Four Ways to Dismantle Distractions

As we close out our fiscal year and get ready for a new ministry year, it’s time for our year-end reviews at St. Andrew’s and as I review the goals I wrote at the same time last year, I wince. I didn’t accomplish as much as I set out to accomplish. I won’t make excuses but offer these two simple explanations.


As part of the support team at St. Andrew’s, I have a ministry and at its core is to work behind the scenes to support the ministry of others. I don’t drive the bus here; I reconfigure the inside of the bus and clean it up for others to use. So, on the best days, I’m working alongside ministry leaders to plan the upcoming weeks but sometimes I have to react quickly to what has been placed in front of me. As a result, projects and goals are delayed and set aside.


I get distracted. I wrote those goals down but I didn’t refer to them over the last year. I spent time praying about the direction I needed to move so I didn’t pluck them out thin air. One of the goals was to blog regularly and to be a resource for others. This is the first time I’ve written a post in a year. Ouch.

Four Questions

I read a very good post by Phil Cooke about doing nothing. He offered four questions to ask at the beginning of every week before you do anything else.

  1. Am I closer to my goals right now than I was a year ago?
  2. What’s my greatest passion?
  3. Do I need to change perspective?
  4. What are my priorities?

One of the things he enourages you to do is to look at your resources, your qualifications, your strengths and weaknesses. These is a variation of the classic SWOT analysis – Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats.

Each Sunday afternoon, I spend time editing and uploading  the weekly sermon on the website. While the video is rendering and uploading is the perfect time to put pen to paper and think about the week ahead. Once a month, I stay late on Sunday in order to be at the 6 pm service. That will be the time I’ll set aside to do a once each month look at resources, qualifications, strengths, and weaknesses.

40 Don’t Miss Photos

On his blog, Digital Protalk, David Ziser offered up some inspiring links. This was my favorite:

Do You Have Great Information on Your Website?

I ran across this today over at Jay Baer’s Convice and Convert. Guest blogger, Carmen Hill wrote:

Could giving away too much great content actually sabotage sales? As unlikely as it sounds, this is exactly the concern that recently came up in a discussion about B2B (business-2-business) content marketing.

There’s always a risk that prospective customers will take the information you give them and then use it to buy from your competitor instead. But the bigger risk is that they never find you or consider you in the first place, especially when 70% of the buyer’s journey is complete before they ever contact sales (SiriusDecisions).

Here’s one more thing to consider: 95% to 99% of people will bail rather than fill out your registration form. And of those who do register, the majority will not provide a correct phone number.

Working on the Charleston Animal Society's website.

70% of the Journey is Complete!

That is an amazing statistic but what does that mean for the not-for-profit or church? We’re not selling goods or services – or are we? My friends at the Charleston Animal Society are moving dogs and cats out of their facility every day but what they’re selling is a ‘furever’ friend and the opportunity to provide a loving home to an unwanted animal. Those of us in the not-for-profit and church world are competing in the marketplace of ideas for the public’s time and attention. My guess is that CAS would find a similar statistic if they asked the right questions of those that visit their shelter. People who walk in are very certain that are going to adopt an animal when they show up – they need to be sold the other 30%.The research has shown that the majority of the people who visit a church for the first time have visited the church’s website first. They want to know something about the church before they ever get there.

What’s the Finisher Need to Do?

Search online for your church or group with the mindset of somebody who has heard of your church or group but has never visited. You might enlist the help of friends who are not familiar with your organization.

Figure out what it will take to provide great information that a website visitor can use to make an informed decision as to whether or not to visit you in person. Don’t tell them everything about your organization, it can be overwhelming. For a church it can be what to expect when visiting, ways to be involved, and expectations of members.

When asking people to register online or in person, only ask for the information you need in order to take them to the next step. At St. Andrew’s, we run the Alpha course. For our latest course, we only asked for the participant’s name, phone number, email address, and gender. We asked a few other questions but answering them was clearly optional. We might even scrap asking for the person’s phone number.

Of course, once you figure this all out, a Finisher then needs to sell some this to those that can implement the changes on the website. Being a finisher means being an advocate for connecting people to your organization.

What kinds of information do you believe website visitors need from your website?

The Future of Mobile Computing (infographic)

How do you access the internet? Your email? Facebook? If you answered iPhone, Android, or some other smartphone user, you are part of a demographic that’s growing. By some estimates, mobile access of the web will surpass computer access of the web by 2014.

What’s this mean for the finisher?

Get onboard! If you are not currently using a smartphone and you want your organization to have a mobile presence, then you need to understand how at least one person uses the phone. You can look at all the studies you want but until you have the device  in hand, you won’t really get it. Well, at least I didn’t.

  • Look at what similar organizations are doing in the mobile world.
  • Examine what it will take to have your website mobile in the next 3 years.
  • Start dreaming and scheming about a mobile app for your organization.

