Paid Time-On: I Power KEXP

KEXP_Seattle_VolunteerIn the last 6 years, Brown Paper Tickets has donated over 400 employee hours to the local, listener-powered radio station KEXP. Employees can spend up to 40 hours a year volunteering for whatever causes they wish and KEXP is a favorite among staff. One team member gives a first-hand account of volunteering at KEXP.

My first experience with KEXP happened on a whim. It was 2012, I was in film school, and had a writing assignment due in the morning—the finalized opening scene to a script I had just begun. I had already outlined what was soon to be a truly awful, overused plot, the kind that seems genius and groundbreaking when you explain it to your cat after four cups of coffee and minimal sleep. So naturally, instead of writing, I was scrolling through Facebook.

My friend shared a live performance of the artist Grimes. When I pressed play, I heard DJ Cheryl Water’s voice for the first time, introducing the artist before she began. The performance was simple, captivating and executed completely from the ground where Grimes perched, surrounded by her instruments, a cup of coffee, and a brightly patterned rug. After watching a dozen more artists I adore perform at KEXP (thanks to their YouTube channel), it was safe to say I was hooked.

I moved to Seattle in the spring of 2016. One day, on-air, Troy Nelson mentioned that Charles Bradley and his Extraordinaires were scheduled to do a free-to-the-public, in-studio session, limited to a small amount of lucky attendees. There was so much interest in the performance that they moved it into the main gathering space. KEXP played the first song I had ever heard by the infectious Charles Bradley, and I knew I had to attend. I was among a sea of people who came out to watch Charles and his Extraordinaires. He emerged in a bedazzled suit, hugging audience members before taking the stage.

The performance was truly humbling, everyone gathered in, many sat on the ground; his presence felt like an old friend. Bradley’s version of Black Sabbath’s “Changes,” that he dedicated to his late mother moved me to tears. That was the only opportunity I had to see Charles Bradley perform before he lost his battle with cancer on September 23, 2017.

Volunteering at KEXP

That same week I had the chance to give back to the station by way of volunteering, and my appreciation for everything KEXP came full circle. My coworkers and I answered phones during the Fall Fundraiser drive as part of the Brown Paper Tickets’ Paid Time-On benefit program. Fundraiser drives are key to the survival of KEXP.

The majority of KEXP’s funding (nearly 60%) comes from listeners; the remaining 40% is divided among local businesses and outside sources. As a listener-powered station, they can maintain zero commercial interruptions, and avoid narrow playlists dictated by corporate media involvement.

Volunteering_KEXP

In the last 6 years, Brown Paper Tickets has donated over 400 employee hours to KEXP. This allows passionate employees (like me) to work the fundraising drives and more unique opportunities, such as DJ assisting* and hosting station tours.

Brown Paper Tickets encourages employees to volunteer time to organizations they feel passionate about, whatever that may be. I am humbled by the opportunities I am given to volunteer at KEXP and as a KEXP amplifier. If you have ever been interested in giving back to this unique and diverse station, but don’t know where to start, keep in mind that there are many ways to power KEXP.

Check out a full list of opportunities at KEXP: Ways to Give.

*Major shout-out to Jon Hamilton, a dedicated KEXP volunteer and past Brown Paper Tickets Paid Time-On-er.

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Paid Time-On: Our Bark for Life Adventure

BarkforLife_PawsitiveAlliance_DogAdoptionBrown Paper Tickets gives all employees 40 paid hours per year to volunteer for any non-profit organization that sings to their hearts. We call it Paid Time-On and it’s part of our Not-Just-for-Profit company core values. One of our most recent Paid Time-On adventures took place in the planning, production and day-of volunteering at Bark for Life.

Since October is Adopt a Shelter Dog Month, it’s the perfect time to get to know Bark for Life and Pawsitive Alliance.

Bark for Life is an American Cancer Society (ACS) fundraising event that takes place annually across the US. Bark for Life is a spin-off of the American Cancer Society’s signature event, Relay for Life. As Relay gained popularity, ACS staff, volunteers and cancer survivors noticed that dogs, who play a vital role in the rehabilitation, treatment and service of many cancer patients and survivors, often weren’t able to participate in Relay for Life.

