Thursday, January 17, 2019

All of the Above

We’ll start off by describing what could be on the cover for one of the easiest, most encouraging cards one could make. 

And to tell you the truth, it’s what our founder often makes since he’s not particularly artistic.
  • Pop quiz. Please pick one. You are…
    • A. Awesome
    • B. Beautiful
    • C. Clever

Thinking about it, that’s a tough choice. There are benefits for each distinct word. Before we answered this question on our own, we decided to open it up and ask a few people. Per usual, we did some research while traveling. This time it was at the airport. We asked the first respondent and she said “A” for awesome. The next gentleman we asked said, “Awesome for sure.” Then the third respondent quickly responded, “A!” Finally, the fourth respondent quipped a quick “A” as well. We guess it’s a good thing to be awesome. Still, there must be some benefits to being attractive. There would also be some advantages to being extremely witty as well.

There is clearly a leader, but if what if we switched it up a bit? What if we were no longer talking about people and were talking about something that our volunteers knew a bit more about – making cards and uplifting spirits. The card would be something like,

o   A. Amusing/Fun
o   B. Bountiful/Rewarding
o   C. Calming/Easy
Overall, the three key bullet points are trying to highlight if hosting an event and making cards is strictly fun, feels rewarding, or if people are doing it since the process is just strictly easy.
Now you may be leaning between a couple, just like our first participant was when we asked the first set of multiple choice questions, but you have to think of the one that represents this event the most. With the midterm elections recently passing here in the USA most of us can remember how important it is to fill out the ballots and/or scantrons correctly.  

If you select too many entries your vote can be discarded.

Here are some reasons we’re looking into each of these characteristics:
  • Amusing/Fun. It’s not every day that you get to use glitter glue and stickers. This is one of those times when you get to reconnect with some of your favorite Disney characters. Also, for some of those who plan ahead this is also an excuse to do a bit of research and look up a bunch of jokes. For example, the one we mentioned before, Q) Why can’t you give Elsa a balloon? Because she’ll let it go.
  • Bountiful/Rewarding. We try to post pictures consistently of the thank you cards that we receive from the hospitals, quotes from the hospitals/homes, as well as pictures from some of our special deliveries. With all of these posts, you can see that your hard work is making a difference. Although we can’t show you exactly where your card is going, you can see some examples of the type of impact your cards are making. We’ve highlighted how your handmade cards are impacting families at their most trying times so that you know your cards are uplifting spirits. Even better, if you’re following our recommendation and using card stock and/or high quality construction paper you know you’re making a lasting impact. We recently heard from another mother who told us about how her child was getting ready to collect her cards and take them with her to decorate her hospital room during her next trip. You’re making a lasting impact. Here’s another example.
  • Calming/Easy. So we have an Insider Information PowerPoint with tips and tricks on how to hold an event that can make a lasting impact on the kids, but with all the information that’s on the website, most people don’t need it. The PowerPoint we provide has details like please don’t send holiday cards too late, please use card stock, tips for the resume, but between the blog posts and other links most people are all set. It’s interesting that one can host an event with multiple offices around the world OR simply get together with a couple friends AND they don’t need to really receive confirmation from us at all. There are some nonprofits where you need to sign up to serve on specific days or show up at specific locations, but with us you can rest at ease because you can simply work from your current locations and know that you’re making a global impact. 

Now back to the card. When you open up you just put a circle around the final answer,

With this card you’re highlighting that the child is Awesome, Beautiful and Clever. And you did follow the rules - you selected one answer, D. Now with participating in Cardz for Kidz! one could say that they’re ALL OF THE ABOVE for the second set of criteria we laid out - Amusing, Bountiful, and Calming.

#alloftheabove #upliftingspirits

To see more pictures and stories, please check out our website; 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, December 20, 2018

Beyond Thankful

Here we go again – we’re going to be 100% open and honest. Originally we were going to provide a quote from an email, but we realized that wouldn’t be the nicest, so we’re just going to provide a brief summary of some of the different things we’ve been experiencing behind the scenes and why that makes us so thankful for some of our key artists.

