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  • September 04, 2020 11:55 AM | Anonymous

    By Anna Jovel
    SOS Account Executive
    About Anna

    With the recent events of injustice that have been happening across the country, talk of diversity, equity, and inclusion are on the rise, and if you aren’t talking about it, well… you should be.

    “Business today is increasingly global, and that's not likely to change anytime soon. If your company's employees don't reflect this trend and represent cultural diversity, your business may be very much behind the times,” (Schindler).

    So how do we have the conversation to get things started and how do we keep the conversation going to ensure long-term success in embracing diversity in our workplace or association?

    1. “Let’s start with some definitions: “Diversity” tells us who is in the room, “inclusion” means those in the room are heard, and “equity” means those in the room have the things they need to thrive. Thus, the term “DEI” = diversity, equity, inclusion. And to be clear, equity doesn’t mean equality,” (Nessel).

    2. Take a personal assessment. Look at your employees, your board, your membership and assess your current level of diversity. Asking your members about their backgrounds, ethnicity, gender pronouns or preferences, etc., can sometimes feel evasive of someone’s privacy. However, it is an important aspect of measuring your current level of diversity. Below are a couple of ways to ease this process:

    a. Make these type of surveys or questions optional. It allows the member to make a choice for themselves as to whether to provide the information.

    b. Make it anonymous. This assures them that their personal information will not be shared because their response is not linked backed to them as an individual.

    3. Make a commitment to diversity and inclusion. “The leadership of an organization with successful diversity policies and practices demonstrates its commitment to diversity and inclusion,” (The Standards for Assessing the Diversity Policies and Practices). Diversity and equity throughout an organization starts at the top, an organization can only embrace this to the extent that the leadership allows or supports. Some ways that an organization can show their support of diversity includes reassessing your mission and vision to ensure inclusive wording, implement new policies and procedures around equitable practices, conduct regular educational and training sessions, and many more. There are a lot of resources on the internet, including an article from the Society for Human Resource Management about 6 Steps for Building an Inclusive Workplace. These kind of practices, guided by the leadership of an organization “fosters a corporate culture that embraces diversity and inclusion,” (The Standards for Assessing the Diversity Policies and Practices).

    4. Keep up the conversation. “Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) is becoming an increasingly valued part of the workplace conversation. As a result, many mission-driven organizations are signaling their desire to institutionalize workplace DEI practices by launching a staff-led taskforce, working groups, and committees,” (Lee). Implementing a taskforce or committee that focuses on long-term DEI, provides a space and a commitment to keep the conversation going. This committee will keep up to date with current events, take ownership over assessing policies and procedures, and ensure the continued focus on making your organization a safe, diverse, and equitable place of employment or membership.

    “Through education and a greater grasp of cultural competence (an evolving developmental process that encourages the increasing awareness of and respect for the interpersonal styles, beliefs, languages and customs of those from cultures other than our own), many corporations are evolving into multinational melting pots,” (Schindler). Take the next step to implement DEI and watch your organization turn in to its own multinational melting pot full of diverse ideas, inclusive opportunities, equitable practices, and compassion for one another.


    Resources

    Lee, Yejin. “Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in the Workplace: Tips for Starting a DEI Committee.” Idealist, 3 July 2020, link to resource.

    Nessel, Ariel. “How We Approach DEI Work With Organizations (And Why).” Encompass, 16 Oct. 2018, link to resource.

    Schindler, Janine. “Council Post: The Benefits Of Cultural Diversity In The Workplace.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 13 Sept. 2019, link to resource.

    “The Standards for Assessing the Diversity Policies and Practices.” FDIC, link to resource.

  • July 30, 2020 10:34 AM | Anonymous
    By Laura Taylor
    SOS Account Executive
    About Laura

    We all do our best to live by moral standards, be good examples to youth, and carry those same principles forward at work. The Associations with whom we work all have mission statements. Do they also have a code of ethics, core ethical standards, or guiding principles that assist them in conducting business professionally, legally, and ethically? Why have a Code of Ethics? Here are a couple of reasons why having a code of ethics is prudent.

    Reputation:

    There is an assumption that every trade, profession, and organization will conduct business with fairness, morality, and integrity. But remember, all levels of nonprofits are held to a higher standard simply because they are classified as nonprofits. The expectations are that our associations will operate at a higher level of honor and truthfulness.

