What Is Being Done In Your Name While You Are Away From The Office?

I flipped my notepad over today and realized there was an important point I omitted from my discussion of the Americans for the Arts webinar I cited yesterday. Important enough that I am doing a very rare Thursday post.

Mollie Quinlan-Hayes from ArtsReady made participants aware that there are already scammers out there raising funds in the name of arts entities and other non-profits. The fact so many people are working from home and not staffing office phones or regularly monitoring social media traffic may leave organizations unaware that there is suspicious activity going on in your name. At the very least, be sure you are paying attention to any use/mentions of your organization on social media so you are aware of how your name is being used.

Some other important, though less crucial tips that came up in Mollie Quinlan-Hayes’ section of the webinar yesterday that I didn’t mention was suggestions organizations work on some of their emergency planning resources. Like:

•Drop Dead Book – document of processes and procedures someone else can follow if you were to drop dead.
•Bug out Bag/Box – if you need to evacuate your office quickly, can you grab what you need to work remotely in a short amount of time

Another suggestion was to do cross training having staff interview each other about their jobs so that there isn’t only one person who knows how to do the work.



Small, But Growing Resources & Ideas For Live Streaming Your Covid-19 Displaced Events

As I mentioned in my post yesterday, Americans for the Arts hosted a webinar on the impact of Covid-19 today. At its peak, there were over 800 participants.

With all those people watching, there were a lot of serious questions posed. If you have the time, it would be worth watching the recording when it is posted in the next 24 hours or so. Pay particular attention to the chatroom because people were trading a lot of useful links.

I wanted to share some of the links because a number are very helpful if you are considering livestreaming events.

But first, Americans for the Arts and others are trying to collect information about the impact the current crisis is having on arts organizations so they can do some lobbying for relief. They are asking people to complete the survey found here. There are also a lot of other resources on that page so check it out.

Association of Performing Arts Professionals also has resources and appeals for Congressional action.

If you have visa questions about foreign artists, Covey Law has updates about consular offices and answers about visa extensions.

In terms of streaming resources.

•Someone posted this flow chart for musicians to help them decide what streaming service to use based on whether they want to monetize the experience or not.

•A really good resource about deciding to stream, what do use for video vs audio, and whether you want to monetize or not can be found in this Google doc. I am not clear who is updating it, but they are providing a great service. There is also an calendar of some upcoming livestream events toward the bottom. Even if you aren’t interested in the content of the event, it could be worth seeing how people are structuring their livestream to get tips for your own effort.

•A participant also pointed to this Better Lemons page that has resources and ideas for viewing parties, etc

•Someone also created a Facebook group, (on the fly during the webinar, I suspect) where you can list your livestream event as well.

Don’t Ignore “Can’t Use My Tickets” Posts On Your Social Media Page

I wrote a post that appeared on Artshacker today about ticket scams occurring in the comments section of performing arts organization social media accounts.

Essentially, what happens is that a short time out from an event, posts start appearing in the comments section of your organization’s Facebook page apparently from people who need to get rid of their tickets because they have a conflict with the date.

The biggest, most immediate tell-tale sign that this is a scam is realizing there are more tickets offered for re-sale than have been purchased. In the screenshots I posted as examples, the $5 movie we were offering only had 16 advance tickets sold but there were at least 54 tickets being offered for sale. This doesn’t count all the offers we deleted.

You also need to wonder about the promised heavy discounts people were offering on a $5 ticket that made it worth texting or sending a direct message to a stranger.

Another thing I see if I don’t catch the fake post in time is tickets being offered for free that suddenly have a price attached if someone responds with interest.

The answer, of course, is that most of these accounts were bots.  If you follow the link back to the poster’s account, you might find pictures of the person with family and friends which make it look legitimate (and I suspect some were real accounts that were hijacked) but others you notice some big inconsistencies like the fact their residence is in Sweden and they work for a company in Spain.

As I note in my Arts Hacker post, the simplest solution of shutting down commenting or requiring every comment to be approved can impede spontaneous reactions and conversations that create a sense of trust and community. Not to mention, it is difficult to conduct engagement campaigns if people are limited in their interactions.

Additionally, if people do get caught in a scam, it is likely to result in a negative association with, and perhaps distrust of, the organization on whose social media page the scam appeared.

If you knew you got a virus on a website or had your credit card number stolen on a gas pump skimming device, you would probably avoid returning, right?

One thing I didn’t mention in my original post but won’t probably come as a big surprise to many is that it is nigh-impossible to get the social media site to shut the scams down. We had a recent case where a person/bot posted their ticket offerings on their own page and tagged our page. I have to think this was a mistake and couldn’t have been effective because when we visited the page, there were more than 50 identical posts from a “woman” whose husband was deathly ill and couldn’t make dozens of monster truck rallies, concerts at bars, events at performing arts centers, many of them occurring at the same time across Canada and the United States.

We reported the page to Facebook. Even if it wasn’t a scam, a personal page was being used to conduct commerce. The response we got was that it didn’t violate any rules.

Anyway, check out the post on Arthacker, if nothing more than to see the screenshot examples of the type of posts you might encounter. I wouldn’t be surprised if the same names popped up on your social media pages.

Scammers In Your Social Media Community

Finally, A Procurement Platform For Non-Profit Arts

Finally, a dream a decade in the making is coming to fruition!   Though I am sure he doesn’t recall it at all, in a post back in 2010 I had suggested that Drew McManus’ Venture Industries develop a platform upon which non-profit arts organizations could solicit competitive bids for goods and services.

In the past week, Drew has announced just such a service. Starting in mid-March he will be rolling out Non-Profit Bids, a site that will connect vendors with non-profits circulating requests for proposals (RFP) to provide goods and services. Right now he is looking for organizations to submit their RFPs and for providers to add themselves to a list of companies & individuals with available goods and services.

When I wrote my original post, I was working for a state university which required everyone to use their online RFP system to solicit goods costing over a certain dollar amount. We would often use it for goods that fell below that threshold because there could be significant price differences for the same goods.  Even if the price differences are relatively small, soliciting bids online saved a lot of staff time that might have been spent calling or emailing around for competitive bids.

Now as a state institution, we had to go with the lowest bidder or submit a very detailed rationale why we didn’t. You wouldn’t necessarily be tied to accepting the lowest bidder with Non-Profit Bids

On the other hand, we had the buying power of a national consortium of universities behind us to make sure vendors delivered on their promises.

Regardless of how strictly you must adhere to purchasing guidelines, my advice on any RFP you submit is to be as detailed as possible. Do not assume features that are important to you will be included just because the private consumer version with which you are familiar has that feature. If something is mandatory, state that. If there is flexibility or the example you are using is just for general reference, state that as well.

My hope is that Non-Profit bids will really catch on and become perceived as worthwhile to an increasing number of organizations and vendors. Since I wrote the entry 10 years ago, it has become increasingly possible for people to offer services at significantly greater distances so the potential to secure high quality services suitable to your organization and its budget is so much greater.

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