Thursday, September 23, 2010


Always remember the lemon.  Never forget the lemon.  Close your eyes and imagine yourself holding a fresh, yellow lemon in your right hand.  Why, you ask?  Well I say, why not?  As each one of our nonprofits communicate messages and sell our missions to the public, we need to think outside of the box and look to the lemon for some guidance. 

For the past couple of weeks I have enjoyed working with the owner of M-GEM Consulting, who has been very effective with communicating the importance of standing out with communications.  She brought several lemons to our team meeting and it was an enjoyable session to say the least.  I've always been the kind of person who thinks outside of the box but this little exercise really helped our team focus on the whole point: being unique. 

Here are some ideas that describe the lemon and relate back to your nonprofits marketing and communications:

  • It stands out
  • It's tangible
  • It appeals to your senses
  • It can make lemonade
  • It's attractive
  • It's refreshing

Keep this lemon in mind next time you are working on developing strategies for marketing, fundraising, communications, etc.  It will help you stand out from the crowd in a memorable way.

Thank you for taking the time to read this post.  Do you have any other ideas/words to share about this exciting lemon?  I'm sure you do!  Please share your ideas in the comment box below!


Monday, September 13, 2010

Opportunity Knocks!

Ideas.  They can take up a lot of space in the mind and some of us just can't turn them off, mute them or ignore them.  And recently I have been made aware of two big community fund competitions that involve ideas being dreamed-up for the betterment of our community.  It sure sounds exciting to me!  What would be more gratifying than doing some research, creating an exceptional idea and getting enough votes to bring your dream to a reality?  Better yet, all of this effort will have a direct impact on your friends and neighbours and you will lead an exciting movement for positive change! 

The two opportunities I'm talking about include:

1. Pepsi Refresh Project
Through their Refresh Project, Pepsi is rewarding individuals and nonprofit organizations for their big, positive ideas that focus on creating a stronger community.  Grants are grouped into categories with specific criteria for specific amounts.  From $5k to $100k, your ideas can literally come to life!  Voting and idea submissions take place in cycles.  You can vote now or submit you big idea from October 1 to October 7. 

  • $100,000 Idea - Build a no-kill shelter to provide a safe haven for animals
  • $25,000 Idea - Create a unique paint-a-thon event to unity the community
  • $10,000 Idea - Keep 300 kids a night off the streets and into the pool instead
  • $5,000 Idea - Build Homes. Build Hope.  Habitat for Humanity Mid-Vancouver Island.  Funds will be used for food and refreshments for volunteers
Check out the inspiring and exciting YouTube video to get a feeling for what the purpose of this fund is all about. 

2. Aviva Community Fund
$1,000,000 is available for individuals and nonprofits across Canada, through the Aviva Community Fund, to create real ideas for positive change!  Canadians vote on the idea and decide which ideas get funded.  If done properly, you can get a lot of support and votes from your neighbours and friends.  The competition for the money starts on September 27 and there are a number of key dates to follow.  They've actually structured the competition to include three levels:
  1. Idea Entry and Initial Voting
  2. Semi-finals and Voting
  3. Judging
  4. Winners Announced January 25, 2011
Learn more about the community fund by watching their YouTube video.

DO YOU HAVE A GOOD IDEA?  In my opinion, every idea is a good idea and they are all worth listening to.  I would love to hear what you have to say!  Make sure to leave some thoughts in the comments box below!



Wednesday, September 8, 2010

This is MY story

By now, you might be thinking to yourself, "Who is this Amanda Olsheskie girl and how do I pronounce her last name?"  First of all, my last name is honestly pronounced exactly how it is spelled; just take a moment to look at it closely and spell it out.  Secondly, I am a 24-year-old woman who feels compelled to help the people in my community who need a helping hand the most.  I feel really fortunate to have found my genuine passion in life and hope that one day, when I am a little older and a little wiser, I will look back on my journey and be very proud of everything that I made happen.

Instead of me boring you, or wasting your valuable time (because we all know how valuable our time really is), I'm asking that you look at my professional profile on LinkedIn to see exactly what my journey looks like.  Click on my name, Amanda Olsheskie, and you will be directed to my public profile.  Easy, isn't it?  Now you can see how busy I've been over the past couple of years, working hard to gain the experience that is demanded to land a meaningful job.

Being a recent three-time graduate, I initially stepped onto the nonprofit field looking to gain experience, develop/strengthen skills and network with influential people.  While my commitment to the nonprofit sector goes beyond the WIIFM, it turns out there are a lot of people who view volunteering as a great way to gain experience.  In 2004, the Canadian Centre for Philanthropy published a manual to guide nonprofits through effective volunteer resource management.  One of the trends that were recognized was an increase in the job-skill motivation among volunteers.  The statistic that caught my eye the most is that "seventy-eight percent of unemployed youth believed that volunteering would improve their job prospects, up from 65% in 1997"(McClintock, 2004).  So why, then, aren't more communications being targeted towards our local youth?  From my personal experience, we are a great resource to add to any volunteer team and we need to start being engaged NOW.

While Chairing the Public Relations Committee at Habitat for Humanity North Simcoe, I was connected to another youth volunteer who was eager to get some work experience as well.  Little did we know that our partnership would turn into something BIG and that we would be granted $15,000 on the very first proposal we had ever wrote.  Her name is Danielle Desroches.  She is originally from Penetanguishene, is a University graduate and we were lucky to have her reach out to the Habitat team for volunteer work.  Danielle and I eventually tried to figure out a way to get paid for the work we love.  With the wheels turning, we actually filled in for one of Habitat's board members to learn more about the Rural Communities Development Fund.  This meeting was held at the North Simcoe Community Futures Development Corporation (that's a mouthful) and the minute we heard "Internship", our eyes connected across the table and we knew that we could create a winning proposal.  And we did!

The important point to make note of is that today's youth need to be involved in nonprofit organizations for your benefit and for theirs.  I will be looking at several nonprofits in the North Simcoe area and identifying which, if any, target youth specifically and what has made their efforts successful.  Keep checking back for the inside scoop on targeting youth volunteers!



Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Welcome to Vibrant Visions!

Today is an amazing day! Why? Well, I've decided to start a new journey in life and kick-off the launch of my Vibrant Visions blog. There are many, many people in North Simcoe who I must thank for inspiring me to reach for the stars, to challenge myself and to create positive change for the nonprofit sector.

It's amazing how compelled we can be to help our community, especially when we understand how critical the nonprofit sector really is. It is the third pillar of our society, acting as a safety net to prevent our families, our friends and our neighbors from falling through the cracks. With the downturn in our economy, there is an ever-increasing need to provide key services and take action towards the issues that affect our fellow citizens. Yet, with the supply of volunteers decreasing, insufficient government support and underutilized partnerships, the begging bowl continues to be heard. And it is getting louder. As a charitable worker I appreciate the importance of the nonprofit sector and understand the challenges that it faces.

The purpose of this blog is to connect the nonprofit community in an online environment where success stories are shared, best practices are analyzed, local news is commented on, change-makers are featured and everyone is empowered to join the movement for a more vibrant future!

Thank you for visiting my Vibrant Visions blog! Please make sure to add your name and the company you work for in the comments box below, letting me know that you stopped by! And go ahead. Cllick on the little box "Follow" (to the right) so you can join this movement.

I look forward to sharing the information that matters to you!