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iCarol Webinar: Why Advocacy and How the Heck Do You Do It?

Advocating for the needs of your organization and the clients you serve is a huge component of the overall survival and success of your agency. Some may find the prospect of lobbying elected officials intimidating and confusing, but it’s actually not as complex or scary as it may seem!

We invite you to attend a webinar on this topic on Tuesday, December 11th at 2pm EST. Sara Sedlacek from The Crisis Center of Johnson County will present information that takes the mystery and intimidation out of the advocacy process, helping you get the ear and support of the local, state, and federal officials elected to represent you and the people who benefit from your services.

With legislative sessions beginning in January, now is the time to learn more about how to advocate for your organization.

Register Now

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iCarol strengthens security through enhanced user password requirements

At iCarol, we’re always looking to the most cutting edge and progressive ways of strengthening system security, protecting data, and preventing unauthorized system access. This always has been and will continue to be a top priority for us.

In addition to the security measures we take to protect data during its transmission and storage, ensuring good password strength is one simple way that each iCarol user can protect their system and the personal information stored within. That’s why, to help our users do this, we are proactively implementing advanced security protocols for passwords used to access the iCarol system. Once these new protocols are enacted, our users will be prompted to update their passwords to ensure they meet our new strength requirements.

We appreciate our users’ compliance with these new protocols. We want you to rest easy knowing we are doing our part to keep your iCarol system secure, while also helping ensure that each individual’s use of iCarol also upholds this security through tight password guidelines.

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Simple Ways to Make the Most of Giving Tuesday

In recent years, Giving Tuesday has emerged as a counterbalance to the consumer based Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday shopping traditions. It serves as a reminder that the holiday season is about charitable acts of kindness and helping our neighbors in need.

Giving Tuesday is an excellent opportunity for non-profits and charities to tell their communities about the work they do and encourage charitable giving to their organization. Smaller organizations or those that may be completely volunteer based shouldn’t feel incapable of participating — you don’t need a dedicated marketing team to take part in Giving Tuesday. Below are some simple ideas to try that don’t take a large budget or tons of advanced planning.

  • Simple Social Media

    At a minimum, your social media accounts should publish posts about Giving Tuesday (remember to use the hashtag #GivingTuesday to maximize your reach!). Post throughout the day or schedule your posts ahead of time with social media management software like Hootsuite, Buffer, or Sprout Social. Posts should include a call to action, i.e. do you want them to donate? Volunteer? Learn more about your work? Become an advocate? Depending on the call to action, include links to applicable web pages such as your volunteer opportunity or donation pages. Posts can focus on the work you do, success stories (shared either with client permission or written to remove identifying info), milestones and achievements, goals, and other information that you’d like your community to know about you. Examples of general Giving Tuesday social media posts can be found here. We’re always happy to help you boost your Giving Tuesday social media messages, so be sure to follow us on Twitter so we can follow you back to see your posts in our feed, then we can retweet your message to our followers.

  • Share Video or Photos

    Images and video are more compelling than text-only posts, and most social media sites say that posts that include them get more views, so use them if you can. Your video doesn’t have to be Academy Award worthy — spontaneous and unrehearsed videos are authentic and give people a sense of who you are. Try a quick interview with a colleague about what they do and why they love working for your agency. Or maybe do a fast tour around the office showing everyone hard at work. It can even be as simple as a 30 second video talking about the work of your agency. Videos should be short and sweet, as most research shows short videos are the most watched. After taking the video you can usually do some light editing or clipping right on your phone before posting it to social media. If you’re feeling brave you can even do a live video right from your Facebook or Twitter app on your phone.

  • Visit Your Neighbors

    Hopefully your organization is lucky enough to have some supporters in the business community that work with you throughout the year by holding fundraisers or making donations. Giving Tuesday is another perfect opportunity to engage with your biggest fans. Perhaps they’d be willing to participate in a short video. Or maybe they’d do something as simple as keep a donation box or stack of your agency’s brochures at their register or other space in their business. Most businesses, especially those that already support your work, will welcome the opportunity to continue their advocacy during the holiday season.

