Technology News

Has the Ice Bucket Challenge Spawned A New Fundraising Technique Called Charity Jacking?

Beth's Blog -

The amount of money raised for ALS research through the IceBucket Challenge is almost $100 million and the other impacts are just as impressive.    Scores of nonprofit fundraising staffers report being called on to replicate the challenge.    Jeremiah Owyang has provided the easy recipe and I’ve provided an analysis of what can and cannot be reproduced.   So, now we are seeing an emerging practice that for lack of a better phrase, I’m calling “Charity Jacking.”

Charity Jacking is similar to news jacking, defined by David Meerman Scott as the process by which you inject your ideas or angles into breaking news, in real-time, in order to generate media coverage for yourself or your organization. It creates a level playing field—literally anyone can newsjack—but, that new level favors players who are observant, quick to react, and skilled at communicating. It’s a powerful tool that can be used to throw an opponent or simply draft off the news momentum to further your own ends. Charity Jacking is imitating a successful fundraising campaign theme or idea that has become popular and instead of encouraging donations to the original charity, redirecting donations to another cause.

Charity Jacking goes one step beyond “Social Media Meme Morphing.”    A social media meme is an activity, concept, catchphrase or piece of media which spreads, often as mimicry, from person to person via the Internet.  It typically evolves over time, by chance or through commentary, imitations, tweaks, or parodies.    While other nonprofits have incorporate popular Internet or Social Network memes into their fundraising or advocacy campaigns,  the Ice Bucket has become a social media meme itself and successful because it related to the common person who doesn’t know –or necessarily care –what ALS is.  The meme was entertaining and challenged peers — and in the process learn about ALS and donate.

Let’s trace the how the cold water fundraiser morphed itself into a social media meme and how other nonprofit causes and charities are attempting to replicate it.

Phase 1:  Personal Challenges with Cold Water to Raise Money

Personal challenges involving cold water and raising money for a charity have been around for a while.   In the early days of social fundraising in 2008, Erin Ennis who took a winter dip in Vermont’s Lake Champlain as part of a personal challenge to raise money for Special Olympics Vermont. Before taking the plunge, he setup a group fundraising page at FirstGiving. His page features a famous clip of Seinfeld’s George Castanza shouting “I was in the pool, I was in the pool.” People who donated enjoyed the opportunity for innuendo in the comments. While a modest amount raised, Erin surpassed his fundraising goal by 50%.   The organization has also hosted the “Polar Bear Plunge” fundraiser that raised $20 million in 2012.

Phase 2: The Ice Bucket Challenge: From Fundraiser to Social Media Meme

It started as a way just to challenge friends to donate to a charity.  Some reports say it started to make the rounds in early summer, but not dedicated to any specific charity.   It did not spread until Pete Frates, the former captain of Boston College’s baseball team, repurposed the meme by challenging Steve Gleason to throw a bucket of ice over his head to raise awareness for ALS.  Frates has help from Corey Griffen, a management consultant who organized the fundraiser that set this viral meme into motion in late July, early August.   Sadly, Griffen, died in a drowning accident on August 16th.

If you watch the video at 4:25, it illustrates how this fundraiser went viral, from Frates teammates, to other athletes to other sports teams to celebrities.  This network map illustrates how the challenge spread from celebrity to celebrity by who they tagged.  The data from Facebook illustrates how the campaign started in Massachusetts (where Frates is from) and spread across the country.

The Ice Bucket Challenge morphed into a social media meme and like a worm penetrated other popular Internet memes like Star Wars.  There was even a “vote for your favorite Ice Bucket Video” challenge.
It has also become a global phenomenon arriving in Scotland and even Bollywood film stars dumped cold water on their heads.

Phase 3: Water Morphs Into Vodka and Chocolate

As the Ice Bucket Challenge went viral, some participants didn’t dump water on their heads, but switched to another liquid more meaningful to them – whether chocolate or vodka (drinking it instead)

Phase 4:  Call to Donate Morphs

People started doing the challenge but asking their friends to donate to ALS and other charities.   Nancy White was the first one on my feed to bend call to donate rules.   She also donated $100 to ALS, but also sent a donation to Doctors Without Borders because right now there are many West African countries who are so short of medical providers given The Ebola Crisis.  She challenged her friends to donate to ALS and to match their donation to another cause saying “Let’s spread good intentions, but wisely.”

Another alternative is the #noicebucket challenge:  Don’t dump cold water on your head; just donate to ALS or other charity; and encourage your friends to do the same.  Paull Young did something similar, donated to ALS and to charity:water and used the opportunity to talk about their clean water work.   Casey Niestat made a humorous video involving several dumps of water to raise awareness to several charities he supports. There was also a crowdfunding effort to fund ALS research.

Phase 5:  Charity Jacking

Matt Damon’s version of the challenge is an example of charity:jacking.  He dumped toilet water on his head while talking encouraging donations to, a charity he co-founded.

Here’s some more examples – some are just advocacy oriented, others fundraisers but they are redirecting attention from ALS to another issue or cause.

And nonprofits are not the only ones that “charity jacking,”  marketers are seizing a promotional opportunity as well.


Will the success of the ice bucket challenge create a culture of giving that is not strategic and not directed to where the greatest needs are?

Do you think “charity jacking” is as rare as the success of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge or could it become a common practice as fundraisers show the potential to go viral?

Now that everyone has their hand out do you think our wallets will run dry?   Will there be complaints about too much fundraising “noise” or do you think this will encourage more generosity, especially from those who may new to giving?


Welcome to the Google for Education Blog

Google Enterprise Blog -

Posted by Megan Smith, Vice President, Google[x]

(Cross-posted on the Google for Education Blog)

We love to focus on solving problems. Sometimes practically and other times with wild, imaginative—or even highly unexpected—ideas. These ideas are born through education, when curiosity meets access to information. That’s why we have a vested interest in, and commitment to, learning in all forms. It’s also why we’re starting the Google for Education Blog: a new destination to share our work that’s happening across education, from products to programs, from the practical to the unimaginable.

One of our goals is to help more students feel engaged and love learning, to encourage their curiosity, to let them work together, to try something new, to make stuff, and to always try again. Through Programs like Made with CodeDoodle 4 Google, and the Google Science Fair, we strive to help students discover the problems they are passionate about solving. Time and time again youth prove that you don’t always have to be a grown-up to bring forward extraordinary solutions. This blog will be a place to hear about those programs and talented young people.

Since behind every student are great teachers, we also focus on building products and tools designed for the classroom that help educators do what they do best, even better. Collaborative tools like Google Apps for Education with Classroom, easy-to-manage affordable devices like Chromebooks and tablets, and limitless educational content in Google Play for Education and YouTube help make learning possible—and fun—outside the four walls of the classroom.

The future is upon us, which is so apparent when working on learning. As former U.S. Secretary of Education Richard Riley says, “We are currently preparing students for jobs that don’t yet exist, using technologies that haven’t been invented, in order to solve problems we don’t even know are problems yet.” We hope you’ll find this blog useful—along with our Google+ and Twitter channels—as we continue to share more updates and stories from across Google for Education, our dedicated partners, innovative teachers, and inspiring students.

Google's cloud is secure. But you don't have to take our word for it.

Google Enterprise Blog -

Posted by Eran Feigenbaum, Director of Security, Google Apps

No matter how you slice it, mobile and cloud are essential for future business growth and productivity. This is driving increases in security spending as organizations wrestle with threats and regulatory compliance — according to Gartner, the computer security industry will reach $71 billion this year, which is a 7.9 percent increase over 2013.

