Parliamentary Sports Festival A Success

first_imgThe parliamentarians competed across eight different sports, promoting how important it is to stay fit and healthy through playing sport. Two teams of parliamentarians and their staff competed in the Touch Football component of the day, with six teams taking part in total. Touch Football Australia (TFA) staff provided two teams for the event, which included Australian World Cup winners Daniel Rushworth (Mixed) and Jess McCall (Women’s) in the line-up. Our two Australian representatives impressed, playing for several teams throughout the day. The Australian Federal Police (AFP) and a Brumbies team, including Stephen Larkham and Laurie Fisher, also took part in the event, which was played at the Senate Oval. Stay tuned to the TFA YouTube Channel to see some of the highlights of the day.last_img read more

Why your nonprofit’s URL matters

first_imgAs someone with a common name that’s spelled a bit differently, I’m all too aware of the confusion and errors that happen because of a unique moniker. When people are expecting Karen with a K, I’m forever spelling out C-a-r-y-n. For me, this typically only causes minor inconvenience and some interesting conversations about names. For your organization, though, an unusual name, unconventional spelling, or indistinguishable acronym could negatively affect your marketing efforts. The same can be said for your nonprofit’s domain name. Having an easy-to-remember (and difficult to mess up) domain name can help supporters quickly find your organization online and reduce confusion when you’re telling folks about your nonprofit on the phone, in person, or in print. How do you choose the right URL for your nonprofit? Marc Pitman of FundraisingCoach.com offers these tips on choosing a good domain name: 1. Keep it simple. Make sure it’s easy to remember and understand, especially when saying it out loud. 2. Avoid numbers when possible. When you substitute numbers for words, it’s more difficult for your supporters to remember if your web address contains the numeral or the number spelled out. 3. Also register variants of your name. If there are common misspellings or typos that might lead your supporters astray, consider registering those domains as well, so you can point those visitors in the right direction. 4. Get the .com, and other extensions. Most organizations will want to get the .org of their chosen domain name, but cover your bases and register other extensions of the same domain name. Soon, you’ll also be able to register .ngo and .ong thanks to the folks at Public Internet Registry.Network for Good is partnering with Public Interest Registry to help get the word out about the new .ngo and .ong domains. These domains will give nonprofits and other non-governmental organizations worldwide an opportunity to secure a new top-level web address. Since Public Interest Registry will manage a validation process to ensure that only genuine NGOs are granted these new domains, having an .ngo or .ong address will help organizations reinforce trust and credibility. The new domains will be available early next year. So, what can you do now? Sign up to submit your Expression of Interest—you’ll receive updates about these new domains and be the first to know when .ngo and .ong are available. For more details on submitting your Expression of Interest and to sign up, visit www.globalngo.org Do you plan to secure an .ngo/.ong domain name for your organization? Share your domain name questions and experiences in the comments below to join the conversation.last_img read more

What Your Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Campaign Is Missing

first_imgThe ultimate success of your campaign hinges on one key factor: personality. If your P2P campaign is missing this element, you’re not just missing the opportunity to create something magical, you’re missing out on donations.So, how do you ensure your peer fundraising campaigns have the kind of personality that will make others take notice and be inspired to act? Here are three ideas:Let go, just a little. It can feel a bit scary to let go of your message, but remember: letting your fundraisers share their own passion, in their own words, is a powerful thing. This is the kind of authenticity you can’t come up with all by yourself, especially when your goal is to reach the friends and family of your supporters, who will be moved by such a personal message. In most cases, their message in their words holds the most influence.Stories beget stories. Once people start sharing their personal experiences, it often inspires others to do the same. To get the ball rolling, ask a few of your staff, volunteers, or beneficiaries to share their stories in writing, photos, or video to stoke the emotions that will draw out the passion in your donors turned fundraisers. Connect them to why they gave in the first place.Give a nudge. Quite simply, if you want people to include their stories, you gotta ask. Seems obvious, but your fundraisers will need a little guidance and encouragement. Give them a few prompts or templates to work from, but remember to allow (and push) for creativity and personality. Your online fundraising tools should give your fundraisers plenty of opportunity to make their message their own.Want to learn how the right peer-to-peer fundraising software can help your supporters tell their story and share their passion? Schedule a demo and see our software in action! Peer-to-peer fundraising can help even the smallest organizations spread their message and attract new donors. These peer-driven campaigns tap into the networks of your supporters allowing you to expand your reach beyond your list.But the real power of turning your donors into fundraisers is not just about the multiplier effect. It’s about harnessing the personal stories and passion of those who care about your work. A generic copy and paste doesn’t begin to realize the full potential of a peer-to-peer fundraising campaign powered by testimonials, personal experiences, and emotion of individual fundraisers.The ultimate success of your campaign hinges on one key factor: personality.last_img read more

