Looking Ahead to 2016 for Giving Diapers, Giving Hope

When you wear many hats sometimes you aren’t sure where to post your thoughts- all of my worlds mesh together and connect along the common theme of cloth diapering and my passion for helping families use them.

DDL is my blog, it’s where I earn my income and where I can share my own thoughts.  Giving Diapers, Giving Hope has become my other home; I have slowly gone from a helper to the head honcho of this charity.  As someone else said, Kim Rosas is the face of GDGH.  That was never the intention but when you’re the one behind the strings and you have a public Facebook, Periscope, Instagram, Twitter etc I can see how that could happen.  And it has.

Maria Moser and I- together we make up the administrative team for GDGH
Maria Moser and I- together we make up the administrative team for GDGH

 

GroVia is officially no longer shipping for GDGH as of this week and we are transitioning to our two new shipping partners- Thirsties and Kelly’s Closet.  Before I sing the praises of these new partners I wanted to put my feelings into words on what our previous partnership has meant to us and to me, how it came to be, and what is ahead for GDGH.  This is a long post so be warned!

The Backstory

In 2013 GDGH was struggling to keep up.  The two women running the day-to-day operations, Emily Glover (then President) and Kristen McCarthy (founder and Vice President) didn’t have the facilities or the time between them to keep up with the rising demand.  I stepped in to help by taking over their social media and fundraising.  I also helped them brainstorm ways they could get ahead and keep the organization rolling.  One of my ideas was to research a CRM system (similar to the systems your favorite online cloth diaper store uses to tell you that your order has been placed, your order is in queue for shipment, your order has shipped and your tracking # is ___) that our charity could use.  More man hours were spent replying to email inquiries about the diapers shipping than virtually any other task.  If we automated the process the admin team would have more time to ship packages.

I reached out to a number of people in our network to ask what CRM their company used, how customizable it was, and if they had connections to a developer who might work with GDGH to make it work for them.  Few people replied but one who did so was Kim Ormsby from GroVia.  She was very helpful in answering my questions and suggested we talk in person at ABC Kids in a few months.

Meanwhile I planned a big fundraiser with the goal of raising funds for a custom built CRM.  Nothing was going to work out of the box in the research I did so it was on to Plan B.  I researched quotes on a custom build and knew it would be expensive but to make the organization run and survive it was the best option.

When ABC Kids 2013 arrived I had an appointment with Kim at the GroVia booth.  We sat on a bench and talked all things Giving Diapers, Giving Hope.  As I recall I mentioned building something to make the admin’s work less and lamented about the struggles they were having with space for diapers and the workload of shipping.  Kim came out with her plan- to have GroVia’s team handle all of the shipping and receiving.  They would house the diapers for GDGH, sort the inbound donations, and then ship to approved families.  I was so shocked I could have fallen over!  Kim didn’t want to handle the administrative work but her company could take on that fulfillment side of operations in a way that GDGH was struggling to manage.

Kim Ormsby, owner of Gro-Via, and myself at ABC Kids Expo 2014
Kim Ormsby, owner of Gro-Via, and myself at ABC Kids Expo 2014

I will never forget walking away from that booth and finding a quiet spot near FERN rentals, sitting, squealing, crying, and calling Kristen to tell her about the offer.  The weight that somehow transferred to my shoulders and the stress of making GDGH work was suddenly lifted.

We transitioned to GroVia a few months later and my role in the organization kept growing.  I started answering emails, then approving applications.  I set up the shared spreadsheet system that GDGH used with GroVia, when we were low on diapers I organized the drives to get us back up.  I always told Kristen that I wouldn’t get involved with GDGH until I knew it was going to be in it for the long haul.  When the long haul looked uncertain I was already involved so it fell to me to make it happen. So far I’ve been able to do so but it’s by no means something I could have done on my own.

