Boks romp to record win over Wallabies

first_img1 September 2008Recent unhappy thoughts of a disappointing Tri-Nations 2008 campaign were erased at the weekend as the Springboks ended their competition with a record 53-8 victory over the Wallabies. The win brought the curtain down on Percy Montgomery’s outstanding career.South Africa entered their final Tri-Nations match needing a win to avoid a first-ever home whitewash in the southern hemisphere’s flagship rugby competition. Incredibly, when the dust had settled on their clash in Johannesburg, the Boks had prevented that ignominious record with a sensational 45-point victory.South Africa’s loss to the Aussies at the Absa Stadium in Durban had been the world champion’s third on the trot and after that lacklustre performance they had come in for heavy criticism in the week leading up to the clash at Coca-Cola Park (formerly Ellis Park).StructureMost experts felt the Boks needed more structure in their approach. The question was whether or not it would be on show in Johannesburg, and what effect it would have on the Springboks’ play.The answers to the questions were clear: there was more structure on show on Saturday and with it came more opportunities. By making effective use of those opportunities, the Springboks raced to a record margin of victory over the Wallabies as they outscored them by eight tries to one.The score makes clear the dominance that South Africa enjoyed in all phases of play. The direction that was absent in their disheartening losses earlier in the Tri-Nations was back and Springbok fans were treated to a rich dollop of traditional Bok rugby.Effective approachThe effectiveness of the approach that had won South Africa the 2007 Rugby World Cup left one wondering why there was ever an attempt to play the game in any other way. It also left Bok supporters hoping that their team will from now on stick to the tried, tested, and successful.Australia were first on the scoreboard after five minutes of play when, after they had kept the Springboks pinned in their half of the field, Butch James was trapped offsides. Matt Giteau slotted an easy penalty attempt to put his team 3-0 ahead.South Africa went onto the attack from the restart and eventually capitalised from a knock on by Wallaby skipper Stirling Mortlock. The Boks moved the ball left, but looked pretty static until Andries Bekker ran onto a pass into a gap and raced through to dot down. Butch James converted to increase SA’s lead to 7-3.Easy run-inOnly three minutes later, South Africa had crossed for a second five-pointer. Scrumhalf Fourie du Preez took a quick tap and spun the ball wide. Jean de Villiers drew a defender and passed to Jongi Nokwe for an easy run-in. James was wide with his kick, but the Boks’ lead had grown to nine points at 12-3 in front.Australia had an opportunity to get back into the game four minutes later, but Lote Tuquri dropped a pass with an open goal line in front of him.After 25 minutes, the Springboks extended their lead. The Australians were shoved off the ball after a scrum near their own try line and South Africa made them pay for conceding the tighthead; Du Preez moved it wide and after a few pick ‘n drives Nokwe was freed up for another easy canter over the line.James was off target with conversion, but South Africa’s lead had grown to 17-3.The flyhalf had another kick at goal shortly afterwards from right in front after Springbok pressure led to the Wallabies conceding a penalty. This time he was on target and SA led 20-3.BeastBok loosehead prop “Beast” Mtawarira had been making Matt Dunning’s life miserable in the front row and after just 32 minutes the Australian coaching staff had seen enough as Al Baxter substituted Dunning.Four minutes the Springboks scored their bonus point try and Nokwe again benefited after he found himself on the end of an overlap once more. Schalk Burger made a break from a lineout before finding De Villiers with a pass. He pulled three defenders in before releasing Nokwe to cross for a hat-trick of tries.Butch James added the extras and South Africa took a 27-3 lead, which was the score when the halftime whistle sounded.Any concerns that the Springboks might go off the boil in the second half were quickly dispelled when they added a fifth try only three minutes into the second stanza.Long-distance tryDe Villiers made a break and his centre partner Adi Jacobs, running a good angle, burst through the Australian defence. A neat sidestep wrong-footed the last defender as Jacobs raced through for a long-distance try.James kicked the conversion and South Africa were 34-3 ahead.After 50 minutes the lead was extended as Nokwe scored a Tri-Nations’ record fourth try in a single game.A clever grubber kick by Conrad Jantjes was gathered by Odwa Ndungane and left wing Nokwe, looking for work on the right, was on hand to take the offload from Ndungane and crash over for another try. Unfortunately for the flyer, he was injured in the act of scoring and had to be substituted.James missed the kick, but the lead had been extended to an astonishing margin of 39-3.A few minutes later Matt Giteau intercepted