Archives for July 2010

Jul 29

Trusting the Next Generation of Leaders

Jennifer Hendrickson

Earlier this week, I had the privilege to present to incoming members of the National College Advising Corps. They are recent graduates dispatched as college counselors in low-income middle and high schools near their alma maters. And they are some of the brightest, most enthusiastic young people I have encountered.

I shared with them the resources available through the KnowHow2GO campaign, a college access effort co-led by our client, the American Council on Education, with Lumina Foundation for Education and the Ad Council. In particular, I presented the ambassadors program we launched last fall with five of their peers.

The program evolved out of conversations with teens across the country who are served by KnowHow2GO’s college access partners. They told us over and over again that their peers have the biggest influence over their decisions – more so than caring adults or celebrities. So we elevated five college advisers as the faces and voices of KnowHow2GO. They communicate directly with students through a multi-author blog  and dedicated Facebook and Twitter pages.

Allowing the ambassadors to communicate candidly with students required KnowHow2GO’s co-leaders to relinquish some control. But they did so willingly, in exchange for fresh and compelling content.

Within 45 minutes of my presentation, I received three e-mails from new advisers interested in becoming the next generation of ambassadors. The desire of young people to help is there – we need only provide them the opportunity and trust them to take it seriously.


Jul 27

Getting nonprofits started with Foursquare


Last week I had the privilege of attending the annual conference for the Military Child Education Coalition (a Weber Shandwick client) and was surprised at the enthusiasm of some attendees over Foursquare, the location-based social networking service.
If you don’t know much about Foursquare, here’s a good rundown on the service.
While I was talking about Foursquare at the conference, many attendees pulled out their smartphones to download the free mobile app and sign up on the spot.
Although not every nonprofit needs to use Foursquare, it could be a useful engagement tool for those that have physical locations for people to visit – such as a museum – or for special events.

Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • The History Channel created a profile that you can follow to receive history-related tips when you check in at various venues. Depending on your nonprofit’s mission, this can be a good method of educating people about your cause when they’re on-site and more likely to form an emotional connection.
  • If you have a public venue, make sure to claim it. You’ll get access to a wealth of data about your visitors.
  • Once you’ve claimed your venue, you can offer a special that rewards freuent visitors. Perhaps a museum could offer a free scoop of ice cream to visitors every fifth check-in, or free entry to special exhibitions for the “mayor,” which is the person who has visited the most times using Foursquare.

As geolocation apps become more widespread, Foursquare seems poised to take advantage of the next big trend in digital living.
Particularly if your nonprofit has a physical location open to the public, it makes sense to investigate how Foursquare can take your visitor interaction to the next level.

Jul 22

The Power of a Simple Idea


Thanks to Osocio's always informative blog, I was recently reminded of a campaign I came across two years ago while out to dinner at Brasserie Beck in Washington, D.C.: UNICEF’s  tap project

The idea behind this campaign was simple: ask restaurant patrons to donate one dollar for the tap water they usually drink for free. 

As seen on Osocio, the project has also found an innovative way to collect dollars with vending machines.  You can select from your choice of water flavors including cholera, dengue, dysentery, hepatitis, malaria, salmonella and yellow fever. 

Now entering its third year, this successful campaign is a solid example of how a smart —yet simple —idea with a strong and immediate call to action can keep reinventing itself.  

In addition, it reminded me that we all should start thinking of plans for World Water Week 2011.

Jul 19

Be Specific when Talking about Global Health

Victoria Baxter

In a recent blog post, New York Times columnist Nick Kristof wrote, “I generally have the view that humanitarians are really bad at framing issues and marketing causes, because they believe so deeply in them.”

The comment was part of a dialogue he had with readers who were taking him to task for over-focusing on Westerners and Americans development workers when reporting on global health and development issues.  Kristof argued that stories that had a relatable character, often a Westerner or American working in the region, resonated better with an American audience.

I wonder if the stories work not just because the ethnicity or nationality of the protagonist, but also the specificity in which the global issue was framed.  A recent Kaiser Family Foundation poll on the U.S. role in global health found that while American generally don’t support foreign aid, they are more supportive of increased spending abroad for specific global health purposes.  It matters if you ask are we “spending too much on foreign aid” or are we spending too much on “efforts to improve the health for people in developing countries.” People responded even more positively to U.S. spending for specific health outcomes, like preventing malaria, treating HIV or improving access to clean water.

