How Do Nonprofits Counteract Bad Press? Learn How from National Experts!

Publicity Damage Control: A Nonprofit Imperative

If we have learned anything in recent weeks from negative fallout over the Komen Foundation, it is that bad press can seriously damage nonprofit missions and images. An organization must strategically counteract negative publicity with proactive measures. All nonprofits must learn effective media techniques to promote their organizations in a positive light, and to further their fund-raising and goals. They must have the right strategies in place to circumvent negative press.

Learn How to Spin the Negative into a Positive! presents the webinar Damage Control: How to Counter Bad Press! on February 23rd at 10:00 a.m. PST.

Join us and learn from media gurus about effective media campaigns, countering bad press, media policies, and putting your best face forward. Learn what Not to do. Learn What works! Learn what is effective to promote your nonprofit!

Damage Control: How to Counter Bad Press! features prominent national experts who can advise you on everything you ever needed to know about PR/media, but had no one to ask!

Subscribe to and get this and other webinars for a discounted rate! Some of our timely upcoming webinars include:  Fear-less Fund-raising; Nonprofit Tune-ups and the Spirit of Collaboration. Fear-less Fund-raising is a three-day event! Contact:  Carrie Roberts at to find out more about subscriber benefits that include an opportunity to showcase your organization on our website and be featured on our upcoming radio show!

Sign Up for This Event at:

Our Featured Guests Include:

Penny 2 150x150 How Do Nonprofits Counteract Bad Press? Learn How from National Experts!

Penny C. Sansevieri, CEO and founder of Author Marketing Experts, Inc. (AME), is a best-selling author and internationally recognized social media marketing, book marketing, and media relations expert. Her company is a leader in the publishing industry and has developed some of the most cutting-edge book marketing campaigns. Her company researched, developed, and implemented the first comprehensive Internet publicity campaign called The Virtual Author Tour™. In 2008 AME had ten books hit the bestseller list (New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USAToday). In Spring of 2010, Sansevieri taught the first ever self-publishing class for NYU.

Sansevieri blogs on the Huffington Post about Books, Book Marketing, and Publishing. She began her career over 15 years ago in the publicity, book marketing, and literary field. She has been an author, freelance writer, publicist, and instructor.


Michael Rosen 150x150 How Do Nonprofits Counteract Bad Press? Learn How from National Experts!

Michael J. Rosen, CFRE, President of ML Innovations, Inc. Prior to this company, Michael co-founded The Development Center, a pioneering direct mail/telephone fundraising company established in 1982 and sold in 1997.

Rosen is an alumnus of Temple University where he majored in journalism.  He served as the Editor of The Yardley News before transitioning to the development profession.

Rosen wrote the bestselling book, “Donor-Centered Planned Gift Marketing” (John Wiley & Sons) for which he won the AFP-Skystone Partners Prize for Research in Fundraising and Philanthropy.  He contributed chapters to the book, “Membership Development: An Action Plan for Results” (Aspen Publishing) and wrote the foreword to the book, “Effective Telephone Fundraising” (John Wiley & Sons).  Rosen’s articles have appeared in Advancing PhilanthropyAFP FundlineDonor DeveloperFund Raising Management MagazineMembership MattersNonprofit Nuts & BoltsThe International Journal of Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Marketing, The Nonprofit ExecutivePlanned Giving Today, and The Pulse of Planned Giving. He has been quoted in Association TrendsCASE CurrentsThe Chronicle of PhilanthropyInbound/Outbound MagazineThe Nonprofit TimesThe Wall Street Journal, and a number of regional newspapers. He has also served as the Contributing Editor to The Taft Group’s Donor Developer newsletter.

Rosen has been a lecturer for the Institute of Fundraising (UK), the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, a number of Planned Giving Councils (PPP), the Partnership for Philanthropic Planning National Conference on Philanthropic Planning, the PBS Development Conference, and several universities.  He has represented AFP in testimony before the Federal Trade Commission.


PRNewswire logo1 150x115 How Do Nonprofits Counteract Bad Press? Learn How from National Experts!

