second Harvest dramatically improved the performance of their new donors and built incredibly strong donor loyalty. You can achieve the same results!Here are the key principles to follow as you welcome new donors to your organization.Immediately thank new donors for their first gift and affirm the excellent choice they made to support your work.New donors should receive sufficient information about your organization’s vision and accomplishments that they begin to gain a thorough understanding of how their gifts are being used.Work extremely hard to obtain a second gift from new donors as quickly as possible. New donors who give a second gift relatively soon after their first gift will continue their support at a rate two or more times greater than those who do not give again right away.The America’s Second Harvest New Donor Bonding/Welcome Program follows this timeline: $ First Gift Received $No Gift Ask Affirmation Letter mailed to new donorGift Acknowledgement/Receipt Package mailed to new donor, second gift opportunity included“How to End Hunger in America Guidebook” mailed to new donor, second gift opportunity includedThree Impacts That Helped Increase Donor Loyalty Source: Merkle Orange Papershttp://www.merkledomain.com/site/PageServer?pagename=orange_new_donorCopyright © 2007 Merkle Inc.All rights reservedlast_img read more

The CDC’s Second Life: A Best Practice for Social Networking

first_imgThere’s nothing very unusual about two red-headed women chatting in the headquarters of a Federal agency…unless one of the women is actually a man, and the headquarters actually exists on a server somewhere in Linden Lab. That man is John Anderton, who is responsible for bringing the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) into Second Life. I met John’s avatar, Hygeia Philo, when I happened to see an announcement of a CDC Health Fair listed in New World Notes and decided to find out more about what the CDC is up to in Second Life.John first started exploring Second Life last March, and by July he had convinced the powers-that-be at the CDC to let him establish an agency outpost there, which he built with his own virtual hands. John seems to be the CDC’s go-to guy for their health communications “Special Forces” missions, having been detailed to work on public health crises like the CDC’s response to the anthrax scares, the flu vaccine shortage and setting up new communications offices in various parts of the agency. He currently (at least until next week) is working in the Office of the CDC Director with the charge of exploring how social media can be used to promote public health, and he plans to continue to serve as the CDC’s virtual face in Second Life.When we met, John graciously agreed to do an interview, which we conducted by e-mail, phone and in Second Life.Can you tell me about the Center at the CDC where you work, and what your role is there?I am presently on detail to the Office of the CDC Director, Office of Enterprise Communications. I am the lead for Project Fulcrum; an initiative to advance public health using new media, to recruit new persons into public health careers, and to reinvigorate old public health brands that have fallen by the wayside. Before this assignment, I have served for the last five years as Associate Director for Communications Science in the Center at CDC that deals with HIV, STDs and TB (called NCHSTP, for short). In that role, I was charged with lead responsibility for managing campaigns, media, special projects, contracts, issues management, exhibits, and clearance of communications products and materials for the Center. I have worked at CDC in a variety of communications positions, in several areas. I have a PhD in Health Promotion and Behavior, and a Masters degree in Public Administration.How widespread within the CDC is knowledge and interest in internet-based applications like Second Life and other social media?CDC is always looking into better ways to understand its audiences and the public, and to communicate its messages in timely, credible, and relevant ways. An internal blog was started recently, and podcasts began last month for outside audiences. The internal news website is in its second year of daily publication, and it featured a story about CDC in Second Life a few weeks ago, so I think the knowledge of what we are doing internally is growing. I have presented on it a dozen times to various internal constituencies to build inertia around expanding our presence in world. I started looking into Second Life (SL) last March, when only 175,000 persons were in-world, as a way to advance the CDC mission using this new medium, for this specialized audience. We acquired our avatar formally in July, and introduced the space in August. The SL presence has been continuously evolving since that time.How did you personally become involved as a CDC representative within Second Life? Are there others who are doing work in-world from your Center or other divisions of the CDC?I began exploring YouTube as a means of disseminating CDC health content, and ran across a machinima presentation on Second Life, in March, 2006. Intrigued, I wrote a white paper to make the case to management for CDC to enter SL, and was authorized to explore and begin involvement. I created an avatar with purpose; Hygeia was the Greek muse of health, and the last name of Philo means ‘lover of,’ thus a CDC av with the metaphoric moniker of Hygeia Philo (lover of health) seemed perfectly appropriate. I waited until July 13 (CDC’s 