27 August 2009Black empowerment codes for the transport sector, one of the biggest contributors to South Africa’s infrastructure and gross domestic product (GDP) growth, were gazetted this week.Their targets include increasing black ownership of bus commuter services, increasing the number of black pilots, and providing training for the country’s taxi drivers.The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said in a statement that the country’s transport stakeholders had committed to a range of empowerment targets, representing “a significant milestone in a process of national transformation.”‘Significant targets’The codes set significant targets and measures that would, if properly implemented, “provide meaningful economic impetus to the sector and the South African economy as a whole.”The gazetting means that eight sub-sectors of the codes, excluding the foreign airline component of the aviation sub-sector, are now final and binding across the transport industry.The foreign airline component “remains a section 12 charter and, as such, is not legally binding,” the department said.Among other things, the codes commit the sector to the following: Training and skills development to increase the number of black pilots in the country. Achieving black ownership of at least 35% in the bus commuter service industry within five years. Promoting worker rights in the taxi industry and empowering workers with the skills needed to enter management positions. Ensuring that the taxi industry provides the public with a reliable, safe, affordable and efficient service. Unlike other sector codes, the transport sector codes will be up for review every five years.The gazetted codes can be accessed on the DTI websiteSAinfo reporterWould you like to use this article in your publication or on your website? See: Using SAinfo material
21 June 2013Black economic empowerment (BEE) is not only a political and social necessity in redressing the wrongs of South Africa’s past, but is also crucial to broadening economic participation and so contributing to economic growth, says Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies.Davies was briefing journalists in Cape Town on Thursday before the debate on the Broad-based Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) Amendment Bill in Parliament.“As we bring people into the economy those people become consumers … but also they become involved as producers and contributors to the development of the wealth of the country.”Davies said the growth in South Africa’s automotive sector, for instance, could be attributed to new entrants in the market.He said the intention of the Bill was to ensure that black people became not merely owners of companies but also active participants in the company.“They are the people that actually direct the way that the company operates. They are the people who when they sit in the boardroom, they sit in the proper boardroom and take the proper decisions about how the company operates, not just in the subordinate categories where PR and things like that are looked towards.”He added that the aspirant small business owner had not benefited sufficiently from BEE, but that the new BEE codes of good practice, which are expected to be released in a few months’ time after last year being released for public comment, would boost support for small black-owned firms.Answering a question on whether a time limit would be set on BEE, Davies said the country was nowhere near a point where a sunset clause could be set.He pointed to a 2007 survey on BEE, conducted by the University of Pretoria, which had shown that most companies were only at the lowest level on the BEE scorecard – level 8.The department has commissioned another university to conduct a follow-up BEE survey on the overall level of empowerment in South Africa.The Bill, which amends the Broad-based BEE Empowerment Act of 2003, provides a clear statutory definition of “fronting”, and also provides for the setting up of a commission to address issues of fronting and levy penalties specified under the Bill.The draft law also provides for a regulatory framework for BEE rating agencies, and gives all government departments and businesses one year to bring into line any other empowerment legislation they may be using with that of the Bill.The mining charter, said Davies, is one of these tools that would need to be realigned with the BEE Bill.The penalties under the Bill allow for those convicted of fronting to be levied with a fine or a prison sentence of no more than 10 years.The department is also in the process of amending the BEE codes of good practice after last year putting them out to comment.The amended codes provide for greater emphasis on the development of black suppliers. Davies said they would be released in another couple of months, hopefully at about the same time the Bill is signed into law by President Jacob Zuma.Davies said much of the comments received were around the targets, time-frames and parameters, which the department was still in the process of engaging with.Once the National Assembly has adopted the Bill, it will be referred to the National Council of Provinces for concurrence, before it can be signed into law by the President.Source: SAnews.gov.za
A properly organized nonprofit marketing plan supports itself like a pyramid. For each goal, there are objectives; every objective has strategies; and each strategy has tactics.However, all too often the terms goal, objective, strategy and tactic are used as interchangeable ways of saying the same thing. Plainly put, they are not – and the resulting lack of precision can be problematic.GoalsA goal is a “statement of being” for the plan. While the completion of the goal signifies the end of your plan, the objectives, strategies and tactics are the means to that end.ObjectivesCompared to the goal, objectives are more focused and specific, and the best-formulated objectives express results as measurable outcomes. Think in terms of the awareness, attitude or action that you hope to invoke. Often there are multiple objectives in support of a single goal. Meaningful objectives start with action verbs and have four parts. They:Identify a specific audience being addressed,State a measurable outcome,Set an attainment level, andSet a timeframe.StrategiesStrategies are where the rubber meets the road. Rarely is one strategy enough to fully accomplish an objective. Likewise, it is not unusual for a single strategy to serve multiple objectives.TacticsTactics are the specific tools you use to implement your strategies. News releases, brochures, media pitches, e-newsletters, blogs, Web sites, surveys, focus groups, and videos are just a few examples that spring to mind. It is the truly creative part of the plan’s authors to decide exactly which tactics are needed to successfully implement the chosen strategies.In ClosingA good marketing plan is interlinked from top to bottom. Without good tactics, a strategy will not successfully complete an objective, rendering the success of a goal limited.A true marketing plan forces the authors to employ the right mix of experience with critical thinking. With this understanding of the key differences between goals, objectives, strategies and tactics, the end result is a plan that can be executed successfully.(Source: Arketti Group)