Don’t Be That Kid: Develop Better Donor Relations with Segmentation

first_imgDownload our new Donor Segmentation Cheat Sheet for simple ways to segment your donor database. In it, you’ll also find tips for how communicating with each segment so that you can raise more money by sending them messages that make sense.There’s no question that getting to know your donors takes a little extra effort. It takes the right tools and the right (and thoughtful) approach to use segmentation in strategic ways. When done right, donor segmentation can maximize your donor communication opportunities as well as your fundraising results.The best way to segment, track, and know your donors is to keep it all organized in a donor management system. And if you need a better way to track donors, you’re in luck. The company that made online giving easy is now making donor management easy, too! Schedule a tour of Network for Good’s new donor database system to learn how you can save time and raise more money. Last summer, I was wandering through Chicago’s famous Field Museum when I felt a small arm grab my leg. I wasn’t visiting the museum with any kids, so this was a surprise. I turned around and saw a little girl. The girl assumed I was an adult she knew. She started asking me about lunch plans and why her brother was being so mean. Eventually, she looked up, and with the “I’m-on-the-verge-of-crying-where-is-my-parent?” look on her face, she let go of my leg and bolted away.I’ll excuse a small child for not paying attention to who she was talking to. But a nonprofit fundraiser? You should know better! More important, you should know your donors better.Does this apply to you? Maybe, maybe not. Maybe you might never waste time or resources on strangers. You are only focused on communicating with your amazing donors! You think to yourself: “They gave to us, so they most definitely know us!” The real question is:  do you really know them?When you ignore donor segmentation best practices, donor preferences, and giving history, you might as well be talking to a stranger. A nonprofit I give to regularly treated me like a stranger last summer. They sent me a really confusing series of emails. More than anything, I was disappointed because I know they could have raised more money if they did a better job of sending messages that resonated with different types of donors.Don’t make this mistake. Develop better donor relations by talking to your donors in a way that makes sense and shows that you know them. The best way to do that is to use donor segmentation. Donor segmentation simply means splitting your donor list into groups based on defined criteria, like giving levels, and sending specific messages that would best resonate with each group.Here are a few examples:Giving level: Use the exact same appeal letter, but, in your response device, adjust your gift string to appropriately reflect a donor’s giving level. Don’t ask a major donor for a $10 gift. And vice versa: a new donor who has only given $20 over the course of the year is not likely to respond to a gift string in the $500-$1000 range.Lapsed donors/current donors: One of the great features in our new donor management system is the ability to quickly see which donors are lapsed (have not given in the past 365 days) and which ones are current. When you send these lapsed donors an appeal to reactivate, this is the perfect opportunity to send your current donors thank you notes for their most recent gifts.Campaign donors: What’s better than landing an email appeal reminder in your donor’s inbox? NOT landing in a donor’s inbox if they have already given to your campaign. All donors will appreciate this segmentation method:Donors who have already given won’t be getting an irrelevant email to give to a campaign again.Those donors who have overflowing inboxes will get a nice reminder to give if they haven’t already!last_img read more

IHME Report Suggest “End of an Era” for Health Assistance, but MNCH Funding Continues to Grow