Richard LeSchander, Account Manager, PR Newswire. PR Newswire sends thousands of news releases out every year — many for non profit organizations. The nonprofits benefit from having their releases read by media across the country and, very often, from media publication of those releases. PR Newswire offers the Nonprofit Toolkit which helps nonprofits understand the basics of public relations and how PR Newswire can help cost-effectively create visibility for an organization. PR Newswire is the premier global provider of multimedia platforms that enable marketers, corporate communicators, public affairs, and investor relations to leverage content that engages with all their key audiences. Having pioneered the commercial news distribution industry 57 years ago, PR Newswire provides solutions to produce, optimize, and target content – from rich media to online video to multimedia – and then distribute content and measure results across traditional, digital, mobile, and social channels.

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Contact For The Charitable Community’s CEO Carrie Roberts with questions


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Tune Up Your Nonprofit and Jump-Start Your Fundraising!

Sign up for two exciting premium webinars that will empower your nonprofit!

Fearless Fundraising Made Easy!

3-day teleseminar – March 26th through March 28th

Are you SCARED to ASK for MONEY?

Do you think potential donors will laugh in your face?

Not sure how to approach a donor and what to say or how to say it?

THAT’S NORMAL! Society teaches us to give, not to ask.

Our three-day seminar will give you the pointers you need for an effective ask to jump-start your 2012 fund-raising!

Join us for an innovative teleseminar Monday, March 26th through Wednesday, March 28th from 10 AM to 1 PM Pacific each day. We’ll be streaming live to your computer.  The fee to participate in Fearless Fundraising Made Easy is $150.

To register, contact: Carrie Roberts


Nonprofit TuneUps!

Thursday, March 1st

Bring Your Nonprofit In For a TuneUp!

Is your nonprofit headed in the right direction? How is its momentum? Is it lagging? Is it just chugging along? Are you fulfilling your mission? How effective is your oversight? Could you use some improvement?

Join us for a nonprofit tune up…. Learn the techniques to torque up your efforts to get the traction you need in 2012! The event will run from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m. Pacific time and the fee will be $50.00.

To register, contact: Carrie Roberts


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Bad PR is More Than Anecdotal… It’s a Nonprofit’s Nightmare

shelleyavatar Bad PR is More Than Anecdotal... It’s a Nonprofit’s Nightmare

By Shelley M. Johnson

When unplanned publicity or rumor leaches into the public domain as negative commentary, it becomes fodder for a media frenzy. It is exactly that kind of firestorm we recently saw as reporters foraged for every morsel they could find surrounding the Komen/Planned Parenthood debacle. With determined resolve, journalists searched and goaded to gain information from Komen staffers. And got it they did! Much of the emerging rhetoric seemed to lack the customary media protocol and safeguards by the nonprofit in question. A lot of the information was contradictory and reactionary at best.

Media Message Mis-Steps?

What fueled the media blitz and public reaction? Why did Komen media responses seem defensive, haphazard and unprepared? Is it because they didn’t release a formal statement before the story broke? Did the lack of oversight with media inquiries cause some of the angry backlash that eventually pushed Komen to reverse their funding pullback? Inconsistencies prevailed as statements streamed from Komen spokespeople and staffers. All this occurred, while Planned Parenthood was conspicuously quiet. That was an offensive media strategy that actually protected them from the media fray.

Reporters insert1 Bad PR is More Than Anecdotal... It’s a Nonprofit’s Nightmare

One Misstatement Can Fuel a Firestorm of Bad Press

Nonprofits Should Have A Solid Media Plan

All businesses and nonprofits must be keenly aware of the fact that random comments and statements made in the social media landscape can come back to roost. Copious attention must be paid to what is said inside and outside the organization. Formal statements are the rule of thumb. A media strategy must be firmly in place to deal with media inquiries and interviews. Organization officials should be briefed before they accept an interview. To do otherwise can lead to dubious results.

If there is anything we have learned from the Komen foundation media response, it was an example of what not to do. Organizations must be mindful that anything they say is subject to public scrutiny. Statements must be reviewed before being released. Failure to do so can be disastrous. Arbitrary comments should be avoided. Case in point, a spurious comment allegedly made by Komen Vice President Karen Handel in a re-tweet to a Planned Parenthood advocate after the initial story broke, actually intensified the Komen opposition, hastening a lot of negative fallout.

