Monday, October 28, 2013

OCTOBER IS AWARENESS MONTH: "He who knows others is wise. He who knows himself is enlightened."~Lao Tzu

Riiiight...? Uh no.  Life would be so much simpler if memes like this were true. Memes provide temporary relief through lightheartedness or sarcasm or humor. We all love 'em... well most of us do.

The month of October is a month of AWARENESS that covers many themes:
  • October is Down Syndrome Awareness Month!
  • October is National Spina Bifida Awareness Month
  • October is National Information Literacy Awareness Month
  • Breast Cancer Awareness Month
  • National Apple Month
  • National Physical Therapy Month
  • Eye Safety and Injury Prevention Month
  • NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim October 2013 as National Domestic Violence
And the one I endlessly promote, Pit Bull Awareness Month.

Are we feeling AWARE yet? This doesn't even include the awareness weeks or days that also take place during the month of October. I probably even missed a few. I definitely have a theme going this month and it's been across the board - professionally, personally, even romantically - which brought me to the questions about awareness:

Are you about to RUIN it for everyone else?


Will your actions make it BETTER for everyone else?

Does "everyone else" even matter to you?  In my mind, they do and call it non-youthful wisdoem but with time and experience comes clarity and with wisdom comes compassion as I wholeheartedly ascribe to this quote by Robert Baden-Powell:

"Leave this world a little better than you found it."

So although I would like to announce and promote a national campaign called "Quit Ruining it for Everyone Else Awareness Month," (week or day), let's just discuss it here. I could elaborate with anecdotal instances and experiences as examples of what I am speaking to, but I think we can all muster up our own examples along with feelings of being slighted, ignored, overlooked, unheard or blatantly being disregarded that leave you feeling frustrated or lashing out. The bottom line is that as humans we seek fairness; that things need to just, equitable, honest, upright, honorable, trustworthy. So let me pause and ask that instead of pointing fingers at your colleagues, your co-workers, your volunteers or your family members, I am going to ask that you instead reflect inward.  It's a difficult concept to truly grasp and put into place, but consider the only person whom you have control over and sit with this for a moment;

Only YOU are responsible for YOUR choices.

Choices have consequences not only for the choice-makers but those who are affected by those choices.  I have learned, sometimes painfully, sometimes at the expense of my own ego, to
(usually) BREATHE.
Then ACT (or not) upon the answers I've gained through posing those questions above to myself.

Once you gain clarity (and IMAGINE if everyone else gained the same type of clarity) how much easier our business and personal dealings would become?

We can all try to be a little more AWARE, right?

BLOG POST AUTHORED BY: Julie Miller, President of Lady Luck Consulting

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Thursday, September 19, 2013

"We may not have it all together, but together we have it all."

In response to commentary on this thread on the LakeElsinore-Wildomar Patch

Your attempts to get under my skin have succeeded: "to use a disabled child as a prop in a PR stunt is truly a new low for pit bull promoters" and "at the expense of both the child and the pit bull."

In follow up to the originally posted article, I sent a request to Toni McAllister, Editor, providing and requesting corrected links be added to the article; she opted to remove links altogether instead.

Here's my reply:

I have a very visible and public bio (in PR we call it research and fact-finding): "Julie founded and served as president of a nationally recognized all breed, all age, all size animal rescue. Her foresight when requesting non-profit status created several sub-divisions of her corporation; a program designed to raise Pit Bull puppies as therapy dogs for children with autism (BullNannies); a program to place senior dogs with retired individuals at reduced adoption fees, if any (Rescue Retirement); an online auction site (Bow Wow Bid Now); a retail store (Bones & Scones featuring Beauregard Stubbs' products - a collaboration with her business partner) that created a profit center to fund the non-profit activities."

 I closed my doors and dissolved ^^^said rescue on December 8, 2009 in order to focus on my children (whom all have autism spectrum disorders, by the way) concurrent with a divorce. BullNannies is the only PROGRAM - not company, not corporation, not business - that remained because it was near and dear to my heart; you could refer to it as an "activity" or a "labor of love" or "volunteering" or "fostering." I have never charged for the service, because it's simply my pleasure. I've raised dozens of pit bulls to be SOCIAL in order to assess and prepare them to become therapy dogs; their service dog training occurs after they leave my care. Some go on to become service dogs, some do not. Pup-cake for Rock Da Mullet, Sebastian Saraceno's DaVinci and several others have earned this classification by the appropriate and necessary means (and expense) through the proper channels. We have only rescued, rehabilitated and re-homed about 600ish dogs over the past ten years, however I was hired by Mr. Rossi for my business consulting skills. I have never claimed to be a dog trainer;  nowhere in my bio, my site, my history have I, will I, or do I claim to be a dog trainer; I do, however, hire them on occasion.

