Category Archives: General

Rainy Day Project: Photo Organization

It may be gross outside, but it’s a perfect day for a little in-house organization. I’ve told you how important photographs can be in marketing your message, but those photos will be of little use if they’re not organized, backed up, and shared.

Get ’em off the camera!

In more than one case, after taking photos for a client, I’ve gone back to their office to download the photos to their computer and found that there are dozens or hundreds of photos, weeks or months old, just hanging out on the camera. One client would fill up memory cards and start piling them up in a desk drawer. Seriously, folks. Neither your camera nor it’s memory card is a long term photo storage device!  After you finish taking photos be sure to download them to your computer and to your server where they can be backed up regularly.

The name says it all.

It doesn’t do anybody any good if you have one folder with 1,000 random photos. First, make sure that everyone within the organization is using the same software to organize photos. If one person is using iPhoto and another is using the software that came with the camera, you’re going to have a difficult time tracking down photos when you need them. Organize your photos into folders by date, event, or program. If it’s by date you might use 2011_07 for all of July’s photos, or if it’s by event, you might have a “Gala” folder with a “2011” sub-folder, etc. The naming hierarchy is up to you. The important thing is to have a file naming system that is followed by everyone within the organization. At the very least, give all photos a date and title. As time allows, you can also benefit from using tags, detailed descriptions, sets, collections, albums, archives, or facial recognition software (an awesome feature of Apeture).


Online photosharing services allow users to upload photographs, store them, organize them, tag them, share them, and discuss them. Most of these services are free. Flickr, Picassa, Smugmug are some of the more popular ones. With these services, you can easily create slide shows to email to donors and constituents and post photos to your website, blog, Facebook and Twitter. For example, see how the Thomas Jefferson Area United Way uses Picassa to organize and share their photos. Charlottesville Tomorrow prefers to use Flickr. The Rivanna Conservation Society has good example of a slideshow on their own site. Another local nonprofit, Animal Connections, organizes photos from their events and posts them to Facebook. The point is, no matter how they choose to share them, these organizations have system for organizing and saving their photos online.



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Share Your Little Black Book

Nonprofits frequently go about their work as if they’re the only organization doing what they do. It’s pretty unlikely that your organization’s work is radically different from that of organizations in the same sector. You’re bound to have something in common, whether it’s goals, constituents, or funders.

There’s no need to reinvent the wheel. Find other nonprofits who are successfully doing what you’re doing and emulate them. Customize programs, policies, campaigns, and events to fit your own organization. Don’t be afraid to collaborate. Share resources. Nonprofits work with slim assets, and the more you share with one another, the more you’ll benefit those you serve.

The ASPCA does a great job of sharing tools and resources with animal protection and rescue groups. Their materials are not limited to member organizations. They make their information available to the public so that it can educate and inspire others working in the field. For example, they provide a “Little Black Book of Adoption Promotions.” Rescue groups across the country are constantly coming up with marketing ideas to promote the adoption of animals. Instead of keeping these ideas to themselves, they collaborate because they share the same goal of finding animals homes, whether they are in the same community or not.

Speaking of the ASPCA, this month is Adopt a Shelter Dog Month. This is Copper, an adorable boxer-mix puppy that we are fostering for the Charlottesville-Albemarle SPCA. He’s about twelve weeks old. He’s calm, curious, and eager to please. He’s already learned his name, how to walk on a leash, and to sit on command. He sleeps through the night and is happy to nap or hang out in his crate. If you or someone you know is interested in adopting Copper, please contact me.

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Finding Volunteers

April 10-16 is National Volunteer Week. It’s the perfect time to recruit new volunteers to your organization.

Start by putting out a call for volunteers. If your organization wants help, you’re going to have to ask for it. Plan an open house for prospective volunteers and advertise it. Your website, blog, Facebook, and newsletter are the obvious places to start, but where else can you find volunteers in Charlottesville?

Online Listing Services

Submit a volunteer listing on the following websites: CNE,, and VolunteerMatch. You can also advertise for volunteers on Craigslist and CvilleCalendar, or take out a free ad at

Local Media

Once you’re planned an open house or volunteer orientation, alert the media. Send out a press release. Suggest a feel good story about your organization. When a reporter calls, push your need for volunteers. NBC-29 and CBS-19 are really good about highlighting organizations’ need for volunteers.


Need volunteers for your schoolyard garden? Tack up a flyer at Southern States or Snow’s. Looking for vegetarian volunteers? Post a flyer outside of Integral Yoga.  A few well-placed flyers around town can help you target the types of volunteers you’re looking for.

The Young and Young at Heart

Depending on your organization, there may be a place for children to volunteer. If so, the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts are often looking for ways to give back to their community.

Many high schools require student to complete a certain number of volunteer hours before graduation. Either as part of a club or as an individual, students are often seeking service opportunities. Contact the school’s guidance department.

Senior citizens have a lifetime of skills, knowledge, and experience that can benefit your organization. Both JABA and the Senior Center have active volunteer groups. Contact them and let them know that you’re seeking volunteers. Whether it’s a one time mailing or a weekly jig, they’re bound to have seniors who are interested.


