Guyana Sevashram Sangha explains action

first_imgExpulsion of Swami Shivashankarananda… ex Swami registered new body to maintain controlExecutive Members of the Guyana Sevashram Sangha have explained their recent decision to expel Swami Shivashankarananda, previously known as Suraj Singh, the administrator of the Cove and John Ashram.Expelled Swami Shivashankarananda, previously known as Suraj SinghOn Friday, the executive body announced via an advertisement in a local newspaper the expulsion of the Swami (monk), upon instruction by the board of directors of the parent Bharat Sevashram Sangha, based in India. The Sangha founded in 1917 has many ashrams around the world including Guyana.In accordance with the Sampradaya principle of Hinduism, authority in the organisation is based on the guru-shishya (mentor-student) tradition in which senior monks train individuals called Bramacharyas who are then invested with authority as Swamis or monks at some appropriate time. The authority always flows downward from the most senior monks of the Sangha at the Indian Main Ashram.Speaking with Guyana Times on Saturday, long-serving member and Advisor to the local executive board governing the Guyana Sevashram Sangha, Nawrang Persaud, explained that even though the Singh was relieved of his “Swami” title and asked to leave the Cove and John Ashram premises, former Swami Shivashankarananda has refused to accept a decision transmitted by two senior swamis who were appointed by the India-based Head Office to take over the management of the Guyana Sangha.It is understood that there is a group of individuals who are behind the ex-Swami to seize control of the Ashram which has vast holdings of land and property. They have registered an organisation at the Deeds Registry under the Miscellaneous Deed process, whereas the Ashram, under its present trustees and board, is properly and legally registered under the Friendly Society Act.Persaud related that following the death of his predecessor, Swami Vidyanandaji Maharaj, (former Head of the Cove and John Ashram) in October last year, former Swami Shivashankarananda was appointed administrator of Guyana Chapter, in accordance with the authority structure flowing from India.However, Persaud noted that while he was there for a number of years as a Brahmachari he was elevated to the position of swami somewhat as a matter of expediency.“He assumed head of this organisation without the full background and training and skills, and so on… But from the time he came on, the organisation started going downhill because he did not have the leadership skills, he did not have sufficient knowledge of Hinduism or the Sangha organisation,” Persaud said.He went on to highlight that former Swami Shivashankarananda’s shortcomings became obvious as time progressed but he was not amendable to advice from elders at the helm of the local Sangha as is customary.It was noted that complaints by the public and members against the now ex-swami for violations of the rules, to the Senior Swamis of the Order began even before his appointment as head of the Ashram.“He was thrust into a position of authority but he did not have the capacity to handle that length of responsibility so a number of things went wrong, including two instances that have come to light about his personal life not being in synced with the behaviour of someone who is a religious leader… so all these things became known to the Head Office of this organisation,” the advisor stated.Out of grave concern for his behaviour, the Head Office summoned him to India for a face-to-face meeting as an “attempt to rehabilitate” him from his conduct, but he refused to make the visit by the April 27, 2016 deadline.Following this, a second attempt was made at his rehabilitation in May when the India-based Head Office ordered his transfer from the Guyana Sevashram to the Los Angeles Sevashram Sangha in the United States, where he would have been under the direct supervision of Swami Purnatmananda-ji Maharaj, Secretary of all Western Branches of the Bharat Sevashram Sangha. In that environment he would have been trained for tasks that he could not perform henceforth, within the guru-shishya tradition.However, he again refused to be relocated and instead, accused senior Swamis Bhajanananda of Canada and Shiveshwarananda of USA, who were directly deputed by the Head Office to manage the affairs of the Guyana Chapter, of not having the authority of the Bharat Sevashram Sangha.This forced the Head Office to send one of its more senior monks, Swami Atmajnanananda, the Secretary of the Dehli Branch, to personally deliver the letter (dated June 7) of his expulsion.However, Persaud explained that before the letter was handed to him, Purnatmananda-ji Maharaj who also accompanied Swami Atmajnananda, earlier this week met with the former monk and pleaded with him to travel to Los Angeles to redeem himself.“Swami-ji was telling him that even though you have this expulsion letter, we can still appeal for you to go to Los Angeles but he was abusive to Swami-ji, who was begging him with folded hands, pleading for him to go back with him… He refused to acknowledge the need to improve himself and to become a better leader. He didn’t accept it.” Persaud added.The member told this newspaper that the decision was not an off-the-cuff one but was reluctantly taken after all other measures failed. In one of the correspondences from the Head Office to the former swami, which was seen by Guyana Times, several concrete instances of improper actions were cited.Speaking to several prominent members of the local Hindu Community, both lay and ordained, Guyana Times was told that outsiders cannot overrule the authority of a Monastic Order such as the Bharatiya Sevashrama Sangh even through legal manipulations and technicalities.Such an approach is antithetical to the fundamental tenets of Hinduism, which makes decisions based on the senior monks reaching consensus through discussion on issues.The local officials of the Ashram emphasised that the avenue for the expelled swami to be rehabilitated and returned to the fold is still open once the guru-shishya tradition is followed.last_img read more

