Info For Nonprofits

Science Experiment: A Semi-Technical Lowdown on Working with iBeacons


Shane Russell Software Developer Consultant ThoughtWorks iBeacons are the first mainstream technology to provide indoor location information to phones. Check out the experiment that the team at ThoughtWorks did to test the performance of iBeacons, and learn about its potential applications for nonprofits.

There’s a lot of buzz surrounding Low Energy Bluetooth Beacons, also known as iBeacons. They’re the first mainstream technology to provide indoor location information to phones, and they’ve opened up an explosion of possible applications for nonprofits. We wanted to share our experience with how well they perform, and how best to work with them.

The Mobilisation Journal: A Way To Spread Learning About Social Change Movements Innovative Use of Technology

Beth's Blog -

The Greenpeace Mobilization Lab has a project proposal idea for a “Mobilization Journal” as part of  the Knight News Challenge.  It’s open for comments and feedback right now – or “applause.”   This blog shares some thoughts about this project and I have to give it a big round of applause.

To understand the project, you have to get familiar with work of Greenpeace Mobilisation Lab.  I’ve been following it for a while now and it is very inspiring on many different levels.    The laboratory gives Greenpeace and its partners a space to design, test, iterative, and roll out  new strategies and techniques for participatory campaigns or what has been called “People Powered.”    What happens in the lab is that they test campaign ideas that make use of new technologies such as  mobile phones, tablets, social media, email, and others, network approaches, and others.    But, more importantly, the lab documents and shares what has been learned with Greenpeace’s affiliates and leaders around the world.

This is an example of a nonprofit organization that has invested in building an internal learning and innovation network that will lead to improved results for Greenpeace’s environmental mission.   Here’s how they describe it:

By providing a space where new ideas can be supported and tested (and existing best practices can be cultivated and scaled), Greenpeace can better leverage the strengths of its existing global network; we build on what’s working. We seek to identify, test, and co-create new ways of engaging individuals more deeply to protect the environment and promote peace. We also embrace a decentralized, networked approach, allowing Greenpeace and its allies and supporters to be nimble, agile and react quickly to a constantly changing landscape.

Greenpeace is running an internal innovation lab, much like what large companies around the world – and especially here in Silicon Valley.      The Mobilisation Lab works with Greenpeace and its partners on the following services:

  • Mobilisation Strategy and Design :: creative and collaborative workshops with multidisciplinary teams
  • Assessments and Review :: evaluating past performance to inform future mobilisation efforts
  • Data Analysis and Research :: building a culture of data-driven campaigning, designing tests with campaigns and offices, and setting up controlled experiments to optimize and improve performance
  • Training and Peer Learning :: skill-building, knowledge sharing, and network building
  • Storytelling and Knowledge Transfer :: sharing innovations, lessons learned, fail stories, and emerging best practices
  • Staffing Support :: advising on staffing structures, integration efforts, and hands-on support with talent recruitment and hiring
  • Innovation Incubation :: piloting new ways of working, from practices to technologies
  • Systems Change :: advising global organisation, campaign teams, and NROs on new ways of working

But what is I like is that their lessons learned from this work doesn’t stay behind a password protected vault.    They are openly, aggressively sharing what they learn through the reports, tool kits, and updates on the site.    Here’s a sampling of the some of the gems you’ll find:

  • Creating Shareable Social Media Content:  You’ll find some excellent frameworks for campaign strategy and using different tools.  This one is for social media.   There’s many other toolkits on the lab site, but I found this of special interest.
  • Networked NGOs: This section shares stories from NGOs in their network about they are successfully plugging into citizen networks.
  • Data and Analytics: This section shares analysis and data from campaigns and how they applied it.

The Mobilisation Journal project on the Knight News Challenge will use  the existing journalism and storytelling work already piloted by the Mobilisation Lab at Greenpeace and scale it more generally for the social change sector.   In other words, they will provide news and information that will help support and strengthen social change campaigners use of technology and networked strategies.

Why I like this idea:

  • There is not a resource that facilitate learning and experimentation from organizations/networks/individuals who want to use networked approaches for social change campaigns – regardless of issue.   This journal provides a way to strengthen practitioners skills and adapt to rapid changes.
  • The journal information will be highly practical but based on research and can be immediately applied.  The potential for a larger feedback loop – of organizations and others using the insights and reporting back what they learn is very exciting.

What do you think?   Add your comments and feedback in the next 8 days here.


