Somewhere along the line of naming generational groups from Baby Boomers to Gen X to Millennials and on down,someone decided to name the current generation moving into adulthood Generation C. They’re the Connected Generation—connected through Facebook,Twitter,Meetup and all of the other social networking tools that were birthed along with them.
Thanks to the internet we can take online courses,interact with co-workers on Skype,play virtual games and share our life stories in a blog. Technology now makes it possible to graduate from college,find a job,perform a day’s work and get a date without ever having to change out of our pajamas. In truth,how connected is Generation C and the rest of us who rely on collecting friend requests instead of making friends? Can social media really make us happy and is it possible to change someone’s life without looking him or her directly in the eyes?
I think we all would agree that real life requires more than a keyboard and monitor. We all cherish those times of face-to-face human interaction. This past Sunday, Melinda Gates addressed the 2013 graduating class and challenged Generation C to use their internet relationships as a tool to create more meaningful human relationships,“even if their individual impact is small.” Gates earned a bachelor’s degree in computer science and economics from Duke in 1986 and an MBA in 1987. She served on the Duke board of trustees from 1996 to 2003. The Gates Foundation donated $20 million to Duke in 1998.
The City of Portland,Oregon,however,found that the impact of face-to-face human interaction was anything but small. Read how a ten-year plan used human interaction to restore hope and reduce homelessness in that city.
As a newcomer to Charm City,it’s managed to quickly capture my heart with its quirky neighborhoods and rich history. Being a transplant from the Midwest,Baltimore’s industrial past has easily made me feel at home. Like other metropolitan areas,Baltimore has been struggling during the economic crisis of the past few years and is turning to development to raise its profile. This neighborhood reinvestment is especially needed here as Baltimore City’s population has been declining since the 50’s. A loss of almost 35% of city residents has left Baltimore with numerous vacant homes and near-abandoned blocks.
Reinvestment to the rescue!
Mayor Rawlings-Blake has made it the mission of her administration to add 10,000 new families over the next decade by improving streets,renovating recreation centers and creating laws and policies that make for a more welcoming city. Mayoral efforts can only go so far,though in crafting a Baltimore that we all want to live in. All the reinvestment in the world can easily be undone by residents who disagree with the vision of those driving change. [This is the part where you come in!] By lending your voice and helping to create changes in this City of Neighborhoods,Baltimore can be crafted and rebuild in the spirit of those who live here and never gave up on it.
Highlandtown is a great example of this,they’re working with the Project for Public Spaces to improve public spaces and celebrate arts and culture. This ‘Neighborhood of Immigrants’ has held placemaking events that have led to neighbor-generated projects coming to fruition such as crosswalk murals that help locals feel connected and visitors realize that they’re entering a distinct neighborhood. The Southeast Community Development Corporation has helped these efforts by compiling the Creative Placemaking Report generated from resident discussions of how to shape their community. This report outlines short and long-term goals as well as potential partners to get them done.
Volunteers paint crosswalk mural in Highlandtown
By working together,including all voices and deciding their own future,Highlandtown is on the way to becoming Baltimore’s next ‘it’ spot. These transformations can happen in every neighborhood. If new energy is what your community wants,it’s up to you to make your voice heard and set the trajectory. It’s hard work,and there are long meetings involved,but knowing your neighbors and coming together to see a project to completion is priceless.
Our communities,government and the human population are becoming desensitized to the homelessness and the disenfranchised. Everybody deserves a place to sleep and something to eat. This video was recorded in Chicago by Andrew Messer and Nicole Malovany with the help of DePaul University in Chicago. Homelessness is prevalent in the United States and even more so in urban areas.
I live in Baltimore City and almost every day I see someone asking for change or food. If I have it to give I do. I watch others who will do the same and more often than necessary I see others who ignore and disrespect those who are need.
When I think of all of the vacant buildings and the food waste in Baltimore City,I know collectively,as communities,government and individuals we could make a difference in reducing homelessness not only in Baltimore City but everywhere.
How much money do you think it cost a city to have vacant buildings? I am going to say a lot. There is property maintenance and legal fees for finding dead beat property owners,unpaid taxes,crime and lower property values. Per The National Vacant Properties Campaign, “An examination of the St. Paul,Minnesota budget for maintenance and security costs associated with vacant buildings revealed that while demolition saves $4,697 (million) the rehabilitation of a vacant building will save an estimated $7,141 (million) in maintenance costs over a twenty-year period”. Click the link to see their full report. http://www.smartgrowthamerica.org/documents/true-costs.pdf. We should reallocate resources to create sustainable transitional housing.
