April 2009

606231_kickball1It’s the spring of 1991, I’m in 8th grade and it’s a stormy mid-morning at Memorial Middle School in Point Pleasant, N.J. The softball field is muddy, the tennis courts are pooling water, the track is slippery, and gym class is upon us. This means one thing– kickball! I looked forward to these days more than any other, because we could abandon the usual gym-class competitive nature and have some fun! There’s something intoxicating about the rubbery smell, rough texture and hollow bouncy “pop!” sound that rings out from the red playground ball when you give it a good kick.

Now that you are bubbling over with nostalgia, I’m going to blow your mind…you can join a kickball league this summer through PUMP’s Pittsburgh Sports League and re-live all of your favorite kickball moments as an adult! What better way to spend one night a week over the summer than meeting some new people, getting some exercise, and…well…playing?

PUMP’s Pittsburgh Sports League offers opportunities to join a co-ed adult recreational sports league in the Pittsburgh region. It was started 9 years ago with a 150-person flag football league and has since expanded to additional sports, offered four seasons throughout the year. While the Pittsburgh Sports League has classic team sports such as basketball, broomball, bowling, dek hockey, flag football, softball, and volleyball, it also has a running club, tennis clinics, and those gym class favorites, kickball and dodgeball.

cornhole-11For the self-proclaimed “non-sporty” types, Pittsburgh Sports League (who states that the intent of their leagues is to HAVE FUN) even has a CORNHOLE league. For those of you have never played, cornhole is a classic backyard game (one of my favorites!) that takes no more skill than throwing a beanbag into a hole. Registration for upcoming summer leagues run from May 11 – May 15 (depending on the sport) so try channeling your inner 8th grader, put on your sneakers and sign up for a summer league!

Congratulations to Gavin Deming of The Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, the latest weekly winner of our blog contest! Gavin has won a 1.0 GB USB drive. (To enter in this random drawing, simply post a comment to any article on our blog now through May 31.)


This past Wednesday was Administrative Professionals Day which I hope everyone celebrated! As an Administrative professional, I wanted to know how this day came about…so here is the history of the day.
Administrative Professionals Day (formerly known as Secretary’s Day) is an unofficial secular holiday observed in the United States on the Wednesday of the last full week of April to recognize the work of secretaries, administrative assistants, receptionists, and other administrative support professionals.
National Secretaries Week was created in 1952 through the work of Harry F. Klemfuss of Young & Rubicam, in conjunction with the National Secretaries Association, now known as the International Association of Administrative Professionals (IAAP). His goal was to encourage more people to consider careers in the secretarial/administrative support field. Using his skill and experience in public relations, Klemfuss promoted the values and importance of the job of administrative assistants. In doing so, he also created the holiday in recognition of the importance of administrative assistants.
The official period of appreciation/celebration was first proclaimed by U.S. Secretary of Commerce Charles Sawyer as “National Secretaries Week,” which was held June 1-7 in 1952, with Wednesday, June 4, 1952 designated National Secretaries Day. The first Secretaries’ Day was held in that year by the National Secretaries Association (now the IAAP), with the support of an association of corporate groups.
In 1955, the observance date of National Secretaries Week was moved to the last full week of April. The name was changed to Professional Secretaries Week in 1981, and became Administrative Professionals Week in 2000 to encompass the expanding responsibilities and wide-ranging job titles of administrative support staff.
Over the years, Administrative Professionals Week has become one of the largest workplace observances. The event is celebrated worldwide, bringing together millions of people for community events, social gatherings, and individual corporate activities recognizing support staff with gifts of appreciation. In the United States, the day is often celebrated by giving one’s assistant such gifts as flowers, candy, trinkets, lunch at a restaurant, or time off.
The International Association of Administrative Professionals (IAAP), the sole official sponsor of Administrative Professionals Week and Administrative Professionals Day, suggests that employers show their support for the holiday, and their staff, by providing training opportunities for their administrative staff, whether through continuing education, self-study materials, or seminars. The IAAP also recognizes the efforts of those who serve in human resources, professional and personal development staff, and those who serve in positions related to the daily grind of paperwork.
I got this history information from the Wikipedia website at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Administrative_Professionals_Day.

