break the fundraising bottleneck – How Middle East Charities can raise money

CrowdfundingI come across charities regularly that are struggling with fundraising. Crowd-funding offers a good, and relatively easy way to get money online. You share your stories and needs with the world online and the crowd responds by sending you money to your account.  There are some basic steps to follow:

  1. Locate an online crowd-funding platform that is suitable for you. I recommend Just Giving because they’re in the region and their site is easy to use. They need your registration paper, a bank statement and an application form. The folks are very easy to work with and responsive.
  2. Recruit a student from a local university who understands social media market.
  3. Get your volunteers to take good photos or a short video (1 min or less).
  4. Write a script describing your cause, your beneficiaries, the way you will use funds and share photos/videos.
  5. Post your script and photos on Justgiving.com and / or your site. (They have great how-to videos)
  6. Your intern can help you share your campaign content on social media channels (Facebook, Twitter, Linked-in, Pinterest, Instagram).

Here are a few sample campaigns that I think are cool:

Stop Bullying

#GiveWater #GiveHealth

Cycling for Gaza

Let me know if you require more support. @rchakaki (on twitter)

Other resources:

http://www.forbes.com/sites/chancebarnett/2013/05/08/top-10-crowdfunding-sites-for-fundraising/

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Simple Sells! – Writing for the Web

SimpleIf a photo can convey what you have to say, then keep it at that! If it is a word, or a proverb, then enough said. That’s advise from Jeff Bullas that is worth considering.

He recommends to keep the words, storyline, headlines, images and all simple. Don’t make the reader work hard.

I would add another point for non-profits looking to raise funds through their communication.  Keep the emotions simple and clear.  Think of the emotional narrative, and stick to one emotion you want to elicit from the reader.

It is advise we’re taking seriously on barakabits.  Can you tell what emotion we are focusing on? Can we make it any simpler?

The Power of Simple Writing – Jeffbullas’s Blog.

Share my Dabba – A small sticker can make A BIG DIFFERENCE – YouTube

Share my Dabba - IndiaAs Ramadan approaches, we’re all thinking of ways to give. Charities and non-profits are looking for creative ways to reach out to the community.  Here’s a 2 minute video example of an initiative that works in India and can be  replicated in our region using local models.

SHARE MY DABBA – A SMALL STICKER CAN MAKE A BIG DIFFERENCE – YouTube.

here’s how your charity can replicate their success:

  1. Consider a campaign that builds on an existing food/beverage distribution network.
  2. Define your campaign objectives; keep it simple!
  3. Identify the people who’ll help you make it possible
  4. Create the message to reach them and get them on board
  5. Figure out your distribution channels
  6. Select communication channels where your supporters are likely to be (reach mass audiences of supporters through social media).
  7. Create simple content (photos, home-made videos)  that have a high emotional value.
  8. Start small and watch it grow.
  9. Measure your success and report on it to your stakeholders.
  10. Be patient with your program. Watch it grow slowly, it will have a longer lasting impact.

For a regional example check out the Family Kitchen in Jordan

For more on Share My Dabba check out lighthouse insights

Relevant organizations providing support in Ramadan: PMRS  Nakhweh

Brand YOU – an online celebrity or John Doe?

Personal Digital BrandYou’re a professional, you’ve worked in companies that guard their brand. You know what that’s like. A marketing  team enforces identity guidelines, everyone must use consistent fonts, colors, use the right language in the media and more.

Just as you set or comply with stringent guidelines for a corporate brand; you should do the same for your personal digital one. Why? Because:

1. Reflecting on the aspects of your personality you want to share and those you prefer to keep private helps create a loyal following of advocates who engage regularly
2. Consistency in your image and messaging improves recognition and recollection. Seeing the same profile photo on Facebook, twitter, linked-in and other channels helps followers remember you.

Here are a few tips on how you can do that:

  • Principles & Policy –  reflect on your standards for following, befriending, liking and criticizing others.  Think of how you’ll engage fans, friends and followers on topics you find interesting.  Be consistent.
  •  Your avatar photo – defines your personality.. make it reflect who you are.. keep it consistent across networks.Screen Shot 2013-05-16 at 5.02.47 AM
  • Covers & Backgrounds – are important digital real-estate. Use it to give insights into your passions. Share your causes, creations and concerns on your covers and backgrounds.
  • The language you use – dictates your followers.. how you speak, the tone, the language, the topics all determine who follows you. create a dialogue (not a monologue) around topics you like and can maintain an interest in. Don’t be a trend follower, be a trend starter.
  • Hashtags – You can use to subject trends that spark your interest by hash-tagging. It keeps your content current. Anyone who searches for a hashtag finds you. Take the time to develop your hashtags and use them consistently. My favorites #SOCENT  (Social Entrepreneur) and my personal ones #elevate and #live2give
  • Keep it in character – while being different is good, being you is great!  I often come across content that’s trending and unique, but it doesn’t reflect my character. I move on!  You can get fans and followers by riding a trend wave, but do you really want just anyone riding your coattail?

Or on the topic from the expert:

7 Tips to Finding “Your” Writing Voice | Jeffbullas’s Blog.

If you have any more insights on creating a personal brand online, please share them in the comment section. Looking forward to hearing from you!

