Thursday, April 30, 2009

Chantilly-Based Nonprofit Federation Draws 21 From United Way - Loudoun Philanthropist Interviewed

Per the Washington Post article:

"Twenty-one area nonprofit groups have suspended their memberships in the United Way and joined a fledgling competitor, citing years of frustration with a steady decline in workplace giving in the Washington region and lingering distrust of the local United Way since it was nearly destroyed by scandal earlier this decade. The new group, called Community1st, includes some of the region's most prominent nonprofits, including the Make-a-Wish Foundation of the Mid-Atlantic, WETA public television and the Whitman-Walker Clinic. The nonprofits' leaders are scheduled to announce the move at a news conference this morning, where they will be joined by officials from America's Charities, the Chantilly-based federation that will oversee their alliance."

We turned to a prominent local independent philanthropy professional, Diana Kingsbury-Smith Keesee, VP for Fundraising & Public Relations of the paws4people(TM) Inc. Foundation of Round Hill, VA, for some additional background...

DSO - What's your take on this news from "America's Charities", the Chantilly-based Federation heading this new alliance?

Diana - The Washington Post article about America's Charities and Community1st provided a lot of very interesting and important information for all non-profits. While our organization, paws4people(TM), Inc., is not yet affiliated with America's Charities, we are a participating charity in the Combined Federal Campaign of the National Capital Area so that federal employees have the opportunity to support paws4people by earmarking their donations for our CFC number 19234.

DSO - Was this withdrawal expected, and will more occur? How does this action reflect the environment your organization faces?

Diana - Unfortunately, this withdrawal was not surprising, and more of this type of withdrawal will occur because of the volatile economic situation and the public's demand for greater accountabilty in both the for-profit and non-profit communities, as well as federal and state funding. Fortunately for our own organization, our efforts including (a) programs to rescue dogs from euthanasia, (b) the dogs' training by prison inmates participating in our paws4prisons program (, and (c) the dogs' placement with wounded warriors suffering from PTSD ( are generating increased support for paws4people Inc. In fact, there has been a significant increase over the past twelve months in the level of support we are getting from individuals and corporations. Although the primary reason for this increased support are the dramatic, life-changing benefits all our paws4people programs are providing to society, the fact that our fundraising/administrative costs are well below the traditionally accepted 25% for non-profits is also a very positive factor.

DSO - What benefits do you expect these nonprofits to find in their new
consortium, "Community1st", that they were unable to achieve under the
United Way? Should others seek to join alliances like this?

Diana - There are many benefits in working within a consortium such as Community 1st: pooling resources, access to affordable marketing, cutting costs, etc. For instance, America's Charities provides the non-profits in its Community1st consortium with lower overhead costs (6.5%), customized fundraising campaigns and fewer restrictions on where donors' money is directed and, most important, it passes 98% of each donation to its non-profit groups. All these factors are causing non-profits to withdraw from United Way because, as reported in The Washington Post, " United Way keeps 10% of most donations to its member non-profit groups, and smaller donations go to a community fund, not the designated group...United Way cannot efficiently distribute small donations because of processing costs."

DSO - Are there other consortium models that nonprofits should consider as
alternatives to those like the United Way?

Diana - Yes, there are other consortium models that non-profits should look at. I recommend the online charitable raffles program for non-profit organizations, (, because it provides their donors with two important incentives. (1) The donor can choose the non-profit organization he/she wants his/her donation to benefit and (2), in exchange for his/her donation, the donor gets one or more raffle tickets with incredibly good odds of winning from $20 to $1,000,000. A chance to win up to $1,000,000 while you are providing support for the charitable cause you care most about is truly a WIN/WIN situation for individuals; and, this mechanism provides the non-profits that join the consortium with the opportunity to obtain, cost-free, a continuous stream of contributions.

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Saturday, April 25, 2009

Paws4Reading at the Ashburn Library

Here's an update on our Paws4Reading friends at the Ashburn Library - Paws4People dogs helping local kids to read and adjust...

Follow the Paws4People gang on twitter!


Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Best Barbeque in - Colorado Springs? B'z BBQ Westward Expansion

BBQ fans in Loudoun County, and Leesburg in particular, will remember B'z BBQ at the Mighty Midget Kitchen - just last year sold and converted into the Hamburg Donor. B'z world-famous BBQ is now found in Paeonian Springs, 40602 Charles Town Pike (a little west of Leesburg on Rt. 9), operating out of the Paeonian Grocery & Gourmet.

It's also found in Colorado Springs, CO, as we've discovered this week.

Somewhere between the 2nd and 3rd magnificent Rocky Mountain IPAs, compliments of the Rocky Mountain Brewery and Homebrew Supplier of Colorado Springs, hunger struck. Following a very east-coastish Parrothead soundtrack, I located the adjacent brewpub food outlet - called B'z BBQ. Could it be?

