Virtue Center for Art and Technology is hosting an exciting opportunity for a high school or college student interested in marketing and the mechanics of non-profit fundraising. Our summer intern would primarily be charged with prospecting, or compiling lists of sales leads, using the internet as a research tool. The internship would be based at our office in Long Island City, just three stops away from Grand Central Station on the 7 train.

Reporting to the Director of Marketing and Communications, the intern would also be asked to actively participate in brainstorming sessions to identify new prospect groups, following up on their research independently.

Since our business model is geared towards the service of non-profits and other organizations, the intern would be tasked with developing an understanding of the needs and structure of these groups. The intern would use their own judgment to determine whether the prospects they have identified would benefit from any of Virtue Center's suite of solutions.

Should the intern demonstrate the aptitude, they may be charged with some level of customer support, most likely in the form of evaluating emails and communicating to our development and design teams what issues need to be followed up upon. Under the supervision of the director, the intern may be tasked with drafting polite and concise responses to client emails.

Virtue Center offers a causal but professional work environment where each department is valued as an integral part of a cohesive team. We feel strongly that learning does not stop at the door of the classroom, and each of us continues in our pursuit of knowledge in our daily lives. As such, we are seeking an intern who embodies those core values of team building, discipline, and a love of learning.

While this is an unpaid internship, it presents an unique opportunity for hands on exposure to a dynamic and creative business environment that would add significant value to students' resume or school applications. Upon completion, interns would receive a personal letter of evaluation offering a constructive critique of their performance, as well as a separate letter of recommendation.

Our hours are flexible but students would be asked to commit to a minimum of 20 hrs per week Monday through Friday at our offices in Long Island City, during the months of June, July, and August.

Interested in becoming the next marketing intern at Virtue Center? Please reply to Kate Maier, Director of Marketing and Communications, with a resume, brief biography, and an explanation of why you or someone you know would be a great fit for Virtue Center, at kate@virtuecenter.com.

We're looking forward to hearing from you!

The Virtue Center Team

 

 

 

Today marks the dawn of a new initiative for the Council for American Islamic Relations' Oklahoma chapter with the addition of a landing page based registration model for the group's fifth annual Muslim Youth Leadership Symposium.

CAIR Oklahoma launched a new website powered by Virtue Center in October 2012, and used our  registration model for the first time when promoting their annual banquet in April. It was a resounding success, according the chapter's executive director, Adam Soltani. “We actually doubled our registration from the previous year with our old website,” he said.
 


To promote the MYLS event, we recommended trying a landing page to pique youth interest.

When a landing page model is used to promote event registration, Virtue Center's design team works with the client organization to create a visually appealing representation of the event in question, in this case, a leadership symposium for Muslim youth. Directions, descriptions of the event, a lineup of speakers, and other relevant information are all listed in one centralized place, with a form embedded that gleans valuable information from registrants.

While the most obvious purpose of the form is to drive attendance at the event, it's also a fantastic way to build an organization's membership database, an essential tool in the fundraising process.

With the MYLS event, CAIR-OK set up a detailed form that Solani hopes will offer further insight into the youth community, with easy to answer data fields asking about registrant's social networking habits, area of study, and so forth. Solani and the other organizers detailed the process even further, asking participants about their T-shirt size and whether they had any food allergies.

Finally, a short answer section allowed participants to describe their recent community service projects and explain what led them to register for the symposium. Since this is a community outreach program, CAIR-OK has opted not to charge registrants, but each will still receive an automatic electronic receipt after sending the form.

CAIR OK has already utilized VCMS reporting features in the past, to analyze banquet attendance and donation statistics. Using the success of the banquet form as a springing point, “with the Youth Leadership Symposium the reporting will be more advanced,” said Soltani.

“We're really trying to streamline things a lot more and push it forward technologically speaking,” he said, adding that the design of this landing page is “more attractive to the younger generation and the audience we're seeking.”

Today, CAIR-OK kicked off their MYLS campaign by sending an email with the symposium landing page to members in their VCMS database, some of whom had participated in the four MYLS in consecutive years prior. They also added a link to the page on their homepage, shared it through social media, and included it in their print newsletter.

At Virtue Center, we love to see our products in action, and the MYLS landing page is a great application of the tools we provide to clients on a regular basis. Will this year's youth symposium surpass those in years prior in terms of registration and feedback? With a suite of VCMS powered tools to support their initiatives, and an already proven track record we'd say the odds are stacked in their favor.

How It Got Started

National Bullying Prevention Month was started in 2006 by the PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center to raise awareness about this important issue and what people can do about it. Communities, schools and individuals are encouraged to participate in understanding this problem and getting involved in outreach efforts and educating people. Businesses and organizations like Facebook, Yahoo!Kids and CNN have gotten involved to get the word out.

