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Whole New Universe

  1. “Sorry, donating to Cardz for Kidz doesn’t fit within our community involvement budget.”

  2. “No, we cannot have any of our employees participate on your board as a part of this company. All corporate requests can strictly go through me.”

  3. We’d like to host an event and we’d want you to come do an introduction.” It’s highlighted that we’re all volunteers and would need to take off work. A member of our team can only join in if they donate some funds. “Ok, never mind. Do you have a video that we can play?” After that continual conversation, we do now – YouTube link.

I intentionally modified the wording of those quotes, but not the meaning, in case the people who sent them read this post. As the saying goes: “Not trying to burn any bridges.” It seems those are some of the common themes in responses when we encourage groups to increase their participation – to not only make cards, but to donate dollars as well. That increased participation by groups and/or independent artists is often ignored.

It seems like everyone LOVES the idea of what we’re doing but doesn’t necessarily like how we’re doing it. We’re too small. You hear all those stories about how Amazon started in a garage, but when it comes to us, a lot of companies and artists get discouraged when they learn we’re still operating out of a living room and the address you see listed on our website is just a UPS mailbox. We still don’t have an office. They want to make their monetary donations to organizations that are globally recognized and have a large team.

I knew I had to do something different. Something special if things were going to change. I have all these huge dreams for Cardz for Kidz (#WhenWeGrowUp), but I first I need to get more than just my mom to be a monthly donor. It seems that everyone knows all the behind-the-scenes work, but they don’t feel inspired to act. People know that although we’re reaching people of all ages across the globe, this organization is run directly from my guest bedroom. Well, now it’s expanded and taken over the living room as well.

I knew if we were even going to start to fulfill the promise I made during my least favorite test, I would have to pretend our organization was bigger and/or more “royal” than we currently are.

One day I was intensely brainstorming, and it was almost as if I nodded off and it came to me. Using what I learned in all my BBA and MBA classes I figured it out – Segment. Target. Position. I decided to show our friends at Lumaverse a full tour of everything we’re doing in their hometown and made sure we avoided my UPS mailbox and messy living room. Crossed my fingers, made a wish, and got started.

Through an extended connection, I got in touch with Dottie at Lumaverse and told her I would be in town. Just so happens they were thinking of making some cards around that time. I figured like most groups they planned on just sending cards, checking in on the shipment, and not sending a donation. I figured if I could show them the real impact our organization would make if they increased their donation. Thankfully, they were free, and it turns out it was borderline magical how I was able to use my points and credit to get a free flight down to Charlotte, NC.

When I first met up with Dottie that Friday afternoon, we made small talk about her interest in LinkedIn and other social sites. We discussed some of the Lumaverse values, the background of the Cardz for Kidz history, and my magic flight down there. I brought up how, although we’re based in Chicago, it seems like we’re a natural fit for the Carolinas. She smiled. I asked her if I could show her. She seemed a bit hesitant, so I showed her my business card, explained my perfect driving record, and ended it with an extended hand with a statement like, “You don’t want to go for a ride, do you?” Hesitantly, she agreed. She brought Peggy and the three of us were on our way!

We stopped by the University of North Carolina Charlotte campus. We had some fun discussions about how over the years we’ve had an increased participation with both universities and organizations on campus. We went through and stopped by an event with Beta Alpha Psi – UNC Charlotte chapter. Perfect timing.

They touched base on how chapters across the country were joining in and they had multiple team members were who were participating remotely and on campus. They were excited to meet us and stated how nationally chapters were joining in to be a part of the fraternity family. Our pals at Lumaverse were impressed that others so close to home had joined in.

Afterwards, we discussed how we’ve delivered hundreds of cards in special deliveries to Ronald McDonald Houses across North Carolina (e.g. both Durham and Greenville in Q4 2020 and more since then). I made it clear that those were special deliveries, just like our delivery to Union Intermediate Elementary School in North Carolina back in 2020 when the tornado hit the school.

We touched base on how there was a difference between special deliveries like the one-time deliveries to other North Carolina locations and the partnerships with hospitals/nonprofits like Atrium Health Levine in Charlotte. During our trip, we stopped by there. I introduced them to our contact Carrie, and she expressed how thankful she was that we’re able to send them 200+ cards each quarter and 25% of them are in Spanish. We help encourage all their patients. She brought a couple nurse/staff members with her, and they gave us thank you packages that included some cards made by the kids and posed in some pictures. I gave mine to our Lumaverse friends since I felt they were the ones who truly deserved it.