How much money do you think it cost restaurateurs to through away food that could be served to the hungry? Regardless of the answer to that question,it is a monetary loss when it could be a human equity gain. The Food Recovery Network states that “The United States wastes over 35 million tons of food every year that makes more than 20 pounds of food per person every month”. Check out what The Food Recovery Network is doing in regards to feeding the hungry at http://www.foodrecoverynetwork.org/.
The strategic factors for elevating Ronald Davis and others from homelessness are as follows:Community,Connection,Control,Cash and Collective Action. Click the link to see the tools we could use in this challenge. http://www.campaignconsultation.com/5cs/. Below is a spotlight on how others are supporting the under serve. I really want to hear your thoughts and ideas on the issue. Please leave a comment.
Mayor Edwin Lee will join us in Baltimore next week to fulfill his end of the Super Bowl wager with Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. Sure,he’ll be forsaking his Dungeness for our Chesapeake Blue with a trip down to Lexington Market for Baltimore’s world famous crab cakes. Yet his trip is about more than crabs,Mayor Lee is here for a higher purpose:service. He and Mayor Rawlings-Blake will be joining 200 AmeriCorps and local volunteers for a day of volunteering.
So how does the Charm City fare against the City by the Bay when it comes to service? Baltimore’s volunteer rate is 26.5% compared to San Francisco’s 31.8% but our volunteers serve more hours with an average of 40.8 hours a year compared to 25.7.
How do you harness volunteer power for your city? Take a look at some of our fabulous resources on how to:
A city should be known for more than food or sports. We should be leaders in giving back,helping our neighbors,and making our community a better place. Let’s be known for service.
Spring has finally come and it’s time to throw open the windows,clean out the closet and sweep under the bed. If you haven’t cleaned up entries in your nonprofit database in a while,it’s probably a good time to do that now.
A robust database with correct names and addresses and accurate giving information is essential for effective fundraising.
Are your aware that approximately 15 percent of people move households every year and 70 percent of business contact data is out of date within one year? Ideally,your database should be thoroughly updated and scrubbed annually,but at minimum it should be cleaned up every two to three years.
Here are a few steps you can take to maximize the effectiveness of your organization’s fundraising database:
1. Identify the data that your organization needs to meet its goals. Do you need to collect household data,contacts at foundations,or data from corporations? So much data is available on people and companies that capturing it all will be unproductive.
2. Make sure that information regarding major donors is correct,particularly the information in the core fields. Print out a report of major donors and review it. Make any changes,additions,or deletions.
3. Make sure that you have correct information about the press people on the database,and that all appropriate press people are on the database.
4. Once or twice a year,put the words “Address Correction Requested”on your newsletter address page (your mailing house or the post office can tell you where this should go exactly). Any newsletter with a new or bad address will be returned to you with corrected information,and you can then make the appropriate updates to your database.
5. Get rid of duplicate records on the database. Many database programs provide a function that will find duplicate records for you,based on certain criteria. If not,you can sort the information by various fields to find duplicates.
Administrators should verify the data of board members,major donors and other important individuals,then search for duplicate records and consolidate the information to clear out space. If you have more than a few hundred names in your database,you may need to contract hire with a third-party vendor who has the ability to match contact data across several data resources,such as databases of other clients or credit reporting agencies.
6. Purge lapsed contacts. Recommendations as to when to delete lapsed contacts ranges anywhere from 18 months to 60 months. But after five years of not connecting with a potential donor,it’s time to purge that contact and move on.
In most cases,you should never erase someone from your database,even if that person requests it;instead,create a category that notes people who do not want to be contacted. Here’s why;What if that person is removed,and later,a board member asks if that person,who is a friend,is on the database? You say no,and you put the person back on,only to get an angry call later from that person asking why you contacted him/her when he/she specifically asked you not to.
7. Review business contact data for program officers at foundations and corporations at least annually. This is often the most difficult information to keep up-to-date. Review your business contacts to ensure that these valuable records are kept current.
More detailed information about cleaning up a donor database can be found in this article by John Hoffman in the Non-Profit Quarterly.
Does your organization have a protocol for cleaning up your database?
