Node.js vs PHP: Which Technology Is Better for Server-Side Development?

No Comments Breakthrough Tech

Web development is a constantly growing and evolving field. As long as the web exists, there will always be a need for newer, better web applications. Hence, if you want to pursue an option where you learn and create something new every day, web development would be an excellent choice.

When it comes to creating web apps, there are plenty of options to choose from for the development stack, that is, the technologies used in this process. People who wish to start with something reliable often stick to the classics. The leading web development companies have a niche of their own and have a set of rules to follow.

Node.js and PHP are two such reliable options to be used for server-side development. They are both programming languages used to develop web app back-ends. They have been around for so long that they have experienced immense growth and, on the way, garnered the support of developers of both – old and new age. Hence, everyone in the developer community trusts them as a safe and steady choice.

Now, since they are both rivals, it naturally leads to the question, “Which is better?” To answer the question, we will take a look at both Node.js and PHP as separate programming languages with their individual pros and cons. We will also present a brief comparison to aid us in settling this debate.

What is Node.js?

Node.js was introduced in 2009 by Ryan Dahl and has since proved to be a very vital and crucial contribution to the world of JavaScript. While it is commonly called a programming language, Node.js is actually an open-source runtime environment that aids in running JavaScript at the server-side of a web application. The skilled Node.js developers have a knack of opting for this to build a more secure and efficient solution.

Node.js is used in the development of various types of applications such as SPAs (single page applications), I/O intensive apps, and DIRTs (Data Intensive Real-time Applications).

Pros of Node.js

  • It is based on JavaScript, which is one of the easiest programming languages to learn.
  • It is flexible in that it does not cause developers to bother with a lot of dependencies, following a fixed architecture, etc.
  • It allows high scalability and speed of both project development and execution.
  • Its asynchronous processing works well for real-time I/O-sensitive applications, such as instant messengers.
  • React, Angular, and other JS-based frontend development frameworks work well with Node.js at the backend.
  • Having the same language at the front- and backend allows for easier maintenance of the code.
  • There are plenty of useful NPM libraries and packages available for quicker and easier Node.js development.

Cons of Node.js

  • Some users may find the code structure a little too complex.
  • It is not a good enough solution for CPU-intensive applications since it is single-threaded.
  • Node.js carries the risk of type safety issues hence it is unsuitable for number-intensive applications such as financial ones.
  • Some third-party packages and libraries may be unreliable. Hence, extra care needs to be taken when using unofficial add-ons for Node.js.

What is PHP?

Danish-Canadian programmer Rasmus Lerdorf first introduced PHP way back in 1994, which makes PHP as one of the oldest languages in the market. PHP, which is a recursive acronym for Hypertext Preprocessor, is a programming language that was released purely for the purpose of web development. The experienced PHP development companies have PHP as their primary choice when they need to develop robust and scalable web apps.

Pros of PHP

  • Since PHP was launched many, many years ago, it has had a lot of time to develop and mature, resulting in a stable version in the present day.
  • The code written in PHP is highly portable and extremely easy to deploy.
  • PHP code is easy to maintain.
  • PHP is a perfect choice for applications hosted on a centralized server.
  • It works very well with Linux OS, Apache Web server, and MySQL database.
  • PHP offers a huge code-base with many popular standardized web app solutions such as WordPress and Drupal, which are great for simple blogs or websites with high customizability.
  • It is an easy programming language for beginners. Even those with no technical knowledge or experience can work with it.
  • Since PHP was specially developed for web apps, its packages, libraries, and modules are tailored to fit every little need in that regard.
  • It is an efficient server-side solution that helps avoid client-side code overloading.

Cons of PHP

  • Since PHP has an extensive code base, it may, at times, become hard to manage all the code.
  • It might be tricky to resolve scalability issues in PHP applications.
  • Using PHP for backend development means you will have to learn not just PHP but also JavaScript (for the frontend).
  • Many of the newer APIs offer limited or no support for PHP.
  • It is not a good option for developing single-page applications or apps requiring multiple client connections.

A Side-by-Side Comparison of Node.js and PHP

Setup and Installation

For Node.js, there are two options:

  • Direct download from the official Node.js website
  • Command-line installation using NPM (Node Package Manager)

PHP’s official website offers multiple new and old versions of PHP for download. The website also has instructions on how to make PHP work with a web server.

Framework

Some well-known frameworks that work with Node.js are

  • Express
  • Meteor
  • Koa
  • Sails

Two of the most popular PHP frameworks are Laravel and Codeigniter. However, there are many lesser-known options such as:

  • Yii
  • Symfony
  • CakePHP
  • Zend

Engine

Node.js is based on the powerful Chrome V8 Engine, an open-source JavaScript engine developed by the Chromium Project, while PHP is powered by Zend, which supports versions higher than PHP 5.6.

Web Server

Node.js has its own runtime environment for executing its JavaScript code. Hence, it does not require a separate web server.

PHP, on the other hand, works with multiple very popular open-source web server solutions. As a beginner, you might find it easy to configure a PHP server using XAMPP, which will set up an Apache server for you. According to a report by W3Techs, when it comes to the most commonly used server, Apache takes the lead, being used by 43.9% of all websites. However, it is closely followed by Nginx at 30.6%.

Percentages of websites using various web servers

Ease of Use

Node.js seamlessly integrates with the frontend development technologies since they are both JavaScript-based. Hence, it speeds up the development process for developers already familiar with JavaScript.

PHP, on the other hand, has to be learned from scratch, so it might slow your progress down a little. However, it is an easy language to learn, with comprehensive documentation as well as a lot of community support available online. The simple structure of PHP also encourages most beginners to start with PHP instead of Node.js.

Popularity

We took a look at how the two languages, PHP, and JS, fared against each other in another W3Techs report and discovered that PHP topped the list of most-used server-side development languages.

Percentages of websites using various server-side programming languages

Wrapping Up

As this is the case with any project, you need to choose the most appropriate technologies for your project’s development while keeping all your requirements in mind.

Choosing Node.js would enable you to build highly scalable and fast I/O sensitive projects. On the other hand, if you are looking to develop a project on a much smaller scale using a piece of dedicated web technology, then PHP would be a great choice.