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Arabs love to watch! video rules social media

Image

Content is king.  Video is Emperor in the Arab world.  Don’t wait for a Monitor Report on the matter. Check out the numbers of hits accumulated by regional youtube video production channels:

  • Saudi Satire video production machine “la yekthar” and Fahed Al Buthairi average a million hits per clip. They have 458,053 subscribers and 59,698,504 video views
  • Arab Idol’s youtube channel has 551,441 subscribers and 137,150,562 video views
  • Indie productions from Jordan “Bath Bayakha” averages 300k hits per video and are on their 3rd season

What this means is go video and you’re a hit.  It is that simple! And its not just entertainment, it is education, professional training, product demonstrations, service descriptions, workouts and lots more!

Tips for video:

  • Keep it brief.  1-3 minutes for a home-grown production, 3-5 if you have all the bells and whistle!
  • Front-load it – make the case upfront.. don’t drag on the intro.
  • Storyboard it – don’t be all over the place.. write a coherent script..
  • Keep it simple – business or entertainment, the simpler the better.
  • Know your audience – target it well. Don’t make it for everyone.

Last but not least, socialize it.  Its not enough to upload to twitter.. push it out to the social media sphere.

Enjoy being a youTube Star!

Who do you influence?

I’d like to think I have influence.. I’m certain we all do.. but what type of influence do we have online?

Business Insider Infographic - The Many Faces of Influence
Those with clout

Pick your profile from a lineup by Business Insider or define a new one..

  1. The Celebrity
  2. The Authority
  3. The Connector (me)
  4. The Personal Brand
  5. The Analyst
  6. The Activist (me again 🙂
  7. The Expert
  8. The Insider
  9. The Agitator
  10. The Journalist

I’d like to add

11. The Offender (not me but common around political social media circles)

12. The Authoritarian (those who want to bully everyone into submission to their personal opinions)

I’d define the two lateral categories as totally uncool!

How To Identify Social Media Influencers – Business Insider.

Like me do! engage your fans

Screen Shot 2013-05-14 at 8.50.48 AMTo like or not to like.. that’s the question facing millions on social media. Make it easy for your fans & followers.  This 5min video advice from the folks at Wildfire is useful.

  1. GIVE THEM EXCLUSIVE ACCESS TO  VIP CONTENT!
  2. Build a content calendar around real life events.. tie it to your brand (personal or professional)
  3. Stream .. don’t drip!  make it regular and ..
  4. Engage.. DIALOGUE don’t monologue

Cinco-de-Maya | Wildfire.

Thanks Wildfire!

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socializing business – where social cause meets social media

I believe that every business must go social. The benefits are too great to ignore.  Over the past five years I’ve worked with many aspiring social entrepreneurs and interacted with accomplished ones.  While I’m very passionate about GOOD business, it isn’t the only kind of social I advocate.

Socializing business is identifying the processes that can benefit from the power of the collective and socializing those business processes; in so doing, the business grows exponentially. Nothing enables that more than the social web.

A few years ago I set out looking for business models to support social entrepreneurs and this is what I arrived at:

Socializing Business
Socializing Business
  1. A methodology borrowed from Open Source & the most successful social institutions in history: Religious Institutions.
  2. A broader focus on the entrepreneur’s character and life story rather than on his/her professional achievements alone.
  3. Putting a spot light on the business values and engaging stakeholders in conversations about them to hold the business accountable to them.
  4. Socializing the business core values and targets through relevant social media channels.

More to follow on the model in future posts..

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Silence and Word

Message for the 46th World Communications Day, Benedict XVI.

As we draw near to World Communications Day 2012, I would like to share with you some reflections concerning an aspect of the human process of communication which, despite its importance, is often overlooked and which, at the present time, it would seem especially necessary to recall. It concerns the relationship between silence and word: two aspects of communication which need to be kept in balance, to alternate and to be integrated with one another if authentic dialogue and deep closeness between people are to be achieved. When word and silence become mutually exclusive, communication breaks down, either because it gives rise to confusion or because, on the contrary, it creates an atmosphere of coldness; when they complement one another, however, communication acquires value and meaning.

Silence is an integral element of communication; in its absence, words rich in content cannot exist. In silence, we are better able to listen to and understand ourselves; ideas come to birth and acquire depth; we understand with greater clarity what it is we want to say and what we expect from others; and we choose how to express ourselves. By remaining silent we allow the other person to speak, to express him or herself; and we avoid being tied simply to our own words and ideas without them being adequately tested. In this way, space is created for mutual listening, and deeper human relationships become possible. It is often in silence, for example, that we observe the most authentic communication taking place between people who are in love: gestures, facial expressions and body languageare signsby which they reveal themselves to each other. Joy, anxiety, and suffering can all be communicated in silence – indeed it provides them with a particularly powerful mode of expression. Silence, then, gives rise to even more active communication, requiring sensitivity and a capacity to listen that often makes manifest the true measure and nature of the relationships involved. When messages and information are plentiful, silence becomes essential if we are to distinguish what is important from what is insignificant or secondary.Deeper reflection helps us to discover the links between events that at first sight seem unconnected, to make evaluations, to analyze messages; this makes it possible to share thoughtful and relevant opinions, giving rise to an authentic body of shared knowledge. For this to happen, it is necessary to develop an appropriate environment, a kind of ‘eco-system’ that maintains a just equilibrium between silence, words, images and sounds.

The process of communication nowadays is largely fuelled by questions in search of answers. Search engines and social networks have become the starting point of communication for many people who are seeking advice, ideas, information and answers. In our time, the internet is becoming ever more a forum for questions and answers – indeed, people today are frequently bombarded with answers to questions they have never asked and to needs of which they were unaware. If we are to recognize and focus upon the truly important questions, then silence is a precious commodity that enables us to exercise proper discernment in the face of the surcharge of stimuli and data that we receive. Amid the complexity and diversity of the world of communications, however, many people find themselves confronted with the ultimate questions of human existence: Who am I? What can I know? What ought I to do? What may I hope? It is important to affirm those who ask these questions, and to open up the possibility of a profound dialogue, by means of words and interchange, but also through the call to silent reflection, something that is often more eloquent than a hasty answer and permits seekers to reach into the depths of their being and open themselves to the path towards knowledge that God has inscribed in human hearts.

Ultimately, this constant flow of questions demonstrates the restlessness of human beings, ceaselessly searching for truths, of greater or lesser import, that can offer meaning and hope to their lives. Men and women cannot rest content with a superficial and unquestioning exchange of skeptical opinions and experiences of life – all of us are in search of truth and we share this profound yearning today more than ever: “When people exchange information, they are already sharing themselves, their view of the world, their hopes, their ideals” (Message for the 2011 World Day of Communications).

Attention should be paid to the various types of websites, applications and social networks which can help people today to find time for reflection and authentic questioning, as well as making space for silence and occasions for prayer, meditation or sharing of the word of God. In concise phrases, often no longer than a verse from the Bible, profound thoughts can be communicated, as long as those taking part in the conversation do not neglect to cultivate their own inner lives. It is hardly surprising that different religious traditions consider solitude and silence as privileged states which help people to rediscover themselves and that Truth which gives meaning to all things. The God of biblical revelation speaks also without words: “As the Cross of Christ demonstrates, God also speaks by his silence. The silence of God, the experience of the distance of the almighty Father, is a decisive stage in the earthly journey of the Son of God, the incarnate Word …. God’s silence prolongs his earlier words. In these moments of darkness, he speaks through the mystery of his silence”(Verbum Domini,21). The eloquence of God’s love, lived to the point of the supreme gift, speaks in the silence of the Cross. After Christ’s death there is a great silence over the earth, and on Holy Saturday, when “the King sleeps and God slept in the flesh and raised up those who were sleeping from the ages”(cf. Office of Readings, Holy Saturday), God’s voice resounds, filled with love for humanity.

If God speaks to us even in silence, we in turn discover in silence the possibility of speaking with God and about God. “We need that silence which becomes contemplation, which introduces us into God’s silence and brings us to the point where the Word, the redeeming Word, is born” (Homily, Eucharistic Celebration with Members of the International Theological Commission, 6 October 2006). In speaking of God’s grandeur, our language will always prove inadequate and must make space for silent contemplation. Out of such contemplation springs forth, with all its inner power, the urgent sense of mission, the compelling obligation to communicate that which we have seen and heard” so that all may be in communion with God (1 Jn 1:3). Silent contemplation immerses us in the source of that Love who directs us towards our neighbours so that we may feel their suffering and offer them the light of Christ, his message of life and his saving gift of the fullness of love.

In silent contemplation, then, the eternal Word, through whom the world was created, becomes ever more powerfully present and we become aware of the plan of salvation that God is accomplishing throughout our history by word and deed. As the Second Vatican Council reminds us, divine revelation is fulfilled by “deeds and words having an inner unity: the deeds wrought by God in the history of salvation manifest and confirm the teaching and realities signified by the words, while the words proclaim the deeds and clarify the mystery contained in them”(Dei Verbum,2).This plan of salvation culminates in the person of Jesus of Nazareth, the mediator and the fullness of all revelation. He has made known to us the true face of God the Father and by his Cross and Resurrection has brought us from the slavery of sin and death to the freedom of the children of God. The fundamental question of the meaning of human existence finds in the mystery of Christ an answer capable of bringing peace to the restless human heart. The Church’s mission springs from this mystery; and it is this mystery which impels Christians to become heralds of hope and salvation, witnesses of that love which promotes human dignity and builds justice and peace.

Word and silence: learning to communicate is learning to listen and contemplate as well as speak. This is especially important for those engaged in the task of evangelization: both silence and word are essential elements, integral to the Church’s work of communication for the sake of a renewed proclamation of Christ in today’s world. To Mary, whose silence “listens to the Word and causes it to blossom”(Private Prayer at the Holy House, Loreto, 1 September 2007), I entrust all the work of evangelization which the Church undertakes through the means of social communication.

From the Vatican, 24 January 2012, Feast of Saint Francis de Sales.