Sunday, April 26, 2009

Naturalist and essayist John Burroughs enjoyed beauty, solitude at his Catskills retreat, Woodchuck Lodge

The Schnectady Daily Gazette featured a story about John Burroughs and his home, Woodchuck Lodge, in Roxbury, which is a nonprofit history organization. As the article relates, John Burroughs enjoyed communing with nature as well as anyone, and he wrote about it better than most.

A naturalist and essayist whose writing helped spark the American conservation movement in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Burroughs enjoyed the popularity of a rock star for more than three decades up until his death in 1921 just a few days shy of his 84th birthday.
He died on a train returning home to Woodchuck Lodge in his beloved Catskills following a cross-country trip. While he loved the Rocky Mountains and toured the West with the likes of fellow naturalist John Muir and U.S. President Teddy Roosevelt, Burroughs was synonymous with the Catskills.

Woodchuck Lodge, his home for the last 10 years of his life, and his burial site, both about two miles off Route 30 in the town of Roxbury, are great places to visit for those interested in Burroughs and for anyone who loves to experience the Catskill Mountains.

“He was a self-taught scientist and a very accessible writer,” said Diane Galusha, president of the board of trustees of Woodchuck Lodge Inc., the nonprofit group that maintains Burroughs’ residence. “That made him a pretty popular guy, and to get away from people and find some solitude he moved to this beautiful spot in 1910.”

Woodchuck Lodge, which is a few miles inside Delaware County from Schoharie County, is open to the public only on the first Saturday and Sunday of every month, beginning in May and running through October. Docents are available to give visitors a tour of the wooden house on those days, but if you can’t make it that first weekend of the month, you’re welcome to drive about 100 yards farther up Burroughs Memorial Road and stop at Burroughs Memorial Field. A state-run historic site, Burroughs Memorial Field is where Burroughs is buried next to the big rock he used to play around when he was a child. Read more about Burroughs here.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Where's Your Org's Social Media Policy?

Where's Your Org's Social Media Policy?
From Nacy Schwartz's Getting Attention

Social media is a free-flowing, wide-open phenomenon that needs to be handled and handled well. So frame its use for your staff, volunteers and base.
The clearer you are, the more likely it is that your org will make an impact with these tools -- whether you're just monitoring conversation about your org via Google Alerts, have a two-pronged approach with Facebook fan and cause pages or are experimenting on several fronts.

Core issues to cover include:
What's the personal/professional split, if there needs to be a split?
Any approvals necessary, at any point?
Who responds to conversation about your organization and how?
Who else needs to hear about that conversation?
How do you protect your brand?
Can anyone on staff who wants to be a spokesperson?
Which platforms do you get active on, and how?
What social media-ing is ok to do at work, and what's not ok?

Here's what your policy will do for your organization:
The policy creation process itself makes you think through issues too easy to ignore, but far too important to. It will also increase your organizational understanding of how use of these tools intersects with existing operating processes, and what may have to change.
Makes people feel at ease because they know what to do and what to expect.
Ensures your team is in sync with each other, rather than working (usually unknowingly) at cross purposes.
Leads to a consistent, recognized voice online -- via your Web site, e-news and social media presence(s). That's the only voice that your base will recognize, in a snap, where ever they are. Make it easy for them to do so.

Nonprofits-and-social-media guru Beth Kanter offers several guidelines for shaping your org's social media policy here, along with links to sample social media policies.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Open house at Family Service Association on Thursday

Family Service Association and the Otsego County Chamber will have a Business After Hours program Thursday.

The open house will be from 4:30 to 6 p.m. at FSA, located at 277 Chestnut St. in Oneonta, and the event will continue the celebration of FSA's 100th anniversary.

FSA is a nonprofit organization that seeks to help area residents meet their needs. FSA efforts include a parenting program and a clothing program, which provides clothing and children's toys. FSA also provides human-services training to interns from local colleges.

For more information and to RSVP, call 432-2870. Parking will be available in the American Legion lots, organizers said.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Free Webinar: Why you need Directors and Officers Insurance

The New York Council of Nonprofits offers your nonprofit the following free webinar about Directors and Officers Insurance and why you need it & what NYCON offers! Presented by Peter Andrew, CEO, Council Services Plus. Click Here for the Recording.

D&O Defined: D&O Insurance indemnifies and organization (sometimes referred to as the entity) and its officers for allegations for wrongful acts resulting from the management and governance of an organization. Some types of claims that would fall under this coverage would be operating outside of the organization bylaws, misappropriated funds, conflict of interest allegations, and discrimination.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

SeeThroughNY website shows how NY tax dollars used

SeeThroughNY gives New Yorkers a clearer view of how their state and local tax dollars are spent. This site is sponsored by the Empire Center for New York State Policy, part of the non-partisan and non-profit Manhattan Institute for Policy Research.

