Thursday, July 13, 2017

Tell A Friend

As usual, with this blog post, we’re going to be 100% Open and Honest! Special thanks to Google…we think...since we’ve been growing. Well, we know we’re thankful to the different Google offices for hosting their events and making nearly 500 cards. We’re looking forward to moving their logo up to the Platinum group on our participants page. Also, having their logo on our website helps give us some type of credibility. Finally, they helped set us up on the corporate giving website Benevity which has helped us connect to some corporations. All of that is AMAZING, but that’s not what we’re originally referring to. We’re not talking about Google Inc, but referring to Google.com!

It’s been touched on before, but, in the past, we simply worked with groups where we had direct connections. Or maybe there was a bit of stretch – someone knew someone, who knew someone who was willing to get it going. Thankfully, that’s been changing recently. Now we’ve been hearing from groups that simply learned about us by finding our website online!


Every now and then, we try to check in to see how some of these new groups heard about us. Some of them will let us know that it’s via our social sites, others say it’s through social sites we do not have a strong presence on (e.g. Pinterest), and, finally, some who say they first heard of us by using a search engine (organic search).  If you notice at the end of the blog post, we do have several different social sites and we try to link those all back to our website as much as possible. Then, on our site, we try to use keywords and link to other sites, but we’re not sure if that’s the vital part. 


Thankfully more groups have been reaching out to us online and letting us know that they’d like to join in. But, since everyone who “works” at Cardz for Kidz! does this in their “free” time we can’t respond to those messages right away.


We were told that we may be able to get more cards if we started to pay for keywords to drive people to our website and encourage people to participate. Although Search Engine Marketing is great and is DEFINITELY growing in marketing, we believe we should invest those dollars in ways that will directly impact our kids and have a direct ROI – smiles on kids’ faces. We’ll continue to do all types of Search Engine Optimization tricks we’ve heard of, but you spreading the word is WAY more efficient! We’ll continue to use little creative optimization tricks on our end in order to receive more cards, but we still know the most effective way for us to reach more kids is for you to TELL A FRIEND. Let’s work together to make a bigger impact!

#tellafriend #upliftingspirits

To see more pictures and stories, please check out our website www.cardzforkidz.org; like us on Facebook; follow us on Twitter and Instagram; visit our Google+ or LinkedIn pages! Also, check out some of our videos on YouTube!

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Had To Say Something

It’s interesting. There are some groups who LOVE having their logos up on our website. Then when we post something on our social sites they like and/or repost/retweet it. As we’re growing and driving more people to our website, we love the fact that people can see some of the groups who’ve donated their time and resources to impact disheartened children across the globe. In our eyes, putting their logo up on our website, creating a Facebook album, and recognizing them across our other social sites is the least we can do. For the most part, it’s a win-win. Everyone loves to see we’re recognizing their hidden creativity and caring AND we appreciate their dedication.
Now, please notice how we said, “some groups who LOVE”, which means there are others who don’t. There was one group when we originally were starting to put together our site, who stated that it would be too long of a process to get their global brand’s permission to put their OFFICIAL logo on our site. These days a logo means a lot. You’ll see that if we don’t get permission we often try to write in text similar to that group’s actual logo so you can glance and know who it is. Here are some examples:


There is one group who when they first started making cards told us they were interested in joining in, but we couldn’t tell ANYONE they were joining in. Therefore, we couldn’t even search through word and try to find some special font to match their logo! Through their team work, this group is currently one of our Top 10 contributors. Originally we referred to them as our “Anonymous Donor”, but we thought that was a bit too boring. We had to think of something more fun, energetic, connecting. Something we can all relate to and would be our dream come true, something like a “Secret Admirer”. If you checkout the PowerPoint presentation that you can download on our How-To page, you’ll notice that we reference our “Secret Admirers” as one of our Top 10 contributors!
As of April 25, 2017

