Monday, July 7, 2014

Productivity Tech Tips

By @JessMSamuels and @RobbieSamuels who co-presented a Socializing for Justice "ProfDev: Productivity TechTips". [Presentation posted on SlideShare.] SoJust is a cross-cultural, cross-issue progressive community and network in Boston based on the philosophy of abundance and radical inclusion. Learn more and get connected at

The tech world can be an overwhelming place. You know that there are 1001 great (and free) tools you can be using to live a more productive life, but you don't know where to start. Let us help you out! At this ProfDev we will go in depth to demonstrate many great tools you should be using everyday, including Rapportive (social media Gmail integration), Google docs and forms, Jing (video captures), Dropbox,  and Mailbox app (that helps you get to the coveted Zero Inbox!), and much more.

We hope you try out some of these awesome tech tools to make yourself happier, and more productive in your job and in your personal life. Have a favorite productivity tech tool? Mention it in the comments.

Your Inbox

Your Documents

Your Calendar

Your Life

Monday, June 2, 2014

Take Action! Storytelling That Inspires (guest blog)

By guest blogger Rachel Jellinek who led a Socializing for Justice ProfDev (professional development) training called Take Action! Storytelling That Inspires. SoJust is a cross-cultural, cross-issue progressive community, network and movement in Boston based on the philosophies of abundance and radical inclusion. Learn more and get connected at 

When thinking about how to tell your organization’s story, there are several key considerations to keep in mind:

1) What do you want people to know?
2) What do you want people to feel?
3) What do you want people to do?

When pondering what you want people to know, it is important to note any myths or misperceptions about your organization or the field that you are in that should be addressed. For example, are there particular FAQs that make sense to tackle head on? Has your organization’s identity ever been confused with another’s? If yes, why? Being proactive, instead of reactive, about clearing up confusion is crucial.

Monday, May 5, 2014

8 Steps for Successful Networking

Presented by Robbie Samuels at a Socializing for Justice Skillshare. SoJust is a cross-cultural, cross-issue progressive community, network and movement based on the philosophy of abundance. Learn more and get connected at

Forming and cultivating relationships is at the heart of any successful fundraising campaign, volunteer drive, committee effort or community building activity. Foster and grow new networks with these practical tips and best practices to engage someone in a conversation, keep it rolling, exchange information and wrap up. Attend my Art of the Schmooze training for an interactive fast-paced and fun tutorial.
1. Say hello. Shake hands, say your name and affiliation.

Has the following happened to you? You've done your homework and know a particular bigwig connector, funder, donor, etc. will be at a networking event. You see them and freeze. What had you planned to say? Were you thanking them? Soliciting them? As your brain tries to put together a coherent sentence, they move out of view and the opportunity has passed. Let's keep this simple. Just shake hands and say, "Hello, my name is (insert your name here)." The rest of your elevator pitch can come later, but to build a relationship, you need to start by making the connection.

2. Ask questions. People like to talk about themselves.

Now that you have their attention, follow up with an open-ended question. Why open-ended? You're looking for them to share a story, which won't happen if your question can be answered with a yes or no response. Follow Dale Carnegie's timeless advice in "How to Win Friends & Influence People" and "allow the other person to do a great deal of the talking." In other words, make fewer statements and ask more questions. For example, "How did you hear about this event?" or follow up with
"How did you end up in your line of work?" 

Monday, April 7, 2014

5 Effective Tips for Nonprofit Cover Letters (guest blog)

Guest blog post by Mark McCurdy who led a Socializing for Justice ProfDev (professional development) training called Accelerate Your Nonprofit Career - Strategic Resume and Cover Letters.

1. Stories Store themselves in the reader’s mind. A short personal story near the beginning of your cover letter can hook the person reading it, if it is concise and clearly relevant. A story that speaks to why you want be part of the mission and team of the organization will always be more memorable than dry statistics from your past employment. Make a lasting positive memory for your prospective employer and remember that “stories store” themselves in the mind.

2. Research Rewards those who make the effort. Are you used to addressing your cover letter to “recruiter” or “hiring manager?” Research the company to find out the best person to send your resume to. Take the initiative by calling the organization and asking the name of the person who is receiving applications. Other options are to use LinkedIn, current employees or the organization’s website. You may wish to combine your research and a story with the mission statement of the organization in a clever way, to grab the attention of the nonprofit.

3. Give them what they want. Carefully review the job description and posting, then state your experience with actual examples (bullet points are great) that demonstrate that you

Monday, March 3, 2014

6 Fundraising Truths

Fundraising: Getting Past the Fear of Asking was presented by Robbie Samuels at a Socializing for Justice ProfDev (professional development) Training.

I always start my trainings by asking the audience to share a word or two response to the question, "How do you feel about soliciting - asking for money?". Invariably a majority of responses are along the lines of "hate it,” "nervous," "like I'm begging," and "it depends on the cause." This kind of angsty response is what you'd expect from a group that chose to attend a session called "Fundraising: Getting Past the Fear of Asking." 

