Email + Social = SuccessRemember that whether someone is a fan on Facebook or a subscriber on your email list, they’re a member of your online community. These are people who have opted to receive updates from your organization and are eager to show their support.By combining the power of social media and email marketing, you’ll be able to grow your community and get more from your marketing efforts in the years to come! 1. Make it easy to connect on your websiteThe first step to combining your social media and email marketing is making it easy for supporters to sign up for your mailing list or find your social networks directly from your website. Put buttons on your homepage for both so that when visitors find you, they can decide how they want to be engaged. Hopefully they’ll choose both!Tip: Need more help perfecting you nonprofit website? Check out this free eguide! As Constant Contact’s Content Developer, Ryan Pinkham helps small businesses and nonprofits recognize their full potential through marketing and social media. 5. Get more from your newsletter contentSharing your email newsletter content on Facebook or Twitter is a perfect opportunity to fill your social media content gaps.It’s also a chance to make better use of the content you’re already creating and get it the exposure it deserves. Sites like Facebook and Twitter will enable you to open your newsletter up to a whole new audience—not only your current fans, but also their friends who’ll see your content when someone else engages with it.And if the content in your newsletter isn’t time sensitive, you can wait a few days before you share it. This gives your emails a longer shelf life before you send another.Tip: If you’re thinking about taking your newsletter from print to digital, follow this guide. 4. Use consistent brandingWhether someone is visiting your website, connecting with you on Facebook, or seeing an email in their inbox, the experience they have with your content needs to be consistent. Not only in the quality of the content, but in the look and feel of your marketing materials.One way to do that is by using the same logo on Facebook and Twitter as you use in your email newsletter. That way, when someone does click through to become a fan or to read your newsletter, they immediately recognize that they’re in the right place.You should also pay attention to the colors you choose. The color scheme on your website is likely the scheme you’ll want to use in your email newsletter and, when possible, on Facebook. Color Cop is a free and easy-to-use tool that enables you to pull the exact colors from your website so you can implement them on other marketing content. 3. Demonstrate your valueIf you want fans and followers to sign up for your email list, you need to make sure you’re demonstrating the value of doing so.In addition to having a clear call to action like Join my List!, you also want to include a description on the sign-up form telling people exactly what it is they should expect to receive. What type of content will you be sending them? How frequently will they get it? Is there any bonus or discount for subscribing? Tell people exactly what you plan to deliver and highlight why it’s great.The same applies when linking your newsletter to your social networks. Don’t just ask people to Like us on Facebook, explain why! If you’re already using email marketing and social media to promote your nonprofit, it’s important to unite your online communities—giving supporters the opportunity to stay connected with all the stuff you’re doing online and giving you the opportunity to better engage your target audience. Start by having your digital tools work together, here’s how: 2. Bring your audiences togetherEven if you’ve already connected your website to your social media pages or email sign-up form, it’s likely you still have some people who are seeing your content only via social media or are only receiving your newsletter.It’s crucial that you’re able to bridge that gap and bring those audiences together. One way is to include links to share content in your newsletters. Much like with your website, this will help turn readers into fans.On the flip side, you’ll also want to make it easy for fans to sign up for your announcements. Do you have a way to sign up for your newsletter on your Facebook page and in your Twitter bio? When someone sees all the interesting content you’re sharing through social media, don’t make them search for a way to sign up.Tip: If you’re a Constant Contact customer, you can easily add an email sign-up form to your Facebook Page.
