The Evolution of Communication

Have you noticed it?  Have you noticed the way in which we communicate and conduct business has fundamentally shifted?  We are no longer solely communicating with our mouths and voices as a society.  A GREAT majority of us are using technology and social networking sites to communicate, work, conduct business and stay connected.  We, as a society, have shifted our communication style.  It is my belief that this shift has occurred in such a way to literally wrap it’s arms around the segment of our population who communicate with sign language or who cannot articulate in such a way to be understood.  Our communication methods are literally evolving to include more of our society than EVER before.  There are 8 of every 1,000 people in the United States who have some sort of communication disorder.

To fully grasp this just notice throughout your day how often you are communicating using technology via email, texting or social networking sites.  If you still conduct many of your conversations over the phone or face to face, stop and think, “How would I be having this conversation if I did not have the use of my voice or if I could not articulate what I’m trying to say?”  There are options now that weren’t available years ago! I, for one, believe there’s more to what is occurring in our communciation style than meets the eye.  I can’t begin to imagine where this is headed.  What I do know is that this is a GOOD thing for my daughter, Lillian, and those like her.

This is the VERY reason I was driven to create the Turning Views Foundation, the Different iz Good movement and the Gift a Voice Project.  We began a recycling program through which we collect last generation iPhones, iPod Touches and (soon) iPads to be donated to those who communicate with sign language or who cannot articulate.  **Update** We now take ANY used/inactive cell/mobile/smart phones. We also have it set up so that schools, companies, churches, etc can hold a Gift a Voice cell phone recycling drive and pay NO shipping for mailing the phones!

We also just got our first media coverage about the iPhone, iPod and iPad recycling program.  You can read the article at Reno News & Review’s website and The Gift of a Voice in Sparks News Tribune.  Please visit the Different iz Good website if you would like to learn more, see how you can Get Involved, take a look at our Wish List or even browse our Different iz Good store!

Would love to hear your thoughts in the Comments section! Thanks y’all!

Different iz Good . . . Spread the Word

It’s time to begin unveiling The Turning Views Foundation and the Different iz Good™ movement.  Those of you who know me know that I’m Mom to Lillian Darnell, 9 yrs old, and Thomas Darnell, 4 yrs old.  Lillian has a Chromosome 18 abnormality called 18p-.  The  main way in which this manifests is that Lillian is speech impaired (she’s about 90% unintelligible). Lillian uses an iPhone with an AAC Application called Proloquo2Go to speak.

Turning Views Mission is To Empower Those With Genetic Differences by giving them a voice, helping them to be a part of the conversation like NEVER before! Turning Views Slogan is Different iz Good . . . Spread the Word!

Our main goal is to provide nonverbal or speech impaired children with an iPod Touch or iPad with the Proloquo2Go AAC Application (or similar) installed and all needed accessories.  In addition, to train caregiver and/or the child how to use the device.  Another goal is to hold workshops in conjunction with schools and speech therapist to educate regarding this technology.

This device and application are life changing in an unbelievably good way for the nonverbal and speech impaired.  Insurance companies and Medicaid do not cover these.  The alternative up to this point have been heavy, bulky devices that cost anywhere from $7,000 – $10,000.  One can have an iPhone or iPod Touch with the Proloquo2Go application installed and all needed accessories for around $600 – $1,000.

One additional major aspect of the Turning Views Foundation is to educate how technology combined with Social Networking sites improves quality of life for special needs children ~ especially nonverbal and speech impaired children. The way in which we communicate and conduct business has fundamentally shifted and changed forever.  It is my opinion that the World has shifted in such a way to include the speech impaired like they have NEVER been included before.  We are no longer solely communicating with our mouths and voices.  A large portion of the population is communicating using technology and social networking sites.  The speech impaired are now able to be a part of the conversation like NEVER before.  Their community and those they can engage with, socialize with and conduct business with has grown exponentially.  A second phase to our mission is to facilitate the making of entrepreneurs of those special needs children, teens and young adults who choose to pursue this exciting venture.

Different iz Good . . .  Spread the Word ~ we will be rolling out tons of DIFFERENT and fun ways for y’all to help spread the word.  I invite anyone who knows a special needs child, teenager or young adult (and even they themselves) to post a video reply on the Different iz Good YouTube channel telling us why Different iz Good, Different is Beautiful and Different is OKAY or what it means to you.

