#SocialNetworks: VolunteerMatch Leads Way In (Free!) Tech Outreach

The iOS platform for the iPhone and iPad is notoriously closed for apps dedicated to fundraising. Some companies have found ways to use the mobile software to reach volunteers and grow networks of potential donors (or donors via other platforms). One such nonprofit is VolunteerMatch, whose iPhone app offers opportunities to search for local projects looking for volunteers for the day or for the duration of a project.

But the folks at VolunteerMatch are doing more than offering a great mobile app to complement their website and to reach out to constituents and potential funders.


| Category Apple, Communications, iDevice, iPad Apps, iPad/Tablet, iPhone Apps, Media Review, Nonprofit, Slide Presentations, Software Review, Storytelling, Technology, Volunteerism, Web and Print | | Comments Off

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#Tech: Memorial Day History & Technology To Get You Home

Image by Eddie Coyote (Flickr)

Memorial Day in the US sits on the opposite end of the calendar of most of the western (post-)industrial nations who celebrate it on November 11. While theirs marks the end of hostilities from The Great War (aka World War I), ours marks our Civil War, and was begun to create an opportunity for reunifying a divided country.

US General John Logan, who instituted the event as ‘Decoration Day‘ in 1868, sought to give a moment’s reflection on the war dead without undue bias toward the victorious US army over the Confederacy. Indeed, his proclamation stressed a strikingly American emphasis on the familial and the local:

In this observance no form of ceremony is prescribed, but posts and comrades will in their own way arrange such fitting services and testimonials of respect as circumstances may permit.


| Category Advertising, Branding, Geo-Location, iDevice, iPad Apps, iPad/Tablet, iPhone Apps, Newspaper Article, Social Media, Software Review, Technology | | Comments Off

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#Tech: The Apple Mac Mini Server – Part 3

Scott Caldarelli of Scott Caldarelli ConsultingScott Caldarelli returns to continue his discussion of the advantages of the inexpensive Mac Mini Server for your office.

In my last installment of this ongoing series, I talked about the Mac mini server and using Kerio Connect for your contacts, calendars and possibly email. As a reminder, let me summarize:  Apple‘s Mac mini Server is a low cost server for small organizations and provides a central location for storing shared calendars, contacts, and files. It has some built in tools do accomplish all this, and Kerio Connect is a third-party product that provides more features than those provided out of the box with the Mac Mini Sever. It’s an alternative to Microsoft Exchange for small and medium-sized organizations, providing email, contact, and calendar management through desktop email clients, web browsers, and smartphones.

So, if your needs are basic, the out of the box items will probably do what you need. If not, a product like Kerio Connect will enhance that functionality for you. In today’s entry, I’m whittling down some of these options for those who are on a little tighter budgets. Who isn’t these days?


| Category Apple, Communications, Desktop Apps, Resource, Reviews, Site Administration, Software Review, Technology, Technology for Nonprofits, Web and Print | | Comments Off

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How-to: 7 Tips to Set your Slide Presentations on Fire

Keynote (presentation software)

Image via Wikipedia

We’ve been providing PowerPoint and conference support for many of our clients since the early 1990s (some recent examples of our work can be found here) and while the technology may have changed, the core elements that make a good presentation great still remain: compelling content, a good “story”, professional coaching, and speaker practice — lots of it.

Shonali Burke at posted a great article reminding us how to best approach not only putting a slide presentation together but also how to deliver it. I can attest to the fact that many speakers still don’t “get it” and continue to assail us with dreadful content, awful presentation skills, and horribly-designed slides. Shonali’s article, once read and absorbed, should guarantee that “Death by PowerPoint” will be a thing of the past in your organization.

Click here to read the article.

| Category Advice, Branding, Communications, Design, Marketing, Marketing Skills, Slide Presentations | | Comments Off

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#SocialNetworks: Facebook vs Google Privacy Smackdown

Google vs FacebookThey are the two superpowers of our web experiences, and they have been butting heads over social media and searchability for some time. The byte of contention is whether Google can search people’s profiles (especially their ‘Likes’) for Google’s searches and whether Facebook can tap into GMail contacts to further one’s list of friends. For those enmeshed in the two services, sharing their shared information seems a no-brainer. But the conflict over which service gets precedence, especially over the issue of ‘privacy,’ has only gotten uglier in recent weeks.


| Category Campaigns, Facebook, Marketing, News and Current Affairs, Public Relations, Report, Social Media, Web and Print | | Comments Off

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Development: Do Your Donors Call You?

