Archive | April, 2013

Wok Fa Hunga

30 Apr




The Walk for Hunger in Boston is happening this Sunday, May 5!  Always the first Sunday in May. Once upon a time, I worked at Project Bread – the Walk for Hunger.  True Bostonians pronounce it Wok Fa Hunga. Our alumni association is called the Bread Crumbs.  Project Bread was my virgin excursion into the walkathon world.  I was responsible for finding and training 2,000 walk day volunteers, some of the recruitment and much of the logistics for the main event oval and the 20-mile route.  I had never worked so hard in my young, spry life.

We worked all year round for one day.  We planted the seeds of preparation in the months then days leading up to the walk, with hopes for a beautiful bloom of smooth sailing on event day.

My time at Project Bread in the mid-90s was before online giving, internet email and mobile phones that were smaller than a brick.  We recruited 50,000 walkers who raised over $3 million each year by actually talking to team leaders in person or on the phone.   Old school.

According to the Project Bread website, money raised at this event will help fund hunger relief and prevention through over 430 emergency programs, schools, community health centers, farmers’ markets, community suppers, home care organizations, and other programs that protect the individual and strengthen our community’s food security throughout the state.

I learned a lot when I worked there. Not just the event operations stuff, but also about the issue of hunger. Hunger is not as visible an issue like cancer or AIDS or autism or diabetes.  Why?  We all know people or relatives of people that have or had cancer or AIDS or autism or diabetes. How many people do you know that are hungry?  They need you.

The weather is supposed to be nice this weekend.  Visit Boston.  Boston needs some lovin’. The tulips in the Boston Garden are in full bloom.tulips

Take a walk with several thousand other people who care. Raise some money and think about how lucky you are to have an occasional full belly.  Walk for Hunger.




Boston Strong

23 Apr





It’s been one week since the Boston Marathon tragedy.   It’s been one week – and many are already making money on the merchandising of this horror show.  Many fraudulent charitable organizations have popped up too.  If you know me, then you know how I hate, hate, hate people who profit from diseases, or tragedies.   Shame on you.

The Huffington Post had an article yesterday about the race to trademark the words Boston Strong.

The IRS has made a statement about charitable fraud.

Mayor Menino and Governor Patrick, along with other corporate leaders in Boston, have create the One Fund.

they have a logo, too

they have a logo, too

The website names all the wonderful people who are involved, yet there is no description of how they will use the donations.  Oh, and the One Fund is not yet a designated 501(c)3.  They have applied, but not been given the designation.  Too soon I suppose.

According to an article in the Non Profit Quarterly, The One Fund was setup within 7 hours of the blast and The fund has been placed under Kenneth Feinberg, the well-known attorney who managed the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund as well as compensation funds for victims of the 2010 BP Gulf Coast oil spill and the mass shootings at Virginia Tech and Aurora, Colorado.

I wonder why people feel the need to start a brand new charitable organization when so many good ones already exist?  Hello!  Red Cross!  They specialize in disaster relief.  Logistics and operations are in place to handle things like this.  Why re-invent the wheel with a new charitable organization that will have administrative over-head and other related costs?  I guess the Red Cross is not sexy enough, or the logo was not acceptable.

4/24/13 edit:  The Boston Globe reports that no administrative costs will be charged to the fund.  Phew!

Speaking of logos –  just like any good severe weather or news event, there are already several logos commemorating the day.

Even the New England Revolution has a logo: revs

Here is a ribbon logo that has been seen around:



These are $10, and $8 is supposed to go to victims






The custom printing site CafePress even has a page designated for Boston Strong merchandise.  Mouse pads, mugs and tote bags.  I did not see anything about a portion of proceeds or profits being donated to the victims.

I made a purchase at my local CVS and the cashier asked if I wanted to donate to the Boston Marathon victims.  When asked, she could not tell me how the money would be distributed or if the CVS Foundation would be taking care of this.  Ugh.

That home-made-crap site Etsy has stuff too.

I’m annoyed and will continue to call-out all of these shameless self-promoting tragedy-profiteers.  I hope they donate money to the innocent victims. I’ll be watching.




Boston Marathon madness

16 Apr



Yesterday was the Boston Marathon, and just like every other year – our family and friends went to “our spot” at Mile 6 in Framingham to cheer on the runners.  The weather was perfect for runners – mid 40s to start and mid 50s in the afternoon.  A welcomed change from the 87 degrees last year.  A very welcomed change from the Mother Nature shit show this past winter.  There was nothing to shovel, and that made it a good day.

Yesterday was special since we were cheering on many friends, including our middle school principal and a close friend who was a charity runner for Children’s Hospital Boston.  Once our friend passed us, we loaded cars to drive to Newton to once again cheer him on.   Most of the Newton cheering posse then took the T (our public transit) to Boston so that they could cheer on our friend at the finish line.  I went back to our friends house to set up for a congratulatory cookout.

