Bishop of Derry and Raphoe condemns murder of journalist Lyra McKee

first_imgThe Bishop of Derry and Raphoe, Rt Ken Good, has said he is ‘outraged’ after a journalist was shot dead on the streets of Derry on Thursday night. The 29-year-old, who has been named as Lyra McKee, died after being shot during a night of clashes in which petrol bombs were thrown and vehicles hijacked.The victim was rushed by police landrover to Altnagelvin Hospital but tragically died of her injuries. Police chiefs blamed dissident republican terrorists for murdering Ms McKee.Releasing a statement on Friday, Rt Good said: “I am outraged at last night’s murder of the 29-year-old journalist, Lyra McKee, in Derry-Londonderry.“My first thoughts, today, are with her partner, her family and friends. I sympathise with them in their heart-breaking loss and assure them that their pain is being felt right across our community.“Sadly, though, Lyra’s death, while needless, was not entirely unforeseeable. “Only last January, after the bomb attack on the city’s courthouse, I said that the perpetrators had shown a callous disregard for people’s lives.On that occasion, a group of young people were lucky to escape unscathed,” Rt Good said.“Sadly, the outcome that I feared then – if such reckless attacks were to continue – was realised last night, and Lyra McKee, a talented young journalist, paid the ultimate price.“The people responsible for her murder – the individual who pulled the trigger and the leaders who sanctioned the attack – have this young woman’s blood on their hands. They claim to be liberators of the community. In reality, they are its oppressors.Three months ago, I suggested there were only two possible explanations for the recklessness of the Bishop Street bombers. They either didn’t think about the potential consequences or they didn’t care. The same is true of those behind last night’s murderous attack. “It beggars belief that anyone would open fire in a built-up area like Creggan, at a time when there were many people on the streets.“We are fortunate that more people weren’t killed or injured,” he added.“Today, on Good Friday, Christians remember the bleakness of Christ’s death on the cross but we look forward to the hope that Easter will bring. Today, this city – and our community – are numbed and horrified by what happened in our midst last night; we stand poised between bleakness and hope. The time has come to choose.“I urge the people of this city to go forward with hope. I urge them to turn their backs on the men of violence and to reject those who advocate bombing and shooting as solutions to our problems. “I urge the individual and organisation behind last night’s attack to realise the futility of what they are doing and to end their violence. Their behaviour is in stark contrast to that of the police officers who did their utmost to save Lyra’s life last night.“Lastly, I encourage the community to assist the PSNI with their investigation into this horrendous murder and to support the Police.”Bishop of Derry and Raphoe condemns murder of journalist Lyra McKee was last modified: April 19th, 2019 by Shaun KeenanShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Tags:bishop ken goodBishop of Derry and Raphoelast_img read more

Ohio Ag Weather and Forecast, August 17, 2018

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest Rain and thunderstorms are back today, as expected.The action will continue through most of tomorrow, and can lead to some good rain totals.  Right now we are going to put combined rains today and tomorrow at half to 2”, with coverage at 90%. There could be some slightly better totals and coverage in southern parts of the state today, but not enough to really get too cute with our forecast.Dry weather is here for Sunday, and continues through Monday. Clouds will be on the increase Monday afternoon.Rain develop in west central and southwest Ohio between 8 pm and midnight Monday night, and from that point we see rain pick up in intensity as it sweeps across the rest of the state through midnight Tuesday. We still are looking for this system to be a significant rain maker, but the scope of the heaviest rains may not be quite as broad. We are keeping our rain totals at half to 2-inches for the event this morning but think the 2-inch part of the range will be somewhat limited. There will be several strong thunderstorms or lines of storms, but outside of those areas the rains look much more manageable.  Rain coverage remains at 80% of the state or better. The map above shows combined potential rain totals through next TuesdayDry conditions will follow that system into the state for 5 days, from Wednesday through Sunday. In the extended period, we are trending a bit drier this morning. We see only one good rain threat now, as the early event has merged with a faster arriving second event. So, rains can develop around the 29th and 30th, and trigger .25”-.75” rains with 70% coverage.We see no reason to change our temperature outlook for the upcoming 10-day to 2-week period. We still think overall, we will have daytime highs near normal…perhaps slightly above to start the weekend, but then below during and behind the rains next week. Still, there is nothing really to talk about on the temperature side of the forecast.last_img read more

