Over the past several months I've had the pleasure of working with Convio's Engineering team on a number of new features for Luminate Online. As we begin the countdown to our Winter release, I wanted to share my top 4 list of the nerdiest, but nonetheless super cool, upcoming enhancements. If, like me, you spend much of your time knee deep in code, hopefully you'll derive as much joy from this list as me. If not, well ... I'll try to keep the tech jargon to a minimum, but no promises.
The time has come. Practically every browser other than that one released ten years ago now supports HTML5. What "support" means exactly varies from browser to browser of course, but the point remains — with the advent of HTML5 the internet is fundamentally changing all around us, giving non-profits new and exciting ways to engage constituents online. This Winter, Convio will be joining the e-revolution, allowing organizations to select the HTML5 DOCTYPE when building out content in Luminate Online. By doing so, you'll then be able to push the envelope with mobile-friendly
<video> and other new-fangled webby goodness. If your organization needs convincing that its time to adopt HTML5, just share the following tidbit from Wikipedia with the powers that be:
“According to a report released on 30 September 2011, 34 of the world's top 100 Web sites were using HTML5.”
2) Cross-Origin Resource Sharing (CORS)
3) Asynchronous Google Analytics Tracking
Years ago, Convio was an early adopter of Google Analytics, back when it was still called "Urchin". Oh, memories. A lot has changed since then, most notably, Google has updated Analytics to use what's known as an asynchronous script. This new script, which loads silently in the background without holding up the rest of the content on a page, is faster and more precise than the older synchronous version. The out-of-the-box integration with Google Analytics in Luminate Online is getting a facelift, making use of this new, better tracking code, including both basic page tracking, as well as more sophisticated pieces of Analytics like Ecommerce tracking. Best of all, Convio clients won't need to do a thing to get this update, it'll just automagically happen when your organization's site is upgraded. You're welcome.
4) Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Enhancements
No matter what Siri says, search engines are still one of the most important tools that prospective donors, volunteers, and advocates use when they want to find out about your organization. To that end, SEO really is a required part of good website design. A lot of the time SEO can seem to be some form of black magic, but there are some basic web-authoring tactics that virtually anyone can employ to improve search engine performance. This Winter, we've made a number of updates to adhere to some of these SEO best practices. First, we've made some significant improvements to the
<title> and meta description that is used on your organization's events and action alerts, dynamically pulling in information about each page. Second, we've added some really fancy logic to redirect old event links to new ones. To provide a real use case, this feature will make it so that if an event participant attempts to go to your organization's 2010 walk, which is obviously over with as it's now the end of 2011, they'll automatically be redirected to the 2011 walk instead. Oh, and what will happen come January when you close the 2011 walk and open 2012? You guessed it, they'll go straight to 2012. And if you consider yourself an honorary SEO Guru, you'll be happy to know — these are 301 redirects. For the non-Gurus, this means that when the 2010 walk page is requested, Convio will respond saying that the page has permanently moved, so the next time a search engine robot attempts to crawl your site it will "see" this and update the link in its index, swapping out the 2010 link for 2011. I mean really, going to a page about an event that has come and gone is like so last year.
Again, I hope this list made your propellers spin too. Leave me a comment to let me know what nerdy feature you'd like to see Convio take on next!
You may remember that Convio published our 2011 Peer-to-peer Benchmark Study in October. As a follow up to the report, we're offering this nifty infographic that highlights some of the top findings. In case you don't have time to download and read the full report, you can enjoy the handy "CliffsNotes" version below:
I love "best-of" lists, and I love making them. Here are a few of my own personal best-ofs: the top three cheese-steaks in Philadelphia (Cosmi's, Jim's, John's Roast Pork), the best green chile in Denver (Santiago's, Benny's, Las Delicias), and the top breakfast tacos in Austin (Tamale House, Tacodeli, Mi Madre). Feel free to disagree with me; these lists are subjective (except for Cosmi's, which objectively has the best cheesesteak in existence), but if you live in or find yourself visiting any of these towns do yourself a favor and give these places a try.
While the lists above are completely subjective, the following isn't. Assembled below are Connection Café's top five online posts of 2011, as determined by our Google Analytics Top Content report. I can honestly, and without bias, say that each one of these posts is truly awesome.