Yesterday my husband and daughter, along with many of our close friends, were at the finish line and saw our friend cross it minutes before the explosions went off.  Luckily, they had a predetermined a meeting place a few blocks away and luckily, my family and friends had started walking, and then running to the meeting place once they heard the explosions.  They eventually made it out of the city and back home safe, despite the roadblocks and emergency vehicle detours.

Once upon a time, I was a Marathon Volunteer at the finish line.  I remember the logistical operations and preparations for the event.  Everyone had credentials, which indicated the areas that you were allowed to be in.  Bomb-sniffing dogs made their rounds several times and many cameras were perched high above the crowds.  I felt that the emergency procedures shared with the volunteers were thorough and there were probably many other procedures I did not have credentials to even know about.

An old English proverb pertains to the tragic events of yesterday.  “Where there is a will, there is a way.”  Some jackass figured out a way to create madness on a beautiful day.   I am hopeful that law enforcement will find a way to bring this jackass to justice.

We will be back at “our spot” at Mile 6 next year.

Here’s a link to the Boston Marathon website.

Here’s a link to my friends fundraising page.

Peep in our Cheering Posse and his ARTwork


5 lessons from a school fundraiser

10 Apr


high fiveOur elementary school hosted their BIG spring fundraiser this past weekend.  Thankfully, we exceeded our goal and everything flowed smoothly.  We had over a dozen parents who helped coordinate this event by owning a piece of the responsibilities, like: Silent Auction; Raffle; Carnival Games; Stage Program; Concessions; Check-in and Check-out and the enormously-important CPT (Crappy Prize Table).

We had another dozen parents and students donate their time and talent to volunteer.   Here are 5 lessons I think will be helpful to others putting together a school fundraiser:

1.  Give them a reason to be there

We had our student play perform a repeat performance for the fundraiser.  This allowed for an automatic audience of kids and their parents and any relatives that could not make the first production.

2.   Have prizes for big kids and little kids


These prizes were connected so we could safely display them without worrying about them walking away.

We had carnival games for the kids and a raffle for big-kid and little-kid prizes.   We had three large prizes and a bunch of donated gift cards for raffle winners.


We asked our parents to donate (gently) used or new birthday party favors that have collected in their homes so we could display it for the kids to redeem prize tickets earned at the carnival games.

did any of these items come from your closet or basement?

did any of these items come from your closet or basement?


3. Determine your currency

We had our guests purchase “bucks” at the front of the event so all of the money would be in one place, and not in different places around the building.  The “bucks” were used to purchase raffle tickets, carnival games and concessions.  This allowed our police detail to focus their energy on keeping an eye on the front of the house where the guests enter and where the cash is kept.


4.  One door to get in, many to get out

We charged $5 for adults and kids were free.   To make sure we collected from all of the adults, we created a bottleneck once they entered so we could make sure they had to walk next to the check-in table to enter the event.


just one door was unlocked for entrance

5.  Collect money before the event

Even though we had baseball, soccer and lacrosse games to compete with – many families were able to squeak-in an hour or so to attend the event.  To protect the income of the fundraiser, we had pre-sold some raffle tickets two weeks earlier so that peeps could participate if they could not attend.   The bulk of the money came in the day-of from the silent auction of donated goods and services from local merchants and teachers.

Quite a production!  It has been said that it “takes a village” to raise a child – well, it also takes a village to raise several thousand dollars for a school fundraiser.  Thanks to all who contributed to the success of the event!




Good reads from the philanthropy world

3 Apr



Lots of good reads about philanthropy and non-profits this week online and on paper.  Most of my interesting morsels are found from the iPad app called Zite.  Love it. I can choose which type of things interest me and Zite pulls all the relevant articles for me to read. 

You may know (and be sick of reading) how I write a lot about how it is important to talk to a prospective walker, donor and sponsor.  Here’s an article from Boston Magazine about the art of the ‘ask’.  Notice how many baby steps and hand holding is involved before a building is named after someone. 

Did you know studies have repeatedly shown the people who can least afford to donate are the most generous? Here’s an article from the Non Profit Quarterly that shows the favorite areas of support for those who have, and have not.  The most interesting takeaway for me from this article was that of the top 50 charitable gifts from the wealthy last year, not one went to a charity that primarily serves the poor.  Hmmm.

Here’s another great article from the NPQ that shows trends in online giving.   Photos posts online had the most likes, shares and comments.  No surprise that online giving is up, but you may have seen my previous post noting that another article shows that only 7% of total gifts are made online.

That means 93% are not online gifts.  Please see the first item noted above – The Art of the Ask

93% of gifts were given because they were personally asked!