7 Ethical Gift Ideas for Valentine’s Day

Generally this blog is geared towards grant writing and social media for nonprofit organizations. But with Valentine’s Day coming up, I want to interrupt the previous scheduled programming to tell you about 7 ethical gift ideas for Valentine’s Day.
7 Ethical Gift Ideas for Valentine's Day
As people who work and volunteer in the nonprofit sector, I assume you have a heart for improving lives. It is the theme that accompanies the nonprofit sector. It is certainly why I chose to make my career in the nonprofit sector.
Well, there are also many social businesses which are also in the business of helping improve lives, and I think they deserve our support especially on very commercially driven holidays.

Show those you love how much you care by giving gifts that help improve lives.

So here are 7 ethical gift ideas for Valentine’s Day: 
  1. 31 Bits Box of 5 Valentines – 31 Bits is jewelry made out of recycled paper by impoverished Ugandan artisans. This limited edition gift pack includes 5 Valentines that say “I LOVE YOU TO BITS”, 5 Bracelets in the Valentines colors shown, and 5 cloth bags.
  2. Gadanke Couple Journals - Gadanke journals are American-made journals to help you capture your story. There are several journals just right for couples. And they are made from 77% recycled content.
  3. ecocentric mom Organic Tagua Heart Bracelet  – This one-of-a-kind bracelet has been handcrafted from a Tagua Tree Nut which has the same appearance, density and feel of animal ivory without causing any harm to animals or the South American Rainforests where it is harvested and gathered. The colors are dyed using certified organic vegetable dyes from Italy.
  4. Equal Exchange Organic Chocolate Hearts – These organic, ethically produced chocolates are perfect for everyone you want to wish Happy Valentine’s Day.
  5. Divine Chocolate Heart of Gold Gift Set – This gift set is perfect for the chocolate lover in your life.
  6. YumEarth Organic candy (not chocolate) – Looking for candy that is not chocolate, look no further. YumEarth treats are made with all-natural ingredients, no artificial colors or artificial dyes, no gluten, no peanuts, and no tree-nuts, just award-winning taste.
  7. Make something yourself – Who doesn’t love a homemade gift?
For more ideas: check out the Art of Simple’s Ethical Shopping Guide 
So, What ethical gifts will you be giving this Valentine’s Day? 

3 Benefits to Participating in a Photo-A-Day Challenge

Before I purchased my first iPhone, I carried a digital camera around with everywhere I went. I always wanted to have it with me to capture the moment. You just never know when you will want to save a moment forever.
So when Kivi Miller at Nonprofit Marketing Guide posted the first Nonprofit Communicator’s photo challenge in October 2014, I was completely onboard. Kivi created another challenge to start off the new year.  Read about it on Nonprofit Communicators Photo-A-Day Challenge. These are the  prompts for this month.
Prompts for Nonprofit Communicators Pic Challenge
The keys of a Photo Challenge are:
  • Prompts – Someone gives photo prompts for a set time-frame (like a month).
  • Participants – Participants post a photo based on a prompt. The photo does not have to be taken on that day. If you have a post picture that fits the prompt perfectly, use it.
  • Hashtag – Everyone uses the same hashtag so participants can see other participants’ photos.
3 Benefits of Participating in a Photo-A-Day Challenge
In participating this second time, I have noticed three benefits:
  • Creativity: The prompts help provide a spark of creativity each day. I find myself waking up thinking about how I want to capture the prompt for the day.
  • Networking: Because we are all using the same hashtag, I see who else is participating in the photo challenge. Through these, I have made a few friends from other nonprofit communicators.
  • Inspiration: Seeing what other nonprofit communicators post give me inspiration to what I could post both personally and for nonprofits’ social media account.
If you have not participated in a photo challenge, I highly encourage you to do so. After trying, if it’s not for you, fine, but you won’t know until you try.
Have you participated in a photo challenge? Why or Why not? 

How To Guide To Twitter Chats

Every week I participate in a Twitter Chat called #GrantChat. This chat happens every Tuesday at noon EST on your Twitter account. Through this chat, I have made new friends, learned best practices, and obtained valuable resources all while having fun discussing a topic I am quite passionate about, grants!
How To Guide to Twitter Chats
I am going to share with you some basics about Twitter Chats. I hope you will find the information helpful and consider joining a Twitter chat or tow.