So a summit on family planning, held in London on July 11th, represents a big change. The meeting, called by the British government and the Gates Foundation, a charity, won promises of $4.6 billion from donors and developing countries, to provide modern contraception (coils, pills, injectables, implants and condoms) to an extra 120m women by 2020. This would be a hefty increase on the $4 billion spent each year on family planning in those countries. From the piece:The term “family planning” dropped out of fashion—it was associated with coercive population controls—and was replaced by “sexual and reproductive health”. Many economists have argued that contraception anyway is largely irrelevant: demographic patterns, they claim, do not have much influence on economic growth and the important thing is broader socio-economic development. Others disagree. John Cleland of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine calls the past 15 years ones of “horrendous neglect”. Learn more about the London Summit on Family Planning here. Posted on July 13, 2012August 15, 2016Click 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)Following the London Summit on Family Planning, the Economist reports on global access to contraception in a piece titled, Choice not chance: Family planning returns to the international development agenda. Read the full story here. Share this: ShareEmailPrint To learn more, read:
Posted on March 11, 2013August 15, 2016Click 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 Thursday, a special session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) was held to draw attention to the issue of child marriage, and the experiences of the 39,000 girls who are married before the age of 18 every day. The session highlighted both the factors that contribute to early marriage and the toll that it can have on girls’ health and well-being, including the ways that early marriage contributes to making maternal mortality the leading cause of death among 15-19 year old girls in developing countries. In addition, The Guardian reported that Malawi, a sponsor of the CSW session, is working to raise the legal age of marriage from 15 to 18 and expand girls’ access to secondary school in order to reduce child marriageThe Malawi health minister, Catherine Gotani Hara, said a recent national health survey revealed that most of those women who died were between the ages of 15 and 19.“Our biggest worry is that where women are getting married early, it is causing a lot of maternal deaths,” she told The Guardian. “We have one of the highest rates in the world. President [Joyce] Banda says this is something we don’t want to see. Birth should not be a death sentence to women … we need to end early marriage.”On the same day as the CSW session, Human Rights Watch released a report on child marriage in South Sudan, entitled This old man will feed us: you will marry him, which features with 87 married adolescent girls in that country – where nearly half of girls between the ages of 15 and 19 are married – along with policy analysis and interviews with civil society leaders, policy makers and others. The report sought a comprehensive view, which situated particular issues, such as the health risks of early pregnancy within a broad frame. From the report: Much of the research on child marriage in South Sudan has focused on the physical impact it has on girls’ and women’s bodies. This report examines this problem, and reinforces studies by experts and women’s rights groups in South Sudan that indicate that child marriage has a significant negative impact on women and girl’s realization of key human rights, including their rights to health and education, physical integrity and the right to marry only when they are able and willing to give their free consent.Both the CSW session and the Human Rights Watch report have drawn significant media attention to the fact that child marriage remains all too common in many parts of the world, as well as the many economic and social factors that drive it, and the challenges that remain for ending the practice. Among the highlights were Al Jazeera’s” Inside Story,” which featured a full episode devoted to discussion of child marriage around the world,; and Voice of America, which focused on the ways that child marriage is contributing to maternal mortality in South Sudan, as well as the immense challenges that face efforts to improve the situation.Share this: ShareEmailPrint To learn more, read:
ShareEmailPrint To learn more, read: Posted on June 4, 2014August 10, 2016Click 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)Yesterday, the MHTF joined with UNFPA, ICM, MCHIP, Jhpiego, Girls Globe, Women Deliver, Johnson & Johnson, Save the Children, and the UN Foundation to take part in a Twitter Chat to talk about the State of the World’s Midwifery. As of yesterday, the State of the World’s Midwifery hashtag, #SoWMy2014, was tweeted about 5,500 times with a reach of 28.3 million. Thanks to everyone who joined in the conversation![View the story “#SoWMy2014: Beyond just maternity care” on Storify]Share this:
