Standing Beside Alaska's Non-Profits

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Anchorage - Eight Alaska nonprofit leaders have been selected for the 2009 Rasmuson Sabbatical Program, and they are:  

Lynne Ballew, Safe Harbor Inn
Christine Bauman
, Sitkans Against Family Violence
Tammy Bidwell
, Kenai Peninsula Community Care Center
Joyanna Geisler
, Independent Living Center - Homer
Katherine Gottlieb
, Southcentral Foundation
David McClure
, Bristol Bay Housing Authority
Jonathon Ross, Alaska Native Heritage Center
Nicole Songer
, Cordova Family Resource Center  

The Rasmuson Foundation Sabbatical Program is designed to provide time for nonprofit leaders to refresh and rejuvenate. The sabbatical is to be used for personal growth and reflection, according to Diane Kaplan, President of the Rasmuson Foundation.  

"Non profit leaders often work long hours helping others or operating programs that benefit the public. They experience emotional as well as physical effects from their work. Taking a sabbatical offers them an opportunity to spend quality time with their family, step back to gain new perspective on their organization and renew themselves," she said.  

Lynne Ballew is Founder and Project Director of Safe Harbor, Alaska's first and only nonprofit motel for homeless families and people with disabilities. She will use the time for rest and relaxation, and to "let go." She said, "sooner or later, every founder's vision must give way to the realities of time, change and subsequent management with the hope the cherished work finds able and imaginative curators," she said. Her absence will allow others to assume more responsibility and ownership of the program. Safe Harbor is located in Anchorage. 

Christine Bauman, Executive Director, Sitkans Against Family Violence, has led the organization for four years and has continuously worked in domestic violence services for many years . Bauman oversees management of a 25-bed residential program serving victims of sexual assault and domestic violence. She recently attended a workshop on vicarious trauma, compassion fatigue and burnout. "I was only mildly surprised that I exhibited the symptoms of burnout. I love my job, but it is wearing me down. A significant break will allow me enough time to full recover and rejuvenate," she said.                                                               

Tammy Bidwell, Executive Director, Kenai Peninsula Community Care Center, began working there in 1987 as a Family Teacher. She believes the sabbatical will permit "time for relaxation and solitude." She says it has become difficult to separate her personal and professional life, and that taking a break will allow her to "continue the same level of efficiency and productivity that being a nonprofit executive director requires." She will spend time with family. With a staff of 25, the Community Care Center provides services to emotionally and mentally disturbed adolescents in a group home setting.  

Joyanna Geisler, Executive Director, Independent Living Center in Homer, has served in that role for 17 years guiding the program's growth to a million dollar service budget. She will use her Sabbatical to focus on health, connect with friends and family, and "relax, have fun and come back energized and ready to get back to work." The Independent Living Center trains people with disabilities to develop personal living skills.  

Katherine Gottlieb, President and CEO, Southcentral Foundation, has been a health care leader in the Alaska Native community for nearly three decades. She manages more than 1,000 professionals in a complex health care delivery system serving 46,000 Alaska Natives and American Indians in 55 urban and rural communities spread across southcentral Alaska. Her Sabbatical will allow her three months away from these responsibilities. 

Dave McClure, Executive Director, Bristol Bay Housing Authority, has worked in his position for 15 years. He embraces the sabbatical to "evaluate his experience and return with clarity of mind to focus on new and ongoing endeavors with a renewed perspective." The Dillingham-based housing authority manages 500 homes and apartments with 22 new units in development.  

Jonathon Ross, President and CEO, Alaska Native Heritage Center, intends to use his sabbatical to learn the Dena'ina language from elders on the Kenai Peninsula. "There has not been a single person in many years who has gone from not knowing any of the Dena'ina language to being fluent. I hope to be the first of many." The Alaska Native Heritage Center is a 26-acre facility with year round programs and exhibits telling the story of Native cultures and histories to more than 110,000 visitors each year.  

Nicole Songer, Executive Director, Cordova Family Resource Center, is on call seven days a week to oversee and staff the 24-hour help line. "The sabbatical will give me time to refresh myself, learn new things and take time to reunite physically and emotionally with my family," she says. "After seven years of this occupation with minimum leave, my family needs me and I am in need of a break."   

The next postmark deadline to apply for a Rasmuson Foundation Sabbatical is October 1, 2009. Details about the Sabbatical Program, guidelines for preparing a proposal, and application materials are available online at www.rasmuson.org  or by calling (907) 297-2700. The toll free number within Alaska is 1-877-366-2700.  

