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How To Practice Your Faith At Work

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Whenever I am speaking to a group of business owners or corporate leaders I will encounter several kinds of stories of how their team members behave in a negative ways. I hear from managers and supervisors about poor time management, illicit use of funds, angry outbursts, false documentation, inappropriate behavior, and the list goes on. But one story that I am finding more common is how people of faith are behaving – or in most cases, how they are offensive and sometimes downright rude.

As a person of faith and a former pastor, I know this balance all too well. There have been plenty of times when my over-zealous, eager attitude to convert my friends has taken over as I make my stand for what I believe (or in most cases, what I stand against). In an effort to make my first impression strong – I have turned people away.

I remember one instance where I was so “out-loud” with my faith that I pushed my friend away only to hear her final words of, “I hope your god is happy with the way you live… you certainly know how to hurt people”.

To make matters worse, I couldn’t even see it until a mentor came to me and asked me a question about how I was treating people. I think he considered locking me up in a basement, but he cared enough to confront me. “Do you really believe that your passion for your faith is worth beating people up”? This trusted friend encouraged me to take a few days to have a personal encounter with God prayerfully consider how I handle the people in my life. His caring approach and questions led me to a revised view of interpersonal relationships.

Peter Mead wrote, “just because we feel strongly about our faith message doesn’t mean we should strong-arm our listeners, friends, or co-workers”. I was certainly doing that – and worse – I didn’t care.

From my prayer journal, I recall these 3 questions that came as a result of my time with God that day. Take this simple quiz to see if your faith message is toxic in your relationships:

1. When you share your faith are you aggressive and offending? How you are coming across will send your listeners closer or send them running. Carefully consider your words and your tone. Prayerfully ask questions with intent to listen. As you post on social media, be sensitive to what others might feel. Maybe you and I can be bolder about what we believe instead of what we are so strongly against.

2. When you are with others, do you become loud and obnoxious? It’s so tempting for some personalities to raise their voice when they encounter enthusiasm. Becoming full of conviction is not wrong just as long as we don’t become “shouty” in the process. Peter Mead says, “being known as the shouting preacher won’t help you on several levels”. As you work among other faiths, non-faith folks, and all kinds of people different than you, take the golden rule into effect: treat people with respect and genuine care.

3. Are you focused on your faith or is your faith focused? You might think these are one in the same but they are not. Focused on your faith is a presentation. This “putting on a show” attitude could be hurtful on several levels, especially in the work place where people around you may or may not know your whole personality. Are you faith focused? This is where faith drives a person to be quick to listen, slow to speak. Faith focused people first engage God to seek guidance on how to live their life. It is the mentality of “Lord, where do I go… send me” attitude.

After my mentor encouraged me to seek God about my relationships, I was changed. I felt as if I were a pain to be around; distracting people with my intensity, and not being loving and respectful. I felt specifically impressed to meet with each of my team members, neighbors, and friends to seek forgiveness in how I was treating them. I apologized with transparency and genuine care for the way I had made my faith seem over-zealous.

It would be great if everything turned out, but it didn’t. Sure, there were folks who were accepting and forgiving. But I lost a few connections too. My faith mismanagement created enemies and people who have kept me at a distance. I’m saddened by this and prayerfully hopeful for reconciliation at some point. It also makes me mindful of the principle of initial engagements: you only have one chance to make a good impression.

Steve is enthusiastic about life purpose, caring about people, and passionate about faith. His heartfelt approach to others is always engaging, never pushy, and always full of open-handed welcome and never fist-pounding demands. He speaks with a wealth of experience from years of his work as a hospice chaplain, bereavement counselor, community/marketplace chaplain, pastor, youth worker, author, speaker at conferences and consultant.

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Business

How to Grow Your Nonprofit With Little Budget

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It should come as no surprise that devoting time to a cause can be fulfilling. When you start one of your own, you will transform your life.

But establishing a nonprofit to take up said crusade comes with lots of barriers, namely financial. Traditional businesses often must figure out where the money will come from to make their vision a reality, and nonprofits are no different.

For nonprofit leaders with know-how and ideas but scarce financial capital, it’s an uphill battle. But it’s those who recognize their new nonprofits’ non-monetary value and how to translate that into viability who can bring those causes to fruition.