60th anniversary) for her to formally enter Second Life for the reason that birthdays are rites of passage (drivers license, voting, etc.) and her birthday into the new world, as CDC celebrated maturity in the real world, also seemed appropriate. Everyone I meet has been congenial and both surprised and pleased to see CDC in the SL space. I have been working in SL on a daily basis, part time, for almost 8 months now. As far as others at CDC – the National Center for Environmental Health is exploring how to educate about toxic waste in SL, and the Strategic National Stockpile is exploring training issues in SL. The Injury Center is also thinking about how to get involved, too.I love the thinking behind Hygeia’s name. If it’s not too personal a question, how does it feel to be a man in real life but use a female avatar?I think of working with the CDC space and Hygeia Philo like hosting a trade show booth with a colleague. I am there to represent CDC in the best way possible, professionally and personally. The Juwangsan address [the location in Second Life] and the avatar in SL are both parts of that image. The gender discrepancy between myself and my role in SL doesn’t bother me, and I don’t get much grief at CDC either, as I tend to thoroughly explain why the avatar was chosen before explaining my role. I don’t see Hygeia Philo as an alternate John Anderton, rather I see her more as the face of the Agency that I am working with to disseminate health information. More of a partner than a puppet, and I do not hide my true identity when asked, interviewed by the press, or during discussions. When I attended the Second Life Community Conference in San Francisco this past August, the distinction between myself and Hygeia caused a little amusement for a few people, but no apparent consternation.Please tell me about how the CDC’s presence in Second Life came about. How much resistance did you encounter from others at the CDC to the idea of building a virtual office?I met with Randy Moss, at the American Cancer Society to learn about how the ACS was raising money with the in world Relay for Life, and then attended the Second Life Community Conference in San Francisco to continue studying how people were playing, interacting, transacting, and studying the possibilities of SL. Both contact experiences were transformative; I came to see this as neither a fad nor a game, but as a social movement and a glimpse into the future of social interaction, learning, and even being. The blended reality aspect of real and virtual worlds is fascinating to me. I wanted to build a space that could both educate and foster/enable dialogue. I routinely change up what is offered, based on interactions with residents who stop by, or whom I meet when I am exploring. The transience of the space is also marvelous; one can change on a dime, if something new presents itself. The day the E. coli scare occurred, I posted a “Real Life Health Alert” in the space for persons to learn about what was going on, and what to do about it. To those who saw it, it was very favorably commented upon; as a bridge builder between real life health threats and virtual education opportunities.Everyone at CDC has been saying “Go go go!” there is not internal resistance; rather a chorus of support that is also a little agitated that I cannot go even faster! In world, after an interview with the Metaverse Messenger [a Second Life-focused newspaper downloaded by almost 50,000 people each month], the Editor responded favorably to my request to publish health info in her pub, so I have contributed a weekly column to this news outlet for the last 5 weeks. That has been great too, as a learning tool about virtual media, and the intersection with real world media.I found out about the CDC in Second Life during a “health fair” you were offering there. How often do you do those, and are there any other virtual activities in which the CDC is involved? You came on the first day of the first CDC health fair. Events drive interest among SL residents, and I had marveled at how concerts and fashion shows rivaled presentations by the Lindens [the staff of Linden Labs] as both entertainment and information dissemination opportunities. Rather than a big press conference (which we will do later, when we expand), I decided to go the highly localized route of a community health fair. In the real world this is a nice, local platform to display health information, to educate on specific issues while building community and establishing credibility of source. I was delighted at the attendance, and content of discussions. It was surprising to me to be at the top of the list in Rik’s Picks, in New World Notes, and kind of exciting to receive coverage from the Second Life News Network on the Fair. I’m not sure if that is due to the novelty of the event, an interest in what CDC is doing, or some other factor, but the interest has been wonderful. CDC is ramping up a variety of offerings, and will require us to expand and complicate the space a bit, but I don’t have a timetable for these upcoming developments.The CDC’s National Center for Health Marketing’s director Jay Bernhardt is one of the first I know of in a Federal health agency to write a blog. While it is not updated very often, I think it is still a significant milestone and an indicator of the CDC’s desire to use the latest tools to communicate with its audience. Are there any other examples of how the CDC is using newer internet/social media or other tools (e.g., mobile