In 2007, cancer survivor, JoAnn McKiernan, and her dog, Sassy, founded Bark for Life as a way to honor the contributions of our canine caregivers. More than just fundraisers, these events celebrate survivors, remember those we have lost, and those who are fighting – or in this case, barking – back. Bark for Life events now raise over $750,000 annually toward cancer research, patient services, education awareness, and advocacy.

Bark for Life in Seattle

A little over a year ago, the American Cancer Society decided to bring Bark for Life to Seattle. Being the dog-loving company we are, jumping in to help with planning and production was a no-brainer. Starting in January, we began coordinating a Paid Time-On volunteer project with the ACS to plan Capitol Hill’s very first Bark for Life.

Our volunteers worked in partnership with Pawsitive Alliance, a non-profit organization that aims to stop the killing of animals in Washington state by “increasing adoptions, supporting spay and neuter programs, and improving pet retention.” We spent months planning, securing sponsorship and prepping for the big day. There were plenty of dog puns involved, pawviously.

When Saturday, August 12 finally arrived, we gathered at Cal Anderson Park clad in our fashionable Bark for Life t-shirts designed by Seattle artist, Chris Hulsizer. We pitched our tents, rallied passersby, and cued up the music.

We had a fabulous morning filled with activities like a Best Trick contest, a raffle for an amazing gift basket donated by Wag N’ Wash and even a Pawject Runway canine fashion show. Owners dressed up their dogs in the latest fall fashions (or whatever they could get their dogs to wear for more than five seconds) and the dogs got to strut their stuff on the “dogwalk.”

One of our volunteers, Valerie Hedrick entered a surprise contestant—a balloon dog named Pop. In the end, a lovable 11-year-old pup named Mugsy won the hearts of our judges.

Why Not Me Pets Campaign

We also had the opportunity to hear more from our friends at Pawsitive Alliance about the #WhyNotMePets  campaign. The campaign gives attention to shelter animals waiting for a longer period of time on the adoption list. Find your furry friend for Adopt a Shelter Dog month.

In addition to our exciting activities, we had a doggy kissing booth, a photo booth with a custom Snapchat filter, and a craft booth for young puppers at the event.

We were also joined by two of our sponsors – Seattle Veterinary Associates and Serial Mysteries – who offered interesting information and entertainment to attendees.

Approximately 6 million dogs and 12.7 million people will be diagnosed with cancer this year. According to the National Cancer Institute, “The number of people living beyond a cancer diagnosis reached nearly 14.5 million in 2014 and is expected to rise to almost 19 million by 2024.” By engaging with organizations like the American Cancer Society, scientists can continue to do research to improve and develop new treatments to eventually bring an end to cancer. Thankfully, this research helps our canine companions as well.

Bark for Life of Capitol Hill raised over $2,000 this year to aid in the fight.

Good Causes >

Are Derby Fundraisers Worth Your Time? How to Find Out

Fundraising-BakeSale-ROII’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: “The moment you sell your first ticket, you are no longer a club; you are a business.” Because leagues are volunteer organizations, it’s easy to lose focus on business responsibilities.

Don’t confuse business with boring. I promise this post on fundraising will not put you to sleep, but will help you measure league activities in a way so that you get more sleep.

Fundraising ROI

If you are not familiar with the term “Return on Investment (ROI),” add it to your basic business vocabulary.

If your league buys an old school bus for $2,000 that brings a bar crowd who spends $3,000 in tickets and merch that season, your ROI is 50% for that time period. In other words, you’ve covered your investment and made 50% more.

Let’s not get bogged down by the oil changes and the one flat tire you replace (someone always brings too much reality into my perfect-world examples). ROI is an easy way to measure the efficiency of money spent and “bang for your buck” scenarios.

True ROI measures money performance, plain and simple. It’s profit divided by your investment to create a percentage. The percentage helps determine where your money is having its greatest impact. You should use it to measure everything from the performance of individual merch pieces to your venue options vs. derby ticket sales.

The one important factor basic ROI doesn’t measure: your time.

Using Person Hours to Determine ROI

In derby, time is the greatest investment. In a paid business, you can factor time into an investment by including the wages of those contribute to work that goes into a project. In derby, you invest hours of volunteer time.