  • Meet and Greet

    If your organization is open to the public then Giving Tuesday is a perfect time to invite people in so they can learn more about what you do and become a supporter. Let your reception staff know about Giving Tuesday and equip them with brochures and other materials to give out. Consider hanging a sign in your lobby or outside your building to encourage people to stop in and learn more about your work in celebration of Giving Tuesday. Don’t forget — the holiday season is a great time for recruiting volunteers, too, so make sure applications or volunteer information is on hand as well.

  • Work Your Website

    Your website is one of your greatest assets, so make sure your Giving Tuesday participation is prominently featured somehow. This can be accomplished through something as simple as a blog post or homepage image, or more advanced like adding a new temporary widget to your site that directs website visitors to your donation page, volunteer application, etc.

  • Don’t Let Callers Off the Hook

    If when people call you they first hear a general message or listen to a menu routing them to their desired destination, consider temporarily altering your greeting in honor of Giving Tuesday. This can be as simple as a 10-15 second “hello” wishing them a happy holiday season and inviting them to support your work, along with an invitation to visit your website for more information. This won’t add much at all to their wait time but will get your message in front of everyone who calls you.

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What Does Making a Difference Mean Today?

There seems to be constant pressure among millennials to achieve.

At the University of Iowa, each successive year of freshmen claim the new title of the “most accomplished class yet.” As a senior, my Facebook feed is flooded with job acceptances and pictures of people traveling the globe to study and volunteer. In a world hyper saturated with success, it’s often hard to focus on my own path, my own passions.

In the Spring of 2017, I stepped in to W332 in the Adler Journalism Building for a typical day of class. Then my dad called. I ignored it once. My sister texted me, asking if I’d talked to him. He called again. I stepped out of class, knowing something was wrong, and barely made it down the hall before I sunk to the floor, stifling sobs. He told me my cousin had died by suicide the night before.

The rush of confusion, guilt, and anger washed my sadness away. That wouldn’t hit until later, when reality settled in, and it would hit hard. I got up and beelined to the woman’s bathroom, stared myself in the mirror, gave up on understanding the pain in my reflection, mindlessly walked back to class, failed a quiz, and went home to bury myself in bed.

The only quantifiable effect of my cousin Christopher’s death in my life was the drop in my GPA that semester. Yet my heart was never the same.

His death, his suicide at the same age as me, made me question everything. It made me wonder what I’m doing in college, what exactly this degree is supposed to get me, and which experiences really matter.

I’m 21 years old, and for the first time, I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up. All I know is that old intangible cliché: I want to make a difference.

Losing someone to suicide makes all the tragedies in life feel more poignant and for a while I could imagine how my cousin saw the world before he left it: cold and mean. Lonely. But this does not have to be reality, and I’ve come to realize that making a difference does not have to mean making the world perfect.

When I remember Christopher’s face, I choose to remember him smiling. Playing guitar, laughing. I remember the gray sweater he wore the last time I saw him, how old he suddenly seemed when he had to hunch over to hug me. I remember us grimacing over our glasses of wine, the youngest in the family and the last to learn to like it. The world was still sad and scary sometimes, but it was better off because I could look across the table and there he was.

Just months before his suicide, my cousin reached out to me and told me about moving out of the house and in to his new apartment. He said, “I’m just worried about my mom missing me.”

I reassured him that of course she would miss him, but that would be okay because they had a lifetime together. He’d still see her. Neither of them would be alone. But was he trying to tell me something more? Was this the kind of conversation that could have saved his life, if he had called a crisis line that April night months later?

In a world with so many problems and so many people, my cousin’s death taught me that making a difference in the world can come down to making a difference in one single life. I believe making a difference is as simple as embracing co-dependence, reminding one another we’re in this together.

The insidious demons that caused my cousin’s death did not die with him, they threaten the wellbeing of people across the world. Not only depression but the pain of poverty, addiction, illness — the fear in feeling helpless, alone.