Over a spectacular Buffalo (!) Bratwurst with spicy, award-winning peach/habanero barbeque sauce, pepper fries w/Dusseldorf mustard and another IPA, my conversation with Dan (? - may have missed the name, on the 4th beer by now) confirmed the fact that this indeed was the western CONUS headquarters of B'z BBQ...a long-distance partnership between a Baltimore native and the original proprietor of the Leesburg B'z, Brian DeVaux.

Tucked in the shadow of Pike's Peak, NORAD/Cheyenne Mountain and Peterson Air Force Base (literally right near the entrance), B'z BBQ and its affiliation with the Rocky Mountain Brewery form a roadside meal and beer tasting combo not to be beat - with some Baltimore flavor, compliments of B'z westward expansion. Beyond our surprise at actually finding such an amazingly perfect beer/brat combo here in Colorado, and the fact that it in fact echoed the equally great fare found in Leesburg and local DC "Beer Country" establishments such as Vintage 50 (have you bought your Northern Virginia Beer Festival tickets yet?), they shared a place name - B'z of CO on Paoina Rd and B'z of VA at Paeonia Springs.

Paoina must be cowboy-talk for "BBQ and Beer in the Loudoun tradition".


A Field Trip to Charlie Foxtrot

From first-hand accounts, today's Little River LCPS field trip was an utter Charlie Foxtrot (if you don't know, guess - otherwise, perhaps, suffice it to say, not the best display of a well-managed public education institute).

Starting times and pupil-to-bus allocations were all mucked up at the start. The children's "I'm lost, call the school" stickers had non-working, old phone numbers for the school (this is both appalling and dangerous). Certain bus drivers forgot their Toll Road passes, and elected not to follow contingency protocol, but take an alternate route that cost another 30 mins delay (again, appalling). Therefore all classes arrived at the same time at the Botanical Gardens, instead of a staged arrival for crowd control. No matter, anyway, that not much is actually blooming at the gardens, yet, nor that there wasn't any kind of actual educational program or schedule to partake in - just another big play day, and utter waste of taxpayer money. Even the departure times weren't well-understood by some teachers.

And then, to top it off, we get our report card home, and for the 3rd time in a row, our son is referred to as a "her", nearly every sentence in the review has spelling or grammar errors, and the feedback is shallow and non-helpful.

Does this school, and perhaps others in Loudoun county, actually understand that a school is a business, we are its customers, and the children are absolute critical assets that need to be competently managed and protected? It doesn't seem so, based on this example.


Monday, April 20, 2009

Loudoun Dulles Youth Track Meet Spring 2009

Great turnout and the weather held off for the first Dulles Youth Track Meet at Freedom High School yesterday. Races included the 50 yd dash and 400...

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Thursday, April 16, 2009

Dulles South Public Safety Meeting - Tues Apr 21 - 7-8PM

From the Loudoun Sheriff's Dept.:

Loudoun County, Virginia - In an effort to better utilize resources, while at the same time providing a higher level of service to county residents, the Loudoun Sheriff's Office will be hosting quarterly public safety meetings in each of the four service areas of the county. All residents, homeowners associations, community groups, and town representatives are invited to attend.

Items to be discussed are recent crime and crime trends in your area, traffic safety concerns and other public safety related issues. The meetings will be led by a Loudoun County Sheriff's Office Captain who represents your service area. Also in attendance will be supervisors from the Criminal Investigations Division, the Special Operations Division, Community Police Officers, and Crime Prevention Deputies.

The schedule for the first series of meetings is:

• Dulles South: Tuesday, April 21, 2009 at the Dulles South Public Safety Center community room located at 25216 Loudoun County Parkway, Chantilly. The meeting will begin at 7:00 p.m. and last for 1 hour. Contact Captain Jeff Ebersole at with any questions.


Monday, April 13, 2009

Free Northern Virginia Driving Clinic for Women Thurs. April 23rd 7-9PM - At Curry's Auto Service - Chantilly, VA

FREE Northern Virginia Ladies' Driving Clinic - April 23 - 7-9 PM at Curry's Auto Service of Chantilly, VA

Arm yourself with the knowledge needed to survive on the roads of Northern Virginia!

Presented by Miriam Schottland of the DRIVELAB.

Register Here

Journalists - Find More Information Here about this press release.

Make sure your Fairfax or Loudoun County Auto Insurance is up to date!

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Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter in Loudoun County - New South Riding Church

To those who celebrate Easter, or simply celebrate spring and renewal in general...

A new church spire rises in South Riding, of the "Community Baptist Church" congregation...(lots more great pics at

Seen here as the sun rises...


