Charity Survival Guide
How to make contact with your local charities
Hospital Visits - The DO's and Don'ts of a Hospital visit
- DO be aware of the limitations many hospitals may have on events and specifically costumes. For instance, no latex of any type is generally allowed.
- DO try to have some face characters (or Rebels) join your event as children often react more favorably to characters who can readily talk back. Having Vader and a couple TK's only may not best the best option for a hospital visit.
- DONT plan to bring weapons or any additional accessories to Hospital events, unless you are setup in a specific area (such as a lobby or other room). Lightsabers, Gaffi sticks etc tend to get in the way.
- DO assume that you won't be able to take pictures of yourselves interacting with patients during your troop. HIPAA lays out very stiff penalties for violation of patient privacy, so unless a patient or their family asks to take a picture with you, don't take any photos while you are at the hospital.
- DO be aware of medical equipment and lines outside your range of vision as you troop. If you go to visit the patients in their rooms rather than having them brought to you, make sure someone who is not wearing a helmet checks the floor and areas around the bed for power cords, IV drips, etc. You don't want to risk tripping over a cord and potentially injuring yourself and/or a patient.
- DONT ask the patients questions about their illness or how long they've been in the hospital. If the patient brings it up on their own without your prompting, that's fine, but most of the time they won't want to be reminded of their illness. Ask them questions about where they are from, what some of their hobbies are, etc. instead.
- DON'T ask a patient "How are you doing?" It's a common greeting we all use, but not proper for patient who is ill. You would be surprised how easily that will roll off your tongue.
How To Reach Out to a Charity Organization
- The first thing I like to do is check them out. There are several charity web sites, my favorite is www.charitynavigator.org
- Go to their web site. I've yet to come across a charity that doesn't have contact information on the interweb
- Make a donation! My experience is that once you've made a donation to a particular charity, they'll contact YOU.
- Make sure you have your pitch ready, email is a good way to do this (especially if we have a Charity PR document). Unless you're talking about Race for the Cure or an organized event, they're not going to set it up for you. Have an idea of what you want to put together and they'll most likely have supplies (flyers, etc) to provide you with.
- Try and schedule a visit the charity event personally, with information in hand. My experience is that people will take you much more seriously if you are in front of them, then speaking over the phone.
Planning a Charity Event
Establish a point person at the charity so that you can ask all the important questions (How many costumed characters, blaster policy, secure room for changing, etc) It's also a good idea to find out ahead of time if there will be children at the event so you can plan to have some face characters). I also provide the charity point person a list of names as well as the costumes they plan on attending in a week or so prior to the event for approval and also so that it's easy to get past security if present at the event.
How to collect donations for a charity event.
NOTE: This is tricky territory as the 501st is not an official 501c3 organization (or whatever the number is).
- When collecting money for charities it is suggested that checks be written directly to the charity involved and your garrison should select a specific member (per event) to handle collection and delivery of the funds. Additionally, corporations will want to use the charity write off and will need the proper W9 info of the specific charity in order to make larger donations.
- Another option if cash cannot be avoided is to see if a representative from a charity can be present at the event and accept the donations. This way the money does goes straight to the representative.
Text from Golden Gate Garrison's Charity Procedures: In order for a donation to be reflected in the tracking log, proof of the donation would be required to be validated by either: 1. an digital photo of a donation check made out to one of our charity organizations, or 2. an email acknowledgement of donation from a charity organization, or
Frequently Asked Questions :
- Is it acceptable for us to accept donation checks from the event requester at the event?
- Yes, LFL has stated that they are quite comfortable having 501st Legion members taking possession of the donation check from event requesters to ensure the donations are actually made to one of our charity organizations. The check (preferably a cashier check) should be made payable to one of our charity organizations. The following is an excerpt of the meeting highlights between LFL, Mark Fordham and I on April 12th, 2006:
- Finally, LFL recognize that 501st Legion may, at times, be bombarded with request for appearance by private individuals (e.g., at birthday parties, weddings, etc.). While we believes that it is inappropriate for 501st Legion to request financial compensation for appearances at these private functions, it is entirely appropriate to ask the requester to submit a donation to one of the Garrison’s charity organizations, even to the extent of collecting the donation check at the event.
- Can the event requester submit their donations directly to the charity organization?
- Yes, the many of the charity organizations that Legion works with have a website where donations can be submitted electronically (e.g., credit card, PayPal, etc.). In order for the GGG to track this donation, however, the event requester would need to copy or forward the donation acknowledgement to email@example.com.
- How much does the Legion charge for appearing at events?
- As a general rule the Legion does not charge for our appearances; however, we encourage event requesters to help donate any amount which they feel reasonable to one of our charity organizations. Legion members may be compensated for expenses in some instances. See the event riders for more information.
- Which charity organizations does Legion work with?
- The Legion has primarily been working with three main charity organizations: Make-a-Wish Foundation, The Red Cross and Toys for Tots. However each unit of the Legion typically will have one or two local charities they prefer to work with. See http://www.501st.com/charity.php for a list of some of the charities the Legion has worked with in the past.
- If I am uncomfortable accepting donation check from event requester, what should I do?
- If you are uncomfortable accepting donation check from event requesters, simply let the donater know that they could make their financial contributions directly online to any of the GGG charity organizations. In order for us to better track donations that we helped raise, please do ask that they copy or forward the donation acknowledgement to firstname.lastname@example.org or you unit CO and charity representative.
- I received a donation check at the event which is made payable to one of our charity organization, now what do I do with the check?
- Process A donation check:
- Take a digital photo of the check (if it's a personal check, blur or black out the account number and personal address) and post the photo of the check with the rest of the photos taken at the event. Once the photo of the check has been posted, email the link to email@example.com, your unit CO and Charity representative and then, mail the check to the appropriate charity organization's mailing address.
- Option 2: The event requester may submit his/her donation online directly to one of our charity organizations and email a copy of the donation acknowledgment to you, firstname.lastname@example.org, your Unit CO or Charity Representative stating the amount and the event which the donation stemmed from.
- Is there a way to show the amount of donations raised by Legion units and members?
- Yes, a tracking log has been created that lists the donation raised by the Legion. Refer to link for details.