Managing any organization through a pandemic presents both unique challenges as well as hidden opportunities, if you are paying attention. With all the pivoting and adjusting come both losses and learning.
We made the tough but obvious decision to cancel our in-person Sips & Songs for Literacy event scheduled for June. Not getting together to share our progress and celebrate all our amazing volunteers and supporters was a big loss. And for Leyla, who loves to dance, she will be disappointed to miss an opportunity to dance the night away.
After the event was canceled, I needed to think through, “Now what?” We rely on that funding to continue our work. Creating books requires funds to pay designers, translators, production and messaging teams. We have amazing volunteer writers and illustrators who donate their time and talents; otherwise, publishing would be cost prohibitive. But there are still significant costs.
We did what you must do in times of crisis. We focused on what we could do rather than what we couldn’t. In-person fundraising wasn't possible, so we turned online starting with GiveBIG, a local fundraising effort in early May. Facebook offers birthday fundraisers that can be run by supporters and we have used our Facebook page for auctions. Then we used the tried and true formula: “Set big goals and ask for help”.
Jane Kurtz, our creative lead, recently ran a Facebook birthday fundraiser and received more than double her goal of $1000. OHBD ran our largest Facebook auction with almost 300 items. Over 60 supporters helped us reach our largest total to date of $2300 toward a goal of $2000. For GiveBIG, we set out to establish matching funds to increase the giving impact on the event days, as well as overall. We reached out to traditional sponsors of our Sips & Songs event as well as long-time supporters, including Board members. The speed with which we had commitments for our $5K match was inspiring! Finally, we planned our outreach for the week before and day of, which yielded another $1K in matching funds and the full $6K in matches. Together, our GiveBIG efforts raised over $12K, exceeding our goal of $10K!
There were more things that were possible. We could inspire young artists and help parents with a project to occupy kids looking for a creative outlet? Our production lead, Kate, had the wonderful idea to create an art contest that would engage kids at home and introduce OHBD to more people. Our art contest brought in efforts from some talented artists and new supporters. Read more about our seven-year-old winner, Lucy, below.
Another thing that was still possible was making our books available to more kids around the globe. So, we dropped our Kindle pricing to the lowest allowed, at $1.99/title, something we had meant to do for some time. With a different lens, we made it a priority. As a result, we saw increased Kindle sales over the last two months reaching countries as far away as India, Brazil, and Japan.
We know there is a long road ahead for all of us, but given the bright spots we are seeing worldwide, including the wonderfully generous support we observe among our global community, we are hopeful. We are truly all in this together, both the pandemic, and the future beyond it. We can get to the other side with a lot of learning and a renewed determination to make opportunities more equitable. Thank you all for being a part of this amazing journey!