Thursday, April 11, 2013

Google To Add Nonprofits To Knowledge Bar

Last year, Google rolled out its "Knowledge Bar," a section on the right-hand side of your search results that contains information about the person, place, or company for which you searched. Nonprofits were not included in the Knowledge Bar at the time, but that all changed this week.

The search engine giant announced Tuesday that nonprofits would begin to be included in the Knowledge Bar. While the feature is still in its roll-out phase, many of the larger organizations already have their information online. For example, a search for the Livestrong Foundation will provide the following information:

  • A short blurb of the nonprofit's history via Wikipedia.
  • The founder of the organization.
  • The founding date.
  • Tax deductibility code.
  • The latest post from their Google+ page (if applicable).
  • Similar organizations.
The most significant thing about the Knowledge Bar is that it has the potential to increase the number of followers for a nonprofit's Google+ page. Facebook remains a giant in the social networking field, but this change could bring more nonprofits to Google+ since they will know that people searching for them will see their posts.

What do you think about this announcement? Do you think it will make a difference for organizations in the long haul, or will it just be a cosmetic change?

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

4 Steps To Engaging Young Volunteers

Peer pressure is generally viewed as a bad thing but when it comes to getting young volunteers for your nonprofit, it does have its merits.

According to New York City-based DoSomething.org's data scientist Bob Filbin, one of the number one motivations for volunteering among high school and college students was that their friends were doing it. This was revealed in on of Filbin's studies, “The DoSomething.org Index on Young People and Volunteering 2012.”

“Volunteering, like everything else, is about blending in, making friends and having a good time,” said Filbin. Here are four things to keep in mind when recruiting young volunteers:

  • Make volunteering a social activity. If your organization’s activity can be done by a single volunteer or from home, it’s probably not a good fit for young volunteers.
  • Young volunteers need to see the impact. You’ll have a tough time getting them excited about installing energy-efficient light bulbs, but a park cleanup will draw them in droves.
  • Make sure the activity is close to where young people live and spend time. Transportation issues often prevent young people from volunteering.
  • One-off activities and those that allow for a variable time commitment are best for youth. Plan your volunteering like you would a party, said Filbin: “Teens often decide to go last minute, avoid showing up early, and almost never stay until the end.”

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Making Event Day A Success

Special events require a lot of planning, which begins with creating a timeline listing all the things you need to accomplish leading up to event day. Once you reach that date, there’s no turning back from the fact that it’s time to have the event. But, are you ready for it?

Event day is the culmination of the weeks and months you have spent planning. All of that hard work will hopefully translate into a gorgeous, inspiring, and lucrative event. This can only happen, however, if the proper planning is done beforehand. In the book "Nonprofit Management 101," Marika Holmgren, founder of Organic Events, wrote that all event planners should follow five golden rules to ensure everything runs as smoothly as possible:

  • No Assumptions: It’s critical that everyone involved be crystal clear on how event day will flow, what their role is, and what all the key players will do
  • Start the Day with Nothing Left to Do: When you begin event day, there should be nothing on your list that could have been done the day, week, or month before.
  • The Curtain Rule: When you are out in front of guests, at the registration table, staffing the silent auction cash-out, or backstage with the master of ceremonies, you are in front of the “curtain,” where you must remain professional, composed, and gracious.
  • Remember That You Are Part of a Team: Remember that all team members need to be briefed, trained, and managed throughout the process.
  • Don’t Expect Perfection, but Do Expect Perfect Troubleshooting: Because of the nature of live events, you should anticipate glitches. When this happens, your team must be ready and able to deal with the snafu in  the most professional and efficient way possible.

Monday, April 8, 2013

California Nonprofit Hospitals Targeted In Legislation

Two California lawmakers have introduced legislation that would require nonprofit hospitals to justify their tax-exempt status.

The proposed law, AB975, was introduced by Assemblymen Bob Wieckowski (D-Fremont) and Rob Bonta (D-Oakland). While it has drawn resistance from the nonprofit hospital industry, it does have the support of the California Nurses Association and several other consumer groups, according to an article in The San Jose Mercury News.

The measure was created mostly because of criticism that nonprofit hospitals have the same, if not less, charitable care than their for-profit counterparts. A study by The San Jose Mercury News in 2007 revealed that in three of the five prior years, the average for-profit hospital had higher levels of charitable care than the average nonprofit. Charitable care was defined by the report as free or reduced-cost treatment for poor or uninsured patients.

"We're asking for transparency," Wieckowski said. "They're not paying property taxes, and we expect to get something back from that."

AB975 passed the state's Assembly Health Committee by a 12-7 vote last week, and will now move to the Revenue and Taxation Committee for further consideration. If passed, the law would prevent nonprofit hospitals from counting certain things as charity care, such as writing off unpaid bills as bad debt, staff education, and research.

The bill would also presume a hospital is for-profit if its operating revenues exceed its operating expenses by more than 10 percent. The hospital would then be required to pay taxes unless it can convince the county assessor that it deserves its tax-exempt status.

For their part, nonprofit hospital representatives have harshly criticized the proposed legislation. During the Assembly Health Committee meeting discussing the measure last week, Martin Gallegos, senior vice president, chief legislative advocate of the California Hospital Association, said AB975 was a "solution looking for a problem."

"Something like this could wreak havoc throughout the not-for-profit bond world," he said.

Other organizations opposing the legislation include Kaiser Permanente, Scripps Health, Adventist Health, the Alliance of Catholic Health Care and the California Chamber of Commerce.

You can read the full story in The San Jose Mercury News.