We’re not sure if you’ve seen it, but we have a page on our website that recognizes all of the groups who agreed to be recognized and the amount of cards they’ve made - #everycardcounts. One time an individual reached out to us and asked if we recognized independent artists and put their names up on our site as well. While we do not, we stressed how independent artists are #1; at the time, they produced over 10,000 cards while the next highest group was less than 5,000 - #everycardcounts. We told them that in order to recognize our artists, we promise to post pictures of their artwork on at least one of our social sites. Their response to this was that we should redo our website. They believed that we should pay more for a separate page on our site OR find a way to list their individual name as a key contributor. We found out they did something similar to our sister nonprofit as well, Send a Smile Today.

Hey, maybe that’s normal. Maybe that’s what EVERYONE is thinking. It’s just not what we’ve been experiencing whether via our team or the top artists we’ve been connecting with. We’ve highlighted a couple times how there’s no such thing as a Cardz for Kidz! employee, #amateursimpact. If you search LinkedIn, you’ll see there are a couple people with titles, but everyone has another paid position as well. With that in mind, everyone ranging from the people counting the cards to the advisory board members is simply doing this in their free time. Therefore, they most likely have 9-5 jobs, families, and we’re hoping a life (aka hobbies) they enjoy as well. Now that’s a full plate!

When we asked one of our volunteers how she would feel if people told her she needed to do more she said, “You’d need to pay me!” Understood. We already think it’s great how our Superhero, Dream Girl and other behind the scenes volunteers are so dedicated. We’ve been able to grow since they’ve donated over 220 hours of time volunteering.

Circling back to the potential new independent artist’s request, what we’re currently doing is a two part response. We always post pictures on at least one of our social sites, #solemnlyswear, so artists can see that we’ve received their cards and so that people can get an idea of some fun examples. It’s interesting. Is that enough? It all depends on who you ask.

What we think is equally impressive is how some of our top independent artists are exceeding a lot of top global corporations, but yet they are making things EXTREMELY easy for us. They never check in on their cards, they make them in many languages, and simply “like” the social posts that recognize we’ve received their cards.  

Here’s a breakout of some of those top artists and their contributions:

Then there are some essential independent artists who are not only making quality cards, but are also helping us spread the word about the different initiatives we have going on.

We thought everyone was on the same page with that background on our organization. Therefore, with all the necessary details that need to take place ranging from counting the thousands of cards to moving logos on the website, it’s hard to respond to everything all at once since this is done as a passionate hobby. We’re sorry that we’re currently unable to do more, but we’re BEYOND THANKFUL that we have several artists and volunteers who are doing more than enough.

#beyondthankful #upliftingspirits

To see more pictures and stories, please check out our website; 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, November 29, 2018

A Bias Reward

“There has to be a better way.” I’m sure that’s what some people were thinking when they saw our Facebook Live post earlier this week outlining how we’re going to start rewarding hospitals/homes for 3 quarters in a row with a GO Kart.

I figure if I’m able to make a Facebook Livepost as myself in first person then I can do a follow up blog post in first person as well - #Secretsout. First off, I agree that there was probably a better way to announce how and/or why we’re going to dedicate a large set of funds strictly to reward and entertain kids who are confined to their beds. Secondly, I understand I probably could have gotten an official vote from the board on their opinion on whether and/or how we should use the potential incoming funds. Should we save those for our When We Grow Up dreams or simply focus on the more immediate needs?

Although things have been stable, I figured that since I was going through my least favorite set of testing, EEGs, I could make an executive decision to help kids who are going through similar situations. This EEG test will always hold a negative, albeit special, place in my heart since, as touched on the Can’t Complain blog post, it was during this set of testing that I received some of the scariest news before my surgery. Then it was during another EEG test that I had my one and only grand mal seizure, which derailed my safety net that I set up for myself.

With November being epilepsy awareness month, I’ve been sending special shipments to kids whose parents used hashtags related to epilepsy, ranging from something I agree with (e.g. #seizuressuck) to something more broad (e.g. #epilepsy). As always in those letters, I tell the children they were/are a VIP (Very Important Patient/Person), so they deserve extra cards. Then I highlight how they’ll be in my prayers since us overcomers have to stick together. Here are some examples from those recent deliveries this month:

I’ve mentioned before that I’m proud that I’ve been strong enough to battle with this special (dis)ability, #purplepride, but have never shown myself at a low point.

