Thursday, July 25, 2013

Polly Progress

Well friends, if I had a dime- just a dime- for every time today that I wrote or said that I was "following up" or "checking in"- I would have had an amazing fundraising day.  It was one of those days that I mostly dedicated to following up with people on all different topics. I was supposed to do photos in Cambridge with the ambulance company that sponsors our calendar, but it was raining and I rescheduled it to next week. In good news, we got a commitment tonight for a new Date Auction sponsor, which I am really happy about. It is a member of of the women's networking group that I'm a member of. We have exceeded our sponsorship record for the Date Auction this year. I think that is definitely a sign of economic recovery. We've also been getting some more great bachelors/ettes sending in their info to participate. It really is a good looking group this year!

Tomorrow morning, I'm off to North Seekonk to do calendar photos with children who are part of a mom's group. Hopefully, the weather will be OK and we won't have to reschedule. We already had to reschedule it once because of rain.

Well, that's the latest for tonight. As usual, there is lots more to write about, but I'm getting tired and can't remember anything. I'm on a mission to get as much wrapped up as I can before the end of the month, so that we're in the best place possible as we start the new month. Polly Progress will be back in full force tomorrow folks! Until then.. I'm off to bed.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Latest and Greatest

So what's the latest friends? Well, in good news- we received a $2,500 grant from the Boston Bruins Foundation! That was the grant that I had been waiting to hear the amount that we were approved for.  Last year, we were rejected for funding and the Foundation receives a ton of applications- we had some stiff competition, so the although they weren't able to fund it in full- the fact that we got anything is excellent. I emailed the coordinator at the Foundation to see if I could come in so we could do a photo that we can include in our press release. It always makes a difference to have a photo to send along to the newspaper. Even besides the actual money, it is great to know that an organization as well known as the Boston Bruins Foundation has chosen to support our work again.

In other news- I scheduled our next donation to DCF for next week. Last week, we did another donation to a Worcester family shelter. I'm also working on scheduling our next donation to another organization that runs shelters in the Metro West area. Things are so busy with getting ready for our events and calendar, I need to make sure to keep our with our donations. I also need to get working on a new grant. We were turned down for another grant that I applied for, so I need to keep moving on new applications.

Well, that's the latest for tonight. There's lots more to write about, but I need to catch up on emails for our next Smiling Stiletto Shoe Club event- these events have been great small fundraisers for Project Smile. We have our vendor fees donated to PS and % of sales at events go to PS as well. I'm also holding off the urge to eat some more delicious cheese and crackers- I think I might will power might be withering! Until tomorrow friends..

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Awesome Bachelors & Bachelorettes

Well, I'm happy to say that we've been getting some beautiful women signed up for the Date Auction- and some handsome guys too. We always get a good crowd to participate in the auction, but yesterday and today, I've been getting an influx of cuties signed up which is awesome. I sent out an email to our database recruiting singles yesterday and then I reached out to some people I knew to ask them to spread the word and Melissa, our co-host, also recruited some people. We are now more than half way filled for ladies to participate and almost half way for bachelor sign-ups. Considering that we're a little more than 2 months away, that's a good position. It's going to be a family affair for one group of women- two sisters and their cousin signed up. We've had sisters a few times and we had the awesome identical twin Boston fire fighters Mike and Mark before- who were phenomenal, but this will be our first time with three relatives. We're going to be partnering with Dirty Water TV again and they want to have one of their on-air talent participate as one of our auction bachelorettes which would be excellent.

I spoke with Jeff at Boston Event Guide today which is where we do a big part of our event marketing. We're moving forward with repeating what we've done in the past and he also said that he'd be able to do some additional marketing without charge which will be awesome. We've been working with him since our second auction and it is always a great partnership. I also submitted the event to post on the Boston Magazine event page and on another site that lists charity events for free- they also do a monthly newsletter listing Boston charity events. On a disappointing note, one of the restaurants that donated a gift cert. for the Date Auction is going to be closing early next month. However, on a good note- I got a commitment from another venue for a gift certificate in the same amount, so that was easily replaced.