Nancy: Is that EIA’s greatest fundraising challenge? Hard to believe, as you have such a unique approach to getting water to people who need it, and so many clear wins to share.David: We do. But even so, like many organizations our challenge is showing the direct connection between EIA and the work of our engineers. Individuals and foundations resist donating for salaries, and other types of operating support.So we have to show donors that their gifts are used for the most crucial resource of all—EIA engineers (vs. typical water fundraising focus on funding wells, pumps, and pipes). Without the engineers, there is no water. Nancy: Tell me about Engineers in Action (EIA) What’s EIA’s focus, and unique approach and impact?David: We hire local engineers and other professionals to work with poor, indigenous villages in Bolivia on their self-determined infrastructure needs such as water, irrigation and sanitation. We then build partnerships with other NGOs, foreign government development agencies working in that country, and local government agencies to fund and build solutions for those needs. When David Stephenson, Founder/Director of Development at Engineers in Action, (EIA) described EIA’s unique fundraising challenges and successful peer-to-peer (P2P) and project-based fundraising campaign, I knew you’d want to hear more.Thanks to David and his colleague, Maria Laura Vargas, for sharing what’s working for EIA: Nancy: So what were the mechanics, e.g. could a donor designate funding to any mix of those elements?David: Donors were invited to one of the three donor pages: Carani (potable drinking water); Piquinani (irrigation) and/or Machacamarca (sanitation). They could donate to one or more of the projects. Nancy: What features of Network for Good’s fundraising software enabled you to easily launch and manage this campaign?David: Two things:1) First, NFG makes it easy and quick to donate. They helped us develop our donation page.2) We have a difficulty fundraising for general operating unrestricted funds to cover the costs of our engineering staff and office in La Paz. So, we decided to focus this campaign on three of our 20 specific projects so we could personalize it more. And we wanted three different ”types’ of projects: drinking water, sanitation, and irrigation.The heart of our ideas was to give donors a chance to select which project and which project ‘type’ most interested them. Network for Good’s software allowed us to have three separate fundraising pages, with unique pictures and information that described that specific project.We found that some people would donate evenly to all three. However, most donors chose which project most ‘resonated’ with them. We believe this increased the total amount raised. And, surprisingly, it came out relatively even between the three projects. The ability to have three separate fund raising pages, and tracking those donations separately, was critical to our strategy. Nancy: What will you do differently next time?David: We’ll definitely put more emphasis on matching funds and more individualized attention to potential significant donors ($500 or more).Nancy: What’s the most important advice you can share with fundraisers considering launching a short-term (day, few days, week-long) campaign?David: Our most successful short campaign is the Clean Water Fast in which we raised over $60,000 last year with a peer fundraising approach. The difference between the two is that for the Fast, we have 20-25 individuals raising money for their own personalized goals using peer-to-peer fundraising pages.However, Water Week worked beautifully as a secondary campaign. We made it different, and tried our best to connect the donors to the projects themselves. Nancy: Was this your first short-term campaign? If so, why now?David: We’ve gone much shorter! Our biggest fundraiser is the Clean Water Fast, a 36-hour fast from food and drink except water, that we run every Fall. However, we needed to do more fundraising and thought it made sense to balance timing six months out from the Fast, thus EIA Water Week in May. Direct mail didn’t apply in this instance. Nancy: How DO you make that connection?David: Our most successful method is demonstrating the multiplier effect of giving to EIA, like this:Funding an EIA engineer costs about $20,000/yr in salary plus benefits.Every engineer develops six projects over three yearsEach project raises approximately $30,000 to purchase materials that go directly into the community over three years.Each engineer costs EIA $60,000 over three years, but generates $180,000 over that period (or more) in direct impact on the communities where we are working. Nancy: The “self-determined” aspect is so different than most organizations working in developing regions of the world, especially in the water arena. How else does EIA differ from other water organizations; like charity:water?David: We’re unique in hiring local engineers who understand the cultural issues within these communities and who are continuously available to the communities; as opposed to U.S. engineers who are there for only two weeks. Consequently, our projects are much more sustainable.Another unique aspect of our program is the asset-based model we use for project/community selection. Not all local communities are organized and committed enough to maintain, operate and repair a water system. We focus on those who can sustain a system.Nancy: What’s one of your favorite EIA stories?David: I visited Suncallo, a community of 2-300 persons high in the Bolivian Andes about six months after the installation of a water system for the community. The system incorporated a four km-long pipeline from a spring.When I arrived, most of the adults were out in the fields harvesting potatoes. However, school was in session, and I dropped into a class and started talking with the teacher.When I asked him about the impact the water had on the community, he smiled and spoke of the reduction in infant mortality and in student sick days, and his students’ cleanliness now that they used the solar showers that had been built on a regular basis. He told me it was a dramatic increase in the quality of life for the