Author: Services in Action

Cloud Storage Policy Comparison

Cloud storage is quickly becoming the storage preference for personal use and small organizations. One reason for this, is most technology services incorporate their cloud storage within the service they provide. For example, when a person purchases an iphone, an account with icloud is created and the data from the phone is automatically transferred and stored there. This also causes people to have their data stored in multiple locations, because they use multiple services. If this is you, and you are looking to consolidate to one location and are curious about the best solution, here’s a chart comparing the policies and terms of use for the top four cloud services, Dropbox, Google, iCloud, and OneDrive.

Four steps to a clutter-free inbox


Your inbox is like your desk. How big is the pile of paper?
Is your inbox a dumping ground for any inbound communication? Here are 4 steps to take control right now.

Your inbox and desktop are the digital versions of your physical desk. An inbox with hundreds (or dare I say, thousands) of emails is like a desk with a massive pile of paper. You may know what is in that pile, you may be able to find something if need be, but it would take a lot of time. You also don’t know exactly what is in there, so if the pile was destroyed, you would not know what you do not know. Managing your email is an essential part of managing your information. Here are four steps to a clutter-free inbox:

    1. Your inbox should be seen as a to-do list. If a message is in the inbox that means it has yet to be dealt with. Once an email has been dealt with, it needs to be filed, to be saved, or deleted. Email software allows you to manage this easily. Make folders, with sub-folders, and move the messages. (Tip: mirror your email folders to your documents folders.)
    2. To avoid a plethora of emails you need to be ruthless with what you accept. If you receive a newsletter that you do not want or read, unsubscribe. If a message is junkmail, don’t just delete it; put it in the junkmail box. Your email software will learn what is junk and will do it automatically. Receive messages from your favourite retail store for big discount day announcements? If you feel unsubscribing is too final, mark it as junk. You’ll still receive the messages, but they won’t crowd your inbox.
    3. If you receive newsletters or links to articles that you actually do want to read, but not right now, create a folder called ‘Stuff I Want To Read’ and move the emails there. Then, when you have time, you can go straight to that folder without getting distracted by other messages in your inbox (a.k.a. to-do list).
    4. If you have a lot of messages, create one folder called ‘Before Today’ and move all the messages there. Top to bottom. You can deal with them, or not. Either way your inbox is clear to get started.

Start with step four, then steps one and three. Step two will be ongoing.

All We Want For The New Year

Throughout December, the giving season, we hear a lot about giving and getting involved in worthy charities, but it is also a time of year when we are busy and distracted with other commitments.
January is the month for renewal; renewed commitments, renewed energy, renewed focus. To follow up from our All We Want For Christmas campaign, when we told you about great ways to give, we are excited to introduce a new campaign: All We Want For The New Year.
Consider this campaign your New Year’s resolution guide.

  • Endeavour: When it comes to the charitable sector, volunteer opportunities abound. You can choose to volunteer for one full day, an hour each month, or anywhere in between. If you want to lend your well-honed consulting skills, without joining a board, consider Endeavor. They provide professional consulting services for nonprofits with a top-focused goal; improve organizational capacity. Volunteers with Endeavour can take an organization from getting by to performing exceptionally –using their full capacity, stretching their donor’s dollars, and serving their community with excellence. To learn more about the volunteers they’re currently looking for, visit


  • RESULTS Canada: This is one of my favourites! RESULTS fights to end poverty by getting vocal, literally. Each month, volunteers attend a two-hour Educate and Action meeting where they learn all about a current issue related to poverty. The information volunteers receive is succinct, thorough, and well-cited. Volunteers are then given an action, typically writing a letter to an MP or Minister, getting active on social media, or writing a letter to a newspaper editor. At the end of the two hours, volunteers have everything they need, even a draft of their letter and the address where it will be sent. RESULTS is great at aligning their campaigns with what is going on in the world, like a G8 meeting or Federal budget so the actions taken by volunteers get a lot of traction.  See for yourself with this month’s action:


