The Wethos Collective -- Blog

Building Capacity: Utilizing Both Paid Staff And Volunteers To Double Impact

Posted by Amber Smith on Jan 2, 2019 5:33:31 AM

Just out of high school, I still hadn’t shaken my teenage awkwardness and lack of confidence. Though a fire to change the world burned bright within, it burned aimlessly. I was unsure how or where to direct this passion and energy until I started volunteering. I cooked meals for the families of chronically ill children, built habitats for tigers, and served at soup kitchens. But throughout these experiences I was also growing. I learned to communicate my passion with clarity, practiced public speaking, and gained skills in marketing, fundraising, and more.

These experiences also taught me about the needs of my community and, within a few years, I launched my own nonprofit organization with a mission to inspire others to serve their community and help all of the wonderful causes I’d come to know and love.

I volunteered as the organization’s President and de facto Director for eight years and throughout that entire time, I knew the cause was depending on me. But I needed to make a living so I could pay my bills, and I so worked a number of jobs while running the organization on the side, from data entry, to quality control for clinical studies, to bartender. Everyone else in the organization was in the same position; we all volunteered, working extraordinarily hard out of love for the cause, but most couldn’t put in more than ten or so hours per week to progress it.

The organization stagnated. We were never able to serve more than a small handful of people or causes at a time, though the need was still great and demand for our help was growing. I knew we were going to have to invest more in building capacity as an organization if we were going to be able to meet this need, so I rallied our board of directors and we developed a business plan, bit the bullet, and hired our first paid team member.

Read More

Topics: Freelance, Tips/Tricks, Impact, Capacity Building

Tips For How To Work With Freelancers In Areas You Know Nothing About

Posted by Janice Chan on Jan 2, 2019 5:24:49 AM

The first time I worked on a website redesign, it was not pretty. Not the design of the site but the process. I had copy and pictures and figured we’d need to review layouts. So the button that leads to the donation page should be — wait. Who is making sure the donation page will work and be connected to all the right accounts after we change web hosts? Does the vendor do this? Will the project still be on time? What on earth is a merchant account or payment processor and why do we need two?!

To this day, I remember is what it felt like to ask a question, anticipate getting some super expensive or horribly complicated answer, and get laughed at by the web developer (good times).

Thankfully, I’ve worked with many more freelance developers (graphic designers, printers, consultants) who listened to my fumbling questions and said, “I hear that you’re concerned about or interested in X, and I can answer that, but I think the question you really want to be asking is Z.”

These were professionals who asked me questions to understand the context within which my organization was working, dug deeper into what success looked like, and held up a mirror to help us see our blind spots — rather than trying to skate by in them.

Tip #1 Own what you know. Also, own what you don’t know.

You don’t need to know anything to ask someone, “What else should I be thinking about? What have I missed? What questions would you have that I have not asked?”

Read More

Topics: Freelance, Get Started, Tips/Tricks

How Nonprofits Can Grow Their Grassroots Fundraising In 5 Steps

Posted by Janice Chan on Jan 2, 2019 5:14:17 AM

Ever played that team building game, “All Aboard”? You’re in a group and you are given say, a hand towel or a telephone book (showing my age here, I know), and the goal is to get everybody on board without anyone having a foot touching the ground. Depending on the variation or the prop used, the boat may get smaller (e.g. towel is folded in half) or your group may get bigger — and still you need to get everyone on board without any feet touching the ground.

Often, working at a nonprofit organization can feel that way. You’re trying to serve the same number of people with fewer resources, or serve more people with the same amount of resources. This metaphor is not only apropos to programming, but to fundraising as well. You’re trying to raise funds from more supporters (get more people on board) with the same number of staff or resources. And yet, the more you raise, the more people (donors and clients) you can get on board.

It does not need to be an endless game of chicken, egg, chicken, egg. 

That’s why you focus on major gifts and/or grants, right? We know it’s important to respect donors at all levels, but in terms of where we spend our fundraising resources (time, budget, attention), it is clear that we prioritize funders who can give large gifts. But it’s easy to take those smaller dollar annual gifts for granted — just send or share it out to enough people and build our lists and followers because it is a small percentage of volume, volume, volume.

