Showing posts with label nbcb. Show all posts
Showing posts with label nbcb. Show all posts

Tuesday, November 11

Understanding ROI: U.S. Vets

While many social media experts and communicators tend to think "sales" anytime someone mentions return on investment (ROI), serving as a state commissioner for Nevada Volunteers (formerly Nevada Commission for National & Community Service, Inc.), provides a different perspective. Return on investment doesn't always mean profit margins; it means outcomes.

U.S. Vets On Veterans Day

U.S. Vets, one of several AmeriCorps-supported programs administered by this commission in Nevada, provides safe, sober, clinically supported housing and employment assistance to help rehabilitate homeless veterans. Here in Nevada, U.S. Vets helps more than 750 veterans transition from being homeless to self-sufficient every year.

They accomplish this by initiating contact with homeless veterans; providing a needs assessment; relocating them to transitionary housing, offering legal services, life skills, family support, job training, and full-time employment. I've spoken with and interviewed many graduates of the U.S. Vets over the last six years I've served as a commissioner.

From Nevada's perspective, every dollar the state invests is matched with the equivalent of about $10 in federal funding, one of the highest returns on investment for any non-profit organization in the state. Amazingly, although it would be enough, U.S. Vets is not the only AmeriCorps program to benefit.

Outcomes from various programs include: the reforestation and the reduction of fire hazards across hundreds of acres near rural communities, educational assistance to hundreds of at-risk students who increased their proficiency by two grade levels, and delivering thousands of residents medical case management and badly needed food. There's more, but the point is significant. ROI is about outcomes.

ROI is about a plumber who visited my home a few years ago. As he was passing back and forth from his van to my sink, he noticed President Bush on television and smiled.

"I know a lot of people who don't like him, but I do because he supports AmeriCorps," he said. "Without AmeriCorps, I would still be homeless, but now I have a full-time job and am graduating to move into my own apartment next week."

As you might expect, we talked for some time as he shared how he came to be homeless and how U.S. Vets helped him restart his life. I shared with him how AmeriCorps occasionally becomes a political football, but how it's also one of the most efficient bipartisan programs in the country. Originally, AmeriCorps was brought into existence by President Bill Clinton and later saved by President Bush through his Call To Service (and now highlighted on President-Elect Obama's transitional Web site. Why? Because of individual success stories just like this.

My Son On Veterans Day

His story also reminds me of something else today. The people who serve as AmeriCorps volunteers all over our country are inspiring Americans because they demonstrate how Americans do not have to be "forced to be generous" as I heard one politician recently claim. On the contrary, they only need to be engaged.

Today, my son became engaged after learning about the Adopt A Soldier, Sailor, Airman or Marine program organized by Soldiers' Angels. For the next six months, he will write a serviceman or servicewoman stationed abroad, sending a card or letter each week and care packages once or twice a month. It might not seem like much, but it's an important self-chosen step for a 9-year-old to take in developing what may one day become a legacy of service, inspired by our veterans and servicemen and women. And that too is ROI.

For our veterans, thank you and bless you.


Monday, November 12

Honoring Veterans: Veterans Day

"On that day let us solemnly remember the sacrifices of all those who fought so valiantly, on the seas, in the air, and on foreign shores, to preserve our heritage of freedom, and let us reconsecrate ourselves to the task of promoting an enduring peace so that their efforts shall not have been in vain." — Dwight D. Eisenhower, President

Before my grandfather (16th Infantry, 3rd Bn, 1st Inf Div - Berlin) died a few years ago, he left behind a legacy for others to carry forward with the Berlin Veterans Association. Originally, he served in the Army Air Corps until it became part of the Army Air Forces, which were later disestablished by Congress (thus creating the U.S. Air Force). Among other assignments, he was stationed in Germany during the Berlin Blockade (Also know as the Berlin Airlifts), one of first major crises of the Cold War.

