Thursday, March 27, 2014

Happy and Sad News

Greetings friends! Well, these should be happy days this week, but there was some very sad news yesterday. Two Boston firefighters were killed fighting a fire yesterday which was so awful. One of the fire fighters, Mike Kennedy,  was a participant in our 2009 Annual Charity Date Auction. Mike had signed up to participate but wasn't able to attend the event, so he had a life-size cardboard cut-out made of himself in his turnout gear and had a friend drop it off at the event. My sister brought it up onstage and we auctioned him off like that. It was awesome and so funny. My heart goes out to his friends and family and the loved ones of Lt. Walsh who was also killed. We've lost 2 bachelors in the line of duty who have participated in our Date Auction. It really is a reminder of the dangers that police and fire fighters face on a daily basis.

In other news- yesterday, we made a donation to the Worcester office of the Dept. of Children & Families for the Easter Baskets. We donated over 200 crayons, coloring books, books and stuffed animals. We've been providing items for the Easter baskets for the past few years. DCF works hard to provide gifts of Easter baskets for some of the children they work with who are most in need. Here is a photo from yesterday's donation.

We hit a milestone tonight- the earliest time for the first sale of Date Auction tickets! A couple of weeks ago, I created the ticket sales page on Event Brite, then had our web host add it to our Events page. I wasn't expecting to sell tickets yet, but I like to get the things done well ahead of time. I get one hour of free website updates monthly, so I try to use the time in the best way possible. I have to do a lot more updates when the events get closer, so in order to avoid having to pay an extra fee for additional update time, I space things out as much as possible over the months. Tonight, someone purchased 5 tickets for the Date Auction! I was very happy to have sales start so early.

In other positive events news, Miss Massachusetts USA is going to be a special guest at our Step into Spring fashion show at Copley Place on May 1. She will also help judge the Best-in-Shoe competition. I emailed the pageant a couple of days ago and they emailed me tonight. It will be great to have her attendance at the event. I've already added it to our event details page. Tomorrow morning, I'm going to send an email to the models to encourage them to get their friends to buy tickets. Each model has been asked to commit to bringing 4 guests with her when she signed up to participate. We have 24 models, so if they all bring 4 guests that would be most of the event sold.

Well, that's the latest for tonight. I'm off to catch up on a few emails. I just ate some honeydew melon and clementines which were so delicious. There is nothing like delicious fruit. I'm now holding off the urge to go and devour some cheese.... Until next time friends...

Monday, March 24, 2014

Monday's Marvels

Well, there weren't any marvels today, but I liked the title for our blog. So what's new? Well, this weekend I did silent auctions at Wine and Beer Fest in Boston. Boston Event Guide organizes the event and they've invited us to do a silent auction at the event for the past few years. It's a fun event and it is a nice fundraiser. We raised almost $1,900 for Project Smile which was good. We auction autographed sports photos that I get from a dealer. It doesn't cost us anything to participate and anything that doesn't sell goes back to the dealer, so it is a simple fundraiser. I love events like that- simple and we make a nice amount of money. It is funny how hard it is to predict what items are going to be popular. There were a bunch of things that didn't sell, some that I thought would do well- including some Bruins photos. There was a picture that didn't sell at Wine Fest, but went for $200 at Beer Fest.

Last week, I realized that our brochure needs some urgent updating. I don't use the print brochures very often and hadn't realized that they haven't been updated in over 5 years. Yikes! It's missing our social media links, a QR code and doesn't have the homeless shelter donations info. It also needs news photos and quotes from participants.  I don't know how I managed to let that slip. It's not good to have outdated info. Even though we don't use a lot of print materials, it is still important to have current info. I started working on some updates to send to our designer, but I need to spend some more time figuring out what changes to make and new photos to add before I send it to our designer.

Well, that's the latest for tonight. There were some interesting articles on marketing in the WSJ today that I want to go and read before I get too tired. I need to have my grapefruit too! Until tomorrow friends...