The post Node.js vs PHP: Which Technology Is Better for Server-Side Development? appeared first on TopDevelopers.co.

Understanding Why And How People Give

No Comments Investor Strategy

This post is sponsored by GoFundMe

If you’re involved in nonprofit work, you’ve probably thought a lot about what motivates people to donate their hard-earned income to a charitable cause. While much has changed in the nonprofit realm over the last 20 years, the underlying reasons for donating to charity are essentially the same. But exactly how people give and the methods they use have shifted and evolved as nonprofits have taken their fundraising online. 

Mobile giving, peer-to-peer fundraising and crowdfunding have redefined the giving landscape in new and exciting ways. In order to tap into donors’ generosity, you first need to understand what motivates them so you can tailor your fundraising methods accordingly. 

The evolution of online giving and new patterns in generosity  

Charitable giving was never the same after nonprofits first took their fundraising efforts online. And online giving has continued to redefine the way people give and the methods nonprofits use to fundraise. Organizations swapped out direct mail requests for email marketing campaigns and fundraising galas for virtual fundraising drives that required almost no overhead. It became effortless to reach thousands of supporters around the globe with just a few clicks of the mouse. 

In 2012, the Giving Tuesday movement ignited a new wave of generosity across the world, raising over $400 million to date and changing end-of-year fundraising strategies for nonprofits everywhere. Now, 54% of donors worldwide actually prefer to give online with a debit or credit card, so it’s no surprise that the crowdfunding market is expected to grow 89.72 billion from 2018 to 2022—and with it, new avenues to encourage generosity.

What motivates donors to give? 

Whether it’s to feel good about oneself or to support a cause that hits close to home, there are many reasons why people support a charity. Below are three major reasons that compel people to open their wallets. 

They can see the impact of their gift

It’s critical to show and tell your donors exactly how their financial support is making an impact. Otherwise, donors may feel like they’re tossing their money into a black hole. This especially matters to millennials, who said the most important factor in their charitable giving was knowing how their gifts would make a difference. It’s likely that this will be just as important to Gen Zers, who will make up 36% of the global workforce by 2020

They are moved by an individual’s story

When pushing out a new marketing campaign, don’t forget about the power of one. In other words, highlight an individual who has benefitted from your mission and tell their story—people are more moved by stories than pie charts, after all.

Studies have shown that people are more likely to donate when they connect with a specific individual’s story instead of being fed data about a large group of people in need. Focusing on a single individual who represents a larger group or issue also helps reduce compassion collapse. This phenomenon is a lack of empathy that can occur when we’re faced with an overwhelming number of people in need and fail to understand the needs on an individual level. 

They’re just waiting to be asked

One study revealed that for more than 85% of charitable donations, people donated simply because they were asked to. This reveals what most of us probably already know: sometimes all we need is a small nudge to move us in the right direction, especially when it comes to parting with our money. Other studies have revealed that the request size can also make a difference. People were much more willing to comply with a donation request when they were asked to give a small amount, such as $5. 

Four ways to harness generosity online

Keeping in mind the points above, let’s dive into three ways your nonprofit can ensure your online presence will encourage generosity among supporters. 

1. Make your mission statement clear

When was the last time you performed a content audit on your website? Have you updated your “about” page within the last year? Research found that when looking to donate, nine out of 10 millennials will first go to the page on a nonprofit’s website that describes the organization’s mission. Studies revealed that a gift impact statement can be a factor that increases donations. Millennials are now the largest demographic in the US, according to CNN, so it makes sense to consider their giving habits.  

2. Tap into mobile giving

40% of nonprofit website traffic comes from mobile users, according to Charity Navigator, and that figure is likely to rise as we come to rely even more on mobile devices in our day-to-day. It makes sense that the latest evolution in online giving focuses on mobile giving. Is your website optimized for mobile? Have you employed a text-to-give option? Making it as seamless as possible for people to donate on mobile will become increasingly important. 

3. Find a solid peer-to-peer platform

Nonprofit software is nothing new, but not all enterprise software offers an intuitive peer-to-peer option. By empowering your supporters to fundraise on your behalf, you’ll be able to reach new networks and new fundraising goals. Make sure you choose nonprofit fundraising software that is contract-free and doesn’t require subscription fees. 

4. Ask them why they give

Take the guesswork out of the equation and go straight to the source by asking your donors exactly why they were motivated to support your organization in the past. What would they like to hear more about? What would encourage them to give again in the future? These are important questions that can only be answered by reaching out. Sending out a survey will allow you to leverage insights from your most devoted supporters while also demonstrating your commitment to them. 

Use donor motivation and giving insights to make a bigger impact

If nonprofits can truly understand how and why individuals give, they’ll be better equipped to navigate and anticipate current and future giving movements. Data gleaned from studies can reveal helpful altruistic trends, but remember to spend time uncovering why your own donors give back. By tailoring your fundraising campaigns to your supporters’ specific interests and needs, you’ll be able to motivate them to keep giving. 

The post Understanding Why And How People Give appeared first on Nonprofit Hub.

4 Key Steps to Hyper-Personalize Your Donor Engagement

No Comments Investor Strategy

You’ve heard us say before that personalizing the donor experience is the #1 key to success with 21st century donor engagement. When I talk with people about making the transition from “send everything to everyone” to a truly donor-driven communication plan, I often get the response that it seems impossible, or “we’re too small to do that.” But new technology at a radically lower price point is now available to gets over these hurdles so you can hyper-personalize donor engagement quickly and precisely. Here are four steps to get you started.

  1. All your content are belong to us.”* Your campus and associated organizations are already producing a ton of content, from web stories, magazine articles, videos, even social media content. You’ll need to find where all of it lives and get each source catalogued. RSS feeds make this easier, and working with your web team to get a handle on everything that’s being produced and where it lives is crucial.

    *(For those of you who don’t know the meme that inspired this, here’s a little internet history lesson.)

