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I’m in a pretty unique season of my life where for the first time in over 20 years, I’m not currently a pastor in a local church at Christmastime.

As you might imagine, there are some pros and cons to this scenario, but I’ve already found myself approaching this Christmas with a much healthier pace than in past years.

For as fun and festive as the Christmas season is, it can also be downright stressful…especially for those in full-time ministry.

Can I get an amen?

You’re attending parties and buying gifts, hosting family and decorating, cooking and baking, and on top of that you’re somehow planning Christmas outreaches, Christmas Eve services, Christmas musicals and the list goes on and on. If you don’t enter the season with a plan in place to maintain your sanity, the stress can set in fast.

Here are 4 things to start doing now to make the countdown to Christmas as peaceful and joyful as it possibly can be for you and your family.

1. Stand firm when saying “No".

I know, I know. You’re in ministry and your job is serving people and you’re probably a people-pleaser like me, but “no” is going to have to be a part of your vocabulary over the next couple of weeks. You’re going to actually have to turn down requests, invitations and opportunities as they come up. Don’t be afraid to say “no” when you just can’t take on one more Christmas-related responsibility.

It’s okay to decline—and it’s a great way to establish boundaries between you and the noncritical fluff that adds to your already packed calendar.

2. Look for ways to incorporate your family.

One thing I always did with the boys that was a lot of fun was to convert my backstage office into the official “Santa Tracking Station”. I would decorate the room and put a computer back there that was dedicated to the Santa tracking radar that Norad displays every year. We’d spend a lot of time at church during Christmas, as we usually had numerous Christmas Eve services that spanned several days. This gave the kids a fun place to hang out with Dad in between services and it’s a tradition/memory that they’ll never forget.

3. Unplug from social media.

Keeping up with social networks can be a huge time-waster—not to mention a comparison trap—any time of the year. And it can worsen around the holidays.

It’s so tempting to scroll through pictures of your friend’s Christmas services where they are breaking all-time attendance records and that board member’s great ski cabin in Vail, or photos of the brand new SUV your brother surprised his wife with – giant red bow and all. So then you find yourself either getting bitter through comparison or you end up online looking at that ski resort’s website and maybe even looking at a new SUV yourself. None of which are actually adding to the deep joy that comes from internalizing what this season means for all of us.

Because you have so many other things to do around the holidays—and because you need to remember how blessed you are to pastor the church you pastor—consider staying off your social media accounts (or at least limiting your time on them) until January. Trust me. It will all be waiting for you when you get back and the only things you’re going to miss out on is some extra unnecessary stress...and about a thousand pictures of tacky sweater Christmas parties.

4. Reset your expectations.

Let’s be honest. There’s potential for a lot of things to go wrong over the next few weeks. No matter what you’ve told yourself, things are not going to be perfect.

Your family might be a mess.
Your Christmas Eve service might be a mess.
Your staff dynamics might be a mess.
Your end of the year giving might be a mess.

Christmas is a reminder that Jesus isn't afraid of our mess.

The Christmas story is a reminder that Jesus doesn't run from our mess, he runs to it. Jesus didn't come into a perfect world full of perfect people, He came into a broken world, full of broken people so that He could redeem us. And that message is not just for your church attenders: that message is for YOU!

Sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in all the Christmas clutter that’s not tied directly to Jesus. But Christmas was never meant to be a holiday that stresses us out and overextends us or one based on sales and spending. It was meant for us to pause and remember the quiet, peaceful, humble beginnings of Christ.

And nothing in the birth of Christ speaks of stress or hurriedness or over-scheduling. It’s meant to be a time of calm, of peace, of awe, and of worship. A time to extend grace to those around us and maybe most importantly to ourselves when needed.  

And yes, I know you know this. We all do. And we all say these things to other people a hundred times every year, but I’d like to challenge you to take a look inside and see if you’re really believing that for yourself and for this season. Is it just a combination of words that sound better than they actually feel? An idea that you think can never be applied to you due to your position and commitments during Christmas?

