Five Points for Planning your 2014 event or fundraiser by Toni Earls

Five Points for Planning your 2014 event or fundraiser

If you are planning an event for your business in 2014, now is a great time to get started. Whether it is a networking event or a fundraiser, staying on top of your planning with a checklist will aid your efforts immeasurably. Keeping yourself organized is fundamental to the success of an event. Consider these suggestions when planning yours.

1. Be clear about the purpose of your event, whether it is a fundraiser, a networking opportunity, or something in between. The Fundraising Authority recommends: “Before doing anything else, you must decide what the purpose of your event is. Is this truly a fundraising event? Or does it have other goals?…details for your event will depend on knowing what goals you are trying to achieve.”

2. Begin preparations early on, at least 3 months out for a large event, according to Marriot. Their comprehensive checklist includes these beginning steps: “…develop the program and budget. Book meeting site and support services. Check calendar of local events to avoid conflicting or inappropriate dates.” You can also use this time to contact attendees and if necessary, make travel arrangements. The more thorough and detailed you are at the start, the less likely you are to encounter problems closer to the event.

3. The importance of your marketing is highlighted by the Fundraising Authority’s checklist. “You need to convince your supporters that your organization and event are worthy of their time and money. Draw up an entire marketing plan for the event.” Whether you are a small business looking to network or a non-profit hoping to fundraise, it is imperative that you orchestrate a persuasive marketing campaign to entice people to your event. “ ‘Getting the word out’ [methods] include…mailed invitations, direct mail, phone banks, word of mouth and the event host committee.”

4. Remember, people won’t come and/or they won’t donate if you don’t ask. Event 360’s advice is applicable in a fundraising or a networking event planning situation. “The golden rule of fundraising is: You raise money when you ask for it. You don’t when you don’t. ASK! Make a list of everyone you know and everyone you come in contact with during the course of a day – everyone is a potential donor.” There are also many potential guests for a networking event in this pool of people. Be judicious about your requests but don’t hesitate to cast a wide net.

5. Finally, remember that the influence of your event doesn’t end when the tables are cleared away and the lights are shut off. It is important to follow up with clients or donors, and to thank them for their attendance. Fundraising Authority advises: “Make sure that the organization takes the time to send thank-you notes to everyone who is involved in your event, including contributors, volunteers, staff and vendors.”

In short, be purposeful in your event design. Plan ahead and keep abreast of the situation throughout the events planning stages. Market your event like it is a new product and don’t be afraid to ask people to attend or to donate, depending on the situation. Most importantly, remember to say thank you when it is done.

SOURCES: http://www.thefundraisingauthority.com/fundraising-basics/fundraising-event/

http://www.marriott.com/Multimedia/PDF/check_time.pdf

http://www.event360.com/assets/files/Event-Fundraising-Checklist.pdf

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Preparing to Meet Your Accountant by Toni Earls

A meeting with your accountant, whether it is an annual occurrence or the first time, will not be productive or helpful if you do not go to it fully prepared. Making sure that you have your documents in order will make the process go more smoothly and allow your accountant to do his or her job more efficiently. Doing as much work as possible before your meeting will help lessen the workload later and potentially negate the need for repeated meetings.

Accountingmatch.com recommends going into your meeting with clear expectations for yourself and your accountant. They assert: “…your accountant [should] have a clear understanding of what you expect to get and when you expect to get it. Just as important is for you to understand what your accountant needs and expects from you in the relationship.” This will work to your mutual benefit.

 Make yourself aware of your responsibilities as a client and what is reasonable to expect from your accountant. Spartina suggests that you: “…make a list of items that you want to discuss with your accountant. The fuzzy or complicated areas can include education expenses, membership dues, taxes you have paid, and Internet expenses.” Making yourself aware of potential problem areas will allow you to deal with them more effectively later in the process.

 This video prepared by AG Tax, encourages prospective clients to do the work ahead of time in order to streamline the process. Determine if your accountant or firm has templates or spreadsheets to guide you in preparing the necessary receipts and documents and take advantage of it. Asking for a checklist from your accountant or firm can ease stress and limit confusion when trying to gather the pertinent paperwork for a meeting.

