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Brighter Futures for Inmates and Horses on St. Croix

The Brighter Futures Program is a partnership between the V.I. Corrections Bureau and the USVI Equestrian Equine Therapy Project, Inc., a non-profit organization founded by St. Thomian Carolyn Smith. After seeing successful programs around the U.S., she has been working to open the St. Croix program – her “life’s love” – for four years.

“We’re going to try to reach their hearts and work with self-esteem,” Smith said about the inmates who will learn to groom, trim hooves, recognize medical issues, among other things. Some may have had no experience with horses in the past, she added.

Diana Pikolski, an attorney who has volunteered for similar programs on the mainland for more than 40 years, said St. Croix is a perfect location because of the history of horses, the island itself, and the racetrack is to re-open soon. To read more go to
https://stcroixsource.com/2022/03/18/brighter-futures-ahead-for-inmates-and-horses/

Saratoga horse shows will showcase women in business and equine career opportunities

SARATOGA COUNTY, N.Y. — On July 13-17, 2022, Southbound Saratoga Management Group, LLC will present the Saratoga WIB (Women In Business) Spectacular, the first-ever horse show created by women, operated by women, benefitting women’s causes and showcasing women in business. The one-of-a-kind extraordinary event will be held at White Hollow Farm, 28 Brickhouse Road in Stillwater, NY 12170, and is open to all competitors in the equestrian community, spectators, and vendors. “Exhibitors and attendees will be offered multiple opportunities throughout the show and beyond to meet, interact, listen, and learn from many remarkable women, in all types of business, willing to share their story and career paths,” said Adele Einhorn, Organizer of the event. “Additionally, there will be educational opportunities to learn from women professionals at the show.” “This event is something that has never been done before. The equestrian community is dominated by women yet operated by men. We intend to break the mold by having women fulfill all positions for the show while showcasing women in business in the equine world and beyond, and women that ride and have full-time careers.” To read more go to: https://www.saratogian.com/2022/03/12/saratoga-horse-shows-will-showcase-women-in-business-and-equine-career-opportunities/

This March, contact us for a free consultation

Now, more than ever, as the world reopens in a new reality, businesses, nonprofits, and trade organizations need exciting and creative ways to stay connected with their customers and constituents- whether it is one on one or through the media. 

  • Do you need ways to incentivize and motivate your stakeholders and supporters? 
  • How do you make a fresh new case for funding from governmental agencies or appeal to private donors to give?
  • How can you shape your future in the post-pandemic world? What does the world look like for you on the other side of this crisis? 
  • And, with whom can you partner now to strengthen your cause and message?

At Yepsen & Pikulski, we are doing our part to help the community, the business world and our essential NPOs get through 2022 and beyond stronger than ever.

Whether you are a small business, a regional or statewide organization, or a charity, public affairs specialists Yepsen & Pikulski will provide a brainstorming session at no charge to help you formulate a plan, set your priorities and put you in control during the pandemic and the economic fallout. Please contact them to set up a Hang Out consultation (under the “contact” tab above) or by emailing joanne@yepsenandpikulski.com

Is your year organized to give you a win at year-end?

Is the end-of-the-year really that appeal important?

Should I be thinking about it now? In March?

To those questions, we answer a resounding YES

Given a charitable organization has the potential to raise up to 1/3 of its annual giving at the end of the year, the concept you create, people you target, words you choose, your design, the accuracy of your database, and your method of delivery are all definitely worth the time and creative thought- throughout the year. Are you stewarding your donors and your prospects so that when you do ask, they are ready to respond positively?

People are bombarded with mailers and emails so it is critical to stand out and capture the reader within the first 3 seconds. Similar to a political mailer that is attempting to persuade the reader to cast a vote, the purpose of fundraising solicitation is to get the reader to take action, which in this case is making a donation.

Your road map and theme for the year should be leading you to positive results throughout the year and culminating in a record year-end appeal.

What Should It Say?

Your appeal should strive to:

• Tell a unique powerful story.
• Have clarity.
• State urgency.

Your letter should be simple, succinct, and emotional. 

Include these five elements:

1) A powerful opening line that will set the stage. Make a statement or ask a question that will grab the reader’s attention.
2) Tell a story that pulls at the reader’s heartstrings.
3) Present a current problem and your organization’s solution that could be executed with financial support.
4) Present your offer to the donor (donate at ______ level by ________) with the benefits (we will add your name to the donor wall, you will get a free mug in the mail, your donation will be matched…) as the call to action. In the last couple of lines, include a deadline and be specific with exactly what and how you want the donor to act. The Call to Action needs to have a sense of urgency around responding right away (The match will not last after Dec. 15th).
5) Always use a POST SCRIPT with an emotional message.

How long should your letter be? 

However long it takes to highlight your organization’s mission and accomplish the above five elements. Think about accompanying your letter with a video to bring to life your words on the page. Additionally, always supplement your letter with a social media program. This process should begin in early October to receive donations in December.

How do you create an emotional, simple, and succinct piece that pulls at the heartstrings?

Use short sentences. Tell an emotional, human story about one individual. Donors reading your letter can’t save the world, but they can relate to one individual or a family. Fancy adjectives and industry lingo doesn’t make a piece compelling and can turn readers off. Being human, emotional and concise makes it powerful. Tell your story, simply and clearly. Trim the fluff that you don’t need to describe that one individual’s experience to get to the heart of your story.