When we pulled out of the hospital, I told them there were a couple of other places we could see. Before I could provide more details, they interrupted me and said they fully supported our organization and would like to donate. It was more than twice the amount we have ever received before in a one-time check.

You know what happened next? I watched ‘Beauty and the Beast’ and ‘The Little Mermaid.’

You see, my three siblings all have children, so I have two sets of Disney+ subscriptions. My nephew doesn’t understand that Scar is the worst villain ever, so Uncle Ike’s icon is Uncle Scar with that set.

My brother and family decided that I should be the Genie, so that’s my character.

For added context, one day while turning on Disney+ to watch some classic Marvel movies, I was inspired by my character. I decided to watch Aladdin. During one of the key scenes in Aladdin, I immediately thought of Cardz for Kidz and our experience. For those of you who didn’t grow up in the 90’s and/or have 5 nieces and nephews, here’s a summary: Aladdin runs into Princess Jasmin when she’s running away from the palace and he falls for her. His dream is to marry Princess Jasmin, but he knows he’ll never be able to do that because he’s a “street rat” and she’s royalty. Thankfully, he meets a genie who’s able to assist him and make him a prince as well.

He puts on an amazing parade and after some conversations, he is able to connect with her directly. He immediately went from being a street rat to connecting with royalty.

With Cardz for Kidz, it seems that groups and individuals are consistently reaching out to donate cards, but when we/I mention donating funds there’s often low response. Often corporations highlight the amount of service hours they’re doing, as well as the total amount of funds they have donated to certified nonprofits. I’ve learned there’s not always a direct correlation. They often raise money for a well-known hospital/nonprofit (financial donations) and then get their employees to volunteer for smaller nearby organizations without donating. We’re the second. I do appreciate the cards because EVERY CARD COUNTS, but I’d love to Make A Wish that we’d be able to grow and give back even more – ( #WhenWeGrowUp #OrderofOperations).

A fairytale. A wish. It’s been tough recruiting volunteers, donors, corporate sponsors and more. It’s all so surprising to me because over the years I’ve been able to see the full impact our organization is having. I’ve seen the impact on the children, staff, volunteers, families, donors, and more. I’ve joined in on Zoom calls and attended a couple events. I know joining in on Cardz for Kidz events makes a HUGE difference, but a lot of outsiders stick with the original statements.

It seems that everyone LOVES the idea of being able to send cards for free to a nonprofit that will ship them around the word, but they like to bypass the fact that we must pay for all that shipping. Groups love the fact that we’re encouraging kids stuck in their rooms with entertainment systems, but the skip the fact that it costs thousands. Right now, everyone focuses on the fairytale that through this nonprofit they can reach people around the world without any donations. We get the quotes at the top of the blog post.

Now I know what usually happens, like restricted donations based on company guidelines or people’s interest, but I don’t know what happened with Lumaverse. How did this company find our organization and make such a difference? For 5+ years there was a company who got other companies to assist them in raising funds then donated them to us. That was our largest one-time donation we’d ever received. We hadn’t started purchasing these then, but it was enough to cover an entertainment system and some iPads. With the Lumaverse contributions, they nearly doubled that donation and did it without any direct connections.

In addition to supporting us financially and with cards, members of the Lumaverse team have also been encouraging us on social media as well (#sociallyactive).

With their all-around contributions, Lumaverse has helped in so many ways – increased social media presence, made donations to cover expenses and support partners, made cards, shared their logo for branding, etc. It’s hard to even imagine if there were more companies out there who followed their lead and ‘put their money where their heart is’ and made some donations to help expand our mission. With that kind of all-around support ranging from funds to cards, I’m sure we’d expand and be able to see new things. We’d be able to do more than reach kids across the globe, reach a whole new world, but with more support like what we received from Lumaverse, we’d approach a WHOLE NEW UNIVERSE in terms of the amount of happiness we’d be able to share. Here’s the entertainment system we donated thanks to them.

p.s. did you pick up on the Aladdin references throughout the blog post? (e.g. magic flight down there, “royal”, Go for a ride question)

To see more pictures and stories, please like us on Facebook; follow us on Twitter and Instagram; visit our LinkedIn page! Also, check out some of our videos on YouTube and view some comments and videos on Great Nonprofits.


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