What if you measured the success of your fundraising efforts based on return for the number of person-hours invested. Of course, the idea here is to make more with less, right? Here’s an example:

Car washes. Fun? Sure. Worth your time? That depends. You hold a car wash on a beautiful, sunny Saturday for six hours. You staff the car wash so that there are always six people helping, or 36 hours volunteered. On a great day, I’d estimate a car wash would make $400 in six hours. Your volunteers’ efforts generate nearly $11 for every person hour or $67 per person for the entire day.

Was that worth everyone’s time? That is something you need to decide. This is the simple formula; it doesn’t include the time volunteers spent getting to and from the wash, supplies needed (subtracted from your money made), nor bad weather.

But now, at least you have a measure.

Get Creative

Each of you only has so many hours to give. Determine the most efficient use of time so that you work only on fundraisers that raise funds.

As fun as they may be for some, garage and bake sales take a lot of time and generate little funds. Is it a good use of your league members’ time considering you also need them to practice and assist in bout production? Probably not, unless your league attracts PR or exposure.

Think about it, if you take four volunteers to work the game crowd for a 50/50 raffle, as opposed to just buying tickets at the merch booth, that four hours of total volunteer time will produce hundreds of dollars. Would you rather put four hours into the raffle or 50 hours into organizing and manning a garage sale that produces less money? If 50/50 raffles are not legal in your state or part of the world, consider a public appearance where volunteers also sell tickets to your next game and some merchandise.

Don’t limit fundraising to the ideas your members can come up with. In Madison, where I live, the local soccer club raises money by selling concessions at the arena, helping distribute sales flyers and coupons at a department store, and gift wrapping presents during the holidays at a mall.

These activities are structured, so you don’t have to plan nor do preparatory work, they pay an hourly wage, and once you have your foot in the door, they can recur every year. Plus, your league will gain community exposure—have them wear league shirts or boutfits.

Time is money when it comes to fundraising, but time is also part of balancing life in derby and outside of the sport. Remember, roller derby is not a hobby, it is a lifestyle. Your league members need time to maintain friendships, time with family and “me time.” The smarter you are about using your time can mean making more money with less fundraising and volunteer time.

Then you’ll enjoy more financial stability and the flexibility to shift time back to members or do something else more productive for the league.

Comment below and share your fundraising tricks. We’d love to hear them.

Roller Derby >

Making the Big Climb to Cure Blood Cancer

BigClimb-Hi-ResBrown Paper Tickets’ special ops event genius Erika Harder led a team of brave and well-hydrated Brown Paper Ticketeers to climb the tallest building in Seattle (no, it’s NOT the Space Needle) at the Leukemia Lymphoma Society’s Big Climb on Sunday.

At 788 feet of vertical elevation, the Columbia Center in downtown Seattle stands as the second tallest building west of the Mississippi. We joined 6,000 people in climbing 69 flights of stairs, or 1,311 steps, in an effort to collectively raise $2.6 million to fund the fight to find a cure for blood cancer.

Our fundraising efforts will continue through April 3, and our humble group is already in the Top 100 fundraising teams, having found generous contributors to donate more than $4,000 for blood cancer research. Our own Erika Harder is one of the top 100 most-successful fund-wranglers, having rustled up $2000.22 in donations.

This wasn’t our first rodeo. Brown Paper Tickets’ employees have done the Big Climb as a group every year since 2010, and collectively raised more than $10,000 toward research for a blood cancer cure. For some, Big Climb day is more than a fundraiser. Erika has a very personal reason for making the climb.

Erika says, “My brother developed HSTC Lymphoma in 2009 and passed away in 2010. Participating in the Climb to raise money for the Leukemia Lymphoma Society’s efforts feels like the least I can do to meditate on his struggle, and hope that other families won’t have to experience this. I think about him every day, but I try not to think about him with cancer every day. His talent and energy and unique way of seeing the world are what I try to carry forward. Big Climb day is an exception to that. It also gives our friends and family an opportunity to remember him and ‘help in some way.’