In the past I shared the article from the University of Michigan Health System that highlights the improvement I’ve made and the connection with my doctors, but didn’t touch on the ongoing tests and/or how over the years epilepsy has impacted work and life outside of it.

With this Facebook Live, I wanted to give everyone as close up a view as possible as to what I was thinking and have been going through. One thing I could show is what it’s like not being able to leave your room because of procedure. I could try to give you that glimpse for a patients’ perspective. I’ve provided descriptive stories in the past, pictures throughout the process, and my expressed personal passion, and I hope it helps people understand how and why they should make a difference for the children who are confined to their rooms based on their medical conditions and/or testing.

Therefore, publicly overcoming this most recent EEG experience hopefully helps turn things around. I’ll use this most recent experience to explain why I’ll never be able to forget about the kids who are confined to their rooms based on their conditions. I’ve felt what some of the kids are going through EEGs and epilepsy and can’t complain since there are some kids who are going through some other more terrifying experience. Based on that knowledge, I made an executive decision. Any hospital/home who consistently responds and lets us know they’ve received the cards we sent to their children - and confirms they were handed out - will receive a GO Kart. I know all about the Hippo name HIPPA, where hospitals can’t send pictures of the kids without a more detailed process/request form, but they can send pictures of their employees so we know that they’re still our correct contacts and that the kids who are confined to their rooms are being encouraged. We’re currently partnering with nearly 100 locations and those systems are $3500 each. We’re hoping that with signing up for a Facebook non-profit where people can raise money on their birthday, our site, GoFundMe, corporate giving and other potential methods we can raise enough money to reward every hospital/home that responds with a picture.

We could raise funds for more Beanie Babies or start to raise funds for the scholarship or save up to hire some employees, but based on these EEGs and being stuck in a hospital room again, I’m setting up A BIAS REWARD and striving to make sure that each kid who’s stuck in their room can be encouraged.  


#abiasreward #upliftingspirits

To see more pictures and stories, please check out our website; 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!

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Still in the Mood

’Tis the season. The holiday spirit. Holly jolly. We’re based in Chicago, IL and just walking along Michigan Avenue (on the way to Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital), you can see how everything is already decked out for the holiday season.

Getting everyone in the seasonal mood ASAP!
We know whether it’s the songs, holiday decorations, and/or companies just providing time, we often receive an increase in cards during the holiday season. We just want to remind everyone that it’s important that you are still inspired to make cards even if it’s not strictly holiday related/themed.
We’re not sure if you recall, but a few years ago we wrote a blog post about our “Best Nightmare.” In summary, that post touches on how we received a BUNCH of holiday cards the week of Christmas. In order to stick to our hashtag—#everycardcounts, our founder drove around to hospitals, shelters, and other locations in the Atlanta, GA area in order to make sure those cards were delivered. Unfortunately, more cards still came after the holidays.
One thing has changed and one thing has remained the same since the posting of “Best Nightmare”:
  • ·       Changed: Shipping location. As touched on before, everyone who “works” with Cardz for Kidz! does so on a volunteer basis. At the time our founder was living in and having the cards shipped down to Atlanta. As you can see on our website our current delivery location is now in Chicago—323 E Wacker #11, Chicago, IL 60601.
  • ·       Remained the same: Spending the week of Christmas in the Atlanta area. How it works is that our founder collects the cards, then has volunteers come to the “card counting parties” where everyone counts them up. Since no one is available to pick up the cards the week of Christmas, we need to receive all holiday cards significantly before then.

Based on the “Remained the same” situation, we actually have a large box of holiday cards that we’re getting ready to send to some children and families (#FamiliesToo). 

 Actually, it would be great if more people followed our friend, Karen G in IL’s lead. She sends us cards for a particular holiday the holiday before. For example, around Memorial Day she’ll start sending us Fourth of July cards along with her beautiful cards that are not related to any season or holiday.

