Blog

2018

Thank You email for Faces of Hope fundraising breakfast

Below is an email that I wrote and designed for Volunteers of America. The email was sent to those who attended our Faces of Hope fundraising breakfast a few weeks ago. This is the second thank you email that they received. We emailed them a few hours after the event to say thanks for coming.  I wanted donors to have clear steps of ways they can give back if they felt inspired. I also wanted to use donor centric uplifting language. I tried to keep the tone casual and friendly. 

Results:
It was sent to 89 people and 28 of those people opened it (34% open rate) and 2 people clicked on the email. 

Thank you email to donors who attended our fundraising breakfast. 

From: Becky 
Sent: Friday, November 30, 2018 12:04 PM
To: Debbie Gillum Debbie.Gillum@voago.org
Subject: Let’s keep the momentum going!

Dear Debbie,

You can keep the momentum going from the Faces of Hope breakfast.

• Because of you, Mike, a U.S. Navy Veteran, found a home to call his own and a meaningful job helping others.
• Because of you, Mike exemplified the restoration of hope, in this world that we share.
• And, because of you, countless others have found a home, a support system, and hope for a brighter future.

“You gave me shelter when I needed it. You gave me tools to help me turn my life around. And here you are today, giving more blessings.” – Mike
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You are the best ambassador for our organization. Remember, there’s three easy ways you can make an impact:

Share Mike’s story with others to inspire positive change in our community.
Sign up to be a 2019 Table Captain. Contact me for information and a tool kit.
Come take a tour or host a tour for your friends and colleagues. Contact me to schedule a date and time convenient for you.
By the way, don’t forget to keep using that beautiful blue Volunteers of America Ohio & Indiana pen. But most of all, thank YOU for giving people in our community the opportunity to reach their full potential.

Debbie, because of your support our community is stronger. Thank you.

DONATE | GET INVOLVED

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© 2018 Volunteers of America – All Rights Reserved. 1776 E. Broad St., Columbus, Ohio 43203, 614-253-6100
We are designated tax-exempt under section 501(c)3 of the Internal Revenue Code.

2018, work, work sample

Giving Tuesday

Happy Giving Tuesday!   aka That-Day-Every-Nonprofit-Asks-or-Begs-For-Money

TL;DR: I was disappointed that we didn’t see more engagement on Giving Tuesday but now we have a new opportunity to do better with our upcoming End of Year giving campaign. 

I admit Giving Tuesday was a bit anti-climatic, what with all the hype starting, back in the summer. I subscribe to a lot of non profit marketing newsletters and I can’t count the number of emails and webinars claiming to spell out the perfect Giving Tuesday strategy. It’s like Black Friday for retailers.   (Side note to retailers: Cyber Tuesday is not a thing. Let us have this one day.) 
For this year, I admit we didn’t spend as much time as we could’ve strategizing about how to differentiate ourselves among the #GivingTuesday herd. We used a lot of the images that National (voa.org or Volunteers of America, versus the affiliate Volunteers of America Ohio & Indiana that I work at) provided to us. I made a couple of unique images for us in Canva.  I didn’t use the copy from National exactly because I felt it wasn’t uplifting, donor centric or on-brand for us. I wrote my own variations. 
I spent like half of Monday last week sitting down, and scheduling out in AgoraPulse all our Thanksgiving and Giving Tuesday social media posts. We’ve got two Twitters, two Instagrams, a Facebook page plus 9 thrift store Facebook pages- oh, and LinkedIn, so it’s a lot.  By the end, I was really proud of myself. I had laid out and scheduled in advance these important posts across all our channels. And, I did some boosting of posts and events on Instagram and Facebook as well as ran some Facebook Ads. We spent about $100. 
In my head, since I put so much time and effort into these posts and thought I did a great job, I naively expected to be overwhelmed with Likes, Comments, Shares and Messages saying “Wow this social media post changed my life!” (Just kidding on that last one. I’m not quite that delusional.)
Alas, it was pretty much crickets.  One woman did comment how she didn’t want to donate on Facebook and that she would donate “thru her nank.” I think she meant to say bank. Yeah, not the engagement I was hoping for.  

