December 5, 2019

Tips for meaningful #GivingTuesday follow-up

Filed under: Giving Tuesday — Tags: , , , — lidia @ 10:00 am

Congratulations, you did it—you made it through #GivingTuesday! But your work is not done yet. 

Take advantage of the momentum of your campaign: Follow up with your donors and supporters, create meaningful connections that will last throughout the year, and use the insights gathered this year to inspire next year’s campaign. 

Say thank you—and share results

Thank your supporters on social media and share the results of your campaign as well as the impact it has on the people your serve. Sharing a video thank you from the organization’s founder or leaders can make it more personal. 

TIP: Create an infographic or graphic that shows the results of your campaign and how you met your goals. 

Send an email

A day or two after #GivingTuesday, send a thank you email or postcard to your donors and supporters. If possible, segment your email list to personalize the message based on their giving (ie first-time donors, returning donors, etc.) 

TIP: Don’t forget to ask donors and supporters to follow you on social media so you can engage with them throughout the year. 

69% of donors prefer to be thanked for their donations via email, followed by a print letter [2018 Trends in Giving Report].

Focus on them (not you)

Rather than talking about your organization’s needs, tell your supporters specifically how their gift will be used, the change it will make in the community or how a person’s life will be affected.

TIP: Add photos or infographics for extra impact.  

Cultivate new donors

Take advantage of this opportunity to engage with new donors: Send a personalized message that tells the story of your organization, including ways they can be involved throughout the year. Mention any upcoming events or volunteer opportunities they can be a part of. 

TIP: Link to a blog post or landing page with a compelling story to help them experience your organization’s mission. 

Donors acquired during Giving Tuesday are 10–15% more likely to give again than donors acquired on typical days through peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns (Classy).

Promote your year-end campaign

Just because someone donated on #GivingTuesday doesn’t mean they are unwilling to give again, so add them to your list for year-end giving. Again, segment your list so you can thank them for their previous gift accordingly.

And if they do give again, remember to take them off your active list so they are not receiving unnecessary emails. 

TIP: Include non-monetary ways they can give or get involved with your organization. 

Encourage peer-to-peer fundraising 

Give donors a way to be more personally involved with your mission by suggesting a peer-to-peer (P2P) fundraising campaign for their next birthday or special event. 

Contrary to what you may think, all ages respond well to P2P: Over 90% of Gen Xers and Millennials and almost 80% of Baby Boomers report using P2P (Guidestar).

Nearly ⅓ of online donations are made through peer-to-peer fundraising (Classy).

Gather data

Use this time to gather important data on your donors. Analyze their behaviors during #GivingTuesday, note what type of communications resonated best, and use this insight to improve future engagement with donors. 

Check your social media insights and Google Analytics and save screenshots to compare next year. 

TIP: Use the data you collect to make notes for next year’s campaign. 

Collect ideas for next year

Create a shared document where you and your team can collect ideas and design samples to inspire next year’s campaign. 

TIP: If you still have them in your inbox, save the standout #GivingTuesday emails you received this year (as I did myself!) as well as your favorite social media images. 

Return donors whose first interaction was on GivingTuesday re-engaged sooner than donors whose first interaction was outside of GivingTuesday (The State of Modern Philanthropy 201).


Don’t let all your hard #GivingTuesday work go to waste. Use this time to genuinely engage with new and returning donors—as well as to make next year’s campaign even better. 

November 21, 2019

Last-minute communications tips for #GivingTuesday

Filed under: Giving Tuesday — lidia @ 10:05 am

We are just two weeks away from #GivingTuesday! Now that your campaign is in full-swing, there are a few steps you can take to assure day-of event (and post-event) success. 

Update your profiles

Make sure you’ve changed all of your social media headers and profile images  to reflect your #GivingTuesday branding. You may also want to create a Facebook event for the event. 

TIP: Use #GivingTuesday’s custom profile frames to easily change your Facebook profile image. 

Go big on social media

Bump up the frequency of posts, and don’t be afraid to mention your call to action. Do a countdown in your posts (i.e. 1 week away, 2 more days, tomorrow) to emphasize the urgency to give. 

Do one last email push

Schedule weekly emails reminding supporters about your campaign and ways they can give, including a link to your landing page and giving pages. If possible, also include non-monetary ways to give. 

TIP: Don’t forget to reach out to staff and volunteers to remind them to get involved by sharing the campaign in their personal networks and/or being available on #GivingTuesday to help with day-of tasks. 