EASSy undersea cable on track

first_imgConstruction of the Eastern Africa Submarine Cable System (EASSy), a 9 900km-long optical submarine cable between Durban and Port Sudan, is expected to begin in mid-December after a group of development banks including the International Finance Corporation (IFC) announced a US$70.7-million investment in the project. The IFC said in a statement issued on Monday that it would provide long-term financing to the value of $18.2-million, while the African Development Bank, the European Investment Bank, Germany’s development bank KfW and the French development bank AFD would jointly provide the rest. The total cost is $235-million and the rest of the financing will be provided by a consortium of 25 private telecommunications operators, 21 of which are African and will be the cable’s main capacity users. The consortium earlier signed a turnkey contract with Paris and New York-listed network solutions provider Alcatel-Lucent to lay the fibre-optic cables for EASSy. “It is a major accomplishment to have finalised the loan financing of this complex project,” IFC chief executive Lars Thunell said. “This is a vote of confidence for the continent. The project will transform the African telecommunication landscape and have a direct positive impact on business in East Africa.” EASSy will link Sudan to South Africa via Djibouti, Somalia, Tanzania, Madagascar and Mozambique. It will have landing points in Port Sudan, Djibouti, Mogadishu (Somalia), Dar Es Salaam (Tanzania), Toliary (Madagascar), Maputo (Mozambique), and Mtunzini in South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal province. Botswana, Burundi, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Chad, Ethiopia, Lesotho, Malawi, Rwanda, Swaziland, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe will also be linked to the system as terrestrial cables known as the Nepad ICT Broadband Network, which aims to free the continent from its dependence on expensive satellite systems to carry voice and data traffic. Nepad (the New Partnership for Africa’s Development) is the African Union’s blueprint for socio-economic development on the continent. According to the IFC, consumers along the east coast of Africa typically pay between $200 and $300 a month for internet access, which are some of the world’s highest and have an adverse economic impact. “As a result of the EASSy cable, prices for international connectivity will drep by two-thirds at the outset, and the number of subscribers will triple. Because the project gives open access to service providers, prices will fall further as volume and competition increases,” the IFC states.last_img read more

