Sunday, January 31, 2010

State of the Operation: January 31, 2009

We've spent the last month combing our records, and due to the wonders of Excel, there's lots of interesting information to share with you all! First, a video message...

Download our 8-page Annual Review for 2009...and hopefully you'll be encouraged to see all that's been accomplished! 

Some general notes about overhead:
Operation Write Home's revenue is made up of  cash contributions plus the value of the cards donated. There's no accurate way to assess the value of the cards, since some would have a higher market value than others; we've assigned a median of $2 per card as the value for purposes of filing with the IRS. Expenses break down into three categories: fundraising, which includes the website; management and general, which includes things like professional fees, purchases of envelopes, etc; and programs, which includes the value of cards plus all our shipping costs. Our overhead rate is very very low; we currently pay no salaries, rent, etc, therefore almost all of your donation goes directly to shipping the cards.

Text of the State of the Operation Message in the video above (approximate...getting the words close took almost 30 takes! Can't hire good talent nowadays...). The links will take you to blog posts or sites referred to in the message.
Hi, I’m Sandy Allnock, president of Operation Write Home, here to bring you our State of the Operation message. We have so much to celebrate from 2009, and so much to look forward to in 2010!

First, a thank you to our heroes watching this…you all are the reason OWH even exists. You’re the reason our nation stands strong and free—and we’re so grateful. Your courage, dedication, and willingness to sacrifice yourselves on our behalf  are an inspiration and a blessing to us all. Keep safe out there, do your job well, write to your mom, and know we stand behind you 100%!

To our cardmakers…you make all of this possible with your amazing creativity! Our shippers are inspired by you, and our heroes regularly write to tell us how impressed they are by your handiwork. Thank you for giving of your time, your talents, and the treasures of supplies you use to make the cards!

To our financial donors…how do we begin to thank you for being the engine that keeps us going! Your gifts, both large and small, make a difference in keeping the post office well-fed, keeping our website up and running, purchasing envelopes, and taking care of those behind-the-scenes tasks that are so necessary. And to all the companies who have donated supplies for our card challenge prizes, bless you for your generosity!
Giant thanks go out to our shippers... who put in countless hours sorting shipping packing emailing and giving so much of their lives to this project. It wouldn't be possible without them and I am so very grateful for each of them who has served in 2009 and throughout the inception of the organization.
2009 saw so many changes for us—increases in card volume, the excitement of bloghops, new partnerships, hundreds and hundreds of new cardmakers addicted to serving our heroes—but the largest change was the name and website. After a long series of events, we changed from Cards for Heroes to Operation Write Home in September…and what a blessing that has been! Thank you to all those who helped us through that transition—especially our attorneys, and our board of directors, who slogged through IRS forms and Skype meetings to nail down the details! It’s amazing now that many people can’t remember what the old name was…only a few months later!

The number of cards received and then mailed out to our heroes has been astonishing – almost 240,00 in 2009, and 100,000 for Christmas alone! It’s no wonder our shippers were just a bit tired throughout the fall! But that brings me to another thing to celebrate: the number of people who have been stamping the backs of their cards, perfecting “the tuck”, including packing slips, and by doing these things, helping to make our shippers’ jobs easier! The extra few minutes you take on your end makes a world of difference on ours – thank you!

We also saw a huge increase in Operation Write Home’s social media presence in 2009—first, among bloggers, as our bloghops took off with over 200 blogs participating throughout the year, and then on Facebook and Twitter. Our Facebook fan page has been an incredible resource for all of us to get inspired, learn tips and tricks, see pictures of each others’ cards, and become more of an OWH family as we get to know each other. Our new Stars and Stamps blog just began this month, and stems from of all the crafters who want to really develop our community and encourage each other — and that’s what social media is all about! Friends! The more that the blogs and facebook fans comment, post, link, and generally chatter about, the higher our rankings on Google, Twitter, and Facebook, and the more free advertising we get from them all— which all leads to inviting even more crafters to join us on our mission. It’s a win win all around!

