How to Create a Blog for Your Charity

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Not only does developing a blog help you to establish another platform for connecting with interested parties, but it also allows you to increase your SEO efforts. Familiarizing yourself with SEO, short for search engine optimization, is a staple for a modern website owner. When you incorporate a blog, you can move up the list on search engine results pages, and you can create a more favorable presentation of yourself to the public.

Choose a Reputable Platform
Starting a blog isn’t as simple as just writing a bunch of content and releasing it onto the internet. Instead, start your quest by selecting a reputable platform for your blogging. Opting for a platform allows you access to tools and features that can enhance the success of your blog. Proceed with a cautious eye at this point, however. Giving your money to a questionable service can leave you with some serious budget problems. Conduct research on different platforms, and select one that has a positive reputation in the blogging community.

Establish a Writing Stance
If you are only casually interested in starting a blog, you may sporadically put together pieces. However, those who are serious about blogging will assemble a team of writers. You may decide to cull from your current employees, or you might opt to put out an advertisement for new talent. In either case, ensure that the writers are professional and know how to properly employ grammar, syntax, and diction in ways that are compelling to your readers.

Create a Tone
Chances are, you will have different people blogging for you at various points throughout the life of the blog. Infusing different voices helps to keep the content exciting and engaging, but you do want a sense of cohesion among the posts. Sit down with your team of writers to decide what the overall aim here. For example, many companies decide that they want blogs written with a more casual tone. While academic research papers often shun contractions, many blogs welcome them because that is how people speak.

Update Content Regularly
Creating one blog post per day might prove impossible or arduous, especially when you are just starting or have only a small pool of writers. However, you do not want the content to grow stale. Old content does not tend to do well with search engine rankings. Also, people are coming to the blog because they want to read new information. If they see the same posts every time that they visit, they will likely eventually stop coming entirely.

Include Media
Content marketing is huge right now in the world of search engine optimization, and blogging is one avenue for accomplishing that goal, but you also need to incorporate visual media. You may wonder why ranking high in search engines is essential. The main reason is that when people want to support a charity, you want them to find and help you. Incorporating videos and images into your blogs can help to drive more traffic to the site and allow you to help people in need better.

Link to Social Media
Another powerful way to use your blog is to link to social media accounts. For example, maybe your charity recently held an event, and you want to detail it in the blog. Loading the page with too many pictures can slow it down, leading to fewer long-term visitors to your site. Therefore, you can find probably a couple of photos and then direct visitors to check out your social media pages for the rest. Consequently, they will find yet another venue through which they can connect with you.

Platform for Conversation
You do not want your voice to be the only one that has a presence on your blog. Instead, allow people to discuss the topics by opening up the comments section of your blog. Individuals can talk with one another about relevant issues. Make sure that you have a moderator for these comments. You want to ensure that inappropriate language or links do not find a way into the material; therefore, checking the blog comments regularly is necessary.

19Following these steps will allow you to take significant action into the world of blogging and make your presence known. Then, your charity can begin to receive more support, not only from the local community but also from the more global community.

4 Ways To Give Back As A Real Estate Agent

When you’re a real estate agent, it’s vital that you connect with your community. One of the easiest and most beneficial ways to connect with your community is through philanthropic efforts. When you give back, you give your realty company a positive reputation, and you help the community around you. Here are a few ways that real estate agents can give back:

1. Have a food drive in your market area.

If you don’t want to knock on doors to promote your business, you can go door to door for a good cause, such as a food drive. Shannon Brooks, an agent at Engel & Völkers Downtown Minneapolis, does this each fall and spring. She goes around to every home on her farm, dropping off branded grocery bags. She knocks on each door and asks the residents to put any non-perishable food items that they would like to donate to local food shelves. Brooks’ efforts started with plain paper bags, but as the initiative grew, she began to use a branded bag with her name and brand as well as her lender and title partner’s brands.

2. Have a school supply drive.

Heather Cox, an agent at Modern Broker, Visalia, California, decided that a great way to give back would be to hold a school supply drive in her market area. She sent out a brand postcard, which included a list of supplies that needed in the school district. This initiative allowed her to engage with her target audience while promoting an important cause.

