National Dog Bite Prevention Week!

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Our own President speaks out on proposed dog ordinance

Cedar City Council hears from resident on proposed ordinance change to allow three dogs

Dog park effort revived again

CEDAR CITY — After more than a year of silence, Cedar City dog owners are speaking up, thanks to a Southern Utah University senior who chose to campaign for a dog park as part of her senior project.

 

read the rest of the article here_ https://www.stgeorgeutah.com/news/archive/2015/12/04/cmm-university-students-senior-project-lobbies-for-dog-park/#.VmM7qXpHarW

How Nonprofits Can Increase Engagement Through Gamification

If you work at a nonprofit organization, you know it can be tough to engage your supporter base. Even though the work you’re doing to save the world is critically important, it’s hard to compete for people’s attention. This is particularly true for engaging supporters online, when you’re up against Tumblr blogs of adorable animals, playing Candy Crush Saga, and watching the latest TV episodes on Hulu.

Fortunately, there are ways out there to increase supporter engagement — and a particularly powerful one is gamification.

What is Gamification?

Gamification is the process of taking tactics often used in games and applying them to serious activities. Games do a great job of engaging people — the idea of gamification is to capture that appeal and use it to make non-game activities more interesting and fun for users.

You’ve probably used gamified systems before, even if you haven’t realized it. Fitbit and Fitocracy employ gamification to encourage people to exercise more; Treehouse gamifies the process of learning new skills; and frequent flyer programs with airlines often add game elements to accumulating and using flight miles. If you can think about some time when you’ve received points for doing a non-game activity or have competed against friends on some serious task, you’ve experienced gamification.

One common point of confusion around gamification is to think that it means creating a game with a focus on a serious topic. While this can be a powerful way to spread a message (check out Spent and Tax Evaders as two great examples), meaningful games are different than using gamification to increase the appeal of non-game tasks.

Points, Badges, and Leaderboards

So what kind of game tactics can make serious activities more fun? We’ll start with the big three:

Points: Rewarding points is one of the easiest and most common elements of gamification. They attach a clear value to taking specific actions and make it simple for users to track their progress. By awarding points for completing them, otherwise menial tasks can be turned into compelling activities. A good example of points in gamification is how Treehouse awards users with points for taking quizzes and completing courses on their site.

3,588 Total Points
Points accumulated on Treehouse

Badges: Badges are a visual reward for completing a certain task or set of tasks and are designed to give users a sense of accomplishment. While points provide a more gradual measure of progress, badges give the sense of suddenly taking a big step forward. Swarm (formerly Foursquare) makes extensive use of badges called “stickers” to reward users for “checking in” at certain locations.

Your Sticker Book
Some examples of Swarm stickers

Leaderboards: Competition can be a major motivator in games, and the same holds true for gamification — being able to compare yourself to other players through leaderboards can drive users to spend more time and effort on the desired activities. Leaderboards pair particularly well with points, since they provide a clear quantitative indicator of success. A good example is how Fitbit shows your how you rank against your friends in total steps taken over the previous week.

4,867 Steps
The Fitbit dashboard, with a leaderboard of steps taken by friends in the last week

Points, badges, and leaderboards (often abbreviated PBL) are the most commonly discussed gamification elements, but there are many others as well. Leveraging social connections can make activities more fun, and can enhance the effect of other game elements like badges. Challenging users to “quests,” where they must complete a certain collection of tasks, can be a big motivator for people. And mixing in surprises, where certain badges or virtual rewards are given unexpectedly, can keep things from getting boring and engage the reward centers of users’ brains.

Gamification in the Nonprofit Space

While not terribly common, gamification has been used by various nonprofit organizations to engage more supporters. Here are a few examples:

Commit to Vote Challenge (Democratic National Committee): In 2010, I was working as the director of the web development team at the Democratic National Committee, and our department was tasked with turning more people out in the midterm elections. After some brainstorming, we decided to do this using a gamified Facebook application to encourage people to vote that November. We asked supporters to commit to vote, and then encouraged them to recruit their friends to commit as well. Users could track how many people they’d convinced to commit (points), receive virtual trophies for recruiting more people (badges), and see how their total recruitment count compared to their friends (a leaderboard). The results were impressive; over 600,000 people committed to vote in the election, with more than 500,000 of them having been recruited by friends.

You’re a VOTE MASTER
The Commit to Vote Challenge application

RePurpose (AFL-CIO): In 2012, the AFL-CIO rolled out a new system to increase volunteer engagement called RePurpose. The premise was that people who spent more time volunteering for the organization would have a greater say in how the organization’s money was spent. The means of managing this was via volunteer points, which could be “repurposed” to fund specific efforts. The AFL-CIO introduced additional gamification elements to the tool leading up to the 2012 elections, including volunteer challenges and surprise point awards for using the tool multiple days in a row, and ultimately engaged more than 10,000 volunteers through the site.