Think About What You Observe

The following video really caught me by surprise – it was 35 years in the making. San Francisco is one of my favorite cities. I was born across the bay in Oakland and some of my favorite relatives are in the East Bay Area. My grandmother was born and raised in the city and I have visited it many times with family members, most notably my father. So, when Scott Weaver, the builder, talks about Mt Tam, the East Bay, Grant Street, and the Embarcadero, I know exactly where those things are.

Some Observations about Scott Weaver

  • He knows his subject matter – intimately
  • Weaver is passionate about his subject
  • He’s willing to change the plan on the fly
  • He’ll change reality to fit his vision
  • He is willing to invest time in a project
  • Weaver holds on to things with a light grip – literally and figuritively

What are some of the lessons for the finisher?

Scott Weaver’s Rolling through the Bay from Learning Studio on Vimeo.

Is the use of Facebook worth $200,000?

Top 8 from Charleston

Top 8 from Charleston

Update on Round 2

To see the seven Charleston non-profits and get a direct link to their voting page, visit

Chase Bank is Handing Out Money

If you are on Facebook, you may have noticed something popping up in your friends’ feeds about ‘Chase Community Giving’. This week Chase Bank gave away $25,000 to 100 charities across the US. Participating charities invite their fans to install the Chase Community Giving application to their Facebook account and then to vote for them to be one the award recipients. The top 100 vote getters from across the nation get the dough. Each person voting had eight votes.

Here in Charleston, South Carolina, seven local charities ended up in the top 100! Only one of those (Water Missions) has a continual national presence. The rest are all very local. (Charleston Animal Society, Pet Helpers, Historic Charleston Foundation, Crisis Ministries, South Carolina Aquarium, Coastal Conservation League)

Some Observations

  • 7 of the charities in the top 100 are from Charleston (7%). We also had one at number 107 and one at 116.
  • South Carolina has 1.5% of the US population. Charleston has 0.1% of the US Population
  • 18 of the charities in the top 100 didn’t bother to upload a picture but 82 of them did. 7 of 8 Charleston charities had pictures.
  • Charities that I examined in the top 100 had pretty good information about their organizations.
  • Those toward the bottom had nothing. No pictures, little explanation, no website listed

How Did This Happen?

Over the last week, in my Facebook news feed, I saw that my friends had installed the Chase application and voted for different charities. I then started seeing information from the Charleston Animal Society and the Gibbes Museum of Art – I’m a Facebook fan of the organizations. In their posts they asked their fans to vote for other local charities. I didn’t know who started doing that one locally but it was really brilliant. They all compete for charitable dollars from the same pool of people but that cross posting and generosity of spirit will bring $175,000 dollars into the community that wouldn’t be there otherwise.

I didn’t vote until the Charleston Animal Society (CAS) posted a short explanation of the contest. I have a high degree of trust for CAS so I installed the application, something I don’t do lightly. As the contest came to a close, CAS made sure that the contest stayed in their fans’ newsfeeds. Eleven employees at the animal shelter can post on their Facebook page which means there are always fresh and different voices saying the same thing.

As I thought about how phenomenal this is for our local non-profits, I started out thinking that this happened mostly on its own and then probably became a little more formal so I emailed my friends from CAS and asked them. Kay Hyman, Director of Public Relations and Marketing told me that the Historic Charleston Foundation and the Coastal Conservation League had the idea to cross promote. Staff from CAS and the Historic Charleston Foundation, through their personal networks had contacted six other organizations and asked them to work together to promote the contest. So I was completely wrong – it was concerted effort from the very beginning.

I’ve also learned that the Charleston folks accomplished this in the last six days of voting. The contest started on April 21 and ended on May 4.

Take Aways for the Finisher

Use Facebook and other Social Media

  • If you’re not using Facebook for ministry, not-for-profit, or business purposes, you might consider it
  • If you are using Facebook and you see a charity or ministry event that you are attending – say so. That kind of info shows up in your friends’ feeds. That gives the event and the organization publicity and credibility and more exposure for your church or cause.
  • Work hard at developing trust when using Facebook, both personally and for your organization.

Mutually Support Each Other

  • If you see an event on Facebook and you have friends who may benefit, invite them even if it’s not your event.
  • If it is your event, invite your friends who may benefit with a personal message. It makes a difference. Your friends have a degree of trust and confidence in you that can’t be replicated anywhere else.

Post Your Events

  • Use a great graphic. (See my take on Great Facebook Graphics – a downsized version of your event flyer is probably not the best graphic.)
  • Give complete information
  • Link back to the same event on your website

So, Facebook wasn’t worth $200,000 on this go round but it was worth $175,000. If you don’t have insider knowledge of the non-profit world, you may not realize it but a $25,000 grant that you didn’t even know about the week before is a HUGE deal. Now our local folks are off to round 2 of the voting, beginning on May 19.