Good Media Policies Mitigate Bad Press

It is just common sense to have a policy in place on handling media queries, especially during a crisis. A guideline should exist that explains: what statements are allowed; what statements are appropriate and what statements best reflect the mission of the organization. All statements must reinforce and protect the integrity of the organization. This is especially true, if there is ever an incidence of bad publicity.

Everyone should know who is authorized speak for the organization. There should be a review process to vet the statements ahead of time. There should be an official spokesperson from the organization who speaks to the media. Random comments from other staffers should be highly discouraged, if not prohibited. That only convolutes the information a nonprofit is trying to convey. If a representative from the nonprofit is interviewed by the media, he/she should be prepared for the line of questioning that will be encountered and be coached so as not to appear unprepared or uneducated in the public limelight.

Nonprofits Are Not an Island

When a tale is told about a nonprofit that it is not fully vetted and verified, it can spread like wildfire with few ways to stop it. The most dangerous publicity is public comment of a dubious nature that questions the very intent of a nonprofit’s mission Remember. We don’t live in a vacuum. What we say on the Web or anywhere else can be tracked down and verified by the media. It can be mis-interpreted and taken out of context. It can also turn a simple sentence into a lifetime of prose for a savvy journalist.


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Nonprofit Guru Carrie Roberts Shares on BlogTalkRadio

Carrie Roberts, CEO of For The Charitable Community visited recently with author and talk show host Bernadine Feagins on BlogTalkRadio. On Feagins’s program, Social Networking for Women, Roberts explained what inspired and talked about the needs of today’s nonprofits. Roberts highlighted For The Charitable Community’s upcoming webinars, Fearless Fund-raising, Nonprofit TuneUp, and an as-yet unnamed event on damage control and counteracting bad publicity.

Listen to the recording of Carrie’s and Bernadine’s conversation on’s Social Networking for Women

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CEO Carrie Roberts Speaks on

Get Acquainted With Nonprofit Guru Carrie Roberts!

For The Charitable Community’s CEO Carrie Roberts will be interviewed on BlogTalkRadio on February 13th at 1 p.m. PST.  She is the featured guest on Social Networking for Women, with author and talk show host Bernadine Feagins. Carrie will talk about what inspired and provide helpful tips for the nonprofit sector. She will also highlight our exciting upcoming webinars that include Fearless Fund-raising, Nonprofit TuneUp and a media webinar on Damage Control: Counteracting Bad Publicity. Don’t miss it!

Be sure to tune in on Monday, February 13th to listen to Carrie and Bernadine on Social Networking for Women on!

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Free, Short Nonprofit Development Webinars

For The Charitable Community, Inc. produces weekly webinars to help with your nonprofit development efforts. This webinar series delivers small doses of potent business management savvy to help with all aspects of lifting your nonprofit to higher levels.

Nonprofit Development in 15 to 20 Minutes

Our webinars discuss fundraising, business management, marketing, accounting, legal, human resources, payroll, evaluation, collaboration, outreach, coordinating volunteers, leveraging the Internet, simplifying with technology, and even delivering services and products. Some are simply inspirational to provide a pick-me-up when the challenges of running a nonprofit become overwhelming.

Our webinars are short because your time is valuable. Spend just 15 to 20 minutes with us each week—a coffee break or part of a lunch break—and pick up a few tidbits to help keep your nonprofit on track.

Our webinars are free because we understand that many, many nonprofits run on shoestring budgets.

Join For The Charitable Community, Inc. each Tuesday at 11 AM Pacific time, 1 PM Eastern. We’ve listed the scheduled webinars in the right sidebar of our website and our blog. Click the register button next to a title to reserve a space for that webinar.

Upcoming webinar topics include:

  • Fundraising Fundamentals
  • Using Media for Fundraising
  • Research: Finding Donors Online

We’ll update the list as we schedule further topics.