A Little Marketing Goes a Long Way

What nonprofits lack in budget, they more than make up for in positioning and branding. Organizations can mask their financial shortcomings by properly marketing each themselves and spotlighting who they are and what they can do.

That starts with communicating your purpose or company “brand.” Identifying your brand lets people know who you are and what you can do for others, which can go a long way in creating long-term relationships. From there, you want to avoid potential conflicts of interest or even the appearance of one: As owner, officer, or director, you should never personally profit from any transaction with your organization.

Once you’ve settled those things, you can market your nonprofit to its fullest potential. The next step is to take those attributes to events and platforms that feature opportunities to rub elbows with financiers with values similar to your own.

For nonprofits with limited funds, I suggest looking to corporations to sponsor a campaign. Dress for Success, for example, held a “clean your closet week” by asking professionals to donate clothing, and the campaign generated $400,000.

And when you find an actual sponsor, it can be a useful way to find other organizations that align with your mission. Let’s say you connect with a corporation known to work with homeless youth. It’ll have relationships with many other corporations that work with this same service sector, which can establish a ripple effect.

Do Good on a Discount

Outside of knowing how to sell your cause, the following tips are useful to help your growing nonprofit continue to scale:

1. Think intangible. When you’re on a tight budget and don’t have money to involve your nonprofit in initiatives requiring a cash investment, start off by marketing non-financial resources, such as your time and industry knowledge.

Not only will it provide your organization some much-needed exposure, but it’ll also give you and your other teammates a better idea of the work involved and a brief overview of your chosen nonprofit sector. Plus, it’s not a bad way to make connections.

2. Give in to the youth movement. Look for volunteers at area high schools. Talk with the local school councils and ask whether it’d be possible to create a partnership that would allow teens to volunteer for a school credit or as an extracurricular activity.

Position the volunteer opportunity as a way for teenagers to prepare for the future. After all, volunteering improves not just communities, but also participants’ social and communication skills. In fact, they often reap better advantages at college and on down the line.

3. See how the pros do it. Follow the activities of larger nonprofit and nongovernmental organizations. Check with international organizations like the United Nations; you may find opportunities for involvement and gain access to their funding pool.

Take NeedsList, for example. The online platform was created to help small grassroots groups connect with NGOs across the world in need of shoes, SD cards, and other supplies. Donors can choose to donate goods, money, or time, which brings us full circle.

As the adage goes, it’s not what you know but whom. No other sector exemplifies this more than nonprofit. For foundations on a shoestring budget, make connections, think about what you have to offer, and deliver on your purpose each step of the way. Then, you can let your personal transformation begin.

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Business

Social Good Doesn’t Require a Non-Profit

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You want your business to be a force for social good. Most importantly, you want to meet the needs of some target population with the warmth and care reminiscent of the most nurturing presence as opposed to a cold, heartless corporation. You believe your only option to be registration of your business as a non-profit. Chrystalyn Reid of non-profit Queen Esther Ministry states that she didn’t consider anything other than a non-profit, “Because I wanted to help people without worrying about a profit-making business.”

Social Good Dreams

Other options exist, but I want to first challenge your start-up launch with several organizing questions:

Are you under the impression that non-profits always have low budgets and low pay for employees? The average non-profit CEO makes between $97,000 and $123,462. Seventy-six of 4,587 charities pay their CEOs more than $500,000 per year in compensation. Seventy of those have an annual budget above $13.5 million.

Have you created an Outcome Logic Model for your social good business identifying the revenue streams that are possible within the business operations? The typical non-profit today makes only 21% of its revenue from donations. Over 72% comes from program service revenues which include government contracts. Many of those contracts are open to non-profits and for-profits alike.

Have you considered how your board and funding structure will impact the mission of your social good business? You may have heard recent public broadcasting stories about mission drift or mission creep. You will want to ensure that your business bylaws are written to guard the mission.

Another Option: B Corp

A B Corp is an organization founded for social good. According to the B-Corp website, B Corps “meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability, and aspire to use the power of markets to solve social and environmental problems.” Over 2,221 B Corporations are now certified from over 50 countries and 130 industries.

