Italy, who last won the World Cup in 2006, are joined in the draw by fellow runners-up Switzerland, Croatia, Denmark, Northern Ireland, Sweden, the Republic of Ireland and Greece.While the Azzurri are the most star-studded of the countries competing in the play-offs, several of their rivals for a place in next year’s finals in Russia also have intriguing tales.Northern Ireland are within touching distance of a first World Cup berth since 1986 after Michael O’Neill’s men maintained the momentum from their successful qualification for Euro 2016.The Republic of Ireland will hope to avoid a repeat of their agonising World Cup play-off defeat against France in 2009, when Thierry Henry’s controversial handball helped eliminate them.Switzerland’s Granit Xhaka celebrates after scoring a goal during their FIFA 2018 World Cup qualifier match against Hungary, at the St. Jakob-Park Stadium in Basel, on October 7, 2017 © AFP/File / Fabrice COFFRINIThe Republic last made the World Cup in 2002, but they survived the play-offs to reach the European Championships in 2012 and 2016.Sweden, World Cup runners-up in 1958, finished behind France in their qualification group and are bidding to reach the finals for the first time since 2006.The eight qualified teams have been divided into two pots based on the world rankings announced by FIFA on Monday.Switzerland (11th), Italy (15th), Croatia (18th) and Denmark (19th) will be in pot one and will play one of the four teams in pot two.The second pot will contain Northern Ireland (23rd), Sweden (25th), Republic of Ireland (26th) and Greece (47th).The draw will take place at FIFA’s Zurich headquarters at 1200 GMT on Tuesday.The first legs will be held between November 9-11 and the second legs between November 12-14.The winner of each tie is decided by the aggregate number of goals each team scores over the two legs, while in the event of a draw on aggregate, the side with more away goals goes through.If there is no deciding factor at the end of normal time, then the tie will go to extra time, with the away-goals rule still applicable at the end of that period.If there is still no winner, then the tie will go to a penalty shoot-out.The ties will determine who qualifies from Europe alongside group winners France, Portugal, Germany, Serbia, Poland, England, Spain, Belgium and Iceland.0Shares0000(Visited 1 times, 1 visits today) 0Shares0000Italy’s Antonio Candreva celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal during their FIFA 2018 World Cup qualification match against Albania, in Shkoder, on October 9, 2017 © AFP/File / Dimitar DILKOFFLONDON, United Kingdom, Oct 17 – Italy will learn their World Cup play-off fate on Tuesday as the four-time winners join seven other European countries in the draw for the decisive two-legged ties.Gian Piero Ventura’s side have been forced to take their chances in the treacherous play-offs after finishing second in their qualifying group behind Spain.
In tribal-dominated Jhargram and Purulia districts of West Bengal, the BJP performed remarkably well in the recently concluded rural elections.In at least one block in Jhargram, on the Bengal-Jharkhand border, the BJP left seats for a tribal outfit, Adivasi Samanvay Manch, backed by the outlawed CPI(Maoist).BJP’s State president Dilip Ghosh acknowledged that they had a seat adjustment with the ASM. “We did not put up candidates where they [ASM] did, as we both were fighting the TMC to limit vote division. We know them [ASM] and may work together in future. But [we] do not have any formal understanding,” Mr. Ghosh said. He denied the allegation made by State Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress head Mamata Banerjee that the BJP is “closely working” with the Maoists.“In earlier elections the TMC performed well in the area. Did they work with the Maoists,” asked Mr. Ghosh. Owing to the seat adjustment in at least three gram panchayats — Bhulaveda, Banshpahari and Shimulpal – in Binpur II block, the BJP and ASM managed to decimate the TMC.Maoists’ appealOfficials in the State intelligence confirmed that the Maoists made an appeal to the people to vote for the Independent candidates of ASM before the rural polls.“They even put up posters. Some of their members were with the Maoists,” an official said. Veteran CPI(ML) leader from Jhargram, Niranjan Bera, too confirmed the information. “The ASM is backed by a powerful tribal organisation — Bharat Jakat Majhi Pargana Mahal. The Maoists, too, made an appeal to back ASM,” he said.Mukul Roy, former TMC leader who is now with the BJP, spent substantial time in the area before the election. He met the family members of Chhatradhar Mahato, who was arrested in 2009 by the CPI(M) government for alleged links with the Maoists.The TMC came to power in 2011 but did not grant amnesty to Mr. Mahato, a popular leader, who was instrumental in developing a base for the party in the area. In both Jhargram and Purulia districts, the TMC’s performance dipped.TMC’s ‘poor’ showIn Jhargram, the BJP bagged 329 [42%] seats. It is far higher than the BJP’s State average of 18% of contested seats. The TMC, on the other hand, got 48% of seats in Jhargram as compared to its State average of 66% at the gram panchayat level. Jhargram has nearly 30% tribal population compared to the State’s average of about 6%.In Purulia, which has about 20% tribal population, the BJP bagged 33% as compared to the TMC’s 43% seats. Minister of Backward Classes Welfare Churamani Mahato admitted that the TMC’s performance in the tribal districts was “disappointing”.“Despite the good work, the results [in tribal areas] have been disappointing. Some of our leaders fought among themselves, while many contested as Independent,candidates” he said.