 You don’t have to prepare completely on your own. Utilizing the tools available to you, including computer programs or apps which help you organize your financial documents, receipts, and statements, is an excellent way to begin.

Spartina recommends: “…using your accounting software (Quickbooks, Quicken, or other), print out a detailed P&L, and review all the expenses in the various categories. Make any changes now for items that may have been miscategorized.” You can avoid confusion when meeting with your accountant by catching mistakes before you hand over your information.

 Simple preparation before meeting with an accountant can streamline the process. Using software, guidelines from the accounting firm, or both will maximize your efficiency and minimize confusion. Don’t waste your time or your accountant’s. Go to your meeting confident that you have prepared thoroughly and expect meticulousness in return.

 SOURCES: http://www.accountingmatch.com/preparemeetaccountant.htm

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9b_J3-DbvPo

 http://www.spartina.com/items/15895-tax-time-prepare-for-your-accountant

Clear Clutter and Streamline Your Thinking by Toni Earls

When running your own small business from an office or from your home, organization, both physical and mental, is always an important factor in your success. Not surprisingly, clutter has been found to be a significant factor contributing to stress and anxiety in your work environment.

According to Mikael Cho’s article, clutter can affect your productivity adversely. He mentions a study undertaken at Princeton University which gave participants the same task in an organized and a disorganized environment: “The results of the study showed that physical clutter in your surroundings competes for your attention, resulting in decreased performance and increased stress.”

Psychology Today echoes these findings with Sherrie Bourg Carter’s piece. She points out that although clutter poses a considerable threat to efficiency at home and productivity in a business environment, this fact often goes unacknowledged. “Messy homes and work spaces leave us feeling anxious, helpless, and overwhelmed. Yet, rarely is clutter recognized as a significant source of stress in our lives.”

 Carter suggests a day-to-day approach to cut down on clutter at your desk and increase productivity. She says that giving yourself a fresh start each day will be beneficial: “De-clutter your primary work space before you leave it… make a habit of cleaning off your work space before you go. Not only will this give you a sense of closure when you leave, it will also make you feel good when you return to a nice, clean space.”

One more point to consider is mentioned by Cho. He stresses that in our virtually connected business culture, clutter is not simply a pile of manila folders and un-filed papers on your desk. Electronic clutter can be just as debilitating: “Files on your computer, notifications from your Twitter and Facebook accounts, and anything that goes “ping” in the night competes for your attention. This creates a digital form of clutter that erodes your ability to focus and perform creative tasks.”

Scheduling time into your work day to devote to clearing out your digital clutter can help with this. By designating a particular time or multiple times every day to devote to dealing with business related emails and social media, you can train yourself not to jump every time a new message beeps, distracting you from the task at hand.

 SOURCES:

http://lifehacker.com/how-clutter-affects-your-brain-and-what-you-can-do-abo-662647035

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/high-octane-women/201203/why-mess-causes-stress-8-reasons-8-remedies

The Evolution of Communication

In a time, before cellphones existed, ancient civilizations used to dispatch messengers on horseback to relay information from afar.  Through the ages, ancient society found ways to develop new and much faster ways to communicate. Piggy-backing a horse across country in an attempt to send a message just wasn’t an effective way of doing things. Eventually, there would be ambitious pioneers all throughout history creating inventions to simplify the way with which people communicated

In 1775, the invention of the first postal service mailing system, changed the way people viewed communication. Revolutionizing the way information was shared, the postal service created a new way for an entire nation to conduct business. Back then, the postal service was modernized technology. This allowed messages to reach their destination faster than before.

After Benjamin Franklin made the illuminating discovery of electricity, came the invention of the telephone. The telephone made communicating long distances an instantaneous process. Changing the way business was done, the telephone led our society into new worlds of technology, unknown to mankind. As the telephone advanced and became more efficient, interest in the telephone soared throughout the nation. Many years later, and still immobilized by the cords and original setup of the telephone, patents were soon past down on a new kind of phone device- “The Cell Phone”.