While our family has several veterans and we honor of all them today, I would like to bring attention to the Berlin U.S. Military Veterans Association, the organization that consists of men and women who served with Les and/or were connected to him by serving in Berlin. Their service, like the service of all our veterans, need not be forgotten.

Another organization worth mentioning today is U.S. Vets. U.S. Vets is the largest non-profit organization in the country dedicated to helping homeless and at-risk veterans, and a nationally recognized leader in the field of service delivery to veterans. I have been close to this program on a number of occasions as a state commissioner with the Nevada Commission for National and Community Service (NCNCS), which administers AmeriCorps programs in Nevada.

Every year, U.S. Vets helps more than 1,100 homeless veterans return to full time employment. It has one of the most successful homeless rehabilitation models in the country and I’ve been personally touched by their work on more than one occasion — including when a plumber, working on the kitchen sink in my home, shared his homeless story with me. As it turned out, he was graduating from the U.S. Vets program a few weeks later.

And finally, we also extend our heartfelt appreciation to Soldiers’ Angels, which is launching a new holiday program for troops who are currently deployed around the world. (They also have several programs to assist veterans.)

I learned about Solders’ Angels after speaking with Rick Calvert, creator of BlogWorld. We wrote a short piece on how BlogWorld had donated a booth to Soldiers’ Angels on our community blog last week.

Last week, I had planned to share some insights into BlogWorld today, but that can wait until tomorrow. Today is better served by observing and honoring all those who have served so their efforts and sacrifices to this country and other countries are remembered always. Thank you, and bless you, one and all. Our veterans.


Tuesday, September 18

Blogging For Hope:

“Sept. 27. will be the first time in history that social network members will collectively promote a single social awareness issue on hundreds of blogs all over the world on the same day,” said Antony Berkman, president of “They chose the topic and it’s a call to end abuse.”

If there is any truth to the idea that one good deed deserves another, then’s Call To End Abuse, which is its third social awareness campaign, certainly qualifies. While the topic is broad, the blogger-driven campaign promises to raise awareness of abuse-related subjects and related non-profits around the world.

In cooperation with, Copywrite, Ink. is inviting any blogger who participates in the campaign to submit a link to their Sept. 27 abuse awareness post along with two weeks of measurable results for a contest designed to benefit others while drawing additional recognition to bloggers who do good.

Blog For Hope Post Competition

The Challenge. Simply post about some form of abuse on your blog as planned on Sept. 27 and then track any measurable results (traffic counts, comments, links from others, recognition from charity or media, donations collected or made to a charity as applicable, etc.) for two weeks. Your name and address must be included on the e-mailed entry (we will publish pseudonyms upon request; this information will not be used for any other purpose).

The Submission. Please submit the link to your post in the body of an e-mail along with any measurable results to by no later than 5 p.m. PST on Oct. 10, 2007. Title the post “Blog For Hope Entry.”

Entry fee. Nada. Zero.

First Place.
• $250 (U.S.) donated to a recognized charity of your choice in your name.
• Six months of premium services from
• Choice of any “Bloggers Unite” T-shirt, mug, or other product.
• Your blog and post topic profiled on Nov. 4 by the Copywrite, Ink. blog.
• A “Bloggers Unite” product design based on your post, which will include your blog address (proceeds will benefit charity), and design featured on the Back Lot Projects store blog with a direct link to your post. Additional recognition on, Copywrite, Ink., and National Business Community Blog.

Second Place.
• Three months of premium services from
• Choice of any “Bloggers Unite” T-shirt, mug, or other product.
• Your blog and post topic profiled on Nov. 11 by the Copywrite, Ink. blog.
• A “Bloggers Unite” product design based on your post, which will include your blog address (proceeds will benefit charity), and design featured on the Back Lot Projects store blog with a direct link to your post. Additional recognition on, Copywrite, Ink., and National Business Community Blog.

