Nonprofit Website Design

5 Homework Assignments for an A+ Web Site
(Plus extra credit for over-achievers) 

Have you ever shown your web site to a donor and apologized for it?
Have you known for some time your site needs a redesign, but you haven’t known where to start? If your answer is “yes” to either of these questions, then this article is for you.

Don’t worry if you’re a non-techie or don’t have a web design budget. This how-to is for you, the passionate nonprofit director who wants to spread your story online but doesn’t have a lot of time or money to do it.

Note: We’ll touch on content here, but mainly talk about how to display content. For help with what to feature on your web site, this Smashing Magazine article is an excellent primer.

Alright, here we go.

Homework assignment #1: Address your C-M-S
You need a tool to create your web site. Assuming you’re not a coder or a designer, this means getting a content management system. This is a simple way of saying finding a tool to make your web site, then picking a template to determine what your site looks like.

Three out of four of the web design experts we interviewed recommended WordPress.

“Wordpress is king,” said Mickey Panayiotakis, co-owner of WashingtonD.C.design firm Infamia and volunteer IT Director for Grassroots.org. “The good thing about WordPress, and the reason I recommend it is it is very powerful.” WordPress comes in two versions, including the “freemium” wordpress.com and the more flexible, open source wordpress.org.

Raheel Gauba, Brand Leader and Creative Director for Blackbaud agrees. “You can create your site through WordPress with a theme from ThemeForest. They have design templates. You literally pay, download the files, then upload the files to WordPress. The site 1and1.com also has hosting plans starting from $7 or $8 a month, where you can set up a domain free for your first year hosting.”

Many templates and extensions for WordPress and other recommended systems like Joomla are free. Laura Ruel, Associate Professor of Multimedia at UNC-Chapel Hill’s Journalism School notes, “the extensions can provide easy interactive pieces for the site such as polls, comment sections and feedback forms.”

Got it? Here’s a recap:

  • Get a CMS.
  • Buy a domain name.
  • Find a theme.
  • Add extensions.

Need more help? Lynda.com  offers online tutorials to learn how to use your content management system. Ruel also recommends joining an online user group and finding a local user group for your CMS.

Homework assignment #2: Map your navigation.
Now you’ve got a content management system. What next?
Give your users choices on what they can do on your site.

Gauba says one mistake nonprofits make is creating navigation defined by their organizational structure—events, marketing and so on. This does nothing for the user.

As a nonprofit, you’re not selling a product. Your goal is to make an emotional connection. “I want to know what you do and how I can help you,” says Gauba. “The navigation needs to be action-driven. You want to include:

  • What’s your mission or what’s the problem?
  • What are you as a nonprofit doing to help?
  • How can your users help you?
  • How can your users connect with you—social media and other links?
  • And any additional details about your nonprofit, 501C3, team, etc.”

American Red Cross offers 4 clear calls to action for site visitors.

“Navigation is key,” agrees Todd Cohen, Editor and Publisher of the Philanthropy Journal. “Let people get to the info they need as quickly as possible. Use the three-click rule.”

While there is no magic number for how many navigation options to give your users, our experts offered as good examples web sites where 4-5 navigation choices were offered:

The Global Fund for Children offers 5 navigation choices and a clear donate link.

Above all, keep your navigation simple and make it easy for site visitors to donate.

Homework assignment #3: Hire a photographer (who doesn’t say “cheese”) Photos should be action-oriented or show emotion and according to Jakob Nielsen feature facesof real people to draw your audience in.

One.org features compelling photos.

Two mistakes nonprofits make are asking their subject to pose and having non-photographers take pictures.

“Let’s say we feed the needy,” posits Gauba.

“What usually happens is staff says, ‘hey, will you please look at the camera? I’m going to take a picture of you.’ Or the picture’s too large, or there are little people in a big picture.

“If you’re feeding someone, capture the moment when food is being put in the bowl, with a look of gratitude on the person’s face, not after the food is eaten, but during the act of service.”

Not a photographer? Our experts suggest finding photographers on craigslist who want to build their portfolios or find photography students at your local college.

Add a title or call to action to your photos and use them throughout your site, while limiting text to avoid user fatigue. Photos with teasers allow users to click for more information.

Homework assignment number 4: Find your font
But never ever use Comic Sans. Really. Never.
Our experts unequivocally agreed on this point.

