Does the Saga share price make the company a bargain?

first_img The high-calibre small-cap stock flying under the City’s radar Kevin Godbold | Tuesday, 26th January, 2021 | More on: SAGA Enter Your Email Address Kevin Godbold has no position in any shares mentioned. The Motley Fool UK has no position in any of the shares mentioned. Views expressed on the companies mentioned in this article are those of the writer and therefore may differ from the official recommendations we make in our subscription services such as Share Advisor, Hidden Winners and Pro. Here at The Motley Fool we believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. I would like to receive emails from you about product information and offers from The Fool and its business partners. Each of these emails will provide a link to unsubscribe from future emails. More information about how The Fool collects, stores, and handles personal data is available in its Privacy Statement. Adventurous investors like you won’t want to miss out on what could be a truly astonishing opportunity…You see, over the past three years, this AIM-listed company has been quietly powering ahead… rewarding its shareholders with generous share price growth thanks to a carefully orchestrated ‘buy and build’ strategy.And with a first-class management team at the helm, a proven, well-executed business model, plus market-leading positions in high-margin, niche products… our analysts believe there’s still plenty more potential growth in the pipeline.Here’s your chance to discover exactly what has got our Motley Fool UK investment team all hot-under-the-collar about this tiny £350+ million enterprise… inside a specially prepared free investment report.But here’s the really exciting part… right now, we believe many UK investors have quite simply never heard of this company before! Simply click below to discover how you can take advantage of this. City analysts have been optimistic about the potential for Saga’s (LSE: SAGA) business to recover. They’d pencilled in a generous three-figure-percentage rebound in earnings for the next trading year to January 2022. But today, the travel and insurance provider released a trading update and the share price dipped lower.Saga has insurance operations that are ticking over nicely and a travel business that has been suspended because of Covid-19. The company said today the retail insurance broking business performed well in the six-month period from 1 August 2020. And that applied to all the categories of Motor, Home and Private medical insurance. Meanwhile, in a rare positive delivered by the pandemic, there were “significantly” fewer motor claims because customers haven’t been using their vehicles as much as usual. So for those reasons, I can see why the share price had risen across the first three weeks of January.5G is here – and shares of this ‘sleeping giant’ could be a great way for you to potentially profit!According to one leading industry firm, the 5G boom could create a global industry worth US$12.3 TRILLION out of thin air…And if you click here we’ll show you something that could be key to unlocking 5G’s full potential…Saga’s cash-burnThe firm has been focusing on customer retention and controlling costs in the travel business. But the business has been burning more than £6m of cash each month through the second half of the current trading year. That’s a horrendous outflow and contributed to net debt rising by £139m since 31 July 2020 to £785m. And that’s despite the company raising extra capital last September.However, as well as burning cash, Saga took delivery of a new cruise ship in the period and that pushed the net debt figure much higher. So, the pandemic wasn’t entirely responsible for the firm’s escalating borrowings. Nevertheless, high debts are one of the big problems with the company, as I see it. And it’s one of the main items I’d monitor if I were tempted to buy some of the shares.Looking ahead, Saga is determined to pursue its recovery strategy. And that includes aiming to strengthen the brand, improve the focus on customers and getting the insurance and travel businesses back to sustainable growth. The pandemic is ongoing, of course, but the directors “remain confident” they can “unlock the potential” of Saga.The valuation Meanwhile, with the share price near 267p, the valuation looks well up with events to me. And that’s even after accounting for the anticipated surge in profits in the next trading year. Although the forward-looking price-to-earnings rating is in single-digits, factoring in the big debt load produces a higher multiple. Although Saga does have a low-looking price-to-book ratio because of the cruise ships it owns.However, to me, the valuation already accounts for a lot going right for the overall business in the future, such as earnings growth, stronger cash inflow and debt-reduction. So, I reckon the Covid-recovery trade in the stock has probably already happened. And investors will likely now be looking to invest in Saga for the longer-term growth potential of the business.But I believe there are better opportunities available on the London stock market right now. So, I’m not prepared to risk my hard-earned on Saga shares for the time being, although I wish the company, its shareholders and the well-loved brands well for the future.center_img Click here to claim your copy of this special investment report — and we’ll tell you the name of this Top Small-Cap Stock… free of charge! Renowned stock-picker Mark Rogers and his analyst team at The Motley Fool UK have named 6 shares that they believe UK investors should consider buying NOW.So if you’re looking for more stock ideas to try and best position your portfolio today, then it might be a good day for you. Because we’re offering a full 33% off your first year of membership to our flagship share-tipping service, backed by our ‘no quibbles’ 30-day subscription fee refund guarantee. Does the Saga share price make the company a bargain? Image source: Getty Images. Our 6 ‘Best Buys Now’ Shares See all posts by Kevin Godboldlast_img read more