For the past few years, the Knight News Challenge has seeks to accelerate media innovation by funding breakthrough ideas in news and information through an open innovation process where anyone can submit an idea and get feedback.   Some of the projects that have been funded through this initiative have also been some of the most innovative activist platforms for social changes.  For example,   Ushahidi, a platform and tool suite that democratizes information, increases transparency and lowers the barriers for individuals to share their stories, was one of the past winners.

NTEN Celebrates National Volunteer Week: Kudos to Our Community Champions


This week is National Volunteer Week! To recognize the tremendous work of volunteers that support the nonprofit sector, we’ll be publishing a blog post every day this week to celebrate their contributions. Today we give a huge thanks to our mighty team of NTEN Community Champions: you helped to collectively raise over $30,000 for the greater good of the #nptech community!

These donations primarily helped to provide 50 scholarships to the 14NTC to nonprofit staff who would otherwise be unable to participate. It also went towards bringing in new members that may not be able to cover the cost of NTEN Membership; supporting our worldwide Tech Clubs with more materials to enhance their experience; and developing new programs and resources for NTEN’s growing community.

So today, we tip our hats to you. Thank you for your ongoing support and effort to make nonprofit technology accessible to a wider audience!

  • Debra Askanase, Founder & Social Media Strategist, Community Organizer 2.0
  • Jereme Bivins, Digital Media Manager, The Rockefeller Foundation
  • Miriam Cook, Marketing Assistant, Ploughshares Literary Journal       
  • Maddie Grant, Lead Editor, SocialFish
  • Steve Heye, Manager of Technology, The Cara Program
  • Beth Kanter, Author, Beth's Blog
  • Allyson Kapin, Partner, Rad Campaign
  • John Kenyon, Nonprofit Technology Educator & Strategist, John Kenyon Consulting
  • David Krumlauf, Chief Technologist, Pierce Family Charitable Foundation
  • Andrew Means, Manager, Impact Measurement & Data Storytelling, Groupon
  • John Merritt, Senior Vice President & CIO, YMCA of San Diego
  • Laura Norvig, Online Community Manager, ETR Associations
  • Birgit Pauli-Haack, Co-Founder, Relevanza
  • Norman Reiss, Project Manager, Center for Court Innovation
  • Ash Shepherd, Strategy & Process, Minds on Design Lab
  • Jason Shim, Digital Media Manager, Pathways to Education
  • Farra Trompeter, Vice President, Big Duck
  • Chris Tuttle, Principal Consultant, Tuttle Communications
  • Cary Walski, Technology Education & Outreach Coordinator, MAP for Nonprofits
  • Robert Weiner, Owner, Robert L. Weiner Consulting
  • Richard Wollenberger, Director of Information Technology, Parents as Teachers

Calling all techies: Donate your skills

AFP Blog -

Calling all techies: Donate your skills: But this year, Technically Philly co-founder Brian James Kirk is focusing on something beyond his usual promotion of entrepreneurship and networking. At 8 a.m. Thursday at Temple University's 1810 Conference Suite, his website-and-event company will unveil its new initiative, the "Commit Pledge of Service." The idea: push the technologically skilled to donate help to nonprofits that desperately need it.

'Technology can offer charities more than just online donations'

AFP Blog -

'Technology can offer charities more than just online donations': Charities are focusing too much on using digital tools for fundraising instead of how technology can be used to improve services for stakeholders, a digital expert has warned.

Mike Thompson, who is a digital consultant at mySociety the charity behind the MP monitoring service They Work For You, told delegates at this year’s CFG IT conference that there are four main areas where technology can be of use to charities: fundraising, campaigns, data and delivering services.

Make Your Nonprofit Website an Email Capturing Machine

Getting Attention! -

Guest blogger Yesenia Sotelo founded Smart Cause Digital where she builds and grows smart websites.

“Email is dead. No one reads their email anymore.”
You might have heard this before and you might hear it again—but not from me! Email is one of the most powerful tools available. In fact, every organization (including yours),  regardless of its size or mission, can do great things with an email list.

“Email is dead! Long live social media!”
I love social media almost as much as I love email. There’s plenty of proof of my love over on Twitter and Instagram. But social media is NOT (yet?) a replacement for email marketing. Email and social media are complementary and they should *both* be in your nonprofit’s toolkit.