I told my boyfriend Nate about this on the phone today and saying it all out loud helped me realize that I can’t get bent out of shape over people not engaging or responding to my posts. That’s social media, ya’ll. That’s life. 
Keep in mind, these were mostly posts about giving, donating, fundraising. These were not the most hilarious, shareable, viral posts. 
Thinking more about it, we don’t typically do these hard-asks of “Donate Now!”  of our audience. I try to share meaningful and positive posts, celebrating our amazing supporters. I try to do the Jab, Jab, Punch method of sprinkling, or jabbing, helpful content and then here in November and December we do more punching with the Give Back posts. 

When one campaign ends, another begins. Giving Tuesday is out and now End of Year giving is in.  Okay, in an ideal world of butterflies and rainbows, I’d already have this campaign all figured out, but we merged our affiliate with Indiana this summer, I got a new boss, our team has grown and things have been hectic across the organization. All I can do is focus on the now. Today, I used a Creative Brief template that my old boss, Stephanie, came up with and that we used before. It’s helpful for me to use to spell out the

  • Goal
  • Objective
  • Tone
  • Creative
  • Deliverables
  • Look & Feel
  • Assets

 of the campaign.  I like to say that it helps me get my ducks in a row (this is my new favorite phrase. I just like picturing a bunch of scattered ducks and me herding them into a single file line.) 

On our nine thrift store Facebook pages, I shared this post to let folks know about Giving Tuesday and to ask them to donate online or on Facebook. 
Uncategorized

A little social media fun

Social media should be fun and playful.
When I saw this Volunteers of America Michigan hat in our thrift store, I knew I wanted to have some fun with them on Instagram. I chose Instagram because it’s one of our most active platforms and a space where we as a brand choose to take more risks and be playful.
Plus, I know the young woman who runs VOA Michigan’s social media and knew she’d be up for a little bit of good spirited fun.

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Okay, so we’re not Wendy’s level of sassy but that’s okay.

2018, Uncategorized

Why VOA? My Employee Spotlight

I was asked to do a short video by the national branch of Volunteers of America for their weekly Friday Bulletin email. They wanted me to talk about why I work at Volunteers of America, which was an easy topic for me to talk about. Below is the video I filmed in my office:

I was flattered by how many employees noticed and shared it. One person asked me for my autograph. Haha!

Capture

Capture

In addition to the email newsletter, that’s sent to all affiliates, they also shared it on their social media channels. Does this mean I’m famous now?

Capture

I didn’t think it would be too selfish if I retweeted it on our Twitter.

Capture

2018, blog, blog post, blogpost, myblog, Uncategorized

Glamours of air travel

Doodles about my crazy morning trying to get to Houston.
You catch more bees with honey than vinegar.
You’re capable of more than you think, especially when you’re not afraid to ask for help.
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It started this morning at 6 am, when Nate drove me to the airport. I boarded my American Airlines flight at 8:30am, ready to head to Dallas where I’d have a one-hour layover then catch a connection to Houston. I was looking forward to seeing my Aunt Susan and the rest of my family. Then, I would drive to Dallas for a work conference.

Sitting on the flight, about to take off, the pilot loudly announces that there’s an issue with one of the navigation instruments and that maintenance is looking into it. An hour goes by. The pilot comes back on to tell us they can’t fix it and we have to get off the plane. As we trudge off back into the terminal, a gate agent hands us pre printed postcards with a hotline to call and info about our options.

I’m naive about flying and honestly thought they would direct us to a new plane and the flight would leave immediately. I started to follow the people in front of me until I realized they didn’t know anything that I didn’t know at that moment. I’m such a follower. Instead of going to a new plane, we all stood in a long line waiting to speak to the gate agent to make other arrangements.
My first thought was panic. What do I do? I’m alone. I can’t do this. I don’t know. I can feel my breathing growing shallow and felt very aware of the other passengers all paired up, helping each other book new travel plans.
I texted my mom and dad to tell them what happened, looking to them for advice. My mom told me to talk to the gate agent. My dad told me to take a Southwest flight. He researched flights and told me about one that was leaving at noon. By now it was 9am.
I got a text message from American saying my flight to Dallas was delayed until 12:30pm. If I took that American flight, then I’d just be stranded in Dallas. I had a choice to stick with American, try to get rebooked somehow or switch to Southwest.