    Knowing that, it behooves associations to craft and post a code of ethics or statement of values. This demonstrates a commitment to ethical behavior which can result in overall public trust and confidence in an association. Having a code of ethics prominently placed on a website is an indication to prospective members and volunteers what the values of the association are with transparency and accountability being priorities (www.councilofnonprofits.org).

    Assist with moral dilemmas:

    In addition to the appearance and image of an association, ethical codes can be very useful in assisting leaders in professional conduct and principled decision-making. Rhode and Packel point out in Ethics and Nonprofits, often ethical problems come into play in gray areas like peripheries of fraud, conflicts of interest, and misallocations of resources. There are four areas of morality which influence making decisions.

    • Moral awareness or recognizing that there may be an ethical issue
    • Moral decision-making or knowing what actions are ethically sound
    • Moral intent or understanding which values take priority
    • Moral action means following through on ethical decisions.

    Furthermore, some leaders are very confident in their own judgement. At times, this can lead to over-optimism and commitments that cannot be fulfilled. This can result in covering up mistakes because the problems cannot be rectified easily.

    Group biases can happen as well. Ethical reasoning is influenced. There may be a great deal of pressure from the group or the given expectations of the organization. Group decision-making can also lack accountability (2009, pp 30-31).

    Establishing a code of ethics may not always result in sound decision-making but if leaders focus on the instituted values and guiding principles, acting with integrity will encourage like actions by others.

    Our Industry Example:

    As members of American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) and running the risk of preaching to the choir, there are Core Ethical Standards established as follows.

    An ASAE member should aspire to:

    1. Respect and uphold public laws that govern one’s work;
    2. Be honest in conducting the member’s business;
    3. Respect the confidentiality of information gained through one’s work;
    4. Act fairly;
    5. Foster an ethical culture through one’s work; and
    6. Take responsibility for one’s conduct (www.asaecenter.org)

    Additionally, those individuals who have achieved their CAE certification as well as those who may be preparing to achieve the certification understand that under the Membership Development Domain, there is a section dedicated to the Ethics Program. The objectives of what one needs to comprehend and be able to demonstrate to associations are as follows.

    1. Define the ethical standards of professional conduct that aligns with the vision and mission of the organization.
    2. Raise awareness of the ethical standards to foster the community which encourages members to identify and adhere to the ethical standards of professional conduct.
    3. Establish and manage a discipline program to address violations of the ethical standards of professional conduct.
    4. Review professional and industry practices to determine how to maintain the relevance of the ethical standards of professional conduct (www.asaecenter/programs/cae-certification/).

    How to Write a Code of Ethics:

    There are several examples of codes of ethics whether your association is establishing one for the first time or revisiting the current one. Reviewing this document on a regular basis is encouraged as it should be a living document. The Standards for Excellence®: An Ethics and Accountability Code for the Nonprofit Sector is a comprehensive resource that works to promote excellence and trust in the nonprofit sector.

    Here are some basic steps provided by betterteam.com to get an organization started on the process.

    1. Review your mission statement and core values. When making decisions, this is a good place to start.
    2. Talk to stakeholders. Get everyone involved, ensuring that your code reflects the association’s most important values.
    3. Review past ethical issues. What are the strengths? What are the opportunities based on past challenges?
    4. See where other organizations have faltered. Are there other colleagues in the same industry with experience in this area?
    5. Create a draft code for input and discussion. Give everyone a chance to provide input on the draft.
    6. Create a final draft and share it. Circulate it, celebrate it, review it often (www.betterteam.com).

    Final Thoughts:

    As mentioned previously, having a code of ethics in place does not guarantee consistent ethical behavior. However, it can be an important and essential tool when used to strengthen the public’s trust in the association, reinforce accountability, and support transparency. Having high ethical standards helps our associations be effective in their work and ultimately more successful.

    References:

    • Rhode, D.L., & Packel, A.K. (2009). Ethics and Nonprofits [Review of stanford social innovation review Stanford Graduate School of Business]. Stanford Innovation Review, (Summer),29-35.
    • https://standardsforexcellence.org
    • www.asaecenter.org
    • www.betterteam.com
    • www.councilofnonprofits.org


  • July 17, 2020 10:12 AM | Anonymous

    By Conni Ingallina
    President
    About Conni

    As SOS-Association Management Solutions has worked with trade, professional and charitable nonprofit associations over the past 25 years, we have become convinced that an Association Management Company (AMC) is one of the most cost effective solutions for associations. There are so many reasons to use an AMC (and make sure it is accredited!*) but here are 10 to get you started.