I believe Lillian is different for many reasons.  She is a special young lady who shines like no other and has a beautiful inspiring energy about her.  She is here to teach me and the rest of us some lessons.  One of which is to embrace technology and the shift in the way we communicate or at least approach with an open mind to how life changing this is for some of those amongst us.

Spread the Word Y’all ~ Different iz Good!

I want to steal a  bit of space here and thank a ton of special wonderful motivating and inspiring people for encouraging me and being a part of the creation and birthing of the Turning Views Foundation and the Different iz Good movement.  First, and foremost, Susan, a fellow 18p- Mom.  When I came across the phrase “different is good” in something she had written about a year and half ago, I asked her at the time if I could use that phrase on t shirts.  {Thanks Susan ~ you are a beautiful, smart and amazing Mom to IM.} It has since grown into the slogan for this 501(c)3, Turning Views Foundation.  My wonderful and supportive family who at times, I’m sure, wonder if I’ve lost my mind!! My Chromosome 18 Family ~ having y’all there means more than could ever be expressed in writing.  My eWomenNetwork Family ~ Love y’all to pieces – many times y’all are my glue and facilitate my Glow!  My friends from Oaklawn Junior High (Houma, LA – way down in da bayou) ~ I’m blessed to have y’all in my life!  Friends from my past and my newest friends and supporters.  Thanks a million to all of you!

10 Keys to Nonprofit Social Media Marketing Success (Part 1)

Are you suffering from Social Media overload? Tired of the same old line, “Your nonprofit should be doing this!”?  If so, let’s move past all that right NOW! This article will give you a blueprint from which to build your organization’s Social Media Marketing Success.

But first, let’s clear some dust before we begin piecing together our blueprint.

The Dust ~ Are Our Supporters Looking For Our Organization on Social Networking Sites?  And, I Don’t Have Time For This!

The majority of people on social networking sites are NOT there to find places to spend or donate their money.  They are there to socialize.  It just so happens that we users of social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and blogging DO end up finding causes, products and services to which and to whom we want to give our money.

It’s not simply one or two people engaging with one or two other people.  It’s family members, experts and influential people talking together from all over the world out on the wide open world wide web!  These people trust one another and “see” when one of the others is supporting a cause, service or product.

That’s not to say that there are times when people specifically go online looking for your organization.  Most likely, they will use a search engine, like Google.  So, when supporters DO go online looking for you, you want to “SHOW” up!! Participating in the conversation on social networking sites has the added benefit of helping your organization to show up more in search engine results.

I am absolutely empathetic to the “I don’t have the time to maintain all these sites” statement.  Let’s change that statement a bit and say, “I make the time to build our organizations brand, gain support for our cause and market our organization online.” In the nonprofit setting, having a presence, engaging and sharing on social networking sites IS a marketing tool.

Let’s look at this for what it is.  As fundraising professionals and nonprofits our INTENT for being on these sites is “To Increase Donations and Support”.  There, we’ve said it.  Now, my suggestion is to reprogram our thinking on this and NOT think of our intent.  Think, plan and strategize with the GOAL of Building Relationships, Giving and Trust.

So how do we even begin to know where to start?  It all starts BEFORE creating and setting up even ONE social networking profile!

This is the first of a two-part series of “10 Keys to Nonprofit Social Media Marketing Success”.

#1:  Mission ~ Successes ~ Logo

Does your organization have a clearly defined mission?  What are the main goals of your nonprofit?  This must be determined, be solid and sound, and be embraced by your organization as it is THE first and main key before drafting the rest of your Social Media blueprint.

Do you have success stories to share and do you have permission to share them?  Your supporters and potential supporters want to see real life examples of the good that your nonprofit has accomplished.

Do you have your logo and the look and feel of your organization prepared?  This will be carried into all aspects of your online presence and your social networking sites.

#2: Social Media Marketing Goals ~ Strategy ~ Content Guide/Editorial Calendar

The social media marketing goals for XYZ Foundation are _________.  Each organization will have different goals for participating on social networking sites.  You will have a much easier time and see better results if you take the time to determine your goals before jumping into this.

Having the strategy well thought out and planned is a must.  Otherwise, it’s like throwing a handful of darts at a target and hoping some of them hits the mark!  Who in your organization will be responsible for maintaining, responding and interacting with your connections?  What’s their level of understanding regarding technology?  Have they been briefed on etiquette in regards to engaging, having conversations and customer service out in the OPEN?