and ran through to dot down for the shellshocked Aussies, but the try was disallowed and the flyhalf penalised for straying offsides.Australian tryNot long afterwards, though, the Wallabies finally cracked the South African defences. After retaining possession through a number of phases, they worked the ball up to the Springbok try line. They then moved the ball quickly to the left where Drew Mitchell crossed in the corner for the five-pointer.The conversion attempt by Giteau was wide of the mark, leaving the score at 39-8.After about 15 minutes without a change to the score, Ruan Pienaar, on for James at flyhalf, scored the Springboks’ seventh try with a brilliant solo effort during which he beat three defenders before crashing over near the uprights.Percy Montgomery knocked over the conversion to put South Africa 46-8 ahead.Nail in the coffinTwo minutes from the end the Boks struck again to make their victory margin over the Wallabies their biggest ever. Substitute Danie Rossouw made a powerful run that split the Australian defence and then committed the final defender to the tackle before passing to Odwa Ndungane, who rounded off the move.Montgomery added the extras to make the final score 53-8.It was a vastly improved performance by the Springboks and the woes at the breakdown where Victor Matfield and company had played second fiddle during their three successive losses were comprehensively rectified; more players were committed to the loose ball and SA bossed the breakdown.The pack, with “Beast” Mtawarira to the fore, dominated the set scrums and the lineouts, which had been strangely unreliable in Durban, were more solid.DefenceSouth Africa’s defence, upon which Springbok teams pride themselves, regained its hard-hitting edge and the game plan that won the Boks a World Cup was once more in evidence.Coach Peter de Villiers insisted the Springboks were still a long way off the level they could achieve, putting their performance at only 60 to 70 percent of its potential. However, observers have by now learnt to take his pronouncements with a pinch of salt.SA skipper Victor Matfield, upon whom cheers rained down during the after-match interviews, praised his team, saying their character had shown itself when the pressure was at its greatest.Australia’s coach Robbie Deans quipped: “We’ve already seen in this tournament how little it takes to go from being a victor and enjoying the experience to a loser and not enjoying the experience.”Would you like to use this article in your publicationor on your website?See: Using SAinfo materiallast_img read more

Abducted owner of BDM sporting goods, Sudhir Mahajan, rescued in UP

first_imgThe leading sports goods manufacturer and exporter from this town in Uttar Pradesh, who was abducted late Tuesday while he was headed home, has been rescued, police said on Wednesday.Sudhir Mahajan (55), the managing director of M/S BDM & Sons (Pvt) Ltd, was found tied to a tree in Khatauli town of Muzaffarnagar district late Wednesday, a police official said.Earlier, the abductors had demanded Rs.2 crore from the businessman’s family, Deputy Inspector General of Police Zaki Ahmad said. He added that teams were formed to nab the kidnappers. Mahajan was abducted late on Tuesday when he was headed to his Defence Colony residence at the Mawana road here. He left his factory at the Sports Goods Complex on Delhi road in his car around 8.30 p.m. According to police, the manufacturer of BDM cricket kit had stopped briefly to buy some paint boxes from the market. Around 10.30 p.m., the driver stopped the car around 300 metres before Defence Colony to check some noise in the boot space where the paint boxes were kept. However, when he was heading back to his seat, three kidnappers pounced on him from a nearby bush and forced themselves into the car and held the driver and the businessman at gunpoint, police said.Around 11.30 p.m., Mahajan’s son Siddharth received a text message and a phone call in which the kidnappers demanded Rs.2 crore for releasing his father, according to a police official.last_img read more

Why You Need the Wired Wealthy

first_imgA growing number of people are giving even bigger bucks online.  A new study, “The Wired Wealthy” by Convio, Sea Change Strategies and Edge Research, looks at these major online donors in depth.  Read the full study below, or just check out these key points from the study:Major and moderate donors are generous and onlineThe e-mail files surveyed represent one percent of the membership but 32 percent of the revenue for this sector80 percent of the wired wealthy made donations both online and offline72 percent say donating online is more efficient and helps charities reduce administrative costs51 percent said they prefer giving online and 46 percent said that five years from now they will be making a greater portion of their charitable gifts onlineMost charity Web sites are missing opportunities to fully engage wealthy wired with their organizationOnly 40 percent said that most charity Web sites made them feel personally connected to their cause or missionOnly 40 percent said that most charity Web