... and sets over South Riding, VA.



Friday, April 10, 2009

DC & Northern Virginia Moms for a Cure - Rock On!

Here's a fantastic way to contribute to a great cause, join "Moms for a Cure" Team here in Northern Virginia, and kick of the DC-area Mother's Day festivities with live entertainment, bar, and a charity gift boutique & silent auction.

From the Moms for a Cure website:

"Each year the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society launches its Man & Woman of the Year fundraising campaign, and our team leader, Ari Hausfeld Jones, is one of this year’s nominees. During this year’s campaign from April 2 -June 13, our team’s goal is to raise $100,000, which will go directly to the Society in support of its longstanding mission to find a cure for blood cancers and improve the quality of life of patients and their families. This campaign is being held in 41 major cities nationwide. The Man & Woman of the Year titles will be awarded to each male and female team with the highest fundraising totals in the 10 week period."

Donate Here to Moms for a Cure

Moms, Dads, families - everyone - let's really motivate and demonstrate the DC metropolitan region and Northern Virginia as the most energized, philanthropic and mommy-powered area in the nation, as we already know it is.

More great Moms for a Cure fundraising events are underway!

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Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Northern Virginia, DC's Beer Country Earth Day Green Events - Plus a Summer Beer Festival!

Happy upcoming Earth Day, April 22nd! Have a beer - it's the Beer Festivus.

From Beerutopia - "You may not think of beer as a particularly Earth-friendly product but in many ways the world's oldest and most popular alcoholic beverage is very green. These days, the best beer is produced by craft or "micro" breweries. These small operations are inherently more sustainable because of their size. They are to the macro breweries (Anheuser Busch, Miller) what a local farmer is to the agricultural mega corporations. They often use locally available ingredients and only deliver their beer within a small geographical area. This cuts down on transportation which in turn cuts down emissions".

In short, beer is green, and beer fests are veritable fields of greenery.

Here in Northern Virginia and Loudoun County, otherwise known as "DC’s Beer Country" (nestled among the vines of DC’s Wine Country), local micro-breweries and brew pubs are very popular, though sparse, with some clear leaders and favorites. While "Old Dominion" long served as the region’s mainstay – it’s now gone the more "macro" route, bought last year by Coastal Brewing Company (out of Annapolis, 49% owned by Anheuser Busch), and some of the very best titles including "Tupper’s Hop Pocket" are no more. The new favorites, in our book, revolve around Leesburg, at Vintage 50 and Fireworks Pizza.Vintage 50’s Loudoun beer list as a micro-brewery and restaurant is fantastic, with weekly and monthly specials ranging from Extra Special Bitters to our favorite, Point of Rocks Pale Ale – "not for the hop impaired, and is known to induce hophead hysteria".

Earth Day (April 22nd) brings with it lots of great family events, including "Earth Day at Loudoun" (in Brambleton near Clyde’s – itself not without a decent beer menu). Rebounding from Earth Day, seek hop-stimulated conversations regarding "green or sustainable businesses in Loudoun County", over at the Loudoun "Green Enterprise and Beer – Loudoun Green Drinks" gathering in Broadlands, May 1st.

Rounding out a very green and enjoyable spring beer season in Virginia, it’ll be time to head over to the very popular Northern Virginia Summer BrewFest – the very best summer gathering of beer lovers and beer makers in the entire DC metropolitan region.

The Northern Virginia Summer BrewFest "A Celebration of American Beer" will be held at Morven Park in Leesburg, VA June 27-28, from 11am-9pm Saturday, and 11am-7pm Sunday. As a "microbrew festival", the Brew Festival in Loudoun County will feature over 40 of America’s best breweries, a variety of food to complement the craft beers and great local and regional bands to entertain you.

The following Breweries participated in 2008. The Northern Virginia Summer BrewFest expects many will return – the actual list of 2009 participating breweries will be posted on or about June 1.

  • Abita Brewing Co.
  • Allagash Brewing Co.
  • Anheuser Busch
  • Baltimore-Washington Beer Works
  • Bear Republic
  • Bells Brewing Inc.
  • Boston Beer Co.
  • Brooklyn Brewing Co
  • Callys
  • Clipper City Brewing Co./ Oxford B.C.
  • Dogfish Head Brewing Company
  • Fordham Brewing Company
  • Harpoon Brewing Company
  • Hook and Ladder Brewing Company
  • Lagunitas Brewing Company
  • Lancaster Malt Brewing Company
  • Mad River Brewing Company
  • Magic Hat brewing Company
  • Mendocino Brewing Company
  • New Holland Brewing Co.
  • Old Dominion Brewing Co.
  • Otter Creek Brewing Co./ Wolavers
  • St. George Brewing Co.
  • Sierra Nevada Brewing Company
  • Stone Brewing Company
  • Stoudt Brewing Co.
  • Starr Hill Brewing Company
  • Victory Brewing Co.
  • Vintage 50 Restaurant and Brew Lounge
  • Wild Goose
  • Flying Dog
  • Williamsburg Ale Works
  • Yuengling Brewing Company
  • North Coast Brewing Company
  • Kona Brewery
  • Lexington Brewing Company<
  • Smuttynose Brewing Co.
  • Oskar Blues Brewing Co.
  • Fisherman Brewing Co.
  • Coors Brewing Co.
  • Blue Moon Brewing Co.
  • Miller Brewing Co.
  • Leinenkuegals Brewing Co.
  • Pyramid Brewing Co.
  • Mad Fox Brewing Co.
  • Anchor Brewing Co.
  • Spoetzl Brewing Co.