Or is it?

Read More

Topics: Fundraising, Act Blue, Creativity, The Modern Nonprofit

Five Nonprofit Workplace Trends — And What They Mean For Freelancers.

Posted by Amber Smith on Jan 2, 2019 5:08:08 AM

Perhaps not obviously so, the nonprofit and freelance economies are interconnected. When policies are enacted that mean less government support for nonprofit organizations, that means the pressure on these organizations to fill gaps in human services, such as providing support for education, health, and to fight poverty increases. And that means already strained nonprofits need a larger workforce to help address these big needs — leading to half of surveyed nonprofits reporting plans to increase their staff size in 2017. At the same time, more than half of all employers across the sectors are seeking contract workers.

Many folks are currently gravitating towards meaningful work in the nonprofit sector, and yet many others are drawn to the flexibility and creative challenges of a freelancing lifestyle. Throw the two together, and you get a subculture of employees itching to do good through their work without wanting to sacrifice the freedom freelancing might afford them.

As the Nonprofit sector’s workplace style changes, those looking to freelance in the sector will feel it, too. Here are a few ways how:

#1: Greater demand for workers means more salary transparency

Read More

Topics: Insider, Freelance, Freelancing

How To Recognize & Overcome Imposter Syndrome

Posted by Sarah Obenauer on Dec 4, 2018 8:00:00 AM

This blog post was written & originally posted on Medium by Founder / Director of Make A Mark, Sarah Obenauer. She's the creator of 12-hour make-a-thons around the world, responsible for gathering the best creatives & developers together and connecting them with their impactful nonprofit community to provide innovative design resources. Check out Make A Mark 

Imposter Syndrome Kicked In Quick

In 2017, after over two years of spending nights, weekends, and even lunch breaks on my side gig, I finally went full time. But it didn’t talk long for me to feel the self-doubt associated with impostor syndrome kick in. The Harvard Business Review defines imposter syndrome “as a collection of feelings of inadequacy that persist despite evident success. “Imposters” suffer from “chronic self-doubt and a sense of intellectual fraudulence that override any feelings of success or external proof of their competence.”

Now let’s take a step back. In 2014, I sat down with my husband and a graphic designer friend to talk about an idea that I had. I had been working at a nonprofit and during this time I seen the struggle in the humanitarian sector of finding the time, talent, and money to resource projects involving design and marketing. When we were able to find the resources, we saw its power — more engagement, more grant funding, and more lives saved.

This was how Make a Mark was born. Make a Mark is a 12-hour design and development marathon benefiting local nonprofit organizations. Back in 2014, I never would have imagined that we’d now be in eight cities across the globe: New York City, San Francisco, Baltimore, Chattanooga, Charlotte, Asheville, Roanoke — Blacksburg, and Brussels.

What is Imposter Syndrome Anxiety?

Spreading these events to other communities is always something that I wanted to do. I wanted to share this opportunity for collaboration and community with other passionate people. But I had questions in the back of my mind: Am I really capable of doing this? Am I really able to lead these people all over the world? Will I let down our nonprofits and makers?

All of these harmful, negative thoughts caused me to reflect on why I was questioning my abilities.

When I was in school, I made straight A’s, was involved in extracurricular activities, served as an officer in clubs and had healthy relationships with friends. I succeeded because I worked hard and was given instant feedback in the form of grades and affirmations. We get used to this during our school years. If we do well according to the education system we live in today, we’ll get promoted to the next grade, make the honor roll, get into college, etc.

In our professional life, it is the same story. We have regular performance reviews and if we do well, we receive affirmations, promotions and raises, if not, we’re given tips for improvement or we’re fired.

What Are The Signs of Imposter Syndrome?