Laying a great foundation for the expansion of your nonprofit’s marketing and donation efforts can help you find success now while planning long-term goals. Below is a list of priorities to help you focus your time and maximize your impact ASAP.Photo from Flickr member one tiny sparkThanking donors creatively is one of the short-term priorities you can focus on now. Consider sending thank you notes from volunteers, community members, or a person who was directly impacted by their donation. 1. Nonprofit Website Can website visitors find your donation page in 2 seconds or less? Donation buttons should be big, bold, and above the fold.Is it easy to follow you on Twitter, like you on Facebook, and sign up for your email newsletter? Give your potential donors the opportunity to take the first step in forming a relationship with you. If they aren’t ready to give today, make it easy for them to find out more about your work.Make sure your home page has a compelling image and a statement that connects your visitors to your cause. If a stranger can’t identify what your organization does as soon as they land on your homepage, you’re missing out on an opportunity to tell your story (and a possible donation)!2. Online Donation Page Do you have a clear call to action on your donation page (donate now!)?Is your online donation form easy to complete? If your donation page has too many fields to fill out it’s likely that donors will leave the page without making a donation.Don’t confuse donors by redirecting them to a donation page that looks different than your website. Make sure your brand is consistent.3. Email Lists Is there a way for website visitors to sign up for your newsletter on your homepage? What about every other page on your website?Does your email list sign up form make it clear how frequently subscribers will hear from you? Don’t promise something you can’t deliver (or send emails too frequently).Are you collecting email addresses from everyone who attends your events? Give them the option to be added to your list.Include forward to a friend and social sharing links in all your messages. Current subscribers can help you build your email list, make it easy for them to help you!4. Email Marketing Does your subject line entice readers? Those 8 to 10 words are the most important part of the message. Make sure the subject line is clear, conscience, and compelling.Is your email layout easy on the eyes? Make sure you keep the style simple with a standard headline, subheadline layout with a maximum of two columns. Don’t forget to add images that add value to the content.Is your font choice ideal? Make sure your fonts aren’t distracting and impeding readability. Stick with one font family and use the options within that family, such as bold, narrow, and italic.Are you being CAN-SPAM compliant? Email service providers will take care of these compliance issues for you but if you aren’t using an ESP consider investing in one to help you manage lists and email campaigns.5. Thanking Donors and Supporters Do you have a way to immediately thank supporters for giving a donation or signing up for your newsletter? Most ESPs and online donation tools give you the opportunity to send an automated reply as soon as an action is taken.Do you thank donors again at a later date, reporting on the impact of their donation?Do donors have a clear understanding of what you’re doing with their financial investment?Make sure to experiment with different thank you methods such as a handwritten note, a phone call, a children’s drawing, or a special thanks directly from a volunteer.6. Social Media First, define your desired outcome: Do you want to use Twitter to connect with potential donors or develop your status as a thought leader in your organization’s issue area? Or both?Can your donors easily find you on Twitter and Facebook? If they can’t find you they won’t be following you.Is your content interesting, compelling, and unique? Are you continually asking for donations and follows and neglecting to tell your story?Want a more in-depth list? Download The Online Fundraiser’s Checklist for more ideas.