Nonprofit organizations using Facebook can now launch a social networking-based fundraising drive for their cause, promote it to their friends and network, and raise money. That in a nutshell is what a new mini-application within Facebook, called Causes, is all about.Launched by Project Agape, this new service extends the “group” features and allows users to create causes, take donations, and recruit members. Why is this feature good for charities? According to Digital Journal.com:This is a good step for charitable foundations, and will be a defining move as more and more of these groups begin to pop up on Facebook. There are many worthy charities already on the site, so I see this feature taking a huge lead and pushing some action with the groups. The demographic of Facebook users is also younger, thus more likely to donate to charity.In my recent Beginners Guide to Facebook, I covered some of the ways that you can get started using Facebook. In this follow-up post, I’ll take you through five simple steps you can do today to promote your cause on Facebook.1. Create a new cause and choose to have it support your campaign.To create a new cause, click the Start Cause button from your Facebook profile page. Fill out the following five sections: basic information; category and tags; geography; picture; and choose a nonprofit organization that will benefit from your cause. When you’re done, you will be asked to add a contact email address and it will be featured in your profile as an ‘application widget.’2. Invite your friends and network to join and support your cause.Once you’ve created a new cause, you can either invite your friends to join or just wait for people to find your cause and join your group. Facebook’s “feed” feature will automatically notify your friends. You can also send messages to personally invite them to join your cause.3. Tell others about your cause with photos.Facebook’s Cause application only allows you to select one picture or logo to go with your cause. But you can upload pictures on a photo-sharing site such as Flickr or Smugmug and add a link to your page. (You’ll find some good information to help you get started with Smugmug on this blog post.)4. Use your cause to get media coverage.Public relations is one of the most important aspects of promoting nonprofit organizations. It works because you can get a lot of free publicity through it. So why not use your cause and the funds raised to write a press release about your achievements? You’ll probably need to have a lot of members signed up or a significant amount of money raised for the media to pay attention, but it’s worth it. One good example is the ONE campaign, which has raised $2,360 with 8,802 members.5. Involve your friends and supporters.Looking for ways to involve your members and supporters? After a donation has been made, a scorecard on your member’s profile page tracks how many people your members recruited and how much money they have raised.6. Promote awareness about your fundraising events.If you have a fundraising event coming up, create a new cause to promote awareness and raise funds for that event. Promote your new cause on your organization’s Web site, event Web site, other social networking sites that you are part of, and so on. Facebook is all about getting the word out. And the more causes, groups, and friends you add, the more visibility and awareness you will get for your organization.This article first appeared as a post on Wild Apricot’s Nonprofit Technology Blog, which covers social media tools and Web technologies geared toward the nonprofit realm.Copyright: Wild ApricotSource: http://www.techsoup.org/learningcenter/internet/page7416.cfm
Whether 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.cfm
There’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.html
Source: Adapted by Jake Emen from Mark Rovner’s Nonprofit 911 Presentation “Website 101 for Fundraisers.”Editor’s note: This article was originally published on October 18, 2012 and has been updated. Photo Source: Big Stock PhotoThe Friend TestFor this test you don’t want to use a coworker so find someone a little farther removed from your organization. Watch how quickly could that person figure out what site they are on, what page they are on, what the major sections of the site are, what the navigation options are and how to get home. Simply watch a person on your site or even a printout of your site and have them answer those questions.Task TestingHave your tester go through the process of making a donation on your website. Have them talk about where they are going and what they are doing, where they are having problems or are confused and what they are clicking on and why. This can expose any difficulties a potential donor may have or show you what the overly complex portions of your donation process are.Hypothetical TestingGive your subjects a hypothetical situation – they have heard of your organization and are considering donating to it, but first they need to get on the website and do some research to see if everything’s on the level. Again have them talk through the process, what they like and what they don’t, what caught their eye or drew them in, could they find everything easily and what if any information is missing that they were expecting.In one afternoon of usability testing you can effectively gather all of the information you need to drastically improve your website and gain more donations, for free! One of the easiest and most overlooked ways to improve your website and your donation process is by putting it through some basic testing. People hear “testing” and often get scared off, afraid they will have to hire some expensive firm to perform weeks of scrutiny. The opposite is true for usability testing; all you need is somebody who isn’t already familiar with your website. Your mother-in-law, your neighbor, or even in some instances a coworker from a different department are all acceptable testers. Gather up a handful of people and perform the following three tests, all of which will give you great insight.
