Thursday, March 28, 2013

Goodbye March

Well, we are about to say goodbye to March. The month got off to a bit of a rough start, but it ended up being another productive month and we're chugging along quite nicely. Of course, things can always be better- more grants, more sponsors, more auction items... I can go on for a while. But, you have to be realistic and realistically, we're doing fine. In good news- my feverish hunt for new anniversary sponsors this week has paid off, I received an email late this afternoon from a local sponsor who will be partnering with us for the event. In other good news, I had reached out to a different local company to sponsor and the person who I spoke with (who doesn't handle charitable donations) emailed me later that day and told me that she and her husband have a catering company and they would like to donate desserts for the Anniversary Celebration. How nice is that? It doesn't happen very often that people offer donations like that without being solicited. I checked with the hotel to make sure we could bring in additional desserts (we already bring in a cake), they were fine with that. I really want to make our 10th Anniversary Celebration the best event ever. It really is exciting to be celebrating 10 years!

April is going to be an exciting month. We have our Smiling Stiletto Step into Spring fashion show fundraiser on April 25 at Copley Place. This is a wonderful event- Jackie Bruno from NECN is hosting. Guests get to enjoy the fashion show and a cocktail party with complimentary appetizers, cocktails and desserts. Tix are only $20 and all the proceeds benefit Project Smile and the Simon Youth Foundation. We're looking for help in getting the word out, so please spread the word to your friends who love fashion, want to help a great cause and will enjoy a fun night out! Here is a photo from the shoe walk-off competition last year at our fall show.
The link for details and tix is:

Well, that's the latest for tonight. I'm off to eat another one of the delicious & relatively healthy muffins that I made earlier- they are raspberry & chocolate muffins made without butter or eggs. I added blueberries to the recipe this time and they are even better. Ah, there is nothing like good food! Until next time friends...

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Patient Polly

Ah, patience- one of the least talked about business skills and perhaps one of the most important. You have to have a lot of patience. It takes a long time to get results and you have to be satisfied with baby steps. I forget that sometimes and that's when things get frustrating. You have to be patient and persistent at the same time. We are now at the half way point for getting enough gift certificates donated for the 40 Date Auction couples, which is great. I got some new commitments for gift certificates today. Considering that we are 6 months from the event, we are in a good place.

I was working like a zealot on getting new sponsors for the Anniversary Celebration. I only intended to work for less than 2 hours on it, but I got so wrapped up, I ended up spending a lot longer. One would think that it doesn't take that long to reach out to new sponsors, but it does. You first have to research to find potential sponsors that would be a good fit, then you have to find the right person, then call the person, then email the information over. Sometimes, it isn't easy to find the right person and get their contact info. You frequently have to be a bit of a detective. I didn't get any results today, but I spoke with some people who were interested in being involved. Hopefully, I should have some good news soon in regards to new event sponsors.

Well, that's the latest for tonight. I know this is a short post, but I'm getting tired and my eyes are hurting. I'm off to eat my grapefruit, then head to bed. I want to make it a relatively early night. I probably shouldn't say that, because it seems like every time I try to go to bed early, I ended up going even later! Until tomorrow friends...

Monday, March 25, 2013

Latest and Greatest

So what's new? Well, last week, one of my favorite donations occurred- to Nantucket Police, Fire and the Nantucket nursing home. This also happened to be my first trip ever to Nantucket. Everyone that I met was very friendly and supportive of our efforts at Project Smile. The police department reached out to us to partner with them. The local sheriff's department paid for me to bring my car over to do the donation and be able to meet everyone.  So I loaded up my car and got on the road at the crack of dawn to get on the ferry. We did the donation at the nursing home, so I got to meet some of the residents. Then I was also given a tour of the island which was awesome. Nantucket is a beautiful place. I can only imagine it must be even more beautiful in the summer with everything in bloom. It was a wonderful day because I got to be able to do some work and partner with some new departments and then I got a guided tour of the beautiful island! Here is a photo from the donation- we have some more coming.

