Archive for May, 2009

You might not tell me to my face but I know who you like best and why.  Larry Freed, the big cheese of ForeSee Results, told me in his April ’09 report Trends in Constituent Satisfaction with Nonprofit Websites.  Freed does not keep a secret so if you want his report go to www.ForeSeeResults.com

On a 100 point scale Freed uses to measure satisfaction with websites, 80 points is considered the beginning for excellence.  The bad news is that nonprofit websites rate a 73, while online banking scores 83, and automotive websites score 78.  Nonprofits are even 1 point below e-government sites.  He concludes that the problem is caused by lack of financial resources and professional staff to bring the nonprofit sites up to the satisfaction level of Amazon and Google.

As Clarion Friendsis a blog rather than an official website for Clarion County Community Foundation, not all of Freed’s findings apply directly, but they are certainly informative.  “A highly satisfied visitor to a nonprofit website is: 49% more likely to donate, 38% more likely to volunteer, 57% more likely to have a favorable overall impression of the organization, 65% more likely to recommend the site to others, and 55% more likely to return to the site.”  The visitor most often comes to the website for news and events and to stay informed about the causes the organization addresses.  And almost 1 in 5 are there to make a donation.

Areas for improvement are sites’ functionality and image.  Functionality includes usefulness, variety, and convenience of features.  Image of the website should reflect the nonprofit’s image.  Applying this revealing research to our blog is not easy.  We have tried very hard to make the blog open and friendly.  We try for postings that are informative and wise, delightful and tasty, reviews that are helpful and varied.  Making a donation is as easy as three clicks.  There remain however some unanswered questions.

Our combined blog experience is not varied enough for us to know how to increase the popularity of Clarion Friends.  What should we be doing that we are not doing?  How do we encourage visitors to post comments and email material to put on the blog?  What will move visitors to make a donation?  Somewhere in the blogosphere there are answers to these questions.  If you have an answer, please share it.  Charles Marlin

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If you would like to be a philanthropist don’t let money hold you back as money is the least of the hurdles to resolve.  A farmer may have a forty acre produce farm or he may have a three thousand acre cash crop farm.  No one would ever say one was less a farmer than the other, and the same is true of philanthropists.

To be a philanthropist you prepare yourself as with all other occupations by beginning in earnest, building up experience, developing contacts and relationships, essentially making yourself a lifetime student.  You develop an expertise in those areas accessible to you and you acknowledge that other areas are not part of your personal philanthropy.  If you have the resources to create a private foundation to work on continent wide needs, or the resources to build and endow an art museum wing, please do it.  If instead of that kind of resource, you have a salaried position as a public school teacher or you are a pensioned retiree, you seek out other opportunities to achieve.

A wonderful place to begin your life as a philanthropist is your community foundation.  With measured steps you build from what you already know to new experiences.  With or without a title, one of your important tasks will be as a public witness keeping the public trust open and accessible.  Ensuring that you have the information and understanding of how the community foundation operates is a major public service.  Honesty and trust need full sun and good drainage, so your beginning experiences will retain importance for the rest of your life.

You don’t need a reading list to begin, you simply need to step up and say hello.  Your goodwill, judgment, and commitment will guide you to the next one thousand experiences.  None of this costs you money unless you have it to share, and that sharing is always your private affair.  For such a rewarding occupation, philanthropy is surprisingly easy to enter, however staying a philanthropist takes work and more work.  Charles Marlin

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Thanks to John Hink for watching the Clarion Friends blog while I was out with a lightning strike.  This worked off some of his community service hours so I know he is happy.  Those last hours seem to be the hardest for him.

I am back with a new computer, printer, and software so I am less sure of what I am doing than before.  The twelve days of being out of contact was disconcerting.  I know most of the 2,155 visits to Clarion Friends are one-time visitors, and I know very few names among the others, yet it was like not seeing the regulars at your favorite coffee shop.  People become a party of your life even if you only now and then or never speak to them.

I invite you to draw closer to our circle of Clarion Friends.  Add a comment, give a donation, or email something you want me to post on the blog marlin2@windstream.net  It is good to be among those who know you and have made you part of their daily routine.  Charles Marlin

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Mother Nature’s fury did not enter Charles’ computer through his surge protector as suspected.  The old girl got in through the DSL line frying not only his computer, but also the DSL connector box.  In a few days a new DSL connector box will arrive and our Guru will be back to posting his unique esoterica and minutia.    John Hink

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File0115aI am enthralled by Native American Yellow  Lady’s  Slippers  (Cypripedium pubescens).  About  25  years  ago  I  purchased  three  small  roots  for  about $20.00 and planted them at my mother‘s house. They came from the Wayside Garden’s Catalog and grew into three beautiful clumps, blooming with more slippers each year.

I wanted them where I am living now and the new price did not scare me away.  They are now $75 to $100 per root.  Those roots are only a few inches long each.  I am pleased that  two of the roots I planted have multiplied.  One clump has three shoots and each shoot is currently blooming.  The other clump has four shoots and one of the shoots is blooming.

I am hopeful that next spring I will get more slippers.

John Hink

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File0114Blogmaster Charles will be out helping the economy and he must do so before resuming his position as the Guru of Clarion Friends Online.

The recent weekend thunderclap and lightning bolt directly over his house fried his computer and it was definitely D. O. A. when he took it in for a look see.

Soon Guru Charles will have a bigger better machine and all will be well with Clarion Friends. John Hink

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William H. Goetzmann presses two conclusions throughout Beyond the Revolution: A History of American Thought from Paine to Pragmatism.  First, your pride in eighteenth and nineteenth century America is misplaced.  Everything achieved was either flawed, derivative, or just plain accidental.  Second, our nation would be better named The States of America because a true Union “never really existed.”

Very much like a semester’s lectures, some chapters are stronger than others that barely limp to their conclusion.  There are nineteen chapters but my recommendation is to read the first ten, then pass the book on.  It is better read as a collection of essays than a unified book.  Charles Marlin

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