The difference between approaching social media marketing with or without a  content and editorial guide is like the difference between night and day.  Have a plan for where your organization will get content and a system for how often and how much gets posted to your social networking sites.

#3:  Google: Places ~ Alerts ~Trends/Insights ~ Google for Nonprofits

Google has an entire section devoted to nonprofits ~ Google Nonprofits. Make sure to check this out and determine if any of their offerings is a right fit for your organization.  If your nonprofit has a physical location, create a Google Places account (or claim it if it’s already listed).

Create Google Alerts for your name, your organization’s name and any other relevant keywords.  Google Trends and Google Insights are used for keyword research. You need to know what people are searching for in regards to your cause so that you can build some of your updates and blog posts around those keywords.

#4:  Facebook:  Page ~ Cause ~ Engagement

Create a Facebook Page for your organization. Put a great deal of thought into who creates the account for you as the Page is tied to the original creator (original administrator) and CANNOT be changed.  You do not want an intern, temporary volunteer or an employee whose time is limited to create the Page.

Facebook created the Causes Application specifically for nonprofits.  This is a perfect way for your supporters to help spread the word about your cause as they can share it with their friends and post the Cause Badge to their personal profile.

Your Facebook Page is a venue to connect, engage, converse and share with your supporters.  Make sure to do that.  If someone takes the time to comment on the Page Wall or share a photo or video on the Wall, respond to their comment or shared information.

#5:  Twitter:  Search ~ Texting ~ Hashtags

Twitter is highly overlooked as a phenomenal research tool.  When using Twitter in conjunction with a website such as Hootsuite you can create columns for specific search terms and keywords.  You also want to use this feature for brand monitoring.  Create columns monitoring the mention of your name and organization.

Donating through text messagesin conjunction with Twitter has proven highly effective.  Twitter’s hashtag feature (and go here for more hashtag information) can be used with a fundraising campaign and with events to track the “conversation”.

Next 5 keys coming your way in a few days.  Until then, remember this, “I make the time to build our organizations brand, gain support for our cause and market our organization online.”

(Go HERE for Part 2 ~ Thanks y’all!)

Facebook Fan Page and Non Profits

I was recently asked for my two cents worth on developing a Facebook fan base and getting the word out about an upcoming event for a non profit.

This cannot be viewed any differently then growing one’s fan base for a for profit business.  The same rules apply.  You have very different content and material to work with; but you still must give people a reason to become a fan and allow the Page’s status updates into their News Feed.

Depending on the non profit, it may be easier growing the fan base.  People feel good about and love supporting others who are doing good!!  I would say you definitely want to include in the content of the page real stories of real people being helped (or whatever applies to the non profit) so that fans can see the good the group can and does make happen.  The non profit would want to steer clear of having the Facebook Page only be a place to continually ask for donations.  That should be a part of the page, but, should not overwhelm the page.  Ask fans to share their stories on the Wall or using the Discussions tab.  Get creative in thinking of how to boost fan engagement just as a for profit has to be creative.  The more fans are interacting with the page the more it will grow organically through viral methods.

The non profit should make use of the “Causes Application” on Facebook also.  Fans can post this on their personal Facebook  Profile.  Another great one for growing through the viral method.  Donations can be accepted through the application, too.

As for the upcoming event, I would make use of all local online calendars, Facebook event, and online local forums.  Make sure the Facebook Page is mentioned in EVERY marketing & PR venue.  Make sure the Facebook Page address is included in all print materials about the non profit.  Don’t forget to let potential fans know WHY they would want to become a fan.

Once the Facebook Page is created (and this goes for ANY Facebook Page), the administrator of the page might do well to exercise good etiquette when it comes to “Suggesting” or “Sharing” the page with their Facebook friends.  I will leave this up to your judgment ~ just think about the times you have gotten a Page suggestion from someone for the same Page about every 2 days.  Let’s not be in such a hurry and risk losing some Fans. I’m just sayin’ ~

What do y’all think?  Have any additional thoughts or questions?  Would love for you to comment or post them on my Facebook Fan Page Wall & I will answer them.  I also share tons of tips, articles and how to videos.  Come on over and Become a Fan (click here)!!