Tag Archives: Nonprofits

Souper Bowl of Caring

While visiting Austin in January, I was accosted in the local supermarket. The perpetrator? The HEB cashier, who after ringing me up, singsonged what’s become a common refrain heard in supermarket check-outs across the country: “would you like to make a donation today?”

I looked up and there was the unexpected: the donation itself. Usually, I’m presented with an electronic choice on the credit card machine, a simple yes or no accompanied by a bored-sounding cashier’s “ask.” Having created a personal philanthropy plan I usually stick to it, only saying yes when the donation is earmarked for one of my chosen causes.

But this cashier was holding up a brown grocery bag. Inside were cans of vegetables and meat, enough to feed four people who wouldn’t otherwise eat dinner that night. $5 per bag. I looked down at the snack pack of goldfish crackers and bottle of wine I’d thrown into my cart on a whim. How could I say no? And WHY would I say no?

I didn’t know at the time, but I’d just contributed to the Capital Area Food Bank of Texas’ local Souper Bowl of Caring Campaign: mine was one of $1,000,000 meals that were donated. I also didn’t know that in January, 2012, 3,000+ groups participating in the Souper Bowl of Caring raised $5,323,124 in cash and food for charities fighting hunger in seven US cities.

Food donation drives are no novel thing. But the Souper Bowl is not a drive, it’s a “national youth-led movement of schools, congregations, community organizations and compassionate individuals joining together to fight hunger and poverty in their local communities, transforming the time around the Super Bowl into the nation’s largest celebration of giving and serving.”

One of my favorite Hebrew words is “Dayenu,” translated roughly as “it would have been enough” and used in this context: if I had only paid for the contents of that shopping bag and fed a family for one night, then “Dayenu.” But I contributed to building a transformative movement in the fight against hunger. For now, this too is “Dayenu.” But speaking as a kid who was involved early on, through Quaker schooling and family practice, in volunteerism and generous acts, I know that the children who’ve built the Souper Bowl of Caring in the last 20 years will continue their good works into adulthood and change their communities. So someday, perhaps we can say, “We fed the world. Dayenu.”

Since the Souper Bowl of Caring started in 1990, volunteers have collected more than $81 million in dollars and cans, with 100 percent of all donations going directly to community food banks, soup kitchens or other charities chosen by each group. For more information or to join the team, visit www.tacklehunger.org. For more informational about the Capital Area Food Bank, visit www.austinfoodbank.org.





Search Engine Optimization Made Easy

Cheers to the Public Policy Communicators of New York City, whose article released today, “What We Learned: Search Engine Optimization” is a quick and dirty how-to-guide to getting your website noticed.

PPCNYC explains what SEO is (and what it’s not), why it’s so important, and how to make it work on your website. The crux of the matter is that “keyword research is the key” but never fear: their explanation of how to get started is straightforward:

To truly understand how people search on the concepts associated with your cause and your issues, it helps to do some simple research. This is what you should do:

  • In your own mind, boil down your article topic to its essence – just a few key words. These are the words with which you will start your research.
  • Start a keyword “glossary.” This is just so you have a record of your research for future reference, since you will probably want to use certain terms that seem like good prospects many times in the future. Just create a table (can be in Excel or Google Docs or whatever spreadsheet program you like), and create column headings for “Keywords,” “Competition,” “Global Monthly Searches,” “Local Monthly Searches” and “Comments.”
  • Start your keyword research. Go to Google Adwords’ keyword tool. Enter in the “Word or phrase” box the key words your article is about and hit “search.” Or, if you are wanting to refine the title and/or metadata for an already existing post on your site, paste the URL into the “website” box and hit “search.” This will bring up a long list of terms associated with your search criteria. This process can also be used when pulling search terms from your competitors’ sites, you simply enter the URL that is similar to your top and hit “search.”
  • Determine which keywords have both high search volume AND low competition. The terms from the search returns you should be most interested in, says Murphy, are those that have “low” competition and high numbers of global monthly searches. (Murphy also noted the term “Longtail Keywords,” which is commonly used to describe these terms.) For those terms that have those indications, click the box on the right for each one and then use the “download” box at the top of the table to download a CSV for Excel file, then just open that up and copy and paste the information into your Glossary for safe keeping and future reference.
  • Put those keywords into practice. Once you have done your keyword search, you not only have a better sense of what are the terms that people search on but also which have relatively little completion in terms of other sites that use those terms. Rework your article title and/or metadata/opening paragraph to give prominence to those terms.

To read the article in full, click here.