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Charities and Utilising the Potential of Artificial Intelligence

By | Charities, Digital | No Comments

Artificial Intelligence is here and now. We may not realize it, but we interact with some form of AI most, if not, each time we go online–from voice assistants like Alexa to as simple as being given suggested movies, products or options every time we use programs and applications. AI makes things easier for us by learning about our preferences and patterns and it then makes suggestions or actions according to these.

For the sake of having a working definition of what artificial intelligence is, according to The Street, “AI is the use of computer science programming to imitate human thought and action by analysing data and surroundings, solving or anticipating problems and learning or self-teaching to adapt to a variety of tasks.”  From what we have been seeing and experiencing at present, AI can be used in numerous applications for everyday life that will help to make tasks, or life in general, simpler.

Since AI is already a part of our everyday lives, it would also be great, too, if Artificial Intelligence could be harnessed more by charities to help further their advocacies.  After all this is one technology that can and should definitely be used for good.

Some of the things we are using in our everyday lives such as voice assistants like Alexa and Siri are already being used by some charities to help with their programs. Charities use this technology not only to help people get better informed about health conditions such as breast cancer, but also to help fundraise and spread awareness. For something that is widely available, it would be a great advantage for charities to make use of this technology. Hopefully in the future, more and more charities will follow suit and utilise this tool.

AI Chatbots are also a great tool to harness for charities, as we are seeing in some already these days. These can help in not only giving information but also answering questions about the charity’s goals and programs. Utilising chatbots lessens the need for human resources to handle information dissemination and answering some queries, while also helping lessen the use of resources and costs of the charities as well.  Chatbots are already being tested by a few charities now, and hopefully, more and more charities will see the benefit of using such technology in raising awareness and educating, as well.

Other areas that charities can harness artificial intelligence is for their fundraising efforts. With AI, charities can spread word easily that they are raising funds for a certain program or cause.  It is also making it simpler for people to give and donate. Instead of the tedious process of old, people can easily give and share through channels as readily accessible as Facebook and the like.  This is great for charities since the simple process will potentially encourage more people to give. To date, more and more channels are opening up to help making donating simpler and easier because of artificial intelligence.

Another one of the more important benefits of artificial intelligence that charities should really make use of is the capability of AI to gather and analyze data.  This is especially helpful since knowing and understanding their target audience will help a lot in deciding the best steps to take in terms of programs or marketing.  The vast amounts of data that AI can harness and process for a charity to gain more insight into how they are making an impact is invaluable. This definitely is one of the most important advantages for charities to use AI.

Artificial intelligence is here, and it is here to stay.  With all the possibilities and potentials AI has to offer, it would be great if charities utilised them more to help them help more people. Hopefully, more and more tap into this tech for good because it can really help further their charity’s goals and advocacies.

 

-This article was written by Abby Villarica from Green Box

Setting up fail2ban on Centos 7 – to limit login attempts via SSH

By | centos, fail2ban, linux | No Comments

Using (private/public) keys to restrict access is definitely the best way to secure access to a server via SSH.

However it can be abit of pain if multiple people need access and they aren’t that tech savvy.

Another way to secure SSH but not have to worry about keys is by limiting the login attempts and banning a user’s IP address, if they make too many tries in x time period ( i.e. if they try a brute force password attack on you).

One tool for doing this is fail2ban .

Here’s the process:

 

To check fail2ban is working and banning IPs

A handy way for checking if your banned is try to login via SSH until your banned ( will say ‘connection refused’ ).

Then check what your IP (of machine your sat at ), probably as easy as any is use something like whatsmyiup’s site

Get another IP ( if you have a phone and hotspot function connect to that and it will give you a new IP ).

 

Login to ssh ( as you phone IP won’t be banned ), and look in this file for your old banned IP /var/log/fail2ban.log

 

 

References

https://www.digitalocean.com/community/tutorials/how-to-protect-ssh-with-fail2ban-on-centos-7

https://www.howtoforge.com/tutorial/how-to-install-fail2ban-on-centos/

 

Creating a Digital Marketing Strategy for Charities and Effective Tools to Use

By | Charities, Digital, Marketing | No Comments

For charities, the marketing team must be capable and able to adapt to the ever-changing and advancing technologies. After all, it is in marketing that the charity depends on to get the support it needs to keep its programs and advocacies going, may it be in terms of donations or volunteers.

In this day and age, traditional marketing efforts are mostly obsolete and ineffective. Gone are the days when charities could rely on non-digital methods to get their message across effectively. Digital marketing is, by far, the most effective way to go now for charities and organisations alike. With digital marketing, the reach and scope of efforts are much bigger and can reach target audiences faster than ever before. The potential for engagement and response is also much bigger.