“Stick with Arial and Verdana,” Natalie Perkins, owner of Research Triangle Park-based Clean Design. “You want to keep it really basic and standard. Once you stray and try to get too creative, there are many variables with different platforms and browsers.”

And don’t use more than two fonts ever or go crazy on color. Less is more.

Plant with Purpose features simple, sans serif fonts.

Panayiotakis is exploring Web fonts which are available under an open source license from Google. In addition to canning Comic Sans, Panayiotakis says, “In my opinion, fonts are not there to be seen. If your user has to focus on the font, your site has not done its job.”

Panayiotakis recommends staying away from the font selector in your CMS template. The fonts that come with your template were chosen by a designer. Stay with headings. Stay with paragraphs. Stay with styles not with fonts.

Homework assignment number 5: Create a color palette
While there are no hard and fast rules for which colors to use and which to lose, our experts agreed nonprofits should stay true to the color(s) in their logo and brand.

Also, stay away from the same colors everyone else is using. Psychology of color aside, Perkins says “if everyone looks the same, it really doesn’t matter.”

If you’re starting from scratch, Panayiotakis says to ask yourself two questions:

  1. Who is your audience? What colors speak to that audience? Sometimes you’ll have an easy answer. Don’t use Democratic blue for a conservative audience or orange for Ireland. If you don’t have an easy answer, that’s ok.
  1. What does your competition look like? Imagine being in a situation where your name is in a banner with 6 other nonprofits in the community. Do a competitive analysis, see what your competition uses and make sure your colors stand out.

Manna Food Bank’s color palette evokes farms, food and land.

Extra Credit
If you aced these homework assignments, you may be itching for extra credit. Check out these free tools to increase your website’s visual appeal:

  • Google calendar can be embedded on your site to show events
  • Google maps are easy to embed and user-friendly
  • Google analytics to keep track of your site’s activity and areas for improvement
  • Google site search free to embed the Google search within your site for visitors
  • Google web fonts available under an open source license
  • Soundslides to create still image and audio-accompanied slide shows
  • Timetoast for creating timelines. Easy to create, easy to embed on your site
  • Wordle generates “word cloud” images in different fonts, layouts and color schemes

One Last Tip
Don’t try to make your website perfect the first time. It’s not like a book says Panayiotakis. “You’re not going to publish it, and be done.”

Suggested Tools & Resources

Additional Reading

Experts Interviewed

Extra credit provided by

  • Laura Ruel, Assistant Professor, UNC-Chapel Hill’s Journalism School
  • Nora Paul, Director of the Institute for New Media Studies at the University of Minnesota
  • Richard Koci Hernandez, Lecturer for the UC-Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism
*     *     *
Thank you to the gracious people I interviewed for taking the time to read my article. Extra thanks to Mickey who gave me specific comments and corrections and follow-up tips. I’m posting them here verbatim:

  • WordPress.com is free/freemium/low-cost.  WordPress.org is free/free.  You have to find a way to host wordpress.org (in the same way as you would Joomla), but since you include Joomla in the mix, wordpress.org is the same business model as Joomla.
  • I see you recommend 1and1.com.  I’ve not had any experience with 1and1 directly, so if other trusted sources recommend them, then ignore my comment. I don’t personally recommend scrimping on domain registrars. An “expensive” domain registrar may be $10-12 a year; a “cheap” one is $8-9/year.  I can understand a small nonprofit may need a cheap hosting provider, since that can be the difference of $40 or more per month.  But registration is a yearly cost, and the $3/year aren’t worth going with someone who does not do registration as a primary business or who offers domain registration as a loss leader while they try to sell you hosting. (The registrar’s price for a domain is about $8, so if that’s what they charge, they don’t make any money.)  A domain is probably the most important online asset people, nonprofits, and corporations own…and the one they spend the least amount of money and attention to.  A quick glance at the Wikipedia entry for RegisterFly should be enough to dissuade anyone from cheap domain hosting, although I really hope nobody today is that corrupt and we put that mess behind us.
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711 In Sum

Revisiting goals
This class has helped me at work every week, since we started.
Since we ate our lessons in weekly chunks, I could share what we learned with my co-worker. Our marketing materials are starting to look tighter with bold text and subheads too.

My original goals for the course were to:

  • apply the course material to work
  • have fun
  • find my voice

For the first two, check! The last may not be a destination so much as a journey.