sites are inspiring48 percent felt most charity Web sites are well-designedEmail shows signs of lost opportunities to connect with various donors74 percent said it was appropriate for the charity to send an email reminding them to renew an annual gift74 percent said that an email from the charity about how their donation was spent, and what happened as a result would make them more likely to give again65 percent said they always open and glance at emails from causes they supportThree distinct groups of donors emerged based on the extent to which the donor sees the Internet as a source of connection between themselves and the causesRelationship seekers (29%) – the group most likely to connect emotionally with organizations onlineAll business (30%) – not looking for a relationship or emotional connection, but a smooth and simple donation processCasual connectors (41%) occupy the middle ground, showing some interest in sustaining an online relationship, but also wanting a smooth and simple processNonprofits should create and provide options that let the wired wealthy customize their online experience with the cause, says the study.last_img read more

10 Steps to Being Found on Search Engines

first_imgLet’s do an experiment. Go to Google and type in the most commonly used version of your organization’s name. Do you show up first in the resulting list of sites? What if you type in a short phrase describing the type of work you’d like to be known for? Do you show up in the top page of those search results, too?Your placement on search engines like Google or Yahoo Search is important. At a minimum, it should be easy for your current constituents to find your site using your organization’s name. Showing up on the first page of search results for key terms — for instance, something like “Cincinnati women’s shelter,” if that describes your organization — can also make a huge difference in your site traffic, not to mention in potential donors, volunteers, and clients’ ability to find and connect with you.You don’t have complete control over where and how your Web site shows up in search engines, but you have more power than you might think. The process of site tweaking and outreach that’s used to enhance your search engine placement is called search engine optimization (or SEO for short). While SEO is often described in ways that make it seem like a mystical art form, in fact none of the key steps are particularly hard to understand. They are often, however, time consuming, and most require at least the ability to update your site’s text, if not basic HTML skills.Investing time in comparatively straightforward tasks like including key phrases in titles and headlines can reap some substantial benefits. Below, we suggest 10 steps that can help search engines find and prioritize your site content. While some steps are more technical than others, these concepts can help anyone understand and prioritize search engine optimization for their organization.1. Ensure Your Site Has High-Quality InformationThe cornerstone of any optimization strategy — or just a good Web site strategy, for that matter — is a lot of great, relevant information tailored to those you’d like to attract to your site. A large volume of high-quality content helps with a number of the steps listed below — for instance, you’re more likely to have information that’s useful to any particular person, you’re more likely to include the key phrases for which people are searching, and other sites are more likely to link to yours.Not to mention, of course, that a terrific site is more likely to engage the people who find you through search engines, and encourage them to become not only repeat visitors, but friends of your organization.2. Help Search Engines Find Your SiteSearch engines read through huge volumes of information on the Web with software programs called “robots” or “spiders” (because they navigate, or “crawl,” through the Web). These spiders create an index which contains, essentially, all the pages they’ve found and the words that are contained on them.You need to make sure your Web site is included in those indexes. You can easily check to see if your site has been indexed by Google’s index by searching “site:www.yourdomain.org” — i.e. site:www.idealware.org. This search will show a list of all the pages from your site that are included in Google’s index (ideally, every page on your site).If you’re not included in the indexes — for instance, if you have a new Web site, or one without much traffic — none of the steps below will do much good until you are. How do you get included? You can submit your site to the search engines — to Google, or Yahoo for instance — but experts are divided on how useful this is. It’s certainly not a quick way to be included.A better way is to get other indexed sites to link to yours. You can start this effort with huge, general-interest directories like the DMOZ directory, but you’re likely to have as much or more success with directories or listings related to your field. Is there an online directory of children’s service organizations? Does your United Way have a listing of local