Thursday, August 30, 2012

Busy Days

Well, it is almost 12:30, but I didn't want to go to bed without blogging. Yesterday, I got an email from the lady that I work with at DCF. She said that the Lawrence office had an urgent need for stuffed animals and asked if I could make another donation. I'm dropping off some boxes tomorrow at the Boston office and they will send them to Lawrence. I'm happy that they reach out to us to help. Partnering with DCF is one of the best things that we've done.

Today, I did another donation to the State Police over 364 stuffed animals. They are very supportive of our efforts. It is a huge department and they deal with a lot of traffic accidents involving children, so it is really important that we're able to make ongoing donations there. I don't have a picture to share with you right now. I had my eyes closed in the picture on my camera, but the state police took a bunch of photos which they're going to email me. The ones from our last donation came out great, so I'm looking forward to seeing these ones.

In other news- I decided to give my credit card machine a test run this afternoon in it's store/forward mode and guess what- it didn't work! The S/F mode allows us to take the machine to events, swipe the credit cards and process them when I get back to a landline. I was going to test the machine next week to make sure it was working (the problem from our last event was supposed to have been fixed). However, I realized that I'd have to use the machine next week, so I decided to test it with my cc this afternoon. I immediately called the help line and they walked me through downloading another new program for it. I tested it again and it worked fine. I'm keeping the machine plugged in for the next few days. I'll test it again before the event next week. It is so important to stay on top of things- you can't take anything for granted that it is going to work fine. You need to check everything.

Our 2013 calendar is looking great. Lisa sent it back to me with the latest changes. It needs two more little things fixed, but other than that, it looks wonderful. The little girl on the cover is so adorable- you just want to reach through the picture and hug her! I'm going to wait a few days before I give Lisa the go ahead to do the final version. I like to keep looking at it to make sure everything is perfect. It is so important to look at things more than once- you see things differently when you step away and come back to something. You can notice mistakes that you haven't seen the other three times that you look at something. I think that is part of the reason that I'm a planner- I hate to be rushed- it is stressful and anxiety causing and it makes one prone to mistakes. When you take your time, relax and focus- you have a much better chance of a positive result. Also, I've spent so much time on this calendar and it is a huge thing for us- there is no reason to rush the final product.

Well, that's the latest for tonight. I'm trying to stick to a 1am bedtime, but I've been failing miserably. I'm heading off to sleep now though- my eyes are tired and I'm starting to get a headache. Until next time friends...

Monday, August 27, 2012

Moving Along

Well friends, we are moving in the right direction. An awesomely helpful Boston fire fighter recruited 6 single fire fighters for the Date Auction which is terrific. Two of the guys sent me their info very promptly. We have finally filled all our bachelor spots. A number of the people who are being auctioned off are being great in spreading the word and inviting their friends. It is really funny how things work- two girls dropped out last week and I replaced them with two ladies from the waiting list. I asked one of the women if she had any single guy friends that would like to participate- she gave me the name of her friend who immediately signed up. It turns out he works in marketing and club promotion and has a huge social connection. He said he was really excited to participate and is going to be inviting a ton of people. It makes a huge difference when you get people on board who have a lot of contacts and really want to help get the word out.

I reached out to a media person today and she is going to help by getting our event into the newspaper. She said that she'll wait until next week to include it, so it is closer to the event. She wanted to include some names of people participating, so I emailed some of the participants to get their permission to have their full names used in the paper. Almost of them responded quickly with their permission. I'm really happy to get this extra publicity.

In other news (yes, there is actually other news!)- I did a donation today to our newest department; Attleboro PD. I was talking with one of the officers for a while and he was very receptive to our program. They keep the stuffed animals in bags in the cruisers and at the station for children that come in. We were talking about fundraising and I mentioned the Date Auction coming up- it turns out that he has been friends for a long time with the officer who met his wife at our first Date Auction. He was telling me about how when the guy who ended up getting married first met Elizabeth, he came back and told the officer about how he had met a girl at the event and really liked her. I love how it is such a small world!

Here is a photo from our donation today:
Well, that's the latest for tonight. I'm off to eat some yogurt and pineapple. I bought peaches today, which I would love to have right now, but they are nowhere near ripe. Until tomorrow friends.. keep wishing me ticket sales please!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Tickets and Shoes

Well friends, the Date Auction ticket sale anxiety is setting in and probably isn't going anywhere for the next 3 weeks. Last week, we were ahead of tickets sales from that point last year, but now we are a little behind and that of course creates an internal panic. There is a knot that occurs below my chest and above my stomach and it pretty much never leaves until the Date Auction happens. We are copying all the exact same marketing from last year and even increasing it with our BSSC promotion. I've been reaching out to the people who are participating in the auction and asking them to spread the word to their friends/coworkers and social network to get them to attend- that is always one of the best ways to reach people. The good thing is that we are not in the hole for the event- we've actually exceeded our sponsorship goal. Every single ticket sold is all profit and of course all the proceeds from the event go directly to PS. Our goal is to match the $20,000 that we brought in last year. There is a ton of effort and time that goes into the Date Auction, so it needs to be an awesome attendance and we do need it to be a financial success. We want to raise money, raise awareness, make sponsors happy and build the buzz. Last year's event was the best ever, so there is every reason to expect that will continue- especially since we're doing all the same things as last year for marketing. However, nothing is ever a given and I worry just as much as the first time we did it. It doesn't get easier and it doesn't get less stressful.

In other news- the sample shoes arrived from Sofft and they look beautiful! Sofft also sent me a pair to wear for the Date Auction which I am incredibly excited for. I chose a pair of dark green suede pumps with an ankle strap. I couldn't wait to open the box and try them on. They look gorgeous- elegant and classic and they fit well too. I was prancing around in them for a bit this morning. I definitely will be wearing them a lot this fall. They are good shoes because you can wear them for work and also for an evening event. They are round toe which is my favorite style. It has been awesome to work with Sofft for the past 5 years. They are so supportive. It is a great promotion to have for the Date Auction. Among the samples they sent were a pair of leopard pumps which are absolutely adorable.

Today, I did another donation of stuffed animals, books, coloring books and crayons to SMOC which is based in Framingham and manages a number of homeless shelters throughout the area. They actually had a little girl in the room next door with her family- they were new to the program- and one of the staff members gave her a stuffed animal. She was very happy to get it. Here is a photo from today's donation.

Well, that's it for tonight. I'm off to bed- trying to stick to my 1am bedtime. Lisa, our designer, sent me a proof of our 2013 calendar this afternoon. I only had time to look at it quickly, it looks good. Tomorrow, I'll be working on proofing it and date auction promotion- those are the two biggest priorities. Until next time friends- please keep wishing me ticket sales...

Monday, August 20, 2012

Monday Marvels

Well, there weren't exactly any marvels today, but I liked the title. So what's new? I scheduled our donation to our 177th department today- it will be Attleboro PD next week. A friend also put me in touch with a Boston area department. I spoke to them today and hopefully, we will be donating there soon. We're also doing our next donation to the State Police next week. Thursday, I'm doing another donation to a metro west shelter that we've been partnering with for the past couple of years. This was a good day for scheduling donations.

Things are progressing well on the date auction front. Today, I was putting all the bachelorettes in order. I already spent time putting all the profiles together. Some of the profiles need to be edited for space. It takes a long time to put the bachelors/ettes in order. I don't have an exact process that I follow when choosing the order. I try to group some of the people together by age, sometimes I group by occupation- I do that more with the guys than the ladies. A lot of it is a feeling- I pour over the photos and profiles and put them in the order that I feel will work best. I finished it earlier today, but I didn't send it to Marie yet, our designer who is generously donating her time to do the program. I want to take one more look at it in the morning. I've pulled the bachelor profiles together, but I haven't put them in order. I'm waiting for more fire fighters first.

Our email invitation is almost ready to send out. Our web host did a test email today and it just needs a couple of little changes. It should go out to our PS database tomorrow. This is the earliest we've had the final version ready. The final version has photos of about half of the bachelors/ettes on it. The invitation looks great. If I opened it, I would definitely want to go to the event. Originally, I was going to send the version without the photos first, but then I decided to wait until we had the finished version with the pictures because I was concerned that people wouldn't open the second version because they thought they had already seen it. This invitation is also the same one that we will use in our Boston Event Guide email blast. It is our single most important piece of event marketing.

Wednesday is our Smiling Stiletto summer soiree fundraiser at the Northshore Mall. I'm really excited for the event. The mall does all the work organizing the event. I help recruit members of Smiling Stiletto as models and we promote the event to our members. The tickets are $10 and all the proceeds will benefit Project Smile. It will be a small fundraiser, but that is fine- every dollar we raise is important. It also helps raise awareness for Project Smile. Fashion shows are a lot of fun. It is also great when we have events in which I don't have to do all the work!