I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up, but I know I want to make a difference, I want to fight that fear. The internship I recently accepted with The Crisis Center empowers me to do just that.

I’d like to ask everyone reading to take this number down, to make a note of it:

    1-855-325-4296.

This is The Crisis Center’s Crisis Line. It does not necessarily mean a suicide hotline. It means a set of ears to listen and a voice to respond, if you even want to talk, which you don’t have to. It means no judgement, no evaluation. It means a human heart, beating with the one on the other end of the line, a person dedicated to nothing but being there.

Please, put us in your contacts: 1-855-325-4296. Call or text if you need someone to talk to, call or text if you are worried about someone you love. Pass the number on if you think someone else needs it. Write it on bathroom stalls, turn it in to a song and sing it while you walk, I don’t care. Just don’t ignore it.

If the only result of my internship is one single person saving that number, I’ve succeeded.

It’s hard to allow vulnerability and weakness. We live in an era of individuality where everyone wants to succeed, and no one wants to ask for help along the way. But being human means being challenged. It means being exhausted. Sometimes, it means wanting to give up. On the assignment driving you crazy, the job you can’t stand, the degree you’ve worked so hard for; on life itself.

The second we start being more open about this fact, the easier it is to overcome. And change doesn’t have to be big. Change can be as simple as answering honestly next time someone asks, “how are you,” and expecting them to do the same. It could be as simple as listening.

Encouraging open lines of communications between loved ones and between complete strangers makes the world a more connected and more caring place. For me, for now, this is the kind of difference I want to make.

Check in with your family and friends, ask them how they are doing. Really ask them. When they ask you, really answer. This question, this conversation, could change the world.

And if you feel alone, with no one to talk to, you’re wrong. We’re listening, at 1-855-325-4296.

How are you?

To join The Crisis Center in their mission, consider volunteering your time to a number of local and remote services: by answering the crisis phone line, answering the online crisis chat/text service. Volunteers are at the heart of the organization. For more information, visit: https://www.jccrisiscenter.org/volunteer-now/

Guest blogger Brooke Clayton is a communications intern at the Crisis Center of Johnson County in Iowa City, Iowa and a senior at the University of Iowa.

Guest blogger views and opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of CharityLogic, iCarol, or Harris Computer Systems.

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Mega-Millions Jackpot Media Frenzy Offers Opportunity for Responsible Gambling Messaging

As the Mega Millions jackpot has reached record levels, the National Council on Problem Gambling urges consumers to protect themselves against excessive gambling and calls upon lotteries and the media to promote responsible gambling messages.

Responsible gambling efforts should be made by lottery operators and players alike. Here are four simple responsible gambling tips to know and share:

  • Set a limit of time and money spent gambling.
  • Don’t gamble to escape feelings of anxiety, stress or depression.
  • Know where to get help for a gambling problem.
  • Minors are prohibited from most forms of gambling.

“The media and consumer interest in high lottery jackpots creates an opportunity to provide responsible gambling messages designed to help people who choose to gamble make informed decisions about their play…Lotteries play an important role in reminding retailers and players about the minimum age to play and in educating their players about simple steps to promote responsible gambling.”

— Keith Whyte, Executive Director of the National Council on Problem Gambling

State lotteries and media are asked to incorporate responsible gambling messaging and the National Problem Gambling Helpline (1-800-522-4700) into their upcoming promotion and coverage of the Mega Millions jackpot.

The National Problem Gambling Helpline (1-800-522-4700 or www.ncpgambling.org/chat) is the single national point of access for problem gambling help. Help is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, in all 50 states. All calls are confidential and offer local information and referral options for problem gamblers and their families. In 2017 the Helpline received 233,000 calls, an average of one call every two minutes.

About the National Council on Problem Gambling

NCPG is the national advocate for problem gamblers and their families. NCPG is neutral on legalized gambling and works with all stakeholders to promote responsible gambling. If you or someone you know has a gambling problem, call or text the National Problem Gambling Helpline at 1-800-522-4700 or visit www.ncpgambling.org/chat for confidential help.