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Friday, April 03, 2009

2009 Online Loudoun County Promotion Business Challenge - Month 2

Here’s an update on our 2009 Online Loudoun County Promotion Business Challenge, to help stimulate business investment in the county, attract more visitors and commercial investors, and overall generate a lot more positive and attractive attention for Loudoun County as a business investment destination. Sadly, the business community doesn't appear to have stepped up to the challenge – though the Government has. How do we know?

Consider what an investor, an investment company or simply a company or business looking for attractive communities and business climates would search for on the Internet, using Google for example. Analyzing and modeling search terms for maximum relevance, impact and legitimacy is part art and part science – and happens to be something we're very good at. As a marketing agency, here's how we break down the crucial search phrase that provides a close-to-realistic indicator of who's promoting Loudoun most effectively online:

The phrase – needs to be not too long, not too short, taking a cue from the most effective website "title" tags, i.e. no more than 70 characters


  • "Loudoun" – obviously; not necessary to include "county"
  • "Virginia" – will help attract searchers looking for more regional locations
  • "DC" – ditto
  • "Business" – this is the primary topic; singular is found in more adjective descriptions
  • "Location" – this is the secondary topic
  • "Invest" – an "action" attracter word
  • "Great" – a very common and easy to use/understand adjective used frequently
  • "Community" – a very commonly used measurement and focus of location-based investments

Order of Keywords/Keyphrases – the order is very important, as most terms near the front of the search query are deemed more important than those at the here's the final phrase we've come up with to measure who's promoting Loudoun business the best online:

"Loudoun Virginia business DC location great community invest"

(If you come up with a better generic, overall phrase - please suggest it!)


We've run the query against Google, and aggregated/sorted/de-duped to highlight business results that indicate their content actually promotes the County (and isn't just picking up these keywords randomly). So, given this fairly objective analysis, here are the top 16 businesses who appear to be currently doing more than any others in promoting Loudoun on the Internet as a business investment destination, whether intentionally or not:
(Note that your search engine results may vary a little, for many reasons)

  1. – intentional promotion
  2. KME Internet Marketing – intentional promotion
  3. Cardinal Bank – unintentional 3rd-party news reference, but good
  4. – relaying Governor Kaine’s comments about Raytheon moving to the County
  5. Loudoun County Virginia Business Networking – intentional promotion
  6. Telos Corporation – comments by John Wood indirectly via Loudoun's BizConnect (though mispelled)
  7. AOL Community Matters – intentional promotion (but it's from 2006!)
  8. Realty Direct Eastern Loudoun – intentional promotion
  9. Kae Davis, Real Estate Virtual IT Assistant – her “Active Rain” blog
  10. Tony Arko, Real Estate Consultant, Market Advantage Real Estate – his “Realdiablog”
  11. Ingrid Myers, Realtor - promoting Loudoun and Prince William counties
  12. Kelly McLaughlan – Blog repeats from Active Rain
  13. The Loudoun Times - Gateway to Loudoun Blog syndications
  14. Ellen F. Crawford CRS Broker Associate – RE/MAX
  15. Washington Metro Builder’s Realty Council

Using Social Media Search Engines, to try and see what conversations, tweets or mashes regarding these words is taking place, doesn't yield many commercial entities at all, save for a handful of realtors, the blogs at the Loudoun Times and LoudounExtra, and Gateway to Loudoun County (though a commenter in the Trump Blog recently checked in with a good entry).

Therefore, where are all the Loudoun businesses online, promoting in one way or another both their affiliation with the county, and support of it as a premier business investment destination? It's time to step up – we'll have another review next quarter – at the end of the year, whichever Loudoun business legitimately shows up the highest in these rankings, will get some very search-engine-optimized online kudos and press.

What can you do, as a Loudoun business? Simply start talking about how great the County is, on your website, your blog, Twitter, Flickr, Tumblr, Friendster - wherever. Just do it.