Category Archives: Expert Tips

How to Promote Your Cause Like a Marketing Genius

Mana Ionescu is the president of the Chicago digital marketing agency Lightspan Digital. She explains how we can use digital storytelling and a few social media best practices to promote a HelpHOPELive campaign.

mana-pic


“I’ve always been interested in how people get their information, and particularly how we interpret what we see and hear in the media. I studied the subject in grad school. My fascination with how we create and share stories led me to marketing. With the rise of online communication, digital storytelling took the lead as one of the most powerful marketing strategies.


Grow Your Network


Social sharing can be an effective way to market your cause. But first things first, you need to decide if you’re ready to share your Facebook page (and your cause) with some of the people you may not already have connected with on the platform. If you are comfortable with the crossover between your personal life and your cause, sync your Facebook account with your email address book and invite people you know to connect.

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Sync your Facebook account with your email address book to find new followers

The best way to grow a following is to first follow other people. A certain percentage of those will always follow you back. Over time, you can unfollow those who aren’t receptive.


Make a Plan and Don’t Believe the Hype


What you’re looking for is a strategy and a plan. Just posting on Facebook may not be your first and only solution for outreach. If you think narrowly like that, you’re limiting yourself and your possibilities and the odds are that you’re not going to get the most out of marketing.

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Do you have an engagement roadmap, or are you lost in the woods?

We get sucked into time-consuming discussions about vague concepts and buzzwords. “Engagement” is one of those. Recently, the term “content curation” is taking over. You have to dig deeper than that to get results from social sharing. There is no simple formula. There’s a lot of wasteful outreach out there, marketing that is not done with purpose.


Strengthen Your Strategy


Just posting on Facebook won’t get you extra support. You need to engage your donor base to share your messages with their friends. Use social media as a catalyst for your existing fans to get your messages out.

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What kind of posts do your followers respond to most?

Craft different stories around the call for donations, and play with the calls to action. For example, “Donate” is the most commonly used call to action. But A/B tests show that “Give” may actually be more effective language. You can also use terms like “Contribute” or “Participate” or “Join Me” to ask for donations. Vary your calls to action for best results.


Keep It Classy – Or Else


I’ve known a person who, for years, posted negative things about her employers to her personal Facebook account. One day in a meeting, a business owner shared that “negative Nellie” applied for a job with the company but she was passed over because of her history of negative posts.

Remember that you are under the microscope. Whether you like it or not, you are now a representative of your cause, even when you are “off the clock.” Do not post mean-spirited posts from your personal account. Keep it clean.


The Bottom Line: Creative Connection


Storytelling is about sharing experiences, and that’s how people come together: through shared experiences that elicit emotions. You have to communicate, communicate, communicate. Share your stories AND the stories of others who support you. Make it all about people. Figure out how to motivate your supporters to bring in more supporters, whether it’s through a creative contest or an emotional tug.

Digital marketing pushes you to be social. It’s a very people-focused space. That’s thrilling to me, because I love getting to know people and learning from others.”


Mana is the president of Lightspan Digital, a Chicago digital marketing agency. Connect with her on Twitter and on LinkedIn.

Caring for Caregivers: Unsung Heroes of Health Care

We are proud to assist family caregivers during National Family Caregivers Month and throughout the year by helping individuals facing a medical crisis fundraise for their out-of-pocket costs, including caregiving expenses. This post from our friends at the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance highlights how caregivers can care for themselves, too.


graphic-caregiving

November marked National Family Caregivers Month, a time to celebrate the silent givers behind those who need care. It is a month to show support for the tireless work caregivers put in for their loved ones. This year, President Obama released a presidential proclamation stating, “During National Family Caregivers Month, we reaffirm our support for those who give of themselves to be there for their family, friends, and neighbors in challenging times…” Caregivers are often the unsung heroes of home health care, so during the month of November and all year round, we raise awareness for these caring individuals and the issues and hardships they face.. It is a time to celebrate the selfless work caregivers do and provide our support.

Twenty-three percent of family caregivers who have been caring for their loved ones for five or more years report that their current health is fair or poor. More than 65 million people, or about 29% of the United States population, provide care for someone who is aging, chronically ill or living with a disability. They are spending an average of 20 hours every single week caring for their loved one. There is little wiggle room for “sick time,” vacations, or paid time off. Caregivers are often bound to a schedule that they must adhere to for the sake of somebody else’s health.