The Agitator blog posted a great article on how one corporation re-wrote the rulebook on relationship building and saw a sizable increase customer loyalty and retention. What does this have to do with nonprofits? Well, if your organization relies on telephone outreach and fundraising, there are some useful nuggets for you to take away.

“What percentage of your donors or members call your nonprofit … for any reason? What’s the overall volume? And what about ‘over-the-transom’ calls from people not yet connected to you?

Naturally, the numbers vary hugely from nonprofit to nonprofit, and across types of nonprofits.

Do you treat these calls as a cost (i.e., a nuisance) to be managed and minimized?

Or as an opportunity to build relationships? Increasing loyalty amongst existing supporters and winning new ones.”

Read the relationship management case study about American Express in the Financial Times (free registration required).

| Category Development, Donor Acquisition, Fundraising, Nonprofit, Resource, Study | | Comments Off

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#Fundraising: Susan Emfinger, Development Guru, Joins the MKCREATIVE Blog as Contributor

Susan Emfinger

Susan Emfinger

When the folks @MKCREATIVE first asked me to contribute to the MKC Blog, I wondered what I might have to share that would be of value to the blog’s readers, many of whom are in the non-profit (charity) sector.  After all, the University sector is, in so many ways, very different from the non-profit or charity sector. Or at least, many people seem to think this is the case.

Then, all of a sudden, and with increasing, visceral clarity, I remembered:  I had started my fundraising career in the charity sector, and it was in the charity sector that I had really developed my deep, abiding passion for fundraising (Flashbacks to organizing runs and walks, door-to-door campaigns and sponsorship fundraising across a very rural, four-county geographic area, smack dab in the middle of Michigan, come rain, shine or, as was often the case, snow, sleet and hail. Driving a Ford Festiva, a car which, for those who are of the younger set, a mere 4-cylinders strong, and about the size of a mini-Cooper. The last feat being perhaps the most significant, given the fact that I am nearly 6 feet tall. And… don’t forget the sand for the tires, the boots and the snow shovel in the trunk!) (more…)

| Category Development, Donor Acquisition, Education: General, Fundraising, Grants and Funding, Local/Maryland, Major Gifts, Nonprofit | | Comments Off

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Tech: Public & Private Clouds Could Be Heavenly

Though security remains a concern that catches the headlines, recent surveys clearly demonstrate the fact that businesses of all sized are heading toward cloud computing to share information and to house data and software. The scalability and flexibility of using such networked storage and configuration are just too inviting.

What is also becoming ever clearer to nonprofits and small businesses is the fact that cloud computing is not a single cumulonimbus entity holding – or losing – all your stuff. The focus of discussion is about how to mix various types of cloud computing for the the various benefits each can offer your organization.


| Category Case Study, Communications, Database, iDevice, Social Media, Technology, Web and Print | | Comments Off

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#PublicPolicy: Net Neutrality Remains Hot, Unspoken, Political Issue

Internet Censorship as a First Amendment IssueYou might recall a great line from a little ditty from the 1780s. It is from a song we like to call The Constitution:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. (Amendment I)

The amendment contains no ‘Unless…’ clause. Nor, admittedly, does it expressly name freedom of the people to access the internet. So why does net neutrality continue to be such a hot political topic, even at it remains one of the unspoken issues in the lamestream media (yes, on this topic, I’ll tip my hat to Sarah P. for that moniker)?


| Category Civics, Communications, Community, Conference/Congress, Marketing, National/International, News and Current Affairs, Opinion, Politics, Public Media, Social Media, Technology, Web and Print | | Comments Off

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Communications: Telling Stories To Touch Lives & Raise Money

StorytellingTelling and listening to stories is what we humans do. The story could be about our morning commute or about three Russian brothers wrestling with their rocky relationships after the murder of their cantankerous father. But what makes either of those stories compelling is the opportunity for story teller to touch the experiences, expectations, and aspirations of the audience.

