Category Archives: For Nonprofits

Reach out and build valuable relationships with donors, clients, and volunteers.

Finding Inspiration for Content

Inspiration for ContentWhether you have writer’s block, you’re running out of time, or you’re simply looking for fresh content ideas for your e-newsletter, website, blog, or Facebook Page post, in this age of abundant information and great technology, there are plenty of sources from which to draw inspiration. However, let’s not forget meditation! Here are some additional avenues for finding inspiration for content.

Keep an idea journal
As you read catalogs, magazines, books, etc. – and simply go about living your life! – keep your eyes and ears open for ideas, then jot them down.

Look to others in your field or industry
See what others in your professional field or business are talking about and then offer a different viewpoint or advice on a topic. You could also interview other experts.

Interview one of your customers or someone in your organization
Feature a loyal customer – or even a new recipient of your service or product -, staff member, or volunteer, and write about a challenge and how they’ve overcome it. Ask the interviewee to share the story with their own contacts in order to increase the breadth of your audience.

Go in-house asking for topic ideas
Create a simple system to gather topic ideas from those who know your business or organization best – your employees, board members, and volunteers. You could even hold a contest for others to vote on a few of the ideas – you’d be engaging your people, creating great content ideas, and having fun too!

Go social!
You can search Facebook for groups or Pages relevant to your business or organization. You can join various groups on LinkedIn, Yahoo, Google, etc. and watch the various conversations going on. You may see someone there you want to connect with and interview, find an interesting article you want to link to, and/or get ideas from questions people are asking. Twitter is also a great place to get ideas.

This article includes some ideas I read written by Shirin Shahin. You can read what she has to say by clicking here.

The QQQ Trick for Word Formatting

Have you ever copied and pasted something into Word, only to discover it inserts paragraph returns in odd places? [You’ll need to have your Show/Hide button on to see them and other Word formatting.] This commonly happens when you copy and paste text from an email or a web page into Word.

Word Formatting

If you have a lot of text facing this problem, you’ll love this trick! I learned it from Mark Coker, founder of Smashwords. He calls it the QQQ Trick.

  1. Press CTRL+H, search for ^p^p and replace it with QQQ
  2. Search for ^p and replace it with nothing.
  3. Search for QQQ and replace it with ^p^p

Voilà‎ – you have reflowable text again. You may still have a little bit of clean up to do, but this trick is really fabulous.

This trick has other uses with other variations. Essentially, you’re using a wildcard – QQQ – as a temporary placeholder for something. Note: Mark chose QQQ because the letters are unlikely to ever appear in natural language.

Try it out and let me know how you like it by commenting below…

Software Training

software trainingLearning how to use your computer doesn’t have to be stressful – it can be fun! Joyce has a reputation of great patience and software training expertise, particularly with beginners and the senior population. In fact, for many years she was known as The Computer Therapist, guiding people gently into the Information Age. She still uses those therapeutic skills these days, making you feeling comfortable and providing encouragement.

Here are some of the computer topics you can learn when you are guided and coached (hands-on) by The Computer Spirit:

  • Basics of the PC
  • Windows Operating System
  • Application Programs (i.e., Microsoft® Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, Access)
  • How to Navigate Around the Internet
  • How to Use Email and Web Mail

Even though she’s taught computer software in college level classes and in business, Joyce prefers working with you one-to-one, making sure you can do what you want to do with your computer.

The Computer Spirit offers in-person training at your home or office in the northern areas of Arizona, notably Sedona, Cottonwood, and Flagstaff. She is also available via email and phone or Skype. Contact The Computer Spirit for more information.

It doesn’t matter how big or small your project or need, or where you’re stuck – you are not alone.

A Whopping e-News Open Rate!

Verde Valley Caregivers e-News January 14, 2012When it comes to open rates, my e-news clients usually score in at least the low 30 percentile – above industry averages, in case you didn’t know. Click here to view the latest industry rates.

When I’ve sent out an e-news to a small, very targeted list, I can easily get an open rate of 50%, sometimes even 100%! But, let’s be honest – when you’re talking about 10 to 20 people, that’s really no big deal.

However, now we have the case of the latest e-news sent to volunteers at Verde Valley Caregivers Coalition.  VVCC is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization providing direct services free-of-charge throughout the Verde Valley (AZ) to ‘neighbors’ – seniors and adults with disabilities who ask for help to remain living independently at home.

