Your quick guide to better nonprofit financial management

first_imgIf you feel the need to strengthen your financial management savvy, check out StrongNonprofits.org, a new website featuring free tools, how-tos and guides.Developed in partnership between The Wallace Foundation and Fiscal Management Associates, the site contains more than 64 resources for anyone involved in nonprofit financial planning, monitoring, operations or oversight, and particularly nonprofit afterschool program providers. Features range from a nonprofit accounting guide, to an article on sensible growth strategies, to a podcast on how to understand the true costs of programming. The site also offers an array of helpful tools, including the “Go or No Go Decision Tool,” a questionnaire that helps an organization decide whether accepting a contract would help – or hurt – the group’s bottom line.The site includes:• A Five-Step Guide to Budget Development—a presentation that describes a team approach to budgeting essentials such as setting financial goals, forecasting results and monitoring progress.• Budgeting and Financial Planning Tools—Excel-based templates to provide organizations with a framework for building program-based budgets, projecting cash flow, and evaluating revenue scenarios.• Guide to Effective Board Leadership—an easy-to-follow description of how nonprofit boards can do the necessary financial oversight of their organizations.You can find the site here.last_img read more

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Resource roundup: How behavioral economics makes you better at your job

first_imgI speak a lot about the connection between behavioral economics and our work, and after every speech I get asked for reference materials. People also often email me for a list of my writing on the topic. So I thought I’d pull together in one post all the resources I’ve created. Here’s a mini library on understanding how people really think – and adjusting our marketing, communications and fundraising strategies accordingly.Plus, as a bonus, I’m including this hour-long video from the Science of Communication speaker series run by the Communications Network and Spitfire Strategies. In this video, Harvard behavioral economist Sendhil Mullainathan provides a great overview of how his field applies to you. Speaker Series: The Science of Communication Featuring Sendhil Mullainathan from Communications Network on Vimeo.The Mini LibraryThe best place to start are the two ebooks I’ve written on the topic with Mark Rovner and Alia McKee of SeaChange Strategies:Homer Simpson for Nonprofits: The Truth about How People Think and What It Means to Your CauseLisa Simpson for Nonprofits: What Science Can Teach You About Fundraising, Marketing and Making Social ChangeI also wrote a series of blog posts reviewing the latest research on what compels generous behavior and giving. Here are the best of them:How giving makes you happyWhich makes people happier – giving or receiving?The relationship between giving and painHow pledging eases the pain of parting from our moneyThe power of social norms in givingHow do social norms, price & scrutiny affect what people give?The role of personal connections in fundraising successHow the power of one (the singularity effect) prompts givingThe effect of mood on giving – and who we choose to helpWhat happens when you try to making giving less emotionalSea monkeys and the case for tangibilityInterview with the Science of Giving authorsThe time-ask effectNeuromarketing tips for nonprofits from Roger DooleyBrain tricks to sell your causeYour gut is more generous than your brainEnjoy!last_img read more

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Donors are the drivers

first_imgLearn and plan. Donors are the drivers. These are two important reminders that Larry C. Johnson shares in his new book The Eight Principles of Sustainable Fundraising. While these maxims might seem obvious, Larry explores them in a way that will change how you think about asking for donations this holiday season.At the heart of every donor’s decision to make a gift is the desire to actualize their personal values.As you plan your year-end campaign, don’t forget to keep the emphasis on your donor. It’s important to provide a clear tie from the impact of your work to your donors who make it all happen. When organizations ask for donations using their own values, it’s mistakenly assumed that those values are universal. Listen to what’s important to your donors, then position your organization’s fundraising efforts so that you serve your donor’s needs while also raising money for the cause that you both value.Donors want to be engaged, not enticed.Have you ever tried to entice donors to give? When you approach supporters by selling them on the value of the services that your nonprofit offers, your interaction may seem more like a transaction. If you want your donors to feel involved, ask how your organization is meeting donors’ dreams and fulfilling their desires. Has your donor always dreamed of ending childhood hunger? Let him know how his donation will work to achieve that goal. Has your supporter had a lifelong interest in the region where you operate? Tell her about how your work affects the local community. Discover what inspires and motivates your donors, appeal to that, and invite them to be involved.Larry will join us next Tuesday to share more from his book and answer your questions on sustainable fundraising. You’ll learn how you can apply the eightrules to raise more money for your organization. Join our free webinar on Tuesday, November 19th, 2013 from 1 pm to 2 pm EST. Register now to reserve your spot. (Can’t attend the live session? Go ahead and register so you receive the presentation and recording via email.)last_img read more