Premium Webinars about Nonprofit Development

Some topics are too big for fifteen minute webinars, but they are vital to anyone running a nonprofit or public-sector business. We produce in-depth webinars to teach such complex subjects or delve deep into topics we’ve introduced in our weekly free programs. We schedule these webinars to run for an hour with additional time for questions and answers.

Our next premium webinar titled, Harnessing Media to Maximize Fundraising Efforts, will run on February 23. We’ll provide more information as we finalize details.

If you’d like to receive updates about this and other upcoming events, follow this link and add your name to our email list.

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Weary and Leery Donors?

Weary dollar3 e1328599556532 Weary and Leery Donors?

By Carrie Roberts, CEO


The dust is barely settled from the Komen funding debacle, but a rigorous postmortem has begun. Public scrutiny and outrage is at a fever pitch, leaving many dedicated donors exasperated and gun-shy. I heard all through the weekend, countless women talking about refusing to participate in Race For The Cure events and yanking their support for Komen.

As the rhetoric rages, it brings a new set of questions. There is a nagging hesitation by shell-shocked donors who want to support charities but now are now too leery to open their wallets. That reservation is imminently destructive to us all. It leads to financial gridlock and skepticism nonprofits can ill afford. I fear this latest debacle may lead some people to think that nonprofits as a sector, pay little heed to the needs and wants of donors, and do whatever they want, whenever they want. That is a dangerous conclusion we need to dispel post haste!

Non-profit Accountability is Non-Negotiable

There is a myth within certain circles that nonprofits have a “devil may care” attitude about what they do with their endowments once they receive them. In one of my recent seminars, a participant loudly exclaimed that nonprofits “can do what they want with the money!” Aghast, I was quick to correct this misguided statement with this retort:  “That could not be further from the truth! In no uncertain terms…No, you cannot do whatever you want with donors’ money. That is in fact, considered FRAUD!”

Nonprofits must be accountable to their donors for every dime they spend. If they aren’t, they are subject to criminal penalties, lawsuits and the potential loss of their nonprofit status. Just last month, an Oklahoma hospital was sued for breach of contract and forced to return $500,000 to singer Garth Brooks for failing to use his contribution to build a women’s center in his mother’s name. The hospital was also ordered to pay another $500,000 in restitution to the country singer for using the money for purposes other than what the contract outlined. Non-compliance is not only arrogant, it costs money and destroys donor trust.

Transparency Builds Nonprofit Donor Confidence

I realize that most nonprofits do hold themselves to the highest level of transparency and scrutiny. They are thorough with their fiscal responsibility, and true to their mission and objectives. When prominent nonprofits come under a magnifying glass, all nonprofits suffer from unwarranted scrutiny that can jeopardize our donor bases at every level.

As much as we focus on the needs of our clients and providing services, we must also focus on the needs of our donors. “What do our donors need?” you might ask. Beyond the need for transparency, donors need to hear how we are spending their money; how their gifts are making a difference, and what the long term impact is for our clients.

It is this strict accounting of everything we do, that ensures long-term donations and donor loyalty. Our objectives and donor needs are the holy grail in the nonprofit world. We must guard them with the utmost care and due diligence to ensure our organizations’ survival.

signaturecarrie Weary and Leery Donors?


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The Komen Debacle: Implications for the Nonprofit Sector

carrieavatar The Komen Debacle: Implications for the Nonprofit SectorBy Carrie Roberts

At first blush, things seem to have resolved themselves. But Komen could be off the pedestal as the preeminent breast cancer foundation in the country after a flurry of negative publicity. Both Planned Parenthood and the Komen Foundation have received a flood of contributions, with donors making up the $650,000 deficit for Planned Parenthood after the Komen funding departure. That donor rally took place within 24 hours of the breaking story that Komen had pulled the plug on Planned Parenthood’s breast cancer screening allocations due to a government investigation in Florida over possible taxpayer funding of abortions.

After intense pressure and severe negative fallout, Komen reversed their funding pullback with Planned Parenthood. In the aftermath of these pivotal events, it may seem like all is back to normal. Unfortunately,  scrutiny now looms over the true intentions of the Komen Foundation in its quest to conquer breast cancer.