As you can see, they’re making a lot of cards. What you can’t tell from the chart, is the overall corporation donates money to us per hour that their employees are volunteering/making cards. Therefore, not only are they actually giving us cards, but they’re helping cover backend costs as well. Since we’re being very secretive in this post, he’s our 100% Open and Honest comment. The whole point of the Carry a Bit More blog post is that we wanted to fulfill the “across the globe” part of our mission statement. The only issue was that originally our only “consistent” donations were from a couple family members (end of the year for taxes), then extended to a couple sporadic donations via our registration on Benevity. Now based on our “Secret Admirer” consistent contributions we feel confident responding to kids in Canada, Mexico, United Kingdom, Australia, Philippines, and other special locations as well. Here are a couple pictures of kids who have received cards even though we didn’t have anyone to #CarryABitMore.  


Since we connect with kids so much, we had to think back of a saying we all were taught when we were young- “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” Well thanks to our ‘Secret Admirers’, we’ve received well over 1,000 cards and thousands of dollars which helped us expand our goals and send cards across the globe. In addition, now we’ve set our goals higher and want to do even more for some of the locations we partner with. Now this group asked us to be silent, but isn’t that the opposite of what we were taught when we were younger? We just HAD TO SAY SOMETHING because there are just too many positives. They’re helping make our dreams, and the kids’ dreams come true!
One last thing – quantity and quality. This last quarter we received over 3,000 cards and of course, one of the OVERALL Top 10 cards was made by our “Secret Admirers”
#hadtosaysomething #upliftingspirits
To see more pictures and stories, please check out our website www.cardzforkidz.org; like us on Facebook; follow us on Twitter and Instagram; visit our Google+ or LinkedIn pages! Also, check out some of our videos on YouTube!

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Team Effort

One time when we were connecting with a group and telling them about our Participants page, www.cardzforkidz.org/participants, they got excited when we told them by simply making cards we’d recognize them on our site. We briefly explained the different tiers; how Diamond meant that that group made over 1,000 cards, but, as we always say, #EveryCardCounts, so even if a group has made less than 100 they’re still a Valuable Participant and belong in the Silver section. They were intrigued.
We had another group who we told about our levels and immediately decided they should be at the top, or at least in the Platinum Section. They held a couple events...then realized how hard it was to do within their one office. Afterwards, they grumbled about how it was too difficult and claimed other groups may be cheating. 😊

We decided to look into it a bit deeper and did notice something. This may change, but currently it takes team work to get to the top! Doesn’t that sound like something a high school basketball coach would say? Not something you would read while hearing about making homemade cards? Well, maybe it just works for both scenarios! Here’s an explanation. Check out a screenshot of our Participants tab:

In the Diamond section you’ll see we currently only have 5 logos up there. This ranges from companies that strictly work with other corporations to community groups primarily comprised of students. There are so many differences between those groups ranging from being based in Tampa, FL to Chicago, IL. With all those distinctions, one thing that’s common between all the valuable groups is what the coach would say, “it took a team.”
Often with a lot groups we simply get one person to start it in their office and they strictly make cards. With each of our Diamond participants, that one person told someone that’s a part of their group in another location. For example, with our top group, Capital One, one day we received a set of cards from one office. After they confirmed we could use their logo, they started sharing it to other offices and made it an event for multiple offices to do “together”. We were posting and tagging Capital One across all our social sites so much we tried to group some of the Top 10’s together on some of our social sites!

Now, here’s a breakdown of each of our top groups that are recognized on our site to show how they’ve worked together to reach our kids:
 As of May 2017 – many more locations have joined in since then!
 *Please note with PLS all the corporate stores sent the cards to one person who shipped us the total package that’s why they only have one color on the graph!

All the different colors are a different office or school within that group. It’s hard to keep track, but like the coach may say, it’s definitely a TEAM EFFORT in order to reach the top and making a lasting difference. If you’re already hosting an event consider inviting more friends and/or other offices.
#teameffort #upliftingspirits

Psstt….keep it a secret, but currently one of our Top participants is our “Secret Admirer”. They’ve made over 1,000 cards as well and it’s been through multiple stores. We’ll tell you all about them soon!
To see more pictures and stories, please check out our website www.cardzforkidz.org; like us on Facebook; follow us on Twitter and Instagram; visit our Google+ or LinkedIn pages! Also, check out some of our videos on YouTube!