Dogs Blank Cats On The Diamond

first_imgRoell Throws Two-Hit Shutout As Bulldogs Defeat Franklin County.Batesville Senior Alex Roell did not allow a single run as the Bulldogs defeated Franklin County 5-0 on Thursday. Roell allowed just two hits and induced a groundout from the Wildcats’ Grant Smith to end the game.Roell earned the win for the Bulldogs, which makes him 5-1 with a 1.23 ERA on the season. He pitched a complete game seven innings, giving up zero runs, and two hits. Blake Ripperger took the loss for Franklin County. He threw seven innings, giving up five runs, six hits, and striking out six.The Bulldogs had six hits in the game. Senior Zach Britton had two hits (both of them doubles), while Sophomore Trey Heidlage had two hits (a single and a double).The win makes the Bulldogs 14-8 overall with a 7-2 record (2nd place) in the EIAC. Batesville will play Greensburg and Jac-Cen-Del in a Round Robin this Saturday.Courtesy of Bulldogs Justin Tucker.last_img read more

Nick Mellen’s likely absence leaves Syracuse leaning heavily on unproven defenders

first_img Published on February 6, 2017 at 11:36 pm Contact Sam: [email protected] | @Sam4TR An already young Syracuse team appears like it’ll be even more inexperienced on opening night. Not only will the Orange need to replace two key, graduated defenders, but Nick Mellen, the only holdover from last season’s defensive starting line, has yet to be cleared to play.The sophomore had offseason surgery after tearing his right shoulder labrum against Duke last season and missed all of fall ball. The West Genesee (New York) High School graduate had begun running, working out and stickhandling as of Feb. 2 but had not participated in a contact practice as of Feb. 4. Despite optimism from Mellen and SU head coach John Desko throughout the preseason, the speedy-return narrative has loosened lately.“He’s been working out,” Desko said on Feb. 2, “but not good to go yet. Maybe I was a little wishful thinking before.”Losing Mellen means a hole opens for SU’s top longpole. The 5-foot-9, 178-pound defender has difficulty bodying up taller attacks, but his speed and horizontal quickness helped him finish third on the team in groundballs (38) and tied for second in caused turnovers (14).Desko re-upped on his doubt after Saturday’s scrimmage against Harvard that Mellen will be ready to go on Saturday at 4 p.m. when the No. 6 Orange begins its season against Siena. The veteran may not have provided a measurable difference this weekend anyway: Each of SU’s three wins over Siena in the last five seasons has come by at least 12 goals.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textMellen’s absence means the Orange will feature a fully fresh-faced starting defensive line of which the top two options put together have fewer appearances than Mellen did his freshman year alone. The only underclassman selected to the All-Atlantic Coast Conference preseason team could be missed more against bigger, faster opponents, like star attack Connor Fields on No. 13 Albany the following week.“He’ll be very much needed,” Desko said. “In a lot of games last year, he covered the top attackman. … He’s got an ability to cover a real quick guy, and there are plenty of those out there this year.”For now, those responsibilities fall to an unproven group including sophomore Tyson Bomberry and redshirt sophomore Marcus Cunningham. In a combined 14 career appearances and one start, the pair has three groundballs and two caused turnovers.The two are tasked with spearheading a group, until Mellen returns, to fill in the hole left by graduated seniors Jay McDermott and Brandon Mullins. The former led the team with 31 caused turnovers — more than double the second-best mark — and the latter scooped up 41 groundballs, best on the team save for FOGO Ben Williams.The Mellen-Mullins-McDermott D-line accounted for 40 percent of the team’s total caused turnovers last season and kick-started a late-season, six-game winning streak of allowing 6.5 goals per game en route to an ACC tournament championship.“I’ve seen (Mellen) working out a lot and playing wall ball,” redshirt junior midfielder Matt Lane said. “He’s pretty close to go. He’s hungry to get out there.”Cunningham served as the fourth man for last year’s defensive unit and Desko praised Bomberry’s “terrific” offseason while stressing he needed more game experience. The third spot looks like it’s up for grabs based on Desko’s comments and his lineups in scrimmages against Hofstra and Harvard. Scott Firman, a long stick midfielder transitioning to close defense, seems the likeliest candidate with redshirt freshman Andrew Helmer and true Nick DiPietro lurking.“Obviously it hurts to have Nick out,” Cunningham said, “but we’re going to hold it down until he gets back.”Mellen presumably slots back in next to Bomberry and Cunningham when he returns. The head coach complimented Mellen’s footwork in the preseason while saying he needs to improve off the ball and fix his “freshman mistakes.”It’s unclear when exactly Mellen will get that chance but when he does, as Desko said, he has the top assignment every game to look forward to.“The sooner we get him back,” Desko said, “the better off we’re going to be.” Comments Facebook Twitter Google+last_img read more