organizations? Do your funders have a list of grantees online? Any of these (or ideally all of them, as per the next section) could provide the link you need to be indexed.Some online services say they’ll submit you to a lot of directories and search engines automatically. These generally aren’t worth the money, as indiscriminate listings aren’t nearly as useful as ones targeted to your sector.3. Encourage Others to Link to YouLinks from other sites to yours are a critical aspect of search engine optimization. A couple of links will help the search engines find your sites, but lots of links will show them that your site is a central, important resource for particular topics.The more incoming links you have from credible organizations (that is to say, organizations that show up high on search engines themselves), the higher you will be listed in search results. To check to see the links that Google has indexed for your site, enter “link:www.yourdomain.org” into the Google search bar. The resulting list doesn’t include every link from every site, but is a guide to the approximate quantity of high-quality links.How do you get people to link to you? As we mentioned above, there are likely a number of organizations that have a list of organizations like yours. Ensuring you’re included in all the relevant directories is a good start. See if partner organizations will link to you. Do a search on the phrases for which you’d like to be found and look for ways to get the organizations at the top of the search results to link to you. Think through content you could provide — perhaps reports, articles, toolkits, directories of your own — that would be so useful that organizations would be inspired to link to it.4. Identify the Keywords For Which You’d Like to Be FoundWe’ve talked so far about ways for people to find your site as a whole — but people are unlikely to be looking for your site specifically. They’re much more likely to be looking for good information or a resource on a particular topic, which they’ll identify by entering the first words that come to mind when they think about their topic, known as keywords in search engine optimization lingo.Identifying the keywords that people are likely to use, and for which you’d like to be found, is a critical step in search engine optimization. You should ideally think through keywords not just for your organization as a whole, but for each content page that might have useful information for your target audience. For instance, “Cincinnati women’s shelter” might lead people to your organization, but if you offer meaty content on your site, a search on “signs of domestic abuse” might also lead people to you.How do you identify your core keywords? It’s not a science. First off, try to identify phrases that are reasonably specific to your organization. Trying to show up in the top of the search results for “the environment” is likely to be a losing battle, but “measuring river-water quality” is a more achievable goal. In thinking through your keywords, consider: Be careful of duplicate pages.Search engines react badly to duplicate content, as it’s a common ploy of those trying to spam a search engine into better placement. Be careful of structures that show the same page content at multiple URLs (for instance, as a print-friendly version). If multiple versions are important, use the “robots” metatag to specify that additional versions shouldn’t be indexed. Also, take particular care not to set up a site so it can be seen in its entirety at multiple domains (for instance, at both http://www.idealware.org and http://idealware.org) — instead, redirect from one domain to the other. Page text.Repeating your keywords a number of times (but not so many times to annoy your readers, of course) throughout the page text is likely to boost your placement. If you are looking for a comparatively quick way to optimize each page, adding keywords in just the title and description metadata can provide substantial results without a wholesale rewrite of your site.Note that the keywords need to be shown as text. Spiders can’t read images, so any page, header, or feature that’s displayed as a graphic — regardless of how prominent on the page — is invisible to search engines.6. Ensure a Search-Friendly Web Site ArchitectureOkay, we need to delve into a bit of technical detail for a minute. Unfortunately, the detailed structure of a Web site can affect your search engine placement in important ways. If you’re not generally familiar with Web site construction concepts and HTML (the language of Web sites), you may need to flag this section to the attention of a trusted Web developer.Spiders don’t read in the same way that a human would, so it’s important to follow some basic site-structure guidelines to ensure that they can find and read your information: How many keywords should you have? That’s up to you. Ideally, you’d have a least a couple keyword phrases for each page on your site. Some organizations optimize for thousands of keywords. However, starting with just a few phrases and a few pages is far better than nothing.5. Place Keywords in Prime