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!

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Lifeline for Assistance

We’re not one hundred percent sure what was first, and quite honestly we didn’t want to do the in-depth research, so we did the type of analysis we often touch on in these blog posts – by asking people in the airport and/or on the trian. The topic in question was, “What was the first ever Reality TV Show?” We were in the four passenger seat on an Amtrak train, and at first we asked two young ladies what their first recollection was. One said Amazing Race while the other said America’s Next Top Model. Then we checked with another gentleman on board and he responded with MTV’s Real World. We didn’t fact check their answers, but we’re assuming those were all pretty early!

Then again, what about trivia or game shows? Are those considered Reality TV? Those are unscripted, right? If so, you have to date back to Jeopardy, Wheel of Fortune, and Who Wants to be a Millionaire?

Seeing how nowadays unscripted television is booming in popularity, we’re going to relate Cardz for Kidz! to a combination of those kinds of shows.

First, for some background, Cardz for Kidz! is what happens when you put an interest in impacting disheartened children and a passion for handmade artwork together. People stop simply being polite and/or courteous, but truly become compassionate and work together to make a difference in children’s lives across the globe. What originally started as just an activity for one group of young adults and children has grown into global corporations, groups of children, and families around the world joining in to make a difference. It’s hard to believe, but there are no scripts. This is happening in the Real World, around the world!

Also, as we always say, #everycardcounts. Therefore, every card is important AND we keep track of where every card is coming from. Still, there’s always a bit of intrigue at the end of the quarter since people are interested to see the Next Top 10. Originally, the role of the judge was much easier and there was less to choose from, but now that we’ve grown from the hundreds to the thousands of cards, we’ve had to work with creative directors to make that selection. What adds to the pressure even more so is that currently if the judges select their cards, these panelists will be invited to a special Cardz WITH Kidz event at one of our partner Children’s Hospitals. Thankfully, just like we hear Tyra is, our judges are qualified to pick America’s Next Top Artists.

Although it may seem like it’s “happily ever after” for our organization, there have been some difficulties along the road. For example, since this is one hundred percent free for everyone involved, Cardz for Kidz! isn’t able to do paid advertising. And because of personal preferences, we don’t like to constantly flood our contributors with email reminders and/or requests asking for donations and increased participations. One may say it’s not as difficult as climbing mountains, skydiving or other extreme events, but the participation influxes have been a challenge to deal with. That was the reason we made such a big deal about Arrowstream and Huron Consulting Group when they decided to join in since they’ve consistently made cards each quarter. Although we’ve been primarily targeting groups to make cards, Independent Artists, or people simply making cards in their free time, have been our top contributors. They have made at least twice as many cards as any group that’s joined in. Thankfully, with everyone joining in we’ve been able to reach all the check points and reach kids all around the world. We’re thankful that we’ve been able to hang in there and have also been doing a pretty good job at keeping up with this Amazing Race.

We did mention it on our social sites before, but we would love to consistently grow in many ways. We know there’s a looooong way to go, but we mentioned before that our dream would be to do more for the kids while they’re in the hospital (#perfectpair) and after they get out to help them in the long run in life (#whenwegrowup). While we feel blessed that we do have a partnership in each continent, we’d love to be able to cover all 50 states and have the majority of these cities covered.

If we achieved all of that, just like Wheel of Fortune, that’d be like hitting the jackpot! We know we’ve recently been adding on a couple more board members to the team to help contribute to answering some of the tougher questions (e.g. consistent way to get more cards in French). We understand that, similar to Jeopardy, it’s more of a team sport. One thing we know for sure is that we’ll need some help if we continue to grow. We’ll need more volunteers similar to the ones we currently have and also need more people to reach out to their contacts at hospitals/homes to see if we can start sending those kids our handmade cards. We just know that with our average quarter over quarter growth rate being 31%, who knows, maybe one of these days we’ll get what we want and we’ll be a millionaire in terms of the amount of cards we receive each quarter. But before we get to those stages, we’re reaching out to YOU, one of our LIFELINES FOR ASSISTANCE, so we can be prepared for expansion. Please help us connect to more hospitals/homes.

#lifelinesforassistance #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, October 4, 2018

Love Her More

We’re not sure if you recall, but a couple years ago we set up a poll to get your input on what we should name our logo.

We wanted to name the child in our logo so that we could strictly use that name rather than saying “it” or the dreaded “him” or “her.” People often look at our logo and assume it’s a him based on the hair, but based on our experience and the kids we work with we know all genders can be hairless due to the conditions they’re overcoming.

We set up this poll (link here - please don’t vote till you finish this blog) to get your input on some potential names for our logo, but unfortunately we weren’t able to get many votes. Based on the lack of votes and the story below, we think we’ll have to make an executive decision! We’re naming our logo, at least for now, Taylor - and this blog post will explain why.

First, if you think about it, that name can go for both males and females. One portion of the millennial age group may hear the name and think of the singer Taylor Swift.

Then, there’s the other portion of that age group who may date a bit farther back and think of the show Home Improvement and of their crush and/or being jealous of JTT – Jonathon Taylor Thomas!

