Wednesday, February 3, 2010

OWH History Lesson: Slow and steady

We promised a little more detail on some of the points made in the Annual Review....here's the first installment!

If you downloaded and viewed the Annual Review a few days ago, you probably saw this chart...it's absolutely amazing how many cards have been sent in for our heroes! The boomerang effect is even more amazing - for each of the cards sent in, multiply the effect by 2 or more, since a hero and the recipient of the card both get blessed by it!

To put all this growth in perspective, here's a short history about the start of the project.

In 2007, at the beginning of this adventure, Sandy asked a simple question on the Two Peas in a Bucket Stamping Message Board:
I was listening to Weekend America on the radio, and they interviewed a woman who makes bajillions of cards for the troops with her church---like over 1000 a month. Do any of you do something like that? Are there groups you know of we could make cards for and send them to write out? I don't want to duplicate the effort of getting the addresses for soldiers in need of mail, so am looking for someone who already does such a thing. I send cards to the guys & gals from my church who are overseas, and would love to have another outlet for the nutty number of cards I make.
And a hero who saw that post, replied with this:
Hi, I lurk here whenever I have access to a computer. I am in a combat hospital in Iraq. I can tell you we would love to have home made cards to send to loved ones for the holidays. I miss my stamping and scrapbooking supplies. It means so much that people take time out of their busy schedules. You can e-mail me for my address. I will be a point of contact.

Thus began the project! One box became two, then three...and more contacts were then located. And more. Two friends also shipped cards, so the merry band of three fumbled along, organizing only through email and message board posts. The photo at left is the Christmas cards beginning to take over during that first season! (Organization was NOT under control at that time, as you can see!) By the time November rolled around, a friend offered to build and host a website, and the url was purchased to park it at cardsforheroes.org ...and things started hopping!

Initially there was no intent to become a full-fledged nonprofit;  though we now had a website, there was always a question whether our friends would tire of the project and it would just fade away. There were other orgs doing the same thing, and many were quitting due to lack of interest and funding, and there was no way to know if we'd be continuing or not; until midway through '08, much of the shipping cost was borne by Sandy out-of-pocket, and that somehow needed to change. But there was steady but slow growth in both cards and shipping donations...perfect to allow us to learn along the way. By the time we reached the fall, we finally registered with Washington State as a business—our "birthday" became Sept 12th, and in subsequent months we formed a board and began the 501(c)(3) application process (more on that adventure later!).

2009's major growth can be attributed to two factors: first was our entry into the social media realm, particularly on Facebook and Twitter; these two gave us so many more ways to share great info, and made the content easier to pass on as well. Second was the Memorial Day bloghop, which was an outrageously huge success. 150 blogs participated, and got the word out to so many people! So many contacts with cardmakers began to be made, including articles in Cardmaker Magazine and other pubs, challenges hosted on major blogs like Hero Arts, conventions full of scrapbookers and stampers, and people across America who were inspired to step it up a notch and involve their communities.

Where we'll be at this time in 2011 is anyone's guess. What we do know is that we have thousands and thousands of heroes out there on the battlefield, serving selflessly...and we'll keep supporting them as long as they're there!

Make your prediction about the 2010 quantity!
We'll revisit the comments on this post in January of 2011 - and see who was closest!

8 comments:

Scrapping Mom said...

I think we will hit about 500,000 cards this year easy. So many carmakers.
I know that is a high number but we could acheive that easy

Kajikit said...

I wouldn't be surprised if we hit 500,000 either...

Fabre said...

I'm guessing about 400,000! I am looking forward to being a part of it!

Cathy said...

It's nice to see just how far the org has come. I'm going to guess 650K!

Jeanne said...

I'll guess 450,000. I would have said 500,000 but other people have already said it and I want to be unique. :o)

kristi said...

I think we'll hit 412,000 this year. :)

Anonymous said...

paisley_frogs@yahoo.com says:
688,977 cards .

Bekah's World said...

So amazing! I say we reach 515,000!