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Op4G's $500 Sweepstakes Winner: Big Brothers Big Sisters Lone Star!

5Do you donate to the Non-Profit of the Month? This November, that lucky non-profit will be Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) Lone Star!

BBBS Lone Star represents the Texas chapters of Big Brothers Big Sisters, the nation’s largest volunteer supported mentoring network. The non-profits work by matching adult volunteers (“Bigs”) with children (“Littles”) aged 6 to 18, based on the children’s unique needs. It then provides ongoing support and supervision to the Bigs and Littles, as well as the Littles’ families.

The model aims to provide children with strong and enduring relationships with adult role models. This, in turn, helps children develop greater confidence, set higher aspirations, avoid risky behaviors, and achieve educational success.

To learn more, or to donate to BBBS Lone Star, please click here.

Flickr photo credit: ctj71081

 

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The Light through the Fog: Grassroots Actions to Combat Climate Change

Climate Change OpportunitiesIn recent years, the news has highlighted key setbacks in the battle against climate change: rising greenhouse gas emissionsArctic warming, and failing international efforts. This blog has following suit, featuring posts on elevated carbon dioxide levels and the link to natural disasters. But climate change news is not all doom and gloom.

As captured by the website “It’s Happening”, created by the non-profit 10:10, grassroots climate change action is occurring around the world. In some cases, this action is large scale. In Bangladesh, for example, Grameen Shakti has installed home solar energy systems at a rate of 1 per 90 seconds, reaching its 1 millionth home in 2012. Furthermore, Portugal’s grid operator has invested heavily in wind and hydropower, increasing the countries’ renewable energy use to 70%.

Climate Change Action

Other efforts are more modest. The UK’s Kennett and Avon Canal has paused its pumps when energy demand is high, keeping the “dirtiest power plants switched off longer”. European partners have built the MS Tûranor PlanetSolar, the first entirely solar-powered ship to circumnavigate the globe. And in Chicago, the city has installed 1,000 LED traffic lights, requiring 85% less energy.

The actions featured on “It’s Happening” are both exciting and inspirational. They highlight that climate change action is feasible, if the will exists. But the actions are just a start. Collectively, they are “nowhere near the carbon cuts we need”. Moreover, they are no substitute for national and international climate change action.

To learn more about climate change action, and how you can contribute, please visit: 350.org, the US Climate Action Network, Earthjustice, and our partner, Clean Air Cool Planet.

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The ABCs of Survey Taking with Op4G for your Non-Profit

As our Non-Profit partners can attest, quarterly donations from Op4G are a great supplement to an organization’s operating revenue.  While our program is free and simple to implement, we do get a few common questions from members from time to time.  Keeping these three basic concepts in your back pocket can help ensure continued success for your cause.

The ABCs of Survey Taking and Op4G Research:

A)     Members/donors will not qualify for every survey they are invited to.  But, that’s okay! Through interviewing our most active members we have found that on average, members will likely qualify for approximately 1 out of every 3 surveys they attempt.  The best way to avoid not qualifying is to respond to an email invite right away and also to complete your demographic profiling questions found in your MyOp4G account.

B)      There are a couple ways members could be cut off from any given survey after answering a few questions.  One is if a specific quota has been exhausted (e.g., males, age 35 to 45, from a specific postal code).  You could also be screened out if you don’t fit the specific target needed for the research goal.  Good research seeks to maximize reliability/validity. Accordingly, we aren’t allowed to “telegraph” the specific needs within a given survey.  This is the reason “screener questions” are asked at the beginning.  Our goal in working with clients is to keep the screener as brief as possible to avoid survey fatigue.

C)      The best way to avoid having invites going to the spam folder is to add “Op4G Support – support@op4g.com” to your email contacts.  ISPs receive a massive number of “survey” type emails on a daily basis and most of those ISPs automatically flag them to be delivered to junk folders.   We work with a top email delivery service provider to avoid this as much as possible, but it’s an on-going battle.

Send these ABCs around to your members and watch your Op4G program take off!

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America's Animals: Worth More than the Sum of their Parts

mooseOver the last month, at least 91 elephants in western Zimbabwe have succumbed to cyanide poisoning. Officials believe that poachers, in pursuit of lucrative ivory tusks, spread the poison over natural salt licks used by the elephants.

But this story is not unique to Africa; poaching also occurs in the US. In fact, the Humane Society of the United States estimates that for each of the millions of animals hunted legally, “another is killed illegally, perhaps on closed land or out of season”.

In general, poaching is done for “sport or commercial profit”. The heads of sheep, elk, moose, deer, goats, and bears are popular “trophies” and can fetch high prices on the black market. Of further value are the antlers, hooves and tails of deer, elk, and caribou; the feathers of eagles and other birds of prey; and the paws, claws, teeth, and gall bladders of bears.