But then I ask them, "How do you feel when you write a check to your favorite organization?". This is money they've set aside for charity - not their lunch money or fun money. The organization is one they've gotten to know and respect - and the cause is one they care deeply about. They're about to write the check, or more likely filling out a form on a website, how do they feel now? The room immediately lightens up and the responses include "great," "engaged," "making difference," "good," and "wish I could do more."

Interesting. Asking for money makes people feel anxious, but donating makes them feel awesome. Let's reflect on that for a moment. Asking = bad, giving = good.

What's the number one reason people don't give? They are not asked. That's right, people don't give if they're not asked, and they're more likely to give if someone they know and trust asks them. So if you don't get past your fear of asking you are denying your friends the ability to feel like they're making a difference - the ability to be truly engaged with a cause they care about. You are keeping your friends from feeling great. 

Monday, February 3, 2014

Data Management for NonProfits: We're All Enterprises Now (guest blog)

Guest blog post by Jenn Taylor who led a Socializing for Justice ProfDev (professional development) training on data management called Manage Data With Less Stress.

“Enterprise” data is an IT term historically reserved for large corporations, vast bureaucracies, or anything big enough to have the financial and human resources to throw a lot of energy at collecting, storing, retrieving, and analyzing data. Enterprise data is complex. It helps tie all of your data to the single story you care most about, reporting on all of that relatively quickly and easily. And increasingly, even tiny nonprofits have to act like enterprises where their data is concerned.

The good news is, there are free and low cost tools out there – like Salesforce – that let nonprofits of any size manage their data on equal footing with huge organizations. Unfortunately the nonprofit sector at large and those of us who support nonprofit technology still have a long way to go in understanding what, exactly, it means to have a 5 person nonprofit driving an enterprise database.

Enterprise systems are fundamentally different than Excel and Access, and even excellent single-purpose solutions like Raiser’s Edge and ETO. With Excel, you can get answers about data kept in different spreadsheets by simply putting in more hours during reporting season. As an organization grows in size or complexity of data, or needs trends or analysis, there comes a time when working harder to manage data simply won’t work any more. That’s the point at which any organization, regardless of revenue or staff size, becomes an enterprise. 

Monday, December 2, 2013

Unleash (some of) the powers of spreadsheets! (guest post)

Guest blog post by Reed Miller who led a Socializing for Justice skillshare on Intermediate Excel Tips & Tricks.

In recent years, I've come to accept that I'm a nerd...a data nerd to be specific.  And it's working out pretty well, especially in the realm of spreadsheets. Maybe you've used a spreadsheet before to keep track of a personal budget or to maintain a list of volunteers.  In this workshop, I introduced a few skills that can make these spreadsheets and many other kinds do more for you:
Pivot tables to easily slice and dice, count, sum, and rearrange your data
Conditional formatting to easily visualize quantities or spot a word
Named ranges to refer a frequently used chunk of data to refer to a frequently used chunk of data
Vlookup & Offset-Match
to pull Zoe Diaz' phone number from the member list to the outreach list
Dropdown lists
so that you can click to choose versus retyping the same thing over and over
Scatter plot
to see how well two variables, like number of years in the group and donation level, correlate
there are so many...if you want Excel to do something, assume there's a formula for that.  Inches to Meters? Yup.  Loan payments? Check. Change from "Friend" to "Boyfriend" everywhere? It can do that, too.

Thanks to the power of the cloud, now you can easily share and edit simpler spreadsheets with Google Docs (though I'd recommend saving the heavier formulas for your offline spreadsheet).  Check out how I've embedded a chart from a Google Doc tracking my organization's newsletter recipients over time.

My growing fascination with spreadsheets
I remember sitting on my dad's lap in elementary school when he introduced me to Lotus 1-2-3, one of the earlier spreadsheet programs.  That was back when Windows literally meant that you had to click through dozens of windows to access a program, and we were worried that if we didn't close them all in the right sequence the desktop would crash! We visited his friend's house once who informed us that all of his vinyl records were listed in a spreadsheet -- I was so impressed.  Shortly after, my nana passed away.  At her house in Indianapolis, my dad had cataloged her possessions on a spreadsheet to decide which of her six children would receive each one.  After the data was entered, he called me over so I could see what happened when you sorted the list alphabetically.  To me, it was magic.
In high school, my physics teacher had us graphing muons that were being counted through a DIY muon counter and I learned the basics about charts.  As an environmental engineering student, we used spreadsheets to estimate pollution flows into rivers and the transport of groundwater.  Most recently, my research at MIT has involved detailed export trade data with spreadsheets hundreds of thousands of rows long.  My task has been to combine datasets, run analyses and turn around a few charts that will provide meaningful summaries and insights into the data for public consumption.  In my free time, I manage a database of several thousand LGBTQ prisoners seeking pen-pals.

Reed Miller is a queer transman on the far left with a soft spot for spreadsheets.  He holds a BS and M.Eng in environmental engineering and an MS in technology and policy.  Currently working as a research specialist at the MIT Materials Systems Lab, his work in environmental impact modeling involves hundreds of spreadsheets, which are in decorated in various hues of purple.  For the past several years, he's volunteered with Black and Pink, often managing and configuring  a database of several thousand LGBTQ prisoners. Currently, he's working to start Electric Slides Cooperative, a conference presentation editing service.  

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