PACER was inspired to create the month as a way of showing people that bullying isn’t just a “rite of passage” for every kid, for some it can lead to terrible emotional, psychological and physical pain that no one should endure.

What Can I Do?

If you want to get involved with National Bullying Prevention Awareness Month you should let your parents, school and classmates know. There are lots of activities available via the Bullying Prevention Center, as well as group activities and discussions that you could easily organize in your class and among friends. Here are a few ideas for supporting the cause:

  • Add you name to the digital "The End of Bullying Begins With Me" petition
  • Get people involved like friends and parents, try organizing an event (a Unity Dance, a bake sale for bullying charity, anything!)
  • Encourage a discussion in your classroom
  • Spread the word on your Facebook or Twitter

What is Virtue Center Doing?

At Virtue Center, we feel very strongly that students deserve and education safe from bullying and other harms.  We have been working with School Safety Centers and other educational organizations and professionals to bring school safety training programs to teachers and school districts in ameasurable and engaging video format.  To learn more about Knowledge Course for School Safety, click here.


Some people will love this subject because it has the potential to shine light on the remarkable work that they and others like them do each day, often times with little recognition and sparse compensation.

Others will be uncomfortable with this subject, probably not read too far into this blog and hope that no one else does either, especially no one that they are accountable to.

This post is about measuring the success and impact of non-profit organizations.


Before we get into it, let's go back to March 29, 1992.  It's the NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament, East Regional Final. Pitting Duke versus Kentucky at The Spectrum in Philadelphia. Sports Illustrated deemed it the greatest college basketball game of all time. With 2.1 seconds remaining in overtime, Duke trailed 103–102. Grant Hill threw a pass the length of the court to Christian Laettner, who dribbled once, turned, and hit a jumper as time expired for the 104-103 win.

I care about about college basketball about as much as preschool basketball, but there is something I like about every basketball game: that every player and every team is striving towards a clear objective and that at the end of every game, there is always a clear winner. At the end of every season, we know who the champions are, and we also know who had the worst record. One coach is deserving of a bonus while another needs to be fired.  All of the fans and owners can easily confront the brutal facts of their team's record, as the outcomes of each game are clearly documented.

Winning a basketball game is not an indicator.  It's a hard fact.

When I look into the world that I and many of many Virtue Center customers inhabit, rarely can a non-profit organization lay claim to such a firm fact of their success.  In a best case scenario, they rely on indicators, sometimes referred to as key performance indicators or KPIs to measure their health, success and overall impact. 

In a worse case scenario, a non-profit may recruit a seemingly capable team and a prestigious board, rent out and office and do work. What work? Some work that someone decided pertains to the mission of the organization or advances it's cause. How effective? No one knows. Some people feel good about it, others are saying bad things about the work of organization – but it's all based on sentiment and gut-level instinct because there simply is little available empirical data to be relied upon. No one decided what to measure and no measurement is taking place.

I'm not going to tell you how important the JIm Collins' book Good to Great is or how much the concepts have been integrated into the work we do at Virtue Center for non-profits and small to medium sized businesses, I'll save that for another post. What I will tell you, is that Good to Great documents the scientific proof that organizations that have made a sustained transition from “good” to remarkable “greatness” had KPIs – and they focused on a just a few, perhaps event just one – and they measured it relentlessly as they had identified it as the common denominator of their success that drives their economic engine.

Non-profits need money just like for-profits, but they also have a higher purpose which is the fulfillment of their core mission that delivers value to society. It is for this reason that I advise every non-profit organization needs to identify two metrics that are critical to their success.  One economic, and the other related to impact.

When you have these core metrics, you can monitor them regularly, sometimes even daily and know with confidence where the organization is headed financially and how impactful it is. If there is a problem, it can be addressed – before it's too late. And if things are going well, then supporters and others can be confidently informed and called upon to stand-up to support an organization that is providing real and measurable results and is deserving of all of the funding it can get.


Two simple examples of KPIs are:

Economic: Subscription Donors Added per Month

This is the number of people who have signed up to have a monthly donation automatically deducted from their checking account. If hypothetically this source of funding was the central way that an organization sought to sustain itself – then tracking the number on a weekly or monthly basis can help the organization set goals and know it they are on target to meet them.

Impact: Workshop Attendance by Month

An impact KPI is going to be extremely specific to the mission of the non-profit. Suppose there was an organization that was focused on educating populations about their civil rights, they could track the total number of people who attend their workshops as a measure of impact.


Epilogue...

