Archive for November, 2008

Abortion on TV: CSI NY

Creepy, twisted, low-down:”all Elizabeth wanted was to be a mother, a baby of her own” which justifies cutting out the baby of a woman who at one point was going to abort her fetus, and hiding her dead body in a car which is destroyed in a junk yard – a nobody, who doesn’t deserve recognition or love.  Just a plot in the story of helping a psychologically unstable woman achieve motherhood – the identity for which she has always aspired.  A creepy doctor of a “women’s health center,” a confused love-scenario between CSI charachters and a little Mazy Star music keeps the abortion part of the seedy underworld of bad, secretive people who sell babies, act out of spite, and tell lies.  The woman who might have had the abortion is dead and her parents who kicked her out of the house for being young and pregnant, find themselves the parents of her young baby, the heroes who were really, the cowardly ones, unable to take a stand for their own child.


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Late to Love

I know I am so behind the curve on this one, but I’ve watched it 5 times in 24-hours.  It makes me happy.  Maybe its the Whitney.  As my co-worker, funny Chrissy who has never lost her basket said: I want a Lion.

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Tuesday Night

dinner2Dinner: Teriyaki Chicken, Coconut Rice, Sauteed Red Onions, Fresh Cilantro, Fresh Avocado and a Squeeze of Lime.

lucykillsEntertainment: Lucy the rottweiller, trained to kill.

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How Will Your Nonprofit Raise Money in 2012?

Peter Deitz, Social Actions

With the global financial crisis at its peak and a recession looming, many nonprofit managers are probably asking themselves, “How will my nonprofit raise money next year?” I suspect fewer fundraisers are asking themselves, “How will my nonprofit raise the money it needs four years from now?”

The second question is the more important of the two, and the more difficult to answer.

Current best practices will serve nonprofits just fine in 2009. Between email solicitation, direct mail, major donors, and grant-writing, the vast majority of nonprofits will weather the economic hard times. But a shifting communications environment and changing donor demographics could render those best practices ineffective at best, and obsolete at worst, as early as 2012.

Raising money in 2012 will require creativity and foresight. Micro-philanthropy — that ambiguous term that refers to all things socially networked, small-scale, and charitable — will have matured.

Donors of all ages will be looking for meaningful points of engagement with your organization. They’ll want to set the programmatic agenda, select the beneficiaries and target areas, communicate the organization’s message, and, in real-time, evaluate feedback as it comes in.

Notice something strange about those tasks? None of them involve passive check-writing on behalf of your organization. In 2012, individuals will come to your organization with the expectation of being full partners in your work, not just dollar wells to be tapped when cash is needed. Donations will be a consequence of meaningful engagement, not a measurement of it.

Over the next four years, innovative organizations will use technology to transfer to individuals the reins on everything from program work and evaluation to fundraising and communications. Raising money in a micro-philanthropic environment will come naturally to these groups.

The economy may be hopping four years from now. For organizations that stick to a more traditional managerial and communications structure between now and then, however, raising money is going to be tougher in 2012 than in the darkest days of 2009.

So how should your organization prepare for the changes that are afoot?

Get accustomed to using social media to communicate with all of your potential donors.

There’s an unfortunate consensus emerging in the nonprofit sector that social media is only helpful for communicating with young people. Nonprofits are spicing up their social media communications strategy with language and informalities that may turn-off older supporters and major donors. This is a flawed assumption. The fact is that program officers at foundations, boomers, and prospective employees are all turning to social networks to get a sense of your organization.

In this medium, openness, responsiveness, and inquisitiveness serve your cause well. Simplistic appeals targeted at teens and college students don’t. Therefore, when crafting your social media communications strategy, focus on the qualities you want to be associated with and not the target audience you want to reach.

Experiment with online contests, both creating them and participating in them.