first_imgPosted on February 11, 2013March 21, 2017By: Sarah Blake, MHTF consultantClick 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)Last week, the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) released, Financing for Global Health: The End of the Golden Era? its fourth annual report analyzing trends in Development Assistance for Health (DAH) from 1990 through 2009, with estimates through 2011.From the report:In this year’s report, IHME built on its past data collection and analysis efforts to monitor the resources made available through development assistance for health (DAH) and government health expenditure (GHE). It confirms what many in the global health community expected: After reaching a historic high in 2010, overall DAH declined slightly in 2011, with some organizations and governments spending more and others spending less.One of the areas where there has been an increase in spending is the overall area of maternal, newborn and child health, including family planning. In a chapter devoted to outlining investments by health area, the authors point out that while MNCH investments have not increased as dramatically as other areas, such as HIV/AIDS, increases have been steady, and, indeed, continued to grow since 2009, even as funding for other health issues has declined.The authors attribute this increase to some specific sources:The Every Woman Every Child initiative has received over $20 billion in commitments since its inception in 2010. In 2012, the London Summit on Family Planning also succeeded in mobilizing billions of dollars for MNCH. The debut of the spending associated with Every Woman Every Child and other maternal and child health initiatives is manifested in MNCH growth rates. In 2010, UNICEF spending on MNCH jumped 60.9% (the response to the earthquake in Haiti and the floods in Pakistan also contributed to this rise). MNCH DAH disbursements also grew significantly for the UK (38.8%). Other actors engaged in supporting MNCH also increased the DAH provided for the sector. A surge in funding for the WHO’s programs on MNCH (8.5%) as well as US bilateral (9.4%) and UNFPA support (2.3%) bolstered sector-wide growth.The report goes on to point out that the increased investments over the years have coincided with a decline in the proportion of the global burden of disease attributed to MNCH-related issues. In other words, these investments are paying off. This success makes the news that the European Union (EU) moved Friday to cut investments in global health and development overall particularly troubling. These cuts, which will affect the EU’s investments over the next seven years mark the first decrease in EU funding for international assistance in its history. While it is not quite clear what current investments will be affected most, some reports suggest that family planning programs are a likely target for cuts, a move that could hinder efforts to improve the health of women and children around the world.To read more, check out the full IHME report here, and NPR’s coverage of the report here.Share this: ShareEmailPrint To learn more, read:last_img read more

