Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Wednesday Happenings

Hello, so what's new? well, this is going to be a short posting- I've gone to bed 2 nights in a row at 2am and I am so tired. I don't even have a good reason for going to bed that late- I wasn't doing much work, I wasn't coming in late from an event, I wasn't watching something fabulous on television or reading a good book. I've been working really hard to get to bed at a decent hour, so I need to get back on track.

I was working on getting auction items today for our anniversary event. It has been a roller coaster so far with auction items. We will not be getting a number of the items we got last year which is really disappointing. One of the worst things is when you have a good relationship with a donor, then that person leaves their job and you have to start over with a new person and the new person isn't always as helpful. On the other side, we are getting a number of commitments for items and we have some cool things donated, we did get a commitment again for one of our biggest items and I've been reaching out to new donors. I need to reach more new donors though. One of the restaurants that usually donates to us is actually going to be donating a larger gift certificate than they have ever done before. On the downside, a electronics store that usually donates a $25 gift card for our raffle said they are doing no charitable donations this year. That was quite disappointing, especially since they are a very large company and personally, I have spent many thousands of dollars there over the years. I'm also trying to get show tickets and other fun stuff. I really wish I had help in doing this. It takes a lot of time to research new potential donors, contact places, make follow up calls, etc. Every time I start working on auction items, I only plan to spend an hour doing it, but then three hours go by and I'm still working on the same thing.

I went to a networking event tonight in Boston. It went well, I think I made some good contacts. I have quite a few people I need to follow up with in the morning. I have a meeting tomorrow with a potential date auction sponsor that I met at last week's networking event. Hopefully, I will have good news to report tomorrow night! I really feel that I'm getting a lot more out of the networking events that I've been attending. I've learned a lot about networking through the DWC networking group that I belong to and now that I'm putting what I've learned to use, I'm getting a lot more out of these events.

Well, that's it for tonight. My eyes are hurting and I'm off to bed. Please wish me luck for tomorrow's meeting! Until next time friends..

Monday, March 29, 2010


Good news- we have another date auction sponsor commitment. It is a returning sponsor from last year and they are actually increasing their sponsorship, so I am very happy about that. I've also been speaking with some other potential sponsors and I think we might be getting a couple of them on board. It feels so good to be making progress. I'm going to another networking event on Wednesday, so hopefully I'll be able to make some more connections. I was reading an article in the Globe on Sunday and found some other organizations that I want to reach out to.

I got a call last week from a police department in NJ that wants to have a Project Smile donation. There located close to NYC, so I think I will drive them down. I'll try to contact some other departments near them so we can make it an even larger donation. It costs so much money to ship the donations, it will probably be actually cheaper to drive.

There was a sad thing that happened recently. On Saturday, I went to the funeral for the son of someone I know. The son, who was close to my age, committed suicide. I never knew the son, but I knew the father personally for quite a few years. The father is one of the nicest people that I know. He supported Project Smile for many years too. The news in itself was shocking and the funeral was devastating. It is so dreadful to see people in so much grief. The father spoke so movingly of remembering the good times with his son. It was all so sad. The shock of a sudden death is a reminder to reach out to those you love. I called each of my siblings shortly after the funeral, just so I could hear their voice. I called some of my friends that day, just to chat. I called a friend that I hadn't spoken to in a couple of months too. It also got me thinking of all the things that I still want to do in my life. Life is so short and things can happen that you never expect- I want to get out and enjoy all the good times while I have them.

well fiends, that's it for tonight. I am so tired. I'd also like to wish a very happy birthday to my sister Eve, who turned 19 just a few minutes ago. Until next tomorrow..

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Good Networking

Well, first of all- thank you to that nice person who left such a kind comment on my blog. I really appreciate it- it is always nice to hear encouraging words and to know that people care.

So what's new? I did actually get more sleep last night and I felt so much better today, I had a lot more energy and really got some things done. I was working on the usual things and I also spoke with a potential date auction sponsor- it was the same group that I had mentioned last night. They sounded really interested, so hopefully that will work out. I emailed the info after we spoke, I'll follow up again next week. I also got our first fire fighter signed up for the date auction. I always feel relieved when i have at least one firefighter. I don't know why, but I always get so anxious about everything event related. We have 4 ladies signed up so far and three men, so that is a pretty good start.

I went to a networking event in Boston tonight. It was actually pretty good. A lot of the time, I feel like I struggle at large networking events. It can be hard to break in with small groups that are chatting or to walk up to random strangers. But tonight, I really thought about the networking tips that I've heard and made a major effort to approach new people. Things went well and I made some connections that look like they will be good. I have quite a few people that I need to email in the morning. That is one of the most important things- following up with people from a networking event. I've read about how people collect a lot of cards, then never end up doing anything with them. I know I'm guilty of that too. However, I've been making a major effort to get in touch with people afterward, since that is the whole point of networking.

Well, it is 12:15 and I'm going to go eat the half an eclair which is the fridge- no healthy fruit tonight! Then I'm off to bed. It made such a difference going to bed earlier last night, I need to keep this going. Until tomorrow friends...

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Getting on Track

Well, here we are in a new week. What's happening? Well, I got a commitment for a cool auction item again- we've had this item for the past 2 years and it is always popular, so that was really good news. The guy who is my contact for this auction item is always so pleasant and helpful, I really enjoy speaking with him each year. I don't have any exciting news this week. I have been so tired yesterday and today that I've fallen behind on things. I don't know why I'm this tired. I haven't been getting enough sleep, that's probably what it is. I'm one of those people that need a lot of sleep in order to function well. I wish I could get by on 7 hours (or less), but I actually need almost nine. It has been that way for a long time, I keep pretending that I'm fine without it, but I know I'm not. I can go for a day or two with less sleep, but then it catches up and I'm very unproductive. I have so much work to get done, I can't be unproductive.

I still have a long way to go with date auction sponsors. I did get an email from a group on an unrelated matter who would be a perfect fit as a sponsor- they are targeting young single professionals in the Boston area. I was out for a lot of the afternoon today and didn't get their email until tonight, but I will be in touch with them tomorrow and introduce our date auction to them. Hopefully, they will be interested. If I was their marketing director, I would be all over it.

I submitted one of our annual grant applications today. This grant was the very first one that we ever received, it was for $1,000- I remember getting the news and being so thrilled. Those first time memories will be with me forever. They have donated $1,000 for the past 4 years, so hopefully they will keep continuing with another grant. These annual grants are so important because they are the foundaiton of our fundraising- we need need the annual support that we can count on and we need to build new support each year.

Anyways, it is 12:10 and I'm going to bed- my eyes are hurting and I need to catch up on sleep, so I'm not moving a turtle pace tomorrow. Today was also a special day, it was my mom's birthday! I love her so much and I'm grateful for all the support that she gives me. Without her, I wouldn't be doing PS. She is such a great mom- the best I could ever have asked for.
Until tomorrow friends..

Friday, March 19, 2010

My 300th Blog Posting!

Well, I just noticed when I went to start my blog posting, that this will be my 300th blog entry. Isn't that funny? I can't even remember how long I've been blogging, I think it was 2 years in January. It feels like I've been doing it much longer though, it is such a part of my nightly routine. It still amazes me that people actually read what I write, honestly, it does. Thank you so much for taking the time to read about me and PS.

So here is a little story that I wanted to share- there is a game that comes on the computer called Minesweeper. I actually don't know if it still comes on computers- both of mine are rather old. The object of the game is to flag all the mines on your board with outing hitting any. So, for the longest time, I couldn't figure out how to play, gradually I figured out how to play at the beginner level, but I couldn't win. I remember sometimes I would go on the intermediate level, it looked so difficult, I couldn't imagine how anyone could do it. After a while of playing the beginner level, I finally won the game. Recently, I decided to step it up to the intermediate level, it took many times, but a couple of nights ago, I won the game. Now of course, it is just a silly computer game, but it is also a reminder of things can look overwhelming and impossible, but when you start small and keep practicing, keep learning, you'll get to where you never thought you could.

So, what else is going on? Today, I got an email from a social group that I belong to, they send out emails a couple of times a week about a variety of events. This was a dedicated email about a website that is aimed towards young professionals. I immediately thought of our date auction, they are based locally and this would be the perfect event for them. I visited their website, I couldn't find a phone number, but I emailed their generic mailbox- I wasn't holding out the biggest hope, especially since I couldn't send any attachments. A few hours later, I got an email back- they are interested in being involved and want more information about sponsoring. Of course, it is not a commitment to sponsor, but it is a good start. They would be a perfect fit.

In other potentially good sponsorship news- I had been calling and emailing a sponsor who participated in last year's event. The contact never responded. Yesterday, I sent an email and this one bounced back, so I called the HQ and it turns out the woman doesn't work there anymore. The receptionist gave me the contact info for the person who is handling her work temporarily, so I emailed her. I haven't heard back yet, but at least it explains why I had never heard from my contact- it had nothing to do with our event.

Well friends, it is already 1am and I'm off to bed- still haven't managed to get to bed before 1am yet this week! Until next time...

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Good News and Stresses

Let's start with the good news- one of last year's date auction sponsors just signed on again. So that was definitely good news. We haven't worked out the details, but they will be a financial sponsor. I'm glad that we're making progress on that side. I also contacted some new silent auction donors and got some commitments for new items for both the anniversary event and date auction. On the downside, I got a flat out rejection from two donors who contributed really nice auction items last year. One company has cut way back on their donations, I think they are struggling. The person that I dealt with last year isn't even working there anymore. The other one was a talk show that had donated tickets last year, they won't donate tickets again or an auction item. That was really disappointing, their reasons for not donating didn't even make sense. I need to keep working on finding new auction items for our events.

It has been really frustrating lately dealing with people that are unhelpful. I can't do everything alone and for Project Smile to grow, to ever have a chance of becoming a national charity, I need help. It is very difficult to find people that will actually help. Of course, there have been plenty of wonderful people that do help and they are the reason that Project Smile is here and I am so appreciative of the people that have supported us. It just gets difficult at times when you have to constantly deal with unhelpful people. I really need to work on finding people who want to be actively involved with Project Smile and can help us reach our goals.

Anyways, that's it for tonight. Tomorrow, I'm back at work on auction items and finding sponsors for our events and there are some grants that I need to work on, as well as program work. I already ate my grapefruit tonight- so I'm going to write my list, maybe finish my book and bed. I'm having a dreadful time adjusting to the hour change though- haven't made it to bed before 2am yet! Until next time..

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Importance of Following Up

It's a new week and I'm feeling anxious. I probably shouldn't be feeling like this, because there are good things going on. I've been focused a lot on the date auction, I've been working really hard to get financial sponsors, but so far, I'm not getting the results that we need. It is very frustrating when you contact people and never hear anything back. A funny thing did happen today and it is a reminder to never give up- keep following up with people, even when you think it is a lost cause. I had someone email me about a personal business matter a couple of months ago. We had talked on the phone and emailed. I had last heard from him in early February when he had asked me a question and I had quickly responded- but never heard from him again. So on Friday night, I was helping at an event and I had a lot of down time- and I was sitting in front of a laptop. So I decided to catch up on a few emails- I only planned to take a few minutes, but it turned into 2 hours of emailing. It is amazing what one can accomplish when they are forced to sit and work on one thing without any distractions. I was scrolling through my inbox and I saw his email, I figured there was no harm in sending a follow up email- if I hadn't had all that extra time on Friday, I might never had bothered to email him again- figuring that since I hadn't heard from him, he wasn't interested. This afternoon, I received an email back from him and we are conducting a business transaction together. This is such an example of the importance of following up. It can get kind of disheartening when you have to keep making phone calls and sending emails, but it is so important.

We have a lot of good things happening with the date auction- we have two fabulous hosts, Sofft Shoes back to sponsor, I just signed up 4 fabulous bachelors/ettes who were voted Boston's Most Eligible, already have a few gift certificates donated for the dates, I have some commitments for gift bag items and I'm lining up our marketing. This is all really good progress. I need financial sponsors, a lot more gift certificates, more single guys/ladies, more gift bag donors. I know I go through this anxiety every year and it turns out wonderful, but the process is very stressful. The good thing is we have 6 more months before the event- plenty of time to pull everything together.

I've been paying a lot of attention to the date auction, but I also have the Anniversary event to keep working on and calendar sponsors to obtain AND grants to write. I really need to allot my time better. Even though I usually have a list, sometimes I will work on a certain task for much longer than I intend to. Considering that I have a lot of other things that need attention, I can't keep doing that. We have received some cool auction items for the Anniversary event though- a beautiful flag that flew over the Capitol, a gift item from Wachusett Brewery, museum membership, Sturbridge Village passes, Direct Air tickets and a couple of other things. So far, we have raised 35% of our sponsorship goal for the Anniversary Celebration- which is pretty good, considering we have just under 7 months to go.

What else is going on? My interview with Candy O'Terry aired yesterday morning on Magic 106.7. It was a really cool interview. Our awesome web host got it on our site today, so if you go on our homepage you can click on the interview and listen to it right there. Let me know what you think!

Well, I should go to bed. I actually feel wide awake, but it is 12:50 and I'm trying to adjust to the hour change- and go to bed at my regular time (1am). It is really hard to adjust to the time change. Anyways, off to eat a banana, write my list and bed- all within the next 6 minutes! Until next time..

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Roller Coaster

I'm having laptop issues right now- it just took 18 minutes to get online. My laptop isn't particularly quick anyways, but lately it has been even slower. I don't think it has a virus, but I don't know what is wrong with it. It gets very frustrating though when you're trying to blog and it takes so long to get to my page. This laptop is 8 years old, which I know is like a dinosaur by today's standards, but I don't want to have to spend money for a new one, so I'm trying to make the best out of it.

Anyways, so what's happening? Quite a bit- the Worcester office for the Dept. of Children and Families called, they needed crayons for the Easter gift baskets that they're giving to children in foster care. I dropped off 200 packets of crayons at their office. I'm happy that we were able to help. We're not doing any Easter events ourselves, so it is good that we can help with other events for children.

Today was not going very well up until the early afternoon. I've been working really hard on getting sponsors for the date auction and I'm not getting the results that we need. It gets so frustrating when people don't even respond to emails or phone calls. I've been dealing with a lot of that lately. Our date auction is such a wonderful marketing opportunity, it would be a perfect fit for the companies that I've contacted. Anyways, I was feeling frustrating with my sponsor search, and then Michelle, our board member called- she really is such a great board member. She committed to becoming an event sponsor, so that was a help. A little later, I went to the post office, I opened my box and pulled out an envelope from Saver's Bank- we applied for a grant from them last month. I did my usual feel test- checking to see if I can tell if there is a check inside, but the envelope was thin, so that didn't help my lousy mood. I opened the envelope as I walked to my car and there was no check enclosed- I immediately assumed the worse and didn't even want to read the letter- my mood was getting worse by the second. I got in my car and glanced at the first sentence- "we are pleased to inform you...." We got the grant! It is a small grant, $1,910 in celebration of the Bank's 100th Anniversary, but that doesn't matter. I'm so happy that we got it. They had 64 applications and I believe they approved 17. Of course, I immediately felt better. This job is such a roller coaster and the highs that come with it are absolutely addictive. You work really hard, get no where for quite a while, struggle like crazy, deal with a ton of rejection and then good things happen and it is a rush, it is a wonderful feeling.

I'm starting my recruiting efforts for single guys/ladies who would like to be auctioned off, so it you know anyone who may like to participate, please let me know. I know it is only March, but I want to get people lined up now, at least as many as we can. I also need to get back to work on auction items for both events and sponsors for the anniversary celebration and I need to start lining up calendar sponsors. There is so much to do to pull these events together, it gets so nerve wracking. I know I go through this every year, but it never gets any easier- the worry never lessens.

Well friends, I'm off to bed. I've actually been going to bed a bit earlier and it has been helping me feel a bit more energized in the morning. So until next time...

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Sponsor Search

Well, I'm back in familiar territory- hunting for date auction sponsors and gift certificate donors. So far, I've raised $1 million dollars- just kidding of course, how wonderful would that be! I contacted a lot of businesses yesterday. I haven't heard back, but it does take some time before you get results. I've been targeting businesses that want to reach the young professional market in Boston. Our event is a perfect fit for all the companies that I've approached. I try to look at things from the other side and think if I was that business, would I want to sponsor this event? Would there be value in it? With our date auction, there is definitely a lot of value for a company who wants to reach 500 young professionals at the event and many thousands more with all our event marketing AND they are helping a good cause. It is the perfect combination.

It does get a little discouraging with trying to get sponsors. I sent a lot of emails yesterday and today and the responses are slow in coming. Of course, I'm hoping for an immediate response, but I have to remember that sometimes I can be slow in responding to emails, so I need to be patient. I also need to speed up my email responses, it's an issue that I always seem to be struggling with.

I really do need help with getting sponsors for the date auction- I need help with introductions to potential sponsors so that our event is looked at and not buried with the many other charity events looking for sponsors. It makes such a difference when you have an introduction. So, if there is anyone reading my blog who can help with an introduction to someone who may be interested in sponsoring our date auction, please let me know!

I have to get back to working on grants. Grants are an important source of funding for us and I need to get working on them and I need to research new grants that we can apply for. The major focus this week is date auction sponsorship though. I really want to get some firm commitments for the event. I also need to start really recruiting singles to be auctioned.

Anyways friends, that's it for tonight. It is only 11:25, can't believe I'm done blogging already. I went to my Downtown Women Club networking event tonight in Attleboro, it was good as always. That is one of my favorite networking groups. Well, I'm off to eat my grapefruit, write my list and then sleep- I've been so tired the last couple of nights- definitely lagging my usual midnight energy. Until tomorrow..

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Watch out for Frauds

So what's new? Well, I didn't get much work done yesterday and today- my cold got worse over the weekend and yesterday I felt rather miserable. I slept a lot today and I'm feeling better. I did try to work this afternoon, but it just wasn't happening. I ended up sitting in front of the computer, staring into oblivion- not exactly productive. I did get some good news today- we have our first official gift bag donor on board. A woman that I worked with last year has switched to a new company and she emailed today to let me know that she will be having her new company donate product for the gift bags. It's always good to know that I have at least one item to put in those bags! I want to order a new color bag- maybe blue or purple. I love the green bags, but I think it would be good to do a new color. I'd like red, but I'm wasn't too keen on the shade of red that they had last year.

Anyways, so here is something unexpected that happened. For those in the Boston area, you've probably already heard about the fake bridal show that was scheduled for this weekend called the Boston 411 Spring Home and Bridal Show. Thousands of people bought tickets and hundreds of vendors spent a lot of money to participate in the show and it turns out the event was a total fraud. A few months ago, I was friended on Facebook by a woman who claimed she was organizing the bridal show and had started a new company, Boston 411. I accepted her friend request and we even chatted over FB chat. She seemed very nice and legitimate- she talked about the bridal show and her company and wanted Project Smile to get involved with her company. I never followed up with her after our chat- mostly because I was busy with other things. I kept seeing her postings over my FB feed for the bridal show. Yesterday, I was browsing on FB and was shocked to see a news posting that the event was a total fraud. I was so thankful that I never pursued anything with that woman. I was reading about how so many vendors were ripped off- it is such a horrible thing to do. The owner of a local limousine company who has always donated a gift certificate for our silent auction lost the $1,000 that he had paid to participate. I was so sad to hear that- I sent him an email today just to say that I was sorry he had been ripped off and that I appreciated how generous he was- it is awful to hear about good people being taken advantage of.

It is a warning to be really careful about who you associate with and to check things out as much as possible- and be careful about who you accept FB friend requests from. That woman was so convincing, she seemed so friendly and her website seemed really legitimate. It was really shocking to find out she was a scam artist. I'm glad that Project Smile didn't lose anything. I hope she gets caught, it is so nasty to rip off people like that.

Well friends, that's it for tonight. I'm getting really tired again. My grapefruit is sitting right next to me, so I'm going to eat that and write my list for tomorrow- I need to be super productive to make up for these two days of nothingness. Until tomorrow...