Nonprofits tell stories as a means to call people to action. Though story-telling might be as natural as our desire for food, telling a compelling story requires planning and practice. The Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin is popularly attributed with the statement, “The death of one is a tragedy. The death of millions is a statistic.” The fact is, though, nonprofits and charities have to find ways to turn the statistics of their causes into meaningful human stories. (more…)

| Category Campaigns, Communications, Community, Development, E-Mail, Fundraising, Marketing, Marketing Skills, Nonprofit, Public Relations, Resource, Storytelling, Study, Writing | | Comments Off

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#Tech: Security Of Cloud Computing Up For Debate

One of the oft-touted statistical arguments about air travel is that driving to the airport is the most dangerous part of a flight. A variation of that theme was stated by Simon Crosby, CTO of Citrix, in a panel debate over cloud computing and security. As we have noted here, Amazon’s services went down a week ago and – more dangerous still – Sony’s PlayStation gaming network suffered an attack that got information on millions of users.

Crosby admitted that such high-profile problems certainly undermine trust in the technology of cloud computing. Nevertheless, he responded, the event is rather like a plane crash: lots of headlines and recrimination, yet being in an airplane (or the cloud) is still the safest way to travel (or compute). Others are not yet so sure.


| Category Communications, News and Current Affairs, Reviews, Seminar, Site Administration, Social Media, Technology, Web and Print | | Comments Off

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Marketing: Copywriting and Design Strategies for Better Donor Newsletters

Fundraising copywriter Lisa Sargent and designer Sandie Collette, of S.Collette Design, discuss how copywriting and design go hand-in-hand to make a Dublin-based charity’s newsletter overhaul a success.

Discover the strategies that helped make it happen in this case study of a nonprofit newsletter. Click here for the full article.

Guest blogger Don Akchin writes frequently about marketing and philanthropy at

| Category Case Study, Communications, Cross-Post, Crowdfunding, Fundraising, Newsletter, Nonprofit, Publications Design | | Comments Off

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Social Networking: Will Microsoft Purchase of Skype Change Everything?

Microsoft Windows and Skype Logos

MicroSkype? Skyprosoft?

Earlier this week, Microsoft nipped ahead of a number of suitors to buy voice-over-internet service Skype for $8.5 billion. That was double or more what competitors like Google and Facebook were offering. Since the purchase (not finalized as of our posting), analysts of the investor and technology stripes have been debating the meaning of the purchase, and what it might mean for Skype’s customers, Microsoft’s gaming systems, and even Apple’s iPhone users.

We wanted to give you some information to help you decide for yourself how the merger might affect your online communications.


| Category Communications, News and Current Affairs, Public Relations, Reviews, Social Media, Software Review, Technology | | Comments Off

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Development: Acquiring Donors – When “Plan A” Falls Short

When The Agitator blog polled its nonprofit readers in April, the overwhelming majority said they get a second gift from less than 40% of their new donors. This prompted posts on two alternative – and very different – plans for finding new donors if “Plan A” doesn’t work. “Plan B” is essentially to give up on getting a second gift because the donor today doesn’t operate that way, and try for micro-gifts from a bigger base. “Plan C,” from a fundraiser who gets 70% renewals from first-time donors, says the idea is to tell your stories through all media and let the website be your response mechanism.

What’s your own view? Do you have a Plan D?

Guest blogger Don Akchin writes frequently about marketing and philanthropy at

| Category Cross-Post, Crowdfunding, Development, Donor Acquisition, Fundraising, Major Gifts, Nonprofit, Report, Resource | | Comments Off

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Philanthropy: Fundraising Is Tough, And Thus Inspirational

A tweet about the joys of fundraisingMondays in early May can be tough for the same, yet opposite, reason Mondays in early December can be tough. In May, those first warm but not hot days entice us to lounge in our pjs or dream of lunch in the park. Or maybe you did all that with your mom yesterday, and the idea of breaking the spirit with mere work inspired you to hit the snooze a couple of extra times.