Part 1: What Women Want and Need vs. What They Get

first_imgPosted on September 4, 2014November 2, 2016By: Petra ten Hoope-Bender, Director of Reproductive, Maternal, Newborn and Child Health, ICS Integrare; Sheetal Sharma, Research and Knowledge Management Associate, ICS IntegrareClick 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)This post is part of our “Continuum of Care” blog series hosted by the Maternal Health Task ForceEsther has walked for 10 kilometers in the dusty red soil to her district health post in Mafinga, Iringa, Tanzania. She thinks she is pregnant; her belly is growing and her dada mkubwa (big sister) has said, “inaweza kuwa hivyo,” (it might be so) and she should go see a daktari (doctor).She enters the clinic and there is a long queue. Over 30 women are waiting, some with their babies, growing impatient; they have to go back home to their chores or to the shambaa (field). She is told that the nurse-midwife only works until lunchtime because she has to go to the next village to give vaccines. The nurse-midwife tells Esther that she needs to do a test but can’t because they are out of stock. Maybe Esther can buy it at the local duka ya dawa (pharmacy)? She also tells Esther to come regularly to the clinic to have her belly, weight and blood pressure checked and make sure she takes her iron and folic acid tablets. But the clinic is only open three mornings a week, so Esther may have to come multiple times in order to be seen even once.Overwhelmed, Esther wonders how she will manage over the next few months.So what is the care Esther received? Some of the standard questions we use to assess this include:Did she go to care in her first trimester of pregnancy?Has she had her four antenatal check-ups?Was she attended by a skilled birth attendant?To answer those questions, Esther would show the tablets she received, and say a doctor gave them to her because the provider wore a white coat. On any health-related census or household survey, Esther would be included as having received adequate care even though her care was far from adequate.But have we really measured the quality of care she received?To measure quality of care, we should ask Esther more detailed questions: whom she sees at the antenatal clinic and what is available there. Did she have access to vaccines, vitamins, antibiotics, and weighing scales? Did she feel she could easily access the antenatal services, with both the permission and monies to go? Were the services acceptable or respectful; did she feel she could ask any questions or be seen in privacy? Was it comprehensive antenatal care she received? Was she reassured during her pregnancy and counseled on what to expect and how to deal with emergencies? Was she advised where to have her baby and did she feel that she can visit the clinic at any time?In the Lancet series on Midwifery, we started our discussion and research from the perspective of what women and newborns need. We knew without evidence there is no basis for change. We also knew that for all women—including those like Esther—sexual, reproductive, maternal, and neonatal health (SRMNH) services need to shift from fragmented care to integrated care. The series shows that this care should be provided by a team of educated, regulated health care professionals working in an enabled health system delivering quality maternal and newborn care (QMNC). QMNC incorporates not only what type of care is delivered, but also how its organized and delivered. This includes quality care practices and optimising normal processes and using interventions only when indicated while showing respect for women and tailoring care to their needs. We developed a framework that brings this all together:QMNC FrameworkSource: Renfrew MJ, et al. Midwifery and quality care: findings from a new evidence-informed framework for maternal and newborn care. Lancet. 2014.What does this mean for the care providers?Care providers are hard put to deliver quality care outside an enabled environment. If you cannot provide the health care women need, communicate with colleagues, or refer women with complications, at some point you’re going to hit a wall. The QMNC framework can help health workers better define which care to provide and how. In addition, the framework identifies the support health workers need to deliver quality care and how education, regulation and an effective health care system contribute to building this support. In culmination of this research, a set of pragmatic steps for addressing the quality of SRMNH services has been created to facilitate moving from skilled care for some to quality maternal and newborn care for all.Stay tuned for Petra’s follow-up blog on this topic next Tuesday, September 9th.Share this: ShareEmailPrint To learn more, read:,This post is part of our “Continuum of Care” blog series hosted by the Maternal Health Task ForceEsther has walked for 10 kilometers in the dusty red soil to her district health post in Mafinga, Iringa, Tanzania. She thinks she is pregnant; her belly is growing and her dada mkubwa (big sister) has said, “inaweza kuwa hivyo,” (it might be so) and she should go see a daktari (doctor).She enters the clinic and there is a long queue. Over 30 women are waiting, some with their babies, growing impatient; they have to go back home to their chores or to the shambaa (field). She is told that the nurse-midwife only works until lunchtime because she has to go to the next village to give vaccines. The nurse-midwife tells Esther that she needs to do a test but can’t because they are out of stock. Maybe Esther can buy it at the local duka ya dawa (pharmacy)? She also tells Esther to come regularly to the clinic to have her belly, weight and blood pressure checked and make sure she takes her iron and folic acid tablets. But the clinic is only open three mornings a week, so Esther may have to come multiple times in order to be seen even once.Overwhelmed, Esther wonders how she will manage over the next few months.So what is the care Esther received? Some of the standard questions we use to assess this include:Did she go to care in her first trimester of pregnancy?Has she had her four antenatal check-ups?Was she attended by a skilled birth attendant?To answer those questions, Esther would show the tablets she received, and say a doctor gave them to her because the provider wore a white coat. On any health-related census or household survey, Esther would be included as having received adequate care even though her care was far from adequate.But have we really measured the quality of care she received?To measure quality of care, we should ask Esther more detailed questions: whom she sees at the antenatal clinic and what is available there. Did she have access to vaccines, vitamins, antibiotics, and weighing scales? Did she feel she could easily access the antenatal services, with both the permission and monies to go? Were the services acceptable or respectful; did she feel she could ask any questions or be seen in privacy? Was it comprehensive antenatal care she received? Was she reassured during her pregnancy and counseled on what to expect and how to deal with emergencies? Was she advised where to have her baby and did she feel that she can visit the clinic at any time?In the Lancet series on Midwifery, we started our discussion and research from the perspective of what women and newborns need. We knew without evidence there is no basis for change. We also knew that for all women—including those like Esther—sexual, reproductive, maternal, and neonatal health (SRMNH) services need to shift from fragmented care to integrated care. The series shows that this care should be provided by a team of educated, regulated health care professionals working in an enabled health system delivering quality maternal and newborn care (QMNC). QMNC incorporates not only what type of care is delivered, but also how its organized and delivered. This includes quality care practices and optimising normal processes and using interventions only when indicated while showing respect for women and tailoring care to their needs. We developed a framework that brings this all together:QMNC FrameworkSource: Renfrew MJ, et al. Midwifery and quality care: findings from a new evidence-informed framework for maternal and newborn care. Lancet. 2014.What does this mean for the care providers?Care providers are hard put to deliver quality care outside an enabled environment. If you cannot provide the health care women need, communicate with colleagues, or refer women with complications, at some point you’re going to hit a wall. The QMNC framework can help health workers better define which care to provide and how. In addition, the framework identifies the support health workers need to deliver quality care and how education, regulation and an effective health care system contribute to building this support. In culmination of this research, a set of pragmatic steps for addressing the quality of SRMNH services has been created to facilitate moving from skilled care for some to quality maternal and newborn care for all.Stay tuned for Petra’s follow-up blog on this topic next Tuesday, September 9th.last_img read more

