Archives by Year: 2017
Did you know one of the world’s oldest forms of communication is still widely used today? Calligraphy, the combination of visual art and communication, has roots tracing back to ancient China as early as 200 BC and has influenced many cultures’ visual communication styles.
From scrolls to social media, calligraphy’s impact on society has lasted centuries and continues to reinvent itself in modern visual communication. Why is it that while most visual communication trends fade and recycle from era to era, calligraphy’s ubiquity has never seemed to diminish? Today we take a look at the history of calligraphy to discover how this ancient form of communication has remained relevant all these years.
The origins of calligraphy date back to ancient China during the Shang dynasty when the writing was often carved on turtle shells or animal bones. Official calligraphy script was incorporated into Chinese writing in the 3rd century BC and led to the earliest form of cursive script. Ancient Chinese calligraphy styles greatly influenced Japanese and Korean calligraphy.
Islamic calligraphy can be traced back to the 6th century and is strongly tied to the Quran. The language is written from right to left and has varying styles, including Kufic, Naskh, regional and modern styles. Islamic calligraphy is written not only on paper but also on tiles, vessels, carpets and inscriptions.
In Western culture, calligraphy influenced the creation of the Greek and Latin alphabets. Christian churches perpetuated the use of calligraphy by hand-copying the Bible and other sacred texts in order to promote and spread the religion.
After the introduction of the printing press in Europe during the mid-fifteenth century, the original purposes of hand-written lettering dwindled. But contrary to other instances of obsoletion, calligraphy did not meet its end. Instead, its purpose evolved to meet new needs.
Like all fonts, hand-lettering communicates a distinct personality and voice. While designers now have a plethora of downloadable calligraphic fonts at their fingertips, authentic hand-lettering is known to be the ideal, higher quality option. This demonstrates a remaining need for calligraphic artists in a post-printing press era.
Additionally, hand-lettering videos have become a prevalent social media trend, inspiring the general population to observe and practice calligraphy for fun and to enhance personal communications. The growing popularity of “bullet journals” has also encouraged the rise of modern-day calligraphy.
Calligraphy has more than just a history — it has an evolution. This evolution, along with calligraphy’s nostalgic charm as a consistent stylistic trend, is the reason it has stayed relevant throughout time. Unlike other visual communication trends, its uses have evolved with society’s evolving needs and cultures. The question now is: What will we use it for next?
The inspiration for this blog post came from Prosper’s Vice President & COO, Jenny, who recently brought in an authentic calligraphy set from China (pictured above). The set inspired our team to learn more about the creation of calligraphy as the combination of design and writing resulting in a powerful form of communication.
Summer is officially in full swing and there’s no better time of the year to clean out your closet, basement or extra storage spaces to organize your home. Donating your gently used clothing, food, toys, and other supplies is a sustainable way to get rid of extra items without throwing them away. However, donating the right items to places where people in need will actually receive them is vital. Below is a list of ways you can make a difference when it comes to donating your items.
- Research before you donate to make sure your items will go to people in need. Check out this list of where to donate everything in your home from A-Z.
- Separate toiletry items from food items to avoid the food tasting like soap or other strongly scented products.
- Wash your clothes before donating them for a better chance that they will actually be worn. Also, be considerate of what you are donating by making sure the clothing is in decent shape.
- Find a suitable drop-off location for your donations. Some good options are Goodwill, Salvation Army, Greater Cleveland Food Bank, Dress for Success, The City Mission, Habitat for Humanity ReStore, homeless shelters and churches.
- Take the time to have a conversation with the people you are donating to if you meet them. Just taking the time to hear their story will make a big difference in both of your lives.
- Forget to ask what is needed before you give, especially when it comes to donating food. Choose non-damaged packaging, non-expired food and nutritious options to give.
- Include soap, shampoo and conditioner when donating to the homeless. Switch out those items for baby wipes instead.
- Send snacks such as sticky and sweet breakfast bars since the receiver may not have access to dental care. Instead, donate snacks such as applesauce, pudding cups, trail mix and beef jerky.
- Donate to clothing bins found in gas station or store parking lots. Often times, these boxes are a scam as donations are often resold for profit instead of reaching the right people.
- Think of donating as a one-time deal. Continue to donate your gently used items by putting reminders on your calendar to keep you on track.
Donating is a great way to get rid of extra items in your house without feeling the guilt of throwing them away. Many people are in need of food, clothing and toys so it is important your donations actually reach them.