In any case, we thought it might be helpful to remind us all why we are in this line of philanthropic/socially-conscious work. For some, it the lack of a ‘business-smart’ dress code, for others a chance to work with like-minded peers, for a few fundraising was not on their maps until economic issues forced their hand. What’s your reason?


| Category Communications, Fundraising, Interview, Video Interview | | Comments Off

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#Tech: Cloud Reliability As Critical As Cloud Security

As more information, entertainment, and even software moves toward ‘the cloud,’ we meet both new freedoms of access and flexibility as well as new needed skills and risks. For most of us (including this author), envisioning the end of huge hard drives and CDs to deliver content is stressful: How can a whole movie (at least one of decent quality) come over my wireless network? How am I going to access Microsoft Word when it must be rented from the cloud? Where is my spreadsheet when I save it for the company’s annual report?

Last week we noted some of the legal turbulence that could meet both personal users and institutions as their content lifts off to the cloud. We want to follow up with a report on some recent technical snafus that have shadowed some of cloud services of late.


| Category Advice, Communications, Reviews, Social Media, Software Review, Technology, Web and Print | | Comments Off

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Sustainability: The Ultimate Guide To Green Conferences

The helix of sustainability - minimum environm...

Image via Wikipedia

Kerry Given, a writer with Green Marketing TV, has published a very useful list of conferences focusing on sustainability and green issues that will take place in 2011.

Kerry writes that, “with [the] many different green conferences to choose from, how can you decide which are most important for your business to attend? Choosing wisely will not only save your business time and money, it will also reflect your commitment to green principles.”

Check out the comprehensive listing here.

| Category Climate Change, Community, Conference/Congress, Environment, Events, Greening, Nonprofit, Research, Resource, Revitalization, Sustainability | | Comments Off

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Social Networking: How to Use HootSuite to Unify & Automate Your Social Networking

The HootSuite OwlSometimes the power of Twitter is that people use it in real time to report global events. Sometimes the impact of Facebook comes from our ability to post in-the-moment reactions or thoughts to evens as they unfold. We have often noted the power of social networks to spread information, draw in donations, and call passive supporters to action.

But the fact of the matter is, in the nonprofit and charity universe, immediacy is only occasionally a concern. Mostly, what we want is a sustained (even if rather briefly) campaign of advertising events, calling people’s attentions to a concern, and/or encouraging participation in fundraising, political action, and the like. Who wants to break up their day every few hours to remember to send out those announcements to their followers? Not me, and probably not you.

A fabulous, free, tool to automate and schedule that process is HootSuite. It has been around for a couple of years now, but its value seems really to have become evident to organizations in the social-good economy over the last few months. We want to introduce some resources to get you and yours on board with this great tool.


| Category Communications, Community, Dashboards, Desktop Apps, Facebook, Marketing, Nonprofit, Reviews, Social Media, Software Review, Twitter | | Comments Off

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Resources: Nonprofit Report, White Paper & eBook Round-up

Lori Halley at the The Wild Apricot Blog provides a useful summary of six recently published research reports, white papers, e-books and guides that might be of interest to non-profit and membership organizations.


  1. 2011 Millennial Donors Report
  2. Pew Internet and Family Life Project
  3. 2010 Nonprofit IT Staffing & Spending Report
  4. Social CRM for Associations
  5. Social Media for Your Nonprofit:Take Charge!
  6. How to Set up a Microvolunteering Project

| Category Advice, Case Study, Communications, Development, Donor Acquisition, Fundraising, Grants, Major Gifts, Marketing, Marketing Skills, Measurement, Nonprofit, Permission Marketing, Report, Research, Resource, Social Media, Study | | Comments Off

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Philanthropy: After Momentous News, What Are Your Next Steps?

PBS Miniseries "What's Your Calling?"As you surely know: Last night, President Obama announced the killing of Osama Bin Laden. The news is developing as we post, and we are not going to pretend we can add anything to this ‘momentous occasion.’

The much more modest proposal today is to ask “What am I going to do next?” The question comes from a PBS mini-series called “What’s Your Calling?” The series follows seven people from the three monotheistic faiths as they grow to accept a priestly/leadership role in their traditions. But the question has also gone viral in the philanthropic world, whether expressly religious or not. Facebook, not surprisingly, has proven the medium to make it so.

Britt Bravo, a Social-Media Consultant in California, has expanded upon the question to encourage those of us engaged in the greater nonprofit endeavor to refocus our goals and motives.


| Category Advocacy, Blogs, Campaigns, Community, Marketing, Nonprofit, Storytelling | | Comments Off

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