A few weekends ago we had a team of wonderful folks come volunteer to wrap diapers for Sweet Cheeks Diaper Bank. It’s really a pretty simple process–one person counts out 25 diapers of the same size, another person wraps them with saran wrap and the appropriate label. In about 2-1/2 hours our small team knocked out over 2,000 diapers that were wrapped into 80+ bundles. These sweet little bundles are going straight out into the community and onto the bottoms of babies in our city who need them. Does this look like fun? It is! And we’d love to have you help wrap diapers with us. Fill out a volunteer application here and check the online volunteer portal often to see if dates are available to sign up and help. We’ll have a more regular wrapping schedule set up soon! For more information about volunteer opportunities, visit our Volunteer Page.
This week we’re learning about our nonprofit consultant extraordinaire, Mary Gaertner. Mary has years of nonprofit experience and regularly gives Megan mini crash courses on exciting topics like board of directors, budgets, job titles, and fundraising. Her general love for the nonprofit community and wealth of information has been so critical to Sweet Cheeks’ early successes!
Day Job: Executive Director, Girls on the Run Greater Cincinnati
Sweet Cheeks Role: Nonprofit Consultant
Why are you excited to be part of the Sweet Cheeks team? I had no idea about diaper need until Megan introduced me to this idea. Something that I take for granted as a fundamental need is a huge opportunity area for Greater Cincinnati. In my day job, I work with families all over the region who have diverse backgrounds and experiences and I love being able to help them in any way possible. As a new mom myself, I can’t imagine being in a position requiring me to decide between giving my child a clean diaper or a meal – I hope we can alleviate this burden and give local families a helping hand.
Tell us about your kid(s): My daughter, Nora Elizabeth, was 7 months on February 9. She is the light of our family and is so sweet, funny, and strong. Her personality has really started to come through the past few months and I just love watching her discover the world. I hope that my husband and I are raising her to be a strong, independent woman who has a brave vision for her future!
Which part of Sweet Cheeks’ current strategic plan are you most excited to work on? I’m passionate about contributing to the foundational success of the organization. My non-profit experience has allowed me to provide a resource on board development and structural sustainability. Sweet Cheeks is already light years ahead as a young non-profit and I think we are setting ourselves up for success!
If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be and why? Right now, a beach and a book sound like the best vacation! But I have always wanted to do a trip to Northern California, visiting San Francisco, Big Sur, and Napa Valley.
What are you reading right now? I just started “Left Neglected” for my book club. I also love a good memoir – that’s dominated most of my reading lately.
If you had one extra hour of free time a day, how would you use it? I’d love to say something really exciting but I would probably sleep! I get up pretty early to exercise before my daughter wakes up and before work most days…so an extra hour of sleep would be fantastic.
If there were a holiday in your honor what would it celebrate? Brunch Day. You have to celebrate by brunching for at least 2 hours with your girlfriends! Post-brunch nap optional (but recommended).
Each week we’re going to be spotlighting one Sweet Cheeks Diaper Bank staff member. Trust me–diapers would not be going out the door without the dedicated, passionate people who are lending their time and expertise to push Sweet Cheeks forward. To say I’m grateful for each of these folks would be an understatement. We’re beginning this series learning a little more about Mike Schell–our website wizard, marketing guru, and Megan’s general therapist throughout this crazy process of starting a nonprofit.
Day Job: Product Manager at Scot Laboratories
Sweet Cheeks Role: Marketing Director
Why are you excited to be part of the Sweet Cheeks team? I’m excited to be a part of the Sweet Cheeks team because after having our first child, I realized how important it is to parents and children alike to keep babies clean, healthy and comfortable. It is a basic need every single person requires at the beginning stages of life and is not always available to some struggling families. If I can be part of this team to help alleviate the financial burden parents face and to prevent any child from suffering then it makes it all worth while.
Tell us about your kid(s): My wife and I have a one year old named August. He is so much fun and I love watching him grow, learn and develop. I love to play guitar for him and teach him about music.
Which part of Sweet Cheeks’ current strategic plan are you most excited to work on? I’m excited to design and manage a website that facilitates the agency and child sign-up process in order to receive diapers.
If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be and why? I would love to travel to Thailand because it is incredibly beautiful and I love Thai food.
What are you reading right now? Ratio by Michael Ruhlman.
If you had one extra hour of free time a day, how would you use it? Practice guitar.
If there were a holiday in your honor what would it celebrate? Mike Schell Day would celebrate live music, Jack Bauer, good food, my fantasy football domination, craft beer, all things nerdy, and naturally… the Simpsons.
Why don’t we distribute cloth diapers? It’s a question we’re asked often. I mean think about it: every disposable diaper that has ever been used is still sitting in a landfill–where it will stay for the next 400+ years. And if that’s not crazy enough, the average cost of $100 a month for disposable diapers (per kid!) should have folks flocking to cloth diapers. We have current and former passionate cloth-diapering parents at Sweet Cheeks Diaper Bank, but there are some pretty important reasons why our focus for now is on disposables:
- Cloth diapers save money in the long run, but they require an initial investment of money that many low-income families can’t afford.