Online contests like the Knight News Challenge, The Case Foundation’s America’s Giving Challenge, and the AmEx Cardmember Project can be resource draining to participate in, especially for a time- and cash-strapped nonprofit. Nevertheless, participating in some (surely not all) of these contests will provide your staff members a focused opportunity to use social media to communicate with supporters. As a result, your nonprofit will get a sense of how many of your supporters are following you online, and to what extent you can count on them to act on your behalf.

Another approach to the online contest phenomenon is to run your own. Platforms like Genius Rocket and NetSquared provide nonprofits an opportunity to crowd-source a communications or technological need. Figure out what your need is, set a bounty on it as a deliverable, and then witness how the Internet responds. You’ll probably be pleased with the outcome.

Participating and running challenges encourages openness, responsiveness, and inquisitiveness online. These are important traits to develop, and will make fundraising easier as micro-philanthropy matures.

Make hiring decisions based on social media know-how and not just resume smarts.

When it comes to preparing for the shifting communications environment and donor demographics, your employees are your biggest asset. Most job seekers still list their desktop computing skills in their resumes instead of their social media know-how. When interviewing for any position at your organization, make sure to ask about the applicant’s familiarity with social media. Training employees down the road can be expensive and ineffective. You are better off hiring people who are at home online than trying to make them that way after they’ve been hired.

Note: Age is not a good indicator of social media know-how. Ask questions, and you’ll be surprised who’s on top of the technological changes and who’s not.

Empower your interns.

If your organization has interns, make sure to tap them for ideas on how to use social media to create meaningful points of engagement with your organization. Too often, interns are given menial tasks like photo-copying and filling out Excel documents. And yet, they are the ones who have volunteered to spend time with your organization (read: “they care”). They also have an outsider’s perspective on how your organization is represented online. Make the most of their time with you by asking them for ideas on how to better represent your organization online. Their ideas could very well lay the foundation for an effective micro-philanthropy campaign.

Get an iPhone.

The future of interacting with your organization is mobile as well as online. Get an iPhone or portable data-device in order to start experiencing the possibilities. If your nonprofit’s managers are not using portable devices to communicate with staff and supporters, they’re not going to understand the potential for mobile technology to change the what and how of your organization’s work. Get them started now, so that in 2012, you’re not beginning at square one to develop a mobile fundraising strategy.

Four years ago, web 2.0 was barely on the radar of nonprofits. Today, it’s becoming standard practice to communicate with supporters using tools like Flickr, MySpace , Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter. If four years of social media can transform the way U.S. presidents get elected and people connect with causes, imagine the changes that another four years of social media will produce.

My advice to the nonprofit technology community: let’s start preparing now by thinking as creatively as possible

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TV & Flying – My Favorite Things


One of my favorite things about Bones is how resourceful the characters are, especially Brennan. While investigating a murder on the plane, she was able to use carry-on supplies like powder blush and denture cream — and a knitting needle to use as a probe, on loan from a semi-obsessed murder mystery fan, and, surprisingly to me, allowed to be brought on the plane — to create a cast and identify a murder weapon. Our generation’s very own MacGuyver, and she has no idea how cool she really is. (I would say “24”‘s Jack Bauer is not far behind, but he has to know how cool he is.) And you really can’t lose when Booth tries to get Brennan to play sexy librarian while she’s using an elderly passenger’s deliciously retro reading glasses — and she doesn’t get it.

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Christine Falls

A Novel by Benjamin Black, pen name for John Banville, also wrote The Sea.

Page 174:

“Oh, all the brassers know Dolly Moran,” he said.  Quirke nodded.  Brassers were whores, he assumed, but how?  Brass nails, rhyming with tails, or was it something to do with screw? Barney’s slang seem all of his own making.  “She was the one they went to when they were in trouble.”

“What sort of trouble?”

“Up the pole – you know.”

“And she’d fix it for them? Herself?”

“They say she was a dab hand with the knitting needle.  Didn’t charge either, apparently.  Did it for the glory.”