Let’s slow down. Clear your calendar of the clutter. Let’s focus on why we celebrate – hey, maybe amidst the stillness, you even come up with some killer Christmas Eve content as you allow yourself to truly feel the heart of this time and the hope that is Jesus. It tends to inspire.

Got more questions about the Christmas season and how to make the most of this time, regardless of what role you are currently serving in? Submit any questions that you might have to #AskPete and we’ll get back to you! 

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A few weeks ago, I was asked to talk about how I unwind and reveal my perspective on the importance of unwinding. I was so grateful to do this, because I had an opportunity to express one of the biggest challenges that many creative professionals face everyday.

Most professions require you to draw upon career and educated experiences to create a solution for the problem in that moment. You see, most professions are kind of like a high school Algebra class. Let’s say you’ve been assigned to work through problem #14 on page 112. Even though you may not know the answer off the top of your head, you’ve been taught how to solve it. By following and working through those directions, you’ll eventually reach the answer.

Well, now imagine if someone asked you to solve problem #14 on page 112 in three different ways with three different answers and all of the different answers HAD to be correct, useable and provable!

This is what most creative professionals have to do, day in and day out.

My quote that inspired this post was “the best solutions usually hide inside the clearest mind.” When it comes to being a creative problem solver, having a clear mind is very important. Being able to make decisions and suggestions, on behalf of others, requires clarity of thought and focus. 

Everyday I have to look at a problem like “We need more donors” or “We want to grow our impact” or "Our attendance is dropping” and present options that will have these very important effects. I have to be able to see through the eyes of a customer, a donor, a non-profit, etc. I have to present options that address the problem through the eyes of the speaker, or conversely through the eyes of the audience. I have to present options that address the organization’s needs through just the hope of the outcome, or an option that exhibits evidence of the proof of its impact. And, all of these options have to work towards the goal of the client, because you never know which one they will select.

One of my favorite projects that exhibits a solution that utilized an unconventional perspective was the book cover I did for Gary Genard for his book Fearless Speaking. The solution they chose solved the problem of “how to best represent the anxieties of public speaking” by seeing the outcome that was LEAST desired! It worked really well and made people grin along the way!

Here’s a look:

Here at The A Group, we take our work very seriously because we have great compassion for the lives that our clients impact and the role they play in the world. We know that the solutions we present to you today can make an eternal difference for someone tomorrow, and for that reason we commit ourselves to a creative focus that leads to the best recommendations we can make.

So how is your creative process measuring up? Are you working through your problems with a clear mind or are you stuck and confused? I’d love to help. Submit any creative questions you may have and I’ll share more of my experience with you!

I look forward to working with you and helping your organization with a clear mind and effective solutions. 

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Anytime Christmas lands on a Sunday it presents churches with an interesting challenge of staying open or closing for the holiday. Perhaps you’ve already noticed the hot debate surrounding it.

These debates and arguments are nothing new. Historically, Christmas has been an object of debate and controversy by church leaders, and it’s not surprising why. The celebration of Christmas did not originate in the Bible, and many of its customs contain a mixture of non-Christian ideas which evolved from various secular and pagan cultures over a period of centuries.

In fact, Christmas was actually outlawed in colonial New England, from 1649 to 1658, by the Puritans, who cited the "heathenistic traditions" involved in the celebration. It took nearly two centuries for the celebration to gradually gain acceptance in the New World. As you can see, Christmas controversies are nothing new.

So to close or not to close?

First things first, I want to stress that there is no right or wrong answer here. The leadership of every church should have honest conversations about what best serves their particular congregation as well as the community they’re trying to reach.

If I were still pastoring, I can tell you that I would have leaned heavily toward not having a Sunday morning service on Christmas and instead offering Christmas services over several afternoons and nights leading up to Christmas Sunday.

Let’s consider a challenge that most churches face in this debate: It often takes numerous volunteers to park, greet, lead, teach kids classes etc. to create a worship service at an any given church. Even more so at a megachurch; each service requires hundreds. This means hundreds of volunteers leave their families to “work” on Christmas. All this on top of already spending most of their week at the church volunteering for other opportunities like the Christmas Eve services which often span over several nights.