The biggest lesson I’ve learned is to be considerate of my reader.
That manifests by rereading emails, looking for places to bullet and bold, cutting what’s not important right now. It’s a work in progress for sure.

Misconceptions
When I started this class, I thought I was a decent writer.
It’s been humbling and rewarding to be in 711 with honest-to-god journalists.

Also, I thought being a good writer was a gift. Maybe some start more talented than others, but I absolutely believe good writing comes from practice.

Benefits of 711
A less tangible benefit is this class is my mind is less muddled. As Brad would say, “who’d a thunk?” Searching for the right word and writing regularly have helped me think more critically. I’m more aware of what I’m thinking, because I’m more used to putting words to those thoughts.

Take-aways
The first draft of anything is shit.
Or put differently, revise. The most significant take-away for me is understanding writing is a process. If writing were only a talent, poured liberally on some and sprinkled lightly on others, it would be a lot easier to make excuses like “I’m not a good writer.”

I’m not yet a stellar storyteller. But 711 has taught me that if I want a grant or other piece to turn out well, I need to allocate runway to write, get feedback, revise, rest, revisit and work the process. I have less tolerance for excuses from myself or from my co-workers about not being “good at grants” for example.

Good writing takes a lot of time. Time management is another take-away. A few others:

  1. Write every day. Blogs make this much easier!
  2. Get feedback on your writing
  3. Read the news every day. I’m responsible for my own awareness or ignorance.

New or forgotten pursuits
I’m revisiting the idea of taking a sabbatical from work this summer.

I would like to spend some time with family in Korea and learn to speak Korean. I’ve thought of 1,001 excuses over the past two years for why I shouldn’t take a sabbatical. It makes me anxious right now to think about having that conversation with my staff. But no risk, no reward.

This class has stretched me in an uncomfortable way. From that lesson, I’m revisiting this sabbatical.

Also, I’ve written more on my personal blog as a result of our blogging assignments and being excited about writing.

Next steps
The first thing I’m going to do is get my blog in order. I want to consolidate my personal and JOMC blogs on a domain name I bought two years ago.

Beyond that, I will write each week, with the goal of writing every day.

My younger brother has been blogging daily, and he enjoys it. As a reader, it sounds like daily blogging is helping him understand his relationships and account for and be proud of what he does each day. I like that.

One of my take-aways is to be a life-long learner. This course makes me want to live like a pauper in some tropical country and take college classes for the rest of my life. Who’s in? Applying to this certificate program was like dipping a toe in the water for graduate school, and I’d like to find an M.A. program that is flexible and challenging.

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REVISE: Week 11 news story

COMMUNITY PROGRAMS COMBAT CHILDHOOD OBESITY
Farmers Markets and Farm to School connect kids to food

By Susan Milliken
RALEIGH—“We became obese when we no longer knew where our food came from,” said Emily Jackson, Director of the Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project (ASAP). Jackson’s program oversees the national Farm to School program in the southeastern states.

Legislators hope Farm to School and Food Stamps at farmers markets programs will decrease childhood obesity in the state.

Officials from the NC General Assembly to the White House deem childhood obesity a health epidemic. The First Lady launched LetsMove.gov last year to address the issue. And last week, Melody Barnes told NC women that children’s health is a priority for the President. Barnes is Obama’s chief domestic policy advisor.

North Carolina stands out against this national backdrop with the fifth highest rate of childhood obesity in the country.

The Academy of Pediatrics describes the rise in childhood obesity as an “unprecedented burden” on children’s health.

North Carolina’s children are more than a little chubby. A UNC study released this week found that 40 percent of obese teenagers are bound to become severely obese adults.

Obese children often experience health problems before they reach adulthood. The Centers for Disease Control reports those who escape health problems in childhood can face one or more chronic conditions as an adult, including:

  • high blood pressure
  • high cholesterol
  • heart disease and stroke
  • diabetes
  • cancer
  • osteoarthritis and
  • sleep apnea.

Childhood obesity exacts economic costs on North Carolina as well.

According to Be Active North Carolina, childhood obesity cost the state $105 million in avoidable expenses last year.

To save money and improve children’s health conditions, the legislative Task Force on Childhood Obesity this year made several recommendations including diverting federal funds to school nutrition programs, increasing physical activity in public schools and updating nutritional standards for students.