For your charity to be effective at digital marketing, your goals should be crystal clear from the very beginning. Say maybe you want to involve more people and increase the number of volunteers you would like to tap, or maybe your charity needs a boost in the donations it is receiving? It is very important that your charity is clear with the marketing goals it has in mind. Should you have more than one goal, try to create a list so you know what marketing strategy to do with which.

Once you are clear on your goals, the second task to do is to take note of what marketing strategies or programs are already in place and what resources are available to you. Try to see what systems are already in place and if they are effective. If not, maybe it is time to make an effort to update or upgrade systems to adapt to the changing times.

Lastly, create content that will do three very important things:

  • Teach – create content that will help the audience know about you and what you are all about.
  • Talk – content should encourage conversation. It is great when your audience engages and is paying attention
  • Touch – the goal of your content is to touch people and make them want to take action.

At the end of the day, the goal of digital marketing for charities is to increase both awareness and action.

Moving on to another equally important factor to successful digital marketing for charities is the tools and programs used. They should be able to handle the needs of the charity and be able to deliver. As marketing is constantly changing, it is important that the charity’s digital tools adapt as well to the advancements of technology. A lot of thought must be made with regards to what tools to use, especially since there are many marketing tools that offer great deals (sometimes even free use!) to charities.

Let’s take a look at some of them that are widely used by charities:

  • Canva – Using this, it is easy to create an array of graphics and social media easily. What is even better is that Canva offers Canva for Non Profits so that Charities can use the premium version free of charge.
  • Slack – This is a great tool for digital marketing companies to always be on the same page. This communication platform allows teams to coordinate and collaborate on projects easily. This is a must-have for any digital marketing team as it also integrates with other tools like Google Drive, Trello, Google Calendar, Dropbox and many more. An even bigger advantage is that Slack is free to use. The paid version is also inexpensive, and they offer discounts for eligible organisations and non-profits.
  • Hootsuite – This is a social media management tool for both scheduling and getting data and analysis on the performance. It is a great tool for teams and Hootsuite offers discounts for eligible non-profits.
  • Mailchimp – this is a great email marketing tool that charities can use. The great thing about it too is capability-wise, the free version can accommodate the email marketing needs of small charities.

Digital Marketing is a must for charities now. You need the right strategies and you need the right tools to be effective at it. Having both at hand and having a well-equipped marketing team can really help the digital marketing efforts of charities.

 

-This article was written by Abby Villarica from Green Box

The Pros and Cons of Custom Websites

By | Custom Websites, Responsive Web Design, Web Design, Website Development | No Comments

For businesses, it is a must in this day and age to have a website. It is your home base and your business address in the virtual world.  Having a great website can actually help or hurt your business. A great website will reflect on your business, helping it gain more clients and become more successful.  A poorly made one will look messy and unprofessional, turning off clients even from the very start.; and this is not great from a business perspective.

In the process of getting a website for your business, there are 2 very big decisions you have to make–whether to use a template type of website or have a custom one built.  Each one has its own pros and cons and it really depends on you, your needs and available resources as a business.

Template websites are those that are pre-designed and basically pre-made. Coding has already been done for you so all it will need is a bit of time to get your information in and some tweaking and customization from your end. To cite a few benefits of choosing these types of websites, they are 1) very inexpensive (and they can even be free!), 2) they are pretty much plug-and-play and you can do all the customization on your own and will have no need for a website developer or third-party company to help you, and 3) they are very quick to do so you can have your site up and running in as fast as a few hours.

There are drawbacks though, to this kind of website. More often than not, it is very easy to see that the site is a template site and it lacks the professional look that your business may need.  It will also look very similar to other sites since templates are readily available. These sites may not stand out and may not function as well as you would like since you would be limited to the features and plug-ins available to you.  More importantly–and this much be stressed as very important, template websites may not be as secure as you would want them to be since the code is easily accessible. Website support, SEO and marketing tools, and analytics are also quite lacking for template websites.

Custom websites, on the other hand, are those that are basically built from scratch.  They are your idea and your concept made possible through collaboration with a great web development team (should you not have the skills yourself). Custom websites are unique and created specifically for your business needs.

Looking more into custom websites, we can cite some pros and cons.

PROS:

They are created solely for you so they are uniquely yours and have the full functionality you need.

This means that the site is planned, created and built just for you and your business. Everything from conceptualizing, planning and building of the site is geared towards your business needs.  This also means that there is a lot of focus on showing your brand personality and you can be sure that your website will look very unique and professional.

Your web development team will take care of the building, optimizing, maintaining and keeping your site safe.

Most website development teams will work with you from the conception of your website, to making sure that it is optimized for SEO, to maintaining and updating your site and making sure that your site is kept secure. This is something that template website providers lack in, or should they offer these things, will add on more costs and fees.

Custom websites are fully tested before launch.

This is great to make sure that your website performs well and is available to all browsers.  Also, any necessary software integration and capabilities of your website will be tested to make sure that everything is working well.