  2. Get your tag on. Each piece of content, from all areas of your campus, needs to be categorized. This includes what it talks about, such as “cancer research” or “social justice.” So an article about internships dealing with corporate responsibility for business students at a pharma company might be tagged with all three of these, and also with “internships.” This multi-categorization of content will be crucial when it’s time to vary content by the interests of the donors you’ve been listening to.
  3. Start listening. Implement one of the powerful, AI-powered automation platforms now as your primary way to engage donors, and start sending communications through it. In days, you’ll start identifying your supporters and tracking what they do to get a better idea of what they care about—what they are clicking on and reading right now—rather than what you’ve coded them in your system by major, previous donations, or what you think they care about.
  4. Let the robots help you scale. You now have an idea of what your donors care about, and you have content ready to match that interest. It’s time to start creating your first personalized communications. This can be as simple as designing a newsletter that drives to your core messages, and also includes several variable blocks of stories and content tailored to what each donor wants. I’ve seen these communications created in about five minutes. My mind was blown.

To hyper-personalize donor engagement at scale, you need automation

RNL QuadWrangle Alumni Engagement

Don’t worry if assembling all your content, tagging everything or listening to donors seems like an impossible thing to start. The best solutions, relying on powerful AI, begin to do these things automatically once you get them started and then pointed in the right place to collect and curate relevant content by donor interests that will fuel your personalized communications. No, the robots are not going to take over our fundraising or communications positions—but they are going to allow for powerful personalization at scale, making it easier for you to focus on creating the best content and fine tuning the messages. The steps above can be completed by many, “average” organizations within 30 days with the right technology and a little help.

We’ve finally reached a point where this powerful personalization technology—linking the tagged content to the interests of the donor that you’re watching over time — is usable by any organization. What used to be reserved for big spenders like Amazon or the big media conglomerates is now in the hands of even “average” donor engagement teams. The user-friendly marketing and content automation solutions that are now available do the heavy lifting of personalization, constantly analyzing and updating data to maximize engagement and response. This lets you spend more time listening to donors and creating content to keep them engaged.

Start engaging more donors through hyper-personalization now

Our AI-powered platform RNL Quadwrangle accomplishes this by making donor engagement easier, faster, and smarter, using the the content resources you already have to get hyper-personalized campaigns created and launched in minutes — yes, minutes.

It’s time to join the big companies and big charities with the power of user-friendly and accessible AI and marketing automation technology. In the 21st century, being donor-centric means listening. And when you do, you’ll see better results immediately. Schedule a demo of RNL QuadWrangle now and see how you can elevate donor engagement and your fundraising results.

Hyper-personalize donor engagement with RNL QuadWrangle

The post 4 Key Steps to Hyper-Personalize Your Donor Engagement appeared first on Ruffalo Noel Levitz.

eCommerce in Southern Africa is Just Taking Off and Neuromarketing Can Help

No Comments Economy

When prompted to think of hot spots for eCommerce, Sub-Saharan Africa probably isn’t your first thought. However, it is currently the perfect melting pot of conditions for eCommerce to make a huge impact. Here’s why, and how Neuromarketing can help you jump on board.
Current eCommerce Use
Internet user penetration in South Africa is currently predicted to reach 59.5% in 2020. Although smartphone penetration is currently less (approximately 30%) it is predicted to grow to 37.2% in the next few years.
Currently, the leading product category for online shopping in Sub-Saharan Africa is electronics and media, followed by furniture and appliances. 54% of South African shoppers prefer to pay cash on delivery, as many South Africans do not have access to credit. 52% also like to pay with a debit card.
Some of the bigger players across the African continent include eCommerce sites like TakeALot, Jumia and Kilimall, which act as giant virtual department stores with a huge range of products, many of which aren’t commonly sold in the brick and mortar stores that most Africans have access to.
Why is eCommerce an ideal option for African consumers?
Made up of several developing nations, Southern Africa has limited infrastructure, particularly in less urban areas. This means that a large portion of the population has, at best, limited access to conveniences like shopping malls or department stores. Thanks to internet penetration, the demand for more niche or luxury items is higher than what local stores can affordably supply. eCommerce, on the other hand, makes a wider variety of products available to virtually anyone with an internet connection.
eCommerce also requires a smaller initial investment to get started than a brick and mortar store would, while providing wider customer reach. This makes it an appealing option for many South African entrepreneurs, who have a great product or service but not enough resources to open a physical store.
As mobile penetration increases and internet becomes faster, eCommerce is something to which more and more South Africans will have access. This, coupled with the advances in technology that allow for more secure transactions, means that people may be less likely to hesitate in making purchases online.
What to take into account
If you’re thinking of starting an eCommerce venture in Africa, bear in mind that:
Formal addresses are not always the norm. In rural areas or informal settlements, it can be rare for street names and numbers to be demarcated. You need to ensure that your delivery is flexible, and you’re able to contact the buyer directly to arrange delivery. Sasha Poignonnec, co-CEO of Jumia, talks about how they use local liasons in smaller areas to coordinate the final delivery, as they understand how to navigate the area. Alternatively, eCommerce services can have pick-up points set up.
It’s also important to remember that Southern African consumers don’t have access to credit. It is therefore important to offer a wide variety of secure payment methods, such as Snapscan, cash on delivery, EFTs, etc.
How can Neuromarketing help?
A big mistake that people make is thinking that they can treat African markets like Western ones and enter with the same User interface design and UX strategies. African consumers have their own cultural nuances, aesthetic preferences and ways of visually navigating information – you owe it to them to ensure that your platform is optimised for them.
If you’d like to see how neuromarketing can help you first hand, why not join the Neural Sense team at the ECOM2020event at the CTICC in Cape Town on the 8-9 of April 2020. We’ll be demonstrating some of our neuroscience technologies at the exhibition and will also be presenting a keynote address on the role of neuromarketing to optimise user experiences. Here’s a hint: it’s all about emotion…

The Importance of Visual Commerce Platform in Visual Marketing

No Comments Breakthrough Tech

Introduction to Visual Commerce

In the eCommerce sector, visuals have become more important than ever with the rise of beautiful product displays, video advertisements, user-generated product images & videos, visual information, and online shopping assisted by visuals.

The influence has been so much that it has given birth to the term – Visual Commerce.

What is Visual Commerce?

Visual commerce is the use of strong, engaging images, compelling videos, info-graphics like stunning product shots, user-generated product visuals, product video & reviews for the purpose of creating user engagement that ultimately leads to conversions & sales.

visual commerce

The visuals serve the other crucial aspect of successful business i.e. it helps in providing a superior fulfilling browsing and shopping experience to the users.