5. In with the QR in Crowd: Emily Goodstein clues us in on QR code best practices.
4. LinkedIn: Step It Up: Cheryl Black gives organizations some tips on how to use LinkedIn more effectively.
3. Mobile Websites vs. Apps - what's right for you?: Sally Heaven gives you the information you need to select the right mobile strategy for your organization.
2. Google Analytics for Nonprofits - Part 1: Alissa Ruehl schools readers in Google Analytics reporting.
1. Fun Friday Facts: Amber Wobschall highlights some fascinating technology and social media trends.
We love our clients at Convio, and we love to hear their success stories. This year, we're happy to congratulate one of our (HQ local) clients, Austin Pets Alive!, for winning the ASPCA's nationally run $100K Challenge!
For those of you unfamiliar with the challenge which is now in its second year, it's not for the faint of heart. Participating organizations are tasked with saving at least 300 more cats and dogs between August and October 2011 than they did during the same period last year. It doesn't take a lot to know that this challenge meant really mobilizing in the community to get awareness and adoption up!
Austin Pets Alive! rose to the challenge though - and at the end of the contest, they didn't just meet their goals, they blew them out of the water. Overall, the organization saved the lives of an additional 850 pets in that three-month window.
Overall, the $100K Challenge was also wildly successful, saving 52,484 dogs and cats nationally - an increase of 8,977 lives saved over the same three months last year.
Austin Pets Alive! attests that creative events and promotions really added to the success of the organization. But also, check out how creative they are online. If you look to adopt a pet, they not only have a write up about the animals, but also pictures and my favorite feature - video. And that goes for dogs AND cats. It's such a creative use of the medium, and really allows visitors to connect not only with the mission, but also with the pets and the people who benefit.
Check out this video from the ASPCA's site to see more about the mission of the challenge and learn about the organizations that participated. And once again, congratulations to Austin Pets Alive!
In case you haven't noticed some odd looking facial hair over the last month, November, or as we like to call it Movember, is Mustache Growing Season. Movember is a "moustache growing charity event held during November each year that raises funds and awareness for men's health.” This all started back in 2003 where a couple of friends in Australia, where a Mo is slang for mustache, decided to grow a mustache and raise money for some good causes. All proceeds raised during Movember go to the causes it supports, specifically the Prostate Cancer Foundation and LIVESTRONG (read this article if you’d like to learn more about where the money goes). Here at Convio we had 17 team members donate their faces to men’s health and collectively we raised over $5K (not to brag but I finished first on our team, raking in over $1800). This blog post is about my month long experience of raising awareness & money for men's health, as I grew my Mo.
One of the most valuable lessons I learned was the power of embarrassing oneself for the greater good. Yes, the mustache itself was ridiculously embarrassing, especially in the first few days of growth (maybe weeks?) but seeing that this was my second year, I had to take this one step further. So I challenged my supporters to help me exceed a fundraising goal of $1500 by promising they could put a cake in my face if I exceeded my goal.
If you have ever asked yourself, "Do challenges change donor behavior?", I can attest that they in fact do! I literally saw the average donations jump from around $25 to $50 almost immediately after the challenge was issued. (I've also inspired my co-worker Corey Pudhorosky's NTEN fundraising efforts so check out his embarrassing fundraising efforts for another great example). Similarly, I had the great fortune of having a matching grant from a colleague, the awesome Betsy Gressler, who matched dollar for dollar all donations up to a certain date. Again, donations spiked during that time frame as people took the opportunity to double the impact of their donation (or perhaps they were thinking about the cake's impact on my face?).
The beauty, or perhaps horror, of growing a mustache, is it really is a conversation starter. Whether I was talking to old friends or new acquaintances, I was constantly explaining the story behind my new facial growth and thus spreading the world about Movember & consequently men's health. I also took to Facebook, Twitter & my Movember MoSpace where I was able to solicit pledges directly, post regular updates of the Mo growth and find funny ways of challenging people to donate. Even people who didn't donate were educated via my updates regarding the importance of men's health and maybe even scheduled a wellness check with their doctor.
Ultimately the lesson I would give any NonProfit focused on peer-to-peer fundraising would be to find ways of empowering your supporters to not only raise money on your behalf but have some fun at the same time. Men's health, and specifically prostate cancer, isn't usually something you want to laugh at, but we only live once and if you can find a way to do good while having fun, you're going to give your constituents, and those you support, something invaluable, a big smile and a good story.
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