Third Place.
• One month of premium services from
• Choice of any “Bloggers Unite” T-shirt, mug, or other product.
• Your blog and post topic profiled on Nov. 18 by the Copywrite, Ink. blog.
• A “Bloggers Unite” product design based on your post, which will include your blog address (proceeds will benefit charity), and design featured on the Back Lot Projects store blog with a direct link to your post. Additional recognition on, Copywrite, Ink., and National Business Community Blog.

Honorable Mentions.
• Up to five honorable mentions to be included in the winners release.

Winners will be announced on Oct. 27, 2007. Entry assumes that you agree to allow us the right to republish portions of your post in the event you win and make yourself available to answer a few e-mail questions for the winners’ profiles to be published at Copywrite, Ink.

Judging. Post will be judged on the basis of the quality of the post (be accurate, clear, concise, human, and conspicuous), the abuse subject or charity mentioned in your post, and any additional measurements submitted. Judges will include two members of, two members of Copywrite, Ink., and two outside judges with no affiliation to either company.

Additional. You do not have to be a member to enter. We reserve the right to not award some or all prizes if no suitable entries are submitted. Neither or Copywrite, Ink. employees are eligible to participate. All decisions by the judges are final. The first place cash prize will NOT be awarded to the first place winner personally (but rather to a charity instead) and therefore the winner shall not be entitled to receive an income tax deduction for such prize contribution.

If you have additional questions or comments, feel free to post them in the comment section of this post. The sole purpose of this contest is to have fun, recognize causes against abuse, and bloggers who use their blogs for good.


Friday, September 14

Making Changes: NBCB

Since April 2005, our company has hosted and administered the National Business Community Blog, which is a national news feed that focuses on businesses doing good.

Today, we gave the blog the first phase of a long overdo face lift. More work needs to be done (and we have yet to add every state), but it's a step in the right direction. Everyday, we publish one example of best business giving practices with the hope to inspire more companies to engage in community service.

In other words, we're always looking for best business giving practices from small businesses and large corporations across the nation. We'd be more than welcome to consider your business giving news; just send a release to the e-mail identified on the site.

In addition to sharing business giving ideas, the blog also benefits Nevada Volunteers (The Nevada Commission for National & Community Service), a state commission that administers AmeriCorps programs and generally works to increase volunteerism in our state.

I've been privileged to serve as appointed state commissioner for several years now. You can learn about the latest commission news here, including the recent announcement to name Nevada First Lady Dawn Gibbons honorary chairwoman.

There are other state and national non-profit organizations as well. And that doesn't count more than 300 acts of business kindness we're collected on the site. Drop by some time and let us know if you think we're moving one of our other blogs in the right direction.


Monday, September 10

Acting Responsibly: Crime Bloggers

Communication remains one of the most powerful but underutilized tools for any business, organization, or community. And while most have remained slow to embrace it, I anticipate some sweeping changes as more best practices and fewer abuses receive public attention.

Just one story that caught my attention last week demonstrates the positive power of communication, community, and social media in a very profound and personal way. Joy Roy, who maintains Southern Sass on Crime, Robert Bush, who publishes American Proud, Warriors for Innocence, Perverted Justice, and others have all played a role in tracking Jack McClellan, a self-labeled pedophile who has avoided prosecution to date.

McClellan originally came to the attention of authorities because of the Portland-based organization Perverted Justice. According to the Los Angeles Times, the group began monitoring McClellan because he had created a Web site on which he posted photographs of children in public places and discussed the best local places to watch little girls.

While the Web site was eventually shut down by his provider, McClellan still managed to publish his information for months, placing information in the hands of those who might abduct children even if McClellan himself never intended to. After being exposed and ordered to stay away from minors, McClellan decided to leave his last state of residence because, he said, “I can’t live here under Orwellian protocol.”

Since he has never been charged as a sex offender, he does not have to register with the authorities, leaving it up to private citizens to take matters into their own hands. What McClellan doesn’t realize is that what he did might even be worse than committing a direct crime against children: his original Web site and subsequent actions make it easier for criminals who are more likely to take action against young women and minors.