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iCarol at the National Crisis Center Conference

From Wednesday, October 17 through Friday, October 19, Rachel Wentink, Vice President, Operations, and Mary Kruger, Client Training Coordinator, will attend the National Crisis Center Conference in St. Louis, Missouri.

The conference theme is “Gateway to Gold: Setting the Standard” with a focus on best practices for optimum success of the attending organizations and their clients. This year’s conference will offer sessions in two tracks focused either on Systems or Centers, with several workshops that satisfy both.

There’s no better group to speak to best practices than the two entities presenting this conference, CONTACT USA (CUSA) and the National Association of Crisis Organization Directors (NASCOD). Both organizations have a phenomenal history of supporting crisis work and we recommend considering membership for your service if you are a helpline, warmline, crisis center, suicide prevention service, or similar organization. By joining them you’ll discover fantastic networking and knowledge sharing from caring individuals who can relate to your day-to-day joys and challenges as a manager or executive director of a not-for-profit. Find out more about CUSA membership here and NASCOD membership here.

Our history with this group and conference is our longest association, going way back to iCarol’s earliest days, and many of the helplines and crisis centers who host this conference were some of iCarol’s earliest users. It’s a long standing relationship that we value and we’re proud to not only attend but are also long-term sponsors of this important gathering organized by pillars of the helpline industry.

As with all conferences we attend, we welcome the opportunity to connect with old friends and new ones. We’re eager to hear about your latest projects and discuss ways iCarol can support you and the needs of your community. Both Mary and Rachel will be on hand throughout the conference to answer your questions and talk about how iCarol can help. We look forward to seeing you!

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Submit your presentation proposal for the National Crisis Center Conference

The 2018 National Crisis Center Conference (aka “CrisisCon18”) invites crisis centers to submit proposals for presentations for the “Gateway to Gold: Setting the Standard” conference which will be held October 17-19, 2018 in St. Louis, MO. To submit a proposal, click here. Deadline is July 11, 2018. The conference is hosted by the National Association of Crisis Organization Directors and CONTACT USA.

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National Crisis Center Conference set for October

The National Crisis Center Conference presented by CONTACT USA and NASCOD is 4 months away! Details about the conference including conference and hotel registration can be found at http://www.crisiscon.org/. Early bird registration will end August 17th so register now to receive the early bird discount.

This year’s conference will be from October 17th – 19th in St. Louis, Missouri. The conference includes 3 days of best practices, intensive trainings, and networking opportunities with crisis center leaders and managers from around the country.

For those that have not attended a conference before, it is a great way to network with other centers, meet new people, connect with colleagues, as well as learn and share pertinent crisis work information.

Call for papers is now open as well. If you are interested in presenting, please submit your presentation proposal at: http://www.crisiscon.org/program.html. Deadline for submission is Wednesday, July 11th.

Questions? Please contact Gail Selander, CONTACT USA, at gselander@contact-usa.org.

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US Supreme Court declares federal ban on sports betting to be unconstitutional

A lot of you may be wondering about the potential impacts of the recent Supreme Court decision in Murphy v. National Collegiate Athletic Association. On May 14, 2018 the US Supreme Court declared the federal ban on sports betting to be unconstitutional. By repealing the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), the Supreme Court opens the door for any state to legalize sports betting. The National Council on Problem Gambling believes the ruling by the Supreme Court is the largest potential expansion of gambling in our nation’s history now that an additional 49 states have the opportunity to legalize sports betting. We believe the expansion of legalized sports gambling in the United States will likely increase gambling participation and gambling problems unless serious steps are taken to minimize harm.