The foundation insists they have not swayed from their mission. But their contrary actions have raised questions for many donors nationwide. This dangerous speculation could dilute their donor base in the long run. And that negative thinking can hurt all nonprofits, if there is a breach of trust with a prominent charity.

Nonprofit Mission Drift

The flurry of new donations may be good for now, but will it weather the storm? An organization can’t make these kind of decisions in a box when the community is involved. Donor bases may now be marginalized over an issue that has nothing to do with breast cancer. The focus has been obscured away from the original Komen inspiration with the possibility of political intent. Komen has done an excellent job of raising money. But where is the community oversight and who is watching the bank with these kinds of decisions?

Nonprofits Should Not Play Party Politics

I don’t profess to know the whole story and more facts are coming out by the hour.  A post in The Atlantic  lays it out in a matter of fact manner. Folks have resigned, politics are involved…invariably.  But this is HUGE in the nonprofit world….How could a nonprofit organization that brings in $93 million dollars for grant distribution be under this kind of scrutiny?

Yes, I realize that funding Planned Parenthood has political implications, I get it.  However, if I’m reading this right, how can a nonprofit organization of Komen’s stature seem to be swayed by the ideologies of ONE person to the point of pulling funding?  Aren’t funding decisions made by a board of directors or a panel?

This firestorm of speculation over $650,000 has the likelihood to damage Komen’s ability to raise $93 million. Yes, Komen says the decision was made over a new policy that prevents them from funding a nonprofit that is under investigation. But, how it looks to the general public, could say something entirely different. That is a slippery slope. A nonprofit’s mission should never seem suspect or subject to interpretation. That is how organizations fail.

More Nonprofit Fallout?

What I haven’t heard is a response from Revlon, or Yoplait Yogurt, or the Entertainment Industry Foundation or the countless other corporations that may not support other nonprofits but have hand over fist supported Komen and their pink ribbon campaign. Did Komen even stop to think that this could impact the entire nonprofit sector? Of course they didn’t. But we must. We now must do damage control. We must ensure the integrity of our organizations.

I worry about the implications for nonprofits. Will the general public view this as another debacle a la the Red Cross 9/11 situation, wherein an organization takes money and then does whatever the heck it wants? The public may come to that dangerous conclusion. That could alienate donors and have far-reaching effects on all charities. Nonprofits are already seen as having loose fiscal controls, lack of sophistication and wanton disregard for donors and protocols. This is the last thing nonprofits need.

Be Staunch in Your Mission Statement

So what must nonprofits do? We must demonstrate that we have solid mission statements. We do not sway from our original objectives. Board members must be willing to serve to further the mission of the organization, not promote their own political gain. Nonprofits cannot be caught up in the flurry of political rhetoric and influence or make decisions that will bring their mission statements into question. Our programmatic decisions and fiscal work must be impeccable and transparent. A nonprofit’s work cannot take the risk of making decisions that may seem politically motivated, even if they are not.

The work we do as nonprofits does matter. We must continue to stay the course. We must stay true to our mission statements and not lose sight of why we were founded. The mission statement is the credo and doctrine that ensures a nonprofit’s success. Once it is obscured,  a nonprofit’s purpose is gone.


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Nonprofit Marketing: Your Elevator Pitch Is Your Mantra

by Shelley M. Johnson

We’ve all heard the phrase, “keep it simple.” Many people know it better as the KISS principle. This is a guideline which many sales people have successfully used for years to keep their products in focus. Simplicity is one of most important words people in nonprofit marketing can harness. It provides clarity. It provides impact. It eliminates confusion. It turns thoughts into action. And it keeps your nonprofit on track for an effective ask.

Can You Promote Your Nonprofit in Under 60 Seconds?

skyscraperboston Nonprofit Marketing: Your Elevator Pitch Is Your Mantra

You’re about to ride the elevator in that skyscraper and, coincidentally, a famous wealthy philanthropist will be in the elevator with you. You’ll have 40 seconds to win over that philanthropist. Are you ready? Can you do it?

When you promote your organization to your donors and to the people you serve, you should be able to describe what you do in a couple of sentences or less. This abbreviated description is an elevator pitch. It is a brief statement of who you are, what you do, and what makes your organization special.