- To clean cloth diapers, families must hire a diaper service or have access to reliable laundry facilities.
- Most laundromats don’t allow cloth diapers to be washed in their machines for sanitary reasons.
- Most daycare facilities still only accept disposable diapers.
Does this mean we’ll never have the option for families to begin cloth diapering with a starter stash from Sweet Cheeks? Not at all! There are definitely low-income families in our community who have the right resources and desire to make cloth diapers work for them. But until we have the disposable diaper thing down to a science, any cloth diaper programs will be in the future.
Has your family recently switched your kiddos to cloth diapers? Congratulations! Consider dropping off any leftover disposables you have to Sweet Cheeks Diaper Bank (contact [email protected] to coordinate). We have lots of babies who would LOVE those diapers!
Sweet Cheeks Diaper Bank is asked every day what we need help with. Generous people want to give their time to make sure we’re getting diapers on babies in Cincinnati. Because of the outpouring of support, we’re very excited to share Volgistics with all of you!
There are now three easy steps to getting plugged in with Sweet Cheeks Diaper Bank:
#1: Click this link and fill out an online volunteer profile.
#2: Once you’ve filled out the profile and your application has been accepted, a temporary password will be emailed to you. The password can be used to sign into VicNet, the online volunteer information center that will allow you to have full control over when you volunteer at Sweet Cheeks Diaper Bank.
#3: When you have your temporary password, log in to VicNet by clicking this link: Volunteer Information Center.
VicNet allows volunteers to:
- Check or maintain information such as your address, phone numbers, and email address.
- Check and print your schedule, sign-up for schedule openings, and alert the volunteer manager to times you cannot serve as scheduled.
- Keep track of your community service hours, and view and print your past service information.
- Receive messages, like last minute opportunities or cancellations due to weather.
Basically, you have complete control over your volunteer efforts at Sweet Cheeks! If you know you want to spend some time counting inventory or wrapping and sorting diapers for distribution, go ahead and fill out an application. As soon as we need help we’ll send a message to all active volunteers to let you know what’s coming up. If you’re a student completing service hours for a school or club, keeping track of your volunteer work has never been easier.
We can’t wait to work side-by-side with you in 2016 to get diapers into our community and are looking forward to receiving your volunteer applications!
You may have noticed things got pretty quiet around Sweet Cheeks Diaper Bank in mid-November last year. The good news is that there was a very good reason for it: our Executive Director, Megan, took a whirlwind 36-hour trip to Kansas City to meet with the wonderful folks at HappyBottoms diaper bank. (Are you noticing a trend with the fun names yet?) HappyBottoms is an incredibly successful diaper bank that distributes over 100,000 diapers a month and has seen rapid growth over the past four years.
When Megan was researching and starting Sweet Cheeks Diaper Bank she stumbled upon HappyBottoms’ website and immediately realized that they were special. She sent them a message and within minutes had the contact info for their executive director, Liz, who was just transitioning out of the ED role and onto the board of directors.
To say that HappyBottoms and its staff have been instrumental in the successful launch of Sweet Cheeks Diaper Bank would be an understatement. From sharing documents and processes and encouragement to letting Megan hole up in their conference room for a day and a half learning everything possible about the organization, Sweet Cheeks owes so much of its early success to these fantastic people.
Cincinnati has over 11,000 children under the age of 5 experiencing some degree of diaper need, which gives the Sweet Cheeks team a huge sense of urgency. Because of this we decided early on that we weren’t going to try and reinvent the wheel. We have some wonderful mentors and agencies who have been incredibly successful and we’re very thankful to be able to follow in their footsteps and soak up all their tips on what works and what doesn’t in the baby diapering world. We’re excited to keep on growing with a lot of help from our friends!
We’re pretty excited to welcome 2016. Last year was incredible, and as we’ve told our generous 2015 donors, the support we received has been humbling and inspiring. To ensure we kick off this year with a solid foundation, we had a major strategic planning meeting in mid-December to map out our major goals and objectives for this year, and more importantly, figure out how we’re going to crush them. Sweet Cheeks Diaper Bank has one of the most highly-motivated teams I’ve ever worked with, and the passion each person is bringing to his or her role is contagious.
That enthusiasm is going to allow us to serve hundreds of children, collect and distribute thousands of diapers, host Bottoms up for Babies happy hours, and pull off our first-annual Diaper Dash race downtown this fall. We hope you’re planning on joining us for some fun this year!
If you’ve been following our progress and feel compelled to become more involved with our efforts, we’d love to have you! Be on the lookout for more information this week about how to sign up to volunteer, or send us a message at [email protected] and we’ll get you plugged in to the part of our mission that suits you best.
