Archive for February, 2010

BuddyPress for One (and All!)

Back in April of last year, Matt posted here on the dev blog about the release of BuddyPress 1.0, a plugin that adds a social networking layer to an installation of WordPress MU. Many people were excited about the idea, but were unable to experiment with BuddyPress because they ran single installations of WordPress rather than the multi-site WordPress MU. To those people, good news! A little over a week ago Andy Peatling, founder and lead developer of BuddyPress, announced the release of BuddyPress 1.2, which can be used on single installations of WordPress. Congratulations, BuddyPress! And congratulations to all the people who’ve been waiting with bated breath for this to happen.

The first thing I thought when I heard the news was, “Awesome! Now everyone can put BuddyPress on their site if they want it.” The second thought I had was, “Shoot! Average WordPress users won’t want to try BuddyPress if they have to switch their site themes over to the BuddyPress default theme just to try it out.” The third thought I had was, “That can’t be right. I’ll ask Andy.”

As it turned out, you could keep your current theme with BuddyPress if you added a couple of files and made a few file edits. There was even a link on the BuddyPress site to download the necessary files. That still seemed a little clunky, though, so Andy, super awesome guy that he is, went ahead and made a plugin to get you started. The BuddyPress Template Pack can be installed directly from your WordPress admin (Plugins > Add New), and will walk you through the theme additions step by step.*

Now you can use BuddyPress with your single site installation of WordPress, and you can keep your existing theme. Seriously, could BuddyPress have made it any easier for you to add social networking to your site? I know I can’t wait to try it out this weekend, how about you?

* Don’t forget to install BuddyPress itself, or the template pack plugin won’t do anything!

Mentoring social entrepreneurs

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Question: Who Asks for Money?

In a recent post, Who Talks to Your Donors, I mentioned two different styles of fundraising. One style involves board members soliciting donors, and another style involves staff cultivating and soliciting donors.

Does your organization primarily use Board Member or Staff to ask for donations? And, how do you think it should be done?

I see advantages to both sides. Can Board Members really know an organization like a staff member can? Is it sustainable to have staff solicit gifts when the average staff member stays at the organization less time than the donor?

Related posts:

  1. I’m Not Here to Raise Money
  2. Who Talks to Your Donors
  3. Annual Board Solicitations
  4. Characteristics of a Model Board Member
  5. Cold Calling or Networking

Menus, the Merge, and a Patch Sprint!

A Report from the 3.0 Development Cycle


There’s been a flurry of blog posts about the integration of the WooThemes Custom Navigation into WordPress core, so I thought it was time we posted the official word. For 3.0, the main user-facing feature we wanted to include was a better site menu management system. Currently, dealing with menus is clunky, using Page IDs or in some cases categories, if a theme uses categories instead of pages for the menu. We wanted a menu system that had the drag and drop ease of the widget management screen, could combine Pages, Categories, and Links, was able to be re-ordered, allowed submenus, and enabled hiding specific Pages or Categories from the menu altogether. We were in the process of building this when WooThemes introduced their Custom Navigation system. Watching their introductory video, it seemed that their system did pretty much everything we wanted to do for core, so we reached out to them about contributing to core.

As you’ve probably heard, it worked out, and the first patch has been submitted. It does require some code modification, which is happening now. The decision to incorporate the Woo menus happened right before our planned feature freeze for the 3.0 development cycle, so we pushed our freeze date back by two weeks to allow the addition. We’re now targeting the 3.0 release for early May, and we think it will be worth the extra two-week wait.

I’m personally really happy that it worked out this way, because I think it will show commercial theme and plugin authors that contributing to core is a win-win proposition. More people can contribute to and improve the basic functional code now, while WooThemes can continue to innovate on top of it for their customers. They get massive bragging rights (which I have no doubt will lead to even more customers), core gets a nice menu system without having to reinvent the wheel, and WordPress users all over the world will benefit. I’m hoping other plugin and theme developers will take a cue from Woo and look at core as a place for collaboration, rather than competition.

The Merge

It was announced at WordCamp San Francisco last year that WordPress and WordPress MU would be merging codebases. This has now happened in 3.0-alpha, and we’re working on smashing bugs and tidying up a few screens. If you’re currently using a single install of WordPress, when you upgrade to 3.0 you won’t see any of the extra screens associated with running a network of sites. If you’re currently running MU, when you upgrade you’ll notice a few labels changing, but upgrading should be as painless as usual. If you’re going to set up a new WordPress installation, you’ll be asked as part of the setup if you want one site or multiple sites, so that’s pretty simple. If you want to turn your single install into one that supports multiple sites, we’ll have a tool for you to use to do that, too. So if you’ve been worried about the merge, have a cup of chamomile tea and relax; it will all be fine. :)

Patch Sprint!