The Farm to School program and Food Stamps at farmers markets may gain non-partisan support, as they bypass government mandates and focus on community initiatives.

Expanding farmers markets’ capacity to accept Food Stamps
The Western Wake Farmers Market, is the first Wake County farmers market to accept EBT cards. Market staff say revenue has increased overall since they started accepting debit and EBT cards.“Our farmers are making more sales in general, so they’re happy,” said Jennifer Gibbs, board member of the Western Wake Farmers Market.

The task force appropriated $200,000 this year to fund a request for proposals to facilitate electronic payments at local farmers markets across the state. The purpose of the proposal is to find a vendor that can provide the startup materials needed for markets to accept plastic.

Gibbs says accepting electronic funds is good for business and good for the community. Part of the market’s mission is to serve the underserved and to create access and education for those who can’t always afford local foods. That includes kids.

“Our education often focuses on fun things for kids to do at the farmers market,” said Gibbs. “In terms of childhood obesity, we feel like we’re one part of the mix.”

Increasing Farm to School programs proposed by state officials
The legislative task force also appropriated funds for a Farm to School employee in the NC Department of Agriculture. This person would provide technical assistance to the 67 different Farm to School programs across the state and increase the educational components of these programs.

Farm to School offers hands-on experiences for children including farm field trips, school gardens, cooking in the classroom and locally grown foods in school cafeterias

The focus of the program is to rebuild children’s connections to their food.

Emily Jackson muses, “If a child grew it, knows who grew it or helped prepare it, they’ll want to eat it.”

Do Food Stamps and Farm to School programs work?
Jackson says the Centers for Disease Control has suggested a community strategy to address childhood obesity should include Farm to School and Food Stamps programs.

“Because of all of the things wrapped into the farmers market, in many ways, it can be a springboard for people to do nutrition education, to give kids the exposure to healthy food,” says Robert Andrew Smith of LeafLight.

LeafLight provides infrastructure for EBT and debit card usage at 15 farmers markets in North Carolina. However, Smith doesn’t view farmers markets as a silver bullet to ending childhood obesity.

“It goes beyond the farmers market,” said Smith. “It goes to Farm to Schools, the availability of healthy food in supermarkets, even physical activity, vending machines. What I’m saying is the access to farmers markets may be the first exposure children may get to healthy foods.”

An okra anecdote
Jackson has seen firsthand the impact Farm to School can have on families. She shared one of her favorite stories.

“We took some kindergarteners and first-graders from Isaac Dickson Elementary to Flying Cloud Farm and Hickory Nut Gap Farm.

We came across this field where okra was growing. The kids asked if they could eat the okra. They were so transfixed by the tall, beautiful plant. The chef we brought along on the trip saw what the kids got excited about.

So the next day, our chef prepared lots of okra—pickled okra, fried okra.
The children ate every bit of it—and clambered for more.

One parent wrote the chef and shared that her child had come home excited about okra. The parent went out and bought okra and prepared it at home. The two of them ate every bit of the okra, which was a first for the child and a first for the parent.”

 

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REVISE: Week 12 FAQs

Futures for Kids (F4K) Career Coach program
Frequently Asked Questions

Ready to talk with students about their career plans? Sign up now.
Need more information or help answering students’ questions?
Please read our FAQs below or contact us for more information.

I’m thinking about becoming a Career Coach.

  • How much time will this take?
  • What is expected of me as a Career Coach? 
  • Who are the students I’ll be talking to?
  • Who can become a Career Coach? 

I just signed up to be a Career Coach.

  • I just signed up, what happens now?
  • Why do you need a background check?
  • I forgot my username and/or password. Where can I find it?
  • I’ve had a lot of jobs. How many careers can I add to my profile?

I am currently a Career Coach and have some questions.

  • How do I respond to repetitive questions?
  • I keep getting notifications, but I don’t see new posts when I log in.
  • I haven’t gotten a question in a long time. What do I need to do?
  • How do I report inappropriate activity?
  • What other Career Coaches do you need?

 

How much time will this take?

Career Coaches give ~15 minutes / week answering students’ questions online. If you’re a Video Game Developer, you may receive more questions than say an Auditor. The amount of time you give depends on how much information you want to provide and how frequently you respond to posts.

 What is expected of me as a Career Coach?