The Prosper for Purpose team became intrigued by local entrepreneur Andrew Bennett after learning how he set out to address the gap between individuals and experts with the knowledge they needed. So, Margot and Hannah sat down with Andrew to hear how this passionate young entrepreneur followed his vision to connect people and, ultimately, spread knowledge.
“I wanted to start something that every single person in any organization could be attracted to in order to gain new skills and expertise,” the co-creator of KnowledgePost told Team Prosper earlier last month.
Andrew started KnowledgePost in 2014 after realizing “there was a major disconnect between those in need of professional expertise and those who can provide it.” On KnowledgePost, users match with experts who offer services such as career coaching, consulting and mentoring, to name a few.
Andrew is a firm believer that everyone has a specific skillset that can increase others’ understanding. KnowlegePost opens the door to learning opportunities by connecting professionals and companies who will make a direct impact by sharing expertise with each other.
He loves being able to make a difference in so many lives by linking people with those who offer the services they need. Before he started KnowledgePost, Andrew was involved in Engage Cleveland where he saw nearly ten thousand young professionals in Cleveland with missed opportunities to enhance their futures.
Even though Andrew is an independent entrepreneur, his main advice for recent graduates and young professionals is to surround yourself with mentors from different disciplines. He reiterated how imperative it is to follow your true passion, as he did — the rest will fall into place. Andrew sees KnowledgePost becoming a tool that users can engage with to build strategic partnerships and relationships.
Andrew is from Cleveland, Ohio and graduated from Elon University in 2008 with a degree in marketing. He has an older brother and older sister. In his free time, Andrew enjoys traveling with his girlfriend Nora.
You can get started with KnowledgePost today — connect with the experts and opportunities you’re seeking.
My passion for purpose began the day I met one of the Lost Boys of Sudan – Majier Mamer Deng, otherwise known as Nico. I met him nearly ten years ago through Cuyahoga Valley Church as he was sharing his heartbreaking yet inspiring story of surviving the Second Sudanese Civil War that broke out in the 1980s.
During the war, the Sudanese government turned against Sudanese villagers, displacing thousands of boys and girls. At the time, Nico was just nine years old and was forced to walk hundreds of miles in the scorching heat facing dehydration, starvation, wild animals, and an armed militia.
Thousands of young boys lost their lives on what felt like never-ending walks to different refugee camps in Kenya and Ethiopia. When the children finally made it to the camps, they stayed there for years living off small rations. Nico desired to become educated and stop civil wars from happening in his country. He was chosen by the United Nations Refugee Agency to be resettled in America during the early 2000s to gain a higher education. He achieved his goal and touched thousands of people with his unforgettable story along the way.
After meeting Nico, he quickly became a member of my family as we did anything we could to share his story and change the lives of others. My family fundraised for Nico to see his mother in Sudan after 21 years of being separated. We helped speak to schools across Northeast Ohio to share his story. We even took him on his first-ever vacation at the age of 30. He changed my perspective on life and inspired me to always share motivational stories that had the potential to change people’s lives forever. I didn’t even know it at the time, but I was falling in love with public relations and storytelling at a young age thanks to the time I spent with Nico.
From my experience with the Lost Boys of Sudan, I knew I wanted to combine my passions of storytelling and philanthropy into a career. I spent an incredible four years studying strategic communication, marketing and social media at Ohio University. Now, I am actually living my dream of working to make a difference. Thanks to my internship at Prosper for Purpose I’m helping some amazing organizations, including the Cuyahoga County Board of Health and 1% for the Planet.
My story has come full circle and I am beyond excited to see what is in store for me at Prosper this summer!
Every year, Prosper for Purpose receives dozens of requests for free consulting and services. Our 12 Months of Giving campaign is our way of being able to respond to more of these organizations to help them share their stories and achieve their goals. In this blog post I will introduce the organizations that we were honored to work with in the first quarter.
Our January pro bono client, May Dugan Center, was named as a tribute to May Dugan and her lifetime work as a one-person counselor and advocate for her neighbors in need. The mission of the Center is to help people enrich and advance their lives and communities. The May Dugan Center does this by providing in-house education and resources, as well as health care and food bank opportunities, to people of all ages. During our consult, we helped members of the board and staff review their key stakeholders and messaging.