Social Marketing: The 3 Big Problems Working With Influencers

first_imgGuest author Will Stevens is an off-site SEO specialist at, the UK’s largest accredited domain name registrar.Advertising used to be easy – some harassed salesman would ring you up, offer space and, if the potential demographic and price matched your needs, you’d say yes. You’d get a shiny full-page ad, and the guy who sold it to you would be a little closer to his sales target for the quarter, and a little less likely to be fired.Then the internet arrived and everyone got fired anyway.OK, so that’s overly simplistic, but it broadly describes a period of time when advertising was a fairly straightforward business transaction based on cost and potential outcomes.Social media has changed that forever.As Brian Proffitt’s coverage of the Technorati 2013 Digital Influence report indicates, part of this complexity manifests itself in the difficulty of tracking down those who can spread a brand’s message effectively. But getting to grips with the social media landscape is a just tiny fraction of the problem.Because even once you’ve identified the influencers, you still have to get them to play ball, and it’s here the real disconnect between brands and influencers becomes apparent.The First Big Problem: Getting NoticedEven the most awkward teenager knows that the key to popularity lies with an endorsement from someone who has already achieved that status. It’s the getting them to notice you part that’s hard. (In fact, this problem is so well documented it forms the plot of an entire subgenre of movies set in American high schools during the 1980s, many of them starring Michael J Fox. Unfortunately, suddenly discovering you’re a werewolf who happens to be really good at basketball isn’t an option for most brands.)Why? Because…The Second Big Problem: Influence Is A Closely Guarded PositionThere are several reasons for that, not all of them as altruistic or selfless as those who enjoy a position of influence might have you believe.Obviously, there are issues related to the quality and trustworthiness of the content influencers point people towards. More importantly, though, a position of influence can be diluted and hence must be protectedIf you write a blog about Product *X* and then suddenly one of the leading manufacturers of Product X wants you to promote their efforts you’re going to think twice before giving them access to your audienceEven passively encouraging people to seek out fresh sources of the information that interests them, you increase the chances they will become less reliant on you telling them what’s going on – and that dilutes your influenceThe key factors here are jealousy and fear: Major brands that neglected social networks in the early days now covet the power wielded by those who embraced them early on. And those “early embracers” now worry the brands will slowly erode their hard-won powerClearly deals are done and influence garnered, but this is far more complicated than just buying an ad. In fact, bruised egos and sulking are far more common outcomes than win-win dealsWhy? Because…The Third Big Problem: Brands Are BrandsBrands have to be tightly defined or else they are nothing. But influencers have similar issues of their own. Put simply, brands want advertising and influencers want content their audience will love. The medium has changed but one party wants the message to stay the same.Part of the problem is demographics. Social networks such as Twitter continue to espouse the importance of “who” is paying attention, even as anecdotal evidence suggests the Web is makinge a mockery of the idea that only people of certain ages like certain things and behave in certain ways.The rest of the problem is the belief – held by both brands and influencers – that people care about what they do.Sure, a few brands do command a cult-like influence over a significant number of customers, but for most brand-customer relationships are entirely utilitarian – customers want a product or a service that works. Period.The same goes for influencers – it’s the quality of the content they provide that keeps people coming back for more, not some slavish devotion to that particular individual.For example, I love Rand Fishkin’s Whiteboard Fridays over at SEOMoz – they’re incredibly useful and always engaging. In fact, they’re so useful I wouldn’t care if Nike slipped Rand $50,000 to wear a branded baseball cap during one of the videos, although I would certainly appreciate it if he was open about the relationship.If, on the other hand, Rand suddenly decided to dedicate an entire Whiteboard Friday to the awesome new pair of sneakers he just got, not only would I be a little suspicious, I’d also be hugely bored.A Question Of BalanceIt’s a question of balance – brands can’t expect to have every little thing tweaked to their satisfaction in a non-traditional advertising environment. To build relationships with social influencers, brands need to stop being so precious about their corporate identities. Instead, they should think about what they can do for the audience they want to reach, because that’s what the biggest influencers, the ones who have already engaged that particular niche, are focused on.Influencers, on the other hand, need to take a more positive approach to things – a relationship with a brand doesn’t *have* to erode their position among their community.Journalists dream of having major brands approaching them because they know that relationship can be leveraged to generate amazing content. Influencers can do exactly the same.It used to be that advertising was a binary relationship with one person selling and the other buying. Now, the waters are considerably muddier. But that’s exciting. That means you can do more.Image courtesy of Shutterstock. will stevens Guide to Performing Bulk Email Verification Tags:#social media The Dos and Don’ts of Brand Awareness Videoscenter_img Related Posts Facebook is Becoming Less Personal and More Pro… A Comprehensive Guide to a Content Auditlast_img read more