SeeThroughNY is a web portal designed to become the hub of a statewide network through which taxpayers can share, analyze and compare data from counties, cities, towns, villages, school districts and public authorities throughout New York. The information of this website comes from official government sources, but the Empire Center cannot guarantee data accuracy or completeness.

You can search government payrolls, contracts, expenditures, and links to additional information and supporting material on other websites. For example, search your village or city to see what member items were awarded or benchmark your village, city or county against others. This is a great resource for nonprofits, and could be helpful in articulating region-specific needs.

"What's possible with no resources, no agency and, dare I say, no talent."

In an article titled "What Orangutans Taught Simon Clift About Social Media" CMO Says Unilever Is Still Trying to Shake Mind-set of One-Way Communications by Jack Neff Published: April 08, 2009

NEW YORK ( -- Unilever is only starting to understand social media, but it's already learned plenty about its capability to make and break brands -- sometimes the hard way, said Chief Marketing Officer Simon Clift at the Advertising Age Digital Conference today.

He pointed to Julia Allison's rise from obscurity via her video blog, NonSociety, and other social tools, which he said shows "what's possible with no resources, no agency and, dare I say, no talent." She's also a lesson for a $50 billion-plus behemoth like Unilever, Mr. Clift said. "It is possible to become famous on a dollar and a dream. Imagine what's possible to do with our brands and our resources."

On the other hand, Mr. Clift acknowledged that in social media, Unilever -- past digital accolades or no -- has fallen back at times on the same one-way-communications mind-set it's long applied to traditional media, only to learn that one-way communications are impossible. "We may be ahead of some of our competitors," Mr. Clift said. "But we're most definitely behind consumers."

Case in point was the hijacking of "Onslaught," Dove's follow-up to the massively viral "Evolution" video, by Greenpeace, which produced a parody, "Onslaught(er)," that skewered Dove and Unilever for their role in razing Indonesian rainforests through their purchases of palm oil. Mr. Clift became aware of the issue when he saw Greenpeace protesters in orangutan suits scaling the walls of the company's Lever House headquarters in London last summer. Ultimately the parody got 705,000 views to the original's 405,000 -- and helped lead Unilever to talk with Greenpeace and adopt new targets for sustainable palm-oil sourcing.

"The speed of change really has far outpaced our ability to accompany it," Mr. Clift said. "I, for one, am in awe of the new challenges that the media revolution poses. But ... I believe it can force greater change on the conventional marketing model than most people in consumer package goods actually believe."

The problem with big budgets
Big budgets may be more of a hindrance than a help for many package-goods brands coming up with ideas that resonate with consumers, Mr. Clift said -- though he hastened to add that that shouldn't be read as a signal that Unilever plans to slash marketing spending on traditional media anytime soon. "I'm not suggesting that paid media has had its day," he said.

But he said when Unilever recently selected a roster of global public-relations agencies and asked them to submit their best-practice case studies, "one of the characteristics of all the best case studies was 'We didn't have any budget to do advertising.' ... I'm convinced fat media budgets help make people lazy, and we've thought about [whether we] should cut media budgets on some specific projects in order to force people to come up with ideas."

The result of such an approach can be to turn Unilever the behemoth into a sometimes surprisingly effective guerrilla social marketer. Pot Noodle in the U.K., for example, got wind of a really expensive Guinness internet ad reported to be the most expensive TV commercial ever made in the U.K. So the perennially scrappy brand of belly-stuffing noodles looked to make buzz of its own on St. Patrick's Day 2008 with a "a 75-second film which is filmed in a less-exotic location in a West London housing project on a much smaller product." Pot Noodle's "Tipping Pot" outperformed Guinness' big-budget "Domino" substantially in terms of YouTube views, he said.

The Secret to Obama's Success: Mixing Old Media With New

The Secret to Obama's Success: Mixing Old Media With New
What Marketers Can Take Away from Integration Used in Presidential Campaign
by Michael Bush Published: April 08, 2009

NEW YORK ( -- Joe Rospars, the man behind President Barack Obama's new-media effort during his election, said the campaign didn't win because it used the latest technology. Rather, its secret was a holistic approach -- one easily copied by regular marketers -- that integrated digital tools into the overall strategy.