Test your pages

Test your landing page and giving pages to make sure they are functioning properly. Have a backup plan for any issues that may occur on the day of the event. 

Create a day-of plan

Assign a staff member(s) to manage tasks on #GivingTuesday such as monitoring giving pages, responding to donor questions and engaging on social media. Keep followers and donors updated throughout the day on the progress toward your goal—and remember to thank them for their support and contributions. 

TIP: Create a template for sharing your campaign updates in Canva or Adobe Spark and you can easily update it throughout the day. 

Prepare a thank you

Decide how you will thank donors after #GivingTuesday, whether it’s a video, social media post, email, postcard—or all of the above! Thank your staff, donors, volunteers, community, and anyone else who helped make your campaign a success. Use a popular hashtag like #ThankYouWednesday to increase your reach.

TIP: Consider creating the graphics and messaging now, so they are ready to send or post the day after the event. 

Use the momentum

If you are also doing a holiday or year-end appeal, use the momentum from #GivingTuesday to boost that campaign as well. Mention the support you received on #GivingTuesday and how their gift will help to propel your mission. 

Here’s to a successful #GivingTuesday! Stay tuned for my final post with tips for successful follow-up and post-event engagement. 

Catch up with previous posts in my #GivingTuesday series:

November 14, 2019

Lidia Varesco Design is WBE-certified by WBENC

Filed under: Uncategorized — lidia @ 10:00 am

Lidia Varesco Design is WBENC Certififed

I’m pleased to announce that Lidia Varesco Design has been certified as a Women’s Business Enterprise (WBE) through the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC), the nation’s largest third party certifier of businesses owned and operated by women in the US.

Through myself and my team, we can add supplier diversity to your organization’s branding, marketing and graphic design projects.

November 6, 2019

2019 NGO Technology Report Recap

Filed under: Social Media — lidia @ 10:00 am

The Global Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) Technology Report is a biennial research project, sponsored by Funraise and produced by Nonprofit Tech for Good, that strives to understand how non-governmental organizations (NGOs) worldwide use technology.

Using survey results from over 5,000 NGOs across 160 countries, this report is useful for analyzing your organization’s current use of web and email communications, online fundraising tools, social media, mobile technology, and productivity software, as well as for planning future online goals and strategies

Here are key results for the United States and Canada

Web and Email Communications

Almost all (97%) NGOs have their own website—with a majority of them having mobile compatibility, privacy policy, SSL certificate, online donations, and event registration features on their website.

  • The majority of organizations send out emails to supporters with 46% sending them out on a monthly basis. 
  • The majority of NGOs send email fundraising appeals quarterly. 
  • 64% use a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software to track donors and supporters. 
  • 46% protect their data with encryption technology.
  • 85% accept donations online through their website. Credit card is the most used type of payment. The majority of organizations use fundraising tools such as recurring/monthly giving, tribute giving,  peer to peer fundraising and mobile card readers.
  • 58% participated in #GivingTuesday in 2018. Of those organizations, 62% received more funding that year than the previous year. 70% are planning to participate this year. Read my series about preparing for GivingTuesday.

TIP: See my post 15+ Low-Cost Social Media, Content & Email Marketing Resources for Nonprofits.

Social Media

The majority of NGOs believe social media is effective for recruiting attendees and volunteers for events, creating social change, online fundraising, for building online brand awareness and encourage people to take action.

  • 97% use social media on a daily basis to engage with donors and supporters.
  • 99% have a Facebook page for their organizationThe majority of NGOs purchase Facebook ads, use Facebook Charitable giving tools and use Facebook Live. 
  • 56% use Instagram, with a majority of organizations using Instagram stories. 
  • 64% use Twitter, with a majority using hashtags regularly. 
  • 37% have a LinkedIn page for their organization. 
  • 73% have a Google Ad grant. 

Productivity & Technology

The understanding of emerging technology by NPO staff is higher than the global average: 79% say they understand Artificial Intelligence, 75% cloud computing, and 58% predictive analytics.

  • 48% increased spending on technology in 2019; 8% decreased spending; 44% stayed the same.
  • 22% use tools for internal communication, such as Slack.
  • 29% use project management tools, such as Asana and Basecamp.

