Getting Ahead on Spotlights

Progress Report #3

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 second charity spotlight was published.
  2. Various minor website improvements were made.
  3. Interviewed the third charity, in record time!
  4. Met with accountant and made some hard decisions.

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

Charity Spotlight #2

The second charity spotlight was published, and already there are many improvements being made to the process. The interview itself took about the same amount of time, but the steps to go from interview to written article took about 4-5 hours less than they did after the first charity interview!

Every other week, Giving Jar will interview a different charity and write about the amazing and good things they are doing. The second spotlight covered Michigan Remembers 9/11, a charity that helps newer generations remember the significance of September 11, 2001 and honor first responders.

Website Improvements

Updating the Giving Jar websites is a very manual process right now. The goal is to fully automate publishing progress reports, charity spotlights, and all other content. Small strides were made these past two weeks: the blog is now using Jekyll 3 instead of GitHub Pages and is being built with Grunt.

There were some superficial changes made as well. The logo now has a colored background, the landing page has a new social card that doesn’t use the logo, and there’s a link in the top right of the blog to all of the published charity spotlights.

Third Charity Interview

Slowly, but surely the charity interviews and spotlights are picking up steam. Getting ahead on the interviews will free up more time to work on the software platform, which is the next big step for Giving Jar.

The interview went about 33% faster and still covered all of the spotlight topics and the extra research Giving Jar is doing to learn about how charities operate.

Getting Numbers in Order

The accountant meeting went well. Dale, at Abraham and Gaffney, P.C., is a great guy and very practical. The big topic was how Giving Jar should be organized as a business. Dale explained the options, what course of action would need to be taken when a decision is made, and how the business structure would need to change as Giving Jar grows.

Giving Jar is going to be founded as an LLC. With only one employee, this will offer the best balance of business independence and simplicity in management. Hopefully the name “Giving Jar” will stick!


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. Cold-calling takes a lot of energy.

Yep! Only one major lesson learned this time, everything else went pretty smoothly.

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

Cold-Calling Takes Energy

In an effort to get ahead on the charity interviews and spotlights, lots of cold calls were made to charities in the Lansing area.

A big spreadsheet was created to keep track of when and how various charities were contacted so as not to spam them. Only one charity responded, too, so more calls will need to be made, and other tactics will need to be tried in order to pick up the pace on interviews.


Big thanks go to Scott Watkins of Michigan Remembers 9/11. The interview was great and so was the referral to the local Rotary Club!

Thank you, Jonathan Arias, for the help getting ahead on the next charity spotlight!

Finally, thanks to everyone following Giving Jar:

  • 16 mailing list members
  • 12 Twitter followers
  • 34 Facebook page likes


Here’s where the focus will be in the next two weeks at Giving Jar:

  • The next charity spotlight will be published!
  • More effort will be placed on contacting charities and building up a queue of spotlights.
  • An attorney will be contacted so Giving Jar can be established as an LLC.
  • Hopefully there will be much more progress on automating deployments.

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 on the Facebook wall.