During my nonprofit all breed, all age, all size animal rescue days (back in the day when most "all breed rescues" excluded bully breeds "for insurance reasons") I worked as a volunteer, alongside the other 30+ volunteers; i.e. no one at our corporation took salaries although that is legally permitted. I was the primary fundraiser and learned, after its closure, that this particular skill could be used to help others without having to care-take dozens of dogs daily. I moved out of dog-raising and care-taking and moved over to public relations, marketing and professional fundraising for others.

Shorty's Charities Inc is a registered 501(c)(3) charity in the state of California (the IRS spelled it wrong "Shorty's Charieties" and our attorney is working on fixing that, so our hope is that GuideStar will be corrected soon as well). Shorty Rossi has been my client for nearly four years.

The only thing we gain from this is doing what Shorty's Charities was created to do; Creating a strong voice against stereotyping and stigma. We do not seek your pity and don’t appreciate your prejudice. We are here to help one discrimination case at a time through education, enlightenment and fight, if necessary, for the underdogs of the world.

I do not work for Discovery Channel, Animal Planet, nor Pit Boss; my client does. I do work for Shorty's Charities, as I am the co-founder and serve currently in the corporate officer position of Secretary. As a PR rep and independent contractor, I have the ability and right to donate my skill-set to whomever I deem worthwhile of my time.

Julie Miller-Hernandez
Mother. Writer. Ally.

Founder of BullNannies, a Labor of Love

To show support for my personal friends and family subjected to this set of circumstances, please like

Downloadable versions of our press release on behalf of our client, Shorty's Charities

To donate to Shorty's Charities, visit

BLOG POST AUTHORED BY: Julie Miller-Hernandez, President of Lady Luck Consulting
 Julie Marie Miller Lady Luck Consulting LLC 

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Wednesday, September 18, 2013

A stiff apology is a second insult... The injured party does not want to be compensated because he has been wronged; he wants to be healed because he has been hurt. Gilbert K. Chesterton

It's been a whirlwind the past 48 hours, fielding messages, phone calls and writing up additional statements for the family that was wronged as we patiently wait for the right. The right that may never come.

Nonetheless, the staff at Lady Luck Consulting doesn't mind late nights, early mornings and busy days because if you "Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life." - Confucius

The hardest part of putting yourself out there, even when it is to right a wrong, you take risks, low blows and hard punches.  All in a day's work. Nothing can deter you from something you wholeheartedly believe in. With this I bring you, press release number two this week from Shorty's Charities:


Tom’s Farms responds to accusations of discrimination against autistic child’s pit bull service dog
Shorty Rossi says this is not good enough. All the Santos family asked for was for an apology and to educate, enlighten and inform this business establishment of their discriminatory practices
Corona, California, US September 18, 2013

You have yet to make a public apology to the parents, child and, YES, even to the service animal.  While you state you have changed the policy (without stating said changes) please understand that a policy and a law have nothing to do with each other therefore your said changes are irrelevant. “Clarify(ing) (y)our policies and provid(ing) specific training to (y)our staff” have nothing to do with the fact that you are not above the law.  Mr. Santos came to you over 45 days ago to let you know about how a manager treated his mentally handicap daughter and her service animal with absolutely no response from your company, your managers, your owners nor your staff. The Santos family came to you on a friendly basis (we have well documented communication) to help you understand what you chose to put his daughter through. The Santos family even offered to assist with training your employee during that time (we have well documented communication) yet your business establishment chose to ignore the offer. So alas, we do not see anything that has changed for the better as of today, 46 days later, however we look forward to seeing something soon. 
Statement from the Santos family:
“It has come to the attention of the Santos family that as of late, Tom’s Farms has been provided with an abundance of information in regards to the laws that pertain to the disabled and their Service Animals. We understand that there are many laws/rules/regulations that may be hard to understand and implement.  We fully understand that we cannot force you to want to be better or to do better.  That is a choice; one that is on the shoulders of your business needs to make for itself.  However, always remember that our previous offer to work alongside you in regards to the PROPER employee training on such sensitive topics will always be available to you.  While visiting Tom’s Farms is not something we plan on doing any time soon for obvious reasons, please know that we will do so if it means that we will be helping you train your employees so that we are the ONLY family to every go through such discrimination and humiliation.
“Here is to an open mind and a patient heart.
The Santos Family, also known as Pup-Cake’s leash racks”
In summary, Shorty Rossi advised the Santos family that “in the future, just call the police,” since according to California Code - Section 54.1(a)(1)  Access to public conveyances, places of public accommodation, amusement or resort, and housing accommodations:
Individuals with disabilities shall be entitled to full and equal access, as other members of the general public, to accommodations, advantages, facilities, medical facilities, including … places of public accommodation, amusement, or resort, and other places to which the general public is invited, subject only to the conditions and limitations established by law, or state or federal regulation, and applicable alike to all persons.

