RETHINKING ONLINE FUNDRAISING from the donor’s perspective (Guest Post)

fundraising_inspirationIn the midst of all the Christmas noise, dozens of emails requesting a donation begin to flood my inbox. Suddenly I find myself sifting through the requests and deciding which ones I have the most affinity with. Many end up in the delete folder. Some because they point only to my wallet and never established a relationship with me, others because they extend in endless litanies, others because they do not clearly show how those who serve the organization benefit, and the vast majority because there is no evidence to understand that the online channel implies visual, participatory, and emotional components that separate them from a letter in the mail.

I know many organizations that want to expand their reach to the online channel. But not many have understood that a donate button is by far the thrill of touching any human being. If a nonprofit wants to cultivate a new audience it should not involve a request for money, but rather first start a relationship with the prospect. In this search, many nonprofits have chosen to chase “likes” across every social media platform. However, many might agree with me that social media is primarily for entertainment and communication. Let’s face it, people do not look in social media for organizations they want to donate to; it simply is not entertaining. Proof of this is the amount of “likes” that nonprofits convert into donations.

To start conquering the online channel, nonprofits should remember that the main hub for their digital marketing efforts should be their own website. Why? Because it is in the digital home where organizations can initiate a relationship with their audience without mercantile shades. It is where they can share their vision and mission, and enrich the visitor experience with visual content, testimonials, videos & text, and show the impact of their work. Though it is hard to engage people with dull web pages, poor visual content, and no chances for the visitors to participate online and somehow become part of the cause.

There are 7 core principles to captivate an online audience: easy, short, fun, visual, modest contributions, participatory, and togetherness. Few nonprofits have implemented them. Everything that screams fun and puts a smile on someone’s face drives us to share it. Any easy process motivates us to take action. Everything that makes us participate in togetherness gives us a sense of belonging. And everything that is visual contributes to our memories.

It’s time for nonprofits to change the input to get a different output. It’s time to start creating online events that help build a relationship with supporters. It’s time to consider that online fundraising takes as much, if not more, effort than face-to-face initiatives and that today’s efforts might not bear fruits immediately but they will in a short time when the online channel will become the main stream of income.

During the year-end campaign, I suggest nonprofits to use two pledge themes: one for advocacy, one for advocacy and donation. And if you are looking to rise above the noise, put your website to work by cultivating an audience and making donating online fun!

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Adriana Granados
Visionary Entrepreneur
www.PixGift.com

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Are You Using Your Website for Generating Leads and Revenues? (Guest Post)

Learn the 5 principles of social media platforms that can be applied to your business to gain growth.

When I was invited to write something essential for businesses I thought it would be of great value to show you how you can apply the core principles of Social Media phenomenon to put your website at work for your marketing efforts, lead generation, or use it as an income stream.

The internet brought us many challenges: short attention spans, a faster live style, building virtual relationships instead of physical to name just a few. But the Internet also brought unimaginable ways to do businesses such as the Social Media platforms which found the way to create wealth by bringing together five principles: delivering visual content, building communities, creating user-generated content, rally collective participation, and monetize websites. And even when it might sound hypothetical for your businesses you can apply the same core elements to boost your own company to grow.

This is for example the story of Adele. She is the owner of a small beauty studio who saw the potential of our image-driven platform to increase her clientele by tipping into people’s fascination with selfies and images to build a community around her business, and monetize her website.

Adele came to us looking for a strategic plan to attract new prospects. She had a well-designed website though it was not offering her any other benefit than having an online presence. So we started to sketch a tailored marketing strategy for her including the same elements of Social Media platforms. To accomplish her plan Adele bought access to our platform that allows to capture photos, emails, names, phone numbers, along with other affinity and demographic information in one single tool that we call Virtual Photo Booth.

To create visual content generated by users we asked prospects to share a “Before Selfie” to be part of a Collage of Beauty. To build a community we asked existing customers to participate and share with three other friends. To drive people to participate we created a perk system offering a free 7 point skin analysis and entering to win a free facial for booking and appointment through the Collage of Beauty. Surprisingly, after a couple of weeks Adele reached her goal of booking 30 new prospects who ended up buying care products and many of them became regular clients.