Charlottesville nonprofits are blessed to have Madison House as part of our community. Each week, more than 3,000 UVa students volunteer through this fellow nonprofit. If your organization hasn’t partnered with them, you’re missing out. UVa’s alumni are also active volunteers in our community. Check out Cavs Care or contact the UVa Club of Charlottesville to find out more.

PVCC offers service learning in many of its courses. Talk to a professor who’s coursework connects with your organization’s mission and they may offer their students credit in exchange for volunteer work.

Faith-Based Groups

If you or someone you know is active in a faith-based group, spread the word about your need for volunteers. Many faith-based organizations donate to nonprofit each month. If you’ve received such a donation, why not ask if you can thank them in person or go speak to their group? When you’re there make a pitch for volunteers.

Local Corporations

Many corporations encourage their employees to give back to the community by volunteering. Ask a friend who works at one of our major area employers to help you recruit volunteers, or contact their community relations manager. You can frame it as a team-building activity, and possibly get an in with their employee giving campaigns.

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Are You Effective in the Eyes of a Funder?

What makes an effective nonprofit? The Association of Small Foundations recently released a report highlighting five key areas that should be considered by foundations as they evaluate prospective organizations for funding. Keep these criteria in mind when writing your proposals or meeting with donors:

1. Clear mission and purpose. The most fundamental quality of an effective nonprofit is clarity about its mission—both what it seeks to accomplish and why this purpose is important.

2. Ability to perform key functions. How well do you communicate your vision? Do you engage stakeholders? Are you tracking outcomes? What’s your plan for the future?

3. Strong practices, procedures, and policies. Donors should consider the following:

  • Financial—Is there solid fiscal management? What does your 990 look like? Is there a diverse range of funding?
  • Governance—Is there strong and active leadership? Are board meetings scheduled and attended? Who’s on the board?
  • Organizational and Program Development—Is there a strategic plan in place and is it being used? Is the organization recognized as an institution; it is not identified solely with one or two individuals who work there?

4. Good people. Above all, nonprofits depend on one key resource to fulfill their missions: qualified, skilled, and talented board members, staff, and volunteers.

5. Ability to mobilize others. How well do you engage volunteers, other nonprofits, businesses, and government agencies in addressing the root causes of problems and bringing about long-term change?

This report also offers great tips on performing due diligence. Read more to find out what prospective donors are looking for when they review your financials,  call up your executive director, or stop by for a site visit.

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10 Charlottesville Nonprofits Women Should Love

Today is International Women’s Day. This year marks the 100th anniversary of the event. Although it’s much better known abroad, it’s beginning to gain some traction here in the U.S. While thinking about how far women have come, and how far we still have to go, I couldn’t help but think of our many local nonprofits that are working to help advance women’s issues. Here are ten nonprofits in our community that are working for women:

The Charlottesville Track Club

The Track Club is the nonprofit host of the Charlottesville Women’s Four Miler. For the past eighteen years, this all-women’s event has encouraged and inspired women of all ages to train and run (or walk) four miles to raise money for the UVa Cancer Center Breast Care Program. Is 2011 the year you’re going to join them?

League of Women Voters Charlottesville/Albemarle

Since 1946, the League of Women Voters has been working at the local, state, and national levels to encourage the informed and active participation of citizens in government. They’re the ones who put together that handy non-partisan voting guide that so many people turn to before heading to the polls on Election Day. They also host candidate debates and political discussions for the public.

Sexual Assault Resource Agency

SARA serves those who have experienced sexual assault. You probably already know that they offer a 24-hour hotline and counseling services. You may not know that they offer self-defense courses for women and work with our local schools to implement prevention education. SARA also provides trained volunteers that help survivors by accompanying them to the emergency room, health care facilities, police station, or court.

Planned Parenthood’s Charlottesville Health Center

Everybody thinks they know what Planned Parenthood does, but I’m guessing there’s at least one thing listed below that’s news to you. They provide breast exams, Pap tests, anemia testing, thyroid screening, cervical cancer screening, infertility education, HIV and STD testing, and adoption referrals in addition to birth control, emergency contraception, and pregnancy planning services.

The Women’s Center

The Women’s Center offers leadership programs, mentoring services, counseling and career support for community members, students, staff and faculty. Programs include free short-term counseling, support groups, and a legal clinic. They are also the sponsors of the Young Women Leaders Program, a mentoring program that pairs middle school girls with UVa students, and IRIS: A Journal about Women.

Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance

VSDVAA is coalition of people and agencies devoted to ending sexual and domestic violence. They provide resources, networks, education, and advocacy. They also provide training for for victim advocates, police officers, doctors, social workers, therapists, and other professionals who work with survivors of sexual and domestic violence.

Shelter for Help in Emergency

The Shelter offers emergency, temporary housing to victims of domestic violence in need of safety. They have a 24-hour hotline for survivors, family, and friends. They also offer counseling and case management. They even have a Pet-Safe foster program that provides temporary housing for victim’s animals so that they don’t have to stay behind in a violent situation.