I hope the research that the Leukemia Lymphoma Society does include learning how to prevent cancers and also non-conventional treatments for them. Either way, research needs to happen and to be funded, so I appreciate being able to contribute. Cancer sucks.”

At the end of the Big Climb, we all gained a sense of accomplishment as well as spectacular views of Seattle from the top of Columbia Tower.

skyview

As we work for a Not-Just-For-Profit company, we all receive “paid time on” – 40 hours of paid time annually to volunteer for the cause of our choice. We often get together during work hours to volunteer and/or raise funds or support good causes. We love helping people use Brown Paper Tickets’ one-of-a-kind tools to accept funds online with no service fees and to help organize fundraising events for all kinds of causes. Brown Paper Tickets matched employee donations and contributed $625.

Big-Climb-ErikaGet Cheers from Brown Paper Tickets

Donate here by April 3 to help stop blood cancer. If you donate now, the Brown Paper Ticketeers Big Climb team will stop all work and do a cheer in your honor. We’re serious.

Here’s a preview: your cheer will probably look a lot like this one, courtesy of Seattle Cheer, a nonprofit group that lends out their professional cheer squad services to nonprofit events like they did for the Leukemia Lymphoma Society Big Climb.

Good Causes >

Teens Learn Design Fundamentals

volunteer-seattle-career-fairVolunteering makes people happier, the community healthier, the world brighter. Our staffers love getting out there and devoting time to great causes. With our collective volunteer hours, we have great stories to share, shout outs to give, and amazing organizations to highlight.

This tale of inspiring voluntarism comes from Karen Chappell, a Brown Paper Tickets design professional who spoke at a career event for The Academy of Citizenship and Empowerment (ACE), a vibrant SeaTac-based learning community that empowers students to become active citizens.

At the fair, 20 professionals shared sage advice and job expertise with 11- and 12th-grade high school students, who will be navigating their own career paths in just a few short years.

Chappell taught the basics of branding and design, gave out goodies, and relayed the tools necessary for successful visual marketing. “It was a wonderful experience and I’m hoping to do an in-depth workshop,” she relayed. “They were a great class.”

Brown Paper Tickets allows every employee to use an extra 40 paid hours per year to give back to the community via nonprofit volunteering. Our Paid Time On benefit earned the company a finalist honor for a 2014 GeekWire Perk of the Year Award.

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Brown Paper Tickets a Finalist for Perk of the Year GeekWire Award

geekwire-awardPing pong. Dogs at offices. Free food. Tech company perks cause much ado among recruiters, job-seekers and employees. Brown Paper Tickets has many perks, but one that’s truly unique: paid volunteer time of 40 hours yearly for all employees.

That’s the perk that captured the attention of Pacific Northwest digerati at GeekWire. We’re honored to be 1 of 5 finalists for their 2014 GeekWire Awards in the category of Perk of the Year.

Now it’s up to you (our loyal supporters and fans). Vote for Brown Paper Tickets to win Perk of the Year award.

Paid Volunteer Time On
Brown Paper Tickets, the Not-Just-For-Profit ticketing and event registration company offers paid volunteer time on, an annual 40-hour work week for social good. All 85 employees (including part-time workers) can volunteer for local nonprofits or improve communities for 40 hours every year. No wait period to use the paid time on.

big climb 2014How Do Staffers Use This Perk?
Shipping furniture and clothes to an African village, sorting produce and edibles at food banks, building homes via Habitat for Humanity, working phones at KEXP fund drives, teaching gifted children, consoling death-row inmates and many more community-building activities. Employees get to choose which charity or community service they support.

Other perks: 6-week paid time off (for vacations, holidays, sick time), dogs at work, free food (sandwiches, salads, coffee, pastries, bagels, fruit and produce for juicing at the office), 100% paid health insurance premium for full-time employees, 90% paid premium for dependents.

Vote for Brown Paper Tickets to win the Perk of the Year GeekWire Award.

Thanks for supporting our socially responsible, community-focused company.

Good Causes >

Big Stair Climb Fundraiser for Cancer

big climb 2014Exhilarating, overwhelming, inspiring and easier than you think. That’s my experience of the Big Climb, Seattle’s annual fundraiser for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. On March 23, we Brown Paper Ticketeers were among 6,000 climbers culminating months of fundraising with the 1,311 stair ascent to the top of Seattle’s tallest building. Our team’s average climb time was 22 minutes and we have raised $4,251.11.