Now that we are leaving the home we’ve been in for the past 2 years it’s bittersweet.  I’ve learned many hard won lessons through our partnership with GroVia that will make GDGH a stronger organization and that has led to personal development on my part.  To see GDGH grow and change the lives of more and more families each month has been incredibly rewarding.  Every email, every message or even the rare in person thank you at MommyCons from GDGH recipients is a reminder of why I have fought to make it work despite all the wrenches that have been thrown at us.  I’ve wanted to quit a MILLION times.  I’ve cried more times than I can count when I’ve faced a challenge that seemed insurmountable.  I’ve wondered WHY DID I TAKE THIS ON when I realized my hours are spent increasingly on the charity as a volunteer than on the blog that provides income (notice postings are not nearly as frequent as they used to be).  The universe always steps in when I hit my wall- something intervenes that puts everything into perspective.  On the hardest day yet a few months back after a good cry my phone rang and it was my sister.  I answered even though I wasn’t in the mood for casual conversation.  She said “you won’t believe this but in my mom’s forum there were people talking about cloth diapers and one of the moms said she was cloth diapering thanks to Giving Diapers, Giving Hope!  That’s so cool, don’t you think?”  Hello Universe, message received via telephone.

Now GDGH is looking at a very bright 2016 thanks to many people and things.  First- Thirsties and Kelly’s Closet will be the new shipping partners for 2016.  This makes me smile ear-to-ear.  Having two shipping partners in different areas of the country had been a dream for me.  It made financial sense for shipping but also made sense for the partners- as GDGH grows and averages more shipments per month (we used to ship just 15, then 20, then 25, then 30, now we are averaging 35 per month but have shipped as many as 60 in a month!) splitting the work load will be better for everyone.  If one partner is lacking a particular diaper size or style needed to fulfill one family’s box of hope then the other can ship it.  It’s also better for our donation partners who may prefer to ship to a brand or retailer.  Win Win Win and Win!

workflow
This is the new system’s workflow that my husband and I mapped out for the new CRM system

 

We are also finally able to begin using that custom application I started dreaming up in 2012.  It’s only taken 3+ years to go from a dream, to requirements document, to workflow, to developer interviews, to the actual build.  Thanks to a grant from the National  Diaper Bank Network and fundraising efforts plus the extremely generous discount we are receiving from a talented Saleforce developer we will have an application that cuts our time spent on applications and shipping work in half!  I’m geeking out over the backend of this baby, maybe some of you can understand.  If you can’t I’ll say it compares to switching from a 2002 flip phone to the iPhone 6s in ease of use and capabilities.

The new team (most of it) for GDGH- Thirsties, Kelly's Closet, board members, administrative volunteers, and friends!
The new team (most of it) for GDGH- Thirsties, Kelly’s Closet, board members, administrative volunteers, and friends!

The Oscar Speech

GDGH has been on the receiving end of so many generous donations and gestures that thanking everyone behind them is simply not possible.  GroVia shouldered the physical work on behalf of GDGH and their offer is the reason we are still operation today- thank you Kim.  I still think back on that day and marvel at the offer that has shaped GDGH and propelled it’s growth.  Smart Bottoms, Abby’s Lane, and Blueberry were some of our biggest contributors in the year who made it possible to lower the shipping fees for families.  Osocozy, Thirsties, GroVia, GEN-Y, Kanga Care, Tushmate, Nicki’s Diapers, Geffen Baby, AppleCheeks, BALM Baby, Lalabye Baby, Funky Fluff, Sweet Pea Diapers, Super Undies, qdSpray, Molly’s Suds, Tots Bots, Eylas Imports… these companies and their generous contributions of product or help have been lifesaving.  I know I have and will forget others so please forgive me if you’re in that camp.  Plus I absolutely have to thank the families who support us with their donations of diapers and financial contributions.  It takes a village!

