Standing Beside Alaska's Non-Profits

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Encouraging Alaskans to give through new PFD option

ANCHORAGE – The Alaska Giving Coalition starts a statewide campaign today to introduce Alaskans to a new way to support their favorite nonprofit organizations. The project – called Pick. Click. Give. – allows Alaskans who file on-line for their 2009 Permanent Fund Dividend check to give all or part of it to qualifying nonprofits or to campuses of the University of Alaska.

"This is a safe and secure way to make a donation," says Jim Caldarola, chair of the Alaska Giving Coalition. "Our hope is that Alaskans use this option to start a tradition of giving or to increase their charitable contributions."

Caldarola explained that the promotional campaign will use television, radio, print, a website, a blog and social media. He said the Rasmuson Foundation, the Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority and ConocoPhillips are helping to underwrite the campaign. Information also will be available in the PFD booklet that is sent to each Alaska home.

"After seeing and hearing the ads and spending time at the new website, we believe Alaskans will better understand the PFD Charitable Contributions Program and will be motivated to use it as a way to support organizations they care about," Caldarola said. "We face huge economic challenges right now and it's critical that we continue giving to Alaska's nonprofits – many of whom provide essential life-lines to people in need around the state. Using our PFD checks is an excellent way to do this."

More than 330 organizations qualified for the 2009 program and represent the diversity of nonprofits around the state. Each met a series of criteria laid out in the law establishing the program, which was passed by the Alaska State Legislature in May 2008. The program is authorized for three years, at which time it will be evaluated and the legislature will decide whether to continue it. A new application process will occur for years two and three of the project, allowing other organizations the opportunity to become qualified.

In addition to the website – -- information is available by calling 1-888-785-GIFT (4438) or by emailing Alaskans can interact with Pick. Click. Give. in social networks including MySpace, Facebook, and Twitter and learn more about the social media campaign on the Pick. Click. Give. blog at

I attended a live discussion on The Chronicle of Philanthropy's web site about using social networking tools for fundraising . The guests were:

Chris Garrett - an Internet marketing consultant in Yorkshire, England, and author of ProBlogger: Secrets for Blogging Your Way to a Six-Figure Income.

John Haydon - a sales consultant in Boston and the publisher and founder of the Web site, which offers marketing advice to small nonprofit groups. Mr. Haydon is also the author of a recently released electronic book, Twitter Jump Start: The Complete Guide for Small Nonprofits.

I took exception with some of the things they said. Here are some of my comments on their comments.

When asked if a nonprofit should use their organization name or a person's name when using Twitter, John Haydon said to use your face and your name, not the organization's name.

My comment on this recommendation was:

I would definitely NOT follow a nonprofit if it were an individual from within the organization unless their CEO/E.D. - it devalues the nonprofit's brand. That said, if that person is also well-known for his/her work within the sector or at the nonprofit, I would follow them not to find out about the nonprofit but to get insight into their individual thinking. It is totally appropriate for a nonprofit to have a Twitter account as the agency or organization.

Another person asked about the value of virtual worlds such as Second Life for raising funds for nonprofit organizations. Chris Garrett said "They can be interesting and draw a lot of attention for the novelty factor, but the cost in money and time can be prohibitive and the return on that investment is still unproven."

I sent in a comment that didn't make the final manuscript, however, here is the gist of what I said:

Second Life is used often by nonprofit organizations to raise funds. The biggest success story is Relay for Life (American Cancer Society) raising over $100,000 USD in their Second Life Relay for Life events. A smaller but no less successful example is the South Texas Celtic Music Association that supports Project Children through their virtual islands - West of Ireland - and events on Second Life. Their Second Life efforts bring in hundreds of dollars every month, enough each month to cover the flight of another child from Ireland to visit the United States, a part of their mission.

An important thing to keep in mind when reading about social media for social causes is that even the experts are trying to figure out what works because it is all such a new concept. Still, there are both success stories and failures that we can all learn from and hopefully not make the same mistakes.



The financial crisis is causing significant shifts in the nonprofit job market. What do these shifts mean to you — and what should you be doing to advance your career in the current market?

Read the transcript from a Live Discussion at The Chronicle of Philanthropy's web site.

There is also a related article called Rethinking Nonprofit Jobs about how nonprofits are being more creative with staffing strategies due to the bad economy.

The Associated Press
Friday, November 21, 2008; 11:43 AM


SEATTLE -- As more Americans turn to charity amid worsening economic gloom, operators of food banks and other aid groups are relying on the surprisingly resilient generosity of their neighbors and finding that even when times are tough, people still give.

In Seattle, Boeing Co. employees tripled their cash donations this year to Northwest Harvest, operator of Washington's largest food bank. And every week, Northwest Harvest spokeswoman Claire Acey says, companies call to say their employees have decided to skip their holiday party and buy food for the hungry instead.

"We see things like that and they are little beacons of hope," Acey said.


Do you think Alaskans are still giving despite the economic "meltdown?"

The Nonprofit Assistance Fund in Minneapolis compiled a useful list of links about surviving tough economic times for nonprofits. They also include a slide show titled: "Understanding & Weathering the Economic Downturn."

Access the resource list here.

Book Cover

Pamela Hartigan, co-author of The Power of Unreasonable People: How Social Entrepreneurs Create Markets That Change the World, is blogging a 5-part series about social enterprises on the Harvard's Center for Public Leadership blog .

You can read her first two posts:

1. Time and Leverage


2. Learn from the Experts - They're Not Who You Think

Or check out her book .

Book review excerpt:

Capitalism is a very mutable, flexible beast, and what we re seeing is social entrepreneurs addressing some of these social challenges in profoundly different ways than traditional nonprofit organizations, said John Elkington, co-author with Pamela Hartigan of The Power of Unreasonable People: How Social Entrepreneurs Create Markets that Change the World, a new book that was handed out last month to attendees at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. --The New York Times, February 24, 2008


Over at the Donor Power blog (tagline: "Fundraising as if donors mattered, for fundraisers who get it"), there is an amusing - if somewhat pointed - blog post about nonprofit ads that just should not have happened. 

The recent ads skewered by the blogger are from Goodwill in the States in British Humanist Association in the UK.

Check out the ads in question here ...

And check out the rest of the blog as well.

The new CEO of NPR will certainly change the face of public radio. Expect to see much more use of multimedia, personalization tools, blogs, and more social media on

 From the New York Times:

Vivian Schiller, who heads the online operations of The New York Times, will leave the paper to become the president and chief executive of National Public Radio, the network announced on Tuesday.

Ms. Schiller, 47, will take over NPR on Jan. 5, heading a nonprofit corporation with a budget of more than $150 million and an endowment of more than $240 million. It provides news and entertainment programming to more than 800 public radio stations around the country and claims an audience of 26 million people.


Here is an interesting report from W.K. Kellogg Foundation. The report is titled: How Getting More Systematic about Innovation Could Improve Philanthropy and Increase Social Impact.

The report outlines the importance of being more systematic about innovation in both the philanthropic and nonprofit sectors.

You can download a copy of the executive summary and the full report .


Two key Internal Revenue Service officials today pledged that the agency will continue efforts to ensure that tax-exempt organizations are following federal laws.

“We are going to continue to insist that the sector is squeaky clean,” Douglas Shulman, the commissioner of Internal Revenue, told attendees at Independent Sector’s annual meeting, in Philadelphia.


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