Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Special message about donations

It's Sandy here.....and with the big win announced this week....I wanted to address something that I'm getting lots of questions about: donations.

We're doing well now, of course - that prize money is going to do our heroes a lot of good! The expenditure of the funds is something that our Board of Directors will be discussing in coming months. What a good "problem" to have! We'll not be making major changes for a while, until we see how donating patterns change after this good news, so we're sure not to jeapordize being able to serve our heroes.

The wording in my hurried email may have caused some of you concern about the destination of the prize monies, and I want to reassure you - that prize will definitely mean that many more cards will get to our heroes! The places the funds are spent will all lead directly to serving more and more units, otherwise there's no reason for OWH to even exist. I have a vision for what I believe would make OWH the healthiest organization it can be to best serve our nation's deployed service members....and I hope the following helps make sense of my earlier comments for you. I apologize if I confused anyone!

My vision:
So many people give sacrificially for their cardmaking supplies and their own shipping costs, and top that off with a few dollars for us to pool with that of others for our shipping costs. I have been completely humbled by the giving I have seen over these years! Hearing the stories of your own hardships, and the creative ways you've sought help from your communities to support the work you put in for our heroes - wow. That's made me, our board, and shippers extra-conscious of how we spend every penny. Over the years, our all-volunteer shippers have even purchased their supplies out-of-pocket themselves - ziplocs, packing tape, ATG tape and cardstock for the hospital, envelopes - to be sure your dollars stretch as far as they can at the post office. I personally funded our shipping bills for the first few years, and our board has made significant donations in order to pay for big ticket items - and we have been so blessed to have you all to partner with now, too!

I'd love to see OWH shipping continue to be funded primarily by the generous and loving hearts of our cardmakers and individual donors. Your gifts have made us what we are, and you have shipped nearly 3/4 of a MILLION cards to our heroes! And that's with very small average donations; many larger orgs don't even want donations of a few dollars, but we treasure each and every one entrusted to us by all of you.

I want to see OWH grow, but not just for the sake of growth. We have more heroes who need us! So in addition to spending some effort finding more avenues for inviting new cardmakers into the OWH family, there are some basic things we need to do to maintain our nonprofit status and accountability with the government, legal protections we need to ensure, and infrastructure we need to put in place so we can continue to keep good records and secure our data. These are things that keep me up at night, worrying about how we'll pay for thus and such, and waiting for the bills to arrive in the mail - and this prize provides us with blessed breathing room! My desire is to raise monies from grants, prizes, and other awards to fund these much-less-fun (and expensive!) things that go on behind the scenes, so your dollars can be the fun ones to spend directly on shipping to our heroes — we know that's what YOU donate for!

We do suspect that donations will drop off now, due to the prize; many of you have already emailed with a sigh of relief that you don't have to donate anymore or provide envelopes. While that's true (and always has been, neither has ever been mandatory!), the funds won't last as long as it might seem, especially if everyone stops entirely. We truly appreciate those who are willing and able to continue to give so that our work may continue! (As for envelopes - the cost of the envelopes isn't an issue, but the labor of tucking is; it is labor provided for free by our volunteer shippers, so those who save them those daily hours are a great blessing!)

So the long and short of it - because of the prize money, rest assured that we won't have any cards that we can't afford to ship for the forseeable future. Shipping cards is our priority in anything we do! But I would love to see everyone keep on with the regular donations as you all have been doing so faithfully; when we share the load among us all, it's not a big burden on anyone, and we can have a HUGE impact when we join forces. And then we can move forward on some plans to get even more cardmakers joining us....we've got a 2011 full of deployments ahead of us!

If you have further questions, please don't hesitate to email me, I'll try to answer as best I can!

End of year donations, 2010
Your gifts toward our work are most welcome anytime - and a lot of folks like to "top off" their giving at the end of the year for tax purposes. You are absolutely invited to do so for OWH; gifts must be received by midnight on Dec 31 to count toward 2010. Receipts will be emailed for the year's giving in January, so stay tuned.

Gifts for your shipper
Many folks in past years have wanted to say thank-you to their shipper at the end of the year; while we don't do this for your thanks or gifts, we wanted to ask something special of you this year if you choose to do so.

Other nonprofits are struggling in this rough economy - and we'd love to bless them, especially since OWH is suddenly doing so well. Your shippers have each provided an opportunity below, and would welcome your gifts to these projects in their name. You can either send the donation to that org directly, or send it to your shipper (marked clearly so they know it's for that cause and not OWH) and they'll get the donations sent in. Cash donations of a dollar or two are just fine - and once again, none is required or expected! But if you want to touch your shipper's heart....this is one way to do so.
  1. Kris: My charity is Samaritan's Purse. They do many different things to help throughout the world. The project that is close to my heart is Operation Christmas Child. I volunteer year round on this project in many different areas. A donation to any of the items in this gift catalog is appreciated.

  2. Dixie: Hospice care is close to my heart; please donate to your local hospice, or to my local org: Hospice and Palliative Care, Charlotte Region, 1420 East Seventh Street, Charlotte, NC 28024. You can also mail donations to Dixie to deliver to the Hospice.

  3. Sandy: Started a project to raise $3,000 for clean water in Ethiopia through World Vision. See her website Give a Little - Give a Lot for more details. Donations can be mailed to Sandy; make checks payable to World Vision. 
Thank you
Many thanks to all of you for your faithful giving all year - we look forward to even MORE success with you in 2011 - many more boxes of cards for our heroes!!


Alexandra Lundgren said...

yep- those nasty attorney and accountant and filing fees of the 503(c) status can really add up!

Thank you Sandy for all you have done from your original vision to now. It is amazing what has developed. THANK YOU!!!

schuyler dog said...

I personally pledge to maintain my donations as before to keep the cards flowing. I think it is great that finally there is a little wiggle room in OWH (so Sandy can sleep at night instead of worrying) but as you say, it gets used up fast! I love the OWH mission and together we will continue to have a strong organization.

Unknown said...

You guys ROCK! Thanks for all you do.

Joanne M said...

as someone who is also on the board of a 501(c)3 charitable group I fully understand about all the legalities and money needed just to keep an organization like this legal and afloat. You've done an amazing job with OWH and I know will continue to do so. I don't think anyone doubts your motives and I for one will continue to support OWH with whatever donations I can. This is an amazing group of people and I know they're all behind you 100% :)

lissa8506 said...

I am so excited for you guys! I hope that you are able to continue to do the wonderful things you do for others and so much more! Good luck and Happy Holidays!

Seongsook Duncan said...

Sandy, thanks for all what you do. It has been a great pleasure to be a part of the OWH. I will keep making cards for our heroes and keep supporting the OWH.

"Some things have to be believed to be seen."