Out of 203 email addresses (bounces already excluded), VVCC enjoyed an open rate of a whopping 55.2% or 112 contacts! That says a mouthful.

So to what do we attribute this awesome open rate?

Continue reading »

Closed Doors

Closed doorA lot of strange dialog and decision-making goes on behind closed doors – even if the rooms are not so smoky any more. This can certainly be true in nonprofit organizations. When what happens behind closed doors leaks out to your organization, it often takes the form of rumor and stories circulated via the grapevine.

By what method can nonprofits provide accurate information to their communities on a timely basis, thereby counteracting the flow of false information? How can truth see the light of day?

We suggest that living websites and e-newsletters provide tools for creating a culture of truth-telling. Put it out there in writing for everyone to see. Help your organization and its community get used to information in the open. Provide responses to shady stories circulating around you.

It may take awhile to develop these tools and have them adopted as part of a more open culture, but what other choice to you have? Sending your own message out through your own grapevine is a losing battle.

You Are Not Alone!

You Are Not Alone When You Work With The Computer SpiritThe thought “I am not alone” became my mantra about 21 years ago when I finally walked into the rooms of the 12 Step way of life. Up until that time it seemed that I was supposed to do It alone… “It” could be going to the movies – alone. Trying to fix the toilet – alone. Walking with a broken ankle – alone. Fill in the action, any action – alone! Without humans, without Spirit.

But then I learned I had a choice – and people who were only too happy to help and be a part of my daily living. And, I realized that this extended to everything!

So when I started my business revolving around (initially) software training and database design well over ten years ago, Continue reading »

A Favorite Customer

Humane Society of SedonaJoyce and Roger approached the Humane Society offering their email marketing services at no cost as part of their mission. What a positive impact they made! We now are taking advantage of social media and reaching many more people on a regular basis than ever before. For the first time we personally invited all of our customers to a big event through an inexpensive but professional on-line process. It all has been extremely effective. Both Joyce and Roger make us feel like their favorite customer, with their coaching, patience and avid interest in our projects. Their attention to detail and their knowledge of the how, when and whys of social marketing has allowed us to leap forward into the 21st century. Thank you, Joyce and Roger! – Diane Greathouse, Humane Society of Sedona [View archive of e-newsletters.]

Why We Love Working with Nonprofits

Because there’s heart. Working with nonprofits is not the only place to find heart in work – it’s the best place.

We love clear missions and visions about changing the world.

We love organizations that put their missions and visions above money goals.

We love executive directors who leave the corporate world seeking a kinder, gentler way.

We love working with volunteers.

We love to have fun – and nonprofits have fun.

We love service – and nonprofits serve.

We love who nonprofits serve and the many creative, beautiful ways they serve.

We love helping connect nonprofits with their clients, volunteers, and donors.

We Love Nonprofits!

How We Serve Nonprofits

How We Serve NonprofitsThe Computer Spirit is working on two ways to support nonprofits in developing capacity and sustainability through effective communication.

The first involves providing opportunities and resources for nonprofit organizations to develop and own their own living websites and e-newsletters.

The second involves providing hands-on, just-in-time technical, design, personal, and organizational support to nonprofit staff and volunteers to improve their electronic and hard-copy communication with their volunteers, donors, and clients.

We’re currently partnering with the Sedona Community Center to host and promote workshops and the computer lab. Our idea is that any work that spills over from these free experiences is something that will fall to The Computer Spirit or other local web designers and software trainers.

We like to collaborate with nonprofits in helping them open up new and better ways to reach out and build their community of volunteers, clients, and donors. Our first several experiences with local nonprofits – both involving websites and e-newsletters – have been fun and rewarding. We feel we’re making a difference and we’re certainly meeting many terrific people.

We usually suggest a meeting over coffee with representatives of your organization to find out what you’re up to and learn about how you communicate with your community. We’re happy to pull together a suggested action plan for you to take back to your organization, and delighted to speak with your staff or board whenever that may be appropriate.

Although we’re capable of doing all the work ourselves, we prefer to help you take on whatever functions you’re comfortable with because this leaves you with a stronger organization and greater control over your communication tools. You save money too.

Along the way we’ll help you develop funding and train your volunteers if warranted. We like to fit into the process of creating your communication tools in ways that best suit you.

In any case, we feel we’ll all benefit from getting to know one another and talking over the possibilities. We encourage you to call us to set up that coffee meeting!