Wealth inequality in America is a major issue for those who do not have wealth. It is reported that 99 percent of American wealth is held by 1 percent of the American population. This wealth is generated through inheritance and capitalism. When someone inherits massive wealth, he or she has a variety of investment and capitalist opportunities that would not be available to someone like me. The more wealth you have the more wealth you can generate. True capitalist sell things by taking their wealth, buying equipment, materials and inventory, creating something, adding a markup price and begin distributing. Is it the fault of the 1 percent that wealth inequality exists in America?
Let’s examine how capitalists make and sell goods and services. A capitalist who makes goods to sell would need people: A purchaser to buy materials, workers to build items and a sales person. Capitalists who provide services such as financing and insurance do not have inventory costs only administrative,clerical and sales. It’s a cash cow with little overhead. The objective of capitalism is to make a profit with the least amount of expense; so out of all the items listed above which item do you think a capitalist would ensure is the least expensive cost? It won’t be equipment, materials or inventory; these items are owned by other capitalists. It is the purchasers, sales people, clerical personnel and the workers better known as our 99 percent. The link show examples of how much the 1 percent earn in comparison to the other employees of a variety of corporations. My personal favorite is Wal-Mart. Notice the correlation between some CEO’s salaries and their average employee salaries.
Is it the 1 percent fault that wealth inequality exists in America? Partly, only because capitalists take advantage of the under educated that only serve the purpose to work and not think. Our history,dictates that only the 1 percent can be innovative. Fortunately, for us our future is slowly moving away from this chain of thought. The other part has to do with us as individuals and being paralyzed by fear. Here are some ideas of what we can do as individuals to elevate wealth inequality.
KNOW YOUR WORTH AND HAVE SOME FAITH
Part of being included in a viable workforce is that you too can achieve the American Dream; but you can’t do this if you are overworked and underpaid. The 1 percent isn’t doing any of the work you are doing and let’s face it innovation and oversight is only as good as implementation. Get the money you deserve and don’t be afraid to ask for it. Your paycheck should cover a decent quality of life (home,food,education and savings etc.) People have been conditioned that if you can’t do it cheap than someone else will. What people don’t understand is corporate costs to find and retain someone cheaper is extremely high and will hurt their bottom line and the overall corporate infrastructure which is anti-capitalism.
KNOW WHAT TO DO WITH YOUR MONEY
Just because you are not part of the 1 percent does not mean you can’t invest like them. My favorite book is the “Truth About Money” by Ric Edelman. Check out his website http://truthaboutmoneytv.com/ and his book. You will be amazed what your money can do for you.
TAKE CARE OF YOUR NEIGHBOR
The best way to squash out wealth inequality is to share. The 1 percent is the 1 percent because they are not sharing in a way that is conducive to all concerned; they share what they think the 99 percent deserves. The poor are always going to be amongst us and as you change your circumstances I sincerely hope you will help someone else change their circumstances.
Please share how you plan to alleviate wealth inequality in America. Together we can do it!
This past week I’ve been amazed by the spread of the Human Right Campaign’s (HRC) profile image. On Monday they gave their normal blue and yellow logo a red makeover in support of equal marriage as the Supreme Court begins hearings on California’s Proposition 8. They asked their supporters to use their image for their profile picture to show support and it has been a huge success.
One of the things that impresses me most is the branding of the campaign. In particular the HRC is image follows the Three C’s of Branding:
- Clear:The equal sign is a obvious connection to equality
- Concise:It’s just two bars but the symbol makes powerful statement
- Consistent:The profile image for the campaign is simply a color variation on their original logo so it’s easy to see the connection
We’ve written before about how to build your brand and this is a great example of the impact it can have. So take a moment to make sure your brand stands the test of time.
- Define yourself:Work with your team to paint a clear image of exactly how you want to portray yourself to your community.
- Keep It Simple:The more information you add,the harder it is for people to decipher and remember your message.
- Consistent,Consistent,Consistent:Keep your brand consistent visually and in everything you do.
- Create a Relevant Message:Your messaging needs to connect to your brand and be relevant to your audience.
- Think Beyond the Obvious:What sets you apart? All nonprofit and community organizations do good work,what makes you different?
- Keep it Positive:Your brand is the emotional association people have with your organization,you want people to think positively about your work. Negativity won’t get you anywhere.
- Be Committed:Commit to your branding,your message,and who you say you are. That’s the only way your audience will believe in you too.
Effective branding has stopping power,staying power,and selling power. Creating an high powered brand can help you catch attention and get results.
Cross-posted from AllThingsE.org
Looking for more people to open,read,and act on your e-newsletter because you are looking to raise money for your organization?
