Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Post of the Century (100)

What more would you like?

I have to say that our hundredth post seems too soon. It feels like its May again and we just started the Idea Hub. Yet the past 8 months or so have been dramatic ones for the Learning Centers. Over the weeks we've found some good dialogue, shared some useful ideas and highlighted a number of very gifted children.

The participation you have demonstrated related to our rebranding discussions has been both substantive and important to our decision making. And while the more impatient among us chafe that no decision on that front has been made, I must admit that a hasty bad decision is far more difficult to overcome than a tardy good one. Your participation through the Idea Hub has slowed, yet improved our process.

As we move on to our next hundred postings, your advice would be deeply appreciated. What would you like us to cover more of? Is there anything you want less of? Is this site supporting your efforts? Do you want to hear from us more or less?

Please take a minute and complete our 6 question survey. You can find it here. It will help us make the future of the Idea Hub 100% better!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Rebranding Update (99)

One more time, your input, please

I thought that as we brush off the snow from the current storm hitting New England and the dust from a long weekend, you might want to use this forum as an opportunity to comment on the issue of the Learning Center branding.

As reported in December, the process of rebranding has been brought to a subcommittee of the Learning Center corporate board of directors. A team led by Eric Ginette has been provided all the responses you have provided this office up until now as well as all the research put into the process to date.

I understand that this subcommittee plans to make final recommendations that may include a formal motion that will determine the future brand of our charity.

While no firm naming conventions are currently on the table, a few broad themes have been discussed - paradigms that might effect a final recommendation. If you have any thoughts on these issues, you might weigh in by commenting to this posting.

  • Should the name primarily lead with a Masonic connection or not (perhaps followed by sponsored by...)?
  • Should the program be a "clinic", a "program", a "center" or something else?
  • Is keeping the "teddy bear" a good idea? If so, should it be changed in any way?
Please share your thoughts, we appreciate your input.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Ideas That Work (98)

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Tutor Training: More Bang for Their Buck

We’re all looking for ways to stretch our dollars further.

A recent article from Business Week states that while the worst of the economic crisis seems to be over, 2010 isn’t going to bring a surge of corporate philanthropy. Corporations are more focused on giving strategically, finding causes that are in line with their purpose and that bring the greatest returns. You can check out the entire article here.

How does this affect our Learning Centers?

When looking for corporate donations, we need to be sure we're broadcasting the far-reaching benefits our Centers provide to their communities. Are you asking for a donation to help improve the quality of one life, or many?

I am not in any way downplaying the importance of helping a child. But in a tight economy, let's show potential funders know how far their dollars will go by highlighting a critical part of our Centers’ work – the tutor training program.

Consider what comes from providing free Orton-Gillingham training and certification for college graduates. To receive certification, scholars must tutor two students at the Center. This helps shrink the Center's wait list and reduces operating costs that come with paying tutors.

If you’re applying for a grant, consider highlighting the tutor training program in your request. When a foundation doesn't give to general operating support, a request for funds to train more tutors might be the way to go. Contact Grants Administrator Catherine Cox at ccox@scottishritecharities.org for examples of tutor training proposals.

Once scholars receive OG certification at our Centers, they can take their training back to their classrooms to help more children, tutor privately in their own communities, or come on staff at the Centers. However they choose to use their training, educators certified at our Centers are equipped with tools to help many more children than our Center walls could contain.

Sounds like a pretty good return on investment.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Ideas That Work (97)

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The "Write" Way to Fundraise

As the new year commenced I received a large package in the mail. No card was included, simply a gorgeous calendar of floral portraits and a pad of writing paper with the teddy bear logo of the Learning Centers. The Monroe Litho logo on the calendar and the address of the Rochester (NY) Learning Center told me all I needed to know - Stephen Whittaker's fundraising project for his LC was in motion.

Ill. Brother Whittaker, Active for the state of New York works at Monroe Litho (the calendar is their annual showpiece demonstrating the extraordinary quality of their work) and is a solid supporter of the Rochester Learning Center. Always looking for a creative solution to problems, Whittaker found and idea to support the LC that was literally under his nose. Looking at a promotional pad of note paper, he thought that this would be a great fundraising opportunity - one that could engage students and board alike.

With help from his associates and friend in the business, Stephen produced 650 2-pad sets of paper. He set the donation price at $10/set and built a distribution network of families board members and Masonic friends. "Each board member took a case of the pads (14 sets)," said Wittaker. "Most of the kids in the program and their parents took sets to sell, also. This became a good way to get everyone involved."

The goal for this program is to net $5,000 without a lot of work.

While you may not have a printer on your board, the principles of this success in the making are worth considering.
  • gather the resources you have. What resources do your contacts have that can be translated into an efficient fundraising project?
  • focus on your network. Include the current and past families of students/ scholars.
  • set a reasonable goal. $5,000 is both reasonable and relevant. Avoid goals being too low to matter or too grandiose to achieve.
Success might be right under your nose.

ps: Happy Groundhog Day!! (unfortunately we're in for another 6 weeks of winter)