Flash and Batt in the Roof

first_imgIs this passage open to interpretation?AJ Builder isn’t so sure that Holladay has it right. He points out that the code provision uses the words “direct contact” in explaining where the impermeable layer of foam has to go. But the batts can then be placed “directly under” that.“If you stand directly under me and I drop my hammer, it will hit you,” AJ Builder writes. “So the language is open to interpretation [in my opinion]. Not saying whether the idea is good… Not against someone seeing if the idea works or not.”Come on, replies Dana Dorsett, “even a first-year weasel lawyer would have a tough time concocting an interpretation that the air-permeable insulation didn’t need to be in VERY close proximity, even though code dos not demand a compression-fit contact with the air-impermeable foam.”But in a broader sense, AJ Builder argues that widely held beliefs about certain building practices aren’t always accurate.“Codes aren’t perfect,” he says, “as some above have stated. In all actuality there are many assemblies that work that one person will say not to do and another one will do and works just dandy. And then there are assemblies that are pushed here, such as putting rigid foam on OSB properly, yet I have taken apart some rotted messes built as such.”He specifically points to the work of Bruce Brownell, a builder in New York’s Adirondack region who uses layers of foam to insulate houses at R-values that shouldn’t work in that climate zone but somehow do.“There are so many times here that R-value of a wall is mentioned, where the R-value is actually way lower due to the fact that it is discontinuous and has a multitude of other problems,” AJ Builder says. “So R-value, folks, is very much a slippery, slippery number to [the] point of losing real value if not fully explained every time it is used…” What’s the science behind the code requirement?Whatever the code might read, the building science in this case is key, Dorsett explains.“Whether it creates a problem depends a lot on how the intervening space is used (if at all), and the ratio of foam-R/fiber-R at the attic floor,” he writes. “Airtightness at the ceiling plane below the floor becomes hyper-critical if the R-ratio isn’t super robust. You can’t go with the IRC minimums for the air-impermeable layer and get away with it.“Foam installers are fond of removing all floor insulation when foaming the roof deck (presumably to meet code), but that isn’t truly necessary in many (or even most) cases in climate zones 5 or lower. (Good luck arguing that with the code inspectors though.)”Atticus LeBlanc would like to bore further into the science. It wasn’t that long ago, he points out, that code required vented attics. “I can’t figure out why the distance between R-12 closed-cell foam under the roof deck/rafters and sidewalls and fluffy R-38 on the ceiling would have an impact on condensation, if any,” LeBlanc writes, “and the insulation to the heated cavity would still be more than required… at least for me in Zone 3.”Holladay responds, “If the attic were perfectly sealed — few attics are — it’s probable that the proposed (illegal) assembly would work well. But if the ‘sealed’ attic had air leaks — infiltration and exfiltration — you wouldn’t get the R-value you expect, and you would have opportunities for condensation or moisture issues.” “Flash and batt” is an insulation technique that combines the air-sealing superiority of spray foam insulation with the cost benefits of fiberglass batts. An inch or two of polyurethane foam seals the cavity and the batt insulation adds R-value without costing an arm and a leg.That’s roughly the plan Dave Frank is considering for the roof of a house — presumably his own house — in Climate Zone 5. But his plan contains a twist: He wants to spray the underside of the roof deck with foam and install the batts between the joists at ceiling level.“My reasoning for this is to (a) get HVAC in the attic within the envelope where rafters can’t be properly vented, and (b) still have insulation on top of the flat ceiling drywall because there is some ceiling radiant heat,” he writes in a Q&A post at Green Building Advisor. “And there’s the added benefit of getting some of the R-value from a cheaper product.” RELATED ARTICLES Frank wonders whether the code requirement for a total of R-38 in the roof will allow the insulation to be separated in this way, as long as the R-value totals for the different layers all add up to the right number.Or is this a case where 2 plus 2 equals 3?That’s the topic for this Q&A Spotlight. A Pioneer of Low-Energy Homes Since 1973Flash and Batt InsulationFine Homebuilding: Why Flash and Batt Makes SenseInstalling Fiberglass RightCreating a Conditioned Attic The code is clear: Your idea won’t workThere’s not much wiggle room here, says GBA senior editor Martin Holladay.He cites a provision in the International Residential Code (IRC), which says the air-permeable insulation (the fiberglass batts) must be installed “directly under” the air-impermeable layer (the spray foam).“The air impermeable insulation shall be applied in direct contact with the underside of the structural roof sheathing as specified in Table R806.5 for condensation control,” the code reads. “The air permeable layer shall be installed directly under the air-impermeable insulation.”And so, Holladay says, if you want to meet the IRC requirement for R-38 insulation, the foam and the fiberglass batts must be in contact with each other. Of course, that shouldn’t stop Frank from adding more fiberglass in the ceiling once he’s installed batts correctly between the rafters. Our expert’s opinionGBA Technical Director Peter Yost had this to say:First, on the code: while the wording of the code may not be crystal clear, the intent is. The insulation layers need to be contiguous (in direct contact). Now, it is true that you can find cases where an air space to the interior of combined insulations makes sense (for example, see Joe Lstiburek’s piece on contiguous insulation schemes, energy efficiency and thermal comfort). But in this case, leaving an air space between them simply introduces a huge convective loop between the ceiling batt insulation and the rafter spray foam insulation. Indeed, 2 + 2 = 3 (or in this case, R18 + R20 ≠ R38).And that is if the ceiling is an airtight plane, only. If it is not, and chances are it is not even close, then the big convective loop in the attic will connect with air leakage from below, and now you have a moisture problem to add to the eroded thermal performance of the attic insulation system.This scenario also assumes that you are willing to pay the cost of spray foaming not only the rafter bays of the roof, but both gable end walls of the attic as well. Depending on the roof pitch, this added gable wall insulation could be just a bit, or quite a bit.This noncontiguous insulation configuration does not meet the code, and for good reason; it won’t work, or at least won’t work as intended or with sufficient energy and economic efficiency.last_img read more