LocationsOnce you’ve identified your priority keywords, the next step is to integrate them into your Web pages. When someone searches on a key phrase, the search engine looks for pages that include prominent mentions of the phrase: ones that contain it a number of times, show it toward the top of the page, and include it in key locations.Unfortunately, there’s no substitute for the time-consuming task of incorporating your keywords into each content page. For each page, consider how you can incorporate your keywords into: Headlines and section titles.Text that is formatted prominently (bigger, bolder, higher on the page) is more likely to affect search engine placement than other text, so keywords will hold more weight in headlines. What search phrases are people using in your domain?Tools like Good Keywords or WordTracker can help you to brainstorm keywords related to the ones you’ve already identified, and to find the phrasing that searchers are most likely to use. Ensure there’s a simple link to every page on your site.JavaScript navigation schemes — particularly ones that use rollovers — can make it hard for spiders to recognize and follow a link. Dynamic URLs, particularly ones that indicate the parameter with a question mark, can also be problematic. If your site is dynamic, consider creating a site index that contains a link to every page. Ideally, convert your dynamic URLs so that they look like static pages with a command like mod_rewrite. What phrases are associated with your organization?Start the keyword process by listing the words and phrases that you’re already using in your marketing materials. The name of your organization is an obvious one, as is the name of any well-known people associated with you. Do you have a tagline or short mission statement that concisely and usefully summarizes what you do? What phrases do you use in that? How are people currently finding you?If you have access to a Web site analytics tool, you can likely see the search engine phrases that people are currently using to find you. These can be a useful starting point in understanding how people search for your information. Think about how you can increase the ease with which you can be found for these phrases, and use them to provide inspiration for more important phrases. Page description metadata.Each page has a “description” field, a longer description of page content that can be accessed in a similar way to the “title” metadata. The description is another important place to include your keywords, and is also sometimes shown by search engines as the description of your page in search results. Page title metadata.Each page has what’s called a “title metadata field,” which controls the text that shows up in header bar at the top of the browser window — and which is also frequently shown as the page title in search engine results. This is one of the most important places to include your keywords. This title field can be edited through the HTML code of the page, or through most methods you might use to update your site — for instance, through Dreamweaver, Contribute, and most content-management systems. Link text.The words used as a link to your page are prioritized highly when the search engines consider that page. Optimize the links within your own site and especially any external links you have control over, for example in your blog, email signatures, social network profiles, and so on. Encourage others to link to you using your keywords — for instance, by providing keyword-heavy titles and descriptions for resources on your site. Include content early in each HTML page.When looking for content keywords, search engines prioritize keywords that show up early in the text of the page — and that text includes all of the HTML code. Try to structure the page so that the HTML code includes the content as early as possible — as opposed to, for instance, including code for complex headers, navigation bars, and sidebars before getting to the actual page text. Use standard header tags.Some search engines prioritize text that is displayed in standard formatting tags such as H1 or H2, so it’s worthwhile using those as opposed to creating custom names for your header styles. Page URL.If you can control the actual filename of the page (e.g. “search_engines.html”), keywords embedded in the URL are also counted as highly relevant. One last caution: avoid tricks. In reading through this article and others, you may think you’ve found loopholes to get higher placement without the work. That’s very unlikely. Search engines spend a huge amount of time trying to preclude shortcuts, and they don’t take kindly to being tricked. If you set up your site in a way that looks to a search engine like you’re trying to fool them, they may remove your site from their listings altogether.7. Keep Your Site FreshSearch engines love new pages. Try to add new stories, reports, news releases, and the like so that search engines feel that your site is frequently updated and thus should be frequently indexed. If your site is rarely updated, it can take months for search engines to find your infrequent new additions.Blogs