Monday, December 13, 2010

The War Around Us


If you needed any more evidence of the increasing gap between the super-rich and everyone else in America, you just needed to be conscious and listening to the political news over the past few weeks. It has been an exercise in power and political control by those who will gain from the extension of the Bush tax cuts.

And for everyone else? To be told it's just a good thing that some compromise was achieved or else the stockings would be completely empty this Christmas - this is what we should be thankful for?

Let's recount. The latest exercise in power begins when, at the peak of an economic boom, a mostly illegitimate President and Congress decide to lower taxes on the rich to stimulate the economy. The bust arrives, and so does Bin Laden. Restoring hopes and dreams, the feds lower interest rates, and everyone offers mortgages to anyone who breathes.

The smart money bets it will implode. When it does, they take the banks. The banks get us to bail them out, and fight all efforts to prevent it from happening again. When we demand to limit some paychecks, they decide to just keep the cash in their reserves.

Loans dry up, businesses don't expand, jobs go away, and the Republicans get elected on a pledge to eliminate government and lower the debt. But first, they hold unemployment relief hostage to their desire to extend low taxes for the rich and raise the debt.

Once they take office in January, they'll claim the high debt is the reason why they have to eliminate most government benefit programs, cut state and local subsidies, and slash government employment.

And these Republican initiatives will be cheered on by those who think that less government means more jobs for them. If we just returned to the days when government was not on our backs, we'd all be rich and happy.

If ever there was a war that was won by getting the soldiers on the other side to turn against their leaders, believe that it was better to be governed by the opposition, and voluntarily lay down their arms, it is happening here and now. So thoroughly have the rich convinced Americans that, not only did the tax cuts stimulate lots of new jobs, but that Americans voted Obama into office with only two years to overcome a decade of Republican work. Failing to do so, government is the problem and it should be abolished.

I just can't wait to see what the rich have in store for us next.


Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Important CMS Feature


A key feature I am looking for in content management software (CMS) for Coastwalk is the ability to acquire, store, and utilize information about registrants involved in events hosted by the organization. To engage members and others in dayhikes and multi-day adventures along the California Coast, and to hold fundraising activities in a variety of locations and designs, we need our CMS be able to serve the administrative needs of those events.

Our initial examination of a CMS (NEON by Z2Systems) referred to us by a colleague agency looks good. We have explored its use in a trial period, and are now looking to see if other CMS packages can provide the same capabilities.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Newsletters from NPOs in my Email


Who is using what constituent relationship management software to send me emails? Here are the results from the past two months:
Constant Contact Link
Climate Protection Campaign
IWalk Volunteer Center of Sonoma County
Social Advocates for Youth
IContact Link
Z2Systems Link
Sebastopol Community Center

Network for Good - EMailNow
Network for Good Email Now Link
Greenbelt Alliance

Relevant Tools Link
Stewards of the Coast and Redwoods

Vertical Response
Vertical Response Link
Canal Alliance
Fudge for Supervisor
Convio Link – Joe Solmonese Hman Right Campaign,
Preschool California

Patron Mail
Patron Mail – Sixth Street Playhouse

PHP List Link

Your Mailing Provider
Your Mailing Provider Link
Center for Creative Land Recycling (

Swift Pages Link
Old Course Experience

Jane Goodall Insitute – Using CivicCRM (Drupal) – example at Jane Goodall Link - and a description of their work on an activism module -

Using their own Software: – Steven Biel, Lenore, Kat, Wes - Independent Film Channel – Andrew McGuire
League of Conservation Voters

In addition, I have discovered:

CiviCRM, SalesForce, and SugarCRM. IdealWare has an interesting examination of this type of online communication software

Online Organizational Communication


Following up on our interest in learning more about what nonprofits are using to communicate with their members and donors, I decided to move in three directions at once (yes, I know that sounds awkward, but it actually brings more to the whole than the sum of the parts):

1. Listen to some webinars and online tutorials detailing the features of online contact management software (CMS).
2. Examine my own email over the past month to determine what has driven the donor and member communications.
3. Investigate the current uses and features of the CMS being used by Coastwalk California (which I'm President of the Board).

I'm also going to build a list of the CMS being used by Sonoma County nonprofits by searching their websites, and querying their IT staff. I'll probably join the email lists of many of them, in order to both learn more about them, explore what software is being used, and find good examples to mentor nonprofits who have expressed an interest in improving their communications. By tomorrow, I hope to be able to have more complete information which can guide me in further research.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Capacity-Building in Nonprofits


Pat and I just finished three weeks of grant proposal reviews for $264,000 aimed at increasing the capacity of local nonprofits under the federal Compassion Capital Fund. Created in 2002, the Administration for Children and Families' Compassion Capital Fund (CCF) is a key component of the President's Faith-Based and Community Initiative. The primary purpose of the CCF is to help faith-based and community organizations increase their effectiveness, enhance their ability to provide social services, expand their organizations, diversify their funding sources, and create collaborations to better serve those in need. Targeted capacity-building grants are a demonstrated way to assist organizations in building their capacity. The funding will not be for direct service, but for lasting changes in organizations that will have a sustainable impact on the delivery of services.

Community Action Partnership of Sonoma County, the nonprofit established in 1968 under the Office of Economic Opportunity's implementation of Congress's 1960's anti-poverty programs, received one of 14 of these grants nationwide. Pat and I participated on the community review committee, receiving 46 proposals asking $651,000. The agency will be announcing the grantees and awards in the next few days, but I wanted to begin the process of implementation by announcing our own continuing contributions to the strengthening of local nonprofits.

We came away from the review understanding that most of the agencies were seeking to expand their abilities to seek out and secure new sources of funding. Proposals asked to build capacity for grant-researching and writing, find and cultivate new local donors, and establish fee-based marketing strategies for current services. It was clear that current public funds are drying up, and these agencies are beginning to want new skills and information.

In the pursuit, there were plenty of consultants and computers being requested. It appears that most of the applicants have concluded that electronic research, online collaboration, and data records storage are essential needs.

In the coming months, we'll be providing some of our own resources to building the capacity of these agencies. Because we were able to see all the proposals, we believe there are opportunities for collaboration in the implementation of these grants. We will be encouraging CAPSC to continue its support for them, but understand that the federal grants will end in September.