Hair colour becomes unexpected bestseller, brands vie with each other to cash in

first_imgRapunzel had it easy. Just the length of her flaxen hair was enough to get Prince Charming hooked for good. Things are not as simple anymore. If the hunt for the prince has got tougher so has the decision on the “right look”.But thanks to a range of hair-care products,,Rapunzel had it easy. Just the length of her flaxen hair was enough to get Prince Charming hooked for good. Things are not as simple anymore. If the hunt for the prince has got tougher so has the decision on the “right look”.But thanks to a range of hair-care products, agonising over the colour and style of one’s coiffure has become an experience people are not complaining about if packed beauty salons are any indicators.The hair-colour market in India is estimated at Rs 7,000 crore and has grown 200 per cent in volume in the past year. That makes it the vanguard of the personal-care market that is expected to grow at 20 per cent every year.The fact that three-fourths of the population is below 30 years of age, has high disposable incomes, is willing to experiment, is impressionable and is dying to fit in, all bolster the growth statistics.So when designer Rohit Bal adopted the Adonis blond look, not only nightclubs but college campuses also suddenly teemed with Bal clones. Not since the Sadhana cut, popularised by the winsome actress of the 1960s, has there been such a rage in the hair-styling scene.Trendy shades: A model sports streaked locksA distinct hair style has become a part of the individual’s fashion statement. Like model Diya Abraham who wore startling pink and purple streaks at the Lakme India Fashion Week in Mumbai last year.”I was out to make a statement,” she confesses. The glam look-at-me attitude is not restricted to the Page Three People. “Getting streaks or highlights is like wearing lipstick,” says design executive Arti Agarwal, who plans to get streaks of blue.advertisementAgarwal echoes the sentiments of many housewives and professionals who otherwise tend to lean on the conservative side. Hair colour has spilled much beyond the metro limits.Hairstylist Jawed Habib gives specific instances of two little explored markets-Punjab and the Northeast. Since the Sikhs can’t style their hair, “colour allows them freedom to change their looks”. “And in the Northeast,” says Habib, “people have been experimenting with colour for 10 years. They were using violets and pinks even before any multinational entered India.”Besides the Prada folk (read Tina Ambani, actor Bobby Deol, entrepreneurs Avantika and Yash Birla) who frequent Parisian salons and London stylists, most Indians till recently were dependent on the neighbourhood parlourwali.Click here to EnlargeNo longer. Funky salons like Juice, Ambika Pillai’s, Dilshad’s and Habib’s not only offer a Rs 300 haircut but they are also ambassadors of change. Though treatments can cost up to Rs 2,000, the queues have only become longer.The Lakme Beauty Salon (LBS) that opened in Mumbai in Febr uar y has a daily average of 30 customers lining up for colour wash that costs Rs 1,175. It plans to expand from the present 38 to 200 salons nationwide in the next three years.Queries on cosmetics and brands too have increased dramatically in the past five years. Says Dr Rekha Sheth, president of the Cosmetology Society of India: “My patients have doubled in the past 10 years and 40 per cent of my clientele is men.”And the astute Indian is not just chasing labels. Hair specialist Rita Khatwani points out that an increasing number of clients know exactly what they want and will pay for it. But they expect international quality.” It is