Category: Fund-raising

The month in review: September 2014

Things picked up in September even though August was hardly a quiet month for us.

Office: LabourStart is now firmly planted in Muswell Hill as I learn to once again work from home (with some days working in the British Library).

Finances: Our finances have improved a bit this month. We have received a substantial contribution from Fafo in Norway, from the FDHT in Geneva and also many individual donations raised on behalf of Kevin Curran’s marathon run for LabourStart in October ($1,894 so far from 67 contributors). The promotion of Fastmail as a Gmail alternative on 19 September has generated very little income for us. Unison’s National Executive is due to consider a proposal to make a donation to us this month.

Campaigns: We launched five new campaigns in September:

  • Canada: Nova Scotia labor law
  • Turkey: Union busting at Deva Holdings
  • Colombia: Ruben Montoya
  • USA: IKEA – play fair with workers
  • Colombia: Luis Cardenas / Prosegur

We have been able to announce a victory at Autogrill (Germany) and will soon be able to announce another from the Philippines at NXP. We closed the Swaziland campaign after hearing that the Prime Minister has decided not to strangle trade union leaders. I also closed campaigns in Turkey and Korea after three months; the unions have not gotten back to us with updates.

In addition to promoting our own campaigns, we have helped the following organizations with promotions of their campaigns which we do not host: Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions, Australian Council of Trade Unions, IUF, IndustriALL (Thunderclap) and BWI. Most other campaigning organizations will generally not do dedicated mailings to promote other organizations’ campaigns, but we do this regularly.

All our campaigns are now also in Swedish, and this is what now shows on the Swedish home page.

Books: Book sales are just under 5,700, which is very good, and some Amazon payments have started to come in. I continue to work on our next book, which consists of speeches given at the Berlin conference. Derek has been working on a Canadian edition of our Global Labour Movement book. And we’ve reached agreement with Joe Atkins to publish his collection of essays from activists around the world on migrant labour in late 2015.

LabourStart Offline:

  • I spent a couple of days at the DGB training centre in Hattingen, Germany doing a course on online campaigning with the European Trade Union Institute.
  • Derek has done some courses with Unifor in Canada.
  • In November, Espen and I will be in Stockholm meeting with Swedish trade unionists to discuss cooperation (which has already begun).
  • In early November, I’ll be in Vienna attending an OSCE conference, which I will cover for Equal Times, and have already written to LabourStart subscribers there suggesting a meeting.
  • The FES Media project in Africa has shown interest in cooperating with us and I had a 30 minute phone call with their staffer in Windhoek, Namibia about this.
  • Pete Moss, one of our Australian correspondents, visited Indonesia and wrote up a report – see below.

Retreat: We have begun some internal discussions about possibly hosting a LabourStart retreat in Tunis in March 2015. More details coming soon. We are trying out a new online tool called Trello to coordinate this.

Ello: Finally, LabourStart is probably the first labour movement institution with a page on Ello, the new social network.

For details on most of these, see the posts from throughout September on Inside LabourStart.

Run, Kevin, run!

Snowdonia Marathon 2010

UPDATE – 10 September 2014: Following a mass mailing to the English list and publicity on social media yesterday, we’ve raised $1,194 (£741) from 43 donors — a good beginning.


 

For the first time ever, someone has suggested that they run a marathon on behalf of LabourStart — and what a marathon this is.  

Kevin Curran, former general secretary of the GMB, one of Britain’s largest unions, who is currently chair of the central London hotel workers branch of Unite, is the runner.

And the race is the Snowdonia Marathon, held on 25 October, and is considered one of the most difficult races in the UK (it encircles the highest peak in England and Wales).

Click here to make your donation and spread the word:

http://www.labourstart.org/go/kevin

The month in review: August 2014

Goodbye, Lee Valley Technopark.
Goodbye, Lee Valley Technopark.

August was NOT a quiet month for LabourStart.

I guess the big news is that I have completed the move from our Tottenham Hale office to working at home. The office was finally emptied and the keys returned yesterday. This will not only mean a considerable savings (over £6,000 a year) but we will also get back a deposit of £1,470 soon.