3. Collect pet supplies for your local animal shelter.

Heather Cox had so much success with her school supply drive that she decided to host a pet supply drive. Just as schools often run out of supplies, so do pet shelters. During the holidays, it’s common for people to be short of money and challenged to take care of all of their pets’ needs. Cox collected pet supplies for her local SPCA chapter, thus doing her part to help area animals while also getting her company’s name out there.

4. Hold a silent auction where the proceeds go to an organization you care about.

Steve deGuzman, a principal broker at Engel & Völkers Denver South, was one of the first people to do silent auctions for restaurant openings. He has brought that practice to real estate, getting Engel & Völkers to hold a silent auction for the grand opening of their office. The proceeds of this auction went to the Special Olympics, which Engel & Völkers sponsor internationally. They even had two gold medalists from their state attend the event and participate with the ribbon-cutting ceremony. 

Just because you work for a real estate firm rather than a nonprofit organization doesn’t mean you can’t give back. When your business participates in community service, people within the community get to know and trust your business. When you work real estate, that’s pretty important. But even with a positive reputation, your company is likely to earn, the best part about giving back is the rewarding feeling of making the world a better place.

Philanthropy Demographics

When you understand participant demographics, you can optimize your organization for success— and philanthropy is no different. A report by Forbes took a closer look at the habits of donors across several generations, and the results are pretty encouraging.

But before we get into the actual breakdown, consider that over half of the adult Americans are giving to charity— 60% to be exact, according to this 2013 article by Care2. So right out of the gate, it’s clear that most Americans have no problem with giving.

The question is, how are they giving, and to whom? That’s where the Forbes article comes in. While religious and social service organizations constitute the majority of donor recipients across all generations, the runner up varies widely between demographics.

Gen X’ers and Millennials tend to allocate their gifts toward children’s causes, while Boomers are more likely to give to veterans’ organizations. Just as impressive is the method by which donors prefer being approached. Across the board, donors from all walks of life appreciate it when a friend or loved one (or their kids!) contact them with a request for donations. However, Gen Y donors didn’t respond kindly to telephone solicitations; Boomers, on the other hand, were increasingly giving online.

There is a wealth of information out there, and it’s a no-brainer that your organization should take a hard look at it in its path to optimize how they reach others!

 

Breaking the Cycle: U.S. Homeless Shelters That Are More Than Just a Place to Stay

Homeless Shelters

On a single night in January 2015, 564,708 people were considered homeless, living on the street, in their cars, or a homeless shelter. It’s easy to let the issue of homelessness in America slip into the background of our lives. If you live in a city where homelessness is a real epidemic, how many times have you walked past that person on the corner without dropping anything into their donation bucket or offering so much as a smile?

As much as we’d rather ignore the issue of homelessness plaguing our nation, the statistics don’t lie. The main reasons people become homeless are due to poverty and a lack of affordable housing. The lucky ones can find shelter for an extended amount of time and maybe even enter into a rehabilitation program where they can connect with employers and get back on their feet. The less fortunate ones, the 83,170 individuals (15% of the homeless population) considered to be chronically homeless, have a disability, or have been homeless for a year or longer. These individuals often don’t seek out the help they need and may fit your more traditional image of homelessness of the person camped out on a park bench shivering under a mound of ratty old blankets in the dead of winter.

Luckily, there are a number of saints out there who are not immune to the suffering of the homeless, who see them as regular people and not an invisible nuisance. Many of these people can be found working at homeless shelters where they provide vital, life-saving services to the homeless population. All homeless shelters offer an essential service by providing a warm bed and respite from the harsh outdoors. Still, some all-star shelters around the country go above and beyond, offering more than just a place to stay to the homeless people that come through their doors. Here are just a few of the ones that stand out:

  1. N Street Village: Washington, DC

N Street Village in Washington, DC, is so much more than just a homeless shelter. On its website, the shelter describes itself as “a community of empowerment and recovery for homeless and low-income women in Washington, D.C.” In addition to offering emergency services, the shelter realizes that homelessness is an ongoing struggle for most, so they take a holistic approach to homelessness and also address long-term needs through a variety of services including housing, income, employment, mental health, physical health, and addiction recovery. The shelter was awarded the Washington Post Excellence in Nonprofit Management Award, as well as several other awards. They’ve also hosted famous visitors such as the Dalai Lama and White House officials- celebrity chef Sunny Anderson even hosted a cooking class there and competed in Chopped to donate her winnings to the organization!