The list goes on with Taylor Cole, Taylor Kitsch, Taylor Schilling, Taylor Kinney, etc. We even did some research and asked a woman at the airport who stated, “Ahhh, it’s both. I know a male named Taylor and a female named Taylor.” Perfect. All set. The name works for both genders!
Also, unlike Quinn, Jordan, Bailey, and some of the others in the poll, it’s closer to the name Tyler. Over the years we’ve learned we need to be pretty Tyler-like and this blog post will explain why!  

Thinking of Taylor and Cardz for Kidz! as a whole, our “ideal mate” would be someone who willfully and consistently volunteered behind the scenes, someone who took Cardz for Kidz! to some of their groups they were a part of, someone who attended Cardz for Kidz! and brought friends, someone who was great with pediatric patients, and last but not least, someone who was an amazing artist. In summary, someone like Alexis Evans. Unfortunately, when we checked with her fiance, Tyler, he confirmed that she was off the market and there was no way our Taylor could win her heart. Now there’s a battle! Taylor vs Tyler.

We’ve written about a couple before,  (#BestofBothWorlds), and they’re both still contributing, but this time it’s a bit different. Alexis, also known as Lex, is perfect for Cardz for Kidz! and we’re assuming our Taylor isn’t as happy about this couple and instead is a bit jealous. 
We interviewed both Tyler (fiance) and Taylor (logo) about their opinions, history, and what makes Alexis so special and here are some of their battle points:

Favorite Aspects:
When we asked Tyler what he liked about her he stated, “She’s very kind, understanding, and has a good sense of humor.“ 

In order to follow up, we think Taylor would respond with the similar comment of, “She’s so nice, always very dedicated to giving back and helps in a variety of ways.” That giving back ranges from bringing Tyler to some of the volunteer shifts and/or parties to launching the only events at Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) of Chicago. She went above and beyond. Not just the fun stuff of making the cards with the children and other volunteers, but even did the administrative stuff so BBBS Chicago was one of the first logos to go up on our website.

One of the first – down at the bottom – a building block – our foundation

Well Rounded:
When asked how to summarize Lex in one word Tyler said, “Fun.”

Taylor’s response would be, “Impressive.” The reason for that, as mentioned above when listing out Taylor’s dream person, we listed out someone who was great with pediatric patients. Everyone who follows Cardz for Kidz! on social sites had a chance to see how impressive Alexis was with the children and their families during the Cardz WITH Kidz event. Now it’s a debate of was it more impressive seeing her with the kids OR seeing her amazing artwork? In Q3 2017 when we received over five thousand cards, her card was selected into the OVERALL Top 10 and her tree card was in a tie for second place – link to picture and poll.

History of Hours:
When we asked Tyler about how long they had been dating he made it clear it’s been for over 37,230 hours. Wow.

Taylor was shocked with those hours, but was not thinking about the time Lex has particpated in Cardz for Kidz! events, taking it to her other non-profits, and/or making cards in her free-time. Strictly while looking into the time that she’s spent counting cards and doing that behind-the-scenes work, Alexis has been with Taylor for 55.75 hours as of 9/21/2018! That’s still VERY impressive – second most ever. #everyhourcounts

Similar Connections:
While connecting with Tyler he made it clear that he and Alexis were able to get along with the same group of friends. 

Once again, that’s pretty important in a relationship. Taylor would battle back and highlight how, thanks to Alexis, there are similar connections as well. Lex started things off at Big Brother Big Sister Chicago and has spent additional hours volunteering at the Chicago Volunteer Expo. Therefore, there have been a lot of similar connections with Taylor and Lex.

Secure from the Beginning:
Tyler knew early on they had something special, so they got an apartment together less than 9 months after dating! He was even willing to live out of a duffle bag before they officially moved in together.  

Taylor’s response would be that although they never lived together, maybe it could be an option in the future. Taylor loves how Lex is willing to travel across Chicago to the Cardz for Kidz!‘s headquarters (aka our founder’s living room) and donate time. Who knows… maybe when things expand, and Taylor, as well as the organization first grows up (#whenwegrowup), there will be an office.

Special Words:
When we asked Tyler if there was anything else he’d like to mention about Lex, such as an inside joke or something sweet to say, he said, “Mucho forte.” That’s something that Lex would understand.

When we followed up with Taylor to see if there was anything else worth speaking to, the only thing Taylor said was, “Thank you. Hopefully she understands why.”

Okay, so we understand that Tyler and Lex are getting ready to enjoy their destination wedding later on this year. And there’s obviously a ring involved. So the hours, words, and the types of connections are debatable and some even more trivial, but we all have to admit since Alexis said yes to the ring from Tyler, and not Taylor, we think she made her decision! Although Tyler won, some may still debate that Taylor LOVES HER MORE and/or is a bit more thankful. Then again we… STOP EVERYTHING.

During all those volunteer hours, attending fundraisers, tagging pictures on Facebook and even writing this blog post, we’ve always referred to her as her full name, Alexis or her nickname, Lex. Since she didn’t choose Taylor, maybe we should have considered naming our logo Alex after her. Then again, Alexis could work too.

Now we’re opening up the voting again and let us know what you think (please vote now)-, please write in Alexis if that’s your choice.

#loveshermore #upliftingspirits

p.s. This part of the blog is unedited so there may be some errors. We just wanted to make sure you knew we thought of that Alex idea ourselves rather than Alex our blog post editor! She's the last nice one we mention,

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!