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You may have spotted more than a smattering of hashtags on social media and perhaps thought they didn’t apply to you or your NFP. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. If you are not using your hashtags on social media to your advantage, then it is time to make a change.

Hashtags are easily created by adding the sign ‘#’ before a word or group of words to enhance your marketing. Your hashtag creations can then be used freely across Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. It is a great way to group all of your relevant posts together. They can be particularly beneficial for fundraisers and events and can bring individuals together on one topic all through the use of a well-selected hashtag.

The posts can be viewed independently on your social media feeds or all together on your specific hashtag feed. So just to clarify, if you have created a hashtag called #FridayFundraise as an example, then you click on the hashtag and see all the posts which are connected through the use of that hashtag.

So how do you know which hashtags to use? Well, it must be relevant to you. While piggy backing on other trends will get you noticed, it is more beneficial to start your own hashtags. Keyhole can be a useful tool for research purposes.

If you consider the nature of your business, here are some suggestions. If you use these alongside your own personalised hashtags, you will increase your reach.

  • #donate
  • #causes
  • #volunteer
  • #change
  • #philanthropy
  • #nonprofit
  • #charity
  • #fundraising

Have a play around with them and see which ones bring the most appeal. Don’t be scared to add a handful to each post to get you started. This will add real meaning to your posts.

Once you get the hang of it, then you will be more confident to create your own. Use clever words or phrases such as #dogood or #spotlightonvolunteers or specific locations such as #yourcity. There is no right or wrong way to use them, except if you fail to use them at all. While you don’t have to use hashtags in every post, sprinkling them in every two or three posts will help you spread your message and keep up with current trends. #goodluck

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If you are a busy volunteer and trying to find balance in your life, it can be difficult. It may not seem as if you have enough hours in your day to get your “work” done, let alone find time to relax and de-stress. And what about friends, family, your children? Overworking and not achieving a healthy balance can be extremely tiring, not to mention, draining. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Turn off those devices

Being connected 24/7 can be tiring in itself. When did you last switch your phone off so you could do something uninterrupted? Those constant notifications and pings can distract your thought processes and your relaxation. Turning them off will allow you to enjoy the moment – even better when you are spending it with those you love. Give them 100% of your attention without the need to check your device constantly. Everyone will benefit because of it.

Everything does not have to be perfect

We are always surrounded by perfectionism – on television, in magazines and in the books we read. But keeping up with those standards of measurements can be difficult. Life is complicated and busy for a start! So if you have to let things slide for the sake of your sanity, then do it. Leave the dishes until tomorrow. Clean the bathroom in a day or two. Whatever you need to put off, it is truly okay. It will still be there tomorrow (unless someone kindly volunteers to do it for you!)

Schedule in exercise

Exercise is one of those things that we constantly tell ourselves we will do later. But the truth is, there is always an opportunity to exercise; we just need to make it a priority in our life. If you have time to sit down and watch a television program, then you have time to commit to a short exercise schedule a couple of occasions a week. Whether you enjoy yoga, want to job, go for a walk, or cycle, then schedule it in. It will not only make you feel less stressed about your busy lifestyle, but it will also improve your energy to get you through the day.

Take it one step at a time

Marathon runners don’t get to where they are without attempting small runs first. It is the same with making any changes in your life. You don’t aim to lose 20 pounds in a week and nor do you try to find 3 hours of “me time” in one go. Take it slowly and snatch moments here and there. Once you begin to see that giving yourself permission is kind, not selfish, then you will be keener to make changes, so it happens on a regular basis. Like exercise, scheduling it into your daily movements will help.

Create boundaries

It is not acceptable for people to call you at 11 pm or 7 am. It is not acceptable when you are asked to forego your lunch break to help out in the office. Create boundaries so people know when you are available – anything else can wait until you are available. Unexpected things happen regularly in life and the office, but your time is sacred and needs to be respected as well. If you don’t want to be interrupted, then turn your phone off and shut the door. People will soon understand when you are open to conversations or wish to discuss their requirements. Saying no is something you have to get used to saying more often.

Plan your holidays in advance

Plan your holidays in advance, so it gives you something to look forward to. It doesn’t have to be an all-expenses paid cruise to unwind. Even a staycation (a holiday at home away from work or volunteering) can be great for the mind and body if you plan it right. Once you know your dates, then you can delegate as necessary. That will give time for a volunteer to step up to take on your responsibilities. And don’t forget if you do plan to go away, arrange for someone to water your plants and check on your home, to give you one less thing to have to worry about.

Join a group

While joining another group when you are time limited sounds counter-productive, it can do your mind a world of good. It allows you to concentrate on something else other than volunteering or the mundane chores at home. It also provides you with an avenue where you can spend time talking about something you like with other like-minded individuals. Do you have a hobby or wish to take one up? This is your chance to join a group and expand your knowledge.