Maria Moser of Change-Diapers gets a paragraph.  Last year when it was basically just me running GDGH alone I cried out for help.  I couldn’t be the only person to handle the administrative work of a fast growing non-profit.  Maria offered to help approve applications and bless her she has done above and beyond.  She is now the Director of Operations and the glue holding us together most days.  She approves applications and puts them in the spreadsheet, she answers emails, she does the day-to-day accounting, she helps strategize where we go next and our big decisions.

Amanda Hearn of Green Child Magazine has slowly taken over all graphic design work but she does much more than that.  She is my idea bouncer offer and cheerleader who usually pulls me together when I’m falling apart.  She makes GDGH look good and is often the person keeping me sane.  Jen Aprea from Spray-Pal is always there to put together a fundraiser with me, like the upcoming 2nd Edition Men of the Baby Industry Calendar or the recent Cheers for Charity in Las Vegas.  She’s like me- she wants to see the entire cloth diaper industry come together and hug.  In reality that’s not always possible but together we really make a great idealistic team.  She doesn’t know it yet but she’s going to be joining the GDGH Advisory Board for 2016.  Calley Pate from Kelly’s Closet has also been along for this ride supporting GDGH through social media but also supporting me when I need help.  She has been part of many fundraisers and offered her help whenever needed.  She is also a big reason why GDGH has partnered with Kelly’s Closet.  Julie Clark is the Cloth Diaper Geek but is also secretly running the world behind the scenes for her other business.  Julie’s been around to see this all grow and crash and grow, she’s great for pep talks and for helping in our fundraising.  When I needed her recently she was able to help with just a moment’s notice and thank goodness she did. Jayne.  You know who you are, thanks for being a new friend to GDGH, we can’t wait to meet you!  Kristen McCarthy and Emily Glover did amazing things with what they had.  If you haven’t read the story of how Kristen began GDGH you should.  Lastly, my husband Steven Rosas… he might be the sole reason I survived the storms GDGH has faced over the years.  He’s been there for all of it.  He was there when Kristen was looking for name inspiration and famously said “that name is too long” but she chose it and now Giving Diapers, Giving Hope it is forever.  He has been the technical side of GDGH, the spreadsheet designer, and the one who made this new CRM possible with his knowledge.  He is amazing and yes, I’m very lucky.

 So what’s ahead for GDGH?

You read through this entire thing and still haven’t heard what else we have up our sleeves for GDGH didn’t you?  You’re a champ!

Other than having our two new amazing shipping partners and a new CRM system GDGH will be making changes to our fees and shipping.  New families as of today will be paying $15 and this only covers shipping to them.  They’ll now be responsible for the return shipping fee.  Yes, we are still loaning the diapers but this new method will be best for our shipping partners.  You can read more about the why and how on the GDGH blog post.  We also have new outreach pamphlets (beautifully designed by Amanda Hearn!) that are printing as we speak.  These great new pamphlets will be our way of educating families in need of diaper assistance.  We rely on word of mouth in the communities outside of the cloth diaper world.  As more WIC counselors, social workers, and agency employees learn about GDGH they are reaching out to us for resources.  We will be working to send them out as requested so that they can assist families on the ground with their diaper need by recommending GDGH.

 

It’s an awesome feeling to know how loved you are.  I really can’t begin to convey my thanks to everyone who gives their time, money, and products to Giving Diapers, Giving Hope.  I never wanted to run a Non-Profit (I only ever wanted to lend my own time and expertise) but here I am.  No hidden agendas, no PR machine, no motives other than getting more families in reusable and cost-saving cloth diapers.  What we do matters and that is why we do it- no baby should go without clean diapers.  In April we will celebrate FIVE years of helping families.  Soon GDGH will be the longest running cloth diaper charity (that I know) ever.

I’m incredibly proud to be part of something that impacts so many lives and I can’t wait to see what our team can do in 2016.

Don’t forget to look at the Giving Diapers, Giving Hope website to learn more, apply, or donate.  I couldn’t end an entire blog post without a plug could I?

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