That money will help to re-fill our coffers following several months where we spent considerably more than we took in, reducing our reserves by many thousands of pounds. But there’s been good news in the last few days. We were able to raise nearly $600 from UnionBook members to pay for the hosting on Ning for the next year — that’s the full amount we need. The IUF has once again made a substantial donation to us. Norwegian unions will apparently be transferring a good sum to us very soon. And the Geneva-based FDHT is resuming its donations to us conditional upon us continuing with the project to grow LabourStart in the Portuguese-speaking world (more on this soon).

It’s been a very busy month for our campaigns — we closed just one (Gaza, following the agreement to a cease-fire) and launched five new ones:

  • Palestine/Israel – against union-busting in Mishur Adumim
  • Swaziland – prime minister threatens to strangle trade union leaders
  • Belgium/Netherlands – against social dumping at IKEA
  • Poland – LOT sacks union leader
  • Thailand – Drop the charges against Andy Hall

In addition, I made three improvements to our campaigns – offering an alternative option for some cellphones; a new supporters count for closed campaigns; and a form for translators to submit campaigns. Details on all these appear in a post below.

We ran a promotion offering free versions of our Kindle books for the first 5 days of August. A total of 2,442 books were downloaded — the most popular of which was Dan Gallin’s Solidarity (696 copies). I followed up with over 1,500 people who seemed interested in the books, asking them to post reviews, but with very limited success.

In September, I’ll be helping to teach a course in Hattingen, Germany organized by the European Trade Union Institute (ETUI) together with the DGB. This should help introduce LabourStart to union communicators across Europe. This will be followed up in October by my session at a Brussels workshop of ETUI on campaigning. ETUI is also now considering a proposal to host a course dedicated to online campaigning which LabourStart would teach.

The last 3 weeks in review: 8-29 July 2014

Summer is NOT a quiet time at LabourStart …

Campaigns:

  • We launched our Gaza Ceasefire campaign on 22 July; it is already our second largest active campaign.
  • We launched a campaign in defense of jailed Iranian trade unionist Reza Shahabi on 10 July.
  • The Ecuador campaign was closed after 3 months.
  • I’ve followed up with the translators for our top 15 languages, trying to make sure that as many campaigns as possible appear in as many languages as possible.
  • We did very well with the recent Turkish Georg Fischer campaign and promoted news of our victory to our list, as did with the victory at LATAM in South America.  That’s two victories this month that we contributed to.
  • Using a voucher we had from Google for some free advertising, we ran ads supporting out Polish LIDL campaign; they were seen by nearly 24,000 people, but only 103 clicked on the link.

Fund-raising:

  • We received a generous donation from Building and Woodworkers International (BWI) and from the Trade Union Advisory Committee to the OECD (TUAC).
  • We’ve had an offer from a well-known comrade to run a Marathon in Wales in October to raise funds for LS; more details soon.

Events:

  • Our under-utilized Events module just got better — now you can tag an event not only by country, but by state/province as well. You can see the results by checking out our UK/England news page.

News:

  • People noticed that visiting our home page took you to a URL that included ‘2013’. This has now been fixed and instead of ‘2013’ it says ‘news’. Most people will not have noticed.

Office:

  • I’ve been given warning that we’re to be kicked out of our offices very soon. I visited possible alternatives in Finsbury Park, Bethnal Green and Muswell Hill. I’m leaning towards working from home for a few months, which will save us several thousand pounds.

Speeches:

  • LS has been invited to provide a speaker for a Unifor event in Canada.  Derek will probably do it.
  • Eric has also been invited by the European Trade Union Institute (ETUI) to help teach a course in Germany in September.

New contacts:

  • A comrade from a group in France called ReACT came to our offices for a meeting; we discussed many ways of cooperating.
  • I had a long meeting in London with the Morocco-based representative of the Solidarity Center; we discussed among other things the possibility of a correspondents’ meeting in the region, maybe in Tunis.
  • I followed up with all those who attended the IndustriALL communicators event last month in Italy, at which I spoke, and invited them to cooperate. Two replied, and we picked up a new correspondent in Cambodia as a result.

 

Books:

  • I’ve been encouraging comrades to post reviews of the Dan Gallin book on Amazon; some have already done so.
  • Even though book sales haven’t been amazing, for the first two months of our current financial year (June-July), book sales have made up about 10% of LabourStart’s income, though this is unlikely to continue.
  • I’ve begun adding reviews to the Gallin book to our page promoting the book — so far, only two.
  • I wrote to everyone who requested a review copy (PDF) and asked them to let me know when their reviews appear.
  • Thanks to Matt Heaney, the book is now on sale at ver.di’s bookshop, both off- and online.
  • I wrote to all 130 people who spoke at our Berlin conference reminding them that we want all their texts for our next book by the end of July.

