Oy, Another Year. Who Knew?

Yes, it’s another year. When 2013 began last January, who could have anticipated that, a mere 12 months later, we would be doing this all over again? Not the news media, apparently, judging from the gusher of year-end reviews and new-year predictions filling our eyes and ears.

Can you stand one more? After thoroughly digesting the most important trends of our times, I confidently predict these developments in 2014:

  • 12 new studies will reveal that Facebook is useful for engaging supporters but lousy at raising money.
  • 11 newly launched social media sites will be greeted euphorically as definitely the next big thing.
  • 10 newly social media sites, after their enthusiastic debuts, will be bought out by Facebook or Google.
  • 9 governmental investigations will determine that Americans willingly share personal information with corporations but are shocked! shocked! that details of their private lives can be recorded by the NSA.
  • 8 blogs will observe that direct mail response is declining.
  • 7 blogs will observe that email direct response rates are declining even faster.
  • 6 research reports will discover that a majority of executive directors don’t trust their development directors and vice versa.
  • 5 golden rings!
  • etc. etc.

Resources: Are You Job Hunting?

  • Social Media: For those whose most immediate marketing problem is marketing themselves to employers, have I got a book for you. It’s The Wild Woman’s Guide to Social Media, by Mazarine Treyz, who is the Wild Woman. I interviewed Mazarine last year about her fundraising consulting and found her full of wit, insight and charm. Her new book promises to explain how to market yourself (or your business) in 15 minutes a day.
  • Content Management: Idealware, a nonprofit that analyzes software for nonprofits,  has produced a free, downloadable report that reviews and compares 11 content management systems. It also includes a directory of qualified consultants who can help with implementation.
  • Video: a free report by the Jun Group on the impact of online video finds, surprisingly, that the group most likely to act after seeing a video is the 55-and-up cohort.
  • Advocacy: “The Advocacy Gap,” a free downloadable report, refers to the difference between how most advocates talk to Congress and how Congress would prefer to be talked to.

#PROAGING: Olympics & Social Media Suggest Shrinking Digital Divide

The Social Olympics in LondonNBC might have gotten some bad press for giving away results before showing them tape-delayed in the lucrative hours of prime time. These Olympics have both been the ‘first Social Olympics’ and the first to struggle to understand what such instantaneous communication can mean to corporate and sporting interests. And, as it turns out, most of the griping is coming from the world of social networks. According to the Pew Research Center, 76% of Americans find the NBC communications conglomerate’s coverage excellent or good.

What are the numbers when age is taken into consideration?

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#FUNDRAISING: Consider Moving Online Donors To Direct Mail Giving

First time online donors continues to grow
Tap into a steady growth of new online giving

Social networks can be so important for communicating with folks who support (or will support) your cause. The high speed and low cost of such outreach can offer huge dividends, but mostly those dividends are paid in good will and spurring interest. Online donations are certainly growing, but as a recent report from Blackbaud demonstrates, long-term support and larger donations still mostly come from responses to direct mail, even if initial support comes online. The effort for any nonprofit, therefore, should be to develop interests and first donations online, yet also to strive to engage those donors with direct-mail appeals to keep the support coming. What are the numbers to back up this strategy?

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#FUNDRAISING: The Holiday Season For Donations Begins Now. Ready?

Summer is when you plan your holiday fundraisingThe pools are open and busy. The grill has cooled down since the July-4th Picnic. The MLB All-Star Game is tonight. It’s July. One of the traditional/old-fashioned ways to disrupt the heat is to hold a “Christmas in July” party, and your nonprofit or charity should be having one. Why? To celebrate the good work you have been doing for the last six months, and to energize yourselves for the critical holiday season of solicitation and fundraising that should hit its peak in mid-November and continue right through the new year. Yep, the groundwork for a successful holiday season needs to start soon, like tomorrow.

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#SOCIALNETWORKS: NTEN 2012 Report Shows Real ROI Growth Over Past Year

Survey results of NTEN's questionnaire for nonprofits
Click to go to the report

Okay, so you have been developing your nonprofit’s presence on the staples of social media new for a couple of years. Facebook page? Check. Twitter account? Sure. But how much time do you want to put into keeping up with those outlets? Has your organization seen any growth in volunteers or donors thanks to the outreach on social media?

The 2012 Nonprofit Social Benchmark Report from NTEN is the fourth in this annual series, which means the surveyors have enough materials to start identifying longer-term trends and to offer meaningful statistics as to how social networks are changing communications and fundraising for nonprofits and charities. Spoiler Alert: Nonprofit use of social networks is growing, and with that use most nonprofits are enjoying significant returns on investment (ROI). Still not sure you want to commit resources to it? Please read on…

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#COMMUNICATIONS: Is Your Organization Moving At The Speed Of Mobile?