Greater Cleveland Habitat for Humanity, our February organization, just recently launched a three-year initiative to fully rehab 100 Cleveland homes with a ten-house initiative in Cleveland’s Buckeye neighborhood. Habitat for Humanity doesn’t just build or rehab homes, they fortify communities and revitalize local neighborhoods, something Prosper was really excited to get behind. Our time focused on creative ideation of strategies and tactics to grow awareness and support.
In March, our focus was on Child and Family Advocates of Cuyahoga County, which serves underage children who are abused. The nonprofit has wonderful attorney volunteers who make sure kids are receiving the best legal assistance they can get. The Child and Family Advocates of Cuyahoga County provide training for the guardians assigned to the children, and have volunteer coordinators who make sure the children are appearing at court while also maintaining contact with the child and family. They advocate for the kids—the volunteer and guardian’s sole duty is to support the child’s best interest. We made recommendations on how this program could grow and serve more children.
Although our time was brief with each of these organizations, we were so impressed by the work they are doing and enjoyed our time with each of them.
On April 21, members of #TeamProsper attended The 10th Annual YouToo Social Media Conference at Kent State University to learn about developments and trends in social media and digital communication.
The conference opened with speaker Greg Josken, digital marketing and social media manager for Disney Theatrical Group, who talked about Disney’s social media strategy now that we’re 10 years into the social media “revolution”.
As Greg walked us through a few of his extraordinary projects, one particular lesson stood out: When applied correctly, social media can be a successful and cost-effective tool across all levels of engagement with your audience, from awareness, consideration, and conversion to loyalty and advocacy.
It was pretty crazy to think about where social media was just 10 years ago. Some major social platforms were still fairly new at the time.
- MySpace launched in 2002
- LinkedIn began in 2003
- Facebook launched for students at Harvard in 2003
- Twitter was born in 2006
Even crazier is the fact that online social networking has been around for more than 30 years. Check out this infographic by MarketingDirecto.com for neat facts about the past few decades of social media.
At “The Evolving Social Media Landscape – Pay to Play” breakout session, we learned how to make our ad dollars go further. Given the many changes to the Facebook algorithm and the decline of organic reach, approximately 80% of posts are not seen! So how do we ensure our message is reaching our audience? Through very targeted and affordable social media advertising. When developing content, it must be engaging, measurable, and have a purpose.
Another trend we must take into consideration when planning our social media strategies and advertising plans is the use of mobile. Mobile is taking over. Research shows that “57 percent of mobile users will abandon your website if it takes more than 3 seconds to load and 30 percent will abandon a purchase transaction if the shopping cart isn’t optimized for mobile devices.” It’s time to invest in mobile and the first step you can take is to make sure your website is optimized for mobile usage.
An afternoon session focused on the future of social media and interactive tech. How will virtual and augmented reality technologies impact social media and communications over the next 10 years? What’s the difference between the two?
Augment.com breaks it down for us:
“Virtual reality (VR) is an artificial, computer-generated simulation or recreation of a real life environment or situation. It immerses the user by making them feel like they are experiencing the simulated reality firsthand, primarily by stimulating their vision and hearing.
“Augmented reality (AR) is a technology that layers computer-generated enhancements atop an existing reality in order to make it more meaningful through the ability to interact with it. AR is developed into apps and used on mobile devices to blend digital components into the real world in such a way that they enhance one another, but can also be told apart easily.”
Some examples of AR and VR already being utilized today include Target’s Cartwheel app and Facebook Spaces.
So, how do we prepare for what the next 10 to 30 years will bring to social media? Be agile, be ready for change, and always remember that people want to do business with people. It’s important for brands to remain and be increasingly engaging and authentic on social platforms.
What does your future social media strategy look like? Email us if you need help or have questions!
Gratitude: the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.
We’ve all heard the saying, “Be grateful for what you have.” In this day and age, where quite a few of us have more than we need, you would think more people would wake up and appreciate the great splendor of the world. But, unfortunately, we don’t.
Many times when something good happens we say, “I am so lucky and grateful for this blessing in my life.” But, if one small bad thing happens 20 minutes later a lot of us quickly forget about that blessing. Humans tend to gravitate towards the negative.
That’s where gratitude comes in. Gratitude is an extremely powerful feeling that leaves a lasting impact on not only your life, but the lives of others as well. But, as much as gratitude is a feeling, it is also a practice. You really do have to practice feeling grateful for things. You woke up this morning in a comfortable bed? Incredible! You have gas in your car? Miraculous!
It’s also important to remember that negative things do happen and we should feel grateful towards those things as well, even if at the time they seem awful. It’s all about perspective.