With the invention of cellular technology, most of the communicative obstacles still plaguing society, ceased to exist. Even after the invention of electricity and the telephone, many felt information still wasn’t being passed fast enough. Telephones were often awkward and bulky, with cords attached to the base, leaving you homebound or stuck at the office. Through the invention of the cellphone, this dilemma was erased, leaving the possibilities limitless. Now, at the press of a button, people possessed the power to talk to anyone, anywhere, at anytime.

Ever since cellphones swept the nation, its been a race against time, as multiple industries search endlessly for new innovations to release to the public. By this era, newspapers, television, and public media are all common, everyday platforms used to advertise products, including the hip new cellphone. As a result of these media advancements, word of the cell phone spread like wildfire and everyone had to have one. Within a few years, the benefits of being able to carry a phone in your pocket was known worldwide, making cell phones the new dominant force in the world of communication. Every household had a cellphone and people were happy. Not until “smart phones” waltzed onto the scene did cellphones change forever.

Smart phones have become the new staple in today’s society. With them, people can do just about anything. Not only is communicating anytime or anyplace more possible than ever, but now its even feasible to perform a research assignment via the web, on the phone while talking to anyone anywhere, on that same phone, at the same time. The explanation itself can tie your tongue. The smartphone is capable of surfing the internet, playing games, taking pictures, sending pictures, and texting messages. The smartphone even has the capabilities of running a small business. Now the power to manage a company is available at the press of a button throughout every household in America. How we will share information 10 years from now?

Are LinkedIn Endorsements Taken Seriously? By: Britney Balg

LinkedIn introduced the endorsement feature last year as a way to appeal to people who use their site on a mobile device and have limited time. It offers a recommendation feature, but this can take 10-15 minutes to complete and requires real knowledge of the skills you are validating for your connection. On the other hand, the endorsement of a skill takes one click of a mouse and you can even add skills that your connection doesn’t list on their own profile. So what does this say about the value of this feature? Opinions vary as to the value of endorsements. Those who don’t like this feature object to how mindless it is to endorse someone. It doesn’t require any thought or real knowledge of a person’s skills. Another reason people don’t like this feature is because they may get bombarded with notifications about being endorsed by someone. When you go to see what they endorsed you for you are then prompted to endorse them back. On the other hand, some people think this feature is wonderful and a great solution to making the site more on-the –go friendly.

Everyone is busy these days, and more and more people are using their smartphones to do their social media. These are the people who think the endorsements are a great idea and really convenient. And they are right, they are very convenient because it only takes two seconds. LinkedIn users just need to realize that there is a right and wrong way to use endorsements, so follow these guidelines when using the endorsement feature.
• Hide endorsements from people who have no real knowledge of your skills.
• Only endorse people for skills that you have witnessed first hand
• Don’t have too many endorsements for skills that don’t pertain to your current goals.
• Remember that just because someone endorses you for something, doesn’t mean you have to endorse them back, it makes it less meaningful.

IMAGE: LinkedIn Logo ( Published on 01-07-2010 0:00 a.m. )

FACEBOOK: A Fading Trend? by Guy Peck

Since it’s creation, Facebook has dominated the world of social media. It reinvented the way the world communicates and, ultimately, changed society as we knew it. With Facebook’s popularity came a new forum for businesses, new methods of networking and marketing for everyone, and, most importantly,  a new dashboard “world” for people of all ages to connect and share their life events through uploaded photos, status updates, and chat. It revolutionized the web, in turn, forever altering social media. Though created in the U.S, Facebook’s fame spread like wildfire all throughout the world, with its top users from Europe at an estimated 243,000,000 million subscribers by September 2012. (For more info on Facebook user stats: http://www.internetworldstats.com/facebook.htm). It wasn’t long before Facebook had become, for many, routine, a new way of life. Having the vast power to communicate with the masses, at anytime, was at the fingertips of anyone with access to a computer or cellphone. Without regard to consequence, countless individuals learned about this broad authority the hard way, broadcasting overly personal life events or, in some cases, incriminating events, on the world-wide web, for every associate, friend, and relative to see. Other people saw Social media as dollar signs and sought to use Facebook to capitalize on its unique and lucrative marketing potential. In a world where some people fell under the hammer of revealing too much while others focused on monetary gain, expanding their business networks to heights untraveled, one thing was clear; The possibilities were endless.
Then one day, Facebook presented the “Timeline” feature,  turning user profiles into virtual scrapbooks, allowing users the ability to view the history of anyone of the 500,000,000 or so users. According to a poll of 4,000 users, by Sophos Security, this feature was criticized and shunned by 33%  who stated “They didn’t know why they were still on Facebook”. (For more on this Timeline poll:http://www.nbcnews.com/technology/technolog/facebook-timeline-poll-overwhelming-negative-reaction-84717 ). Other reports claimed that users were uncomfortable with their Facebook use history being so visible and easily accessed. Other people voiced concerns of increased risk of identity theft. With these flaws, so popular in belief,  many have begun to question the future of Facebook. Facebook may have epitomized Social Media but, with that, came numerous social media competitors, just waiting for their chance to shine through Facebook’s fading shadow. Powerhouses like LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, and Snapchat have targeted these concerned Facebook users and in many cases converted them.With this in mind, what do you think Facebook’s destiny holds? Are you still a Facebook loyalist? Or do you see Facebook as a fading trend?    