  • CanadaHelps: Want to just give money? Check out CanadaHelps. They exist to help (typically small) charities receive donations online. It’s a go-to place if you want to give and don’t really know to which charity. Whenever there is a crisis, CanadaHelp posts a list of active charities. A great feature is the Personalized Discovery. Here you can type in the name of a charity you care about and a list will generate of other similar charities. You just may learn about some great organizations:


  • Do It Yourself: If you are not involved in the nonprofit industry you may not know certain things about how they operate. For example, do you know how much time a nonprofit spends trying to get noticed on social media, without a budget? Getting likes, shares, or better yet, conversations started about an awareness or fundraising campaign takes a lot of time. And then Facebook goes and changes our newsfeeds so we see more family and friends content! Ugh! If there is a cause you are passionate about, find the organizations involved in that cause (possibly use the tool from yesterday’s post), then help them spread their word. Follow, like, share, and engage with what they post. This kind of free advertising can really help a nonprofit out.

I hope this list encourages you, whatever your ability, skill, or level of commitment, to participate in the world that lies beyond your comfort zone.

What We’re Up To: November

We have been busy working with two great organizations, Frontiers for Now and Tomorrow (FONT) and Barr Christian Vocational Center. Both organizations requested new websites to share their work with their communities and donors, so we helped them make it happen.
FONT is a women-led, community based organization and is non-political and no-sectarian. The founders of FONT have a desire to restore, support, and bring hope to marginalized, conflict, and at-risk communities of South Sudan and Northern Uganda. Their programs serve to rescue and restore the people of these areas and empower them through education, healthcare, and microenterprise. <<>>
Barr Christian Vocational Center LogoSince 2011, the Barr Christian Vocational Center has worked towards affirmative action, the prevention of HIV/AIDs, education -particularly for girls, and to support the needs of orphans and other vulnerable children in Northern Uganda. And now they have a new website to share their work. <<>>.
Don’t Miss Out: Throughout December we will be running the All We Want for Christmas campaign. This is an annual opportunity for nonprofits to let others know what they need for their communities. If you would like to be included, please contact us.

Five Steps to Organized Information

Organizing your information will help avoid over-retention and clutter, save time, and prevent duplication.


When I am very busy, I tackle work by cleaning up my desk, and then making a list of what I must get done. Starting by organizing allows me to clear clutter; not just physically, but mentally as well. It becomes much easier to see work and priorities clearly. This is the basic principle behind information management. When information is organized, it can be presented in a way that facilitates learning, comprehension, and decision making. When information is saved haphazardly, either in hard or soft copy, it doesn’t get used. Disorganized documents cause work to be duplicated and time to be wasted.

Adopting an easy to use information management system will help avoid over-retention, clutter, and  prevent duplication and time spent searching for information.

Here are 5 steps to get started:

  1. Scraps of paper with notes are little bits of your organization’s knowledge. Do not lose them if they contain valuable information. Capture it in way that makes sense for you.
  2. Your inbox and desktop are the digital versions of your physical desk. An inbox with hundreds (or dare I say, thousands) of emails is like a desk with a massive stack of paper. It will take so much time to get any information out of that stack. Delete or store the messages and documents accordingly.
  3. We all save documents, like interesting articles, to read at a later time. If you never read them, stop saving them. If you really want to start reading them, set aside time each week just for this purpose.
  4. Give documents a title that describes what they are and why you are saving them. Each name should not duplicate the sub-folder preceding it.
  5. Find out what your legal obligations are: Depending on how your organization is registered, there may be regulations regarding records management that you must adhere to. Find out what must (and what must not) be kept and whether there are any regulations regarding storage and retrieval.

Back to School for Nonprofit Professionals

A great way to get the training you need, as you complete work projects.

There are so many resources to help nonprofit professionals learn a new skill.
The Center for Sustainable Development is one such organization. What’s unique about their approach is they teach learners using their own work projects. For example, if you need to learn how to build an AdWords campaign for your organization, the online course at CSDi will teach and guide you step-by-step to build your organization’s AdWord campaign. So in the end, you will have a certificate for the online course and have completed your project.