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How to inspire with stories: Season of Giving Campaign

first_imgA story’s emotional power is a fundraiser’s best tool to gain the attention of donors and inspire action. One fundraising campaign that is hitting it out of the park with its emotional “wow” factor is Ronald McDonald House Charities’ Season of Giving. The campaign’s message reinforces the work that RMHC does by reminding supporters that there is strength in numbers and that they are really giving the gift of togetherness when they make a contribution. I had a chance to chat with Jennifer Smith, Senior Director of Communications & Special Programs at Ronald McDonald House Charities to learn more about this campaign and its approach to connecting donors with the work they make possible. Jennifer was kind enough to share a bit of the process behind this amazing campaign and offer some tips to other nonprofits this holiday season.“For any nonprofit, but certainly for Ronald McDonald House Charities, our goal is to share the impact of the work we do with the support of our donors. Every campaign we do lets our donors know that the work they make possible is making a difference in the lives of the families we serve. For potential donors, this illustrates the fact that they are needed,” Jennifer says.The Seasons of Giving campaign includes donor communication pieces, direct mail appeals, videos, online ads, and social media outreach. In this multi-channel campaign, there are unifying elements, such as a red ribbon motif that provides visual connectivity across platforms.Jennifer has a great reminder for all nonprofit fundraisers: Don’t forget to match the message with the medium. “We’re careful to tailor the message. You can’t just stick your direct mail language on Facebook. Different elements pull out different aspects. Use the different components of the story to target specific audience at the right time. We make sure the content is relevant but there are still the connected elements, such as branding and the overall messaging.”How did RMHC arrive at this campaign?Jennifer shares a fundamental, yet natural, shift, “There was a time when we spoke more to facts, figures and children served, but we found that to add more dimension to the message, we had to do that by telling the family stories. People are already willingly telling their stories—they want to be able to share what they’ve been through. They often want to give back and say, ‘We want to help YOU.’ You can’t manufacture authenticity. You need real people telling real stories.”Here are Jennifer’s tips for other nonprofits looking to capture and share stories:1. Listen to what people are already telling you. What are your supporters and beneficiaries saying? Take those words and insights and build a story from them. This helps your supporters understand how our work is making a difference, and that donors are the ones making it happen.2. Sharing stories encourages others to tell their stories. After seeing the Season of Giving campaign, it’s clear that it’s not just about the official videos or stories—it’s about allowing more people to open up and share their stories. “Social media is a wonderful listening tool; the dialogue that happens is inspiring. I haven’t been in their shoes, so when they’re sharing their stories organically, it is a powerful experience,” Jennifer says, giving us a great reminder of the beauty of social media. “If you’re listening you can be more insightful and tuned in to messages that resonate. It also allows those stores to be shared more easily and more widely.”3. Ask, but be sensitive. Don’t be afraid to ask, “Would you be willing to share your story?” Jennifer’s team is careful to recognize the challenges, “We’re very sensitive to the fact that some of these families are going through what they are going through. What is powerful about [the stories featured in our videos] is that Kayla and Christina are still fighting and working to heal from cancer.” Jennifer also reminds us that it’s important to have checkpoints throughout the process. Continually ask, “Are you still comfortable with telling this story?”4. Make it a part of your organization’s culture. Jennifer shares how this works at RMHC, “The way our system is structured, we rarely have to do a formal process. If we see something that catches our eye, we first reach out to our Chapter and ask permission to find out more. Then if timing is right, we talk to the family.” Jennifer adds, “We also use stories from corporate donors, such as McDonald’s owner/operators, volunteers, and staff, etc. One of our core tenets is our compassion, from our training of our staff people to volunteers. We exist to provide resources when people really need it, and this permeates throughout everything we do.” A big thank you to Jennifer for sharing her insight with our readers and to the people at RMHC for the great work they do. To find out more about the RMHC Season of Giving campaign, visit http://www.rmhc.org/season-of-giving.last_img read more