the desire for the international look that the multinationals hope to cash in on. While over 46 per cent of the people use hair colour in the US, in India only about 4 per cent opt for it.When global leader L’Oreal set its sight on India in 1996, people were struggling with black dyes or home remedies like henna that leaves an unnatural red tone while camouflaging gray hair. L’Oreal campaigned against colour prejudices by training hairdressers and even having stylists forecasting colours for the season.Trendy shades: Rohit Bal’s hair hue set a new trendJawed Habib, HairstylistThe brand is now available at over 2,500 salons in 36 cities with 51 colours. Lakme has resorted to more conventional promotion drives: During the Valentine week in February, it slashed prices by 20 per cent on products and treatments at select Lakme Beauty Salons.Indian companies like Godrej and Sunsilk have also risen to the challenge. Godrej’s ColourSoft has concentrated on four basic shades and commands, together with the Godrej dye, 45 per cent of the Rs 7,000-crore market.It is the hair-dye powder sachet that is Godrej’s bestseller, even in rural India, with more than 11 lakh outlets stocking it. In contrast, Sunsilk with its range of seven colours has positioned itself as a fashion brand. Association with international stylists and the Sunsilk Salon Awards has catapulted the brand into the big league in less than a year.advertisementDomestic competition has not deterred international companies. Keune, a Dutch brand launched in May last year, is determined to make a splash in a market dominated by L’Oreal and Sunsilk. Olive green and deep blue are among the 72 shades Keune offer to the adventurous.Another newcomer Schwaskopf Professional too is eager for its share. The German company plans to invest Rs 20 crore to build brand equity and awareness. It also initiated the Academy Schwaskopf, a training institute for hair perming, colouring and straightening at Delhi’s Grand-Hyatt in January.All this to persuade customers to wear the right tint and a bright smile. No one can say, however, how long the hair colour fad will last. It might well be a case of hair today gone tomorrow.last_img read more

News, sports websites vulnerable to cyber attacks: study

first_imgLondon, Jun 11 (PTI) News and sports websites have some of the lowest levels of security adoption, making them vulnerable to cyber attacks, a new study has found.Researchers looked at the security protocols used by the top 500 sites in various industries and online sectors.They found that fewer than 10 per cent of news and sports websites used basic security protocols such as Transport Layer Security (TLS).Even those that do are not always using the “latest or strongest protocols”, researchers said.”It is like news and sport content providers do not value the security of their content,” said Professor Alan Woodward, a cyber-security expert at the University of Surrey in the UK.”They are leaving themselves vulnerable to attacks like cross-site scripting, where an attacker can pretend something has come from a website when it has not,” said Woodward.The study shows that some sectors seem much more security-conscious than others, BBC News reported.The websites of computer and technology companies and financial organisations showed a much higher level of adoption than shopping and gaming sites, for example.A quarter of the shopping sites studied were using TLS, which offers tools including digital certificates, remote passwords, and a choice of ciphers to encrypt traffic between a website and its visitors.The study was published in the Journal of Cyber Security Technology. PTI SAR MHNlast_img read more