Custom websites grow with your business

One of the biggest advantages of having a custom website is that there is always room for growth as your business grows and changes. You need not be stuck with a site that is obsolete because your business needs have changed or you may have new offerings as a business;  you have decided to use new software. Since your custom website is built from scratch, you do not need to create a whole new site to accommodate your needs as you grow.

Let’s now take a look at the biggest cons when opting for custom websites:

CONS:

They can get pricey

Unless you have the skills to code and create a custom website yourself, the general process is to find and hire a reputable web development company or team that can help you get your brainchild online.  Hiring a good company costs quite a bit more than template sites and you would need to make time to find a team, draft a contract, and then brainstorm and collaborate with the team to create your website. 

They take time

Custom websites take much longer to build than template sites which can be up and running within a few hours.  Since a custom website is built from scratch, the time needed to build, test and make sure that the site is running well is much longer. This can take weeks, if not a couple of months.

It may be hard to communicate your vision and ideas

This is especially true if it will be your first website for your business.  There may be some difficulty being able to share your vision and your idea to the website development team. Again, relaying back and forth ideas and concepts may take more time.  A good website development company will be ready for such situations though and will be able to guide you through the planning and concept development process.

Though more tedious and time-consuming, custom websites–when done in collaboration with a good website development company, is more than worth the time, effort and cost.  If done well and made to suit your business perfectly, a custom website will help you put your best foot forward and give your website the edge to succeed from the time it is up and running and for years to come.

 

-This article was written by Abby Villarica from Green Box

Buddypress – How to add group types

By | Buddypress, PHP, Wordpress | No Comments

It can be useful to have group types sometimes for example, maybe a University might want to have 2 group types for staff and students. So they could have staff groups and student groups ( and a directory for each eg staff would list the staff groups and student groups would list the Student Groups ).

This is easy todo in Buddypress:

 

you can then have links like this to view the group directory:

 

/groups/type/staff/

/groups/type/students/

Why Charities Need to Learn the Art of Digital Storytelling

By | Charities, Digital, Marketing | No Comments

We all love stories.  It has been ingrained in us as humans from the time of our ancestors, where the elders used to tell their tales to explain and influence and impart knowledge.  Stories are a reminder to us that we are connected, that we share common things and common experiences.  Stories make our lives richer and they make us connect with others on a deeper level that compels a change in thought or a move to act. It is because of these that it would be a compelling argument that Charities utilize storytelling in their marketing efforts.

With so many charities around, and even more coming up every day, being able to stand out and reach your audience and compel them to act is a big feat–especially for small charities that do not have the funding for big marketing campaigns.  It is here that storytelling as a marketing tool will be a help in engaging with their target audience and create opportunities for action.  Digital storytelling is also a great tool to utilize because just about everyone can do it, uniquely and in their own way.  As humans, we love stories—we love to tell it and we love to hear about them.  Charities would be wise to utilise this in trying to further their programs and advocacies.

Here are some of the reasons why Charities need to learn the art of digital storytelling:

Digital storytelling makes your charity more relatable

Charities can sometimes come across as stiff and all business, especially if your charity is for rare or uncommon medical conditions or lesser talked about issues.  Having a strong digital storytelling marketing campaign can help in making a shift from the condition itself to the stories of the people living with and suffering because of it.  It makes your charity and what you are striving for something audiences can relate to.

Digital storytelling puts a face for your charity.  It makes the goals of your charity more real and relatability is very important to reach your audiences and make your charity efforts more effective.

Digital storytelling communicates how your charity impacts your advocacies

Digital storytelling is your opportunity to show your audiences how their help and their donations impact your charity’s beneficiaries.  It is a chance to let your audiences have a peek at what you are doing and how your charity affects change.

More and more stories of this kind can boost your charity’s moral.  They are “feel good” messages that confirm to your audience that their actions and their support has an effect. It can really make a change and encourage your audiences that being both active and supportive of your charity by volunteering or by donating is worthwhile.

Digital Storytelling compels audiences to act

As mentioned in the beginning, we all love stories.  It is interesting to know about how a charity is really making efforts and touching others’ lives with the programs and the actions it undertakes.  It is in these stories, and the emotions they bring up, that charities can use to compel audiences to act and to share.

Digital Storytelling is a very powerful tool that charities can utilise in marketing their programs and strengthening their advocacies. With so many tools to further enrich the storytelling experience–may it be by the use of pictures, videos or even data and facts; as well as 1st hand stories from those touched by charities themselves, it is a very good idea for charities to use this in their marketing campaigns.  It not only is a way to share the goals and programs of the charity, but it is also a way to reach more and more people because interest is raised.

We all love stories.  They are raw and they are candid, and they are real. It is important that charities know how important and powerful a tool digital storytelling is and find ways to use it to their advantage.

 

-This article was written by Abby Villarica from Green Box