Our clinic is always looking for new and interesting ways to create donor awareness as well as ways to make donating to our ministry easier. We frequently have Sunday school classes and women's groups hold baby showers for Birth Choice in order to contribute items to our mother/baby resource room. Since they often request a list of our most needed items, one of our resource room volunteers came up with an innovative way to make our ongoing needs easily accessible to the community.
When this young lady was in college, her sorority needed to furnish their sorority house. Since most people are familiar with shopping for wedding and baby gifts from store registries, the girls decided to register at department stores so that people could purchase gifts to provide for their needs. This allowed the sorority to furnish their house with the items the girls actually needed, liked, and wanted.
Why couldn't Birth Choice do the same thing? Our volunteer suggested that we register the items we need and then notify our donors. What a great idea! Numerous stores such as Target, Babies R Us, Wal-Mart, and large department stores will allow you to do this with their registries. Now Birth Choice has a Wal-Mart registry. Donors can simply go to the Gift Registry in the store, choose "Wish List" on the registry menu, enter the first name "Birth" and the last name "Choice" and choose our state of Tennessee. When they click on "Enter," it will bring up the Birth Choice name, and when they click on the name, the wish list can be viewed and printed. Donors who would rather shop online can purchase items for the ministry and even have their items shipped directly to the center without ever leaving their home. [Note: We have found that the online wish list at our local store may show items to be unavailable for purchase; yet, the store does have them in stock. For this reason, the online list may not be a true reflection of availability for many items listed. Until this glitch is corrected, we've decided to market our Wish List to donors as in-store only to limit confusion. You may not have this problem depending on where you are located.]
For the initial set-up of your wish list, it is good to have two or three people go to the store together. A store employee will help you get started and give instructions on how to use the handheld scanner. You may be required to leave your drivers license until you return the scanner. A password will be assigned to your wish list account in order to periodically access the wish list online and keep it updated. Adding new items to the list must be done in the store with the scanner, but any deletions or additions of quantities for already listed items may be made online. Items can be updated or deleted online with registration information, obtaining a username and password on the store's website. The password will be given to the staff member or volunteer who will oversee the registry. It is very simple to change your registry periodically as needed, and this can be done in the store or online.
Our 3-person team worked quickly and efficiently. As one person selected the items we needed and wanted the most, the second person scanned those items into our account, and the third person put the items away. This set up process took us a couple of hours, but it was actually fun. We requested larger quantities of some things such as diapers and formula based on how quickly we normally run out of them. A wish list may be kept open for several years. The person who oversees the account will need to watch for discontinued items in order to delete or replace if needed. We selected the store's brand for many items in order to keep the costs to a minimum. While our registry has been set up for mother and baby items only, other items needed for your center such as technical supplies and office products may be placed on the list as well.
The job of each center is to get the word out about your registry. We market it in our newsletter as well as on our donor site. Now when a Sunday school class or youth group wants to have a baby shower for us, we just send them to our gift registry.
Pam Montgomery is Administrative Assistant at Birth Choice Pregnancy Resource Clinic in Jackson, Tennessee.