    1) Experienced Employees 

    AMCs are fully staffed with Account Executives (experienced nonprofit professionals that can act as your Executive Director), as well as other nonprofit specialists in accounting/bookkeeping, event planning, membership management, and other support areas including marketing and communication. One key benefit of not having to hire your own staff: when there is a vacancy, the AMC is responsible for replacing that staff person with an experienced employee while working with the Association to ensure compatibility. It takes all the hiring and interviewing process right off your plate.

    2) Infrastructure Impact

    Many stand-alone associations have high overhead and infrastructure costs which eat up a lot of revenue. You could be paying as much as a 50% premium by directly purchasing your own resources: staff costs, payroll processing, HR issues, office space, capital items and more. With an AMC, you can cut your overhead costs (in half) and create long-term stability for the association. That’s right - No Payroll!

    3) Financial Fortitude

    Responsible financial management is critically important for any organization, and transparency in finances is a must for associations. AMCs are set up in such a way that many eyes see the books regularly. The AMC’s accounting department does the daily and monthly bookkeeping, but the analysis and review of monthly transactions and reports is done by both the Treasurer and the Account Executive, insuring there are several layers of review for monthly transactions. I once spoke to a lawyer and asked if they had ever seen a case of fraud for an association that is managed by an AMC. He stated that he had not. The safeguards that AMCs provide make fraud much tougher since there are so many eyes on the books and bank accounts.

    4) Membership Management

    Members are the life-blood of any association. AMCs have many tools that can be used to monitor, manage and maintain association members. Having multiple staffers who can assist members when the Account Executive isn’t available is a plus. Not only are the day-to-day membership operations taken care of, but there is a wealth of creativity that clients can tap into for membership recruitment and retention strategies and campaigns.

    5) Engagement Enhancement

    Engagement with your members and leaders is always of paramount importance, but during these interesting times, it’s even more critical. Creating multiple channels of communication to connect with all of your stakeholders is a must. An AMC has the resources to create, implement and maintain communication campaigns, channels and content.

    6) Financial Flexibility

    An AMC is an economical solution for associations. Most AMCs work on a monthly retainer that provides for predictable costs, even when some months are busier than others. You don’t lose staff or service when things are slower, and when they are busier, such as conference planning time, you gain the expertise of more staff without having to hire anyone. An AMC is an asset to an association’s bottom-line.

    7) Mundane Management

    Face it, no one likes to do mailings, routine phone calls, inventory, badge creation, and other daily tasks. With an AMC, we have “been there, done that” and are quick to get it done.

    8) Compliance Competency

    An AMC Institute-Accredited* AMC like SOS has multiple ANSI standards it needs to meet on behalf of each of its clients. Both complex and routine tasks such as taking care of the Annual Corporation Commission report, researching and buying D&O and liability insurance, spearheading annual IRS filings and insuring internal controls for financial management are just a few of the compliance areas an AMC manages. Another area of expertise that helps keep an association in compliance is Board Governance, which includes tasks such as maintaining Bylaws and Policies and Procedures compliance, managing new board member orientations, and assisting with strategy for the organization. Oversight of these items allows the board to focus on the mission and vision for the future of the organization rather than annual compliance issues.

    9) Savvy Solutions

    Let’s be honest, things crop up all the time in an association. Member issues, industry issues, leadership issues. Volunteer leaders often don’t have the bandwidth to deal with these issues when they crop up due to their “day jobs.” Your AMC team is uniquely qualified to find solutions to every situation that arises. It is the AMC’s job is to find creative solutions and implement strategies for effective and efficient leadership. For example, in the current virtual event environment, the resources and expertise of AMCs have helped numerous associations pivot quickly to an online platform. No searching for a consultant to help 6 months down the road, you need a solution promptly – that’s what we do, we find the solution.

    10) Consistent Constancy

    I believe this is the most important reason to use an AMC. With stand-alone associations, if your Executive Director decides to retire or leave for other opportunities, many times an association is caught off-guard and does not have a plan for succession. In an AMC environment, it becomes the AMC’s Executive Staff‘s responsibility to find a competent, experienced replacement. And having other team members that know the association allows for the association to continue to run smoothly until a successor is chosen and trained. It also provides continuity of operations when Boards turn over. The AMC becomes the keeper of the association’s history and can help guide new Board Leadership.

