News

Here you will find information about the organizations in our network, the nonprofit industry, and important events happening in the world around us:

 
Crisis Action -how to respond:

Syrian Relief

 
June 1, 2018 Seven Steps to Reclaiming your Desktop
April 26, 2018 Six Reasons for a Content Audit of Your Nonprofit’s Website

February 27, 2018 Cloud Storage Policy Comparison

February 14, 2017 Four Steps To A Clutter-Free Inbox

January 19, 2018 All We Want For The New Year

November 27, 2017 All We Want For Christmas 2017

November 7, 2017 What We’re Up To November

September 25, 2017 Five Steps to Organized Information

September 12, 2017 Back to School for Nonprofit Professionals

July 25, 2017 Optimizing Search Engines with Information Management Principles

July 10, 2017 What We’re Up To: A new website for CARUWE

June 27, 2017 Great Software Solution for Creating Graphics

June 12, 2017 The Cost of Employee Transition

May 29, 2017 Be a Curator of Information

May 15, 2017 How Do You Evaluate?

November 28, 2016 GivingTuesday 2016

September 10, 2015 Coming Soon: The Service Search & Review

September 3, 2015 How to Respond to the Refugee Crisis

July 14, 2015 Newsletter: July
June 25, 2015 Dropbox’s Policies: 8 essential must-knows

Turn Your Dust Collecting Strategic Plan Into An Info-graphic

 
For most organizations strategic planning is an annual event. It is an excellent way to review and reflect on the past year, to be reminded of your mission and vision, and to plan for the year ahead.
 
We spend at least one full day at the end of each year conducting a strategic planning exercise, I always find them so valuable.This year however, when I opened up 2017’s plan, I realized it was the first time the document had been opened all year. 2017 was a great year, but I didn’t attend to all of the priorities that had been set out.
 
The problem with strategic planning is you end up with a hefty document that gets stored away for a year. So this year, I decided to take matters into my own hands and I turned that 20 page document into a one-page info-graphic.
 
The info-graphic highlights key words, is in a shape that is meaningful to this year’s purpose, and is posted in a very prominent place. Last year I reviewed the strategic plan once at the end of the year. This year, I look at it constantly. It has made a significant difference to the focus of our work.
 
If you are interested in turning your strategic plan into an info-graphic that gets attention, here are some key steps to take:

 

  1. Identify the different sections of your plan.
  2. Highlight key words from each section.
  3. Consider actions you would attribute to those keywords.
  4. Place those keywords in a way that gives them context.
  5. Put pen (or marker, crayon, or pencil crayon) to paper.
  6. Once you have a one-page document, go back to the strategic plan to check that all of the priorities and goals have been captured in the one page diagram.

 
If you want some (free) feedback on what your strategic plan could look like as a diagram, just let us know. It may just help focus your work.

Keep Up With All The Online Reading You Want To Do With This Simple Action

 
How we keep up with all of the information that gets sent our way?
 
Keeping up with everything you want to read is an insurmountable task. And so it should be, the more you read, the more you’re interested in.
 
How can you manage it all? When it comes to information being sent to you there are a few ways you can take control.
 
Put everything you are interested in reading into a folder titled “Stuff I Want To Read”. When you have time to read, you can go straight to that folder.
 
The purpose of this folder is to gather all similar documents in one spot so when it is time to attend to those documents, there already gathered, you do not need to waste time searching for them or getting distracted by other things.
 
Creating folders can be done with three media platforms, email, websites, and Facebook.
 

  • Email: Make a folder along with all of the other folders.
  • Websites: Each web browser has a bookmark area. Within the bookmark you can make and manage folders. For most web browsers this means just opening up the bookmark column, and right clicking. You can drag and drop webpages in and out as you find them and read them.
    • Pocket: An additional feature to consider here is a ‘read-it-later’ service like Pocket. This service works with your web browser. Instead of hitting the Bookmark button, you hit the Pocket button. The webpage will be saved there, and will be available across all of your devices.
  • Facebook: On the top right side of each post there is an option to save the post. This allows you to go back to the post at a more convenient time

 
Creating a distinct folder will prevent you from getting distracted by all of the other content, like emails, news feeds, or websites.

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.

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 https://endeavourvolunteer.ca/

 

  • 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: https://www.results-resultats.ca/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/January-2018-Action-Sheet_EN.pdf

 

  • 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: https://www.canadahelps.org/en/explore/personalized-discovery/

 

  • 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.

All We Want For Christmas 2017

Giving-Tuesday-Logo-2017The holiday season inspires so many reasons to give and get involved in the work of charities. This is part of the motivation behind GivingTuesday. “Just as Black Friday kicks off the holiday shopping season, GivingTuesday is the opening day of the giving season” the organizers of this Christmas campaign explain. Most people want to give, but don’t do so until they are asked. So, the goal of GivingTuesday is to help charities garner support and help individuals connect with a cause and get involved.
 
Again this year, Services in Action has partnered with GivingTuesday because we, too, want to make connections between people who want to give, be it time or money, and organizations looking for support. Each December we run a campaign called All We Want For Christmas. This campaign highlights the wishes of our community partners.
 
“Services in Action works with a lot of people around the world who are driven to make lasting changes in their communities. All year long we hear inspiring stories of passion and determination. We want to share the drive of our partners and their stories during the season of giving to let possible donors know how their gift can make a lasting impact,” said Tiffany Nyklickova, Project Specialist with Services in Action. The goal of the All We Want for Christmas campaign is to provide a platform for our community partners to say what they need and to let donors know about the work of different charities.
 
Services in Action is making gift giving easy. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, & Twitter using #AllWeWant to see the daily wishes.
 
Consider this your holiday giving guide!
 
Happy Giving!

What We’re Up To: November

FONT Home Page

 
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. <<https://fontafrika.wordpress.com>>
 
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. <<https://barrcenter.wordpress.com/>>.
 
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

Cluttered Desk

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.

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