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How to strengthen your nonprofit from the inside out

first_imgAn organization’s ability to accomplish its mission is only as strong as the organization’s infrastructure. As you fight to make the world a better place, how do you make sure you’re providing a nonprofit workplace that fosters fairness and complies with the necessary rules and regulations? I recently had a chance to catch up with the Aina Gutierrez, author of Walking the Walk: A Values Centered Approach to Building a Strong Non-Profitand Deputy Director of Interfaith Worker Justice. Her new book is an easily digestible, yet comprehensive, practical guide to organizing and improving internal operations and finances.NFG: What drove you to write this handbook? Aina Gutierrez: The national nonprofit I work for, Interfaith Worker Justice, has a network of more than 40 affiliates that are small organizations with less than 10 staff. Part of my job in the last twelve years has been to train these groups on the subjects outlined in the book (office administration, fundraising, financial management, board development and human resources). There were two trends I saw in talking to these groups and other small nonprofits I’ve been involved with. The first is that most small groups struggle with these “back office” issues because there were few training resources and materials for those that juggle multiple roles and don’t have the time (nor passion!) around building systems and procedures. And yet, many of them were really struggling with personnel issues and managing their budgets. It caused many staff and board leaders stress and burnout.The second is that many of the policies and procedures of small nonprofits don’t seem to reflect the values that the organizations espouse in their programmatic work. A number of staff work for low pay and few benefits. Most small organizations don’t have access to constructive feedback or support. I felt strongly about the need to reflect the organization’s values in the way it operates, and that a written resource might be the best way to do that.NFG: The book is geared toward small nonprofits with fewer than 10 employees. We work with many organizations who also have volunteer “staff” or staff members who are running their nonprofits on the side? Can you share some advice for those situations? AG: Sure. It’s pretty amazing, but the smallest nonprofit isn’t that much less complicated to run than a more established organization. Both have boards, raise money, file government forms and have policies. This can be tricky for groups without paid staff, or with part-time staff. There’s never enough money or time to accomplish everything.NFG: Can you share some advice for those situations?AG: So I would recommend that your readers do a quick assessment of each area outlined in the book and highlight parts that seem important to the organization that are missing. The book has chapters on staff, board, office systems and management, government requirements, finance, and fund development. And just start working on it, bit by bit. Include a few tasks in the organization’s workplan, or find a board member or two that are willing to help. There’s a lot of information online and from allied organizations that can be easily adapted and used for small nonprofits. It’s really just being aware of the back office work that needs to be done and doing a little bit at a time.NFG: There’s an entire section on building and managing your board. We hear from many nonprofits who struggle with this relationship. Why do you think this is often such a difficult piece of the puzzle?AG: I think any institution made up of passionate people who bring with them varying ideas and perspectives will not be without its share of internal struggles. An organization’s board is no different. Managing the board can be very rewarding, but it can also be frustrating at times.. And, as staff, it can sometimes feel like its not worth the time and energy to build a strong board, so it falls by the wayside.But, it is worth it. The key is to continue to recruit and develop leaders