To help organizations spend their money wisely, it’s essential that cloud companies are transparent about their security capabilities. Since we see transparency as a crucial way to earn and maintain our customers’ confidence, we ask independent auditors to examine the controls in our systems and operations on a regular basis. The audits are rigorous, and customers can use these reports to make sure Google meets their compliance and data protection needs.

We’re proud to announce we have received an updated ISO 27001 certificate and SOC 2 and SOC 3 Type II audit report, which are the most widely recognized, internationally accepted independent security compliance reports. These audits refresh our coverage for Google Apps for Business and Education, as well Google Cloud Platform, and we’ve expanded the scope to include Google+ and Hangouts. To make it easier for everyone to verify our security, we’re now publishing our updated ISO 27001 certificate and new SOC3 audit report for the first time, on our Google Enterprise security page.

Keeping your data safe is at the core of what we do. That’s why we hire the world’s foremost experts in security—the team is now comprised of over 450 full-time engineers—to keep customers’ data secure from imminent and evolving threats. These certifications, along with our existing offerings of FISMA for Google Apps for Government, support for FERPA and COPPA compliance in Google Apps for Education, model contract clauses for Google Apps customers who operate within Europe, and HIPAA business associate agreements for organizations with protected health information, help assure our customers and their regulators that we’re committed to keeping their data and that of their users secure, private and compliant.

Personal Health Data: It’s Amazing Potential and Privacy Perils

Beth's Blog -

This is a graph of aggregate data from Jawbone,a wristband that people wear that tracks their steps throughout the day and their sleep patterns during the night. (h/t Robert Scoble)   This aggregate data shows exactly when and how many people in the San Francisco were bolted awake by the recent Napa Valley earthquake.   This is one of the first reports using “Personal Health Data” in aggregate, using data points around sleep tracking to look at a natural disaster.    As Jacob Harold mused on Twitter, “In such a moment of something so powerful and scary as an earthquake, technology can only observe.”

The Jawbone has  previously put out aggregate data reports around sleep habits of those that wear its device.  For example,  this report that ranked  most sleep-deprived cities around the world.   The data that is being collected from the Jawbone device and other similar devices such as the fitbit is being called “Personal Health Data.”   If you’re asking yourself how Jawbone has got access to all of this user data:  The users opt in to the anonymous data-mining when they sign up for the app.  That’s also the scary part because there are no clear policies protecting people’s privacy of their individual data.  It opens up the question:  Who owns our data?


Personal Health Data goes beyond collecting sleep metrics.   In addition to tracking data points like heart rate or blood pressure, these tools also enable individuals to record and analyze their behavior such as physical activity and diet, and sleep habits as in the example above.   The value to an individual is that they are able to track their health and can change their behavior to a healthier lifestyle.     Now, researchers are interested in using this data to better inform public health research, but there are some thorny issues to navigate to make this a reality.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is supporting Health Data Exploration that is looking at a path towards responsible health data research.   Data ethics, data ownership and privacy are big concerns that are being examined.  This a big topic in the open data and nonprofit big data field.

Data scholar Lucy Bernholz wrote this great primer on The Why of Data Ethics that lays out the big questions to be addressed at an upcoming conference at Stanford on the topic.

  • How data are being used to frame the issues on which nonprofits and voluntary associations work and what civil society can do about it;
  • The realities of association and expression in a digital age and what these changes mean for civil society
  • How scholarship is changing in a digital environment;
  • The rights of those being served by nonprofits and civil society;
  • Ethical dilemmas for civil society organizations using digital data and how to work through them;
  • Ethical ways civil society and industry sources of digital data can work together

@p2173 @NoelDickover @kanter It’s nice when friends connect. No data use is fully knowable w/o clearer rules/structures around storage/use.

— Capture the Ocean (@CapturetheOcean) August 26, 2014

When I tweeted this graphic and link to the article, a Twitter discussion ensued.   A few unanswered questions:

  • Sensors providing “anonymous” data w/user consent (or not) most likely will be pervasive, many uses of which are unknowable
  • Opendata question is also critical – how do you know whether data you release will be dangerous in future mashups?
  • How long will this data be stored?

This lead me to a project called “Capture the Ocean,”    a research project designed to help identify and understand the laws regulate the collection, use, and storage of data.   The partners include a mix of researchers and practitioners, including DoSomething.Org and DataKind.


I am huge fan of fitness devices and I personally have gotten a lot of benefit from being able to track my personal health metrics. I have even shared and exchanged screen shots of my step counts with colleagues to keep us motivated to keep walking and reach our fitness goals.

@louisgray impressive! 10k more than my wed!

— Beth Kanter (@kanter) August 24, 2014

However,  one can’t help to wonder the consequences of giving your data over to a private company without a clearly defined policies that protects us. Does this mean that I will get unsolicited emails from sportswear, sports nutrition companies and companies that sell shoes? Will adds for those types of products follow me all over the Internet and Facebook? Can or will the company that makes the device I wear sell my individual data to companies that could market products to me? Will an insurance company be more likely to approve my life insurance because they have data that shows I have a healthy lifestyle?

What you think?

Ice Bucket Challenge: Can Other Nonprofits Reproduce It?

Beth's Blog -

Is success of the Ice Bucket Challenge a happy accident for ALS  and the people who suffer from the disease or is the first example of the power of crowd charity?    Can other nonprofits reproduce it?   My answer: yes and no.

The Ice Bucket  Challenge has raised over $88.5 Million Dollars to fight the horrible disease, according to the ALS Association web site.    Just one week ago, donations totaled $22.6 million.  In just seven days, donations have skyrocketed by an average of $9 million per day, now totaling $88.5 million.    And critics, with a scarcity mindset, talk about slacktivism (“Not everyone who did the challenge donated or even mentioned ALS”) and fundraising cannibalism (“People won’t donate to other charities because they will be tapped out”).  Nonprofit insiders are watching and debating how ALS will use the money and the donor retention strategy.    And, of course the valid concern of wasting water in a drought.

One has to step back and marvel at  the most successful networked fundraising campaigns in the history of social or crowd fundraising.  The numbers speak for themselves.

When  Allison Fine and I wrote the Networked Nonprofit we were talking about how nonprofits needed to work less like isolated institutions and more like networks, considering the “crowds,”  people inside and outside their organizations and other similar nonprofits as valuable to their work.     We are in the collaborative economy or sharing economy – and we now have “crowd companies.”   Why not “crowd nonprofits” that share program delivery, administration, and fundraising. The question on my mind is:  Is the success of the Ice Bucket Challenge a happy accident for ALS fundraising and the people who suffer from the disease or is the first example of the power of crowd charity?

Let’s look at the possible factors that caused philanthropy to run wild and capture the attention of so many people, inspire them to participate, and donate to stop the disease.  What can or cannot be reproduced?

(1) Downer News Cycle: Last week, in an interview with NPR, I pointed to the long cycle of bad news we had experienced over the summer as one possible reason the Ice Bucket Challenge had so much appeal.   In deck above, you will see a graph that shows that the Ice Bucket Challenge had more search volume than other news such as Ferguson and Iraq during the last few weeks.      This shows the importance of timing and playing off current events. It goes beyond what is  known as “newsjacking,” to analyze public reaction and also have the agility to strike while the iron is hot.