Well, that's the latest for tonight. There's lots more to write about, but I'm getting a bit of a headache and I'm going to head off to the fridge in search of a peach that may or may not be there... until tomorrow friends...

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Latest and Greatest

Well friends, we are exactly one month from the Project Smile Date Auction! All this work and we are hitting the home stretch now. I can't believe it is getting so close- I love it and it is also nerve wracking. Ticket sale anxiety is already setting it, but I need to keep it in check. It takes a while to get ticket sales going- I need to keep reminding myself of that. We are doing all the same marketing as last year and we're auctioning off the same number of bachelors/ettes, so there is every reason to believe that we will be on track for ticket sales.

Yesterday, I was working on contacting police departments and homeless shelters to make follow-up donations. I called one department that we hadn't donated to recently- the woman that I spoke with was so enthusiastic about Project Smile, it was great. She was talking about how they have children coming into the station all the time for a number of reasons and it was wonderful to have something to give them- what a difference it made for children. She said they were definitely in need of more items. I'll be in there on Thursday to make another donation. It was great to hear her feedback.

Here is a great story about the importance of following up. In early spring, I reached out to a sponsor who has been supportive of PS and our Anniversary Celebration over the years. I didn't get any response about sponsoring our anniversary event, so in July, I called the person who handles getting the sponsorship info to their committee. She said that if they had chosen to sponsor, I would have heard back and that they can't always sponsor every year, etc. I was disappointed and asked if I could send her the info again and see if the committee could reconsider. She said I could. I waited a couple of weeks- partly because I got wrapped up with other things. I emailed the sponsorship info again and today I received a check for a platinum sponsorship! Now, I don't know if perhaps they had waited to review the info until it was closer to the event, but I am so glad that I asked if I could resubmit it. The funny thing is that I don't usually say that when sponsors turn things down. Maybe I need to start doing that more often!

Well, that's the latest for tonight. Tomorrow, I'm hopefully I'm doing our last calendar photos. Then I need to finish a grant that I've been working on. I need to work on date auction promotion, anniversary event auction items and following up with other departments. Until tomorrow friends...

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Coming Together

Well friends- we are getting there with our two big fall events and our calendar. Every year, I think it isn't going to come together, but slowly and surely things do come together. Things are far from complete of course, but we are where we need to be today- and that is all that matters. I finally have sponsors committed for all of our calendar ads (not all paid for) which is a huge relief. I have one more photo shoot to do, then photos are finished. I've sent all the photos with my notes to Lisa, so she is ready to start working on putting the calendar together. I'm still waiting for ad copy from some of our sponsors.

I was at the police academy today recruiting bachelors for the Date Auction- that is always one of my favorite visits! the Academy is very formal, so it is quite an experience to enter a room where everyone stand up when you walk in and addresses you as 'ma'am'. It is always a very pleasant group and we've done great in the past with the bachelors that have signed up. We got 5 guys and one lady signed up, which was great. The recruits usually bring their classmates with them which helps with ticket sales. It is a fun night out for a group as well. Hopefully, they will send in their details/photos in a timely manner so I can get that taken care of. I should be getting a bunch of fire fighters signed up soon, so then I will be all set for guys as well. Marie, an awesome designer who donates her time to do the date auction and anniversary event programs, is on board to help again. That saves us a lot of money, especially since the date auction program takes a lot of time with all the profiles/photos of the bachelors/ettes.

Yelp is helping out by designating a bunch of tickets for the Food Truck festival for our use in the Date Auction. We can give some of them to the 'couples' for their dates and in the silent auction. Yelp is also going to do a check-in game where people will be entered to win some tickets as well. This will be the first year that I don't have to buy extra gift certificates, so that is awesome.

We're repeating the same marketing that we did last year and actually saving $100. I need to contact the rental company for the stage/tables, if there fees haven't gone up, then we will be under budget from last year. I've already exceeded our sponsorship goal for the event, so things are looking good on that front.

I always get anxious when I say that things are going well- I don't want to jinx anything. In my perfect world, we would have already sold a ton of tickets, but that isn't realistic, so I can't get anxious about that. I've been working really hard to get things to where they are today with all of our events and calendar, and I am relieved that we are making real progress and these events are coming together well. I can't predict the future, but I can do everything possible to set things up right.

Well friends, that's it for tonight- I'm off to watch more Olympic coverage which I'm obsessed with. I don't know how I'm going to go back to watching baseball and football when the Olympics is over- they look so boring in comparison. Until next time friends...