Twitter Chat Basics

What is a Twitter Chat? 
A Twitter chat is when a group of Twitter users meet up on Twitter (or Twitter chat platform) at a pre-determined time to discuss a certain topic using a hashtag for each tweet contributed to the topic.
Why participate in a Twitter Chat?
  • Twitter chats are a great way to network with other individuals interested and/or working in your profession or hobby.
  • Twitter chats provide an easy, cheap way to learn more about your profession, a hobby, or other interesting topic.
  • Twitter chat participates are generally generous with their knowledge and resources.
How to find Twitter Chats to participate in? 
  • Reading tweets of those you follow – Often those hosting or participating in a Twitter Chat will tweet about the chat.
  • For nonprofits, three chats I recommend are #GrantChat (Tuesdays at noon EST), #FundChat (Wednesdays at noon EST), and #FoundationChat (Fridays at 2pm, currently only once a month).
  • Chat Salad is a place to find chats that are happening now or in the near future.
  • Tweet Reports also keeps up a list of Twitter Chats.
  • Twubs has an easy to read list.

Twitter Chat Tips: 

You can do this by including A1, A2, A3, etc corresponding to each question in the chat. Many chats number their questions with Q1, Q2, Q3, etc making it easy for you to keep up.

Twitter Chat Tools 
There are some great tools to make following and participating in a Twitter Chat much easier.

Each tool is great. Experiment with which one you fits your needs the best.

More information on Twitter and Twitter Chats
Your turn: Have you ever participated in a Twitter Chat? 

Do You Have Grantitude?

A few weeks ago the #grantchat discussion was about grantitude. Before the #grantchat, I had not given much thought to the idea of being thankful for grants. Yes, I was definitely thankful for them and the opportunity I have to write the applications for several nonprofits, but I was not expressing my grantitude much.
Do You Have Grantitude?
Grantitude is -
  1. the state of being grateful for grants, grant makers, grant opportunities, grant partners, grant teams, grant reviews, grant managers, and grant professionals
  2. a grant professional’s optimistic/realist strategic can-do attitude
So first, thank you, dear readers, for reading this blog. I hope the ideas present on here help you in your nonprofit work.
Second, thank you, grant makers, for providing grant funding. Without it, many nonprofits would not be able to continue their work and many people would be unemployed including me.
Now: Do you have grantitude? Does your organization? 
The nonprofit organizations I am currently working with do not have formal processes for thanking grant makers so I am in the process of creating the policies to express their grantitude. Organizations are sure to thank donors and corporations when they give a contribution, so why shouldn’t grant makers receive the same level of gratitude.
Who should nonprofits should thank:
  • Grant makers
  • Grant professionals
  • The grant team – anyone who worked on the grant
  • Nonprofit partners
  • Grant manager
The grantitude plans do not have to be elaborate. Just do something to make those involved with grants know you are thankful for them and the money grants provide to the organization.
How to thank Grant Professionals, Grant Teams, Grant Managers:
  • A handwritten note
  • Shout out on social media
  • small celebration when a grant is submitted
How to thank Grant Makers, Partners:
  • A handwritten note
  • Shout out on social media
  • Thank you on website with logo
  • Invite them to tour facility and see grant money at work
Your turn: Do you have a grantitude policy at your nonprofit? What have you included in it? 

4 Simple Best Practices for Federal Grants Applications

Your nonprofit has found the perfect federal grant for one of your projects or programs. And you have started on working on gathering all the information you need to complete the application.

4 Simple Best Practices for Federal Grant Applications

As you start filling out the application, be sure to follow these 4 simple best practices.

  1. Fill in the documents in accordance with the instructions provided. When working in the grant application package (what downloads from grants.gov), as you scroll over each box, it to provide instructions.
  2. Identify your nonprofit in the project title – Example: XYZ Nonprofit’s after school program
  3. If your nonprofit has more 2 or more employees, assign two different people as the Project Director and the Primary Contact. This will help ensure nothing gets lost in the shuffle.
  4. Do not commit these 7 common mistakes.

These best practices won’t ensure that your application is funded. There is nothing that can ensure that. But these practices will help your application stay in the running to be funded.

Your turn: What would you add to this list? What are your best practices when completing a federal grant application? 

funding the future