Alzheimer Society of Nova Scotia

Archive for 2014|Yearly archive page

YOU, the Giving Tuesday fundraising marketer

In Donors, Fundraising on December 16, 2014 at 1:34 pm

Last week I talked about the way the office feels on Giving Tuesday. The “silent hum of happiness” from donors, co-workers and partners.

But that good feeling stuff aside, let’s admit: it didn’t just happen. YOU had to make it happen.

So how do YOU market a national campaign for your small shop?

1. Sign up to be a partner on the Giving Tuesday website.
-Online you can find so many resources – why invent the wheel they say! From perfectly fitted social media images, to tool kits, it is a one stop shop. Use these on your organizations sites.

This year I was pleased to have the Mayor’s toolkit which included an already written proclamation. I filled in the blanks and emailed it off! Thank you to Mayor Mike Savage and Halifax City Council for proclaiming Giving Tuesday for ALL charities in Halifax! And what did we do with the proclamation? Content of course! It was a new picture to post, a new tweet to send, a new newsworthiness piece to put in our media release.

2. Attend the webinars that are offered to YOU for free – from the Giving Tuesday team.
– Another online tool technically, but a more interactive one. From communications to storytelling, there were a few Google Hangout’s (that were recorded if you missed it and put on YouTube) that you could attend. Not only do you get to hear from people just like YOU (I participated and spoke on using video in your storytelling) but since it is a Google Hangout, you can ask questions to the speaker in real time.

3. Ask your donors for help.
– The great thing about 2015 Giving Tuesday? YOU will have past Giving Tuesday supporters to go back to and ask them to be part of your promotion team! Last year we had several social media ambassadors who helped us spread the word. This year we asked them back and past donors to join in!

3.1. Don’t forget about your Giving Tuesday donors.
-Don’t wait a full year to go back them! We make sure to thank donors rights away, but also to ask at the time of donation if we can connect with them again. And we make sure that we do with our annual report and invitations to events.

4. Don’t forget traditional communication streams.
– We at the Alzheimer Society of Nova Scotia do not buy any media for Giving Tuesday. We have our social media ambassadors out spreading the word and we do one other thing: we attach a save the date business card to our newsletter that goes out in November. That’s it. And guess what? When I look at the data from Giving Tuesday donors, I can tell that many of the first time donors, came because of that business card!

If YOU are interested in participating in Giving Tuesday 2015 for the first time and need some advice, please connect with us. If YOU did something awesome this past year, tell us in the comments below – we love to hear it and learn about it!

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YOU, the “silent hum of happiness” fundraiser

In Donors, thank you on December 12, 2014 at 11:29 am

                                         http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HkFn8J6YNM8
     A video to YOU!

Christmas carols begin in stores too soon after Halloween; office phones ring and fill the hallways in our new renovated space, and the sound of rain against our windows is more constant this winter than ever before.

These are sounds we are accustomed too. Sure to some they are annoyances, but to others they are a good sign (rain equals no snow!) But there is a new sound that is happening in our office. We heard it last year and this year, on the same day.

Problem is, it’s kind of silent. It’s the “hum” that fills the air on Giving Tuesday.

We wrote about Giving Tuesday last year (the first year in Canada) pretty extensively. YOU can read those posts here and here. What I might not have had time to fully appreciate last year, was the feeling that overcomes the office on this special day.

All year long, we appreciate our donors. It is because of them that many Nova Scotians receive the support that they need as they live the dementia journey.

But Giving Tuesday 2014 was a day that started and ended differently than the other 364 days. At the Alzheimer Society of Nova Scotia we began at 8 am when I was on the morning breakfast news, talking about Giving Tuesday and how it impacts those we serve. I brought coffee into the office for everyone to wish them a happy Giving Tuesday. Smiles were already on their faces because people had walked in to donate, others had called.

By mid-morning I had a list of donors for our Executive Director to call. He was calling to just say thank you and offer our services if the donor needed support. At the same time he was doing that, I saw Facebook posts from donors who were shocked and happy they had received a call.

At lunch, I was off to visit the offices of our Giving Tuesday matching partner, Deloitte. In celebration of the day and partnership, they hosted a lunch and learn for their employees about dementia. It was great to have that kind of partner engagement!