FOCUS Women’s Resource Center

For more than thirty years, FOCUS has worked to serve women in the areas of education, employment, and counseling. Today, they offer additional programs, such as Teensight, to address the problems of teen pregnancy, at-risk youth, and youth unemployment in our community. They also provide legal assistance and micro loans to women looking to start their own businesses.

The Women’s Initiative

The Women’s Initiative provides behavioral health services in the form of counseling (including services for the uninsured), support groups, and education for women with “challenging life situations.” They also offer workshops for stress relief, such as journal writing, time management, breathing techniques, and knitting.

Women’s Health Virginia

Women’s Health Virginia works to enhance Virginia women and girls’ health and well being through education, research, and collaboration. This is a great place to find meetings, conferences, support groups and and other online resources related to women’s health.

While I’m on the topic of women in our community, I wanted to mention two upcoming events:

The Emily Couric Leadership Forum will be holding their annual awards luncheon on March 24th. The forum encourages women to adopt an active role in government, public issues, and policy debates affecting their communities; and to inspire young women to pursue activities which will enable them to become effective leaders.

The University of Virginia is “Celebrating Women of the University” March 25-26. This conference is in recognition of the 40th anniversary of full co-education and in celebration of the efforts of women both before, during, and after that transitional time.

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Another Woman’s Treasure

I am not a fan of yard sales. Hauling my ill-fitting, out of style clothes, random housewares, and misunderstood chachkes out to front yard for neighbors and strangers to pick through seems embarrassing at best. That’s one reason why I choose to donate my old stuff.

Another reason is the amount of time and energy it takes to hold a yard sale. It’s a lot of work and often the payoff is not worth the effort. That’s why I don’t usually recommend yard sales as fundraisers for nonprofits. It sounds easy enough: collect stuff that people no longer want and sell it to people who want it. But most nonprofits aren’t in the retail business and therefore aren’t equipped to manage the donating, sorting, pricing, vending, and hauling of lots of random stuff. It takes a considerable amount of organization to pull off a successful sale.

That’s not to say it can’t be done. For years, the Charlottesville-Albemarle SPCA’s rummage sale and FOCUS’s flea market were not to be missed. People lined up around shopping centers waiting to get in. They eventually added “preview sales” where you paid to get in a day earlier. The sales were so successful (and the organizations had so much stuff to store) that they opened year-round retail establishments.

If you’re considering a yard sale as a fundraiser, start by checking out the pros. The Senior Center’s yard sale is going on today and tomorrow. In the past, this sale has brought is almost $15,000! When you stop by, you’ll see why. The sale is held inside the Senior Center, so there’s no concern about weather. There’s great ambiance. A gentleman plays jaunty tunes on a piano as you shop. Everything is clean, sorted, and clearly priced. There are no heaps, piles or boxes to dig through. The volunteers running this sale have been doing it for years and they know what works.

Don’t even attempt this as a fundraiser if you don’t have an experienced yard sale-er on your committee. In addition to the planning, advertising, and organizing, you need someone who understands the yard sale subculture. For a better idea of what’s involved, heed these words of advice from the Yard Sale Queen.

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Get a Jump on Spring Cleaning

Yesterday, I opened all the doors in the house. Our dogs basked in the sun while I hung laundry on the line and carried flats of vegetable seedlings outside. The daffodils are up. The lilacs are budding. Spring is on the way!

While it may be too early to pack up the sweaters, it’s not too early to start thinking about spring cleaning. As you wipe off the winter dust, you’ll inevitably come across things that you no longer need or want. While almost every local nonprofit accepts donations of stuff they need, the following nonprofits specialize in reselling your donations in order to support their programs and services. Be sure to take a look around when you drop off your donation. You know what they say about one man’s junk…


FOCUS accepts “boutique-style” women’s clothing. Between March 7 and April 22 they will also be accepting gently used professional clothing as part of the Charlottesville Community Job Fair’s Career Clothes for Job Seekers’ clothing drive.

SPCA Rummage

The Charlottesville-Albemarle SPCA accepts antiques, collectibles, toys, furniture, seasonable clothing, books, electronics, house wares, and sporting goods.

Twice is Nice

Twice is Nice, JABA’s “upscale resale boutique” accepts new or gently used in-season clothing, jewelry, furniture, decorative housewares, and books.

Schoolhouse Thrift Shop

The Schoolhouse Thrift Shop is run by the Episcopal Church of Our Savior. Proceeds benefit Habitat for Humanity, Ministry With the Aging, the Alliance for Interfaith Ministries, and the Gertrude Mitchell House. They accept clothing, toys, and baby items.

Salvation Army Thrift Store

The thrift store accepts furniture, clothing and shoes, appliances, records, books, videos, sports equipment, artwork, toys, household goods, televisions, knick-knacks and many other items.


Goodwill accepts gently-used clothing and household items.

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