Thursday, September 14, 2017

A Bit Fuzzy

100% Open and Honest. We were looking back at some of our posts, and didn’t see our motto included, so we wanted to remind you all of our goal to always be “100% Open and Honest.” So, just so you know, we’ve only heard positive feedback about all of the cards that we’ve sent out. We’ve received great pictures from some of the hospitals/shelters and heard and seen some lovely stories. Even with all that positive news, we know there’s some potential negative issues with some of the tools that are being used to make the cards. We wanted to share with you some new guidelines, just be aware that the person hosting an event may not have seen these guidelines yet, so be kind to each other – and simply direct them here for future event planning. WE RECOMMEND THAT PEOPLE COMPLETELY AVOID SPRINKLE GLITTER, FUZZ BALLS, FELT STICKERS, OR OTHER FUZZY MATERIALS.


Our first concern about these types of crafts is that they didn’t last. Often by the time the cards reach us here at Cardz for Kidz! a lot of those types of materials have already fallen off. Then when you think that we have to check them, then ship them to our locations there’s even more room for damage during transport. That’s why we previously told people to refrain from using beads, buttons, or bulky items. If you look closely at the bag below, you can see one of the cards lost a lot of its sparkle before the young boy even opened it up. 



Similar to a lot of children, and as confirmed by his mother, he was still excited to receive the cards, but it still wasn’t exactly what the artist intended it to be.
  • Cardzforkidz: “…Looks like a little glitter is coming off, sorry about that!”
  • Mother: “No biggie! Our daughter loved the glitter 😊

While this child and parent didn’t have a problem, there’s still 30K+ other families who haven’t told us what they think! Based on that, and that we want all our cards to get to kids in one piece, we’re definitely leaning towards using glitter glue rather than sprinkle glitter.
But, now, where it comes a bit more serious, we have to ask, “what if?” We understand that with standard card stock, we don’t have to worry about transmitting germs as much. In addition, with stickers or decorations that attach firmly to that type of paper, we don’t have to worry about the cards falling apart or kiddos choking.

In addition, we heard from one hospital when they requested that we not send cards with glitter since that could impact patients’ breathing tubes. We haven’t heard anything from the other places we partner with, but we still think it’s something we should look out for.
Since we’re always a bit over protective of our kids, we’re asking that if you’re making cards to send to kids who are currently in-patients, that you don’t use fuzz balls, feathers or other little things that are NOT effectively attached to the cards. With buttons, if you can secure them tightly, then that works well! And, remember, the cards have to survive a couple of trips through the post office and our sorting process!

Since we haven’t heard back from the hospitals and/or shelters declining these types of materials, we understand we may be being a bit over protective, but we just wanted to get the word out, before it was a 100% must. So right now, will the kids still love those cards, YES. Will the hospitals or shelters still accept those cards, probably. Do we still want those types of cards? The answer to that is A BIT FUZZY right now. We’ll accept them, but we’d LOVE it if you could avoid those materials. Either way, to be on the safe side, we updated the Supplies list on our How-To page to only include supplies that will work best for the children.

#abitfuzzy #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, August 10, 2017

Break the Record


  • Creative Consultants
  • Huron’s Creative Group
  • Huron’s Helping
  • Improved Logo, Improved Quality
  • Huron’s the Consistent Group (HCG)
  • Creative Advice
  • Consistent Creativity
  • Creative Consultation
  • Creative Advisers
  • A Creative Group
  • Where It All Began

Shoot. We can’t think of any more!

We’ve been using different photo caption headlines each time, and we’re not sure if we’ll be able to think of new ones…but that’s a good thing!

Here’s the story. If you check out our Top 10 album on Facebook, you’ll notice that with each of the pictures there’s a catchy/witty headline before we list the amount of cards, the quarter, and location(s) from which the cards were sent. Right now, our “issue” is that Huron Consulting Group (Huron) is consistently making top-notch cards that we’re starting to run out of ideas for headlines!

Some of our behind-the-scenes people are pretty competitive. That’s one of the reasons #everycardcounts has a double meaning. We want the children (and seniors) to be happy––so we make sure every card is delivered room by room; still, the competitive spirit within us wants to be able to make sure we count the cards to ensure that we keep growing and know where all of these quality cards come from.

Currently, Huron is tied with ArrowStream for the record of seven consecutive quarters making quality cards. One thing to note is how they’ve been making cards, which is very different. As mentioned in the Team Effort blog post, Huron has gathered multiple offices across the country to host card-making events to produce their artwork. With that in mind, while another group may have made seven (total) cards in one quarter, Huron has made at least 40 cards per quarter. The last time Huron didn’t make cards was Q3 2015––but they made cards the quarter before: 222 in Q2 2015.



In addition, not only have they volunteered and made cards in their different offices, but some Huron employees personally came to uplift the spirits of these young patients and their families at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago during our #cardzWITHkidz event. As you can see, below, each of the artists took time to interact with some of the children directly.



All we did to reward these volunteers was allow them to keep the beaded jewelry that the children made for them as well as one of the beautifully colored puppy pictures.


There are some companies and/or groups who only want to participate if there’s a hospital or shelter in the immediate vicinity of their office. Then there are other groups, near the 500+ quality cards made threshold, but their favorite part of participating in Cardz for Kidz! is not having to leave the office; so, they decline our invitation(s) to interact with these young patients and their families. With Huron, Cardz for Kidz! has the best of both worlds: offices across the country consistently make quality cards––plus employees willing to go the extra mile and directly interact with the some of the children who receive our cards.


Since they have multiple offices joining in, we think they’re going to officially BREAK THE RECORD and keep their consecutive quarters streak alive. It’s always a dream come true when groups are willing to keep streaming

#breaktherecord #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 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!