If that isn’t disturbing, consider the impacts. In addition to directly killing animals, poaching often indirectly kills the orphaned young. As a result, it can drastically reduce species’ populations. Prized Bengal tigers and central African gorillas, for example, are now on the brink of extinction. Poaching can also have reverberations throughout the ecosystem, particularly for the predators and prey of targeted species. In the case of the poisoned African elephants, lions, hyenas and vultures have all “died from feeding on contaminated carcasses”.

But Americans can take action to reduce the incidence of poaching. They can lobby for state wildlife regulations (as in New Hampshire, New Mexico, and Delaware) and report violations to the state government. They can refrain from purchasing illegal animal products, stifling demand. Moreover, they can support various conservation and humane societies working to protect wildlife, including Op4G partners Hawk Talk and Noah’s Ark.

To learn more, please visit the websites of the Humane Society of the United States and the World Wildlife Fund.

Flickr photo credit: US FWS

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Op4G Becomes TRUSTe Certified

Op4G Truste CertifiedRecently Op4G was awarded the TRUSTe Certified Privacy Seal for our privacy and data governance practices. TRUSTe is the leading global Data Privacy Management (DPM) company and powers trust in the data economy by enabling businesses to safely collect and use customer data across web, mobile, cloud and advertising channels. TRUSTe ensures businesses adhere to best practices regarding the collection and use of personal information on their websites and apps. If you see the TRUSTe Certified Privacy Seal on a website or app, the company operating that property has met the comprehensive privacy certification requirements established by TRUSTe as well as the requirements for the Federal Trade Commission enforced Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA).

But what does it all mean to our Members, Non-Profits, and Market Research Clients? It means that the Op4G privacy practices and data safeguards have been reviewed by an independent third party and have been approved based on the guidelines set forth by TRUSTe for transparency, accountability and choice regarding collection and use of consumer personal information.  It also means that all of our “Digital Volunteers” can feel safe and confident while participating in the Op4G community to benefit their chosen Non-Profit.

 

 

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Africa’s Recent Economic Gains: Who is Benefiting?

africa2Africa is rising. According to a World Bank report released this week, the continent is enjoying a natural resources boom and increasing foreign investment (particularly from China, India, and Brazil). It is also benefiting from a surge in tourism, remittances worth $33 billion/year, and strong government investment in key sectors.

These factors have translated into growth rates of 4.9% for Sub-Saharan Africa in 2013. Almost “a third of countries in the region are growing at 6% and more, and African countries are now routinely among the fastest-growing countries in the world”. Such rates are expected to rise further in coming years, to 5.3% in 2014 and 5.5% in 2015.

But not all Africans are benefiting from the continent’s mounting wealth. Staggering inequality has contributed to “unacceptably slow” poverty reduction in Africa. In fact, almost half of all Africans still live in extreme poverty (defined as an income of $1.25 or less per day).

Of further concern, “sustaining Africa’s strong growth over the longer term while significantly reducing poverty and strengthening people’s resilience to adversity may prove difficult”. The continent faces great environment risks (including droughts and floods) and the threat of conflict (as in Mali and the Central African Republic). Moreover, the continent’s dependence on a few commodities (oil, metals, and minerals) leaves it vulnerable to fluctuations in global prices.

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So what does this mean for poverty reduction in Africa? Will it be possible to achieve the World Bank and UN goal to eradicate extreme poverty within a generation? In the words of a UN working group, the goal is “ambitious but feasible”. However, as economist Jeffrey Sachs notes, it “can’t be achieved by free markets alone”. It will require continued government investment, sound public policy, and international aid.

To do your part, please support our Op4G partners: Develop Africa, African Soup, and Plant a Seed Africa.

Flickr photo credit: calips96

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The Potential of Wind Power will Blow You Away!

9This summer, after four years of construction, the UK officially opened the world’s largest offshore wind farm. Known as the London Array, the farm is located 20 km off the coast of Kent and Essex on a 100km2 site. Its 175 turbines are capable of producing 630 MW of energy – enough to power almost 500,000 homes.

But the UK is not the only country with growing wind power capacity. In the United States, for example, wind power capacity has risen steadily since 2000, bringing the cumulative installed capacity to 60,007 MW by late 2012 (second only to China). This translated into 149.8 terawatt hours, or 3.67% of generated electrical energy, in the year preceding April 2013. Leading the way are Texas, California, Iowa, Illinois, and Oregon, all with over 3000MW of installed wind capacity.

Should this trend continue? Certainly, wind power has its weaknesses. It provides intermittent power, requiring a back-up supply. It has been criticized for its appearance, as “onshore wind turbines are typically more spread out than other large-scale energy infrastructure projects”. Furthermore, the rotating blades of wind turbines cause bird and bat fatalities.

However, these weaknesses are greatly outweighed by the benefits. In particular, wind power emits no carbon dioxide and emissions during the manufacturing, transportation, and installation of turbines are “considered fairly low”. Thus, by replacing other energy sources, wind power can significantly reduce CO2 emissions (the London Array alone will lower emissions by 900,000 tons/year). Moreover, onshore wind power is “one of the most affordable renewable energy sources”. At 5-8 cents/kWh, it is about a quarter the cost of solar power and “slightly cheaper, on average, than nuclear power”.