Shorty’s Charities has been assured, since the beginning of its involvement with Pup-Cake the Service dog and the Santos family, that they have not once threatened to file a lawsuit against nor have they sought money from Tom’s Farms. They have consistently sought to educate, enlighten and inform Tom’s Farms’ in regards to service dog treatment and requested an apology from the staff that subjected their daughter to unnecessary distress. The Santos family sees no other choice, at this time, than to contact the California Department of Justice and file a complaint.  All because the human element was removed for public relations’ statements; all because they wanted to hear “I’m sorry. How can we make this better for everyone?”



If you would like more information or to schedule an interview, please call Julie Hernandez at 818.850.2310 or email

Julie Marie Miller-Hernandez

Director of Marketing & Public Relations
Secretary, Shorty's Charities Inc., a nonprofit corporation

Seems simple enough, doesn't it?

To show support for my personal friends and family subjected to this set of circumstances, please like

Downloadable versions of our press release on behalf of our client, Shorty's Charities

To donate to Shorty's Charities, visit

BLOG POST AUTHORED BY: Julie Miller-Hernandez, President of Lady Luck Consulting
 Julie Marie Miller Lady Luck Consulting LLC 

To continue to receive updates, please "like" us on Facebook
#smallbusiness #charity #nonprofit #success #patience #shortyrossi #pitboss #autism #advocacy #discrimination #servicedog #pitbull

Monday, September 16, 2013

I don't always write stories that go viral, but when I do they're about autism and pit bulls.


Tom’s Farms faces backlash from discrimination against autism service dog
Shorty Rossi, of Animal Planet’s Pit Boss and non-profit, Shorty’s Charities, requests a formal apology to family of autistic daughter whose service dog was asked to “leave the premises”

Corona, California, US September 16, 2013

It started off as any other day in the life of a parent raising a child with autism.  This particular woman, wife to guerrilla marketing strategist adviser and a weblebrity, Rock da Mullet, and mother to two, works daily as her daughter’s guardian, protector, therapist, diligent parent, and simply wants to go about her day without apologizing for a developmental disability that affects one (1) out of  88  children.  Autism Spectrum Disorders are only as disabling as the limits set upon them by society.  Compound this by their chosen trained and certified service dog being the most discriminated against breed of dog in America; the pit bull terrier.  As Mrs. Ed Santos states, more often than a mother with a child who requires having a service animal should have to: "This is a service animal. It is allowed anywhere my daughter goes as she needs it…
When an animal becomes an animal of service the breed is no longer recognized, rather the service they provide. So this is not a pit bull this is an autism service dog."

Tom’s Farms’ website states:

“Today, the property … include(s) a variety of shops, restaurants, and attractions for family entertainment. Staying true to Tom's original core values,… visitors are always welcome. Tom wouldn't like it any other way.”

But Tom would not come when requested as his staff subjected the Santos family when they were repeatedly asked to step outside.  These visitors in August, 2013, were not welcome; in fact, they were asked, repeatedly, to leave.  The following is a recounting of the day, in their own words:

This is my 2nd post to Tom's Farms FB page. I am still waiting for a reply from anyone from Tom's Farms regarding this matter:

“This correspondence is a follow up in regards to an injustice that took place in the sweet shop on Saturday August 3rd. While my family and I were shopping we were approached by a woman who stated she was the assistant manager and told (not asked) us to leave. When I inquired as to why, she stated that dogs were not allowed in the store. We informed her that the vested dog was a service animal, offered appropriate identification for the service animal and offered to answer any

questions she may have had. Due to my willingness to clear up any lack of understanding that she may have had, I am at a loss as to why she then decided to call security on us all while yelling at my family and repeating "leave".

“I cannot even begin to express to you how hard it is for a mentally handicap child to be aggressively cornered in the way we were, you see, not only is my daughter mentally handicap she has various other issues as well. Issues that we tried to explain to the assistant manager, however I assumed she could not hear us over her yelling. I would like to assume that any employee of Tom's Farms would have the basic understanding that if a person has the need for a service animal their lives are hard enough already without being placed in position to feel as if they are less than anybody else.

