Be Yourself

“To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting.”  ~e.e. cummings

Traveling to Haiti

It’s been two years since the devastating 7.0 earthquake in Haiti. As I read about some of the developments and setbacks since then, I was struck by the powerful, raw emotions conveyed in the photographs taken by Carl Juste of The Miami Herald.

I would love to someday go to Haiti to experience what life is like and help out in some way. Several people that I know have traveled there to help bring hope and restoration to this country.

Laity Lodge Youth Camp went on a second trip to Haiti last summer, and plan to return on spring break this year. Dan King AKA Bible Dude has chronicled his involvement in The Unlikely Missionary. He will be returning to Haiti in February.

Ellen Palmer has been a committed board member and activist for International Child Care for many years, traveling to Haiti and Dominican Republic countless times. She was on the island, though not in Port-au-Prince, when the quake happened.

Thank you for all you do to help bring hope and restoration to this country. Perhaps someday I will be able to travel with you!

2011, Year in Review

This has been an odd year. I haven’t blogged much here as I have been too busy working on other websites. Here’s some of what I’ve been up to:

  1. Took six months and two hospital visits to get over pneumonia. (Never again I pray!)
  2. Managed the blog and Facebook for Laity Lodge Youth Camp (LLYC), visiting camp in June.
  3. Looked for another full time job to no avail.
  4. Redesigned the website for Work Hard Work Smart, a local initiative of the Chamber of Commerce.
  5. Released a book about charity raffles with my friend Jim Berigan. Later sold it to a new publisher.
  6. Welcomed new members to our family, great niece Anna, and great nephews Jackson, Issiah, and Noah.
  7. Launched a new consulting business, Bounce Back Mobile.
  8. In October Troy and I went on a retreat at Laity Lodge.
  9. Led my first full day workshop on Facebook for small businesses.
  10. Micah’s 2nd Birthday was on Thanksgiving Day.
  11. Transitioned from being a web editor for LLYC to The High Calling.
  12. Began a Facebook page called Living Micah 6:8.


The struggle with food

As I read the latest post from Pilgrim I was at my desk mindlessly consuming quasi-Mexican food from Taco Bell, washing it down with a large Pepsi. And I don’t even like Pepsi – I’m a Coke drinker! Oh how I could relate to what he was saying about the struggle with food.

I have not been particularly healthy with food and eating in my life. It’s been a little secret of mine, this bad eating. I have a tendency to see every meal as an opportunity for pleasure and escape. Lunchtime comes and I say, “Hmm, what do I most want to eat right now?” Then I go and get that food, whatever it is. I also tend to eat compulsively, cramming cheetoes or some other horrible processed food into my mouth in a ridiculous attempt to silence a demon or deal with my anxiety. And even when the food has lost its taste and clearly is making me feel worse and not better, I keep eating.

Like so many people I have a very fickle commitment to eating healthy. Rationally I know I need to eat healthy. I’m an ardent proponent of the real food movement, tell all my friends to watch Fast Food Nation and Super Size Me. In daily life, it is such a struggle. As a long time IBS sufferer, the wrong foods are seriously my mortal enemy. Yet I continue to give in to impulse.

I was thankful for the humble and encouraging way this post concluded: “I don’t have to become perfectly well with eating and food right now. I just have to peel back a little dead tissue, find something alive and well on the inside, and make one small move toward health and goodness.” – Pilgrim

At my next meal, I’ll have the opportunity to make a better choice.

Book Review: Cause Marketing for Dummies

cause marketing for dummiesSeveral years ago I took a class for nonprofits about getting local sponsorships led by Joe Waters. Since then I’ve learned a lot from him just by reading his blog and following him on twitter.

Recently Joe and Joanna MacDonald poured all of their cause marketing expertise into a 316 page book, Cause Marketing For Dummies.

It’s primarily written for nonprofit organizations who want to create cause marketing programs. Businesses would gain valuable insight as well, learning how partnering with a cause can boost sales and provide a “halo effect” of being seen as supporting a worthy cause.

The authors do a great job of leading the reader step-by-step through the creation of a successful cause marketing campaign. In true Dummies style, the book is easy to read, and features numerous tips and sidebars. They tackle some of the toughest problems that marketers face such as cold calling and getting past gatekeepers.  There are even sample scripts for when you call on prospects.

While it’s a practical book, it’s far from being a dry read. They occasionally throw in some humor to keep you engaged and entertained. (Comparing cause marketing to the Borg was one of many chuckles as I read this book.)

What amazed me most about the book was how many great examples are included. There’s nearly a dozen real-world cause marketing campaigns in the first chapter alone!

The examples aren’t just from the “big guys” either. They show how even small businesses and local nonprofits can partner for mutual benefit. Where needed Joe and Joanna comment or explain why the campaign worked so well or why it failed. These examples show strategy, tactics and ideas that other organizations can use themselves.

The authors are expert at the art of “pin-ups.” You know, those cards you sign when you donate a dollar or two at the checkout counter? They prove that even small local orgs can run these programs successfully.

You’ll also find many unusual and cutting edge strategies here, including QR codes, location based marketing (i.e. Foursquare) and other online and mobile strategies.

One of the oddest examples of a successful cause marketing campaign came from White Castle. They sold a hamburger and onion scented candle, benefiting Autism Speaks. (I love candles but hamburger and onion? Really?) They sold out all 10,000 candles in less than 48 hours. Amazing. The screenshot included in the book was of Autism Speaks blog promoting the candle. While Joe and Joanna don’t go into the details on this campaign, I suspect that online marketing had a lot to do with the success of this project.

While the authors have boundless enthusiasm for the subject, they temper this with level-headed advice. There are sections that explain why cause marketing isn’t for everyone. They also insist that cause marketing be a part of the overall funding strategy.

I’d actually love to see a series of short videos based on this book. I know from my own board service that educating board members, staff or volunteers about an in depth subject such as this can be a challenge. They have a limited amount of time and may not be likely to read the whole book, nor would they need to. But for an organization to succeed at planning a cause marketing program (including adding staff or consultants) they will likely need buy-in from decision makers. Having short videos to show would help sell this as a winning strategy for the organization to pursue.

If you are interested in how to promote your cause or business using cause marketing, I’d highly recommend picking up a copy of Cause Marketing For Dummies!