"The interesting thing about the success we had with new media is that there wasn't some big sexy idea behind it," said Mr. Rospars, the founding partner of Blue State Digital. "It was about integration and integrating it with old media. And metrics played a role, but we had to make sure we were measuring the right things to gauge success, such as voter registrations, money raised and the number of people mobilized. This wasn't the super-sexy fun stuff, but it was important."

Mr. Rospars sat down with Ad Age assistant managing editor Ken Wheaton today at Advertising Age's Digital Conference in New York to discuss what marketers could take away from Mr. Obama's use of new media during the election. Mr. Rospars emphasized the importance of integrating digital with more traditional forms of marketing. "Everything has to work together to accomplish a marketer's goals," he said.

Laying the groundwork
He said he and his team were brought aboard in January 2007 before Mr. Obama even announced he was running for president. Mr. Rospars said that by being involved so early his squad was able to lay groundwork for what would eventually grow into the campaign's powerful grass-roots movement.

Mr. Rospars said the campaign didn't hinder him with any specific goals or budgetary constraints. Instead, he described it more as a collaborative effort in which he and his team "sized up" what they thought they would be able to do with a certain amount of dollars. "The process was much more of a conversation," he said. "It was about how we could integrate with organizing pieces like voter registration and have the digital space become a place to cultivate people as organizers for states where we had no presence."

One of the keys to success for the campaign's online efforts was repeatedly connecting Mr. Obama with his supporters, turning a $5 dollar donation into "more than a donation to the candidate and into a larger relationship that made them feel they could do more."

Asked if he thought e-mail was being overlooked as a marketing tool, Mr. Rospars said he wasn't sure, but that it was definitely being abused by many, which can only hurt a marketer.

Consuming message is not enough
"I get a lot of bad e-mail. I'm not sure if any of the culprits are in this room," he said. "There's a lot of bad e-mail and when you phone in an e-mail program think about what the recipients will do when you e-mail in the middle of a crisis situation." Odds are they'll ignore it is the point he was making.

Regarding the long-term impact that an effective e-mail campaign can have on relationship building, he said very few people have opted out of the campaign's e-mail database, which is now being managed by the Democratic National Committee. That's because of the relationships supporters have with each other, not only with Mr. Obama.

"The relationship voters built amongst themselves didn't end that day nor did the relationship between them and the president," Mr. Rospars said. "Win or lose, that was going to continue, and they are now demanding to play a role in the process in Washington and within their communities."

Mr. Rospars said that for Mr. Obama or any marketer, the key to getting consumers to maintain this high level of action is by knowing how many people they can get to do something at a specific time and knowing exactly what they can get them to do. "Just telling them to consume your message is not enough," he said.

Monday, April 6, 2009

The New York Council of Nonprofits wishes to extend its sincerest sympathies to the victims and families of the recent tragedy in Binghamton, NY. We commend the Binghamton nonprofit community for their immediate and compassionate response to this event. To learn more about the nonprofit and community response in Binghamton and how you can help, please click here.

Nonprofit Misconception: Sense of Entitlement

The Albany Times Union featured the following blog post by Wally Altes from Wally’s Bottom Line, who is the former president of the Albany-Colonie Regional Chamber of Commerce. His post, titled The Non-Profit Shake-out, highlights some growing trends in the sector, but also puts forward a problematic misconception with the following statement: Oh, and one other thing–maybe this will help non-profit management get past its highly developed sense of entitlement. Read his blog post below and New York Council of Nonprofits CEO Doug Sauer's response posted on his blog.

Wally's Bottom Line:
A number of months ago I wrote about the difficulties I felt non-profits would be facing as the economic situation worsened. I suggested that many would not survive and that consolidations, mergers and alliances would be built among the surviving non-profits.

This past week we received letters from two non-profits which we have supported in the past. One non-profit suggested that it might be only weeks from closing its doors. The other indicated that it wanted to raise an amount well into six figures within the next three months. Obviously, both requested money. Neither of these organizations have yet had their financial difficulties covered in the press. But there have been other non-profits such as Gilda’s Club whose difficulties have recived press coverage.

I have long felt that there are simply too many non-profits. Many have been created which serve small niches and survive because of a limited but devoted following of contributors and volunteers. Their survival is most in danger. But non-profits which cater to a larger base are also feeling the financial squeeze. They typically have higher operating costs and usually have a significant amount of ‘earned income’ but it is inadequate to insure survival.

We are about to hit a period of donor fatigue; all non-profits will be asking for money. Contributors are feeling much poorer than they did a year ago and will not support as many organizations as formerly nor will they be as generous when they choose to support one. There will be a shake-out; the only question is how painful will it be. Frankly, a shake-out will be good. Let the Darwinian approach reach the non-profits as well as other segments of society. Oh, and one other thing–maybe this will help non-profit management get past its highly developed sense of entitlement.