can be a particularly useful way to easily add new pages to your site — and can also provide great information that encourages links from others (not to mention all the other ways blogs can help in marketing and outreach!).8. Consider Google GrantsSo far, we’ve focused on ways to tweak and optimize your site in order to be listed for free on any search engine. There’s another way, though, to be listed on Google: Google gives away free search-engine advertising (the links listed as “Sponsored Links” down the right side of the search results page) through its Google Grants program.If you’re approved for the program (at the moment, Google appears to be using a non-competitive vetting process, although it can take up to six months or so to hear back), you can place text ads that show up each time someone enters key phrases into the Google search box. The grants often offer enough free advertising to allow you to place ads for hundreds of keywords.Google Grants isn’t a replacement for the steps above. It only affects Google and not other search engines, and many organizations find that an ad to a page doesn’t bring nearly as much traffic as a link to that page from the traditional search results. However, it’s a straightforward process that every nonprofit should consider.9. Be Patient, but Keep Checking InSearch engines don’t respond to changes overnight. In fact, it might take a month or more to see the results of your efforts reflected in search engine results. Don’t give up hope — keep including keywords in new content, and asking other organizations to link to your resources.Once you do see some results, don’t rest on your laurels. The Web is a dynamic place, and new Web sites, new articles, and changing search engine priorities can affect your placement. Check in on the search results for your keywords at least every month or so, to help maintain your position and continue to enhance your strategy.10. Enjoy the Fruits of Your LaborUnfortunately, search engine optimization isn’t a particularly short or easy road. But it’s important to take on at least some of the basic steps — for instance, ensuring your site is linked to from a few well-known sites, and including some of your most important keywords in page titles and headers.When your new donors, volunteers, and clients mention that they found you through Google or Yahoo Search, you’ll be glad you took the time.Many thanks to Heather Gardner-Madras of gardner-madras | strategic creative, Kevin Gottesman of Gott Advertising, and Michael Stein, Internet Strategist, who also contributed to this article.This article is courtesy of Idealware, which provides candid information to help nonprofits choose effective software. For more articles and reviews, go to www.idealware.org.Copyright © 2008 CompuMentor. This work is published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 License.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

9 Ways to Fix Bad Email

first_imgI’m very excited that my organization, Network for Good, has partnered with Emma to offer a new Email campaign tool. I won’t use this space to extoll its virtues (though as a marketing person, I have to say there are many), but I did want to celebrate the fact this week with a couple of email posts. Here are 9 ways to create vastly better emails:1. Define Your Audience. You could buy an enormous list of cold prospects (WARNING: bad idea!) or focus on a carefully built list of people who care. You’ll do much better with the latter group who has given you permission to communicate with them. No one likes spam. (Some people enjoy SPAM®, but that’s a whole ‘nother can of meat.) 2. Define Your Message. Do you have the right message and right time for that message? Focus your message on your audience’s interests, aspirations and desires rather than your own need for money. It’s all about “you marketing” versus “me marketing.” 3. Get to the point in spectacular fashion, in the first few words. The subject line of your email needs to seize the audience’s attention. Don’t ever bury the lead. (A good trick that usually works – throw out your first paragraph.) 4. Offer something of value to the reader-helpful tips, for example. Those are likely to be saved, not trashed. People will think of you in a favorable way. 5. Segment and personalize. The more the missive speaks to the receiver as an individual, the more likely they will perceive it as something other than spammy slop. 6. Be different. People are drowning in email. Whether it’s the tone of your message or the startling honesty of your subject line, a standout element is required. 7. Make the call to action so incredibly easy to do, people just can’t say no. Strive for a one-click or one-second level of ease. 8. Make it easy for people to unsubscribe or get off your mailing list. Include an unsubscribe button and an easy way for people to contact you to update their information. It’s convenient, transparent for you and keeps you in line with CAN-SPAM rules. 9. Don’t email donors, subscribers, etc. via Outlook. Ever. It will get you into trouble. You need a professional email outreach tool.last_img read more