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Alex Wettreich

Manager of Account Services

Alex Wettreich, Manager of Account Services  

Alex Wettreich joined Convio in late 2003 as a Sr. Account Manager working with clients such as Dean for America, the Jewish National Fund, the ASPCA, and WNET/Thirteen. In 2006, he became Manager of Account Management for Convio's Austin-based AM team, responsible for ensuring client satisfaction and strong return on investment and in October 2008, Alex began working on Convio's renewal team, helping clients match Convio's products and services to their strategic objectives.

Prior to joining Convio, he spent 4 years in New York as a Sr. Marketing Strategist at i-traffic/AGENCY.COM, working with clients like Nokia and British Airways on their web strategies. In 2002, after spending 4 years at i-traffic, Alex engaged with Meetup.com to consult on their highly successful launch plan, before returning to Austin to join advertising agency T3 as an Account Supervisor. Alex graduated from the University of Texas at Austin Honors Program with a B.A in History.


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It's just a state of mind

Posted by Alex Wettreich at Dec 05, 2008 03:26 PM CST
Categories: Usability

As you head into what will no doubt be a hugely enjoyable weekend, take a second to look at Is it going to rain?. That site knows why it exists, and I am left in no doubt about what I am supposed to do there.

Your site can not and should not be that simple. But that said, does your site focus me on the primary action you want me to take? 

In the spirit of keeping things uncluttered, I'll leave it there.... 

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Elevator going up....

Posted by Alex Wettreich at Nov 05, 2008 10:58 AM CST
Categories: Nonprofit Trends

We woke up to a different world this morning. It amazes me that my 1-year old will grow up thinking that an African-American President of the United States is "normal" (or maybe he will be surprised if we elect a white president)!

As we digest the implications of this election, I am interested to see how our issue advocacy clients respond.

It's no secret that the Bush administration has been a boon for progressive organization list growth and fundraising - "anger can be power", as the late Joe Strummer once said. So a President Obama - while obviously a dream come true for most  progressives - does take a very powerful arrow out of their quiver. Maintaining a sense of urgency amongst their constituents will be a challenge. In addition, it will be interesting to see whether these organizations can morph constituencies that in many cases cohered around opposition to Bush into focused advocates for realizing their policy goals now that they have a better shot at doing so.

Meanwhile, conservative groups gearing up to be the loyal opposition have technology at their disposal that simply did not exist during the last Democratic administration. On the whole, they've been a little behind the curve compared to progressive advocates - will that change now? Can we expect to see conservative advocacy groups grow their grassroots programs and innovate as furiously as progressive groups have over the last 8 years?

Either way, this election marks the next phase in the maturation of online political activism. I'm glad to have such a fascinating vantage point on the situation, and can't wait to see the innovations our clients come  up with.

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Looking at The Big Picture

Posted by Alex Wettreich at Oct 06, 2008 10:01 AM CDT
Categories: Advocacy, Constituent Empowerment

If one of the keys to successful fundraising is providing the donor with "emotional return on investment"*, then photography is a terrific shortcut to delivering that emotional reward. This is not news to anyone, but the impact that The Big Picture has had on me is a reminder that, at its best, photography can tell your story in a visceral, immediate way.

The Big Picture is a new online feature from The Boston Globe designed to "highlight high-quality, amazing imagery - with a focus on current events, lesser-known stories and, well, just about anything that comes across the wire that looks really interesting." 

The tagline is "News stories in photographs", but I would amend that to just "Stories in photographs" - and that's where the connection to nonprofit work can be seen.

The recent photo essays on the effects of Extreme Drug-Resistant TB (warning: very disturbing images) and promoting Childhood Cancer Awareness Month (warning: heartbreaking, if not disturbing, images) stopped me in my tracks...they popped up in my RSS reader during a very busy day, but 15 minutes later I was still looking at them. In these jaded, media-saturated times, landing that kind of emotional punch is not very easy.

While those images may prompt folks into action, the real emotional reward comes in seeing the results of your investment in the org...the kids who are now cancer-free, the TB sufferers whose pain has been eased in some way. Don't skimp on celebrating the victories...after all, at some level, your donors are giving to you so that they can feel good about themselves, so making them aware of the good they've done is in your best interest.

Certainly great photography can do a lot for your website, but I would argue that including it in your email newsletters, action alerts, etc. is a way to continue reinforcing the emotional connection that prompted the constituent to give you their name in the first place.

Some options for acquiring excellent photography inexpensively:

Any other thoughts about effective use of photography in your online programs?