Unhappy JR Smith wants Cavaliers to trade him

first_imgJR Smith #5 of the Cleveland Cavaliers reacts after narrowly missing a half court shot during warms ups prior to the game against the Atlanta Hawks at Quicken Loans Arena on October 21, 2018 in Cleveland, Ohio. Jason Miller/Getty Images/AFPCLEVELAND — J.R. Smith has added another tier to the Cavaliers’ mounting troubles.Dropped from the rotation and unhappy with his role on a team rebuilding through youth, Smith said Thursday that he wants to be traded. The enigmatic guard said he hasn’t formally requested a trade by Cleveland’s front office because the Cavs are already aware of his feelings.ADVERTISEMENT LATEST STORIES Nadine Lustre’s phone stolen in Brazil Lights inside SMX hall flicker as Duterte rants vs Ayala, Pangilinan anew Carpio hits red carpet treatment for China Coast Guard PLAY LIST 02:14Carpio hits red carpet treatment for China Coast Guard02:56NCRPO pledges to donate P3.5 million to victims of Taal eruption00:56Heavy rain brings some relief in Australia02:37Calm moments allow Taal folks some respite03:23Negosyo sa Tagaytay City, bagsak sa pag-aalboroto ng Bulkang Taal01:13Christian Standhardinger wins PBA Best Player award Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. “I can’t do that to the fans.”It’s been a tough opening month for the Cavs, who fired Lue and believed they were replacing him with assistant Larry Drew. However, Drew said he doesn’t want the ‘interim’ tag unless he gets some assurance from Cleveland’s front office and the sides have not come to an agreement on a restructured contract.On top of that, All-Star Kevin Love is expected to miss weeks with a toe injury.Smith has brought a new challenge, but insists he will be a professional.“There’s a lot of things that’s going on around here that I don’t know the answer to and I don’t know why it’s going on, but it is and I can’t control that,” he said. “I just worry about what I can control, worry about being a good vet to these young guys who are playing — cheer for ‘em, help ’em as much as they want me to help. Other than that, I’m buying time, I guess.”ADVERTISEMENT Dog’s day: Ex-NBA player’s pet quarantined on landing in Australia Gretchen Barretto’s daughter Dominique graduates magna cum laude from California college Allen Durham still determined to help Meralco win 1st PBA title Japeth Aguilar embraces role, gets rewarded with Finals MVP plum “They know,” Smith said following shootaround. “They don’t want me, so they obviously know.”The 33-year-old Smith said he was told earlier this season that the Cavs would be focused on playing their younger players to develop them for the future. Cleveland’s back to being an also-ran in the Eastern Conference following LeBron James’ departure this summer as a free agent.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSGinebra beats Meralco again to capture PBA Governors’ Cup titleSPORTSJapeth Aguilar wins 1st PBA Finals MVP award for GinebraSPORTSGolden State Warriors sign Lee to multiyear contract, bring back ChrissSmith didn’t play in Tuesday night’s win over Atlanta, the Cavs’ first game since coach Tyronn Lue was fired following a 0-6 start. And while Smith understood that his minutes were going to be drastically reduced — if not taken away completely — it’s been a challenge for him to stay motivated.“It is hard,” he said. “Fortunately I got a great crew of people, former teammates, teammates, former coaches, lot of people in my ear that’s helped me to go through this process. But at the end of the day, I can’t take it out on my teammates. Regardless how hard it is to walk in here and actually put on, as hard as it may sound, to put on a Cavs jersey or shirt, I can’t do that to my teammates. Gov’t to employ 6,000 displaced by Taal MOST READ View comments Smith has had a rocky relationship with Cleveland fans, some of whom love his care-free spirit while others still blame him for losing track of the score in the closing seconds of Game 1 in last year’s NBA Finals.Smith, who is just one of three Cavs left from the 2016 title team, said he was given the option to leave the team by Cleveland’s front office.“They asked me if I wanted to be around the team and if I didn’t I could leave and go home and do whatever,” he said. “I can’t do that to these fans, I can’t do it to the city. To come from where I came from, from pretty much nothing to Cleveland and the way the city embraced me, the fans embraced me, the relationship I have with them, I can’t do that to them.“It’s not about me, it’s not about who wants me here and who doesn’t want me here. For me, it’s all about the fans.”Smith’s pricy contract makes it nearly impossible for the Cavs to trade him now. He’s making $14.7 million this season, and his $15.6 million contract for 2019-20 is partially guaranteed for $3.8 million.Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next Tim Cone, Ginebra set their sights on elusive All-Filipino crown Will you be the first P16 Billion Powerball jackpot winner from the Philippines? Lights inside SMX hall flicker as Duterte rants vs Ayala, Pangilinan anewlast_img read more