(2) Playing on Memes: The campaign took advantage of social media narcissism for a good cause.  But unlike other campaigns where the idea to incorporate a meme was part of a campaign organized by an organization or central entity (for example, Giving Tuesday’s “UnSelfie Campaign“), the fundraiser itself was a meme that went viral, not only as a fundraiser, but its own Internet meme (see this Star Wars version and others).  The ice bucket challenge has been going on for a while now among golfers and many others donating to the charity of their choice but did not really spread until Pete Frates, the former captain of Boston College’s baseball team, re-purposed the meme by challenging Steve Gleason to throw a bucket of ice over his head to raise awareness for ALS. (You can see how it spread from Massachusetts to the rest of the country via this Facebook data)

(3) Influencers: Pete Frates was one of the early “influencers” or what Allison Fine and called “Free Agents,”  people who have large and passionate networks that they can leverage for a good cause.  But he had help from another free agent, Corey Griffen, a management consultant who organized the fundraiser.   Sadly, Griffen, died in a drowning accident on August 16th.  Reaching out to and cultivating people with large networks who are passionate about your cause is something your nonprofit can reproduce and should do.      But the fundraiser meme went beyond the sports world, when hundreds of celebrities (or their PR agents) picked up on the idea.   Celebrities and fundraisers are nothing new and even having a critical mass of celebrities join forces for a good cause is not new (think Bob Geldof and LiveAid).   But, there was not a central coordinating organization or purpose for this celebrity participation, it was self-organizing.  So, just because your nonprofit may get one celebrity to join your fundraiser, it won’t create a cascade of sand of others joining in without even being asked.

(4)  PhilanthroKids and Philanthropy Education: We are seeing the rise of PhilanthroKids, as GenZ starts to use the technologies for good causes.    As more kids are heading back to school,  teachers and whole schools are embracing the challenge and teaching some important lessons about philanthropy.   Vickie Davis, CoolCatTeacher Blog, let her students dump water on her and then taught them a lesson on fundraising for a good cause and about ALS.    Involving younger people in your organization’s campaigns, as champions, perhaps as part of a lesson on philanthropy is definitely something that can be replicated in other campaigns.

(5)  Whacky, Goofy, and Fun: “Stunt Philanthropy” has been around for years.  It is a combination of public dare combined with something outrageous.   In the early days of social fundraising, individuals challenge their networks to donate and they would do something crazy in response – like shave their head, sing a Beyonce song, or dress up like giant tomato and walk down 42nd street.  I chronicled some of these back in 2008.   But the top wild fundraisers by organizations have raised only a small percentage of what the ALS  Ice Bucket Challenge has raised so far – so if your nonprofit embraces stunts, be sure to adjust your expectations and take advantage of social proofing.   Also, make sure your stunt won’t cause a backlash and is appropriate to the timing of your campaign.  Ice Bucket Challenge in winter time would not have worked.

(6)  Social Proofing the Call To Action: Another reason is the social proofing element or social validation, where friends tag their friends on social network. Social proof is peer pressure in a positive way, the positive influence created when people find out others are doing something – now, suddenly, everyone else wants to do that something too.    Social proofing or tagging your call to donate is something that be replicated.

How Philanthropy and Fundraising Professionals Embraced the Ice Bucket Challenge

I enjoyed watching colleagues who are professionals in the nonprofit and philanthropy world share their Ice Bucket Challenges.   They mention why they are doing the challenge, the disease, and their personal connection.  They also tag their friends.      It is a reminder to have some good examples ready for your champions and supporters to emulate.

Kevin Conroy who works for Global Giving created a quiz about ALS to help everyone learn more about
Jasmine Hall Ratliff from Robert Wood Johnson Foundation challenged fellow staff members on the RWJF baseball team

The San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus challenged other Gay Choruses around the country!

Paull Young from charity:water donated to ALS, but used the opportunity to talk about charity:water and the importance of clean water and his birthday campaign in September.

Getting Asked By Your Board for An Ice Bucket Challenge?

Almost every development professional I spoken with in the last week or so has told me they have been asked for an ice bucket challenge by a board member or their boss.    So, if you are looking for some good reads, I suggest these articles:

1. Ritu Sharma: Can Your Nonprofit Catch Lightening in A Bucket

2. John Haydon:  3 Big Fundraising Lessons from Ice Bucket Challenge

3. Nonprofit Marketing Guide:  Creating Your Nonprofit’s Ice Bucket Challenge


As you can see, some aspects of the Ice Bucket Challenge can’t be replicated.   Most likely, no matter how your nonprofit incorporates some of the best practices, you probably won’t raise $80 million and get hundreds of celebrities to participate on their own.   As my colleague, Geoff Livingston notes, “For every BatKid and Ice Bucket Challenge, there are hundreds of failures.’     But you can certainly incorporate some of the best practices like social proofing, fun call to action, and embracing free agents to get better results.

Maps are Going Google: Inform Stakeholders Quickly and Reliably

Google Enterprise Blog -

Posted by Veronique Lafargue, Senior Marketing Manager, Google Maps for Business

Editor's note: Every organization is charged with keeping stakeholders informed. Map visualization tools help organizations share facts and brand stories with all of their stakeholders — in real time — better than ever before. Read more about the six ways Maps are Going Google.

People around the world are taking an interest in where their food originates and the quality of ingredients, especially in France, where the food and wine are sources of national pride. That’s why French yogurt company Les 2 Vaches (The Two Cows) is committed to producing the best quality yogurt possible, with organic dairy from farmers who use ethical, sustainable labor practices.

But it isn’t enough for the company to say it uses the highest quality ingredients — it wants the public to know the locations of the farms that provide its ingredients. “Les 2 Vaches believes in organic food. We’re here to help change things, to develop a business that creates value across the food chain,” says Aude Gamberini, Marketing and Communications Manager, Les 2 Vaches.

To address this, in early 2014, the company launched the Know What You Eat website that uses Google Maps to reveal the geographical origin of each ingredient, including organic milk from Normandy, sugarcane from Brazil, vanilla from Germany and wild blueberries harvested in Poland. The map also shows where its products are stored and prepared, with information about the suppliers and partner businesses related to the brand. The maps can be accessed through supermarket displays, QR codes on advertising materials and through the company’s social networks.
Customers are eating it up: an initial media campaign brought thousands of visitors to the new site. With relevant details overlayed on a map of the entire ingredient supply chain, Les 2 Vaches achieved greater brand transparency and enhanced its reputation. Plus, the company doesn’t need to spend as much time on PR and can focus more on sourcing the best ingredients.

As the company’s website says, “we’re not telling you we’re perfect, but we’re telling you what we’re doing.” The French have a high standard for their food, so knowing the origin of ingredients provides greater insight into the quality of food. Plus, consumers feel better supporting a company whose practices they respect and stand behind.

View our website to learn more about how forward-thinking organizations are mapping the way to brand loyalty and more informed communities. For information about how maps can help your organization inform stakeholders quickly and reliably, sign up for our “Maps are going Google” series.

Getting things done: Office editing on iOS

Google Enterprise Blog -

Posted by Li-Wei Lee, Software Engineer

Our phones and tablets help us get things done at work, but sometimes, you’re on the subway with no reception and need to update your spreadsheet before you get to the client’s office. Or you desperately need to make edits to your marketing strategy PowerPoint before you present, but you only brought your iPad to the meeting. We’ve all been there, but now there’s a way out.