At the beginning of the post, I had mentioned that some people will be uncomfortable with this subject. These are the people who are squandering the resources that they have been entrusted with from people who want or need thier organization to succeed. They thrive in chaos and resist all measurement out of fear of being exposed.

It must be understood that purpose of KPIs is not to hurt anyone, but to help an board and staff within an organization to work together and collectively decide and commit to what is important to focus on and then to help the organization consistently achieve results. With KPIs in place, many problems can be realized and addressed through brutal and empirical honesty before there is a crisis. If in a worst case scenario, if someone needs to be fired, it should be because there was clear communication about missed goals and measured failure – not because of someone's whim or personal feelings.

At Virtue Center, we love to see organizations setting, measuring and achieving their goals. If you are interested in a KPI workshop for your organization, please let us know.

Fifteen years ago, during the peak of the dot-com bubble, I had the pleasure of meeting John Perry Barlow at a gathering in Brooklyn, NY.  If you are not familiar with Mr. Barlow, he is a cattle rancher who famously penned songs for the Grateful Dead and later went on to co-found the Electronic Frontier Foundation – one of the most important civil rights organizations of our time.  The EFF protects, educates and advocates on behalf of all of the users of the Internet. (If you are not a donor, you should be.)

Around this time, Barlow was enjoying lucrative speaking opportunities at conferences and in private meetings with Fortune 500 CEOs who were scratching their heads about what to do with the Internet. At one such talk, he asked a group of millionaires:

“If you had to choose between losing all of your wealth, every penny – or losing all of your business relationships, which would you choose?”  

Unanimously the CEOs chose to be reduced to poverty while keeping all of their relationships intact.

Why? Isn't money the end goal of business? Don't some CEOs lay-off their fellow humans-beings in the thousands to bolster their performance on Wall Street? Could these people all really value compassion over greed?  Not exactly, the relationship option is simply better business.

With their relationships intact, they knew that they could earn back their money – and probably even more of it. The relationships themselves however were built up over a lifetime of personal sacrifice and commitment, to nurture mutual respect and trust. Some relationships could never be rebuilt.  And that was what Barlow was trying to impart upon upon them: the digital future is not so much about some specific technology, but about people and relationships. Clearly, the rise of social networks is a testimony to Barlow's 1998 outlook on the future of technology.


It is with this story in mind, that I have to admit it is shocking to me that in 2012 many of the non-profit organizations that I come in contact with either do not have a customer relationship management system  [CRM] or they do not know how to use the one they bought. 

Human relationships are the life-blood of any company or organization – but especially non-profits. They are the supporters, the funders, the signers, the constituents – they are the reason the non-profit exists. Having and using a CRM system demonstrates how much the organization values it's personal commitments, because a CRM system is designed to ensure that no commitment ever slips through the cracks and disappoint the very people who are served by or support the organization.

In further discussions, it has become clear that many non-profit leaders are either unaware of CRM systems in general or think that CRM systems are complex and hard to use or the cost of having a good one is prohibitive. I argue that all non-profit leaders must know about CRM and that the cost of not having one is much greater than the cost of having one. 

Hopefully I can demystify CRM once and for all with this simple overview of what specifically CRM is and how it works.

What is CRM?

» A centralized database of all contacts
» Provides the ability to assign tasks to be done for a contact and track if it was done and what was the outcome
» Provides the ability to track communication with each person
» Provides the ability to track how the person interacts with organization
» Provides the ability to group contacts according to their demographics or activities
» Provides the ability to groups contacts into “cases” when something needs to be done for a group of contacts
» Provides the ability to track “deals” when a contact is going to provide a significant financial resource to the organization

That's basically it.  Once the CRM is in place, it's just a matter of using it.  

Using it entails:

» Entering any new contacts in the system
» Assigning tasks as they come up
» Closing out any tasks that are open
» Upon closing a task, scheduling a new task to push people forward into further stages of engagement
» Creating cases as needed
» Creating deals as needed
» Closing out deals if they come to fruition or fall through

The real magic in CRM, beyond the organization improving their relationships by consistently following through on personal obligations, is that often times a contact will always have a future scheduled task.  For example, let's say at an event last Friday, I pledged to donate $100. That follow-up needs to be assigned to someone to collect the funds.  But even once it is collected, and that task is closed out, another new task should be scheduled four months into the future to ask for another donation for the same amount.

People appreciate when the organization follows through on commitments. When constituents and supporters see how well the organization is run and how effective and consistent it is, they give more and in this way a virtuous cycle is established.

Virtue Center helps non-profits understand and utilize CRM systems. Whether is it something off-the-shelf or Virtue Center's own Knowledge Contact CRM system, we can help you maximize the return on investment (ROI) on any CRM system by establishing simple workflows and tracking key performance indicators related to relationship management.