Nonprofits Facing 2009 Challenges Head On

The ever changing online landscape with new services, a smarter, more demanding online population, and fewer donors, will leave many nonprofits behind.
The financial service crisis, tighter budgets and higher accountability standards are the offline reality for others. Most nonprofits will face both, and it’s not for the faint of heart. There plenty of challenges lying ahead for nonprofits in 2009.
The following articles give you a head start on the tool sets available to face them:

  • Survival Guide by Fundraising 123 – 45 pages full of concrete action items to better an online presence, be it a web site, social media, e-mail newsletters and donate buttons. There are no silver bullets, but if you do only half of the suggested actions, you might do much better than 80% of the other nonprofits that compete for the fewer monies available. [Read more…]
  • Strong Led and Under-managed -The Bridgespan Group writes about the apparent rift between leadership and management, and take you on a quest to learn how these leaders have been working to overcome it. They outline the triangle of 1) clarity of strategy, 2) meaningful measurement, accountability and change management, and 3) the barriers and hurdles to overcome, and how to overcome them. The article is remarkable, as it describes plenty of nonprofits I worked with. Board members and Executive Directors, in particular, should read it carefully and find a mirror. [Read more…]

Think of the Nike Way: Just do it!

Tools For Online Volunteer Advocates

htmlEditor required”>


Ever since I was asked to volunteer to tap into my personal network of friends, family and acquaintances, I have obsessed over the topic. The tools provided by that particular organization were poorly designed, and wouldn’t integrate with other online activities, online tools or social media.
And, then I suddenly understood the power of one in the age of social media. There are multiple online advocacy tools for the personal support of causes. You can create personal fund raising pages, write petitions, or write politicians. However, the choices available to nonprofit organizations are still very, very limited.
The site, SocialActions.org, has brought 50 online advocacy sites together in one site, and you can find plenty of individuals that are on a mission for their cause, their classroom or their nonprofit. SocialActions.org, however, also pushes the integration outward, with their three month old public API, that lets developers and users tap into a wealth of information on the Social Actions site.
Yesterday, the submission deadline for ‘Challenge for Change’ passed, and, on Monday, the official voting begins for the best ideas to use the public API. The applications are available at netsquared: Change the Web
“Social Actions currently aggregates opportunities to make a difference from over 50 online platforms, such as VolunteerMatch, Kiva.org, DonorsChoose.org, Idealist.org, and Change.org. We’re looking for applications that will share these opportunities to take action on the websites, blogs, and social networks that people visit every day.”

O’Reilly: Updated Facebook Usage Stats

Updated with data up to April 15, 2009
Summary:
Current active users worldwide:
193+ million
Share of active users for North America:
38% (=74.34 mio): 41% Male | 56% Female | 3% Decline to state
Most quoted fact on Facebook user growth:
The fastest growing group are Women over 55.
The O’Reilly numbers confirm it, but it also shows that the age groups left and right of the 55 – 59 bracket also grow very fast!

 

Change Management

This post was first published on the community pages of Fast Company.

 

Nobody likes change! Even I don’t like change. I consider myself comfortable exploring new things, new ideas and new ways to accomplish tasks. I adopt new technologies pretty early in their life-cycle. I left my home country for the adventure of life in the USA. I travel a lot and I constantly read about new ideas and concepts. But, in certain areas of my life I don’t like change. I don’t like to change my morning routine – I avoid breakfast meetings. I don’t want my workspace changed. And, I don’t like to update my work computer. Don’t disrupt my workflow! 

Since I realized I don’t like change either, I look at people resisting change in a different way. I credit Mari Peck for opening my eyes during one of her recent seminars. Here is the little exercise Mary had has done. It may help you,  a manager tasked with implementing change,  to understand the nature of change resistance:

Have the members of a group write their name on a piece of paper. Then have them switch hands and write their name underneath the first. Ask how people felt writing with the wrong hand in comparison with their usual. People will describe a variety of feelings — awkward, uncomfortable, stupid and so forth. Then ask them about the difference in time spent. You’ll get answers like, “Much longer” or “Three times longer.” When you ask about the quality of their second signature, expect comments like “Very bad,” “Abysmal,” or “Horrible.”

And, that’s why nobody likes change: It makes us uncomfortable. It’s awkward. The new way takes too long; in the beginning, the old way is much faster. The outcome is poor – certainly not the quality we are used to. These are the barriers to change! 
Now, as a “change manager” you have to overcome those barriers. Recognizing them is the first step. Your staff needs to hear from you that it’s ok that during the transitional phase the job takes longer to finish and that the outcome may not always be top notch. Then, you need to share the benefits you expect for them enduring this torture.

