Non-Profit Feature for March – Bear Necessities Pediatric Cancer Foundation

Hey all!

I’m excited to talk about this non-profit organization based in Chicago that my family personally had experience with…

Bear Necessities Pediatric Cancer Foundation

Bear Necessities

They are an amazing organization and they have done so much for children.  Kathleen Casey CEO/Founder started the organization in 1992 in honor of her son Barrett “Bear” Krupa.

The organization provides support to pediatric cancer patients with programs designed to create hope and to eliminate pediatric cancer.

They have 2 main programs: Bear Hugs and Bear Discoveries.

Bear Hugs

A customized experience they grant to the child to brighten their life through the horrendous experiences of hospital-stays and chemotherapy.  This is when my family experienced Bear Necessities Pediatric Cancer Foundation.  The social worker at the hospital contacted them and they contacted my daughter who was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) in January 2010, she was 5 years old at the time.  The Bear Hug could be anything the child desired maybe a new toy or to meet a celebrity.

We had a challenge for them.  My daughter, Amelie, had expressed interest in playing a musical instrument.  We tossed a few ideas like piano, violin, guitar… and she shouted VIOLIN!  Okay… I was sure that this was the first Bear Hug of it’s kind.  They worked it out to my amazement.  They contacted Sherwood Community Music School at Columbia College in Chicago and Susan Cook agreed to provide her with her own violin and lessons!

Is that awesome or what?

Now if you haven’t experienced a child going through cancer, something such as an experience as this is a miracle.  People are donating their time and effort for my little girl.  Cancer is scary and especially for a child.  To have the experience of having her own personal violin teacher come to the house for private lessons and her very own violin.  AMAZING!

Emilia Blaszak, is the best violin teacher ever!  She made the lessons fun.  She drove all over Chicago and Chicagoland area to meet with so many students.  Talk about dedication to children and the arts.

The experience gave my child confidence and hope that life would be better.  That was the biggest Bear Hug she could ever get.

Take a look at Amelie and Emilia in their newsletter here.
Precious moments!

Bear Discoveries

This program awards medical research grants to junior investigative researchers to help find a CURE and improvements of therapy.

Isn’t that a wonderful thought?  A world with NO cancer.

If you’re able to give to this worthy cause or if you want to spread the word of the tremendous work Bear Necessities Pediatric Cancer Foundation does, please do.

retweetbutton

Pediatric cancer sucks!  Tweet this!

Organizations like Bear Necessities know what cancer is and all their efforts do make a difference!

Have you ever had an experience with a non-profit that is just near and dear to your heart because they show they actually CARE?

Tell me about them in the comments.  I would love to hear all about them.

Blessings,

Lillian De Jesus

5 Tips for Non-Profits to Make Donating Easy

Isn’t it human nature to want to make things better in this world?  Even if we find ourselves so busy we can’t help people directly in need there are always organizations out there to provide services that are needed.  Thus providing an opportunity for everyone to help indirectly.  Even helping “behind the scenes” or indirectly makes us feel a little better, that we somehow have made a contribution in this world with a donation.

It’s hard to find the right organization to donate to since there are so many needs out there.  However people always tend to go with an organization that resonates with them and tugs at their heart.

Have you ever had a desire to donate to an organization and you get stumped? 

I mean you can’t find where to donate or you get to the donate page and you can only provide a credit card but you don’t have your wallet with you.  Ugh! That is so frustrating…  You have it in your heart to donate and you want to help the cause but their website is just not user-friendly.  This is BAD!

I’ve come across so many organizations that I’ve run into this problem however I will not reveal their names.  I will provide some non-profits that are completely on target with their donation efforts.  Take a look at the Slideshare below!


5 Tips:

  1. The donate button must be prominent on the homepage of the website.  Even better is to have several buttons on the page especially above the fold.  The Michael J. Fox Foundation does an awesome job in doing this.
  2. Make sure you describe what donations go to along with your Mission statement on the homepage.  Photos related to the cause really help.  People shouldn’t have to go to the About page.  The fewer clicks the better.
  3. Once a person is on the donate page, what payment options are you giving them?  Definitely credit card is an option BUT what if the person does NOT have their wallet handy?  Uh-oh.  Hesitancy comes into play.  They can have second thoughts or they just make a mental note to go back to the website another time.  These possibilities shouldn’t happen.
  4. Use a Paypal button or Razoo widget.  To embed the button or widget is free.  The transaction fee is a flat rate of 4.9% for Razoo and here’s a chart of PayPal’s 2 part breakdown.

paypal rates5.   Make your site mobile-user friendly by making a mobile website,            responsive website, or a mobile app.  Check out the details on                  making it mobile friendly as suggested on Forbes.