    The successful operation of an association today requires a wide range of skills, and while we have more resources than ever before, not one person can do everything. An AMC allows experts in different areas to support associations in any industry. Associations that are under AMC management experience important benefits as a result of the model. Associations enjoy those benefits in good economic times, as well as during difficult economic times.

    *Find out more about the AMC model and accreditation here

  • June 26, 2020 2:31 PM | Anonymous

    By Jeff Falcusan
    SOS Account Executive
    About Jeff

    For associations, the decision to contract with an association management company (AMC) can be driven by a number of factors. Regardless of their underlying motivations, however, all associations that choose to partner with an AMC rightfully insist upon receiving a return on their investment. As the AMC Institute points out, associations that embrace the AMC model can expect realize a number of benefits, including:

    • Improved staffing and resource allocation
    • Proven best management practices and access to best-of-class resources and technologies
    • Efficiencies derived from leveraging shared resources
    • Improved buying power
    • Reduced business risks
    • Greater member satisfaction resulting from the professionalism and responsiveness of staff
    • Scalability to accommodate organization growth

    The AMC Institute also highlights another critically important benefit: “Freedom from daily operations that allows Boards to maintain their focus on mission and strategy.” At SOS, we often come across organizations that are seeking additional capacity after years spent relying upon volunteers (typically Board members and committee chairs) for the performance of key functions, including event planning, membership recruitment, database management, and marketing and communications.

    When a trade association’s leaders are required to devote significant time and energy to the organization’s operations, there is often little time left for those leaders to do what leaders should do: exercise leadership. After all, many if not most of those leaders are distinguished professionals with full-time jobs, and the responsibilities that go along with those positions. Entering into a relationship with an association management company like SOS can free up Board members and organizational leaders to devote their limited and valuable time to addressing higher-level organizational priorities, including advancing strategic initiatives and building new partnerships.

    That benefit seems especially relevant today. There is no doubt that 2020 has already been an unprecedented year, with no shortage of crises for associations to navigate and overcome. With an AMC in place to manage day-to-day administrative and operational responsibilities, an association’s leaders are in a better position to meet the challenges of the moment while advancing the organization’s mission.

    Here is one powerful example: Our client, the National Pharmaceutical Association (NPhA), came to SOS due to a desire to shift the focus of its volunteer leadership away from administrative functions so that leaders could devote more energy to advancing policy goals. By way of background, NPhA was founded in 1947 by Dr. Chauncey I. Cooper during a period in our nation’s history when minority medical professionals were often barred from joining established professional associations. Today, NPhA remains dedicated to representing the views and ideals of minority pharmacists on critical issues affecting health care and pharmacy, as well as advancing the standards of pharmaceutical care among all practitioners.

    With administrative staff support in place, NPhA’s leadership was able to focus its attention quickly on advancing policy objectives at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. In April, the association pushed for and secured a seat at the table as a consortium of 12 national pharmacy organizations came together to develop and issue a set of recommendations aimed at federal policymakers. These recommendations focused on granting additional authorities and removing existing barriers in order to empower pharmacists, who are front-line medical providers, to do more for their patients while easing the burden COVID-19 has placed on the nation’s health care system. Working together, NPhA and its partner organizations have secured important policy concessions from various agencies, including the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which later in April authorized licensed pharmacists to order and administer COVID-19 tests.

    Even as the COVID-19 pandemic rages on, our nation has recently been engaged in an overdue reckoning with systemic racial inequality. Given the historical reasons for its own founding, NPhA has a long history working to combat the effects of racism, particularly in the provision of health care, and its voice must be heard. At the same time, NPhA’s president, Dr. Lakesha Butler, understood the importance of securing public pledges to oppose racial injustice from other national organizations that have not previously devoted sufficient attention to the issue. To that end, Dr. Butler led the development of a joint statement in which national pharmacy organizations committed to taking specific actions to address health care disparities and work against racism, discrimination, and social injustice. Thanks to the work of Dr. Butler and NPhA’s leadership, a total of fourteen national organizations signed the joint statement.

    All of the credit for these recent achievements belongs to NPhA’s leaders. Our contributions have been modest, but at SOS we can still take tremendous pride in knowing that by simply providing excellent support services, we gave our client exactly what they had hoped to receive by partnering with us: increased time and opportunity to rise above administrative responsibilities and provide leadership in areas where that leadership can make a meaningful and lasting difference.

  • June 25, 2020 1:07 PM | Anonymous

    By Conni Ingallina
    President
    About Conni

    SOS-Association Management Solutions (SOS) has been selected by the Literary Society of the Southwest (LSSW) to provide association management services.