that care about the organization and have something wonderful to contribute to its success. If someone doesn’t have a skill set or experience to help, or creates a lot of drama, or brings a different agenda to the table, or doesn’t want to do any work – that person shouldn’t be on the board. It can be time consuming to recruit and keep the right people for the job, but a small group of people that really connect and are willing to work can help build the organization in some really incredible ways.NFG: What are some of the challenges you’ve observed in nonprofits who don’t have strong administrative systems? AG: Oh goodness, there are so many stories. Every nonprofit I’ve worked with has at least one horrible story that cost a lot of time, energy and usually money to fix. I certainly have made plenty of own mistakes in this area!The biggest challenge with organizations that don’t have strong systems is that it’s not an efficient way to operate. Pulling together a 300 person mailing shouldn’t be an all day job. But if your database is disorganized, the printer jams the envelopes, and you have to run to the post office to buy stamps, it can take hours. It impacts the important work that the group should be doing. And its super frustrating for the staff!Having weak systems can also cost a lot of money. I’ve worked with a number of groups that miss government filing deadlines and have to pay late fees. Or groups that order office supplies last minute and pay expensive overnight shipping for a meeting. Or, groups that miss grant deadlines because there are not good tracking systems for applications or reports. These things all cost the organization a lot of money, and there often isn’t money to go around.NFG: What are the payoffs for getting it right?AG: One of the biggest rewards of those with good administrative systems is that they are able to engage more people in their work. Organizations that are able to efficiently communicate with their constituents and potential supporters via email or direct mail are more likely to receive more donations and support than those that don’t communicate. Donors that are assured the organization is run well will continue to give and often give more. Board members that are better connected or informed about the work will more likely be better engaged and provide more help.Having good administrative systems is really the backbone of any strong nonprofit organization. It has a direct impact on its programmatic work and financial viability.NFG: This book is obviously a great guide for emerging organizations, can established nonprofits learn a trick or two as well? Should these organizations re-assess their processes? How often?AG: Yes, definitely. I encourage readers of more established groups to first review the policies and practices outlined in the book and make sure they have similar structures in place. Second, take a look at their own policies through a values-centered lens and see if there are areas that don’t reflect the organization’s values. And third, consider if its time to update a few things. For example, my organization recently looked at our healthcare plan to see if we should try the state-based exchange through the Affordable Care Act. It didn’t make sense for us to change right now, but it is likely something that will impact our healthcare benefits in the future. Even long time organizations should try and keep up on policy changes that could benefit small nonprofits.All organizations should look at the administrative and financial progress made every year. Don’t look at everything, but when the organization is making its annual goals and objectives, it should include some work on internal policies and procedures. Incorporate this work incrementally into the organization’s board and staff and new things will be done every year. Progress is something to feel good about!Thanks to Aina for her insight and for providing a handy guide to policies and processes that can sometimes feel daunting. For more tips and insight, check out Walking the Walk: A Values Centered Approach to Building a Strong Non-Profit.last_img read more