Every day more than 1.8 billion of images are shared or posted on the Internet. Visual user generated content is everywhere and it is so powerful that marketers, brands, and nonprofits have been using it to grow businesses or raise funds. What enjoy us the most is that this recourse has not stopped us to find ways to present the stories of our clients: a nonprofit which increased four times its fundraising goal and was able to provide additional scholarships, help abused cats and dogs, support victims of an earthquake, engage students in an annual campaign, a coffee shop developing a treat-a-friend board to buy a coffee for a friend, two students collecting money for a trip, pool funds for a honeymoon and so much more stories. All of them without exception were completed using users’ images as the resource to facilitate content efforts, create marketing visuals, generate leads, monetize websites, and raise funds while bringing together communities where every person is a part of a whole.

I always say that building a business does not take millions. It only takes imagination… and leadership. Regardless if you are a business, a nonprofit, or an individual there are always opportunities to harness the power of images and the crowd to set you apart from the competition and create memorable experiences for the people you serve.

You can do it on your own or by stepping up to our Virtual Photo Booth and get ignited by our ideas. It doesn’t matter how you replicate the same concepts of social media but for sure you will be able to deliver surprising results. Remember, building a business does not take millions.

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Adriana Granados
Visionary Entrepreneur
www.PixGift.com

pixgift

Conflict in the Workplace (Guest Post)

Conflict Resolution
Dealing with a Toxic Workplace
By Helen Godfrey, MA, NCC, BCC, LPC
www.careercounselortips.com

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One of my former supervisors said, “We don’t leave jobs, we leave people.” Think about that. Is this true for you? Think back to the last job you left or outgrew. What led up to you looking for another job? Were you not feeling appreciated? Were you unable to be yourself? Did you have an outright, unresolvable conflict with someone? Studies have shown that employees will stay at jobs that pay less if they have a good manager.What can you do when you find yourself in a toxic workplace? I went to a seminar and one of the presenters said something along the lines of: You can try to carpet the world or just put on a pair of slippers. In other words, you can only change yourself. It can be annoying to think about that because, hey, you are already pretty awesome. Wouldn’t it be nice if everyone just did it your way? Your way is better-you know it is…how long will it take for others to get on board? Don’t shoot the messenger but….maybe never. Life amongst the mortals, darling. No one said it would be easy. So, now what?Evaluate and Prioritize

What are your priorities? Are you feeling impatient because you are not advancing as quickly as you hoped? Try to take a step back and evaluate your current career path. Are you still learning? If not, you may want to talk to your manager about taking on some new/different responsibilities to expand your skill set. Typically, experts say that it takes about 10 years to become an expert in your field. Have you been doing your job for 10 years? Not necessarily in the same place but the same type of job function. If not, depending on the level of expertise needed for this profession…you probably have room for growth. Try to get this in your current location if you like your job. If you want to stay at your job but are not getting the additional skills there, you may want to consider volunteering. Not only will you presumably put some good karma in your bucket-full disclosure: individual karmic results may vary-you can learn, contribute and expand your network which may help you if you decide to move to a different company.

Evaluate Your Company Culture

The culture of any organization is shaped by the worst behavior the leader is willing to tolerate.

-Gruenter & Whitaker

Is this workplace toxic or just annoying? If you feel unsafe to speak up, to be yourself or to make mistakes, these could be indicators that you are working in a less than healthy environment. If your educational background and contributions are belittled by your direct supervisor, you may want to look elsewhere immediately…if not sooner.

I have a friend who was a manager and, with his permission, is allowing me to share his story. He had a very difficult employee who refused to do almost anything that resembled work and he absolutely found the most amazing, Houdini-like ways to get out of work that he agreed he would do but that he did not want to do-which was pretty much everything. To give you some context, the manager would send the employee Outlook invitations for different events that he needed the employee to cover. These were during regular business hours and par for the job. The employee would accept the invitations and then delete them from his calendar. When he didn’t show up to the events that he was scheduled to attend he told his manager, “The audience could have come back in a few hours” or “I didn’t know about the event.” The manager had to start taking screen shots of his employee’s calendar to have proof.

