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A Community Awareness & Fundraiser Project: A Post-Mortem Review

16 May

Helpertunity is a 501c3 Public Charity that supports recreation, education, and volunteer activities for elderly disabled and homeless persons.  The charity relies on two small fundraisers done in collaboration with the founder’s church, in which small crafts and gifts are sold at low prices to the private-school children, during lunch, on the Tuesdays before Mother’s Day and Christmas.

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The event has served to educate the church and community about the public charity, as it attempts to grow and become sustainable in its efforts.  The recent Spring Sale was the third time Helpertunity had hosted the event, which had been adapted from an earlier version of a sale which was an “after-thought” to get rid of left-over items donated to the church’s regular Craft Sale Fundraiser for their Adopted Sister-Church in Haiti.

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Project Successes: 

Certain processes, artifacts, and activities that Helpertunity instituted when first creating the Spring Sale for the children had led to a pattern of success, including:

  • Scheduling the event with the Social Justice Liaison and School Principal in person / via e-mail.
  • Providing fabric table covering in seasonal colors, and “suggested donation” price signs.
  • Sectioning off the table by price points, and setting items of that price in the marked section.
  • Allowing crafters to set the price of their own donations and display their items accordingly.
  • Photographing each section of the sale table at the beginning and at the end of the sale event.
  • Providing seating and money pouches for all volunteers, making it easier for disabled helpers.
  • Assigning volunteers to oversee one or more price sections on the day of the sale.
  • Pre-packing of each volunteer’s money bag with $22 = 2 $5s, 10 $1s, and $2 in Quarters.
  • Providing volunteer button badges containing the charity’s logo.
  • Accepting donations of hand-crafted items from nursing home patients for sale to the kids.
  • Displaying the Charity’s Logo on a sign and on each price sign (plastic-standee) on the table.
  • Creating color book-markers for each student advertising the Charity and the upcoming sale.
  • Creating color signs to be displayed around the school 1 to 2 weeks before the sale day.
  • Creating a “Credit Pay” system where students are permitted to bring their payment later.’
  • Making a Credit Record Book, and Credit Slips; with student’s name, room, and pledge amount.
  • Including information about the charity and fundraiser’s purpose on the credit slip.
  • Providing extra “Thank-You” gifts for the School’s Teachers & Staff for their support.
  • Including tags with the Charity Name & Logo with each “Thank You” gift to increase awareness.
  • Keeping marked bins of all the essential tools packed and ready for the next sale.
  • Having at least 5 volunteers behind the sale table and 2 volunteers in front; helping children.

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Having repeated the event for the third time, some unexpected frustrations evolved which blind-sided the organization.   Discontent aired by one teacher, to her colleagues and a key volunteer and prior project Champion, created an un-expected, and possibly unintentional, passive-aggressive “boycott “ from some teachers, leaving their students un-prepared with monies for the sale.   This action created a back-log of the previously functional “Credit Pay” system.

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The anomaly simultaneously highlighted other segments of the project that had improved, including other teachers that had taken on the opportunity to make the event a teachable moment about local/domestic charity efforts and students role in social justice/philanthropy.   The anomaly also highlighted the oversight of one preparation step that had been forgotten in the third repetition of the event:  The reminder e-mail that had always been sent to the Principal, (which had generated her reminder to include a note about the sale in her weekly parent email) had been omitted.

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Project Frustrations:

That one slight omission of a “reminder e-mail” from the process, product, and artifact which was not included during the third hosting of the sale, had created a gap in student and teacher preparedness, and may have compounded teacher and volunteer frustrations.   The anomaly was only seen among the younger children, since the 4-6 graders had become capable of reminding themselves via sign postings.  Previously, the 4-6 graders had reported themselves as not being well informed, via the use of only the ignored e-mails sent to parents and the forgotten book-marker ads distributed two weeks prior to the event.  In reflection, the use of the e-mails, book-markers, and reminder signs, used in a triple combination, should generate better education/communication coverage of the event.

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In post-mortem reflection; the process, products, and artifacts that should help to further improve the preparation, hosting, and instructional value of the next upcoming sale will include:

  • Repetition of all processes above which have provided success.
  • Creation of a “Preparation & Packing Check-off List” which included ALL tools and steps.
  • Inclusion of a QR code on the bookmarker that leads directly to the charity’s new web site.
  • Creation of a more detailed brochure about the charity’s efforts for teachers on the day of sale.
  • Creation of a more detailed postcard about the charity’s efforts for students on the day of sale.
  • Creation of a simple lesson-plan / activity about the organization, social justice, philanthropy.
  • Provision of the lesson plan / activity to teachers at the time of bookmark-brochure distribution.
  • Recording the Charity’s Website / Photo Montage for Display on a Digital Frame at the next sale.
  • Promotion of the organization to more Elder Facilities and collection of more Patient’s Crafts.
  • Creating matching volunteer work-aprons and new button-badges for wearing at the sale event.

 

Project Management Process Analysis:

Clearly, the part of the full Project Management Process which has helped the project to become more and more valuable at attaining it’s multi-purpose goals, has been:  a strong emphasis on the determination of project need and feasibility; an ongoing reliance on the ever-changing test and implementation of both educational/marketing and product deliverables; and a very strong post-project analysis and evolution of applied improvements.  Further improvements will be tied to the new focus on a written planning-documentation phase, and the designing of specification for future deliverables, which can include printed project instructions for facilities and disabled crafting volunteers, or an online hub of links to project ideas and patterns, as well as printed and online supplemental education and activity resources designed specifically for teachers who chose to use the sale/project opportunity as a social justice and philanthropy character-education topic.