On Friday, I'm donating again to a Worcester shelter. I also scheduled our next DCF donation for later this month. I was following up with other departments today, but didn't get through to very many people. It's a pretty busy time for vacation.

Well friends, that's the latest for tonight. I'm off to eat some more watermelon- also known as one of the best fruits in the world and probably the entire universe! Until tomorrow friends...

Monday, July 15, 2013

Baby Steps

Today was a day of baby steps- that's what I call making small progress on lots of different things. Last night I was getting stressed out that things weren't progressing fast enough on the calendar and Date Auction. Sometimes, I get a little anxious about things- we're only a little more than 2 months from the Date Auction. It may seem like a long time, but for me, it might as well be 2 weeks. In good news, we are doing well on our sponsorship goal and gift certificates for the event couples. We're also getting more people to sign up to participate in the auction. Most of the event marketing is lined up, but there is still some marketing that needs to be confirmed. All in all, we're in a good place for the Date Auction, but that doesn't make it any less nerve wracking. Tomorrow, our email blast with the recruiting flyer goes out to our database.

I did some more calendar photos today at a local fire department. It was really hot, but everyone did a great job. It is funny how much one can sweat just standing there and taking photos. When I got back in my car, I felt like I had been running around. I have another calendar photo scheduled for Friday- I think it is supposed to be a bit cooler then. I need to keep reaching out to get more children featured. The more people that we have in the calendar also helps with getting people to attend our Anniversary Celebration which is the debut party for the calendar.  So far, most of our sponsors are back on board for the 2014 calendar. I do have to find one entirely new sponsor though. Hopefully, that will get taken care of soon.

Well friends, that's the latest for tonight. I'm trying once again to get to bed at a decent hour. Until tomorrow friends...

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Good News!

Well friends, I have happy news to report- we are approved for the grant that I've been waiting anxiously for! This was the same Foundation that had emailed a couple of weeks ago to ask for our W-9 certificate (request for taxpayer ID number). Of course that is a good sign that you're going to get funded, but I wasn't totally sure and then I didn't hear anything, so I was getting disappointed and was checking my email dreading to see an envelope that would have a letter of rejection. This afternoon, I was sitting in the lobby of the Intercontinental Hotel in Boston waiting for someone to arrive for a meeting- I checked my email and there was an email from the Foundation with a form to fill out to send over my bank information for direct deposit. I was elated- it was the one of those moments where everything slows down and you get that rush of pure joy- mixed with some relief. Sometimes, all you have to do is hold on- I feel like that's a good part of the reason that Project Smile is successful- because I dig in and hold on and don't give up. When good things happen like this today it is also a little surreal. Even though it has been 9 years of full time work with Project Smile, I still can't believe that I've been able to make it work. I can't believe all the good things that have happened.

In all our years of receiving grants, this was the most unusual way to find out that you're actually receiving a grant- to be asked for your bank deposit info without anyone directly telling you that you've been confirmed. Since it asked for such sensitive info, I wanted to double check that it was a legitimate email, so I called the Foundation and spoke with the person who had emailed- just to make sure that it wasn't spam-  it definitely looked legitimate. The woman was very nice. I asked her if that meant that we were definitely approved and she said yes. She said the process was a little out of order this time and I would be getting the official notification next week. She didn't know the amount that we are receiving. Hopefully, they are funding the entire amount, but even if they only fund it partially, it is still good. I'm still keeping my fingers crossed for full funding!

In other good news- we're getting some great bachelors signed up for the Date Auction including our first fire fighters. I'm really happy about that. Calendar photos are coming along well, although the weather caused today's photo shoot to be rescheduled. We're also making progress with calendar ads- getting more sponsors recommitted.

So that's the latest friends. Lets keep the good news rolling in! I'm off to clean up some more- I'm having a big party on Saturday for my Meet Up group which I am really looking forward to. I'm taking most of the day off tomorrow just to get ready! Until next time friends...

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Back to Work

I hope everyone had a great 4th July holiday. I took a few days off and also somehow managed to forget that I had a calendar photo shoot scheduled on Saturday morning. I had it written down- I had looked at it a few days before and forgot about it until 5 hours after I was supposed to be at the station. I called the officer and he was really nice about it. I was so apologetic- it is pretty bad to forget about a photo shoot. I was glad that he was so pleasant about it. We're going to reschedule for another day.