Making the donation process easy will help bring in more referrals and continual support of the cause.  I’m so glad St. Jude Children’s Foundation has an excellent donation page.

If you’re just starting up a 501(c)3, please be sure to implement these tips to your website.  There are so many great causes that can have impact on lives and if you’re not getting the donations you need then you’re doing those people a great disservice.

I hope these tips bring some insight on how to make it easy for donors to donate.  If you have any tips that are not listed here, I’d love to hear from you.  Leave a comment!

Blessings,

Lillian De Jesus

FREE Social Media Graphic Design For Small Businesses

All business owners must think about marketing their business on various social media platforms such as: Google+, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

HOW do you get your customer’s attention to read your blog post or promotion on the social media platforms?

By adding a photo or design to call their attention.  People are more interested in reading a post or promotion with a related photo or graphic.

For example, if you have a bakery and you want to promote the sale on your delicious chocolate covered strawberries.

Which of these would you want to read?

Hey there! We have a sale on our delicious chocolate covered strawberries.  Be sure to stop by the Awesome Bakery and pick some up for your special occasion.

OR

chocolate covered strawberry

Hey there!  We have a sale on our delicious chocolate covered strawberries.  Be sure to stop by the Awesome Bakery and pick some up for your special occasion.

Photos make such a huge difference.  The first post was boring and most people would just scroll down their social media posts without even batting an eye.  It would definitely get missed.

Now I know what you’re thinking, I’m a small business owner or entrepreneur and I do NOT have time to look for photos to post online.  If you really can’t find the time to post to the social media outlets then let a Virtual Assistant handle that for you.  You need to use social media to help find potential customers and keep your current customers updated with what’s going on in your business.

There are a couple of great applications to use that are perfect for small business owners.  If you don’t have a graphic designer handy or have knowledge in Adobe Photoshop then Canva and PicMonkey can do your business good.

Canva vs PicMonkey

I have used both Canva and PicMonkey.  I must say it’s really hard for me to say which one I like best but I’m leaning towards Canva.

Here’s the breakdown on what’s clever on Canva.

  • Go to www.canva.com and this is what you’ll see once you register:

Canva Home

They have different templates you can work off of under, “Start a new design”.  When you choose Social Media or any other design it will take you to a new screen where they give you many template options to use.  There is also a search bar to find an image you’re looking for and I feel that this is the awesome part of Canva that you can’t get from PicMonkey. They have so many photos and images to choose from, most of which are FREE and if they’re not free they are only $1. LOVE IT!  You don’t need to use their images if you don’t want to and if you have one of your own it’s no problem with uploading it.  Take a look at the blank canvas below before starting a creation.

Create on Canva

Images

Let’s say you want to go straight into searching for a graphic.  I searched for cake in the mini-video below and it’s AMAZING how many images pop up and my scrolling seemed almost endless.  They are all very nice quality images and are all $1.

Cake Search on Canva

Now if you ever search for images online, it can be a little time consuming getting the exact image you’re looking for.  You can search Google images but then you need to go to the Search Tools for the Usage Rights tab to find out which images can be used with modification as shown below.

Google Image Search

Now I’m cheap and I have no problem in saying that so when I search for an image I tend to look at Google first then go to Free Range or Pixabay.  I know a lot of people use Flickr and if they are okay with paying a little they use Shutterstock.  It really is your preference and being able to find what you want.

Create

Now you’re a business owner and you created this business or brand.  Let’s use your imagination to bring the image you want to life into something eye-catching to get someone’s attention.

Take a look at one of my creations for one of my blog posts for the Top 10 Customer Service Tips.  I found a stick figure drawing for communication, added my text, and my colors to an existing template Canva had and voila!

Top 10 Customer Service Tips

Now if you don’t have an image or photo and you want to use a logo to work around, it’s easy too.  Here’s what I did for my blog post on The Importance of Google+ for businesses.

The Importance of G+

Let’s go back to the bakery business, I want to do a quick ad about cakes.  I picked out a template and chose a photo from the cake search.  This is what I created.

I love cake

Oh yeah baby!  I love cake from the Awesome Bakery (the bakery in my dreams). Isn’t it stylish and cool?

Creation Checklist:

  • Search for image
  • Pick out Layout (Choose the color you want)
  • Add Text (Choose from so MANY fonts)
  • If you don’t want to use a Layout and want a stylish background you have that option.
  • If you want to use your own image, you can Upload it.
  • You can directly Share with your Twitter and Facebook followers.
  • You can Link & Publish to download the graphic to use later with your blog or post to your social media networks.  It also gives you an option to email a friend to make any edits.