Survey those who support your cause.Do they consume the information you provide? Are they subscribing to your newsletter or reading your nonprofit’s blog? Are they engaged with your social media updates? Why or why not?Understand your core supporters.Each audience is different. Once you can identify your cause’s most ardent supporters, you can work on passing them the microphone once in a while. Learn how they got involved with your cause in the first place. Do they have a personal connection? What is that connection? Do a little digging to find out.Pinpoint which stories are most compelling to your current audience.Note any trends or parallels in your current collection of messages. Do one-off appeals work best? Uplifting stories? Harrowing tales?After completing the steps above, take a look at all of your fundraising and marketing messages.Turn the most effective pieces into outward-facing communications aimed at gaining new supporters. Voila! You have vetted material that you know is helpful and worthwhile to those who care.For more social good and cause marketing news, follow Allison on Twitter. 1) Marketing from within can inform your donor retention strategy. 2) This type of marketing will give your audience the tools to communicate your message. 3) Ultimately, this will further your mission by helping you raise more money online. In my recent interview with Jay Baer on his book Youtility, we explored how companies and nonprofits can use social concepts to make their marketing focused more on helping people, and less about hyping a product or cause. Here’s an excerpt from that conversation:AM: One of my favorite parts of the book is when you describe the relationship between the youtility concept and social media. “If [your brand is] interesting and useful and helpful, your supporters and prospects will do more of your marketing for you, helping your organization work less arduously and expensively on interruption marketing in its various guises.” What are some baby steps to help those well versed in push marketing move to more of a listening role? JB: Thank you. Indeed, content (youtility) is fire, and social media is gasoline. The best first step in that process is to make sure that your employees/volunteers/donors fully understand and appreciate your useful content. Almost every organization has their target audiences for content upside down. You should be marketing from the inside out. If your existing volunteers don’t know about and love your useful content, why should brand new people? Why this is relevant for nonprofits: How to do “inside out” marketing:
2. The “Me Me Me”Some causes suffer from nonprofit narcissism. They mean well, but their messages are devoid of one key ingredient: the donor. People who support your work also want to feel like part of your team.How to avoid: Instead of talking only about the work you’re doing, reframe your communications to underscore how the donor is making your work possible. Use the word “you” more than “we”, and highlight the work of individual donors and volunteers to bring these stories to life. According to the Association of Fundraising Professionals’ Fundraising Effectiveness Survey Report, 105% of donors gained by nonprofits were offset by lapsed donors. Let that sink in for a minute: for every 100 new donors that came through the door, 105 walked out. Not exactly the growth most nonprofits are looking for.One of the best ways to improve your donor churn rate is to improve your donor communications.Here are six of the worst donor communication mistakes, and some tips for how to avoid them:1. The “One and Done”Sadly for some donors, the only “communication” they receive from the nonprofits they support is a donation receipt. Others may receive a nice thank you letter, but not much else.How to avoid: Plan a series of ongoing communications with your donors. In addition to your nonprofit newsletter, provide quarterly updates for donors on the impact of their gifts, and show what goes on behind the scenes to make it happen. Create an editorial calendar and include your donor outreach as one key component to track. 3. The “Broken Record”All too often, I see organizations sharing the same updates over and over. This is great … if you want to bore your donors. Unless you’re sharing success story after success story, your donors may wonder if you’re doing anything new or making any progress.How to avoid: This is another way an editorial calendar can help you improve your donor communications. Create a list of stories, events, announcements, and seasonal topics that are relevant to your cause—and your donors—then, plot them out on your calendar to incorporate variety in your newsletters, impact updates, and social media outreach. Stuck for ideas? Ask your donors, volunteers, and beneficiaries for their input. They have a different perspective than you and probably have some fresh suggestions. Another option: tap your board to share a short update or quote for you to use in your next message. 4. The “Word Vomit”Are you guilty of sharing too much information? When it comes to your donor outreach, is “verbose” an understatement? If your messages feel like solid walls of text, your supporters are less likely to bother reading them—and may feel like you don’t respect their time.How to avoid: In most cases, people scan more than they read. This means that short, skimmable text works best, especially online. Use a “tease and link” strategy in your emails if you have longer stories to share. To make your messages even more readable, cut any acronyms, jargon, or insider language that will leave donors scratching their heads. 6. The “Show Me the Money”You know that relative who never calls—except when he needs something from you? Don’t be that guy. When donors only hear from you when you have an appeal, they may start to wonder what happened to the money they already gave you.How to avoid: Implement a “share vs. ask ratio” in your organization’s communication. Plan to send a certain number of cultivation or update messages for every time you send an appeal.(For more donor stewardship ideas, try our checklist.)‘Fess up: are you guilty of any of these mistakes? What would you add to the list? Which communication missteps bug you the most? Share your thoughts in the comments below. 5. The “Disconnected”Do you ever feel like you’re talking, but no one seems to be listening? Most often, this is because you’re not communicating in a way that reflects what your donor wants to hear. This often happens when organizations aren’t in sync with why their donors give.How to avoid: Talk to your donors to understand why they care about your issue and what prompted them to give. Ask for feedback on your communications and let your donors have a say in how they hear from you. Try segmenting your donors by how they came to your organization, their level of giving, or by the specific programs they support. Then, communicate with them based on these parameters to make your message more relevant.
