Friday, January 6, 2012

Best Practices For Your Group Text Messaging

Texting: All the cool kids are doing it.  Is your nonprofit one of them?

Sending text messages to your supporters is a good way to alert them to news or other information.  There aren't too many people who don't carry a cell phone with them, so chances are they are going to receive your message instantly.  Before you start sending your group text messages, though, it's important to listen to some sage advice.

In her book "Social Media For Good," Heather Mansfield went over some best practices for group text messaging:
  • Add a "Subscribe to Receive Text Alerts!" button on your website, blog, newsletters, social media sites, and other materials.  This will help with your visibility.
  • On a related note, have your text-to-subscribe keyword and short pitch code to your Twitter background.
  • Your text messages should be timely and relevant to current events.  For example, text donations played a large role in raising money for the Haiti earthquake in 2010.
  • Mix up your messages by sending both information and call-to-action alerts.  People don't want to receive too much of the same thing.
  • Send periodic text messages to remind supporters that they can text to give or donate online.  But remember not to overload them with these types of messages.
  • Speaking of which, you shouldn't send more than two or three text messages a month.  These things cost money, ya know.
  • If you have a mobile website (and you should), link to it in your messages.
  • Use a service like to track click-through rates from the links in your texts.  This will give you a better idea of the effectiveness of your campaign.
For more tips like this, check our Management Tips page.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

White House Announces Summer Jobs+ Program

Orignally Posted On The NonProfit Times

The White House announced Summer Jobs+, a call to action for businesses, nonprofits, and government to work together to provide pathways to employment for low-income and disconnected youth during the summer of 2012.

American youth are struggling to get the work experience they need for jobs of the future. According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (Current Population Survey), 48.8 percent of youth between the ages of 16-24 were employed in July, the month when youth employment usually peaks. This is significantly lower than the 59.2 percent of youth who were employed five years ago and 63.3 percent of youth who were employed 10 years ago.

Minority youth had an especially difficult time finding employment this past summer. Only 34.6 percent of African American youth and 42.9 percent of Hispanic youth had a job this past July.

Summer Jobs+ was initially proposed as a $1.5 billion for high-impact summer jobs and year-round employment for low-income youth ages 16-24 in the American Jobs Act as part of the Pathways Back to Work fund. When Congress did not approve the legislation, the White House started working with private-sector employers to commit to creating nearly 180,000 employment opportunities for low-income youth during the summer of 2012, with a goal of reaching 250,000 employment opportunities by the start of summer, at least 100,000 of which will be placements in paid jobs and internships.

“America’s young people face record unemployment, and we need to do everything we can to make sure they’ve got the opportunity to earn the skills and a work ethic that come with a job. It’s important for their future, and for America’s,” said President Barack Obama.

“While young people who are currently disconnected from school or work are not contributing to our economy, we see these young people as ‘Opportunity Youth’ – because of the untapped potential they bring to the Nation, said Patty Stonesifer, chair of the White House Council for Community Solutions (WHCCS) and former CEO of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

The Administration also announced its intention to launch, within 60 days, the Summer Jobs+ Bank, a one-stop search tool for youth to access postings for any participating employers seeking to reach them where they are online. The search tool builds upon an open standard, the JobPosting schema endorsed by in November, 2011 in support of the Veterans Jobs Bank, and will include technical and promotional support by Google,, AfterCollege, LinkedIn and Facebook.

The Corporation for National and Community Service has released a new toolkit created in collaboration with the WHCCS and employers to support businesses and communities in their efforts to help young people become productive citizens and connect to greater opportunities, both of which are critical for the long-term strength and competiveness of the Nation.

A new analysis released today by the WHCCS showed that in 2011 alone, taxpayers shouldered more than $93 billion in direct costs and lost tax revenue to support young adults disconnected from school and work. Over the lifetime of these young people, taxpayers will assume a $1.6 trillion burden to meet the increased needs and lost revenue from this group. Read the full analysis here.

Businesses, nonprofits and government can accept the President’s call-to-action by directly hiring youth as well as providing corporate mentorship experiences, internship, and other opportunities that connect young people to jobs. The three key ways organizations can engage are:
  • Learn and Earn: Provide youth jobs for the summer of 2012 in the form of paid internships and/or permanent positions that provide on-the-job training. Of the roughly 180,000 job commitments announced today more than 70,000 are Learn and Earn commitments.
  • Life Skills: Provide youth work-related soft skills, such as communication, time management and teamwork, through coursework and/or experience. This includes resume writing or interview workshops and mentorship programs.
  • Work Skills: Provide youth insight into the world of work to prepare for employment. This includes job shadow days and internships. More information about this initiative can be found at

The Second Mile Weighs Options

It's been a little while since we heard any news from The Second Mile, the charity for troubled children founded by former Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky.  The last time we had some major news to report on the organization, we learned that they had started laying off employees.  As we enter the new year, we are learning more about the organization's plans.