Back in the office and another interview this time with CBC news. The reporter Angela, told me that she started her day at Tim Horton’s with the customer in front of her paying for her coffee. It made her day! That, I told her, is what Giving Tuesday is about, making others feel comfort and happiness. She acknowledged that she had spent the rest of the day in a great mood. Her own silent “hum of happiness.”

That afternoon, my Executive Director was making his way into my office, with a smile and I sensed that silent happiness hum. He told me how much he was enjoying Giving Tuesday, calling all the donors, listening to their stories about why they donated and offering our support. He glided back to his office with a new list to call.

Working in an office setting can be stressful. Why are we out of coffee cream again? Who keeps yelling on speakerphone? Working in a non-profit adds another layer of stress. Are we helping enough people? Can we raise a little bit more to fund a new program? The thing I like about participating in Giving Tuesday, is the “silent hum of happiness” from donors, to partners, to staff. It truly is the beginning of the holiday season when you see that many smiles in one day. So thank YOU for making it possible.

(Next weeks blog post we’ll dive into the data of Giving Tuesday!)

You, Standing out in a crowd

In Communications, Public Relations, Relationship Building, Uncategorized on November 25, 2014 at 3:57 pm

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In an often crowded not-for-profit market, it can be difficult to make your organization stand out. It’s definitely something we are always working on at the Society. We want to make sure that people know who the Alzheimer Society of Nova Scotia is and what we do.

So, how do we do that? Here are a few tips and tricks I’ve learned along the way.

  • Plan ahead: Take some time to map out the year ahead, month by month. This will help you decide if there something specific you want to focus on each month. It’s amazing to see how often you can leverage something that is already happening to make sure your organization’s message gets out there.Here’s an example of how the Society does this:
Month Focus Angle
December Holiday season Tips for gifts/caregiving/ visiting someone with dementia
March Brain Awareness Week Better brain health/risk factors for dementia
June Father’s day Profiling the men in our lives

As great as planning ahead is, you still need to make sure you are flexible. Even though you have mapped out the year, something will likely come up at the last minute, and you need to be ready to respond.

  • Be active and engaging on social media:
    I can’t emphasize this one enough. Being part of the conversation on social media is a great way to talk about who your organization is and what you do. But, simply just posting isn’t enough – you need to make sure you are engaging your audience. For some social media tricks on how to best engage your audience – check out one of our previous blog posts here.
  • Get out there:
    Make sure you take every opportunity available to get in front of a crowd to talk about your organization. If you’re doing a media interview, an education session or speaking at one of your organization’s event – make sure you always bring it back to the overall message of who you are and how you can help.
  • Change it up:
    Don’t be afraid of change. By switching it up every now and then, you can start to create a buzz about your organization. We change it up every year with National Philanthropy Day, and it has definitely made people take notice of what we are doing.

These are just a few tips, but we’d love to hear from you. Do YOU have some tips YOU can share about making sure your organization stands out? Leave a comment below.

YOU, Working with Committees

In committees, Special Events, Volunteers on November 18, 2014 at 3:47 pm

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Working with volunteer committees can be both challenging and rewarding. It is important to value the commitment that these individuals have chosen to give, yet it is also just as important to value the skills that they bring to the table.

I have the opportunity to work with two volunteer committees. At first I was trepidatious to demand anything from my committee members as I felt they were already doing so much by attending meetings and responding to correspondence. After all, these are professional people with busy lives, I don’t want to become a burden.

But my mindset has changed over the past two years, and I have learned a lot about the need to engage committee members. The people who choose to spend their free time on your committee, do so because of a passion they have. This passion needs to be fed by the work they do on your committee. Their work needs to be meaningful and committee members need to feel valued and useful.

