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Technology

Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 18 feb 2021

Charities often work under limited resources and specific set of pressures. Moreover, COVID-19 pandemic has further exacerbated their operational challenges. Use of performance metrics and marketization, lack of resources, increased visibility due to social media etc further add to the pressure. It is reported that at present one-in-ten charities remain at immediate risk of closure in UK. Considering the state of financial management in charity sector, studies of impact reporting have found that a concerning number of nonprofits are producing insufficient reporting. A Charity Finance Directors' Group study found that whilst more than half of charities reported on output and outcome, broader impact reporting was a far less common practice. A recent report published as part of the Organizational Financial Literacy Project - a collaboration between Charity Digital and Sage Foundation, in consultation with Solid Base Non-Profit Support, examines the current state of organisational financial literacy and impact reporting in the UK charity sector. The report delves into the root causes and proposes solutions. During the pandemic public trust in charities have increased and to maintain this trust nonprofits need to work responsibly and transparently, and with more accountability. Organizations that have better financial management and impact reporting will attract more funds. In charities, particularly smaller ones, the financial reporting tasks are handled on a part-time basis and often deprioritized. There is huge reliance on the use of Excel and paper-based accounting methods, resulting in infrequent and insufficient records. Impact in nonprofit sector is measured in terms of engagement with service users and meeting targets set by trustees and this information is needed by stakeholders to assess whether operations are succeeding or not. This information is critical for governance and to secure funding. The main reason for charities not able to have better financial management and reporting is due to limited resources available to accomplish such tasks. Moreover, well trained finance professional are generally not hired and the tasks are undertaken by non-finance professionals that find accounting and finance software tools complex and difficult to operate. The report identifies a four-part framework for overcoming or mitigating these obstacles - (1) Practical: Software and Processes (2) Educational: Training and Resources (3) Supportive: Extended Support Service (4) Social: Networking and Best Practices. Automation is at the core of this digitization strategy. Read on...

Charity Digital: The state of finance management in the charity sector
Author: Aidan Paterson


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 23 jan 2021

COVID-19 pandemic has brought the focus on online learning and educational technologies. Even though the initiatives have been around for quite some time, but they have not been implemented at such a large scale. It is also observed that there is an imbalance in terms of preparation and implementation of online education in various countries and institutions. Some were able to execute online strategies better as they have been experimenting and utilizing such learning technologies and educational methodologies for many years. Prof. Ray Schroeder, Associate Vice Chancellor of Online Learning at University of Illinois at Springfield (US), explains how online education has rescued education during adverse circumstances and what the future holds for higher education after the pandemic has subsided and traditional education gets back on its feet. He cites an example of innovative strategy of UK unversities during SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) epidemic in Asia 2002-2003 when they offered online delivery of class materials to students at Hong Kong universities. He says, 'I was studying the implications of online learning interventions during SARS when Katrina devastated nearly two dozen college and university campuses along the US Gulf Coast. With my colleague Burks Oakley, then associate vice president for academic affairs for the University of Illinois, we brought the opportunity for online learning intervention to the attention of Frank Mayadas, program director at the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. This quickly expanded to engage a host of other higher education leaders...The remarkable effort was chronicled by George Lorenzo. Ultimately, the effort dubbed "The Sloan Semester" engaged more than 100 colleges and universities in offering online classes at no charge to students displaced by the hurricane. The intent was to provide transfer credit for those students to continue their degrees from wherever they took refuge while their campuses were closed and under repair.' He explains the current state of higher education with falling enrollments in US institutions and students opting for alternative and economical modes of learning through MOOCs and other at-scale online programs. There has been many fold increase in enrollment in such programs during the pandemic. Moreover, with decreasing US population growth and oversupply of colleges and universities the disruption of the education sector is expected. He further explains, 'The shakeout has begun with faculty layoffs, program cuts and deep deficits. The trends I have been following show this to be undeniable and pervasive. That brings us back to online learning to the rescue. As the U.S. Department of Labor reports the average tenure at an employer is just 4.2 years, we are seeing an ever-increasing number of adults returning to universities for continuing and professional education to retool and upskill for new and changing careers. And, by and large, they are doing this online.' He suggests that it will be an opportunity for education providers and they should focus on 'the "60-year learner" who returns again and again to prepare for work in an ever-changing economy fueled by artificial intelligence.' Read on...