With today’s launch of the new Slides app on iOS and updates to the Docs and Sheets apps, we’re delivering on our promise to make it possible for you to work with any file, on any device, any time. Now you can use the Google Docs, Sheets and Slides apps on your iPad or iPhone and all other devices (your Chromebook, laptop, Android phone or tablet), to complete the same tasks—online or offline. In addition, you can open, create and edit native Microsoft Office files with the Google Docs suite on iOS.
According to SoftWatch about 80 percent of Office licenses are only lightly used, with many employees only working with Office for a handful of minutes a day or not at all. If you still have the occasional need, Google has you covered. Use Docs, Sheets and Slides to open up a contract that’s been saved in Word without converting the file, and copy over the crucial figures to an Excel spreadsheet from the client to do some number-crunching on your iPad. Then quickly pop those calculations over to the PowerPoint deck before you walk into a sales meeting, all from whichever device is most convenient. And if you want to collaborate in real-time with your colleagues, you can simply convert these old Office files into Docs, Sheets or Slides and start working together immediately. You’ll even be able to make edits when you’re offline, whether you’re using the app on your phone or tablet, or Chrome on your laptop.

No one wants to worry about what format their documents are in or whether they have the right app on their phone or tablet. Whether you’re working on a file originally created in Microsoft Office, or one created in Docs, Sheets or Slides on an Android phone, tablet, iPhone, iPad, Chromebook or laptop, with or without an internet connection, you can do all this and more with Google Apps.

Hotter than your morning coffee: Google Drive for Work

Google Enterprise Blog -

Posted by Scott Johnston, Director of Product Management, Google Drive

People want tools that are both powerful and easy to use. For employees, that means they should be able to access their work wherever they are, on their favorite device or share their work securely with their colleagues, even if they’re in different offices, cities or countries. For IT managers, that means never worrying about storage quotas again, or being able to track access and sharing across users and files. We realize how important this is, so earlier this summer we introduced Google Drive for Work, a package that wraps all of this together for just $10 per user per month. Here’s a look at what’s been brewing with Drive for Work over the past two months.

Helping employees collaborate on the go

Before we introduced Drive for Work, businesses like retailer Chico’s and aerospace and defense company Rockwell Collins were using Drive to increase collaboration across distributed teams. Travis Perkins relies on Google Drive to store and share more than 1.3 million documents across thousands of physical locations, to help reduce employee travel and save time. OVS uses Google Drive to streamline its supply chain by sharing and syncing their files across desktops, tablets and smartphones so people have the information they need, no matter where they are or what device they’re using.

Today more than 1,800 businesses sign up for Drive for Work each week. Customers like WeddingWire are taking advantage of the full capabilities of Drive for Work to help provide their employees with the collaboration and file sharing tools they need on any device, whether they’re in the office or on the road.

Extending the Drive ecosystem

Drive for Work includes everything you need to keep all your work safe, easy to share and available anywhere. A growing number of partners are building tools on top of the Drive platform to meet the particular needs of our customers. In addition to the new Audit view built into the admin console, Drive for Work also includes an Audit API that partners have used to build advanced insight and security extensions like Data Loss Prevention (DLP). Other partners have built tools to help move business content into Drive from any location, including old file servers, local hard drives or other cloud storage products.

Keeping your work safe and available

To help keep your work safe, all files uploaded to Google Drive will be encrypted, not only from your device to Google and in transit between Google data centers, but also at rest on Google servers. Our reliability engineers monitor Google’s systems 24x7 in order to quickly identify and address any issues that might arise. Last year, Google Drive achieved 99.985% availability, which averages to less than 90 minutes of disruption per year (our SLA guarantees 99.9%). If there’s ever an issue, you can read up-to-date status information on the Status Dashboard, and if you ever need to speak to someone, help is just a call away in over a dozen languages across 50 countries.

If you’d like to join the more than 190 million people actively using Drive, you can learn more about Drive for Work online or contact us for more information. If you’re already a Google Apps customer, you can upgrade with just a couple of clicks in the Admin console.

Collaborating should be easy. Let technology do the hard work and help you get back to what’s most important — your business.

Chromebooks give back time to Chapters Health System’s patients and caregivers

Google Enterprise Blog -

Posted by Chris Williams, Director of IT and Support Services, Chapters Health System

Editor's note: Today’s guest blogger is Chris Williams, Director of IT and Support Services for Chapters Health System, which provides post-acute, palliative, and hospice care to patients in west-central Florida. See what other organizations that have gone Google have to say.

At Chapters Health System, the role of IT is to provide software, connectivity and hardware to caregivers so they can spend less time wrestling with technology, and more time caring for patients. Our goal is to make the IT portion transparent to providing superior patient care. Most of our nurses and caregivers are mobile – they visit patients in hospitals, nursing homes, assisted living facilities or in their homes.

To best support them, we virtualized our clinical and business software applications, and provide access to them via Citrix XenApp via Receiver. We also make sure our caregivers can stay connected through a Verizon 4G Mifi device. As for hardware, caregivers were using Windows notebooks but boot-up delays, long setup times for new machines, and the bulkiness of the devices were slowing down and frustrating our caregivers. In addition, the devices were hard to manage by the IT support staff.

To find a solution, we took a democratic approach and asked caregivers to evaluate four devices: the HP Chromebook 14 for Business, Apple iPad, a Windows thin client, and a traditional Windows notebook. Caregivers rated the HP Chromebook 14 higher than any other device in all areas, including form factor, battery life, ease of use, speed and performance of virtualized applications like Microsoft Outlook and clinical applications, as well as web applications. Ninety-two out of 139 caregivers who participated in our study voted the Chromebook as their favorite device for work.
Luckily for us in IT, Chromebooks for Business are also the easiest devices to deploy and manage, freeing up our own time for other projects. The biggest change we’ve heard about so far is improved speed. With a traditional Windows notebook, caregivers faced three to four minute boot times, plus multiple logins to Windows, their VPN, and then finally Citrix and the applications. With Chromebooks, boot time shrank dramatically and Chromebooks start up right at the Citrix login screen, so caregivers can access clinical data right away.

Speed benefits extend to setup time as well. Some of our supplemental and weekend caregivers borrow from a pool of shared devices, and it took 40 minutes to set up each Windows notebook. With Chromebooks for Business, we can hop into the management console and set up a new Chromebook in under five minutes. Even better, we use the management console to configure access for users so that if they need to borrow a machine we don’t have to get involved at all—they just pick up a Chromebook and log in. Since each caregiver can get his or her specific user experience on any Chromebook, it's easy for the devices to be shared.

For additional security and simplicity, we use Chromebook for Business’s Kiosk mode to offer one single application, the Citrix login screen, but we’ll be extending it other web applications soon. We also use the management console to mandate the proxy server for Internet access—a feature that’s built-in to each Chromebook for Business.

Chromebooks are giving back precious time to caregivers and their patients. In fact, we’re looking at purchasing many more Chromebooks in the near future so we can extend the benefits to even more Chapters Health employees.

Why Your Nonprofit Should Invest in Video As Part Its Communications Strategy

Beth's Blog -

Photo Credit: Tristan Hanson

Why Your Nonprofit Should Invest in Video As Part Its Communications Strategy – Guest Post by Michael Hoffman, CEO of See3

It’s obvious to anyone who spends time online that video is taking over the internet. It is the dominant form of content we all engage with – on our desktops, our tablets and now our phones. And when video is paired with a continuous strategy and clear metrics for success, there is overwhelming evidence showing that it is a crucial, important investment for nonprofits.