Here are few things I have learned about keeping committee members engaged:

  1. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. This could be as simple as asking someone to make a phone call, or perhaps it is needing help setting up an event.
  2. Assign jobs. If one of your committee members is a marketing professional in their professional life, tap into that. Ask them to be your marketing consultant, and focus their commitment primarily on your marketing campaign. This can lead to more responsibility for the committee member, as they can now report on their work at the meetings. They suddenly become more invested in the campaign success.
  3. Give homework. It is ok to assign action items to committee members. These are usually tasks that need to be completed before the next meeting.
  4. Listen to their input. If you are hosting an event, your committee members also become event participants. Try to see the event from their perspective. I can guarantee YOU that participants have a much different perspective than YOU do as the event planner.
  5. Look at the type of help YOU need from your committee and recruit people that can help. Perhaps YOU need someone who is good with numbers to help YOU with your budget, or perhaps YOU want help with social media planning. Look for individuals with experience or expertise in these areas.

Volunteers, in all capacities, are essential members of our organization. Treating them respectfully, ensuring they feel valued and keeping them inspired should always be a priority.

YOU, sharing the love

In Donors, national philanthropy day, thank you, Uncategorized, Volunteers on November 12, 2014 at 10:42 am

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Can YOU feel it in the air? It’s almost time….time to share the love with your organizations philanthropists!

As we have shared for the past two years, Canada has recognized November 15 as NATIONAL PHILANTHROPY DAY. And we at the Alzheimer Society of Nova Scotia love this day. I don’t use that term all the time, but truly, we do. Here is what happened in 2012 & 2013.

This year is no exception! We have a surprise up our sleeves for some groups, couples and individuals that truly are changing the world with their giving hearts!

YOU can follow along with us tomorrow (Thursday, November 13) as we celebrate YOU on our social media feeds. We will be posting over the next two days to share with you some awesome philanthropists helping Nova Scotians receive support and education as they live the dementia journey.

Twitter: @AlzheimerNS
#npdlove

Facebook: facebook.com/alzheimersocietyns

YOUtube: youtube.com/AlzheimerNS

YOU, Remembering what it’s all about

In Relationship Building, Special Events on November 5, 2014 at 4:07 pm

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It’s really easy to become so wrapped up in a project, event, or the everyday tasks of your job that you forget to take a step back and take a look at the big picture. I recently had the opportunity to do just that.

Over the past two days, the Society hosted our 25th Annual Provincial Conference. People come from all over Nova Scotia to attend this conference. Whether they are Doctors, CCAs, RNs, LPNs, family members, friends or partners in care, these are the people on the frontlines who face dementia on a daily basis.

It never fails to impress me how dedicated all these conference participants are to their work. They come ready to spend two days soaking up knowledge that they can take back to their workplace. They want to make sure they have the knowledge they need to provide the best possible care for people living with Dementia.

I’m also amazed by how our staff comes together. Whether it is greeting participants, helping with registration or setting up computers and projectors, we are all ready and willing to help with whatever is needed to help this event run smoothly.

So, what it all comes down to is this – when you have the chance, stop and take it all in. We may all have different roles to play, but at the end of the day, the ultimate goal is to make sure we are doing the best for the people we serve. That’s something we can all be proud of.

YOU, the video storyteller

In Communications, Donors, Uncategorized on October 28, 2014 at 1:38 pm

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dtnUcoJDw_o
Video Storytelling: the Alzheimer Society of Nova Scotia’s Annual Report 2013-14

Today, I am hanging out over on a Google Hangout with the lovely folks from Giving Tuesday Canada, YOUTube Canada and the organization Pathways to Education. Why are we all having a Google hangout? Because we are passionate about using storytelling via video to share your organizations story.

Here at the Alzheimer Society of Nova Scotia we have been using videos as a way to communicate with donors, event participants, and partners for a few years. As I will say in today’s Hangout (which will be recorded and available on YOUTube) is that video is a great way to engage your audience, because they get to “meet” the very families, or animals that they help. Maybe they see the building of the new hospital from start to finish, in time lapse. Both scenarios mean they get to see where their contributions go.

What a lovely way to connect with your organizations supporters!

Budget, technology, script writing, producing, finding people to tell their story, all play a factor into the decision to use video. And it’s true, some videos are easier to make than others.

The good news is: if we can do it on the most limiting of budgets, with a disease that is quite isolating and stigmatizing, YOU can too.

Here are some inside tips that I will be sharing today:

Tip # 1 – already posted above: DO use video storytelling as a communication tool!