This is a growing problem that requires immediate attention. It is also one that I am increasingly sensitive to given our Las Vegas headquarters, where stories of missing persons and human trafficking is becoming all too common. One immediately comes to mind: Glendene Grant’s daughter went missing from her home in Las Vegas in March 2006 after living in the city for about 10 months. (You can read the story here).

Better use of social media might have made a difference in this case (and it is still not too late) if citizens and authorities begin to develop dedicated social media applications across the country, funded or supported by social networks and other technology providers. While some steps in this direction have been taken, much more work needs to be done.

Specifically, notifications of missing children and missing people need to be actively promoted beyond missing persons. Recently Missing Children is one example of what can be done They have a national widget that is a step in the right direction, but more state-by-state public-private widgets need to be developed (we’re adding Wayne Wirs’ Recenty Missing Children widget to our community service blog and space for Ad Council public service campaigns soon).

For additional information about missing persons in Nevada, please visit From there, you can access information for other states.


Wednesday, June 20

Enhancing News Releases: International Paper

International Paper (IP), which is a global uncoated paper and packaging company, demonstrated what is likely to be considered by most to be a best practice in blending traditional news releases and digital media features. And they did it for the right reasons.

In a news release (we ran a portion of it on our business giving blog), International Paper recognizes two outstanding efforts to protect natural resources through leadership in conservation and education. Most public relations practitioners know the drill: Company X together with Nonprofit Z recognized so and so and so and so on date at place.

Sure, the release is mostly traditional and follows an emerging trend of being "pat" quote heavy: "So and so and so and so are great people who do great things," said so and so. "And that is why it makes sense that our great company and a great nonprofit gave them a great award." Only one quote survived in our version and that might have been too much.

(Note to IP: I'm not making fun of the release as much as I am poking at public relations rules, which seem to only work for members of the media who claim they want to write their own stories. I've written several thousand releases, just like this one, but perhaps with a few quotes less.)

So what caught our attention?

There is an added element that, although easily missed, is brilliant. In addition to the sum-ups of John Tippett (2007 IP Conservation Partnership recipient), who was recognized for his work to protect Virginia's Rappahannock River, and Donald Sprangers (2007 IP Environmental Education recipient), who was honored for outstanding curriculum innovation and cooperative education, IP linked to two mini-documentaries on YouTube. They focus on the merits of each individual's program.

You can catch Tippett's IP-produced video here and Springer's IP-produced video here. While we could probably nit pick a few camera angles, these documentaries, at just over three minutes each, add volumes to the release.

So what makes them work?

Strategic Consideration. Much like the recognition program and release, these documentaries fit the company's strategic message to make products in a safe and healthful workplace, to manage natural resources wisely, and to continually improve its environmental performance.

Multipurpose Communication. While they won't draw as much attention as the latest uncensored celebrity video or campy college pick, the videos stand alone in telling two interesting environmental stories separate from the release. In sum, while the release works for the media, the videos will work for anyone. As a bonus, both groups now have a 3-minute presentation about their efforts.

Message Reinforcement. The videos reinforce the release with new, detailed information that drives home precisely why these two conservationists were chosen. It establishes credibility that few releases do while avoiding the duplication of information.

Demonstrated Credibility. The award program, which is a joint program between IP and The Conservation Fund, is a great example of business giving and philanthropic partnering with its own merit. With the documentaries, IP didn't flood the footage with executive cameos and company quotes (thank you), making it a fine example of credible corporate generosity.

I could list at least a dozen more reasons why this is a best practice without the benefit of seeing a work plan because the strategy is obvious and the tactical craftsmanship spot on. Sure, not every company will be willing to invest in digital media to enhance a news release, but I'm thrilled IP did.

Not only did IP demonstrate communication savvy, but it also gives us a glimpse into why we don't necessarily have to reinvent the news release to make it work with multiple audiences. Public relations professionals who are crafting "social media releases," please pay attention.


