Category: Recent Articles

This category includes all the recent articles published on our website

2021 Book Club For Nonprofit Professionals

We are launching our first ever book club.

Joining the book club is simple. Get started by sending us a message to let us know you’re here, buy or borrow the books, and get reading. Since we are in different time zones and have complicated schedules, we are going to participate in a conversation throughout the month, rather than at the end, using a Facebook Group. We will all be able to post replies and comments as we work through the books together.  

The books will be:

At Services in Action, our mission is to help nonprofit professionals find the information, resources, and tools they need to serve their community well. So, it seems fitting to build up nonprofit professions through the challenge and development offered by books. Individually we can learn and growth, and together we can learn to apply these lessons to our service.

Join us on this journey. I’m not sure where exactly it will take us, but it wont be in the same place we are right now.

Storing, Retaining, and Deleting Files

Should it stay or should it go?

Over the past few weeks, we’ve looked at the management of files. We’ve looked at how to organize them and what to label them. Now let’s turn to storing them.

A record is a file, photo, video, -anything that captures information. Sometimes they matter and sometimes they don’t. Knowing what to keep is an important part of a well-organized filing system, which is essential for not duplicating work, improving organizational memory, organizational knowledge, and being able to tell the complete story of a project, event, program, or system. 

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Miscellaneous is not a category

Last week’s blog outlined six steps to organizing a desktop. The steps begin by identifying the different themes of your work. Each theme is a category. When each category has been identified, two things must be true.

  1. Each category must be mutually exclusive. That means it only contains the information about one subject. It must be exclusive from the themes of other folders.
  2. Each category must be collectively exhausted. That means that every file belongs somewhere. If there is a file that doesn’t seem to belong anywhere, then there are not enough categories.
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The Ambiguity Effect

When something is ambiguous, we avoid it. Things that are hard to tackle seem overwhelming. This can be true in life with the big decisions and the small tasks. It can also be true of your desktop and inbox.

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Planning through a Pandemic

2020 is a different kind of year, and that takes a different kind of planning.

In the past ten years, I have had a lot of simultaneous priorities. Getting derailed and having to switch gears drastically seems to be my only constant. Back in March, I felt almost prepared for that massive upheaval we all went through.

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Seven Steps to Reclaiming Your Desktop

 
Cluttered Desk
A few weeks back we wrote about de-cluttering your email’s inbox. Today we’ll tackle your desktop.
 
Your digital desktop is like your physical desktop. A screen filled with file icons is like a desk with massive piles of paper. The main issue with disorganization like this, is not being able to use the information that you’ve already created. If you are funded by grants, for example, there are times when you are called upon to provide data and collecting it takes time. Or, if you want to apply for a grant or an award, you will need to support your application. Curating your own information should not be a timely or overwhelming task.
 
Clutter, both digitally and physically, can cause an ambiguity effect. That is, when something seems ambiguous, we avoid it.
 
How do you know your information is cluttered? Because you:

  • Can’t find stuff
  • Can’t understand it even when you do find it
  • Stuff is stored in scattered locations
  • Poor memory of what you have and where it is
  • Low level of compliance with policies or laws (highly relevant if you are incorporated or a registered charity)
  • Can’t bring together the complete story of an issues, project, or event.

 
Here are seven steps to clear desktop clutter:

  1. Start by identifying the different themes or functions of your work.
  2. Each function needs its own folder.
  3. Within each folder are sub-folders and files.
  4. Everything that has to do with that function must be housed within the corresponding folder.
  5. Title all folders and files a name that describes what it contains.
  6. Each folder must be mutually exclusive –that means only contain information about one thing, it must be exclusive from the other folders. And each folder must be collectively exhausted –that means everything must have a place. (It is so much easier to put things away when you know where they go).
  7. Start dragging and dropping.

 
The digital filing system needs to mirror the paper filing system and email.

Six Reasons For A Content Audit Of Your Nonprofit’s Website


 
Content audits are a way of excel-ifying your website. With the help of a worksheet, all webpages, titles, descriptions, links to other pages, tags, and images are catalogued and recorded.
 
The purpose of a content audit is to track of the metadata of your website. So if you, for example, take down a page, you can easily find what other pages link to that one. Content audits allow you to ensure the information on the website is relevant and up-to-date, and any stale content is easily identified and and removed.
 
Marketing managers, communicators, and SEO experts all have their own reasons for conducting a content audit. For the nonprofit information manager, a content audit allows for analysis and management of the content of your website, which is the digital version of your organization.
 
Here are six reasons why content audits are an excellent idea:

 

  1. You won’t lose track of what is published online. As your organization develops over time, priorities and focus shift. Content audits ensure your website stays accurate and reflective of the organization.It ensures a solid mental model.
  2. A mental model is a spatial map, it’s your vision of the flow of the website or the path a visitor will take to go through the website. Auditing the content of your website ensures the user’s experience is what you want it to be.
  3. Know what is there. Organizations get called upon to show what they know and do regularly –for grants, awards, audits, stakeholders, etc. Rather than rewriting and recreating each time, a content audit allows you to quickly and easily find what has already been done.
  4. At a glance you will be able to conduct an evaluation of your website. That means that regularly, say monthly, you will be able to see what is on your website and evaluate its purpose and relevance.
  5. People normally visit websites to find information. Negative feedback of your website will most likely be about this. A content audit allows for an analysis and constant improvement of the information flow.
  6. Improved Search Engine Optimization. All SEO efforts require an analysis of the content of your website.

 
If you want to get started, here is a great template published by 4Syllables, <http://4syllables.com.au/resources/content-audit-template/>

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.

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, <http://nonprofit.csd-i.org/>.