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Good News

Greetings friends! So what's shaking? Well, in good news- we have a photo booth vendor on board for our Date Auction. It is actually the same vendor who did our event last year- Gregory Polite, owner of Boston Mojo Photo Booth. Greg reached out to me last year and offered his services which was pretty awesome. Photo booths are always popular at events. I reached out to Greg earlier this year about participating in this year's Date Auction, but he thought that he had another event booked. I had put the word out on social media last week looking for a photo booth vendor, but hadn't heard back from anyone. Greg called me this afternoon and said he was available. I was really happy about that. We're going to put his logo on our marketing material and recognize him on our event webpage. Greg did a great job at our event last year- it was a pleasure to have him as part of our event.

In other good news, it looks like we have one more food vendor on board for the Date Auction- an Italian restaurant in the North End. My friend Olga who is also modeling in the show, has a connection with the restaurant and helped get them on board to serve some delicious appetizers.

Tomorrow, I'm going to be sending a box of stuffed animals, books and coloring books out to the Hometown, Illinois police department. One of the corporals emailed me a few days and asked for a donation of items for the children that they encounter. When I first read the email quickly on my phone, I thought that it was a joke- Hometown doesn't sound like it is a real town- it is just too perfect a name. However, it is a real town and it will become our first donation to Illinois. I wish I could deliver them out there in person so I can take a photo in front of the Hometown Police Department. I love it when departments from across the country reach out to us. It is expensive to ship, but I'm always happy to send a few boxes.

Well, that's the latest for tonight. I'm off to eat my grapefruit and clean up my office- it is starting to look a wee bit like a mini tornado blew through it. Until tomorrow friends...

Thursday, March 13, 2014

On the Upside

Well friends, I'm happy to say that we have 2 new Date Auction sponsors on board. I found both sponsors through social media. I'm constantly researching and paying attention to companies and businesses that would be good partners for our events. I reached out to two this afternoon and they both promptly jumped on board, which I am very happy about. One of the companies also wants to have one of their bachelor employees participate in the auction. It is great when they get additionally involved like that. In other good news, we now are at the half way point for getting gift certificates donated for the Date Auction couples to use on their date. We're also getting some cool auction items as well for the silent auction.

We're looking for a photo booth vendor for the Date Auction. I posted that on FB today and got a number of recommendations for potential vendors. I emailed all of them today, so hopefully, I'll hear back soon and get a photo booth vendor on board for the event. Social media is such an important tool for getting the word out and finding new supporters. I know it is still relatively new, but I can't imagine promoting Project Smile without it.

What a difference a week makes- last week was a struggle, feeling like I wasn't getting through to donors and not making sufficient progress. It is so important to just buckle down and keep chugging along. Things will always pass. The good days don't last forever, but on the flip side- the rough days don't last forever either. You simply need to hold on, keeping taking those baby steps and things will be fine. I've been doing that for the past 10 years and it's always worked.

On that note friends- I'm off to watch the second Hunger Games movie- I took a break from it so that I could get my blog done before it got too late and I was tired. This movie is awesome, just like the book! Until next time friends...

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Tuesday Happenings

Greetings friends! So what's new? Well, in good news- we have two more food vendors for our fashion show. Good Life Kitchen- an awesome caterer and cooking school in Norwell is returning as a vendor. They have been involved with our spring show for the past couple of years. A local dessert company, Making Whoopie- which specializes in mini whoopie pies- is on board as well to be a food vendor. I know the owner from a couple of women's networking groups that I'm a member of. I asked one of my friends who is a model and restaurant owner if she could help with getting a restaurant to participate. She called me yesterday and thinks that she has a restaurant that wants to be involved- so that would be awesome. If we get that committed, then we will be all done with food vendors for the spring show. I submitted the event to the Improper Bostonian today, so hopefully they will include us in their calendar when the event gets closer. I'm really excited for the fashion show. It is always a fun time and the type of event that I would definitely enjoy attending, even if I wasn't organizing it.