“We try our best to provide our daughter with the independent freedom she deserves all while not bothering the world around us and the situation that I speak off took that opportunity away from her. While I could continue with "he said she said" I am choosing a different path in regards to this scenario. There are an excessive amount of laws that pertain to service animals and the disabled. It is painfully apparent that Tom's Farms is not aware of them and I would like to assist with rectifying that.

“So at this time I come to you and offer my assistance in regards to the proper training of ALL employees. I can assist you in the training of service animal identification as well as sensitivity training to ensure that my family is the only family that is discriminated against on your property. I sincerely hope you take the above situation seriously and strive to not only set but reach a new standard of equality not only for your patrons but for your employees as well. I look forward to hearing from you.”

Shorty Rossi faces similar discrimination throughout his travels on the Shorty Rossi and Hercules’ tours. One of his primary goals with Shorty’s Charities Inc., a newly approved 501(c)(3) charity in the state of California, is to keep pit bulls in their homes where they belong, as well as to educate, enlighten and inform individuals, and companies, about responsible Bully Breed Guardianship.

Tom’s Farms owes the Santos family a public apology and to be informed enough to improve their business’ practices in regards to service dog rights. We are simply asking for the opportunity to enlighten them, because discrimination bites.


If you would like more information or to schedule an interview, please call Julie Hernandez at 818.850.2310 or email

Julie Marie Miller-Hernandez
Director of Marketing & Public Relations
Secretary, Shorty's Charities Inc., a nonprofit corporation

To show support for my personal friends and family subjected to this set of circumstances, please like

Downloadable versions of our press release on behalf of our client, Shorty's Charities

To donate to Shorty's Charities, visit

BLOG POST AUTHORED BY: Julie Miller, President of Lady Luck Consulting
 Julie Marie Miller Lady Luck Consulting LLC 

To continue to receive updates, please "like" us on Facebook
#smallbusiness #charity #nonprofit #success #patience #shortyrossi #pitboss #autism #advocacy #discrimination #servicedog #pitbull

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

"It is difficult to be patient but to waste the rewards for patience is worse." ~ Abu Bakr

Here at Lady Luck Consulting we write press releases regularly.  We write website content, we write slogans, marketing campaigns... you name it, we write.

Slogans are something that are intended to be catchy yet I usually end up attaching great meaning behind my short, three to five word quips.  I wrote one three years, seven months ago after speaking with a gentleman who had faced discrimination his entire life, compounded by self-inflicted struggles leading to him becoming a felon and, on top of it, he decides to add a service dog to his life for his back problems; he couldn't pick a Golden Retriever, but went with a bully breed.  More discrimination.  It didn't take long to have this short slogan pop into my head "Because Discrimination Bites."  He loved it. Seemingly everyone did but I wonder if people let it sink in?  I wonder if they understand the depth of emotional turmoil this man has gone through in his life that lead me to come up with this after hearing his story for the first time?

It doesn't matter. It stuck.

I try to celebrate even the smallest of victories with my small business - a story going viral, the media contacting me to ask "what's up? got any good story leads?" - but when something this profound happens, it isn't just a moment to celebrate it is a genuine victory, it's a moment to pause and be thankful for the future of the cause with which you've fallen deeply in love.

So with this I offer the following press release that I have written an hundred times in my head over the past three years, seven months:

Shorty Rossi, Pit Boss, receives designation as nonprofit
Shorty’s Charities Inc.
Los Angeles, California, US  September 6, 2013

Since 2010, you've known Luigi Francis Shorty Rossi as the Pit Boss on Discovery Channel's Animal Planet.
Shorty Rossi has subsequently become the national spokesperson and unwavering ally for bully breeds and a voice against breed specific legislation.

It's been three (long) years in seeking this designation and recognition but we moved forward with our pursuit to help injured, homeless and abandoned bully breeds in our efforts to provide financial, physical and monetary support to the smaller, local pit bull rescues across the nation. We have not wavered from this goal, holding true to our mission statement:

"Creating a strong voice against stereotyping and stigma. We do not seek your pity and don't appreciate your prejudice. We are here to help one discrimination case at a time through education, enlightenment and to fight, if necessary, for the underdogs of the world."

It is with great anticipation and pride that I am pleased to announce, as of September 4th 2013, Shorty's Charities Inc has been approved and is now recognized as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit charity.
At this time, I'd like to take the opportunity to formally introduce to you, Shorty Rossi the philanthropist.


