Executive Director Update, March 2019, Written by Erin Santos
What a month we have had since my last Executive Update. It honestly seems like such a blur because for me personally, I haven’t been this busy in a long time. It was one of those months where I feel like I might have taken on too much. As usual, my team surrounds me during these times and always steps up to handle what falls off my plate.
For me, the biggest task I had this month was the Charlotte Ballet’s Dancing the Stars event. It was a stressful journey for me because I found myself going back and forth over what was stressing me out more. While I knew this event was going to bring great awareness to ISF, it was difficult for me to fundraise. The competitive nature of who I am just couldn’t shake it but my team kept assuring me where I fell in the fundraising was not the most important reason why I was doing this. Bringing awareness to the foundation and what we are doing for kids fighting cancer was the primary reason. In the end, I raised just over $86,000 and approximately $35,000 will come back to our organization, which we are very grateful for. I know many of our supporters were hesitant to donate because you would have preferred for 100% of your donation to come to ISF. We get that. And for those of you who wanted to support and have your entire donation go to us, I would love for you to donate to Isabella’s Wish Fundraiser to help us reach our $6,000 fundraising goal to gift to Make-A-Wish for a wish trip. Did you see my latest blog about spending time with Sydney, the wish child we helped fund last year? Incredibly surreal.
The dancing also became stressful. My body just wasn’t doing the things I needed it to do and I felt like I was constantly in pain. This got old and I found myself being grumpy often. No matter how much Advil and Epson salt baths I would take, the next day of dancing would just send me back into soreness. I’m not quite sure how these dancers do this every day. It was eye-opening for sure.
The night of the event couldn’t come soon enough. I was styled by the one and only Whitely Hamlin (The Queen City Style) and Neiman Marcus provided me with the most gorgeous dress I have ever worn. Having my group of supporters with me that night helped shake off the jitters and I felt so loved by them all. My dancer partner Juwan was a professional as always and made me feel like I could accomplish anything. Even though I made quite a few mistakes, we ended up taking home the Judges Choice award for best dance and the night was finally behind me.
Overall amazing experience… but definitely happy to have it behind me.
While I was running around training with DWTS, the team was moving all the other pieces of the Foundation along. We completed an amazing campaign for our Cancer Messed With product with the help of many wonderful people in the community. We hope you enjoyed seeing all of the “Cancer Messed with the Wrong City” shirts as we spread love to cancer patients everywhere with our #cancermessedwith social posts. Thanks to our continued Angel investor, we are starting to double down on CMW and you will see lots of exciting changes with the product coming in the next quarter. If you don’t follow CMW on Instagram, be sure to so you can watch everything come together.
Our head of Corporate Sponsorships has been KILLING it this last month. Karen Murphy continues to blow me away each month as she does a great job communicating with our sponsors about what we are doing at ISF. Of course, our largest partners continue to see the importance of what we are doing here in the community and come back year over year. Brighthouse Financial, Community Blood Center of the Carolinas, Modern Nissan of Lake Norman, Scoop Charlotte, Atrium Health, Mass Mutual Carolinas and Noda Brewing Company have once again aligned with us as sustaining partners and we appreciate all they do for us. Karen is meeting with people every day and we love seeing new companies as well as continued partnerships signing up to be a part of our mission. We still have a couple of sustaining sponsorships available so contact Karen if you are interested.
Speaking of Corporations, Kerry Winslow our Director of Corporate Philanthropy has been plugging away at our first ever Networking Event scheduled for this month at the City Club in Uptown Charlotte. As we try to expand our reach into the Uptown area, we feel that it is critical to get our mission out to these companies. Gene Woods from Atrium Health with be joining us for a meet and mingle to learn a little more about who we are and what we are doing for the city of Charlotte. Educating the community on our impact is one way we hope to make a difference and Kerry is leading the charge in this effort.
Our Three Wish Circle and Ambassador team is gearing up for another year of supporting ISF is a big way. Our 3 wish members are such great advocates for us in the community because they really get what we are trying to do here. Tia Wackerhagen, our Development Director is already in communication with these families to fine tune our giving society and hope to bring more members into this exclusive group of donors. Our Ambassadors wrapped up a fundraising season that blew us away and we are hoping to bring them back this year as well as grow the team to continue to make a difference for the families receiving MIBG treatment.
