Friday, September 23, 2011

Retro Article Of The Week: Outrage To Dogfighting Charges Knocked Out Site

Philadelphia Eagles Quarterback Michael Vick is enjoying a career resurgence in the city of brotherly love.  He led the Eagles to the playoffs last season, and was rewarded with a 10-year, $100 million contract extension this off season.  But it wasn't all fun and games for Vick.  He first signed with the Eagles after he was released from prison on dogfighting convictions two years ago, a signing that caused a huge stir in the sports and animal rights worlds.  Days after his sentencing in July of 2007, the Humane Society of the U.S. (HSUS) launched a campaign to send e-mails to the NFL Commissioner's office.  If it was ever possible for a campaign to be considered too successful, this was it.

More than 275,000 e-mails were sent through HSUS's website, causing the site to experience major outages.  To put the use into perspective, the website experienced five times its normal volume on July 19th, and six time the normal volume on the 20th.  The NonProfit Times wrote an article about these outages in September 2007.  Here's an excerpt from that piece:

The charity's technology provider made some initial fixes within the existing framework before moving an additional server to boost capacity, Handy said. "We also sent emails to advocates in our file in smaller chunks, so email wouldn't go to a large number of people at the same time. We spread demand out over a larger time window. That seemed to have worked," he said.

"The real issue was the fact that we had emailed a pretty good size of our file at the same time," Handy said. "The issue was in the news, with public outrage, a much higher percentage of people wanted to take issue. People on our file then told family and friends to do the same."

It's hard to anticipate, "but you need be ready to handle any kind of crisis," Handy added. "We are the leading organization on animal fighting abuse. We need to be ready to respond...but it's hard to pay for that capacity you need" every year or two.

"The demand goes from ordinary to extraordinary overnight. It speaks to the need of having systems in place, and excess capacity with your technology partner to handle anything," Handy said.

Though the outages were unfortunate for the organization, the increased traffic led to increased donations.  There was certainly no complaints on that front.  If you want to read the full article, please go to our website.

Nonprofit Fundraising Tips

Ever hear of Squidoo?  It's a site that allows you to create pages on a given subject.  The NonProfit Times has just created a Squidoo page that covers the all-important topic of nonprofit fundraising.  The intention of this page is to give nonprofit managers and employees another venue to get free tips to help their organization succeed with all of their fundraising activities.  We already have three articles on there, including one on how to find volunteers for fundraising events.  Let's take a look at an excerpt from that piece:

Nonprofits can raise funds through a variety of different methods. While a large amount of these funds come from direct donations, fundraising events play a large part as well. These events can be concerts, galas, special speaking events, or other large gatherings. These can take a great deal of effort, but that effort is repaid well if it's done properly.

The backbone of a great fundraising event lies in the strength of its volunteers. You are going to want to find individuals who are totally committed to the cause for which the event is raising money. If a volunteer is not enthusiastic about it, they will likely not put as much effort into making sure things go smoothly. That's why it's important to have a solid screening process when picking volunteers. One great suggestion is to create a questionnaire for potential candidates that might include questions like: "How many people are you comfortable working with?" or "What skills are you proficient in?"

Head on over to our Squidoo page (linked at the top of this post) to check out the full article.  You should also check out our other Squidoo Lens that covers nonprofit jobs.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

NPTtv Summary: Changing An Organization's Culture

The NonProfit Times TV recently sat down with Jennifer Ferro, general manager of the LA public radio station KCRW, to talk about how to change an organization's culture.  Here is an excerpt from that interview (Note: Questions and answers are paraphrased):

NPTtv: Jennifer, what were some of the challenges you faced coming to an organization that was used to doing things a certain way?

Jennifer Ferro: I think my position was a bit unique, because I came from inside the organization [she was promoted to her current position after two years as assistant general manager], so the biggest challenge for me is trying to see this organization as an outsider would.  I know the personalities involved in the organization really intimately, so one thing you have to do as a leader is to look strategically at your organization, and look at the roles people play.  So that's what I've been working on the most right now.

NPTtv: What kind of problems did you see that you wanted to change?

JF: The structure of the organization.  Because it had started really from nothing and grew up around that, there was basically no structure.  It was the leader, me, and everybody else.  There are some benefits to that, but there are also obvious structural challenges with it as well.  As we go forward in the future, that's the one thing we need to address: How can we create an organization that maximizes what we do already, but at the same time fosters innovation.

NPTtv: When you became general manager, how difficult was it putting your own stamp on the position without changing what the organization was already used to?