Wolfram|Alpha: The Use Cases

first_imgWhy Tech Companies Need Simpler Terms of Servic… Stephen Wolfram told Chronicle.com that computer-algebra systems like Wolfram|Alpha actually improve education – because they allow students to explore complex problems on their own and intuitively determine how functions work, rather than just learn rote processes. Wolfram claimed that “it’s better to let them [students] stand on that platform and go further.”Either way, it’s clear that Wolfram|Alpha and similar computational software will force the education system to adapt and change. Students now have a new (and certainly easier to use, as it’s on the Web) platform on which to compute things. There’s no point in the education system pretending it doesn’t exist. If you’re interested in tracking the progress of Wolfram|Alpha in educational settings, there is a wiki devoted to ‘Teaching Undergraduate Math with Wolfram|Alpha.’Use Case: Computational JournalismThis one was described to me as “anomaly spotting.” For example with the current interest in swine flu news, Wolfram|Alpha could be used to fact-find and compute interesting trends. As Foltz-Smith described it, Wolfram|Alpha could “automatically enhance news.” Foltz-Smith noted that CNN and other major networks do this already (analyze data), but that it’s expensive to do. The end results on CNN are added value things like interactive maps and fancy diagrams. Wolfram|Alpha could make this type of data gathering and analysis presentation inexpensive and common place amongst all kinds of news operations – including good old blogs.Use Case: Sports WatchingImagine sitting in your sofa in the lounge, remote control in one hand and your favorite beverage in the other. You’re watching the Friday night game on TV, it’s a close game and you’re curious about which team has the better chance of winning. Why, check Wolfram|Alpha of course! In real time, Wolfram|Alpha could compute statistics about not just the history of the two teams – but the history of the location of the game, the weather, the season so far, etc. As Foltz-Smith explained it, Wolfram|Alpha would be able to do “chained queries” – queries made up of multiple parts. For example: which quarterback had the best winning record in games played in the rain during the 1970s. 8 Best WordPress Hosting Solutions on the Market Tags:#Analysis#Features#NYT#Product Reviews#web Other Use CasesWe also discussed medical and scientific use cases. Although there are early examples of Wolfram|Alpha in health, such as a nutrition label generator, Foltz-Smith was generally cautious about medical uses – because a lot of health data “can’t be wrong.” He noted that in use cases like medical research, the issue of data fidelity is key. For example with the human genome, you have to take great care of that data and associated algorithms. Also he explained that as something like the human genome scales, how do you do QA? Foltz-Smith admitted that the Wolfram|Alpha team is still working on these and similar issues. But they have a lot of people devoted to solving this problem. Some types of data could be crowdsourced, e.g. in linguistics, but other data needs different approaches.ConclusionIt was interesting to hear about some of the potential uses of Wolfram|Alpha. We at ReadWriteWeb think this product has a promising future. If Web 2.0 was about creating data (user generated content, to use the most familiar term for this), then the next generation of the Web is all about using that data. Wolfram|Alpha is premised on using and computing data. Let us know in the comments what use cases you see for Wolfram|Alpha, and whether you’re aware of similar computational web apps.See also:Wolfram|Alpha: Our First ImpressionsWolfram|Alpha in Action: Our ScreenshotsMixed Emotions: Our First Hands-On Test Of Wolfram|AlphaWolfram|Alpha Launch: Here’s What You Need to KnowWolfram Alpha Gets Its First Update I started out by asking Foltz-Smith what the Wolfram|Alpha team thought of all the media hype around their product, particularly about the “Google Killer” theme which many media outlets reveled in. Foltz-Smith replied that they were expecting to be compared to Google, but not to that extent. Their team was a little surprised there wasn’t more discussion around Wolfram|Alpha’s similarities to Wikipedia and Freebase (although he noted that ReadWriteWeb certainly covered that!). Regarding the Google comparisons, Foltz-Smith said that they didn’t give into the hype – they stuck to what their goals were.I remarked that many people still seem confused about what Wolfram|Alpha does and what it can be used for. Foltz-Smith said that people will use it for different things. The crux of the product though is that