When we practice gratitude it shines through in every aspect of our lives, especially work. Considering we spend most of our days at work, expressing gratitude on the job is extremely important. Let’s take a look at some ways gratitude can boost your morale at work.
1. Practicing gratitude helps you focus on the positive.
I wake up every morning and write in my Five Minute Journal. The journal is a constant reminder for me to focus on things for which I’m grateful, as well as a few things that would make my day really great. Some days, I’m so tired that I simply write I’m grateful for my comfortable bed. Other days, when I don’t really feel like doing anything, I remind myself how grateful I am to work at a place that I love and don’t dread going to every day.
This simple practice sets my tone for the day and allows me to appreciate the small things in my life just a little bit more. Remaining positive is absolutely key in the workplace. Stressful things are bound to happen, but if you focus on things you’re grateful for instead of stress, negativity and worry, I promise your job will be a whole lot easier.
2. Feeling grateful helps improve your relationships.
Have you ever met someone who just seems like a light in your life? Someone who radiates positivity and exudes gratitude in every aspect of their life. Think about the way you feel when you’re around them—joyful, content, happy. You just can’t get enough of them. You probably find yourself feeling grateful for their existence because they bring you so much joy.
Now think about someone who focuses solely on the negative. Someone who complains about every small thing in their life. You probably have a totally different feeling about them.
Positivity is contagious and truly makes the workplace an enjoyable place to be. Practicing gratitude makes life seem a bit brighter. Once you start focusing on expressing thankfulness and appreciation, it will affect other people as well and lift the whole office up with you.
3. Gratitude does wonders for your self-esteem.
Taking the time to focus on things you are thankful for and all of the positives in your life leads to higher self-esteem. And self-esteem has been linked to improved career success. Who doesn’t want that?
Once your self-esteem builds, so will your confidence. And confidence in the workplace is key. Have you been dying to start a new project or shoot out some fresh ideas that have been brewing? Start practicing gratitude and the confidence to go for something new will come with it.
I can drone on and on about the benefits of being grateful, but the one thing I want you to hold on to is that it just feels good. Gratitude brings so much joy into your life as well as the lives of others. Who doesn’t want to feel as much joy as possible?
Did you know that most of the professionally designed media you see every day, such as the content on websites and phone interfaces, and in magazines, is designed on an invisible grid system which guides your eye in order to optimize usability, readability, and the amount of time it takes for you to absorb a message?
Did you know that when reading a body of text, most people subconsciously take a breath at the end of each line, which is why graphic designers intentionally set paragraphs to specific widths in order to keep your breathing from slowing to a point that you become sleepy and unengaged?
And did you know that buttons on some websites are purposefully placed in unintuitive places with the intention of making you pay attention to what you’re clicking?
I want to address a common misconception about graphic design. Contrary to popular belief, a designer’s main purpose is not solely to “make things pretty.” Clearing the air of this myth is important because it may enable society (those around whom the entire field of design revolves) to appreciate good design, understand its value, and be more observant of bad design, thereby raising the bar for the visual communication that surrounds us.
I like to think that if enough people start calling for better graphic design in our daily lives, a government employee somewhere might finally rework the heinous train wrecks we know as voting ballots.
The examples listed above are just a few significant instances of design where “pretty” is not the priority. They’re things most people would never notice, and rightfully so. Good design is typically supposed to go unnoticed because its purpose is to create a seamless user experience and to help the user achieve a broader goal.
Sure, the best designs are aesthetically pleasing, but it’s not the aesthetic satisfaction that determines the strength of a design. Rather, good aesthetics are the result of good design. In the strongest design work, form follows function. When audiences experience designs they find “pretty,” they don’t typically notice the bones to the work that are making it not only pretty, but also user-friendly, legible, engaging, and persuasive. So, if sprinkling decorations and fancy fonts on a design isn’t the basis of the profession, what is?
Graphic design is the application of visual communication principles to the composition of optical relationships between design components (hierarchy, typography, color, space, alignment, grid, etc.) within a set of parameters in order to convey a message.
The challenge in creating great graphic design is using superior strategy and creativity. Parameters can be anything from size, to time, budget, or the requirement of consistency within pre-existing brand standards, to name a few. In the highest-quality design work, every choice is made intentionally — bold text versus regular-weight text; serif font versus sans-serif font; sharp corners versus rounded corners.