The guy behind me in the non-moving line to speak with a service agent, was talking about the 12:30pm flight and I asked if he knew anything more and he said he’d gotten rebooked by calling the 800 number. So, I put away my hesitation to call the 800 number and dialed. I politely gave the woman on the other end of the phone my record locator number. I think these phone reps have such a hard job and deal with so many jerks. The least I can do, is not be a jerk to them. Especially because I need them to help me. The representative told me there was a flight got Houston leaving at 3pm, laying over in North Carolina and arriving in Houston at 7pm. That itinerary sounded terrible. She said I could always cancel my reservation and book with another airline. So that was it. I called my dad and over the phone, we booked the Southwest flight. Scribbling on the back of my ticket I wrote down my confirmation number and my immediate to do list.

  • Cancel American flight. Only cancel inbound flight, not return flight.
  • Call Volunteers of America.
  • Call Aunt Susan.
  • Call Nate.
I ran through my list of people I needed to tell about this and then exited the American terminal. I could finally breathe easy, I’d overcome this hurdle.
Not yet. Dad texted me saying he’d booked the flight for tomorrow, not today. I stared at my phone in disbelief. This wasn’t happening.
My dad apologized and told me there was a similar flight available for today. I went to the Southwest Airlines gate and to my surprise, there wasn’t a line to speak with an agent. Instead of telling the representative the whole story of this morning, I said that I’d like to change my reservation. She pulled up my flight and I told her I’d like to be booked on Flight 38. I held my breath. I expected a firm “no, that flight is booked.” It would be too easy if this were to work. She looked up at me and said “yes, we can do that.” She printed my boarding pass and wished Ms.Gillum a nice flight.
And so, here I am, in the Southwest gate waiting for this new flight. Going thru airport security twice in one day seems like cruel and unusual punishment. I’m thankful for my smartphone, for decent strangers, for my dad helping me so much, for my Aunt Susan being flexible and for my work for being understanding.

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My “I’m tired, maybe I should’ve just driven” face 

2018, social media, Uncategorized

Our new thrift store employee

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This photo embodies what I think thrifty social media marketing is. The pic was texted to me by a thrift store manager this morning after I stopped in last week to say hello. Since I started a year and a half ago, I formed a relationship with her by coming into her store frequently. I listened, talked with her and got to know her staff. She knows she can send me pictures to post on social media. That’s easier for her than emailing the pictures to me or posting herself on her store’s Facebook page (yes, I trust her with her Facebook page.) She was telling me how they had a Justin Beiber cutout donated a while ago and the staff had some fun before the store opened taking photos of him.  I can’t be in the stores 24/7 to capture moments like this. I need managers and staff to know how important social media is and that I can’t do it without them. There’s something refreshing and authentic about a Facebook post with no call to action, no link to an outside website, and no filter. It’s just a photo that’s playful, relatable, funny and shareable.

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2018, marketing, Uncategorized

September Thrift Email Newsletter

Below is the September Thrift Newsletter that we emailed out on Tuesday, Sept. 18. Formatting wise, I promise it looked better in email inboxes, than it does here.
I’m proud of the copy in the opening paragraphs and the blog posts. I wrote the first and third blog posts. I wrote the blog post about upcyling fall decorations last year and the blog post about the truths of a thrift store on Monday.

 

Debbie's Den

Hey Debbie,
It’s Debbie, your trusty guide for all things thrift!

It’s a bummer to see the summer months leave but at the same time, who doesn’t love the early signs of fall? Falling leaves, falling temperatures and the regular falling prices you’ll find only at one of our thrift stores. 

You’re sure to find autumnal fashions your whole family will love, like jeans, scarves, vests or sweaters. And because our prices are so low, you’re able to buy fall clothing and accessories with money left over. But more importantly, shopping at Volunteers of America helps uplift homeless veterans, families and individuals across Ohio.

Donate. Thrift. Give Hope. Repeat.  

Happy thrifting!

Fall decorations you can upcycle from the thrift store

As the leaves begin to change color here in Ohio, the holiday decorating season looms ahead. Thrift stores are full of so many things you can use to decorate with around the house. With a little upcycling you can give all your thrifted finds a new life. Learn how to spice up your pumpkin a latte so that you’ll wow all of the trick-or-treaters.