Accessible 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, your nonprofit website is a valuable tool for interacting with your target audience and allowing visitors to learn about your nonprofit. Having the insights to efficiently manage your website are important to optimize the experience for your supporters and ensure the success of your nonprofit. Fortunately, Google Analytics provides organizations with a cost effective way to monitor the metrics that matter and help your team make informed decisions.Here are three metrics that your nonprofit should be measuring: This organization located in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, is generating a significant amount of its traffic from outside its city limits. Based on this insight, the organization could consider expanding their target audience into new geographic territories or hosting a fundraising event in a new location. Mobile Traffic Behavior As the number of mobile site searches increases, optimizing your nonprofit mobile site for smartphone and tablet users is becoming even more critical to interacting and engaging with your supporters. Mobile traffic behavior metrics let you monitor your site’s mobile traffic growth over time. When analyzing this metric, it’s important to remember that an increase in mobile traffic growth alone doesn’t indicate that your site is mobile friendly. As mobile visitors typically spend less time on a site that isn’t adequately optimized for their devices, time on site, and average visit duration metrics should also be evaluated. Page Bounce RatesA “bounce” occurs when a visitor navigates to a page and then immediately leaves. Depending on the intent of any given webpage, a high bounce rate could indicate a low level of audience interaction and engagement. For example, if your volunteer application page has a high bounce rate, then you need to reevaluate the page’s content as visitors are not spending enough time on the page to fill out any information.Although these three metrics only begin to cover the extent of the metrics offered by Google Analytics, they provide a foundation from which you can start to measure the performance of your nonprofit website and your reputation. Knowing how to use the information displayed by these metrics will undoubtedly aid your nonprofit staff in optimizing your organization’s website content and improving overall audience engagement. For more information about the metrics that your organization should be utilizing download the free e-book, Top 10 Things Your Association Should Measure in Google Analytics.DJ Muller is president and founder of WebLink International, the creators of WebLink Connect™ the innovative, insightful and intuitive association management software with superior customer support. WebLink empowers hundreds of trade and professional associations and more than 500,000 small and medium businesses to help them acquire and retain more customers. Audience LocationThe audience location metrics enable you to specifically determine the geographic areas that your site content is reaching. By monitoring this metric, your nonprofit will have the tools it needs to determine if it’s effectively reaching its intended target audience. Additionally, this metric can be used as a means to reveal emerging or previously unidentified audiences as well as the effectiveness of your promotional efforts.