Photo of the day:

  • For those who post these photos (mostly Derek) there’s now an explanation of how to post country-specific ones. If anyone wants to do this, email me and I’ll explain how it’s done.
  • The photo of the day is also now available on our mobile edition for the first time.

Enough for now … and now back to work …

 

The month in review – 28 May – 8 July

Well, it’s been more than a month — but as I was away on holiday from 22-30 June, I wasn’t able to get this done in late June. In future, I’ll try to have this done monthly. Here are just some highlights …

Campaigns: We launched five campaigns in the last six weeks. These were in support of Korean workers (Samsung), Turkish workers (M&T Reklam), and Peruvian and Argentinian workers (LATAM) – which we won. This week we added two more campaigns in support of workers in Poland. We’ve also closed four campaigns in the same period — Georg Fischer (Turkey), Colombia, Aeroflot (Russia), and Total Call (Morocco).

Conference & finances: We had a bit of followup including media coverage, which is documented elsewhere on Inside LabourStart. I’ve now completed all payments relating to the event — and can tell you that the conference was great, but also costly. We need to raise quite a bit to refill our coffers.

Books & other publications: We’ve now sold well over 3,000 books. As Google offered us a very big prize if we started running ads again, we’ve launched a modest campaign to promote our most recent book. I’m working on producing the conference book, Global Crisis, Global Solidarity. It should be ready by late summer. We won’t be doing a 2015 Global Labour Calendar (it’s too late in the year now to get it right, and on time), but we are discussing doing a 2016 version.

Correspondents: We added a number of new ones from the USA, Spain, Israel, Germany, and Poland. One or two complained that they submitted applications which we never saw. I’ve not been able to figure out how that could happen, but instead have put in a warning to people applying to become correspondents that if they don’t hear from us shortly, to email me directly.

About LabourStart: This page hadn’t been updated for years — I gave it a quick refresh last week.

First of the month problem: The French news page, which is now modelled on the English one, was behaving badly, not showing news, on the first of every month. This has now been fixed.

Staff: Our second intern, Tom, is no longer working for us. Gisela, who was on the payroll for a few months building the Berlin conference, is now happily unemployed (for a while at least).

Office: We’ll need to move by the end of October. I’m looking into alternatives now.

The month in review – 28 March – 25 April 2014

Berlin conference: We’re now just 4 weeks away from the conference opening on Friday, 23 May. The number of people registered since I last reported 4 weeks ago has gone up by 85 — we now have 579 registrants. It is very likely that this will pass 600 in the next week.

The majority of registrants (300) come from just 11 countries — Germany (129), the UK (61), USA (20), Russia (18), Canada (16), the Netherlands (15), Switzerland (12), and Ukraine (11). There are 17 coming from three Nordic countries. More than 30% of all registrants in the last month came from Germany.

There are some large delegations registered from developing countries, though we’re not certain how many of these people will actually be able to attend. These include: Nigeria (31), Liberia (25), Bangladesh (20), Pakistan (20), and Cameroon (17).

In total, we have delegations registered from 70 countries.

The 61 coming from the UK is larger than the total number of participants in our London conference in 2008, and the 36 coming from North America probably exceeds the total number who attended our Washington conference in 2009.

LabourStart will have a stall at the ITUC World Congress which is happening in Berlin just before our event. In addition, a number of LabourStart correspondents will be attending the ITUC as journalists. If you can be at the ITUC event, please let me know. We’ll need help staffing that stall and raising LabourStart’s profile there in general.

Publicity: We now have a global media list with over 200 addresses on it. We’ve now sent out our first three press releases to that list. If you have any suggestions for journalists who should be added to the list, please send them on.

We’ve now prepared a new LabourStart flyer which will be published initially in English, German and Russian. Thanks to Gisela and Derek who helped write the text and to Masha who did the graphic design. If you’re coming to Berlin, please make sure to leave room in your luggage to take copies of the flyer home with you.

For the second time, LabourStart is a sponsor of the London Labour Film Festival which takes place next week. We have a large ad in the festival programme, and we did two mailings to our UK list urging people to attend.

