Friday, September 14, 2012

4 Ways For Your Nonprofit To Go Viral

Every nonprofit wants their online content to go viral. It’s practically the Holy Grail of the online world. Of course, something so coveted doesn’t come easy. If you want your content to be the next Internet phenomenon, you are doing to have to do some work.

Whether it's a YouTube video of a recent special event or a blog post about the organization's mission, nonprofits are always looking for ways to enhance the exposure of their content. In "Nonprofit Management 101," Zoetica CEO Beth Kanter wrote that nonprofits need to encourage others to share their work if they want it to go viral. She suggested the following techniques to make this a reality:

  • Give permission to share. Tell your audience that you want them to take your content and repurpose, remix, or recreate it. This can be done by using a Creative Commons “Share, Share Alike” license.
  • Be explicit. Sometimes people are inspired on their own, but it also helps to reward them for sharing or creating your content. Kanter suggested creating a contest that gives a prize to the user who makes the best use of your content. You’d be amazed at what people will do free stuff.
  • Stock the pond. No one likes to be first, so you may need to get staff and other insiders to jumpstart your effort.
  • Lift up examples. Encourage and publically recognize people who create content for you. This can be done by highlighting their contribution in a blog post, on your website, or at an event.

North Texas Giving Day Brings In $14.4 Million

The fourth annual North Texas Giving Day raised $14.4 million for more than 900 nonprofits yesterday, easily surpassing the $10.7 million raised last year.

This blog covered last year's Giving Day which, at the time, set a record for the event. The 2012 incarnation made sure that record didn't last long, as donors from across the nation and the world submitted 37,858 gifts totaling approximately $14,439,441.

According to a report in The Fort Worth Star-Telegram, nonprofits that received donations between 7 a.m. and midnight Thursday on the North Texas Giving Day site also got a partial match from a pool of $1 million in matching and prize funds.

Donations from this year's event came from every U.S. state and 14 countries, including Canada, Austria, Brazil, China, and Finland, according to the Communities Foundation of Texas, which first launched the event in 2009. During last year's Giving Day, participation picked up in Tarrant County, Texas, after the Dallas area dominated donations during the first two years. Dallas was once again in the lead this year, receiving $9,710,961. Meanwhile, Tarrant County received $2,014,992, an increase from the $1.6 million it got last year.

“We are absolutely blown away by the record-breaking generosity and goodwill of North Texans,” said Communities Foundation of Texas president and CEO Brent Christoper in a statement. “This is a testament to the strength of our community and our shared desire to make North Texas the most viable, best place to live. We are humbled to say the least.”

The Salvation Army of Dallas-Fort Worth led all organizations this year with $554,483 raised. It did not, however, win the $10,000 prize for most donors. That honor went to KERA TV Channel 13 which, although it only raised $78,965, had 948 eligible gifts. The PBS affiliate also received another $10,000 for having the largest increase of donors over last year. The two $10,000 prizes were sponsored by the Dallas Foundation and Hoblitzelle Foundation, respectively.

You can see the rest of the statistics on the North Texas Giving Day leaderboard.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Nonprofit Arts In Washington A Boon To Economy

Nonprofit arts organizations and their patrons across Washington spent $1.51 billion in local economic activity during fiscal year 2010 according to a new report released by Americans for the Arts.

According to a report in The Washington Business Journal, the total expenditure generated $120 million in local tax revenue and $21 million in state revenue during the period of July 1, 2009 to June 30, 2010. Of those totals, 63 percent was organizational spending and 37 percent was from the audience.

The nonprofit arts industry is worth $135 billion on a nationwide level and, according to the study, supports 4.1 million jobs and generates $87 billion in household income.

Volunteers also played a big role in the strength of arts and culture in the Washington area. More than 33,000 volunteers donated 1.5 million hours to organizations in the region, with that time representing an estimated worth of more than $33 million.