Tip # 2 – Always ask for permission to contact supporters. Because when YOU need to create a video, YOU will have a group of supporters YOU can ask to help! This group is your storytellers!

Tip #3 – (one from my years of being a Girl Guide member!) Use your resources wisely! We make free videos ALL THE TIME. We download free apps to our phones, like Splice, that allow us to edit, add text, etc, then we post it to our YOUtube channel – another free resource!

Tip # 4 – Learn how to embed your videos into your blog posts, or e-newsletters and watch not only the number of views but also any comments, making sure YOU answer them.

Responding to comments on your videos and responding is the most traditional way of engagement, brought to YOU by a new media format.

Good luck! And please view our video above, which was created by a professional videographer that we hired. If YOU have any questions about video storytelling at your non-profit, ask us! We’d love to help YOU!

YOU, and the chaos around YOU

In moving, organizing, Public Relations, Special Events on October 21, 2014 at 2:40 pm

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We have all been challenged to work through difficult times in our lives. No matter what happens, usually YOU have to come to work and get through your day and do your work to the best of your ability. But what if that difficulty is coming from within your office? I’m talking about the dreaded Office Move.

Our office has been undergoing some changes lately and people are switching and moving and relocating offices. It is an extremely exciting time, but if YOU like to be super organized like I do, it can be extremely stressful.

How can you trudge through your work day when everything around YOU is utter chaos? Well hopefully, like us, YOU have a great Office Manager, who keeps a tight grip on all the shifting. But what else can YOU do to make it easier? I’m learning this as I go, as I have never had to switch office space before while still working. Here is what I have learned so far.

  1. Label everything. Don’t second guess yourself. Don’t think, “oh, they know that’s mine, I don’t need to label it.” No, do it anyway.
  2. Inventory everything YOU have that YOU want to bring to the new office space on a master list. This list become essential to your sanity as YOU set up your new space. A reference tool that YOU will refer to countless times as you unpack and set up in your new space.
  3. Take any unnecessary items home. Any photos or accessories that YOU added to your space to make it homier, should be taken home and put aside until the new space is all organized. YOU do this for two reasons: these items might get misplaced or broken in transition, or the items may not fit in your new space.
  4. If YOU are like me and squatting in a temporary space until our new area is ready, YOU will want to pack away all items that are not immediately necessary to your day-to-day work. These things will only cause confusion and clutter in your temporary space.

Moving has been proven to be one of the most stressful things that people go through. So let’s do everything we can to alleviate that stress. We still have work to do and cannot afford to spend an hour looking for a file we need.

I have written about being organized before. It is something I am truly passionate about. It helps me maintain focus and manage time. So hopefully these tips will give YOU some focus during your next office move.

YOU, Being inspired by those who give back

In Volunteers on October 14, 2014 at 3:28 pm

photo_14157_carousel                                                                                                                                                                      Source

 

Over the past couple weeks, I had the opportunity to attend two different events that I found truly inspiring.

The first event was the Dalhousie Volunteer Fair. This is an annual event for students to learn more about the different volunteer opportunities available to them. I went to the fair as a representative of the Alzheimer Society of Nova Scotia, with the goal of recruiting volunteers to help out in a few different areas. I was blown away by how many students took time out of their schedule to attend the fair, and who were interested in becoming a volunteer with at least one of the many organizations who were represented there – many signed up on the spot! With everything else these students have going on, they still really want to give back.

The second event I attended was Timeraiser. This event has a really interesting concept. Artists donate pieces of art, and participants can bid on the artwork with volunteer hours. The winning bidder has a year to complete their volunteer hours. Once they have completed their volunteer commitment, then they can collect their artwork. I went to Timeraiser as a participant, and had the opportunity to see all the great artwork, and check out the organizations who were represented there. Once again, the amount of people in attendance who were willing to donate their valuable time to many different worthy causes was truly inspiring. From marketing to writing and graphic design – there was no shortage of talent being offered to the organizations there.

As someone who works with volunteers on a regular basis, it was thrilling to see just how many people are out there who are willing to donate their time to organizations like ours. It was a group of volunteers who started the Alzheimer Society of Nova Scotia, and it is volunteers who continue to help Nova Scotians living with dementia. From our office volunteers, to support group facilitators, to our board and committee members, we couldn’t do what we do without a dedicated group of volunteers.