Books: We’re nearly ready with Book 4 (Dan Gallin) — this will be ready for sale at the book launch in Berlin.

Campaigns: We’ve launched just two new campaigns in the last six weeks — supporting Georg Fischer workers in Turkey and union leaders sentenced to jail in Ecuador, launched this week. Both campaigns are growing well and quickly.

We closed down the Crown Holdings (Canada) campaign after some 4 months online. We are keeping a couple of older campaigns going at the request of their initiators — Aeroflot and Cambodia. Both have very large numbers of supporters (+12K).

In addition, we’ve helped give extensive publicity to campaigns launched by our friends. We just did a mass mailing yesterday to support the IUF campaign for North Carolina tobacco workers. We also gave extensive publicity to the Amnesty International campaign in support of jailed union leaders in Bahrain.

Finally, we launched a Canada-only campaign last month — also in support of the Crown Holdings workers, but targetting the premier of Ontario.

News: As I reported earlier this month, there’s now a new, quick way for correspondents to add news links to LabourStart. The number of active correspondents has grown; in mid-March we only had 76 actives and today that number is 92. We need to continue working to ensure that many more LabourStart correspondents post news regularly.

Fundraising: April is one of the months that we tend to do a fundraising appeal and our totals this time were disappointing. The total donations for this month are nearly £6,400 — more than £1,000 less than the average we get for the months we do such appeals (though considerably better than we did in July 2013). I discussed these issues in a post below, and have decided to move toward annual, rather than quarterly, appeals.

In addition to that money, we have received a pledge of yet another donation from Unite Here (in the USA). And we’ve received substantial support from German trade unions and foundations for our Berlin conference. Finally, we don’t appear to have won any of the three competitions we were entered into (see my post from 19 March). Darn.

Improving LabourStart’s fundraising – some thoughts

I’ve had a discussion with some of the senior correspondents and have also triggered a discussion on the e-Campaigning Forum mailing list, have learned a few things, and wanted to share some thoughts.

First of all, our current quarterly fundraising campaign is going poorly.  We’ve raised just £1,534 even though we’ve mailed to our English, Spanish, Dutch, Norwegian, Danish, Hebrew, German, Hungarian and Indonesian lists.  Our message therefore has reached 100,045 people who have donated an average of 1.5 pence (£0.015) per person.

This has to be understood in the context of what are actually rising donations to LabourStart — we’re up 30% compared to where we stood two years ago.  Many of those donations are from unions — local, national and global unions.

But we need to take some steps to improve our ability to raise money from the individuals who support our campaigns and who are on our mailing lists.

Basically, it comes down to two things — though I welcome suggestions for more:

First, I will now return to an annual appeal for funds rather than a quarterly appeal.  That way, people will be getting 20 or more campaign messages from us over the course of a year before they hear from us asking for money.

Second, based on the extraordinary success story of Greenpeace UK, I will embed a much more prominent and clearly branded donation form on the “landing page” people see when they sign up to a campaign.  Apparently, the best time to ask people for donations is when they’re actually supporting a live campaign.

Raising money for LabourStart – reaching out to a wider audience

SECOND & FINAL UPDATE FOR TODAY: After 6 hours the total is £661.42; this does not include a number of people who requested details for bank transfers. 

How does this compare to previous efforts?  As I wrote in January: “In the first few hours of our quarterly fund-raising appeal, we’ve raised over £1,500. We’ve had 35 donations so far in 5 different currencies, and pledges of more to come.  By comparison, in our previous appeal (October) we managed to raise £2,985 in the first 3 days — and £2,188 of that in the first 21 hours. In July we did poorly, raising only £1,844 in the first 10 days online. And last April we raised about £4,050 in the first week of the campaign. So it’s a good start …”

UPDATE: After 1 hour, we’ve gotten the message translated into 2 more languages (German and Hebrew), so it’s gone out to 90,117 people.  Of those, 16 have already responded and donated a total of £145.77.  There were several requests for bank details for bank transfers, and at least two of the donations were the first of new monthly payments.

For the first time in a very long time we’re reaching out to all of LabourStart’s 120,000+ supporters in a fundraising appeal, which is going out today.

All of our recent appeals have gone out to “power users” — people who’ve signed up to several of our campaigns — but this time, we’re reaching out to everyone on our list (pretty much all of whom will have been campaign supporters).