So, what else is new besides jetting off to do island donations? Well, today I was working feverishly on  getting auction items- my little fingers were burning up the keyboard. We're 1/3 of the way towards getting all the gift certificates we need for the Date Auction 'couples' to use on their dates, which isn't too bad considering we are six months from the event. I spoke with an awesome business in Brookline which is donating a gift certificate. The owner was so friendly and was happy to donate a certificate- he agreed immediately, I didn't even get to the part where I told him what our event was. I wish everyone could be like that!

Our VIP tickets to the Daily Show with Jon Stewart arrived today. That is always a popular live auction item for our Anniversary Celebration. I need to work on reaching new sponsors for the Anniversary Celebration, I didn't get around to that today. This is a milestone event for us, so it would be great to have some new companies on board as well.

Well, that's the latest for tonight. I'm off to work on another project for a bit, then head to bed at a decent hour. Until tomorrow friends...

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Research and More Research

It is so important to keep researching in order to find potential sponsors and donors. I subscribe to a lot of email newsletters and I'm constantly scanning different websites to find out about new businesses opening and to see who is sponsoring events, advertising and launching partnerships throughout the city. Research is easily a full time job. The internet is amazing with its vast source of information. It takes a long time to sift through everything and reach out to new potential partners. Today alone, I reached out to two potential donors that I found from email newsletters that I get. I can't imagine how people did research like this before the internet. The phone book must have been very important then. I really admire people who did my job before the internet. It must have been a very slow process.

I was searching for more information about getting a gift card donation from a retailer that has a store nearby when I found their parent company's grant application. I looked at their application and we fit well into their funding guidelines, so I decided to fill out the application this afternoon. It was a fairly simple and straight forward and I was able to get it done in less than 2 hours. I was so glad that I found this grant because I hadn't ever considered reaching out to this company for a donation. It takes a few months for them to review the grant, so it will be a while before I hear back from them with hopefully positive news. This was a good reminder that I need to keep working on finding new grant applications.

I ended up spending a considerable amount of time today wrapping up the big grant that I've been working on. I thought it wouldn't take very long, but I got bogged down with the budget portion of the grant. The written portion is finally done and I have the required attachments all set. All I have to do now is add my letters of support from participating departments. I can't wait to get it in the mail and move on to the next grant.

Well, that's the latest for tonight. I got caught up on a lot of emails tonight which I'm happy about. I also have more emails about stuffed animal donations that I need to respond to, but that will have to wait until tomorrow.  I just had my almost nightly grapefruit which was delicious! Until tomorrow friends...

Monday, March 18, 2013

Good News

Well friends, I'm happy to announce that Susan Wornick, the well known anchor/reporter from News Channel 5 Boston, will be the special guest speaker at our Project Smile 10th Anniversary Celebration. I'm really happy about that. It was also great that she responded within a few hours of my emailing our invitation. It is wonderful when people are responsive like that. It makes my job a lot easier. Even if you can't participate in an event, I wish that people would simply respond. Susan is really well known and I think she'll do a great job and will be a draw for the event. I'm also really relieved that we now have a speaker. It is one less thing to worry about.

Things are shaping up well for both of our events. It seems like we were on a bit of a rough patch, but it's one of those things that you just have to work through. We now have awesome airline tickets for the silent auctions at both events and the gift certificates are trickling in. I met a potential sponsor last week who is really interested in participating. I'm having a phone call with them tomorrow, so hopefully I should have some good news. I also followed up with another potential sponsor today that we have worked with before on a different event. They can't commit yet, but they are definitely interested.

Today, we did another donation to SMOC, the South Middlesex Opportunity Council, in Framingham. they run a number of homeless shelters throughout the area. We donated over 150 stuffed animals, books and coloring books/crayons. We've been donating to SMOC for a number of years now. Here are 2 photos:

Well, that's the latest for tonight. There was so much that I was going to do tonight, but now I'm getting tired. I'm off to eat my grapefruit- although, I feel like eating the new herb brie cheese that I bought today instead. Ah, the joys of being healthy! Until tomorrow friends...