Here is a photo of 2 children who have nicknamed themselves the Lincoln Minions- they collected a load of stuffed animals for us as part of an extra curricular activity. They look like such cute little kids. It's always awesome when children organize collections for us. We get a lot of school groups that do stuffed animal drives for us.
Well, that's the latest for tonight. I'm a hungry little monkey, but I'm trying not eat more. I came home from an event and had a delicious late dinner of barbecue chicken and potato/vege salad. Less than an hour later, I was made myself a half sandwich with cream cheese, roast beef and roasted peppers. Now, I'm ready to go make the other half.... but it's late and I really don't need more food. Instead, I will walk thru the kitchen, bypass the fridge and sort some boxes of stuffed animals that arrived in the mail. Until tomorrow friends...

Friday, March 7, 2014

Not the Best of Days

Well friends, I was about to go to bed without blogging, but that didn't seem right. It's already after 12:30, so this should be a quick blog. So what's new? Well, these past few days haven't been the best of days. I've been on the fast train to getting nowhere and I don't like it. I've been focusing on getting auction items, sponsors and vendors and not making any progress. It's hardly anything new, I deal with this all the time, but usually it's not two bad days in a row and I usually can let the rejection roll right off me. Lately, it's been harder. Fundraising is a rough business- you constantly deal with people that are unresponsive or simply don't want to help. For every positive response that you get, there has been at least ten rejections- which includes people that just never get back to you. There is no easy answer- you just keep working and pushing the cause- a lot of it is about sheer persistence. But sometimes it gets discouraging. I reached out to one business today and asked about a gift certificate donation- the woman asked me to email over a donation letter, which I did. An hour later, she responds back that the business isn't going to be doing any more charitable donations this year. I don't understand why she couldn't have just said that on the phone and save me the time of emailing over a personalized donation letter.

I'm not trying to be all whining- every job has it's stresses and difficulties. I've been going through this for 10 years, so I should be used to be it by now. But it's a little like getting a bad cold- you know you don't feel good when you get a cold, but forget exactly how bad it feels until it hits again. The mind has a wonderful way of forgetting. My mom used to tell me that one forgets how bad childbirth pain is- that's what enables one to want to give birth to more children.

Anyways friends, tomorrow I get back to it and keep chugging- because that's what I do. You let the bad days go because the days that are good make it all worth it. Here's hoping for some good days to come and lots (or at least a sufficient amount) of donations! Until next time friends...

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Welcome March!

Welcome to March friends! Ah, this year is already zooming along. So what's new? Well, yesterday I mailed 2 boxes of stuffed animals, books and coloring books/crayons to the Sisseton Police Department in South Dakota. They reached out to us for a donation for the children they encounter who have been in a traumatic situation. Sisseton is the only open Native American reservation in South Dakota. This is our 190th department to and the first in the mid-west, so that is pretty exciting. It would have been fun to be able to deliver them in person, I've never been to the mid-west or on a Native American reservation. 

I've been working on recruiting models for our Smiling Stiletto Step into Spring fashion show fundraiser at Copley Place on May 1. Tickets are already selling which is excellent. I put the word out for models yesterday and we're already almost filled. I've asked models to commit to bringing 4 guests with them to the event, so that helps sell tickets. It usually isn't an issue for the model to bring some friends to watch them strut the catwalk for a good cause. I still need to get a couple of more food vendors. 

I submitted a grant application to a large Foundation that has been supporting us for the past few years. We applied for a $5,000 grant, so please keep your fingers crossed for us. We won't hear back for a couple of months. I've been researching some new grant sources, but haven't found anything that is a fit for us. There are are a number of foundations for children's causes that are no longer accepting any applications. Grants are an awesome source of funding and I need to get more. 

Well that's the latest for tonight. I'm off to catch up on emails. I've received a lot of emails about stuffed animal donations and I'm really behind on getting back to people. I also want to keep reading my book- it's an Israeli mystery, The Missing File. I'm enjoying it so much. Until tomorrow friends...