So to those of you who so generously donate your time, THANK YOU! You are truly making a difference in your community.

YOU, the major gift fundraiser learning lessons everywhere

In Donors, Fundraising, Major Gifts, Relationship Building on October 7, 2014 at 1:57 pm
The writer with a golden ticket...to the next round

The writer with a golden ticket…to the next round

A few years ago, well, I guess about a decade ago now, I auditioned for a reality show. I don’t say that out loud very often, but there YOU have it. In 2004, my friends “challenged” me to put myself out there doing something I loved: singing.

I wasn’t a recording artist, or a Broadway show stopper. I was someone who just liked to sing with the radio, or in the shower, when my friends started asking me to sing in their weddings. Being on TV and hoping millions of Canadians voted for me was never my dream.

Auditioning for Canadian Idol (the process was three auditions over the course of one day) – in retrospect – has made me a better fundraiser. It was a cultivation process for the creators of the show; trying to figure out who they would put on stage and support.

There are several lessons to be learned from the experience. Here are my top three:

Overcoming insecurities: Just by stepping into the audition room, I went from amateur to professional. Many who were auditioning with me, were seasoned professionals. And even though I had a few registry signing singing performances under my belt, I felt I wasn’t good enough to be heard from.

It’s how I sometimes feel as I prep for meetings with major gift donors or senior volunteers. “Why,” I ask myself, “Would they want to hear from me?” YOU don’t have to be an extrovert (which I mostly am) to have these insecurities. Fundraisers just need to have passion, knowledge and the opportunity to earn a stakeholders support.

Listening to criticism: One of the saddest moments of trying out for a talent reality show is stepping into the bathroom after the first round of auditions. Every stall, every sink, every inch of floor either a crying contestant or a supportive friend.

There were hundreds of people auditioning that day, just like there are several organizations that appeal to the same major donors. It’s hard in the moment, but hearing criticism (or asking for feedback) about your organization, or the ask, or your project is tough. But actually listening to it, will only help YOU in the future.

My second audition of the day at Idol was brutal. Everything about my first performance was broken down and discussed. But I listened, and I made it to round three.

Now, when I hold a meeting with a potential major gift donor, I always ask the senior volunteer or my Executive Director (whoever came with me) to give me feedback once the meeting is over. Did I speak too quickly (a definite trait of mine)? Did I answer the questions asked of me, how was my body language, how was my language in general (not that I swear like a sailor in meetings, but did I use internal language too much?)

Relationship building/Friend-raising: My final audition of the day came almost 10 hours after the first. I no longer was shy or nervous, I was invested in succeeding. This was evident the moment I stepped in front of the producers, production crew and cameras. I had to make these people my friends. They had to believe in me and my (new found) goal of becoming the next great Canadian talent out of Nova Scotia (Sorry Ms. Anne Murray, excuse me Rita MacNeil, outta my way Rankin Family!)

Fundraising author Penelope Burke has said that when a fundraiser speaks to donors, “…it doesn’t matter your age or experience, YOU should just be interesting.” I went in to that last Idol audition prepared to let them see who Sarah really was: someone who was smart, liked to smile and could sing.

At the end of my audition I had everyone laughing, but my voice wasn’t Idol ready. No problem I said and thanked them for their time. As I was leaving I could hear them talk, “She’s funny.” “Great personality.” “Awesome girl.”

I left not with a title, but with people who supported me.

When I meet potential major gift donors, I really have to work hard on letting them see my personality, my expertise, my passion. It’s easy to be the staff person who seems to tag along and nods their head in agreement with everything that’s said in the meeting.

If YOU have gotten over your insecurity and listened to feedback, YOU know that YOU are not only prepared to be in that meeting, but YOU are the expert there, on how to help that donor change the trajectory of the cause your organization fights for.

As a fundraiser YOU have passion; there’s an argument for the fact that it is in our DNA, our need to make the world a better place. YOU also have passion for many other things. Maybe it’s cooking, running, reading or singing. What lessons can YOU learn from those to help YOU be the best fundraiser YOU can be?