Take these three steps to turn your organization’s website into an email-capturing machine…

Is your nonprofit interested in any of these email-friendly goals…

  • Raise money
  • Advocate on a local, state or national level
  • Increase attendance at your events
  • Recruit volunteers
  • Share news and resources about your nonprofit’s mission
1) Ask in all the right places

It’s important that your email signup box be in the right place at the right time. You want to capture a website visitor’s attention when they’re most interested and inspired… like when they just read a great article!

Put an email sign up form in these places on your website:

  • Sidebar
  • Footer
  • Homepage
  • Careers/Jobs page
  • At bottom of a resource or article
  • Thank You pages
2) Make your content desirable

Tell subscribers what they’ll be getting and why it’s going to be useful to them.

You see this a lot on retail websites where they promise a coupon in exchange for your email address. As nonprofits, our version of coupons comes in the form of hope and warm fuzzies. Let subscribers know that your email messages will be full of the good stuff that they want to hear: “Join our email list for news about progress in breast cancer research.” Remember to repeat this message in the thank you email message that subscribers receive when they subscribe and on the thank you page subscribers see right after they submit the form.

Assure subscribers that your organization will respect their privacy. Just add a little line right underneath the subscription form: “We respect your privacy. We will not share your email address.” Mention it, but don’t link to the privacy policy in the form as research has shown that it distracts potential subscribers. Instead, link to your organization’s privacy policy in the website footer.

Use social proof to show potential subscribers that your organization’s content is going to be great. For example, “Over 10,000 fellow Chicagoans subscribe to the our Food Bank Weekly” is a strong piece of social proof. It’s a compelling statement that tells potential subscribers that this Food Bank Weekly thing must be worth a read.

3) Create a beautiful frame

We all like to look at pretty things, so make it easy for website visitors to admire your email signup form! Make the email signup box a bold, contrasting color so that it stands out against the rest of your page.

Use an arrow in the submit button. It will help catch people’s eye as they scan your page.

Keep the email signup box down to one field. If you can’t get it down to one field, then keep it to two fields. If you can’t get it down to two fields, then keep it to three fields. You get the idea. Fewer fields in your email signup box will encourage more people to enter their information.

Did this article spark some questions or ideas? Please share your approach here.

We Need Your Feedback: The Crowdfunder Bill of Rights | Kimbia

AFP Blog -

We Need Your Feedback: The Crowdfunder Bill of Rights | Kimbia: ne of the outcomes of our talks has been to work on a crowdfunding bill of rights for donors: a set of standard expectations that legitimate crowdfunding and peer-to-peer campaigns should adhere to in order to ensure a well-managed, transparent, and effective experience. *

We are going to focus our discussion mainly on the nonprofit side of things: so donors are giving to causes (not someone’s invention) and in theory, giving to one of the million plus legitimate charities.

4 Strategies from 4 Mobile Trends


Kristen Gramigna Chief Marketing Officer BluePay Online giving is on the rise: how can you use the boost in mobile activity to its advantage? Learn four strategies to consider based on four trends in mobile.

In a world where almost everybody has a smartphone, it’s harder and harder for nonprofits to ignore the idea of mobile fundraising. Online giving is ever on the rise, according to research published in Blackbaud’s 2013 Charitable Giving Report, which showed it increased 13.5 percent in 2013, compared with the 4.9 percent increase in charitable giving overall. What strategies could you take advantage of in 2014? Here are four specific strategies to consider, based on four hot trends in the mobile realm today.

Are Email and Click-through Rates Heading South?

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It's no secret that the nonprofit community has seen a steady decline in email open rates, click-through rates, and email page completion rates, which was also confirmed by the 2014 eNonprofit Benchmarks Study. The report, which analyzed data from 53 nonprofits, over 2.1 billion email messages, 5.6 million donations, and 7.5 million online actions shed light on valuable information for nonprofits and their messaging. This information will be a great place to begin evaluating your own online progress. For example:

  • Fundraising messaging response rates were down 11% from 2012 levels to 0.07%.
  • Advocacy messaging declined 25% to 2.0%.

Don't panic though, there are a few bright spots in the midst of all this decline: email lists, online giving, and website traffic are still growing.

  • Email lists are up 14% over 2012 levels.
  • Online giving among study participants increased 14% since 2012.
  • Monthly giving revenue grew 25% in 2013, and accounted for 16% of total online giving.
  • Monthly website traffic for study participants grew by 16% in 2013.
  • On average, 0.69% of website visitors made a gift, bringing the average value of a visit to $0.60.
  • Visitors who made it to a nonprofit website’s primary donation page converted at a rate of 15%.