And finally, here are the most effective communication and fundraising tools, as determined by the survey:

  1.   Website
  2.   Case studies 
  3.   Email marketing 
  4.   Social media
  5.   Video

Read the entire Global Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) Technology Report. 

October 25, 2019

Tips for using social media in your #GivingTuesday campaign

Filed under: Social Media — lidia @ 10:03 am

We are almost six weeks away from #GivingTuesday! Now that you’ve outlined your goals and strategy, created a brand guide and developed your story, it’s time to launch your campaign on social media.

With 29% of online donors saying that social media is the communication tool that most inspires them to give, you don’t want to ignore this aspect of your campaign.

First, let’s go back to my post that mentions the 4 characteristics of an effective #GivingTuesday campaign and see how it applies to social media:

  • An inspired leader – Include thoughts from or images of your leader (or team member who is leading the campaign) in your campaign to bring a personal touch to your outreach.
  • Clear BIG goal – Define your social media goal: Is it donors, dollars, event attendees, followers, partners or volunteers?
  • Collaboration with partners – Collaboration is huge in social media. Think of ways to partner with a like-minded organization so you can both expand your reach.
  • Authenticity – Help your followers emotionally experience your mission and daily work through real-life photos and videos that genuinely tell your story.

Make a plan

You can’t expect success from a social media campaign if you don’t have a plan. Using your overall #GivingTuesday campaign strategy as reference, create a social media strategy that includes the following:

  • Goals of social media campaign
  • Social media outlets to focus on
  • Audience for each outlet
  • Types of posts for each outlet
  • Posting frequency

Remember that each social media outlet may have a different goal and audience, so you’ll want to consider each and tailor your content accordingly.

For example, 39% of millennials worldwide are inspired to give because of what they saw on social media, so you may focus on Instagram for that audience. And over half of LinkedIn users report donating to charities, so that outlet may be useful for targeting organization leaders or business professionals.

Focus, focus, focus

For a social media campaign to be effective, it has to resonate with your followers. One way to do this is to be very focused. Instead of sharing miscellaneous content, tell one singular story from different points of view throughout your campaign.

TIP: Creating a campaign focused on one story related to your mission also means you will end up with content that can be reused throughout the year.

Make it easy to share

In order to make it easier for everyone to spread the word on social media, it’s helpful to create a simple media kit.

Gather campaign-related images, videos, logos and other graphics. Then create a document with sample pre-written posts to cut and paste for each social media outlet. File everything in a shared folder that can be easily accessed by your team, freelancers, or ambassadors.

Did you create a brand guide as I demonstrated in my last #GivingTuesday post? Great news! Include that in the media kit so that your branding will be consistent throughout the campaign.

Get others on board

Social media is well, social, so get as many people involved as you can. Consider featuring your organization’s leader or the team member leading the campaign through stories and images. And of course, encourage your team to share the campaign with their personal networks.

If you have supporters who regularly share your posts or mention your organization in their posts—turn them into social media ambassadors. As nonprofit social media marketer Julia Campbell says in her guide to coordinating social media ambassadors on #GivingTuesday, this “group of passionate and inspiring people who want to spread the word about your cause and raise money for you” are your greatest asset.

Partner up

Are there like-minded organizations or groups—locally or nationally—that you can partner with on your campaign? By cross-posting content or participating in an Instagram takeover, both organizations can expand their reach.

And don’t limit yourself to fellow nonprofits. Small businesses, especially local businesses, can be great collaborators as they prepare for Small Business Saturday (Saturday before #GivingTuesday).

Get more done in less time

Organizations often struggle with social media because of a lack of time or resources.  A strategy I recommend is to block out a few hours to write and schedule a month’s worth of campaign posts. You can still share and post spontaneously throughout the month, but this way you’ll have a steady stream of posts and maintain consistency in your campaign.

Another way to save time is to use a content calendar to track current and upcoming posts. It can be as simple as a spreadsheet or you can use an app like Trello, which has useful content calendar templates.

TIP: Many social media schedulers and other tools have nonprofit discounts—see my list of 15+ Low-Cost Social Media, Content & Email Marketing Resources for Nonprofits.

Don’t push the ask

Don’t lead with the ask. Make sure your social media content is evenly distributed between information, education, stories, conversations—then the request for donation.

Also, remember that people may want to donate in ways other than money, so consider highlighting non-monetary ways to get involved in your #GivingTuesday campaign, such as board or volunteer opportunities or wish lists of goods and services.