I 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: http://partnerships.typepad.com/civic/2006/08/why_bother_with.html
It’s come to the point where nonprofit staff who aren’t using RSS aren’t really doing their entire job.I know, I know – you don’t believe me, and you don’t care.You already use the Internet, so why take time you don’t have to learn some new way to get the information you already get? Especially when the first thing an evangelist says about RSS is that it’s actually like 11 different data formats and nobody can even agree what the acronym means?I know because I’ve been there. It was about 1995, and the .sig files people used on Usenet started saying “Visit my page on the World Wide Web!” I ignored it for months, because who needs some crummy new platform when I’ve got all the text-based newsgroups goodness my heart could ever desire?The answer, then as now, is that it will totally change the way you relate to information. It’s like being myopic and then putting on glasses.If you’re resisting RSS, that’s understandable. Only a minority of Web users have adopted it, and that’ll probably be true for some time. But it’s the thought leaders, the proverbial creative class (dreadful term), that are using it … and if that’s the kind of organization you have or the kind of career you’re building, it’s time to get over that resistance.If You’re a Nonprofit Manager Right Now and You’re not Using RSS, You’re Falling BehindYou’re not getting information – about your cause, about your people, about your profession – efficiently enough, which means you’re not getting enough information, period.And someone else is getting that information, or will be soon.They’ll know when someone writes about your issue or blogs about your cause or has something to say about your organization, and know it without refreshing dozens of links and scouring dozens of mailing lists so their hands are free for the other hundred things they have to do.If they know it, you’d better know it too.Luckily, it’s easy as pie.Ready? It might seem daunting, but RSS (used interchangeably here with the word “feed”) is really pretty simple to use … sort of like adding Tivo to your Web experience. You’re about to go from zero to RSS expert in three easy steps.1. Get a Feed AggregatorYou need an email application to read email, and you need a feed aggregator to read RSS. (Note: Newer generations of Web browsers actually have RSS-reading capabilities baked in. For tracking large numbers of feeds, it’s still more efficient to use an aggregator … and to the extent the two drive towards convergence, everything else in this primer will hold for either.) Like mail programs, some are Web-based, and some are locally installed. If you’re starting, don’t get bogged down in feature sets as the essential elements are pretty generic; just pick one and go.The old Web-based standby is Bloglines. The new hotness is Google Reader. I personally dig SharpReader. There are lots of others.The end result for almost any option is probably going to look something like a mail reader: a list of feeds subscribed to, a list of headlines for a particular feed (or folder of feeds) you’ve selected, and the text of a particular story you’ve selected from the headlines.And this is where the payoff is.Your list of feeds will highlight themselves when there’s new material in them, and your headlines present scanable registers of material into which you can quickly drill without maneuvering around banners, clicking through subsections, or losing track when something interrupts you. Now, instead of a hundred different Web sites with different navigations and update schedules, you’ve got everything in one place.2. Find Some FeedsCongratulations! You’ve done the hard part. Now you just need to start locating the feeds for things you want to track.It might take some getting used to, but once you start looking, they’re everywhere … although often in disguise. Increasingly, the icon above is becoming a standard RSS symbol – and looks sharp; you’ll often see it in the browser bar, where it’s a clickable link. For instance:Instead or as well, you might find feeds linked as plain text with a title like “subscribe” or “syndicate,” or as clouds of linklets like this:That’s a confusing hash of ingredients, but like casserole, it’s all ending up in the same place. The branded links (Bloglines, NewsGator, My Yahoo) allow one-click selection if you’re using one of the associated services, but you’ll undoubtedly want to subscribe to someone – like, say, us – that doesn’t trifle with that sort of thing or doesn’t happen to support yours. Fortunately, the “long” way around is one whole additional click.You don’t need to care about the distinctions between RSS, Atom, XML, and the rest, any more than you need to care about the distinctions between an HTML page and a PHP page to browse the Web. Just click on one of the links so named – it won’t look very nice, but don’t worry; it’s not meant to be read by you in this form – copy the URL, open your feed reader, select “Add” or “Subscribe”, and paste in the URL.3. Repeat Step 2 (Times 20, 50, or 500)There’s no need to use RSS if there’s only one blog you read. The value is in culling information from all over the Internet, alerting you of updates, and allowing stories from multiple sources to be quickly scanned and sorted.So now, you start adding. What to add?All the Major Bloggers in Your SectorWhoever you normally read that writes about your issue or your line of work that’s interesting, persuasive, or simply widely read.As this pool grows with the blogosphere, just keep