    Founded in 2004, LSSW is a Society that fosters the appreciation of contemporary literature by providing a forum where members can interact with authors to gain a better understand the author’s works and creative process. The Society hopes to further increase literary awareness by providing grants to students of literature. The Literary Society of the Southwest has chapters in Phoenix, Pinnacle Peak and Tucson.

    SOS will provide management support in all areas, including event planning, financial management, board support, membership, and communications. “We’re very excited to be working with an accredited association management company,” said Laura Huser, LSSW President. “The experience and expertise of the SOS staff will be essential in helping us achieve our strategic goals.”

    “We are thrilled to be working with the Literary Society of the Southwest as it continues to build on its mission here in Arizona,” said Conni Ingallina, president and owner of SOS.

    About the Literary Society of the Southwest

    The Literary Society of the Southwest is a nonprofit literary group started by Northern Trust Bank. The Society fosters the appreciation of contemporary literature by providing a forum where members can interact with authors to gain a better understanding of the author’s works and creative process.

  • May 28, 2020 10:31 AM | Anonymous
    By Suzanne Lanctot
    Managing Director
    About Suzanne

    Let’s face it. When your association has only one annual event and that event is expected to produce a large percentage of your non-dues revenue, every step must be taken to ensure a unique and memorable experience.

    No pressure.

    Professional development and education, branding, engagement, networking, building loyalty, recruiting – each component during the event must inspire and contribute to the long-term success of the association.

    Did I mention revenue?

    Most event planning decisions, both proactive and reactive, should strongly take into consideration the feedback from attendees. Last year’s conference sets the stage for next year. Previous feedback provides the elucidations for a better conference next year with the goal of constant improvement.

    But what is the best way to solicit meaningful feedback?

    It is generally understood that there are three select times for doing this - pre-event, mid-event, and post-event.

    Pre-event questions are more associated with the planning stage of an event and can be carefully crafted based on the feedback from the previous year’s conference or event. Hopefully, through the qualitative and quantitative data ascertained, you will be able to come up with new, fresh ideas for this year’s conference, especially if the conference is moving to a virtual platform. Members and past participants may have some very creative ideas, and who better to provide insights? Objectivity is key.

    Mid-event questions are sometimes called “instant” or “real-time” feedback. This can come in several forms, but one of the best ways is by responding to questions through an event app or text messaging. These methods are prevalent now that more and more conferences and events are virtual. Polls can also be used during virtual events, with just a few relevant questions during and/or after each conference session. Such responses are “sooner rather than later” and tend to be unrushed, less reflective and more emotive. The trick is not to distract the attendees – keep the questions short and few. Using mid-event questions, when done properly, can be easier for attendees than the arduous post-conference questionnaire when they are mentally tired and distracted with socializing and good-byes.

    Another idea for mid-event feedback for an in-person event is establishing a feedback table. This can be a different approach and provide “real time” responses based more in the moment. A knowledgeable volunteer can reply “in person” during the event and ensure that the participant has been heard…and possibly solicit a video testimonial. Those who are more comfortable in anonymity can use comment cards.

    Post-conference questions usually come in the form of the paper and pen survey at the end of the event or the email survey, but these can prove difficult as they challenge the member’s time and can also challenge their reflective memory. Some associations provide pre-loaded survey questions on iPads at the event or provide the link (via email or projected on the screen) and ask participants to complete the survey online before they leave.

    I would consider using mid-event feedback if you don’t already. Create an attendee engagement platform and find the balance through the multiple ways of soliciting event feedback. It can be the difference between a good event or a great event…and long-term success for your association.

  • May 08, 2020 10:09 AM | Anonymous

    By Conni Ingallina
    President
    About Conni

    We are proud of the work that our clients are doing to support others in this time of crisis. Here are just a few examples:

    Family Emergency Relief Fund - The Phoenix Union Foundation for Education is an organization that supports the Phoenix Union High School District by raising money and funding scholarships for graduating seniors pursuing their next level of education, awarding grant requests made by educators, and supporting the district, as needed. The COVID-19 crisis brought to light many other needs for the students and their families in the greater Phoenix communities. Food and technology are at the top of the list of needs.

    After becoming aware of these great needs, the Foundation Board unanimously passed the motion to create a specific COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund to directly support students and their families in this time of need. The Foundation seeded this Fund with $30,000 in hopes that the community at large would step up and contribute as well. That, they did, donating over $47,000 in the first week and the outpouring from the community is still growing.