Show followers the impact your organization is making, show them why you are passionate about your mission. Give them enough background so that when they do see your ask, they will be inspired to give.

Be inspired by others

As the #GivingTuesday Learning Lab Facebook page branding expert, I often hear people struggling to find ideas for their #GivingTuesday campaign. One of the best ways to get inspired is to see what others are doing.

Observe how other organizations are using social media in their campaigns—specifically techniques you may not have considered such as Instagram Stories, Facebook Live or a Q&A session or live interview.

A #GivingTuesday hashtag search will provide lots of examples, or you can reference #GivingTuesday 2018 Success Stories for examples from nonprofits, foundations, higher education, schools and more.

P.S. Be inspired, but please don’t copy!

Haven’t started working on your campaign yet?

Not to worry! #GivingTuesday has put together a handy 6-Week Communication Plan that will get you caught up, week-by-week.

On average, nonprofits gain 4X the number of new donors on #GivingTuesday than they do on a typical day. And with social media driving 57% of traffic to fundraising campaign pages, it’s smart to invest time and effort into this aspect of your #GivingTuesday campaign.

Catch up with my #GivingTuesday series:

And stay tuned for the next post where I’ll be talking about last-minute tips for your campaign.

September 26, 2019

How to use branding to personalize your #GivingTuesday campaign

Filed under: Branding — lidia @ 2:04 pm

If your nonprofit is ready to join the #GivingTuesday movement, here comes the fun stuff: personalizing your campaign and making it your own.

The great thing about #GivingTuesday is that it’s an “unbranded movement”—you have the flexibility to make it whatever you want. You can use your organization’s branding to create custom #GivingTuesday social media graphics and hashtags that are consistent with your existing branding and marketing outreach.

Here are some tips for personalizing your #GivingTuesday campaign.

Start with a plan

Get started by downloading the Getting Ready for #GivingTuesday workbook. You’ll find prompts for developing your campaign name, visuals and tagline, as well as narrative and call to action.

Create a brand guide

A brand guide visually expresses the important aspects of your branding. It functions as a reference guide to keep your visuals and messaging consistent throughout your campaign.

Your brand guide can be simple, but should include the visual aspects of your branding, i.e. logo, colors, fonts, images and videos—as well as your voice, and the theme and hashtags you plan to use in your #GivingTuesday campaign.

When you design a campaign social media post or website graphic, reference your brand guide to be sure it’s aligned with your branding and messaging.

TIP: When designing a piece, ask yourself: Will a follower recognize this as part of my brand? If not, revisit your design (and brand guide) to make it more consistent with your brand’s identity.

Here is an example of a brand guide I use for my social media marketing.

Incorporate the #GivingTuesday branding

While you want to use your organization’s branding, it’s also smart to incorporate aspects of #GivingTuesday’s branding so that your audience recognizes your campaign is part of this global movement.

If you don’t have a graphic designer on hand, tools like Canva or Adobe Spark (both of which offer nonprofit discounts) make it easy to create images using the #GivingTuesday branding and logo.

TIP: The #GivingTuesday hex color codes are #C02032 (red) and #32417E (blue).

Here are some examples of how organizations have incorporated #GivingTuesday’s branding into their own.

Create a unique hashtag

Creating a hashtag unique to your campaign is one of the best ways to increase your engagement. You can use your organization’s name, tagline, or campaign name—just keep it simple and memorable.

You can also play on your organization’s mission, like Dress for Success did. The organization—whose mission is to empower women to achieve economic independence by providing , among other things, professional attire—played on the #GivingTuesday name by staging a #GivingShoesDay where women were encouraged to donate their gently-worn professional shoes.

Be consistent

Consistent branding helps reinforce the who, what and why of your organization—and creates a connection with your audience. It also helps with donor retention.

Using a brand guide, as well as a content calendar, will help to create visual and messaging consistency that will inspire viewers to take action during your #GivingTuesday campaign—and throughout the year.

Here’s an example of how Appalachian Trail Conservancy has created a #GivingTuesday campaign that is consistent with their overall branding.

Tell authentic stories—through video

During #GivingTuesday people may feel overwhelmed by fundraising appeals. To stand out and resonate with your audience, you need to tell your story.

A compelling story allows potential donors and supporters to make an emotional connection. And video allow you to express situations in a way that static text and images can’t.

Videos are shared over social media 1200% more than text and pictures combined. If that doesn’t convince you, video viewers retain as much as 95% of a message when they watch it—text viewers only retain 10% of what they read.

