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  • McDonald's, IOC End Olympic Partnership Early
    Friday Jun 16, 2017

    The International Olympic Committee said it and fast-food giant McDonald’s Corp. have agreed to end their long-running partnership before their latest deal was set to expire.

    Source: The Wall Street Journal: U.S. Business
  • Tenement Museum in New York Names Its New President
    By JOSHUA BARONE - Wednesday Jun 14, 2017

    Kevin Jennings, a former nonprofit leader and Obama official, plans to expand the museum’s reach through virtual and augmented reality.

    Source: NYT > Home Page
  • What to Pack for a Galápagos Trip
    Tuesday Jun 20, 2017

    Snorkeling gear, a day pack and a sun hat are musts for a visit to the islands.

    Source: NYT > Home Page
  • In Cosby Case, First Trial Is a Guide for the 2nd
    By SYDNEY EMBER and GRAHAM BOWLEY - Monday Jun 19, 2017

    Both sides may feel exhausted after the mistrial that ended Bill Cosby’s sexual assault case, but a new round of prosecution is looming just months ahead.

    Source: NYT > Home Page
  • A Guide to Writing S.M.A.R.T Objectives
    Thursday Dec 22, 2016

    The New Year: a time for making (and sometimes quickly breaking) resolutions, trying new things, and looking ahead to what 2017 might have in store. We see a lot of organizations use the early months of a new year to set annual objectives in support of their strategic plan—it’s the perfect time to think through what you’d like to achieve in the coming year.

    If your organization is about to embark on this—and if some of those objectives are related to communications—stop and think before you do. The Ducks have seen a lot of strategic and operational plans in our day. We’ve seen some that incorporate communications well, and others that miss the mark.

    A crucial question to ask as you brainstorm communications (and other) objectives is: are they S.M.A.R.T.? Are they Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-bound?

    Here’s a common example of a communications objective we see in strategic plans—and how we might adapt that objective to make it S.M.A.R.T:

    1. Objective: Raise public awareness and strengthen name recognition of our work.?

    This objective forgets a few key elements of S.M.A.RT.:

      • It’s not specific: we generally discourage citing “the general public” as an audience. It’s vague, which makes nailing down a strategy for reaching them pretty tough. We’d rather push this objective to define its audience by demographics, interests, philanthropic habits, etc. ?
      • It’s not measurable: How are awareness and name recognition being measured? Is there a benchmark level of awareness against which to measure progress? This objective could use some specific metrics. ?
      • It’s not time-bound: there’s no urgency to this objective—it could happen this year, next year, or never. It could use some time constraints. ?

    2. S.M.A.R.T. Objective: Raise awareness of our work among millennials in the Northeast before the 2017 year-end season. We’ll measure success through a 10% increase (from 20% to 30%) in our level of awareness among this demographic. ?

    As you can see, this objective brings some specificity to the target audience and the timing, making it much easier to brainstorm how and when you might reach that audience. It also sets some benchmarks for success, which will help come year-end season, when it’s time to decide if the objective has been met.

    If you’re not sure how to set specific metrics, check out Big Duck’s Brandraising Benchmark, a market research tool that measures your level of awareness, likelihood of support, and more among specific audiences.

    The new year can feel daunting, but really, it’s full of possibilities for your nonprofit’s communications. So get your planning hats on, just remember to be S.M.A.R.T about it!

    Source: BigDuck smart communications for nonprofits
  • How to use BeyondCorp to ditch your VPN, improve security and go to the cloud
    Tuesday Jun 20, 2017

    Source: The Official Google Blog
  • How to use BeyondCorp to ditch your VPN, improve security and go to the cloud
    Tuesday Jun 20, 2017

    Source: The Official Google Blog
  • Words to Avoid—2017 Edition
    Thursday Mar 2, 2017

    It’s 2017 and we’ve emerged from our post-inauguration fog to get back to the business of what we do best: Guide nonprofits toward clear, conscious, and engaging communication habits to stand out in this noisy world.

    Yearly disclaimer: We offer this list as a friendly guide towards making stronger, more thoughtful word choices in your everyday communications. What you find below may be the right—or only—choice at times, and that’s fine. But, with a little extra consideration, a much better word can almost always be used in its place.

    I’d love to be driven to as many places as I’ve seen services and programs described as “data-driven” or “research-driven.” Instead of suggesting influence, take your reader on the ride! What research shapes your programs? How exactly does data inform what you do?

    Untapped (potential)
    To describe individuals who have been excluded from resources, tools, or opportunities to succeed, the sentiment makes sense, but is vague and ubiquitous. The dictionary tells me that “untapped” is actually best used to describe natural resources that haven’t been exploited yet. I don’t think the true function of potential (or anything) is to be used up until it’s extinguished. What does your participants’ potential actually look like?

    This word serves social, family, and feminist organizations exceptionally, but I feel uncomfortable about its implications. The idea of giving authority, opportunities, or dignity to people when they should (ideally) have access to those resources in the first place emphasizes the one who’s doing the giving (and owns the power). If your program is meant to help people learn enriching skills, cultivate confidence, or find mentorship, say so specifically.


    If you look this word up in the dictionary, you’ll find a tautological definition, “relating to or involving iteration, especially of a mathematical or computational process,” which wouldn’t be an issue—if you were talking about a math problem. But this jargon comes up far too often in nonprofit context, and for what purpose? If a process, plan, or development is very complex or involves multiple trials, maybe it’s useful to talk about it in a way that’s less alienating.

    As a shortcut to say your organization does everything, comprehensive hurts more than helps. The idea of doing it all does a nonprofit little service in differentiating who they are. If you really are doing everything in your field, by all means, use this word, but please make sure it’s true first. Otherwise, define your objectives and mission clearly for potential participants, donors, and supporters so your audiences personally connect with your unique slice of the pie.

    A special tip: Hyphens (-), en dashes (–), and em dashes (—) are not the same.
    This isn’t technically a word to avoid, but a lesson in clarity. The differences among these three lines are subtle, and when used improperly, don’t drastically change a sentence’s meaning, but please take note:

      • The hyphen (often improperly stylized -- as an em dash) should only be used to connect words that work together to form a single concept, such as “year-end” or “community-led.” 
      • The en dash middle child connects things across distances like, January–March or 1994–2017. 
      • Use the em dash (—) to add a thought within a sentence—as I have attempted to do here (and be sure to close that thought with another em dash if it’s in the middle of a sentence).

    This level of grammatical detail isn’t absolutely necessary to get your message across, but will certainly ensure consistency and convey expertise.

    That’s all for 2017, and I hope it helps. What words would you like to remove from office this year? We’d love to hear your nominations in the comments!

    Source: BigDuck smart communications for nonprofits