village. What new peer-to-peer or project-based approach will best complement your existing campaigns? Share in the comments below. I hope EIA’s story inspires and guides your organization to its own P2P success. Nancy: With stories like that, getting people to give must be a breeze.David: Not at all, we’re so unique in our structure, and it’s complicated for outside folks to understand, much less prospective donors. Nancy: Wow, that’s incredible. Any other aspects of the Network for Good tools that you found particularly useful?David: I believe that the greatest advantage that Network for Good gives us over other similar programs is an easy way to ask donors if they’d like to cover the 3% donation processing fee.Most online donation services charge similar fees. But by asking the donors to pay for that expense over and above their donation to us, relieves us of the burden of having to pay it. In 2015, 86% of our donors giving through NFG paid those fees for us. And when it was all over, EIA’s out of pocket transaction fees totaled only .4%! This is an incredible help to us and was the equivalent of us adding another ‘Large Donor’ to our list. Nancy: What were the results?David: We raised $23,500. We had 71 donors, 18 of them first-time donors! While we didn’t quite make our arbitrary goal of $30,000 it was still quite successful for us. Nancy: What inspired EIA’s recent Water Week (May 2-9) campaign with specific asks for donations to fund three project types (water, sanitation, irrigation) and three project costs (engineer salary, admin, transportation)?David: Our challenge is always to show the direct connection of support for EIA engineers and the implementation of a water project in a specific village. We decided to fund EIA’s direct costs for three projects. We wanted to show that the engineer’s salary, administrative costs, and the engineer’s transportation during the assessment and follow-up phases were critical to the project.We analyzed the cost of these three specific costs ($9-12,000 each) and that became our goal. Then, we chose three different types of projects: drinking water, sanitation, and irrigation to allow donors to ‘invest’ in the type of project that meant the most to them.
Maternal health indicator2008 (n=13,206)2013 (n=7,717)2007(n=1,004)2011(n=1,346) Facility-based delivery14.8%34.6%16.6%28.9% Delivery with skilled provider19.4%39.0%19.1%24.9% Posted on September 8, 2017September 8, 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)Despite achieving a 70% reduction in its national maternal mortality ratio (MMR) between 1990 and 2015, Bangladesh has had difficulty finding solutions for geographic and socioeconomic differences in maternal death rates. Demographic and Health Survey (DHS) data from 2014 revealed that the MMR among women in the richest quintile was 37% lower than the national average, while that of women in the poorest quintile was 20% higher than the national average. Similar disparities persisted across several maternal health indicators including facility-based delivery, antenatal care (ANC) utilization and skilled birth attendance.A paper recently published in PLOS One examined the impact of the Maternal and Neonatal Health Initiatives in Bangladesh (MNHIB) program—implemented by the Government of Bangladesh in partnership with the United Nations Population Fund, the United Nations Children’s Fund and the World Health Organization—on maternal health care utilization and equity in four districts of Bangladesh between 2008 and 2013.The MNHIB programThe MNHIB program was launched in 2007 with the goal of addressing maternal and neonatal mortality and morbidity in four districts of Bangladesh: Maulvibazar, Jamalpur, Narail and Thakurgaon. As part of its strategy, MNHIB enlisted the help of local non-governmental organizations to strengthen the community health system and encourage birth planning, ANC and postnatal care (PNC) utilization and facility-based delivery. Another core component was ensuring a constant supply of drugs, equipment and human resources at all facility levels.Impact on maternal health care utilization and socioeconomic disparitiesThe authors analyzed survey data from 2008 and 2013 to explore the impact of MNHIB on maternal and newborn health inequities in the four districts. They also compiled 2007 and 2011 DHS data from comparable districts that did not participate in the program to gain better insight into the potential effectiveness of MNHIB. The results of the analysis are summarized in the table below. ANC with skilled provider53.2%61.2%54.4%48.1% ShareEmailPrint To learn more, read: MNHIB districtsComparison districts PNC with skilled provider within 48 hours of delivery18.3%31.5%18.5%26.4% There was a significant increase in facility-based delivery with a skilled provider between the MNHIB and comparison districts, but not for the other maternal health indicators.Both the MNHIB and comparison districts saw significant decreases in socioeconomic disparities for attending at least four ANC visits, PNC utilization with a skilled provider and facility-based delivery, but only the MNHIB districts were able to lessen these disparities in receiving antenatal and delivery care from a skilled provider.Beyond utilizationThe results of this study suggest that the MNHIB program was effective in reducing wealth-based inequity in some maternal health indicators. However, further efforts are needed to ensure that every woman in Bangladesh has access to skilled maternal health care, regardless of her socioeconomic status. Furthermore, increases in utilization are not sufficient to improve maternal health outcomes. It is critical that women receive high quality care once they arrive at a facility for ANC, delivery or PNC. In order to reach the maternal health-related Sustainable Development Goals, countries including Bangladesh will need to focus on quality, equity and dignity.—Access key resources related to antenatal and postnatal care.Read open access papers from the MHTF-PLOS Collection, “Neglected Populations: Decreasing Inequalities & Improving Measurement in Maternal Health.”Subscribe to receive new posts from the MHTF blog in your inbox.Share this: Facility-based care for obstetric emergency40.2%57.2%N/AN/A At least 4 ANC visits21.3%32.5%19.4%28.5%