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Year-End Fundraising Through the Lens of Donor Engagement

first_imgFall is a busy time of year. Whether it’s getting the kids back to school or the quick transitions between Halloween, Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and Christmas, there are many reminders that the dog days of summer are long behind us. On top of all that, we are looking squarely in the face of the year-end fundraising push. Whether or not your fiscal year ends on December 31, donors and nonprofits alike know this is the prime giving season. Consider these stats from Network for Good’s Digital Giving Index:30% of all giving occurs in December.12% of all giving happens in the last three days of the year.Many terrific blog posts and webinars offer words of advice about how to end the year on a strong note. If we know we’ll have donors’ growing attention over the next two and a half months, I suggest looking at the end-of-year blitz as one part of a longer donor engagement plan. Sustainable fundraising embodies a year-round dialogue with your donors and isn’t limited to these last two to three months of the year. This is especially important to keep in mind since we know organizations have been facing a negative growth in donors: For every 100 new and recovered donors, 103 were lost through attrition. Your focus over these next few months should be on engaging the donors you have so they continue to give.Share, Celebrate, and Don’t OversolicitPenelope Burk, the guru of donor-centered fundraising, found in her research that the number one reason donors stop supporting an organization is that they feel they are being “oversolicited.” With tight deadlines and multichannel communications, it’s easy to get swept up in the transactional part of fundraising—getting those gifts in by December 31. Are your communications—e-newsletters, mailed and electronic solicitations, tweets, Facebook posts, and so on—bringing donors closer to your work and inspiring them to commit more deeply to your mission without always asking for money?Before you begin asking for year-end gifts, use a variety of multi-channel fundraising to bring your work and beneficiaries before your donors:Share with your donors’ examples of impact and stories of transformation that their gift made possible.Highlight what you were able to do because of the gifts you received from your donors.Celebrate your donors and make them feel that their support made a difference in some way.Now your solicitations will be natural extensions of the dialogue you’ve created around the results donors have helped you achieve, resulting in donors being more open to investing in you again.Engage Your Middle to Major Gift Donors and ProspectsMiddle to major donors generally have higher loyalty rates and consider their gifts to you as investments. Show these donors how much you valued them:Schedule staff or volunteer leadership calls to these larger donors just to thank them for their continued support and to share a few highlights of your year.Send this group of donors and prospects a personal letter, a link to a video or simple thank you card from one of your beneficiaries.Give these donors and prospects an up-close and in-person view of your work. Can they meet any of your staff and/or beneficiaries or participate in a one-off volunteer opportunity?Mind you, these are all stewardship activities that should not be isolated to year-end. But in the spirit of the seasons of thanking and giving, they can complement the inundation of solicitations these donors will be receiving from you and other organizations.Assess and Grow in 2016We all know that feeling of relief when December 31 has come and gone. How will you build off that year-end fundraising momentum in 2016? In addition to making sure all gifts are promptly processed and acknowledged (another key ingredient in Penelope Burk’s donor-centered fundraising), this is a good time to assess and adjust your plans for 2016 in two ways.First, determine which messages or communication format resonated most with your audience. Make necessary adjustments in your 2016 plans to ensure you’re speaking to your donors in the way that resonates best.Second, take stock of who gave to your organization:Did you have new donors (either first-time or lapsed donors who returned) and donors who upgraded their support? Call or visit your new and upgraded donors to thank them and find out what motivated their new or increased gifts.You might also conduct wealth-capacity screening to identify which of these donors has the potential for a larger commitment, and then tailor a personalized cultivation strategy to bring them closer to your organization.Did any of your LYBUNTs not make a gift? Focus on finding out why your larger and longstanding LYBUNTs didn’t include you in their philanthropic plans. Understanding what drove their decision is important for you to find out and could lead to renewed support down the road. It shows your donors that you care about their motivations and don’t just view them as a walking ATM.The “noise” of appeals and communications from organizations competing for limited philanthropic dollars will grow louder over the next couple of months. Use the themes of gratitude and generosity (of spirit, interest, and information) to drive thoughtful connection with your donors.Make this December your best year-end fundraising season ever with Network for Good’s smarter fundraising software, built just for nonprofits. Reach more donors, raise more money, and retain more supporters this year with easy-to-use tools and step-by-step coaching. We have everything you need for a bigger, better campaign, all under one roof. Find out more by speaking with one of our expert fundraising consultants.last_img read more

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3 Ways to Shrink Your Communications-Fundraising Divide

