In 2002, Birthday Wishes started as a family volunteer project with one goal in mind: to bring joy to the lives of homeless children through birthday celebrations. At the time, they worked with one shelter in Newton, Massachusetts; today they work with over 200 shelters and agencies throughout Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Long Island to provide individual and group birthday celebrations for children experiencing homelessness. Through their vast network of volunteers, shelters, and agencies, Birthday Wishes provided birthday celebrations for more than 32,000 kids in 2015.
“Through our on-site program, we provide a birthday party once per month for all the kids who have a birthday in that month,” explains Lisa Vasiloff, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Birthday Wishes. “For more protected agencies, we provide a ‘Birthday-in-aBox,’ which includes cake mix, decorations, presents, and goodie bags.” Each party ends with kids or volunteers handing out goodie bags to all the kids who attended, making it a celebration for more than just the birthday girls and boys.
Of course, planning such a large number of events takes quite a bit of work. To ensure these parties can continue each month, Birthday Wishes relies on the work of 11 employees, 125 trained (volunteer) Party Coordinators, and thousands of volunteers who donate presents, wrap gift boxes, and even “donate their birthdays” to the cause. And in addition to the party-related tasks, there’s quite a bit of work to do behind the scenes as well.
“Despite the simplicity of our concept, there are a lot of moving parts to make it all happen,” explains Vasiloff. “We have an enormous amount of data to collect, track, and manage. And then we need to be able to analyze it in numerous ways.” In addition to managing the data related to the more than 32,000 children they serve, the Birthday Wishes staff needs to track and acknowledge cash and in-kind donations. With so much data to manage, an efficient and effective CRM is a must.