it allows people to compute and calculate things. But will mainstream people use Wolfram|Alpha? Right now, it seems to be focused on mathematicians. Foltz-Smith replied that yes, eventually Wolfram|Alpha will find a mainstream audience. It has started specific, but it will go broader. First, he said, it has to “pass a test” with “serious users” – by which he means academics and computational users. If it’s useful for them, claimed Foltz-Smith, it will then go mainstream.Use Case: EducationOne real-world use case we talked about was using Wolfram|Alpha in education. Russell Foltz-Smith said that Wolfram|Alpha could be used to automatically generate problem sets for students, and then research those sets. A recent article in education website Chronicle.com argued that Wolfram|Alpha may have a less desired effect: encouraging cheating and laziness in students. This is because Wolfram|Alpha not only solves complex math problems, it “also can spell out the steps leading to those solutions.” Top Reasons to Go With Managed WordPress Hosting Earlier this year at the SemTech conference in San Jose, I sat down with Wolfram|Alpha‘s Russell Foltz-Smith. Wolfram|Alpha bills itself as a “computational knowledge engine,” a nerdy and unfortunately not very intuitive description. Because it’s hard to grok, most people have categorized Wolfram|Alpha as a new type of search engine. The site got a lot of press when it launched in May, as many pundits saw it as a challenger to Google. However in our own extensive tests of the product before launch, we concluded that it isn’t a “Google Killer” and that it has more in common with Wikipedia.Even now there is still confusion about what Wolfram|Alpha is and what its main use cases will be. In this interview with Russell Foltz-Smith, we discuss what people are using Wolfram|Alpha for now; and more importantly what its uses will be in the near future.Editor’s note: This story is part of a series we call Redux, where we’ll re-publish some of our best posts of 2009. As we look back at the year – and ahead to what next year holds – we think these are the stories that deserve a second glance. It’s not just a best-of list, it’s also a collection of posts that examine the fundamental issues that continue to shape the Web. We hope you enjoy reading them again and we look forward to bringing you more Web products and trends analysis in 2010. Happy holidays from Team ReadWriteWeb!Wolfram|Alpha: What is it Good For?Wolfram|Alpha is a product that was built on top of founder Stephen Wolfram’s Mathematica product, a software tool for mathematicians that was initially released in 1988. The aim is to allow users to type human-like statements and have computations done on those. Wolfram|Alpha was first conceived and started development about 4 years ago, and just 6-8 months ago the team gave serious consideration to taking the product to a wider consumer audience. A Web Developer’s New Best Friend is the AI Wai… Related Posts richard macmanuslast_img read more

Jimbelungare Culture Clash

first_imgOn Saturday, 11 October, the South Queensland Sharks hosted the Jimbelungare Culture Clash. This event featured a combined team from the three First Generation Tribes from South Queensland as well as teams from New Zealand. In what was a celebration of culture, the day started with a traditional welcome and smoke ceremony before the games got underway. Participants varied in age and backgrounds, but this didn’t stop anyone from having a great time and enjoying the chance to play against and learn from one another.A great turnout ensured an ideal platform to showcase the culture of the differing groups in attendance, including the New Zealand under 15’s and 17’s Mixed sides. One of the event organisers, Craig Williams commented on how ‘events like this create opportunities for further growth and understanding’.“Sport is the perfect vehicle developing leadership skills and healthy lifestyle choices in young indigenous people,” Williams said. TFA Participation Manager, Adam Raptis, spoke on the importance of events such as these, and their ability to bring people together through the sport of Touch Football. “Jimbelungare is a fantastic event for our sport and the indigenous community; it provides opportunities for neighbouring communities to engage with each other, it provides both a participation and pathway opportunity in the sport, and it has allowed educational opportunities through the referee and coach courses that have been delivered.”The next round of the Jimbelungare Touch Tournament will be held this weekend, with the third and final round to be held later in November.Related LinksCulture Clashlast_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