Please do what you can to spread the word and encourage your union to make a substantial donation to LabourStart.

Here is the text of the appeal:

The first three months of 2014 have been a very busy time at LabourStart — and we expect things to get much busier in the next three months.
 
In just a few weeks, we’ll be holding our largest and most ambitious Global Solidarity Conference ever, in Berlin.
 
We launched new campaigns in support of sacked call center workers in Morocco, garment workers in Bangladesh and Cambodia, public sector workers in Peru, pilots at Russian airline Aeroflot, Colombian union leaders facing attacks, and jailed trade union leaders in South Korea.  We ran a short and successful campaign demanding that charges be dropped against trade union leaders in Fiji.
 
We participated in, and covered for labour media, the trial of public sector workers in Istanbul.
 
We published a second book in French (on the global labour movement) and are preparing our fourth book in English, which we’ll launch at our conference in May.
 
We have new editions of LabourStart in Hungarian and Hindi.

We’re just about to launch our web app — allowing you to view LabourStart on any smartphone or tablet.
 
I could go on and on, but I’m sure you get the point.
 
LabourStart has become an invaluable resource for the international trade union movement.  
 
But it costs money.  We pay rent for an office in London, employ a small staff in the UK and in Germany, and have mounting expenses maintaining our websites and mailing lists.  
 
Obviously we get no money from big corporations and governments.  We rely on you, the people who support our campaigns, who understand just important our work is.
 
I’d like to ask each of you to consider donating at least $25.00 US (£15.00; Euros 18.00).  If you can give more, please do.  Whatever you can afford will be appreciated.
 
Please click here to donate — and then please share this message with your fellow union members.
 
Thank you very much.

Are we feeling lucky?

We never actually win anything, but in recent weeks we’ve submitted LabourStart to three different competitions.

The first and most important is the Arthur Svensson International Prize for Trade Union Rights.  Every year we’re a candidate but we’ve never won.  There were 14 nominations this year and the committee will announce a winner on 25 April. The prize is NOK 500,000 (approx. EUR 63.000 / USD 84.000).

Second, this year we entered a new competition, the Care2 Impact Award.  The prize is £500 and the winner will be announced on 10 April.

Finally, we’ve pitched LabourStart this year to win the Why I Chose .org prize for $5,000. The winner will be announced sometime after 31 March.

The weeks in review – 7-20 February 2014

berlin-logo-300Berlin conference:  We’ve made lots of progress on a wide range of issues, most of the work having been done by the organizing committee in Berlin.

We’re now up to 352 registered participants from 58 countries with the largest groups coming from Germany (77), the UK (49) and Nigeria (31).

Because of the very large number of people who’ve signed up to come from Africa, we’ve actually done a mailing to all of them and have recruited some new correspondents.  We’ve also been warned that some of these will not be representatives of genuine independent and democratic trade unions and are showing caution in who gets invitation letters (to get a visa into Germany).

Because of number of registrants we did consider moving the conference to a larger venue, but the majority of members of the organizing committee decided to stick with our current venue.

We’re still putting together the agenda, organizing solidarity housing for the 147 registrants who requested it, working on the visas, dealing with interpretation into the various languages, and much more.

Only 3 months to go!

Campaigns:

  • It seems like we’re about to launch a new campaign in support of workers in Korea — details coming soon.
  • We were going to close down the Sri Lanka campaign today, after three months, but IndustriALL has requested an extension.
  • We received a lovely email from the union at the Labatt brewery where our campaign helped them win their very long strike — and we emailed our entire list about this win.
  • We also received a message updating the Huber Ballesteros campaign (see below).
  • We closed two campaigns — Mexico and a UK-only campaign but haven’t gotten updates back from either union.  It’s very important that unions which request campaigns from us report back to us on a regular basis and particularly when a campaign ends.

New language: We now have LabourStart in Hungarian — with some news already added by our only senior correspondent who speaks the language …

News interface: Now available in Italian for our Italian-speaking correspondents.

MailChimp: We’ve had our first mailings done by users other than me (which I need to approve) and these have been successful.  It’s great to share the load here.

Donations: I’ve now fixed the donations page so that if you’re donating in US dollars, the USA becomes your default country; if in Australian dollars, Australia is your default country, and so on.  This had been causing problems for some Americans trying to donate by credit card via PayPal.