phones) to reach its audiences beyond just offering a static website?I would suggest that you contact Jay with that question – I’m not in a place to be able to answer that effectively.What has been the response of SL residents to the CDC’s outreach in-world?Almost without exception, I have been warmly greeted by old and new SL residents. People are kind of amazed that CDC would treat it seriously, and that we are not there for profit. I hope that CDC can continue to grow and evolve in the SL space, as it grows and changes itself. With such rapid development, it forces us to stay on our toes!Are there specific health issues that you tend to focus on that are more prevalent among Second Life residents because of their demographics and behavioral risk factors?I would like to gradually introduce the topic of sexual health into the space, as a way to promote discussion about the links between what one says and does in Second Life, and then one’s actions in real life. Liaisons in real life, foreshadowed and even pre-enacted though virtual spaces have led to documented disease transmission, and discussion about this seems generally absent from SL. On the demographic side, there are all kinds of opportunities to introduce topics relevant to persons in their 30s about screenings, health and emergency preparedness, childhood milestones, and other topics. On the behavioral side, there is also plenty of room for talk about good eating, active lifestyles, eye strain, and other health topics relevant to persons who spend significant amounts of time sedentary in front of a monitor. The possibilities are hard to count, there are so many.How do you see Second Life fitting into an organization’s overall social marketing strategy?Second Life joins the list of audiences, interests, and channels that link the American public with their public health infrastructure. Given that half of residents are international, it also broadens and deepens the CDC communications portfolio into addressing wider audience needs and concerns. I suppose that it is a tactic, and not a strategy in itself, but one that suggests that attention to new media requires constant vigilance, and willingness to experiment. If SL fails, for some reason, the movement of persons into online congregate social settings will probably continue to expand, and understanding how to reach these audiences will continue to be important.For people at other agencies or organizations who may be considering establishing a presence in Second Life, what advice would you offer? Do it. Now. In my career at CDC, which spans a short 15 years, four new technologies have emerged and merged with mainstream communications. My first business card had my name, title, address and phone number on it. Then came a fax machine number, then an email address, a website, and most recently, a metaverse designation and avatar. These are all ways that I can receive contact from the world and matriculate therein. They have gone from slow, to fast, to real time. One must be in all of these modes to communicate effectively with the audiences with whom we participate, and to understand the places they inhabit. Galileo reminded us that one sees farther if one stands on the shoulders of giants. There are plenty of giants out there to partner with, in this new medium, and most of them are friendly. Also, and importantly, establish excellent relationships with the IT department; with all of the updates coming from Linden, internal firewalls, network up and downtime, and corporate/governmental IT security issues will cause frequent calls for assistance.Have you hooked up with any groups of nonprofits that are working on how best to integrate their causes into SL like TechSoup.org? No, other than the American Cancer Society and some exchanges with the New Media folks, I have not begun to run with the big dogs. I am still studying how to best interact with persons, groups, and constituencies to best participate in this wondrous landscape. I hope to continue to learn, evolve and adapt to the space in fruitful ways, and if it goes really well, to lead trends.Is there anything else you’d like to add that we haven’t touched on yet? Second Life is part of one’s first life; not separate from it. Even the immersionists have to sleep, eat, and interact with the Real World. If one can merge good health practices in real life with the fun and play of Second Life, then physical and psychological realms can be enlightened and good habits enacted, to personal benefit. If this happens collectively, then public benefits are achieved, and public health becomes a reality, in virtual and actual ways. Thanks for the chance to talk about these issues.Thank you to John for providing such an insightful and compelling glimpse into the process he has gone through to keep the CDC in the position of leading trends among Federal agencies. I hope that when other organizations and agencies see that even the CDC, with all its bureaucracy and generally slow uptake of new technology, is taking Second Life and other social media seriously, that they should too. I predict that the CDC’s entry into SL will open the floodgates for other people working on health and social issues.If you are in Second Life and would like to visit the CDC’s virtual offices, you can click here to teleport directly. If you are not already in Second Life, you can first download the software and get a free account.Source: http://www.social-marketing.com/blog/2006/11/cdcs-second-life.htmllast_img read more