And so it continues to surprise me that nonprofits invest far too little in video content, as if they are somehow exempt from this general trend.

In the Into Focus report, See3, YouTube and Edelman surveyed nonprofit staff and found that the clear majority recognizes the power of video. In fact,

  • 80% of respondents said video is important to their organization today,
  • 91% believe video will become more important in the next 3 years, and
  • 92% value the investment they have made in video.

So, you would think that budgets would be going up accordingly. Not so.

Fully two-thirds of respondents reported that their budgets for video would be flat or decline!

Finding the ROI

One reason for the disconnect between stated belief in video and video budgets has been the lack of hard data about the return on investment (ROI). Video is cool, but it is also expensive (in time and money). It’s no surprise that a tactic with a cost is high and unclear ROI gets minimal resources.

But we have reached an inflection point. There is enough data today to warrant a major investment in video.

Not A Video but a Video Strategy

From my conversations with organizational leaders, I have found that there is too much focus on one video, rather than a video strategy. If you spend a lot of time and money on one video, and that video has poor results, it is no wonder that you hesitate to do more.

When we say video works, we don’t mean every video works, any more than we mean every email works or every direct mail piece works. To know that your email works you have to be sending email regularly – and developing clear metrics for what success looks like. The same is true with video. To see the impact of video, you have to be using it as an ongoing means of communications, not a one-off project that carries all your hopes and dreams.

An ongoing investment in video starts with strategy. When we create video strategy we answer the questions like what has worked for you, what assets and resources do you have, and what stories are there to tell.

With the big picture in mind, lets look at the recent evidence for a video investment.

Video Stats: How Video Impacts Constituent Behavior

You can see how much video dominates YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. But the evidence that people are watching wasn’t enough to convince most organizational leaders to make significant investments. Now we have evidence that gets directly to the level of user behavior.

These stats were culled from many different reports, most meant for corporate marketers. You can use these stats with your leadership to secure some video resources.

  • When the word video is used in an email subject line, open rates double. (Experian Digital Marketing Report)
  • Click-through rates increase 2-3 times when a video is included in an email. (Digital Sherpa)
  • Companies using video require 37% fewer site visits before a person responds to a call to action. (Aberdeen Group and Brightcove)
  • People who watch video are 85% more likely to make a purchase than those who don’t. (Kiosked and Brightcove)
  • If you ever hope to reach a younger audience, you need to be using video. According to a 2013 ComScore study, 83% of 12-17 year olds and 91% of 18-24 year olds are watching online video on a regular basis.

Large companies like Zappos and have impressive case studies showing how video has helped them reach their goals. While nonprofit video case studies are harder to come by, the overwhelming direction of the evidence is that video works.

There aren’t excuses any more. Our nonprofit organizations may not be equipped with the talent or the mindset to use more video, but we have to change. We have to adapt and jump in, or the most valuable currency of all — attention — will be in short supply for the important work we do.

Michael Hoffman is the CEO of See3 Communications and an authority on developing video strategy for social good.




Summer School: Test Drive: Using #GivingTuesday to Experiment with New Fundraising Strategies

Beth's Blog -


How many of you who work for nonprofits are getting asked to “come up with an icebucket challenge” for your annual fundraising campaign?  Or maybe it’s caught your attention and you are more realistically asking, “What can we learn from the icebucket challenge apply to our year-end giving and integrating social media in fundraising?”

Participating in a local or national giving day may help you work on that second question.   Most giving days also provide lots of toolkits, webinars, and other training – and it is free!   Take for example,  #GivingTuesday, a global day dedicated to giving back that will take place on Tuesday, December 2, 2014, a day for charities, families, businesses, community centers, and students around the world will come together for one common purpose: to celebrate generosity and to give.  GivingTuesday is offers a FREE  complete suite of tools and webinars on how to do online fundraising with social media effectively.

I’m participating in the GivingTuesday Summer School where you find an instructional video from me discussing how to use giving days like Giving Tuesday to experiment and improve your online fundraising with social media.   See you in Summer School!

Basic Facilitation Techniques for Nonprofits

Beth's Blog -

As a trainer and now adjunct professor,  I’m constantly working on and honing these skills sets: assessment, instructional design, curriculum/materials development, presenting, facilitation, and evaluation.    There is a lot of learn and refine in each of these areas.       And that’s why I love teaching and training because it is all about the learning for both you and the participants.  Over the last 25 years I’ve been doing training,  I’ve learned different and applied different methods from either being a “student”  in a training facilitated by someone using a method, being trained in the method, co-designing with others, and designing and facilitating my own sessions.

There are a lot different styles, philosophies, and techniques for facilitating groups of people.    Check out the International Association of Facilitator’s Method database which contains more than 500 entries. There are also nonprofit specific facilitation tool kits like this one for international development projects.    I like to avoid being stuck in the same techniques and am always interested in expanding my toolkit.  That’s why I love looking and testing different methods.

Here’s just a few:

Any many more .  Does it makes your eyes pop out?

One thing I have noticed when co-designing workshops or gatherings with other facilitators, is that some facilitators like to specialize and or have a preference for one method or philosophy.   For example, there are some approaches that lend themselves to having people think about their practice in an area as an individual or within their organization, while techniques encourage collaboration, cross-pollination, or more networked ways of being with each other.    There are facilitators who are steeped in the theoretical frameworks and research and others are experienced in the practical aspects.

No matter what flavor of facilitation you put into your toolkit, there are some facilitator fundamentals and skills that facilitators need.  These skills are useful in all group settings, whether it is a meeting, workshop, or conference.  There is no better resource than “The Facilitator’s Guide To Participatory Decision-Making” by Sam Kaner.   (They also offer workshops).   The book is an extremely practical resource whether you are working on improving your skills or teaching others.   Part 2 offers checklists and reminders for these basic skills.   This includes:

1.  Facilitated Listening Skills

Facilitated listening is made up of a number of techniques described in more detail in the book.   A few of these include.  I know in my own practice have made a conscious effort to go into any workshop with a goal practicing these.

-Paraphrasing: Repeating back in your own words what someone has said, often using phrasing such as “Let me see if I’m understanding you.”   This builds trust and establishes your objectivity.   You end your paraphrase with with “Did I get it?”

-Drawing People Out: After you listen and paraphrase, you ask open-ended questions to draw people out.  ”Tell me more …” is one of several identified in the book.  A simple hmm…. often works

-Mirroring: This is repeating back verbaitem what someone has said using their words.  It lets the speaker hear what they just said and can build trust.  It is used in brainstorming because it speeds up the discussion

-Stacking: This is often called directing traffic.  When more than one more person wants to speak, you acknowledge and give them a order to speak.

-Tracking: This is keeping track of the conversation themes and threads.   The facilitator indicates that they will summarize the discussion and names the themes in play and then invites moving the conversation onward with “any more comments?

-Encouraging: This is encouraging those who haven’t spoken to participate.  A simple “who else has an idea?”

-Intentional Silence: Leaving space for quiet, an essential facilitation skill.  It is basically a pause.  It helps people process complex thoughts.

2.  Scribing

Writing people’s ideas on a flip chart or white board helps with the group memory and knowledge capture.   There is a whole area of visual facilitation called “Graphic Facilitation” developed by David Sibet where the conversation is captured with drawings and words. (David Sibbet’s book, “Visual Meetings” is one of the best resources on techniques and they also offer training.)  In some facilitation methods, the participants do the documentation – for example the World Cafe where participants take notes of the conversation or Open Space Technology where knowledge capture is done by participants throughout.