The best design is free of artistic ego — it is never about the designer, nor the client’s personal aesthetic preferences. The decisions made in strong design work are first and foremost about how to best communicate with the audience. There is a science to visual communication, such as the text-box-width-breathing-scenario mentioned above, which creates challenges beyond deciding which shade of aqua is a designer’s favorite.
The misconception that graphic design is all about making things pretty is understandable; before I began my career in design school, I thought the same thing. But the field deserves respect for its truly significant contributions to society.
I hope this blog post plants a seed in your mind, encouraging you to look at the world of visual communication with a more critical and appreciative eye. And seriously, if the designer of voting ballots is reading this, please revisit those things! This concludes today’s PFP PSA. Thanks for reading.
Last month, I had the privilege of training a group of professional fundraisers at an international conference in Norfolk, Virginia. This month, I traveled from Cleveland to Chicago, Detroit and St. Louis to train volunteers to ask for gifts. Very few of these people initially feel excited about asking for gifts. I get it. I’m an accidental fundraiser myself.
After earning a degree in public relations, my first real job was with the American Cancer Society where I was charged with communications and fundraising activities. Throughout my career, I’ve collected a good 20 years of fundraising experience. But it wasn’t until I understood why communications and fundraising are two sides of the same coin, and how PR skills and processes actually work to enhance the fundraising success of an organization, that I truly embraced fundraising.
Since then, I have been working with nonprofit organizations to help them understand what I’ve learned about donors and the fundraising process. I share with them the research, planning and tactical implementation steps that produce results. And now I want to share them with you.
Prosper for Purpose is launching its first newsletter, Prosper Fuel, for nonprofit and impact-focused organizations. In it, we will share how to move people through the Cycle of Engagement with your organization so that you can have greater impact. Sound like something you’d be interested in? We thought so.
We will share with you many of the same lessons we teach to our paying clients so that you can help your organization prosper for purpose. All you need to do is sign up by going to the bottom of our contact us page, and adding your email to our newsletter box.
It’s Tuesday morning and Nick Edmundson of Heartwood Coffee Roastery is making his rounds. He’s delivering our custom ‘Purpose Fuel’ coffee blend. Heartwood roasts their organic fair trade beans on Monday and Thursday, and delivers it the next day to ensure their superior quality coffee is ultra fresh. This in-person connection is unique and part of the reason we love Heartwood Roastery.
Nearly two years ago, Nick didn’t know the difference between quality coffee and store-bought K-cups. But, his coffee-loving friend, Jim Sanders, expanded his horizons. As a wedding photographer, Nick brought entrepreneurial spirit to the table while Jim—a plumber for most of his life—brought his love of coffee and can-do attitude to their partnership. The two decided they could start a business.
Originally, Nick and Jim wanted to start a cafe, but with the cost of overhead so high they decided the time wasn’t quite right. So, they started roasting their coffee in Jim’s garage in Burton, Ohio. Once they got their name and heavenly coffee out there the company blew up. By attending events in Cleveland and interacting with the community, the loyalty to and demand for Heartwood Roastery coffee grew so much that Nick and Jim are opening a bricks and mortar store in Hudson, Ohio.
We asked Nick why they decided on the name Heartwood Roastery.
“Honestly, we were just throwing a bunch of different names around. Somehow Heartwood came up and we both liked it. Jim and I both love the outdoors and love the name. After researching what Heartwood is (the part of a tree that delivers all the nutrients to the rest of the tree) we loved it even more and it really fit what we were going for. We really had a vision of community and just a fun environment for everyone when we started the company. When we came up with the business name and our slogan, “Grow Together,” it fit right in with the name Heartwood, sticking to the whole nature/tree vibe. Oh, and coffee grows on a tree, too!”
Heartwood consistently sources the best coffee from around the globe, roasting beans from Ethiopia to Columbia—anywhere on the equator where coffee is grown. All coffee is handpicked at the perfect time, to ensure the standards of high quality they have come to produce, and roasted specifically to achieve the desired flavor. Even the highest quality coffee can be compromised if roasted incorrectly. This is why Heartwood Roastery puts so much love and effort into roasting their coffee.
Heartwood launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds to help open their new shop. With a few days left to go they have already surpassed their goal. They are looking to make the cafe a comfortable, fun destination. Whether it’s for a date, a study session, or just to spend some time sipping good coffee, they want the shop to be a place for customers to stop by and enjoy.
Nick knows that serving good coffee is one thing, but creating a great atmosphere and educating people about their coffee is another ball game. And they are up for the challenge.