Read Part OneUse this Start-to-Finish Checklist to Build a Useful GuideIdentify your Consistency Czar—the person on your team in charge of creating and managing the style guide. Your czar should be a content expert, good listener, and diplomatic powerhouse. She is the single person who will answer questions and make yes or no usage decisions. The czar will update the style guide to include responses to frequently asked questions and revise existing standards (or the coverage thereof) as needed.Enlist relevant colleagues as guide helpers and users right up front. Make sure you let colleagues who write, review and revise, or use content know what you’re up to. Position the guide as a tool that will save them time and effort (less revision) and increase campaign effectiveness. Ask for their input as needed in the development process and as users.Collect what you do now (editorial, graphic, and brand habits) and relevant examples from other organizations. Include pages printed in color from your website, e-news, blog, Facebook page and other social channels, and online fundraising campaigns, as well as print materials.Review your samples. Spread them out in front of you or pin them to a bulletin board. Scan or photograph hard-copy samples, and upload everything to a Pinterest board for easy sharing with colleagues and to build an archive of your process and options. Select the standards that work best in each editorial guideline category and each graphic guideline category. Start by removing items, colors, and styles that clearly don’t fit your organization’s brand or personality. Next, review the remaining elements to remove any that are inconsistent with the core approach you see developing.Get input on your draft from colleagues and external audiences, if possible. Solicit feedback from your colleagues who create and/or count on effective communications. Your outreach will double to build buy-in, which will increase the probability they’ll use the style guide. Once complete, run an abbreviated draft by your marketing advisory group, composed of supporters who are willing to give you five to 10 minutes monthly, since your prospects and supporters matter most!Finalize your standards and write them in clear, succinct language, illustrated with examples.9 Steps to Getting Buy-In for Your Style GuideYour style guide, no matter how clear and thorough, is worth absolutely nothing if it’s not used. Here’s how to make sure it’s used correctly, frequently, and as happily as possible.Make your style guide:Searchable. Whether you produce your guide as a Word doc, PDF, or simple website (see this example from the Alzheimer’s Society in the UK), make sure it’s easy for users to quickly search for and find what they need.Easy to use while writing. Many of your writers and designers will want to have the style guide open in front of them as they work, either in a separate window while they’re writing in Word or in hard copy (there are still some die-hard paper fans). Test the guide to make sure it’s usable this way.Available in hard copy or formatted to print in a flash. Some folks—especially those who create a lot of content for your organization—will want to browse the guide, which they might find easier in print.Integrated into your authoring platform. There’s nothing easier for writers than having standards built right into their authoring tool, whether it’s Word or your organization’s content management system. You can set your tool to highlight words, phrases, or grammar usage that aren’t in your standards or to automatically style font sizes and colors of headlines and subheads.Quick to edit and update. The more current and relevant your style guide, the more likely it’ll be used. On the other hand, if users see lots of outdated elements, errors, or gaps, they’ll stay away.A simple website format can be the easiest to update and distribute.Train and support your colleagues in using the style guide.You’ve already taken the first steps in updating relevant colleagues on the guide, soliciting input on your draft and asking them to use it ahead of release (stressing its value to them), and welcoming some of them into the guide development review process.Your guide launch is a perfect time to train your colleagues in its use. You can do this in person, via video (great for multiple sites), or over the phone. I recommend you train the key department representatives and make them “keepers of the guide,” rather than training everyone. Whatever training approach you take, also outline this info in the guide as an ongoing reference.Feature:The WIIFM—“What’s in it for me?” This is the value for your colleagues of using the guide).Who should use the style guide and how. Illustrate your vision with several concrete scenarios, ideally those that frequently occur and that most colleagues are familiar with.Contacts and the process for questions, revisions, and updates.A huge thanks!Useful Models: Nonprofit Style GuidesThese models range from the Audubon Institute’s one-pager, which might be enough for your organization, to the mammoth Rutgers University style guide. The more complex your organization, programs or services, and audiences, the more in-depth you’ll need to make your style guide.Consider contacting your communications colleagues at these organizations to learn more about the development and use of these guides: Read Part OneDoes your organization currently have a style guide, including editorial and/or visual standards? If so, please share the link and/or how the guide has helped (or not). Editorial Style GuideVisual Identity Manual Audubon InstituteCommunity Partnership for Arts and CultureCPAC Brand GuidelinesCPAC Style Guidelines Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center Editorial Style GuideNational Association for Music Education Style GuideRutgers University