Here’s an example of how Sick Kids Foundation uses storytelling in their “Undeniable” campaign video.

With your plan, brand guide and story in hand, you are well on your way to creating a #GivingTuesday campaign that is all your own—one that will stand out on December 3rd and beyond.

Stay tuned for the rest of our monthly blog series that will lead you through marketing your #GivingTuesday campaign!

August 16, 2019

Why your organization needs a social media mission (and how to write one)

Filed under: Social Media — Tags: , , , , , , — lidia @ 2:34 pm

Most organizations have a mission statement, but do you have a social media mission statement?

According to HubSpot, 67% of nonprofits have no social media strategy, policies or goals documented. (ouch—that’s higher than the 50% of companies without a documented social media strategy reported by Search Engine Journal). That means more than half of the organizations they polled are basically just “throwing it out there to see what sticks”—not a good use of time and money.

Why it’s important to have a social media mission

Considering 74% of people say they use Facebook for professional purposes (HubSpot, 2017) and LinkedIn has over 500 million users. (LinkedIn, 2019), it’s worth making time for social media marketing in your organization—but you must have a mission.

In social media marketing (and branding and marketing, in general), people need to feel a connection before they interact with you. You need to give them a reason to interact with you: a reason to like a post, leave a comment or come back to your page.

As Simon Sinek, author of Start With Why puts it: “People don’t buy what you do; they buy WHY you do it.” It makes sense to have a sense of purpose—or a focus on your WHY—in your social media marketing, just as you do in otehr aspects of your branding and marketing.

How to create a social media mission statement

A social media mission statement helps you discover and express your organization’s social media WHO, WHAT and WHY: who you are speaking to, what you are sharing, and why they should engage with it.

  1. WHO: Who is your audience? Who will be reading what you share? (If you don’t already have an ideal client profile, now is the time to write one)
  2. WHAT: What do they want to learn more about or read about? What can you share that will encourage them to interact? What will inspire them?
  3. WHY: Why should they engage with you? Why are you the perfect person to provide this content to them? What benefits will they receive by engaging with you? How will it make them feel? What actions will they be inspired to take?
  4. WHERE: Where can you find your audience? Which social media outlets do they use and how do they use them? (Doing some competitor research can make this part easier).

According to HubSpot, 48% of nonprofits believe social media is very valuable, with 80% of nonprofits saying Facebook is their primary social network. Most organzitions are already spending a good amount of time promoting their mission on social media. So, instead of being one of the 67% that are just “seeing what will stick,” take some time to think about and create your social media mission and make your interactions are more thoughtful and engaging.

Need help creating your social media mission statement?

Download my free Social Media Mission worksheet which walks you through the steps of creating one. And feel free to reach out to me to chat about it!

Social Media Mission Statement Worksheet


August 7, 2019

Is your nonprofit organization ready for #GivingTuesday?

Filed under: Giving Tuesday — lidia @ 10:00 am

Is your nonprofit organization ready for #GivingTuesday? |

#GivingTuesday is a global movement that impacts local communities by transforming the way people think about giving and how they participate in the giving season. Their mission is to inspire collective action towards improving local communities through generosity. They stress the importance of each act of kindness—no matter how small. The ultimate goal of this movement is to bring people together to create a more generous world.

#GivingTuesday is the Tuesday after Thanksgiving in the United States. It was started in 2012 to reclaim the season for giving and is now celebrated in more than 190 countries all over the world. In 2018, $400 million was raised online. 

How participating in the movement can benefit my organization

Nonprofits raise more during year-end when they participate in #GivingTuesday—the average donation is $105. In 2018, 75% of #GivingTuesday’s financial contributors were repeat donors. The holiday season creates a boost in giving by drawing in more donors and by encouraging current donors to give more.

#GivingTuesday is not just about monetary donations

#GivingTuesday celebrates every giver, no matter their donation. The movement is not about one’s ability to donate—it’s about taking action. Many donors participate in more than one way. For example, 37% of participants donate in non-monetary ways such as food and clothing drives or volunteer work. 

Having trouble thinking of ways people can give back to the community? See #GivingTuesday’s Case Studies. They share success stories from nonprofit organizations that can spark inspiration within your own organization.