When Make a Mark became my full time job, I gained freedom and passion, but I lost access to constant feedback. That feedback is something that I took for granted and without even realizing, self-doubt and anxiety started to slip into my thoughts. I noticed that I became more reserved about publishing content, hesitant to bring on new locations and less confident when talking to others. I was nervous to take chances that would further the mission because I didn’t want to let down any nonprofits or makers. I didn’t want to fail. And I certainly didn’t want to fail at something that I had invested my whole heart in for the past several years.

How To Overcome Imposter Syndrome

It was during this time that I voiced these concerns to my husband. He started a company back in 2012 and had been through the same wave of emotions. Through talking with him, I realized something very important. As humans, we are never finished growing and learning. We’re constantly trying out new ideas and experiences to see what works and what doesn’t. Sometimes we fail and feel embarrassed, and sometimes we succeed and feel like impostors. Understanding and taking control of those feelings is what helps us to grow.

Over the past year, I’ve tried a few things that have helped me to understand myself better.

  1. Take quiet time. Everyone gets caught up in the details of their work, particularly those of us who work from home and struggle with work-life boundaries (that’s a topic that we’ll save that for another time). Taking time in your day to let your thoughts, fears and excitement bubble to the surface can provide focus and inspiration. My husband and I take walks in the morning away from our computers and phones (Well we have them with us, but they are tucked away. Safety first right?) and let our thoughts flow openly. Sometimes this is done in silence, and sometimes we spend the entire walk brainstorming.
  2. Confide in others whom you trust. Reflecting internally is critical, but sometimes those thoughts can get jumbled. I’ve found that talking to my peers who are also running their own small businesses or organizations keeps me from feeling isolated. It helps to know that I am not alone on this journey.
  3. Be willing to look at your work critically. During our early years, people tell us if we’re good enough according to their standards, but we’re uncomfortable telling ourselves that we’re good enough. To thrive, we have to be willing to take a step back, look at our own work and accomplishments and determine whether or not it is up to our standard. And if it isn’t, it is up to us to improve it.
  4. Keep your purpose in your heart and mind. I feel so fortunate to have this opportunity to focus on executing on my purpose of helping meaningful organizations thrive through design, creativity, and technology. By acting with purpose, I know that Make a Mark will continue to serve nonprofits and makers alike.

Understanding my feelings and knowing my purpose in life helps me push aside the impostor syndrome. That doesn’t mean I won’t stumble and fall sometimes, but I will get back up with more vigor than before.


 
Read More

Topics: Design, Impact, Entrepreneurship, Purpose

How To Self-Reflect For Successful Self-Employment

Posted by Vivian Nunez on Oct 18, 2018 4:51:52 PM

Whether you’re debating switching from 9-to-5 to full-time, being-your-own-boss kind of work, or graduating from college and knowing that traditional isn’t for you — that first gut feeling should only be considered the beginning of the conversation you should be having with yourself.

Read More

Topics: Freelance, Freelancing, Get Started, Tips/Tricks

Meet Phil Dearing, Co-Founder of Second Day: "Don't Choose Between Accelerating Your Career And Making Social Impact"

Posted by Alexis Nunez on Oct 11, 2018 12:54:29 PM

For some of us, it’s hard. It’s hard to make the connection between what we’re good at, what excites us, what makes us money, what connects us with other people, what will make us grow/learn, and what a business or our world at large could truly benefit from that only we can contribute to.

Read More

Topics: Freelance, Freelancing, Wethos x Second Day, Impact, Professional Development

Swiping vs. Clicking: Why Won't our Website Visitors Respond to our Calls to Action?

Posted by Janice Chan on Oct 10, 2018 2:59:20 PM

Trying to figure out why people do something is typically easier than figuring out why they’re not doing something.  Still, it doesn’t mean it can’t be done – it will simply require a bit more work.

Let’s start with the basics.

Note that these are not all the basics if you are, overall, trying to figure out how your nonprofit organization’s website is performing or whether you need to adjust your digital strategy.  But these are where I’d start if you’re trying to figure out why visitors aren’t clicking through on one particular call to action.