Text messages are read within 15 minutes on smart phonesWith the rise of the smartphone and its ability to be the computer for millions of people around the world, mobile technology is becoming more powerful and less expensive every few months. And with those technological changes come changes of habit and expectation. One of the changes we and many others have commented on is the rise of text messaging as a medium not only to spread-the-word but also to raise funds for nonprofits and charities. The response to the American Red Cross’s texting campaign to deal with the horrors of the Haitian earthquake of 2010 is usually seen as the watershed event.

How has the nexus between cell-phone use and fundraising been strengthening over the last couple of years?

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#SOCIALNETWORKS: Twitter Continues To Expand Through Mobile Devices

Mobile phones and Twitter go great togetherThe Pew Internet and American Life Project has brought us valuable statistics and reported notable trends in internet use over the years, and a recent report focused on the growing use of Twitter as a means of social networking. Twitter could be described as a social networking platform that punches above its weight class. Twitter turned six this past March, and by its own accounts has some 140 million users sending some 340 million tweets a day. For the sake of comparison, Facebook has over 900 million.

Yet Twitter’s political and cultural impact is almost equivalent, even if it has only 15.5% as many users. Note the ‘Arab Spring’ as a ‘Twitter Revolution.’ How does Twitter have such an oversized geopolitical impact? The same reason local nonprofits should be developing a presence on the social network.

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#INTERVIEW: Derrick Feldmann, CEO of Achieve, Discusses The Millennial Impact Report Coming June 11

Derrick Feldmann HeadshotDerrick Feldmann is CEO of Achieve, a creative fundraising agency that produces The Millennial Impact Report, an annual research study of Millennial Generation donors. (The 2012 report will be released on Monday.) The agency also hosts the only national virtual summit, MCON, on Millennials annually. The interview was conducted by Don Akchin, a principal of Nonprofit Marketing 360 and a frequent contributor to the MKCREATIVE blog.

NPM360: You have made Millennial donors a specialty. Isn’t it a little early to be worrying about the Millennial donors?

DERRICK: Absolutely not! If we have an expectation that this generation of 20- to-30-year-olds will be future significant supporters of our causes, we have an expectation now to involve them. If you are an educational institution, if you are a nonprofit, if you are planning a capital campaign in the next ten years, and you want more donor support, you had better start working with them now. There is an imperative to work with this generation.

Organizations might not have them as a focus because they may not have the largest capacity to give right now. It’s been a bit tricky for some organizations to figure out parallel tracks of involvement for constituents who don’t necessarily have large capacity but in volumes could give a lot.
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The State of the Online Universe

T.S. Elliott said April was the cruellest month, and this is especially true for trees. April seems to be launch month for a flotilla of surveys, reports and data dumps on the state of all things online. This year we had the 2012 Convio Online Marketing Nonprofit Benchmark Index(TM) Study, the 2012 Nonprofit Social Network Benchmark Report,  the Sage Nonprofit Solutions Email Marketing Report, and possibly some also-rans.  Feel free to read them. Or just away these highlights:

  • If your nonprofit does not have a Facebook page, you qualify as a Conscientious Objector; 93% of nonprofits are on Facebook, with an average community size of 8,317 fans.
  • 73% of nonprofits staff their social networking with the equivalent of one  half-time employee.
  • 43% have a social networking budget of zero ($00.00).
  • Online fundraising is growing at a healthy clip. The median growth rate was 15.8%, versus 20% in 2010 – a year that included Haiti disaster relief.
  • Monthly giving programs are growing strongly, though these represent less than 7% of all online giving.
  • The median growth in online advocacy campaign response was 17%.
  • Donors who give through more than one channel give more than direct mail only or online only donors.

#FUNDRAISING: 2011 Was A Good Year For Email Outreach By Nonprofits

NTEN & M+R report their sixth annual report on e-fundraisingWith all the excitement about all the social networks and all the purchases that Facebook has been making lately, it’s worth remembering that not only do more ‘traditional’ media exist but they also can be of greater value than the newest platform that has all the media and investor eyeballs. Such should be especially remembered by nonprofits who might not have the resources to establish a presence on the latest Pinterest trend.

According to the latest eNonprofit Benchmark Study by NTEN (Nonprofit Technology Network) and M+R Strategic Services, a substantial email list and a well-crafted email campaign remain the most valuable fundraising tools in your charity’s box. Just how valuable?

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#Tech: The Net Is Not Quite Dead, But It’s Not Your Mom’s Web Anymore

First of all, an adjustment/correction to yesterday’s story: Facebook pushed back its rollout of Timeline across all accounts until tomorrow, the 31st. Facebook did this rather quietly and did not state why, but you now have about 20 hours to get your Timeline up-and-running, as we outlined yesterday. (Thanks to Cody Damon of Damon Strategic for the heads-up!)