NOTE: You should always mark your graphic with your website link or company name.  Once you publicize it then it’s out there for the world.  If they use your photo then that’s good, as long as you have your “mark” on it.

PicMonkey

AND in this corner… PicMonkey!

PicMonkey is very cool, again just like Canva you don’t need to be an artist or graphic designer to use it.  It’s very easy to use.  PicMonkey has been around a little longer.  From what I can gather, PicMonkey came out in 2012 and Canva in 2013.

The first difference between PicMonkey and Canva is that you don’t need to login to get a quick edit done.  That’s nice when you’re in a RUSH!  I’ve done that when I forgot to add a line of text on my image.  They give you options in the big red box below: Edit, Touch Up, Image, and Collage.  In the smaller box, you’ll notice that they have a little warning about their ads – Royale users don’t see these ads. Upgrade to Royale!  There are other benefits to being a Royale member such as numerous other effects, textures, and fonts.

PicMonkey Home

With the Edit, Touch Up, and Collage buttons, they all give the same options to upload a photo or image.  You can choose Computer, Dropbox, Facebook, or Flickr.

Create

Once you select a photo, they actually have a few sample photos to choose from so I chose one of a dog.  There is no search bar for images on PicMonkey.

Choose Photo for PicMonkey

As you can see, PicMonkey has a bit more sophisticated look and more features.

Create in PicMonkey

Under Effects – the options seem endless, now some of them fall into the Royale upgrade so you’d have to pay for it but if it gives you what you’re looking for it’s well worth the $4.99/month or $33/year.  Look what I can do using the Effects.

I used 2 categories: Area and Artsy to move into my focal area and used a grainy texture.  There is so much more you can do with this photo!

Effects

Now if you have a person in a photo you can use the Touch Up option.  You can fix some pimples and lose weight there.  WOW!

The other options are: Overlays, Frames, Textures, and Themes.  In each option there are so many ideas, there’s even a Zombie feature.  I won’t turn the dog into a zombie, I like his dream-like feel.  Here’s a before & after shot of the dog.

BEFORE

dog

AFTER

Depressed

Looks a lot different than the before photo, right?

Take your business as great as your imagination!  Show off your personality AND promote your business the way you want.

You can’t go wrong with these FREE apps, give them a try and let me know which one you prefer.

Blessings,

Lillian De Jesus

Stimulating Sunday – Life Lesson

This is where I blog about something silly yet stimulating and let you know what the life lesson is.   The life lesson can help you with your personal and/or professional lives.

February 23, 2014

If you’ve been following my blog, you’ll know that I live in the country and nature surrounds me.  I love it because I see so many types of animals.  We have wild turkeys that pass through the yard every day.  YES, WILD TURKEYS.  They almost look like vultures because they are not that colorful like the ones on television.  I believe they are females since they are kind of ugly.  I was always told that the colorful and pretty birds were male to attract females.  Not sure if that’s true… Anyhow the one detail that I noticed is that there is never one alone. EVER!  As soon as I see one peeking out of the woods, I wonder wow why is that one by itself and THEN here comes the tribe.  They are very smart and strategic.  The one comes out of the woods and scopes the area out to be sure they are all in the clear.  Then it waits for all the others to come out single file line one by one carefully to move away from the woods and across the street into the field.  Then the “look-out” follows all the rest of them.Wild Turkeys

It’s quite amazing if you think about it.  They work together and being sure they stick together without any one of them getting hurt or left behind.  That reminds me of the Disney movie, “Lilo & Stitch”, you know what they say “Ohana” means family and no one gets left behind or forgotten.  Those turkeys really know the meaning of Ohana.

Then it made me think about how humans have the “Me, Myself, & I” mentality and think they’ll get far with that attitude.  Seriously, that negative attitude will get you in trouble.  A friend of mine was having a hard day and said, “I don’t care about anyone and THEIR problems!”  Whoa!!  My heart was crushed…  That’s the reason why that person is so down and having a hard day.

TWEET THIS!

The attitude you have in life can either make you drown or float. 

YES, I think I’ll float. Thank you very much!

I’ll let you in on a secret of life – You can’t do everything yourself, not even life.  Even if you are a complete and utter introvert, you still have your familiar 1-3 cohort that you rely on.  You really shouldn’t do life alone.  I mean even God created Eve for Adam.  Life is much too hard to be on your own.  EVERYONE needs someone.  That’s love.  Love is much needed in life, that’s what life is.