If you are not using a design where participants do the scribing, you as a facilitator may lead a conversation AND be the chart writer.    Or you may have a co-facilitator where you can split the roles or invite a participant to play this role.   Each of these choices has pros/cons.  For example, if you invite a participant to scribe, they cannot fully participate in the activity.  If you facilitate and scribe, sometimes it can slow down the conversation and this can be problem if you are doing brainstorming.

The chart writer’s role is to captures the groups ideas.    Whenever possible, the chart writer writes down the speaker’s exact words.  Sometimes the person’s statement is too long and complex to be recorded verbatim, so the facilitator assists by paraphrasing or breaking it down so the scribe can write the condensed version.     A good scribe does not try to facilitate the discussion when another facilitator is already playing that role.     That can be hard to remember if you are used to doing both tasks.

3.  Small Group Design

Managing energy in the room is part of a facilitator’s job (and trainer too).    You have either help re-energize a sluggish room or help a hyper vibe in the room to slow down.   The book offers some tips on how to shift group behavior, but it also include a wonderful collection of ideas of how to organize smaller group discussions.  Some formats require everyone to speak, others do not.  Some formats are playful and incorporate informality, movement, and fun.   People can work alone, with a partner or small groups of three or five or larger.  Some formats help people develop deeper relationships and others help with cross pollination of ideas or build trust in the beginning of a workshop or meeting.

Many of the techniques and frameworks in the book can also be used effectively to facilitate productive meetings and used other organizational contexts as well.   I have found the ideas and skills described in the book to be invaluable to training and teaching and appreciate having this “recipe” book.

If you have to facilitate groups of people, what are you favorite resources or techniques?



Dick Smith masters operational communications with Google Apps and Drive

Google Enterprise Blog -

Posted Daniel Chiha, Communications Specialist (Operations) at Dick Smith

Editor's note: A few weeks ago, we announced Google Drive for Work, a new premium offering for businesses that includes unlimited storage, advanced audit reporting and new security controls. To celebrate the announcement and show how Drive helps businesses around the world, we’re sharing a few stories from a handful of customers using Drive (and the rest of the Google Apps suite) in innovative ways. Today’s guest blogger is Daniel Chiha, Communications Specialist (Operations) at Dick Smith, an electronics retailer in Australia and New Zealand.

The Retail Operations team at Dick Smith moved to Google Apps just over a year ago to improve the communication and coordination between our 3,000 or so staff in 376 stores across Australia and New Zealand. Since then, we’ve seen some pretty dramatic improvements and efficiencies in the way we get information out to our staff, thanks to Google Drive and Google Sites.

Our workforce is very mobile. Not only do we have a fleet of 23 Area Managers who spend their time between multiple stores, but our 3,000 in-store staff spend most of their time on the floor with customers. Our team depends on a steady stream of updates and materials throughout the week — from new product guides, promotional activities, upcoming launches through to employee safety processes — so it’s not only important that people see the updates meant for them, but that we’re able to track the critical messages for compliance.
Before moving to Google Apps, it took up to 24 hours to get these messages out to everyone through a series of phone hook ups, faxes, emails and a document delivery system that polled nightly. This was especially challenging when dealing with issues like product callbacks or promotions, where it’s essential for the team to move fast in order to avoid potential problems and ensure that new offers are immediately available to customers.

Now, with Google Drive and Google Sites, we’re able to provide thousands of employees with a bird's-eye view of important updates and key documents across the company. That way, if we need to get an urgent message out or a new employee needs access to a how-to guidebook, there’s just one place they need to look — and we can get everything listed or posted quickly and effectively. We create a master site with sections for each team, with links to Drive folders that house everything from planograms and promotion details to instructional guidebooks and tickets. Area Managers can then access both the site and the files from their tablets or phones on the go, and our sales staff can see updates from their own devices or the store computers.

We’ve also built a new system with Forms and Sheets to streamline operational communications. Instead of relying on complex email trails and lots of phone calls, employees now submit their sign-offs in a single Form. Responses are captured in a shared Sheet that the Operations team uses to track feedback and responses in real-time.

Google Apps helped us think outside the square and create a unified and integrated communications platform that can be accessed instantly on any device. But more importantly, it ensures that our store teams have immediate access to the latest information, which in turn provides our customers with a better experience in store.

Is A Downer News Cycle A Factor in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge Success?

Beth's Blog -

In the last six weeks of summer, turn on any TV news channel, NPR, or read news articles online, and there was depressing news.    The Malaysian Airline tragedy in the Ukraine, the Ebola virus outbreak,  the conflict on the borders of Israel/Palestine, Iraq/ISIS,  Ferguson, and the sad passing of Robin Williams.    These are all very serious and sad world events.   So, maybe it is not too surprising that something that makes us feel good while doing good and a little silly like the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge went wild on the social networks.    (That’s the response I gave during NPR Morning Edition when asked why it was catching on)

The challenge involves dumping a bucket of ice water on one’s head or donating to the ALS Association, with a social media component.   Participants do a video of themselves dumping the water on their heads or donating, and tagging other people in their network to do the same.    This was not a campaign started by the ALS Association, but young people who wanted to support the cause.   Soon celebrities and main stream media joined in the fun as it continues to sweep the nation.   Technology rock stars have also joined the bandwagon, including Bill Gates, Robert Scoble, and Mark Zuckerberg (who was challenged to do this by Chris Christy, Governor of NJ).

I’ve written about the rise of Philanthrokids, those young people otherwise known as Generation Z, who are online social network savvy and can easily use their Smartphones to raise money or awareness for a cause.    I’ve seen colleagues take the challenge with their children, like my colleagues Lisa Colton and Marc Pitman both of whom have a family member who suffered from ALS.

It sounds counter intuitive to ask people to donate $100 to ALS or make this goofy video and share on social.  But according to news reports, it has increased awareness and dollars raised  for ALS research. The association reports $15.6 million in donations since July 29, compared with $1.8 million in the same period last year, including 300,000 new donors.  There were over a million videos created according to various reports.

Even my favorite charity and philanthropy cynic, my colleague Tom Watson who writes a regular column for Forbes Magazine, gave the Ice Bucket Challenge a big thumbs up in his recent column, pointing out all the reasons why it was a success beyond the dollars raised.  One reason is that wacky and goofy fundraisers work.  Another reason is the social proofing element, where friends tag their friends on social network. Social proof is peer pressure in a positive way, the positive influence created when people find out others are doing something – now, suddenly, everyone else wants to do that something too.

Like everything on the Internet, there was a backlash and criticism.   It’s  publicity stunt philanthropy.  It encouraging slacktivism, not long term relationship between the donor and the charity.  It won’t make a difference to those with ALS. And all about social media narcissism — a selfie on steroids and ego philanthropy.      Some suggest it is a just fad and is not really expanding charitable giving:

That would be all right if new donations to ALS added to the total of charitable giving. But the evidence is to the contrary. The concern  of philanthropy experts is that high-profile fundraising campaigns like this end up cannibalizing other donations–those inclined to donate $100 to charity this summer, or this year, will judge that they’ve met their social obligations by spending the money on ALS. (See this piece by MacAskill for an explanation.)