This information has inspired the Caregiver Action Network 2016 National Family Caregivers Month slogan, “Take care to give care.” It signifies that before you can take care of someone else, you must first take care of yourself. To better care for yourself as a caregiver, you can follow some of the tips provided by the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance:


Do what you love.


Don’t neglect your own personal life to care for somebody else. Maintain relationships with friends and family. Set time aside to do activities that you enjoy! Even if you must schedule time on your calendar, it’s important to take time for yourself. It’s particularly helpful to take time doing activities that you like and ones that help you relax! Everyone needs a mental and physical break now and then.


Be heard.


Cameron Von St. James, caregiver to his wife, Heather, who is a 10-year mesothelioma survivor (click here to learn more about mesothelioma), offers these insights: if you know a caregiver, offer him or her your ear – someone to talk to. Caregiving can be stressful, so having someone to talk to helps. It helps caregivers to feel socially connected and reminds the caregiver that there are people who care about them.


Know your limits. 


Always remember that there are limits to what you can do as a caregiver. Set realistic limits for yourself and communicate those to your support system. Don’t be afraid to reach out to those around you for help and support.


Focus on your health and well-being. 


Get plenty of sleep, maintain a well-balanced diet and be sure to get exercise. Your health is crucial. It won’t be possible to care for your loved one to the best of your ability if your health and well-being are suffering. Be sure to visit your doctor regularly for checkups, and schedule an appointment if you are sick.


This guest post was provided by the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance to support caregivers across the country. Want additional information on what it means to be a caregiver? Check out our archived Blog posts.

Your Next Selfie Can Make The World A Better Place

During the holiday season, it’s easy to get caught up in the hype and become fixated on shopping and spending. #GivingTuesday is meant to counteract those rampant indulgences by encouraging all of us to donate to worthy nonprofit causes.


What is an #UNselfie?


An #UNselfie is a picture of you showing how you support worthy causes during the holidays or all year round. An #UNselfie could explain why you support a particular cause, highlight your #GivingTuesday plans or even reveal a random act of kindness that you took part in this year.

Little by little, your #GivingTuesday actions and #UNselfies can help to perpetuate a massive movement that encourages all of us to give just a little bit more during the holiday season.

#UNselfie #GivingTuesday

You can also use your #UNselfie to highlight a HelpHOPELive Campaign that you support in order to gain traction for #GivingTuesday on December 1, when there are no credit card fees on all donations to HelpHOPELive Campaigns.


What does an #UNselfie look like?


Here are a few examples from our staff. Find additional #UNselfies on our Facebook page.

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How can I join the movement?


You can join the #UNselfie movement in three easy steps:

  1. Download and print the #UNselfie template
  2. Write down an act of kindness, a charitable cause or a selfless wish for the holidays
  3. Share on social media with the tags #UNselfie and #GivingTuesday. Add #HelpHOPELive and #GiveHOPE if your #UNselfie involves a HelpHOPELive Campaign!

Visit our website for additional #GivingTuesday tips and suggestions.

4 Easy Ways To Get Ready For #GivingTuesday

#GivingTuesday is less than two weeks away! On Tuesday, December 1, there will be no credit card fees attached to donations to your HelpHOPELive Campaign. This is your opportunity to rally your community to participate in a universal day of hope and selflessness! Here are a few easy ways to prepare.


1. Understand The Mission


#GivingTuesday

  • …celebrates giving and selflessness
  • …counterbalances Black Friday, Cyber Monday and heavy holiday spending
  • …brings together nonprofits, businesses AND families to give together
  • …is all about “small acts of kindness”

2. Spread The Word On Social


…With These Hashtags:

  • #GivingTuesday: use this whenever you mention the event
  • #UNselfie: use this when you post a selfie that highlights a good cause. Download the template at givingtuesday.org.
  • #GiveHOPE: use this when you post a #GivingTuesday message about HelpHOPELive

…And These Pictures:

Share these pics on social media to help good go viral!

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Size: 470 x 352 (Facebook)

 

Today-Only---Enjoy-No-CC-Fees-(Instagram)

Size: 511 x 511 (Instagram, Facebook or other social sites)

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Size: 511 x 511 (Instagram, Facebook or other social sites)

 

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Size: 511 x 511 (Instagram, Facebook or other social sites)


3. Update Your Outreach


If you plan to contact a news outlet or send an email to friends and family before December 1, make sure you mention #GivingTuesday. It’s a great way to tie your HelpHOPELive Campaign into a major social movement. If you need help figuring out how to explain or incorporate #GivingTuesday, reach out to your Fundraising Coordinator today.