2. The Action Center: Lakewood, CO

This shelter certainly lives up to its name! Its mission is to “provide an immediate response to basic human needs and promote pathways to self-sufficiency for Jefferson County residents and the homeless.” In addition to offering food, clothing, and shelter, The Action Center also provides programs to address the root of the problem and help residents obtain self-sufficiency. “We don’t want to just put a band-aid on issues,” the website states. “We want to get to the root of what is causing their financial instability, with the ultimate goal being self-sufficiency.”

3. Sunnyvale Community Services: Sunnyvale, CA

In addition to having a sunny name and being located in the sunny state of California, this shelter exudes optimism. “Sunnyvale Community Services is here for our neighbors in their time of need,” they state. They recognize that 96% of their clients have incomes under 200% of the poverty level, and 39% of the people they serve are children. To that end, their mission is not only to assist with the issue of homelessness but to prevent it. They offer financial services and monthly food programs in addition to traditional services.

4. The Lord’s Place: West Palm Beach, FL

This Florida shelter offers a nurturing environment for residents to live up to their full potential. They are “committed to breaking the cycle of homelessness” by providing their residents’ job training, transitional work experiences, and employment opportunities. According to their website, they provided supportive housing to 337 men, women, and children in 2015, and 96 formerly-homeless people found employment through their training and education programs.

5. Pacific House: Stamford, CT

Pacific House, formerly known as Shelter for the Homeless, in Stamford, Connecticut, is a men’s shelter with the mission to end homelessness in their community. They changed their name to reflect their aspirations that extend far beyond just providing food and shelter. In addition to providing overnight emergency shelter for homeless men in the region, it also offers a variety of support services thanks to donations, such as social services, clinical services, and vocational services.

6. Coalition for the Homeless: New York, NY

Founded in 1981, the Coalition for the Homeless is “the nation’s oldest advocacy and direct service organization helping homeless men, women, and children.” Much more than just a homeless shelter, they believe every New Yorker deserves a home, and they treat affordable housing, substantial food, and the opportunity to work for a liveable wage to as fundamental human rights. Therefore, they implement strategies to end mass homelessness in New York City. Programs offered include food, crisis services, housing, job training, youth programs, and advocacy.

If you go to the websites of any of these fine organizations (links provided), you can make a charitable contribution. If you want to make a difference but don’t have the means to donate right now, then take a little time to understand homelessness, and the next time you see a homeless person on the streets, don’t turn a blind eye.

 

How To Attract Employees That Like Doing Social Good

How To Attract Employees That Like Doing Social Good

In recent years, people are becoming increasingly interested in working for companies that make a difference in the world. To attract talent, many corporate executives have started, including volunteer campaigns in their business models. Several companies have even made positions dedicated to pro bono work and volunteer initiatives.

Pro-bono advocate group abillionpluschange.org states that more than 6,400 full-time employees from over 500 American companies are delivering $2 billion worth of pro bono service to help nonprofits meet their needs. The key is to create opportunities for skills-based service so that your employees can build their skills while feeling proud of the social good they are doing. So how exactly can you create a successful program that attracts these employees who want to make a difference? Here are a few tips for creating a volunteer culture in your company’s workplace:

1. Find the right projects for your employees.

To offer skills-based volunteer opportunities to your employees, you need to connect with a nonprofit. If you don’t have existing ties to a nonprofit, finding one to work with can be daunting. Instead of looking for the right nonprofit, you should encourage your employees to join volunteer networks that let them leverage their interests and skills. Through this process, you develop leaders while also doing good in your community and attracting more employees who are interested in making the world a better place. Additionally, this will keep your current employees happy so that they are more likely to stay with your company long-term.

2. Join a volunteer database.

It only takes a few minutes to join a volunteer database. Volunteers can sync their LinkedIn accounts to complete online profiles, or they can input their information manually. On a volunteer database, potential volunteers can search through a number of volunteer opportunities. A volunteer can express interest in a project invitation, at which time the nonprofit will email the volunteer to discuss the project further. If the project meets the needs of both the nonprofit and the volunteer, the two begin working together. These tools are a great way to build partnerships.

3. Make sure the volunteers are satisfied.

According to a 2013 study by True Impact, those who do skills-based volunteering are more likely to report high satisfaction than those who do hands-on volunteering. Skills-based volunteers can work on a variety of projects, from budget assistance to grant writing. They are also able to dedicate their time to helping some critical causes. It’s no wonder they feel rewarded. Still, you must check in with your employees to make sure they are satisfied with the work they are doing. Make sure they are doing a variety of tasks and exercising their skills in the best way possible. 