ShareEmailPrint To learn more, read: Posted on July 18, 2018July 27, 2018By: Kayla McGowan, Project Coordinator, 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)A new joint report by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Bank explores how low quality care compromises health outcomes around the world—especially in low- and middle income countries (LMICs). According to the report, 10% of hospitalized patients in LMICs can expect to develop an infection from a hospital stay compared to an estimated 7% in high-income areas.A spotlight on maternal healthAccess to care alone is not enough to improve maternal health outcomes. The report cites research from eight high-mortality countries—Haiti, Kenya, Malawi, Namibia, Senegal, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda—which found that just 28% of antenatal care, 26% of family planning services and 21% of sick-child care qualified as ‘effective.’According to the authors,“Poor quality of care is responsible for persistently high levels of maternal and child mortality in low- and middle-income countries, despite substantial increases in access to essential health services achieved during the Millennium Development Goal era.”A call to actionGovernments, health systems, citizens, patients and health workers all have a role to play in ensuring high quality health services. The following is a sample of the high-level actions needed for quality in health care as outlined in the report:All governments should:Have a national quality policy and strategy;Demonstrate accountability for delivering a safe high-quality service;Ensure that reforms driven by the goal of universal health coverage build quality into the foundation of their care systemsAll health systems should:Implement evidence-based interventions that demonstrate improvement;Benchmark against similar systems that are delivering best performance;Ensure that all people with chronic disease are enabled to minimize its impact on the quality of their livesAll citizens and patients should:Be empowered to actively engage in care to optimize their health status;Play a leading role in the design of new models of care to meet the needs of the local community;Be informed that it is their right to have access to care that meetsAll health workers should:Participate in quality measurement and improvement with their patients;Embrace a practice philosophy of teamwork;See patients as partners in the delivery of care—Access the report | Delivering quality health services: A global imperative for universal health coverageRead the news release>>Learn more about quality of maternal health care>>Share this:
The bar at Wicked Weed in Ashevilleby Anna LongFor those who haven’t already packed their bags for Asheville, we thought we’d bring its flavors to you. Mix up a drink imagined in the mountains to create your very own staycation.King James Public House’s Alarm Call First, turn on your favorite punk and indie music to get in the right frame of mind. Drinks at King James Public House are named for songs – Autumn Sweater, Flight of Icarus, and Monkey Gone to Heaven, to name a few. With the return of warmer weather, bartenders at King James are mixing up their newest cocktail, Alarm Call, named for Icelandic singer-songwriter Björk’s 1997 single. The song speaks of re-awakening through music: “I want to go on a mountaintop/ With a radio and good batteries/ And play a joyous tune and/ Free the human race/ From suffering.” You may not be able to free the human race from suffering, but you can listen to some joyous tunes while you mix your drink. According to co-owner Peter Slamp, the drink was created for an Iceland-themed Bar Wars competition: “The shrub (a sugar-marinated fruit-herb concoction) is a perfect vehicle – in my opinion – to add acidic zing,” he says. “The vinegar plays off the sweetness of the blueberries and vegetal flavors of the rhubarb. In a word, the drink is refreshing – just what I was looking for with warm weather approaching.”photo courtesy King JamesAlarm Call1 1/2 ounces Reyka Vodka1 ounce rhubarb-rosemary shrub1/2 ounce Bénédictine1/2 teaspoon blueberry reductionFever Tree club soda to taste To make rhubarb-rosemary shrub: Part 1: Chop 5 pounds fresh rhubarb and mix in a jar or bowl with 2 cups granulated or turbinado sugar. Cover with plastic wrap and let macerate for 2-3 days.Part 2: Mix 1 cup of champagne vinegar or apple cider vinegar with 1 cup of white balsamic vinegar. Add 7-8 sprigs of rosemary and let sit for one day. Filter out rosemary. Filter juice from rhubarb and add vinegar mix.To make blueberry reduction: Bring 2 quarts blueberries, 1 cup sugar, and 1 cup water to a simmer. Reduce for 20 minutes, then filter out solids. Add a bit of shrub to help preserve.Combine your ingredients! Fill a shaker with ice. Add Reyka vodka, Bénédictine, rhubarb-rosemary shrub, and blueberry reduction. Shake and double-strain over rocks in a stemless wine glass. Top with soda, then garnish with rosemary sprig and edible flower.
