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Posts Tagged ‘business tools’

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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social mediaNearly 7% of all of the donations that nonprofits receive comes from online sources, but harnessing the power of the Internet and Social Media tends to be less about collecting money and more about increasing interest in your NFP.

While social media is a great way to share stories about your nonprofit and strengthen supporters’ connection to your cause, there are downfalls to using the platform. The following is a list of some common pitfalls that nonprofit’s experience when they rely too heavily on social media channels to spread their message.

It’s Expensive

Advertising on social media isn’t free, and even though Facebook and other social media platforms sometimes offer discounts, click-thru ads, sponsored posts and other marketing campaigns, it can be still extremely expensive.

NFPs must control costs by using tools that allow them to test messages, manage start and kill dates for ads, and set budgets to keep an eye on ad costs to make social media campaigns worthwhile.

Many Social Media Channels Offer Low ROI

It would be easier to justify expensive advertising on social media if these campaigns at least generated high returns on this investment. But, the truth of the matter is that they simply don’t. Facebook offers the ability to connect, like and share with nonprofits, as well as the capacity to donate directly, and yet only provides a 3% increase in reach.

Other social media platforms, such as Instagram, make it easy to like photos and gain followers, who seldom, if ever, react to direct calls to action made on the platform. Snapchat’s ROI is even worse, as it doesn’t allow online donations directly from its app and nonprofits can’t even share a link to their website.

Despite the low returns on the time and money invested in social media, it’s still a great way to increase awareness about the good work that nonprofit accomplish. You can start conversations with others about the difference specific nonprofits are making in their communities, as an example.

NFPs should keep their objectives in mind, use targeting and segmentation to make certain that they are reaching the correct audience with their messages and set realistic goals when creating their social media marketing campaigns.

Focusing on Social Media Makes it Easy to Forget about Other Ways to Connect with Supporters

While social media seems to be all the rage these days, direct appeals and calls to action made on a nonprofit’s website, as well as in emails, newsletters and direct mail cost less to create and still generate most of the donations that are received by nonprofits.

NFPs that focus exclusively on social media marketing are likely missing out on ways to connect and raise funds that are less expensive and that offer a much higher return on the cost that is invested.

Trolls and Depressing News can Damage Social Media Marketing Efforts

Not every visitor to your nonprofit’s social media accounts is there to connect and share with you in a positive, meaningful manner. There are individuals who surf the Internet looking to join in on conversations with the deliberate intention to create as much chaos and ill will as possible.

Sometimes in the comments section and elsewhere, visitors may share depressing news or memes that feature disturbing text or images. NFPs must take care to monitor and moderate their social media accounts to protect the reputation of the NFP. Care must also be taken when responding to potentially negative or offensive posts to avoid encouraging or “feeding” trolls.

Social media is a great way to increase awareness about your NFP’s mission. The high cost of social media marketing campaigns, and the low returns that they offer, means that most non-profits should continue to include other more traditional methods of communication and fundraising in their strategic marketing plans in addition to their social media marketing efforts.

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Dear DiaryJournalling has many benefits and serves many purposes for all types of people, but something many people never consider is keeping a professional journal. If you are someone who has always thought journals were strictly personal or hasn’t kept one since adolescence, read on to find out how journalling can be a significant activity in relation to work, volunteer or otherwise, as well. Such a sensitive document as a journal will take very different forms depending on who is writing it, but some of the stand-out functions we will look at here are journalling to reflect, process and develop ideas, and plan.

Reflect

Largely self-explanatory, using a journal to reflect involves making the time to document what did and did not work about a particular project, and whether or not objectives were met or left unsatisfied. This is an important launching point towards acknowledging the strengths and weaknesses given most energy in a workplace setting, and can be very useful for discovering how to make the most of similar situations in the future.

Process and develop ideas

This is the part of journalling where there is probably the most individual variation. Some people will want to include articles from publications that speak to them; others will include inspirational quotes. Mind maps are another useful tool worth practising to get ideas bubbling.  Keeping a record of feedback, both positive and negative, you have received, can also help you develop professionally.

Plan

Good ideas often happen outside of work time. When that happens, you will need a place to write them down, before they disappear forever. The same sometimes goes for career aspirations. Sometimes, when we feel positive and bold, we are aware of our full potential, and make decisions we later talk ourselves out of. If these grand plans for our short or long-term future are written down, however, we might think twice about letting go of them. Occasionally, having something written down makes it seem one step closer already.

A professional journal is a private space where, over time, we can track our own accomplishments and see the progress we have made towards goals large and small. Make sure you are making the most of this easy professional development tool. For more ideas about how to make it work for you, as well as further links to useful articles, have a look here.

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dreamstime_xs_21270814An interesting article associated with the Japanese robot Kiribo which was sent to the International Space Station recently, discussed the fact that society has become more individualised and less communicative.  In fact, that’s why Kiribo was invented – to talk to people and make them feel less lonely.

Of course as customers or clients, we don’t want to feel lonely or ignored.  However these days we find that many businesses have stopped trying to make their customers feel special and valued either due to a lack of time, money or just plain forgetfulness.  Those businesses won’t last long, will they?