If you'd like more information or to schedule an interview with one of our corporate officers, please call Julie Hernandez at 818.850.2310 or email

Julie Marie Miller-Hernandez

Director of Marketing & Public Relations
Secretary, Shorty's Charities Inc., a nonprofit corporation

BLOG POST AUTHORED BY: Julie Miller, President of Lady Luck Consulting
 Julie Marie Miller Lady Luck Consulting 

To continue to receive updates, please "like" us on Facebook
#smallbusiness #charity #nonprofit #success #patience #shortyrossi #pitboss

Thursday, August 15, 2013

The hands that help are holier than the lips that pray. ~ Robert Green Ingersoll

If one is sincere about wanting to help (and most of us are when we do), it makes more sense to offer specific help rather than just to make a general offer.

We've all heard it.
We've all said it.

"Let me know if you need anything."

In personal matters this can make you feel even more overwhelmed than the reason (or look on your face) that prompted the person to make this offer. People don't normally say this randomly, it's usually prompted by a rant, venting session or an obvious need for assistance.  "Letting someone know if you need anything" requires more work to already burdened mood; then you have come up with a list (whether written or mental) of the things that need to get done so you can FIND something in order to TELL someone what they CAN do to help. When your head is already spinning, the last thing you want to do is analyze what someone who's offered help can do to decrease your load, so most of usually say
                                       "Thanks, but I'm..."

In business, it's downright frustrating especially if you're a Type A, let's get this sh*t done (like yours truly). I'm going to return to using personal life examples in an attempt to make my point as most of us can relate to those best.

If you've joined a committee, whether it be a sports team, moms group or PTA, you know the circles those quick meetings can potentially spin into, fast, and you end the session wondering if anything was truly accomplished. I hate that feeling because you showed up to help and left a little more confused than when you arrived for volunteer duty.

When working within a volunteer organization, your business dealings, hell even friendships it is extremely helpful to be very specific.

If you genuinely have help to offer try...

"Let me pick up the ice cream cake on the way to the party. 
Will you make sure to pay for it before I arrive?" 

You have offered help with a specific task you're aware needs fulfilling, you've set a boundary for your offer and explained that you're not in a position to foot the bill. Plus you're driving right by Baskin Robbins on your way up to the party AND have offered relief by eliminating one less, time sensitive task for the hostess.

"I've got fifty extra bucks in my wallet, hand me your grocery list. 
I'll be back in 20 minutes."

You went by your buddy's house who's down in the dumps over his recent divorce. You see empty containers of Cup O' Soup on the counter and spoiled milk in the fridge. You've got a little time and money to spare to help a friend out, especially knowing it's his weekend with his kids. Don't ask. Just tell, then do. Done.

"I'm going to be at the (_______) at 2 pm anyway, I'll pick up your kids today. 
Should I drop them off at your house or...?"

You notice the kids of the mom, who recently had to return to full time job, always being the last ones to be picked up from school. You know times are tough and you're there every day, on time, to pick up your two in the car you own that seats eight. I'm not suggesting you become a free bus service or offer free day care, but if you know you're helping out someone during a rough transition, don't offer vague help ("Sorry things are so rough, let me know if you need anything!"), instead offer minor, specific relief. Now if mom shows up with the smell of cocktails on her breath about four hours later, don't make this offer twice, but you may want to speak to the school counselor.

If you're the person in need (or in charge) state clearly:

"I need three people to set up the snack booth at the football game on Friday nights, two to set up one to tear down. There are two two-hour shifts at the home games. Please check the (sport's) calendar and sign up for one or both shifts."

I love being on the receiving end of requests like these and, quite frankly, I reply more quickly than I would to a request for volunteers with only a date mentioned for fear I may have volunteered all of my Friday nights away (again).

"ABC Corp donated (______) last year to (your group) and you, Johnny, work right next door. Could you please go by on Tuesday and confirm that we can count on them again this year?"

One simple, convenient task instead of a long list that every looks at and passes on to the person sitting next to them with a shoulder shrug.

Now let's do an example at work:

"Board members are coming in Tuesday. Order lunch for ten under $150. Delivered by noon to east conference room. Put it on (corporate officer)'s expense account."

I can't begin to tell you how many execs say "order a nice lunch" without any of the details, leaving you to wonder if it's too elaborate, too expensive, too cheap or even enough food.

It's pretty simple yet we all fall victim to this trap with our I'd-LOVE-to-helps and our let-me-know-if-you-need-anythings.

The moral of this story is BE SPECIFIC.