I am glad that there are people out there who appreciate administrative professionals because we all know that sometimes these individuals are not appreciated as they should be. Very interesting insight on how Administrative Day came about.

***Have a question or something to add to this post? Leave a comment, and you’ll be entered to win a 1 GB USB drive. One winner per week through the end of May.***

Hi all,

I’m writing from San Francisco, where I’m attending NTEN’s annual Nonprofit Technology Conference (NTC) 2009.

It’s been a busy day, as these conferences always are, and I’m looking forward to coming back and digesting all the things I’m learning here so I can share them with you!

It’s ironic, but I was looking forward to some warm sunny California weather here and it’s been in the 50s so far. My husband told me it hit the high 80s in the ‘Burgh today. Go figure, eh? Tomorrow after sessions are over, my plan is to jump on a cable car and do some sightseeing.

In particular, I want to share one of the conference highlights that marked the end of a brilliant and extremely creative fundraising campaign on NTEN’s part. Those of you who attended our own TechNow 2008 conference will remember our keynote speaker, Holly Ross, who is the executive director of NTEN.

A few months back, when NTEN wanted to raise scholarship money to help members be able to afford the conference fee, Holly posted this video call for donations:

http://www.nten.org/scholarship (P.S., I tried to embed these but WordPress won’t cooperate – sorry.)

This tactic worked and NTEN raised $10,395, just over the $10K goal. Convio matched it dollar for dollar and a bunch of people got to come to the conference who wouldn’t have been able to do so otherwise.

As our “reward” and her “humiliation,” Holly chose to remake the Beyonce video “Single Ladies – Put a Ring On It,” which debuted at breakfast this morning. This is my third year at this conference and I have to say, I’ve never seen so many people show up for breakfast as happened this morning.

True to her word, Holly re-made the video with gusto:


What an fundraising inspiration, eh? I probably would have chosen the trombone playing myself, and I give Holly kudos for not chickening out. She rocks.

So what creative way can you raise money for your organization?

See you in a few days,

Have a question or something to add to this post? Leave a comment, and you’ll be entered to win a 1 GB USB drive. One winner per week until the end of May.


flickr photo: mintimage

We’re bringing our training to your desk in the form of two webinars next month.  If you’ve never attended a webinar, it’s more painless than parking downton: log on, call in, participate, log off, go back to work.  Heck, you can attend in your robe in your living room.


Effective Presentations: Stories and Stats

Tuesday, May 12 and Tuesday May 19 • 10–11 a.m.

There are few things more horrible than losing your audience. Two things can contribute to wandering attention: narrative that lacks a human touch, and visuals that fight with your narrative. Present information in a way that keeps your audience awake and engaged. Learn how to make PowerPoint slides that looks good while perfectly enhancing and complementing your talk. We help you structure your content for maximum interest and show you all the great features PowerPoint has to offer.

Instructor: Jeff Forster, Bayer Center

Register Online: http://tinyurl.com/BayerCenterRegistration

Proposals That Get the Grant
Thursday, May 21 from 10 a.m.–noon 

Take that great idea and get it funded! But how? This class explores the indispensable principles of writing winning proposals:

• develop a strategic approach to funders

• identify what you need to know before you start writing

• learn the basic elements of successful proposals

• understand what you need to communicate

Instructor: Teresa Gregory, Robert Morris University

Register Online: http://tinyurl.com/BayerCenterRegistration

Have a question or something to add to this post? Leave a comment, and you’ll be entered to win a 1 GB USB drive. One winner per week until the end of May.

A little over a week ago, Scott Leff and I attended Jessica Jackley’s discussion about how she started Kiva.org and is busy transforming the world we live in. No joke! (As of March 8, 2009, the organization that Jessica co-founded has distributed $63,010,010 in loans from 458,538 online lenders, which has funded 90,201 loans in the developing world. Simply, what Kiva and Jessica has accomplished has been nothing short of amazing!)

However, one of the central messages I took away from Jessica’s discussion is that if you see an area with a need, and you’re capable of filling that need, then “just do it!” Don’t worry if you don’t have a business plan, executive summary, financial projections, etc. Just get started doing the work and fill in those “details” as the need arises.