The explosive spread of the ice bucket challenge could even end up hurting ALS fundraising in the long term. The challenge is a fad, and fads by their nature burn out–the brighter they glow, the sooner they disappear.

The hard work of philanthropy always lies in creating a sustainable donor base. But the ice bucket challenge has all the hallmarks of something that will be regarded in 2015 as last year’s thing.

In a discussion with colleagues, I think Nancy White, had the right idea.   She was challenged and honored her friends request, but since wasn’t a fan of video self-promotion, she created a cartoon and also bent the challenge rules.   She also donated $100 to ALS, but also sent a donation to Doctors Without Borders because right now there are many West African countries who are so short of medical providers given The Ebola Crisis.  She challenged her friends to donate to ALS and to match their donation to another cause saying “Let’s spread good intentions, but wisely.”

Another alternative is the #noicebucket challenge:  Don’t dump cold water on your head; donate to ALS or other charity; and encourage your friends to do the same.   Inspired by Nancy, I’m forgoing the video and the water (we’re in a drought in California) and donating to charity:water, in honor of founder Scott Harrison’s son, Jackson, to welcome him into the world.

While the amazing success of the Ice Bucket Challenge isn’t going to be something that every nonprofit will be able to replicate, the ALS challenge will be how they can retain all these new donors.    For other professionals who work at nonprofits who may be asked by their board to cook up viral social media fundraiser, the challenge will be to extract the lessons learned and apply to social media infused fundraising campaigns and be ready to launch during the next negative news cycle.

KFC Philippines boosts productivity and collaboration with Google Drive and Apps

Google Enterprise Blog -

Posted by Arvin Reyes, Chief Information Officer, KFC Philippines

Editor's note: A few weeks ago, we announced Google Drive for Work, a new premium offering for businesses that includes unlimited storage, advanced audit reporting and new security controls. To celebrate the announcement and show how Drive helps businesses around the world, we’re sharing a few stories from a handful of customers using Drive (and the rest of the Google Apps suite) in innovative ways. Today’s guest blogger is Arvin Reyes, Chief Information Officer for KFC Philippines, which operates 230 restaurants and six plants in that country. To learn more, read the full case study, or see what other organizations that use Google Drive have to say.

KFC has been on a steady growth path since being introduced to the Philippines in 1967. With restaurants, plants, and offices across the country, fast and easy communication and information sharing are vital to our success. This means tools like file storage, email, calendaring, and document creation need to be user-friendly for employees and relatively trouble-free for our IT team. But until recently, our mix of email and document management software caused more problems than it solved – with server over-capacity and slow response time, they just slowed down our business growth.

We decided that a single communications platform with everything from storage to email to document creation was the necessary solution, and Google Apps was our answer. Not only did Apps meet all our requirements for cost-effectiveness, reliability and ease-of-use, but in Drive we saw a way to help our increasingly mobile workforce, which needs access to documents while out of the office.

We’ve boosted our productivity on creative work by 15% by switching from snail mail to Google Drive. Before we made the move, we sent creative materials back and forth between our home office and our advertising agency through messengers and the postal service, racking up costs and taking time away from other tasks. Now, with Drive, we can share large files like high-resolution images and merchandise artwork through the cloud, so material gets to our agency (and back to us) faster and at a significantly lower cost. And with a single location to store everything we’re working on, we’ve dramatically improved our ability to collaborate on projects.

Gmail makes us better at communicating: Now that everyone has 30GB of mail storage available, they don’t need to waste time constantly cleaning out their inboxes to make room for new emails, or asking colleagues to re-send emails because they can’t find them. Our IT team loves Gmail because complaints about email services have decreased to zero since we began using it – in fact, IT’s support work for communication tools has gone down by 25% since we started using Google Apps. That gives our team more time to focus on activities that are more directly tied to the bottom line.

Google Apps makes everyday problems like scheduling meetings disappear. Our old decision making process used to require the scheduling of several meetings and calls, with various reports and documents emailed back and forth among different teams. Now we schedule meetings on Google Calendar, where we can see everyone’s availability. For these meetings, we use a single shared document in Google Docs that serves as a running update on progress. This new workflow fundamentally changed the way we work with one another. What used to take days to decide is now possible within hours.

Google Apps not only makes it easy for us to manage storage and bandwidth, it keeps our employees happy. After six months on the platform, 95% of people told us they’re satisfied with Google Apps, which means they can enjoy their work of serving and helping our customers.

How to move your files to Google Drive

Google Enterprise Blog -

Posted by Chuck Coulson, Drive Technology Partnerships, Google

Google Drive for Work is a new premium offering for businesses that includes unlimited storage, advanced audit reporting and new security controls and features, such as encryption at rest.

If you're getting ready to move your company to Drive, one of the first things on your mind is how to migrate all your existing files with as little hassle as possible. It's easy to migrate your files by uploading them directly to Drive or using the Drive Sync client. But, what if you have files stored elsewhere that you want to consolidate? Or what if you want to migrate multiple users at once? Many independent software vendors (ISVs) have built solutions to help organizations migrate their files from different File Sync and Share (FSS) solutions, local hard drives and other data sources. Here are some of the options available for you to use:
  • Cloud Migrator, by Cloud Technology Solutions, migrates user accounts and files to Google Drive and other Google Apps services. (website, blogpost)
  • Cloudsfer, by Tzunami, transfers files from Box, Dropbox and Microsoft OneDrive to Google Drive. (website)
  • Migrator for Google Apps, by Backupify, migrates and consolidates personal Google Drive or other Google Apps for Business accounts into a single domain. (website, blogpost)
  • Mover migrates data from 23 cloud services providers, web services, and databases into Google Drive. (website, blogpost)
  • Nava Certus, by LinkGard, provides a migration and synchronization solution for on-premise and cloud-based storage platforms, including Dropbox, Microsoft OneDrive, Amazon S3, as well as local file systems. (website, blogpost)
  • SkySync, by Portal Architects, integrates existing on-site storage systems as well as other cloud storage providers to Google Drive. (websiteblogpost)
These are just a few companies that offer migration solutions. Please visit the Google Apps Marketplace for a complete listing of tools and offerings that add value to the Google Apps platform.

Protecting Gmail in a global world

Google Enterprise Blog -

Posted by Mark Risher, Spam & Abuse Team

Editor's note: Businesses rely on email to communicate, and on Google to ensure that their email communication is secure. Today, we’re adding to our spam filtering support in Gmail to handle duplicitous “Unicode Homoglyphs.” This release strengthens our ongoing commitment to keeping our customers safe and protected from scams, phishing attacks and spammers.

Last week we announced support for non-Latin characters in Gmail — think δοκιμή.com and 测试 and みんな — as a first step towards more global email. We’re really excited about these new capabilities. We also want to ensure they aren't abused by spammers or scammers trying to send misleading or harmful messages.

Scammers can exploit the fact that ဝ, ૦, and ο look nearly identical to the letter o, and by mixing and matching them, they can hoodwink unsuspecting victims. Can you imagine the risk of clicking “ShဝppingSite” vs. “ShoppingSite” or “MyBank” vs. “MyBɑnk”?

To stay one step ahead of spammers, the Unicode community has identified suspicious combinations of letters that could be misleading, and Gmail will now begin rejecting email with such combinations. We're using an open standard—the Unicode Consortium's “Highly Restricted” designation—which we believe strikes a healthy balance between legitimate uses of these new domains and those likely to be abused.