    Feeding Families in India – Five Rivers International found out there were many starving families in the mountains of India who were unable to buy food. With the assistance of partners on the ground, they were able to seed money into this effort to feed hundreds of families.

    Supporting Healthcare Workers on the Frontlines – Working on the frontlines of the COVID19 pandemic, the American Academy of Emergency Nurse Practitioners (AAENP) has worked tirelessly to provide online resources and webinars to connect their members with information and each other.

    The Phoenix Union Foundation for Education, AAENP, and Five Rivers Intl. are managed by SOS-Association Management Solutions.

  • May 01, 2020 2:46 PM | Anonymous

    By Kenny Leahman

    We learned a few days ago of the second Covid-19 related death in our close circle of friends and family. Fortunately, two close friends who had the virus have completely recovered. This whole scenario still is very up close and personal for us.

    In response to numerous comments by several close friends and clients about how concerned they are, and the fact that their anxiety levels keep rising, I’ve put together these tips on how to cope. I imagine there are others out there who might also appreciate a few tips and ideas that they might not have already considered, so here’s a start.

    Please feel free to pass this on.

    Be Mindful: Be mindful of what you’re doing and why! Now is the time to be very conscious of our choices!

    Lead: We don’t need a title or a position to lead. I’ve never experienced a time in my life where leadership was more critical. Find ways to lead in your family, in your virtual workplace, in your virtual community and in your neighborhood.

    The News: Turn it Off! The same, sad, scary information cycles over and over and can wear you down! Don’t worry about missing something important, because replays are everywhere. Sad news generates sad feelings! It WILL wear you down if you’re not careful! TURN IT OFF!

    Engage: We just did a brief, but meaningful “through the glass door from ten feet away gettogether” with a neighbor. It was a big boost for all of us. Now’s the time to expand, not shrink your circle of contacts. Be the one to reach out! Keep engaged! Do NOT retreat! I’m consciously reaching out now to people I miss and haven’t engaged with for a while. Do more Personal vs Impersonal communication! Use tech to your advantage, e.g., ZOOM in on someone; SKYPE! Check out the SIGNAL app if you don’t already have it. It’s better than WhatsApp and more secure. (My Prediction: “Zoom” could be a 2020 word of the year!)

    Read: Start or join an online book club! Most books are now online. No need to visit a library or go to the bookstore. Balance out your TV Time with Reading Time.

    The Harvard Business Review (HBR) Free! HBR is offering all its Covid-19 related articles free to the public. Check out the weekly, sometimes daily, articles with tips on how to be more productive; how to conduct better virtual meetings; how to juggle family, work and stress; and one of my favorites: Focusing Attention

    Learn! A friend led me Great Courses Plus. Now is a great time to broaden our minds and to explore new dimensions rather than letting this crisis mess with our emotions. The more engaged we are with our brains, the more control we have over scary thoughts and anxiety. Learn a new language; Visit the Louvre.

    Movies! Film Festivals are coming to you online, including the "We Are One" You Tube Film Festival! from 29 May–7 June with 20 partners—streaming free to cinema fans everywhere. The event will feature programming from 20 top film festivals including the Cannes Film Festival, Toronto International Film Festival, Sundance Film Festival, Berlin International Film Festival, Tribeca Film Festival and Venice Film Festival. Donations received will go to support the World Health Organization (WHO).

    Cook! Share with others from your kitchen! We’ve been cooking more for fun! We got invited and joined in on a “share your favorite recipe” chain letter. Chain letters aren’t everyone’s thing, but sharing cooking ideas, recipes, discoveries, and successes can be a great way to engage! Did you just bake or cook something that turned out great? Or if it didn’t, is there someone who could “coach you a bit” to get it right? If you haven’t seen it, the Netflix Series, SALT FAT ACID HEAT is pretty fun and educational.

    De-litter your part of the planet: One of my favorite organizations, 4Ocean, is struggling as a result of the current situation and has had to shutter some of its global operations. This week, while walking through our neighborhood—which has a beautiful stream—I decided that I’m going to begin carrying a trash bag on my walks so that I can collect garbage (including stuff that’s in the stream) and recycling or trashing it at home. It’s a great time to begin helping to de-litter our own small part of the planet.

    Be Active: Get up and move! Do more walks; go for a run; do the stairs in your home or building more than usual; find an online exercise class or trainer; stretch!