Case Study: The Red Cross

first_imgNo American nonprofit has been more in the news over the past few months (Circa September 11th, 2001) than the American Red Cross. The controversy over September 11th fundraising may have deflected some attention to what was a stunning success in ePhilanthropy. We sat down with Phil Zepeda, the Red Cross’s manager for online giving, and explored ways in which online fundraising has changed for the organization, the challenges it faces going forward, and some of the lessons it’s learned — lessons that other nonprofits can apply to their Internet efforts.Internet-Fundraising.com: It has been a difficult and challenging time for the Red Cross over the last few months, to say the least — how has online fundraising fared?Phil Zepeda: Our success was really unprecedented. In February 2001, after India and El Salvador earthquakes that happened days apart, we had raised a record $2.5 million online in two and one-half weeks. That, for its time, was amazing. Since September 11, 2001, our Web initiatives have raised more than $67 million online (with Web partners like Amazon, AOL and Yahoo!). Our database of online supporters, which began in 1996, went from 30,000 names to more than 700,000 names in four months. Again, an unprecedented feat for us.IF: Has the Red Cross adjusted its message to online donors? What are the considerations online in terms of donor cultivation and the transparency of philanthropy?Zepeda: Our most recent campaign has been to thank our online donors for their generosity, sharing a message from a family directly affected by the disaster in New York and helped by the Red Cross. This campaign did not include any fundraising “ask”; our goal was donor appreciation and gratitude. The online fundraising world has changed and there is a new “world order.” I think that as we look to send out future campaigns we’ll see a shift in our online messaging that will tell donors the direct impact of their donations and provide follow up that their donations did, in fact, make a difference.IF: As the leading nonprofit online fundraiser in the world, do you believe that Sept. 11 has unlocked the door to ePhilanthropy in general, or was it more of a one-time phenomenon?Zepeda: It’s hard to say, but I know that the next major event that shocks the online community will provide insights to that. So many people gave money to organizations after September 11. Since they made these sometimes overly generous donations and made them in a time of a declining economy, donors to any agency may not be able to give as much as they gave for the September 11 events, even if they are much worse.IF: In your opinion, does online giving bring in a new group of donors to nonprofits, or does it merely replace direct marketing fundraising in a new medium?Zepeda: It’s a mixture of both. I think savvy organizations may try to move their direct marketing supporters to an online environment over time. At the same time, there are people who want to maintain their relationships with a nonprofit solely off-line. So many of our donors were first time donors. And we offer them options to different support channels: our national headquarters, disaster relief funds, or the local chapter. Red Cross NHQ may feel more comfortable maintaining an online relationship with them while a local Chapter gets the face time. It’s all a matter of approach.IF: Given your experience, what advice would you have for smaller nonprofits just getting involved in online fundraising?Zepeda: Examine online potential. Know that even this early on, the competition is fierce. So examine all online channels for reach. Look at the value of your brand and what it can bring.IF: What trends do you see in ePhilanthropy in the coming year?Zepeda: I think you’ll see more online newsletters, annual reports, information bulletins, breaking news-formatted e-mails than ever before. It may be difficult for the end user to cut through the noise. Spamming has really just begun.You’ll see much more accountability online – organizations showing how contributions made a difference. Donors have now come to expect that and may hold you liable if you don’t tell them outright. My advice is to serve it up: avoid biting the hand that feeds you. Copyright: Internet-Fundraising.comSource: www.techsoup.orglast_img read more

Twelve Tips for Gaining Awareness for Your Cause

first_imgKristin Melville is the Director of Development & Community Relations, Shalom House, Inc.Create a very clear, consistent description of your organization. Be able to use it in all means of communication. If someone asked you what your organization does be able to respond in one sentence. e.g. Shalom House provides housing and support services for people with serious mental illnesses in the Greater Portland area.Identify your target audience.Communicate to the media what’s happening at your organization on a regular basis. New programs, new staff, new grants and success stories are all newsworthy.Hitch your wagon. Is there a local or national news story where your organization has the expertise to address the topic?There is success in numbers. Joint campaigns can help reach a larger number of people.Give them a reason to visit. Use your website as an educational tool. Offer something that is clever and fun like games, coupons, educational materials written by experts, valuable tips that change each month.Newsletters are used frequently to communicate to the public. Make your newsletter unique, easy to read, with lots of pictures. If your organization fund raises always include an article about development and a donor envelope.Community events can give you a captive audience. Keep in mind they are labor intensive and may not be cost-efficient. Be clear in your planning process if the event is a public relations event or a fundraiser event.Brand your expertise and share it with others. Utilize your agency’s professionals to help communicate your brand.Real life stories are the best illustrations of your mission. “You have changed my life.”Check the language of your 990. Make sure that your agency description is accurate and up to date.Volunteer your public relations experience with others. Giving back what you know means a lot.Source: http://nonprofitpr.com/2007/01/29/twelve-tips-for-gaining-awareness-of-your-nonprofit-organization.aspxlast_img read more