It might seem ridiculous for a church not to offer a service on the holiest of all days, a day where we celebrate the birthday of Jesus who’s at the very center of all we believe. But I think it’s possible to celebrate and honor this most sacred of days without actually gathering for a service in a building.

What if, instead of offering corporate services on Sunday the 25th, churches pre-recorded a family-guided worship experience that streamed all day on Christmas? Churches could encourage their attendees to gather with their families at some point on Christmas day to celebrate and remember what the holiday is really all about. Maybe they could even invite their neighbors over to experience this intimate Christmas message with them.

If your church doesn’t have the production capabilities to execute that sort of plan, another alternative to a Christmas morning service could be to provide some kind of content or devotional for families to read together on Christmas. There are so many options that can cater to the needs of churches of all shapes and sizes outside of a formal church service.

Ultimately, my hope is that church leaders will take some time to think, pray, discuss and figure out how to best serve their church and their community during this Christmas season.

But most importantly, let’s not allow this debate to distract us from the amazing opportunities we’ll all encounter over the coming weeks. This is a unique and special time of year. It is perhaps the single greatest opportunity to talk about Christ during our entire year, giving an open door to explain His birth — His reason for coming into this world, and the hope that it gives every single one of us.

Friends, let’s focus on what’s important—our Savior and His miraculous birth.

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We can’t wait to gather around the table with our family and friends for some turkey and a whole lot of pie. But before we go, we wanted to take a few minutes to share our thankfulness with you.

A few weeks ago, we hit our 15-year anniversary. 15 years! When The A Group first started with just a few people, we never imagined that it would grow into a place serving so many inspiring clients every day. We are so thankful for each one of you, each one of our clients, and each one of our team members. Together, we have accomplished some pretty incredible things, and we can’t wait to see what the next 15 years hold!

Here are just a few things some of our brilliant team members are celebrating this week.

From Chris J., Director of Business Development:
“I am thankful for the Fall season and the cooler weather. I love to spend time with the family outdoors (wife and 2 boys)—especially huddled around the fire pit roasting some marshmallows. Fall makes for an ideal time to have lazy evenings together enjoying each other’s company and talking about life.”

From Lori, Graphic Designer:
I am thankful for those people in my life that have helped and loved me along the way, through times good and bad. For shared memories of loved ones and times past, for a warm, dry, and comfortable place to lay my head at night and for the love of a good dog.

From Diana, COO
“So very thankful for my husband, children, friends and for the team at TAG!!!! They all make each day great!”

From Pete, President:
“I’m thankful for God’s grace which is truly the air I breathe. And I’m thankful for mac and cheese.”

From Alex, Administrative Assistant:
“I am so thankful for my team that I have the opportunity to support each day! J My second family! Oh, and Hunter. I’m thankful for Hunter.”

From Lorena, Marketing Intern:
I am thankful for the hearts of people at The A Group. Being just an intern, I was blown away how welcomed my coworkers made me feel. They valued my opinion and they have treated me as their equal since day one. They helped me grow daily and showed me what we all should strive for in a work environment and for that I will forever be grateful.

We hope you have an incredible time reflecting on all your blessings while spending time with your loved ones.

If you want to share what you’re thankful for, download the graphics below and tag us in your photo. We’d love to hear from you!

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There are 80 million of them. They’re sometimes stereotypically categorized as lazy, glued to a device of some kind, with little determination to reach their goals while simultaneously bearing a high expectation to succeed. Not only are they the largest generation in the U.S., they also have the most money collectively to spend on your products or services. Yep, you guessed it. Millennials.

Millennials are categorized as anything from a 16-year-old schoolgirl still living with her parents to a home-owning family man in his mid-30’s. That’s a pretty broad spectrum if you ask me. We find ourselves asking, how in the world am I going to reach teenage Susie who only cares about her selfie filter and Steve whose primary focus is balancing work, his 3-year-old and wife and his Big Green Egg hobby at the same time. Seems impossible! But not quite. If you think too granularly, yes it deems itself unlikely. However, if we scale back and look at it from a 30,000-foot view, we can assess the overarching themes and how to apply them.

Throughout my years at Cross Point, I watched as many pastors and leaders visited the church and looked around in amazement at our average age. They’d often send an email a few days later asking, “What in the world are you guys doing to reach so many millennials?” While their heart was often good, I think they wrongly assumed that there might be some silver bullet to reaching that sought after generation. I can honestly say in my experience that there is no trendy graphic, cool pair of jeans, or hip feature at the beginning of a church service that will ever effectively reach and sustain this millennial crowd. However, I have found they tend to crave two things.

The first thing they look for is authenticity. Are you real? Are you relating to your target audience in a way that is true to who you are and not who you think you should be? Believe me, they can sniff out “fake” faster than they can scroll past your boring Instagram picture. Trust with a brand comes few and far between these days, and authenticity is the only real way to engage this characteristic. Research shows that 43 percent of millennials rank the value of authenticity higher than the actual content. I always knew that when I was preparing a message, writing a book or proofing copy for an ad that one of the first filters millennials would put the content through was “authenticity”. If they didn’t feel like I was being real with them, it didn’t matter what I said or wrote from that moment forward.

The second element they look for in a brand or organization is the heart. Do they care about me? Do they care about bettering our world? This is obvious in the success of brands like TOMS Shoes and Disney. Millennials love the concept of doing good collectively, playing a part in something bigger than they are, and “togetherness”. Interestingly enough, research can trace the origin of this methodology all the way back to the television shows that were popular when they were children. Think about it: Blue’s Clues, Bob the Builder, and Barney. All of which encompassed a theme of “together”. Resolving problems, finding answers, and celebrating as one. No wonder it’s so ingrained in this generation!

So how do we cater to these needs?

When I write or communicate with millennials in mind I know there are two questions they’re asking before they’re vulnerable enough to even listen to my message.

  1. Is this guy real? (That’s the question of authenticity.)
  2. Does he care? (That’s the question of heart.)

If you can find a way to help them answer “yes” to those two questions, then you’ve got their attention on your ad, website, blog, or sermon. Guaranteed.

Now, I’m not writing all of this to tell you that other marketing and branding techniques aren’t effective and ultimately useless to reach this #generation (see what I did there)—they are still crucial elements. However, what I am communicating is that we must utilize all of the proven marketing techniques as tools to expose what they are desperately looking for in a company or non profit. Do millennials respond better to digital content? Sure. Do they place a lot more value on online referrals from friends/online personalities? Yes. So, with that knowledge in mind, we must use those outlets to build trust instead of empty marketing facades.

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#GivingTuesday is officially two weeks away. Are you ready?

No matter what kind of campaign you are running (and hopefully you are running one), using video will boost the strength and reach of those efforts significantly.

Consider this: Did you know that 100 million Internet users watch videos online every day? AND, site visitors who watch a video on a website stay an average of two minutes longer on the site than other users. That means having a video on your #GivingTuesday landing page elongates a donor’s time on the page—all time that you can use to convince them to donate!

Here are some creative ways to use video during your #GivingTuesday campaign:

  • Use video to introduce people to your campaign. Keep it short (30-60 seconds), light and informative. Use the video on your #GivingTuesday landing page to inform people who might land there via email or social media. Also, share the video on social media and pin it to the top of your Facebook page.
  • Utilize Facebook Live video to bring people into the excitement of the campaign, to share live updates, and to give people a look behind the scenes throughout the day on Tuesday.
  • Ask donors to submit videos of why they donated or what they gave up in order to donate. Share these videos on your social accounts and email communications throughout the day on Tuesday to compel others to give. It’s okay if these videos are low quality—it’s the gesture that matters.  
  • Create a follow-up video sharing the total dollars raised and include your whole team to say thank you to the donors. Share the video on all your channels.
  • Try to capture video of donor dollars in action, for example: hungry people receiving meals, needy students accepting scholarships, homeless people getting clothes etc.  Share these videos with donors in follow-up communications to show them what their gifts accomplished.

Regardless of what you’re promoting or asking dollars for, using video to tell a part of that story gives new and current donors a much deeper look inside your organization and your story. Still not convinced of the video’s power? Check out these stats.

If you haven’t been planning out your #GivingTuesday campaign yet, there’s still time! With the help of our #GivingTuesday toolbox, you’ll get creative campaign tips and ideas, social media graphics you can use, and sample social media posts. Download below and get started today! 

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As a communicator, speaker, thought leader and especially as a pastor, it can be tough when the time comes to tackle the hard subjects of life. It is tempting to remain on the positive side. It’s always more enjoyable to talk about the beauty of new marriages, new children and lives being radically changed. We love a happy ending, something that inspires and subjects that feel good.

However, as leaders, we cannot avoid the tough subjects. We have to talk about all areas of life. You simply cannot avoid talking about money, marriage struggles, sexuality, morality and so much more. So how can you effectively communicate and inspire people when it comes to tough subjects?

Here are three tips to help you tackle the tough subjects: 

  1. Share stories from real life. People connect best when you share the real life experience of others. There are plenty of great sources for stories. Of course, you might have some personal stories yourself. The key is to share relatable, practical and inspirational stories.
  2. Inspire people. Most likely you think this means “make people feel good”. But that is not always the best application of inspiration. Inspire people to take action. Share results, reactions and repercussions that inspire people to make changes and become proactive. You can successfully inspire people when you elicit a response for positive action.
  3. Amplify encouragement. Encouragement goes a long way in making sure a message, a subject or concept is accepted. Encourage people with positive re-enforcement that a change in their life is positive. Encourage people to use their lives to inspire others. Encourage people to share their own stories. Use encouragement to build the confidence of the people you lead.

When you share stories, inspire people and encourage others, a message is almost always accepted. You will find it much easier to engage an audience as your implement these ideas. Best of all, you may find it removes any fear, hesitation or anxiety around covering the tough subjects. 

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Choices are everywhere.

Yes or no? Go or stay? Spend or save? To be or not to be?

In fact, we make mini decisions every moment of our lives: what to wear, what to eat, what to prioritize, where to spend our time, energy and money. Sometimes this process is conscious, while other times those decisions are made intuitively and subconsciously, whether by habit, predisposition or gut reaction. We know we are born with free will, but so often, we’re unaware of just how often we exercise this gift.

As marketers, everything we do is focused on driving decision, on bending our audiences’ free will in our favor. Through market research, carefully crafted messages, beautiful visuals and strategic communications, we manipulate the conscious mind to put our offering on the “need” list and motivate people to buy, give or engage.

But what about the subconscious – those psychological factors that linger below the surface, but have a deep impact on the decision-making process? What about the intuitive process that’s happening before the conscious mind kicks in, that serves as the emotional filter through which our brains interpret the decision?

In his book, Launch, Jeff Walker identifies nine “triggers” so ingrained in human nature that they have an almost universal influence on the subconscious decision-making process. We’ve broken these psychological triggers down into three categories – triggers within your brand, triggers within your peers and triggers within yourself – and today, we’re going to share how you can play up your brand’s best traits, harness the power of community and speak to the hearts of your audience to influence decision every time.

Triggers Within Your Brand

These are traits that make your brand totally irresistible to the unconscious minds of people who interact with you. They are:

  • Authority
  • Trust
  • Likeability
  • Reciprocity

Very quickly, people will decide if you know what you’re talking about, if they trust you, and if they like you – and if their answer is “no”, it won’t matter if your product is the greatest in the world.

Humans naturally respond to people in positions of authority, which can be created by expertise, thought leadership and content marketing. Trust is established in many ways, but most strongly through consistent quality and service and transparency. And finally, don’t be afraid to show some personality! Being nice goes a long way towards being likable, along with the way you share your story, quirks and what makes you you!

Reciprocity takes trust, authority and likeability to the next level by actually causing people to want to give back to you. People naturally want to help those who help them, so when you provide resources, free content or free gifts with no strings attached, it triggers a feeling of reciprocity in your audience that will make them want to support (read: buy) from you.

Triggers Within Your Peers

Peer pressure is so much more than what your mama warned you about in middle school. The reality is that humans are relationship-driven creatures, who interact in societies and are heavily influenced by those around us – from the desire to bond with others to the need to compete for survival. That’s why peer influences, such as these three triggers, are so powerful in our decision-making process:

  • Community
  • Social Proof
  • Scarcity

Humans crave connection, and when a product or offering gives us the opportunity to be a part of community – whether that means attending an event with thousands of others or just joining a virtual tribe of people who like, use, wear, eat or buy a certain brand – it adds immense value beyond the product’s practical use.

Social proof refers to the endorsement or vetting of a product by other people like us or people we respect. This is why unbiased reviews, testimonials or influencer outreach can be so effective – after all, “if he or she likes it, it MUST be good.”

And finally, scarcity introduces the negative side of peer pressure – a trigger that plays into our fears of missing out or not having something our peers have. Knowing there’s a limited quantity of something other people want brings out primal survival instincts, and can be one of the most powerful tools for creating urgency and driving quick decisions.

Triggers Within Yourself

There are certain emotions and behaviors that exist entirely within ourselves, apart from outside influences, that are extremely powerful triggers in human nature and decision making. The number and variation of emotions that influence decisions and behavior are endless (which is why great branding and storytelling are so important!), but there are a few very specific psychological triggers that your brand can tap into to create an extremely compelling campaign or launch. These are:

  • Anticipation
  • Events and Ritual

Both anticipation and ritual are behavioral patterns that drive action – looking forward to something as well as making something a habit creates powerful experiences that bring people together and build loyalty to brands. Figure out ways that you can harness these emotions by providing teasers, inserting yourself into existing seasons and rituals, and creating real-time moments and experiences that people can look forward to or count on.

The next time you launch a product or campaign, look for ways you can play up these psychological triggers and influence both the subconscious and conscious decision-making process. For more information and detail on each trigger, check out Jeff Walker’s Launch – a fascinating look into how marketers can influence audiences through carefully crafted campaigns.

Have more questions on this topic? Tweet at us using #AskAGroup or drop us a line here!

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This weekend, it’s time once again to turn your clocks back an hour.

The annual fall time change gets a bad rap for being an inconsiderate schedule invader, but this chance to get an extra hour in the day literally only happens once a year. So…what will you do with your extra hour? Sleep more? Stay up an extra hour with the kiddos for one more Saturday night movie?

Perhaps you have a project that you’ve been dying to work on, but just can’t seem to find the time between your career, your hectic family schedule and the impending flurry of holiday preparations. Well friend, take this extra hour this weekend and make the most of it.

You can even download our FREE graphics below to remind others of the time change and share what you’re doing with your extra hour. Tweet at us or tag us in your photos—we’d love to see how you’re taking advantage of the time change.  

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Your visual brand is the combination of your organization's habits that utilize visual assets like your logo, photography, illustration, other graphic elements, color palette and typography. Whether you realize it or not, every time you use or don't use these assets in a consistent way, you are respectively working to build, or tear down, your visual brand.

Think of it like being on a diet. If you practice consistency and good habits with a long-term mindset, you will have a positive outcome. However, if you are inconsistent, your goal will be harder to reach. It is wise to acknowledge the importance of reinforcing proven combinations of your visual assets.

There are three simple steps you can take to make sure your brand is visually consistent.

1) Your visual brand needs guidelines.

Regardless of how simple, they can grow and become more comprehensive over time. At a minimum, simple guidelines should present "officially approved" versions of your logo, give you formulas for your approved branded colors, and present names and samples of your brand's approved typefaces/fonts. It is also beneficial to have examples of how these visual brand assets combine with others, like photography or illustration. Maybe your website's homepage or advertisements show this evidence. Guidelines:  get 'em and stick to 'em!

2) Your visual brand needs a steward on your team.

There should be someone on your team who owns this responsibility. Your team's steward is someone who sees most (or all) of the visual work of your brand as pieces are created and makes sure they work in concert with each other, while following your brand's guidelines. Also, in the event that you are working with an agency to execute a marketing plan, their creative director should be made aware of your requests, and should act as a "first line of defense" where the visual work of the agency is concerned. He/she can be someone to refer to when questions arise about common visual brand practices.

3) Your visual brand needs its common assets organized and available.

Store your assets in a common place. Label them clearly and, if possible, place them on a shared server so they can be made available to team members that need them.

Once you have an approved set of visual assets that are ORGANIZED and a STEWARD is approving their consistent use based on GUIDELINES, your visual brand will be a powerful tool in the overall brand experience for your audience.

How do you plan to steward your company's brand? Check out "Stewarding Your Company's Brand" for some helpful tips on getting started! 

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#GivingTuesday is just around the corner, and this year it’s celebrating its 5 year anniversary. Are you ready to take advantage of this global day of giving?

If not, we are here to walk the walk with you and provide a few words of encouragement.

We want you to be as prepared as possible to have a successful fundraising campaign. So we pulled together a #GivingTuesday Toolbox that will get your thinking juices flowing. This FREE toolbox contains 20 creative ways to promote your #GivingTuesday campaign with an additional resource full of numerous social media examples that will help you spread awareness of your campaign.

Wow, talking about Christmas coming early!

Maybe you’re wondering if the hype around #GivingTuesday is really all it’s cracked up to be. Does this day even matter? Well, let’s look back to 2015’s #GivingTuesday movement in numbers to see just why it could be such a big deal for your donor development:

  • 116.7 dollars were raised online
  • 1.08M online gifts
  • 700K online donors
  • 71 countries participated

People are ready to give, and they want to be inspired by your cause. Are you prepared to engage them?

Be a part of this global movement on November 29, 2016, and get involved by downloading our FREE #GivingTuesday Toolbox to add tremendous value to your fundraiser this giving season!

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I’ve met with a lot of leaders of non profits and ministries over the years and I’ve heard just about everything there is to hear, so very little surprises me anymore. But you know what I’ve never heard come out of one of these leader’s mouths? Not once have I ever heard anyone say “I wish I could spend more time fundraising.” And while we all wish we could spend more time focused on just leading the good work we’ve been called to lead, the topic of fundraising is an important one.

Fundraising and asking for donations for a non profit, ministry or campaign is a practice that, for a very long time, had an antiquated conversion process. We would have bake sales, car washes or host large events in hopes of tugging at the heartstrings of donors. All of those things are great and do typically give us some results, but when you’re tasked with raising thousands (sometimes hundreds of thousands!) of dollars in this day and age we must rely on the tools that technology has allowed us. And few things in the non profit industry are currently changing faster than how donors are developed and money is raised. Not staying on the forefront of these developments could prove to be extremely costly to the good work you’re trying to accomplish.

The most recent update that could help alleviate that process for you and your cause? Facebook. Yes, the same Facebook that your mom follows you on and your third grade bestie is somehow still connected to you through.

Just last week, Facebook has launched its “Charitable Giving” option for US-based 501(c)(3) non profits. It allows non profits to engage with their pre-established Facebook community to uniquely connect and collect donations directly on Facebook. And although there are several websites and tools utilized to build a following and raise money for a cause, none quite integrate all of the ingredients for a killer recipe for non profit donation success quite like Facebook has.

Your non profit can also add “Fundraisers” to your Facebook Page for general support or for special fundraising campaigns. Facebook’s Fundraisers have progress thermometers, show the number of donors, and also enable Facebook users to invite their friends to join your fundraiser as well. They make great hubs for fundraising campaigns on cause awareness and giving days.

It’s seamless and user friendly—the perfect combination to meet all of your fundraising needs.

But just in case you need further persuading on this whole “Facebook is going to somehow help me raise money” thing, let’s think about what it takes to raise funds. Awareness, first and foremost, is crucial. We spend most of our time and resources communicating the heart and vision for our cause because we believe ultimately, if others could just hear and see what we are doing they would want to be a part. What better way than to use a platform that we are already utilizing for our awareness push! We can now take advantage of the community we’ve already built around our cause and allow them to share, inform and donate to fundraisers they believe in.  

Another important element to increasing donor engagement is making the process easy and convenient for someone to give. Reducing the clicks and “digital friction” it takes to donate is key. Alisa Cordesius, who leads Social Good for Facebook, said it best: “[It’s just] two simple clicks from inspiration to donation.” Once donors understand how this new Facebook technology works, there could be a pivotal shift away from donating through a non profit’s actual website.

Still not convinced one way or the other? Here are our perceived pros and cons for Facebook’s Charitable Giving Options:

Pros:

  • This peer to peer model allows you to expand your potential donor base and bring greater awareness to your cause. The power is not so much in your non profit setting up the fundraiser, but in encouraging your Facebook followers to donate and then set up their own fundraiser.
  • The new Donate button (different from the Donate Now button) allows Facebook users to easily donate in three taps or less to your non profit using their credit card information saved in their personal Facebook accounts.

These days, inspiration and inspired content is what goes viral. And how does it go viral? Through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media platforms. And then you ask them to get off social media and find your website and enter all their information, only to go back to that social platform post and share it? Hello, whiplash! With this new “Donate” option, you just tag that page in your post and hit one button to give!

Think about the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. In 2014, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge became arguably the most viral video campaign of all time. Facebook was a huge catalyst to the viral cause. One study showed, “As the national ALS Association collected $115 million in donations—nearly six times its annual budget—440 million viewers on Facebook watched 17 million videos of participants dumping buckets of ice on their heads some 10 billion times.” Those are some impressive figures. However, Facebook executives believe that the social media phenomenon could have collected a much larger sum of money if this was an option.

Cons:

  • One potential downside is that the donor does not actually have to give their email when giving information, which could make follow up or future relationship building difficult. However, there are still marketing techniques that can be utilized to increase the likeliness of receiving that information. For example, those who have given to your cause once can be cultivated to become long term donors. Maintaining that relationship is huge. So offer them something extra like a t-shirt, artwork, etc. Many non profits do this anyway, so why not use it to gain the email addresses that you might otherwise be missing out on?
  • It is a bit concerning that Facebook, and really any other social media company, could have so much power over the online donation process. This could potentially impact a lot of other online donation service providers. But I still think the cost of not using this technology far outweighs this particular concern.

Overall, Facebook Fundraisers could be an incredible tool for your church or non profit to use. And now is the time to begin planning on how to incorporate Facebook Fundraisers into your year-end fundraising campaigns. If your non profit is anything like the majority, you receive most of your donations in the fourth quarter. You likely have many committed supporters on Facebook that would be willing to ask their Facebook Friends to donate to your non profit over the holiday season.

All that makes #GivingTuesday the perfect opportunity to launch your first Facebook Fundraiser. I’m not sure how familiar you are with Giving Tuesday, but this year marks its fifth anniversary. #GivingTuesday refers to the Tuesday after Thanksgiving and is a movement to create an international day of giving at the beginning of the Christmas and holiday season. Last year on Giving Tuesday, 116.7 million total dollars were raised in just 24 hours! And that doesn’t even include off-line giving or campaigns that may have launched on #GivingTuesday but lasted longer than one day. Check out these other stats from last year:

  • Over 1 million total gifts given
  • 698,961 unique donors
  • Giving Tuesday has grown in participation by 755% in its 5 years.

So with #GivingTuesday now right around the corner, we want to make sure we resource and equip you to take full advantage of it’s potential power. Today here on The A Group blog, we’re offering you a FREE #GivingTuesday Toolkbox, full of great ideas and content to get you started.

Raising the money you need to fund these God-given visions isn’t easy. But we’re here to partner with you to make it as easy as possible so you can focus on the millions of other things you’ve been tasked with take your non profit or church to the next level.

 

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