What’s interesting about Jessica’s message was that when I went through my formal business education at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business, her kind of thinking wasn’t exactly encouraged; if you were going to start an organization, or even a small grassroots movement, you had to have a plan. Preferably, this plan would have charts and graphs, a clear and tightly woven mission statement, and at the very least some semblance of an Executive Summary to work from. And so I bought into this kind of thinking…

So, last summer, when a few of my friends brought up the idea of starting a “fun” running group, I was thinking that this might turn into a bit of hassle because we needed some type of organizational structure and, really, who has time for that (see previous paragraph)? Plus, my friends were convinced that I knew something about running and could “coach” them through the process. After all, they reasoned, I’d run in a bunch of races and could help them do so, too. Of course, I thought this might be a little difficult because I had no formal coaching experience.

Nevertheless, I thought we’d just go with it and see what happens. So, the initial group of 5 runners (including me) would convene once or twice per week last fall at Frick Park and run 4 to 5 miles together as we all trained for the Ikea Half Marathon.

The initial results from this experiment/“group love” were very encouraging: we had 9 runners finish their first 13.1 mile half marathon and 4 of these runners were first timers. From there we’ve added more runners and now have a list of approximately 30 runners.

The reason I bring this up is that nearly one week from now 8 runners from our club are going to try and do something they have never done before: 6 are going to run the 26.2 mile marathon distance and 2 are going to run the 13.1 half marathon distance for the first time! Watching friends of old and new dedicate themselves to completing their goal – some overcoming initial weight issues, injuries, frustration, and tears – has served to reinvigorate my passion for this sport and athletics in general.

I guess you could say that this, and a few other life experiences along the way in my 29 odd years, has taught me that Jessica Jackley is right after all: if you see a need and have some passion/expertise in that area, then you owe it to yourself (and the world) to jump in! Forget the formality and rules and all the organizational structure you think you may need and just start working, organizing, and doing.

I come back to our running club and the upcoming marathon and think what a sad thing it would’ve been had we not come together and formed our club. Fortunately, we did! And one week from this Sunday, I’m going to watch some of my friends accomplish something they have never done before, and most thought impossible one year ago. I hope that you’ll come out and support these runners and more at the Pittsburgh Marathon. See ya at the race!

Have a question or something to add to this post? Leave a comment, and you’ll be entered to win a 1 GB USB drive. One winner per week until the end of May.

Congratulation to Becky Spevack of AIA Pittsburgh, the latest weekly winner of our blog contest!  Becky has won a 1.0 GB USB drive.  (To enter in this random drawing, simply post a comment to any article on our blog now through May 31.)

Spring + Earth day = Spring Greeningistock_000004125830xsmall1

Shopping bags. We use 60,000 plastic bags every five seconds in the U.S. That’s a lot to ask of any landfill. Next time you go to the grocery store, stop at the on-site plastic bag collection bin. Better yet, byob (ag, preferably canvas).

Paint. If it’s latex-based, consider donating it to a local church, shelter, or Habitat for Humanity chapter. That unused can of “summer sunshine”, might brighten someone else’s day, too.

Motor Oil. Recycling just two gallons of used oil can generate enough electricity to run the average household for almost 24 hours. Whether you are a do-it-yourselfer or not, make sure your used oil goes to an eco-friendly gas station or oil change facility.

Nikes. Sure you had good intentions when you bought those running shoes last January, but perhaps it’s time to give them to someone who needs (and uses) them more than you. www.recycledrunners.com provides a directory that will help you free up some prime closet real estate.

Ink. Step 1) Go to PetSmart Store (gaze longingly and deeply consider adopting the doggy in the window). Step 2) Pick up a free postage paid pre-addressed envelope. Step 3) Insert empty cartridge. Step 4) Drop it in the mail. PetSmart Charities will receive a $2 -$15 donation for every donation. Saving animals and the planet – at the same time! Not bad for a day’s work.

Rummage. We’ve all heard it, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” And in tough economic times, what could be better than an old fashioned flea market? Bring your trash (and treasures) to the Brighton Heights Flea Market where you can bring a 6×10-foot table for only $10.

Have a question or something to add to this post? Leave a comment, and you’ll be entered to win a 1 GB USB drive. One winner per week through the end of May.


Have a question or something to add to this post? Leave a comment, and you’ll be entered to win a 1 GB USB drive. One winner per week through the end of May.

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