Visuals are essential for consumers in the eCommerce industry as the users look for a sense of the view that can help them make an informed purchase. Like the offline retail, the sense of touch is not available in online eCommerce so visuals drive the decisions of users.

How is Visual Commerce relevant to Visual 1024Marketing?

Visual marketing and visual commerce are two different terms with one common key element i.e. Visuals.

Visual marketing is the process of using graphics, images, videos, info-graphics, GIFs for the purpose of advertising and promotions. The saying that “A picture says a thousand words” holds true in this sense.

Using Visuals for marketing can help the digital marketers get their intended message across more effectively and resourcefully using visuals. And humans tend to respond more positively to the visuals over text.

Visual commerce is a wider term which includes visual marketing. Visual marketing attracts the consumers towards the products whereas visual commerce includes the whole process of attracting, engaging, and converting the users into customers.

Now, that we know visual commerce, visual marketing, and their relation. We can explore how visual commerce platforms can drive visual marketing to generate results for a business.

Visual Commerce Platforms

A visual commerce platform helps in aggregating visual content from social media and then displays the content in the feed with options for buying. There are various visual commerce platforms that provide diverse functionalities for your visual marketing efforts.

Here are some of the ways through which a visual commerce platform can help visual marketing.

1. Grow Your Initial influence

Visuals are processed 60000 times faster than text and humans form an impression about things immediately within milliseconds after viewing them.

Grow your initial influnce

Having attractive visuals can help in creating a strong initial influence on consumers and a positive first impression can go long for your brands’ benefits.

Using a visual commerce platform, you can aggregate creative and attractive visuals from social media and use it on your website as a marketing tactic to create a captivating initial influence on the consumers.

2. Drive Interaction & Engagement

Interaction and engagement are two key goals for any marketing campaign and if you are using visual marketing, it becomes more important as users tend to engage with visuals more than text comparatively.

Drive Interaction & Engagement

Interaction and engagement with the campaign are steps that further guide the consumer to the conversion elements in the purchase funnel.

Visual commerce platforms will help in making the aggregated visuals more attractive with customizations to the posts and the overall feed. This will enhance the possibilities of interaction and engagement with the users.

3. Visual UGC Marketing

This is probably the biggest advantage of using a visual commerce platform for visual marketing that you can make use of the influencing user-generated visual content from social media.

shoppable instagram

When it comes to the digital environment, having social proof is important for any business or a brand as it attracts consumers and helps with the conversions and sales.

Users upload millions of photos every day and most of them feature products that they use. Thus, as a brand, you can harness these visual posts relevant to your brand and display it as the symbol of authenticity, reliability, and trustworthiness.

Visual commerce platforms can gather the visual user-generated content from different social media platforms and display it as authentic visual marketing content with user referrals and assurances.

This can help in developing your brand identity, strong brand image, loyal user base, a sense of security, and most essentially the sales and conversions as consumers tend to trust the word of existing users while making a purchase online.

4. Influence of Sales & Conversions

The impact of visuals as we can understand by now is directly related to conversions and sales for eCommerce. Visual marketing is an indirect selling of your eCommerce products to the consumers.

ecommerce conversions

More than the product descriptions, the marketing of product photos, detailed video guides, video reviews, info-graphics, etc. shapes a consumer’s decision to make a purchase online.

Visual commerce platform can help you bring the marketing and selling together through the visual buyable feeds,  as we learned that captivating visuals instigate the intention to buy among the users.

You can add the feature of buying options to the visual feed and make your visual marketing posts campaign instantly workable. This will reduce the interest decomposition of the user by shortening the user journey of buying online.

Your visual marketing will turn into the visual marketing and selling strategy and it will enhance your eCommerce conversions and sales.

Also Read: Why shoppers leaving the carts without paying for it?

 

Conclusion

Visuals have become a crucial part of the social audience in the present age. Most of the popular social media platforms are visually aesthetic and that has been the main reason for their immense success.

Users have been the key reason behind the inception of visual influence in social media and the growth of visual content has blurred the impact of textual content.

Visuals immensely influence the way how consumers shop online and using a visual commerce platform can help in your visual marketing strategy to garner positive returns on your marketing investments along with various value-added benefits.

The post The Importance of Visual Commerce Platform in Visual Marketing appeared first on TopDevelopers.co.

How to Reach Beyond Your Typical Donor Base

No Comments Investor Strategy

As we reach the end of 2019, reflections and evaluations are at the forefront of everyone’s minds. What is working well? What could we change? How can we grow and create a larger impact? How can we make next year even better?

One of the best ways to increase your impact is to expand your donor base. But I know it’s easier said than done. Here are some tips that might help you branch out from your current base and create some new buzz about your organization. As the new year inches closer, keep these tips in mind.

Finding new donors requires creating a new market.

Think of your nonprofit as a brand. Each brand has a target audience. So how can you shape your brand to appeal to a new target audience while still keeping your current donors? If you target your marketing efforts, it can be easier to appeal to a wider audience. This means choosing your channels and messages wisely.

Strategize your messages.

Different types of people use different channels of media. So start building a profile of your potential new target and think about where they consume their media. Social media is a great start to get the word out and forge new connections. I would recommend Facebook more than anything. If you’re targeting seasoned nonprofit supporters, direct most of your attention there. Ninety-one percent of nonprofit professionals use Facebook to distribute content. 

But to reach out to other, newer audiences, consider the types of people who regularly use each platform and plan accordingly. Maybe to appeal to a younger generation, focus more on Instagram instead. From there, go all-in. Have your current staff, board members, and supporters act like cheerleaders for your organization. Have them share your page, retweet your content and comment on your posts. 

You should also keep an eye on your competitors. Snoop on their social media pages and pay attention to their messaging trends. Look to see how they’re reaching out to donors. What works? What doesn’t? What can you learn from them?

Start from your circle.

 In general, there are three major types of sales:

  1. Buying a refill, something you’ve already purchased before.
  2. Switching to a new model/brand/style.
  3. Buying something for the first time (this one is very rare).

In the long run, it’s much more beneficial to target a person who is already interested in or familiar with your organization than to reach out to someone completely new. The majority of people don’t buy something unless they know it’ll be worth it. That means having some semblance of prior knowledge about the brand or product. People are more likely to donate to something that someone in their circle already supports than to go out on a limb and find a new organization.

