An Update from the Avalanche Center
Featured Contents -
Topics of interest featured in this update:
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We are a finalist for the top Non-Profit on the social and business networking site Fastpitch. It's not known what the benefits of winning are, but you may as well help us find out by voting. You can vote once per day here:
Help with Graphics files needed - I was going to send our logo file for bookmark printing, and decals should follow shortly also. The file(s) need to be in CMYK format and all of our graphics these days are in RGB format (using Fireworks which is for web graphics). For somebody with the right software and some experience using it this conversion is probably a simple task, and it should take somebody like that far less time than it will take me. This printing has already been delayed long enough due to a lack of time given all the other work this project requires. If you can help out with this let me know.
The auction was restarted after the holidays and is now continuing. We traditionally rush to make everything available before the holidays, and some bidders take advantage of that. To others it doesn't matter. We extended the auction past the holiday season once before with success, and it may be better to just run it mid-season anyway.
Some items sold back in December but quite a few are left. We have a special donation of a guided day trip in Glacier Park (US) for four. This is a great opportunity for somebody, but it will only appeal to people planning on going to that area or interested in going there. Pass the word to anyone who may be interested, and mention it on any lists or forums with the right focus. (National Parks forums/groups, etc.)
If you make a winning auction bid (of any amount on any item) or you make a purchase from the store which totals $100 or more a years membership is included free.
It is also possible to use our auction to sell your own items. Any outdoor related items can be posted. There is no fee or charge, but we hope that people will make a donation to the Avalanche Center when they succeed in selling something.
We are using the auction and its "Buy it Now" option to offer matching prices on beacons when we are aware of discounts available elsewhere. Most companies have some kind of policy prohibiting us from listing their items below suggested retail on a regular sales page. In the current economy other retailers will report us if we do. However, some retailers do somehow manage to sell at a discount and as long as that's the case we can and will match them. Gladly. Look for a good deal on the PIEPS DSP at the moment. Let us know if you find another discount we should be matching, on any beacon.
Budget and Fundraising - http://www.avalanche-center.org/Organization/finance/
Early season store sales were about average, they didn't seem to drop off much. Since the holidays things have been very slow. Aggressive discount matching will probably be necessary as the economy continues its downhill slide. There is no good reason for people to buy avalanche equipment anywhere else - we will match any price and include a membership for one year. And revenues from our store help support our internet resources, many of which are free to everyone.
The part of our budget coming from contributions is much lower than it used to be. The small membership donations of $35 each that we usually count on are dropping off significantly. However, many regular supporters are still contributing more than that. If you use the site without donating you owe these supporters some gratitude since they make it possible.
Remember that you can support the Avalanche Center every time you do a web search or make a purchase from almost any major online store. Make goodsearch your default search engine and we will get just over one cent for every search. Goodshop helps even more, and all you have to do is go to the retailer of your choice from their site. Rather than go directly to Amazon, for example, follow the Goodshop link. (Making sure your choice for the CSAC is reflected on their site.) You pay the same amount you would otherwise but a percentage is donated to us. This is easy to do but also easy to forget.
Goodsearch remembers who to donate to with cookies, so make sure you preserve the one they set if you manage cookies in some way. And verify your choice of the CSAC Avalanche Center on their homepage now and then.
If all our supporters and users did some searches though Goodsearch and some of their shopping through Goodshop it could make a big difference. Especially given our minimal budget.
If anyone has any questions or comments about our budget (or any other aspect of how things are run) please feel free to post them in the Feedback section on our forums. ( http://www.avalanche-center.org/phpBB2/) You do not need to register, although posting as a guest requires jumping through a few hoops in order to keep out the spammers.
Facebook and Social Networks
Over the summer we set up accounts on a number of social networking sites. The most noteworthy is Facebook, where we have both an account and a page you can become a fan of. If you use facebook make the Avalanche Center a friend, our page is https://www.facebook.com/avalanche.center/ and friend requests can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
We're up to 88 friends, and we're a member of several relevant groups. Lately a lot of new friends have shown that we have "one friend in common". This is because Sarah sent many other people invitations or suggestions or whatever it is you send on facebook. This is the kind of help we can use! More recently we've had a few friends in common, usually Sarah and one or two others. So the network aspect of this seems to be working and word is spreading.
Help us keep up the momentum and invite or suggest your friends and contacts to become friends of the avalanche center. If you're not on facebook consider joining it, in addition to showing support for the avalanche center you'll probably find quite a few people you know on there. Maybe even some old friends you've lost touch with. It's surprising how popular it's become.
Members - http://www.avalanche-center.org/members/
There are extra features available to members. Since it's late and a members update is overdue these will be reviewed in a special update to our members list sometime soon. Anyone who is, or has been, a member is on that special list. Every now and then we send something out about benefits and account management.
Membership requires a minimum donation of $35 and is good for one year. Posts on all forums earn "forum dollars" and those can be applied towards membership, among other things. There is a rarely used lottery there also, to leverage the dollars from your posts. Membership also comes with any store purchase exceeding $100 (including sale items) and all winning auction bids. The auction always includes some very low price items. With so many options available there is no reason for membership to be out of reach for anyone.
News, Incidents and Social Bookmarking
The News and Incidents sections are being updated as efficiently as possible, so look for new material in both of them. One thing we have done on the "social networking" or "social bookmarking" front is to make it easier to bookmark many specific pages on sites like Mixx, Del-icio-us, Digg, and others. Including Facebook and MySpace which let you post or share bookmarks. At the top and bottom of each news story page, and at the top of each incidents page (for members), there is a "share" icon. Hold your mouse over this and an abbreviated list of sites for bookmark sharing will appear. If you're favorite one isn't there choose "More..." and it will probably be on the full list.
These sites let you share items with others by bookmarking them on their site. In some cases you can also vote on pages or review them. We have a couple good reviews already, without promoting the idea at all. We can always use more though.
We already have 32 reports posted reflecting 40 fatalities. Most of these, but not all, are in North America. Much of the holiday season was spent keeping up with these, and some aspects are still behind. International reports have not been actively updated, only a few that show up in mainstream news sites are included right now. The ones in the US and Canada are not complete and there are additional reports to add to the files and the advisories need to be archived with the incident reports yet. We are the only site on the web to link full archived copies of the bulletins into the report, and our reports include a lot more information than you can find in any one place elsewhere.
A substantial amount of information is added after the fact, either because it takes time to catch up or because it becomes available later. Members can join an email list that is used much of the time to let people know what was added in a particular update. When things are too busy the list doesn't get updated, and it hasn't been used this season yet. But as things hopefully get back under control after the auction, holidays, and fundraising efforts this list should cover most of the mid-winter updates.
Education - http://www.avalanche-center.org/Education/
The primary mission of the CSAC Avalanche Center has always been awareness and education.
Our major new initiative is to offer online education. We now have a complete set of Level 1 modules available, as mentioned in the last update. Since it is late (although not unusually so at 1:30am, for the workload) there will be more on this in another update. There are special rates for members so it may next be covered in the members update.
There is a link to the Avalanche Institute at the top of the Education Center page. Much of the detailed description information for the public (non-student) website is still being rewritten and reviewed, but the course has been run with actual students in different locations, as well as select invited reviewers, and has been highly successful.
There are several ways you can help us out and show your support:
Please help us out and join, contribute, bid in the auction, and spread the word. Mention the auction (and the deals!) on forums you participate in.
Some links in parting: