Category Archives: Technology

Stakeholder financial support for operations allows us to dedicate 100% of public donations to literacy

We strive to raise dedicated funds for operations from private donors and magazine industry champions, so we can reach our objective to spend 100% of the consumer and local business funds we raise on direct literacy programs and services – getting new and recycled magazines into the hands, homes, and hearts of the children and families we serve.

Dedicating 100% of public donations directly to address our literacy programs is an audacious goal and bold statement.  It’s only possible with generous corporate, magazine industry, and stakeholder support.

The Magazine Publishers Family Literacy Project (MagazineLiteracy.org) is a 501(c)3 charity.  We rely on financial support from any and every magazine industry stakeholder throughout the supply chain – editors, publishers, circulation pros, printers, distributors, fulfillment shops, ad agencies, and other champions to pay our administrative and operational expenses.

We know that your financial support is precious and greatly appreciate every bit.  We strive to use those dollars in a responsible, effective, and efficient manner.  Every organization has administrative and operating costs to sustain their missions, and we are no different.  We have to “keep the lights on” to conceive, plan, execute, and manage our literacy projects and to grow to our full potential to meet our responsibility against enormous literacy challenges.

With private, corporate,  and magazine industry stakeholder donations covering our operating expenses, we can achieve our goal of dedicating 100% of public donations to direct literacy programs and services, inspiring even more giving by the consumers and local businesses who support our community programs.

To stretch those operating dollars far, we run our operations extremely lean and achieve a very high rate of return on the funds invested in our operations.  Here’s how:

  • We leverage advanced technology, open source software, cloud-based services, crowdsourcing, and strong partnerships with technology and media powerhouses, such as Google Apps, Salesforce.com, Automattic, the inventors of WordPress, Crowdspring for pro bono graphic design, Texterity, Auryn Creative for web design, Publish2Profit,  Texterity, and many others for communications, volunteer support, community organizing and collaboration tools, and social media.
  • We actively develop and train a network of thousands of volunteers in hundreds of communities and campuses who deliver all of our essential activities from grassroots outreach to magazine collection and delivery logistics to public relations and fundraising.
  • We manage our project online from virtual locations, and utilize cost-effective shared cooperative “coworking” office space, as well as partnerships with other agencies for handling logistics.
  • We collect and process financial donations online in a partnership with Network for Good – a very effective and efficient method for engaging the consumers and businesses who support our literacy programs and operations.  Network for Good is a turnkey solution with tremendous experience in the charitable market and excellent, reliable fundraising tools and customer service.  Most important, their 3% transaction costs are at or below any alternative for credit card processing.

Leveraging technology is game changing for magazine literacy

We are just getting started in Second Life and the learning curve is definitely a challenge. We factor that in to our exploration of new technologies, but we also look to engage volunteers who have particular interests and skills – to flatten the curve. Managing this brings its own challenges, but the benefits far outweigh the costs.

We don’t know what we don’t know.

Our focus on innovation and looking for ways to leverage new social networking and web technology tools helps to increase awareness and engagement of stakeholders and to drive down costs. The opportunity to find hidden value in untapped veins drives our literacy progress forward. If the spaghetti sticks on the wall, we go deeper… if it slides off, we clean up the mess and cook another pot.

In this free social marketplace, we can find and engage untapped volunteer resources – individuals and businesses who have not yet been called on or motivated to act, without necessarily diverting them away from other important social priorities or our other work – untapped not because they are uninterested, but for lack of common interest at the finest level of detail.

We are often asked what relevance this magazine or that magazine will have in meeting child and family literacy needs. Some, like Highlights, or Ranger Rick, or Scientific American are obvious resources. But, how could a bowling magazine be of value or the trade magazine of the “American Pot Stickers Association?” It might just be that bowling magazine or that trade journal that can uniquely inspire the bond around a common interest between a mentor and a child learning to read.

So the risk of failure, and the possibility of diminishing returns aside, the chance to exercise any amount of previously untapped value trumps ignoring the possibilities.

A Second Life for MagazineLiteracy.org

Second Life - Nonprofit Commons

We have embarked on a “moon shot” endeavor to create a portal into the new frontier of Second Life for MagazineLiteracy.org stakeholders by joining the Nonprofit Commons initiative.

In World Contact – MagazineLiteracy Kidd

Second Life is a vast virtual world where millions of residents interact and participate in a bustling economy. Contemplating Second Life, I’ve often lamented finding enough time to manage our “first life.” However, the chance to promote literacy inside Second Life and to engage residents there to support our mission and to grow our project, as well as the opportunity to collaborate with other non-profit organizations is too compelling to delay.

There is tremendous value in fostering communications and collaboration among community service organizations, especially by leveraging online technology that spans the globe. The virtual network made possible by Second Life allows for real-time information sharing about MagazineLiteracy.org with residents and thought leaders across many disciplines.

Over the years, I have learned first hand, how challenging it is to raise awareness, funds, and other resources necessary to support organizations dedicated to meeting basic human and community needs. Earlier in my community service career, I partnered with the local volunteer bureau director to create a model collaborative office facility and resource center for community non-profits. It was a place where good ideas – large and small – could take root and incubate. Since then, I have striven to find ways to leverage technology, and especially the Internet, to connect people who want to help, to the organizations and ideas that serve people who need help. We will extend this vision by being active citizens in Second Life – promoting MagazineLiteracy.org as well as the ideals of the Nonprofit Commons. We are looking forward to forming an entirely fresh set of literacy partnerships with the individuals, organizations, and businesses in Second Life – a new frontier for MagazineLiteracy.org.

A relay to get recycled magazines from donors to new readers

We are in the business of moving magazines around, more directly than otherwise with our KinderHarvest programs, which recycles magazines from donors to new readers. This presents many and varied logistical challenges for our all volunteer teams. Transporting magazines demands human, transportation, and financial resources. We are blessed with many volunteers. However, their physical locations and availability vary. We are blessed with many magazine donors. Again, their locations, timing, and frequency of involvement vary. We service many literacy agents who accept our recycled magazine donations and provide them to new readers. Urban communities present different challenges than suburban or rural landscapes. So, how do we make all these pieces hum – efficiently, timely, and effectively?

We are exploring a number of ideas. One is the Magazine Bundle Relay, where a network of volunteers are connected by web and mobile telephone technology – each volunteer taking up a small part of the magazine collection or delivery – along a chain that overall gets magazines from donors to literacy agents. We’ve recently discovered and are exploring use of grassroots mobile text messaging to activate this network, using FrontlineSMS. We’ll need to understand whether SMS text messaging introduces fees that we would not want to impose on our volunteers.

Our relay system will be organized as shown in the above diagram, with donors represented by the magazine bundles; literacy agents represented by the girl reading; and volunteers by the yellow happy faces. Be in touch to join the relay.

Thank you Salesforce.com!

salesforce.gifWe are just getting started with the nonprofitforce application created by Salesforce.com. Our tremendous potential and power is driven by leveraging technology. Salesforce is the most incredible, flexible, robust tool I have ever encountered. We are already creating customized apps to fit our unique business needs. We thank Salesforce.com for their vision and generous support of the non-profit sector.