 * there I was thinking I'd come up with that phrase myself, but a quick Google reveals Katya A is right there with me

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The T word

Posted by Alex Wettreich at Jun 05, 2008 11:48 PM CDT
Categories: Productivity

One issue I see clients dealing with every day is the disruption caused by staff turnover - particularly unexpected turnover. It's not much fun when the staffer responsible for your action alerts quits 2 days before a key Congressional hearing...and no-one else knows how to use the email tool. And if the staffer is a database administrator, multiply the pain and fear by 2x.

Untrained folks will get frustrated stepping into someone's shoes at short notice, especially if processes have gone undocumented. Not to mention the potential havoc that can ensue when long-established business rules are ignored by a well-meaning stand-in. 

On top of the immediate inconvenience and disruption, turnover can sap long-term momentum, particularly for online outreach or fundraising programs whose value - in many cases - is not broadly recognized or internalized by the rest of the organization. 

I don't pretend to be an expert in mitigating the impact of employee turnover, but here are some suggestions for ways to minimize the pain if or - let's face it - when it happens to your organization:

  • documenting business processes. Do you have a checklist of everything that goes into getting your email newsletters out? You can post the steps for recurring tasks like these on your Intranet/wiki (if you don't have one, Google Sites is free for 501(c)(3)s). Also, documenting relevant information contextually is always helpful - for instance, are you using the administrator description fields on your donation forms so that future generations of online appeal senders can understand which forms to link to in which situations?
  • cross-training. In a resource-strapped nonprofit, it's never easy to build true redundancy into the organization - but perhaps rotating tasks once in a while can help broaden the knowledge base while keeping things interesting for staff. In addition, if your various technology vendors offer free online trainings - screencasts, on-demand presentations, etc. - encourage your team to take full advantage. 
  • documenting key contacts and contracts. Support desk 800 numbers, account manager contact info, the email address of that lifesaving freelancer you sometimes call on, copies of your vendor contracts...all archived somewhere other than your My Documents folder
  • standard exit checklists. Sometimes staffers run away to the circus, but most times there is at least some kind of notice given...so create a standard exit checklist you can walk through with them. That way, any useful info is routinely captured before that person walks out the door and gets the usual new-gig amnesia
  • identify your "break glass in emergency" kit. Who can you turn to for a helping hand in a crisis? For instance, I know that in addition to our in-house resources, Convio has some excellent partners whose product and strategic expertise makes them adept at stepping in and keeping the trains running (and your momentum intact) when key online staff quit and you need time to identify their long-term replacement. Or you may have a freelancer or ex-staffer you trust to help out in a pinch. But identifying who your go-to folks might be before the crisis hits will be a lifesaver if/when it happens.

Those are just a few simple ideas - what have you seen work well to keep your online programs chugging along when a key person leaves?

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Drudgery Automation Management

Posted by Alex Wettreich at May 07, 2008 07:20 PM CDT
Categories: Productivity

I will sheepishly admit to being a personal productivity geek. I've read Getting Things Done multiple times, check Lifehacker the way others check their stocks, and am constantly looking for that nifty new Firefox extension that will magically render me Organized.

While I've gone down some dead ends, there are a few little apps that have made a lasting difference in my ability to feel in control of my day - or at least to minimize the drudgery. And given how buried most nonprofit staffers are, I figure anything that saves you a little time might be welcome.

Anagram: when a new major donor prospect or one of your super-activists sends you an email, wouldn't it be great if you could use their email signature file to create an pre-filled Outlook contact with one click?  Anagram instantly creates Outlook contacts and appointments out of text you highlight. 99% of the time it pre-fills the contact/appointment exactly right. Free 45-day trial...they also have versions for Palm, Netsuite, and even Salesforce.com (for those of you using SFDC as your database of record). Windows only, I'm afraid.

ActiveWords: I used to type the words "Thanks, Alex" 50 or so times a day...so it was very annoying when I would misspell my own name, have to hit the back button five times, rewrite it, mistype it again, etc. Now I just hit the letter t and then hit the spacebar twice, because ActiveWords lets me create keyboard shortcuts to automate common tasks...could be text snippets, opening a folder on your network, browsing to a URLs, or even a multi-step task. It sits in your taskbar so it works across all your apps. It has a built in calculator for totting up how much time and money it saves you...since installing it a couple of years ago, I've saved 30 full hours and avoided having to type 354,000 characters! Free 60-day trial. Windows-only, but I'm led to believe Quicksilver offers similar functionality on the Mac platform.

Jott. Call Jott's phone number and leave a message for yourself. It will be converted to text and emailed to your email address. Great for reminding yourself of an idea or action item when you're not near your computer. Free.

I've also playing around with Xobni,  a new, free Outlook plugin that organizes your email by person...all of your previous conversations and shared attachments with that constituent/colleague/board member in one place. Real potential for improving responsiveness....hat tip to my colleague Will Buchanan for that one.

How about you? What are your favorite productivity apps?

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