Measuring the Quality of Family Planning

first_img ShareEmailPrint To learn more, read: Posted on January 13, 2017May 19, 2017By: Sarah Hodin, Project Coordinator II, Women and Health Initiative, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public HealthClick 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)In October 2015, researchers, programmers and policymakers gathered in Bellagio, Italy to discuss strategies for improving, standardizing and simplifying the measurement of quality in family planning. The resulting papers, along with commentaries from Dominic Montagu and Kim Longfield, were published by Metrics for Management in late 2016.Issues surrounding family planning have gained momentum in recent years, exemplified by the work of Family Planning 2020 and the inclusion of the Sustainable Development Goal 3 target to “ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health care services, including for family planning, information and education, and the integration of reproductive health into national strategies and programs” by 2030. Forty years of research has taught the global family planning community that quality is equally important as (if not more important than) affordability of services for increasing utilization of contraceptives. However, accurately measuring quality can be challenging. While numerous strategies, many of which are described in this series of papers, have been used to measure the quality of family planning services, a lack of standardization limits researchers’ capacity to compare programs in diverse global settings.The stakeholders who participated in the Bellagio meeting agreed that an effective measure of family planning quality should be:– Standardized– Simple– Credible– Actionable– Easy and inexpensive to use– Able to facilitate comparison against national standards– Valued by providersThe papers in this series provide an opportunity to review and learn from what has already been done and work towards consensus on a more effective measurement strategy moving forward.The importance of quality to family planningThe evolution of strategies and measurement methods to assess the quality of family planning servicesSteps toward improving quality of care in private franchisesExperiences with measuring quality to dateAn innovative public-private approach for benchmarking quality of healthcare: Implementing SafeCare in 556 healthcare facilities in Kenya, 2011-2016Overcoming challenges in quality assurance for social franchises for healthcare: Experiences from case studies in Kenya, Uganda and Pakistan, 2008-2015Constructing indicators for measurement and improvement of the quality of family planning programs: An example using data on choice from the Philippines, 1997-1998Social franchising for improving the clinical quality of family planning services and increasing client volumes at privately owned clinics: Evidence from the Suraj social franchise network, Pakistan, 2013-2014Quality in social franchises: Challenges of improving interpersonal relations, with qualitative data from Asia and Africa, 2015Examining progress and equity in information received by women using a modern method in 25 developing countriesKey considerations for making progress in quality measurementFamily planning quality assessment tools used in low- and middle-income countries: Review for application in clinic-based servicesOptions for measuring the quality of family planning programs: The experience of social franchisor Population Services InternationalThe quality of healthcare: Measurement of improvement or measurement for improvement?Benchmarking to assess quality of family planning services: Construction and use of indices for family planning readiness in Kenya with data from 2010 and 2014—Access the full series of papers from the Bellagio meeting.Learn about the connection between family planning and maternal health.Check out other posts from the MHTF’s Quality of Maternal Health Care blog series.Share this:last_img read more

Why Don’t Adolescent Mothers Use Maternal Health Services?

first_imgPosted on March 1, 2017March 1, 2017By: Sarah Hodin, Project Coordinator II, Women and Health Initiative, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public HealthClick 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)Vulnerability of adolescent mothersBetween 1995 and 2011, roughly one in five girls living in developing countries became pregnant before she turned 18 years old. Adolescent girls, particularly those living in low-resource settings, are uniquely vulnerable during pregnancy and childbirth. Girls who become pregnant between the ages of 15 and 19 are 50% more likely to die during childbirth compared to women between 20 and 24 years old. In fact, complications during pregnancy and childbirth are the second most common cause of death among girls between 15 and 19 years old. Furthermore, babies born to adolescents are at greater risk of being delivered preterm, having a low birth weight and dying as infants.Receiving high quality care during pregnancy, delivery and postpartum is critical to reducing maternal and newborn deaths. Despite the vulnerability of young girls during this period, the literature on maternal health care utilization among adolescents is scarce.Influential factorsA systematic review published in BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth examined the factors influencing adolescent mothers’ utilization of maternal health services in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Based on available studies, the authors identified the strongest factors related to the utilization of antenatal care (ANC), skilled birth attendance (SBA) and postnatal care (PNC), summarized in the following table. Antenatal careNot applicableX ParityX An X indicates that the majority of studies that included the factor in their analysis found statistically significant relationships.The findings from this review illustrate that girls with the following characteristics are less likely than their counterparts to utilize maternal health services in LMICs:– Lower socioeconomic status– Lower education level– Husband with lower education level– Live in rural areas– Not exposed to mass mediaGirls who were pregnant with their first child were more likely to have SBA than girls who had given birth previously. Additionally, ANC utilization was a strong predictor of having SBA, and having SBA was a strong predictor of utilizing PNC.When interpreting these results, however, it is important to consider that the review is based on limited evidence; the studies were conducted in diverse settings and examined different factors; data on adolescent health—especially among non-married adolescent girls—is inadequate in many settings, and certain factors may be more influential in some places than others.Moving forwardThe authors note the paucity and poor quality of research in this area and call for efforts to fill this gap. For example, there have been no qualitative studies examining maternal health service utilization among adolescents. Qualitative methods would be ideal for exploring adolescents’ experiences, beliefs and perspectives related to care and learning about the challenges they face as young mothers.Addressing the unique needs of adolescent mothers and pregnant girls is an essential component of accomplishing the goals set forth in the Global Strategy. Additional high quality quantitative and qualitative research in diverse settings is an essential first step towards increasing adolescents’ utilization of maternal health care.Source: Banke-Thomas et al. Factors influencing utilization of maternal health services by adolescent mothers in low- and middle-income countries: A systematic review. BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth, 2017.—Read the full article.Learn more about adolescent sexual and reproductive health.Subscribe to receive new posts from the MHTF blog.Share this: Rural/urban residenceXX Antenatal careSkilled birth attendancePostnatal care WealthXXXcenter_img Mass media exposureXX ShareEmailPrint To learn more, read: Girl’s educationXXX Use of a skilled birth attendantNot applicableX Husband’s educationXXlast_img read more

