Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Downside and a Bright Spot

Well, today for the most part was one of those days that you want to just forget and move on from. I was focused on fundraising, particularly on sponsors and gift certificates for the Date Auction. I reached out to a lot of businesses, but didn't get through to many people. I also heard back from a number of other businesses that aren't going to donate gift certificates. Rejection is part of the business- I get far more rejections in fundraising than I do successes. It gets hard though when you get a lot of it in one day. The rejections make you work longer and fight harder to get those positive results. You can't let it get you down, but some times it is hard to remember that. We have an incredibly awesome event to promote in the Date Auction and I'm working to get it on the radar of these new potential sponsors. It's also a great marketing opportunity for in-kind donors and they're helping an awesome cause.

There was something that happened today that cheered me up. I went to pick up the mail and there was a card there from a long time supporter, Bob from Fitchburg. He had enclosed a check for $50 and a really nice note thanking us for all our work to help children. It was such a nice donation and it came at the perfect time. It was a reminder of the people that care about our work and help us.

Yesterday, I was at Lowell PD doing another donation- we donated over 200 stuffed animals, books and coloring books/crayons. Here is a photo from the donation.

Well, that's the latest for tonight. I'm stopping work- I was going to go back and send some more emails, but I think that's enough for tonight. I'll be back at it tomorrow- in full fighting force! Until tomorrow friends...

Monday, February 25, 2013

Monday Happenings

Happy Monday friends! So what's new? This morning, I was down in Bridgewater to do another donation to the Police department. It had been quite a few years since our last donation. Here is a photo from Bridgewater. We donated over 85 stuffed animals, books and coloring books/crayons.

In excellent Date Auction news- we have our co-host! Melissa, the morning DJ on the new Hot 96.9 FB Boston will be cohosting along with Michael Winter. 96.9 is a new station that I've been listening to all the time in the car- it plays a great mix of new hits and some old favorites. Melissa is really excited to be hosting and I think she and Michael will do an awesome job together. Hopefully, we also be working out some cool promotions for the Date Auction with the station. I'm happy that we have our hosts selected for the event. That is such a key part to the event's success. 

Tonight, I went to an awesome event- it was a meet & greet for the Boston Bloggers group. I've been a member of the FB group for a while and decided to check out their mixers which happen every few months. I'm so glad that I went. I was so impressed with how friendly and outgoing everyone was. I've been to a lot of networking events over the years and this group was a lot more welcoming and sociable than a number of the networking events that I've attended. It is really cool to see how vibrant the blogging community is and have the opportunity to meet so many bloggers. I'm looking forward to their next event.

Well, there's lots more to write about- but I'm really tired. I'm off to Lowell tomorrow for another donation to the police department. Until tomorrow friends...

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Latest and Greatest

 So what's new? Well, things are going well. I was the guest speaker at the Franklin Rotary Club tonight. The Club has been making an annual donation of $250 for the past few years and they always invite me to come back and speak. They are always very responsive and I really enjoy speaking with them. It is a great group of people. I felt like the speech went great- I was really on my point and felt energetic. When you speak, you also draw energy from the room and I was really feeling the positive energy. I was a little stressed when I was driving over to the restaurant, because I hadn't had any time today to work on my speech. The good thing is that I've spoken about Project Smile so many times and the mission is so close to my heart, it feels very natural to get up and speak. However, some speeches go better than others. I'm glad that this one went well. I gave each of the members a Project Smile calendar which got a very positive response.

Things are chugging along with auction items for both of our big events. We already have a couple of items donated for both events and we're getting a fair amount of rejections as expected. That is disappointing of course, but it's the nature of the hunt. The good news is that Jet Blue is donating airline tickets again which is awesome and a huge item! Sponsor hunt is also in full swing on both events. I've reached out to a bunch of new potential sponsors and we're in the early stages of developing some new partnerships and I'm waiting to hear back from other potential sponsors. I'm going to a networking event in Boston next week and should be able to make some new connections there, hopefully.