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Chugging Along

Well friends, this was one of those quiet, chugging along days. I was working on a large grant that needs to get done. I'm about half way through. We received a $5,000 grant from this Foundation a few years ago, but we were not funded last year. We fit perfectly with their funding priorities. I don't know why they didn't fund us last year, but they must get a lot of applications and obviously they can't fund everyone. I think it is definitely worth it to apply again this year.

I was also working on Date Auction sponsors. I've been reaching out to a lot of companies that would be perfect fits. We're always trying to bring new partners on board for the events. There is always that waiting period when you reach out to sponsors and it takes a while for them to get back to you. You have to give them some time to review the material before you follow up with them. It is really important to keep following up. I was also working on auction items for both events. We've already recruited two bachelors for the Date Auction which is great. I know the events sound like they are very far away, and we definitely have plenty of time, but when you're solely responsible for all aspects of our biggest events, then you realize that they really aren't very far away at all.

Tomorrow, I'm off to Worcester for a stuffed animal donation, then I'm zooming back to get this grant done. I don't want to keep writing it on my daily list! Well, that's the latest for tonight. I'm off to read for a bit before trying to get to sleep at a decent hour. I still haven't adjusted to the hour change, so I've been going to bed even later. Until tomorrow friends..

Monday, March 11, 2013

Back on Track

Well, it has been a while since my last blog. Last week was very rough- we had a house related issue going on which was a huge distraction and made it difficult to get much work done. The good thing is that we are back on track now and getting on with things. One takes so much for granted during the working day, so when things get derailed, everything comes to a halt. It is always such a fine balance just to keep everything moving forward. I did my best last week to get some work done, but there was very little actually accomplished.

Anyways, so what else is happening? Well, next week, we will be donating to our 183rd department- Nantucket Police. The best thing about that donation is that I will be bringing the items there myself and it will be my very first trip to Nantucket! The department reached out to us about receiving donations for their police department as well as the fire department and nursing home on the island. I wanted to do the donation myself, but when I looked up the fare to take my car over, it was $200 round trip. It would be too expensive to go- we can't afford to spend that much money doing a donation. I was prepared to mail them, but when I spoke with the sergeant and told him how I would love to do the donation personally so I could meet them and get a nice photo, but we couldn't afford it- he said he would look into getting the cost taken care of. The Sheriff's department purchased the ferry ticket for me, which was great. I will load up my car with as many boxes that I can fit. The donation will be held at the nursing home. I arrive late morning and the returning ferry isn't until 5pm, so I will also have plenty of time to do some sightseeing. I hope that we have good weather! I've always wanted to visit Nantucket. I'm really looking forward to this donation- it will be different than our other ones. The first time that I'll be taking a ferry to do a donation!

In other news- we are getting new Project Smile boxes. The prices went up at the printer that we used last time and one of our sponsors, who also stores the boxes for us, recommended a Milford packaging company. I met with them last week- they don't have the same size as we've been using, so I'm going with 2 different size boxes. One of the boxes is a little larger and one of the boxes is smaller. The smaller ones will be used for books/coloring books primarily. The larger boxes will obviously hold more stuffed animals than the ones we currently use, but we will be able to fit less in my car. It will be interesting to see which sizes will be the best fit for us- I think it will work out well to have both sizes available. The smallest box is 1/3 cheaper than the ones we currently use. I'm ordering about 200 of each size. We go through boxes pretty quickly, but I didn't want to order a lot since we're using new sizes. I received the printing stamp from the previous printer today which I had already paid for when I placed the old order and I dropped it off at the new printer.  Hopefully, we will be able to get the new boxes next week.

Well, that's the latest for tonight. I have so much work to get done this week to make up for last week- I'm rather overwhelmed and I'm tired. I'm loving the longer sunlight, but it does take a few days to adjust to the time change as well. I'm really relieved that things are back on track. Until tomorrow friends..