Another recent poll found that 9 out of 10 American aren’t familiar with the Millennium Development Goals, a set of eight time-bound development goals, that if achieved together will end extreme poverty by 2015.  But after hearing more specific information about each goal, 87% believe the U.S. should be involved in accomplishing the MDGs.

Specificity matters.  We can be better at marketing causes if we are mindful that people may not know a lot about an issue, particularly global issues that they haven’t experienced firsthand.  But that doesn’t mean they won’t care.  It’s our job as storytellers to explain the issue and make it relevant for all of our audiences.

Jul 15

Relationships that Matter to America’s Teens


Only 19 percent of 15-year-olds in the United States say they have positive, sustained and meaningful relationships with adults, according to a new study released by our client, Best Buy, and the Minneapolis-based Search Institute.

The findings of the Teen Voice 2010 report indicate there is significant room for improvement when it comes to building relationships that put teens on a path to success.

It’s our job as caring adults to develop positive relationships with teens. But teens often feel that they’re not being listened to or taken seriously. The part of the study I found most resonant was the advice teens had for adults when trying to build relationships:

10 Tips from Teens to Adults:

1.    Look at us. Make eye contact.
2.    Spend time talking with us. Ask open-ended questions. Build the conversation
3.    Listen. Pay attention. Don’t multi-task or get distracted when you’re with us. Respond to our messages and texts.
4.    Be dependable. Do what you say you’re going to do.
5.    Show appreciation for what we do. Give compliments. Show that you’re glad to see us or hear from us. Send us personalized cards.
6.    Relax. Don’t feel like you have to be on guard.
7.    Show that you’re interested. Attend our concerts, games and other events. Ask us to show you what we can do.
8.    Laugh with us (and at yourself). Laugh at our jokes. Show us your humor.
9.    Ask us to help you. Ask us for our ideas. Share your own, too.
10. Challenge us. Teach us what you know. Push us to do our best.


These are such simple points of advice, but somehow adults have difficulty following them. We get so wrapped up in our own worlds, sometimes we forget to be present in theirs.

To further hit this point home, we helped Best Buy develop a video to summarize the Teen Voice 2010 report and serve as a call to action for adults to build meaningful and sustained relationships with teens. Take a look:


 Also, we’ve posted a presentation with key findings on SlideShare:

Teen Voice 2010 Report - Best Buy @15 and Search Institute

View more presentations from Best Buy @15.




Jul 13

Cash on Delivery: Seeking Social Impact in AIDS Prevention


A group of global health partisans gathered in a dark Seattle auditorium in eary July to consider a radical idea: “Cash on Delivery” of results in preventing HIV transmission.  
The speaker, Dr. Tim Hallett of the Imperial College of London’s Institute for Global Health, made his case based on the finding that while a handful of countries in sub-Saharan Africa have stemmed their HIV/AIDS epidemics through behavior change, there is little evidence that specific prevention programs can take credit.
What, then, is working?  In Zimbabwe, it’s fear, according to Hallett.  More people going to funerals of friends and loved ones. More people talking about the virus, and more men cutting back on multiple partners and stepping up condom use.
HIV prevalence fell in Zimbabwe from 29.3 percent in 1997 to 15.6 percent in 2007.  But the study found no “smoking gun” that pointed to a particular prevention program bringing about this change.  And the grim fact remains that as of 2007, one in every seven adults in Zimbabwe was still infected with the virus.  Globally, 2.7 million were infected in 2008.  The epidemic keeps growing.
The $4 billion question (the annual cost prevention programs) remains: how can we flip the switch on HIV/AIDS?  How can prevention trump death?  
Hallett, along with others such as Mead Over at the Center for Global Development, suggest that Cash on Delivery could turn things around.  The approach would reward a country’s success at HIV prevention, regardless of how that success is achieved or who gets the credit.  There would be no mandates of what methods to use – circumcision or condoms or ARVs – just the knowledge that documented success in prevention would bring the country and its people resources. 
Could Cash on Delivery be designed in a way that builds on other prevention efforts, keeps people honest through accurate measurement, encourages local ownership and initiative, and motivates individuals to change? 
The discussion, sponsored by the Washington Global Health Alliance and the University of Washington’s Department of Global Health, enabled participants to delve into such issues.  It’s part of a broader conversation that could lead to new real-world efforts--and new hope--for preventing HIV/AIDS.


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