…later, with the nuns who take care of the girls, in trouble…

“I’m sure I don’t know.  The girls who come to us have…they have already…given birth.”

“And what would have become of the babies they would have left behind them when they were sent here?”

“They would have gone to the orphanage, of course.  Or often they…These girls, Mr. Quirke,” she said coldly, they find themselves in trouble, with no one to help.  Often the families reject them.  They are sent to us.”

“Yes,” he said drily, “and I’m sure you are a  great comfort to them.”

“We do our best,” she said, “in the circumstances.  It’s all any of us can do.”

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I remember when I first started asking foundations to grant Exhale.  I applied under “organizing & advocacy.”  Exhale was an organization founded by women who had had abortions to address an unmet need that our community of women faced – the lack of non-judgmental emotional care services for women.  The way I saw it, a group of us got together, organized around a common need, organized a service to address it (we were all volunteer at the time) and began advocating with health care providers and services to refer to Exhale as an improved response to their clients. 

The foundations told us no.  We weren’t “organizers” the way they defined it.  Basically, unless we got the name and number of every woman that called us and organized a lobby day in Sacrmaento where these women advocated for a policy goal – like abortion rights – we weren’t organizing or advocating.  Really. 

I believed them for awhile.  I lost myself,  that idea of myself – as an organizer and advocate – for awhile, and tried to be what they wanted – a professional, someone who spoke health care jargon and was building an instition, a leader and an idea that could be bent and folded into the mold of the status-quo (they were leaders after all, right?) – but I wasn’t happy.  I wasn’t working within my strengths.  I wasn’t excited and challenged by my vision.  I wasn’t organizing anymore.  I had become a manager.   Uh oh.

When I read things from advocates about the non-profit industrial complex and how the revolution will never be funded, or even the conservative-critics of the liberal movements and how they are creating a social-service government, and I look around the feminist and reproductive health movement (a movement once defined by bucking the trends and being daring) and see degree after degree of professional affiliation and a public health professional approach to our vast and untamed lives, I feel like we are trapping ourselves in a system of our own creation.  

Degrees aren’t  bad (I have one!), but they don’t make you smart or bold or give you good ideas.  Social services aren’t bad (I run one) but the last thing we want is government creating more obstacles for people to take care of themselves and their families, creating a culture of co-dependence. Public health is important (tame the diseases please) but can it really address the scope of human sexuality? 

I started to organize again.  I remembered my vision.  I remembered what was fun about the early days of founding Exhale and started doing that again.  Meeting new people and offering them the chance to participate in the creation of something new and special.  I stopped trying to make it nice and easy for everyone else and claimed the parts of this that were risky and unknown.  Instead of nice professionals wanting a steady paycheck, I surrounded myself with believers, people wanting to do what it took, people in for the challenge and up for the adventure, smart people, experienced people, people who were professionals in other parts of their lives but who find a chance to let their spirit and their dreams fly with Exhale. 

Some days I laugh b/c while I know the “right” way to run an organization – I’ve read the books, taken the classes, even taught some of them, and actually tried it – the way Exhale has found success is when we stopped doing it right.  When we did it the organizing and advocacy way.  We’ve never followed money but now we specifically focus on people – we find people, champions, people that get it and build relationships.  We don’t even think about money (not totally true, we run a well-oiled financial machine, but money isn’t in our eyes when we talk to donors).  That’s it.  Everyone of us – board members, staff, volunteers, donors, allies – we are a recruitment machine, every day looking for the kind of people we need to help us grow and thrive and offer them the opportunity to join us.  We don’t need lots and lots of people, just the ones that truly believe and take it on. 

The money really does come.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve told the board and the staff when the cash is looking low:  “I don’t know where the money will come from, but I know that if we follow our hearts and the relationships we have, we stay focused on our vision and keep doing our work, it will come.” 

It always does. 

I’m known for being a good fundraiser.  Today, I’m proud to say that it’s because I’m a good organizer.

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