    Restaurants—Still an Option: Hard hit and innovative, MANY restaurants are still, or have begun bringing GREAT meals to your doorstep. So far, we have organized two neighborhood ‘virtual dinners.’ We contacted our favorite restaurant, placed one big collective order and had it delivered to our home. We then delivered the food to our neighbors’ doorsteps, shared hellos and virtual hugs through glass doors, then enjoyed a virtual evening dinner together. ‘Twas a big Win-Win in many ways for us AND the restaurant team!

    Many restaurants are now offering grocery delivery.

    Music: Make a Feel Good Tunes playlist and play it loud! Change it up; Update it often!

    Dance: Dance alone or dance together with friends on video! And if YOU don’t dance, watch some videos on YouTube or online of others who REALLY can. Check this one out! Amazingly well done and sure to make you smile! – Vintage Movie Stars Dance to Uptown Funk

    Help someone else | Give of yourself:

    Find the lonely: Who do you know who’s alone? Find them. Call them; don’t put it off. We’ve done more calls recently with our seniors and have been able to tangibly hear their smiles and gratitude.

    SHARE! Find or be an empathetic listener. If you’re feeling anxious or scared, share your feelings. Remember that right now, MANY others are feeling the same way. When I’m feeling anxious or concerned, a great way to get out of my own head is to support someone else. It ALWAYS makes me feel better.

    Volunteer: Find an online volunteer option … NOTE: These are all from a quick Google search; I have not validated ANY of them.

    Donate! Donations are needed now more than ever! Giving to others ALWAYS lifts my spirits! Use this time to clean out a closet, sort through stuff that’s just sitting unused, and donate! Call a charity and schedule a pick-up from your doorstep or sidewalk.

    Use your time wisely: Make a schedule and keep to it. Don’t sleep in every day. Get up, get going, and if needed, because stress can definitely generate fatigue, take a nap at an appropriate time later in the day. But, remain productive.

    Hobbies: Return to that hobby you dropped a while ago. I’m playing the piano again, and I’m also going to practice my fly-fishing cast more often (alone, of course, or at least six feet down or upstream from my fishing buddy).

    Video parties! We recently celebrated my birthday on Zoom, and good friends have invited us to join their weekly Thursday night video dance parties!

    Gardening: I do some gardening in our yard, but mostly in containers. Even if you haven’t ever gardened before, you can order some seeds or even small live plants online for delivery. Getting my hands in the soil, planting, watering, then caring for plants is great for the soul. Nature is miraculous. Bring some of it into your life right now.

    Walking outdoors: During a walk alone or with family, look for all the signs of Spring, and take photos along the way of unique and fun stuff.

    Share photos: I’m a photographer and am currently sending a ‘photo of the day’ to a circle of friends and loved ones! The photos our daughter texts us of our brand new grandson are a HUGE positive! And then…hearing him coo when we do video calls is enough to chase away ANY dark cloud or sad news story.

    LAUGH! Humor is the BEST medicine, especially in times like these. We scheduled a Zoom call with friends for 30 minutes and it lasted two hours! We laughed nearly the entire time. Find funny animal videos on YouTube or your favorite comedian. Find a way to laugh!

  • April 16, 2020 2:10 PM | Anonymous

    We're proud to work with the Phoenix Union Foundation for Education who shared this press release today: 

    The Phoenix Union Foundation for Education (PUFE) has created a $30,000 Emergency Relief Fund to benefit families of the Phoenix Union High School District (PXU) impacted by hardships due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19). This Fund, unanimously passed by the Foundation’s Executive Board on March 31, will directly support students and their families in this time of need.

    “We knew there was already a great need in our district before COVID–19 and have seen this need only grow for our families”, Phoenix Union Foundation President, Sentari Minor said. “It is our obligation, as a Foundation, to step up and meet the needs of the most vulnerable, and this Relief Fund is a great start to ensure that all students are able to continue learning in spite of this situation.”

    The Fund, created to purchase items the school district is unable to purchase for families like food, toiletries, mobile hot spots, and much more was seeded by the Foundation as a first step in hopes that the community at large will now have a place to go to donate directly. The Foundation has placed a “Donate” button on their website COVID-19_Emergency_Relief_Fund where members of the community can donate directly to the Emergency Relief Fund. The Phoenix Union Foundation for Education is a 501(c)(3) organization and therefore, all donations are tax deductible. All funds raised through and for the Relief Fund will go directly to ensuring the students and families of PXU receive the relief they need.