How to Build Relationships and Achieve Fundraising Success in a Web 2.0 World

first_imgPresented October 10, 2008 at the The Technology in the Arts Conference in Pittsburgh. Download the slides [PDF] below.Social networking tools like Facebook, MySpace and blogs were the hot topic of the past year. So are they worth your time?  How can you fundraise successfully with Web 2.0?  Does using the Internet mean getting rid of your offline marketing tactics?Establishing your organization’s brand and presence on the Web, with opportunities for potential donors to learn, blog, question and connect, leads to community-building and, ultimately, long-term giving. Join Jono Smith, director of marketing at Network for Good, to learn how to build affinity for your organization and use your Web presence to turn Web visitors into Web donors.Session attendees will leave with:Practical tips for how (and why) to dive into online fundraisingAn understanding of the new “Web 2.0? model of online communicationsHow and why community-building works for fundraising, and how you can empower your supporters to become champions for your causeWhy Web 2.0 makes community-building easier for youSession Leader:Jono Smith is responsible for marketing Network for Good’s online fundraising services to nonprofit organizations.  Network for Good is a nonprofit organization that helps other nonprofits raise money and reach supporters online.  Network for Good has processed more than $200 million in donations for 30,000 nonprofits since its 2001 founding by AOL, Cisco and Yahoo!.  Prior to joining Network for Good, Jono spent eight years at SunGard Higher Education, where he was responsible for managing the company’s marketing efforts in Europe and the Middle East.  Jono also held marketing and sales positions at SCT and Campus Pipeline, before their acquisitions by SunGard.  Prior to this, Jono served in the Clinton Administration as Special Assistant to the Director of White House Communications.  Jono holds an undergraduate degree in English from Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles.  In his personal time, Jono has raised over $10,000 for AIDS vaccine research.last_img read more

Cranking Up Your Email Marketing for Fall Fundraising

first_imgGet more tips here: “10 Surprisingly Easy and Startlingly Effective Ways to Improve Your Nonprofit E-Newsletter” And check out Kivi’s weekly webinar schedule for real-world, affordable training on a variety of nonprofit marketing topics.© 2006-2008, EcoScribe Communications Presentation OutlineCrank Up Your Email Marketing: Six Steps for a Successful CampaignWhether your email campaign is about grassroots outreach, advocacy, or fundraising, the basic steps you need to take to pull it off are the same.Get an email newsletter service provider.This is a must-do. There are several affordable services for nonprofits, including Network for Good’s EmailNow powered by Emma. You shouldn’t use Outlook or your regular email account for many reasons, including the potential that you’ll be labeled as a spammer.  Email newsletter service providers will also save you tons of time (and money too) and give you lots of extras, like sign-up forms and open/click-through reports.Get your current mailing list into shape.Do you know who is on your mailing list? Understanding the typical person on your list will help you develop great content that works for your supporters.  Also consider ways to segment your list. For example, do you have two or three distinct audiences who really aren’t interested in the same types of articles and info from you? Carefully managing your list is the best way to avoid spam filters. Send what people want only to the people who really want it. Cull out bad, bouncing addresses and import email addresses you have collected offline with permission.Make it really easy for people to join your list and manage their own subscriptions.Put your sign-up form on your website in a very obvious place – ideally in your template so it appears on every page. Offer incentives to encourage people to sign-up (explain what goodies come in your newsletter, offer special downloads, etc.). Consider letting people segment themselves on the sign-up form by interest or how often they’d like to be emailed. Encourage people to change their email addresses themselves (if your system allows it) and respect all opt-outs. It’s better to lose a subscriber than to have that person tag you as a spammer.Create an editorial calendar a few months at a time.Think about what’s going on in the next few months, not only in your organization, but in your community and on the calendar (e.g., holidays, changing seasons). Pick a schedule that works for you and the people on your list based on past experience, such as monthly, twice a month, or weekly. If you aren’t sure where to start, try every two weeks and adjust from there. Plan out some topics, mixing good information with advocacy calls to action and fundraising appeals. Be prepared to adjust your topics based on what’s happening in the headlines (that shows you are timely and current, which are big bonuses in email marketing).Write and design your email messages – always with your readers in mind.Pay very close attention to your subject line – make it benefit-laden or intriguing for the reader.Talk directly and personally to your readers. Write articles that are timely, helpful, and interesting to them. Also makes sure readers understand how important they are to your success.If you aren’t comfortable with HTML, start with a template from your service provider. Design for the preview pane (those first few inches at the top of your message are vital), and use mostly text with a few good images. Remember to appeal to skimmers: use headlines, subheads and short chunks of text.Measure the results and track over time.How many people are opening the email? How about clicking on links and which ones? Who is following through on calls to action, like donating? How many people unsubscribed and which addresses bounced? Analyze your results and adjust accordingly in future emails.Read the full version of this article with additional tips here: Kivi Leroux Miller is president of and hosts a real-world, affordable weekly webinar series for do-it-yourself nonprofit marketing staff. Scroll down below to download the transcript and slides.Does your email newsletter have what it takes to turn casual observers into gung-ho supporters, and supporters into generous donors? Do they check their inboxes fervently and religiously chomping at the bit in anticipation of your organization’s next email? Or, rather than cracking open their wallets in search of the ATM card, are your email subscribers “filing” your emails away in the “read later” folder?During this Nonprofit 911 call, Kivi Leroux Miller, president of EcoScribe Communications and Nonprofit Marketing, will cover the basics of effective e-newsletters, including answers to those pesky questions about what to send and how often.In addition the basics, what next-step topics can you expect?Segmenting your listsUsing auto-responders (trigger emails) to get your supporters more deeply involved with your causeWriting calls-to-action that get your readers clickinglast_img read more