When the manager went to his direct supervisor, the director, with proof of these shenanigans-too many to describe in this article- much to his surprise, she blamed him.  Hmm. In fact, she said the issue was his managerial style. Any small complaint from the difficult employee was taken very seriously by the director. In fact, she encouraged the difficult employee to keep going directly to her-not keeping his manager in the loop about their conversations. Do you remember the movie Office Space?  More specifically, the scene with HR where one employee describes his contributions to the company: he gives them examples of going above and beyond the call of duty, working overtime and so on. Well, he is fired. The second employee who goes into great detail about slacking off at work is promoted. It’s funny when it is a movie but in real life…not so much.

So, if you have a manager who undermines your authority and you are honestly doing everything right and to the best of your ability, you will probably need to look for a new job pronto. In fact, I would recommend looking immediately especially if you know that you have done everything in your power to work out the difficult situation you are facing. It is highly unlikely that your manager or employee, especially if he/she has the support of your manager, will change.

What are Your Deal Breakers?

Again, observe the behavior. What are your deal breakers? What are your values? If you are a manager ask yourself: Is your employee’s behavior acceptable? Are these growing pains? Is there a way we can communicate more clearly? Is the employee coachable? Do I have my direct supervisor’s support? If you answered “no” to these questions, seriously consider your choices. If your direct supervisor undermines your authority, is there another layer of support that is accessible to you? For example, some HR departments offer mediation for employees and managers. If you have exhausted all of your possibilities, your best choice may be to find another job.

Something else to consider is the amount of physical stress a toxic workplace can have on the body. According to www.AllHeartAttack.com, the most number of heart attacks happen on Monday mornings: http://tiny.cc/q34ydy You have choices and you don’t have to stay in a toxic workplace.

Go Where You are Loved

The Oscar award winning actress Ms. Lupita Nyong’o was interviewed in the September 2016 issue of Oprah magazine. She was asked about the best advice she’s received and she said, “Go where you are loved. People who see the best in you bring out the best in you.” These are wise words and I couldn’t agree more.

If you are working in an environment where you are not supported or appreciated, it may be better to look elsewhere. Of course, be self-reflective and ask yourself:

  • What can I do to improve my situation?
  • How am I contributing to the problem?
  • How am I contributing to the solution?
  • Do I need some additional training?
  • Is there anything I could be doing better?
  • What is my ROI on this situation? Will I learn and grow?

If you have done your best to improve your situation and nothing is working, take Ms. Lupita Nyong’o’s advice: Go where you are loved. You will be so much happier for it and so will everyone around you.

Resources for Dealing with Conflict

Resolving Conflicts at Work: Ten Strategies for Everyone on the Job by Kenneth Cole and Joan Goldsmith

This is a great book with a lot of useful dialogues which will teach you some basic conflict resolution skills.

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Perfect Phrases for…..

This is a series of books that you can find on Amazon with helpful phrases for difficult situations.

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About Helen Godfrey

As a counselor, I strive to help people make new discoveries about themselves and what helps them overcome the obstacles they face. My patients trust me to guide them on their journey to achieve the goals they set for themselves. As someone who understands the transformative power of therapy, I’m passionate about learning, listening, and partnering with my clients to bring balance and wellness into their lives.  I enjoy working with people from all walks of life, and if you or someone you love is going through a difficult time of career or personal uncertainty or needs to discuss their concerns with a professional, please contact me to setup a consultation.

Why you should ask for help…

When you own your own business and try to wear many hats, it’s only in due time that you will realize you are falling behind and need HELP.

Look at me…I am a Virtual Assistant.  I work with business owners taking those tedious tasks off their hands so they have more time to focus on their business and don’t have to work 70 hours a week catching up. Here’s the kicker…now I am looking for help.  I work at least 40-50 hours a week now because I am constantly getting emails from past clients and referrals who need help.

Yes, even a professional like myself needs help so I don’t fall behind and get bogged down in tedious work.  There are projects and tasks (HERE is a quick article to explain the difference) that I am very skilled at and need to handle myself.  And there are some that I can hand off to an assistant of my own…either because my skill set is not up to par in that area or because it’s time-consuming and I need to focus on bigger/specific skilled projects.

OH Lord…I have to hire an assistant!!!  This is new to me!!

Sound familiar?  If you have an assistant (or are thinking of getting one) then you understand what I am going through.

Asking for help can be in the form of hiring an assistant to work for you (or with you) or it can be in the form of a Mentor or Coach to help guide you to make better business decisions and reach important goals.  I work with a lot of Business Coaches.  Perhaps I should ask a few of them for advice?!?