A good tactic to get new donors is to start with your current ones. Ask your board members or dedicated supporters to create a map of their personal circles to find people who would potentially be interested. Start asking them to reach out to these like-minded people. 

From there, you could simply add them to your mailing list and hope they like what they read. Or you could host a dialogue event. Have donors, old and new, come to an event that celebrates your organization. Talk about your mission, programs, ways to get involved, impact and success stories. Eat, drink and be merry. Then come in with the kicker: “we need you.” Make sure to follow up with everyone who attended to get feedback on the effectiveness of the event. If it was a hit, you’ve got them hooked.

The post How to Reach Beyond Your Typical Donor Base appeared first on Nonprofit Hub.

7 Strategies to Adapt to the Changes in NACAC Practices

No Comments Investor Strategy

At the 2020 NACAC annual meeting, the organization made the decision to change its code of NACAC practices, a change with dramatic implications for college student recruitment. I discussed in a previous blog those implications and the greater need for student engagement throughout the entire funnel. In this follow up, I will discuss seven strategies institutions can use to target students more effectively, engage them continuously, and ultimately achieve their enrollment goals in this new recruitment environment.

The longer and more challenging student recruitment funnel

First, it’s important to reiterate why the following strategies will be crucial for college student marketing and recruitment. The changes to NACAC practices create two new realities that will make recruitment more challenging for enrollment managers:

  • Students
    will have more time to make their enrollment decision
    —the concept of the
    May 1 deposit deadline was already being weakened before this change, but now
    students will really have until late in the funnel to decide which college to
    attend.
  • There
    will be increased competition for students late in the cycle
    —this goes
    hand-in-hand with students having more time to make enrollment decisions. Those
    students will get targeted much later than traditionally they have been, which
    means colleges will both need to secure their “committed” students and also
    keep recruiting as well.

I have been an enrollment professional for 25 years, and one
thing that never changes is that change creates opportunity for campuses that
are proactive and willing to adapt. That will be more necessary than ever now,
but the good news is there are great strategies for colleges and universities
to compete effectively and bring in the classes they want.

1) Strengthen the quality and quantity of your inquiry pool

Laying the foundation for a strong inquiry pool will be one
of the best strategies for staying on track for meeting your goals (and
avoiding some sleepless nights later in the year!). Predictive modeling is one
of the most effective methods for doing this. It enables you to see not only
which students are more likely to enroll—allowing you to prioritize your
recruitment resources much more effectively—but also see which high-scoring
prospects you should add to your inquiry pool at the start. Then, continuing to
manage and monitor your inquiry pool with analytics and data-informed decision
making will keep you moving toward your goals.

Digital engagement is even more essential after changes in NACAC practices

Digital engagement is also a must today to build your applicant pool. You need the ability to personalize at scale, track results, and drive more students to application completion. Digital also allows you to gather more info on the preferences and expectations of students, so you can tailor content and communications that provide the precise information students need to take action.

Ultimately, this approach helps you gather not only the
right number of applicants, but the right applicants who are more likely to
enroll.

2) Demonstrate ROI with comprehensive graduate outcomes

Providing outcomes to prospective students and their
families will really separate the enrollment winners in this post-NACAC
environment. If you can tell a student
or parent how your alumni succeed in the job market or post-graduate
placements, you will remove one of the major enrollment reservations for them.

This is not easy to do on your own, however, because of the challenges in acquiring quantifiable data such as labor market data. That’s why RNL has partnered with specialized firms such as Equifax and Emsi to provide that vital data to our campus partners via our new RNL Alumni Outcomes Optimization service.

3) Turn the award letter into an award campaign

According to RNL research, two out of three students say they have some questions about the costs associated with their awards, and one in ten do not fully understand those costs until they receive their bill. The financial aid award needs to not only clearly understood, but also make a compelling case for attending your institution.

RNL has taken a big step in this area by creating the personalized financial aid video, a revolutionary new way to communicate aid awards to students and families. It quickly engages students, informs them about their award, and excites them about enrolling. This is precisely the kind of omnichannel engagement campuses will need to make with their awarding efforts to compete for the students they want to enroll.

.

4) Manage melt to maximize yield

Campuses already lose one in ten students to melt according to the 2019 Discounting Report, and that could increase after these changes to NACAC practices. In a competitive environment where enrollments are flattening, campuses need to do everything they can to increase yield with the students they have invested so many resources in. We work with our campus partners on yield campaigns that continue to push benefits to attending and building connections to the campus. These campaigns also incorporate the latest and greatest innovations for enrollment yield through the student engagement network provided by our partner Nearpeer and the digital engagement solutions from Conduit.

It should go without saying that, in this environment, the campus visit is more important than ever. Research continually shows that the campus visit is one of the most important tools you have, so make sure you do them well. RNL is proud to have the pre-eminent campus visit consulting firm as part of our family — Render Experiences.

5) Turning parents into enrollment champions

Parent engagement is nothing new, but while many institutions may “reach out” to parents, they are not truly engaging them and harnessing the considerable enrollment influence they have. Three out of four parents say they are very involved with their children’s enrollment decision. Recruit the parents and you take a big step toward enrolling the student. This is why RNL has partnered with CampusESP and added their capabilities to our enrollment solutions. The alumni outcomes I discussed earlier are also critical to engaging parents and convincing them your institution is a worthwhile investment.

6) Increase your enrollment potential for transfer students

Transfer students represent a terrific opportunity for campuses, but many do not nearly do enough to recruit this untapped market. That’s partly because it is a more unpredictable and unknown population, one that tends to make enrollment decisions quickly—all the more reason why a data-driven enrollment strategy is required for a smart and effective transfer student enrollment strategy. Pre-enrollment analytics such as the ones used by RNL can help uncover transfer student markets and qualify your pool so you can act quickly and precisely to enroll these students.

7) Tap into outside expertise and solutions

Enrollment management becomes an increasingly complex
process every year. It includes everything from data management and analytics,
omnichannel communication, digital marketing, AI and marketing automation…more
elements than any institution can manage.