You have a website.You’re sending out email newsletters.But how well are these two tools working together?If you haven’t thought about how to integrate your website and email marketing, your nonprofit could be missing out on valuable opportunities to grow your audience, increase donations, and ultimately further your cause.Ready to see what you’ve been missing?The first thing you need to do is add an email sign-up form to your website.Think about all the people who search for your nonprofit and come across your website. Maybe they’ve heard about your organization from a friend, or maybe they’re looking for volunteer opportunities in their area.A great website will open the door for further connection by providing additional ways to stay in touch.Give your website visitors the opportunity to hear about upcoming events, fundraisers, or announcements by adding an email sign-up form to your website.That way, even if they’re not ready to commit and sign-up to volunteer or donate right away, they still have the chance to hear more from your organization.Tip: Make your mailing list inviting by telling new subscribers what they’ll receive even before they sign up. By setting clear expectations about what you’ll send and how often, you’ll ensure that everyone knows what they’re signing up for and they can look forward to receiving your messages.Here’s how Canadian nonprofit The Local Good promotes their mailing list right on their homepage (right»).In addition to your homepage, make sure your sign-up form is visible on each page of your website. You don’t want new visitors to have to hunt it down themselves.Next, encourage your subscribers to go back to your website.Think of your email and website as a two-way street. You want to encourage website visitors to sign up for your emails, but you also want your subscribers to go beyond their inbox and spend some time back on your site.Getting traffic back to your site is dependent on your email content and design. If your nonprofit uses newsletters to share recent blog posts, this is an easy way to link back to your site and increase readership. Include a few lines to attract the readers’ attention, then encourage them to continue reading on your website.Here’s an example from Constant Contact’s Hints and Tips newsletter («left).Here, we provided the blog post headline along with an image and a few lines of text. To read the whole post they would have to go our website, where they have access to even more posts on related topics.In addition to promoting content from your website, don’t forget to include your website URL in the footer of your email. If you’re using an email template, you can use this same footer in each email you send out to give people the option to visit your website or social media channels after reading your latest email. Remember that integrating your email marketing and website will work best if each of these tools is already working well on their own. Could your emails be more effective? Here are 5 questions you should ask yourself before hitting send on your next email.Is your website set up to persuade visitors to donate? Make sure you’re using these 5 proven ways to increase online donations.
Peer-to-peer fundraising’s popularity has skyrocketed in the past few years as mobile and social connectivity become part of our everyday lives. Even the least tech-savvy advocates can become champions for their favorite causes and raise money for events, projects, and programs. Still, many nonprofits have yet to tap into the full potential of this opportunity. Why? Peer-to-peer campaigns can feel like a strange new world—but they don’t have to be that way. Here are three things that can help you get over your “fear of the peer.”You can start small. You don’t have to be a peer fundraising expert or create a large campaign with hundreds of fundraisers to benefit from a peer-driven campaign. Consider starting with a few of your most passionate supporters, volunteers and board members to launch a test campaign. You’ll learn what works and understand how your donors and fundraisers respond, then you can decide where P2P fits into your overall fundraising plan. (Network for Good’s peer fundraising software makes it easy to get started with simple set up and step-by-step guidance. Learn more with a personalized demo.)You can use P2P to enhance existing campaigns and programs.Don’t treat peer-to-peer fundraising as a standalone effort—it should complement and connect to your other tactics. Don’t reinvent the wheel when it comes to distributing your fundraising outreach. Adapt your existing messages for peer fundraisers and launch P2P drives in tandem with things like giving days, events, and capital campaigns.Your peer fundraising strategy can strengthen the entire donor lifecycle. Often thought of as mostly an acquisition vehicle, peer-to-peer campaigns do more by increasing the lifetime value of donors-turned-fundraisers. The personal commitment makes these supporters more invested in your organization’s work, making it more likely they’ll be with you for years to come.Ready to test your knowledge of peer-to-peer fundraising basics?Download this on-demand presentation to learn how to turn your donors and passionate supporters into highly effective fundraisers. Download now!