Check out the email list growth over the last few years of different sized nonprofits (orange: 2011, yellow: 2012, and blue: 2013) -

This is great news for your organization. Even though fundraising message responses are down, online giving is up, so there's a lot of hope and real value in the investments you're making online.

Speaking of online, what about social media? What's going on there?

  • Social media audiences continue to grow at a much faster rate than email or website traffic.
  • Nonprofits who participated in the study grew their number of Facebook fans by 37%, and Twitter followers by 46%.

Despite the surplus in social media growth,  email continues to dwarf social media. Email surpasses social media channels both in audience numbers and in revenue acquisition.

Where did you see the most decline and the most positive growth in 2013?

NTEN Celebrates National Volunteer Week: Appreciation for 501 Tech Club Leaders


This week is National Volunteer Week! Points of Light, the organization that established this program in 1974, says "National Volunteer Week is about taking action and encouraging individuals and their respective communities to be at the center of social change – discovering and actively demonstrating their collective power to make a difference."

To recognize the tireless work of volunteers that support the nonprofit sector, we’ll be publishing a blog post every day this week to celebrate their contributions. Today we give a hearty THANK YOU to our 501 Tech Club leaders.

501 Tech Clubs are informal local groups that meet regularly to get to know their colleagues, develop a professional support network, and talk shop. Tech Club leaders not only organize and implement everything for their clubs, they ultimately help local organizations use technology skillfully and confidently to create greater social impact and meet the needs of their communities. This is a wonderful thing.

Dearest Tech Club leaders, we wholly appreciate your friendship and your service. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Wish there was a Tech Club in your neighborhood? Read NTEN’s page on starting a new club and then email us at

Report release: The 2014 Nonprofit Benchmarks Study


There comes a time in every online organizer and fundraiser’s life when they ask themselves: is this normal? Our response: what does the data say?

Published today, M+R and NTEN’s 2014 Nonprofit Benchmarks Study returns for the eighth year. We've crunched the numbers from 53 nonprofit organizations to define this year's industry standards for online fundraising, advocacy, and list building.

What did the findings reveal? 2013 really raised the bar for online fundraising. Nonprofits received an estimated 1.7 cents for every fundraising message delivered, and 60 cents for every website visit. Even though response rates for nonprofit emails continued to slide in 2013, online giving was up as email and social media audiences and web traffic kept climbing.

Here are 8 big trends that emerged from the nonprofits we surveyed: 

  1. The average one-time online donation amount to a nonprofit was $68 in 2013.
  2. Nonprofit organization email lists grew significantly – up 14% in 2013.
  3. Online donations were higher than ever before. Online giving was up 14% in 2013, with monthly giving revenue up 25% compared to 2012. Monthly giving accounted for 16% of all online revenue.
  4. Nonprofits received $17 for every 1,000 email messages delivered. Overall, email accounted for about one-third of nonprofits’ online fundraising revenue.
  5. Nonprofits received $0.60 per website visitor.
  6. Key email metrics, including open rates and response rates, declined in 2013. Email open rates were down 4%. Response rates were down in 2013 for both fundraising emails (down 11%) and advocacy emails (down 25%) compared to 2012 levels. Interestingly, the response rates to advocacy emails from Environmental nonprofits were more than two times higher than overall response rates for advocacy emails.
  7. More people visited nonprofit websites. Monthly website traffic for the nonprofits in the study was up 16% in 2013.
  8. Nonprofit social media audiences grew faster than nonprofit email or website audiences. Facebook fans were up 37% and Twitter followers were up 46% in 2013. Despite this rapid growth, for every 1,000 email subscribers nonprofits had just 199 Facebook fans and 110 Twitter followers.  

> Download the 2014 Nonprofit Benchmarks Study (and share it with your peers!) 

Also, check out the infographic that we release yesterday in Mashable!

If you're interested in learning more about this report, and how to establish benchmarks in your own organization, register for our free webinar next Wednesday, April 16 at 12:00pm-1:00pm PT.

Online Charitable Donations Increased 14% in 2013

AFP Blog -

Online Charitable Donations Increased 14% in 2013: The study breaks down exactly how leading U.S. non-profits performed online in the past year. In 2013, Internet users donated more than ever before — online giving increased 14% since 2012, with more than 5.5 million total gifts and nearly $325 million raised.

The average one-time donation increased as well, from $60 to $68 ($57 via email only), and overall non-profit website traffic grew 16%. Organizations' annual social growth is also booming, with the average number of Facebook fans increasing 37% and Twitter followers increasing 46%.


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