"No problem can be solved until it is 
reduced to some simple form." ~John Pierpont Morgan

BLOG POST AUTHORED BY: Julie Miller, President of Lady Luck Consulting


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#smallbusiness #volunteer #help #communication #clarity

Saturday, July 27, 2013

"Give people the opportunity to be kind, they will be." ~Julie Miller-Hernandez

I occasionally quote myself, yes: Give people the opportunity to be kind, they will be.

volunteerism noun
(Sociology) the principle of donating time and energy for the benefit of other people in the community as a social responsibility rather than for any financial reward

charitable adjective
generous in giving to the needy
kind or lenient in one's attitude towards others

benevolent adjective
intending or showing goodwill; kindly; friendly

If I had to write down in order, my favorite type of work it would go something like this:
1. Writing (which I don't find nearly enough time to do lately)
2. Fundraising
3. Public Speaking (I've never really been called "shy")
4. Product procurement (Research and development really - ask me everything you ever wanted to know about bobblehead production... go ahead)
5. Public Relations (They always told me "sit down and be quiet, Julie" - it just never sunk in)
6. Marketing (The artistic gene passed through me to my children, nieces and nephews, but the creativity gene did not)
7. Reputation Management (Don't you be talkin' 'bout my friend like that!)
8. Social Media Management (Where there's a will, there's a PROPER way)

For those of you who know me, this might surprise you, maybe not. Some of you might be thinking "I really could care less what you enjoy doing, Julie, did you finish that project's first draft yet?" I have had the opportunity of doing nearly all of the above on a regular basis since I began my business several years ago; on a much busier scale over the past year which I am very grateful for. I had the pleasure earlier this year of watching my daughter perform in Annie Get Your Gun which, ironically or maybe interestingly, has a song that relates to this blog:  "Doin' What Comes Natur'lly."

I also recently read an article about up and coming professions as well as professions on the outs which I found interesting considering I have a few good friends out of work right now whom have had to rediscover themselves; one has taken free workshops through the county as a resource to become gainfully employed again.  In our mid-forties we are competing with young, ambitious, freshly and highly educated candidates vying for the same employment opportunities, having either come out of a four-year college or with a masters degree in hand; although nothing guarantees you a six figure job. I have friends using government programs to pay their mortgages right now. Times are tough. I was thankful to see my line of work on the "up and coming" list of the article.

Business consulting comes naturally to me, especially in the non-profit sector, yet I hesitate to call myself a "business consultant" because I'm not confident nor arrogant enough not to know that there aren't brilliant minds out there and firms that are full of them. I love to brainstorm and I do have enough experience in enough areas to know a few things about a few things, so if you give me a moment of your time you might also have the opportunity of being entertained by someone who can rattle of marketing strategies and business concepts without pausing to take a breath.

So I thought about it and decided to blog about what it is that I actually do on a daily basis in the thoughts that some of you might be seeking a new line of work; like my friend who made pretty good money, had benefits, 401k, a desk with a nice view, regular hours and is now researching the best resources for someone who's near poverty and hanging on by a desperate thread to their home. This brings me to my original point: VOLUNTEERING.

My son asked me a question at the dinner table the other night; that conversation went a little something like this:
"Mom, why do you volunteer so much? Maybe you could get a job-job and make more money."

"because I think I must have been a serial killer in a past life and I'm trying to straighten out my karma." 

All joking aside, I have raised my kids in a charitable home where we, as a family, have actively volunteered since before they could walk. My kids have been raised to give of their time, their energy, their talents and their earnings. In fact, it began when they were little-littles as I have required, among the members of our family, that we donate to charity, at minimum, twice a year: right before our birthdays and right before Christmas. Because there is someone who always has less than we do.  I have been known to say "You want to fix a bought of depression?  Think of someone else, besides yourself."  My suggestions frequently include serving breakfast to homeless neighbors at your local food pantry, going over to the local animal shelter to walk dogs that may not see another day of sunshine, give up one Saturday to volunteer for your local community beautification project and rake some leaves to feel a healthy release of endorphins from a little extra physical activity. Good for your body, good for your soul.

To be charitable is a way of life that has worked well for me.  Not only as an example for my children, their friends and the next generation, but as a way of life that I've transformed, inadvertently, into a career.  I love chatting about fund raising; I enjoy learning of the stories of so many who have less yet deserve so much more.  And I wholeheartedly believe in the theory of raising funds five dollars at a time. Who among us cannot afford to skip their Starbuck's one morning? Who cannot afford to pack a sack lunch instead of drive-thru on Wednesdays? Who cannot afford to spare what we can usually find at the bottom of our purse or stuffed into the dark depths of our sofa cushions?  Who on earth cannot spare five dollars?  Five dollars multiplied by one hundred... times 1000. You can do the math.