While the content of the email,donate button size,and from line are always important,focusing on the aspect that people see first (and often see last),the subject line,could just be the cure to your e- fundraising blues.
Instead of closing your eyes and typing,hoping and praying the first subject-line that pops into your head will do well,learn from the experts,those fabled people who can magically convert e-communications into dollar signs and who helped decide the fate of our recently inaugurated President.
While the Obama campaign harnessed a dedicated staff of over a dozen writers to help them decide things like subject-lines,even one person dedicating a few hours to e-communications preparation can use the campaign’s most successful technique to advantage:segmented testing.
Bloomberg Business Week de-mystified how the Obama’s team raised $690 million through fundraising emails. The answer:test variations of subject lines with small groups of recipients – and record how they react – before sending out the mass message.
The Obama team looked at how much money was raised based on up to 18 different subject lines. One clear winner in these tests:“I will be outspent”. Another was simply,“Hey”.
Those of us who work for non-profits,causes,and small businesses don’t have the resources to test 18 different subject lines,but we do have the ability to plan ahead,segment,and test 2-3 different ones.
What else can we learn from the Obama campaign’s successful subject lines?
- Try subject lines that are used often among the friend groups of your constituents. Things like “Hey” are seen often in inboxes,so are more likely to be perused
- Incorporate (harmless) profanity when trying to get attention (ex:“Hell yeah,I like Obamacare”
Image via CrunchBase
Image via CrunchBase
Here are a few tips we can learn from MailChimp’s analysis of 40 million emails sent through their system. They pulled out top and bottom open rates for email subject lines and there are some common denominators we can learn from:
- Keep the subject line stupid simple
- Indicate exactly what is going to be in the email (if you’re sending a newsletter,include the word “newsletter” in the title)
- Make it seem like it is a hyper-local or internal email
- Don’t use the words “Gift” or “Free” – or exclamation points
- Do use the words “Party” and “Invitation”
Of course,testing is the best way to determine what is best for your audience,but it doesn’t hurt to gain inspiration from the experts. As this infographic shows,no one word will make or break you.
What are some of your tips or tricks for writing an ideal subject line? How have you gained the most return on your email asks?
When Inocente took home an Oscar last weekend it wasn’t just a win for the filmmakers but for hundreds of micro-investors who helped the film come to life. The film was powered by Kickstarter,an online crowdfunding platform that is changing the way films,nonprofits,companies,everyone is getting the capital they need to reach their dreams.
Inocente is an inspiring story of a 15 year old homeless girl with a fearless determination to become an artist. It’s a brilliant example of a social change project that was able to be realized with a little help of a large online community. The film was made possible by 294 backers who believed in the message and invested anywhere from $10 to $2,500 to make it happen. In total they raised $54,527 for the film and in exchange they received thank yous on the film’s website and Facebook wall,t-shirts,posters,and more.
Inocente isn’t the only crowdfunded film nominated for an Academy Award. Two other Kickstarter films were nominated this year and three were nominated last year. Ten percent of the films at Sundance this year were funded through Kickstarter. Last month the company announced that it surpassed $100 million in donations to independent films proving it has become a powerful force in the industry for funding non-traditional movies.
Yet it’s not just films getting a boost from crowdfunding. Oscar attendee,Edward Norton created Crowdrise to help people raise money for great causes. Their hilarious website makes it easy for anyone to start a campaign and get their network involved in raising money about a cause they care about. Crowdrising harnesses individuals who have a passion for change and makes it easy (it takes about 10 minutes to create a page) for them to give back in a big way.
Another example is Start Some Good,a platform that helps changemakers mobilize and grow their communities to raise funds,share contacts,and help them develop the skills they need to impact their communities. They focus on social entrepreneurs,both for profit and nonprofit,and use crowdfunding to help them build their social ventures. In the first 9 months they had 34 successful campaigns which launched everything from a mobile app that helps save lives where there are no doctors available to a project to change the perception of Bangladesh.
Then there’s the incredible success of Matthew Inman. He raised $20,000 in 64 minutes and over $450,000 in just 24 hours using the crowdfunding site Indiegogo. Thirty-three thousand people contributed to his campaign to build a museum in honor of Nikola Tesla making it the fastest growing campaign in that platform’s history.
Crowdfunding is a great way to build a community of support while getting the donations you need to start your project. Like crowdmapping,it allows social change programs to tap into their community to fuel their mission. That’s not to say that crowdfunding is easy but if you’re thinking of starting a campaign there are a lot of resources to help: