Note: This is part 2 of a two-part series on Virtual Assistants – who to turn to for Virtual Assistant services. Looking for the first part? Here’s a link to Five Reasons to Consider a Virtual Assistant.
Two weeks ago, I got to interview Michelle Penczak, owner of Squared Away. She was amazing to talk to – a mother of two (like me), a business owner (like me) who has built a beautiful network of Virtual Assistants who help companies around the world. All while being a military spouse who moves frequently. She is basically who I want to be when I grow up – her drive and business savvy are inspiring.
Squared Away is a company that recruits military spouses as Virtual Assistants, trains them and deploys them to companies around the world. And by “deploys,” I mean virtually (of course).
I had this beautiful conversation and then I lost all my notes. No idea where they went or why I can’t seem to find them… That’s the reality of being a small business owner, and of a pastor (yes, I’ve seen your desk, my friend).
Have you ever found yourself in this situation?
Where you knew that you could accomplish so much more in your ministry if you had some extra administrative help?
Virtual Assistants can be a game changer for ministries, and are a very underutilized resource in the world of churches -we’re so used to church admins who sit at a desk, answer the phone, and sometimes update our social media feeds that we can’t even begin to imagine the possibilities.
But finding a Virtual Assistant is not intuitive, this level of administrative acrobatics is not something we were taught in seminary, after all. We were taught about traditional staff, in traditional offices, that answer the phone and create the church newsletter. Which is a great place to start, but God is calling us to propel into uncharted territory!
Where can you find a Virtual Assistant? After all, most churches have a hard time finding a traditional admin who is available to work on a very part-time scale; sometimes the job goes to a volunteer or whoever was willing to step in versus someone who is highly qualified and adaptive to changing ministry environments.
You can find a Virtual Assistant in many ways: you can post an ad on Craigslist, you can search Google, or you can go with a reputable firm that is known for its well-trained Virtual Assistant staff, takes care of all the hiring paperwork and payroll, and helps you feel good about the person you’re hiring.
That’s where a company like Squared Away comes in. Clearing the mental clutter and streamlining the process of finding a Virtual Assistant.
I highly recommend Squared Away for a few reasons, if you’re looking to dip your toe into the field of Virtual Assistants:
- Squared Away is one of the Virtual Assistant firms that I actually know people who work there or have worked there (see 5 Reasons to Consider a Virtual Assistant for insight from a former Virtual Assistant)
- I’m all about social entrepreneurships, and Squared Away has a beautiful purpose in hiring military spouses. Much like clergy spouses, military spouses have to move around quite a bit and can have trouble finding employment after each move. Michelle Penczak, owner of Squared Away, talks more about creating the company to hire military spouses in an article by NBC News
- Squared Away Virtual Assistants are highly trained and benefit from a team of fellow Virtual Assistants. “If a Virtual Assistant doesn’t know something you’re asking for, they’ve been trained to look to each other to find the answer.” This pool of “unique and talented personalities” brings different degree sets (like Communication and Marketing, for example) and strengths to help take your ministry to the next level.
- Squared Away has different tiers for different sized ministries so you only pay for what you need (and often pay for half the hours of a traditional admin, because things get done so efficiently), and you can get an even more decreased price for making referrals. Hourly packages start at 15 hours/month.
Contact Squared Away and mention Affirm Fundraising for 25% off your first month!
“But I don’t have the money for a virtual assistant” – don’t forget my mantra, that you sometimes have to invest in new things to see benefits. A virtual assistant could research grant opportunities, update an online marketplace or research online giving options – these would increase your bottom line.
Some of the services that Squared Away offers to clients have me virtually salivating over the possibility: bookkeeping and expense reporting, drafting documents and proofreading, inbox management (oh man, my inbox is so awful right now!), contact tracking and more.
You can find out more about the packages offered by Squared Away at their website; contact Squared Away and mention Affirm Fundraising and get 25% off your first month. Plus, for every ministry or program that you refer to Squared Away that becomes a customer, you get $200 off one month of service. That kind of thing can add up quickly, especially for a budget-conscious church or ministry.
Hopefully the diagram above helps you think through all the things that Virtual Assistants could help you with – way beyond the kind of help we’re used to in ministry. Hopefully this article alleviates some of your fear of asking for help, and gives you hope for the kind of assistance you need to grow your ministry and escape the overwhelm and try to avoid burnout… You’ve got this – a Virtual Assistant can help.