We work with hundreds of colleges and universities every year to ensure that they not only deploy the best innovations in enrollment, but also receive guidance from consultants who have been in their shoes. All of my consulting colleagues are former campus enrollment managers like me who now make it our mission to bring enrollment success to the campuses we serve as strategists. These changes to NACAC practices will make the enrollment environment more challenging, but we know we can guide our campus partners to success.

Talk to us about adapting to these changes in NACAC Practices

Contact RNL

I invite you to contact us for a free consultation and see how we can help you not only adapt to these new enrollment realities, but find new opportunities for success that always appear after changes like this.

The post 7 Strategies to Adapt to the Changes in NACAC Practices appeared first on Ruffalo Noel Levitz.

The Importance of College Student Engagement and Satisfaction for Student and Institutional Success

No Comments Investor Strategy

Student feedback data is a key element for understanding the student experience on campus.Satisfaction instruments and surveys on college student engagement are two ways that institutions capture the perceptions of their students about their experience inside and outside of the classroom.The combination of survey results provides a more complete perspective for institutions to consider.

The Student Satisfaction Inventory (SSI) from RNL captures how students assess their experience at the institution, both inside and outside of the classroom.The SSI asks students to identify levels of importance and satisfaction with a variety of items including instruction, advising, registration, financial aid, residence life, campus climate, and others. It is administered across all class levels during any time in the academic year, as determined by the institution and is appropriate for students at four-year and two-year colleges.

The National Survey on Student Engagement (NSSE) asks students to identify the amount of time and effort they put into their studies and other educational activities. The NSSE also captures student perceptions on the ways their institution provides resources, organizes the curriculum and encourages students to participate in activities that have been linked to student learning outcomes.The NSSE instrument is administered to first year and senior students only, in the spring of the academic year.The Community College Survey on Student Engagement (CCSSE) is administered to all students at two-year institutions and captures similar experiences as the NSSE.

Using Both the SSI and NSSE/CCSSE on Campus

The satisfaction and engagement instruments capture different aspects of the student experience, but the items on each instrument also support each other.Both assessments provide complementary opportunities to capture a more complete picture of the undergraduate experience to promote student learning, success, and educational attainment. Both instruments help campuses to think about how students interact with the institution.

College student engagement assessments show how students invest their time, the effort they devote to various academic and co-curricular endeavors, and the resulting gains they feel they achieve. Student satisfaction assessments look at satisfaction and the importance students place on various services, programs, and experiences, as well as the relative degree of satisfaction that results from their transactions. Student satisfaction assessments pinpoint areas within the institution that need immediate attention.

College student engagement assessments and student satisfaction assessments share some common characteristics as well.Both surveys examine important elements of the student experience, with engagement assessments focusing more on the academic / classroom dimensions while student satisfaction assessments focus more broadly on the total experience. In addition, both instruments yield information designed to illuminate and improve student and institutional performance.Stronger student retention results from high levels of student engagement and satisfaction.

Assessing both student satisfaction and student engagement is important in order to inform and guide an institution’s retention efforts.Both types of assessments provide timely, systematic, and relevant information on various facets of the undergraduate experience.Both instruments play an important role in crafting retention activities that improve student and institutional performance.

Students Are More Likely to be Satisfied if They are Engaged, and More Likely to be Engaged if they are Satisfied

We explored this topic with three campus presenters in a webinar, Student Satisfaction and Engagement: Using the Data for Student Success. They talked about their use of the RNL Student Satisfaction Inventory along with the National Survey on Student Engagement (NSSE) at the four-year institutions and the Community College Survey on Student Engagement (CCSSE) at the two-year institution.

Eckerd College (Florida)

Jacqueline
MacNeil, executive director of institutional effectiveness, shared that they
found the SSI data to be fast and actionable, while the NSSE results provide
longer range benchmarking for them.
Since the NSSE is focused on the freshman and senior students, Eckerd
College sees the SSI results as helping them to get data in the intervening
years from sophomores and juniors as well.
As they look at the results from both instruments, they consider the
results reflecting the student experience in this manner:

  • SSI: Live, Work (academically), and Play
  • NSSE: Work (academically), Play and Live

Eckerd makes use of regular “listening sessions” with students to gather additional feedback on identified challenge items from the SSI. Jacqueline shared that students have the answers they are looking for and students are excited to share their opinions. She also noted that while there are times when “bad news” needs to be shared with faculty from both survey instruments, the data can lead to useful questions and the opportunity to work with the faculty to identify next steps to be responsive to the survey results.

Cornell College (Iowa)

Bethany Miller, formerly the director of institutional research at Cornell College and the new director of institutional research at Mary Baldwin University in Virginia, focused on her experience with the SSI and NSSE at Cornell and indicated that she is just beginning to work with the data from both instruments at Mary Baldwin as well.At Cornell, Bethany used “Wine, Cheese and Data” presentations to faculty, administrators and staff to share the results and to gather buy in for next steps with the data. She also met with each department to share the data that was relevant to the work those individuals were doing and helped them to identify strategies to raise satisfaction and engagement. She indicated that people on campus want help knowing how to digest and use the data in their work.

Southwest Wisconsin Technical College (Wisconsin)

Mandy Henkel, research analyst in the Department of College Effectiveness, gathers data from their on-ground students with the SSI and CCSSE and from their online students with the RNL Priorities Survey for Online Learners (PSOL).She said that the data from all of the survey instruments make it easier to enact changes based on the results. All of the surveys are aligned with the Higher Learning Commission accreditation criteria, and the results are included in their Institutional Vitality Process which documents key performance indicators. Mandy noted that education and communication are key with the satisfaction and engagement survey results.She also acknowledged that not everyone on campus will understand data results in the same way, so she makes a point of presenting the results in charts and graphs, written paragraphs, specific examples and in bite size chunks, depending on her audience.

Watch the webinar for Student Satisfaction and Engagement

New Resource Available

A new resource is available from RNL which shows how the items on the Student Satisfaction Inventory support and are supported by the items on the National Survey on Student Engagement or the Community College Survey on Student Engagement.To request your copy (please indicate the version for the NSSE or CCSSE and if you want the original Form A SSI or the shorter Form B SSI version), send me an email.

The post The Importance of College Student Engagement and Satisfaction for Student and Institutional Success appeared first on Ruffalo Noel Levitz.