Inside Higher Ed: Online Learning to the Rescue: Again
Author: Ray Schroeder


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 31 dec 2020

Social enterprises have been part of the Indian social sector ecosystem for a long time, albeit not in the theoretically and legally defined framework that exists now. According to the study, 'The State of Social Enterprise in Bangladesh, Ghana, India and Pakistan' (British Council, 2016), led by Emily Darko, Director of Research at Social Enterprise UK (SEUK), there are roughly 2 million social enterprises operating in India. The study based on a survey of 258 social enterprises found a young social enterprise scene with 57% being 5 years old or younger. Moreover, these social enterprises work in many sectors - skills development (53%); education (30%); agriculture/fisheries/dairy (28%); financial services (26%); energy and clean technology (26%). From the surveyed social enterprises, 80% reinvest to further social or environmental goals, and they have supported a total of 150 million beneficiaries over their lifetime. The report found a total of 39 central government policies relevant to social enterprise and entrepreneurship. A notable policy with a specific mention of social enterprises was the 'National Skill and Entrepreneurship Policy' announced on 15 July 2015 by the Ministry of Skills and Entrepreneurship. The policy includes a section on social enterprises that aims to foster social entrepreneurship and grassroots innovation. The research study, 'Social Enterprises in the Indian Context: Conceptualizing through Qualitative Lens' (Journal of Global Entrepreneurship Research, Springer Open, 15 jan 2018) (Authors: Subhanjan Sengupta of Birla Institute of Management Technology, Arunaditya Sahay of Birla Institute of Management Technology), researches the meaning of the 'social enterprise' construct in the Indian context, and develops a conceptual framework that represents the construct. The purpose of this empirical study is to develop orientation needed for aspiring social entrepreneurs and social entrepreneurship researchers to familiarize with 'social enterprise' phenomenon in India. Authors explains, 'India is a country with socio-economic and cultural diversity, and a very high population. The country offers no legal definition for social enterprises. The ecosystem of social entrepreneurship in India is created by different organizations and universities/institutes advocating, promoting, and supporting social enterprises. Multiple stakeholders such as these have formulated their own meaning of social entrepreneurship in India; their work being influenced by the social, economic, and cultural diversity across the geographical length and breadth of the country, and the regulatory frameworks of the state and central governments...The key constructs that emerged to be clustering together to form the concept of social entrepreneurship in the Indian context are social value creation, market orientation, social entrepreneur, and balanced impact.' Recently, an India focused book on social enterpreneurship, 'Social Entrepreneurship in India: Quarter Idealism and a Pound of Pragmatism', is authored by Madhukar Shukla who is a Professor of Strategic Management at XLRI Jamshedpur. The book documents rise of the social innovation movement in India, along with profiles and roadmaps. ON COVID-19 - Prof. Shukla says, 'The pandemic, and the subsequent abrupt lockdown, create an unprecedented humanitarian crisis which has still not ended...In many ways, it was also a watershed event in the civil society and social entrepreneurial space - particularly for many social entrepreneurs, who, with reference to the typology in my book, I would describe as 'Public Goods Providers'. For instance, many of the established social ventures...which were already working in the space of relief and with migrant informal sector workers, spurred up their efforts to meet this challenge. There were also many other innovative initiatives from other ventures. At a smaller and localised level, there were many initiatives taken by individuals, citizen groups, and small organizations such as helping the migrants in their journey back home, providing basic subsistence necessities like rations and sanitary pads to marginalised communities, and so on. Why I used the term 'watershed' is because what I see is that many of these efforts, which started as a response to a crisis, also brought in new talent in the sector, and many are now evolving as viable and sustainable social ventures.' ON ROLE OF ACADEMICS - Prof. Shukla says, 'Academics can and does play a useful role in the social entrepreneurship field by identifying and documenting trends, principles, and models from practice. These can help the entrepreneurs to make more informed decisions.' ON SCALING UP CHALLENGES - Prof. Shukla says, 'When organizations scale-up and try to replicate the model which has succeeded in one place, they have to deal with a new set of problems and challenges. They need to consider and plan for three critical challenges...One, scaling up into other locations also increases the complexity of operations...Secondly, scaling up would also need hiring new talent to manage increasingly complex operations of the venture...Lastly, there is the danger of 'mission drift'.' ON DIGITAL TECHNOLOGY - Prof. Shukla says, 'Over the last decade or so, with the increasing affordability of and access to digital technology, it has become a part of the models that are used by many social entrepreneurs. In my experience, three important ways in which it helps creating social change are Access, Aggregation, and Democratisation.' Read on...