With the growing culture of corporate responsibility that is popping up at successful companies throughout the country, each company must do its part. This way, you can build a positive reputation for your company, increase employee satisfaction, and attract new employees, all while making a positive impact on your community.

 

How to Make a Meaningful Donation Without Spending Any Money

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As paradoxical as it may sound, you can make a meaningful donation without spending a dime. Monetary donations may be the most popular and immediate form of charity because of the universal buying power of money. However, if you’re someone who likes to give back even when you have very little money to give, do not despair. There are plenty of donations you can make that don’t require any money, and they’re just as meaningful. Here are some other ways you can give:

Rewarding Experiences

Volunteering is the most obvious answer to giving to charity without donating money, but it is also one of the most effective. Giving of yourself (your time, your labor, your skills, your compassion) is the most meaningful donation there is and will get you up-close-and-personal with the causes you support. Not to discourage monetary donations in any way, but with volunteering, you get to see the fruits of your labor. In contrast, with a monetary donation, you may feel good knowing that your money is playing a part in a more significant cause, but you don’t usually get to see it. It gets lost with all the other donations. Volunteering allows you to form a personal connection with a cause that’s close to your heart. If you’re passionate about helping the homeless population, volunteer at a soup kitchen or a homeless shelter, and see their faces light up when you treat them like a person. If you love animals, volunteer at the shelter. If you’re good with children, volunteer to read to children in hospitals or schools, or serve as a mentor through a program like Big Brothers Big Sisters of America.

The internet makes it even easier to volunteer, with sites like VolunteerMatch connecting people to volunteer opportunities in their communities. You can also give your time from the convenience of home by simply surfing the web. You may have skills that are in high demand, and you can employ them without even setting foot outside your house through the website Skills for Change, by helping nonprofits meet challenges they face through applying skills like copywriting and graphic design. It’s easy to implement charity into your everyday internet activity as well; for instance, conduct your searches using GoodSearch instead of Google, and it will donate a penny to charity every time you perform a search. Tabs for a Cause raises money for charity with each new tab you open in your browser. Apps like Freerice and Charity Miles make donating fun and empowering, as Freerice gives 10 grains of rice to the United Nations World Food Programme for every question you answer correctly through their games. Charity Miles donates 10 cents to charity for every mile you run using the app.

Got Junk?

If you opt to donate that old jalopy, it’s nice to know that most centers offer free pick-up, running or not, from a location that is best for you. Instead of throwing away junk or letting it sit in storage, taking up space, and collecting dust, put your unused items to use and donate them to a charity such as Goodwill, the Salvation Army, Purple Heart, or a local nonprofit charity shop. Most nonprofits will be able to take just about anything you can think of, from clothes to books to appliances. It can be hard to part with anything that has sentimental value, but if you haven’t used it in over a year, ask yourself what good there is holding on to it and know that there is someone out there who could benefit from it.

Donating Blood

If you are healthy and able, donate your blood to someone whose health depends upon it. If you can, find a blood drive to go to, or if not, you can always make an appointment with a blood donation center. Some centers even allow you to donate platelets and plasma as well, which aid in cancer and organ transplant treatments. The need for blood exists all the time, so don’t wait for the opportunity to come to you. There are a few qualifications you have to meet to be eligible to give blood, such as weighing at least 110 pounds, and not suffering from any illnesses. But if you meet them, giving blood is a beautiful, selfless act of volunteerism that has the power to save lives. Health benefits of donating blood include good health and reduced risk of cancer and hemochromatosis. It also helps reduce liver and pancreas damage. 

Donating Hair

In my experience, donating your hair is a much more personal gift than sending a check. You’re sending a piece of yourself to someone who suffers from long term hair loss. You’ve probably heard of organizations like Locks of Love and Wigs for Kids that donate your chopped-off hair when you get a haircut (rather than throwing it away) to make hairpieces for patients suffering from hair loss due to illness or medical treatments. But, you should know that not all hair can be donated. Hair that’s been colored, bleached, or chemically treated can’t be donated, nor can hair that is more than 5% gray. The minimum length requirement to donate your hair is 10 inches, but if your hair is long enough, this is a great way to help someone in need with no additional cost.