Monday, August 6, 2012

Good News

Well, good news today- we have a speaker for our Anniversary Celebration. Richard Lodge, the editor of the Metro West Daily News will be speaking. I've met him before- almost 10 years ago when I was teaching a summer writing program for children. I've always remembered him because he was so nice and really connected with the kids that he met and gave a tour to. I'm happy he is on board to speak and I think he'll do a great job. He must have a lot of interesting stories to tell. I'm also really glad that I've the speaker situation taken care of. It has been dragging on for quite a few months. We are now one step closer to a great event!

I've noticed a funny trend this year with the date auction with people signing up for the date auction, but then never sending in their info and not responding to follow up emails. These are all people that have reached out to me to participate or were recommended by their friends. There are always some people that never send in their info every year, but there are a lot more this year. I'm not sure why someone would reach out to sign up, but then not respond or why someone would tell their friend they would participate, but then ignore emails about the event. Obviously, people can change their mind, but a quick email to say that there not going to participate is much more helpful than ignoring the emails, so I'm left not knowing if they even received it.

I thought that our Stuff magazine ad for the Date Auction was all set. I really liked how it looked when I viewed it online, but then I decided to print it out so I could make sure the QR code worked. The ad was scaled to size and when I looked at that way, I realized that it still needed work. The ad isn't popping enough. We need to make the logos smaller- which is unfortunate but necessary. I'm also going to remove the ticket price which isn't absolutely necessary so we can make another part of it larger. I'm really glad that I printed it- I don't like printing because it wastes paper and ink, but considering this is going to be a print ad- I need to make sure that in the future, I always print them first.

Well, that's the latest for tonight. Tomorrow, there is a lot more event work for the two big fall events, our fashion show fundraiser this month and I need to make some serious grant progress. I also need to work on contacting more police and fire departments for donations. Now, I'm off to watch some more Olympics coverage- I love watching the Olympics, it is so impressive see what these amazing athletes can accomplish. It is also a lot of fun to watch sports that I never otherwise would watch. Until tomorrow friends...

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Welcome August

Well, August is off to a good start. Things are coming together for the calendar and our events, particularly the date auction. I had reached out to a marketing company that has helped us for the past few years with gift bag items and I asked them if they could help us again with gift bag donations and also with restaurant gift certificates. They sent some really nice gift bag certificates and they also sent 5 restaurant gift certificates, which is absolutely awesome! I really needed help with some extra certificates, so this is great. For the last few years, I've had to buy additional certificates because I couldn't get enough donated. It looks like this year, I won't have to do that.

Lisa has created the ad for Stuff magazine- we talked about the ad yesterday- it usually is a mini version of our flyer and it needed to pop more. It is a quarter page ad, so we don't have a lot of space to work with. Lisa has reversed the colors to make it a black background. She moved the logos as well. This is by far the best ad that we've had for Stuff.  Lisa also did our banner ad for BSSC. It is a small banner which will link to our site. Since it is a small space, we used a single girl image which is really eye catching. We added the tagline- "Boston's biggest fall singles event' to it. When I first opened my email and saw the image, I loved it. I've used the same image for the posting in the Yelp newsletter as well. I wanted to keep all our images consistent, but you also have to use what works best in the space that we are working with. In these cases, where we have small ad images, the image of one girl is more powerful than the group image which is on our website and event flyer.

This afternoon, I worked on one of my favorite tasks- choosing our calendar photos. It is a really time consuming task. It gets tiring as well, so I switched to other things- I didn't want to lose focus and start rushing through the photos just to get it done. There is so much to look for when choosing the photos- color, shadows, layout, expressions, body language. I did a photo with a beautiful little girl last week and I think I've found my cover girl. I won't know for sure until I see the calendar cover. Sometimes, photos can look different when you see them in black/white and fitted for the cover.

I was really struck by the photos from one shoot in particular. I did photos of two girls- one about 4 years old and the other was about 11 years old. I spent most of the photo shoot focused on the little girl and getting her to look at the camera and smile. The older girl was always smiling and looking at the camera, so I wasn't too concerned with her. When I looked at the photos, the older girl is so captivating in the pictures- she was a cute girl in person, but there is something about her in the photos that really stands out. She has a lovely smile and incredibly bright eyes- she radiates in every picture. I've photographed plenty of cute kids over the years, but I've never had it happen where someone radiates through her pictures.  I don't know how I didn't notice this in person- I think I was so caught up with getting a decent photo of the little girl. I bet she would have a career as a model because there is something about her in pictures that is rather magical.

Well, there is lots more to write about, but I'm going to watch some more Olympics and catch up on some work. Until next time friends...