Benji heads to Rockhamption

first_imgFOR all the touch footy fanatics out there, brace yourselves.NRL star Benji Marshall will be crashing the grounds of the Cyril Connell Fields this weekend to play his first love in sport, touch football.The Tigers halfback will join the open Australian Men’s and Women’s touch football teams for a two-day event that will see a junior coaching clinic and a few games with Rockhampton’s best players.From 2.30pm on Saturday Benji Marshal will join forces with the Rockhampton Men’s Invitational side when they play against the fury of the Australian men’s side.“Benji originally played touch and it was his first sport, he still plays it at high levels and loves it,” organiser Gavin Shuker said.But Marshall isn’t the only player who will get the locals pumped.Rockhampton’s Daniel Withers, who also plays for the Australia Men’s team, will be caught in the middle of the battle when he plays games for both his hometown team, Rockhampton, and the Australian side.“It is going to be different (playing against Rockhampton) as a lot of the players are my good mates,” Withers said.But the Australian Men’s team will also have a strong force to reckon with when they face CQ Indigenous All Stars Touch Team.“The indigenous side has a lot of skill and a lot of speed. They definitely will be playing with an attack and flamboyant style,” Withers said.“They will chuck the ball around and are not scared to have a crack, which should make it a good game when they roll in.”The Rockhampton Women’s Invitational team also will step up and give the Australian Women’s side a good run after the Australian teams have their training camp tomorrow.Rockhampton Touch Football administrator Denise Edwards said local touch football youngsters were also able to get among the action with the junior coaching clinic on Saturday morning.All Australian representitives and Benji Marshall will be at the coaching clinic to teach the young players the tricks of the trade.“In the junior clinic we will teach them skills and coach them, they are the future of the sport,” Withers said.For more information on the coaching clinic call Denise Edwards on 0409631633.Thankyou to The Morning Bulletin (Rockhampton) for the story.last_img read more