As the current focus for many NFPs at present is on budgets and figures, it should be noted that marketing for the next financial year will enter heavily into the equation. Did you successfully track your successes during the previous 12 months? Are you aware of which fundraising campaigns brought in the most money? Was there something that just didn’t work for your nonprofit?

Understanding your annual budget looking at both past and future options can be very exciting, but it is not without consequence. Allocate too little in a campaign, and you may fail to execute it appropriately. Allow too much, and you find yourself short in other areas. The decision you make now will determine the outcome 6 or 9 months down the line. So where should you be focusing your efforts to make a real difference without paying through the nose for the privilege?

Content Creation

Your focus should be on content creation with a twist. You want to engage, delight and inform. You want to surprise and inspire. It is no surprise then that storytelling should continue to be a significant aspect of this year’s goal. With the right stories, you can challenge and engage your viewers – this year’s nonprofit conversation needs to be all about you.

Influencer Marketing

Your NFP must source reputable personalities to get behind your brand and spread the word. Influencers are generally people not associated with a business but can promote and endorse and act on a company’s behalf. Influencer marketing takes the focus from more traditional marketing forms involving more of a personal connection to your organisation.

User Generated Content

With so many budding artists and storytellers out there, utilising user generated content is a great way to make yourself heard. Why not run a creative campaign asking for submissions to a competition? You can ask users to film an advertisement or photograph a relevant subject which you can then circulate across all of your social media avenues.

Thought Leaders

Thought leaders are becoming a popular way to market both for-profits and nonprofit organisations. Is there someone in your company that you could promote to this position? As a thought leader, they would need to be very vocal about all things related to your nonprofit, but it can be a very effective form of marketing if done well.

Live Video

We have seen an increase in the use of video for non-profit, but now organisations are beginning to realise the importance of live streaming video. The Motor Neurone Disease Association (MNDA) did a live internet stream of their conference in Australia with great success. They weren’t the first to utilise this technology, and they definitely won’t be the last.

Not all NFPs have huge budgets to compete with others. Many of these ideas can be incorporated into a more restricted budget yet still provide excellent results. What do you plan to add to your marketing budget this year?

A lot has changed in the world since The Benevolent Society opened their doors in 1813. As Australia’s first charity, it has experienced many changes in its 200+ years of operation, and none more so than the last 30 years through the development of technology, the internet and apps. But to stay current and relevant, nonprofits like The Benevolent Society must roll with the punches and make changes to the way they do business to stay relevant.

But as technology rapidly moves forward, many charities are being left behind. In a 2016 Charitable Giving Report published by Blackbaud, they discovered that only 7.2% of individual donations in the UK were made online. Considering how much we rely on the internet, that’s not a very high percentage, is it? Charities, it seems, could be doing a lot more when it comes to utilising technology and increasing donor awareness.

Millennials love technology – in fact, they never leave home without it. It is their lifeline to the outside world and their connection to their friends and issues they care about. If charities want to ensure that they reach the younger generation, they must find ways to use the technology that will benefit their mission. Whether it is a lack of knowledge or just an unwillingness to change, change they must.

But more than just building a website and showing up on social media, charities must look to apps and other devices that work on mobile technology, the preferred favourite of the millennials. Many charities are starting to make inroads into apps, and as the successes multiply, many more charities will follow suit.

Taking advantage of the app game early on was Alzheimer’s Australia and the Bupa Health Foundation who created BrainyApp in 2011. It was the world’s first dementia risk reduction app which saw over 41,000 downloads in a 48 hour period.

Back in 2015, the UN World Food Programme released a very effective mobile app. Called ‘Share The Meal’, the app meant that donors could tap their phone and give $0.50 to feed a child for a day. To date, Share The Meal has given 14,901,224 meals and counting. That is one impressive app, to say the least.

In 2016, GIVIT released their app which allows Australian charities to search a virtual warehouse of donated items to help vulnerable people in the community.

As you can see, it is all about innovation. We look forward to hearing how charities are embracing the new technology in the future to enable their organisation to reach as much of the population as possible.

Lacking in fundraising ideas, especially when you have a lot on your plate is particularly common. But continued stress and anxiety can lead to burnout which makes coming up with fresh ideas on a regular basis problematic.

So, how can you tell you are at risk of burnout?

The smallest things can annoy you

Do you notice you have a short fuse? Is your nonprofit team rubbing you up the wrong way? Then you might well be on the way to suffering from burnout. There are annoyances, and there are annoyances, but if even the smallest of issues is causing a lot of frustration, it is time to take a step back. If not rectified, a serious argument over literally nothing will ensue. Go for a walk, take a nap or even schedule some leave before this little problem generates into a huge one.

You are tired all day every day

If you are feeling tired, all day, every day then you could be facings signs of burnout. Exhaustion is a symptom which can often accompany anxiety, and it can all add up to the fact that you need complete rest and a break from work. Take care of yourself, sleep well, eat healthily and exercise regularly. Caring for yourself or even asking for help will go a long way to aiding your recovery. If exhaustion continues, you may find that one day you can barely get out of bed at all.