How to Raise Financially Empowered Children

No Comments Financial Advisors

Do you ever catch yourself falling into negative financial habits that you learned from your parents? The truth is that the “money scripts” you use to make financial decisions as an adult are almost completely formed by age 7. So, some of the good and not-so-good habits you find yourself dealing with as an adult have likely been part of how you view money from the time you were a kid. So how do you raise financially empowered children?

Even though it’s not possible to go back in time and reverse the financial habits you learned from parents and mentors, it is possible to focus on raising your daughters and sons to be financially empowered and to focus on positive money habits. There’s no “perfect” way to teach your kids about money, but there are a few things you can start implementing today to make financial conversations easier, and even exciting, for your kids.  

Be Open With Your Children

The first and most important piece of advice I give my clients who are parents is to be – and stay – open when you talk about money. This means having honest conversations about financial “wins” and mistakes with your children, your partner, and the other people in your life. The more you can focus on taking the negative stigma away from money, the more you’re showing your children that financial conversations aren’t something to be ashamed of, or shy away from. 

An easy way to start this is by having family meetings about spending, or how you can align your spending with your family values. Giving your children some say in where funds that have been earmarked for charity go, or discussing how some “extra” expenses will have to be carved out of the family budget if you all want to spend the time and resources to have a fun family vacation, can help them to start understanding the importance of open communication. 

Of course, make sure the conversations you’re having are age-appropriate. Talking to your four-year-old about the fear you feel about retirement savings or your student loans may not be the best move, but walking them through budgeting basics and values-based spending absolutely makes sense. 

Address Gender Stereotypes

You can also help your kids to understand gender stereotypes, and how they may or may not be helpful. Talking to both your daughters and sons about how generalizing that “women are bad at math” or “men go to work and make money for the family” can hurt others and themselves is important. 

Daughters need to understand their worth and earning potential, while sons need to understand to respect women and that they don’t need to carry the full weight of “providing” on their shoulders. If these conversations are uncomfortable, that’s okay. Talking about stereotypes and discrimination is never comfortable, but it’s critical that we as parents can show our kids that these stereotypes are real and may impact how they interact with the world someday. 

Model and Celebrate Equality Whenever Possible

In your family, it’s important to model and celebrate equality. The more your children can see you and your spouse or partner treating each other with mutual respect in finances and in life, and treating others in the same way, the more they’ll be likely to model that behavior. This might look like:

  • Talking openly about finances being a shared resource
  • Discussing opinions about money honestly with one another and with your kids
  • Treating members of a minority community financially equally
  • Focusing on avoiding gender-based assumptions that your kids may pick up on
  • Showing your kids that both you and your spouse or partner contribute to the family – financially and otherwise
  • Having equal money rewards or rules for each of your kids

It’s tough to address our own biases, but thinking about how you can intentionally model equality in your day-to-day helps you to raise children who view financial equality as the norm. Taking it to the next level by celebrating equality in your home or workplace, and letting your kids see that, reinforces equality and inclusion as a positive behavior for them to emulate.

Ask Your Children Questions

Let’s get real – as a kid, money can be super fun. They don’t have bills, debt, or the stress of whether or not a trip home to visit family for the holidays is a more important budget line-item than a much-needed getaway with your spouse in January. Nope, kids get all of the fun parts of personal finances without a lot of the extra anxiety that adulthood brings to the table. 

So, during this season where money is still exciting and fun, focus on making it a learning experience for your kids. The easiest way to do this is to ask questions about money often. You don’t have to force the conversation, but working financial questions into your regular conversation with your kids can be a huge help. A few questions you might want to ask them are:

  • Why is that purchase (new toy, gumball, etc.) important to you?
  • Where would you like to give your “donate” funds?
  • What’s more exciting for you (when presented with two spending options)?
  • What are you saving for? Why?
  • What would you do with $100?
  • How do you want to budget your money?
  • Where does money come from?
  • How do you want to earn money? 
  • What chores do you think are worth more in your allowance? Why?

Pushing them to think more deeply about their finances can open up a lot of fun conversations about money, work, and life. You might be surprised by some of their answers!

Empower Them to Make Financial Decisions

Making all of the financial decisions your kids will face for them robs them of the chance to learn, or to have the exciting feeling of making a choice about their own money. Focus on big and small ways that you can empower them to make their own financial decisions. The more they practice this now, the more likely they’ll continue to make positive, values-based decisions in the future as adults.

Some decisions you might let them make on their own are:

  • What they want to use their allowance for
  • How they want to budget between spending, saving, and giving
  • Where they want to give their money (if that’s part of their budget)
  • What they’d like to ask for birthday or holiday gifts
  • What type of gifts they’d like to purchase for others

As your children get older, they can be given more and more decision-making power. As they keep growing, you’re going to run into situations where they make mistakes – or where their decision doesn’t match the same one you’d make as their parent. 

In these situations, it’s important to approach your kids with curiosity – no matter how old they are. Work to get a deeper understanding of what’s motivating their decisions, and talk to them about balancing immediate wants (like impulse purchases) with long-term benefits (like saving for the toy they actually want that’s a little more expensive). 

Celebrate Your Children’s Wins and Guide Them Through Learning Experiences

Do you ever wish someone was there to celebrate you every time you hit a savings goal (besides your financial planner, of course)? How about when you knock out a big chunk of your debt? Positive reinforcement and affirmation that we’re having financial success is a really empowering and motivating thing. If you want your kids to continue making exceptional decisions with their money, celebrate their wins! Talk to them about how proud you are of them, or how excited you are about the recent success they’ve had.

On the other side of the coin, don’t hesitate to address any money mistakes they may make. Talk about these mistakes as learning experiences, not moments to feel shame or hide from others. The more you can empower your kids to view financial mistakes on a small scale as something to learn from, the more likely they are to move on from big financial mistakes in their adult lives feeling stronger and better equipped to avoid similar pitfalls in the future. 

Teaching your children about money is incredibly challenging, but so worth it. If you ever have questions about how to have age-appropriate and empowering conversations with both your daughters and your sons, our team is happy to share our own experiences and what’s worked for our families. Reach out by clicking here! We’d love to hear from you.