10 Strategies for Recession Fundraising

first_imgThe Chronicle of Philanthropy has a great series up right now with 10 things to do now, to raise money during the downturn. You need a subscription to read the full articles but here’s their list. It is based on interviews with a variety of organizations. Some of these are back-to-basics ideas, which is what a lot of people are focusing on. Others are about being  frugal and innovative. All excellent ideas these days.Don’t treat giving as a financial transaction. Tell donors how their giving is making the world a better place and don’t just focus on the perks they will receive (e.g. “you get a newsletter and four free tickets” — this is especially important for arts organizations).Keep close ties to donors. Don’t make your only contact with donors be solicitations. Focus on thanking and showing impact. Find ways to let donors see the impact for themselves.Offer matching grants. Ask a loyal donor or funder to provide the match.Ask donors to give monthly. ‘Nuff said.Look for ways to save money on fundraising. Trim special event expenses or eliminate programs that aren’t serving you well. Look for ways to move your communications online. Freeze salaries. Renegotiate with your vendors and consultants (don’t know about this one!).Seek alternatives to soliciting private donations. Can you rent some of your space to another organization? Start a social enterprise? Develop a cause-marketing partnership with a corporation?Collaborate to raise money. You can have greater impact and generate more attention by working with others. For example, ten grassroots organizations serving people with disabilities could put on one large event instead of each having their own. They would probably raise more, hold a better event and get more attention than doing it alone.Scale back ambitious campaigns, but don’t give up on them. You may have to scale back on the goal or increase the length of your “quiet phase” where the lead gifts are solicited.Avoid emergency solicitations. Asking donors to bail you out or save you from impending demise is not an appealing message — who wants to invest in an organization on the brink of collapse? Instead, tell people how the economy is hurting the people you serve and the issues you work on.Shore up relations with grant makers. It is going to take some time before endowment-based funders can get back to decent levels of giving, but that doesn’t mean you should stop paying attention to them. Be on their list when giving resumes, by being in touch and continuing to show them you are making a difference. Source: read more