Below is a really great article from Entrepreneur explaining why asking for help is good for business: Asking For Help Is Good For You and Your Business

Want to know more about hiring a VA?  Here is a really awesome article that may help you with the process:  7 REASONS YOU SHOULD HIRE A VIRTUAL ASSISTANT

Don’t work alone all the time and try to do everything on your own.  It’s good to get help, ask for assistance, collaborate with other business owners, network, and hand over small tasks (or large projects) if it means you get peace of mind and become less stressed.

Hey…if I can do it, you can too!  Here is a great article explaining what a VA does:  How Virtual Office Assistants Work

If you have any questions about how a VA can help you stay organized and get more accomplished, please contact me!

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Elizabeth Debol
Virtual Assistant
Business Virtual Services
elizabethdebol@live.com
http://www.businessvirtualservices.com/

THANKS FOR READING!!  🙂

Feel free to use my post on your blog.  Just please make sure to include the link to my blog in your post.  I would greatly appreciate it!:)

Consider filling out this short multiple-choice evaluation to see if you might need some business re-organizing!!   Click HERE.

Business Communication…why it’s so important.

Effective Business Communication

When you own a business, it’s essential to have GREAT communication skills.  Whether you are communicating with vendors, clients, colleagues, or employees, your business is not going to work if there is lousy communication.

If you don’t know how to communicate in your business, then you should invest some time and money into learning how to.  Here is a great website to find communication skills seminars in your area.

It’s extremely important to realize that how you communicate is often how people see you as a business owner.  This can have lasting effects on your business and in your business relationships!

Example:  I have spoken to many business owners over the last 4 years.  Because I have the luxury of choosing who I work with, I make sure I pick those who can communicate effectively.  Why, you ask?  Because if I can’t get the information I need from them to work on their projects, then I’m useless and not making MYSELF money.  If they can’t communicate their needs to me, then again, I’m useless and not making THEM money. If I can’t get their projects done, then their business falls short.  Not only are they already behind (which is why they reached out to me in the first place), but now they are even further behind and frustrated because all they want to do is explain their needs to me, but they can’t.

Because of this communication gap I often see with business owners, I started offering monthly support calls.  These phone meetings are a way for us both to come up with a current strategic marketing plan, a detailed budget, and a suggested marketing plan going ahead.  It’s an effective way to communicate what their needs are because I am able to walk them through their thoughts.  This is often what many business owners need assistance with but don’t even know it.

I have also come to understand that many business owners just can’t dedicate time for monthly support calls due to traveling or extremely busy schedules (which I fully understand).  That is why I also created a 3-part online program to help them organize their business, so they will know exactly what they need assistance with.  And they will have everything in order to effectively communicate their needs when they are ready.  Plus, since it’s an online program, they can work on it when their schedule allows, at their own pace.

Now…the hard part is keeping up with emails!!!  I have a very manageable email process I use, and it’s free.  It’s efficient and I can easily find any emails I need.  It helps with my communication process and it altogether helps my business in a big way!

Here is a really great article from Forbes that goes into detail about how to write effective business emails.

The overall message here is…learn how to effectively communicate with ALL your business people.  It will not only help YOUR business, but it will help others as well.

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Elizabeth Debol
Virtual Assistant
Business Virtual Services
elizabethdebol@live.com
http://www.businessvirtualservices.com/


My Weekly Knowledge Log (a list of things I’ve learned from or about this week):
1.   Clean out your inbox WEEKLY.
2.  Schedule social media posts in advance.
3.  ALWAYS ask questions!

THANKS FOR READING!!  🙂

Feel free to use my post on your blog.  Just please make sure to include the link to my blog in your post.  I would greatly appreciate it!:)

Consider filling out this short multiple-choice evaluation to see if you might need some business re-organizing!!   Click HERE.

Know your Database

Please!!!  Please!!! Please!!! Know who you are interacting with!!!

Know Your Database (2)I work with small business owners, and the harsh reality is that many of them do not know their database.  They don’t know who they are emailing.  They don’t know they have a customer with 5 different emails, receiving their email blasts 5 times, each time.  They don’t realize they have customers on 10 different lists in their email marketing program.