Putting One Person’s Story to Work for Your Nonprofit

first_imgI once received an email from Michael Moore, updating me on his recent Oprah appearance. The segment — Sicko: It Could Happen to You — put what “neuromarketer” Roger Dooley calls the “power of personalization” to work to engage the mass of Oprah’s viewers.More precisely, I’d call it the power of one. According to Dooley, the story of one person is far more compelling than an appeal for a group of people whose plight remains far more abstract.Logic tells us that a bigger problem should get more attention. One person suffering from a disease is certainly bad, but a thousand afflicted individuals should motivate us far more. But it doesn’t work that way,…research shows that our brains operate in an illogical and perhaps unexpected manner.Paul Slovic, a researcher at Decision Research, has demonstrating this by measuring the contribution levels from people shown pictures of starving children. Some subjects were shown a photo of a single starving child from Mali, others were shown a photo of eight children. But subjects shown a group of eight starving children contributed 50% less money than those shown just one.Clearly, non-profit marketers need to make their marketing efforts as personal as possible – and not just on the donor side, but on the recipient side as well. This is real “one-to-one” marketing.Our brains are wired to respond more strongly to an individual plight than the same condition afflicting a group.The “one” in that show was actually a couple of people fighting hard for health coverage: Former steelworker Stephen Skvara, and Civia Katz, who saw Sicko and sent her story of denied coverage for a vital, but not life-threatening fibroid removal surgery to Moore. Skvara, who retired on disability after 34 years, received a standing ovation during the presidential debate in Chicago last month when he told the Democratic presidential hopefuls that he can’t afford to pay for his wife’s health insurance since his former employer went bankrupt. His words and image (Svara walks with two canes) resonated hugely, and he’s become a symbol of all that’s wrong with our health care system.Nonprofit marketers can learn a lot from Moore, and from Oprah. Remember that personalization works two ways — slugging your prospective donor/program participant/volunteer’s name into an email or letter; and personalizing the recipients of the donations or volunteer work. When you do, your audiences will get a real sense of the difference their gift or participation makes in a fellow human’s life.Source: http://www.gettingattention.org/my_weblog/2007/09/the-power-of-on.htmlAbout the AuthorNancy E. Schwartz helps nonprofits succeed through effective marketing and communications. As President of Nancy Schwartz & Company (http://www.nancyschwartz.com/), 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”, (http://www.nancyschwartz.com/getting_attention.html) and read her blog at http://www.gettingattention.org/ 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.last_img read more

Using Message Boards to Build Community

first_imgThe Question:Is a message board the best way to build a virtual community? How does a message board compare to the use of email lists or online chats? Which option is best for a small nonprofit? Like many NPOs, our organization is relatively low on budget and on manpower.The Answer:A quality message board offers several advantages over email lists or online chats for hosting a virtual community. As a space on the web, a message board has the potential to be tightly integrated into an existing web presence. Online content can be linked directly to relevant online discussions, creating a very easy transition from content to community. A message board allows for conversations to continue regardless of participant’s online status – a participant can log on to post a message, then log off and return at a later point to resume the conversation. An online chat requires that participants are logged on at the same time for conversation to occurA message board also serves as a resource archive, where past conversations are archived for searching and review by participants as needed – this is typically missing from chat software. A typical chat service does not archive conversations for searching by date, subject/keyword.A quality message board will provide integrated email list services, where participants who register can choose to have new messages posted to their email accounts on a regular basis. This listserv/message board integration helps to ease the transition of listserv only members to a web space by offering a familiar email list feature, as well as reinforces the visibility of message board conversations.A message board is not trivial to “nourish” and manage. Unlike typical email lists, past and present messages on a message board are readily viewable. This means that evidence of quality participation and a large group of participants is necessary to encourage more visitors to contribute. Success here requires a coordinated effort of staff to start and continue online discussions, manage participant questions and suggestions for improvements, and develop promotional strategies for driving traffic to the conversations.Typically, email lists are the easiest to get started, as they have fewer options than message boards or chat services.Some message boards resources to check out include this article at NPTalk and free message board services by ezboard and BoardHost.Source: http://www.techsoup.org/community/qod_answer.cfm?qotdid=230last_img read more