Taking care of your customers and making them feel special by paying attention to the details and to their feelings is not only a smart marketing move, it is also helping to build and maintain the natural relationship between humans. In other words, you are building a relationship with your customers.

Small gestures like sending a card acknowledging a birthday or sending a follow up email after they have bought a product or service will show that you value your clients.  They are not just a source of potential income.

Here is another good example for business owners.  Take care of something you have done for a customer that hasn’t gone well, and don’t charge them a second time. It will cost you almost nothing to do so, but the gesture will certainly be appreciated.

Also, when a certain business interaction between you and a customer is over, ask for their feedback. If the customer suggests some change or improvement, try to make the change, if it is practical to do so.  You will then be making sure that your services answer the exact needs of your current and future clients.

Don’t be one of those business owners who forgets about the small details and gestures, or considers them unnecessary. They might not look like much to you but a small gesture often helps the customer choose you ahead of your competitor. Showing to your customers that they are important for you and that you care for them will eventually make them care for you, too. What a great way to build customer loyalty.

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StonesHave you used team building exercises in your organisation?  Often the organisation can be too tied up in the day to day operations when a team building exercise could be used to address some challenges facing the organisation.  As such, some benefits from team building have been summarised below:

  • It can build morale amongst the team and improve the culture of the organisation.
  • Improves communication as the team building exercise will usually offer a challenge that requires different people who don’t usually communicate with each other to work together to solve the challenge.
  • Provides staff with an opportunity to lead, manage and delegate to other people in the team.  This can allow staff with less experience to gain an understanding of issues managers can face when managing or leading teams.
  • Establishes and strengthens relationships within the team as the participants get to see their colleagues in different roles.
  • Can motivate and inspire staff as they can see the organisation not only values their contribution but that working as team can result in achieving some great outcomes.

Other benefits of team building are that they can provide an excellent way to address problems and plan for the future.  While the focus on the above related to staff, the same could apply to the committee of management as they develop, for example, the strategic plan.  A properly facilitated team building exercise can allow the committee of management to identify future objectives and how they can be achieved.

Team building can be done internally where the facilitator has good experience but you can also consider using an external team building organisation.  There are many team building organisations that can easily be found with a Google search but prior to contracting one be clear about what your objectives are for the team building exercise and how they will achieve these objectives.

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I thought it was worthwhile highlighting some task management systems and applications that are readily available as well as easy to use.  Often when we are working from home or in a small office environment trying to juggling multiple issues and tasks while keeping to a deadline, it can be very challenging.  Have a look through the resources that I have summarised below and hopefully you will find an application that genuinely saves you time and make a positive difference to your productivity.

  • Voo2do helps you when working on different projects where you need to prioritise tasks, keep track of time and what needs to be done next.  Tasks can be added by email, listed and easily shared.
  • Remember the Milk is an effective way to manage tasks through the use of lists.  You can then add due dates, prioritise as well as set reminders.  You can receive these reminders via email, sms, Skype as well as many other programs.
  • Todoist is a great application for organising projects as it allows you to set and prioritise tasks that can then be colour coded.  It also easily integrates with your email system so task related emails are easily linked to the relevant project.
  • TeuxDeux is a very simple system that makes it easy to track your tasks for the week.  The power of this system is the simplicity as it is deliberately not complicated.  Tasks are easily checked once completed or can be moved to a later date as needed.  If you have tasks that you are not sure about when you will get around to them then they can stored as a “Someday” list.
  • XMind is a very powerful mind mapping application that is fantastic for tracking brainstorming sessions.  You can develop Fishbone Charts, prepare matrix displays to capture important content of your mind map as well as a myriad of other features.  This is a great application that is easy to learn and will improve your creativity as well as productivity.

Most of these applications are available at a very low cost or are free which makes them cost effective to implement and to start using immediately.  In addition to these task management applications summarised above, there are a lot more so do a search to find something suitable to meet your requirements.

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There are many ways you can obtain personal development information which may include reading books, attending seminars or spending endless hours searching on the internet.  While there is nothing wrong with those options it can be costly, take up a lot of time and not address what you were trying to achieve.

One valuable resource to consider is to use iTunes to get some great information and resources.  iTunes isn’t just for music as you can download podcasts, books and even audiobooks on a huge range of topics.  Here are some examples of what is currently available that may be of interest.  These are free to download.

  • Leadership and Learning:  This discusses leadership, how to motivate people and maximise creativity.
  • Motivate Yourself:  This covers issues around motivation, how to inspire and help you get the best out of yourself.
  • Communication Diva:  Explores how to improve your communication in the workplace and in personal relationships as well as techniques about the art of great communication.
  • Stress Free Work Week:  Examines ways to deal with and manage work stress that results in a happier and healthier personal life and more successful professional life.
  • Entrepreneur Pulse:  Looks at strategy and tools for entrepreneurs in small business or new businesses.

These are just some examples as there are thousands of topics and titles to choose from and many are either free or with a minimal cost to download.  What is being highlighted is the extent of resources that are available and easy to access.  The other benefit of the use of iTunes is that you can listen to them while on the train, driving, even when doing exercises or simply relaxing.

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