4 characteristics of an effective #GivingTuesday campaign

Some campaigns are more effective than others, but why? Well, it’s simple. Those campaigns possess these qualities:

  • Inspired leader – Leaders who are passionate and authentic will inspire your donors.
  • Authenticity – Your brand, message, and approach should be authentic as well as resonate with potential donors.
  • Collaboration – Partnering with local businesses, funders and fellow organizations can amplify your campaign. Search for local movements here. 
  • Clear goal – You should have a goal that reflects your organization’s priorities and is big enough that people notice and are inspired to get involved. Here are some ideas:

Steps to get started on your #GivingTuesday campaign

#GivingTuesday is a mere four months away. Based on the 2019 Campaign Timeline, by now your organization should have:

  • Registered for #GivingTuesday (GT) at
  • Downloaded the case studies and toolkits relevant to your organization
  • Set clear goals
  • Organized a staff meeting to select team members to work on the campaign
  • Reached out to local businesses, funders, and potential partners for funding and idea exploration
  • Researched local movements to get involved in
  • Talked to donors about providing a match or challenge grant to build extra excitement

If you’re behind in your campaign steps, no worries! There’s still time to get caught up.

This month, your organization should be working on the following:

  • Confirm your campaign plan and goals that reflect your organization’s priorities
  • Map out a timeline and share with key team members
  • Confirm assets and graphics you’ll need for the campaign
  • Start mapping out your content calendar
  • Think about your evaluation strategy

Our next blog post will further explain the steps needed to continue preparing for your campaign.

Additional #GivingTuesday resources

  • Getting Ready for GivingTuesday workbook: gives you step-by-step instructions on building a #GivingTuesday campaign. It’s a great tool for cementing thoughts on paper with plenty of room for notes and ideas. The workbook is backed by previous #GivingTuesday leaders. The workbook aids the organizations on campaign building, recruiting a team, and timeline creation.
  • GivingTuesday Learning Lab: a Facebook Group for nonprofit organizations to ask questions and share ideas with other organizations. I’m the “resident branding expert” in this group, so bring me your questions on branding.
  • 2019 Campaign Timeline :lays out all of the tasks that need to be completed during each month from June to December. It is a great way to help you stay on top of things.

Are you ready to join the #GivingTuesday movement? 

Mark your calendars: in 2019, #GivingTuesday falls on December 3rd and your nonprofit has the opportunity to join thousands of other organizations to spread generosity that positively impacts others. Sharing your story will inspire change, and may start a wave of generosity that lasts longer than just one day.

Stay tuned for the rest of our #GivingTuesday blog series that will lead you through branding and marketing your campaign, along with monthly to-dos to keep you on track. 

July 31, 2019

15+ Low-Cost Social Media, Content & Email Marketing Resources for Nonprofits

Filed under: Marketing & Promotion,Social Media — lidia @ 10:00 am

Free Digital Marketing Resources |

Offers are subject to change, refer to the links for most recent information. Updated 10/23/19

As the marketing and communications VP for a nonprofit board of directors, I’m often called on to provide recommendations for digital marketing resources such as email marketing, blogging and social media scheduling. I’ve used many of these resources personally both in my design studio as well as in my client and board work. 

Social Media & Content Marketing 

One of the biggest time-savers for my clients has been using a social media scheduler, rather than scheduling posts manually. These tools for scheduling posts and creating a content calendar are essential for organizations with a small staff or those working with outside vendors, as they keep your social media and content marketing in one place and make it accessible by everyone on the team.

Email Marketing

If you’re not already using an email marketing tool for your organization, now is the time to start. Not only does it make your message appear more professional, but it allows you to segment contacts for more targeted outreach, conduct A/B testing on your messaging, and see exactly who is engaging with your messages. 

Also, just because a nonprofit discount isn’t advertised, doesn’t mean it’s not available. Most tool developers are happy to work with you to meet your organization’s needs and budget, so it’s worth reaching out to them personally. 

Did I miss something? Let me know so I can add it to the list. And be sure to bookmark this page—I will update it as new resources are available.

Read my previous post 25+ free (or low-cost) design resources for nonprofits and stay tuned for the rest of my series, Free (or Low-Cost) Design & Marketing Resources for Nonprofits as it becomes available.

July 11, 2019

How to completely unplug from work while on vacation

Filed under: Time Management — lidia @ 9:00 am

I went on vacation this year and once again, I didn’t check email and social media. I started this practice somewhat spontaneously last year, however now that I’m a pro at disconnecting (ha!), I was more intentional about it this time.