The LLS funds research and provides resources for patients and families coping with blood cancers. Some of the climbers are survivors and the rest are friends, relatives, general health nuts and other supporters. Climbing waves embark every 15 minutes all day. Between the physical crush of so many people milling around on event day and the emotional crush of why we gather, stairs themselves almost seem trivial.

Big Climb 2014 3This was my 3rd year taking the challenge. A few minutes of leisure riding the escalator from the check-in level to the Columbia Tower entrance. A moment of fresh air as we exit the building to enter the fire escape stairwell. Then it’s on. The first few flights pass quickly with an adrenaline rush. Then crowds begin to thin. It’s risky to count the floors as you climb or take a break. You share knowing glances and quick words of encouragement with strangers as you go, and a light-headed sense of accomplishment when you make it to the top. Every floor landing has posters of loved ones who passed away, which is enough to keep you going no matter how much your calves burn. On a clear day, a gorgeous view greets you from the 73rd floor observation deck. 788 vertical feet of stairs. Worth every minute and every dollar to give hope to cancer patients and their families.

Post by Erika Harder, Brown Paper Tickets advanced client service specialist. Erika and colleague Stephanie each used 1 hour of Brown Paper Tickets paid time on. What’s that? Part of our company’s not-just-for-profit business model includes 40 hours of paid time annually (for all 85 employees) to serve nonprofits.

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Tips for Defining and Reaching your Target Audience

When it comes to promotion, there are a lot of options, and it can be difficult to know where to start. The key to effectively marketing your event is establishing a relationship with your potential ticket buyers. Before you take a look at how you want to promote your event, you will need to understand who you are promoting to – this is called your target audience.

Your target audience is the demographic group of people most likely to be interested in your event. If you have a sense of the type of people most likely to attend your event, you can market your event far more effectively.

Let’s start with an example:

Let’s say you have a stack of 100 flyers advertising the jazz show you’re putting on this Friday, and you’re trying to figure out the best way to pass them out. Sure, you could just walk down the street and hand the flyers to the first 100 people you see, but there’s no reason to assume that these folks have any interest in jazz, and many of your flyers would probably end up in the trash.

Now let’s say instead of choosing people at random, you hand out your flyers outside a popular instrument repair shop, or leave a stack in the local record store. You’ll find that far more of your flyers find their way into the hands of music lovers.

By targeting a specific demographic, (music fans in this example) where they’re likely to spend time (music stores) you’re wasting less flyers, getting more positive response, and interacting with people who are more likely to buy tickets to your event–or even become long-term fans.

This same concept applies to every type of promotion–social media, traditional media, posters– whatever methods you use to market your event. The effectiveness of your promotion is determined by knowing who your target audience is, and how to reach them.

What is a customer profile?

The idea of a “target audience” may seem like an abstract concept, but it’s not– your potential ticket buyers are real people with interests, habits, likes, dislikes, and–most importantly– shared traits that can help you effectively reach them with your promotion. To understand who these people are, start by create a customer profile- a “portrait” of your ideal ticket buyer. A common starting point for creating this profile is by looking at your audience demographics, including:

  • Age
  • Location
  • Gender
  • Occupation
  • Family status
  • Income level
  • Education level
  • Hobbies
  • Interests
  • Shopping habits
  • Values
  • Behaviors

From this demographic information, you can then ask yourself more specific questions:

  • How can I adjust my message to appeal to this demographic?
  • What type of social media promotion is most likely to draw the attention of my target audience?
  • How might my target audience respond to advertising in traditional media sources, such as newspapers, event calendars or radio stations?
  • Where does my target audience spend time, and can I use this information to better reach them with my advertising?
    For example: If you’re putting on an opera, you want to reach opera fans. What age range do you tend to see at the opera in your area? Are there a lot of people from the age of 18-24, or more 35-55 ? (Hint: you can sometimes find event demographic data online depending on what type of event you’re putting on, to test this out, try Googling “Opera Attendee Demographics”)

Let’s say you find that the average age of your attendee is 48 years old, that’s already useful information. Many studies break down trends in social media usage among different age groups, and you can use the data from these studies to assess what social media platform will best reach a potential customer based on criteria such as their age. The Pew Research Center offers a good starting point for social media usage data.