303,050 Points RePurposed by Volunteers
The RePurpose website, on Election Day 2012

Sustainable Seafood Challenge (Greenpeace): Every year, Greenpeace USA produces a report on how different supermarkets compare in making sure that the seafood they sell is sustainably sourced. The goal of the report is to encourage consumers to adjust their shopping habits to favor more sustainable seafood, but Greenpeace had been having trouble reaching a wide audience with it. To increase visibility, Greenpeace teamed up with ShareProgress to create a gamified Sustainable Seafood Challenge. The website asked users a few questions about their shopping habits, gave them a “Sustainable Shopper” score, and then encouraged them to ask friends to also take the challenge and see if they could do better.

What your put in your Shopping Cart can make a big difference for Healthy Oceans.
How sustainable are *your* shopping habits?

Using Gamification At Your Own Organization

Alright, you work for a nonprofit, and you’re interested in using gamification to engage more supporters. How do you make that happen?

While there are certainly common tactics, gamification isn’t one size fits all approach — you need to think about your specific audience, what will motivate them, and how that connects to the actions you want them to do. Will they be motivated by tracking points? Are there certain “quests” you can send them on? Can you leverage their social network to make their activities more interesting?

Just as designing a compelling game requires a lot of careful planning and effort, designing a compelling gamified system is a difficult task. But if you can get it right, it could mean that your supporters decide to stop looking at those cute kitten photos and spend their time engaging with your organization instead.

Thank to Kevin Werbach, whose Coursera course and book For The Win provided a lot of guidance on the principles of gamification.

Originally published at ShareProgress.org.

Importance of Nonprofit Board Meeting Minutes (Originally written by Justin Williamson for 501c3.com

We get a lot of questions from our clients about their organizations’ meeting minutes. Our consultants often give advice on questions like “When should we record meeting minutes?” and “Why are meeting minutes so important?” There is great importance in keeping proper meeting minutes because they are the only means the board has to provide proof of the decisions made in the board room.

Minutes are defined as the written record of a meeting which typically describes the events of the meeting, as well as a list of attendees, and a description of the issues being discussed by those present. Organizations should either find or create a formatted template to be used for all meetings. The time, location, and a list of those present should be indicated in the minutes. Guests should be specifically indicated to show who does and does not have voting privileges. The content of the minutes does not have to be a transcript of the discussion, but the minutes should contain a summary of the discussion as well as decisions made by vote of the board members.

Any time the board meets, meeting minutes should be taken. Even meetings having taken place via Skype, teleconference, or through any other electronic means should have documentation. If minutes are not recorded, it is as if the meeting did not take place because there is no concrete proof about what topics were discussed and what decisions were made.

Meeting minutes are typically taken by the organization’s secretary. If the secretary is not present, another officer or director should be chosen to record the minutes. Meeting minutes also need to be signed by the individual who took the minutes at the conclusion of the board meeting. Once signed, the minutes become a legal binding copy. This copy should be maintained in corporate records. It is good practice to keep a hard copy along with an electronic copy. Minutes do not have to be filed with any agency, but copies of the minutes need to be available upon request.

Without meeting minutes, an organization does not have proof about the decisions made in the board room. Lack of meeting minutes would allow the IRS (and the general public) to question the organization’s compliance in following the organization’s bylaws, as well as board participation among following nonprofit law and compliance under IRC Section 501.

Related
A Nonprofit Board of Directors – What is a Board?
December 11, 2014
In “Education”
The Dirty (Half) Dozen Nonprofit No-Nos
June 9, 2009
In “Featured”
Avoiding Conflict of Interest on a Nonprofit Board of Directors
January 8, 2015
In “Education”
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Justin Williamson
Justin Williamson puts his writing talents to work for Foundation Group by bringing news and useful content to our fantastic clients and followers.
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Christmas rules for dogs

Tell These Rules to Your Dog at Christmas Time

Be especially patient with your humans during this time. They may appear to be more stressed-out than usual. They may come home with large bags of things they call gifts. Do not assume that all the gifts are yours. Be tolerant if your humans put decorations on you. They seem to get some special kind of pleasure out of seeing how dogs look with fake antlers. Crazy.

The Christmas Tree:
They may bring a large tree into the house and set it up in a prominent place and cover it with lights and decorations. Bizarre as this may seem to you, it is an important ritual for your humans, so here are some things canines need to know:

Don’t pee on the tree.
Don’t drink water in the container that holds the tree.
Mind your tail when you are near the tree.
If there are packages under the tree, even ones that smell interesting or that have your name on them, don’t rip them open.
Don’t chew on the cord that runs from the funny-looking hole in the wall to the tree.
Discretion
Your humans may occasionally invite lots of strangers to come visit during this season. These parties can be lots of fun, but they also call for some discretion on the part of we dogs:

Not all strangers appreciate kisses.
Do not eat off the buffet table.
Beg for goodies by all means but do it…….. subtly.

Be pleasant, even if unknowing strangers sit on your sofa.
Don’t drink out of glasses that are left within your reach.
Manners:
Likewise, your humans may take you visiting at Christmas. Here your manners will also be important:

Respect the territory of other animals that may live in the house.
Tolerate children.
Turn on your charm big time.
A big man with a white beard and a very loud laugh may emerge from your fireplace in the middle of the night. Do not bite him.

New Year’s Resolution:
I will not chase that stick unless I actually see it leave his hand.