Still no word about the grant that I've been waiting to hear back about- the one that asked for my W-9 certificate. I didn't get a rejection letter, but it isn't looking good to not hear any news. It definitely doesn't make sense to ask for that form if you're not going to fund us, but who knows what happened.

In other news, we have another sponsor confirmed for the Date Auction. Sometimes, I feel like I get sponsors committed by sheer nagging ability (or, in more polite terms- my ability to "follow up").  I know it is true though-  almost every donation we get requires following up- some donations require an extensive amount of following up. This new sponsor is a fashion company- I met the owner at an event a couple of months ago. It is great to have a new sponsor on board.

In some other Date Auction news, I visited the police academy last week to recruit bachelors/ettes for the Date Auction. It is always fun to visit the academy. They are very formal, but they do relax after a bit- especially when I start talking about the Date Auction. I got a bunch signed up, now I just need them to send in their info for the program and marketing. There is a new Academy class starting soon, so I will probably be heading over to recruit at that one as well.

Well, that's the latest for tonight. I'm not sure why I am so tired. I'm going to head to bed early (ah, famous last words). Before I go- a shout out to Wimbledon winner Andy Murray. His win, the first for my birthland in 77 years, was inspirational.  I was glued to the game yesterday- it was an awesome game to watch. Until tomorrow friends..

Monday, July 1, 2013

Shopping- Tax Exempt Style

Happy July friends! Tonight, I'm dedicating this post to shopping- tax exempt style. Why? Because it is funny how almost every retailer has a different way that they handle tax exempt sales. After nine years of shopping, I still find it amusing. On Saturday, I realized that I had a coupon that was about to expire for trash bags- we use them to discard stuffed animals that don't meet our criteria. So, I zoomed down to Target to buy my bags. Target is one of the easier stores to shop at with your sales tax exempt certificate. However, this time the cashier didn't know how to process the coupon and the tax exempt, so she told me that coupons couldn't be used for tax exempt sales. Obviously, this isn't true. I told her that wasn't right, so she called over the supervisor to help. The cashier told the supervisor that I wanted to use "both tax exempt and a coupon" with a tone that made it sound like I was trying to rip off the store. The supervisor showed her how to input them both- easily done. I laughed as I drove home thinking about all the experiences I've had using our tax exempt certificate. Shopping at Family Dollar used to be a nightmare when it came to checking out. The sales associates were evidently never trained properly in how to process a tax exempt sale because almost no one could figure it out. They always used to call a manager to do it. It has gotten a lot better over the last few years and is a relatively simple process now.

Shopping at I Party is another one of the worst shopping experiences with a tax exempt certificate. They make you fill out an additional tax form every time you shop at the same store- a giant time sucker for everyone involved and those standing in line behind you. Big Lots used to do this as well- I haven't shopped there for supplies recently, so I don't know if they still do. A.C. Moore used to do this as well which always took forever. They recently changed their procedure.

A  number of stores have you fill out a form and give your documentation, then they give you a special tax exempt card for their store. You hand that to the cashier at the start of the transaction and they enter the info. Staples, Walmart, Best Buy and now A.C. Moore all do this now.

Other stores ask you for your driver's license every time you make a purchase with the tax exempt certificate- even with the store card. Some stores print out a receipt after each purchase where you have to fill out your contact info (Target and others).

I don't know why stores have such a vastly different way of handling tax exempt sales. There are thousands of tax exempt organizations that shop- all using the same type of certificate. Maybe it is because the tax code is complicated, so different stores handle it in different ways. I don't mind the tax exempt store card- it is simple once you get the card. Associates should always have proper training so they know their store's policy and how to process the sale. The process should be efficient so that when you come in with a certificate, you don't have to fill out additional forms every time you shop- that is just annoying. Imagine if you had to do that every time you checked out at the grocery store??

Well, that's my piece on shopping- tax exempt style! Until tomorrow friends...