The Patriot News reported yesterday that the organization was considering outsourcing some of its services to three charities as 2011 came to a close.  But about 10 days ago, two of those charities backed out.  The signal was clear: They wanted no part of The Second Mile.  Now the troubled charity is deciding how to move forward without its first and second choices.

One of the organizations that pulled out of negotiations is a Volunteers of America (VoA) chapter based in Harrisburg, Pa.  Leaders at he organization made up their mind after they decided the distraction of the Jerry Sandusky trial were too big of an issue.  The second organization, Centre County Youth Service Bureau, made no comment to The Patriot News on its decision.  Arrow Child & Family Ministries is still considering assuming control of some programs.

Second Mile CEO David Woodle said Tuesday that the charity has three remaining options: Continue to operate, run under a different name, or dissolve.  With the negative attention the charity has received thanks to the Sandusky scandal, it seems hard to believe it can survive, at least under its current name.  A major rebranding effort would need to be happen for the charity to continue operating.

Read the full story in The Patriot News.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Hiring In Today's Job Market

Originally Posted on The Nonprofit Job Seeker

Recruiting the right employees is a tough task in today's job market. Nonprofits must be diligent in the hiring process if they are to be successful. It all starts with understanding the needs of the organization.

That sounds simple enough. There's an opening for a major gift officer at the organization so the ideal course of action would be to look for someone with that kind of background, right? That's the basic idea, but there needs to be more long-term thinking involved. An organization should not only hire for today's needs, but also for the future. Avoid the temptation to simply fill a pressing need with a candidate who seems promising. Make sure they fit the organization's plans going forward.

Next, you should take a step back and analyze the position you are attempting to fill. Ask yourself what kind of people do this job the best. For example, if your organization needed a new CEO, you would probably want to look for people with exceptional leadership abilities.

You should also remember to take advantage of your greatest resource: Your current employees. There's a good possibility that one of them has done the job in question before, and you can use their knowledge to figure out who the ideal candidate is. This will help refine your selection process, making the probability of a bad hire less likely.

It's a competitive job market out there, and there will be tons of candidates knocking at your door. It's up to you to use these tips to narrow the applicants to find your finalist.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Branding Promises You Should Make

Of all the nonprofit buzz words out there, branding reigns supreme.  You would be hard pressed to find an organization that isn't trying to increase awareness of their brand.

It's all well and good to talk about branding, but a nonprofit won't find much success if they don't follow some essential elements.  One of these is something called the brand promise, which is discussed in the book "Be Your Own Brand" by David McNally and Karl D. Speak.  A brand promise is a short yet inspiring statement that will provide the focus an organization needs to apply its distinctive qualities toward making a difference.  McNally and Speak offered the following suggestions for crafting a brand promise:
  • Remember to keep it short.  Anything more than five to eight words is too much.
  • Tone is key.  It should have a direct and action-oriented voice to get people excited and inspired.
  • Let people know, directly or indirectly, how your brand will pay off for them. 
  • On a related note, show how the brand provides value to others.
  • Don't be afraid of revisions.  There's nothing wrong with fine-tuning until it is just right.  After many iterations, your brand promise should keep everyone motivated and focused on your organization's brand strengths.
  • Test it with your friends and family.  They are the ones who will be the best judge of how it reads.  You will know you have a success based on their reactions.

First Issue Of The New Year

We've officially begun the new year, and with that comes lots of changes.  Out with the old and in with the new!  And you know what that means: A new issue of The NonProfit Times

Here are some of the articles that you can expect to find in NPT's first issue of 2012:

Special Report:
  • "Accounting Software": Accounting software is essential to the daily operations of financial functions.  Find out why in this in-depth special report by Tim Mills-Groninger, a consultant to the Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate.
  • "Electing To Campaign": Catholic Answers is one of more than 250 organizations investigated by the IRS because of activity during the 2004, 2006 and 2008 election cycles. More than half were found to be valid complaints; seven of those nonprofits lost their tax-exempt status.
  • "Fans?  HSUS Has A Million Of 'em": What do one million fans on Facebook look like? The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) has the answer – in the form of an infographic that details all sorts of information about its fans.
  • "Bowling Green 'Raps" Up Big Fundraising Goal": Bowling Green University found a unique way to thank the donors who gave money to their recently completed $36-million center: A rap video.
  • "Ask The Nonprofit Board Therapist": In his new column, Dennis C. Miller of Dennis C. Miller Associates answers your questions about nonprofit boards.  This edition covers topics like increasing a board's effectiveness and handling disruptive board members.