Tuesday, April 19, 2016

What's all this fundraising for, anyway?

Some of this will echo what Tiffany said, but I want to share here my thoughts as well.

We are so glad you asked! It takes a fair bit of money to run a group this size and to keep our meetings free and open to the public. Every month our membership grows, the number of people we are serving grows, our reach extends and our hearts swell with love for this community we have formed.  

Lending library membership fees do help support our mission, in addition to being put towards growing the lending library, but in order to keep those membership fees low, we fundraise a few times throughout the year.  We don't want to raise membership fees and in the last 4 1/2 years we have not had to because our members have supported our fundraising efforts and always made them a success.  From T-shirts to garage sales, to decals and donation drives, we have raised money and had fun doing it.  We have bought huge numbers of carriers for the lending library this way.  We have given carriers to families in need through the generosity of our community.  We have been able to serve our community at events other than our own.  And we owe it all to the support of our members.  

Part of our current big fundraising push is also to help pay for continuing education for our instructors. We feel that it is a major benefit to our group and our community for our instructors to keep abreast of current research and teaching techniques. The majority of the time our instructors pay for all of their training out of their own pockets. When Ashley and I went to Houston, Texas in 2013 to take classes to become Certified Babywearing Educators, we felt your support and know you understand the importance of good education.  We collected donations and held multiple weekends of garage sales and covered about half of the cost of the classes.  But it is our love for what we are able to share with our community that had us covering the travel and the rest of the class fees out of pocket.  Whatever we don't raise now, we will end up paying for ourselves. We feel strongly that this education is an important benefit to our group. Everything that out instructors learn will be brought back to BWAT to the benefit of our members. Much of our current meeting structure came from things we learned in classes or ideas we had because of classes.  We want to continue to be the best for you!  Training and continuing education is important in every field and no less so in Babywearing, a field where the research is moving at lightening speeds right now.  

We are so close to meeting our fundraising goal for this spring. If you can donate, even just a couple of dollars, it is very very much appreciated.  http://goo.gl/forms/ygxaLF2pnY  
(Donations can be made anytime but donations qualifying for entries into our prize drawing must be made before 8pm central time on Wednesday April 20th)

Happy Babywearing!


Somer Johnson is a Babywearing enthusiast and Momma to Bitsy and Squeaker, two bundles of energy. She is a Babywearing Institute Certified Babywearing Educator.  She is also addicted to cloth diapers and makes and sells wool dryer balls as SomerKnits. Occasionally she also carves out some time to knit, spin or weave - her main pre-baby passions.

On Continuing Education - a note from Tiffany

Why we need YOUR help.

Being a babywearing educator is a tough gig. Dealing with all of the daily issues with moderating the group, keeping up with all the behind the scenes paperwork, insurance, legal issues... THEN blogging, teaching classes, keeping up on research, and training volunteers. It can be a bit overwhelming. And this is a volunteer position. But, we instructors do it, because we love it. Education and outreach are where our hearts are and we feel drawn to give back to the community. So we put in our hours - day after day, week after week - and smile while doing it. But to be the “best” we can be - for US, as educators, and for YOU, as leaders - we have to be current on research, familiar with all the new carriers, up on the latest carries, and knowledgeable on all the legal and regulatory aspects that effect our field. One, very important way, to do that is to go to conferences.

Thankfully, the babywearing world is has exploded in the past 2-3 years. When I started, 10 years ago, there were maybe 4 carriers on the market and no online support, let alone local groups. Because of this explosion, research is coming in faster than you can imagine. Things we thought were perfectly safe a year ago, even 6 months ago in some cases, are no longer recommended. Things we did 10 years ago are down right dangerous now. 

I went to the International Babywearing Conference in Tempe, Arizona 2 years ago. It is the largest bi-annual meeting of educators, vendors and enthusiasts in the Country. I attended the 2nd one to be held. At that 3 day conference I got to talk to the makers of Ergo, Boba, Bjorn, and more. I got to figure out what was on their radar and WHY they recommended the things they did. I learned about the current regulations for the makers and those that were going into effect the following year. Regulations that changed the landscape of babywearing more than we had ever seen before. I came away extremely more confident, and competent, in bringing information to YOU as an educator. And that is my goal - “our” goal. This time, all 4 of us have decided to attend the conference to make this group the very best we can. It is a lofty goal, for us all to go, but one we have dedicated to making come to life. 
Right now, plane tickets are roughly 420$ roundtrip. A 4 night hotel room is $760. Registration fees for the conference were 200$ a piece. That is roughly $1,000 a person, with splitting hotel costs. That is 4,000$ total, JUST for the minimum basics of attending this conference. Not counting cab to the hotel, food while we are there, carriers available at a discount to educators, or anything else needed to go on a 4 day trip. That is money that we would pay out of our own pockets (and I did, 2 years ago), if not for fundraising from this group.

We are extremely fortunate to have an amazing group of volunteers, retailers, and others who very generously donated over 2,500$ of prizes for our Raffle. Those are prizes that you guys get to win. Photography packages hundreds of dollars, gift certificates galore, jewelry, 3 carriers! Incredible stuff, really. 

So when you buy a raffle ticket, in hopes of winning one of those amazing prizes, that money is also going to a bigger cause - the education and advancement of the group as a whole. Right now, our group is at 6,060 members. If each of you gave just 1 dollar, we would not have to worry about paying anything out of our pockets, and we would have extra to bring back amazing carriers for the library. 
I am blown away by this “community.” Just last week we banded together to get a carrier to a mama in need, within hours. We have had carriers missing, stolen, blown away in tornados, and you guys ALWAYS step up and band together to help those in need. We are more than a “group” we are a “community” and that is an incredibly precious thing. A lot of us have met our best friends because of this group. I know this community understands how big of an opportunity this conference is for us, and I have complete faith in my community to rise to the challenge. I have complete faith in us. 
Thank each of every one of you for your donations (of time, money, prizes and more), your buying raffle tickets, your shares of posts on your pages and your likes of our public posts. All of this brings us one step closer to our goal - and builds this community stronger than I ever thought possible. For that I am very thankful and proud.