Approximately 85% of Americans either gamble or approve of it. We know that there is already a vast amount of illegal sports betting occuring across America. And kids are already frequently exposed to parental gambling plus advertising and promotion for unregulated offshore gambling in media and online outlets. Expansion will likely increase availability and acceptability of sports gambling and thus increase participation, which may lead to more gambling problems. Unfortunately, this has not been uniformly accompanied by appropriate—or in some cases any—funds to prevent or treat gambling addiction. As a result current public problem gambling prevention and treatment services—especially for youth—are insufficient in most states and nonexistent in many. Approximately 2% of adults experience gambling problems, or approximately 5 million people. Gambling addiction is a rare but serious public health concern similar to other disorders that can ultimately lead to psychological, financial and legal problems. Additionally, gambling problems are strongly associated with increased incidence of suicide attempts, substance use disorders, and other behavioral health conditions. These social and economic impacts must not be ignored.

The NCPG Board of Directors issued a Resolution on the Legalization of Sports Gambling in February 2017 that included specific recommendations on preventing problem gambling and encouraging responsible gaming for three key stakeholder groups: legislators and regulators; leagues and teams; and the media. In March 2018 the Board followed up by issuing Responsible Gaming Principles for Sports Gambling Legislation. Over 20 states have filed legislation to legalize sports betting, few with the types of consumer protections we recommend. Sadly it looks like we may see a rise in gambling addiction over the next few years, which affects all of us.

About National Council of Problem Gambling

NCPG is the national advocate for problem gamblers and their families. NCPG is neutral on legalized gambling and works with all stakeholders to promote responsible gaming. If you or someone you know has a gambling problem in the United States, call or text the National Problem Gambling Helpline Network at 1-800-522-4700 or visit www.ncpgambling.org/chat for confidential help. We are proud to use iCarol for our text and chat program.

Guest blogger Keith Whyte has served as Executive Director of the National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG) since October 1998. NCPG is the national advocate for programs and services to assist problem gamblers and their families.

Guest blogger views and opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of CharityLogic and iCarol

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Would you like to blog for iCarol?

The goal of iCarol’s blog is to provide interesting, helpful, and relevant information to our readers, who are typically volunteers or staff members of helplines and not-for-profit organizations located around the world, as well as people in executive and leadership roles, and other stakeholders. This group includes people who use iCarol, and also those who don’t.

Some of our best and most popular blog posts have come from helpline professionals who have a unique perspective to offer our readers. We’re always looking for new bloggers to join us. Here are some suggestions for topics to write about:

  • How your helpline handles a specific problem/topic that may be common in the helpline industry

  • Your thoughts or stance on a particular issue impacting helplines, or impacting larger industries of which helplines are a part (i.e. suicide prevention, mental health, addiction, LGBTQIA, sexual and/or domestic violence, problem gambling, etc.)

  • Policies, procedures, thought processes, or philosophies on various topics that come up

  • Blogs about funding — tips on how to get it, where to search for it, how to write a good grant or proposal, or how to convince your board or CEO to fund something that your helpline needs

  • Detail on partnerships you’ve formed that have ultimately helped your service thrive or improve service delivery. This could be partnerships with local law enforcement, emergency departments, counseling offices, organizations you commonly refer to, and more…

  • How-tos or tips for working with certain populations

  • Share information about how you use iCarol that may be helpful to other users

  • Going beyond service delivery — How do you market your program? How do you advertise and make people aware of your service? What outside resources do you turn to for help?

  • What events or conferences do you attend and why should other helpline professionals attend them?

And those are just a few ideas for the types of blogs we’re looking for. We welcome your own ideas and proposals for topics beyond what is listed above.

Once you submit it to us, we’ll review your submission. If chosen for publishing, we’ll set up a brief bio and byline for you, and when we publish your blog we’ll also link back to your organization’s website. In exchange we’ll ask that you also link to this blog using the outlets available to you, such as your own organization’s blog, newsletter, social media accounts, etc.

Original and exclusive content is great, however any material you may have previously written that was published elsewhere is welcome, so long as you or someone from your agency authored it and you have ownership over it and are authorized to cross-post it with us.

Interested? Want to submit an idea, a finished blog, or simply learn more? Please for more information! You can also check out past guest blogs here.

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