What I have experienced throughout my years of charitable contributions and volunteer man-(*ahem* WOMAN)-hours is that I have yet not to gain one at least one of the following:
1. a new skill
2. a new contact
3. a new client
3. a new friend
4. self esteem

Little do you know, that next job offer you're so desperately seeking may come from the time you spent volunteering at your favorite organization.

Give more, whine less.

BLOG POST AUTHORED BY: Julie Miller, President of Lady Luck Consulting

 Julie Marie Miller Lady Luck Consulting LLC 

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Monday, May 6, 2013

The most thorough list of crowd-funding sources you will find online

I wrote this article about three years ago and thought it would be a good time to update it with all the changes in social media and available options for crowd funding. Especially with the demise of ChipIn; I was as saddened and frustrated as anyone at the loss of the funding site that I have used for many, many years.

I provide my clients with a full analysis of how they're currently appearing online, as well as a synopsis with my ideas on how to create more opportunities to network and fund-raise. Since fundraising questions are so frequently asked, I'm providing a cheat sheet today on the subject of crowd-funding. I have tons of advice, opinions and strategies for fundraising, but that's not the point of the information I'm trying to provide today and is, quite honestly, reserved for my clients.

Let's start with the basics for a campaign:

The team: don't leave home without it
  • Are you a nonprofit charity needing ongoing donations, or urgent funding? 
  • Are you an individual who's down on their luck (or know someone else who could use a helping hand)?
  • Are you an inventor with an incredible idea for a product and don't have the funds to launch it?
  • Are you an entrepreneur who needs a kick start on your brilliant business plan for a chain of retail stores?
  • Are you a starving artist?
No one should launch a fundraising project on their own. There needs to be someone spearheading the campaign, of course, to provide direction but a team is essential for its ultimate success. So think about it and go out and search for other like-minded supporters who will agree to be part of your fundraising team. You're going to need them.

The soft launch: who are your friends really?

48-72 hours prior to launching a campaign you should secure a base network of individuals who have supported you in the past.  Not necessarily people who've forked over money to you before, but genuinely supportive people who believe in you and have offered help.  Engage those folks with the exclusivity of being a key player involving the official launch of your campaign.  Express your need for them; be humble, be honest, be frank.  Ask them to commit ("pinky promise") that they'll be there for you from step one to final funding.  This group should include anyone from family members, to friends, to colleagues to previous donors/contributors.  You might have a great-uncle Frank who's got more money that he knows what to do with and will give you funds just for asking.  Well take that leap and ask, but take it one step further and insist that he not hand you cash, but help to launch your campaign.  Most of the crowd-funding sites have a thermometer or status bar showing the current contributions.  It's not recommended that you officially launch a campaign that says "$0" - even if YOU have to fund it yourself (Rob Peter to pay Paul with your own bank accounts), do so.

Asking twenty close friends to give you five to ten dollars should not be a burden on anyone.

The official launch: engagement 
Adding the "share this" app should be a offered on all funding campaigns. Utilize fan gates. Tagging and cross-promoting are key features of social media. On Twitter all posts should include RT to encourage followers to "retweet" all posts. Give your followers on Pinterest something interesting to repin; a clever, moving or funny image.

Maximize your SEO, metatags and hashtags because these are as important as the aesthetic qualities of your fundraising campaign. It can have beautiful graphics, a fabulous video and tons of emotion-evoking photos but if no one's finding it, well...  Accounts should all be linked so one posting can create a feed that posts across all social networks.  Post frequent updates of progress.

There are many sites to utilize in promoting, if time and ambition permits! And it should, if you're serious about fundraising.
YouTube, Yelp, bookoo, craigslist,,, GooglePlus, LinkedIn, Tumblr, StumbleUpon,,,, photobucket, tinypic,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, Penny Saver,,,,,,,, and last but not least,
Is she nuts? You're thinking "These sites provide opportunities for posting ads for services and, uhhh, yard sales." Yes, yes they are. Each of these sites also allow you to post "events" - you're having an event, aren't you?

Features available on all of the social networks, including your email hosting services as well - yahoo, gmail, hotmail and such - permit you to post updates - use them!

The process

This should seem obvious but from personal experience I can't leave it without saying. Say PLEASE and THANK YOU every step of the way.  I receive an annual inheritance with which I take about 10% each year and donate to one or several groups.  I will be blunt here (what else do you expect from me?) and tell you, those organizations that do not send a simple "thank you" do not see donations from me twice.

You can do shout outs, public acknowledgements, hand-written notes, gifts, perks, or special privileges. Whatever you can afford and whatever you deem appropriate.

It's simple manners, folks.

The key is here PROMOTE, PROMOTE, PROMOTE! Try not to offend your personal friends although my close friends understand my passions and interests and are not bothered by the promotion of something I feel strongly about.  Have a game plan together not to spam your own nor your friends' profiles.