Thursday, June 8, 2017

It's Up To You

This blog post was partially sparked by a recent conversation our founder had on a recent Uber ride home.
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These days it seems like the majority of my Uber rides, no matter where I’m coming from or where I’m going, I often start talking about Cardz for Kidz! with the drivers. With one driver it was about how he leads a summer camp and how it would be good for his kids to participate, and on another ride it was about how we’ve been trying to expand and increase our presence across Africa and other parts of the globe. The driver commented on how our presence in Africa is pretty minimal, which leads me into how It’s Up to You.
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Thankfully, based on the increased participation, we are no longer saying the only way we can reach kids outside of the United States is if people Carry a Bit More, but we do need some help to find hospitals or shelters that would want cards from a small non-profit in the United States.
Now, if you were to follow our social media closely and were to check out this map you’d probably be a bit confused. 

Here’s a group that claims to be, “100% open and honest”, but doesn’t have any special marks in the Philippines or Australia even though they posted about making special shipments there recently. That’s true, but since the majority of our special deliveries are directly to children’s homes, we REFUSE to publicly display that information (it’s the same in the USA). If you hover over any of the images on the map on our homepage you’ll see the name of the location. Then if you click on it you’ll the see the address. We’re always interested in finding new hospitals/shelters so we can impact more children. These locations can be places that we partner with on a quarterly basis here in North America or locations anywhere in the globe where we’d send special deliveries. Please let us know if you have any recommendations!
So if you’re wondering how you can help us reach new locations whether it’s within the United States or anywhere across the globe it’s VERY easy. Just in case you don’t believe us, just check out our How-To page.
If you see the first section with all the files at the top, that’s all about how to host events and make cards. With that there are a bunch more requirements and it’s a bit more “tough”. We put together PowerPoints and signs that you can lay across the table and even a file with links to Amazon with all the recommended art supplies. Now when it comes to receiving cards, it’s actually two steps and no files attached. All you need to do is tell us the number of cards you need and promise they’ll all be hand delivered.
So when we were originally designing that page for our site we were thinking of disheartened children in the USA, but as you can see in the map above we’re able to make special deliveries to kids across the globe. The only thing is someone needs to reach out to us and layout how many cards and what address we should send them to. So we can say, it’s up to us to collect the amount of cards that each hospital and/or shelter needs, but IT’S UP TO YOU to help us reach children in different countries that you may feel passionately connected to.
Check out this album on Facebook to see some of our global deliveries – Special Global Deliveries!
#itsuptoyou #upliftingspirits #acrosstheglobe
To see more pictures and stories, please check out our website www.cardzforkidz.org; like us on Facebook; follow us on Twitter and Instagram; visit our Google+ or LinkedIn pages! Also, check out some of our videos on YouTube! 

Friday, June 2, 2017

Help Wanted

One good sign of an improving economy is starting to see “We’re Hiring” signs in different stores. We feel that means that different small businesses and/or convenience stores have experienced an increase in demand, are starting to sell more, and/or their prior employees have been able to move up to better positions. Now one thing associated with all those signs is some form of monetary composition. Based on that, although we’re looking for some additional support, we definitely couldn’t use one of those types of signs!

Thankfully Cardz for Kidz! has started to grow in a couple ways. We’ve started to receive more donations from companies such as UBS, as well as started to get more cards from groups like PLS. Due to that combination, we’d love to get more assistance in order to expand what we do on the backend and help spread the word.

Here are some of the ways we’re looking for help!

BI-WEEKLY VOLUNTEERS:
Since we’re based in Chicago, we’d expect these volunteers to live in the Chicagoland area – or to be EXTREMELY passionate about Cardz for Kidz! and be willing to travel! 😊 These volunteers would help us sort through the cards, double checking to make sure all the cards are appropriate; if groups don’t pick the Top 10 on their own, we may need volunteers to select that for some packages; help put the Cardz for Kidz! sticker on cards; as well as help us reach out to new hospitals and/or shelters. The work with the cards would take place on the weekend, while we would need some individuals to help with contacting hospitals during the week. Currently, this is all being done by one person, but we’d love to get a team of volunteers so we’d be able to grow and thankfully partner with thousands of more children.