  • Referrals – This tells you how visitors got to your page, such as via social media or through clicking a direct link or through search (including which keywords they searched for).
  • Landing pages – This tells you which pages visitors started on. In many web analytics systems, you’ll see the percentage of visitors who entered your site from each page.
  • Unique page views – This tells you the number of unique visitors who viewed that page. So as to exclude, you know, the multiple times you refreshed it trying to get your edits to show up the way you wanted.
  • Bounce rates – This tells you the percentage of people who left your website from the page they landed on.
  • Exit rates – This tells you the percentage of people who left your website from that page, regardless of whether they started on this or another page.
  • Conversion – Some systems will let you set up a specific way to track this, but basically you’re looking for the percentage who completed a goal (making a donation, signing a petition, etc.) out of the people who went to that page or form.

Not sure if you have web analytics or how to configure them to track what you want?  Consider bringing in a freelance digital marketing team to help you get off to a solid start.

Picture:  Looking over the shoulder of a woman holding a white tablet, looking at some charts of metrics.

Let’s dig in deeper.

Will each of those metrics tell you something individually?  Sure.  But what we’re really after is the story of what those tell you when we combine them.  Many web analytics tools will show you the pathway of visitors, from where they landed, through where they clicked through next, to where they left your site

Read More

Topics: Tips/Tricks, Technology, Web Development

Designing With Purpose: Takeaways From Freelance Designer Raul Flores

Posted by Jay Li on Oct 5, 2018 3:20:56 PM

Jay Li from SecondDay sat down with Raul Flores, a freelance designer at Wethos teams interested in web design, photography, UI/UX, and digital media. They discuss how to break into the social impact/non-profit space as a “creative”, what it means to be a designer in today’s day and age, and how to move forward in our professional and creative development.

Read More

Topics: Freelance, Freelancing, Creativity, Wethos x Second Day, Design

3 Strategies To Leverage Technology Creatively In Raising Money

Posted by Janice Chan on Sep 26, 2018 3:07:41 PM

This post was written for Wethos by Janice Chan in partnership with AB Charities and also appears on the ActBlue blog and AB Charities blog under The Modern Nonprofit.


When you don’t have the resources of a large organization behind you, being creative and adapting quickly is even more critical to making the most of what you have.  

Good news is that technology keeps making it easier to fail fast and pivot quickly without risking huge investments of time or money. Regardless of where your organization is in terms of technological maturity (or how aligned your use of technology is with your mission), there are strategies you can implement at any stage.

1. Choose platforms that provide a solid start

If you want to leverage technology creatively, choose an online fundraising platform that provides a solid default along with the ability to customize the look and feel on your own.  What does this look like for online fundraising?  It means the product is designed with thoughtful consideration for the defaults—both how they support your mission-driven organization and a delightful donor experience.

Most of the time, we don’t give a ton of consideration to our defaults.  Like when we reach out to our social networks (and only our social networks) when we need to staff up for a project and miss out on great talent who never knew there was an opportunity.

So take time when choosing a platform because that will be your launch pad.  

As a nonprofit organization, particularly if you’re a small to mid-sized organization, it is probably important that…

  • your systems can talk to each other so you can work efficiently,
  • you have control over a donor’s giving experience and your branding,
  • you can customize, manage and maintain this without having a full IT team in-house,
  • you can test and evaluate your efforts,
  • and, if you don’t have the time to, you know the system was designed based on rigorous testing of what is most effective.

Even if you are not looking for a new system right now, it doesn’t mean that you can’t look for new opportunities to optimize your current platforms or try new approaches.

Companies release updates and enhance functionality all the time.  Even if you unsubscribed from the product updates, your vendor probably has a blog where you can check out any helpful new features you might have missed and get ideas for using them.  Maybe you can even reach out to the vendor’s team and discuss what current features could help you accomplish X better!  Or, if you’re looking to strategize across multiple channels (and potentially multiple platforms or systems), consider if it’s worth brainstorming with an outside team of strategy and design experts to figure out how to leverage them together to advance your mission.

Read More

Topics: Tips/Tricks, Fundraising, Technology, Creativity, The Modern Nonprofit