10 Common Objections to Social Media Adoption and How You Can Respond

first_imgIt can be hard to convince leadership that working with social media doesn’t mean they’ve been paying you to catch up with friends on Facebook. You’ve probably heard some of the objections. But there are ways you can respond. Here’s a list of common objections, along with suggestions for countering them:1. I suffer from information overload already.Possible replies:Try just skimming messages in some fora. You may need to look closely at every email you get but you don’t have to look at every Facebook friend’s update.The right tools for you will feel helpful in time. Experiment for awhile with new tools and stick with the ones that deliver you the most high-quality information, whether those tools are high-quantity or not. (Thanks to Aaron Hockley and Ruby Sinreich for these thoughts.)Check out tools like AideRSS and FeedHub — just two examples of services aiming to improve the signal-to-noise ratio.Times change and so do information paradigms. Get used to it. The amount of information you had access to 3 years ago was infinitely more than people at any other point in history and we’re in the middle of another huge leap right now.2. So much of what’s discussed online is meaningless. These forms of communication are shallow and make us dumber. We have real work to do!Possible replies:Much of it is not meaningless, but if you feel overwhelmed with meaninglessness, try subscribing to a search for keywords in a particular service and using that as your starting point for engagement.Having a presence and starting a conversation is rarely a bad thing. Bring quality conversation to a space and you’ll find others ready to engage. (Thanks to Banana Lee Fishbones, obviously a fan of open, non-anonymous public communication for this articulation.)Personal information can be very useful in understanding the context of more explicitly useful information.If learning how the market feels about your organization, engaging with your customers and driving traffic to your web work — all very realistic goals for social media engagement — aren’t work, then I don’t know what is. Even in the short term, strategic engagement with online social media will have a clear work pay-off.3. I don’t have the time to contribute and moderate. It looks like it takes a lot of time and energy.Possible replies:If you aren’t going to eat that lunch of yours, I’d be happy to, thanks.With practice, familiarity, and technology fine-tuned with a little experience, you’ll find the time required will decrease.You might consider this time spent on marketing or communication with your existing customer base. Perhaps there’s something else in that department that isn’t working well and could be replaced with online work.4. Our customers don’t use this stuff. The learning curve limits its usefulness to geeks.Possible replies:You might be surprised to learn how many of your customers do use these new tools already. Even more will do so in the future.The best designed tools are designed like good games: you can get small rewards right away and then learn more advanced skills to win bigger rewards. Among online services that are intended for general audiences, only poorly designed ones are too geeky.Many of these tools provide value vastly disproportionate to the literal number of people they reach. These are like high-value focus groups where you’ll gather information and preparation to engage with the rest of the world.Try asking someone near you to give you an in-person demonstration of one of these tools. You’ll find it much easier to learn once you’ve seen the right paths taken to show what it can do.5. Communicators [bloggers, tweeters] are so fickle, it’s better to stay unengaged than risk random brand damage. We don’t want hostile comments left about us on any forum we’ve legitimized.Possible replies:If you need to, you can require that any comments left on your own site be approved before they appear. This slows down the conversation but if it makes conversation possible for you, then do it.There are far fewer people who will take the time to say hostile things, even on the internet, than you might imagine.Engage. You’ll be appreciated more for it. People are going to say what they are going to say. You can either let any criticism go unanswered or you can be the bigger person/brand for responding well.Conversations are going to happen online. It’s better to be engaged than to have it happening behind your back. (As articulated by Rick Turoczy.)It’s OK, no one believes that anyone is perfect anymore. Swing for the fences sometimes. You might strike out, but sometimes you’ll hit a home run.Even if you’re not responding publicly, you should watch closely so you know what people are saying. Maybe you don’t have a blog, but subscribe to a blogsearch feed or alert for your company’s name. Maybe none of your people are on Twitter, but you can subscribe to a feed for a search via Terraminds.6. Traditional media and audiences are still bigger. We’ll do new stuff when they do.Possible replies:They already are, from blogging to online video to social networks to mobile to microblogging. Big, established brands are already doing all of it. They may be experimenting, but they will bring all their market dominance into the most useful social media sectors as soon as it suits them. Will that be too late for you? It might be.Traditional media audiences are also more passive. Online audiences can engage with, rebroadcast, and otherwise amplify your communication efforts.7. Upper management won’t support it/dedicate resources for it.Possible replies:A lot of technology adoption has for some time had to happen despite this reality. People adopt new tools on their own at work, without permission. They discover powerful ways to solve their problems and then they share them horizontally.Compared to other expenses, meaningful engagement with new online technology does not have huge costs.8. These startups can’t offer meaningful security. They may not even be around in a year. I’ll wait until Google or our enterprise software vendor starts offering this kind of functionality.Possible replies:The skills you build and the connections you make will remain with you, though. This is a paradigm shift underway more than it is about any particular tool.Chose your tools carefully. Expect data export as an option so you can back up or switch services whenever you need to. This isn’t widespread yet but the best tools allow it.9. There are so many tools that are similar. I can’t tell where to invest my time so I don’t use any of it at all.Possible replies:A little experimentation goes a long way.Try asking people in your field who have some experience what tools they are using.Try searching for keywords related to your work in various sites. You’ll find out that way which sites are best suited for you.10. That stuff’s fine for sexy brands, but we sell [insert boring B2B brand] and are known for stability more than chasing the flavor-of-the-month. We’re doing just fine with the tools we’ve got, thanks.Possible replies:Some of these things — RSS and wikis, for example — aren’t passing social fads: they are emerging best practices and the state-of-the-art.ROI is very hard to measure, but try allocating a little energy over time to experiment and see what kind of results you get. From connections between people and projects, to search-friendly inbound links, to early access to important information, the benefits of engaging in new social media go on and on.ConclusionsThere are no conclusions. This is just a conversation. Please feel free to add your thoughts in comments and check out the comments to read what others suggest as talking points when faced with these objections.Source: ReadWriteWeb @” alt=”last_img” /> read more