Marketing. Good lord is this a full plate. Not only is our Director of Marketing, Rachel Wood, managing the day to day ISF marketing and social communication but redesigning the look and feel of ISF as well as our website. We want to be able to provide the most up to date information on what we are doing in the community and the patients we are supporting and this job is never-ending. Rachel was the brains behind the CMW campaign in February, organizing a meet up with our Make-A-Wish recipient Sydney, all of the Jersey Mike’s Month of Giving marketing and more. Her to-do list every day gives me anxiety so I hope you are enjoying the content she provides! It’s a ton!
And Maitland Danner. What would our foundation do without Maitland. She is the jack of all trades. The glue that holds it all together. The voice of reason. The planner and everything in between that I didn’t mention. She has her hands in every single detail of ISF and we could not run without her.
Our upcoming month is one of the biggest of the year at ISF. We have so much happened that it’s hard to wrap our head around it. Isabella’s 14th birthday is this Saturday, which is unreal to me. Our partnership at the Community Blood Center of the Carolinas is the ONLY way for me to get through the day. This is the BIGGEST blood drive we have ever had and we already have over 200 appointments. We are hoping to creep up to 500 by Saturday and need all the help we can get. We also hope to raise enough money to grant a wish in Isabella’s honor so help us if you can.
March is also Jersey Mike’s Month of Giving. You know the event and why wouldn’t you support a business that directly impacts the Charlotte community? And all you have to do is eat subs! Throughout the entire month of March eat at 39 greater Charlotte Jersey Mike’s Subs, use the weekly coupons here, you can make an in-store donation and buy a cookie. 100% of cookie sales go back to the foundation all month long. What you save through the coupon, give back at the register! Easy! The big day is March 27th, ‘Day of Giving’, where 100% of sales go back to the Isabella Santos Foundation at participating stores in the Greater Charlotte area. Last year we received $135,000… unreal! We absolutely love our Jersey Mikes partnership.
I’m want to take a minute to thank our amazing Board of Directors here at ISF. This group has almost a full year under their belts and these people have been a godsend to the organization. We are growing our board and our current members have opened doors for us that we never thought were possible. The commitment these people have to our mission is unbelievable and we are so excited to expand our board next month by doubling our board seats. It makes me excited to see our year ahead. So thank you to the ISF board for taking us to the next level yet again.
Okay, so ways you can help this month….
- Schedule a Blood Donation Appointment for Saturday
- Donate to Help Fund a Wish in honor of Isabella’s Birthday
- Eat Jersey Mike’s Subs this month like it’s your job
- Eat at Melting Pot for their March Fondue Raiser
- Become a Sponsor
- Follow CMW on Social Media
- Purchase a CMW Shirt to Support Someone You Know
- Follow, Like, Share & Comment on our ISF Social Posts: ISF Facebook, ISF Instagram, ISF LinkedIn
- Become an Ambassador for ISF
- Reach out to us! Have an idea, what to get involved?
March is big. Be a part of it. Don’t just watch from the sidelines – get involved with us.
We have a lot going on at ISF and one of our 2019 goals is to better communicate to our donors and supporters. But everyone’s busy, so we want to make it easy and quick for you to catch up! We are excited to bring you our new monthly newsletter, ISF SKINNY MINUTE, to help keep you updated on all things happening in and around the foundation.
Each month we will give you the skinny on what you missed, what to watch for in the coming months and how you can help. A couple highlights from this month’s ISF SKINNY:
Executive Director Dish: Erin Santos shares what ISF is focusing on this year, changes to the foundation and why she couldn’t be more excited for what’s to come.
Missed It: We saw lots of great things happen in the 4th quarter of 2018. Catch up on all of them, like the first patient who was successfully treated in the new MIBG room, ISF featured in the Charlotte Observer’s Unsung Heroes series and Erin among the 2019 honorees in Charlotte Business Journal’s Women in Business Achievement.
Watch For It: 2019 ISF Events and Partner Events
Share It: Valentine’s week is here and we want to spread love to cancer patients everywhere! Help us by pulling out your Cancer Messed With gear and post a photo in your shirt or hat, tag our social channels with #cancermessedwith when you do.
Executive Director Update, February 2019, Written by Erin Santos
I can’t believe we are hitting mid-February! For us here at ISF, January hits us like a ton of bricks. We had such a busy 4th quarter with the MIBG opening and trying to squeeze every last donation into our 2018 year, by the time December 18th hit – I told the girls to enjoy the holidays. I mean check in… but catch up on your lives because January would be no joke. Luckily the gears keep moving and we saw lots of great things come in at the end of the year with PR including being featured as a Charlotte Unsung Hero, our first family in the MIBG room and our total amount raised beating last year by 30%.