Wabisabi

first_imgby Liza Robertsphotographs by  Nick PironioDonna and Jim Belt believe in wabi-sabi, a Japanese concept of beauty that celebrates imperfection. When the former Tokyo residents moved into a downtown Raleigh condo, they combined earthiness with refinement, symmetry with imbalance, and Japanese treasures with American practicality.With the help of Raleigh interior designer Lee Tripi, the couple installed bamboo floors, a streamlined fireplace, a minimalist bathroom, and space for art they’ve collected over decades living abroad.“I like that really clean look with a central focal point,” says Donna Belt, 60, who owns Raleigh’s Spiritworks, an art and writing studio. “But I also want some nature.” In a 2,000-square-foot apartment on the fourth floor overlooking Glenwood South, nature comes in the form of an irregular barn beam for a mantle. It comes in potted plants on a spacious corner balcony, and in the raw silk of Japanese textiles Belt uses to dress tables and herself.“I like that flash of history, of imperfection,” she says. The shogun standing just off-center on the mantle is one example. The mantle itslef also adds sabi, or timeworn authenticity, to the streamlined, wabi-like simplicity of the fireplace. Other pieces from the Belts’ travels – they also lived in London and the Netherlands for Jim Belt’s career as a business executive – create interest in an otherwise pared-down space.The busy empty-nesters say getting out of a house and into a condo is liberating. “I love it that it forces you to use all of your space, and use it wisely,” Donna Belt says. She credits interior designer Tripi with helping the couple to do that.Tripi “is able to take space and think about it differently,” Belt says. “I have my own taste, and I used to think: Why would I need someone to tell me what I like?” But Tripi’s unique design for the couple’s bathroom – an entirely open room, incorporating a shower – made her a believer. “I never would have conceived of this completely different use of space,” she says.  Not that living creatively is a new concept for the Belts. Jim Belt is the co-founder and president of the Raleigh citizen group Downtown Living Advocates, and the couple is involved in community projects including Artsplosure and BEST Raleigh, which puts art up in public spaces.They believe Raleigh is a hotbed of opportunity. “You can create anything you want in Raleigh,” Donna Belt says. “We found that here, we can make a difference. It’s what we never had in London or Tokyo.”Jim Belt and his granddaughters, Genna Losurdo, 5, and Brielle Losurdo, 7, take full advantage of the condo’s large outdoor patio. The girls live in North Raleigh with their parents Cara and Anthony Losurdo, and visit their downtown-dwelling grandparents regularly.Donna Belt loves textiles she collected in Japan, like this Obi sash, used here as a table runner. She took lessons in Tokyo on the ancient art of Ikebana, or flower arranging, and enjoys creating traditional arrangements like this one.The kimono sculpture is a piece by artist Ellen Kahn.The couple’s sleek bathroom is one open space, with a floating wall to divide the shower from the rest. Designer Lee Tripi “is very Zen and minimalist,” Donna Belt says. “He’s able to put things together, and it’s just like: ‘of course.’ ”last_img read more