Studies have shown that a 48 year old is statistically far more likely to be on Facebook than Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest or Snapchat. So instead of spreading your promotion efforts across every social media platform, focus on the one that’s most likely to work.

Customer profiles will vary depending on the specifics of your event. A punk show will draw a different crowd than an opera, and the way you promote these events will be different, but understanding the concept behind targeted advertising will help you adapt your marketing to best reach your potential attendees, and will ensure that you aren’t wasting your money promoting in ways that don’t reach the right people. While data and research can help you more effectively promote, you can also identify your target audience through observation:

  • Think about your past attendees. If you have done events in the past that are similar to your current event, this puts you at an advantage. If you are able to, keep your past attendees up to date on your upcoming events, and consider how they heard about your events in the first place.
  • Ask yourself: am I part of my own target audience? If you fit the profile of the type of person you’re trying to reach, think carefully about where you would best be reached by marketing, and plan your promotional strategies accordingly.
  • Take a look at similar events in your area. Do some research into the methods other event producers in your area use to promote their events. Social media makes it much easier to see how events are marketed. Do you see a lot of paid Facebook ads for events in your area? Do you see event organizers asking people to join their email list? Have you noticed print advertising or calendar listings for events similar to yours?
  • Compile a list of relevant places to advertise your event. Think about this broadly: if you get a lot of college students at your events, think about how your average college student gets their information (social media, college bulletin boards, flyers in on-campus laundromats, libraries etc.) How about an older demographic? Might they rely more on traditional media? Calendar listings? Posters?)
  • Lastly, an excellent way to make contact with your target audience is to think about any contacts you might have within the community you are trying to reach. If you have even just one friend, colleague or employee who is willing to help you with your event and has a solid network within your target audience, they can be a great asset in promoting your event. They could send out invitations to all their friends on Facebook, post your event on social media and have it seen (and ideally shared!) by their friends who share similar interests.

The last step in effectively marketing to your target audience is remembering to think ahead about future events. At your next event, pay careful attention to who attends. Consider putting a questionnaire on your ticketing page that asks attendees how they heard about your event, and using this information to refine your advertising in the future.

If you have more questions about defining your target audience, contact our promotions team.

Event Tips >

A Celebration of Giving – #GivingTuesday

Giving Tuesday

It is valuable to ourselves and our communities to learn to be giving, not just with our money, but also with our time. I am a firm believer that you reap what you sow and am fortunate to work for a company that encourages its employees to give back. This year I’ve joined the Brown Paper Tickets Not-Just-For-Profit Team, where I facilitate company donations and group volunteering. Additionally, I use our company sponsored Paid Time-On hours to volunteer in my community. I am excited to share with you one of the newest Thanksgiving traditions that has gained popularity over the past few holiday seasons.

Giving Tuesday is a movement that was started by a team at the Belfer Center for Innovation & Social Impact (https://www.92y.org/innovation), a cultural center in New York City in 2012. It is celebrated the Tuesday after Thanksgiving and is a socially responsible addition to the popular shopping days like Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday. This movement celebrates and supports giving and philanthropy to events throughout the year.

According to GivingTuesday.Org, Giving Tuesday has been bringing people together around the values of service and giving back—#GivingTuesday connects diverse groups of individuals, communities, and organizations around the world for one common purpose: to celebrate and encourage giving.

Here are my 3 steps to getting started this Giving Tuesday and holiday season:

1. Heart Check

Why are you giving/volunteering? What are your motivations to do so? I believe there are motives behind everything we do. I always like to keep my self-grounded and make the most impact there is a need. When looking to do some volunteer work or donate I ask myself, ‘am I doing this because I want something in return?’ or, ‘am I sincerely looking out for the well being of others?’. Wherever you feel called to volunteer or donate this holiday season, check in with yourself, and share what you can. If you find a cause that speaks to your heart, you will likely stay involved and make a direct impact.