Okay, so where are we now? The new feature freeze date is on Monday, March 1, 2010. That means that after that date, no more enhancements or features will be added, and we’ll switch gears to focus solely on crushing bugs and fixing up the features that have already made it in. That means we only have a week to try and finish up the many Trac tickets on the 3.0 milestone that either need a patch or have a patch that needs testing. You can help! From now until noon eastern time on March 1 (that’s 17:00 UTC on March 1), head on over to Trac and pitch in. If you hit a wall, hop into the core development channel at #wordpress-dev on and hopefully one of the friendly core contributors can give you a push.

March Goodness & Pepsi

March Goodness

Razoo is doing it again, this is year 2 in their March Goodness competition. But this year they are only letting in a small number of nonprofits. Check out the requirements to sign-up and submit your application before February 26. Grand prize is $20,000 with a number of prizes based on region around the $1,000 level.

Pepsi Refresh Project

If you are a person, business, or nonprofit with an idea to make a difference you should check out this project. Every month Pepsi will pick 1000 ideas which will be voted on and the top 2 will receive $250,000. For more information and to submit an application.

Related posts:

  1. A Little Help: March Madness
  2. Award & An Idea
  3. Chase Gives $25,000
  4. Grants & Awards Update
  5. Awards Update

Duplicate Solicitation Letters

I’ve heard a lot of recommendations for nonprofits to rehash their old and current website content on their blog and through their social channels. This is a great way to find some information you can use to publish, but make sure to take a strategic look at your communications. Every organization has donors who are receiving more than one kind of update from the organization. There is a significant amount of overlap between donors who receive solicitation letters, and donors who become fans of your Facebook Page. (In fact, you should let your donors know that you have a social media presence and how they can sign-up.)

When you run a solicitation campaign, using multiple mediums can be a great technique to be successful. But, do not send the exact same information in the exact same format to each group of donors. Don’t send your solicitation letter at the same time as you send your Facebook update and email announcements.

Think through each touch point with your donors and use them to your advantage. If all of your communications happen in one day, then they can feel overwhelmed, like you spent too much time and money on them. If you send off a letter, and a week later follow it up with an email, then the email acts as a reminder. Often, people take one or two reminders before they follow through with what you’d like them to do. Make each communication a little bit different but with a unified message. No one wants to read the exact same words every time. Use your mail campaigns to go into more detail, and use your email to catch their interest and point them to your website or previous letter for more information.

Related posts:

  1. Simple Solicitation Letters
  2. Solicitation Letters & Direct Mail Interview
  3. Frequency & Length: Solicitation Letters Interview
  4. Integration & The Future: Solicitation Letters Interview
  5. Some Good Businesses: Solicitation Letters Interview

Independent Sector’s Annual Conference & NGen Fellowship Opportunity

I am excited to announce I will be serving on the Advisory Committee for the NGen portion of Independent Sector's annual conference October 20-22nd in Atlanta, GA. We are planning many exciting things for this year's next gen participants!

Also, below is information about how to apply to be an NGen Fellow.

From the Independent Sector:
We are pleased to announce the second year of the American Express NGen Fellows Program, which builds the capacity of 12 under-40 professionals from IS member organizations to shape the future of the nonprofit community. The IS website provides details about the fellows program, including how to apply. Completed applications are due March 29.

NGen fellows will enjoy a series of exceptional opportunities over the course of nine months, including collaborating with other under-40 leaders, interacting with established mentors, and contributing to IS’s work on nonprofit impact and leadership. Independent Sector will host the 12 fellows at our D.C. offices for a kick-off event in late August, and they will receive complementary registration and lodging to take part in the IS Annual Conference in Atlanta, October 20-22. These experiences will culminate in a six-month group project that advances their leadership skills and contributes to the ability of emerging leaders to collaborate on sector-wide issues.

The American Express NGen Fellows Program is just one part of IS’s NGen initiative, which is designed to deepen the nonprofit talent pool by developing the leadership opportunities and professional networks of emerging leaders. We have already begun planning for this year’s NGen program at the IS Annual Conference in Atlanta; mark your calendars now for targeted NGen events open to all under-40 leaders October 19-20.

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First ever Australian SSE cohort graduates in Sydney

Hot on the heels of the first ever Cornwall graduation, the first Australian SSE Fellows have completed their programme in Sydney. Huge congratulations to all of them. You can see their projects + organisations here, and you can read the...