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Technology

Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 09 jan 2020

Tackling climate change and protecting environment is critical for the better future of our planet. Current agricultural practices and economic policies that surround it have substantial impact on the natural environment. Prof. Benjamin Houlton, director of the John Muir Institute of the Environment at the University of Califoria at Davis and champion of the One Climate Initiative, says, 'Agriculture might just be the single most important industry on the planet for creating negative carbon emissions under current economic policy. Carbon farming is the key to help solve climate change. Farmers and ranchers can capture carbon and store it in the soil. They can create negative emissions, which means the amount of greenhouse gases that are going into the air from their industry is lower than the amount that they're drawing out of the air.' Prof. Houlton plans to further develop the carbon farm project through One Climate. He explains, 'The One Climate vision is about transforming society in a way that is sustainable, produces the jobs we need, trains the next generation of leaders and creates a climate-smart workforce. And one of the centerpieces of One Climate is creating the world's most innovative carbon farm.' Carbon farming involves using resources such as compost, biochar and pulverized rock, and using enhanced weathering - basically, accelerating Earth's natural processes - to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Explaining about biochar, Prof. Houlton says, 'We've teamed up with industry partners to use biochar, which is taking organic carbon like trees, vegetation and manure, and burning it slightly at a high temperature. It becomes more resistant to breakdown and helps with water and nutrient use, while also storing carbon for longer periods of time.' In California, biochar can reduce wildfires by removing trees that could be a fire risk and putting it into the soil. Similarly, compost deposits green waste or food waste into the soil to create a carbon sink. Read on...

UC Davis Magazine: How Can Agriculture Be a Part of the Climate Solution?
Author: Ashley Han


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 27 nov 2019

Philanthropy is a huge industry and technology is enabling it's transformation. It's contribution to the U.S. economy is significant. According to The 2019 Nonprofit Employment Report (2019), authored by Lester M. Salamon and Chelsea L. Newhouse of the Center for Civil Society Studies at Johns Hopkins University, nonprofits account for roughly one in 10 jobs in the U.S. private workforce, with total employees numbering 12.3 million in 2016. Over the decade since 2007, nonprofit jobs grew almost four times faster than the for-profit ones. Madeline Duva, CEO of Fluxx, provides insights into technological transformation of philanthropy and the positive impact it has on overall growth of nonprofit sector. She says, ' The philanthropic space has begun to adopt new technologies in earnest in order to increase capacity, improve employee job satisfaction and accelerate long-lasting impact. This transformation is further helped by the tech industry entering the space both as a funder of nonprofits and provider of improved tool sets. The innovations that made Amazon a world leader in supply chain optimization are now being repurposed to help nonprofit organizations work more efficiently and collaboratively with their own data, ultimately driving more dollars and hours toward solving long-entrenched societal and systemic issues in the U.S. and beyond.' Philanthropy is on rise and tech industry and their employees are major contributors. According to 'Giving USA 2019: The Annual Report on Philanthropy for the Year 2018', researched and written by the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at IUPUI, in 2018 Americans gave nearly US$ 428 billion to charity, with US$ 76 billion of that coming from foundations and another US$ 20 billion coming from corporations. Tech industry's interest in philanthropy and nonprofit sector is seeing increase in specifically designed tech solutions. Ms. Duva explains, 'I've seen a steady increase (but slower industry adoption) in solutions that help foundations leverage data and efficiency and manage teams, all while scaling their work. Grantmakers (both public and private) and grantseekers (nonprofits and charities) have begun to streamline their operations through SaaS solutions, using data and workflow best practices to create more efficient processes and free up time and resources.' For tech companies seeking to work and design solutions for the philanthropic sector, she suggests - Prioritize flexibility and usability in your solutions; Understand that most nonprofits operate on extremely thin financial margins; Recognize the huge variance in the philanthropic space. One-size-fits-all approach doesn't work this space that covers and touches so many industries. Read on...