Photographs courtesy of Brooks Bell, Lauren Whitehurst, Nancy McFarlane, Guenevere Abernathy; Molly Paul photograph by Chris Fowler; Jackie Craig photograph by Jillian Clark If you’re an innovator, an entrepreneur, or just inspired by the ingenuity that goes into starting something new, September 10 is your chance to learn from some of the area’s best. Two different events make it possible to spend your day and evening meeting, greeting, and hearing from the kinds of creative do-ers who make the Triangle such an entrepreneurial hotbed.WINnovationWalter and Bank of America are pleased to present WINnovation, an elegant dinner celebrating women and innovation at The Pavilion at the Angus Barn on September 10. Six speakers – each of whom will give a 5-minute “WIN Talk” – include Raleigh Mayor and MedPro RX founder Nancy McFarlane; technology entrepreneur Brooks Bell; LoMo Market founder Guenevere Abernathy; SoarTriangle co-founder Lauren Whitehurst; Green Chair Project co-founder Jackie Craig; and Raleigh Aquatic Turtle Adoption founder Molly Paul. Each will share her own journey of innovation and entrepreneurship.6 p.m.; $100 includes a three-course dinner with wine; The Pavilion at the Angus Barn, 9401 Glenwood Ave.; tickets available in advance only at waltermagazine.comInnovate Raleigh Summit That same day, Innovate Raleigh, a local nonprofit focused on fostering entrepreneurship city-wide, will host its fourth annual summit at Market Hall from 1:30 to 7:30 p.m. This year’s theme is inclusivity, especially within city and community development. After lunch, a panel discussion will feature instrumental Raleigh developers including John Kane of Kane Realty, Patrice Gilmore of Holt Brothers Construction, and John Holmes of Hobby Properties. Keynote speaker Nzinga Shaw, the chief diversity and inclusion officer of the Atlanta Hawks and Philips Arena organization, will offer an organizational perspective on inclusivity. Then, Shaw will join a few of the panelists and other local executives from companies including Rex Healthcare, Lonerider Beer, BitMonster Games, and Mint Design blog to facilitate breakout small group sessions. The day concludes with an informal happy hour.1:30 – 7:30 p.m.; $65; 215 Wolfe St.; innovateraleigh.com
by Samantha Thompson Hatemphotographs by Nick PironioBefore you even read this, go ahead and pull out a recycling bag.Denise Hughes asks that you kindly fill it with plastic bottle caps. All sizes and colors are welcome. And don’t stop with water bottle caps, either. Think lids to peanut butter jars, bottles of medicine, jugs of milk.Hughes, a prolific painter best known around Raleigh for her whimsical murals at Marbles Kids Museum, will gladly take them off your hands – and out of trash cans – for her latest endeavor. She’s spent countless hours this summer hot gluing plastic caps on canvas to create colorful mosaics of marine life – from octopus to jelly fish.Her new work is captivating and oddly beautiful. It is, after all, made from plastic pieces that were meant for the recycling bin. But it’s a making a statement, one that Hughes didn’t expect and hasn’t experienced in her nearly 20 years as an artist.“People stop me and they say, ‘A friend of mine showed me what you’re doing with these caps, and we’ve started our collections now,’ ” says Hughes, 43. “I just can’t believe I’m having that kind of impact on people.”It all began in April, when Hughes’ friend Lisa Bull was collecting bottle caps for an Earth Day art project at Lacy Elementary School. Hughes liked the idea of reusing bottle caps in art and began researching the idea on YouTube.What she found profoundly changed her. She stumbled upon a powerful and disturbing video of Midway Island’s horrific trash problem. Albatross chicks there are dying at an alarming rate because they’re consuming plastic bottle caps, which collect around Midway in an area called the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Thousands of bird carcasses, their stomachs filled with plastic pieces, litter the island.It moved Hughes to keep researching. Bottle caps float, Hughes says, and, as it turns out, most caps have a reflective quality, so mother birds pluck them up from the water to feed to their babies.