If you find yourself hating the world and life becoming much too hard to deal with.  Remember you’re not in it alone.  There is someone that loves you and cares for you.  There is someone in the same boat as you.  When you start feeling down and nothing is going your way during the day, remind yourself that there is good, joy, love, and positive things in life.  Only YOU can make the happiness that will create a beautiful day and outlook on life.  I know it seems sappy but it’s the honest TRUTH.  You have to love yourself to love others and you have to look for the good in situations.  Believe me, I’ve seen children with cancer firsthand and I have seen traumatic horrifying events.  Does this change my attitude on life?  Not at all because it was then when I had seen that you can’t do life alone.  Hold on to what you have in loving relationships and friendships because they are so precious.  There is a reason for everything.

I hope this wasn’t too mushy, sappy, or uncomfortable for you but I think that we all need a bit of a reminder now and then how attitude can make such a difference in our lives.

Attitude is something you take wherever you go – to work, to school, to the grocery store, in the car, etc.  Think about where you need to tweak your attitude.  It makes all the difference!

  • Have you ever been in a difficult situation and say, “I don’t want to be here!”  How do you react?
  • Have you felt so lonely you just didn’t know what to do?   Who do you go to?
  • Have you ever felt like a TURKEY?  That’s right be that turkey not that chicken.  LOL – Oh man, I crack myself up!  Wow, no pun intended.

Seriously, let me know how your attitude has been lately.

Blessings,

Lillian De Jesus

The Importance of Google+ for Small Businesses

Are you going gaga for Google+?  Google+ can be intimidating at first but it has very important uses for business.  Therefore it is important to learn.

Google is an amazing company and their Google+ platform is taking off tremendously.  It’s not just another social media site and it’s true Facebook has a lot more activity however Google+ should not to be ignored.  Especially if you have a small business!

When you have a small business to run, it’s imperative to get your business out there in the social media realm.

Let’s start with HOW it works:

  • Go to Google – create a Google+ profile, you’ll find it at the top right corner.  Once created,  click +(Your Name).

Google+Profile

It’s that simple.  When you use Google+, you’ll find step-by-step instructions on how to create Circles (people you know or follow), creating your Tagline, and your Bragging Rights.  Make sure your profile is completely filled in with your location, education, and work.

Okay now that you have that set-up.  On the left side, you’ll see a button that says Home as you can see below:

Google Home screenshot

  • Click on the Home Button and you have a drop-down menu.
  • Click on Pages, this is where you’ll be prompted to create a business or personal page.

Google Pages Button

When you create a business page, it will ask what kind of industry and if you want to list local.

Pick Category

For any small businesses that don’t have their website together yet and you have a business that people need to come to you, the first option would be best (Local Business or Place).  This will list you in Google search depending on location to the searcher.  Let’s face it, when you are in need of a service what do you do?   You look it up online.  If it’s a small business that doesn’t have a website how else will you find them.  For example, I’m looking for a towing service.  See what comes up in my search below.

towing service map

Now I know there are a lot more services near my home but they don’t show up.  Businesses who’ve taken the time to set up Google+ location will be listed in the map marked in alpha order.  I highlighted the first 3 and those are not even close to where I live BUT those are the businesses that took the time to place themselves on the Google map.  Let’s look at the example below of a business that took a bit of time to set up Google+ page.

Google+ business info

Guess what no website BUT they have a Google+ page where you can see the location on the map, address, phone number, hours of business, and REVIEWS.  That means you can have customers put in their reviews for others to see on how much they love your business!   Word of mouth referrals are the BEST.

So… I just want to make it clear if you don’t have a website then at least do a Google+ page.  Get on the map!  You’re losing business not doing this.

Having a Google+ page doesn’t stop there.  Oh no! 

  • There are Communities you can join depending on your interests and you can network with people and businesses just like yours.
  • Add people to your Circles – Circles are categorized sections of people you know that are on Google+ too.  You can have Circles for family, acquaintances, people you “follow” (that means you’re interested in what they have to say so you follow them to get notifications when they post something on their page).
  • Posts – Post something interesting with a photo to share publicly.  If someone likes it they’ll click on the little +1 button.
  • Create events – Why not invite some people to your Grand Opening? For example, if you live in Greece, you could’ve went to the European Music Day shown below.  How cool is that?  Sorry I missed it but it looks like 15 people enjoyed it.

Visit Greece

Plan a Hangout – Once you have a good amount of people in your Circles this is good to use to chat with them and see them.  Maybe you have a new product you want to talk about and get their feedback.  Check out Hubble Space Telescope, they’re doing Hangouts once a month.

Hubble

There are SO many things you can do on Google+.  Give it a try for your business.

If you are currently using it, let me know in the comments.  I’d like to know how you feel about it and if it works for you!

Take care and Blessings,

Lillian De Jesus