Integrating Business With Change

                   The Era of the Virtual Assistant

                            by: Guy Peck

The one undeniable truth, we all must face, is that we are all susceptible to change. There’s no escaping it. Everyday so many people try desperately to prevent change but always to no avail. You know those “stick to the routine or die” type people? Despite mother nature’s relentlessness, showing us everyday that with time brings change and with change brings inevitability. What these people don’t see, and what many others refuse to see, is that change is good. Though change can be intimidating, it must first be confronted and then revolutionized. I have found that incorporating change into my everyday “routine” has cleared my head and made my goals much more visible. At McClure Virtual Business Solutions LLC we know about change. Our goal is to revolutionize the “office assistant” world by integrating it with the virtual world. On-site admin employees cost more than our home-based office assistants and they do not come with software. You have to account for their breaks and vacations. You have to consider unexpected sick days. Virtual Assistants, at least at MVBS LLC, work as a team to service our clients individually from multiple angles of expertise. The best part? We do this from home. We are the business world changing. We are change, and change is good.

Example of good change: Communication. 200,000 years ago came speech, 30,000 years after that symbols became the new “smartphone”. Eventually came postage and worldwide communication was born, revolutionizing itself in every form of society. Now business could be conducted around the world and those who capitalized on those concepts are the ones whom brought the naysayers out of the caves and into the office.Think about the “old timers” at the beginning of the “smartphone era” and just remember their reluctance. Or, even further back, the cellphone era came and conquered the telephone with sophistication and intelligence, and yet.. people still refused to evolve. I know people to-date who refuse to get cellphones and dub it a “scam”. Opening your mind and erasing this reluctance is the key to success. Do you think Karl Benz, inventor of the first modernized car, ever said:

“You know what?- I think horseback is as good as travel is ever gonna get.”

Of course not. He built a mechanical horse on 4 wheels that moved, and he did it with style. This is why the acceptance of change must become so embedded in the fiber of our being that we are able to not only embrace change, but anticipate it. The ones out there waiting for the new software and technology to be released are the ones who know how to use it. It’s these people who are always “with the times,” that are usually the ones who realize change can become a lucrative service that presents itself indefinitely to all those willing to acknowledge it. Fortune 500 companies don’t still communicate only via paper and messenger, they get a smartphone hire an assistant or two, and focus on the important things, like profits. The business world is fast turning virtual. Social media this, Tweet that. “Send me a text”, “Shoot me an email”, “I’ll see you on Skype later”. Change. It’s everywhere you look. The proper integration of change with business, has revolutionized our world and because of this, has become the foundation of success. As such, why hire administrative employee(s) for your business, go through the trouble of preparing an office and offering health insurance?  Why pay more for one on-site employee when you can get a team of virtual admin assistants, equipped with an arsenal of software and expertise, for a fraction of the cost? Why not just call McClure Virtual Business Solutions LLC, and save yourself the time and effort without sacrificing the quality of work? Change. Why not?


“Lets meet and make a change!!”

VISIT US @ www.mymccluresolutions.com or email us @ catie@mymccluresolutions.com

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