As I always do, I made sure projects were wrapped up, sent my clients ample out of office notices, as well as personal email follow ups if necessary, and turned on my email auto-responder.

Since I had already deleted social media apps from my phone earlier in the year, the social media aspect was taken care of: I had zero digital distractions, notifications or other FOMO reminders for a week.


I didn’t miss out on any emergencies or opportunities. I was fully relaxed. I came back feeling recharged and excited to get back to work.

As I mentioned above, you do need to prepare yourself for complete detachment during vacation—both to manage client expectations and give yourself peace of mind.

Alert contacts well ahead of time

For projects that are in progress—especially those that are time sensitive—alert your clients and colleagues as far ahead as possible of your travel plans (and plans to be offline). Set expectations for your availability (or in this case, unavailability) and when you plan to return messages.

Send an out-of-office email

For clients or colleagues who don’t have active projects, a simple out-of-office email should be enough to give them a heads up if something comes up in your absence.

Send a follow up before leaving

Sometimes that out-of-office email gets lost or forgotten by the time you leave, so send a quick reminder before you leave to contacts with active projects.

Hire a VA if necessary

One of my design colleagues recently did a cross-country move and hired a VA to manage her calls and emails while she was on the road. The VA was able to respond to simple requests and she didn’t have to worry about spotty Wifi access.

Clean up your desk

I don’t know about you, but I don’t like coming back to a messy desk. I always tidy up my desk and folders to make the day back to work as calm and peaceful as possible.

So, you’ve wrapped things up at the office. Now it’s time to hit the road—unplugged. I know that disconnecting from work is hard, so I came up with a few strategies to keep digital distractions at bay while on vacation.

Turn on your email auto-responder

Be clear about when you will be back and in office and return messages. And if you’re feeling creative, write a clever message (“I’m out of the office and on the beach getting inspired.”)—it will temporarily distract any emailers who are anxious to reach you.

Turn off notifications on mobile devices

I know this is hard—just turn ‘em all off. And know that you can turn them back on when you return—if you want to. I actually waited several weeks post-vacation before I turned notifications back on my iPad (I had gotten used to the break!)

Don’t check email

Seriously, do not even peek! If you have properly prepared and alerted your clients and colleagues, whatever is there can wait.

Don’t check social media

Trust me, you can live without Facebook and Instagram for a week. Resist the urge to “just post this one pic” and instead enjoy the moments in real life as they are happening.

Don’t take your digital devices with you everywhere

Don’t keep your device on the bedside table. Leave your phone at home when you hit the beach or go sightseeing. Do whatever works to resist the urge to peek.

Turn off your Wi-Fi

Remove your access to the online world. This is my strategy when I want to read an eBook without being tempted to check social media.

Let your phone run out of batteries

If all else fails, force your phone to be unusable and “forget” to bring your charger with you.

And now that you’ve successfully unplugged, here are a few strategies for getting back in tune with analog life:

Read a book or magazine

Remember those? It helps to read something that is not related to work. I brought a marketing magazine with me on vacation and quickly put it away when I realized it was messing up my vacation vibe.

Listen for nature’s rhythms

While we were on vacation, I sat and listened to the rhythm of an automatic sprinkler, the turning on and off of an air conditioner, the chirping of birds and palm leaves blowing in wind. (Would I ever do this at home—nope!)

Observe your environment

I took photos of the same palm trees every day, observing how the different time of day presented a different type of light or color of sky. (Again, good luck finding time to do this at home).

Start a creative challenge

My kids and I started a 100 Day Challenge while on vacation (#100DaysofDrawingTogether). It was a great excuse to sit and draw together each night.

I will admit that there was the occasional pang of “Should I just take a quick peek?” As a long-time small business owner (going on 20 years), it’s hard to completely detach from my business.

But I’m glad I didn’t cave, because upon my return to the working world, what did I miss out on? Exactly nothing. Instead, my clients eagerly welcomed me back and I was refreshed and ready to hit the ground running.

Vacations offer a physical—as well as emotional—break. They offer a chance to slow down and notice things you normally miss due to the everyday rush and distractions. The fact that more than half of American workers don’t use up their vacation days tells me that we need to take a break now more than ever.

So go ahead and take a break—you deserve it. The only downfall of doing a digital detox for a week: it took me 2-1/2 hours to process all my emails—but it was fully worth it

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