Charity Spotlights Are a Go!

Progress Report #2

Progress reports are Giving Jar’s way of celebrating Success, reflecting on Failure (and what was learned from it), giving Thanks, and taking a peek at what’s Up and Coming. Hopefully you will find these progress reports informative. If you have feedback to offer, send it along!


Here are the major wins in this progress report:

  1. The first charity spotlight was published.
  2. The first progress report was sent out.
  3. Wrote about the development of the landing page.

If you don’t want to know about the details of these wins, feel free to skip to Failure.

Charity Spotlights

Probably the most exciting news to report is that the first charity spotlight was published!

Every other week, Giving Jar will interview a different charity and write about the amazing and good things they are doing. The first spotlight covered Building Twentyone, a teen center with an indoor skate park located between Holt and Mason, Michigan.

Since Giving Jar is located just outside Lansing, Michigan, expect many of the early spotlights to focus on mid-Michigan charities.

Progress Reports

The first progress report was sent out two weeks ago. It was pretty long because it covered about a month of work at Giving Jar. This and all future reports will cover two weeks of progress, so you’ll be reading much shorter reports moving forward. They’ll also be much easier and faster to write!

Version 1.0 of the progress report structure was also established. If you haven’t picked up on it yet, this structure is SFTU (not to be confused with STFU). A section to celebrate Success, a section to reflect on Failure, a section to give Thanks, and a section to peek at Upcoming work.

What’s in a Landing Page?

A long, technical article about what went into the Giving Jar landing page was written and published on the Technical Rex blog. If you’re making your own landing page you should read it thoroughly. There is a lot to think about!


There are almost always setbacks when working on a project of any size. Here are the lessons learned from the last round of setbacks:

  1. Transcribing a voice recording takes time.
  2. Celebrate people, not just charities.

Here are the stories behind those takeaways. If you don’t want the details, jump ahead to the Thanks.

Transcribing a Voice Recording Takes Time

A lot of information was covered in the interview with Benjamin Schartow of Building Twentyone. Notes were taken, but they weren’t good enough to distill all of that information down into a 500-600 word article.

Transcribing the interview into text worked, but it took a loooooong time. Sixty-nine minutes of conversation took over 3 hours to transcribe!

The good news is that a nice format came out of it, and capturing that same information in future interviews should take much less time.

Celebrate People, Not Just Charities

This was a bit of a face palm moment. The Building Twentyone story started with tragedy, but out of it came an organization that is really working hard to help keep teens safe and set them up for better futures.

The writing captures this, but the interview and photoshoot was scheduled at a time when teens were still in school. That meant no people in any of the pictures. :(


Big thanks go out to Benjamin Schartow at Building Twentyone not just for the interview, but for creating a wonderful teen center that helps empower teens and volunteers. You can follow Building Twentyone on Twitter or Facebook.

More thanks go out to Ian Kast for taking photos for Giving Jar on his day off.

Finally, thanks to everyone following Giving Jar:

  • 13 mailing list members
  • 10 Twitter followers
  • 28 Facebook page likes


The next charity spotlight will be published next week! As always, Giving Jar is looking for charities to interview. If you know a charity that might be interested, send an email, tweet, or write to Giving Jar on Facebook.

Next week that meeting with the accountant will happen.

Lastly, there are a number of efficiencies needed to speed up the turnaround time on progress reports and charity spotlights. Namely, automating the publishing process.

It doesn’t sound like much, but with two days off for New Years, it’s enough!