JF: That is one of the advantages of coming from the inside.  Because I came from within, people already knew me, they trusted me, and they supported me.  A lot of the changes that I wanted to make with the board leadership, the staff, all that kind of stuff, those were things that people were not fearful of because they understood who I was and what I was about.  You do have to be sensitive to what people want, however.  When you come into an organization with no structure, what ends up happening is that people have their own way of working.  When there is a threat to habits, there can be some backlash.  That hasn't happened to KCRW, but there is a certain level of anxiety.  Anxiety can be good, but it can also be damaging.  So I've just had to manage that.

Make sure to check out the full interview with Jennifer Ferro on NPTtv.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

NPTtv Summary: United Way's Growth Stunted

Note: This is a summary from a story in the newest webcast of The NonProfit Times TV.

While overall giving picked up in the last year, contributions to United Way Worldwide slowed down.  According to the agency's latest figures, total income last year grew to $4.2 billion, a $100 million increase.  That amount represents a slower gain than the $255 million that the organization saw in the previous year.

The reason for this decrease seems to stem from the fact that traditional workplace giving campaigns, which is the source for a large amount of United Way's contributions, were down in 2010, according to the numbers from Giving USA.

Overall public support accounted for $3.8 of United Way's revenue.  While this is up slightly from 2009, it is still lower than the more than $4 billion raised in 2008.  To see the whole video on this story, visit NPTtv.

9/21/2011 NPTtv Webcast Available

The newest edition of The NonProfit Times TV has just been released.  Here are the stories included in the webcast:

Make sure to check out these videos at NPTtv when you get the chance.  They only add up to about 6 minutes, so there's no need to take a lot of time out of your busy schedule.  We will have summaries up for some of these stories later.

Recent Giving Trends

The fundraising landscape is always changing, especially in this volatile economy. Here are some recent giving trends that were released in the 2011 Giving USA Report:
  • Giving to arts, culture, and humanities fell 8.7 percent.
  • Education fell 8.8 percent.
  • Religious giving increased by 0.1 percent.
  • International Affairs organizations received 7.2 percent more donations.
  • Human Services groups saw an increase in donations by 10.4 percent.
There a couple of things of note about these numbers. The first is that the organizations that saw an increase in donations typically provided immediate services. This is certainly the case with Human Services. International affairs saw growth even before any of the recent natural disasters, which reflects that there has been an increased interest in the missions of these groups.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

How A Hobby Became An Online Mission

Can you imagine spending 2 hours every day compiling articles and information about the September 11th attacks?  That's what Arnie Korotkin has been doing since the attacks on that fateful day.  Korotkin, who is an adjunct professor of sociology at Montclair State University in New Jersey, is the creator of the largest 9/11 list-serve in the country. Every day, he collects news articles about anything related to the terrorist attacks and sends them to his mailing list. 

Korotkin's "labor of love" all started when he worked as a director of community building at the United Way of Passaic County.  He was working with a woman who had just lost her husband due to the attacks, and he offered to send her information and services that might help her.  Her e-mail was the first of thousands that would subscribe to his daily 9/11 updates.

In trying times, sometimes the smallest gestures can mean the most.  This is certainly the case with Arnie Korotkin's e-mail list.  When you get the chance, please take a moment to read this story on our website.  You can also subscribe to Korotkin's mailing list by e-mailing him at

2010 Nonprofit Salary Survey

The 2010 Nonprofit Salary Survey gives you details on a wide range of topics that involve salaries for nonprofits. In this survey you will find out the base salary and cash compensation data with percentile rankings for each position, bonus pay practices (including average payout), percentage receiving and organizations paying, annual salary increases (prior and current year; executive and non-executive), employee turnover and average tenure by position, and more!

If you are in charge of structuring nonprofit salaries for an organization, or someone who wishes to start a nonprofit, the 2010 Nonprofit Salary and Benefits Report is a must have for you and your organization.  Don’t let your organization become less competitive in the job market because you are not up-to-date on the current average salaries for a job: Get the 2010 Nonprofit Salary survey today and make sure you are as competitive as the next organization.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Management Tip: Firing Up Your Board Members

Did you know board members can be very successful fundraisers?  Given the right opportunity, they can do a lot to help your organization raise money.  What can nonprofits do to use their boards to their full potential?  The answer is simple: Fire them up!  OK, maybe that's a little vague.  Onto the bullet points!

* VIP Prospect List -- Have them write down the 10 most important people they know who could catapult the organization.

* Host Small Socials -- Don’t just solicit people for money, have a good time during it while having a party.

* Host Tours -- Invite board members to have friends tour program sites together, while having them call their friends the next day to get their impressions.

* Thank You Calls -- One out of 10 gifts comes from board members making a thank you call after 24 hours of receiving the gift. After the next solicitation, those who gave, gave 39 percent more, and after 14 months gave 42 percent more.

Want to learn more on this topic?  Read the full article over at our management tips page.