Have you ever used Facebook to promote an event or cause? What did you think about your results?

What’s Blasting You in the Face?

Inspiration can come from many sources and sometimes you just need a break from the things that seem like they’re blasting you in the face.

Fix the Problem

The other day a friend asked for my assistance and advice in putting an event on her website. So, I started out by showing her what I did and then going through what she did and showing her the differences and how she could improve what she did. At every step, she defended what she had done.

I can come across as being very harsh and so I apologized for beating up on what she had worked on. “Oh, no, you’re right – I do need to pay attention to these things,” she assured me. “I need to fix them.” I was frustrated with being interrupted by her defense but I did appreciate her willingness to work hard at making it better.

Finishers are like my friend because finishers want to work hard to learn and make the unfamiliar familiar and the lame projects great. Phil Cooke said in a recent post, “I’m only marginally interested in fault, because we’ll have plenty of time to determine the cause later.  What I need right now is to solve the problem.”

Are you a problem solver or an excuse maker?

Where Do You Find Inspiration?

vintage postage meter

I look for inspiration in many different places and I admire those that collect inspiration. I ran across this collection of ephemera today. On the Print Magazine blog, Steven Heller showcases a small part of a 200 plus page scrapbook of postal machine printouts that date back to the 1940′s. One of the contributors to the post pointed out, “They certainly rise to the many challenges of branding with one color, no gradient design.” Take a look.

For the Finisher

Look for ready sources of inspiration. You don’t need to be in a visual design related field in order to use inspiration. There’s probably something that you can be doing differently or better than you are today. Where would you look for inspiration? What’s your line of work?

The Best Day for a Facebook Post

Friday – In the morning

It doesn’t get much more direct than that, now does it? Worst Days – Saturday and Sunday. Best type of post? Photo. Now go forth and post away!

Should You Have a Facebook Page?

Facebook is a great platform in which to engage your audience, whether that audience is a congregation, an existing client  base, or a consumer who ‘Likes’ your company. Many pastors and leaders have asked me why they should be on Facebook. There are a variety of reasons to be on Facebook but the one that should prompt you to logon is that Facebook is where the conversation is occuring. If you want to know what people are talking about, especially if you are a local organization, then this is the place to do it.

I highly recommend that if you own a business, pastor a church, or lead an organization, that your organization have a Facebook page, as opposed to a group. This is what Facebook has to say about the Pages and Groups: “Pages can only be created to represent a real organization. Groups can be created by anyone and about any topic, as a space for people to share their opinions and interest in that subject. ”

Information posted by a Page admin appears in the News Feed for any who have ‘liked’ the page. Group information is only available by visiting  the group. As a Group admin, you can message your group but once the number in your group is over 5,000 that ability is restricted. Page admins can send updates to fans of the page.

Who’s On Facebook?

According to Mashable, the average Facebook user clocks the ‘Like’ button 19 times, writes 25 comments, becomes a fan of two pages, is a member of 12 groups and spends 55 minutes on Facebook daily. Facebook claims over 500 million users and over 35% of those are in the United States - that’s roughly 62% of the US population. The percentage of those over the age of 13 that use Facebook is even higher.

More About When and What to Post

I recently read a white paper, “The Anatomy of a Facebook Post”, by a leading social media management company, Vitrue. The white paper addressed three key factors:

  • Post Effectiveness by Post Type
  • Post Effectiveness by Day of Week
  • Post Effectiveness by Time of Day

There were not big difference in each of the key factors. For instance, Friday is the best day to post but Tuesday and Wednesday were not far behind and neither was Monday or Thursday. The weekends definitely were far behind the weekdays. Think about why – many of you are in front of a computer 5 days a week and more and more we’re disconnecting on weekends or we’re just using our mobile devices.

Best Post Type – Image as opposed to text only or a video. The video takes time to engage. Pictures take almost no time to click and look at it.

Time of Day – Before noon. According to Vitrue’s study, there is 65% more engagement for posts made in the morning. This would definitely fit into my day. When I get to my desk and drink a cup of coffee, I quickly scan emails, respond to the urgent and The Ox, and then open Facebook.

For the Finisher

If you have a Facebook account, you might be the person in your organization who is the social media guru. Chat with your colleagues and your boss informally about how you might interact with your clients, customers, or congregation via Facebook. What’s your purpose in being there? What do you hope to accomplish? Once you decide to create a Page, take a look at the pages of similar organizations and see what they do. Take a note of what’s compelling, trivial, weird, and just plain stupid. (Hint: Do the compelling stuff. Don’t copy the stupid stuff – If you’re anything like me, you’ll do enough stupid stuff on your own.)

Decide who the Page Admins will be and who will be responsible for responding to posts on your wall. Create a great Facebook graphic and get started.

What about you? Do your Facebook habits fit into the findings above? Does any of this information surprise you?

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