In addition, we need to remember that although many of us celebrate the holidays there are many children and families in these hospitals who do not. Therefore, our partner hospitals may be getting one-time donations from other groups or individuals who strictly make cards around the holidays. 
With that in mind, we need to make sure that all of our partners have the right combination of all types of cards. Also, we want to make sure they have some flexibility to hold on to our card supply a bit longer just in case they get a bunch of holiday cards from other places.

We know this may not be as exciting and that during your parties and/or when you sit down to make cards in your free time, this month and in December, people will be focused on the holiday season; still, please remember that children are STILL IN THE MOOD to receive your cards even if they don’t specifically say, “Happy Holidays!” or “Seasons’ Greetings!” 

We updated our website to have a little reminder. 

#stillinthemood #upliftingspirits

To see more pictures and stories, please check out our website; 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, November 15, 2018

Intent to Action, Please

Cardz for Kidz! is an organization dedicated to uplifting the spirits of disheartened children across the globe by delivering inspiring homemade cards. That’s our mission statement, but as we’ve mentioned before that doesn’t encompass everything we do - #nomorechanges. For example, we’re purchasing GO Karts for some of our primary partner hospitals/homes.

In addition, if you see some of our full social posts on Instagram you’ll see a lot of hashtags. Those range from some that have a double meaning (#everycardcounts) to ones that show how we’re thankful for all types of cards that we receive (#graciasportodo) - (Our Hashtag is Calling). 

We’ve been doing our absolute best to show your cards on our social sites and even more importantly, although there’s a hippo in the room, doing our best to show pictures of where those cards are going and the impact they’re having - #intheroom.

It seems that with the description of our background, our goals, and our impact, most people LOVE what we’re doing, but don’t necessarily follow through. Please understand, we know that things pop up that complicate situations and make it difficult to complete additional tasks. One reason why joining in with Cardz for Kidz! is so important is that you’re having an impact on children AND their families; you’re brightening up multiple lives when they need it the most.

We’ve highlighted before how we’re all nice over here, but we have special request. When you hear about making a difference on these children and their families’ lives, please make sure that it’s NOT something that you’re simply interested in doing. Please make sure that it’s NOT simply something you plan on doing some day. Please set a date to start! We can’t imagine how much more of an impact we’d be able to have if more volunteers were able to switch their original INTENT TO ACTION; action of making handmade cards and uplifting more spirits across the globe.

#intenttoaction #upliftingspirits

To see more pictures and stories, please check out our website; 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, November 8, 2018

Overall Value

Dual. It’s an interesting word that’s commonly used. For example, with the football season in full swing you’ll hear comments about a “dual threat quarterback,” one who’s able to effectively throw and run the ball down the field. Then you have something like a “dual cultural event.” With this, you’re combining different groups in order to celebrate their different heritages all at once.

With Cardz for Kidz! our overall goal is to have a dual objective with an equal focus on both. Here’s an explanation of how both our artists and the hospitals/shelters have multiple objectives:
We want to make hosting an event as efficient and low-cost as possible, but for our artists to still feel rewarded and have fun. Then we want to make sure the hospitals feel that receiving the cards was easy, but also have an extremely high return and impact on their kids. With both parties, there are dual focuses.

We’ll use our media minds to explain a little bit more. It’s pretty easy to measure the overall cost to host a Cardz for Kidz! event. Participants don’t have to pay us anything in order to join in. We recommend they use our Amazon Smile link to purchase our supplies, but really you can find them anywhere. Then you simply purchase the amount you need for your group and even  use a bunch of those supplies for future events.

For example, for us we can simply look at the fact that as of 10/22/2018 we’ve received and tracked over 70,000 cards. Then, when looking into our total expenses which ranges from purchasing GO Karts to shipping cards around the world, we’ve only had a $0.65 Cost Per Card or, for simplicity reasons, Cost Per Acquisition (CPA).

We try to promote our low CPA via our social sites and in prior blog posts, but in our opinion it’s not necessarily the key, yet still important. We know with the Hippo named HIPPA in the room it’ll be a bit harder to get all of the artists to feel the true value of their cards. Hospitals aren’t allowed to simply take pictures of children who are overcoming medical conditions. We have to ask for their permission to share them on social media since patient privacy is important to everyone. Although we’re not able to send you confirmation emails, we do Solemly Swear to help make the process efficient for everyone and post pictures of your cards on our social sites so everyone can get ideas for what to make for their next card, as well as to understand that we’ve received their cards.