The post How to Raise Financially Empowered Children appeared first on Workable Wealth.

How to Raise Financially Empowered Children

No Comments Financial Advisors

Do you ever catch yourself falling into negative financial habits that you learned from your parents? The truth is that the “money scripts” you use to make financial decisions as an adult are almost completely formed by age 7. So, some of the good and not-so-good habits you find yourself dealing with as an adult have likely been part of how you view money from the time you were a kid. 

Even though it’s not possible to go back in time and reverse the financial habits you learned from parents and mentors, it is possible to focus on raising your daughters and sons to be financially empowered and to focus on positive money habits. There’s no “perfect” way to teach your kids about money, but there are a few things you can start implementing today to make financial conversations easier, and even exciting, for your kids.  

Be Open

The first and most important piece of advice I give my clients who are parents is to be – and stay – open when you talk about money. This means having honest conversations about financial “wins” and mistakes with your kids, your partner, and the other people in your life. The more you can focus on taking the negative stigma away from money, the more you’re showing your kids that financial conversations aren’t something to be ashamed of, or shy away from. 

An easy way to start this is by having family meetings about spending, or how you can align your spending with your family values. Giving your kids some say in where funds that have been earmarked for charity go, or discussing how some “extra” expenses will have to be carved out of the family budget if you all want to spend the time and resources to have a fun family vacation, can help them to start understanding the importance of open communication. 

Of course, make sure the conversations you’re having are age-appropriate. Talking to your four-year-old about the fear you feel about retirement savings or your student loans may not be the best move, but walking them through budgeting basics and values-based spending absolutely makes sense. 

Address Gender Stereotypes

You can also help your kids to understand gender stereotypes, and how they may or may not be helpful. Talking to both your daughters and sons about how generalizing that “women are bad at math” or “men go to work and make money for the family” can hurt others and themselves is important. 

Daughters need to understand their worth and earning potential, while sons need to understand to respect women and that they don’t need to carry the full weight of “providing” on their shoulders. If these conversations are uncomfortable, that’s okay. Talking about stereotypes and discrimination is never comfortable, but it’s critical that we as parents can show our kids that these stereotypes are real and may impact how they interact with the world someday. 

Model and Celebrate Equality Whenever Possible

In your family, it’s important to model and celebrate equality. The more your kids can see you and your spouse or partner treating each other with mutual respect in finances and in life, and treating others in the same way, the more they’ll be likely to model that behavior. This might look like:

  • Talking openly about finances being a shared resource
  • Discussing opinions about money honestly with one another and with your kids
  • Treating members of a minority community financially equally
  • Focusing on avoiding gender-based assumptions that your kids may pick up on
  • Showing your kids that both you and your spouse or partner contribute to the family – financially and otherwise
  • Having equal money rewards or rules for each of your kids

It’s tough to address our own biases, but thinking about how you can intentionally model equality in your day-to-day helps you to raise kids who view financial equality as the norm. Taking it to the next level by celebrating equality in your home or workplace, and letting your kids see that, reinforces equality and inclusion as a positive behavior for them to emulate.

Ask Questions

Let’s get real – as a kid, money can be super fun. They don’t have bills, debt, or the stress of whether or not a trip home to visit family for the holidays is a more important budget line-item than a much-needed getaway with your spouse in January. Nope, kids get all of the fun parts of personal finances without a lot of the extra anxiety that adulthood brings to the table. 

So, during this season where money is still exciting and fun, focus on making it a learning experience for your kids. The easiest way to do this is to ask questions about money often. You don’t have to force the conversation, but working financial questions into your regular conversation with your kids can be a huge help. A few questions you might want to ask them are:

  • Why is that purchase (new toy, gumball, etc.) important to you?
  • Where would you like to give your “donate” funds?
  • What’s more exciting for you (when presented with two spending options)?
  • What are you saving for? Why?
  • What would you do with $100?
  • How do you want to budget your money?
  • Where does money come from?
  • How do you want to earn money? 
  • What chores do you think are worth more in your allowance? Why?

Pushing them to think more deeply about their finances can open up a lot of fun conversations about money, work, and life. You might be surprised by some of their answers!

Empower Them to Make Financial Decisions

Making all of the financial decisions your kids will face for them robs them of the chance to learn, or to have the exciting feeling of making a choice about their own money. Focus on big and small ways that you can empower them to make their own financial decisions. The more they practice this now, the more likely they’ll continue to make positive, values-based decisions in the future as adults.

Some decisions you might let them make on their own are:

  • What they want to use their allowance for
  • How they want to budget between spending, saving, and giving
  • Where they want to give their money (if that’s part of their budget)
  • What they’d like to ask for birthday or holiday gifts
  • What type of gifts they’d like to purchase for others

As your kids get older, they can be given more and more decision-making power. As they keep growing, you’re going to run into situations where they make mistakes – or where their decision doesn’t match the same one you’d make as their parent. 

In these situations, it’s important to approach your kids with curiosity – no matter how old they are. Work to get a deeper understanding of what’s motivating their decisions, and talk to them about balancing immediate wants (like impulse purchases) with long-term benefits (like saving for the toy they actually want that’s a little more expensive). 

Celebrate Their Wins and Guide Them Through Learning Experiences

Do you ever wish someone was there to celebrate you every time you hit a savings goal (besides your financial planner, of course)? How about when you knock out a big chunk of your debt? Positive reinforcement and affirmation that we’re having financial success is a really empowering and motivating thing. If you want your kids to continue making exceptional decisions with their money, celebrate their wins! Talk to them about how proud you are of them, or how excited you are about the recent success they’ve had.

On the other side of the coin, don’t hesitate to address any money mistakes they may make. Talk about these mistakes as learning experiences, not moments to feel shame or hide from others. The more you can empower your kids to view financial mistakes on a small scale as something to learn from, the more likely they are to move on from big financial mistakes in their adult lives feeling stronger and better equipped to avoid similar pitfalls in the future. 

Teaching your kids about money is incredibly challenging, but so worth it. If you ever have questions about how to have age-appropriate and empowering conversations with both your daughters and your sons, our team is happy to share our own experiences and what’s worked for our families. Reach out by clicking here! We’d love to hear from you.

The post How to Raise Financially Empowered Children appeared first on Workable Wealth.