Talk about your job! Your gift to students is to share your individual career path. No one else has your unique perspective. Also, please try to answer students’ questions within 24 hours, or at the least, within three days. Talk with students as you would your own children and offer information and encouragement.

Who are the students I’ll be talking to?

You’ll receive questions from middle and high school students across North Carolina. Each post you receive from a student will list the student’s first name, grade and county, so you can encourage accordingly.

Who can become a Career Coach?

If you can talk about your job(s) and pass a criminal history and sexual offender background check, you can be an F4K Career Coach.

I just signed up, what happens now?

F4K conducts a background check using the information you provided (7 years of address and name history). This process generally takes 5 business days, depending on how many places you’ve lived. Once your background check is approved, F4K will email you with your username and password, and you can start answering students’ career questions.

Why do you need a background check?

You’re talking to minors. Although you’ll be communicating through a moderated message board, and there is no exchange of private email, vetting our volunteers makes everybody feel good. This process builds confidence in students, parents and educators and helps to expand F4K across the state to reach more students.

I forgot my username and/or password. Where can I find it?

Go to www.f4k.org, click Partners. Then click I forgot my username and/or password.

I’ve had a lot of jobs. How many careers can I add to my profile?

You can add as many careers as you’d like to your profile. The more careers you add, the greater your chances of receiving students’ questions. Think in general terms about your career history and look past titles. You may have been an Executive Widget Producer, but our database only lists Widget Maker. Students aren’t as granular as adults, and you can further define your career once you’re on the message board(s).

 How do I respond to repetitive questions?

Have you gotten the same salary question 10 times? Create an FAQs section. After logging into your account:
–    click on Message Boards on the left navigation
–    find the career(s) for which you want to create FAQs
–    click on Frequently Asked Questions
–    click Add Post to add an FAQ

I keep getting notifications, but I don’t see new posts when I log in.

New posts will remain bold until they’ve been answered.  If another Career Coach has logged in prior to you and answered the question, it will no longer be bolded. The view for your Message Board posts on your homepage defaults to the current week; to change this select the drop-down box to the right of the heading and select the time frame you would like to view. When you log out of your account, the view will reset to “This Week.”

I haven’t gotten a question in a long time. What do I need to do?

The most popular career in most counties in North Carolina is still Professional Athlete. Don’t be discouraged. Have you signed up for as many different careers as you can talk about? Try filling out your bio in your account. F4K is also currently developing the ability for Career Coaches to post the first message on their board(s) and to send messages proactively to students.

How do I report inappropriate activity?

Student posts do not appear on the Message Boards until they have been replied to by a Career Coach. Below each post is a box allowing you to “Flag Inappropriate Post” with the option to include a note. The student’s educator and F4K will be notified of the offending post and it will not appear on the Message Board.

What other Career Coaches do you need?

F4K continuously recruits Career Coaches across industries. For specific needs, please visit the f4k.org homepage and join our LinkedIn Career Coach group.

For more information, contact Susan Milliken, Executive Director of Futures for Kids (F4K) at susanm@f4k.org or (800) 965-8541 x205.

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WEEK 13: Libel assignment

What type of libel plaintiff is the court likely to name Simmons?
David Simmons is neither a public official or an all-purpose public figure. The question is whether Simmons should be considered a private citizen or a vortex or limited public figure. Applying the classification tests that grew out of the Firestone case, we can see Simmons did not voluntarily participate in the public controversy, the accidents. Nor did Simmons voluntarily participate to affect the outcome of the accidents.

Although six people died in the accidents, and their families were affected by their deaths, it’s unclear if these families represent a “substantial number of people”. Therefore, it’s likely the court will name Simmons a private citizen.

What, then, will be the requisite standard of fault in this case?
Given Simmons is a private citizen, he need only prove negligence to be successful in his libel suit. However, given he is suing for millions of dollars, it’s likely he’s pursuing punitive damages, which means he will have to prove actual malice as well.

Will Simmons be able to prove the requisite standard fault?
Since the burden of proof is on Simmons, he will have to prove MyFacebookSpaceNews.com did not follow standard reporting practices in interviewing enough sources and checking facts.

The number and credibility of sources in this story are shaky. Only two people are interviewed for this story. Ruggiero is credible as a law enforcement officer. Readers have no reason to believe Robin Hubier is not credible, though her statement is opinion, However, David Simmons was not interviewed for this story, and he is the subject of much of the story.