About the Foundation The Rasmuson Foundation was created in May 1955 by Jenny Rasmuson to honor her late husband E.A. Rasmuson.  Through grantmaking and initiatives, the Foundation is a catalyst to promote a better life for all Alaskans.




Social Actions has come up with an initiative called the Change the Web 2009 Challenge.

From their blog: 

 What if the NYTime.com had a “Take Action” button next to every article – that, once clicked, displayed the best ways to take action inspired by that article? What if every popular website – from news sites to blogs to social networks -- included opportunities to make a difference. Change the Web 2009 seeks to inspire a movement to revolutionize the web – to realize a “philanthropic web” – where it will be super easy to find ways to take action no matter what website you're visiting.

The challenge is to build the best web applications "that embed opportunities to take action on the websites, blogs, and social networks that we already visit online."

Are you up to the challenge?

Read more...

And view their slideshow presentation about the initiative here:

SocialActions Change the Web 2009
View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: social media)



Beth Kanter had a recent post on her blog titled "What's theopportunity cost when a nonprofit blocks employees from using social network sites during work hours? " This is a timely post because we recently had this discussion regarding The Foraker Group's lack of access to key social networking sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. The reason for the block isn't a Foraker policy but instead one of the organization's nonprofit third party provider.

There are clearly very good reasons not to let employees access social networks on the Web. The amount of time that could be wasted playing around with a Facebook account could cost any company or organization a great deal of productivity time.

Kanter spoke with Wendy Harman, who is responsible for social media strategies at the American Red Cross who said this about her job:

 Officially, it's 100% social media.  I truly believe that being present in an open, giving, and transparent way in spaces where your supporters are already spending their time will lead to a stronger loyalty to your mission. But, in this economic climate the Red Cross is certainly making more aggressive online marketing moves.

The Red Cross recently benefitted from a $50,000 donation that was leveraged by Facebook users. Clearly, social networks are a key driver of support and donations for the organization.

On the home front, The Foraker Group is helping to administer the Pick. Click. Give. campaign on behalf of the Giving Coalition. None of the organization's employees can access any of the key social media sites critical to the campaign. Because the block is part of a larger policy affecting an even larger number of employees across a number of organizations, the block isn't something that could be easily lifted.

However, it is worth thinking about the policies that dictate what sites to block when an organization is using social media for outreach. When used judiciously, social networks on the Web can be an enhancement to any strategic communications plan.

Read more of Harman's interview about the Red Cross blocking social networks.

Does your organization block MySpace, Facebook, Twitter and other social networks? If so, why? If not, how are you using social networks in your organization's strategic communications plan?




APRN's Ed Schoenfeld covered Pick. Click. Give. in a report yesterday.

Backers hope a new charitable-giving program will help Alaska service groups hit hard by the nation’s economic downturn. But its proceeds will not make it into nonprofit groups’ coffers until later next year. The “Pick. Click. Give.” program stems from legislation introduced by a Southeast lawmaker.

Listen to the full segment.




The Social Citizens blog is asking the question "Are You a Social Citizen?" They define a social citizen as "a new breed of activist changing the world with their ideas, technology, and passion."The blog is a project of the Case Foundation . According to the Case Fundation web site, the foundation is pursuing a number of initiatives, and is particularly focused on three strategies:

  • Encouraging collaboration;

  • Supporting successful leaders; and

  • Fostering entrepreneurship in the nonprofit sector.

Steve Case, by the way, was a co-founder of America Online.

Being a social citizen takes many forms. The Internet, for example, can be a powerful tool for social good. That's why the Internet and social media are a key component of the Pick. Click. Give. campaign , for example. By joining the campaign online - on Facebook, MySpace or Twitter - you can help spread the word to other Alaskans - your friends and followers - about a worthwhile initiative. Using social networks to spread the word about a worthy cause is just one example of an easy but powerful way to become a social citizen.

Are you ready to see if you're a social citizen? Take the quiz.

You can also submit a short essay to win a "Social Citizens Makeover." Five finalist will receive a flip video camera, a $100 Apple gift certificate, and a suite of tools to help you improve your Social Citizen savviness, including a WordPress PremiumAccount (one year subscription), Flickr ProAccount (one year subscription), and two hours of consulting time with a social media expert.

But don't just take the quiz for the potential prizes. Find out how much of a social citizen you really are. Take the quiz here.

 





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 – www.PickClickGive.org -- information is available by calling 1-888-785-GIFT (4438) or by emailing pfdinfo@forakergroup.org. 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 blog.PickClickGive.org.



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 corporatedollar.org, 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.




By DONNA GORDON BLANKINSHIP
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.

Read more...

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.




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