For these reasons, the Department of Energy has called for wind power to supply 20% of US electricity by 2030. The potential exists – according to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the US has over 10,000 GW of onshore wind power potential. This could generate 37 petawatt hours annually, more than 9 times current US electricity consumption.

To make this vision a reality will require further “advances in cost, performance, and reliability”. In addition to the private sector and academia, government can promote these advances through research, funding, and favorable tax policies. So far, in 2013, the US government has extended the tax credit for wind power production, while Obama has pledged a 30% funding increase for clean energy technology. In July, however, the House proposed a bill to eliminate several renewable energy programs, calling into question the government’s commitment to wind energy.

For more information, or to learn what you can do, please contact Clean Air Cool Planet.

Flickr photo credit: Andreas Klinke Johannsen 

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Food Banks and the Government Shut Down

Government Shut DownFor many, the impact of the recent government shutdown isn’t felt beyond the countless jokes on late night television. However, the recent shutdown has a significantly larger effect on the poor, and other groups that rely on government funded programs on a daily basis.

The Women, Infants and Children (WIC) assistance program is one of the many Federal Government programs that has been affected by the political turmoil in Washington D.C.  WIC is a program run and funded by the United States Department of Agriculture and provides nutritious food to low income women, and their young children. While the WIC facilities are open for now, many facilities are running on their last few dollars and are expected to close by the end of the month if the federal government does not provide them with their additional funding.

Unfortunately, there is not much that we can do about the government shutdown, and it is up to the politicians to resolve their differences and figure out some kind of compromise. Nonetheless, whether the government is open or closed, the vulnerable, impoverished and hungry still exist. Our society still has a responsibility to take care of the most vulnerable of our population, even if we cannot rely on the government to lead the efforts.

Fortunately, non-profit organizations and food banks are committed to fighting hunger on a daily basis.  While their funding is also affected, most food banks across the United States have been able to keep their doors open and support the 1 out of every 6 Americans- including the 16 million children- that struggle with food insecurity.

The longer the government shutdown persists, the more outside support these food banks will need to stay open.

Food pantries and food banks- like our partners Second Harvest Food Bank, Operation Sack Lunch and Oregon Food Bank – are in greater need of funds and non-perishable foods than ever before because of the upcoming holiday season and the decrease in government assistance. Please help by donating food items, monetary gifts or by completing Op4G surveys on their behalf.

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Get to Know Cabrini Connections and Their Good Work in Chicago

Cabrini ConnectionsFormer President Herbert Hoover once claimed, “Children are our most valuable natural resource.” Given the proper environment, every American child has the potential to succeed in life.  In Former President Hoover’s ideal world, opportunities can exist for any child to become the next great entrepreneur, artist, athlete or politician.

There are Non-Profits organizations across the United States inspired to support the potential in the young people of their communities.

Our partner, Cabrini Connections, believes in the true potential of the younger generation.  Cabrini Connections pairs economically disadvantaged inner-city students in the 7th through 12th grades with adult tutors to provide academic support services.  Their mentorship program assists these students with the essential structure needed to navigate successfully through school and beyond.

In addition to the academic impact of their program, these students receive valuable lessons in character education. The adult mentors help students figure out what their values are, what they want to do with their lives and what they can do to turn their dreams into realities.  With a solutions based approach, these students focus on their studies and almost 90% of the 12th grade program graduates have entered college, a number well above the national average and the average for inner-city youth.

Whether it’s providing support for character education or more traditional classroom instruction, Cabrini Connections is focused on enhancing opportunities for the kids they serve.

Join Cabrini Connections as a digital volunteer when you sign up to take surveys with Op4G today.

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Op4G Member of the Month: Laura Parcells!

Laura Parcells Member of the MonthLaura Parcells is Op4G’s member of the month! Thanks to her token, which was randomly drawn from our screen-out pool, Tree House Humane Society is our $500 sweepstakes winner!

Laura has been passionate about animals since her youth, when she remembers “needle pointing a pillow for one of her cats”. As a result, she began supporting the Tree House Humane Society in 1975. She chose Tree House because of their work for special needs cats, as well as their no-kill policy. Though she has since moved to Minnesota, she continues to donate to Tree House and toured their facility last time she visited Chicago.

Laura became an Op4G panelist in 2011, after learning of Op4G through a Tree House newsletter. Since then, she has consistently completed Op4G surveys for Tree House. She enjoys completing surveys, as well as raising funds for her nonprofit. She also appreciates the Op4G model which, unlike other market research panels, offers automatic cash outs and allows you to donate directly to your non-profit of choice.

In fact, Laura likes Op4G so much that she referred it to her sister, Julie, in Oregon. Julie serves on two non-profit boards and was able to register Hands on Greater Portland as an Op4G partner.

Congratulations, Laura!