Fall Decorations You Can Upcycle from your local Columbus Th

Six tips to fall clean like a pro

When was the last time you cleaned out your closet? How about your whole home? As the seasons change, fall is the perfect time to finally tackle that overstuffed closet or clear out your cluttered garage. And with Christmas right around the corner, Volunteers of America of Greater Ohio thrift stores are in huge need of donations to fill their shelves.

Donate to Volunteers of America for a clean home and strong
 

The secret truth about thrift stores

It shouldn’t be a big secret how thrift stores operate, sort donations and how much they value the clothes and household items donated by community members like you. The proceeds of Volunteers of America thrift stores support life-saving programs for community members in need.

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Save 50% on everything next week!

On Tuesday, Sept. 25, everything inside all of our thrift stores will be half-off! This includes furniture, showcase items, new products and miscellaneous items. It’s all 50 percent off!

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2018, marketing, Uncategorized

Women in Digital Conference 2018

I went to my third Women in Digital conference last Thursday and Friday. My favorite part is always meeting new women who are total bosses at what they do. They inspire me to be more confident and a better digital marketer. I also like staying up to date on trends, best practices and hearing what other companies are doing.

I wanted to take a moment to share some of my notes and photos from the conference.
First, photos:

These are the notes I took during the Power Hours. My strategy at the conference was to go to the Power Hours because those would not be recorded. I will watch the recorded main stage presentations later.

Social Media
Olivia De Leon, Sr. Marketing Consultant at Rational Interaction

  • When working with influencers, have an influencer agreement with dates, goals of impressions or engagement, clarification about content ownership, requirements to see proofs ahead of time and spell out a set number of edits allowed.
    • Pay to boost the influencer’s post. Win-win for them and you. 
  • SMS is the new email 
    • Personally, I have hesitations about this intrusive form of communication but I recognize it has benefits when used sparingly.
  • To track in-store success of online efforts, use offers and codes
    • Okay, not ground-breaking advice but useful to remember
  • Let your followers define your hashtag. Ask them
    • “I #VoaThrift because…”  or “I’m #aeriereal because I love my freckles” 
    • Weekly use of the hashtag
  • Aerie did a campaign in the summer where when followers used #aeriereal they would donate $1 to National Eating Disorder Awareness non-profit
    • Love this idea because it allows brands to give back while encouraging social engagement.
  • Aerie put sticky notes in dressing rooms and encouraged folks to write down encouraging body positive messages
    • I went to the Aerie store at Polaris today and yep, there were green and yellow sticky notes around the mirror. My favorite one said Yassss Queen. 
  • Ask questions of your followers to increase engagement 
    • How do…
    • Which is…
  • Twitter is best for sharing news, asking questions and getting feedback
  • Using user-generated content leads to a higher conversion rate
    • I’ve seen this personally from VOA: Regrams outperform photos that I take. I find regrams from when people tag the thrift store’s location. Be sure to give the original user credit for the photo. 

Salary Negotiation
Lauren Hasson, Founder, DevelopHer

  • Ground yourself in data, numbers, stats and comparable salaries
  • Present the raise as a win-win for your boss
  • Take a snapshot of your week and show that. Show them what you do each week. If most of your time is spent doing things not in your job description then negotiate a title change.
  • Write out your stated job duties and what your actual job duties are.
  • Practice the conversation, rehearse the scripts
  • Prepare for pushback. How will you counter?
  • Build an agreement. Agree on goals and an action plan. How can I get where I need to be?
  • Have an alternative
    • This company will give me x amount of dollars.