2. Research

Look for opportunities to serve your community or places to give. Whether you love helping people, animals or the environment, find a good cause that speaks to you and needs help. Feel free to get creative as well! I remember one Thanksgiving my family made sandwiches, bought a large tub of hot coffee and some donuts, then drove around and shared them with some of the homeless people in our neighborhood. On another occasion, some of my friends and I set some time aside on a Christmas morning and distributed “lunch bags” to the needy in the Far Rockaway community in Queens, NY.
*Disclaimer: A food permit is needed to handle food. Please look up any restrictions in your local area.

3. Have Fun

Whatever you decide to do make sure that you enjoy every second of it. Know that whether you are donating money or volunteering you are making a difference. I think it is important to not get wrapped up in our own lives and fail to see the need around us. We might not be able to change the world but we can make a difference in our communities.

Infusing the practice of giving and being open to receiving can bring joy and affect every aspect of our lives. I have learned from both sides of this practice. Several years ago, my family benefited from the giving. Here is my account:

Ever since I moved to the United States, I have lived with my paternal grandmother. When I was 15 years old, she and my aunt got together and bought their first home. Oh, the excitement! However, years passed and they never paid a water bill. I am not sure why but they never got a water bill, it just never arrived and no one ever realized.

One day, the homes that did not pay their water bill were published in a Mayor NYC Newspaper and there was our address. The embarrassment!

Of course, my grandmother freaked out and made payment arrangements with the company right away. After several months of making payments towards the amount due, we stopped getting the monthly payment slips. Grandma asked me to call the water company on her behalf and inquire about it. I remember this like it was yesterday, it was during my lunch break at my previous job, my jaw dropped when I heard the agent say,

“I am sorry ma’am but you currently do not owe any money, which is why you haven’t received a bill from us.”

“No! That cannot be right. We owe close to $10,000 and I know for a fact that payment for the complete amount has not been made,” I responded.

The agent placed me on hold to investigate, then came back on the line and told me that not only was the balance paid, but we had extra funds to cover the bill for a few more months. To this date and we are still not sure how this bill was paid, but one thing is for certain we reaped what we have sown for so many years. Over the years many similar things have happened to us, this is the story with the most financial impact thus far.

It is worth to mention that since this my family has become a giving family, not only with finances but also with time. Giving has been something that we have done in our house on a weekly basis; because of this example I’ve learned to be a giving person, and hope to pass on these traits to my daughter. My purpose is that through these lines my passion to help those who cannot help themselves be transmitted to those around me, and yes that includes you too!

Happy Thanksgiving, Giving Tuesday, and Holiday Season!

Good Causes >

Raising Funds for Freedom Project Seattle

FPSlogo2016In honor of GiveBIG Tuesday, here’s an outstanding example of Paid Time-On. If you’re unaware, each one of our employees gets 40 hours a year of paid time to volunteer at causes they choose. It is one of our most-loved perks and a finalist for GeekWire‘s Perk of the Year in 2014.

“Paid Time-On is an amazing benefit,” says Peace, Doer Team Manager “I sit on the board for an understaffed nonprofit and they often need us to pitch in work hours. I never thought an employer would reward me for my volunteer service.”

Peace is on the board for Freedom Project Seattle, a nonprofit that undermines the industrial prison complex by reducing recidivism. Recidivism is the rate at which a previously incarcerated person returns to prisons. Researchers at the University of Washington and Seattle University have not only proven Freedom Project Seattle programs reduce recidivism, they also save Washington State five million dollars a year in taxpayer money.

Peace is using Paid Time-On to run an online fundraising event for Freedom Project Seattle in partnership with the Seattle Foundations’ #GiveBig day. One of their major donors has offered a $30,000 matching grant that Peace will try to galvanize the internet to match. Peace has created her own personal matching grant and our blog readers can join the fun. To participate, just write BPT in the comments of the donation form.

Peace offers, “If I can get 100 of my friends, family and peers to donate to Freedom Project Seattle, I will match their donations up to a thousand dollars. Donate a dollar if that’s what you can afford or $15 to celebrate our 15th anniversary. My goal: I want a hundred new people to begin to know our work.”

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