ShareEmailPrint To learn more, read: Posted on June 13, 2012June 16, 2017Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Guest post contributed by our colleagues at the Countdown to 2015 initiativeSince 1990, annual maternal deaths have declined by almost one half and the deaths of young children have declined from 12 million to 7.6 million in 2010.Some of the world’s poorest countries have achieved spectacular progress in reducing child deaths. Rates of child mortality in many African countries have been dropping twice as fast in recent years as during the 1990s. In Botswana, Egypt, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Rwanda and the United Republic of Tanzania, the rate of decline was on average 5 percent or more a year between 2000 and 2010.Similar progress has been seen in reducing maternal deaths, although in fewer developing countries: Equatorial Guinea, Nepal, and Vietnam have each cut maternal deaths by 75 percent.But all the news is not good. Every two minutes, somewhere in the world, a woman dies from complications of pregnancy and her newborn baby’s chances of survival are very poor. For every woman who dies, an additional 20-30 suffer significant and sometimes lifelong problems, as a result of their pregnancy.In these same two minutes nearly 30 young children die of disease and illness that could have been prevented or effectively treated.Many countries, especially in Africa and South Asia, are not making progress. Of the 75 countries with the highest burden of maternal and child mortality, 25 have made insufficient or no progress in reducing maternal deaths and 13 show no progress in reducing the number of young children who die.Progress on maternal, newborn and child health, in the 75 highest-burden countries, most in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, where more than 95 percent of all maternal and child deaths occur, has been laid out in a new 220-page report, Building a Future for Women and Children, which is published by the Countdown to 2015 initiative.The report is authored by a global collaboration of academics and professionals from Johns Hopkins University, the Aga Khan University, the University of Pelotas in Brazil, Harvard University, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, UNICEF, the World Health Organization, UNFPA, Family Care International, and Save the Children. The secretariat of the Countdown to 2015 initiative is based at The Partnership for Maternal, Newborn & Child Health.“The Countdown report shows the who, what, where — and most importantly the why — of maternal, newborn, and child survival,” says Zulfiqar Bhutta, M.D., PhD, of Aga Khan University, Pakistan, who is the co-chair of Countdown and an author of the report. “It offers a clear, consistent report card that countries, advocates, and donors can use to hold each other — and themselves — accountable for real, measurable progress.”The report assesses the progress that the 75 highest-burden countries are making towards achieving UN Millennium Development Goals 4 & 5 (MDGs). These MDGs call for reducing maternal deaths by three-quarters and the deaths of children under 5 by two-thirds, both by 2015 compared to 1990 levels.Countdown to 2015 reports were first published in 2005 to track the progress in the highest-burden countries, to identify knowledge gaps, and to promote accountability at global and national levels for improving maternal and child survival.Since then, massive global attention and resources have been focused on Millennium Development Goals 4 and 5.In 2010, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon launched a Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health, an effort that has generated $40 billion in commitments to meet key goals supporting women’s and children’s health. These goals include more trained midwives, greater access to contraceptives and skilled delivery care, better nutrition, prevention of infectious diseases and stronger community education.Notably, 44 of the world’s poorest countries — among them Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Burundi, and Nepal — have now joined the Every Woman, Every Child effort, which takes forward the Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health. This brings the total number of partners in this joint effort to 220, with low-income countries committing nearly $11 billion of their own limited resources.The Countdown reports help to hold governments and donors accountable for fulfilling their commitments to the Global Strategy, and it will be a key input to the first report to the Secretary General in September 2012 from the independent Expert Review Group, set up following the launch of the report of the Commission on Information and Accountability for Women’s and Children’s Health, ‘Keeping Promises, Measuring Results’.The release of the Countdown 2012 Report coincides with a two-day forum to chart a course toward the end of preventable child deaths, taking place June 14-15 in Washington, DC. The governments of the United States, India, and Ethiopia, in collaboration with UNICEF, will convene this Child Survival Call to Action. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will attend.Following in July, the UK government and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will hold a summit to emphasize the need for greater attention to family planning.In September, the United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, will issue an update on the impact of his Every Woman Every Child effort.Key findings of the new reportOn reducing maternal deaths: Annual maternal deaths are down by 47 percent over the past two decades. Nine Countdown countries are on track to meet their 2015 MDG 5 goal by reducing the maternal mortality rate by 75 percent. But more than a third of the 75 Countdown countries have made little, if any progress.On reducing deaths of children under age 5: Twenty-three Countdown countries are expected to achieve MDG 4. But 13 countries have made no progress in reducing child deaths.Forty percent of child deaths occur during the first month of life and most of these deaths are preventable through better nutrition and access to health services before, during and immediately after childbirth.Complications due to preterm birth are the leading cause of newborn deaths and the second leading cause of death in children under 5.More than 10 percent of all babies are born too soon. Preterm births are rising, instead of declining.Inadequate nutrition is a crisis in most Countdown countries, contributing to more than one-third of child deaths under 5 and one-fifth of maternal deaths.In most of these countries, more than one-third of the children are stunted, a condition especially common among the poorest populations where children are small because of a lack of good nutrition.Short maternal stature, often a result of stunting in childhood, and micronutrient deficiencies place pregnant women at greater risk for complications and low birth weight babies.Forty Countdown countries allocate less than 10 percent of total government spending to health.Fifty-three of the 75 Countdown countries face a severe shortage of health workers. Countries including Ghana, Malawi, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic and Tanzania have implemented innovative policies to hire, retain and motivate skilled health workers.Learn more about the new report here.Share this: