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10 Business Lessons Learned From Collecting Money for Teachers’ Gifts

When my 3 children were younger I often volunteered (or was volunteered!) to collect money for holiday or end-of-year teachers’ gifts.

What initially sounded like a pretty straightforward task ended up being an eye-opening and life learning experience.

Many lessons that can be directly applied to business were learned from the relatively small task of collecting money from parents.

Here is a summary of the lessons I learned:

Lesson 1: You have to chase people!
Lesson 2: Price matters!
Lesson 3: Offer what people want!
Lesson 4: No answer does not mean “NO”
Lesson 5: “Tomorrow” does not always mean the day following today!
Lesson 6: Spreadsheets are awesome!
Lesson 7: You can’t please everyone.
Lesson 8: Clear instructions may still be misinterpreted or ignored.
Lesson 9: Your priorities are not other peoples’ priorities.
Lesson 10: You don’t have the money until you have the money!



Lesson 1: You have to chase people!

There are always a very “limited” number of people who are responsive and go out of their way to comply with what you ask-making your life as easy as possible. This includes those who respond immediately even if it means to tell you they are not interested. Those who respond immediately (or at all!) are the exception not the norm. I’ve discovered through experience that for the most part you have to chase people-and chase-and chase!


Lesson 2: Price matters!

I remember one occasion where another parent had offered to do the collection. He contacted me after getting very few responses and could not understand why. I immediately told him to send out another email and change the amount of the money he was asking for. The suggested amount was too high and he was scaring people off! When he lowered the amount most people were “in”! You have to do your homework to know what people are willing to pay for something. If it’s too high the number of “takers” will be low.


Lesson 3: Offer what people want!

In the case of the class gift collection it was fairly easy to sell. Most parents were eager to contribute knowing that it would save them time, money, and the teacher would end up with a nicer gift from a group than they could offer as an individual. People need to see a benefit in what you’re offering them.


Lesson 4: No answer does not mean “NO”

It’s very easy to assume that if someone doesn’t reply to your email or respond to your text or voice message that they are not interested. I’ve discovered through experience that this is “generally” not the case. Nowadays people are inundated with information (emails, texts, voice mails, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.). One email is very easy to “miss”-and could also easily end up in a Spam folder. Even if your email is read the recipient could plan to respond later and forget. If I don’t get a “NO” response I’ve learned to follow up-and follow up-and follow up! “No answer” means “Maybe”!


Lesson 5: “Tomorrow” does not always mean the day following today!

How many times have I heard “I’ll have it for you tomorrow”! The reality is people forget sometimes and some people forget a lot! I learned the importance of imposing a deadline. I would decide on a date and indicate that I need the money by that day.


Lesson 6: Spreadsheets are awesome!

An Excel spreadsheet was the perfect tool for keeping track of data related to collecting money for a gift. I could set up fields I needed and see at a glance who gave me money, who agreed to contribute, and who hadn’t responded. Also by setting up columns with the amounts expected and collected I could see exactly how much money I had. I continue to use spreadsheets on a daily basis to keep track of all sorts of information and the great thing is that spreadsheets transfer easily to and from my website databases.


Lesson 7: You can’t please everyone.

When you get a group of people together there will be different ideas. There are times when you are looking for feedback but sometimes you have to make an “executive” decision. In the case of the class gift it was necessary to decide on a contribution amount, the gift, and when and how it would be presented. When running a business there are decisions to be made on a daily basis and not everyone will be happy with every decision.


Lesson 8: Clear instructions may still be misinterpreted or ignored.

When formulating emails I would always do my best to present information clearly. I would try to indicate exactly what I was looking for. Quite often, what I assumed to be clear and straightforward was not that way to everyone. Instructions can be misinterpreted or ignored completely. Be prepared to explain things in different ways.



Lesson 9: Your priorities are not other peoples’ priorities.

When you are trying to accomplish a specific task like collecting money, selling a product or looking for a job or client, that becomes your number 1 priority. The reality is that it’s not other peoples’ priority. Other people are busy with their own priorities. They may be interested in what you have to offer but it may not have the same level of importance.



Lesson 10: You don’t have the money until you have the money!

Many parents would commit to participating in a class gift-either verbally or in writing (text message or email) but until I had the money in my hand I learned not to include it in the total-otherwise it became my out-of-pocket-instead of theirs!



If you ever have an opportunity to collect money for a teacher’s gift, “take it!” You’ll be surprised at what you learn!

Article contributed by By Janet M Russel


Here’s an easier way to collect funds for great group gift: GiveLuv Gift Cards Online Gift Registry – Fast. Free. Fabulous!


Image courtesy of kibsri / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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The Full Circle of Motherhood

This post is in honour of the upcoming Mother’s Day

What goes around, comes around.

I learned this valuable and painful lesson in my early 20s. Yup, I got bitten in the ass for the exact same thing I did to someone else. It hurt. Bad! And from that moment on, this motto guides me on my path as wife, mother, friend, sister – and more recently, as daughter too.

A few years ago, my incredibly strong, healthy and independent 80-something year old mother fell and broke her hip. It wasn’t something that I (and perhaps my siblings) thought would ever happen. But it did. And we knew, her 3 story townhouse was no longer going to be an option (Or, putting her into a home, for that matter!). My mother wanted – needed – demanded her independence. And with my Mom, this was NOT open for negotiation.

Over the next 4 months, it somehow became my job to take care of her: Find her a new home, sell the old home, pack-up her stuff, move her stuff, visit her in the hospital, bring her home from the hospital, wash her, get her food, get her meds, pay her bills… and yes, all of this while working and caring for my husband and 2 kids.

It was a lot of work. And sometimes, the things I had to do were not that pretty. But I didn’t have a choice.
My mother needed me.

My Mother needs me?

It was a brand new consciousness. It was the circle of life. It was my motto in all of it’s glory: I (the child) was now the caregiver.

Despite the ups & downs in my daughter-mother relationship, my mother did her round: She birthed me. She fed me. She changed my diapers, and cleaned up my vomit. She gave up sleep to drive me to 6am skating lessons. She worried when I stayed out late. She cared for me. And now, it was my turn; my round to pay it back.

Role-Mothering

It’s easy to be a mouthpiece, simply telling kids how they should behave. But, as we all know, the best way to teach is to lead by example. How I treated their Bubby spoke volumes. No guilt. No threats. I didn’t have to say “I hope you will be there for me if I need you.” It was unsaid, but loud and clear.

Were my actions a little self-serving? Perhaps. But at least I’m not a hypocrite. I walk the walk.

This Mother’s Day, are you “walking the walk”?

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Healthy Eating for you – and your baby’s future!

You’ve probably already been told a million times (…two million times by your mother) how important it is to eat well when you’re pregnant. And of course, “you’re eating for two now,” has also been thrown in there a few times, I’m sure.

Well, here’s a new spin – “you’re eating for your baby’s future!”

In a recent study by the British Journal of Nutrition, researchers found “children whose mothers ate junk food during pregnancy and breastfeeding are more likely to overeat, choose an unhealthy diet, and grow obese later in life.” – Source Vancouver Sun August 14, 2007

Oh great, one more thing to have to feel guilty about? No. Making healthy food choices for yourself and your baby are easy – especially when you have a plan!

Here are a few tips that can help you live & eat healthy even when you’re utterly exhausted:

1) Stock the fridge

At least once a week, stock-up on fresh fruits & vegetables, fish, poultry, meat & dairy products.

2) Make portions

Take an hour or so and cut your veggies & large fruit into bite-size pieces, then store them in a large re-sealable container. What’s more, refrigerate a dozen hard-boiled eggs, and grill some chicken breasts or sandwich steak, slice, portion and freeze.