“I just thought I needed to do something about this,” Hughes said. “I want to take this to another level.”Denise Hughes’ sons, Callum, 5, and Finn, 9, help sort plastic caps.She looked around her house, where she lives with her husband Rick and their two elementary school-age sons, to start collecting caps. “That’s when I realized my whole life is surrounded by plastic,” she said.The plastic tops were everywhere, she said. On the mustard bottle, the yogurt containers, the creamer, on jars of Nutella, Tylenol, detergent.Once she exhausted her own home of caps, she called on neighbors. She created a flyer asking for cap donations, stuffed them in bags and recruited her 9-year-old son, Finn, to put them on doors around their Anderson Drive neighborhood. She also put the word out on Facebook.“Suddenly boxes and bags started showing up,” Hughes said. “People were dropping them off in our driveway.”More than caps arrived. Broken toys. A part from an Igloo cooler. Prescription pill bottle tops. Tops from markers and toothpaste tubes.“I don’t discriminate,” Hughes said. “I basically will take any plastic trash that you are going to give away.”She’s even gone through dumpsters at recycling stations, where she and Finn sometimes stop would-be recyclers to intercept their caps.Back at home, the tops get washed and sorted by color in bins in Hughes’ third-story studio. Pink, purple, brown and black caps are the most prized finds, she says. Some shades of blue are also valuable because they’re so hard to find.She’s constantly on the hunt. Each canvas contains hundreds of caps, often layered to give full-color effect and depth. The octopus alone has somewhere between 1,500 and 2,500 pieces, she estimates.In late summer, she started her largest piece yet, a nearly floor-to-ceiling vertical canvas showing the enormous wing span of an albatross. It’s so big Hughes had to move into her guest room to work, making her realize she may have to find a bigger studio.But Hughes is used to working big. After growing up in Charlotte, she went to East Tennessee State University to study medical illustration and later transferred to East Carolina University, where she graduated from the art school in 1995. She moved to Raleigh after graduating and quickly found a niche painting murals at area businesses and homes.Hughes also paints portraits and landscapes and is one of those artists you’ve likely seen countless times and not known it, and not just at Marbles. She’s painted walls at Oberlin Road Pediatrics and the preschool hallways at Edenton Street United Methodist Church and Christ Episcopal Church. Her murals also are a welcome distraction at WakeMed radiology rooms all over the Triangle.This new direction, however, has potential for a different kind of impact on families, says Marjorie Hodges, Hughes’ friend and neighbor who is the director of the Contemporary Art Museum’s Contemporary Art Foundation.“It’s conceptually based. She’s passionate about. It’s accessible. Put all those things together, and great things happen,” Hodges said. “This is what contemporary art is all about. It’s not just about the aesthetic. It’s about the power of the artwork. If people can find out about this, there’s not a teacher in America who wouldn’t use this idea.”That’s Hughes’ hope, that her art becomes a learning tool, especially around Earth Day, and that local schools set up recycling bins for students to collect caps similar to the one at Lacy. “This is certainly a do-able project for a child of any age,” said Bull, who heads up Earth Day efforts for Lacy’s PTA. “The kids love to see the bin get filled up.”For now, Hughes plans to create more bottle-cap marine life, eventually creating enough for a traveling exhibit, perhaps one that goes to aquariums.“I don’t really know where this is going to go,” Hughes said. “I figure I’m just going to keep doing it. It’s really just about raising awareness.”