Failure to concentrate on the task at hand

When you are overworked and overly emotional, it can negatively affect your concentration in the office. You may find you are more forgetful than usual or you just are unable to focus on the task in front of you. Make sure you take your lunch breaks and stand up and stretch every hour. Movement can help you clear your mind, especially when you have been sitting down for an extended period. Even a 20-minute walk can improve your ability to concentrate.

You are consistently putting in long hours

There are times when you may find that longer hours are necessary and that’s okay. But if you find you are continuously putting in the long hours, then you will soon find yourself overworked and very tired. While you may use up some of your time on the weekend to plan strategies or research donors, doing it often and on a regular basis can take a toll on your overall well-being. Take a break when you can and learn to say no more often. Working overtime will just make you feel more tired and have a negative effect on your productivity in the long-term.

Whether it’s the for-profit, or nonprofit sector, gender imbalance is still a significant issue in the workplace. It continues to hold both women, and men, back from achieving their full potential in the office and at home.

Evidence of the impact of gender imbalance abounds. Men continue to hold a majority of leadership positions within most organisations. Discrimination in the form of unequal pay for equal work, stereotypes, and inflexible attitudes that penalise those who care for children, the elderly and the infirm continue to hold sway in the workplace.

While women need to continue to push for more opportunities to lead so that they can gain the experience that is necessary to prepare them for greater access to board rooms and the c-suite, men have an important role to play in increasing diversity. The following are a few ways that male allies can stand with their female counterparts to make the workplace more open, inclusive, diverse and productive.

Encourage Fairness and Equality

Gender equality isn’t just an issue that affects women, gender inequality affects men also, as well as our children and society as a whole. Encourage the men and women in your organisation to build strong interpersonal working relationships, free of bias and discrimination, particularly as it applies to communication and job performance.

Push for greater mutual respect, cooperation and collaboration within your organisation by encouraging men and women to share the responsibility for job duties regardless of gender.  Adopt a zero tolerance policy in regards to open and covert discrimination and inequality.

Walk the Talk

Many organisations talk about the need for greater gender balance in the workplace, and yet, they continue to leave in place practices and policies that contain both overt and covert gender bias. Encourage men and women of all ages, backgrounds and levels of power in your organisation to challenge the status quo and to speak out and work together to bring about change.

Key equality issues that should be examined include how tasks and roles are assigned and how decisions are made within your nonprofit. Pay, and time away from work are additional equality issues that should matter to everyone, not just women.

Is Caring Just for Women?

Fathers, children and our society all benefit when men have more time to spend with their offspring as they are growing and developing. Childcare isn’t just for women. Your NFP can encourage gender equality away from work by offering flexible schedules for caregivers of both genders.

Parental and family leave policies should be examined for gender bias, and changes made to ensure that fair practices are put into place that allow both men and women to contribute to their communities.

When a new nonprofit first forms, the budget is likely to be very lean. Startups typically struggle during this phase as they begin to organise and recruit the initial team, define their mission and develop their strategic plans.

Resources are typically scarce during this stage as new nonprofits often struggle to bring in enough funds to cover their overhead and finance their service projects. Unfortunately, many nonprofits feel pressure to continue to keep staffing and overhead costs overly low, even once they have secured their finances and reached sustainable growth.

The High Cost of Shortchanging Development When Controlling Overhead

While it is important to take steps to ensure that funds are wisely spent in any organisation, keeping too tight of a rein on overhead can prevent nonprofits from investing in recruiting top talent, building infrastructure and expanding their capacity. In the end, this penny-pinching strategy shortchanges the nonprofit’s prospects for long-term growth.

The Importance of Building Capacity to Support the Mission

Service programs need resources if they are to be effective. Your nonprofit’s infrastructure needs to be able to provide the support that programs need so that they can be executed and operate properly and advance your mission.

For example, you might allocate extra funds and build your capacity by upgrading your hardware and software so that you can expand social media efforts and increase outreach through additional upgrades to your website and expanding your email marketing. Other ways to increase capacity include hiring a developmental director to assist with developing a comprehensive, financial strategy, and creating a more unified approach to fundraising for your nonprofit.

Convincing Your Board and Donors that Capacity Building is Worthwhile

A capacity building plan can help you to convince your board, donors and other supporters that it is necessary to raise funds specifically to increase your NFP’s capacity. Deciding which areas of your organisation need to be improved to increase the level of service that you provide is the first step of creating a capacity building plan.

Once you have decided on what areas can be improved with additional funds, come up with a timetable of how and when the funds will be spent. Define how your organisation’s impact will be changed and increased as a result of spending in each particular area.

Regardless of which area your nonprofit decides to build up to increase its capacity to support the mission, the important thing for boards and donors to understand is that this is money that is well spent. It is money that is necessary to increase the effectiveness and efficiency of your organisation.