CSDi offers many great online courses. Visit their website for the full list, <>.

Optimizing Search Engines with Information Management Principles


Is SEO just information management? Well, maybe not quite, but it sure helps!

For the past few months I have been working on a lengthy search engine optimization (SEO) project and as an information guru, it has been truly fascinating!
The job of a search engine is to respond to a user’s query with a list of best and most appropriate websites. Search engines evaluate websites based on certain criteria such as content, URLs, headings, site speed, responsiveness, and history. For a website to be viewed favourably by a search engine, its data needs to be kept clean, tidy, and well organized. Each page, post, or image must be categorized and labelled properly. Anything stale, outdated, or unused must be removed. An SEO checklist for website is enormous, but it reflects the best practices for managing information.
Here are a few tips to both manage your websites information and optimize search engines:

  • Each web-page should be relevant, useful, and fresh, and have appropriate titles and tags.
  • Irrelevant, out of date, or incorrect information should be deleted.
  • All links must work. All external links should be checked periodically to ensure they are still appropriate.
  • All images should provide informative metadata.
  • Use categories and tags correctly.
  • Know your organization’s keywords and ensure your website supports them.

SEO, like information management, is an ongoing process, they both require regular maintenance, and nothing should be categorized as ‘miscellaneous’.
If you are interested in learning more about SEO or managing information, contact me and I will send you some great resources!

What We’re Up To

A New Website for CARUWE, an organization run by women in Uganda and the DR Congo

Recently we were contacted by Community Action For Rural Women’s Empowerment (CARUWE), an organization founded by women, run by women, to support women in Uganda and the DR Congo. A new website wasCommunity Action for Rural Women's Empowerment Logo a the top of their wish list. They had out grown their previous one and wanted a refreshing, sophisticated website that would reflect their organization. And voilà,!
I created this website so CARUWE can tell their story, share their work, and connect with their community and supporters; which was easy to do, given just how innovative, well organized, and responsive CARUWE’s team is!
If you have not heard of CARUWE before, check out their website, they do incredible work. We hope you like it, CARUWE!!
If your nonprofit also has problems that need solving, contact me. Services in Action’s work is to help you help others, for free.

Great Software Solution for Creating Graphics

A great, useful image-creating solution for communicators

One of my favourite aspects of being a nonprofit professional is how uncomplicated some things can be to accomplish. If I have an idea, and the desire to see the idea to fruition, it can be done. It is not necessary for meetings, belabouring bureaucractic processes, and permission from numerous departments. For example, I don’t need a marketing expert to communicate with stakeholders. However, sometimes it would be great to have a marketing expert to communicate with stakeholders.
If you need to execute a task professionally, which is outside of your skill set, having the right software solution can be your best colleague.
So, for nonprofit professionals who need to communicate well, allow me introduce you to Canva, < >. It is a web-based software solution that allows users to create professional looking graphics, with ease. Canva can be used to create an image, alter an existing image, or give a bit of spice to otherwise plain text. My favourite feature of Canva is the pre-formatted sizes. It is not necessary for you to know the exact size of the graphic you want to make; you can simply select what it’s for -documents, digital marketing material, or social media headers and posts. And best of all, it’s free!

The Cost of Employee Transition

I read an article last week about someone, describing herself as “typical millennial,” has had seven jobs Information Managementin seven years. If this much transition is typical, imagine how much time and information gets lost between employees? With each new employee, organizations spend time, (and therefore money) getting them up to speed; and as each former employee leaves, with them goes organizational information that is captured nowhere else but in their head. For many small organizations this is a huge hurdle, and to go through it constantly can be a significant expenditure. By managing your organization’s information you can mitigate the loss of time, money, and information.
Here’s a great article to help you get started: Six Steps To Managing Your Organization’s Information
Just imagine, a work system that allows all of its users to find and access what they need easily and quickly, no matter how long they have been employed with you!