Forbes: Technology Improves Nonprofit Sector Growth
Author: Madeline Duva


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 27 oct 2019

For CPAs (Certified Public Accountant) to successfully transition from the for-profit sector to the nonprofit sector requires a specific mindset and skill sets. Even though their for-profit experience will highly benefit and enhance the value of nonprofit finance department, but they would need add-on soft skills - (1) Adaptability: Understand and adapt to the new organizational culture. (2) Flexibility: Ability to multitask. With resource challenges nonprofits lack support staff and CPAs would need to handle administrative tasks. (3) Leadership and the ability to drive change: Emphasize the value of accurate financial reporting and use of latest processes and technologies for effective and efficient finance department. Explain that doing so will enhance chances of funding. Implement change through collaborative approach. Nonprofit organizations can benefit from for-profit CPA's in many ways - (1) Technology implementation: Many nonprofits are not fully equipped with latest financial and accounting technolgoies. For-profit CPAs bring the experience to do so. Implementation of online technology maximizes productivity, increases transparency, facilitates document flow and approvals, and improves accuracy and timeliness. (2) Documented policies and procedures: The implementation and maintenance of a documented accounting policies and procedures manual ensures continuing operational efficiency and governance, accuracy, and reliability of financial statements, as well as well-defined roles and responsibilities. (3) Effective and efficient internal controls: The system of internal controls is necessary to mitigate risk, increase transparency, and safeguard the organization's assets. For-profit CPAs are familiar with identifying and evaluating internal controls and aware that the process requires understanding and documenting the step-by-step processes that staff members follow to perform their jobs. (4) Audit management and oversight: CPAs with auditing background are familiar with the types of schedules and documents the auditors will request. The books and records of the finance department should be maintained throughout the year so that when the books are closed, only year-end adjustments are needed. Although CPAs spend most of their time with numbers, processing transactions, generating financial reports, and racing to meet numerous internal and external deadlines, but in nonprofits it is more than that - a mission to improve the lives of those in need and to make the world a better place. The transition to nonprofit career can be highly rewarding both professionally and personally. Read on...

The CPA Journal: Making the Transition to the Nonprofit Sector
Author: Roberta Katz


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 26 sep 2019

Utilizing technology to connect with audience & customers is effective and efficient. But, bringing the human element with personalization & customization, and engaging with them to build long-term relationships is even better. Best organizations often try to do that. Gabe Cooper, tech entrepreneur and nonprofit consultant, have suggestions for nonprofit organizations to build personalized communication strategies and making full use of automation technologies available. He says, 'When it comes to marketing software, in particular, nonprofits have long tried to make square pegs fit in round holes, getting locked into software and marketing practices that are fundamentally designed for for-profit marketing or that are based on legacy fundraising practices. This has resulted in mass marketing efforts that make your donors feel like 'sales opportunities' rather than crucial stakeholders in your cause.' Fundraising is an important activity for nonprofits and considering that they lack resources, it becomes even more crucial to be done right. He says, 'In our modern world, impersonal fundraising is a wet blanket on generosity, and that's a problem when you consider that nearly three-quarters of people who give a single gift never give again. They simply don't feel appreciated. That's where personalization through marketing automation comes in. Personalization allows each and every donor feel as though you're talking directly to them...Great personalization provides every donor with the right message at the right time based on their individual passions, capacity and relationship to your organization. Personalization, in this way, creates extreme loyalty.' He advocates a 3 point approach to apply personalization in nonprofit fundraising efforts - Know; Automate; Amplify. (1) KNOW: Gather as much information about your donors as is possible. (2) AUTOMATE: Use marketing automation software to send tailored messages - at the right time - based on what you know about each donor. (3) AMPLIFY: Use data analytics to understand what the right 'ask' should be. He also provides other ways to personalize marketing efforts: Keep the new donor campaigns running to engage them, and make them repeat donors; Use persona segmentation and apply the personalized content to connect with them; Utilize personalization technology/marketing automation that is designed specifically fo nonprofits. Mr. Cooper concludes, 'Taking a more personalized approach to your nonprofit fundraising efforts can result in more donor engagement, higher average gifts, big increases in donor loyalty, and most importantly, you donors will feel that they're part of your cause.' Read on...

Business.com: Personalization Is the Engine That Drives Today's Givers
Author: Gabe Cooper


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 29 aug 2019

Technology innovations are often associated with taking up jobs from humans. Consider some experts predicting that Artificial Intelligence (AI) could take over 40% of jobs by 2035. But, there is a brighter side to it. The tasks that are taken away by AI are generally those that are repetitive and monotonous, requiring less human creativity. This would infact provide more opportunities for people to be innovative and creative, making their jobs more fulfilling. Charities too have to take advantage of AI to improve efficiencies and let their workforce focus on doing good better and impact lives. Rhodri Davies of Charities Aid Foundation (CAF), the author of Public Good by Private Means' and an expert on philanthropy and technology for giving, says, 'There are plenty of new jobs that will be actually created in the wake of the AI revolution.' Here are some of the charity jobs that artificial intelligence and machine learning can enhance - (1) Fundraiser: Chatbots can support in fundraising tasks. Organizations are already making use of online platforms to do so effectively and reach out to far-flung donors. (2) Support Services Assistant: Charity chatbots can help in guiding people towards the general information they require. This will help human staff to focus on more complex and sensitive queries. (3) Translator: AI-driven language translation can assist charity workers to communicate effectively with populations they serve and have language barrier with. (4) Conservation Scientist: Data science and machine learning is used in sustainability studies. AI can be used by wildlife and conservation charities to understand patterns such as habitat loss, climate change, water use, poaching etc. This will help better understand human impact on natural world and plan ahead. (5) Medical Researcher: AI and robotics are used in diagnostics and patient care. AI-driven data analysis helps spot patterns in behvior, symptoms and treatment effects. Thus providing effective treatment. Read on...