*When you need to eat – AND FAST, take a handful of pre-washed lettuce, add a sprinkle of pre-cut vegetables, and top with a can of tuna, salmon or your pre-cooked eggs, chicken or beef. Voila! A delicious, healthy salad in seconds!

3) Cook & Freeze

Make up some of your favourite dishes, divide into portions, and freeze. This is great when you don’t have the energy to cook, or even think of what to cook.

*IMPORTANT: choose your food carefully! Don’t make it too spicy or use gassy vegetables (corn, cabbage, cauliflower, etc) – this can upset a nursing baby’s stomach!

Hate cooking? No problem. Simply add GiveLuv Gift Cards to your baby gift registry.
Food Services include: healthy meal delivery, diet meal delivery, organic grocery delivery, gluten free grocery delivery, gourmet baby food – and more!

Image courtesy of adamr / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Is saving time worth all of the waste?

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Are Your Shoes Worth More Than Your Sanity?

Do you work 9 to 5 out of the home, only to return to a 5 to 9 job of household chores? Are weekends spent playing catch-up on your to-do-list instead of playing catch-up with your kids? If GO! GO! GO! is starting to take its toll, it’s time for a reality check!
 
Here’s an amazing quote I hope will inspire you (like me) to change your perspective on the priorities in your life:

“Imagine life is a game in which you are juggling five balls. The balls are called work, family, health, friends, and integrity. And you’re keeping all of them in the air. But one day you finally come to understand that work is a rubber ball. If you drop it, it will bounce back. The other four balls…are made of glass. If you drop one of these, it will be irrevocably scuffed, nicked, perhaps even shattered.”
― James Patterson, Suzanne’s Diary for Nicholas
 

Start Your Own Cirque du Soleil

The best way to juggle all of your balls is to get yourself a juggling partner. Here are 3 great candidates that can help lessen your load and regain your sanity:
 

1) Hire a Personal Concierge

Imagine, once a week a Personal Concierge (ie. Personal Assistant) runs all of those little errands you never seem to have time to get gone:

– Grocery shopping (come home to a stocked fridge!!)
– Gift shop for all those kid birthday parties on the weekend
– Bring your car to the shop
– Drop-off / pick up dry cleaning or prescriptions
– Run to the post office

We LUV: Carrara Concierge, Custom Concierge, VIP Concierge
 

2) Have your Food & Meals Delivered

A healthy family needs healthy food. If you don’t have time to get to the grocery store, you won’t have anything to cook.
Fortunately, there are some wonderful services that will deliver right to your door.

We LUV: Jardin des Anges.

But what about those nights you’re running late or just too tired to cook? Yes, there’s a great service for that too.
We LUV: Mamaluv. Healthy meals from freezer to plate in minutes. All ready to eat, and no clean-up!
 

3) Hire a Cleaning Services

Cleaning the fridge or having fun with your kids? Not a difficult choice I am sure. Hiring a cleaning service gives you that freedom to spend more time doing what you enjoy!

We LUV: Merry Maids, GoodKarm Eco Cleaning, Maid In Windsor
 

At what cost?

Like most professionals, you probably don’t hesitate dropping a few bucks on a new pair of shoes to help you look better. But what about when it comes to helping you live better – you’re probably a bit more stingy, am I right?

Fact is, everything has a cost. You can either incur the cost of these helpful services and enjoy some extra free time, or you can keep trying to juggle everything yourself, and risk the cost on your health and your family. The glass ball, is in your court!
 

Postscript:

Have a birthday or anniversary coming up? Hint (or blatantly ask) for a GiveLuv Gift Cards’ Busy Family Gift. Then you can enjoy either one of these great services as a gift.

And don’t forget your harried friends, family and co-workers. GiveLuv Gift Cards can make their life easier, and yours too. No worrying “What do they need?” GiveLuv Gift Cards lets them decide!

Image courtesy of Geerati / FreeDigitalPhotos.net