YourStory: From start to scale: Tips for social enterprises from Madhukar Shukla, Author of 'Social Entrepreneurship in India'
Authors: Madanmohan Rao, Suman Singh


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 26 oct 2020

Pandemic, combined with politics in many countries, is creating uncertainty for both for-profits and nonprofits. In US, racial protests and electioneering, is adding to the instability. Philanthropic activity is at the crossroads and future seems uncertain. Understanding the change by analyzing past trends and anticipating the future by listening to the wisdom of experts can help nonprofits prepare better for their fundraising needs. PAST TRENDS: According to the 2019 survey of philanthropy 'Giving USA: The Annual Report on Philanthropy' - Individual giving remains the largest source of contributions (69%); Looking at growth in sources, corporate giving increased by 13.4% (includes gifts-in-kind), and giving by individuals increased by 4.7%; Recipient sectors who benefited most were ones where high-net-worth individuals tend to concentrate their giving, with public-society benefit increasing 13.1%, arts, culture, & humanities increasing 12.6%, and education increasing 12.1%; Philanthropy often thrives on economic results, and 2019 was a strong year with the S&P 500 increasing by roughly 29%, personal income growing by 4.4%, and GDP growing by 4.1%. But now 2020 is altogether a different year, with pandemic impact and struggling economy, the future holds uncertain challenges. FUTURE TRENDS: By utilizing Delphic Panel Approach, in which you ask to a team of experts to consider future questions and offer their opinions on likely outcomes based on their experience and insight, a select group of 20 fundraising experts share their predictions on philanthropy and fundraising in coming years. HIGHLIGHTS OF THE SURVEY: 61% were reasonably confident that philanthropy overall would grow during the next 3 years. A decline in giving is not likely to be long-lasting and there is hope for growth; 67% suggested that their organizations or clients would be investing more in fundraising during the next three years. Respondents were fairly evenly split regarding retaining fundraising staff and hiring more fundraisers. So, despite the short-term news of layoffs, there should be opportunities in development; Individual donors will continue to remain essential in future fundraising while no change or reduction is expected in other streams of fundraising revenue. Community/event fundraising will expect a reduction; Digital will be a main fundraising acquisition channel in which organizations are expected to spend. Other growth areas identified by the survey include DM (direct mail), DRTV (direct response television), and a resurgence in telemarketing. Print advertising channel is expected to retreat. Read on...

Nonprofit Quarterly: Crisis Crystal Ball: The Future of Fundraising?
Author: Alan R. Hutson Jr.


