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Care2's Digital Engagement Blog

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Randy Paynter

As the founder of Care2 and the PetitionSite, Randy is a pioneer of online advocacy. Randy launched Care2 in 1998 to empower individuals to take collective action in support of social and environmental causes. Today, Care2 helps over 45 million members stand together, start online petitions, and share stories that inspire action.

Author's Posts

4 Ways Your Business Should NOT Respond to an Online Petition

Last April, 69-year-old pulmonologist David Dao was dragged, wounded and bleeding, off of a United Airlines plane after refusing to voluntarily relinquish his seat on an overbooked flight. That cringe-worthy incident was captured on fellow passengers’ phones, quickly going viral and turning into a notorious PR disaster.

The consequences for United were swift and severe. Within days after the incident, the company’s stock had fallen more than 4 percent. Its unsatisfactory response to the massive public outcry — including a WhiteHouse.gov petition signed by over 200,000 people demanding a federal investigation — was undoubtedly a factor in the disastrous fallout.

The episode underscores the need for businesses to respond quickly and effectively to crises. In a digital era, getting it wrong can have a serious and lasting impact on your brand, its reputation and your bottom line.

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So you want to start a do-good business? Avoid this dangerous trap.

By the time Anna Stork and Andrea Sreshta made it onto the hit show Shark Tank, they’d been hustling their product, LuminAid, for half a decade. The design students turned entrepreneurs invented the solar-powered, waterproof lantern with a mission: to help people through power outages after major disasters, like the Haiti earthquake. After being featured on the program — and scoring an investment from billionaire investor and businessman Mark Cuban — their revenue tripled.

Great outcomes like this help fuel the do-good business trend. In the US, it’s estimated that over 10 million people are employed by social enterprises. Revenues from these mission-driven ventures total $500 billion — a notable 3.5 percent of the national GDP.

Sadly, however, LuminAid’s success story is not the standard in social enterprise. In the cutthroat world of capitalism, 50 percent of all new businesses still fail within their first 5 years. To avoid becoming just another statistic, fledgling social entrepreneurs must remember, first and foremost, that an inspiring mission isn’t the key to success.

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  Topics: business, data

The Costly Email Mistake NPO Executives Need to Know

Forty years ago an enthusiastic tech marketer named Gary Thuerk made history by creating the world’s first ever known spam mail. Gary blasted out a new product announcement (in ALL CAPS, of course) to 400 recipients via ARPANET, a network of connected computers. The response? Largely negative, with one indignant recipient calling it “A FLAGRANT VIOLATION.”

By some accounts, spam now accounts for more than 80 percent of all email sent—so the big email service providers, like Google and Hotmail, aggressively filter out potentially unwanted messages. As a result, even legitimate organizations sometimes find their emails filtered out of the inbox.

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3 Ways to Keep Donors Happy in an Online World

Here’s an astonishing fact: Last year, people used online payments platform PayPal to contribute a staggering $8.5 billion to charity. To be fair, online giving is still just one method by which Americans donate a total of $390 billion annually to nonprofits. But the PayPal figure is a sign of the times. The shift to digital giving is a rising and considerable trend.

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The New Rules For Email Deliverability

At Care2, we spend a lot of time thinking about email deliverability.

Why? Because organizations can have the best email marketing strategy, endless budget, and the most engaged subscribers of all time and they still won't reach their goals if their emails are marked as spam. 

It sounds easy: just make sure you aren't spamming people, right?

In reality, the increasingly restrictive policies of your Internet Service Providers make it impossible to continue with mailing practices that worked a few years ago. And if you don't keep up with these changing practices, the penalties are severe.

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Slacktivism: Why Snopes got it Wrong About Internet Petitions

"It is always with the best intentions that the worst work is done," observed Oscar Wilde. And so it goes with an unfortunate entry on Snopes.com (a site usually quite good about debunking urban legends), that characterizes "internet petitions" as "slacktivism", a pejorative suggesting that activism is worthless if it doesn't require considerable effort.

I usually ignore such commentary since naysayers are a dime a dozen, but that particular post gets a lot of attention: it's one of the top search results for "petitions," is a favorite among cynics, and no doubt has turned off many who might otherwise have taken action. At a time when civic engagement is more important than ever, it's a tragedy that this ill-conceived post has disempowered so many people.

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