Here’s the thing…you’ve been working for years.  You’ve acquired a large list of contacts.  At one time or another, you’ve met some of these people, you shook their hands, exchanged business cards, had a friendly conversation with them, and then went back to the office and loaded them in your CRM program.  Chances are…you didn’t take notes, you didn’t ask them ALL if they wanted to be emailed, and you didn’t expect some of them to opt out of your emails.

You need to do a DATABASE CLEANUP!  Your email marketing goals are not going to be set on their own.  You are not going to have better open rates or click-through rates if the blasts are going to the wrong people. Your customer service skills are not going to improve if people think all you want to do is spam them.  You are actually hurting your business!!

Here is what I want you to do:

  1. Create one last email to your database.
  2. Make this email a simple one…make it a quick questionnaire.
  3. Ask your database if they want to be on your mailing list and ask them which list(s) they would like to be on (if you have multiples).
  4. Explain to them that you are cleaning up your database so you can provide exactly what your customers need, to those who really want it.
  5. Take their answers and CLEAN up your database.
  6. Place those on the lists they requested to be on.
  7. Email only those who want to be emailed.
  8. Your business will love you…your open rates will love you…your customers will love you…YOU will love you!!

Remember, it is ESSENTIAL that you know who you are trying to do business with.  You really need to know that your database wants to hear what you have to say.  Don’t waste your time shouting to all the others who don’t care.

Make it simple.  Clean it up!  It’s ESSENTIAL to your business!

If you want some help with this, please don’t hesitate to contact me.  I am here for you!

Follow the simple method outlined HERE to interact effectively with your prospects and develop lasting relationships with your customers!

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Elizabeth Debol
Virtual Assistant
Business Virtual Services
elizabethdebol@live.com
http://www.businessvirtualservices.com/


My Weekly Knowledge Log (a list of things I’ve learned from or about this week):
1.  There is more out there than you think – do your research!
2.  Don’t spend too much time catering to social media.  Less is sometimes better!
3.  Invest in your business – it will pay off!

THANKS FOR READING!!  🙂

Feel free to use my post on your blog.  Just please make sure to include the link to my blog in your post.  I would greatly appreciate it!:)

Consider filling out this short multiple-choice evaluation to see if you might need some business re-organizing!!   Click HERE.

The Essentials

First of all, I want to thank you for visiting this BRAND NEW blog.  It’s going to be a work in progress, but I believe it’s going to be a great motivational tool for business owners.

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The Essentials…what is essentially necessary for you to run your business?

I speak with many small business owners.  I might talk to some for 5 minutes, and I might talk to some for over an hour.  What they all tell me is that they are overwhelmed with the amount of work that goes into running a business.  They want to learn ways to be more productive, work more efficiently, and run their business smoother.  They essentially want to work smarter, not harder.

As a “type A” personality, and a left AND right brain thinker, I am constantly motivating myself, creating high expectations, achieving goals, setting more goals, learning new things, taking on many tasks, etc.


 

Type A

Image from:
http://www.slideshare.net/lehnent/health-psychology-31087337


 

Brain

Image from:
https://sites.google.com/site/winchestercpd/left-brain-right-brain-thinking


 

For me…GOALS and EDUCATION are my essentials.  I love to learn.  I love to create new things.  I love to make lists!!  I love to be organized.  I love to set goals.  I love to achieve those goals.

Even in my own personal life, I have set goals and stuck to them.  This isn’t to say there weren’t any ups or downs, bumps or bruises, tosses or turns.  But if you want something bad enough, and if you want your business to work, then you need to find your essentials. 

My CHALLENGE to YOU:  Find your essentials this week.  Figure out what motivates you. Learn what really gets you moving, and then make changes to assure you stay moving (in the right direction, of course)!

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Elizabeth Debol
Virtual Assistant
Business Virtual Services
elizabethdebol@live.com
http://www.businessvirtualservices.com/


My Weekly Knowledge Log (a list of things I’ve learned from or about this week):
1.  How to use Profile Hopper
2.  That spending an hour going through old emails really does pay off
3.  Lists really are my best friends

THANKS FOR READING!!  🙂

Feel free to use my post on your blog.  Just please make sure to include the link to my blog in your post.  I would greatly appreciate it! 🙂

Consider filling out this short multiple-choice evaluation to see if you might need some business re-organizing!!   Click HERE.