Nonetheless, Simmons likely will not be able to prove negligence. The Court will be looking for horrible reporting, not lack of professionalism. Although interviewing three sources is journalistic SOP, interviewing two sources is not horrible reporting.

Also, Simmons is suing for being called stupid and a drunk driver. He does not dispute that his van slammed into the Samaritans or that he was driving fast. A reasonable person who witnessed Simmons’s driving would assume the driver of the van was impaired.

Additionally, the reporter does not explicitly state Simmons was drunk driving. The story quotes the officer saying Simmons was arrested under “suspicion of drunk driving” and Hubier states her opinion but does not explicitly call Simmons stupid.

Are there other defenses the news site might consider?
If the site can gather information from police records that show Simmons was driving under the influence, then Simmons can not clear the falsity hurdle for libel litigation.

Simmons is suing for $5million, which means he is likely suing for punitive damages. This means he is going to have to prove actual malice, even though he is a private citizen. The news site did not recklessly disregard the truth. The accident was on a Saturday, the story was printed on a Tuesday. There is no way of proving the reporter knew the published material was false.

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WEEK 13: Privacy Policy Assignment

I reviewed the Privacy Policy for Groupon, which is a service that provides coupons to users based on their area and interests. Groupon has attained the TRUSTe seal of approval, which means Groupon’s privacy policy has been reviewed by an independent third party internet privacy services provider.

Overall, Groupon’s Privacy Policy is straightforward and easy to read. However, certain points of the policy could use clarification. Here are specific areas in which Groupon could tighten its Privacy Policy and increase user confidence:

  • Changes to privacy policy. Groupon notes that if it changes its privacy policy, it will notify users on the privacy policy page, on the Groupon home page or by email. Any changes to the Groupon privacy policy should be communicated to users with all three methods. Users may access the site via mobile application, thereby bypassing the Groupon home page. Users who reads the Groupon privacy policy once, should be notified via email to review the policy, if changes are made.
  • Types of Information Collected and Uses of Collected Information. Tell-a-Friend. Groupon notes that if a user tells a friend about the Site, Groupon will send that person an email and may store the person’s name and email address on the its server. The friend’s name and email should not be stored on Groupon’s database, as it was not provided by that individual. Information should not be stored unless or until that referred individual uses a Groupon service.
  • Release of Personally Identifiable Informtion. We may share your information with Groupon Merchants. Groupon notes it shares Personally Identifying Information (PII) with Groupon merchants, enabling Groupon customers to redeem their purchases. Groupon specifies it is not responsible for what Groupon merchants do with that PII or for how they might contact customers. A stronger policy would include Groupon requiring its merchants to abide by defined terms and conditions, which include not selling PII to other third parties and restrictions for the use of such consumer information.
  • Security Information. Groupon notes that only select personnel and contractors have access to PII and that it encrypts certain sensitive information. The wording is deliberately nebulous. A stronger security statement would include:
  • Which personnel have access to PII
  • How information is encrypted and
  • Which information is encrypted
  • Data Tracking, Cookies. Groupon notes it may use third party advertising companies which may place cookies on your computer. Groupon distances itself from third party tactics. A more consumer-focused policy would notify users be when third party advertisers place cookies on their computers. Groupon does note that users can disallow cookies, however this keeps parts of the Groupon site from working. Customers should know when a third party is placing a cookie on their computer, so they can have the option of disallowing that third party advertiser cookie.
  • Children. Groupon states it does not knowingly collect information on anyone under the age of 18 or market products to people under 18. However, many of Groupon’s merchant specials may be appealing to users under 18, including today’s deal for the 27707 zip code, auto detailing at Majestic Car Care. Considering there will be instances when people under 18 purchase products at Groupon, the Site should address specifically how it will purge information on those users who are under the age of 18.

Note:   Groupon complies with California’s Online Privacy Protection Act. This law details what types of Personally Identifiable Information are collected by a site, which third parties this information is provided to and how California residents can determine which parties receive this information.

Through compliance with this law, there is precedence for Groupon to provide more information to its users on the information it collects on them and who it gives PII. To foster user confidence and transparency, Groupon should not provide users with varying levels of privacy and security screening. All site users should be subject to the highest level of privacy policy provided to any of Groupon’s consumers.