The letter should be donor-centered and personal. Use words like “you” often to speak directly to the reader and engage them. It should also explain how their past support has helped your organization overcome some hurdles if appropriate. The letter should speak to their hearts, and not their brains. If people read nothing else, they almost always will read the opening line and the P.S. It should not look or read like a formal letter but more like a personal letter.

Add pictures of people, preferably tight shots that show faces. Use headlines and underlines to draw attention to sections of content and include plenty of white space.

Refresh your social media strategy to get noticed.

Now is the time to dig deep into your social media marketing and adopt new systems and ideas.

1. Focus on the best platform for your audience.

Most businesses will assume that they need to have a presence on everything from Facebook to Pinterest, but that’s not necessarily the case. Your most important audience may not be active on every platform. The best thing about employing this strategy is that the process of identifying your best practice is an important marketing and engagement exercise in itself. What to do:

Simply ask. The best way to get accurate info about your audience is directly from them.

Use a survey. In an email or your next written communication, ask your supporters or customers their preference in how they connect with you through social media. Explain the kind of content that you would like to share via social media and get their input. Ask if it is meaningful to them. Ask if they think you are being effective. Give your best supporters a quick call to see how they’re doing. While you’re getting caught up, ask them which social platforms they use for business and personal purposes.

Pay attention to the SHARE button results. If you have a blog or create content, then you should be using share buttons already. If not, this is important.  Most information that you post on social media should also be fit for a post on your website or blog. Use SHARE buttons. Follow these numbers to figure out which platforms to focus on.

Look for your competitors. See where they are having success.

2. Use SEO strategies in your social media.

Every aspect of your social media profile can be tweaked for better visibility and optimization using:

  • An easy to remember username
  • A recognizable photo/brand logo
  • Keyword-rich descriptions
  • A trackable link back to your website

This applies to any and all social media platforms.

3. Post content that has no expiration and is SHAREABLE.

Don’t publish content with an expiration date.

Consider solving common and persistent problems in your industry. Even better, try to post something educational and funny. 

People will always share positive posts more than negative ones.

4. Post better, not more often.

Facebook themselves have said that the average user is subjected to over 1,500 stories per day. To increase engagement, the news feed only displays about 300 of these – those that are most relevant to the user. Focus on posting high-quality, relevant content. In this case, it’s literally quality over quantity. Posting less with higher quality will increase organic reach more than spamming your page with everything you can get your hands on. The Buffer blog suggests you should post two to four times per day, depending on the platform. However, remember that your business is unique, so don’t be afraid to experiment with different frequencies, and again, ask your supporters when they want to hear from you and with what content.

5. Use targeting to maximize organic potential.

This tactic will vary from platform to platform, but tweaking the settings of your posts to target specific members of your audience can give you a boost in organic potential. For Facebook, you can use organic post targeting to tweak who will see it.

There are eight options on Facebook you can use:

  • Gender
  • Relationship
  • Status
  • Education level
  • Age
  • Location
  • Language
  • Interests
  • Post end date

The same type of options are available on Twitter. For example, the use of hashtags allows you to categorize your posts. Take any opportunity you can to better target your audience so the right people see your posts.

6. Post during slow hours.

It is not necessarily better to post when everyone is online. That is just going to throw your content into the vat of other posts. If you wait until nonpeak hours to post, you may get more attention.

Looking at research data, these are generally the best times you should be posting:

  • Facebook – (Thursdays/Fridays) between 1pm and 3pm
  • Twitter –  (weekdays) between 12pm and 6pm
  • LinkedIn – (Tuesday-Thursday) between 7am/8am and 5pm/6pm

Of course, you should ask your supporters and watch their online data. Look into analytics for your own audience, if you can.

7. Video content is essential.

An interesting study done by Socialbakers revealed that certain types of content can give you a huge boost in organic reach.

The results of their study showed that videos had the highest organic reach on Facebook by a margin of almost 3%, which is huge given that average organic reach has dropped to 1% or less. Short and vertically shot videos were the most watched.

8. Promote your profiles everywhere.

Every place that your business has a presence should also showcase your social media platforms – on your website, your storefront, your business cards, the signature on your emails, anywhere you can think of. You should also consider adding follow buttons on your website so users can instantly follow or “like” your page, without having to leave your company’s blog or website.

Don’t forget, you can also cross-promote your social media profiles. Turn your Facebook likes into Twitter followers and vice-versa. You want your presence to be known everywhere, which will ultimately grow your organic reach immensely.

9. Post the right balance of inspiration/fundraising/useful content.

Users expect to find content that’s useful to them, as well as content that will inspire and entertain them. Sharing valuable content (how-to guides, articles, new posts, etc.) grows a user’s trust in your brand. They come to know you as an authority in the industry and will trust you when you recommend a product or service.

The rule to master here is the 80/20 balance. 80% of your content should be useful and helpful, while 20% can promote your brand or its products. That 80% will bring new followers and build trust. Then they will see the 20% and buy into what you’re selling.

Don’t forget that this variety should also include a mixture of videos, images, and other engaging content types.

10. Utilize tagging and ask organizations with large followings to share a post where
you tag them.

Message or call your partners and ask for permission to mention them, thank them, and to share your content.

11. Engage your followers and reply to their comments.

If you properly engage with people and reply to their comments, you’re going to build a great reputation that will spread. People will look for your posts because they’ll be genuinely interested in what you’re doing.

Forging that kind of bond is important for all aspects of your business, but it can create a viral effect for your organic reach. Word-of-mouth will spread across new members of your audience, and they will in turn come and see what your company has to offer.