first_imgThere’s strong evidence that integrating communications and fundraising into a single team is a real success factor. For many organizations, that shift is far, far away or absolutely out of the question. Even so, you can take small steps to shake up your silos and build productive partnerships.Try any or all of these three approaches to bring your communications and fundraising teams closer together—and boost results. Donors first! Map out how and when your organization touches an individual in each of your target audiences or segments.It’s human nature to ignore a problem until it’s in your face. This technique will highlight what’s really going on.Partner up a fundraiser and a communicator to visually document touchpoints within a week or month for individuals representative of your priority audiences. Use your personas if you’ve already developed them. Map the campaign, message, format, channel, call to action, and timing details for each touchpoint.You’ll likely uncover some days when an individual receives multiple touches with conflicting messages—aka chaos!Nothing is a stronger motivator for coordinating messages and missiles.Bonus: Mapping supporter touchpoints showcases everyone who has played a role in spurring a donation or other desired action. Typically, credit is given only to the creator of the last interaction, overlooking many of the contributors who move supporters to act. Identify what’s working—from each “side”—and do more of that.Ask your communications team to identify the fundraising team’s three most effective approaches and to integrate those techniques into their own work—and vice versa.While you’re at it, ask each team to identify what the other is doing that isn’t working. Try this: Ask each team to give the other one a “free pass” to make a single change to their work, without protest or arguments, for a week. If your marketing director can make only one change to a fundraiser’s direct-mail letter, what will it be? And what single change will the development director make to the marketer’s Facebook post?This practice enables each team to focus on what is truly most important to them, gives each team some level of control, and encourages both to better understand each other without arguing over the merits of the requested change.P.S. I learned this method from my favorite transformative change experts, Switch authors Chip and Dan Heath. The Heaths advocate this underused technique as the most reliable pathway to positive change. Co-create messaging for a single campaign.Select a time-limited campaign that’s related to both teams’ goals. Possible focal points include a significant organizational anniversary, an exceptional opportunity to work with a celebrity, a new program launch, or a change in strategy.Next, task a few communications and development staff members to fully collaborate in creating the campaign messages. This is another useful way each team can learn what’s happening behind the scenes on the “other team” and understand their point of view.Ask collaborators to document the process, especially stumbling blocks, so collaboration will go smoother next time. Then, when the messages are complete, sit down with both teams to discuss the process and the product.Ask the folks who worked together on this campaign to share the high points and the pain of the process, as well as the unexpected benefits for the end product (the messages). Brainstorm recommendations for shifts in each team’s creative, review, and approval process. Then, keep your eyes open for the next co-creation opportunity.Tiny wins like these are the most realistic way I know to shift the status quo. I dare you to experiment with one of these techniques. Let me know how it goes!From Network for Good: Nancy is spot on with her recommendations for communication and fundraising teams. If you can’t implement Nancy’s ideas for tracking donor touchpoints, it’s time to invest in a smarter way to manage your donors. A donor management system can help you keep better track of all your donor information, communication, and more. Talk to a Network for Good rep today and we can help you get started.last_img read more

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On World Humanitarian Day, a Focus on Reproductive and Maternal Health Providers in Humanitarian Settings

first_imgPosted on August 20, 2013February 16, 2017By: Sarah Blake, MHTF consultantClick to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Yesterday, on World Humanitarian Day, K4Health launched a new Reproductive Health in Humanitarian Settings toolkit, a set of resources that offer guidance for health care providers, emergency workers, communications professionals and others. It covers a range of health issues, including a module on maternal and child health, and brings together a range of resources that K4Health  began compiling following crises in Haiti and Pakistan, which inspired the creation of a general toolkit for use in a range of humanitarian settings.In addition, UNFPA marked World Humanitarian Day with a profile of Muneera Sha’aban, one of Jordan’s first midwives, who is now working in a UNFPA-supported clinic to ensure that Syrian women who have fled conflict in their home country to Jordan’s Za’atari refugee camp deliver safely.From the article:The 69-year-old midwife says she enjoys doing her job regardless of all the difficulties she encounters serving in one of the UNFPA-supported clinics in Za’atari Camp for Syrian Refugees in Jordan.Muneera’s days start very early, as she makes her way from Amman to the camp, some 80 kilometres away. She leaves her house at 6 in the morning and takes two buses to arrive at the camp by 9.“I have to work to make a living, but without the love I have for the work I am doing, life could have been more difficult,” she says, adding, “I return to my house at 6 in the evening, backed with satisfaction.”World Humanitarian Day also marked the launch of “The World Needs More #___” a campaign that invites the public to share their answers to the question: “What do you think the world needs more of?” Check out campaign submissions on Twitter.For more on the vital role that midwives play in ensuring that women deliver safely in the midst of conflict, catch up on coverage from NPR and the MHTF blog.Share this: ShareEmailPrint To learn more, read:last_img read more