Tomorrow is going to be a busy day. I'm doing donations in Fitchburg and Leominster at noon, then zooming down to Worcester for a donation to the Dept. of Children and Families. We're donating the usual supply of stuffed animals, books and coloring books/crayons to DCF, but we're also adding a lot of extra crayons. A group of girl scouts from Quincy dropped off a large donation last week which included a lot of large boxes of crayons, so we're donating 60 boxes of crayons. DCF puts together Easter baskets for children and they need items for the baskets, so these donations will be used in those baskets. We also have some really beautiful books, so I'm including those in there along with 60 coloring books. We did a special donation a couple of years ago to Worcester for their Easter baskets, so I'm happy that we can help again. When we do our usual donations to DCF, they send the donations out to the different offices across the state.

Next week, we're donating again to Lowell PD and Bridgewater PD. I had to reschedule Bridgewater- we were supposed to donate there a few weeks ago, but the blizzard interrupted that.

Well, that's the latest for tonight. I'm pretty tired now, but I want to get my donations boxes ready to be loaded in the car for tomorrow. I'm not a morning person, so it always is more helpful to get everything ready the night before so I don't have to fuss around with getting donations together in the morning. Then I'm off to eat my grapefruit! Until next time friends...

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happy Valentine's Day

Happy Valentine's Day friends- I hope everyone had a happy day and felt some love! So what's the latest? Well, the day ended up on a high note- we may have another co-host on board for the Date Auction.  I emailed a radio DJ on a new Boston channel and she responded immediately that she was definitely interested in co-hosting. She needs to check with her promotions department and get back to me. We've had a lot of radio personalities host in the past and they've always done a fabulous job. They're also able to help with promoting the event which is great as well. I hope it works out, I think she and Michael Winter would do a great job together. I will keep you posted as soon as I hear- keep your fingers crossed for us please!

I've been dragging my feet with this large grant. I'm technically done with it, but I'm hesitant to submit. I'm not sure if it needs to be changed, but I don't know what to change. The goal is to submit it next week at the latest, but I like to get it done tomorrow. Maybe I just need to stop staring at it.

The Date Auction gift certificate hunt is well underway. I'm hunting for items for both the silent auction and for the 'couples' to use on their dates. One of the restaurants that donated last year, won't donate again which is disappointing. However, there is a North End restaurant that I'm going to tomorrow with my Meet Up group and they said they would donate, so that would take the place of the restaurant that declined to help us. One small step... 39 more steps to go until we get to the magical 40 gift certificates! Yesterday and today, I worked on contacting a number of Boston theatres that have donated tickets in the past. I've also been working on sponsorship outreach- no news to report right now.

Well, that's the latest for tonight. I'm off to read and eat a few more clementines. The season is pretty much over for clementines, but a bag of delicious ones from Trader Joe's magically appeared in the kitchen yesterday. Until next time friends...

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

A Sea of Grants

Well, today I was swimming in a sea of grants- surrounded by Word files, letters, statistics and online applications. Instead of actual swimming, I was copying/pasting and updating information like a madwoman. In good news, I started a grant application, completed it and submitted it- all in one afternoon. I was only going to start this grant application, but I wasn't sure if I could save it and re-open later, so I decided that I might as well just finish the grant right then. We've received a grant from this company for about 8 years- they were one of our first corporate donors. We apply for a grant from one of their local stores. They changed their grant process a couple of years ago to make it all online. This year's application is the same as last year and our program hasn't changed, so that made the grant pretty easy to fill out. I updated the info, but there weren't a lot of other changes to make. I'm still working on the big grant- I made some more progress, but there is more that needs to get done. Grant writing is tiring and by 4pm today I couldn't focus on any more grant writing.

Tonight, I chugged down to N. Attleboro for the DWC monthly networking night. This was one of the first networking groups that I ever joined and it has been a huge support over the years. Tonight's turnout was good with about 20 women. It was a really nice group of women. A number of women that I already know well and a number of new people as well. Small networking groups are actually some of the best because you get to know people more and that leads to developing better relationships. Sometimes, I get lazy and don't want to go to networking events, but they are so important to building a business- it is vital to attend. Just the simple act of showing up and chatting to people is a big step. You're not going to meet helpful people at every event, but you're meeting new people and you never know who you will meet. You also have to attend events consistently- it can be hard, but it is a commitment that has to be made. When you show up at events regularly, people get to know you and hopefully, they will want to help.

Well, that's the latest for tonight.  I'm off to eat my grapefruit and watch Jay Leno's headlines- love those! Until tomorrow friends...

Monday, February 11, 2013

Auctions and Grants

Well, today I was focused on fundraising. With the blizzard over the weekend, it's not a good time to contact any police/fire departments. A lot of them are wrapped up with the storm after-math. These are good days to focus on grant work and start applying for auction item donations- which is exactly what I did!