We’re rolling out the changes today, and hope that others across the industry will follow suit. Together, we can help ensure that international domains continue to flourish, allowing both users and businesses to have a tête-à-tête in the language of their choosing.

More teaching, Less tech-ing: Google Classroom Launches Today

Google Enterprise Blog -

Posted by Zach Yeskel, Classroom Product Manager (and former High School Math Teacher)

When we introduced Classroom back in May, we asked educators to give it a try. The response was exciting — more than 100,000 educators from more than 45 countries signed up for a preview. Today, we’re starting to open Classroom to all Google Apps for Education users, helping teachers spend more time teaching and less time shuffling papers.

One of the first schools to use Classroom was Fontbonne Hall Academy in Brooklyn, New York. Sister Rosemarie DeLoro, who has been teaching for more than 60 years, had never used computers with her students before Classroom was introduced at her school. Classroom made it easy for her to assign digital worksheets to students in her Italian class and provide direct feedback to help them learn. In fact, after just a few weeks, Sister Rosemarie was showing the other teachers how to use it. “You can’t stay in teaching and keep going to the old ways,” she said.

Teachers and students have been instrumental in helping us build Classroom. For example, we heard during the preview that educators don’t want to wait until an assignment is turned in to collaborate with students. Now, with Classroom, teachers can view and comment on students’ work to help them along the way. We’ve also heard that educators want a simple place to post information and materials about their classes, so we added an “About” page for each course, as well.
When teachers create assignments, they can attach files from Google Drive — including Google Docs, Microsoft Word, Keynote, Google Slides, Excel, Google Sheets, and many others — then choose to automatically make a copy for each student. Teachers can review assignments from Classroom and provide feedback and grades to students all in one place. Classroom is available in 42 languages (including right-to-left ones, such as Hebrew, Arabic and Persian). It also works well on mobile devices and most popular screen readers. We’ll be rolling out to more users every day, so if you go to with your Apps for Education account and don’t have access yet, please check back soon.

Hopefully Classroom will help you spend a little less time at the photocopier and a little more time doing what you love—teaching.

Thrillist bridges lifestyle brands with Google Apps

Google Enterprise Blog -

Posted by Ben Darr, Development Manager, Thrillist Media Group

Editor's note: Whether it’s taking a meeting over Hangouts from the airport before escaping to a much-deserved vacation or sending work emails from an air-conditioned neighborhood cafe, technology should help you get your work done faster so you can enjoy the summer months. To celebrate the season of sun, we’re sharing stories from customers who know all about the importance of technology when fostering a culture of mobility and flexibility. Today, we hear from Ben Darr, Product Development Manager at Thrillist Media Group, a digital media company based in New York that is responsible for men’s lifestyle brand and popular online retailer JackThreads.

In the last four years, Thrillist Media Group (TMG) has gone from a small newsletter in a one-room office to a multi-propertied media group with more than 300 employees. We now operate within the realms of content, commerce, private label clothing, events, sales and proprietary tech platforms. We’ve worked hard to tie these unique industries together — a feat that requires high levels of communication between our offices in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Columbus, Ohio. Thrillist’s collaboration between employees would not be possible without Google Apps.

Thrillist’s employees are completely plugged into the Google ecosystem and the tools we need are mere clicks away and always available. What really sets the Google platform apart is the seamless integration and intuitive user experience. If you’ve ever used Gchat in the last few years, you know how to use Hangouts. If you can write an email, it’s a tiny skip to using a Google Doc. Being able to quickly switch between Apps without having to log in or learn how to use a new tool caters to our fast-pace environment and centralizes nearly all of our day-to-day files and communication.

Whether someone has a quick question or needs to express a more complex idea via Hangout or email, Google Apps is there to give our team what we need to finalize the designs and copy with the client. After approvals, we upload all files to Drive, which makes it easy for multiple departments across the company to refer to them throughout the campaign. On the product side, our quality assurance team can then cross reference final design specs to custom-built sales and make note of any issues or differences in Google Sheets. When the campaign is live, I review how the entire process was executed and use our product page on the Thrillist Google Site to recount best practices and we took away from the campaign.

Take, for example, this real-life scenario from a recent campaign: A client halfway across the country sponsored a custom sale on Jackthreads driving content on Thrillist and Supercompressor, two of our e-commerce properties. To start the process, our sales and design team held a kick-off meeting with the client via Google Hangouts to understand their vision and goals for the campaign. Throughout the meeting, everyone recorded ideas, guidelines and project timelines on one Google Doc. When the meeting ended, I shared the Doc with all the different TMG departments involved — other product members, photographers at our warehouse in Brooklyn, tech leads overseeing the build, sales reps communicating with the client and that lucky colleague on vacation at the beach.
As a relatively small company, our projects are largely collaborative and everyone is juggling a large workload — and the specific example above is just a single piece in the complex TMG puzzle. Google Apps is critical to the work we do everyday; while other companies offer these services separately, none offer all of them together in one seamless, easy-to-use system.

Karma offers hotspot data power to the people

Google Enterprise Blog -

Posted by Amanda Bensol, Vice President of Marketing and Sales, Karma

Editor's note: Whether it’s taking a meeting over Hangouts from the airport before escaping to a much-deserved vacation or sending work e-mails from an air-conditioned neighborhood cafe, technology should help you get your work done faster so you can enjoy the summer months. To celebrate the season of sun, we’re sharing stories from customers who know all about the importance of technology when fostering a culture of mobility and flexibility. Today’s guest blogger is Amanda Bensol, Vice President of Marketing and Sales at Karma, a New York-based startup building a sleek, portable pay-what-you-use WiFi hotspot.

Karma empowers people to work wherever they want with an elegantly designed personal portable hotspot. Our team spent years paying exorbitant hotspot data costs while traveling around the world and knew there had to be a better and cheaper way to get online at the many airports, hotels, cafes and trains that didn’t have public Internet access. We set out to solve the problem ourselves with an affordable mobile WiFi hotspot that allows people to work wherever, whenever they want. Karma isn’t just a hotspot — it’s a movement that lets people take back the power to use their data and technology how they want.

In order to introduce new ways of working, we hold monthly Karma Outdoors gatherings and invite people to come join us in working outside this summer. Like most people, we enjoy being able to work on our own terms. That’s why Google Apps has been part of our journey from the start. It’s not a stretch to say that Google Hangouts practically built Karma. After the company was started, visa issues caused the founders to return to Amsterdam, leaving me essentially in charge of U.S. operations. Hangouts was a lifeline that allowed us to build and grow the company, even though we were separated by an ocean.
In addition to Hangouts, Google Docs is essential to our business and our preferred way to innovate because it offers a better creative workflow than any other product. Our founders in Amsterdam exchange a lot of ideas with the company’s designers in New York as we prepare for our next-generation release of sleeker Karma models. Google Docs makes it possible for us to easily keep track of our design ideas. Docs is the place we quickly paste media to preserve of our thoughts on the fly. We refine ideas together by exchanging comments within our documents. I write down specific product specs in Docs, knowing our concepts are logged and stored for our design team to access from anywhere.

We’re only at the beginning of our journey to liberate people in their quest for mobile connectivity, and we’ve got a lot more in store for our products and company. We’re confident in our ability to achieve our goals and truly make an impact using Google Apps, which allows for mobility and flexibility in communications and productivity — values that align with our mission, too. Between Karma and Google Apps, together we’ll get people out from the confinement of cubicles and into the sun.


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