ADVISORY BOARD:

We’ve started contacting some individuals, but if you know anyone who may be interested in helping provide input on how we can help increase our global impact, we’d love to hear from you. The three key things we need from this portion of the board is advocacy, strategic recommendations, and occasional fundraising. We create and send quarterly updates that show our statistics in terms of where we’re getting the cards and where we’re sending the cards, as well as some details on the donations and expenses. 
 Example chart from prior quarterly summary.

We expect this team to provide insight in decisions regarding growth or allocating our resources most effectively. In addition, to the quarterly summary, we also have an annual phone call where we run through the overall details that year and discuss Cardz for Kidz! with all the board members.

In summary, we’re looking for people who align with our mission and are interested in making a commitment to impacting the lives of disheartened children and solemn seniors across the globe. The time commitments would range from every other week to on average once a month. So similar to how everyone behind the scenes at Cardz for Kidz!  is volunteering, we’re going to ask these new additions to primarily volunteer as well. With that in mind we can’t technically post a We’re Hiring sign, but we know based on our current growth and our future goals we can definitely say there’s HELP WANTED!

#HelpWanted #UpliftingSpirits

To see more pictures and stories, please check out our websitewww.cardzforkidz.org; like us on Facebook; follow us on Twitter and Instagram; visit our Google+ or LinkedIn pages! Also, check out some of our videos on YouTube!

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Take A Break

“Why should we?”

That’s not a question we have heard from potential participants, but, still, we felt we should prepare ourselves just in case. Usually, when we’re highlighting why groups should join in, we think the better question is, “why shouldn’t you?!?!” We talk to groups about how it’s really cost efficient way to give back! During some of our events we’ve noticed there was approximately a $0.30 cost per card expense and that will likely decline over time since you won’t have to buy markers and/or scissors each time. Very efficient. Then we can highlight how it’s a ton of fun. It’s not often that people get to revert back to drawing cartoon characters and searching through their cell phones to find the hottest jokes and/or trying to recall if the Minions have names.

But this time, we want to show some facts that are outside of our statistics and opinions. Research shows that having employees and/or students doing relaxing things throughout the day (e.g. making fun cards with classmates and/or coworkers) can increase productivity. First, while browsing the internet, we found on article on Health.com that highlights that taking these types of fun breaks can increase productivity. The article quotes that these, “breaks are particularly re-energizing if workers spend the time doing something they enjoy.” Something they enjoy—we’re bias, but we think using glitter pens to impact kids across the globe is a perfect fit! In addition, we found another article in the Huffington Post that highlights similar findings, and an Atlantic article that says exactly how long those breaks should be. Taking time to step aside and make a creative card could be a perfect fit.


Now we’ve shown some factors about how creativity and taking breaks from the computer are a good fit, but we also want to show some background on why Cardz for Kidz! is a good fit directly. Once again, while doing some research we learned that these days employee turnover has been slightly increasing. 


In addition, as quoted by a post on TinyPulse, 1 in 4 employees would be willing to leave their current company for simply a 10% raise. One way to improve loyalty is to improve employee morale and engagement. When researching some of the best ways to do that we googled employee engagement and found a story on Entrepreneur.com - this highlights the 10 best ways to increase employee engagement. Please understand we didn’t ask them to include it, but if you check out the list, number nine is volunteer together! One example, making cards for disheartened children! 😊 Then again if we check out this blog post on JustWorks we see that of the top 10 ways to improve employee morale, at least six were directly related to group events;  volunteering, themed potlucks, decorating contests, team swag, include families (bring a child to work day), and change the way you operate (celebrate accomplishments – Top 10).