The following is NYCON CEO Doug Sauer's response posted on the blog:
The New York Council of Nonprofits, Inc. is providing leadership throughout the state in encouraging nonprofits to restructure and assisting with the process. It is unfortunate that Wally’s valid point about the need for some nonprofits to consolidate, merge and build alliances during these tough times became badly tainted at the end with his Darwinian prejudice toward how society should function (including I assume how the poor and vulnerable among us should be treated) and his caustic attitude toward nonprofit leaders.

What is interesting is the context in which he presents his remarks. It is essentially about him as a fatigued donor who is bemoaning the difficulty in making charitable choices when there are many requests and when organizational survival may be at stake. He sees many nonprofits existing because of “niches”, donors and volunteers. Left out of his equation, is mission and need.
Wally is right in saying that many contributors have less to give. What he misses is the fact that in difficult times, many donors step up their giving; reaching deeper into their pockets for the charities and religious organizations that truly care about and touch their lives. It may surprise Wally to know that this is particularly true among the less affluent, who donate a higher proportion of their income than people of higher means. And, many do so without taking charitable tax deductions. The average donor also does not seek recognition through serving on an honorary committee, receiving a plague, or having their picture taken in the Social Scene section of the Times Union.

With respect to the “sense of entitlement” that he thinks nonprofit leaders possess, he fails to recognize the fact that the vast majority of professionals in the sector devote their lives to service for substantially less income and benefits than what they would make in the private or government sector.

The message Wally sends is the wrong one and overwhelmingly negative. This is a time for community leaders to encourage greater giving and as President Obama has suggested, to become actively involved with community nonprofits. Time to step up, not step down.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Network Communications: Using Social Media to Enhance Network Effectiveness by Beth Kanter

Family Services Association celebrating 100 years

The Daily Star announced that Family Service Association is marking its centennial with several events this year. The festivities start Saturday with a 1 p.m. panel discussion about the agency, founded in 1909, at the Greater Oneonta Historical Society's history center at 183 Main St.

Residents who have worked with the agency are invited to attend and share, and the agency also has a display in the history center's Main Street window this month noting the event.

While the name and location have changed over the years, the mission remains the same: "to strengthen individual families and assist residents in meeting their needs," related the board president, Debbie Chicorelli.

There are four programs that provide assistance: "emergency services, clothing, a parenting resource center and training," said board member Cynthia McCarthy.

FSA Executive Director Mary O'Conner said she hopes people come and "join us in the fun."
She started with the agency in 1987, when it was still at the Wilber Mansion on Dietz Street.
The organization moved to its Chestnut Street location in 1994 to be more accessible to clients and better able to help people, she said.

She was there when the agency made the transition from one paid position, she said. Today, there are three full-time and one part-time staff members.

During that period, the agency has grown from serving 350 families, mostly in Oneonta, to more than 1,400 in Otsego County.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Facebook/CRM Panel Discussion Follow Up

I learned a lot from the discussion and have outlined ideas how MHAUS might adjust its Facebook pages for better use and how we look at Constituent Relationship Management.

Here are some links I thought of during the discussion:

Facebook 101: Ten Things You Need to Know About Facebook
by Thomas Krivak

Facebook 101

Facebook 101

Share your story ROI Social media for not for profits

Convio Software for NonProfits - Online Fundraising, Donor Management, Email Marketing, Events, CMS, eCommerce.

GiftWorks is affordable fundraising software for nonprofits: track donors, manage funds, run events, and conduct mailings easily. Integrates with Quickbooks ...

Etapestry database, a website, an online giving page, or specialized email tools.

Here is the Google search for more donor tracking software Article about donor software

Enter you your thoughts and questions as comments below, or email me at

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Facebook/CRM Panel Discussion Images

Images from the Panel Discussion: Real World Examples of Using Facebook and Constituent Relationship Management April 1, 2009, Room 136 Human Ecology Building, SUNY Oneonta

Slide Presentation for Your Peers in Action: Real World Examples of Using Facebook and Constituent Relationship Management

Slide Presentation for Your Peers in Action: Real World Examples of Using Facebook and Constituent Relationship Management
April 1, 2009, Room 136 Human Ecology Building, SUNY Oneonta
Presented by Leatherstocking Agency Executive Association, part of New York Council of Nonprofits.
This panel discussion features peers from the Leatherstocking AEA, who will be speaking about real world examples of how their organizations are integrating new online and social networking technologies. This discussion is a follow up to last year's program on Web 2.0.