But, that is all behind us now. January hit us hard. We decided to change up pretty much everything we did from how we run our meetings, where we run our meetings, how we organize work, how we capture donors and even our website will be turned upside down. All things that needed to happen to go back to our idea we discuss all the time about working smarter not harder. My team is more organized and stronger than it has ever been. Need I say, we actually work like a real grown up charity these days. I love it.
We also took a moment to think about what was important to the Foundation. For us, our goal this year is to continue to spread our brand awareness in the Charlotte community and really diversify our revenue stream. Who doesn’t know about ISF? Apparently, a lot of people – and we are going to change that. You know those businesses that you just happen to see everywhere you go like Atrium Health or OrthoCarolina. Yeah, that’s going to be us. Have you seen my involvement with the Charlotte Ballet’s Dancing with the Stars Program? That’s just not about me wanting to get in shape. The reason we are doing it is to gain awareness in the community. All those people sitting in the audience who support the arts and have never heard of ISF. Not anymore. Let’s just say that once the night is over, they are definitely going to know who we are. I may just kill myself in the process. Click here to support me.
Diversifying our revenue streams… what do I mean here? Man are we event heavy. And do you know what is expensive? Events. There are so many ways for funds to come into a charity such as grants, beneficiary events, 3 wish circle members and more peer to peer fundraising. I’m sure you think, oh man… there is ISF asking me to raise money for them again. But do you know why we ask? Because it is the most efficient way for us to achieve our goals. Studies have shown that people will give to charities because their friends give to that charity. So if someone knows you think we are pretty cool… they may start to think we are pretty cool too. Pretty simple. Oh and just as an example of our beneficiary events… have you heard about the Jersey Mike’s Give Back Day coming up in March? Yeah? Try $130,000 in one day. We love ourselves some Jersey Mikes and we are now their biggest sub eaters.
Events. Of course we know we put on killer events. (Brushing my shoulders off here… yes, Rachel our Marketing Director is rolling her eyes and cringing at my use of words and arrogance right now) However, events need to stay fresh. So that’s why we are constantly thinking of new ways to bring you our signature event to you such as our Coffee for a Cure, the 5k and 10k and don’t forget our Gala this year that is going to be INSANE! Don’t worry, the same ole’ ISF feel will be there – but you know we gotta turn it up a notch, or two.
Another big focus of ours is expanding our community support. Businesses have always been so great to us as an organization. Our latest addition, Kerry Winslow, is taking on Corporate Philanthropy while Karen Murphy has stepped into Sponsorships and Partnerships. They have a big year ahead of them on communicating to the Charlotte business on why they should support us. While we have great events, the mission and what we are doing with building this Rare and Solid Tumor Program at Levine over the next 5 years is something unheard of in pediatric cancer in the US. And we are bringing it here to Charlotte… can you think of something cooler to put your business name on? I can’t.
Speaking of business. Have you met our board? Because we basically have the coolest board in town. It’s going to double in the next couple of months with some of the brightest and best people in Charlotte stepping on. With this group behind us, we can accomplish anything. Thank you to the following who have stepped on and looking forward to the others who will be joining us in the coming months:
- Sandra Szoke, Impact Marketing
- Blair Primis, OrthoCarolina
- Suzie Ford, NoDa Brewing
- Matt Yarmey, Pure Intentions
- Dr. Jennifer Pope, Levine Children’s Hospital
- Tim Miner, Charlotte is Creative
- Becky Berolatti, New Dominion Bank
- Jennifer Ross, Accounting Consultant
Our last “little” project coming at you in 2019 is Cancer Messed With. We love this brand and all the things we are doing with it. These soft vintage shirts are hitting the streets of Charlotte and nationwide and we love seeing people in them. Sadly, everyone is affected by cancer and we want to show cancer it messed with the wrong person, family, mother, guy, kid… whoever. We are stronger than cancer. We want you all to get one for someone you love, have your business come together to show a co-worker who is battling that you are behind them… whatever the case may be. We find that we feel just a little stronger when we have our CMW on, and you will too.
Sure, this ED update may be a little arrogant, but you know what? I’m EXCITED! I find that I’m working harder than ever and I’m loving my job and the people I have around me. Every single day this is about Isabella and that will never change for me. But I don’t expect it to always be about her for you. My hope is that you will want to be involved with what we are doing because it makes you really feel like you are doing something is REALLY making a difference. That’s what we are doing here, I hope you can see it and I hope you want join us.
Looking forward to updating you each and every month on what we are doing here at ISF. I can’t wait to share.
Love, Erin (Isabella’s Mommy oh yeah… and Executive Director)