In summary, hopefully, after reading this post, it’ll be a bit harder for people to answer our question, “Why not?” Not only is it efficient and fun to put together an event, but there’s data that shows it’s very rewarding. Therefore, when your group make cards it could range from setting aside a couple hours and getting everyone to work together OR simply having art supplies around so people can slip away from their desk whenever they need to TAKE A BREAK - based on the research, sounds like either way should work!

#takeabreak #upliftingspirits

To see more pictures and stories, please check out our website www.cardzforkidz.org, like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and Instagram, visit our Google+ or LinkedIn page! Also, check out some of our videos on YouTube

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Perfect Pair

Sorry for all of the confusion about how Cardz for Kidz! is growing! At first we told you what we wanted to be When We Grew Up—able to issue scholarships to former patients. Next, we briefly shared about what we wanted to do in our pre-teen years—Long-Term Impact Across the Globe. Now, while those are both still part of our future plans, we’re going to introduce one more objective. Something a bit more immediate. Something we’re going to start fundraising for this summer!

We were so close to initially describing our partnership with the Gamers Outreach Foundation as being “a match made in heaven.” We both have a similar mission of reaching children unable to leave their hospital rooms—and we were established in the same state: Michigan. However, the only thing that wasn’t heavenly was our inability to agree (financially) on how much this partnership would cost us. In case you don’t want to click on the link and check out their website, we’ll provide you with some background information right here. The Gamers Outreach Foundation is an organization that puts TVs and Xbox gaming consoles on custom portable stands—called “GO Karts” (Gamers Outreach Karts)—and donates them to hospitals across the country.


Now here’s why we were initially so excited to connect with this foundation. Thankfully our financial donations started to increase; so, we decided that since we had more than enough money to cover some of our global card shipments, we could start to do a bit more. 



Children in the UK opening up their first package of cards!

If you’ve followed us for a while you already know we’re PASSIONATE about the young patients confined to their hospital rooms. Therefore, as donations increased, we began to think of a way to donate portable TV+video game consoles to hospitals that could go from room-to-room—just like the cards you make! At first, we reached out to one non-profit and they told us it would cost $5,000 for one of those systems. We tried to explain how we’re also a non-profit and we don’t need our name on them—we’re just trying to help the hospitals, but they refused to listen. Then we talked with some connections about potentially building our own portable TV+video game console systems, but didn’t get very far because they stated that there were so many restrictions and requirements. Finally, our founder went on Facebook and posted on his personal account about his DREAM to provide younger patients confined to their rooms with fun and uplifting video games plus other activities. The next day, a former classmate replied to his post with information about the Gamers Outreach Foundation and their special GO Karts!


Even more amazing: the Gamers Outreach Foundation is based in Michigan and their first GO Kart donation was to C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital—the very same hospital where our founder’s passion for volunteering was birthed, while serving there in middle school!

After some further discussions between the founders of both organizations, Cardz for Kidz! had no choice but to agree to pay the full price of $3,500 per GO Kart. To put things in perspective—dating back to our first event in 2010 to where we currently stand in 2017—there have only been THREE times where we’ve received over $3,500 in donations! Still, we will try to purchase at least one GO Kart this year!


The Gamers Outreach Foundation’s GO Karts.

So, with your generous contributions, we’ll be able to not only continue to send cards to children all over the world—from Australia to Ghana to the United States—but also be able to begin donating these GO Karts to some of our partner hospitals that do not have large play rooms or resources for their young patients (see #TooSmallNoSuchThing). At the end of the day, we’re two non-profits that are dedicated to helping uplift the spirits of children. We’re hoping we’ll be able to raise the funds so that, Cardz for Kidz! + the Gamers Outreach Foundation can still be the PERFECT PAIR. We appreciate your donations to help us raise funds for these GO Karts; please support us with your donations on either of these websites:


More information about our fundraiser this summer, Pledge Allegiance, coming soon!

#PerfectPair #UpliftingSpirits

To see more pictures and stories, please check out our website www.cardzforkidz.org; like us on Facebook; follow us on Twitter and Instagram; visit our Google+ or LinkedIn pages! Also, check out some of our videos on YouTube!