Three pieces of fundraising advice

first_imgHere is my Fundraising Success column for June, featuring my alter ego, the maven.Dear Marketing Maven,My donations are down, my heart is heavy, and my job is on the line. Worse, I think I’m coming down with something. Paging Dr. Dollars!-Sick in SyracuseDear Sick,I don’t need a stethoscope to diagnose these ailments. You’re suffering from one or all of the three most common diseases in the nonprofit world. Sadly, they are at epidemic proportions. We’ve got to stop their spread!#1: “Field of Dreams” syndrome. Those who have this disease believe that, “If you build it, they will come.” By “they,” I mean a big team of generous donors. For example, if you have FODS, you think that if you build a website and stick a DonateNow button on it, donors will arrive and click. This disease also manifests itself as an assumption that uttering your mission statement will inspire people to give. If you find yourself saying, “If people only knew, they would” then you have FODS. Declaring your existence is not a fundraising campaign. It is a symptom of FODS.The cure? You need to reach out to people and build relationships with them. Then maybe they’ll want to support you.#2: “It’s all about us” disease. Nonprofits suffering from this disease are easy to spot — their home pages, emails and all of their correspondence reads like an “About Us” page. Sometimes, this ailment is called “Nonprofit Narcissism.” Mission statements, the history of your organization and other related details should not be found everywhere and do not constitute a strong message.The cure? Make it about your donor, not you. Why should they care? What can they accomplish? How have they changed the world with their support? #3: “Call to inaction” problem. In order to generate donations and increase your donor base, you need to have a clear call to action. It’s not enough to state who you are, what you do and what’s new. You need to clearly state what you are asking and appeal to prospective donors to take that action. “Save the earth” is not a call to action. Nor is “support us.”The cure? Be specific. As in, “Click this button and give us $10 for a bed net so a child will be saved from malaria.”Be well,MavenDear Marketing Maven,Our image is not what I want, so I’m thinking of rebranding with a new logo. Thoughts?-Making Over in HanoverDear Makeover,Bad idea. Branding is not about logos, it’s about how people perceive you. That’s got a lot more to do with how you treat them, how you conduct your programs, and how you communicate your achievements than it has to do with your logo. Don’t spend a cent on a new logo until you dig deeper into these aspects of your brand. Without that level of makeover, a new logo or color palette is about as effective as slapping lipstick on a pig. I don’t think it’s worth spending money on a logo change unless you conclude after fixing everything else that your logo is in direct violation of the brand you’ve built. Happy makeover,MavenDear Marketing Maven,Why did you not open my last eNewsletter?–Hurt in HalifaxDear Hurt,I get about 20 email newsletters a week. I read about two. I must have somehow overlooked yours – I’m sure it was worth a read, unlike the other 18. For what it’s worth, here are some thoughts on newsletters:1. Maybe you don’t need one.People are inundated with newsletters. I’m not the exception – we all get too many. Yawn. Why not put your time and energy into something truly exceptional? Like the packet a friend just got from DonorsChoose to thank him for buying a carpet for a classroom. He got a picture of the kids on the carpet – along with the students’ little handwritten notes and pictures. Wow. Not feasible, you say? How about simply sending out something useful to your audience? At Network for Good, we send out weekly free fundraising tips rather than a newsletter about us. Our nonprofits love it! If you’re an organization focused on diabetes, how about weekly tips for managing diabetes? 2. If you do an enewsletter, don’t forget the “e.”You can’t just slap your print newsletter into a PDF, email it, and consider yourself the editor of an “enewsletter.” Write to the medium. Online communications need to be shorter and formatted for the web. People skim online. They don’t read. Don’t make them download a PDF and turn pages on your computer. Grab attention with photos, short text and good stories. 3. Make it about the donors and not you.Don’t manifest “All about us” disease in your newsletter. Your newsletter should not be about how great you are. It should be about how great your donor is! Make your donor feel like the center of attention. No one can resist reading about themselves – or about what they accomplished.Write on,MavenStay tuned… more on email newsletters in next month’s column!last_img read more