We’re grateful for your support!
This week’s big news is that Sweet Cheeks Diaper Bank is officially a member of the National Diaper Bank Network. The NDBN is leading a national movement to safeguard one of the most basic needs of all babies and their families: access to clean, dry diapers. Fair access to clean diapers improves the physical, mental and economic well-being of babies, families, and communities. National Diaper Bank Network connects and supports the county’s more than 240 community-based diaper banks that collect, store and distribute free diapers to struggling families (now including Sweet Cheeks Diaper Bank!!). In 2014, the network distributed nearly 35 million free diapers, including 20 million donated by NDBN founding sponsor Huggies®, to more than 1 million children throughout the country.
We are thrilled to be able to start adding to that 35 million diapers number. The NDBN has so many resources online for how to start a diaper bank–it is absolutely one of the key reasons Sweet Cheeks Diaper Bank exists today. The staff is incredibly responsive and supportive, and their Diaper Bank Leaders online group has been a tremendous network of encouragement, ideas and information. We weren’t able to attend their annual conference this year, but can’t wait to make it to next year’s for a few days of learning and socializing with other members of the National Diaper Bank Network .
One of the most exciting aspects of being a member of the NDBN is the ability to purchase diapers at only available through this partnership. This means your tax-deductible financial donations to Sweet Cheeks Diaper Bank will go further than ever before! We will always love and welcome your diaper drives in support of Sweet Cheeks, but it’s really exciting to be able to offer those who want to give financially a way to make a HUGE impact on Cincinnati.
Just kidding. We’re not that cool–we’re ONLY a 501c3. And I honestly don’t even know anything about Star Wars (though apparently enough to understand that joke from a friend), but maybe it’s making you read more about Sweet Cheeks Diaper Bank right now, so we’re going with it.
When you start a nonprofit, you have to fill out a TON of paperwork. Just when you think you’re done, there’s one more form to go. But the purpose of all this paperwork is to get the nonprofit designation. A nonprofit is a corporation or an association that conducts business for the benefit of the general public without shareholders and without a profitmotive.
When you become a nonprofit there are a ton of benefits for your organization: exemption from corporate income taxes, permission to raise funds through donations and grants, and protection from liability for directors and members. You can even get free web hosting services and special postage rates among other things. When you’re operating a corporation whose revenue is going right back out the door to help others, you are looking for every way possible to preserve your dollars so they can make the biggest impact possible in the community you’re serving. So the bottom line: if you are creating a nonprofit, you want to take the time to get the official designation from the IRS. Our official determination letter arrived 10/22/15–the same day our website went live. It was a pretty exciting moment and one we won’t ever forget.
After getting that designation, the first to-do on a long list of to-dos was to register Sweet Cheeks Diaper Bank with GuideStar. GuideStar is the world’s largest source of information on nonprofits. The GuideStar database contains a profile for every tax-exempt nonprofit registered with the IRS. They invite nonprofits to update their profiles at no cost to the organizations. Updating allows nonprofits to share a wealth of up-to-date information with the millions of people who visit GuideStar to learn more about nonprofit organizations and the more than 120 sites and applications that use GuideStar data. To earn a logo, an organization needs to complete all required fields for that participation level. The GuideStar logos, acknowledged as symbols of transparency in the nonprofit sector, are displayed on all updated participants’ profiles in the GuideStar database.
We know you’ve worked hard for your money. And we want you to feel 100% comfortable entrusting us with it. By providing updated tax returns and independently audited financial statements on public sites such as GuideStar, we’re taking the guesswork out of whether or not Sweet Cheeks Diaper Bank is a sound investment for your charitable giving. We want that answer to always be YES!
So take a look at our GuideStar BRONZE profile here and check it often. We’ll be adding more and more information (especially those important financial pieces!) as soon as we have them.
While the focus of this weekend for many people is giving away candy and treats, Sweet Cheeks Diaper Bank was focused on giving away diapers. Our very first donation went to Welcome House in Northern Kentucky. This wonderful organization has been helping to end homelessness in our community since 1982. While they are coordinating a range of services with their clients to help them move into stable housing, diapers are very often one of the resources their littlest clients need the most. For many families, a supply of diapers can be the difference between being able to eat and going hungry, or being able to consistently pay rent versus an eviction notice. Sweet Cheeks Diaper Bank’s donation of 2,000 diapers will provide some relief for Welcome House families in crisis. And the really exciting thing is that we provide exactly the size diapers that are needed for each child. Can you imagine having to wear clothes that are several sizes too small every day? We make sure that children have the correct size diapers so that in addition to being dry and healthy, they can be as comfortable as possible too.
Diaper donations like the one we made to Welcome House are possible because of YOUR generosity. Please take a moment to click here and make a tax-deductible donation to Sweet Cheeks Diaper Bank today so we can continue to change the bottom line for families in need.