SEO
Erin Acheson, President + COO, DemandSphere

  • Keyword research: what are people asking? What do they say on social media?
  • Mirroring: people like brands that mirror them
  • Easier difficulty score means is better. Helps you rank.
  • Link building is important
  • SEM Rush is a valuable tool
  • Google search console is a valuable tool 
  • Keep it conversational in your blog posts 
  • B2B can use Instagram and Pinterest too. 
  • Use language from a popular blog post in an email or email subject line. 
  • Pay someone on Upwork to transcribe a video

Content Strategy
Marissa Wilson, Marketing Manager, Blavity.com

  • Don’t be afraid to gate content on your website
  • Use guest bloggers
  • Webinars are content. They are like experimental content.
    • You could offer a free webinar
    • Send replay and similar resources
    • Email worksheets. Keep it personal
    • Remarket to them  
  • Blog about the questions you are already getting.
  • Give your customers value for free. Let them build confidence in you. Then ask them to pay for content.
  • Track customer journey thru Facebook pixels
    • Visited page
    • Lead generation
    • Thank you page

Copywriting
Nicole Hallberg, Copywriter, Blogger 

  • Personal writing is different than job writing
  • Don’t do free editing
  • Don’t say “It’s that time of year again”
  • Goal is to educate and inform
  • Cut the commercial speak
  • Don’t say “It’s the best.” Say why it’s the best for you. Answer “which is the best for you?”
  • Don’t be afraid to use I or We. It’s commonly accepted.
  • Write first. Then find what it’s about. That results in better writing.
  • Read your copy out loud
  • Assume your readers are smart yet uninformed
  • Don’t use “ this may sound obvious”
  • Don’t overuse adjectives. Show them.
  • How will my writing make people feel?
  • Google knows context. Don’t repeat keywords. Better writing is more important.

Email
Jen Capstraw, Director of Strategic Insights & Evangelism, Iterable. President & Co-Founder, Women of Email

  • SMS text message is a good way to have people opt in to emails
  • Sending emails regularly helps with email deliverability
  • Follow ReallyGoodEmails.com
  • Test CTAs in your email
  • Consistently send emails when you have something to say
  • Test subject lines using A/B test
    • At least 1,000 emails for a good test
  • Give people an option to receive less emails
    • Opt down not opt out
    • Give them a choice to hear from you weekly, monthly, etc

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Uncategorized

Quoted in a press release

I was quoted in a press release for a campaign we did for Operation Backpack.

See it online: http://www.carwash.com/market-focus-dubois-chemicals-purchases-prowash-australia/

 

Moo Moo Express Car Wash raises $6,945 for Volunteers of America’s Operation Backpack® Campaign

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Moo Moo Express Car Wash announced the donation of $6,945 to the Volunteers of America of Greater Ohio’s Operation Backpack Campaign, according to a press release.

Monetary donations were collected at all 13 Central Ohio Moo locations from Aug. 10-12, 2018, and customers donating $5 received a coupon for a free “Whole Plus” carwash on their next visit, a $13 value, the release continued.

“Through the hard work and dedication of our staff and the extreme generosity of our customers, we were able to more than triple last year’s Operation Backpack Campaign donation,” said John Roush, CEO of Express Wash Concepts and founding partner of Moo Moo Express Car Wash.

Operation Backpack provides school supplies and backpacks to thousands of homeless children, the release noted.

Nationwide, the average cost to fill a backpack is $87 — an expense very few families living in shelters can afford, the release added.

This year in Central Ohio, more than 4,100 children received donated backpacks through Operation Backpack as they headed back to the classroom, the release noted.

“We are grateful to Moo Moo Express and its customers for helping put brand new backpacks filled with school supplies in the hands of more kids this year than ever before. With smiles on their faces, kids experiencing homelessness returned to the classroom with confidence and ready to learn,” said Debbie Gillum, marketing and digital communications specialist at Volunteers of America of Greater Ohio.

Uncategorized

September Donor Newsletter

I designed, wrote and sent this donor newsletter for September. We used to call it eSpirit but now it’s called Faces of Hope to match our annual fundraiser and because it really does showcase the faces of hope our donors are helping everyday.

I wanted this email to have a simple call to action of Watch Chaz’ video.  I used language from Tom Ahern and tried to shower the donor with love and keep the tone donor-centric.

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You are the reason Chaz is hopeful for his future

I’ve made more progress in the six months that I’ve been here than I have in the four years I’ve been out of the military. That’s astounding. It’s hard to believe the amount of progress that’s been made. -Chaz 

You are the reason Chaz has made so much progress.

Donors like you are with us every day as families, veterans, and individuals rebuild their lives. Thank you!

Your gift helped Chaz, a Navy veteran, in his journey to overcome substance abuse and manage his post-traumatic stress disorder.

Watch Chaz’s Story