Charity Digital News: The charity jobs that could soon be enhanced by AI
Author: Chloe Green


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 27 jun 2019

Technology is enabling charitable and philanthropic organizations to perform better in many ways - (1) Donations have just become a click away with expanded reach through online financial payment systems. Moreover, online transactions provide anonymity to donors who prefer it. (2) Crowdfunding has become a great tool to gather funds from all kind of donors, big or small, for the causes that one suppports. Crowdfunding websites are convenient to use and make it easy to reach out to prospective donors. (3) Technology has brought transparency and accountability. Donors are now more aware about how their contributions are utilized. Moreover, financial management tools provide charity organizations ways to efficiently and effectively track their funds. (4) Social media has proven to be effective to spread a charitable cause and seek support. Read on...

CIO Applications: Technology Revamping Philanthropy
Author: NA


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 25 feb 2019

According to the most recent 'State of the Nonprofit Cloud Report' by NTEN and Microsoft, cloud technology has become routine enough that many organizations have adopted new services during the past year or are considering adding new services. Three of four respondents indicated current use of cloud services for at least three purposes. The average number of services used is about six. Nonprofits are using cloud not just to store data, but in many other ways. Emily Dalton, VP of product management at Omatic Software, says, 'The thing that people are abuzz about is AI (artificial intelligence), machine learning and how can we take all the data being generated and harness that into intelligence. It's applying more of the science of fundraising...There are patterns and insights that could be found in the data, pointing to a segment that's ripe for a major giving ask. Having your database and CRM system in the cloud, allows fundraisers to do some pretty incredible stuff. They have access to all their donor data in real time when going to a meeting or on a road trip. Instead of setting up a meeting with a donor, running a report and printing out a donor profile to bring along, fundraiser instead walks into a meeting with the most relevant data possible. They access it quicker and it's not duplicated because the cloud is faster.' Nathan Chappell, CFRE, SVP philanthropy at City of Hope, says, 'We send fundraisers to lunch with people we know have wealth...The data can help determine how best to deploy the workforce in the best way possible...We're very diligent about testing models...The starting point for any nonprofit, even a small one, is ensuring they're capturing all the data possible. The model will be only as good as the quality and consistency of data.' Rodney M. Grabowski, CFRE, VP for university advancement at the University of Buffalo, says, 'In reality, I've been using forms of AI throughout my entire career. Twenty years ago we were calling it data analytics, then machine learning, now it's AI.' Steve MacLaughlin, VP of data and analytics at Blackbaud, says, 'The technology is largely invisible. If your organization is taking online donations, then you're using the cloud. There's no way to take donations without using some cloud. For fundraising and donor management, a larger percentage of nonprofits are using the cloud than not...We're well past the tipping point. Now, it's going to be about what happens next, how does the cloud enable more effectiveness.' Eric Okimoto, COO at boodleAI, says, 'AI and cloud computing are buzz words. But at the end of the day, cloud computing is just the ability to rent capabilities rather than spend heavily on capital, people and security.' Amy Sample Ward, CEO of NTEN, says, 'Fundraisers can benefit from the same elements of efficiency and access as program or communications staff...Let the robots do the work to tell you that someone just made a donation...instead of running a report to check. Nonprofits still must use the cloud in whatever way makes strategic sense for them...What's likely to become more of an issue this year and beyond is data access, security and privacy. It's going to happen anyhow but things like GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) and data breaches accelerate it...What nonprofits value about cloud tools is that staff can access data and systems to do their jobs from wherever, but security is important when they evaluate such tools. When we talk to nonprofits about security, it's usually an amorphous, shadowy fear. It's not a specific security concern...Often, it's probably safer to work with a cloud vendor or partner on security than for a nonprofit to try to maintain that security on its own.' Read on...

