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Posts Tagged ‘CNN’

What’s Left That Is Private?

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011

The social media world has encroached upon our privacy in ways we’ve never considered before.  Usually, that’s meant Facebook, but Mark Zuckerberg is just the most blatant, declaring that people don’t “care about privacy anymore.”

The truth is, many marketers have been secretly collecting, harvesting and selling customers’ data – from their own computers and elsewhere – prior to Facebook and since then.  It’s simply a matter of who pays attention, when they get caught, and what the penalties are.  Unfortunately, the repercussions are rarely an incentive for the next offenders to be discouraged, and so it goes again.  The next offenders violate at least as much privacy as the prior ones, collect data and profit from it until they are caught and punished, too.

Privacy issues go beyond the bounds of marketing the bounty of data scraping, however. The technology in this case moves so quickly, that not only can the law not keep up, but most people affected can’t keep up.  When default settings are placed in obscure locations and frequently reset with permissions that allow more and more sharing, such as facial recognition software of photos uploaded (and permanently stored thereafter, whether the photos are removed or not), it takes a while for people to realize what’s occurred, let alone object.

Many users choose to participate in location software programs, such as Foursquare and Gowalla, and voluntarily post where they are and what they are doing.  What all smart phone owners may not realize is that the GPS located in their phones often sends the same information to a variety of marketers.  The [I Agree] button depressed with each app downloaded often is a contract that sends the app designer a great deal of data from the phone, including one’s address book, calendar, GPS location information, and so forth.  A free app may cost in other ways . . . every time you use it.

Klout has recently come under public scrutiny for their duplicitous offer to delete accounts, since they were still monitoring data and ranking people with the same accounts, but simply not displaying the data on the “deleted” accounts.  In addition, Klout’s system of ranking people – who have registered or not – was discovered to include minor children, which incensed quite a few users.

The issues of anonymity and social media cross one another like they never have before, and bring up a multitude of situations, both personal and work-related.  As more and more situations arise, a great many of them head for the courts, where the law begins to adapt and get reinterpreted to fit new technology as it never has.

Until all of the legal policies are in place, it’s best to consider what your own personal and organizational policies will be, with regard to data collection, sharing, privacy, etc.  Even if you have a policy, it’s best to pull it out and review it.  If it’s more than two years old, chances are that situations could arise that wouldn’t have applied when your policies were conceived and written.  (e.g.  Does your policy even address situations of what can/can’t be posted on social media channels?  How to handle a problem posting there?  What about text messaging?)

In times like these, when technology changes so quickly, it’s best to be proactive instead of reactive.  Once a constituent feels that you’ve betrayed her trust, it’s not easily regained.
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Keep the base of the pyramid strong

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Make Donating To Your Cause Easy And Meaningful

Monday, December 20th, 2010

People have less time and more options to donate now than ever before, so if you are to engage someone to give to your cause, you’d better be compelling with your message and convenient with your means of donating – or they’ll simply go elsewhere.

This includes offering an array of ways of giving, since constituents have various preferences. Direct mail still drives many annual giving budgets, but online giving is increasing all the time, and mobile giving should not be ignored – it will most certainly be the new frontier.

When sending a direct mail appeal, make certain that you not only emphasize what your gift(s) of $___ will do/accomplish when making suggested asks, but prominently show how the gift can be made online with a direct hyperlink featured not only in the letter, but also on the reply card and the return envelope.

Studies have shown that many mail recipients will research a non profit organization online prior to making a gift (whether by mail or web), so why not provide a means for them to respond online directly? Statistically, online gifts average higher than mail gifts, and these funds are received more immediately.

Take care that your direct hyperlink goes immediately to an online giving form, however, and isn’t in a cumbersome trail of endless clicks. Your online eform should be to the point as well.

Once the donor arrives online, the first two questions on the eform should be regarding donation amount and credit card number. If the donor has committed to these two pieces of information, s/he is much less likely to abandon the form and to fill out the rest of the questions.

Again – tying donation amounts to what they will do/accomplish toward your organization’s mission will boost your overall average gift. It’s imperative that the donor feels their funds are helping to achieve something for the greater good.

With mobile giving increasing all the time, it’s all the more important that non profits engage constituents this way as well, whether it is simply via text messaging, or for outright giving. There are many more options than simply giving $5 or $10 gifts now, including larger gifts starting at $100, which provide the non profit with donor contact information, for further cultivation later on.

Making the process easy includes not imposing on the charities as well, however.

Many donors will conduct research on the non profits they are considering giving to, including how overhead costs are managed, and how much of their gift actually goes to benefit the organization, rather than to administrative expenses, and so forth. It turns out that donating on an iPhone is not only a cumbersome process, but sends 30% of the gift to Apple in the form of “fees.” Not terribly philanthropic by any standard.

There is a movement afoot in the form of a petition, urging Apple to change this policy, but in the meantime, many in the non profit world are calling for a boycott of the iPhone and investing their energy toward apps, etc. elsewhere, such as the Droid.

What is certain is that the industry will grow and change rapidly in the area of mobile giving and text messaging, so the prudent fund raiser will keep a watchful eye on what happens in this segment, and respond accordingly, to meet the needs of their constituents – and organization.

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Keep the base of the pyramid strong

What Are You Learning?

Monday, September 27th, 2010

People never stop learning.  In one form or another, we all continue to discover, absorb and conclude, whether we do it in a classroom or not.  Ideally, organizations realize the need for employees to continue keeping up with current trends and they budget for this.  Unfortunately, this isn’t typical, so what’s one to do?