What we really think is more important is the Return on Investment. Since we can’t post pictures of all the children in the hospital, we do check with the parents and families we send cards to in the special deliveries and ask them if we can post pictures. We feel that can be pretty rewarding to our artist. By simply posting these pictures, our artists can feel rewarded knowing that people around the world are seeing their artwork.

After following up with some of our connections at a variety of locations we learned there’s a combination of low CPA and high ROI at the delivery points as well. We partner with hospitals/homes of all sizes, but we’ve noticed that since we’re reaching places around the world and specialize in reaching small to midsize locations, they’re extremely grateful. Often when we first start connecting with new locations, it takes a couple phones calls, tweets, and/or emails to explain our organization and highlight that we intentionally reached out to them even if they do have a smaller pediatric department. Once we get in touch with them, we just highlight how it’s EASY to receive cards (low CPA), but it’s very rewarding for their staff and their kids; everyone loves it (high ROI). Once we finalize the process, everyone is usually extremely thankful.

Based on some of the conversations, connections and social posts we’ve had with hospitals/homes and kids/families who’ve received cards directly, we KNOW for sure your cards are making a big difference. Looking at some of the pictures and seeing the smiles from everyone involved in the Cardz WITH Kidz events, we know that’s rewarding as well. Then again, if you look at the pics of people smiling during their events at the office and knowing how the only costs are the supplies and shipping we know there’s a low CPA. Therefore, we feel the OVERALL VALUE of impacting children’s lives has been accomplished very efficiently and, thankfully, very significantly!

#upliftingspirits #overallvalue

To see more pictures and stories, please check out our website; 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!

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Chase Your Dreams

Want to know something? Starting in Q4, we’re going to start making a promise to hospitals that we’re currently unable to fulfill. We figure that although it’s currently out of our league, we can still set our goals high and strive for success. Just a warning, you’ll start to see more links to our donation page, GoFundMe, and other ways to donate! 😊

Why NOT set our dreams high and make large promises to hospitals? For a dose of nostalgia, it was less than 6 years ago that we became a certified non-profit. But that only meant that we had the paperwork completed. Looking back to December 2012 or Q4 2012, we received 672 cards. Harley Davidson was the only group who had joined in who didn’t have a direct connection with our founder; they saw a flyer he posted in a Starbucks outside his office.

Now let’s fast forward 6 years where we’re still not spending money on advertising and our last full quarter, Q2 2018, where we received over 8,000 cards! That’s twelve times as many cards within 6 years without any paid marketing at all. In Q4 2012, we made our first shipment outside of the Midwest and also sent our first shipment to kids who were not in a hospital; we sent 235 cards to kids at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Nowadays we’ve expanded our reach across the country and have official partnerships in each continent.

Chart that shows our even breakout.

Any time we hear of a school shooting, bus accident, or anything that troubles kids, we send a shipment of cards to encourage them. Plus, we’re making special deliveries to kids in Ronald McDonald Houses and children at homes that are going through tough times. Direct to the MidWest was once 100%, but now is strictly a component of our overall participation.

Today when we’re talking to groups who are considering joining in we tell them we have participation with companies such as Google and Microsoft, as well as neighborhood Girl Scout Troops. Potential hospitals and participants are immediately impressed.

Why are we telling you all of this? Why are we telling you where we’re currently standing and how we’ve grown? It’s because this wasn’t part of the original plan back in 2010. Even when we got the certification we didn’t think we’d have some of the most renowned groups joining in and helping us evenly distribute encouraging cards to kids in each continent. None of this was planned. None of this was expected. All of this happened because we continued to pursue it.

We’re going to continue to strive for more. Our request to you is to please CHASE YOUR DREAMS. You’ll be impressed in what you can accomplish. We’re still astonished, just like we were when we got the original letter from the IRS and looked at the record breaking numbers in Q2 2018! 

To see more pictures and stories, please check out our website; 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!