Welcome to a new month and a fresh start! I hope July has treated you well and the month ahead brings with it fresh perspectives and exciting new challenges – I know it already has for me. While I will still be blogging for Avectra, my dedication to academia has drawn me back into the loving (yet unforgiving) arms of James Madison University. Please don’t fret – take a deep breath – I will still be offering my weekly blog posts to help you unwind at the end of a long week and keep stock of what’s happening in the nonprofit world.

This first article caught my eye in particular due to its relevance in a changing economic world which places heavy emphasis on philanthropic ideals and volunteerism. While the economy is on a steady incline and many of the markets are beginning to turn around (ever so slightly), it is abundantly clear that the plight of the nonprofit will continue for quite some time. Financial shortages will mean less hiring and less employees to maintain operations. This will result in a greater reliance on the volunteer population. This article in The Nonprofit Quarterly sums up the steps a nonprofit can take to ensure that they are protecting both their volunteers and themselves. It is a consideration I feel goes overlooked – and a necessary installment that brings with it an added piece of mind.

If you use Gmail I’m sure you’ve noticed the new layout and added functionality that the tech nerds over at Google have implemented. The changes, while not exactly novel concepts, have worked to make it easier for the user to filter through their email by immediately sorting them into different tabs based on content. As a volunteer-centric industry, nonprofits will begin to notice that the content of their emails is likely to be sorted into the new “Promotions” tab in Gmail – prompting the user to view the email as a solicitation and rendering them less likely to view. This article titled “7 Ways to Survive Gmail’s New Promotions Tab” helps organizations to avoid this immediate “brush-off” by the user. While nothing can be done about the standards through which Gmail categorizes, certain steps can be taken to ensure that your emails get read.

Articles like this next one are always intriguing and tend to offer a thought-based, philosophical approach to a concept or an industry that we have been involved in for quite some time. Dana Mitroff Silvers, author of the article “Design Thinking: A Powerful Tool for your Nonprofit,” defines the scope of a strategy she calls Design Thinking. Design Thinking suggests a most active, human-centered approach to innovation. The concept is to create a forum in which the open exchange of ideas is promoted regardless of implications and it offers some truly insightful theory that I think every industry professional should take the time to read.

Will Wheaton, King of the Nerds and my personal hero, made a video for a young girl highlighting the reasons why being a nerd is the absolute best thing ever. So, if you’re not to busy watching Star Trek: Next Generation or perhaps in between movies during your Lord of the Rings marathon – please check it out. Maybe I have a personal bias, but in either case the message he conveys it’s entirely universal.

And last, but certainly not least: “What Your Nonprofit Can Learn from the Sharknado Twitter Storm.” If you haven’t heard of the movie (and the title doesn’t leave much to the imagination), I encourage you to check it out and read the reviews, it has to be a comedy. But in either case, the content within is applicable to any company with an active social media presence. You wouldn’t want your nonprofit to fail in the face of laughter just as this movie did in the box office.