Here are the three things you must put on your list when implementing any change:

  1. Communicate ten times over
  2. Consider the WIIFM factor – What’s In It For Me?
  3. Never let yourself (or staff) lose sight of the big picture.

 

TELL THEM AGAIN AND AGAIN

During implementation, everyone needs to hear repeatedly that it’s ok to feel stupid and awkward. Broadcast success when someone accomplishes a milestone, major or minor, on their quest to master new things. Regularly publish reports of progress. And, don’t shy away from sharing what didn’t work. You want everyone to learn from the mistakes. Separate the results of transition from the results of change. The difference can be difficult to communicate, but it builds trust in the process and in you, as a manager.
I could write more about training and testing, but that’s the easy part for you to figure out. 
The theory is it takes 21 days to change an exercise routine. A swimmer or golf pro changing a stroke needs to practice it a thousand times before regaining their previous level of proficiency. How long will it take to change a daily work place routine or something even bigger?

REMEMBER THE WIIFM FACTOR

Of course, employees need to know how they benefit from the change. And, what’s in it for them may not be the same thing that’s in it for you. For example, doing work faster is not necessarily a goal they’d share. Sometimes, completing a task faster, gets translated into: When I accomplish my work faster, I’ll end up with more work on my plate and I am already overworked. 
More work is not what most employees want. Increased productivity is a benefit for the company—a big picture item. You need to find a better WIIFM answer—maybe the quality will improve or the work will be less tedious. Work enrichment can be an attractive benefit for some employees. Be aware, though, that there are as many different motivations to change as there are employees and stakeholders. A good change manager will provide many variations of the answer to WIIFM.

KEEP YOUR EYE ON THE BIG PICTURE

Don’t let yourself be dragged down by minutia and resistance. Implementing change gives you a great opportunity to reconnect with your people, but on a totally different level. In this process, the staff most outspoken against change is your greatest gift. Focus on them; address their issues. Once you convert them, they will become the loudest cheerleaders for change. Don’t forget the big picture, though. Keep your eye on where you and your crew are headed.
Change is hard work and should not be underestimated. The technology is easy to teach. But, it’s how you manage the change that ensures a successful outcome.

Identifying A Phishing Attack

Phishing is a form of fraud in which an email sender attempts to trick the recipient into divulging important personal information like a password or bank account number, by pretending to be a representative of a legitimate organization.
Even net savvy people have fallen victim to phishing attacks by learning the hard way, that they have been too trusting of the messages reaching

their in-boxes: too trusting that the sender identification is accurate.

Who hasn’t done something in haste, because he was distracted or pre-occupied? Mistakes happen.

Here are the tools you can use to differentiate between a phishing attack and legitimate e-mail from your banks and credit card companies. You can learn an easy way to confirm your feelings about that dubious message. And, you might learn a thing or two about how the Internet works.
This trip will take you beyond your bank’s general disclaimer, to paraphrase, “Don’t follow a link in an e-mail to reach our bank’s web site; we will never ask you to verify your username, passwords, certificates, or other sensitive account information via e-mail.”
Our rational left-brain knows all that, but our emotional right brain sometimes ignores it.
Check the Domain, Traveler!
The example of a phishing attack I’m using, arrived in my in-box disguised as a message from the Colonial Bank. By the way, I don’t have a Colonial account or credit card.
Let’s identify the red flags that should go up immediately:
  • Why would this bank contact me?
  • Is everything all right with my accounts? When anything is wrong, they either call me or send me snail-mail.
So, that one was easy, since it’s from a bank with whom I don’t do business.
But, if it’s a bank I do business with, my preoccupation with money and current gas prices might make me miss the red flag.

Look twice at links and download buttons

Phishers rely on people to click on links in their e-mail without thinking.
We are all accustomed to clicking on links in our e-mail to get to more information about something that interests us. We have visited websites many times and nothing evil has transpired. But, sometimes the link says ‘Download.’
The word download means “Get software to install on my computer.” That is a tricky thing.
Many of us have clicked on downloads and been burned. Or, we find our browser toolbars full of notifications and icons that we never wanted but magically appeared. Periodically, we ask a nerdy friend to clean up our desktop and browser.
Here’s the e-mail that came into my in-box:

Graphic: Example Phishing E-Mail

Here’s the address that was under the ‘Download Now’ link:

http://connect.colonialbank.b5d7z03jqj343lx262uc.
secureserv.onlineupdatemirror6120f48zo9bf9r.
colonial.certificaterenewal.uyyhg.com/logon.htm

The e-mail itself seems fairly well written. Gone are the days when we could identify phishers by the incredible number of spelling errors and bad grammar. But remember, phishers rely on people to click on links in their e-mail without thinking.
Don’t click anywhere unless you know for sure where on the net you are going.
A phisher wants you to click on a link because it will take you out on the net where he can do his dirty work. So, that’s where your behavior needs to change: don’t click anywhere unless you know where you are going.
The only way to know for sure where a link will take you is to learn to read the link to identify the party you will visit. Here’s how.