The choice of a B Corp structure over a non-profit structure for many is a question of funding. They choose non-profit proposing to fund the business through grants. A non-profit is the choice for those who want to provide a tax write-off to their donors and want to be eligible for grants that specify that only 501c3 corporations may apply. Yet, that explanation is a premature determination about how your corporation can make money. More specifically, if you conclude that your social good company can ONLY make money through donations from donors who require a tax write-off,

More specifically, if you conclude that your social good company can ONLY make money through donations from donors who require a tax write-off, non-profit is your only option. On the other hand, you can create value beyond the tax write-off. You may develop revenue streams other than grants. You could have a non-profit partner organization. In these cases, you may consider starting a for-profit with B Corp certification instead.

Mission Creep & Creepy Mission

Many launch non-profits because they believe that the money is not as important as the difference they can make. They focus on the people that they will help, the social good proposition, and the lives that will be changed rather than the bottom line. “My mission was never to make money. It was something that God called me to, to make a difference for women aging out of the foster care system,” Reid says about her non-profit.

This often means that these social entrepreneurs also neglect to focus on sustainability. Therefore, Marvin Olasky can tell the story in Renewing American Compassion of the multi-million-dollar social welfare building with few visitors. He compared this to a beloved, yet poorly funded child services non-profit. The non-profit operated with client numbers above its capacity.

Social workers and others working for social good are coming to grips with the fallacy of money as a dirty word (or after thought). They are also redefining their business models to avoid mission creep. They diversify offerings to access additional revenue streams without overextending the mission. The innovative method involves building programs for sustainability as well as mission achievement. They couple a profit mechanism within the service provision mix as the social good business model. The result are programs that support themselves.

Mental health agencies have been doing a version of this at the insistence of managed care organizations—billing for specific services. The difference in more recent innovations is to go beyond the billable scope of practice. Include a more holistic service cadre for clients. Those extended services, formerly out of scope, are funded through private donations, fundraisers, and now sales of manuals, merchandising, or sponsorship agreements.

The take away is that profits are not the enemy of social good. Failure to meet the mission is. As Reid of Queen Esther Ministry confirms, “As I’ve learned more about my business, I know the value of diversifying my revenue streams in addition to honoring my mission. I’m now exploring other revenue ventures through my business like holding a Summer camp.”

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Business

Why 2017 Is the Year to Join Instagram

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Did you know that by the end of 2017 around 70.7% of all brands are expected to have a profile on Instagram, or that businesses who have utilized their post boosting advertising options have been successful in 70% of cases?

A new report looks at these stats and a lot of other interesting data, which suggests 2017 is the year your business should join the popular social network.

A Large and Engaged User-Base

To have success in your marketing campaigns you must be able to get consumers invested in your products or services by creating an emotional response. Interacting with your target audience is the only way you can build their trust and accomplish this goal. This is where Instagram becomes such a powerful tool.

The platform is growing at a fast rate with over 300 million users logging on every single day. These users make an average of 95 million posts, which generate 4.2 billion likes!

The 18 to 30 demographic (the holy grail for a lot of businesses) accounts for 55% of Instagram’s users in the United States.

Furthermore, around 50% of all users follow at least one business’s account.

If you want access to consumers, Instagram offers a direct link which an audience broad enough to benefit any business large or small. Where the network really stands out, however, is its ability to engage users like no other.

Despite having far more active users every day, Facebook, for example, is not able to generate the same rate of likes, shares, and comments on posts. This is because Instagram focuses mainly on visual content, including photos, video clips, live streaming, and stories that expire after 24 hours.

Visual content is simply much more eye-catching and requires less mental attention than walls of text. The savvy marketer who can post professional shots of products, add value with informative videos, and craft a friendly and accessible brand image by showing the inner culture of the business – is almost certain to boost conversions and sales.

The Right Approach

Of course, accomplishing this is easier said than done. Fortunately, the infographic also gives us some insight to get you on the right track.

Building trust requires you to tread a fine line between over-selling and under-selling. Top brands post on average 4.9 times a week, so it’s wise to follow a similar pattern.

You must also remember to post at the most opportune times. Business accounts offer all sorts of analytics, so over time, you can narrow down what time is the best for your individual target audience. However, in general, the most users are active on Wednesdays at 5 pm. For newcomers, this would be a good time to post your most important content.

The data also explores the most popular emojis and hashtags, which can also be important when targeting your audience and getting them engaged.

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