Choosing Non Profit Database Software: Steps to Success

first_imgRFP/RFIScripted demosUsability testingReference checksFull-cost proposals 5. Test vendors against your needsRFP/RFI. Issuing a Request For Proposals can help you identify vendors. If you can ask clear, unambiguous questions that can be answered with a yes or a no (andmaybe some amplifying text), an RFP can be helpful. Recognize that any question you ask the vendor should be a question that you can score a response to. So a “yes” answer has to mean something specific, and that gets points. A “no” means the opposite and gets no points. A well-written RFP can help you identify vendors who wouldn’t have been on your radar otherwise, or help narrow the field when you have too many vendors to evaluate in-depth.However, it is difficult to craft an RFP that will accomplish this goal.  Also, some vendors do not respond to RFPs.  Depending on your needs, you might be able to get the information you want with a short Request for Information (RFI), or even a phone call.  RFIs are good for answering basic, factual questions.Scripted demos. You are really only going to hold demos with a few vendors-three or four is usually the ideal number. The goal in holding demos is to compare apples to apples between the different vendors.The most critical step is to use a script to tell the vendors what they need to show you to prove that they can meet your requirements. The demo should focus on those areas that emerged as the top priorities in your needs assessment.Have everyone on your team rate the demos (usually a 0-10 scale with a space for comments). These ratings should not be anonymous. For instance, it’s important to know whether it was the gift-entry person or a program manager who rated a system poorly on gift entry features.You will probably have a list of questions that arose during the demos that you’ll want to ask their customers. You’ll also have general questions about the vendor: Did it cost what they told you it would cost? Do they answer your questions promptly? Do they introduce new bugs every time they upgrade the software?You need to talk to enough references to distinguish between bad clients and bad software. So if you hear something from just one site about problems, it could be that their staff wasn’t trained properly, or they didn’t configure the non profit database software properly, or they outgrew the software but can’t afford to change it.Approach reference checks like reference checks for hiring someone: you may live with this database longer than you will live with most of your employees.  It’s critical to ask detailed questions about the software and vendor.Optionally you may want to visit client sites that are using the non profit database software and find out how it works in real life. That can be incredibly educational. If you take this step, look for organizations similar to yours in size and complexity.Full-cost proposal. You may have received a cost estimate when you first talked to the vendor. As some point, you will need to get a detailed cost proposal. It should include the software, training, conversion, and ongoing maintenance fees. Particularly with non profit database software that is sold by module, you really won’t know the final cost until you have a conversation with the vendor and say, for instance, “We think we can do without the volunteer module. We can keep tracking that in Excel or in our FileMaker database. But we really need the events module.”Adapted from Robert Weiner’s “All You Need to Know about Choosing a Donor Database” presentation. You can listen to the complete presentation or read the transcript by clicking on the presentation title above or the “related article” link below. 2. Complete a Needs AssessmentWhat are your requirements? What’s working well now? What can you not give up? And what’s wrong now? What are goals in doing this project? What are you trying to fix? Maybe it’s not something that’s broken now, but it’s something that, as you consider the growth the organization is going to experience, you think will become a problem in the future. For example, you’ve never done major-gifts fundraising, but you’re going to start within the next year or two and your current software won’t support that activity.Here are the questions to ask yourself and your team:Is software really the problem? You might have the right database already, but the people who were trained have all departed the organization and no one has been trained since.  Or the database may have modules that can do what you need but you haven’t purchased them. Or your organization might have mis-configured the non profit database software -it can actually do what you need but it’s not set up properly. Or perhaps the wrong people are managing the database.If software really isn’t the problem, new software isn’t going to make your life any easier. So first you need to decide whether this is a truly a software problem, or a people or process or policy/procedure/communication problem.What do you really need? You need to distinguish wants from needs.  A true need is a single requirement that will disqualify any non profit database software that lacks it, regardless of price or other attractive features. For instance, if you’re a Macintosh shop, Mac support is mandatory. Those features that are not mandatory need to be prioritized.  