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Reflecting on Developing Country Parallels at Launch of Program to Address U.S. Maternal Mortality Crisis

first_imgPosted on November 23, 2013November 17, 2016By: Priya Agrawal, Executive Director, Merck for MothersClick to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)As an OB/GYN who has worked in dozens of developing countries, I have seen firsthand what it’s like to give birth in places where resources are strapped and conditions are bleak. I’ve seen the way women struggle to gather the money needed to give birth at a facility. I’ve seen women walk miles – while in labor no less – to reach the closest health clinic or hospital. I’ve seen women get to a facility only to find that it’s overcrowded, understaffed or lacking in critical medicines and supplies. And for all these reasons, I’ve had the misfortune of seeing women die in pregnancy and childbirth, their deaths often hand tallied on the walls of health facilities, if counted by the system at all.These are circumstances under which no woman should have to give birth. Yet they persist, day in and day out. But what I’ve found most surprising since I’ve taken on a new role as Executive Director of Merck for Mothers is that these issues are actually not confined to the developing world. Sadly, there are communities in the United States that face challenges not all that different than those facing women in places like sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.I recently travelled to some of these communities for the launch of Merck for Mothers’ new programs to reduce maternal mortality here in the U.S.  As part of this work, we’ve partnered with organizations in Baltimore, Camden, New York City and Philadelphia, where I had a chance to witness some of the challenges women face in getting the care they need for a safe and healthy pregnancy and childbirth. What I saw and heard was astonishing, revealing three striking parallels.Our partner in Camden told me that many of the women their program serves interact with the health system for the first time when they become pregnant. Whether it’s because they don’t have the funds (or insurance) to afford preventative care, or don’t have a full understanding of the services available to them, a lot of these women go years or decades without seeing a health provider. Because of this, it is common for women in low-income communities to miss out on things like primary care visits and prenatal check-ups. In fact, only 50% of pregnant women in Camden receive first trimester care, making it much more difficult to identify conditions that could lead to a complicated – and, at times, life-threatening – childbirth.Transportation is also an issue. I remember one woman in Baltimore telling me that – even if her family could afford public transportation – health care services were located too far away for her to use regularly. And because taxis rarely venture into the poorer communities, she is cut off from the transport services she needs to reach care on a routine basis. Harking back to time I spent in rural parts of Zambia and Uganda, this story sounded all too familiar, and little did I know that it was such a prevalent one in the U.S.Finally, perhaps the most profound parallel between maternal mortality domestically and abroad is the lack of reliable data. I knew that many maternal deaths in the developing world go undocumented, but I had no idea that more than 1 in 3 of these deaths are unidentified on death certificates in America. This type of information is critical in our effort to save women’s lives during pregnancy and childbirth, as it allows us to spot trends, better understand the problem and create targeted policies and clinical practices to address it.Considering this range of unexpected realities – and factoring in the escalating rates of chronic health conditions like obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes – it is no wonder that maternal mortality is on the rise in this country. In fact, as an OB/GYN, I fear that these chronic conditions will soon become the fourth major parallel, as these same challenges are beginning to spill into developing countries. The rise of chronic conditions in poor countries has the potential to jeopardize the progress made in bringing down maternal death rates throughout the world, much like they did in the U.S.In view of these common and emerging similarities in maternal health, Merck for Mothers has launched new partnerships in the U.S. that build on our global portfolio of programs in more than 20 other countries. While the contexts are certainly different, many of the obstacles are the same, and I look forward to the opportunity to help overcome them and ensure safer and healthier pregnancies and childbirths for all women – at home and abroad.To learn more, visit Merck for Mothers’ U.S. programs, watch this video on the personal toll of maternal mortality, or watch story by CBS 13 in Baltimore on the program’s work in that city.Share this: ShareEmailPrint To learn more, read:last_img read more

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Call for Papers: Women’s Health in the Americas

first_imgPosted on June 26, 2014July 22, 2014Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)With the end of Millennium Development Goals and the start of the Sustainable Development Goals, the year 2015 is a critical time for redefining priorities and strategies for women’s health. Recognizing this unique time, Pan American Journal of Public Health/Revista Panamericana de Salud Pública, published by the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), has issued a call for papers for a special issue on women’s health to be published in March 2015.This series will highlight threats to women’s health caused by demographic, social and epidemiological changes. Key topics for this series range from knowledge gaps in policy to women’s mental health and from sexual and reproductive health to occupational health.The deadline for papers is August 17th, 2014. For more details on this series and how to submit a paper, please see PDFs of the guidelines in English and Spanish.Share this: ShareEmailPrint To learn more, read:last_img read more

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