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WEEK 12: FAQs

F4K Career Coach FAQs

  1. How much time will this take?
  2. What is expected of me as a Career Coach?
  3. Who can be a Career Coach?
  4. I just signed up, what happens now?
  5. Why do you need a background check?
  6. I forgot my username and/or password. Where can I find it?
  7. How do I respond to repetitive questions?
  8. I’ve had a lot of different careers before my current career. Can I talk about those?
  9. Who will I be talking to? Where are the students I’m talking to?
  10. What if I get a question I don’t know how to answer?
  11. I keep getting notifications, but I don’t see new posts when I log into my account?
  12. I haven’t gotten a question in a long time. What do I need to do?
  13. How do I report inappropriate activity?
  14. What other Career Coach areas are you looking for?

1) How much time will this take?
Career Coaches give ~15 minutes / week answering students’ questions online. If you’re a Video Game Developer, you may receive more questions than say an Auditor. The amount of time you give depends on how much information you want to provide and how frequently you respond to posts.

2) What is expected of me as a Career Coach?
Talk about your job! Your gift to students is to share your individual career path. No one else has your unique perspective. Also, please try to answer students’ questions within 24 hours, or at the least, within three days. Talk with students as you would your own children and offer information and encouragement.

3) Who can be a Career Coach?
If you can talk about your job(s) and pass a criminal history and sexual offender background check, you can be an F4K Career Coach.

4) I just signed up, what happens now?
F4K conducts a background check using the information you provided (7 years of address and name history). This process generally takes 5 business days, depending on how many places you’ve lived. Once your background check is approved, F4K will email you with your username and password, and you can start answering students’ career questions.

5) Why do you need a background check?
You’re talking to minors. Although you’ll be communicating through a moderated message board, and there is no exchange of private email, vetting our volunteers makes everybody feel good. This process builds confidence in students, parents and educators and helps to expand F4K across the state to reach more students.

6) I forgot my username and/or password. Where can I find it?
Go to http://www.f4k.org, click Partners. Then click I forgot my username and/or password.

7) How do I respond to repetitive questions?
Have you gotten the same salary question 10 times? Create an FAQs section. After logging into your account:
–    click on Message Boards on the left navigation
–    find the career(s) for which you want to create FAQs
–    click on Frequently Asked Questions
–    click Add Post to add an FAQ

8) I’ve had a lot of different careers before my current career. Can I talk about those?
Abolutely. You can add as many careers as you’d like to your profile. Think in general terms about your career history and look past titles. You may have been an Executive Widget Producer, but our database only lists Widget Maker. Students aren’t as granular as adults, and you can further define your career once you’re on the message board(s).

9) Who will I be talking to? Where are the students I’m talking to?
You’ll receive questions from middle and high school students across North Carolina. Each post you receive from a student will list the student’s first name, grade and county, so you can encourage accordingly.

10) What if I get a question I don’t know how to answer?
Be honest. Tell the student you don’t know the answer and will look it up or ask the student to find the answer and get back to you.

11) I keep getting notifications, but I don’t see new posts when I log into my account?
New posts will remain bold until it has been answered.  If another Career Coach has logged in prior to you and answered the question, it will no longer be bolded. The view for your Message Board posts on your homepage defaults to the current week; to change this select the drop-down box to the right of the heading and select the time frame you would like to view. When you log out of your account, the view will reset to “This Week.”

12) I haven’t gotten a question in a long time. What do I need to do?
The most popular career in most counties in North Carolina is still Professional Athlete. Don’t be discouraged. Have you signed up for as many different careers as you can talk about? Try filling out your bio in your account. F4K is also currently developing the ability for Career Coaches to post the first message on their board(s) and to send messages proactively to students.

13) How do I report inappropriate activity?
Student posts do not appear on the Message Boards until they have been replied to by a Career Coach. Below each post is a box allowing you to “Flag Inappropriate Post” with the option to include a note. The student’s educator and F4K will be notified of the offending post and it will not appear on the Message Board.

14) What other Career Coach areas are you looking for?
F4K continuously recruits Career Coaches across industries. For specific needs, please visit the f4k.org homepage and join our LinkedIn Career Coach group.

Note to BC: I am aware the number eight and a parenthesis converts to a happy face (answer for number eight question). I’ll go into HTML to look for a fix. FYI. Thanks.

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