The data for the Americans for the Arts study was collected from 299 arts and culture organizations and 4,351 in Washington. The study did not include the Smithsonian Institution which, according to the organization's Form 990, accounted for $2.1 billion in total culture spending in 2010, in addition to representing 58 percent of the local industry.

You can read the full story in The Washington Business Journal.

Marketing: 3 Promotional Mistakes

The word "promotion" has a negative connotation these days. Product placements in movies makes audiences' eyes roll, and people don't hesitate to press that "skip ad" button on YouTube when an advertisement plays before a video. Yes, marketing can be quite a challenge today.

While it's true that most people would rather not have to see promotions, marketing your brand or a specific product does not have to be a negative. By avoiding some common promotional mistakes, your campaigns will be more successful and, as an added bonus, people will be less annoyed with your organization.

In his book "Managing a Nonprofit Organization," Thomas Wolf listed three mistakes that some nonprofits make during promotions. Avoiding these are key to ensuring a successful campaign:

  • Don’t assume that saying more in a promotional device is better. Short, carefully selected messaging is always more effective.
  • Don’t miss easy opportunities to acquire names, addresses, and other pertinent information. Incentivizing people to provide email addresses and other information will be valuable in later sales and fundraising solicitation.
  • Don’t oversell your product or service. If customers or constituents have specific expectations about what you are selling and these expectations are not met, they will be disappointed. Promotion based on exaggerated claims will generally lead to unfulfilled expectations.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Northeastern Receives Record Donation

Two Northeastern University graduates who initially dropped out of the school teamed up to give their alma mater a record donation of $60 million.

Richard D’Amore and Alan McKim both dropped out of Northeastern as undergraduates but were encouraged to return by Professor Daniel McCarthy. The two former students’ $60-million donation is now the largest gift to the Boston school since a $20-million donation in 2006. As a result of the gift, Northeastern’s College of Business and Administration will become the D’Amore-McKim School of Business.

Northeastern plans to use the $60 million to launch new programs, attract top faculty, increase financial aid to students, subsidize cooperative education programs, and offer more opportunities for students to study and work abroad. The D’Amore-McKim School of Business is the first college or school to be named at Northeastern, and the $60-million gift is the fourth largest to name a business school in the United States.

A 1976 graduate, D’Amore had previously donated $5 million to the school in 2009 to support innovation and entrepreneurship. McKim, a 1988 graduate and founder and CEO of Clean Harbors, met D’Amore when the two teamed up to endow a professorship currently held by McCarthy. D’Amore is co-founder and general partner at Waltham, Mass.-based North Bridge Venture Partners.

“Once in a generation, history is made in the life of a university. This is one of those moments,” said Northeastern President Joseph Aoun in a statement.

“Northeastern has had a huge impact on me — both personally and professionally,” D’Amore said in a press release. “I hope that what Alan and I are doing will inspire others to do the same.”

5 Steps To The Perfect Special Event

To some nonprofit leaders, planning for a special event is akin to having a root canal. Yet despite the difficulties they can present, events have the potential to seriously boost both fundraising and an organization's reputation.

During the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) 49th International Conference on Fundraising, Jennifer C. Stewart of the Providence Healthcare Foundation offered suggestions to attendees on how they can minimize the pain of planning for a special event. She said that the key to success rests on the following five considerations:

  • Setting goals and objectives. Set them one year in advance. Planning is everything.
  • Budgeting and cost per dollar raised. Stewart suggested setting the budget before planning even begins. It’s necessary to be specific in creating a budget. Also, lowering expenses and promoting that cost-cutting shows sensitivity to the times.
  • Committee involvement. It is good to create a member expectations protocol, and to be clear about fundraising roles. Don’t undervalue or under-appreciate volunteers.
  • Being sensitive to the times. It is good to chart all event details on a month-by-month basis. Set reasonable timelines and stick to them.
  • Event follow-up. Thank-you notes should be sent to all donors no more than two weeks after the event (preferably sooner). Report event fundraising results and add testimonials in those notes. Announce the following year’s event date.
Following these steps is a good way to make planning your organization's next special event a lot less painful, and a lot more successful. Let us know what you think of Stewart's suggestions in the comments section.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Nonprofit CFO Sentenced In Wire Fraud Case

The former chief financial officer of a nonprofit in Knoxville, Tenn. was sentenced to 36 months in federal prison today on charges of wire fraud and money laundering.