4. Show Your Gratitude


#GivingTuesday is an opportunity to give AND receive. For that reason, it’s a great time to reflect on what your community has already helped you to achieve. Here’s how:

  1. Jot down a few things that you’ve been able to do or accomplish thanks to donations.
  2. Snap a few pictures if you can!
  3. Post an Update about #GivingTuesday that focuses on thanking everyone who has donated so far.
  4. Share your Campaign Page on social media to engage even more friends and family members.

Your friends will be more likely to donate if they can see how they have impacted your life through donations.

HelpHOPELive Campaign Page

Add a #GivingTuesday Update expressing gratitude.


Questions? Have #GivingTuesday ideas to add to our list? Reach out to us on Facebook or on Twitter to connect.

4 Ways To Engage Your Faith Community For Fundraising

In honor of National Donor Sabbath this week, here are a few ideas for how to engage your faith community in fundraising.


Spread Awareness With National Donor Sabbath

Between November 13 and November 15, faith communities across the country will celebrate National Donor Sabbath, a time to honor individuals who have saved lives through organ donation. It’s an opportunity for discussion and education: as Donate Life California notes, “ALL major religions support organ, eye and tissue donation, and believe it to be a final act of kindness and generosity.”

National Donor Sabbath 2015

Source: donatelife.net

HelpHOPELive will be distributing free organ donor awareness materials to congregants at St. David’s Episcopal Church in our local Wayne, PA community this year. Consider asking your faith community to honor the occasion in 2016. Contact your HelpHOPELive Fundraising Coordinator to request awareness materials to help spread the word.


Showcase Ways To Make A Difference

Your place of worship may be an ideal location to bring people together to sign up to be bone marrow donors, blood donors or registered organ donors. These drives can raise awareness for a cause, inspire attendees to donate to your HelpHOPELive Campaign and create an opportunity to enlist community volunteers who may help you to promote your Campaign or plan future fundraising events.

bone marrow drive swab

Hold a bone marrow drive to raise awareness and support for your Campaign.

In 2010, HelpHOPELive client Vinodkumar Challagundla desperately needed a bone marrow transplant to fight myelofibrosis. His faith community came together to hold bone marrow drives across the country at which potential donors could submit their cheek swabs for compatibility testing. The community found overwhelming support for the initiatives: more than 15,000 people joined the National Marrow Donor Program registry through the drives, including the donor that would save his life.


Hold A Fundraiser

A place of worship can be a great venue for a fundraising event, from a post-service pancake breakfast to a community yard sale. If you are already involved with a faith community, contact your HelpHOPELive Fundraising Coordinator for event ideas that will suit the venue and audience.

pancake breakfast

Your place of worship could be a great location for a fundraising event.

If your faith community has a suitable concert area or holds a regular musical event, consider engaging faith leaders to help you plan a concert to fundraise for your Campaign. A faith-based community concert in honor of HelpHOPELive client Allen West Edgar attracted over 300 attendees and raised significant proceeds towards Allen’s kidney transplant. Allen even performed at the concert, showing attendees how much their support meant to him.


Engage A Volunteer Network

Some faith communities have a social service and outreach component built into their mission or their youth organizations. See if your place of worship would be willing to help you reach out to individuals who want to support your fundraising efforts in the name of their faith. HelpHOPELive client Ethan Kadish’s friends and family members engaged their faith community to support Ethan through two projects, a 5K event and a performance by a local youth band, that tied into service expectations for a coming-of-age religious ceremony.

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Find enthusiastic volunteers through your faith community.


Want more fundraising tips and ideas? Reach out to your HelpHOPELive Fundraising Coordinator for support and browse our Blog for additional insights.

Learning To Adapt: How A Business Owner Supports His Wife After Injury

In honor of National Family Caregivers Month this November, we’re profiling individuals who play a key role in the care and happiness of their loved ones. In July of 2014, Kirby G. Smith was thrust into one of the most intense experiences of his life. Suria Nordin, then his fiancée, became paralyzed while vacationing with Kirby in Jamaica. By July of 2015, Kirby had founded SunKirb Ideas, a game-changing “smart home” installation and management company.

Kirby hopes to offer ease, efficiency and manageable overhead costs to families coping with a disability or injury. We picked Kirby’s brain to find out how smart home tech could revolutionize daily life for American families.

Kirby Smith and Suria Nordin HelpHOPELive injury spinal cord injury wheelchair SunKirb Ideas

Suria and Kirby in their neighborhood. Source: Wall Street Journal


After your wife’s injury, what modifications were needed to create a supportive home environment?