How to read a link address?

A link has two parts. One is the label, the text you see. In this example, the label is ‘Download Now.‘ The text can be anything. Ignore it.
The second part is the URL underneath the label. Every browser and e-mail program shows you the URL, either in your status bar at the bottom of the program’s window or in a tool-tip as soon as you hover over it with the mouse.
And, it’s the domain name in the URL that gives those creeps away.
Almost everyone today knows what a domain name is: it’s the www.google.com, the www.naples.net etc.
A website not only identifies the domain name but also has a file name or a folder name after the domain name, separated by a forward slash(/), like ‘education’ in home.naples.net/education. This identifies the specific page on the website.
For our quest to understand the link in our example, we ignore everything after the first forward slash . So we ignore the /logon.html. But that still leaves a domain with eight levels of sub domains, each level separated by a dot.
connect.colonialbank.b5d7z03jqj343lx262uc.
secureserv.onlineupdatemirror6120f48zo9bf9r.
colonial.certificaterenewal.uyyhg.com

Domain owners can add sub-domains, or additional words in front of their domain names separated by dots, to their addresses. Like home.naples.net or picasaweb.google.com, you can stack as many sub-domains as you want with a domain name.
This means I could get my self a sub-domain like: “check.your.account.at.colonialbank.naples.net.”

To the uneducated, that would make my site look as if it’s part of Colonial Bank. In reality, it would only make me a target for cease and desist letters and hefty fines. The Colonial Bank could find out with one step, whom to pursue. After reading this article, you’ll know, too!
The first thing to know about sub domains is that only the last two items of a domain name identify the site, no matter how long the sub-domains are.
To dissect this domain name (everything in front of the first “/”), we start reading it backwards dot-by-dot. You just learned that only the last two levels identify the base domain name. In this case, (drum roll please), we see: uyyhg.com

Huh? What happened to Colonial Bank? And, who are these people? Now you know, uyyhg.com is most certainly not the Colonial Bank.
So remember, to identify a Phisher, look for the ‘/’ in the URL, and go backwards two dot levels to see whose web site you will visit if you click the link. Don’t be lead astray.

That should be the end of it. Our example is definitely a Phisher.
The delete button will keep you safe.
Graphic courtesy of Rahul Bansal, DevilsWorshop.org.

Demographics & Online Usage

As successful online communication strategy needs to be based on good data related to your target audience. Pew Internet, a non-profit organization studying internet behavior, has been an invaluable resource since 1999.
“The share of adult internet users who have a profile on an online social network site has more than quadrupled in the past four years — from 8% in 2005, to 35% at the end of 2008.” After the news that 60% of Twitter users abandon their accounts, this number is certainly to be taken with a grain of salt. The most common internet activities remain e-mail, searching and finding information on various topics and the news. So, a successful online strategy starts with great website content, and an e-mail notification system.
A snippet of the most popular activities among the different generations is shown in this graphic (click on it to see a larger version):

Quoting the Report summary:
“Compared with teens and Generation Y, older generations use the internet less for socializing and entertainment and more as a tool for information searches, emailing, and buying products. In particular, older internet users are significantly more likely than younger generations to look online for health information. Health questions drive internet users age 73 and older to the internet just as frequently as they drive Generation Y users, outpacing teens by a significant margin. Researching health information is the third most popular online activity with the most senior age group, after email and online search. ”
The full stats are available in this report: Pew Interent: Generations- Online in 2009

Everyone comment on any site? Deal with it!

Google Sidewiki has incredible large potentials in regards of participatory Net and communications with site users.  It also has created some controversy among site owners and web site designers. The discussion is a similar to the one roaming the Internet when Frames came up, a way to load other people’s web pages into a frame set as if it where part of the current site. The discussion is about if what’s proper and that site owners are not able to control what happens on their sites. For now it only works with Google Chrome Toolbar.

You can catch up on the Google Sidewiki discussion via these few articles. Comment below if you find additional information.

in reference to: Google Sidewiki (view on Google Sidewiki)