According to a report in The San Francisco Chronicle, Cameron J. Potter was also ordered by the U.S. Attorney's Office for East Tennessee to repay the government more than $400,000. Federal investigators charged Potter with using his position as CFO of Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE) to embezzle more than $403,000 in organization funds through fraudulent transactions, counterfeit checks, and diverted receipts. He used the money to pay for personal expenses, such as cars, a second house, and sports memorabilia.

Potter pleaded guilty to the charges a year ago, and was sentenced today by U.S. District Court Judge Thomas W. Phillips.

The prosecutor in the case said that Potter created fake invoices to businesses with names similar to consultants employed by SACE, and paid them with the organization's American Express account. The money was then transferred to his own accounts through an online banking service.

You can read the full story in The San Francisco Chronicle.

Virginia City Council Tackles Nonprofit Tax Exemption

Tax-exempt status was the topic of conversation during a meeting of the Richmond, Va., city council, as members tried to determine which organizations shouldn't have to pay property taxes after a ban on tax-exempt applications was lifted.

Nonprofits in Richmond had been unable to apply for tax-exemption for the past several years because of a moratorium on such applications. But after the historic Byrd Theater encountered economic difficulties, the ban was lifted, setting the stage for the Monday meeting.

According to a report on Richmond CBS affiliate WTVR, Councilman Marty Jewell said during session that he believed nonprofits in the city deserved a break because of the down economy. Councilman Bruce Tyler agreed, remarking that the city potentially footing the bill for some of these organizations is important because of the services they bring to the community.

Councilman Chris Hilbert argued that the moratorium on tax-exemption applications should be reinstated, remarking that the current review process makes it difficult for the city to determine which organizations truly need tax breaks. Hilbert plans to reintroduce the moratorium during an upcoming meeting, according to WTVR.

Tax-exempt organizations often have to pay fees to the government, making what are known as payments in lieu of taxes (PILOTs). The NonProfit Times reported in May that Brown University reached an agreement to double its current payments to the city of Providence, R.I. In addition, a survey from last year showed that 63 percent of nonprofits pay some form of fee to state and local governments.

Fewer than two dozen nonprofits had their tax-exemption applications approved by the end of the meeting, with the remaining groups combining to pay nearly $160,000 in annual property taxes to the city of Richmond.  You can read the full story on WTVR's website.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Post Your Nonprofit Jobs With NPT

With the job market still not quite in full recovery, job seekers are always looking for new places to find work. That's why nonprofits looking to advertise their open positions should consider posting with the Nonprofit Job Seeker, the career center of The NonProfit Times.

The Nonprofit Job Seeker features an array of competitive pricing options that will help ensure that your job gets the most exposure possible. Every new position that is posted on our site is also tweeted to our NPT Jobs Twitter feed, allowing job seekers to be informed of new jobs instantaneously.

For employers that want to get the maximum amount of exposure, we have a special posting option that utilizes all forms of media. For just $595, your nonprofit will get the following options to promote your job posting:

  • Listed in featured job section of the main page of our career center.
  • Banner ad to run for 30 days on the site.
  • Job tweeted to @nptjobs & @nonprofittimes list three times each.
  • All ads are automatically posted to our Facebook career center page.
  • Listing in the print and digital editions of our magazine.
  • Post of your listing on our Jobs Blog.
  • Banner on the NPT Jobs eNewsletter.
  • Ad will be posted in the Job of The Week section in our weekly eNewsletters.
Contact Stephanie Johnson for more details on this special.

It's important for organizations to reach the right candidates when posting jobs online, and the Nonprofit Job Seeker has become a go-to source for individuals looking for nonprofit jobs. Visit our employer site today for more details on how to post your job.