When you look at systems, you should first eliminate those that don’t meet your mandatory requirements. Then you can and focus on those that meet most of your top priorities.What can you afford and support? There may be non profit database software out there that can meet every one of your requirements, but will it cost vastly more than you can spend?  Will it require new staff people to support it-positions you can’t afford?  Or will it require a higher level of technical skills than your staff possess? The following article was transcribed from a teleconference presented by Network for Good on April 15, 2008. This post was updated March 28, 2016.When you boil down your non profit database software selection process, there are five basic steps:Convene the right team.Specify your needs and priorities.Secure funding.Identify a pool of potential vendors.Test vendors against your needs.center_img 3. Secure FundingDepending on the non profit database software, software may be the smallest part of your purchase.  As databases become more complex, you often need other things to go with them.  For instance:A new server to run the software onUpdates/replacements for hardwareUpgrading your network so you have a fast-enough connectionTraining for your staffConverting your data from your old system to the your new oneDeveloping new reportsAn annual or monthly fee to continue using the software (unless it’s a free piece of software to begin with)There is set amount for how much you should spend on your database. It really depends upon your needs.|4. Identify a Pool of Potential VendorsNow that you know what you’re looking for and have a ballpark budget in mind, you need to identify a list of potential vendors of non profit database software .  If you are part of a network of organizations that do similar types of work, that’s usually a great place to start. There might also be deals between your national headquarters and vendors or deals between other chapter offices of your organization and vendors that can save you money. Even if you’re an independent group, you can find out what other similar organizations are using.You can also ask on general purpose lists, such as TechSoup and Idealware. Talk about your specific requirements so that you hear from comparable organizations.Try to find vendors that have experience working with organizations that are similar to yours, unless you are willing to take risks. Sometimes it is completely justified to take a risk on a vendor who has never worked with your kind of organization before because their technology meets your needs, they inspire confidence, and they are interested in getting into your market. They may be willing to give you a great discount in order to prove themselves in your market. But only accept the discount if it is software that looks like it’s really going to meet your needs.From Network for Good: Our donor database software is specifically designed for small to mid-sized nonprofits. 1. Convene the Right TeamFirst, convene a group of people who will select the non profit database software . The team should consist of subject matter experts in the areas that the database is going to address. Since we’re talking about a donor database, that’s usually direct mail, major gifts, grant writing, gift-entry, and IT staff. You need to get input from the people who will actually have their hands on the keyboards, getting the donations in, running those reports, etc.Selecting a non profit database software is not an IT decision. It is a business decision about how you’re going to run your nonprofit.  Techies should be included on the selection team so they can advise you on the standards that are appropriate for your organization, but it’s not a technical decision.You also need to realize that while you’re trying to get input from everyone, you may not be able to satisfy everyone in this decision. You’re probably not going to be able to afford, or necessarily even find, a database that will do everything the team can possibly imagine.So part of the exercise is going through a prioritization exercise so that you know which needs are most important.last_img read more

Key Components for Fundraising in a Downturn Economy

first_imgHow do you get people to buy into your organization and donate during tough times?This comes down to understanding the concept of a benefit exchange:An immediate reward to someone for taking actionThe benefit is something personal and deeply related to their valuesThat reward is coming from a messenger they trustThe messenger is key during tough times. One idea would be to frame fundraising appeals such that they come from other donors talking about why they gave. Their reasons for choosing your particular organization elevate the value of your nonprofit in the eyes of the recipient.If you can plug into topical issues, your message is more likely to get through. Another hot point is to try to key into some of the issues that are front and center in the news. For example, if your organization is focused on the environment, compose your appeals to talk about how you’re working to try to combat the $4 gallon of gasoline.This may be a great opportunity to ask people to sign up for monthly donations. Wallets are tight right now, so donors may appreciate the option to give a little bit each month, rather than making a large credit card donation in December.Source: Adapted from the Nonprofit 911 Presentation “The Experts Are In! Your Online Fundraising and Nonprofit Marketing Questions Answered.”last_img read more