WE GOT IT! After nearly a decade of analysis, we have discovered the secret formula. We’ve been working diligently as a team to use our experience with Cardz for Kidz operations and data analysis.
Based on that experience, we learned this formula:
1 + 1 = CARDS
That’s it! Okay, one may not understand what the ones stand for, so we’ll explain it by laying out the formula a bit differently.
1 Group +1 Individual Participating in Cardz for Kidz
If that still does not highlight our detailed analytics, we’ll provide more background information to resolve any confusion.
As we all know, 1+0 does NOT equal 2 and neither does 0+1. You need both. What we’ve learned over the years is that it’s the same with our organization. We created a new verb, “Stream”, to define how groups consistently host events without our team needing to reach out to them. We would highlight how groups were ‘Streaming It.’
We haven’t heard from one of our main point of contacts in years. There have been MANY times when our main point of contact left a hospital/home and new contacts stepped in. Often, they don’t respond or reach out and say they don’t want to receive cards anymore. No more 1+1.
Then it goes the other way, too. There are people working within a group and they are so passionate. We had one of our first contacts at a hospital who told us we could send them as many cards as we wanted, and they would personally go put them on all the food trays if they had to make sure the cards went room to room. There was another contact at a company who got their coworkers to help in every possible way. Both of those individuals switched employers and we haven’t heard from them again. No more 1+1.
Of course, there may be a few slight exceptions, but that’s usually the case. Usually. For example, during a trip to visit our friends at the late-night post office in Chicago we passed through University Village and started thinking. There is potentially one group who has proved that 0+1 or 1+0 can equal cards and that’s the University of Illinois Chicago. Plus, they’re doing it in a variety of ways.
There’s no way we’d be able to encourage people around the world without more cards. Thankfully, we’ve been able to do this with spending less than $100 in advertising and not getting much media coverage. How it works is that usually people tell a friend or find us online. Then they spread the word to more friends or coworkers and share their cards on social media where the word inevitably spreads.
We’ve learned that when people are hosting an event in the office people generally have a great time. It’s a fun way to connect with coworkers and take a break from the standard routine. The issue is that there’s often a question mark in terms of who should be responsible for setting up the event. Years ago, we connected with a company because our founder was classmates with one of their employees. They held some events, but unfortunately, their formula broke 0+1.
Thankfully, one of the employees from those events, Celeste Blackwell, had a great time.
Not only did she remember making those cards but was so inspired by the experience that she continued hosting events herself! Since this was before our site was updated and before we had our monthly Zoom meetings, she reached out to get all the details on how to host events. She later started working at a department at UIC and started making cards with that team. They’ve frequently been making cards since then. 0 + 1 = Cards
Impressive, right? But we think there may be some people who still are not impressed with how Celeste broke the formula. Don’t worry, here’s another way she went above and beyond.
As mentioned above, we haven’t been able to get much press coverage at all. The only real media coverage we got was the Most Valuable Person on the Planet (MVPP) award our founder received from the Steve Cochran show. The tough part is that it was a radio show so it’s hard to include a link to that on our site. Also, it won’t really help our SEO.
With the lack of media boost, we’ve been trying to use tools like Great Nonprofits ratings to increase our credibility. With this tool, people who are making and receiving cards can rate and review what it’s like participating. With these top scores, several ratings, and groups like UIC’s logo on our Participants tab, we seem a bit more impressive. There was one year when we were running low on reviews and weren’t sure if we’d get the Great Nonprofit award, so we reached out to a couple of our artists. Celeste went above and beyond. Not only did she write this review, but she also encouraged family who experienced the process to write a review as well.
Based on those consistent top ratings, Great Nonprofits reached out to us when they started creating videos and created three free videos for us to interview people who have experienced the process; family of patient, family creating cards, family making cards and running the organization.
Another person we had a great relationship with was a woman named Lindsay. Lindsay + Cardz for Kidz = Best Friends Forever, or so we thought. Lindsay was our first contact at University Health. She was great. She was always very responsive and showed her gratitude. Since we were a bit biased back then, we tried to do a bit more since she was a Child Life Specialist we could rely on. For example, we made sure her hospital was the first one we contacted when we received the donation of the mural artwork.
Then everything changed, 1+0. We sent a package and later received an email from someone named Dana Thornquist. She told us that Lindsay didn’t work there anymore and that she’d be our new point of contact. We knew what this meant.
Usually, the relationships end when someone new joins in. Here’s our 100% Open and Honest part. With new people rotating in and a lack of responses, it’s one of the main reasons we started the 3 photos donating the entertainment system reward system! It’s a way we could keep in contact with all our partners. For example, we were sending cards to a partner in California. We had a contact and they said they would love the cards. A couple years later we got a bounce back from this email. We called to check in. The person who responded said they didn’t have kids there anymore and didn’t know what they had been doing with the cards. At another location, our main point of contact put us in touch with someone else at the hospital in their unit. We agreed we’d still send the same number of cards each quarter. Within a year, we got an email stating we needed to stop sending them because they didn’t want to be responsible for that anymore.
When we got the email from Dana, we were expecting another email some time soon. Something that highlighted that University Health lost their passion for Cardz for Kidz and would no longer “need” to accept cards for their children. Thankfully, that email never came. We did receive multiple emails from Dana and here’s a snapshot of what they included:
Not only has she been responsive and consistently sending the cards, but she also has gone above and beyond and sent us pictures of PATIENTS and families with cards. Ever since we did the Facebook Live announcing that we’d donate the entertainment systems, several of our partners would take the “easy” way out and get employees to pose with cards. Not University Health. Even with the Hippo name HIPAA (#InTheRoom), Dana took the extra step to send us the result – patients and families smiling with the artwork!
Based on that partnership we were able to get one more picture during a recent delivery: a picture of Dana herself.
There have been several other parts of UIC that have been contributing. Originally, we were just receiving cards from the Friday Night Live and an Operation Smile club, but when those decreased other portions of campus have stepped up, including Capital Programs and several Nursing Programs.
Overall, we’re thankful that with University of Illinois, Chicago our detailed formula doesn’t work. There are people connected to the university who are passionate about giving back and joining in. They’re willing to step up and contribute on their own. Although it took years to discover the first formula, we’re grateful that we’ll need to put in more time and studies to find the CORRECT EQUATION to determine exactly how groups like UIC continually make a difference.
To see more pictures and stories, please check out the rest of our site, www.cardzforkidz.org; like us on Facebook; follow us on Twitter and Instagram; visit our LinkedIn page! Also, check out some of our videos on YouTube!