As we get further into 2010 and find more of our service members leaving Iraq, our focus on Afghanistan will become even more prominent. We’ll be working on making more connections with those deploying to Afghanistan, and may find ourselves moving some of our deadlines earlier to accommodate longer shipping time for our boxes, so stay tuned to the Homefront Blog as that begins to develop.

The heavy deployments to Afghanistan may also mean we need even more cards; many locations there don’t have internet access, unlike Iraq where it was much more common. Therefore writing letters could be an even more urgent needs for those deployed.

This year we’re working on more back-end database details to smooth out our processes, complete with automated receipts! You have no idea what a blessing that will be.

We’ll also be moving further on the process to register our trademark for our name, Operation Write Home, and fundraising for the fees that process will incur. 

I’ll stop talking and let you read the Annual Review pdf itself; for those watching this on YouTube, look over there for a link, and on our blog, scroll down to check it out, as well as to see a transcript of this video complete with links to things I mentioned.

I’d like to close with a letter that just came in yesterday..."I was thrilled to find a box of cards from my FAVORITE support group in the  pile of my packages. I can't even begin to tell you how much joy (and envy) your cards have brought to my family and friends. Our deployment is ending soon, and I will certainly miss the men and women I have served with here. But I will also miss the gorgeous boxes of cards and think of your grou pevery time I buy a card in the future! Thank  you for all your efforts and kindness. Much love, LCDR K. R."

God bless our heroes.
God bless our OWH family.
and God bless the United States of America!
Over the next few weeks, we'll be posting a little more detail on some of the items included in the Annual Review....especially anything that would answer questions from all of you. Stay tuned to this blog and we'll share more info!


Anonymous said...

Amazing video. Thank you so much Sandy for all that you do.
I am so honored to be a part of this organization.

Dixie Cochran said...

Well done! I'm amazed at all the numbers, and I'm amazed with your presentation of all the data.

Anonymous said...

Great Job!! I too just got a letter from a contact in Afghanistan and she mentioned how all the soldiers OHHHH and AHHHH over the cards. Our Heroes and cardmakers ROCK!!

Kajikit said...

Wow, that annual report must have taken a LOT of preparation! Nice job Sandy...

Dawn said...

Great job Sandy, it looked great.

Paula S. said...

Thanks for taking the time to put this report together Sandy. It's really impressive to see how far OWH has come and having such a nice summary helps to tie the whole year's work together. Nice job!

liannallama said...

what an incredible operation this is and thanks to Sandy and all the shippers for the huge amount of time and effort you spend!

SuzAnn said...

Such a professional presentation! You rock, girl.

Serendipity Stamping said...

Great video Sandy, thank you so much! Happy to participate when I can. I do not see the U.S. Navy listed, I know they are over there also. Do they not request cards? Just wondering as I have a grandson in the Navy.

Operation Write Home said...

Serendipity, our Navy heroes are listed on page 4 of the pdf - 5.6% of our contacts are Sailors. :) Our biggest reputation is clearly in the Army though - be sure to let your grandson know, and get him and his friends to sign up!

Kate said...

That's a great report!

And now I have a new goal for 2010, which is to do everything I can to bring Louisiana out of the bottom bracket on all three of those metrics!

Unknown said...

Great job of civil service go all the men women boys and girls who appreciate their service men and woman and show it by honoring them with such a wonderful outpouring of creativitiy; thank you!

Rufus said...

Thanks so much for the annual report. It's nice to have the answers when people ask me questions about OWH! It been a lot of fun watching CFH and then OWH grow and blossom. Thanks go out to all of those who participate and esp. to the Hero's who keep us safe and free.

Caryl P said...

Fabulous job on the video Sandy--thank you for ALL you do to keep OWH running smoothly and making the past year such a success. Looking forward to even more growth in 2010!