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References:

Greer, M. (2010).  The Project Management Minimalist:  Just enough PM to rock your projects!.  Edition specially created for Laureate Education.  Minneapolis Minnesota:  Laureate Publishing.

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3 Comments

Posted by on May 16, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

3 responses to “A Community Awareness & Fundraiser Project: A Post-Mortem Review

  1. Patricia Beamon

    May 19, 2013 at 11:05 pm

    Hello Eileen,

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading your blog post this week. I think the concept of the two fundraisers you all have to raise money for elderly disabled and homeless persons is a great idea. Do you limit your sales of the two events to the children at the private schools? I think you could raise even more money if you included more children from other schools to help raise funds.

    I see there were many successes in your project. Allowing crafters to set their own prices for their donations, accepting items from nursing-homes and providing fabric for table coverings are a few of the successes I thought will continue to draw crafters to continue to participate in your events.

    Just as there were many successes I noticed your challenges and frustrations with some of the teachers and sending the email reminder. Portny, et al. (2008) discussed assuring that others were on board with a project. Project drivers are the people who have some say in defining results a project is supposed to achieve (Portny, et al., 2008). Project supporters help to perform project work (Portny, et al., 2008) and you seemed to have a lot of supporters in this project and just a few non-supporters. I think those persons who were not on board but saw the success of the project will probably take another look at their involvement in the future. If the children enjoy this event as much as it seems like they did the teachers will get on board. Children have a way of bringing adults around when there is an activity they are used to being a part of. As for the email, check, check and double-check to make sure the email has gone out. Do you all inform the children what the fund raiser is about? I think they should know how they are helping others by purchasing items.

    Again, this was a great post and I think your project will be even more successful when it is time to have it again.

    Resources

    Portny, S. E., Mantel, S. J., Meredith, J. R., Shafer, S. M., & Sutton, M. M. (2008). Project Management: Planning, scheduling, and controlling projects. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.

     
  2. Sarah.Holliday

    May 20, 2013 at 2:08 am

    Eileen,
    I enjoyed reading your post and shared your frustrations as well. Often times, when working with others, we cannot predict their actions, especially when an individual seems to have had a hidden agenda from the beginning. When an individual presents this road block, it makes it difficult to encourage others. Furthermore, one bad apple can spoil the tree. In essence, the passive-aggressive boycott was the way of trying to spoil the bunch. Portny, et al. (2008) discussed assuring that others were on board with a project. Although this would be ideal, such is not always the case.

    My biggest issue is that children were involved. Ultimately, it is the children that were effected and suffered. They were not able to buy their mother’s Mother’s Day gifts. Considering that the individual, who was the bad apple, is a mother, it is my thought that she would have focused more on the children and buying gifts for their mothers. Unfortunantley, some poeple are more concerned about themselves, even when children are involved.

    I am sorry that you had to experience the issue, but I hope that it was a learning experience for you.

    Resources:

    Portny, S. E., Mantel, S. J., Meredith, J. R., Shafer, S. M., & Sutton, M. M. (2008). Project Management: Planning, scheduling, and controlling projects. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.

     
  3. Synthea Freeman

    May 20, 2013 at 5:13 pm

    Synthea’s Response to Eileen Callejas’ Week 2 Blog Post: A Community Awareness & Fundraiser Project: A Post-Mortem Review

    Hello Eileen

    I’ve been a little slow in making my presence known in our blogosphere, but I just started following your blog and I plan to respond to your comments on my blog as soon as I tie up a few more loose threads from last week’s assignments.

    I am deeply moved by the actualization of your faith through your personal commitment and service to projects like Helpertunity. Your efforts to support recreation, education, and volunteer activities for elderly, disabled, and homeless persons while also contributing to families by offering school children an opportunity to buy small crafts and gifts for Mother’s Day and Christmas are truly inspirational. I also believe that your plans to develop printed and online supplemental education and activity resources for teachers to use in presenting the crafts and gifts sale as a social justice/philanthropy character-education topic are both visionary and highly humanistic. It is truly unfortunate; however, that spiritual blindness to a greater purpose can manifest itself in such a selfish and disruptive manner.

    I would, however, like to offer a slightly different perspective on some terminology. In our text, Portny (et. al., 2008, pp. 2-3) describes a ‘project’ as “…a temporary endeavor undertaken to create a unique product or service. It is specific, timely, usually multidisciplinary, and always conflict ridden”. He adds that the terms ‘process’ and ‘program’ are frequently confused with a ‘project’. A ‘process’ is “…a series of steps by which a particular job function is routinely performed”. It is not a one-time event designed to achieve a specific result (like a ‘project’), but it “…defines how a particular job is to be done every time it is done”. The ‘program’. on the other hand, is work performed toward achieving a long-range goal. A ‘program’ never completely achieves its goal (p. 2-3). So in your scenario, a ‘project management function’ was focused on the planning, organization and control of the very first craft sale (Portny, et. al., 2008, pp. 3-4).

    Later in your blog post you stated that “…certain processes, artifacts, and activities that Helpertunity instituted when first creating the Spring Sale for the children had led to a pattern of success”. The list you provided outlined the steps needed to successfully manage the ‘process’ of holding a craft sale. I also believe that your ideas about social justice/philanthropy and character-education could further be viewed as activities involved in working on a ‘program’.

    Synthea Freeman

    Reference:

    Portny, S. E., Mantel, S. J., Meredith, J. R., Shafer, S. M., Sutton, M. M., & Kramer, B. E. (2008). Project management: Planning, scheduling, and controlling projects. Hoboken, N.J.: Wiley.

     

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