The Pew Internet Trust LogoToday’s tech topic is related in so far as it is about how we interact with Facebook and other online services in new ways. The traditional ‘internet via browser’ model is fading away, to be replaced by a more precise paradigm − one that moves us from our mobile devices directly to the service/platform/medium that we want. The opportunity it presents will streamline, and perhaps redefine, the internet as we knew it. How?

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#PROAGING: AARP Explores Benefits & Challenges of ‘Technology For All’

Technology and social media enrich the experience of retirementWith much fanfare, the first babyboomers moved into the official era of retirement last year as they celebrated 65 years of life. They were the first ripples of a ‘Silver Tsunami’ of Boomer retirees who will bring changes to entertainment, to Social Security, medical services, to retirement life. The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) released a report calling on entrepreneurs, developers, and service providers to take on the challenges of bringing the myriad technologies (some of which were built by the Boomers) to everyone – including those over 50 who want to use those technologies but might need them modified. Is your organization developing its strategy for the near future?

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#SocialNetwork: Senior Living Communities See ROI On Social Media

Seniors working on a laptopOutreach to older Americans through social media might have once seemed a bit like trying to create an oasis in a desert: a great deal of effort lost in the sand. But survey after survey has demonstrated how use of social media has become an important part of the lives of millions of seniors. Which means numerous businesses that target seniors and their families have begun to develop strategies to reach out to those ever-growing constituencies and markets.

The folks at Glynn Devins Marketing have shared a keynote address that traces a case study they did with a local (Kansas) retirement community demonstrating the success of a drive on Facebook to increase ‘Likes’ and to offer donations as ever more people share their contact with that retirement community.

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#ProAging: GAP Index Highlights Global Challenges Of Care For Aging

Global Aging Preparedness Index IconThe fact of the aging of the global population is something our readers are likely at least acquainted with. The phenomenon has arisen as life expectancy has lengthened even in developing countries and populations in developed countries often are not having enough children even to replace themselves. The result is that most national populations whose citizens or subjects are over 60 are quickly moving toward 30%. To put that number in historical perspective, The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) posits that, before the Twentieth Century, the percentage of inhabitants over 60 was 5-8%.

The CSIS released a sobering report earlier this year that measured the ‘Global Aging Preparedness’ (GAP) Index. The report stresses the demographic facts of the so-called ‘Silver Tsunami’ (a tide that can not now be turned, even if we all started having larger families) and the current economic situations of a number of countries both rich and poor, both developed and developing. So how did the US do?

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#ProAging: SM Savvy Encourages Cross-Generational Connection

Click to enlarge

With Thanksgiving a mere 36+ hours away (30 of which might be spent in a ticket line or sitting on a runway or hoping the traffic finally gets moving), we are all thinking about re-connecting to family and old friends. That we do so via social networking platforms has become the assumption among the Millennials and the Gen-Xers, whether in the holiday season or not. The social networking demands of these generations encourage them to keep up with the latest technologies as well – not a bad thing for the economy.

What happens to the previous-generation phones and laptops as younger Americans buy the latest-and-greatest? One thing that happens to them is they become ‘hand-me-ups’.

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#ProAging: How Might The 7 Billion Humans Age?

From the NIA/NIH report - Click to enlarge

Earlier this week, the human race passed the 7-billion mark, and continues to expand. Much of the attention given to that milestone as focused on the many thousands of births that take place each second all around the world, but especially in India and subsaharan Africa. Yet, the other side of the demographic story must also be taken into account: people live longer. They remain productive later into longer lives, and – as an aggregate – technology helps them live well beyond a few years of retirement.

Which means, despite the many births, the world’s population over 60 will be over 22 percent by 2050. Are we prepared?

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#ProAging: Which US Cities Offer The Best Lifestyle To Their Older Citizens?

Dave Letterman offers only a “Top 10″ list, but Bankers Life and Casualty has just published its Top 50 “Best US Cities For Seniors 2011″ and the list contains a few surprises – though, admittedly, not so many laughs.

The list was drawn up with an effort to establish some stable criteria that were, in turn, weighted to reflect the importance of each issue with older Americans. For example, healthcare opportunities are weighted to 10 at the top of the scale, whereas housing was weighted at 5, because many kinds of housing arrangements can be made for many kinds of seniors, whereas healthcare is a priority for all older people.

The good side about a weighted standard is that readers can judge for themselves if a certain concern outweighs other issues. For example, the city noted as having the lowest crime and the safest urban environment for seniors is Nassau-Suffolk County, New York (Long Island), yet the area did not quite crack the top 10. But if security/low crime is most important for you, you now know where to retire.