    If you are inclined to donate dollars or items to the Relief Fund to support PXU students, please contact Laura Taylor at info@foundation4education.org or (480) 289-5761 to accept your donation and ensure it gets into the hands of those who need it most.

  • April 10, 2020 11:02 AM | Anonymous

    By Anna Jovel
    SOS Account Executive
    About Anna

    Whew… It’s been a quite a whirlwind the last couple of weeks. Many people’s lives have been turned upside down since the start of the COVID-19 spread. There is worry about loved ones becoming at risk, travel bans put in place, a lack of toilet paper, and as many of you are experiencing, the need to work from home.

    How’s it going? Have you changed out of your pajamas yet? Personally, I don’t mind working from home. I actually get A LOT done. But I think part of my problem with working from home is that there is no separation of work time versus home time so my reaction is just to be in work mode, all the time. As you can imagine, the “work all the time mindset” can definitely cause some stress. Have kiddos that are stuck at home too? Bring on the additional stress.

    So, how do we balance this new lifestyle during this time? Below are some tips and tricks that I have read about or personally experienced:

    1. Manage expectations, or as Forbes Magazine calls it, “Get real with your boss and teammates.” Be forthright and let your clients, your teammates, and your Board know what is happening in your world today and what your game plan is to handle it. A simple message stating your circumstance and that you are still committed to supporting your organization goes a long way.

    2. “Create (and maintain) a designated workspace,” (Business News Daily). Having a designated workspace (and using it) allows you to focus your attention to the task at hand. Personally, this has helped me to find the balance between my home and work life. I have set up a desk space with my computers, notes, etc., and when I sit in this space, it is time to work. I do not use it for anything else. When I step away, I can be in a different mindset to take a walk, help my kids, or focus on something else.

    3. Do not, I repeat, do not, use your bed for your workspace. The American College of Healthcare Sciences suggests that working in bed, “limits focus, decreases productivity, and hurts sleep.” Your mind associates your bed as a space for rest and recovery. If you begin to utilize it as a space for work, the next time “you lay in bed to call it a night your mind will continue to think.” Additionally, is there enough space in your bed to be productive? When working, it is important to organize your materials to remain focused. When you are in your bed, surrounded by blankets and pillows, it can be difficult to lay out all of your materials and get the work done productively.

    4. Utilize video conferencing. At work, many of us are used to the social interactions that occur between teammates and clients. Now that we are all stuck in our homes we are missing out on a lot of social opportunities. Using video conferencing instead of phone calls helps to bring some of that social interaction back to our new work environments. It also helps to focus productivity. Often, when you are on a phone call, it is hard to know if someone is really paying attention or when they have finished their thought. The ability to see facial expressions helps us to bring back some of that body language, an integral part of human connection and communication, into our meetings or conversations.

    5. Have kids at home? Practice patience. “Trying to remain at the top of your game at work while also taking care of young children is completely unrealistic,” (Forbes).

    • Be patient with yourself – take walks to maintain your sanity, lower the expectations of yourself, ask for extensions on deadlines when you need them.
    • Be patient with your clients and teammates – more than likely, these people are experiencing similar circumstances. Some projects that you are working on might become delayed or new projects become a higher priority due to the current situation. It is okay to rearrange the priority of projects and it is okay to put things on hold (just make sure everyone is on the same page first).
    • Be patient with your children – most are not used to having to learn at home. Always remember to pick your battles and if you can get them to be engaged in some type of learning for a couple of hours a day, you have succeeded.
    We are all in this together. Sending health, safety, and well wishes your way during this time.


    Resources:

    Gausepohl, Shannon. “7 Ways to Improve Work-Life Balance When You Work at Home.” Business News Daily, Businessnewsdaily.com, 23 Feb. 2017, www.businessnewsdaily.com/7712-work-life-balance-home-entrepreneurs.html.

    Robben, Brian. “Never Do Homework In Bed: 3 Reasons Why.” Accredited Online Holistic Health College, 2016, info.achs.edu/blog/never-do-homework-in-bed-3-reasons-why.

    Whitehead, Kourtney. “5 Tips To Balance Remote Working While Your Family Is Also At Home.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 18 Mar. 2020, www.forbes.com/sites/kourtneywhitehead/2020/03/15/5-tips-to-balance-remote-working-while-your-family-is-also-at-home/#2eb2471c4843.

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