I love early stages of grant writing, when you blast through all the easy sections of the application and feel really good about things. Then the hard part starts and everything slows down. This grant is due the end of February. The good news is that they supported us in the past and the grant application hasn't changed. We are asking for continued funding for the same program. It is helpful when the application is the same, but it can be challenging too, because I feel that we should add new things, but our program is the same, so I don't know what to change. Obviously, I update our statistics, but other than that- there isn't a lot to change since they're asking the same questions and we're asking for support for the same program. Maybe that isn't something I should worry about, but I do.

I felt very motivated and decided to get cracking on getting gift certificates for the Date Auction. It is never too early to start. I filled out a lot of online applications for gift certificates to Boston restaurants and hotels. A number of businesses are using the Bidding for Good online application to handle charitable donations. I like that application because it is a streamlined process, very easy to complete and you get an email back to say that the donation has received. We already have our first auction item for the Anniversary Celebration. On Friday, I filled out an online application for Sturbridge Village passes- they emailed a ticket voucher today. Tomorrow, I'm going to work on some more auction items for the Anniversary event as well.

Well, that's the latest for tonight. I'm off to watch a new TNT show that I've been enjoying- Monday Mornings and eat my grapefruit. Until tomorrow friends...

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Busy Donation Day

Well, today was a busy day. We donated to our newest department- Medford PD in the morning. This is our 181st department to participate in our program, which is pretty exciting. I met two detectives who work with the domestic violence unit and the Chief. They were very enthusiastic about our program. It is great when you meet with people who really understand and appreciate what we're doing and how important it is to have these items for children. Here is a photo from our donation.

After Medford, I zoomed up to Haverhill to donate to the PD. I don't know how this happened, but my excel list has a mistake on it- our past donation to Haverhill PD isn't listed, so I thought this would be a new department. I started having deja vu when I got to the police station, then I started to head over to a Family Dollar that I had googled last night and realized that I had definitely been there before. I checked my list of participants on our website when I got home and we have donated to Haverhill before. So, there will be no 182nd department to add to our list today!

I need to email the lady at Build-a-Bear and send her some of the photos from our recent donations because they have their teddy bears in them. I'm sure she would love to see photos of the bears in action.

By the time I got back this afternoon, I didn't have much time before I had to head to Attleboro for the Board meeting before our monthly networking dinner. It was a good meeting as always. I was going to catch up on some other things when I came back, but now I'm too tired. On that note, I'm off to eat one more slice of multi-grain bread with some Gouda cheese and tabouleh. I detoured to my all-time favorite grocery store after my Medford donation today- Market Basket in Chelsea- and loaded up on some good bread. They have an amazing bakery section (the whole store is pretty amazing). Until tomorrow friends...

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Welcome February!

Well, February has come in on a high note. It started with my birthday which was a lot of fun- birthdays are a great way to start a month! Things are moving along well. Yesterday, I did another donation of over 250 stuffed animals, books and coloring books/crayons to the Dept. of Children and Families. Here is a photo from the donation. We went inside to do the photo, but you can tell how cold it was out!

Tomorrow, we're donating to two new departments- Medford PD and Haverhill PD. This will bring our total to 182 departments, which is exciting. I love it when we get to add new departments that participate in our program. Of course, it is hard to keep up with donations, but we do our best.

In really good news- our online donations through our Virtual Aid Drive soared in November and December. In early December, I emailed our database asking for their support to help us raise $1,000 in individual donations by the end of the year. When we send thank you notes to the people who have mailed stuffed animals to us, we've also started asking for their support with our virtual aid fundraising drive. I received the check yesterday from Aidmatrix- the company that runs the Virtual Aid Drive. We raised $1,200 in online donations which is a record for that amount of time. Between the two things, we've been able to increase our online support. This is a huge motivation to keep working on our online fundraising. I'm going to launch another drive next week to tie in with Valentine's Day- with a spreading the love theme.

In other news- the auction item hunt has officially started. I applied tonight for an airline ticket donation. Those are always some of the best auction items. We have a long way to go, but it feels good to get started.

Well, that's the latest for tonight. I just had some delicious leftover chocolate birthday cake and now I'm off to read some more of a mystery I started last week. Until tomorrow friends...