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 20 sep 2020

Senior citizens often find themselves struggling with latest consumer technologies that are evolving at a rapid pace. These technologies on the other hand, are a normal part of the daily life of the new generation. If senior citizens can be made to learn these technologies in an effective senior-friendly way, they can benefit from them immensely and improve their quality of life. COVID-19 pandemic has also brought the issue to the fore with social distancing norms and extra vulnerability of senior citizens to viral infections. A nonprofit, AnewVista, founded by Shalini Gupta and Eric Gee, has been working for the last couple of years with senior citizens to help them overcome the barrier to using latest technologies. Before the pandemic the nonprofit hosted in person workshops at senior centers, retirement communities and centers of trust locally. But now most of the learning classes are happening virtually through video conferencing apps. AnewVista offers 40-50 topics, such as cleaning out email folders, navigating social media and finding reliable news and podcasts, as well as some higher-level concepts. Ms. Gupta says, 'When it comes to these simple devices, which are made for younger people, they struggle. Intellectually, they are very smart, but it's just the hands-on part that gets very hard sometimes - and once you open the wall for them, it's all there for them to enjoy. Basically, we cover all bases, like how they can be safe, how they can be creative, how they can be social and how they can enjoy more things for fun, communication wise.' Mr. Gee says, 'The trick is to really find what's the obstacle for older adults to engage with technology or engage with the digital economy. We invite everybody to enjoy and just learn a little bit more, especially in these times of sheltering in place, which isn't going to end anytime soon.' Read on...

Los Altos Town Crier: Nonprofit helps seniors stay connected with evolving technologies
Author: Marie Godderis


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 25 jun 2020

User-Generated Content (UGC) is getting more prominence for charity marketing and communications in the COVID-19 pandemic turbulence. Charities are struggling with funds and resources and have substantially reduced marketing and advertising spends. UGC helps charities in creating content to promote their brand, do fundraising, and advertise their accomplishments. Content created by those who were directly supported by charities is more authentic and relatable. When users share their stories they connect better with potential supporters. Following are the ways UGC benefits charities - (1) Marketing budgets are shrinking and UGC can provide a practical, cost-effective solution amid cuts, through users becoming charities' ambassadors online through videos, blogs, podcasts and social media posts. Hiring marketing agency is costly and current social distancing norms are restricting professionals to do location filming. The National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NVCO) has estimated that UK charities lost around £4 billion in the first three months of the COVID-19 crisis. According to COVID-19 Marketing Report by Influencer MarketingHub, more than 2/3 (69%) of brands expect they will reduce their advertising spend in 2020 due to COVID-19. 3/4 say they are posting less on their social media accounts as budgets shrink. (2) Charity's frontline staff, beneficiaries and volunteers are able to enhance their digital skills during lockdown. Charities are certainly keen to empower their workforce to support users in creating content. The 2020 Charity Digital Skills Report found that half of charities would welcome guidance on helping their staff adjust to change and stay motivated and productive amid the pandemic. (3) UGC is more authentic and relatable. Last year's Stackla survey found that the public believes UGC is 2.4 times more authentic compared to brand created content. However, too often the power of UGC is not being realised by marketers. The survey showed that marketers are 2.1 times more likely to believe that brand created content is more authentic compared to UGC. Read on...

Charity Digital: How and why User-Generated Content is changing charity marketing
Author: Joe Lepper