How to Write a Fundraising Letter That Wins Back Lapsed Donors

first_imgLapsed donors are donors who have not donated to your organization within the last year, two years or three years. Donors who have not sent you a gift in over three years have not lapsed donors — they are former donors.Lapsed donors are valuable. Unlike strangers, they have supported you before. And they believe in your mission enough to have sent you a gift (or gifts). Here are some tips on writing an appeal letter that will win them back. (In the fund development profession, the letter you write is called a “recovery letter” because it aims to recover donors who have lapsed.)1. Write to one person:You will likely not know why each donor has lapsed. Donors stop giving for any number of reasons. Some forget. Some lose interest. Some get distracted with the arrival of children or grandchildren. Others decide they do not like your new executive director’s ties. Each donor is an individual, and the way to win each one back is to send a warm, sincere, personal letter from your heart to theirs.2. Say “we miss you”:What you are trying to communicate in your letter is that you miss the donor more than their donations, which should always be true. You have lost a supporter first, and a source of support second. Write your letter in such a way that you show your concern for the person. Here are some lines to use:We have not heard from you since March 2011. We miss you! We are counting on your renewed support this year for . . . We miss you. We miss your moral support, and we miss your financial support. We sure have missed hearing from you these last few years. 3. Invite the donor to come back:Provide a tangible way for the donor to renew support. Ask for a gift for a particular project. Offer a subscription to your free newsletter. Do something to involve the donor and make them take action.4. Customize your appeal:Whenever possible, customize your recovery letter to the unique circumstances of each lapsed donor. For example, if you know from your database that a donor only sent a gift once a year at Christmas, mention that in your letter. Or if another donor supported only one area of your work, mention that. The more that your letter appeals to the interests of your donors, the more likely you are to recover them. Here’s an example:“The last time we heard from you, you had generously responded to the humanitarian crisis in Honduras. You sent us a gift that helped us meet the immediate needs of that emergency. Today, I am writing to you because I think you can help us overcome another crisis.”5. Match your language to the length of lapse:Statistically speaking, the longer you’ve had to wait for a gift, the less likely you are to receive one. That means you should segment your database into groups of 12-, 24- and 36-month lapsed donors (or other criteria that you use), and send each group a slightly different appeal. To a donor who has not given in a year, for example, you can say, “We miss you.” To the donor who has not sent a gift in three years, you can say, “You have supported us in the past. Your gifts made a difference. I urge you to renew your commitment by sending a gift today.” The idea is to be casual with the new lapsed donors and progressively more vigorous with donors who have not given in two or more years. Some examples:12-month lapsed: “Your financial support in 2011 made a difference. Your gift at the end of this year will have a positive impact on the people, which in turn will lead to better health, hope, and confidence in humanity.”24-month lapsed: “Your financial support in recent years was a great help to us. Now I’d like you to renew your support by joining me and the volunteers at . . .”36-month lapsed: “We have not heard from you for quite some time and yet your past support has made a difference for populations in danger. I think you can help us overcome this crisis.”6. Tailor your ask:Some of your lapsed donors will have given once and never again. Others will have given faithfully each month for years. Each donor demands a different letter. The more faithful your donor has been, the more that donor requires a personalized letter with a personalized ask amount. Don’t ask a one-time donor and a 10-year supporter for the same amount, treating each one the same way. You could ask the one-time donor for a gift that’s the same size as their last one. And you could ask the long-time supporter for a gift that’s the same size as their smallest one, or their average gift over time, or their last one, and so on.7. Win back their hearts and minds:Lapsed donors need to be persuaded again to support your mission. You’ll need to re-state your case for support and address any reasons you know donors have stopped their support.The two most important things to say in a recovery letter are that you miss the donor and that their support made a big difference in the lives of the people your organization serves. “A carefully crafted appeal that lets past donors know they are important, appreciated and missed almost always produces a net income,” says Stanley Weinstein (The Complete Guide to Fundraising Management).About the author: Alan Sharpe is a professional fundraising letter writer who helps non-profits raise funds, build relationships and retain loyal donors using creative fundraising letters.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