The finish line

This should probably be number one, but before you even begin your campaign, determine your real need for funds, include the fees and costs of the campaign. Nothing is free and the last thing you need is to reach your $10,000 goal to find out you owe $2,000 in expenses.

With pledge based campaigns that are "all or nothing" you might fall short of your goal. What if you're only $1,000 away from reaching it? Secure a contributor before you begin who will give you that last bit to reach your stated goal. Borrow it if you have to, but don't let all those pledges fall by the wayside, unless you pre-determine that you will absolutely not proceed with your project unless you are able to raise every last cent.

Now that I've covered the basics for a campaign, choose your hosting site

I usually hear (or see) the question: which is better Kickstarter or IndieGoGo? I'm here to inform you that you have a plethora of choices for your crowd-funding hosting site and to also inform you that it doesn't really matter (except for the comparison of fees and key features, i.e. "all or nothing" or "I need every penny I can get and I need it NOW"). What really matters are the "Thes" above and how you utilize them throughout your campaign.

I have found nearly seventy crowd-funding sites for you and compiled the list below, organized... well sorta.  I have researched many, if not most of these, in order to make recommendations to my clients and advise which one might work best for their fundraising purposes and financial needs.  I could go through and give you my notes on the costs-benefits of each, but that information is going to be retained for my paying clients. Fair enough, right? I do have three kids to feed.

So here's a semi-organized list of the crowd-funding sites available:

Anyone and Everyone

A pledge based fundraising site states your goal for funding clearly. You're being forthcoming about the financial needs of your project. There are several types of sites which varying terms and conditions, included fees and how your money will reach you.

The following are "all or nothings," meaning you raise the entire amount or it doesn't fund at all.
  • kickstarter
These are pledge based but if you fall short of your goal, contributions will still be collected, once the campaign ends.
  • indiegogo
These fund instantly; real time sites (like the former ChipIn) are sites where contributions are linked to a financial source on your end (PayPal, your bank account, etc.) and the funds become immediately available to you for your use.
  • gofundme
Need or Industry based

  • (students)
  • (musicians, songwriters)
  • (fund science)
  • (intended for medical needs)
  • YouCaring (helping others in need: medical expenses, memorials and funerals, education and tuition assistance, adoption fundraising, funding for mission trips, pet expenses or animal rescue)
  • (for art, food, technology, film, music or design.)
Charity (nonprofit) based
A no-brainer for nonprofits, as far as I'm concerned, is using GoodSearch which is not a crowd-funding site but generates daily, ongoing income.,,,,,, are all sites that should be considerd for 501c3 charities - get to work!

These are interesting and for corporations to participate and encourage employees to do the same,
  • FlipGive
Startup, small business based
  • (for Inventors - product development)
  • (for Italians!!)
Equity (they're taking a cut of your success on the back end) or Loan (you're paying it back) based 
  • (Solar power only!)
And then there are companies you can hire, apps you can purchase and download and software programs you can invest in (I don't think you need to, but I'm cheap so consider the source)
  • Causefinity
The most important thing I can convey (yet it frustrates me because I seem to be the only one that cares about this) is to NOT TO USE THE WORD "DONATION" if you are not a nonprofit charity, registered and approved as a 501c3 with the IRS.  If you haven't gone to the trouble, time and expense to form one, then you are actually seeking financial favors; gifts, contributions, funding, loans, investments, partners.  Let's face it, you're begging.   If people part with their money and give it to you, I recommend being very clear that it is NOT a donation, it is NOT tax-deductible - it is simply a gift. (This is the reason I have been referred to as a lawyer's dream for years).

If you're a regular donor/contributor and have stumbled upon this blog, the place to check for non-profit status of the group you're about to impart four-hundred bucks upon is GuideStar.  If you'd like to read reviews of non-profits and what they're doing with the funds you're donating, visit GREATNonprofits. I've met many individuals who claim it doesn't matter if they're contributing to a non-profit or not; if they're feeling compelled to give, they will.

In my opinion and experience, clarity is the most important piece to your fundraising efforts.  Be able to answer:
WHY (do you need funding)?
WHAT (will you do with the funds once you receive them)?
HOW (will the funds be spent)?
WHEN (will you need them)?
WHERE (will your effort take place)?

With appropriate disclaimers (these don't have to be boring and dry), you save your potential contributors and supporters from asking any of the above questions.  Be thorough but concise.  You want them clicking through to PayPal, not bookmarking it to come back to when they have time to read.

If this article is overwhelming, you can always consider hiring us.