The NonProfit Times: Cloud Is Raining Data, Flooding Fundraising With Information
Author: Mark Hrywna


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 23 oct 2018

Recent passing away of Microsoft's co-founder Paul Allen (b.21 jan 1953 - d.15 oct 2018) brings to the forefront his contributions, not only to technology and entrepreneurship, but also to education, arts, culture etc as part of his philanthropy. After leaving Microsoft's management in 1983, his philanthropic activities focused on the city of Seattle (US), his hometown. He endowed a separate school for computer science and engineering at the University of Washington. His investments in Seattle's South Lake Union locality has recast the city as an increasingly popular destination for young technologists. Some of his cherished contributions to the city's scene and skyline include artistic and athletic monuments to which he devoted a substantial portion of his wealth. He commissioned Frank Gehry to design a pop-culture museum. He also developed a children's center at the Seattle Public Library, funded an off-campus studio for the beloved public-radio station KEXP, and established a military-history museum outside the city. He was an ardent advocate of environmental protection, computational bioscience, and space exploration, donating millions of dollars to regional nonprofits. He invested in sports and acquired Seattle Seahawks at the time the team was planning to leave the city. In his memoir, 'Idea Man' (2011), responding to criticism that his philanthropy lacked focus, he wrote, 'At times, I cast my net too widely. But my choice of ventures wasn't arbitrary.' In 2000, the chairman of the architecture department at the University of Washington likened him to a modern Medici (an influential banking and political family of Florence, Italy). His contributions to entrepreneurship and technology are public knowledge. He recounted in his memoir regarding the initial mission of his venture with Bill Gates was, 'A computer on every desk and in every home.' Mr. Gates recently wrote, 'Paul foresaw that computers would change the world.' He influenced the technological innovations like point-and-click computing, word processing, and multi-button mouse. Mr. Allen attributed his entrepreneurial ambition and imagination to a wide-ranging autodidacticism and a natural passion for art and literature. Even though a technologist and part of a cut-throat and highly competitive industry, he understood that the products he designed were complements to preexisting lives, all of them rich and varied. He wrote in his memoir, 'That's a core element of my management philosophy. Find the best people and give them room to operate, as long as they can accept my periodic high-intensity kibitzing.' Read on...

The New Yorker: The Rare Humanism Behind Paul Allen's Technological Vision
Author: Eren Orbey


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 29 aug 2018

The possibility of eco-friendly biodegradable paper-based batteries is now made a reality by the scientists at Binghampton University (SUNY), Prof. Seokheun 'Sean' Choi from the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department and Prof. Omowunmi Sadik from the Chemistry Department. Their research titled 'Green Biobatteries: Hybrid Paper-Polymer Microbial Fuel Cells' was recently published in Advanced Sustainable Systems. Prof. Choi engineered the design of the paper-based battery, while Prof. Sadik was able to make the battery a self-sustaining biobattery. The biobattery uses a hybrid of paper and engineered polymers. The polymers - poly (amic) acid and poly (pyromellitic dianhydride-p-phenylenediamine) - were the key to giving the batteries biodegrading properties. Prof. Choi says, 'There's been a dramatic increase in electronic waste and this may be an excellent way to start reducing that. Our hybrid paper battery exhibited a much higher power-to-cost ratio than all previously reported paper-based microbial batteries. The polymer-paper structures are lightweight, low-cost and flexible. Power enhancement can be potentially achieved by simply folding or stacking the hybrid, flexible paper-polymer devices.' Read on...

BingU News: SCIENTISTS CREATE BIODEGRADABLE, PAPER-BASED BIOBATTERIES
Author: Rachael Flores


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 28 aug 2018

Nonprofits have to take the cue from their for-profit counterparts for successful implementation of marketing and technology oriented strategy implementations. Content marketing is now a mature field both in B2B and B2C aspects of business. Best practices are available. Gloria Horsley, founder of Open to Hope Foundation, explains the value of effective content for nonprofit organizations to educate, inform and engage with donors, volunteers and those the nonprofits intend to support and help. She shares her mistakes in content marketing in nonprofit realm and the learning from these experiences - (1) Transferring Existing Print Content Online: Offline content is outward-facing and telling rather than sharing or interactive; Written for entire audience and not personalized for specific segments; Online content need to be written in a way to engage audience; Interactive for audience to share their opinions; Utilizes story telling and visual content. (2) Delivering Content That Lacks Educational Value: Merely information and facts are not always valuable content; Specific content that educate different audiences is more valuable; Produce content that answers specific questions; Educational content attracts more supporters, donors and volunteers. (3) Letting Volunteers Run With It: Giving too much control to volunteers for content development risks consistency and integrity; They may create content that is not fully compliant with regulations; Specific rules and guidelines for content must be laid out; Templates and formats must be shared with temporary workers and volunteers; Provide volunteers access to content management system where content is checked and approved before being published. (4) Failing To Focus On High-Quality Writing: Emotion-based writing may not always be the best quality writing; Long sentences, grammatical mistakes, passive voice use etc leads to content exhaustion where audience lose interest; Use online tools like WordPress and Grammarly for appropriate writing; Professional writing techniques need to be adopted. Read on...

Forbes: Four Nonprofit Content Marketing Mistakes And How To Avoid Them
Author: Gloria Horsley

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