Of course, everyone should grow and learn new things on the job, but some jobs require a steeper learning curve than others, because the evolution of their field is moving more rapidly than others.  Annual Giving is one such sector, since technology affects this part of fund raising more than, say, Planned Giving.  Certainly new laws on estate planning are important for professionals to know, but it’s doubtful that they are changing as quickly as the landscape of social media, for example. Often one feels that if you blink, you might miss something.

A recent study by Guidestar on the economy’s effect showed that five of the top six ways that nonprofits used to reduce costs were related to staffing, salary and benefits, which surely translates to less funds for training as well.

Couple this with the fact that when training budgets are doled out, Annual Giving professionals typically receive the smallest allowance, and you have a double whammy of those in need of the most training having the least means to receive it.  Seth Godin makes a good argument about how the old business model of worker and employer is disintegrating, and stresses the importance of a worker being “fast, smart and flexible” in our new, emerging economy.

Here are but a few examples of items that Annual Giving professionals will need to add to their toolbox:

•     Facebook has a reputation for changing its features on a regular basis.  Facebook Places is one of the newer features to learn.
•     Twitter is rolling out several major changes, including the ability to view photos, video and past tweets without scrolling.
•     Video – It’s going to be more than just creating something on YouTube or Vimeo and inserting it into an email or posting it onto your Facebook page.  Soon, every individual, company and organization will be able to have its own web-based “tv” channel.
•     RSS (Real Simple Syndication) or text messaging – see some examples of how it can (and is) being used, including a non profit example.  How can you use RSS to keep in touch with your constituents?
•     SlideShare  –  Beth Kanter has great suggestions.  Although I clearly don’t utilize it enough, you can see results of various polls I’ve taken on social media habits from audiences over the years.
•     LinkedIn is changing the specs on its site, upgrading the social networking and other features a great deal lately.  What will that mean for how you market yourself online?
•     Technology requirements to handle all of your applications and other needs.  The Seattle Public Library launched a matching gift campaign, and their site crashed soon after the campaign began, in response to the outpouring of the unanticipated support.

Patrick* made a point to sign up for as many classes as his organization – and professional society – offered during his first year on the job, in order to learn as much as he could.  He wanted to be well versed, and take full advantage of what the company (and his membership) had to offer.

At the end of his first year, he had raised a great deal more money than his predecessor and also implemented some successful new events, etc.  He arrived at his performance review with a list of his accomplishments and a calendar of the trainings that helped him learn how to achieve said tasks, as well as a proposed schedule of upcoming courses.

He was stunned at his manager’s reaction:  Instead of praising him for having a good plan and learning so much, he chastised Patrick for having taken so many courses:  “I had no idea you were spending this much time out of the office!”  His manager denied Patrick’s proposed training schedule for the new year, and said he would have to cut it by half.

“When I asked ‘Why?’ since I had clearly raised more funds,” Patrick recounted, all I could get was, “‘It doesn’t look good for you to be gone that much.‘”

Patrick made a point in the future only to highlight the end result (his accomplishments) and not the means of achieving them (his training) during performance reviews.

Ramona* also met with difficulty over getting training.  She knew that budgets were tight, so she rarely asked to go to seminars, but there was one that she felt was very valuable and was not terribly expensive, so she asked to attend.

When she approached her director, he only pretended to review the materials and listen to her argument, but turned her down almost immediately.  Ramona decided not to give up just yet, and searched the seminar website for scholarships, since she couldn’t afford the entire cost herself.  Finally, she contacted the conference organizer when she found no scholarship application online, and explained the situation.  She was successful in getting a free admission to the two day conference!

Ramona made a point to network with others in her professional society – locally and nationally – and had a friend in the nearby city, within a day’s driving distance.  She arranged to stay with her friend, rather than pay for a hotel.

Because her manager hadn’t bothered to notice the details of the conference during her initial request, Ramona simply put the dates down as a vacation request, stating that she was “visiting a friend,” and said nothing more about it.  She returned with more skills – and contacts – to put in her professional toolbox.  She knew enough about her manager’s dynamics to realize that he wouldn’t reward or praise her for her resourcefulness, but most likely subtract future opportunities from her if he knew she had received this training.

While neither Patrick’s nor Ramona’s situations are ideal, they each found ways to continue developing their skills professionally, working around the limitations set before them.  Although it’s important to invest in yourself when necessary, it’s also essential to know when to draw the line and realize if you’re simply not being supported – and never will be.

What then, are some tangible, low-cost actions that Annual Giving professionals can take, to sharpen their skills and become more knowledgeable about this profession that seems to be moving at the speed of light?

•     Network within the professionJoining a professional society such as AFP, AHP, APRA, CASE, NTEN, etc. is advisable.  Connecting with others who are dealing with similar issues can be invaluable.
•     Invest in a mentor relationship – Ask someone you admire to coach you in an area you’d like to learn more about, but also offer your skills to another who is eager to learn.
•     Research scholarships – Many organizations offer scholarships for membership and/or conference attendance.  Investigate and use these applications sparingly, since they’re often only valid once.
•     Take online courses – A great deal of training is available online, and because there is no space to rent or perhaps a limit on attendance, the cost is often very low or even free.  The Bilou Calendar lists many courses related to Annual Giving, and you can subscribe to it.

In the end, you have to drive your career and determine its direction.  You’re learning new things constantly, regardless.  The question is, what do you most want to learn?

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Good judgment comes from experience, and experience comes from bad judgment.
—  Rita Mae Brown

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