The elevator pitch comes from the notion that you might meet someone important on an elevator where you only have 30 to 60 seconds to gain their attention and keep it. Obviously, the term is a metaphor, but a good elevator pitch is a highly effective marketing device. It offers sales people, marketers, and others a simple template to follow when presenting an idea or product to another person.

How would you describe your nonprofit in 60 or fewer seconds? (That’s usually no more than 10 sentences). Could you board an elevator on the first floor of a building and tell someone what’s great about your organization before you leave the elevator on the 20th floor? If your pitch is longer than that, you need to refine it.

Punchy Nonprofit Marketing

Elevators are faster today than they used to be! Keep things simple. Talk about the most important points of your nonprofit. This empowers your marketing message and ensures your express ride to the top. Brevity has power. 60 seconds may not seem like a lot of time, but few television ads are that long. Many Internet advertisements are even shorter… lasting only15 seconds. Such a short pitch requires a bare bones and powerful message.

If you always think of your organizational message as an elevator pitch, it will be much easier when you contact people to get the donation you want. Time is money and people don’t want to waste it. You have to grab them in the first 20 seconds of a conversation. A simple, well-worded description keeps them listening and makes their call to action much easier. It also keeps their objections to a minimum.

Create Empathy

Get your donors to like you. To quote James S. O’Rourke, professor of management at Notre Dame, an elevator pitch is NOT, “an opportunity to exploit, use, bore, or terrorize someone trapped in an elevator with you.” Be sincere in your elevator pitch. Couch it in a way that ensures the empathy and support you are seeking. Don’t alienate. You need to be likeable… not notorious. That will keep supporters coming back.

An O’Rourke caveat says it well. “If they don’t like you, they might just take the stairs next time.”

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Nonprofit Sticker Shock

by Carrie Roberts

I learned something new today from a good friend of mine in the business world, and I thought it might be useful for us in the nonprofit sector.  My friend works for a big high tech company, and when his company puts out a bid for services, they purposely inflate their prices to cause sticker shock.  “Why do they do that?” you might ask, as I did.  They do it to show value.

Once the company establishes their high value, they negotiate with the client and come up with a mutually agreeable price—sometimes lower than the original quote. Inflate price to show value…. that is such a different paradigm from what 99% of us in the nonprofit sector do.

Could Sticker Shock Win Resources for your Nonprofit?

After my head stopped spinning, I gave the practice some good thought.  Many times—in fact most of the time—I tell nonprofits that they UNDERVALUE their services and their work.  Why are we so quick to request LESS than we need; to be modest about our ask? Do we prove our worthiness to funders by trying to do more for less?

I understand there are limited funds available to nonprofit organizations; I get that.  I also understand that it is a competition, and that fundraising is really sales.  However, maybe it’s time for the nonprofit sector to take a look, for even just a second, at how the corporate sector works.  We might find some valuable lessons and tools.

Ask for the Resources your Nonprofit Needs

I’m still pondering how we weave sticker shock into our asks, but I’m sure that funders want us to ask for what we truly need. Overvaluing our work may not be to our benefit, but undervaluing makes us resentful and bitter of those who don’t support us at the level we need. From that equation comes the answer: we MUST ask for what we really need to do the work.  It may be a difficult and uncomfortable proposition, but it’s what we need to do to bring the appropriate resources and value to the table.
signaturecarrie Nonprofit Sticker Shock

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For the Charitable Community

Beverly Molander of Unity Online Radio interviewed Carrie Roberts on the air. Carrie talked about the financial challenges that nonprofits face and she explained important issues for nonprofit start-ups. Carrie and Beverly discussed the mission of For The Charitable Community, and Carrie explained what makes the upcoming Fearless Fundraising webinar unique. Listen here: Unity Online Radio Interview.

For The Charitable Community in the news: Our own Carrie Roberts was a guest on The Jerry Doyle Show. Listen here: Jerry Doyle interviews Carrie Roberts.

Carrie Roberts interviewed on Blog Talk Radio: Social Networking for Women. Learn more about our mission.

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