We had to modify multiple elements of our house, including our home entrances, the heights of our light switches, the bathroom configuration, our flooring and our emergency response options.


How did you begin to discover the benefits of smart home tech?


When Suria was injured, I wasn’t very motivated to seek out adaptive equipment because of the exorbitant prices for purchase and installation. As a result, I started to take a closer look at regular consumer products. It turned out that MANY of these products were already outfitted with adaptive technologies, but those features were not well-advertised.

Kirby Smith Suria Nordin HelpHOPELive home

Kirby found creative ways to make life easier for Suria. Source: Wall Street Journal

When it comes to adapting for disabilities, people tend to just purchase the tech without looking into the value. I realized that instead of asking families to look for expensive adaptive equipment, I could help them to adapt existing equipment for their needs. I realized this was really a gap in the market: services from a company that understands disability and aging directly.


What kind of cost-effective conversions did you discover?


The first four months after Suria was injured were challenging. We had no one to turn to to discuss life after injury when it came down to the nuts and bolts of home modification. In one instance, I searched for a piece of technology that would allow Suria to turn on the television with her voice. A vendor presented me a customized voice-activated device that would cost us $6,000. To me, that price was outrageous. Instead of making that purchase, I picked up a $400 Xbox console, which has built-in audio recognition that can completely control a television set, including sites such as Netflix and cable box or TiVo DVRs.

xbox

An Xbox can be used in place of a $6,000 modification.

The second piece of the puzzle was making physical adaptations without relying on installation services. Every adaptive tech business sold its product aggressively, but no one showed you how to adapt your home without paying a professional to do so. Different vendors handled each piece of the home, from the lights to the doors to the television, with huge service markups attached to each. The vendors pushed their own product and didn’t work on continuity. We would have had to find our own tech-savvy contractor to adapt the house on a physical level. Learning how to do that on my own gave me the experience I needed to help others do the same without paying exorbitant installation fees.


Why don’t businesses advertise adaptive uses for consumer products?


The average person doesn’t even think about these considerations. In Xbox’s case, the company wants to appeal to gamers primarily. Businesses don’t want to lose their core markets, so they tend to shy away from using language like ‘adaptable’ or ‘adaptive’ because they are so afraid of alienating their core consumers.

game marketing Battlefield

Afraid of alienating core consumers, most companies don’t advertise accessibility.


How did your professional background inform your business?


My tech background as a Senior VP of IT helped me to identify what was a good deal and what was an outrageous proposition. We had to design portions of our systems to accommodate persons with disabilities. I’ve been aware of that [need] throughout my career.


How can intelligent tech impact the lives of families coping with an injury?


Smart tech can provide cost savings while improving safety and comfort. A smart house can monitor energy usage and save you money while you’re away from home – for example, the system will adjust the temperature to save energy if it senses that you are away from your home and then, as it learns your schedule, it will bring the temperature back to comfort levels before you arrive. Our home tech learns Suria’s patterns and adapts to them. We have smart smoke detectors that pick up smoke and CO2, but the alarms can identify both the exact location of the issue AND the degree of emergency. If someone burns the toast and there is smoke in the kitchen, the device will inform us of the issue but will also note that it doesn’t pose an immediate threat to our safety. The sensors also detect motion and can alert us if we are away and there is movement in the house. They can also tell the thermostat we’re out, and lower energy levels to save power.

smart home

Smart tech can save users money and improve safety.


Can smart homes help caregivers, too?


As a caregiver, I use our home features as much as Suria does! Technology streamlines and simplifies everything. Caregivers can monitor their homes and their loved ones and keep in constant contact, especially in case of emergencies. When everything is connected, it becomes easier for EVERY member of the family to live a fulfilling life.


Are there benefits to using smart tech beyond physical disability support?


It’s nice to have equipment that assists you but isn’t stigmatizing. There is a ‘cool’ factor to a lot of this technology that supersedes the disabled label – in fact, my first SunKirb Ideas clients are not disabled. That’s what’s so powerful about connected home technology: it transcends traditional labels and limitations. I truly think we’re on the cusp of very affordable technology that can change lives, and I’m proud to be on the forefront of that.

smart house family

Smart tech can transcend the ‘disability’ label to appeal to everyone.


Why not expand your business to the general market?