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#Tech: Halloween Weekend & Scary Stories Of Cloud Computing

A Storm in Cloud ComputingApple launched iCloud a couple of weeks back with much fanfare. The service is meant to improve the lags, vulnerabilities, and complications of MobileMe. And neither is particularly bleeding-edge technology. Apple’s efforts (as is so often the case) were to simplify and beatify the experience of cloud computing for the consumer (whether on Windows or OS X).

The technology behind cloud computing is about two hours younger than the birth of the technology of the internet itself. But the security of the cloud has been a concern for just about as long. The scary stories for this Halloween weekend concern what can happen when demons infiltrate your virtual sanctuary.

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#Finance: Postage Rates For Nonprofits Realigned. Do Yours Go Down Or Up?

The Nonprofit Times has a story we wanted to pass on to our readers about the adjustments to US Postal Rates that will have an impact on nonprofits and their mailing budgets. The news is important, but not dramatic. The story quotes Anthony Conway, Director of the Alliance for Nonprofit Mailers, who was rather sanguine about the rate adjustments:

The changes reflect the CPI for October, so the USPS has every right to increase mailing charges. Nonprofits are now prepared to deal with these increases as they can be predicted based on where the CPI is. This is not bad compared to other increases and at least they are not trying for an exigent increase again.

How will the changes affect your organization’s rates?

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#ProAging: Guidance For Older Americans Looking For Work

Reading glasses to look over the job listingsThe unemployment rate of 9.1% seems pretty bad psychologically, especially for Americans that can remember the myth of unemployment rates of 2-3% a decade or so ago. But the unemployment rate flattens out some really horrific numbers: For African-American men between 20-30, the rate is about 18%, for example. And all these numbers get somewhat massaged by redefining who is not ‘really’ looking for a job.

The unemployment rate for Americans over 50 has more than tripled during the Great Recession, leading some analysts to define the ‘grey wall’ or ‘grey ceiling’ stopping opportunities for advancement, much less re-employment. Via the AARP website, Chris Gardner offers some sage advice for older workers needing to get back to work. Older workers, he argues, have most everything employers need, but those older workers might not have the networks to get them back in the game.

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#ProAging: Social Security Recipients Enjoy COLA For First Time In Two Years

Social Security has built into its law and budgets a ‘Cost of Living Adjustment‘ (COLA) tied to inflation and/or rising prices. Those prices have, if anything, fallen during The Great Recession, so recipients have not seen a COLA since 2009. But the Social Security Administration published its formula this week to account for a 3.6% increase for most people who receive their checks, beginning in January 2012.

The adjustment can not come soon enough for many seniors. As reported in The Associated Press, though inflation did not move over the last two or three years, incomes that retirees depended upon to supplement their Social Security benefits collapsed over those same years. What does the equation come out to for seniors?

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#ProAging: Medicare’s Open Enrollment Opens – Save Elders From Poverty

 

Census Report on poverty rates among different age groups between 1959 and 2010
Click to Enlarge

Medicare’s open enrollment for next year begins on October 15th and runs through December 7th (an unfortunate date in the lives of many of the GI Generation). Information on Medicare’s medical plans can be found here. General information for those new to the process can be found here. Medicare was founded in 1965 in an effort to buttress the insurance that most Americans lost at 65 or at retirement. It was meant as another strand of a safety net first weaved with the passage of the Social Security Act in 1935, also meant to help the elderly avoid falling destitute.

Although Governor/Presidential Candidate Rick Perry (Rep., TX) stands by his assertion that such support as Social Security is a Ponzi Scheme, it has helped – unlike Ponzi schemes – millions of older and retired Americans avoid poverty. A new Census study clearly demonstrates just how successful the programs have been.

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#Tech: Pew Internet Project Breaks Down Use Of Communications Tech Across Generations

Pew Report on ownership of communications devices
Click to enlarge (from the Pew Internet Project)

The contours of the findings of the Pew Internet and American Life Project report on ‘Generations and their Gadgets’ you probably already know: Younger Americans use more mobile devices than older Americans. Older Americans generally access the internet from a desktop computer, whereas those under 35 tend to do so with a laptop/netbook. Etc.

But within those contours the project’s latest study, this one by Kathryn Zickuhr, we see growth in mobile use across all generations, and we even see some reticence to own any device across all generations as well.

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#Aging: Caregiving For Parents So Common Most Do Not Report It

Care for an elderly womanCaregiving among younger people as their Boomer parents move toward retirement is so common that they do not even consider it caregiving. The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) considers any fairly regular activity, like taking a parent to the doctor or over-the-counter testing for blood sugars, as part of their ‘Caregiver’ category, though the person giving the care rarely notes such activity in surveys or tax forms.

But what is also happening, according to research by the AARP, is that many children in their middle age are giving fairly advanced care without the training required to do things like taking care of catheters or monitoring medications. What might this kind of off-the-books care mean for those giving it?

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