adding them to a common file. Keeping up with the daily output of 40 bloggers is a lot less daunting with RSS.Whoever Is Blogging Against YouOpposition research made easy: Use the same process to keep tabs on the most influential voices opposing you.Bloggers Who Write about Your Particular Line of WorkNetworks of blogs – about, say, fundraising, or media work, or organizing – are a copious professional-development resource that are easy enough not to get to if you have to click a bookmark every day but an absolute trove when RSS is doing all the work for you.Webzines in Your SectorIt doesn’t have to be a blog to have a feed. Most publications that are more like traditional news outlets, now a feed of their own that updates when they publish – whether that’s monthly or repeatedly throughout the day.Everything pretty easy so far? Now, we get a little more interesting.Persistent Web Searches on KeywordsLet’s say you’re doing work on health care and you want to know every time there’s a news story about health care. A few years ago, you’d need to be a relentless human information aggregator. Today, it’s a snap.1. Start with a site that channels news from all over, like Google News.2. Search on “health care.”3. Click the RSS link. (Or Atom – remember, it all amounts to the same thing.)Add to your feed reader.Voila! Google lets you know every time it adds a new article with that term.(More verbose descriptions of this procedure at NetSquared and The Bivings Report.)And on Tags, and on…The same trick can be employed with searches almost everywhere, and once you get the hang of it, it’s an amazingly powerful way to keep a searchlight trained on the obscurest crannies of your cause.For instance, you can get a Technorati feed of the search “health care” to see every time a blog mentions it.Maybe that’s a lot of dross. You could instead limit it only to blogs with a lot of authority (for instance, those that are frequently linked to by other blogs) – and subscribe to a feed of that search.You could get every del.icio.us bookmark tagged “healthcare.”You could keep tabs on the results pulled up by a search on “health care” so you know every time they change.And maybe you’d want to keep an eye on Craigslist “health care” job listings in your city.For an example of how this might look in practice, you can visit this small public demo of health care feeds I just set up in Bloglines. Of course, this public display doesn’t give you all the features you’ll have with your own feed reader.This Quick Start Guide for Educators (PDF) can guide you through the basic setup of increasingly specific persistent searches of various kinds – on particular sites and in particular newsgroups, for instance.You don’t have to go to that level of detail to start. One or two basic searches on obvious keywords are like a whole new universe when you haven’t been doing them. That might be all you need, or you might find yourself adding more over time.But don’t worry as you start about eventually having to drink all the RSS kool-aid on offer. There’s a ridiculous amount of low-hanging fruit available at the most casual and readily comprehensible level of adoption.All you have to do is take it. With RSS, 90 percent of success is just showing up.This article originally appeared on the Web site DemocracyInAction.org, which provides affordable e-advocacy tools to other nonprofits.
This time of year, I spend too much time thinking about money – spending it, giving it, and getting people to donate it. Marketing right now in my mind is all about shopping, donating and fundraising. But an interesting book called Taking Care of the People Who Matter Most by Sybil Stershic, who was kind enough to give me a copy when I saw her a few weeks ago, reminds me there’s another truly important way to think about marketing other than spending and raising funds. And that is in terms of motivating and supporting our staff. They are the “People Who Matter Most.”Just as audience-focused approaches work magic in marketing and customer relations, they also do with our employees. In fact, as she writes in Taking Care of the People Who Matter Most, they are all intertwined, with “a direct link between employee satisfaction and customer satisfaction, and between customer satisfaction and improved financial performance.” In other words, if we want money, we need to focus on our staff. She likes to say, “Explain, Train and Refrain” — explain how people’s jobs fit into the big picture and their role, train them to do great work and refrain from getting in their way.Here are some marketing principles I think belong inside our office, not just in our outreach:-Knowing and listening to our audience (not just donors, but the people we work with. We want to listen to what they say because it helps us understand how to motivate them — and to make them and us more effective)-Being authentic: Not just spouting feel-good HR drivel about the value of employees but really valuing them-Providing incentives: See Sybil’s thought on that below-Letting go a knee-jerk need to control our message: Just as we need to give our supporters the freedom to spread the word about us in their own language, we need to give employees the freedom to solve problems and serve customers/donors as they see fit. Look no further than United vs. Southwest or Macy’s vs. Nordstrom for the difference this makes.So what incentives does Sybil say work but don’t cost money? Research shows there are three:-Personal recognition for a job well done-A written thank-you-Public praiseSo don’t just thank your donors this holiday, thank the people around you.