After what I went through with Suria, serving families who are coping with disabilities is my passion and where my heart lies. I’m not speaking from theory when I address consumers – I’ve lived it, and that gives me a perspective I can share with others. By testing things with Suria, I was able to determine what would work for others with similar situations or even completely different concerns (blindness, for instance). I’m not in this to form a gigantic company – I am looking for fulfillment and the ability to provide a good service. I want to be able to walk away feeling like the money I made is supporting a worthy cause.


Like what you’re hearing? Share your thoughts on caregiving after injury, smart homes and disability-friendly technology with us on Twitter.

Finding Joy After Injury: 11 Quotes From Dan Gottlieb

Here are 11 powerful quotes from Dr. Dan Gottlieb on love, loss and recovery after a spinal cord injury. Dr. Gottlieb became paralyzed from the chest down in a car accident in 1979. Having survived years of struggle and personal loss, today, Dr. Gottlieb maintains a private psychology practice, lectures and trains health care professionals, and hosts WHYY Philadelphia’s Voices in the Family broadcast.

Dr. Dan Gottlieb, Voices in the Family, NPR, WHYY

All content provided courtesy of the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation via the Foundation-hosted webinar “Dr. Dan on Finding Joy,” August 5, 2015.


On Redefining Joy After Injury:

The definition of joy can change based on an individual’s abilities and circumstances. With a broken neck, I could no longer be the person I thought I should be or the person I would have been or wanted to be. I had no choice but to be the person I am today. When you give up the battle to be someone or something else, you start to look at the world differently. You can lower the bar to what gives you joy; you lower that bar low enough and pure joy is easy to find.

meditation

Take time to appreciate small blessings.

When you’re no longer pursuing an artificial definition of happiness, all of a sudden, the air smells cleaner. At this moment, perhaps you can breathe without coughing. Joy is right there, in that moment.


On Finding Joy By Helping Others:

Joy happens most often when we’re not thinking about ourselves. We are hardwired to help each other. That’s why when someone suffers or is crying, our hearts open. When you want joy and want to feel good, help another feel good, whether that being is a child, an adult, or an animal. The act of expressing care and compassion brings joy. If you don’t feel it, help someone else feel it, and then you will feel it yourself.

caring for child

Caring for others can help you feel joyful again.


On Finding Joy Through Gratitude:

I find joy whenever I: realize that this day is precious; appreciate the fragility of life, knowing deep down that this might be our last day, our last year or our last summer.

sunrise

Viewing life as precious can improve your outlook.


On Accepting Love:

Fear and resentment interfere with our ability to experience love. Let love contribute to the healing in [your] heart. Love is the only vehicle that can help us find peace. On my deathbed, I want to be surrounded with love and be able to love until my last minute. I want to feel that love until my last breath.

afraid girl

Fear can make it difficult for us to accept love.

The most difficult and the most generous part of love comes when someone you love suffers. Be with them. When I find myself in a deep, dark place, I want to be with someone who loves me enough to sit there with me, not a cheerleader to tell me there’s light at the other end. Sit with me in my helplessness and then I will feel your love.


On Overcoming Judgment From Others:

Too many of us see ourselves based on our wheelchairs. We have to see ourselves as complete people. All of us have been [judged] based on the color of our skin, or what we believe, or where we pray, or what we’ve done. Very few people are able to look into our eyes and see our heart and soul. Make a heartfelt commitment to never place that kind of judgment on someone else. When you encounter another, look into their eyes, acknowledge their humanity. That alone will make you feel better.

eyes

When you meet someone, look in their eyes and acknowledge them.


On Discovering Self-Love:

There’s an old Sufi saying: ‘When the heart weeps for what it has lost, the spirit laughs for what it has found.’ Put your hand over your heart and see if you can find kindness, compassion and even love for this [person] whose life has been torn apart.

mirror reflection

Can you find love for the person you see in the mirror?

No one is going to understand your suffering as well as you do. Take a half hour a day to connect with [yourself].


On Pushing Through Pain:

Pain is a demanding companion. You try to look outside, and the pain says, NO – you’re paying attention to ME. If we can sit with that pain and have a heartfelt wish for compassion and kindness for everybody in the world who feels more pain than we do in that moment, it helps us get out of our heads. It changes the story, and that is everything.

ocean gray cloudy gaze

Send out a wish for compassion to combat your pain.


On Humor:

If I were asked to consult on the second edition of the Ten Commandments, one of my commandments would be, ‘Thou shalt not take thyself too seriously.’

laugh

“Thou shalt not take thyself too seriously.”


Want to share your favorite quotes about disability or injury? Share your thoughts with us on Facebook or on Twitter.