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 30 apr 2020

In the digital era, it is imperative for nonprofit leaders to embrace technology and adapt to change effectively. Practicing concepts of 'change management' helps in the technological transformation. Aparna Kothary, director of technology operations at Global Citizen Year, had to implement new technology to help her nonprofit, which organizes gap year study-abroad programs for high school seniors, measure the impact of their work. She says, 'When you put a lot of work into building something, you think it's great and you want everybody else to think it's great, but approaching it with humility is so important...If our end goal is user adoption, it's our responsibility to train people in a way that that works for them.' Setting expectations for new technology adopters is also important. She adds, 'Instead of saying - Here's this shiny new tool we are going to use forever - maybe say - This is phase one of a three-year project, and every year w're going to improve a little bit more...' According to the second annual Nonprofit Trends Report produced by Salesforce, leadership must not only lead the adoption of new technologies but also help nurture a culture that is open to embracing new technology in the first place. But 45% of nonprofits state that they lack the flexibility and adaptiveness that the adoption of new technology demands. Prof. Alva H. Taylor of Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College says, 'Leadership has to understand it and know the importance of it, and also communicate (that importance) to everybody in their organization...might involve showing how the new tool is compatible with how they've done their work in the past, while 'really trumpeting the benefits' of adoption.' The Nonprofit Trends Report also shows that, on average, different departments have different rates of adoption of new technologies, and suggests that without full adoption of technology nonprofits may not get the maximum return on investment. Planning is essential along with leadership. 85% of the nonprofits surveyed in the report say that technology is key to the success of an organization like the one they work for, but only 23% say they have a long-term vision for the technology they plan on implementing. Sarah Angel-Johnson, CIO at the education nonprofit Year Up, says that it leads to 'rocks and pebbles' problem. She comments, 'Let's not talk about the technology or the architecture first. Let's talk about the human on the other side (experiencing a digital innovation). If you have a jar and you fill it with sand first, then pebbles and rocks, it won't all fit. But if you fill the jar first with rocks and the pebbles and then finally sand, it will all fit.' This means that leadership needs to establish priority projects and execute on them before pivoting to anything else. Developing nonprofit-wide strategy requires leadership buy-in and is necessary for long-term success. Jarrod Bell, CTO at Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, says, 'Painting what the vision was for technology at our organization, tying that to the mission, having that message come from our president and CEO, having that message resonated by our board...reverberate those messages as well, and then repeating it over, and over, and over again.' Rebeca Johnson, VP of constituent experience and digital transformation at the American Heart Association, says, 'Transformation is difficult, because transformation is change, and change is hard. But the world has changed and we have to change with it.' Read on...

Stanford Social Innovation Review: Being a Digital-First Leader
Author: Adrienne Day


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 | 20 oct 2019

Personalization and customization of education is becoming a possibility with use of latest technologies. Traditional education systems with 'one-size-fits-all' approach are facing challenges and their ineffectiveness is becoming visible. Every learner has individual capabilities and traits, and educational delivery that caters to his specific needs would work best. Lasse Rouhiainen, author of 'Artificial Intelligence: 101 Things You Must Know Today About Our Future' and an international expert on artificial intelligence (AI) and disruptive technologies, explains that personalization is future of higher education and how correct implementation of AI and big data analytics will help in creating personalized learning experiences that can overcome some of the challenges that educational institutions face like disengaged students, high dropout rates, skills mismatch etc. He says, 'With a personalized learning experience, every student would enjoy a completely unique educational approach that's fully tailored to his or her individual abilities and needs. This could directly increase students' motivation and reduce their likelihood of dropping out. It could also offer professors a better understanding of each student's learning process, which could enable them to teach more effectively. Here's what this might look like: AI-based learning systems would be able to give professors useful information about their students' learning styles, abilities, and progress, and provide suggestions for how to customize their teaching methods to students' individual needs.' One of the key ingredient of this learning approach is the access to large amount of student data. Privacy is the challenge in this regard. But if student data could be collected and processed in a way that is ethical, secure, and transparent, it would allow AI to be used to effectively improve various areas of study. Use of chatbots and virtual assistants can assist in handling routine questions and tasks and will also provide data that represents students' concerns and requirements. This will benefit in designing education that responds to their needs. Moreover, as AI-enabled systems takeover routine tasks, teachers will have more quality time for students and engage them to pursue higher learning. Their role would be to guide, support, and mentor students, assist them to understand their learning, it's value, and it's application in the real world. To some extent chatbots can also be used to assist sudents to manage their mental well-being - to reduce stress and improve motivation to study. This will be beneficial, atleast for immediate relief, as many university health systems are struggling to handle large population of students in their on-campus mental health counseling programs. The outcome of education and learning is to finally prepare students for the world of work and be productive in whatever career they pursue. As the work environment is becoming more technology intensive and routine tasks are automated with AI-enabled systems and robots, it is essential for education systems to provide skills and train students to effectively adapt to such work environment and become successful. There is no substitute for humans. Technology is an enabler. Right mix of AI technology and human abilities can help evolve the education and learning systems for better outcomes. Read on...

Harvard Business Review: How AI and Data Could Personalize Higher Education
Author: Lasse Rouhiainen


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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