I might have been given a bad break, but I've got an awful lot to live for.” – Lou Gehrig (right)


DID YOU KNOW? Eighty-five years ago today, on August 17, 1933, the legendary New York Yankees first baseman, Lou Gehrig, broke the record for most consecutive baseball games ever played in his 1,308th game. Born in New York City on June 19, 1903, and eventually signed by the Yankees in 1923, Gehrig quickly proved to be an exceptional talent, leading the American League in home runs and runs for multiple years and in hitting once. Among other impressive accomplishments, Gehrig became the first player to hit four home runs in a single game, was named American League MVP in 1927, and helped the Yankees take six World Series titles over the course of his career. In 1938, just fifteen years into his professional career, Gehrig began to show symptoms of a chronic illness. Eventually diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a progressive neurodegenerative disease, Gehrig was forced to remove himself from many games and eventually retired. ALS is now commonly referred to as “Lou Gehrig’s Disease,” and the ALS Association was established in 1985 to help patients and their families cope with the daily struggles of ALS. The ALS Association remains the largest national nonprofit organization fighting ALS through research, treatment, education, public policy, and much more. Now that we’ve seen how Lou Gehrig’s struggle with ALS helped inspire a nonprofit organization that has changed countless lives, let’s take a look at these five nonprofit headlines from this week’s news.

1. How to Get Your Message into the Right Folder

We’ve all missed the occasional “evite” to a co-worker’s barbeque that somehow found its way to our spam folders. Even more likely, we’ve all missed an opportunity to support our favorite cause. According to the 2018 Nonprofit Email Deliverability Study published by EveryAction, 24% of fundraising emails sent by nonprofits in 2017 ended up in spam folders. With online fundraising methods becoming increasingly more popular as a means of giving, this could mean a serious missed opportunity for nonprofits seeking to capitalize on online donations. According to the study, a 1% spam rate translates to a loss of $1,225.73 per 100,000 emails sent. The spam rate from 2017 resulted in an average annual loss of $30,000 for nonprofits. In order to avoid such losses and maximize viewership, EveryAction suggests that your organization adopt an “opt-in and confirm process” to ensure that email addresses are correct and processed properly. To find out if your online fundraising potential is being affected by pesky spam folders and what you can do to reach all your supporters, click the link above.

2. Making a Donation Just Got That Much Easier

Amazon’s Alexa, a voice-controlled speaker that does everything from search the web, to dim your lights, to play music tracks all at the sound of your voice, can now also donate to your favorite nonprofits. Instead of having to pick up the phone or punch in credit card numbers, those who donate through Alexa need only say something to the tune of “Alexa, make a donation.” The system then prompts the owner to choose from the more than 120 charities so far registered to accept donations through Alexa. While obviously a helpful tool for fundraising, Alexa Donations is also being considered by some nonprofits, such as the American Cancer Society, as a way to conveniently spread their mission to more households. With early-stage hiccups such as delays in the nonprofit registration process and difficulties in collecting accurate donor data, voice-controlled donation methods such as Alexa Donations will likely require significant research and adjustment before becoming popularized methods of giving. To find out if your organization could benefit from voice-controlled giving technology, how to register, and what fees may be involved, visit the link above.

3. Nonprofit Work and Secondary Traumatic Stress

While stress-level management is necessary in every line of work, it becomes increasingly important when dealing with fields in the nonprofit world. An article from the Forbes Nonprofit Council describes how the sensitive nature of nonprofit work can sometimes leave workers with secondary traumatic stress, or “emotional duress that results when an individual hears about the firsthand trauma experiences of another.” In order to ensure that your organization can continue to make the greatest impact possible on the people it serves, nonprofit leaders must ensure that their employees are given the tools to properly cope with such secondary stress. A few strategies your organization can adopt to combat the negative impacts of secondary traumatic stress include raising awareness of the potential for such trauma to occur, encouraging a healthy work-life balance, providing stress management trainings, creating a culture of teamwork, and regularly sharing stories of your employees’ or organization’s successes, rather than just those of failure. To read about who is more at risk for such trauma and daily strategies your organization can use to promote self-care and lower such risk, click the link above.

4. Voluntary Audits as a Proactive Approach to Financial Credibility

Often used in the same sentence as “fraudulent activity” or “embezzlement,” audit can be a scary word for some. Yet, while these connotations are sometimes justified, it is a common misconception that audits are primarily carried out to uncover unethical business practices. According to NEO Law Group, both independent audits and audit committees can actually be used to help nonprofits develop strategies to prevent against potential instances of fraud. In California, the provisions of the Nonprofit Integrity Act of 2004 (NIA) do not apply to most nonprofits due to their $2 million gross revenue threshold for mandatory audits. However, the NEO Law Group recommends that your nonprofit still consider utilizing independent audits and/or audit committees in order to demonstrate financial integrity, maintain donor confidence, protect board members, and become eligible for funders that require audited statements, among other benefits. To find out more about the difference between independent audits and audit committees, specific audit requirements for nonprofits in California, and more cost efficient alternatives to independent audits, visit the link above. 

5. How Emphasizing One Can Bring Change to Thousand

We sometimes think that the most effective way of explaining the gravity of an issue is by quantifying it. If people know how many residents of California are homeless, they are much more likely to donate to organizations building shelters and affordable housing . . . right? Yet empathy sometimes works in mysterious ways. According to the Nonprofit Times, organizations might reach donors more effectively if they emphasize focused, individualized anecdotes rather than ambiguous quantities of victims. Shankar Vedantam, the social scientist correspondent for National Public Radio, commented that he “can ask you to put yourself in the shoes of another person but not in the shoes of 1,000 people.” Although seemingly counterintuitive, by focusing on the one and not the many, organizations can sometimes evoke greater empathy and deepen their donors’ connections to their respective causes. To learn more about how the story of one Jack Russel terrier did just this for the Hawaiian Humane Society, click the link above.

That’s it for this week’s Friday Five! To support those living with Lou Gehrig’s Disease by participating in one of the ALS Association’s “Walks to Defeat ALS” in your community, click here!

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