Friday, March 9

Targeting Boomers: CNCS

The Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) recently released a revealing study that tracked volunteering among a large sample of Baby Boomers from year to year. We published the entire release at Nevada Business Community Blog, but highlight several communication points here.

• Boomers in their late 40s to mid-50s are volunteering at higher rates than previous generations. (Boomers volunteered at lower rates than predecessors while in their 30s.) According to the study, the more Boomers are engaged, the more likely they will be retained from year to year.
• Boomers who engage in professional activities — such as managing people or projects — will continue to volunteer the following year (75 percent).
• Boomers also exhibited higher retention rates when they were engaged in music or some other type of performance (70.9 percent) and tutoring, mentoring and coaching (70.3 percent).
• Boomers who volunteer for general labor or supply transportation regularly drop out at a higher rate (55.6 percent).

"The Boomer wave signals one of the largest opportunities the nonprofit sector has ever had to expand its pool of resources," said David Eisner, CEO of the CNCS. "Only the nonprofits that retool their ability to engage citizens will reap that reward."

For a broad view of American Demographics, vist Wikipedia or visit the U.S. Census Bureau for its latest release.


Friday, January 12

Helping Companies Help People: NBCB

There are many bloggers (and companies) who want to change the world, hopefully for the better. Their reasons, motives, and methods are as different as the variety of causes they take up, whether it is within their community, industry, interests, or something else entirely, like tracking the seemingly infinite details in the life of Britney Spears. That's okay too.

My point is that everyone is passionate about something and, with luck, that passion will lead you to answer one of the most important questions you can ask yourself: is my fundamental motivation as a person to be a beneficial presence in the world … in the lives of all those I touch, whether it be at home, at work, in the community, and on the Internet?

It's not a trick question. I am not alluding to any myriad of issues, critiques, politics, religion, and whatnot. Nor am I asking anyone to ask it of someone else. It's a personal question void of all that. With luck, you can answer “I hope so.”

In June 2002, a diverse group of business leaders came together to create Business Strengthening America (BSA), which established a self-directed, multi-year, peer-to-peer effort to engage thousands of America's business leaders in a campaign to encourage civic engagement and service. If you visit the site, you'll see it's largely static, with the freshest content dating back to 2003. What is not static, however, is the idea nor are the hundreds of non-profit endeavors of more than 700 companies and business organizations that joined BSA years ago.

Much more active and up-to-date is USA Freedom Corps, which is an excellent resource for individuals who want to become involved in something. It's endorsed by President George W. Bush, but you don't have to like him to appreciate the larger body of work. In fact, a good part of the concept came from AmeriCorps, which was the one program that President Bill Clinton (it's okay, you don't have to like him either) asked President Bush to keep around. On that, they agreed, even if their parties did not.

Anyway, I know a little about AmeriCorps because I serve as a state commissioner in Nevada. My experience on this commission as well as dozens of other non-pofit organizations and associations is what drives me to maintain another, much less read, blog called the Nevada Business Community Blog. In truth, it's probably less of blog than a newsfeed, highlighting at least one company's charitable action every day (with luck).

The blog doesn't take much effort, really. And, I would strongly support anyone duplicating the idea in their home state: a community web log and news feed for businesses releasing information about their non-profit contributions and volunteer efforts. Why? Well, there really are many ways to change the world and by sharing a daily example of business giving, it might inspire more companies to do so. After all, strategic philanthropy, a concept and practice of business giving has existed in the United States since the early 1950s, has always received a return that exceeds investment. Some companies just don't know that. They also don't know that, if done correctly, strategic philanthropy fits nicely into a strategic communication plan.

Who knows? Perhaps business giving could even inspire some employees (or other interested individuals) to funnel some of their more creative passions into other activities that have a direct, positive, and lasting impact on people, animals, the environment, or whatever else they might think up. I've taken up a few over the years; too many sometimes, I am told. But that's not so bad.

You see, I always hope such efforts (even when I use a living case study in communication as an example on this blog) will eventually lead me to the same answer at the end of the day, a chance to say “I hope so.”

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